четверг, 31 мая 2012 г.

Othin Spake - Child Of Deception And Skill (2008)

Othin Spake - Child Of Deception And Skill (Glasvocht Records, 2008)

Personnel:
Jozef Dumoulin - Electric Piano[Fender Rhodes]
Mauro Pawlowski - Guitar
Teun Verbruggen - Drums

Tracklisting:
01 - The Ballad Of Vafthruthnir: Introductary Note (4:35)
02 - Gore (5:56)
03 - Skinfaxy (2:53)
04 - The Glittering Day Doth Draw (9:33)
05 - The Evil Art Contest (4:22)
06 - Warped Dreamer (6:05)
07 - Grace Of The Shadowy Keep (6:09)
08 - The Nethack Dictionnary (10:54)
09 - Child Of Deception And Skill (5:38)
10 - Indigo Mystery (Poem Of Frygg) (10:56)

Jozef Dumoulin is a Rhodes dynamo. Drummer Teun Verbruggen's free-jazz plus whatever else combo Othin Spake would be lost without his pitch bent keyboard. It's not that he is constantly showing off technical wizardly, that's left to the guitar freak outs of Mauro Pawlowski. It's that Dumoulin holds the improvisations together, a glue that keeps Pawlowski's wild, infrequent, but ultimately brilliant guitar insanity from overshadowing the affair and keeps Verbruggen's accelerando from shooting the group to the moon. Dumoulin plays the middle man. The keyboard, save for a few exceptions where Dumoulin and Pawlowski swap patient/impatient roles or when the whole combo is stuck down tempo, often becomes more propulsive than the rhythm section'a driving force in its calmness and the hopefulness of its utterances. Its middle piece "Warped Dreamer" that really makes the whole session, only the second time the group came together to perform, worth it. "Warped Dreamer" is one of those miraculous moments that could only come about in improvisation. Verbruggen and Powlowski swirl around Dumoulin's slow creation of a near melody sometimes Verbruggen syncs in rhythm with him or Powlowski copies the stilted chord progression, sometimes they both shoot off frantic spurts in opposition to the piece's obvious center. But as the tempo increases and Verbruggen takes rhythmic control, the three fall into a beautiful sync with each other. Its unfolds so excellently, and works almost too well as the climax, possibly because the rest of the session never really picks up the pace in the same way.

The downside comes in the interludes, and the slow-moving latter half. The group forays into its most experimental at its most snail-paced, sometimes creating amazing ambient pieces that seem too good to be unscripted ("The Glittering Day Doth Drain" as an exemplar) as well as issuing forth loads of interesting noises, but often times wandering too far away from the center, that fearless stumble forwards and upwards. Again, moments like "Warped Dreamer" leave the listener wanting a continuously higher high, leaving one in the dregs of musical addiction. "Child of Deception and Skill" is still doubtlessly the work of three brilliant musicians. The faults aren't worth dwelling on, and I don't have the expertise to really get at the sublimity of the strong points, of which there are many. The news that Trevor Dunn, a bassist whose resume includes Mr. Bungle and John Zorn, will be featured in Othin Spake's upcoming 2009 slated CD should also come as fairly great news. Until you get a chance to hear that, or see them live somehow, this release will suffice quite nicely. [John Ganiard]

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понедельник, 28 мая 2012 г.

Devin Gray - Dirigo Rataplan (2012)


Devin Gray - Dirigo Rataplan (Skirl, 2012)

Personnel:
Ellery Eskelin - tenor sax
Dave Ballou - trumpet
Michael Formanek - bass
Devin Gray - drums/composition

Tracklisting:
01 - Quadraphonically
02 - Cancel the Cancel
03 - Down Time
04 - Prospect Park in the Dark (For Charles Ives)
05 - Talking with Hands
06 - Otaku
07 - Thickets (For Gerald Cleaver)
08 - Katahdin

Despite his youth, drummer Devin Gray has built an impressive resume and a well- deserved reputation as both an improviser and instrumentalist. His first CD as a leader, Dirigo Rataplan shows that he is not a slouch in the composition or bandleader department either.

The record's title, loosely translated from Latin and French, means leading from the beat, and Gray's unique approach to the drum-set allows him to do just that—not an easy feat given the august company he keeps. His quartet consists of idiosyncratic tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, versatile bassist Michael Formanek and trumpeter Dave Ballou, a stalwart of New York's creative music scene.

Gray's percussive approach is somewhat reminiscent of Marilyn Mazur, particularly on the opening track, "Quadraphonically." His angular rhythms and complex tonal constructs are in the forefront of this track while his band mates play short bursts of notes in support, before a theatrical saxophone and trumpet dialogue evolves into a melancholic ensemble play.

Elsewhere, his inpatient and relentless drumming hints at Elvin Jones' polyphonism, such as on "Talking with Hands" which features Eskelin and Ballou embellishing the melody in unison in an homage of sorts to Albert Ayler's New Orleans Brass Band influenced Avant-Garde stylings. Gray, not only seamlessly keeps up with his side musicians but his compositions create the right environment to showcase their individual skill sets

Eskelin's thick and lyrical tone is well suited for the funky and free "Down Time" where his edgy, intricate and stimulating flight of fancy is not unlike the inside-outside playing of the distinctive Chicago Jazz man Von Freeman. On "Katahdin," his engrossing solo ebbs and flows in unusual yet stimulating patterns.

In addition to playing the perfect foil to Eskelin, Ballou's chirps and twitters build into a melodic yet jagged extemporization on the atmospheric "Thicket." Their unified sound over Formanek's virtuoso and acerbic arco bass gives the impression of a bagpipe blowing in the night. The nocturnesque ambience is also present on the Zen-like "Prospect Park in the Dark" with its free flowing, stream of consciousness, four-way musical conversation.

Momentum slacks just a tad on a couple of the tunes. On "Cancel the Cancel," for example, there is a repetition of musical ideas and on "Otaku" the group improvisation gets a bit chaotic.

Despite a very few and minor rough spots, Dirigo Rataplan is an eloquent debut from an immensely talented musician. Hopefully this is just the introduction to an impressive oeuvre to come. [allaboutjazz]

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пятница, 4 мая 2012 г.

Franco D'Andrea - Traditions and Clusters (2012)

Franco D'Andrea - Traditions and Clusters (El Gallo Rojo, 2012)

Personnel:
Franco D’Andrea: piano
Daniele D’Agaro: clarinet
Mauro Ottolini: trombone
Andrea Ayassot: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone
Aldo Mella: double bass
Zeno De Rossi: drums
Han Bennink: snare drum

Tracklisting:
CD1:
01 - I’ve Found A New BabyTurkish Mambo
02 - Strawberries
03 - Clusters N.1
04 - Monodic
05 - Clusters N.2
06 - Half Of The Fun
07 - Clusters N. 3
08 - Caravan

CD2:
01 - March
02 - Vis Libera
03 - A4 + M2
04 - Turkish Mambo
05 - Half The Fun
06 - M3/Caravan
07 - Into the Mystery
08 - Old Time Blues

It is a satisfying musical experience when a performance can deliver traditional jazz without the music being reduced to orthodoxy. Such is the resonance of Franco D'Andrea's sound.

The seventy-something Italian pianist follows Soprais (El Gallo Rojo, 2011), with his long-established quartet, by adding the early jazz instruments of clarinet and trombone, played respectively by Daniele D'Argaro and Mauro Ottolini. On the live Traditions And Clusters he also invites his contemporary , drummer Han Bennink, to sit in on two tracks.

With Bennink in the house, the music skates, skips, and glides between what was once the new thing (circa 1920) to the new thing, without becoming estranged. The opener, clocking in at 24 minutes boils "I've Found A New Baby" (made famous by Benny Goodman's Orchestra) before segueing into Lennie Tristano's "Turkish Mambo," and then George Gershwin's "Strawberries." Decorated by clarinet and trombone, the conventional gets a kick in the backside. Same for Duke Ellington's standard "Caravan," that is referred to as context, but not as a limiter on D'Andrea's examinations.

These are not neocons faithfully reproducing a bygone era, but prospectors mining the past for modern innovation. D'Andrea, like Thelonious Monk before him, begins in the jazz tradition, but twists the sound to make it his own. The Clusters referred to in the title are group improvisations by his quartet that are takeoffs on D'Andrea originals or a song penned by Billy Strayhorn. Drummer Zeno De Rossi (perhaps the modern heir to the Bennink sound) replaces Bennink and saxophonist Andrea Ayassot and bassist Aldo Mella remain a stable improvising component to D'Andrea's quartet.

The second disc finds the D'Andrea Quartet expanded to a sextet with D'Agaro and Ottolini. The band once again mines Ellington Strayhorn, and Tristano, as well as touches of Chick Corea and Misha Mengelberg. The delicate dance, push and pull between traditional jazz and the abstraction of free music get a crowd-pleasing workout here.[allaboutjazz]

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