четверг, 30 октября 2014 г.

Anna Webber - Simple (2014)

Anna Webber - Simple (Skirl, 2014)

Personnel:
Anna Webber - saxophone/flute
Matt Mitchell - piano
John Hollenbeck - drums

Tracklisting:
01 - Carnophobia
02 - Emoticon
03 - 1994
04 - Simplify, Simplify
05 - Washington
06 - I Don't Want To Be Happy
07 - Zig Zag
08 - Invisible Propulsion
09 - For Eric

Simple (Skirl 2014), New York based composer/saxophonist Anna Webber's follow up to her 2013 release "Percussive Mechanics (Pirouet 2013) finds her exploring the expressive capabilities of a trio setting. While the compositional sensibilities introduced in her first album remain, her affinity for polyrhythms being a good example, the new texture provides her the ability to play with more freedom and subtle intricacy alongside her tight arrangements. Of course, her phenomenal bandmates contribute a lot in this respect.

Joining Webber on this outing are pianist Matt Mitchell, known as an in-demand sideman who has played with such luminaries as Dave Douglas and Dan Weiss, and renowned drummer John Hollenbeck, her teacher from her time at the Jazz Institut Berlin. Both collaborators are excellent musicians in their own right and their duo playing is a joy to listen to in itself. Add Webber's inimitable inventiveness and sense of melody and time to the mix and the result is something uniquely special.

The music for the album was written on Bowen Island in British Columbia, where Webber enjoyed the opportunity to isolate herself from the busy bustle of her home in Brooklyn and allow the music to develop organically. The peaceful seclusion is evident in many of the tracks, "Washington" being a beautiful instance of what such opportunities can lead to. The beautiful colors and textures were inspired by the far off mountains of Washington state; anyone familiar with the pacific northwest can hear the picturesque landscape being evoked. Likewise "1994" suggests a calm solitude with its subdued tempo and energy and its, at times, intense use of space. The alternation of dense and open voicings in the piano accompaniment suggest the beautiful struggle of removing oneself from contemporary life, as does Webber's sometimes lyrical, sometimes dissonant melodies.

Conversely, Webber's distinctively percussive and rhythmic compositional and playing style are very much evident throughout the album. A highlight among these compositions is "I Don't Want To Be Happy." With a driving, complex rhythm at the outset leading into a much freer section with wonderful interplay, this song is less obviously connected to the quietude of an island in the pacific ocean. Yet the reality of living with oneself, and only oneself, is not always as charming as a quaint island overlooking a beautiful ocean view. "Simplify, Simplify" is far from simple; the incessant rhythm suggests the ever present struggle of being honest with oneself in such a situation. Aside from these philosophical considerations, these songs groove and have compelling melodies, rhythms and forms.

Fans of avant-garde jazz, small group interplay and unique and driving compositions will all find something to love on this record. The group featured on the album will be performing at ShapeShifter Lab in Brooklyn, NY on Thursday, September 25. [Allaboutjazz]

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пятница, 17 октября 2014 г.

Bruno Vansina Orchestra - Morning Forest aka Nose Up Bottom Down (2014)

Bruno Vansina Orchestra - Morning Forest aka Nose Up Bottom Down (Rat Records, 2014)
Personnel:

Bruno Vansina - alto saxophone
Christian Mendozza - piano
Bert Cools - guitar
Stefan Lievestro - bass
Teun Verbruggen - drums
(on tracks 1,2,4,5,7):

Malik Mezzadri - flute
John Ruocco - clarinet & tenor saxophone
Kristien Cueppens - oboe
Kensuka Taira - bassoon
Bart Indevuyst - french horn
Steven Dellanoy - tenor saxophone
Wietse Meys - tenor saxophone & clarinet
Carlo Nardozza - trumpet
Jeroen Van Malderen - trumpet & flugelhorn
Frederik Heirman - trombone
Tom Verschoren - trombone, bass trombone & euphonium
Kobe Proesmans - percussion (2, 4, 5)

Tracklisting:

1. Dark Night (10:31)
2. Fiesta Festivo (12:31)
3. Morning Forest aka Nose Up Bottom Down (5:21)
4. Ploink (11:31)
5. Groove Along (13:09)
6. Symphony Of The Fried Bananas (8:45)
7. Bike Insprivation (11:11)

Belgian saxophonist Bruno Vansina crooned and shouted his way through the Zappa-esque art rock-jazz of 2009's Nirvana Bonus and the Demons of Shame but, in sharp contrast, his Bruno Vansina Quartet (plus guest vibraphonist Steve Nelson) released the sparkling, beautifully expressive creative jazz album Stratocluster in 2012. The often stunning 2014 Rat Records album "Morning Forest aka Nose Up Bottom Down" -- credited to the Vansina Orchestra -- falls squarely on the saxophonist's creative jazz side, but on a comparatively massive scale. Here, the Vansina Quartet has expanded into a five-piece -- with leader/composer Vansina on alto, drummer Teun Verbruggen, pianist Christian Mendozza, guitarist Bert Cools, and bassist Stefan Lievestro -- augmented by an 11-piece grouping of horns and reeds arranged by Dree Peremans (and with percussionist Kobe Proesmans added on three tracks). With composition titles including "Ploink" and "Symphony of the Fried Bananas," one might expect the Vansina Orchestra to plow some of the same sometimes oddball Zappa-influenced turf as Vansina's Demons of Shame outfit or Peter Vermeersch's Flat Earth Society big band, to which the saxophonist has contributed for years. But Vansina clearly had something else in mind for his own large ensemble. Instead, Morning Forest takes inspiration from the likes of Gil Evans and Charles Mingus, sweeping the listener along through the multi-layered arrangements and deep color palette of five spacious full-orchestra compositions in the ten- to 13-minute range.

Opener "Dark Night" begins sparsely, the leader's alto reinforcing a mysterious mood over pulses and washes from the quintet before high reeds and then forceful horns open the composition to the modal explorations of clarinetist John Ruocco, the supporting ensemble building around him in a balance of beauty, tension, and drama. The pace remains measured and even ritualistic, but the piece's ultimate brightening suggests darkness giving way to a lovely sunrise. In sharp contrast, "Fiesta Festivo" and "Ploink" -- the former arranged by Vansina and Peremans and the latter by Vansina alone -- kick up the tempo with highly infectious grooves. "Fiesta Festivo" has a strong Afro-Latin flavor with numerous rhythmic shifts, ensemble permutations, and solo showcases, the track's ebullience highlighted by the freewheeling flute and exuberant vocalizing of Malik Mezzadri, while the stuttering syncopations and sharply jabbing horns of "Ploink" push into animated circularity before building to an ultra-tight finale highlighted by Verbruggen's rolling drumwork. The horns and reeds provide comparatively subtle coloration to "Groove Along" as Vansina and then Mezzadri explore the interstices formed by a slow and irregularly accented pulse, while "Bike Insprivation" brings the album to a rousing conclusion. Along the album's multifaceted journey, outliers come in two tracks from the unaccompanied quintet: the slow tango-esque title track falls within the small-combo Stratocluster aesthetic, while "Symphony of the Fried Bananas" tumbles between angular composed lines and noisy, skronky improv (with wild, effects-laden axework from Cools). The latter comes as a particular surprise, but it's as excitingly immediate as Morning Forest's full-orchestra tracks are gorgeous, atmospheric, and vibrant.
[Allmusic.com]

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