суббота, 26 декабря 2015 г.

Larry Ochs - The Fictive Five (2015)

Larry Ochs - The Fictive Five (Tzadik, 2015)

Larry Ochs: tenor & sopranino saxophones
Nate Wooley: trumpet
Ken Filiano: bass, effects
Pascal Niggenkemper: bass, prepared bass
Harris Eisenstadt: drums

01 - Similitude (for Wim Wenders)
02 - A Marked Refraction
03 - By Any Other Name (for William Kentridge)
04 -Translucent (for Kelly Reichardt)

I couldn't agree more with Larry Ochs' statement that "if you're looking to understand music, one is approaching it the wrong way", because it is the experience that counts, the total impact of the sound on your own biochemistry, including such bodily reactions as emotion, spiritual delight or goose bumps.

On this phenomenal album, the saxophonist assembled a New York band consisting of Ken Filiano and Pascal Niggenkemper on bass, Nate Wooley on trumpet and Harris Eisenstadt on drums, at the occasion of Ochs' curatorship at The Stone in New York, and these musicians, under Ochs' leadership create that unique experience that escapes rational disection and analysis.

The approach taken here is to create musical imagery, scenic moments that are partly composed, and mostly improvised, as if you can see the music in your mind's eye, and these are mostly abstract landscapes with changing and shifting horizons and colors, with a strong horizontal feeling of flux as the unpredictable sounds move the listener forward on this journey.

The album consists of four tracks, three of which are dedicated to visual artists - Wim Wenders, William Kentridge, Kelly Reichardt - in the same tradition as Steve Lacy, and it are the movies or visual installations by these artists that act as inspiration for the music, even if it is not made to accompany these movies.

One of the most striking features of the sound are the two basses, who lay a great sonic foundation for the music, not rhythmically, but in terms of the overall color of the pieces, acting in concert, or alternately, challenging each other or reinforcing the sound. Yet the entire band is stellar, five musicians who live in their most natural habitat of free flowing sounds, joining the short themes that pop up once in a while, then take off again on different paths but in the same direction.

It's the way I like music, beautifully free, sensitive and deep. [FreeJazzBlog]


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среда, 23 декабря 2015 г.

Hidden Forces Trio - Crows Are Council (2014)

Hidden Forces Trio - Crows Are Council (Knockturne Records, 2014)

Gustavo Domínguez: bass clarinet, clarinet & didgeridoo 
Marco Serrato: double bass 
Borja Díaz: drums

01 - Invocation / Crows are council
02 - Chalybs
03 - El ejecutor
04 - Thimble Capp
05 - Gĉod
06 - Tender Fisting Blues

Gustavo Domínguez (clarinets), Marco Serrato (double bass) and Borja Díaz (drums) are back. Crows are Council (Knockturne Records / Clamshell Records 2014) is their second record, an album where all their different experiences (from heavy metal to symphonic music, from street standards to free experimentation) collides connecting within themselves for then to start all over again. Because, in order to preserve something, it is necessary to go forward in circles but always looking backwards. Abstract searching (“Gĉod”) or unbridled rage (“Crows are Council”) always go hand in hand with keynotes and the right tempo (“Thimble Capp”, “Chalybs”), even if they are not to be played. A record co-released by Knockturne Records and Clamshell which makes it clear that there is life beyond Orthodox, and where improvisation and structured dark chaos are created mixing elements from free jazz instrumentation with extractions from heavy metal and contemporary music.


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Hidden Forces Trio - Topus (2013)

Hidden Forces Trio - Topus (Bruce's Fingers, 2013)

Gustavo Domínguez: clarinet, bass clarinet 
Marco Serrato: double bass 
Borja Díaz: drums

01 - Custodia de Canaán
02 - Topus
03 - El hijo secreto, no el bastardo
04 - Porque no llueve, los santos peregrinarán de espaldas
05 - Panza de azufre
06 - Las colinas
07 - La novia del chivo

I sat down to listen to this disc with some trepidation. The Bruce’s Fingers’ June update had described the musicians, from Seville, Spain, as also having “parallel existences in the world of heavy rock, doom metal, gothcore [or whatever the appropriate term is]”. Matters weren’t helped by the painting on the cover – a dental nightmare – or some of the track titles: El hijo secreto, no el bastardo (the secret son, not the bastard) and Panza de azufre (sulphur belly). I was expecting music full of adolescent angst, but it turned out to be rather different. As the adage has it: never judge a book by its cover. 

Gustavo Domínguez (clarinet, bass clarinet), Marco Serrato (double bass) and Borja Díaz (drums), play composed and improvised music. The composed material has a folkish touch, wistful and plangent. After an initial free jazz flurry, the title track is a faintly Moorish melody, over loping bass, which gradually descends into the lower registers, as the bowed bass and bass clarinet explore a darker version of the theme. 

In Porque no llueve, los santos peregrinarán de espaldas (because it doesn’t rain, the saints return to the pilgrimage) an attractive melody is first played gently on bass, repeated on clarinet, and then in outline on drums (but for rather too long). The remainder of the piece is thoughtful – but at times borders on the soporific – and I would have liked to have heard playing with rather more concision, and a touch more gusto. 

On the whole, the improvised material is rather disappointing. El hijo secreto, no el bastardo runs out of steam with an over long and rather aimless drum solo, unreprieved by accompaniment from the bass and later, clarinet. Las colinas (the hills) is somewhat diffuse, and lacking in character. There are some interesting textures, but it sounds a little like improvising by numbers. 

The trio seems to gel in the final track – La novia del chivo (the kid’s girlfriend) – rolling drums and pulsing bass with rather more brio in the clarinet, but it’s short-lived, as the piece comes to a premature close after two minutes. Curious. 

Something of a mixed bag, therefore. Over the album, rather too much of Domínguez’s work on clarinet consists of scalar-like runs and arpeggios, but often not a great deal more. I can’t help but feel that the trio simply needs to play together more, and take a more critical view of its material. Maybe some angst would help. [FreeJazzBlog]


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вторник, 8 декабря 2015 г.

Svenska Kaputt - Suomi (2015)

Svenska Kaputt - Suomi (Moserobie, 2015)
Jonas Kullhammar: saxophones
Reine Fiske: guitar
Torbjörn Zetterberg: bass
Jonas Holmegard: drums

01 - Mellantillstånd
02 - Paroni 
03 - Nötskalsmusik #1 
04 - Veesaltonen 
05 - Gårdagens Visa\Keijsaren

A brilliant musical project from the Moserobie jazz underground of Sweden – one that brings together four completely wonderful players, but in ways that are very different than most of their work in other settings! The sound here is very open and spacious – not in a mellow way, or an ECM mode – but instead this really introspective approach to the properties of the musicians' individual instruments – almost as if they're using this project as a way to thoughtfully explore things from different sonic angles, sometimes with a surprisingly sensitive vibe. Yet there's also some nice currents of darkness in the music – things are definitely never too sweet – and surprises include some piano from both Jonas Kullhammar and Torbjorn Zetterberg – alongside Zetterberg's more familiar bass (both electric and acoustic), and Kullhamar's music on tenor, flute, baritone, and oboe. Guitarist Reine Fiske also plays piano on one track – and guitar on the others – and the group also features drums from Johan Holmegard. [Dusty Groove]

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воскресенье, 6 декабря 2015 г.

Torbjörn Zetterberg - Och den stora frågan om liv och död (2015)

Torbjörn Zetterberg - Och den stora frågan om liv och död (Moserobie, 2015)

Torbjörn Zetterberg: double bass
Susana Santos Silva: trumpet
Mats Äleklint: trombone
Jonas Kullhammar: tenor sax, flute & braithophone
Alberto Pinton: baritone sax, flute & alto flute
Jon Fält: drums
Everybody: percussion

01 - Knut Utan Slut
02 - Vad Är Inte En Metafor
03 - Säkra Tvivel
04 - Saker Överallt
05 - Kontorsmusik
06 - Vad Är Det Som Dör
07 - Innan och Efter 
08 - Springa Runt I Hjul

Over much of the past decade, Swedish bassist Torbjörn Zetterberg has pulled me into his world time and time again. He ostensibly works within jazz, but that category feels inadequate to his creative curiosity and artistic empathy. He's a strong player, but to my ears his writing, arranging, and concepts are even more formidable than his instrumental skills. He recently released two albums whose radically different approaches suggest his range. 

Om Liv & Död (Moserobie), the second record from his working band Den Stora Frågan, alternates between brawny solo bass vignettes and moody, often turbulent sextet arrangements, both of which evoke the visceral, emotive work of Charles Mingus without sounding like it. Zetterberg's killer band—reedists Jonas Kullhammar and Alberto Pinton, drummer Jon Fält, trombonist Mats Äleklint, and Portuguese trumpeter Susana Santos Silva—brings an appealing looseness to the arrangements, giving the pieces an impressive lived-in feel with strong rapport and interplay. "Vad Är Inte En Metafor" is a slab of hovering tension, with Zetterberg providing hydroplaning arco lines over which the front-line soloists make unhurried, probing excursions; meanwhile the rest of the group drops airy jabs and feints, both composed and improvised. The short, stop-start pulsing riff in the hard-driving "Säker Tvivel" halts for terse solo statements, then finally opens up with a longer improvised section that features scampering, clattering interactions between Zetterberg and Fält, soon joined by a wonderful gutbucket statement by Äleklint, one of Europe's best and most overlooked trombonists. 

The brief  "Kontorsmusik" sounds like it was recorded an echoing church, with Pinton and Kullhammar's flutes distant from the mikes for a wonderfully spooky vibe. The album concludes with the brooding "Springa Runt I Hjul", whose dark, fluttering horn utterances alternately cascade down and circle the bassist's throbbing bowed dirge. Below you can check out the ruddy, propulsive full-band track "Innan och Efter," which has a melodic sensibility that borrows a bit from Albert Ayler—though Pinton's baritone saxophone sounds more Big Jay McNeely or a bulldozer.

Zetterberg investigates much different terrain on If Nothing Else (Clean Feed), an all-improvised trio effort with Silva and French organist Hampus Lindwall, who's more an experimental musician than a jazz player; he's also the longtime organist at Parisian church Saint-Esprit, where the album was recorded. The music brings to mind wide-open spaces, with Lindwall producing haunting long tones and Silva blowing parched lines and sour blurts; it's all blunted by the acoustics of the space, which give everything a wonderfully washed-out feel, as though the music is arriving from outdoors, or wending its way through a ravine. From track to track the trio appears to takes advantage of varying microphone placement, which not only alters where each instrument is placed in the mix but also the timbral quality of each. On "Atonality," for example, Silva blows her Harmon-muted lines directly into the mike, while Zetterberg's arco surges sneakily around beneath the brass and the tension-loaded organ drones. "Cinematic" is an overused word in music criticism, but these pieces definitely convey a delicious suspense and romantic languor. Below you can hear one of the album's most turbulent pieces, "Stop Chords." [Chicago Reader]


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четверг, 3 декабря 2015 г.

Arnold Hammerschlag - No Face, No Name (2015)

Arnold Hammerschlag - No Face, No Name (Skirl, 2015)

Arnold Hammerschlag: trumpet
Sam Barfeld: violin
Will Holshouser: accordeon
Brian Glassman: bass
Aaron Alexander: drums

01 - Reflection
02 - Boat Float
03 - No Face No Name
04 - Waiting
05 - Jo
06 - Slow Road
07 - Sailor Song
08 - Picnic House
09 - Bert
10 - The All New Bunny Hop

On his long-awaited second release, No Face, No Name, trumpeter/composer Arnold Hammerschlag blends influences from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America with cinematic scope and wide-ranging jazz invention. The album, out now on Skirl Records, features ten original compositions that offer Hammerschlag’s unique twist on a mash-up of folk traditions, performed by an unconventional ensemble: Sam Bardfeld (violin), Will Holshouser (accordion), Brian Glassman (bass), and Aaron Alexander (drums).

“The idea behind the album is that each composition is like a painting in a museum,” Hammerschlag says. “All together they make up an exhibition – a whole world.”

Hammerschlag originally conceived the project under the title “Songs From Sun, Sand and Stone,” an evocative concept that illustrates the way that his music conjures landscapes. These compositions bring to mind at once the actual places where the trumpeter’s inspirations originated and an imaginary terrain where all of them overlap and dissolve into one another: the vivid Klezmer-meets-rock of “Boat Float,” the title track’s summoning a Middle Eastern crossroads cafe, a bridge between Brahms and Piazzolla on “Jo.”

The unusual quintet was born from Hammerschlag’s experience playing in a wedding band led by Klezmer- jazz pioneer Greg Wall. “In the space of one wedding we would play several different styles of Jewish, Israeli and Yemenite music, along with sets of jazz and rock and roll and top 40,” the trumpeter recalls. No Face, No Name places those sudden shifts in tone within the space of a single composition, often layering one style atop another to create bold and original juxtapositions.

The title No Face, No Name is derived from a Zen Buddhist koan relating to the practice of contemplating one’s face before birth, a spiritual grounding for the blank but richly loaded slate from which Hammerschlag approaches his compositions. It’s also a playful nod at the fresh start provided by the twelve-year wait since his debut CD, Sailing Neptune’s Waters. The mesmerizing piece “Slow Road,” with its suggestion of a mysterious caravan wending its way through an unchanging desert landscape, thus becomes something of a mission statement: “It’s an analogy for a journey that unfolds gradually over time,” Hammerschlag explains. “Most of the things I’m interested in – meditation, composition, tai chi – can’t be hurried. You grow with them over a lifetime.”

Hammerschlag’s journey began in Seattle, where he came of musical age alongside fellow jazz originals like Jim Black, Cuong Vu, Andrew D’Angelo, and Chris Speed. He studied under Jerry Granelli, Julian Priester, Jay Clayton, and Jim Knapp at Cornish College of the Arts, where he co-founded the ahead-of-its-time band Timebone. Hammerschlag arrived in New York City in 1994, where he’s since worked with a host of artists including Greg Wall, Matt Darriau, Michel Gentile, Owen Howard, Pete Epstein, Alex Harding, Tricia Woods, Chris Komer, Brent Arnold, Katie Down and Phil Haynes. [Official site]


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