Monday, May 2, 2016
It captures a feel of after. After the garbage trucks with their noisy clatter have gone by, picking up those huge mountains of things we once paid dearly for, what's left now nearly valueless. It is the feeling a year later when someone important to us has passed, and what remains, memories, silence, and absence. It is when we pick up and go on.
Avishai's trumpet has some relation to Miles in his more introspective moments. Avishai has some of that searching quality. He goes into his own space with it all. Drummer Nasheet Waits gives us some beautiful counterpoint to the Cohen expressivity, neither predictable nor commonplace. Bill McHenry builds when called upon his own edifices alongside Avishai, cogent, coherent, lucid, terse. Yonathan and Eric make the most of it all too, with some considerable musicality.
It's about the spaces that embody the after, compositionally meeting the consciousness of that emptiness, improvisationally making that present vacancy sing in the moment, making that feeling very collectively personal.
Oh sure, this is an album that perhaps only ECM could make seem so poignant, that perhaps only Manfred Eicher could capture with such poignant spaciousness. And he does. But like the best recordings there is a mutual sympathy of artists and sound capturers and so creating also the maximum potential sympathy with the artists, the capturers, and the you.
If there is a zeitgeist of now, of how it feels to be sitting in one's chair and wondering where it has all come to, this music captures part of that, a zeitgeist not so much of doing, but after it and before the next doing. It is I think a part of that spirit of the now.
It is a moving aural document that will put you where you already are, but make it resonate vibrationally in some profound ways. It has a remarkable continuity and gives us a part of the art of improvisational expression we do not always get--something wholly unified yet ever moving on.
A record that reaches out to you with total artistry....
Friday, April 29, 2016
Klein, Almeida and van Duynhoven do manage to give us their own vision of a freely articulate trio jazz with crucial compositional and improvisational elements that are certainly beholden to the avant tradition of the three masters paid tribute to. Klein gets considerable torque on the alto and makes the bass and contrabass clarinets speak with great color. He manages NOT to sound too much like anyone else in the process. He is soulful, noteful and original. Almeida is very much a full-blown virtuoso on the contrabass, fulfilling a special function on arco and pizzicato for the compositional sections, an ensemble bassist of great skill and invention, and a soloist who makes for lines of continual interest. And van Duynhoven finds a comfortable, catalytic niche as a swinging time component when called upon, or as a creative drummer in the open freedom zone. What he does always seems right for the moment.
Take all of that and lay it out in nine numbers and you have some seriously worthwhile music, a trio seriously contributing to what is happening today. They put a good deal of thought, feeling and interplay into the set. In the end you go away smiling. Because this one HAS the genuine frisson the new new thing needs to launch into excellent musical territory. Highly recommended!
Thursday, April 28, 2016
The set features four longish collectively composed-improvised numbers that show a three-way dialog of a very high caliber. Each artist is saying something original and vital, and each gets plenty of room to interact and make significant statements of a free sort. Lou Grassi is one of the most important drummers on the avant jazz scene, playing well conceived, colorful washes of drum sounds with a dynamic and deliberation that make for a wide-open set of possibilities for the trio. Ken Filiano is the complete bassist, whether in arco or pizzicato mode, with a sure sense of phrasing and a propulsive, driving arc of sound color and soulfulness. Marilyn Lerner is very much a pianist who finds a special middle ground between scatter dynamics and advanced harmonic-line freedom. There is something of the new music approach to her playing as well.
The three give us an album that is thoughtful and full of feeling, expressive and dynamic. It is one of those albums that has so much to offer musically that it takes a few listens to fully digest.
Highly recommended. A piano trio in full flower, playing an unhindered and inspired set. Check it out.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
The band is a crack outfit who prevails live at JALC's Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola and the Zinc Bar for an invigorating set of hard bop classics nicely turned for big band. Timmon's "Moanin, " Hubbard's "Crises," Duke Jordan's "Jordu" and "No Hay Problemas," Golson's "Blues March" and Valery's own "Gina's Cooking."
The huge swing associated with Blakey's group is there, the band is very tight indeed, and Valery shows us he's lost nothing of the old fire. Valery's arrangements seem entirely right and there is no shortage of good soloists here.
So this is much more than a typical tribute album--it's the transposition of the Blakey repertoire and style into first-rate big band music. Good show!
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
The band is made up of Avram Fefer on saxes, bass clarinet and alto flute (and regular readers of this column may recall previous releases of his. Type his name in the search box for a few of those.) Then there is Kenny Wessel and David Phelps on electric guitars, Alexis Marcelo on electric pianos, Jason DiMatteo on electric bass, Chris Eddleton on drums and Todd Isler on percussion--the latter for three of the eight numbers.
The compositions-arrangements are more than mere platforms for the solo work of Avram, the guitarists and Alexis on keys, though they most certainly set the scene for some very nice improvisations, especially from Avram. The written parts are in the progressive rock-jazz mode, perhaps reminding a little of later Soft Machine and the later Soft offshoot outfits. There are nicely pronounced interlocking parts that give an edge and substance to things, sometimes even incorporating at times minimalist roots that provide another dimension to the grooves.
And it is the superior arrangements-compositions that, as you listen a few times, bring the music into the memorable territory. And the solo work reinforces that even further.
In the end this is an album that grabs onto you and leaves an excellent impression. If you want music that grooves yet gives you something sophisticated and advanced, this one is a definite for you!
Friday, April 22, 2016
It's a full blown blast off into free-avant territory with Peter on alto, tenor and Bb clarinet, nicely seconded by Dave Sewelson on baritone and sopranino, Larry Roland, bass, and Gerald Cleaver, drums. The recording is clear and mostly well balanced, if perhaps not of the highest quality, but the music itself is such that you forget about that once it all gets going and zero in on what is happening.
Peter and Dave get some magical two-horn dialogs rolling, but then also take plenty of solo space on their own too. Larry and Gerald bring to our ears a free-zoned and primally grooved rhythm tandem and keep the fire stoked nicely. Gerald is one of those drummers who should be listened to carefully because he is always inventive and well worth the attention.
It's some fire-y free music in the avant tradition and a rare chance to hear these artists together pushing the envelope and letting everything follow the creative wind.
I am glad to have it and I do recommend you check it out, especially if you do not know these players well or at all. Encore!
Thursday, April 21, 2016
My adventurous record collecting days in early adulthood found me tracking down a couple of her Blue Note sides and later another of her with Zoot Sims that was reissued on CD. I had heard that her original work in Germany put her loosely in a Lennie Tristano mode, but it is not until now that I have been able to hear it. Lost Tapes: The German Recordings 1952-1955 (SWR Music 423) unearths a CD's worth of live recordings made under the auspices of SWR radio.
It is, to me, a revelation. Much as I do appreciate her Blue Note recordings, it is in this earlier period that she sounds especially interesting to me. The recordings find her in a trio setting and then with the additions of the tenor of Hans Koller, who has a Konitz/Marsh sound, understandably, Atilla Zoller on guitar and a very young Albert Mangelsdorff, who at that point was a budding bopper trombonist who had already gained facility and prowess.
I find this album interesting and worthwhile for what Jutta brings to the sound. She is at times quite adventuresome in her note choices and the occasional complexities of her harmonic comping style.
If you listen closely and sympathetically you hear a pianist coming into her own, playing in a style that seemed to suit her talents much better than the hard bop she later favored. Those who do not dig Tristano and his school can perhaps leave this one alone. But if you are like me and thrive on Lennie's innovations and those that followed in his pathways, you will doubtless hear in these recordings an interesting and talented acolyte who may have gone much further and thrived had she stayed on this route.
Fascinating music from a pianist whose migration to the US ultimately was her undoing. Hear this one if you want to know why she attracted all the attention in those first years.