Sunday, July 22, 2012

PAUL DUNMALL SUN QUARTET – Ancient and Future Airs (2009) [Repost]

Clean Feed – CF138CD
Format: CD, Album; Recording Date : 2009; Style: Free Improvisation
Barcode: 5 609063 001389
Design – Travassos, Executive-producer – Trem Azul, Mastered By – Luís Delgado, Photography By – Hernani Faustino, Recorded By, Mixed By – Jon Rosenberg
Recorded on 16 June 2008 at The Living Theatre, New York; (Mixed June 24th 2008)


As he has proved in other situations – most notably his two decades long membership in both the London Jazz Composers Orchestra and the collective quartet Mujician – saxophonist Paul Dunmall is the consummate group player.

With wide-ranging influences that take in Carnatic sounds, semi-folk material, so-called Ecstatic Jazz and free-form improv, the London-based musician is known for his tenor saxophone playing, but also tries out other members of the saxophone family – including the saxello – and has recently turned his attention to the border bagpipes.

Each of these ancillary horns makes an appearance on these notable quartet sessions. Recorded in the company of fellow British improvisers, the September Quartet features bassist Nick Stephen and drummer Tony Marsh, the trumpet of Jon Corbett and Dunmall ’ s tenor and saxello playing. Flash forward two years to 2008, when after an appearance at New York ’ s Vision Fest, Dunmall recorded the next day as part of the completely different Sun Quartet. Here his partners are all well-regarded Americans: bassist Mark Helias and Kevin Norton on drums and vibraphone, plus Tony Malaby playing soprano and tenor saxophones.

Dunmall not only showcases his tenor work, but his bagpipe style as well.
Of similar build and hirsuteness, both Malaby and Dunmall bring the same lung power to their tenor saxophone playing, using split tones, inflating diaphragm vibratos and altissimo cries to good advantage. Operating in double counterpoint and exploring individual sonic paths only feature distinguishing Malaby from Dunmall – and vice versa – is that one sax appears to be pitched higher than the other. One sky shrieks while the other favors moderato timbres. Exact identification only happens when Malaby switches to the soprano and Dunmall brings out his bagpipes.

During those sections of the extended improv, Malaby ’ s soprano wriggles in serpentine lines which expose nodes as well as notes and uses a grittier tone to goose the tempo. Far away from pipe band harmonies meanwhile, Dunmall ’ s pipes and bellows pump up the available air supply with widened and pressured tones leading to triple and quadruple multiphonics. As the pitch-sliding bagpipe drone redefines the overall sound, Malaby narrows his output with reed biting abrasive tones.

Helias ’ thick lope and Norton ’ s slaps, rebounds and accentuated drum strokes hold the performance together regardless of the reedists ’ oral gymnastics. However the metallic sparkles and slides instituted by Norton ’ s vibraphone in the tune ’ s slower sections create a unique transitional texture. At points either one or another of his percussion instruments foreshadows tempo and pitch changes, as when cymbal taping introduces internal split tones intensity from the saxophonists or when pin-pointed drum strokes and rim shots usher in a section of mellow and balladic reed runs.

Divided into four long sections, as opposed to the massive single track and short encore that make up the other CD, What Goes Around is another ad hoc set up. British expatriate trumpeter Jon Corbett arrived from his home in Germany to record with his homeboys, who besides Dunmall, include veteran bassist Nick Stephens, who has recorded with everyone from Norwegian saxophonist Frode Gjerstad to American Norton, and drummer Tony Marsh, a frequent Stephens associate.

Unlike Norton, Marsh confines his work to the drum set and the drummer ’ s traditional time- keeping role, only figuratively stepping forward a few times to take sharp and restrained solos. In this different configuration, there ’ s less good-natured challenging from Dunmall – although his work with Malaby could scarcely be termed a saxophone battle – and more tone intermingling. Still, it ’ s the tenor man who, more often than not, steps outside the comfort zone with measured split tones, while Corbett specializes in andante trumpet flourishes, gentling grace notes and muted obbligatos.

At the same time, the brass man does reveal short, frenetic sound bites or hummingbird-quick tube explorations, as he does on “ Follow Me Follow ” . There, his gentling trumpet obbligato precedes soprano saxophone sluices and cymbal vibrations. Abutting one another, the horns ’ output separate lines as Stephens ’bass walks and Marsh’ s drums rebound. With the horns ’ irregular vibrato sweetened with oral splays and growls, the track ends with a conclusive double bass pluck.

Fittingly the four climax with “ All ’ s Well that End ’ s Well ” , with Dunmall back on tenor, Corbett playing chromatic lines, and the rhythm section creating a rolling wave of string- thwacked thunder plus skittering drum beats and rim shots respectively. As the saxophonist introduces squat split tones and slurs to break up the time, he ’ s aided by the bassist ’ s supple cross strokes and half stops. Eventually the trumpeter and reedist stutter tremolo tones at one another: with one man ’ s timbres echoing the first ’ s almost immediately after initial creation. Finally sul ponticello string work, clattering drum beats, brass flutter-tonguing and reed tongue-stops coalesce architecturally, until the sounds gradually diminishing into a warm flurry of grace notes from both horns.

Whichever part of this mixed Anglo-American program you prefer, each CD shows off Dunmall ’ s inventiveness in a context with equally impressive cohorts.

by Ken Waxman (Jazzword review on July 6, 2009)

Welcome to new prog-blog "Different Perspectives In My Room...!".
Enjoy the music, and please leave a comment. Thanks in advance.

Link in Comments!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

HOWARD RILEY TRIO – The Day Will Come (1970/1999) [Repost]

Columbia – 494434 2; Format: CD, Album, Reissue; Country: UK, Released: 1999
Style: Free Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Free Improvisation; Barcode: 5 099749 443426
RE-Design by ART&JAZZ Studio SALVARICA, Engineer – Mike FitzHenry, Producer – David Howells Originally released on – CBS – 64077; Format: Vinyl, LP, Album; Country: UK, Released: 1970
Recorded: London, March 1st and April 17th, 1970

This is one of my favourite jazz records. It straddles a very interesting middle ground between complete abstraction and more traditional forms of jazz improvisation. Great tunes with unique moods. Great interplay ampongst the trio. Fantastic bass playing. The title track is even insanely catchy in an almost pop tune way. If you have any interest in British avant- garde jazz, don ’ t miss this. 

 Howard Riley – short biography:

Born as John Howard Riley, 16 February 1943, Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England. Riley began playing piano at the age of six, although it was another 10 years before he began to play jazz. At university he studied under Bernard Rands at Bangor, North Wales (1961-66) gaining BA and MA degrees, then with David Baker at Indiana, adding M.Mus to his name in 1967. From 1967-70 he studied for his PhD at York University under Wilfred Mellers, who wrote a piece (Yeibichai) for symphony orchestra, scat singer and jazz trio that was performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Frank Holder and Riley ’ s trio at the 1969 Proms. Riley had led a trio at Bangor, and later joined Evan Parker ’ s quartet. On his return from Indiana he formed a trio with Barry Guy (and sometimes Ron Rubin) and Jon Hiseman (also Tony Oxley and, later, Alan Jackson) and began writing for bands including the Spontaneous Music Ensemble and the Don Rendell – Ian Carr Quintet. At this time he also began to have his chamber and orchestral pieces performed in concert, and was a founder member of the Musicians ’ Co- Operative. He has composed for Barry Guy ’ s London Jazz Composers ’ Orchestra and the New Jazz Orchestra and played with Keith Tippett, John McLaughlin (who had also occasionally sat in with the late 60s trio), Jaki Byard, Elton Dean, the LJCO (being the featured soloist on their Double Trouble), Barbara Thompson, Oxley and many others. He has also taught at the Guildhall and Goldsmith ’ s schools of music in London and at the Center Of The Creative And Performing Arts in Buffalo. In the late 80s he began to release both old and new recordings on his own cassette label, Falcon Tapes. In 1990, he and Dean co-led a quartet of improvisers on a set of jazz standards, All The Tradition.


An occupational hazard of jazz musicians is prolixity, the urge to play on and on even when inspiration begins drying up. Performers with a hard grounding in classical disciplines— especially compositional disciplines—tend to avoid this, which may be why the music on this LP is so splendidly concise and pithy. For both Howard Riley and his bass player, Barry Guy, are practising ‘ straight ’ composers as well as jazz musicians. This shows in their work, not in the sense of classical devices being grafted on uneasily, but in the way they think about their music. Eclipse, mixing common and triple time, provides an easily grasped example, especially Riley ’ s piano solo, which instead of improvising on the chords or shape of the theme sets about developing certain elements of it. All the compositions are by either Howard Riley or Barry Guy, and each has a genuine identity of its own. One of the best is Winter, in nicely contrasting 9/4 and 8/4, its open intervals suggesting the chilliness of the title, although Riley did not set out with any intention of being programmatic. Sad Was The Song, slow and elegant, is a duet for bass and piano; Sphere and Score are brisk, brief and stick to the point; High, mostly in drawn-out 10/4, has an attractive interior buoyancy; Funeral Song involves sounds as such, with bass strings scraped, piano wires plucked and drum skins rubbed instead of struck, yet has a ripe, much more romantic middle section; Games is eruptive, Dawn Vision fairly loose, the solos stretching out for once, while The Day Will Come has a gospel feel, popinfluenced drumming and—as Riley ’ s sleevenote takes care to point out—a faintly ironic stance. Barry Guy ’ s bass playing is superb throughout the LP but at its most brilliant, perhaps, in Playtime, a real tour-de-force. This is, in fact, an outstandingly good record, and as well as composing and playing by Riley and Guy there is exceptionally intelligent and sensitive drumming from Alan Jackson. Fanciers of the older-established sorts of piano-bass- drums trios may find the music a bit cryptic to start with but familiarity should breed enjoyment.

By C.F. (Gramophon, January 1971, Page 135)

Welcome to new prog-blog "Different Perspectives In My Room...!".
Enjoy the music, and please leave a comment. Thanks in advance.

Link in Comments!

Monday, July 16, 2012

JOHN STEVENS – Application Interaction And... (1978/2002) [Repost]

Label: Hi 4 Head Records; Catalog#: HFHCD002; UK – 2002
Recorded on 31 August 1978 at Sound Suite Studios, London
Originally released on Spotlite Records
Style: avant-garde, free improvisation, Contemporary Jazz, Free Jazz
Music By [All Tracks] – Barry Guy, John Stevens (2), Trevor Watts; Photography By [Original Photographs] – Valerie Wilmer; Design – Malcolm Walker; RE-Design by ART&JAZZ Studio SALVARICA; Producer [Original Production] – Tony Williams; Reissue Producer – Nick Dart

The trio of drummer John Stevens, bassist Barry Guy and saxophonist Trevor Watts was one of Stevens ’ s hottest small groups and the two records they cut for Spotlite in the late 70s are Atlantic straddling classics that reconcile the emotive supernatural force of the late Albert Ayler with the exacting microdetail of the post SME set. Application Interaction And… was the second of these discs, the first, No Fear, having already been made available on CD by Hi 4 Head. At points the fidelity is pretty murky, with Stevens sounding like he ’ s playing his kit with boxing gloves and Guy ’ s bass almost overloading the speakers but all of that bottom end works as a delicious contrast to the upper register blasts that Watts peels from the ceiling. Guy is on inspired form and Watts ’ evocative, bluesy cries bring out the Charlie Haden in him, dropping yo-yoing notes right into the bell of Watts ’ s horn and plunging across register. The arco passage that caps the first piece sounds like more like a tiny rainbow of electronics than mere hairs on wire and Watts falls into step with a slow marching motif that feels more channelled than improvised. Stevens is better served by the second track, where his subtle time inversions and emphatic punctuation throw up countless phantom goalposts for Guy and Watts to make for. An excellent restoration of a great set.

Welcome to new prog-blog "Different Perspectives In My Room...!".
Enjoy the music, and please leave a comment. Thanks in advance.

Link in Comments!

Friday, July 13, 2012

LARRY STABBINS - Four At St. Cyprians (2006) [Repost]

Label: FMR Records (2) – FMRCD196-i0506
Barcode: 6 49849 98263 6
Format: CD, Album, Digipak; Country: UK – Released: 2006; Jazz Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation; ReDesign by ART&JAZZ Studio
Recorded live at St. Cyprian ’ s, United Kingdom, 2002-02-09
Live version of the album “ Four In The Afternoon ”


A jazz saxophonist with a bent toward progressive jazz, avant-garde music and soul, Larry Stabbins was born in Bristol, England, in 1949. He began playing saxophone at age 11 and by his teens had already begun performing in various R&B-influenced bands including working with pianist Keith Tippett with whom he has remained a creative partner over the years. In the ’ 70s, Stabbins worked with a variety of musicians including drummer John Stevens (in whose Ealing improvisation workshop he was a member), drummer ’ s Roy Ashbury and Tony Oxley and others. In the ’ 80s, Stabbins was a member of saxophonist Peter Brotzman ’ s Alarm Orchestra and Marz Combo as well as saxophonist Trevor Watt ’ s Moire Music. He was also a member of the indie-pop ensemble Weekend alongside guitarist Simon Booth with whom he later formed the eclectic Latin/soul/dance-influenced group Working Week. An artist with wide-ranging interests, Stabbins spent some time away from performing while studying philosophy at Kings College London. He returned to music in the late ’ 90s, once again with Tippett and his Tapestry ensemble as well as a re-formed Working Week. He released the album “ Four in the Afternoon ” in 2002 with pianist Howard Riley, bassist Tony Wren, drummer Mark Sanders. Stabbins followed that album up with the solo effort Mondiac in 2003.
By Matt Collar (AMG)

“Four In The Afternoon”

This new quartet is a departure from Quatuor Accorde, the other quartet that Tony Wren currently convenes. Whereas that is an all-strings affair, this one has the line-up of a conventional jazz quartet—sax, piano, bass and drums. But both play completely improvised music. And it is only the line-up here that is conventional. For example, when this quartet played a recent concert in St Cyprian ’ s Church, to promote this album, at one point Mark Sanders memorably strolled around playing on the pews and furniture—great showmanship and playing combined!
Although this is a new quartet—the album date was only their fourth meeting—there are ties between its members going back years, Wren and Larry Stabbins to the 70s, Howard Riley and Stabbins also to the 70s, Riley and Mark Sanders to the 80s. Such roots can be important in improvisation of this kind, and so it proves here. The music achieves that most dubious compliment for improv—at times it sounds pre-arranged. That is an indication of how good the four musicians are individually and how well they react and respond to each other.
Individually, Riley and Stabbins particularly stand out. Throughout, Riley is in inspired form, his playing underpinning ensemble passages and his solos often being astounding rapid-fire flurries (no surprise to those of you familiar with Riley). Stabbins has a long jazz and improv pedigree, but may be the least known member of this quartet, despite his time with soul-pop band Working Week that brought his fifteen minutes of fame. Be that as it may, his playing here is varied and, yes, beautiful. His slow, controlled tenor sax at the beginning of “ Blue Dark ” is very atmospheric, and carefully structured. (It also makes me think of Ben Webster—not a common experience with improv sax!)
Collectively, every play of this CD reveals new details to admire and enjoy. This will be music to return to time and again.
By JOHN EYLES, Published: March 1, 2002, (AAJ)

Welcome to new prog-blog "Different Perspectives In My Room...!".
Enjoy the music, and please leave a comment. Thanks in advance.

Link in Comments!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

JOHN LINDBERG ENSEMBLE – A Tree Frog Tonality (2000) [Repost]

Label: Between The Lines – BTL 008, EFA – EFA 10178-2
Format: CD, Album; Country: Germany; Released: 2000; Style: Free Jazz, Contemporary Jazz
Re Design by ART&JAZZ Studio – 2010
Recorded at Studio der Musikuniversität Graz, March 27th and 28th, 2000 

Published: November 1, 2000

With A Tree Frog Tonality, it becomes easily discernible that we are listening to a union of seasoned modern jazz experts who demonstrate their respective crafts with cunning artistry and inspiring resolve. Bassist John Lindberg is arguably one of the finest acoustic bassists on this modern jazz globe as his credits and resume reads like an unending shopping list. On this new release, Lindberg performs with his peers under the moniker of the “ John Lindberg Ensemble ” for a radiant set emanating from studio sessions recorded in March 2000 during a European tour.

The proceedings commence with the three-part “ Thanksgiving Suite ” , where Lindberg and Larry Ochs, here performing on sopranino sax, pursue dainty choruses atop staid undercurrents, whereas the duo also initiates a bit of melodrama in concert with invigorating spurts of emotion. Essentially the “ Thanksgiving Suite ” is a strong vehicle for the proverbial, let ’ s-introduce-the-band sequence yet it is quite evident that this strategy is not implemented or perhaps implied as a means for parody or traditionalism. Drummer Andrew Cyrille and Lindberg set poetry in motion on Part II – Mellow T, while Part III – Dreaming At, establishes the presence of trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith as the quartet launches into a lightly swinging yet circuitous path on the piece titled, Four Fathers. Here, Lindberg steers the flow with pronounced ostinatos and springy walking bass lines as Cyrille demonstrates his mastery of understatement by providing the rhythmic nuance with such control and precision, you ’ d think he was tapping his sticks on eggshells.

The band intimates a cool, sleek vibe with a hybrid Bop/Swing motif on Good To Go, as the musicians emit an air of suspense or bewilderment due to their shrewd implementation of multihued tonalities to coincide with a fruitful harmonic relationship.

Ultimately, The “ John Lindberg Ensemble ” provides the necessary ingredients for a mantra that befits many years of combined professionalism, savvy and superb musicianship yet it ’ s all about distinctive stylists converging for an ingenious meeting of the musical minds. Highly recommended!

* * * * * (out of * * * * *)

Welcome to new prog-blog "Different Perspectives In My Room...!".
Enjoy the music, and please leave a comment. Thanks in advance.

Link in Comments!