Sunday, September 30, 2012


Label: TUM Records – TUM CD 007
Format: CD, Album; Country: Finland; Released: 2004
Style: Free Improvisation, Free Jazz
Artwork – Lars-Gunnar Nordström; Design – Juha Lökström, Santtu Parikka;
Re Design by ART&JAZZ Studio SALVARICA
Liner Notes – Petri Haussila, Reggie Workman
Mastered By – Henrik Otto Donner; Mixed By – Esa Santonen, Otto Donner; Photography By – Maarit Kytöharju; Photography By [Cover Painting Photographed By] – Janne Mäkinen
Producer – Petri Haussila

Recorded at Finnvox in Helsinki, Finland, on November 23, 2002 (tracks 1-6) and by Esa Santonen at the Chamber Music Hall of the Finlandia House in Helsinki, Finland, on November 22, 2002 (track 7). Mixed and mastered at DER in Tammisaari, Finland.

Juhani Aaltonen
Active Decades: '80s, '90s and '00s
Born: Dec 12, 1935 in Kouvola, Finland
Genre: Jazz Styles: Modern Creative

This Finnish saxophonist and flutist is largely associated with the fusion jazz efforts of bandleader Edward Vesala. Juhani Aaltonen began playing professionally in the late '50s and, by 1961, was somewhat of a veteran at the numerous dance gigs his fellow countrymen used to keep from freezing to death. One of his first professional jobs was in a sextet led by trumpeter Heiki Rosendahl. More serious matters on his mind, he began studying the classical flute at the Sibelius Academy, then came stateside for a stint at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. At this point, he was heavily influenced by John Coltrane and was leaning toward the free side of things, as in free improvisation and free jazz. Berklee did not round this up to a threesome and offer free tuition, however. Soon after returning to Finland, he made the jump to the big city, in this case Helsinki. There he found plentiful work as a studio hack, but was also making a name for himself on the jazz scene. It was certainly the ground floor for jazz-rock and fusion experiments, and while American artists such as Miles Davis led the way, there was much interesting music in this idiom coming out of all parts of Europe, as well. He began a successful collaboration with Edward Vesala, in the beginning involving long duo sessions. Aaltonen blew in the jazz-rock outfit Eero Koivistoinen, also laying down his first creative recording tracks in his stint with the band. He worked with this group off and on for the next four years, but the association with Vesala was also going on during this entire period. A fellow Finn, the percussionist and composer Vesala was actually the younger man by a decade. Because of this bandleader's success at cracking the international fusion jazz market, these recordings remain Aaltonen's highest profile work. A recording with the big band of Thad Jones and Mel Lewis represents even further mainstream jazz identification, although the jazz-rock ethos made an impact on this band as well after the '60s. The recording does not provide Aaltonen with much soloing space, however. He recorded with Heiki Sarmanto in 1969 and 1972, and from 1974, concentrated his energy on his efforts as a leader. He released his debut solo album, Etiquette, in 1974. In 1975, he was a member of Helsinki's New Music Orchestra. The Nordic All Stars have of course called on Aaltonen, and he has worked with the quartet of bassist Arild Andersen in the late '70s and with the hearty German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann. Aaltonen nabbed a lot of studio work in the '80s and also toured Europe with Andersen, regularly appearing on albums. The UFO Big Band project allowed him a regular solo spotlight in this period, putting him in the company of both Jan Garbarek, perhaps the most famous Scandinavian reed player, and Charlie Mariano, a bop-era saxophonist who expatriated to Europe. In the mid-'80s, something of a dream for any musician came true for Aaltonen when he received a 15-year state grant, again allowing him to concentrate on his own projects. Spirituality began to be a strong influence and he began to perform more frequently at church concerts and related events and much less at rowdy jazz- rock gigs. In the '90s, he presented a remarkable solo flute recital at the Tampere Biennale and returned to the collaboration with Sarmanto. In 1990 and 1992, Aaltonen toured with his own quartet. "For me life is an ongoing school and I am an enigma even to myself," is an example of Aaltonen's philosophy as provided by the Finnish Music Information Centre, the enigma compounded by the Centre's assertion that this comment was made on the musician's "150th birthday." In 2000, the duo of Aaltonen and Sarmanto released their most successful venture together to date, the duo recording Rise.

---Eugene Chadbourne, All Music Guide


The six pieces on this album turn the extroverted expressiveness of free jazz into an introverted study of quiet intensity. Recorded during a 2002 visit to Finland by Cyrille and Workman that also produced the chamber orchestra collaboration of Strings Revisited , Reflections showcases three mature voices of free jazz ’ s first wave. Their mutual respect shows in the ample room each gets to mold the trio ’ s improvisations, giving the music an expansive, exploratory atmosphere.
Five of the seven tunes are Aaltonen ’ s, and they lean towards wandering lyrical journeys. The ballad “ Serenity ” simmers with Aaltonen ’ s smoky, raw tone and Cyrille ’ s shimmering cymbal backdrop. “ Supplications ” pulls the spiritual weight of a Coltrane dirge, the trio ’ s voices merging in an impassioned cross talk. Workman first bows, then adds thick, picked phrases, Cyrille points out multiple rhythmic directions on snare and cymbal while Aaltonen unwinds long strings of husky, rasping tenor sax.

But it is Aaltonen ’ s flute that provides the album ’ s most meaningful moments. On Cyrille ’ s suite “ The Navigator, ” his full-bodied tone and heavy vibrato gives the melody lonely immediacy, contrasting sharply with Cyrille ’ s low-key march and Workman ’ s piercing upper- register stabs and double-stops. Workman underpins the second part with a cyclical, swinging 6/8, and Aaltonen shows a more rhythmic, though still melodic side. “ Still Small Voice ” again features Aaltonen, this time darting in and out of Workman and Cyrille ’ s fragmented pulse.

But the real proof of this group ’ s maturity and inventiveness is “ Effervesce, ” a tune that embodies its title. Aaltonen sets the pace with a rapid, stuttering fragment, like a bebop phrase set free from its harmonic foundation. Cyrille at first colors with shakers, a gong and glass bottle, then falls silent for Workman to enter with a churning pulse. When Cyrille re-enters, he brings the trio to a rolling boil. Just when you think they will ascend to a full out peak, Workman takes a bowed solo that is a smear of upper-register clusters and percussive beating. They create the feeling of freedom, but with an unfelt craftsmanship.
On Reflections Aaltonen, Workman and Cyrille demonstrate that free music and lyricism are not mutually exclusive ideas. By using a restraint learned from experience, they show that intense introspection can generate as much raw emotional impact as the most explosive expression.

By Matthew Wuethrich (AAJ)

While bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Andrew Cyrille are famous in advanced jazz circles, Juhani Aaltonen is lesser known despite being a veteran. Based in his native Finland, Aaltonen has long been one of the leading lights in Scandinavian free jazz. He has also performed religious music and orchestra works. His collaboration with Workman and Cyrille, despite having some very fiery and explorative moments, emphasizes ballads, lyricism and spiritual moments. While Aaltonen sometimes hints at John Coltrane (including not-too- surprisingly Trane's "Selflessness" and the opening "Serenity"), his flute playing has no obvious past role model. Taking its time, this is very much an ensemble music with Aaltonen being the lead voice among equals. It has a quiet strength all its own and grows in power and purpose with each listen. Recommended.

~ Scott Yanow, All Music

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

LOU REED, JOHN ZORN, LAURIE ANDERSON - Live At Middelheim Park (2009)

Lou Reed, John Zorn, Laurie Anderson - Live At Middelheim Park
Date: 2009-August-13
Venue: Middelheim Park; City: Wilrijk (Antwerpen); Country: Belgium
Style: avant-garde, free improvisation, jazz, modern rock
Original Design by ART&JAZZ Studio SALVARICA
Artwork and Complete Design by Vitko Salvarica - 2012

Jazz Middelheim 2009 
Park Den Brandt 
Antwerpen, Belgium 

The Jazz Middelheim festival is nearing its fortieth anniversary, but it's a weekender that hasn't relinquished a fondness for adventure. Nuzzling up against its stellar bookings are acts, Belgian and otherwise, who seek to jolt the expectations of many audience members. The entertaining middle way is subverted by the sideways thrust of jazz extremity. This, too, can often be entertaining. 2009 is the second year that Bertrand Flamang has been in charge of organization and programming. He's already known for nearly a decade's sterling work running the nearby Gent Jazz Festival, and has rapidly established a house style at Jazz Middelheim.

There's a similar format, in terms of stylistic contrasts, timing structure, food vendors and Belgian beer range. The main practical difference to the Gentfest is that the marquee stage is more integrated with the landscape of its park setting; all of the bars, stalls and food outlets ranged in a roughly circular fashion around the festival's musical heart. It's possible to sprawl on the lawn and still enjoy a (distant) view of the performers, should such a casual engagement be desired. If choosing to sit up close, an early arrival is advised, as attendance is gratifyingly swollen, even in these hard times.


Lou Reed and John Zorn played their first gig at The Stone, a New York experimental joint operated by the saxophonist. This was in January of 2008, severely stretching the capacity of a space that can just about contain 73 punters. Laurie Anderson was their special guest on that night, and here that threesome was reunited, this time performing in front of a thousands- strong throng, seemingly a one-off festival exclusive for Jazz Middelheim. Reed and Anderson are to play subsequent European dates, but without Zorn. When Reed and Zorn met again at New York's Poisson Rouge club in November 2008, the target was eardrum destruction, with the pair in a highly aggressive state that didn't waver all night. Reed churned and Zorn caterwauled, to ripping effect. The addition of Anderson might be a factor in this gig's greater lyrical content, as she's fond of crafting layered electro-violin washes, often disguising her output by making sonic processing tweaks.

For the first thirty minutes or so, the trio flailed around, attempting to locate the sometimes elusive coalescence of improvisational magic. It was Zorn who primarily took the lead, frequently turning up a new direction as he graduated from compressed squawking to open bebop grace, then reverting that same flow. Reed appeared the most unfulfilled, riffing sluggishly and failing to connect. This is the big risk of free improvisation, particularly when taken in front of a huge (and hugely expectant) festival audience. Around halfway through the set, all three suddenly intersected, catching onto a simultaneous energy. The hypno-riffing locked, built and burst, with Reed even singing primitivist fragments at one stage, before ditching his guitar and triggering grimy samples on his mixing desk/keyboard. Zorn was both technician (gloriously precise shrieks) and hysterical intuitive (gloriously throttling bell-into- inner-thigh glottalisms).

This was a divisive performance. Even punters who have obviously turned out on the strength of these star names (either one, two or maybe even all three) were drifting off impatiently into the night, presumably displeased by such experimental antics. What did they expect? The majority, though, were transfixed, and ultimately enthusiastic, rewarding this now-laughing sternoid three for their extremely involved noise-sculpting session. Yes, Zorn and Reed were looking remarkably cheerful, a demeanor that was already expected from Anderson.

By MARTIN LONGLEY, Published: September 28, 2009 (AAJ)

Comment underneath was for the record in "The Stone", New York, 2008:

If you haven ’ t heard of John Zorn, Lou Reed, or Laurie Anderson , you probably don ’ t follow progressive rock or experimental music all that closely.
The three are what seem to be the “ three musketeers ” of experimental music and have been playing it since the heyday of Andy Warhol ’ s Factory.
You'll find plenty of over-blowing saxophone, electric violin, screeching, and singing throughout this recording.
If you are in the mood for a relaxing, calming sound, this is not for you.
If you are in the mood for a musical performance that will get you thinking, you have found the right catalyst.
The Stone: Issue Three is filled with plenty of arresting, cinematic, and sonic textures that will have you on the edge of your seat – if this is your sort of thing. If not, you ’ ll be heading for the door.
The record is a performance of freedom run wild with three iconic New York City Downtowners put to the test to collaborate and come up with something meaningful, sonic, and interesting.
They do not fail, though many critics would rather pan this work than see it for what it is – a truly innovative and worthy experience.
The album is one without structure, which is everything and nothing these three musicians are about. Reed, Anderson, and Zorn hail from making music with a strong narrative, rock sound, jazzy influence, and lyrical influence and this is what we get a glimpse of on The Stone: Issue Three though it seems that they do move away from their norm in each performance. There is no specific parameter nor is there a specific structure.
There are three tracks on the album aptly titled Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. There is no use for a name on this record.
John Zorn plays an awesome saxophone, Laurie Anderson provides her cool, disembodied voice, and Lou Reed offers up his guitar genius.
This is a truly avant-garde record if there ever was one.
Since this is a performance album, it is worthy to note the venue at which it was recorded. The Stone is a non-profit performance space strictly dedicated to experimental and avant- garde works.
There is no sale of merchandise or refreshments here, and everyone is always welcome.
The Stone is located in New York City ’ s Lower East Side.
The Stone: Issue Three was recorded during a performance by the three artists, who are legendary in and of themselves. The venue itself books performances only on a curatorial basis and never accepts a demo.
It is a place where artists may come, perform, and feel free in their freedom of expression.
Even if you are not completely interested in experimental music, The Stone: Issue Three is worth a few minutes of your time.
When listening to this record, you will be allowed to experience the genius of three truly modern rock geniuses.
This is a legendary record, even for those who were not at the actual performance.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

TIM BERNE – The Empire Box (1998) - 5CDs

Label: Screwgun Records – SCREW U 70009
Format: 5 × CD, Album Box Set, Compilation
Country: US Released: 1999; Style: Jazz, Free jazz
Engineer – Kazunori Sugiyama; Mastered By – Bob Ludwig
Producer – Brian Horner, Jon Rosenberg
Compiles four early vinyl LPs released on Berne's own label, Empire Productions
All albums have been digitally remastered.

1. The Glasco Cowboy (For Julius Hemphill)
2. A.K. Wadud (For Abdul Wadud)
3. Computerized Taps for 12 Different Steps
4. N.Y.C. Rites

Personnel: Tim Berne (alto saxophone); Vinny Golia (baritone saxophone, alto flute, piccolo); Glenn Ferris (trombone); John Carter (clarinet); Roberto Miranda (acoustic bass); Alex Cline (percussion).
Producers: Tim Berne, Alex Cline, Nels Cline.
Engineers: Bruce Bidlack, Tony.
Recorded at Melnitz Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles, California on April 25, 1979.

CD 2 - 7X
1. Chang Tim Berne
2. The Water People (For Brian Horner)
3. 7x
4. Flies
5. A Pearl in the Oliver C.
6. Showtime (For Don and Thelma Cline)

Personnel: Tim Berne (alto saxophone); Vinny Golia (baritone saxophone, flute, bassoon, khene); Nels Cline (electric 6- & 12-string guitars, Hawaiian steel guitar); Roberto Miranda (acoustic bass); Alex Cline (percussion).
Producers: Brian Horner, Alex Cline, Nels Cline, Tim Berne.
Engineer: Bruce Bidlack.
Recorded at Intermix Studio, Los Angeles, California on January 8, 1980.

1. Hot and Cold
2. Spectres
3. Grendel (For Hamid Drake)
4. Stroll
5. For Charles Mingus

Personnel: Tim Berne (alto saxophone); Olu Dara (cornet); James Harvey (trombone); Ed Schuller, John Lindberg (bass); Alex Cline (percusion).
Producers: Tim Berne, Gary Halvorson.
Recorded in Brooklyn, New York on February 5, 1981.

1. San Antonio/The Unknown Factor
2. Roberto Miguel (For Roberto Miguel Miranda)
3. New Dog/Old Tricks

1. Shirley's Song (For Shirley Britt) /The Mutant of Alberan
2. Flies/ The Ancient Ones (For Alex Cline)

Personnel: Tim Berne (alto saxophone); Mack Goldsbury (soprano & tenor saxophones); Ed Schuller (bass); Paul Motian (drums).
Producer: Tim Berne.
Engineer: Kazunori Sugiyama.
Recorded at Inroads, New York, New York on July 1, 1981.


The most remarkable thing about this box set of four of Tim Berne's reissued releases from the JMT label is that the wealth, depth, and breadth of the material here was recorded in only two years. This is astonishing, if one considers -- merely by cracking the box set open (a very handsome cardboard sleeve, really) and looking at the notes -- that Berne composed, arranged, and performed on these albums with no less than four different bands during the period. For starters, from 1979 there is The Five Year Plan, which featured Berne alongside the late clarinetist John Carter, wind and reedman Vinny Golia, drummer Alex Cline, and bassist Roberto Miranda. This is a live date with Berne's aggressive saxophone work taking a back seat to his leading a band full of strident personalities. Certainly he blows here, especially on alto on "The Glasco Cowboy," written for his mentor and hero, the late Julius Hemphill. Carter and Golia entwine each other, playing through separate harmonic architectures through the entire gig. Everything is crash and burn, and let's see who gets there first. Next is 7x, with Miranda, Cline, his brother Nels on guitars, Golia, and trombonist John Rapson. Here, the aggression factor is heightened by the presence of Nels Cline, whose overdriven scree and amplitude push Berne into the red zone and make Golia carry the structural frameworks and harmonic structures of most of the numbers. An excellent example is when Berne and Cline begin to solo at each other in "The Water People," and Golia and Rapson offer a contrapuntal intervallic figure to hold them in check while the rhythm section moves the tune into more open territory to accommodate them.

On Spectres, from 1981, Berne's counterparts include trombonist James Harvey, Olu Dara on cornet, and John Lindberg and Ed Schuller on alternating basses. On the title track and on "Hot and Cold," Berne utilizes the humorous aspects of Dara's attack on the cornet. Dara is the king of tricks on the instrument, and gives everything a loose carnival feel, even in the heat of a chromatic solo. When the band launches into "Stroll" with Lindberg, it's two players with a wry sense of jester's humor moving through Berne's raw emotionalism and roughing out the edges; the tempered moments of free- swinging post-bop are joyous in both their levity and intensity. Finally, on the double album Songs and Rituals in Real Time, Berne's compositions are in the hands of a band that includes drummer Paul Motian, Ed Schuller, and saxophonist Mack Goldsbury. In this quartet, also recorded in 1981, Berne found the perfect balance of aggressive improvisatory innovation and hardcore, taut ensemble playing. His compositions and arrangements walked the tightrope between restrained, reserved timbral and tonal equanimity and a swinging, blowing rhythmic intensity that had each saxophone player trying to move the other up the scale, not in terms of competition, but in expression. From a knotty, shimmering blues-like figure on "New Dog/Old Tricks," Berne slips into a modal R&B as Goldsbury answers him by taking the modal scale out of the rhythm section's interval, carrying it into an empty one (a diminished fourth), and roaring into the stratosphere with it. For their part, Motian and Schuller play around with time a lot, they stretch intervals to the breaking point and somehow roll them over, and conversely break apart small units of time into bebop-like figures. The 25-minute "The Ancient Ones" is one of Berne's finest moments as a composer and as a soloist, as he goes head to head with Schuller and Motian for ten minutes and clips through the entire chromatic range of his chord progression's palette. Each color becomes another figure upon which to build and deconstruct.

This set is a must for Berne's fans who didn't have the opportunity to get the records the first time around and, for those who did, hearing them in this way, as a set of music spanning only two years (the albums themselves were issued over a longer period), it becomes a revelation of Berne's development as a bandleader and as a soloist. Here is the shop work that witnessed him harnessing his considerable power as a composer and his frighteningly deft ability as a soloist, while leading not just one but four bands in a variety of settings with the same clarity and quality. Essential.

~ By Thom Jurek

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Monday, September 24, 2012


Label: LJ Records; Catalog#: LJCD5209
Country: Sweden; Year: 1993
Style: avant-garde, free improvisation, Contemporary Jazz, Free Jazz
Recorded live during a tour in Sweden 1993.

Mbat with Peeter Uuskyla and Barre Phillips voted best CD of the year in Finland 1997


LJ Records has the great pleasure of introducing unique music to you. Unique because it would be impossible without these special musicians, unique because it is impossible and unthinkable to repeat this performance. Biggi Vinkeloe, alto saxophone and flute, has lived in France and Germany and is now living in Sweden. She has performed with amongst others André Jaume, Jacques Veillé, Alain Rellay, Cecil Taylor and Barre Phillips before starting her own trio in 1990. The Biggi Vinkeloe Trio recorded the album "Mr Nefertiti" (Canastero Records) in Cologne, Germany 1991. Peeter Uuskyla, drums, grew up in Sweden. He went to Berlin 1988 to play with Cecil Taylor, stayed in Germany and played with different groups and since 1990 mostly with Biggi Vinkeloe Trio. Barre Phillips is an American bassplayer living in France, who has put his bass in the foreground in whatever project he is playing! He made the first-ever album of solo bass improvisation as long ago as 1968. This edition of Biggi Vinkeloe Trio is of first performances from 1992 and this album was recorded during a tour in Sweden 1993.

Biggi Vinkeloe Biography
Born: March 8, 1956
Instrument: Saxophone

Born in Germany. Studied and lived in France from 1974 to 1988. Since then lives and works in Sweden.

Working bands: Trio REV, with Lisle Ellis and Donald Robinson / Duo Robinson--Vinkeloe / Trio Chris Brown, Donald Robinson, Biggi Vinkeloe / She performs as a soloist as well.

Biggi Vinkeloe has performed in Sweden, France, Germany, England, Finland, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Canada, USA , with Peeter Uuskyla, Barre Phillips, Peter Kowald, Cecil Taylor, Ken Filiano, Steve Swell, Joel Futtermann, Alex Cline, Chris Brown, Jacques Veille, Giancarlo Locatelli, Alberto Braida, Filippo Monico, Roberto Bellatalla, Paul Plimley, Jackson Krall, Joachim Zoepf, Georg Wolf, Gino Robair, Gianni Gebbia, Jerome Bryerton, Wayne Lopes, Paul Obermayer, Rex Casswell, Peter Friis Nielsen, Perry Robinson, Lotte Anker, Sylvie Degiez, Vinny Golia, Harris Eisenstadt, Damon Smith, Mark Weaver, Mischa Feigin, Marco Eneidi, Mary Oliver, Miya Masaoka, Donald Robinson, Lisle Ellis among others.

She has performed with musicians from other boards, such as heavy metal bass player Magnus Rosén and drummer Anders Johansson; organ player Karin Nelson or New Music accordion player Marie Wärme; different choirs with music ranging from Saint Birgitta to modern music.

Collaboration with dancers and choreographers, such as Inka Tiitinen (FIN), Tommy Kitty (FIN), Katie Duck (NL), Carmen Olsson (S) / with visual artists, Jake Tilson (GB), Andrew Cowie (GB), Ebbe Pettersson (S), Gilda Previn (USA).

She has initiated and produced major projects: Over the Ocean, October 2000, Sweden, with visual artists, dancers, poets and musicians from Hamburg, Gothenburg, New York, London. Echoes, ‘ events in the exhibition ’ , Sweden, music series with international musicians, since 2001, at the Art Space ‘ Röda Sten ’ in Gothenburg ( European Echoes / United Nations, multi/media projects with artists from different countries. Performances in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Finland and Italy. Since 1993. M.A.D. (music, art, dance) with financial support by ESF-Radet (European Social Funding) and Roda Sten, with performers from the US and Sweden. Festivals: Du Maurier Jazz Festival, Vancouver, Canada / Taktlos Festival, Bern and Zurich, Switzerland / Kerava Jazz Festival, Finland / Umea Jazz Festival, Sweden / Göteborgs Jazzdagar, Sweden / Eldenaer Jazznights, Germany / Nancy Jazz Pulsation, France / Festival de Franche Comte, France / Cecil Taylor in Berlin, FMP, Germany / Documenta Kassel, Germany / Sounds Festival Stockholm, Sweden / Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Denmark / Jazz Festival Prague, Czech Republic

Artist in Residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts, San Francisco, spring 2001 Grants: City of Kungalv 1995, Bohus Landstinget 1997, Region of Vastra Gotaland 2005, Adalbertska Stiftelse (Foundation) 2005, Swedish Council for Cultural Affairs 1995, 1998, 2003 and 2005. Artist in Residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts in San Francisco spring 2001.

Grants for specific projects, mostly in Sweden.

Mbat with Peeter Uuskyla and Barre Phillips voted best CD of the year in Finland 1997. Imagine a Place with Magnus Rosen voted best CD of the year in Bresil 2001. Best concert of the year in Manchester 2000 with Peeter Uuskyla. – AAJ

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

BRÖTZMANN, McPHEE, KESSLER, ZERANG - The Damage Is Done (Live At Alchemia 2008)

Label: Not Two Records – MW 823-2
Format: 2 × CD, Album; Country: Poland/USA; Released: 2009
Style: Free Improvisation
Design – Brötzm; Mixed By, Mastered By – Lou Malozzi; Music By – McPhee/Brötzmann/Kessler/Zerang Producer – Marek Winiarski
Packaging: Cardstock Gatefold Sleeve
Recorded at 'Alchemia', Krakow, March 16th, 2008, Mixed and mastered June 2009.


This live date features legendary free jazz pioneers Peter Brötzmann and Joe McPhee, and Chicago's leading rhythm section, bassist Kent Kessler and drummer Michael Zerang. The four also make up 4/10 of Brötzmann's Chicago Tentet, maybe the most successful large new music jazz ensemble ever assembled.

As they have in the past while touring with the Tentet, they step away and perform in this more intimate lineup. This quartet has released two previous recordings, Tales Out Of Time (hatOLOGY, 2004) and Guts (Okka, 2007), with The Damage Is Done's two discs recorded live at Alchemia in Krakow, Poland in March of 2008.

While the players can (and do) perform volatile energy jazz here, their preference is for music that's dissectible enough for the players to be distinguished in parts and direction.

The obvious reference point here is the legend of Albert Ayler and his brother Donald. Brötzmann has never shied away from his admiration for free jazz's holy ghost. With Brötzmann on tenor and McPhee sporting the trumpet role, the attention to Ayler can be heard on "With Charon" and the title track (all 30-plus minutes). Brötzmann and McPhee's stamina, both nearing 70, is impressive. The pair delivers an onslaught of energy with a relentless attack, the only pause being for Zerang and Kessler's solos. With that, the pace slows, allowing Brötzmann to paint from a different palette. This gentler approach acts as a collection point before the music again spreads its energy patterns outward.

Kessler and Zerang open "Alchemia Souls," with itchy bowed bass and sound effect brushes on drums. Brötzmann enters, playing a persistent tarogato before McPhee's twitchy alto joins. The rhythm section maintains the energy through constant motion. The more affable music making here comes at the urging of the rhythm section. Slowing down the pulse or playing with mallets coaxes the horn players to decelerate and clarify the sound.

The breadth and power of these four players comes through with an exhaustive clarity in this crisp and vigorous live recording.

By MARK CORROTO, Published: December 24, 2009 (AAJ)

                    Marek Winiarski and Peter Brötzmann, Alchemia 2008

The reason why Joe McPhee and Peter Brötzmann form a great horn section is because their styles are linked and still quite different. McPhee can be violent and fierce, but he has that touch of sentimentality - in the good sense of the word - and spirituality that is entirely lacking with Brötzmann. The latter is a force of nature, all power and energy, but he has his poetic side too. Besides the violence, they share technical skills, musical vision and first and foremost instruments that are a direct conduit to their feelings, unaltered, without embellishment, without unnecessary ornaments or fake feelings. They deliver directly : raw, authentic, true to themselves. Ken Kessler on bass and Michael Zerang on drums feed the hurricane that is blowing in front of them, relentlessly.

But the hurricane can become a light breeze too. And that is to a certain extent largely to be ascribed to both McPhee and Kessler, who add more nuance and subtlety, melodic elaboration and lyricism, but don't get mistaken about Brötzmann either: the slow and very beautiful melody that he develops in the quiet middle part of the thirty-minute title song is entirely his, almost sounding like McPhee. It is a real pleasure how the German manages to find the common ground, but don't worry either, it doesn't take long before he blows his lungs out again, so much so, that it almost becomes an entertainment by itself. The second track, "Alchemia Souls", is more free improv, a sound dialogue between the four musicians, and the title refers to the Alchemia Club, in Krakow, Poland were the performance took place on March 16, 2008.

The second disc is even better, with titles referring to the descent into the Greek underworld. Soft and poetic flowing passages alternate with gut-wrenching sound blasts and the most excruciating emotional explorations - after all: you are in hell, yet it all fits, it has coherence and purpose, indeed like Acheron, the river of pain, that flows through Hades. Anger, human misery, dissatisfaction with the world, yes. But also musical beauty and great artistic delivery, very balanced in a very varied performance.The only downside of the performance is that Brötzmann's sax comes across much louder than McPhee's, but whether that's a question of sound mixing or because of sheer decibels produced, remains unsolved.

By Stef (FreeJazz, December 14, 2009)

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Different Perspectives In My Room...! – 'Brötzmann', Poster No.3

Graphic Design
Different Perspectives In My Room...!
'Brötzmann', Poster No.3 
The original photo by...?
Design by ART&JAZZ Studio SALVARICA - 2012

"Both sets from the meeting of trumpeter and alto saxophonist Joe McPhee and reed player Peter Brötzmann with Kent Kessler and Michael Zerang performing live at Alchemia in 2008. From gritty determination to melodic beauty, this is jaw-dropping free jazz from four masters of the form."

Welcome to new prog-blog "Different Perspectives In My Room...!".
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Regards, Vitko

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

ROOF - Trace (1999) - Live At Bremen and Amsterdam 1997

Label: Red Note – Catalog ID: RN 7
Format: CD, Album; Country: Netherlands Released: 1999
Style: Free Jazz, Alternative Rock, Avantgarde
Artwork – Isabelle Vigier; Vatcher Engineer – Gisela Kniemeyer (tracks: 1, 2 to 4, 6, 8, 9); Liner Notes – Kevin Whitehead; Mastered By – Zlaya Saguvic
Music By – Roof; Producer – Peter Schulze (tracks: 1, 2 to 4, 6, 8, 9); Recording Supervisor – Torsten Müller (3) (tracks: 1, 2 to 4, 6, 8, 9); Technician – Inge Schmidt (tracks: 1, 2 to 4, 6, 8, 9), Rolf Osis (tracks: 1, 2 to 4, 6, 8, 9)

Track 1, 5 and 7 recorded live at Bimhuis, Amsterdam on June 21, 1997. 
Intro of 1, 2 to 4, 6, 8, 9 recorded live at Lagerhaus, Bremen on June 25, 1997. 

Issued in gatefold cardboard sleeve, including thin folded paper insert with individual photographs of each artist (printed on one side only).

Tom Cora - cello
Luc Ex - bass
Phil Minton - vocals
Michael Vatcher - drums

Tom Cora described himself as "a musician who happens to play cello." That humble description belies the fury of his cello, but points to the overall musicality and excellence that he demonstrated as a musician. A seminal figure in the early downtown NY scene of the 70's Cora played with seemingly everyone of note, both in and around that scene. His early work had him playing with Lee Konitz and Don Cherry. He then formed the band Curlew with George Cartwright and Bill Laswell, arguably that band's best period. Moving to Manhattan in 1979 he fell in with artists like Steve Beresford, Fred Frith, Kramer, Eugene Chadbourne, John Zorn, and Butch Morris. He and Fred Frith created the incredible band Skeleton Crew, and with Samm Bennett the excellent "virtual trio" band Third Person. He collaborated with the Dutch band The Ex, and formed The Hat Shoes with wife/avant vocalist Catherine Jauniaux. With Phil Minton he formed the unusual band Roof which toured the European avant/free- improv scene to acclaim (and continues to under the name "4 Walls." His untimely death from melanoma robbed the world of a tremendous musician, a charismatic and vigorous player who is still missed.

1 Trace  (7:28),  2 Halts  (7:16),  3 A Plinth  (0:39),  4 Buda Buda  (2:42),  5 Spit Pedro  (8:02),  6 Janna Li(v)e  (7:49),  7 Magnifique  (4:28),  8 Glory Too  (3:06),  9 Blind Spots  (4:22)

Amazing band that ended far too early in their creative cycle due to the early demise of Tom Cora. The band continued as 4Walls, but the recordings under the name Roof remain stellar achievements.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

FRODE GJERSTAD with John Edwards & Mark Sanders - The Welsh Chapel (2003)

Label: Cadence Jazz Records – CJR 1161
Format: CD, Album; Country: US - Released: May 13, 2003
Producer by Frode Gjerstad, Bob Rusch; Engineer by Frode Gjerstad Recording
Barcode: 0786497524921 
Recorded in London's Welsh Chapel, August 4, 2002, England
Liner Note Author: Frode Gjerstad
Recording information: London, England (08/04/2002); Arrangers: Frode Gjerstad; John Edwards ; Mark Sanders; Audio Mixer: Frode Gjerstad


This one has all the trappings of an impromptu performance. After meeting British heavyweights bassist John Edwards and drummer Mark Sanders in the spring of 2002, Norwegian saxophonist Frode Gjerstad called them in advance of a trip to London that summer, and they decided to record a set in London's Welsh Chapel, with which they used Gjerstad's recording gear that he brought with him. The session clicks on almost every level for a variety of reasons. The saxophonist is clearly inspired by his rhythm section (who wouldn't be?), as they prod him to near-Elysian heights. Whether exploring the altissimo range on "The Welsh Chapel, Pt. 3" or just pounding away ferociously there and on every track, Gjerstad soars with the swiftness of an eagle readying to strike its prey. While a full hour of crushing pebbles sometimes makes for difficult listening, impressive solos by both Edwards and Sanders offer some respite, and Gjerstad's quieter sonorities on clarinet lessen the bite, though not the artistic value. By the time of this recording, Gjerstad had fully demonstrated his connection to the take-no-prisoners approach of, say, a Peter Brötzmann (with whom Gjerstad has recorded with usually outstanding results), but often the key to success lies in the vagaries of the moment and the compatibility of the sidemen. Here is an example of Gjerstad at his finest, blowing hard and firm, but connecting in mysterious ways with his hosts. For those wanting to be introduced to this exciting player, this album may be the place to start.

by Steve Loewy

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

JOE MORRIS – Wildlife (2009)

Label : AUM Fidelity - AUM056
All compositions by Morris/Cancura/Gray (Riti publishing, ASCAP)
P+C 2009 AUM Fidellity
Produced by Joe Morris
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Petr Cancura
Recorded at Riti Studios, Guilford, Connecticut, March 16, 2008
Photo by Joe Morris; Cover layout by Anne Marcotty


It is extremely rare to have a record start with a three-minute drum solo, as an introduction for an uptempo free bop power improvisation by a trio. The band is Joe Morris on bass, Petr Cancura on sax and Luther Gray on drums. "Again?", you might think and you think right. No later than two months ago the almost same trio already released an album, "Fine Objects" on the Polish Not Two Records, only the drummer is different. And whereas the previous album still contained some composed material, the music is more free, more improvised, but as boppish and as likeable. Gray and Morris take care of the drive and the forward motion, Cancura keeps the attention going with his powerful and sensitive playing. The second piece "Thicket" made me think more than once of Ethiopian composer and vibist Mulatu Astatqé, not only because of Cancura's longing and very melodic development, but also because of the more expansive rhythms. Regardless of the influence, the piece is a pure beauty. The third piece "Crow" is more spiritual and bluesy, slow and deep and emotional and soulful, keeping the deep essence of the tradition, but packaged in a more modern and free way. The album ends with the upbeat "Nettle", uptempo and boppish again, full of great playing by all three musicians, and again, as unpretentious and musically honest as their previous release. Luther Gray is great. Morris as unpredictable as ever - and I always welcome his lyricism on bass. Cancura is a guy to watch. Enjoy!

By Stef (FreeJazz)

Widely revered in avant-garde music circles for his innovative approach to the electric guitar, Joe Morris' decision to take up the contrabass in 2002 was initially met with apprehension from certain corners of the new music community. Fears that the singular guitarist might disavow his primary axe have been dispelled, replaced by a burgeoning parallel discography charting Morris' remarkable growth as a bassist.

Wildlife is the most recent document of Morris' increasingly impressive bass prowess and his first release for AUM Fidelity since 2001's solo guitar recording Singularity. For this freewheeling trio session, Morris partners with Luther Gray, his preferred drummer since 2002. A ubiquitous member of the Boston-based jazz scene, Gray's nuanced abilities have blossomed considerably since his seminal work in the late eighties Washington D.C. punk rock scene.

A former student of Morris, saxophonist Petr Cancura is a rising presence whose sideman duties have included stints with Rakalam Bob Moses and Danilo Perez. Originally from the Czech Republic, the current Brooklyn resident has recorded a number of sessions with Morris, including Fine Objects (Not Two, 2009), a trio date with drummer Jason Nazary. Wildlife deviates from the previous album's reliance on originals and standards, braving more adventurous territory over four lengthy free improvisations.

The trio embraces a wide range of spatial dynamics on this expansive set, with the majority of their probing explorations conjuring the bristling frenzy of New Thing era expressionism. Cancura's vocalized phrasing, brisk intervallic runs and brawny timbre invokes such giants of the genre as Ayler, Coltrane, Sanders and Shepp. A singular stylist, Cancura's assimilation of his forbearers' innovations is seamlessly integrated into his own uniquely lyrical approach to alto and tenor—a kinetic attack buoyed by a pungent tone.

Gray's bustling percussion provides the trio with a malleable rhythmic foundation, ably demonstrated by his extended work-out on the rousing post-bop excursion "Geomantic." Navigating capricious shifts in meter, tempo and volume, Morris displays his burgeoning virtuosity with stalwart flair. His extended solos on "Thicket" and "Nettle" reveal a composer's awareness, alternating oblique harmonic variations with percussive invention. Drawing from both Eastern and Western traditions, his bright, guimbre-like pizzicato lends a lilting North African modality to "Thicket," while his laconic phrasing on the introspective ballad "Crow" ebbs with blues feeling.

The trio's congenial interplay is superlative, whether careening through the quicksilver changes of "Nettle" or extrapolating the somber motifs of "Crow." A compelling document of the saxophone trio tradition as a democratic exchange of ideas, Wildlife presents three masterful improvisers at the top of their game.

By TROY COLLINS, Published: July 10, 2009 (AAJ)

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Friday, September 14, 2012

STEN SANDELL TRIO – Face Of Tokyo (2009)

Label: PNL – PNL004
Format: CD, Album;
Country: Norway Released: 2009
Style: Free Improvisation
Composed By – Berthling, Nilssen-Love, Sandell
Design [Cover] – Lasse Marhaug
Recorded live on February 4, 2008 by Yasuo Fujimua at Shinjuku Pit Inn, Tokyo, Japan.
Mixed and mastered by Joachim Ekermann at Make Wave, Stockholm, Sweden.


Sten Sandell Trio´s album is out on Paal Nilssen-Love´s record company PNL. "Face of Tokyo" (PNL 004, 2009) is 70 minutes of hot improvisation (2 tracks), recorded in Tokyo in February 2008. The trio is Sandell himself (piano, voice), Johan Berthling (bass) and Paal Nilssen-Love drums. Sometimes I think I hear a koto in here, but I guess it´s just Sandell inside the piano. Some guttural singing and samurais on the cover, adds an eastern feel to the album. Play loud, and enjoy.


"Released on drummer Paal Nilssen-Love's own PNL label, the trio further consists of Sten Sandell on piano and Johan Berthling on bass. Recorded live in Japan in 2008, the album consists of two tracks: "Face Up", and "Face Down", for twice more than half an hour of quite intense musical explorations. The first track is a high energy work-out, the second starts with counter-rhythmic percussion, full of explosive power and creativity, Berthling joins on bass, first plucked, and when Sandell joins he moves to arco, while the pianist plays some eery chords, gradually driving up the tempo and energy level for again a dense improvisation, that suddenly collapses for some minimalist interaction, with all three musicians exploring the more uncommon aspects of their instruments. In stark contrast to some of the other albums below, the album demonstrates that technical mastery and musical vision make it possible to bring depth and emotional drive even with the most common of all jazz line-ups."

- By Stef, (FreeJazz)

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

JOE McPHEE and PAUL HESSION – A Parallax View (2006)

Label: Slam Productions – SLAMCD 268
Format: CD, Album
Country: UK; Released:2006
Style: Free Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Free Improvisation

Recorded on 20th January 2003 at Bluecoat, Liverpool (Frakture) (tracks 2, 4, 5) and 21st January 2003 at The Adelphi, Leeds (Termite Club) (tracks 1, 3, 6)

Drums – Paul Hession (tracks: 1, 3 to 6)
Soprano Saxophone – Joe McPhee (tracks: 4, 6)
Tenor Saxophone – Joe McPhee (tracks: 1 to 5)
Voice – Paul Hession (tracks: 2)


After playing a handful of performances with saxophonist Joe McPhee in the United States, British drummer Paul Hession brought his new friend to England for four appearances in 2003, highlights from two of which were captured for A Parallax View. The duo apparently struck up an immediate rapport because this disc personifies the firepower, depth and dynamic sense found in the strongest free improvisation.

In “ Tipping Point, ” McPhee begins in a gruff mood, taking flying leaps from the top to bottom of his tenor, spurned by Hession ’ s press rolls. But after pushing things to the extreme, the saxophonist pulls back around the four-minute mark and glides into a slow, probing melody. The combination of moods serves to make the final product all the more powerful. In “ From Eremite to Termite, ” he takes an alternate approach, twisting a spiritual melody with each repetition, bending and squeezing the notes for a dramatic, soulful effect. After a brief spoken word introduction, “ Blue Coat Blue Collar ” features a solo tenor that finds McPhee vocalizing and blowing simultaneously. Hession gets his own wide-open space during the 14- minute “ Evocation ” and displays a spastic Tony Oxley-style approach to his kit in “ Love is (Like Walking Naked on a Razor Blade), ” a title which presumably plays into the fun these two had while creating this music.

By Mike Shanley, JazzTimes

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PETER KOWALD and WILLIAM PARKER – The Victoriaville Tape (2003)

Label: Les Disques Victo – VICTO CD 088
Format: CD, Album; Country: Canada
Released: 10 Jun 2003
Style: Free Improvisation
Recorded on 19 May 2002 live at Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville


On May 19, 2002, Peter Kowald and William Parker played a duo set at the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville .

JazzTimes (11/03, p.104) — "There is no doubt that Kowald and Parker generate an expansive sound together....The two men create a slowly shifting field of pure sound, sometimes out of which emerge small moments of furious walking bass or fragments of melody."


Both bassists had made regular appearances in Victo over the past two decades, but no one in the audience could have guessed that it would be Kowald's last. The German improviser died in New York City four months later. The French-Canadian radio was not recording this concert, but the mixing desk engineer kept a tape rolling, just in case, and negotiations toward the release of this performance were already in progress when fate struck. Now, as the listener, you can decide whether or not to "hear" this album as a normal performance or as a farewell, but it's suggested you choose the latter. Why? Because, all in all, The Victoriaville Tape is a rather ordinary offering from extraordinary musicians. There are moments in "Arrival" and "Conversation" when the sound of the two basses becomes overwhelmingly claustrophobic, each player trapped in his own world without stepping into the other guy's sphere. When Kowald starts singing 24 minutes into the 41-minute "Conversation," it sounds unnecessary. That said, there is magic on this record, especially in the last minutes. The two shorter tracks ending the set are nothing less than fabulous. "Departure" drones in a rapturing way, soothingly beautiful after the monolithically hyperactive monster that came before it. This refreshing dip opened new doors of communication between the bassists for the encore "Farewell." One wishes the concert had started just then, but as it is, The Victoriaville Tape makes a decent album and, circumstances considered, a worthy document.

~ François Couture, All Music Guide

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Axel Dörner, John Schröder, Clayton Thomas, Oliver Steidle - Das Treffen, 2009
Label: Jazzwerkstatt; Catalog#: jw059
Country: Germany
Recorded at Studio P4, Nalepastraße, Berlin, December 12 & 13, 2008
(avant-garde, free improvisation, Contemporary Jazz, Free Jazz)


The first time in Chicago was all settled yet by phone, then there was the end of the salary barely above what. With e-mail, it now costs almost nothing to organize contacts and concert performances, as well as the flights are cheaper. If the trumpeter Axel Dörner reported his concert tours - actually, he's the whole year in the wide world of improvised music on the go - then it is not surprising bad. Dörner does not have a web presence, and his phone is often turned off, but the influential American jazz magazine Down Beat him one of the handful of European musicians, who will be able to jazz of the 21st Century add important and visionary music. In June, he will meet with Alexander von Schlippenbach and the band go The big disappointment on tour of Canada in order to present the complete works of Thelonious Monk in a new and pleasurable cooked version. At the trade fair Jazz Ahead, held just in Bremen, the jazz festival director Ken Pickering from Vancouver already enthused by the great music of the Berlin band and told how long you've been working on her tour. Dörner aware of his importance in the scene, international awards confirm him as the great innovators and experts. About the precarious situation in the field of improvised music he makes still worried. That one on the jazz show in Bremen but everywhere got the feeling that the world is watching Berlin, even if the European capital of jazz really was the theme at any of the numerous panel discussions, is good. Whether the highly subsidized French and Danes: they afford to own all festivals in Berlin and want to benefit from the creative atmosphere of the city. Even Alex Dutilh, chief of Jazzman, the main French jazz magazine plans to later this year, a Berlin- based businesses. The current issue can be found ever a portrait of the Berlin bassist Clayton Thomas, who is one of the key drivers of the local scene. His presentation tool includes rods and strips of wood and metal, a battered Australian car license plate, Filzklöppel and bows. As he puts these things between the strings, pushes and hits, he elicits from his instrument sounds that act strange, defiant and sometimes quite funny. That the people that you talk so much elsewhere in Berlin now also appear together fits. On Saturday, 2 May, they celebrate on the big stage debut: Along with John Schroeder, piano, and Oliver Steidle, drums, and Thomas Dörner occur in the Babylon under the name "Das Treffen ” (The meeting) on (20 clock).

By Christian Broecking


Bassist Clayton Thomas is known to wedge a license plate between his strings and lists both Luigi Nono and Ghostface Killah as influences. A search for John Schröder's career shows that he's as respected a jazz guitarist as a drummer as a protege pianist. Downtown sound by way of Nirnberg Music Conservatory drummer / human metronome Oliver Steidle (currently on permanent tour with trio Der Rote Bereich, then Klima Kalima, et cetera) recently added a Korg Kaoss Pad to his kit. And, from Thelonious Monk tribute bands to interpretations of Cage-esque performance art works to classically trained pianist to adept trombonist to feedback tweaker to trumpeter, Axel Dörner also wears many hats. So you better hang on to yours (you know...your hat?)

Recorded in 2008, the quartet begins "Res Res" with an analog warble and frantic typewriter style metal pings, Schröder quickly adding to the mulch with high-pitched prepared arpeggiations (on this disc, he has a tendency to work towards a centered point as the others push away). As a gradually overwhelming siren-like pulse takes over, bass and drums give into the pianist's whim and move to a brief, speedy segment of polyglot gestures to match that of "Giant Steps"; Dцrner puts down the mixing board, picks up the trumpet and joins with a matching set of punctuating blasts. Like an intruding sunspot, the mood is ruptured for a moment with rattling metal (possibly by the license plate); they continue briefly before Schröder adopts a limited range staccato plunk (think toy piano) and Steidle moves to his own corner of contrapuntal minimalism. For the climax, Dörner and Steidle return to the original motif (Schröder advancing alone, now mixing two-part invention with romantic, lounging swagger), then spin a shrunken reduction — turntablist style — through the heart of a piece that travelled from Christian Marclay to Oscar Peterson to Xenakis in under eighteen minutes. Following suit on the looser "Baby Doll", the group wanders through a lugubrious series of extended techniques and puffing drones, all framed around Thomas's solo flight of texture, harmonics and resonance. Nine minutes in, something slips and on a lark they're back, sort of, bouncing between a tough swing, on-a-dime tempo shifts to a straighter, quicker groove and a mix of both — oh and here comes that swirling, hand-pushed turntable sound to introduce a scene change into even murkier musique concrete / electroacoustic improv. For "Nautic Walking", the quartet straddles their bi-polar approach while adding microbursts of rock and late '80s break-neck hardcore rhythms to the merry go round. Of course this union is rife with disparate agendas — it should be; but the surprise is how well this internal dissonance (working together by working apart, if you will) galvanizes global accordance and organic progression in the music; with Das Treffen (German for "The Meeting"), diverse individuality gives the album a portentous and distinct personality.

by Dave Madden

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Jazz Masters Clinical Archives – Promotional Poster – Vol.8

Graphic Design
Promotional Poster - Vol.8
Jazz Masters Clinical Archives - Original Masters Series - PSYCHO / JAZZ
Artwork and Complete Design by Vitko Salvarica

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Friday, September 7, 2012

RESONANCE - Live At Alchemia 2007, Final Concert - Set 1 & Set 2 (2009)

Label: Not Two Records
Catalog ID: MW 830-2
Product Code: 12139
Recorded at Alchemia Manggha Hall (final concert) in Kraków, Poland by Marcin Chlebowski, Michal Cholewa, Jacek Laton - MAQ Records Studio. Records. Final concert mixing and mastering by Bob Weston and Ken Vandermark at Chicago Mastering Service.
All compositions by Ken Vandermark (Twenty First Mobile Music / ASCAP)


The Resonance Ensemble, an international New Jazz group, began as a co-presentation by American musician, Ken Vandermark, and Polish concert promoter and wonder of Not Two Records, Marek Winiarski. Vandermark has been performing in Poland since the mid 2000s, with a large number of groups (the Vandermark 5, duo with Paal Nilssen-Love, Sonore, Free Fall, Powerhouse Sound, the Frame Quartet and many more), and decided that is was time to organize a band that included musicians from that part of the world. After consulting with Winiarski, the two combined their resources and knowledge to organize a large unit of improvisers from the contemporary scene. In addition to Vandermark [reeds], the project included Magnus Broo [trumpet] and Per-Ake Holmlander [tuba] from Stockholm; Tim Daisy [drums], Dave Rempis [saxophones], and Michael Zerang [percussion] from Chicago; Steve Swell [trombone] from New York; Mark Tokar [bass] and Yuri Yarumchuk [reeds] from Lviv; and Mikolaj Trzaska [reeds] from Gdansk.

In November of 2007, Vandermark arrived in Krakow to complete four new compositions for this ten piece orchestra, all of the pieces loosely based on his impressions of time spent in Poland as a musician and traveler. After a week, that work was done and the other artists arrived. For five days the group rehearsed at the Alchemia club during the day, then played in small Improvised Music configurations at night. On November 17, the Resonance Ensemble traveled overnight by bus to perform for the first time, in Lviv, Ukraine. (This concert, which took place for an audience of over 800 people, was recorded, and the second set was released as an album by Not Two in the fall of 2008.) The next morning the band returned to Krakow for a concert at the Manghha Museum, playing to another sold out crowd. All of the performances in Krakow, by the small units and the full ensemble, were released in October of 2009 by Not Two as a 10cd box set; just in time for the band's first tour of Europe.

The Resonance Ensemble's music has advanced Vandermark's composing methods for large groups, work that started with the early music of Peter Brötzmann's Chicago Tentet, which then continued with his Territory Bands. Much of the first Resonance material combined his interest in “ suite forms ” (perhaps most influenced by Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus) and a collaging approach to improvising structures that he began with the Territory Band. The initial project by the group provided Vandermark with the first opportunity in his career to do nothing but compose for a week. In September of 2009, he began a new approach to writing for the project, a series of “ modular pieces, ” which could be reassembled for each performance, giving added spontaneity to both the improvising and the compositional structures. The results of these new compositional strategies, developed over a 10 day European tour, resulted with the album, "Kafka In Flight," which was recorded live in Gdansk, Poland, and is also part of the Not Two catalog.

Vandermark's creative activity has remained focused on the Resonance Ensemble and its innovations. During March of 2011 the band, and its association with Polish culture, was celebrated by the "Resonance Festival" held in both Chicago and Milwaukee; the group's latest recording for Not Two, "What Country Is This?" was made at the end of that period. In addition, the ensemble toured Europe for a second time in March of 2012, performing in Austria, Slovenia, Poland, and Belgium.

In November of 2007, Vandermark arrived in Krakow to complete four new compositions for this ten piece orchestra, all of the pieces loosely based on his impressions of time spent in Poland as a musician and traveler. After a week that work was done and the other artists arrived. For five days the group rehearsed at the Alchemia club during the day, then played in small Improvised Music configurations at night. On November 17, the Resonance Ensemble traveled overnight by bus to perform for the first time, in Lviv, Ukraine. (This concert, which took place for an audience of over 800 people, was recorded, the second set was released as an album by Not Two in the fall of 2008.) The next morning the band returned to Krakow for a concert at the Manghha Museum, playing to another sold out crowd. All of the performances in Krakow, by the small units and the full ensemble, were released in October of 2009 by Not Two as a 10cd box set; just in time for the band's first tour of Europe.

The Resonance Ensemble's music has advanced Vandermark's composing methods for large groups, work that started with the early music of Peter Brötzmann's Chicago Tentet, and then continued with his Territory Bands. Much of the new material combines his interest in “ suite forms ” (perhaps most influenced by Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus) and a collaging approach to improvising structures that he began with the Territory Band. The project provided Vandermark with the first opportunity in his career to do nothing but compose for a week. In September of 2009, he began a new approach to writing for the project, a series of “ modular pieces, ” which can be reassembled for each performance, giving added spontaneity to both the improvising and the compositional structure. The results of these new compositional strategies, coupled with a 10 day European tour, has resulted in the newest album by the band, "Kafka In Flight," which was recorded live in Gdansk, Poland, and is also part of the Not Two catalog. In March of 2011 the Resonance Ensemble, and its association with Polish culture, will be celebrated by the Resonance Festival held in both Chicago and Milwaukee, and a new recording for another album by the band on Not Two.

Band Members:
Ken Vandermark (USA) tenor & baritone saxes, clarinet Magnus Broo (Sweden) trumpet Tim Daisy (USA) drums Per-Âke Holmlander (Sweden) tuba Dave Rempis (USA) tenor & alto saxes Steve Swell (USA) trombone Mark Tokar (Ukraine) bass Mikołaj Trzaska (Poland) alto sax, bass clarinet Yuriy Yaremchuk (Ukraine) tenor & soprano saxes, bass clarinet Michael Zerang (USA) drums, percussion

Note from Ken Vandermark:

The first album I bought as a kid, with my own money was a Woody Herman album featuring his Thundering Herds from the 1945-47 period; where they played charts like "Woodchopper’s Ball", "Apple Honey", "The Good Earth", "Wild Root" and "Four Brothers". Though I didnt know it at the time, this was a document of a big band in transition, moving from the Swing era towards BeBop (with the help of people like Dizzy Gillespie, who wrote arrangements for the band in 1942). I grew up with the records of Duke Ellington, Gil Evans & Miles Davis, and Count Basic playing on my father ’ s stereo. I ’ m not sure if this is the reason why I am so attached to writing for larger ensembles, or if it ’ s just that composing for bigger groups is such a phenomenal experience; maybe it ’ s a bit of both. But the end result is the same— for me, there is something permanently important and interesting about composing for, and working with, a large group.

The first chance I had to really write for a big ensemble was given to me by Peter Brotzmann, for the initial version of his Chicago Tentet. The piece was called, “ Other Brothers, ” a nod to Jimmy Giuffre ’ s famous composition for Woody Herman ’ s Thundering Herd, “ Four Brothers, ” and an acknowledgement of the saxophone lineup in the band at that time: Peter Brotzmann, Mats Gustafsson, Mars Williams, myself. That was in 1997. Since then, I ’ ve continued to try and find more opportunities to keep writing for larger groups. The Territory Bands I put together throughout the start of this century were the first chances I had to organize my own ensembles of this type. There were two “ one off “ Chicago orchestras during this period as well— the Crisis Ensemble, which played at the 2003 Chicago Jazz Festival; and the Index Orkest, which played at the second anniversary of the Immediate Sound Series at the Hideout in Chicago during April of 2008 (another nod, this time to the Ex Orkest).

My next chance to write for an extended group came at the instigation of Marek Winiarski, of Not Two records. The first work we did on this project was released on the “ Live in Lviv ” LP, (released in 2008) and the “ Resonance Box Set. ” (released in 2009). One of the primary issues facing any band that deals with written material is having enough time to rehearse. In a larger ensemble this problem is compounded many times over. With the Territory Bands, and the Chicago groups mentioned above, it was possible to rehearse for several days due to MacArthur financing (in the case of the Territory Band) or the close proximity of the musicians involved (in the case of the Chicago based groups). The first music performed by the Resonance Ensemble in 2007 was possible because we had five days of rehearsals in Krakow before our initial concert together in Lviv, Ukraine. On the second occasion, before the European tour in 2009 when this album was recorded, there were only two days of rehearsal before the first show; and one of them was lost because almost half the band got stuck in transit (Tun Daisy, Per-Ake Holmlander, Steve Swell, and Mikolaj Trzaska, performed last on a bill of the opening night of concerts in Krakow at Alchemia, making it just in time to go on stage. Mikolaj formed a group out of this quartet because the music went so well that night, called Inner Ear, which went on tour in Poland a year later. Maybe that lineup is a bit cursed— half of the band showed up too late to play on the opening night of its December tour— Tim and Steve were stuck in transit again, this time for 13 hours at the Munich airport due to snow…).

So, like the Woody Herman album mentioned above, this recording documents the sound of a group in transition. The near lack of rehearsal time meant that my original approach to writing for the Resonance Ensemble, which was fairly complex and an extension of the work that I had done with the Territory Bands, needed to be thrown out the window. To solve time constraint problem, I developed a modular system of composition— specific thematic material that could be taught quickly, and that could be resequenced and intercut with different predetermined sonic environments and improvisational strategies before each performance; the set list became the tune— different orders of themes, different improvisers creating the links to the next areas of development. This kept the music spontaneous and easy to learn. The strategy was extremely successful, throughout the tour it was possible to try different soloists or collectives on different parts of the components at every performance. All of the musicians (what a band!) rose to both the challenge of the music and the insanity of being in a small bus together riding from Poland to Italy to Hungary to Poland to Ukraine to Poland… It was an amazing trip, seven concerts in eleven days by the full ensemble, which culminated with the show in Gdansk, documented on this album. That concert wasn ’ t definitive, no performance of music based on improvisation ever is, but it was a definite highlight in the Resonance Ensemble ’ s career so far—more than 600 enthusiastic people in attendance and a standing ovation that followed the conclusion of the music and the tour. When people ask me why Poland has had such a profound impact on my creative career, I think of nights like one in Gdansk— the music, the musicians, the audience, the experience shared. My sincere thanks must go to Marek Winiarski, who, once again, made it all possible.

Ken Vandermark, Chicago, January 10, 2011

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