Monday, January 28, 2013


Label: NEOS JAZZ – NEOS 41003
Format: CD, Album; Country: Germany - Released: 03 Jul 2010
Style: Free Improvisation
Recorded November 5, 2008 at Institut Francais, Cologne (Köln)
Mixed By, Mastered By – Reinhard Kobialka
Producer – Carl Ludwig Hübsch
Recorded By – Christian Heck 

Carl Ludwig Hübsch 
(Planet Blow, Post No Bills, Lester Bowie`s Brass Fantasy, Arthur Blythe, Schubert Sextett, European Tuba Quartett, Buck Hübsch Mahall, Vertrauensbildende Massnahmen etc.).......tuba
Matthias Schubert (Gunter Hampel Duo, Albert Mangelsdorf Quintett, Klaus König Orchestra, Marty Cook Band, M.Schubert Quartett/Sextett Schubert/Gratkowski Duo etc.)....... tenorsaxophone
Wolter Wierbos (ICP Ensemble, Gerry Heminway Quintet, Podium Trio (van Kemenade/Kuiper), Maarten Altena Ensemble, Curtis Clark Sextet, Albrecht Maurer Quartett, Available Jelly etc.)......trombone
Gerry Hemingway (November 2008) (Crispell/Guy/Hemingway, tom&gerry (Thomas Lehn & Gerry Hemingway) BassDrumBone(Helias/Anderson/Hemingway), Graewe/Reijsegger/Hemingway, Hemingway/Butcher ...) ......percussion


One of the great appeals of this trio (alright, quartet, but we'll get to that) is that it breathes as a single living being. In concert, and on their previous recordings, Hübsch, Schubert, and Wierbos sound as though they are one three-voiced beast, singing ad libitum, moving seamlessly between written material and the stuff of their imaginations, when necessary covering mistakes, compressing coal into diamonds, all of this with apparent unified thought.

Aware that the gravitational pull of a percussionist might tear at the seams of his Universe's bonds, Carl Ludwig hübsch chose carefully. Although in the Universe Hübsch limits himself to tuba, he is also a talented drummer. That was one of the reasons he wanted to experiment with the effects of the right drummer on this more-than-a-decade-old trio. In Gerry Hemingway he knew he had a singular personality who could function as a melodic voice, as on "3 pinups," or as a source of metric propulsion, as on "not even," or at times move freely between the two roles, as on "module mobile." As important as this versatility and his innate creativity is Hemingway's organic, intentional looseness, a flexibility that lets this now-four-voiced animal breath freely.

Scott Fields, Cologne, April 2010

 Carl Ludwig Hübsch

 Matthias Schubert

Wolter Wierbos

Pictures from the Eindhoven concert
Place: Jazzpower, café Wilhelmina, Eindhoven (March 7, 2005)

....."There is a focus on highly complex written and improvisational lines that are hard to distinguish. Individual soloing comes and goes, with masterful work by Wierbos in particular. An outstanding and unusual release (not the least because of the instrumentation, but also due to the sophisticated orchestrations), Carl Ludwig Huebsch's Longrun Development of the Universe may not live up to the implicit ontological impIications of the group's name, but it produces a musical product for serious listening pleasure."
_ Steven Loewy

Links in Comments!

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Label: Red Toucan Records – RT 9331
Format: CD, Album; Country: Canada - Released: March 2007
Style: Free Improvisation, avant-garde, Free Jazz
Recorded In April 2005 live at Loft, Cologne. Germany or at Neuwerk 13 Studios, Lahr, Germany
Recorded By – André Horsmann (tracks: 3, 6), Christian Heck (tracks: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 to 9)
All tracks composed by Carl Ludwig Hübsch

"My playing is focused on music as a structure in time. All focus is on the genesis of the moment. While emphasis and plot are fragmented and given the freedom of a new point of departure, utmost care is given to awareness of musical flow and continuity of the play. Through the use of avant-garde and self-invented performance techniques, the tuba acquires completely new characteristics as a brass instrument. An innovative array of unexpected sounds is heard, the instrument is seen from a fresh perspective, and the audience is confronted with a novel way of perceiving time."
(Carl Ludwig Hübsch)

Primordial Soup is based on material composed by Hübsch, who is accompanied by three of the best artists of the German jazz improvisation scene. An innovative listening experience through an amorphous, unrecognizable, de/structured sound.


Carl Ludwig Hübsch's Primordial Soup is made up of German free jazz stars, yet they are called upon to navigate some very complex compositions. That is not to say that the pieces do not allow for some extended improvisation. It is just the knowing where the written stops and the free starts that is beyond recognition.

The opening track, a twelve-minute introduction into Primordial Soup's mission statement tentatively slips across as a classical piece of music that is extended, elongated and infused with improvisation tools. Midway through NGC 2271 Hades Bb the logical progression of the composition stops. The nothingness begins again with trumpeter Axel Dörner's whispered breath technique. Is it the same song, but with a written passage of silence? It certainly must be the breathy growls and uttered tones, whether improvised or notated, are mood stabilizers.

It is as if the composer has written with tools that are all now familiar within free jazz; he has simply gathered them into his color palate for music making. The obvious reference for a track like NGC 2273 Vier/Four with the off-kilter measure and the tuba bottom is Anthony Braxton. But Hübsch is less serious (in the best sense of the word) than Braxton. Compositions written here must have been developed with the individual players in mind. Hübsch allows the familiar playing of Dörner and Gratkowski to blossom as he does not straightjacket each player by his writing. For his part, the drummer Michael Griener is a colorist and a fine collaborator with the other players.

This music might be one of the finer examples of how free jazz can be tailored into not randomly coherent, but orchestrated, coherence.

_  By Mark Corroto (AAJ)

This music has great depth, and what the musicians manage to create, not only by getting unknown sounds out of their instruments, but also by creating sound sculptures you've never heard before, is a great listening experience.

_ by Stef Gijssels (FreeJazz)

Links in Comments!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Label: Leo Records – LR 410/411
Format: 2CD, Album; Country: US - Release: 2004
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded live at the 32nd New Jazz Festival Moers (Germany) on June 7th (CD 1) and June 8th (CD 2) 2003 by Stefan Deistler
New Design by ART&JAZZ Studio SALVARICA, Designer by VITKO - 2012
Mixed and mastered by Wolfgang Stach


Milestone birthdays are as fine a catalyst as any for convening all-star aggregates of improvisers. Evan Parker teamed with colleagues from his two longstanding trio associations for his 50th. The results released on the Leo label were memorable and still rank in the top tier of his discography. Paul Dunmall followed suit when he hit his own half-century mark by conscripting his Moksha big band for a BBC-commissioned concert. German reed maven Frank Gratkowski, a guy who can count both men as peers, marked his 40th in similar fashion. Coordinating celebratory gigs as part of the 2003 Moers Jazz Festival, he assembled a formidable septet fronted jointly by his own horns, trumpeter Herb Robertson, and trombonist Wolter Wierbos. A dyadic rhythm section comprised of Dieter Manderscheid and Wilber de Joode on basses and drummers Gerry Hemingway and Michael Vatcher, divided into separate stereo channels, completes what reads on paper as a powerhouse collective. And as if that weren ’ t enough marshaled might, the set ’ s second disc finds Tobias Delius joining in on both tenor and clarinet, further swelling the band to octet size.

Loft Exile V also celebrates Gratkowski ’ s enduring relationship with H.M. Müller, proprietor of the Loft, a performance space where the reedman got his start along with a still-growing alumni of other European musicians. Assembling his dream band in a crowded formation against one wall (pictured in a landscape shot in the liners), Gratkowski largely eschews his customary compositional intricacy, opting instead for looser free-range blowing. The two dates captured each carry an ad hoc feel, with the players tossing out the formalities of a rigid, premeditated roadmap and simply seeing where there shared ingenuity takes them. Gratkowski supplies the single ‘ composed ’ piece with the closing “ Out of the Loom ” . It works as a fitting capstone to the mammoth slabs of free improv that precede it. Point-of- entry track demarcations further leaven the density by allowing for easy episodic listening. The first disc ’ s hour plus “The Morning Beckons” contains ten such tags.

The music is much too sprawling and discursive to reconstruct an accurate itinerary within the space of a review (and why read a faulty facsimile when one can take the trip in person for the price of a parting with a small stack of bills?). Arresting moments are numerous, starting with the opening fracas that finds the horns bristling and blustering atop a stomping crosshatch of snap-plucked basses and stentorian drums. But there are also a fair number of quietly palaverous passages too, still strung with tension. A loping two-prong pizzicato groove surfaces and Wierbos ’ mute-socketed brass spreads metallic glisses. Arco harmonics weave with floating flute-like sonorities in a creaky dance of ethereal tones only to turn knotty and diffusive once again with the ‘ rhythm ’ section thwacking and smacking away at its instruments. Gratkowski ’ s all-stops-pulled alto solo in the crowning closing section represents an energized apogee. Delius ’ presence on the second disc also helps in shoring up the more meandering sections too.

Some listeners will probably second-guess Gratkowski ’ s decision to mostly suppress his composerly urges in favor of freewheeling improv. For those doubters there are plenty of places in his existing catalog to find solace. His jubilee shindig might not place on par with the likes of Parker ’ s, but there ’ s still much enjoyment to be had. With luck Gratkowski ’ s own 50th will stir up an even more potent habanero heat.

_  by DEREK TAYLOR, 17 January 2005 (AAJ)

Links in Comments!

Monday, January 21, 2013

FRED HESS – Extended Family (2003)

Label: Tapestry Records - Catalogue # 76004-2
Format CD, Album; Country: United States
Release Date: 03/18/2003
Style: Avant-garde, Free Jazz, Modern Jazz
Distributor: City Hall


Jazz is sometimes described as a musician's music, a rarefied art form that only gains true appreciation from those whose sensibilities have been heightened by years of study. It also perhaps a reflection on the fact that jazz musicians are all too often more concerned with impressing their musician peer groups than pleasing audiences. Extended Family is an album that is only likely to please a very small number of people with extremely narrow musical interests. 

Fred Hess's latest recording is an album of original compositions for tenor, trumpet, bass and drums. It's a so-called progressive affair that showcases the leader's virtuosic tenor playing and Paul Smoker's distinctive trumpet style. It's a hard listen, but not for the right reasons. The difficulty here is maintaining interest in the music. 

The opening track "Good Question" is a 12 bar blues with an angular be-bop melody that selfconsciously avoids square phrasing. Hess's blowing opens confidently as he demonstrates his speedy technical mastery. However, none of the phrases are particularly inspired and you're left without a shadow of doubt that he's spent years obsessively practising scales and note patterns. 

Ken Filiano on bass takes the next statement which reminds you how unsuited this instrument is to jazz soloing, even in his skilled hands. Smoker's trumpet is the most distinctive of the solos,moving between bluesy phrases and rapid, scribbled runs of hidden shallows. 

"Mr and Mrs Clef Take a Vacation" is a long free piece that has little to commend it. In the liner notes it's described as an illustration depictinga couple's eventful holiday which includes a harrowingabduction by aliens. It's just like every other mediocre free jazz track you've ever heard and wish you hadn't.

This sort of line-up, which omits a harmony instrument, is extraordinarily difficult to get right. In the hands of geniuses such as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, or Sonny Rollins, the harmonic void is filled by flashes of inspiration and sheer musical energy. More often, the absence of a harmonic instrument results in an empty and alienating sound.Maybe the Fred Hess Quartet, like Mr and Mrs Clef, would benefit from getting away from the alien and finding a way to connect with normal humans who enjoy music.

_ Ian Lantham, 2003
(BBC Review)

Links in Comments!

FRED HESS QUARTET – Exposed (2001)

Label: CIMP Records - CIMP #249
Recording Date: 2001
Format: CD, Album; Country : US
Style: Avant-Garde, Free Jazz, Modern Jazz
Recorded at The Spirit Room, Rossie, NY, June 11 & 12, 2001
Produced by Robert D. Rusch
Recording Engineer: Marc D. Rusch; Liner Note Author: Robert D. Rusch

                                                                                                          Fred Hess

Boulder, Colorado doesn ’ t crop up often in serious conversations about creative improvised music. But based on the serendipitous contents of this new CIMP release perhaps it should. Fred Hess founded the Boulder Creative Music Ensemble at the onset of the Eighties and according to producer Bob Rusch the aggregate of creative improvisers continues to this day. The longevity of the ensemble illustrates a truth that is integral, but often taken for granted- grass roots mobilization and dissemination has always been the music ’ s life ’ s blood.

Joining Chicago percussionist Damon Short and CIMP staples Smoker and Filiano Hess brings to the table seven originals for the newly formed ensemble ’ s gregarious consumption. Several of the pieces have strong free-bop flavors, like the opening “ Cruise, ” which ambles along on a fluxing current from Filiano and Short after angling through an obliquely rendered head. The acronym “ JHM ” is never explained, but it ’ s musical guise exposes itself through a finger chaffing solo from Filiano replete with the bassist ’ s own muffled scat accompaniment. Short ’ s sticks caulk the cracks while applying appropriate friction to keep a flume of cymbal static alight in the bargain. Smoker opens up with a flurry of valve-guided bursts goading Hess to chomp and chew at his reed and in so doing dislodge a downpour of soaring, scalar lines. Filiano initiates “ Changing Spectra ” with watercolor washes of feather light bowed harmonics ushering the smeared tones of the horns and Short ’ s undulating array of textural accents. The track never adopts a discernable center for too long and is instead evolves as a circuitous excursion through freely associative call and response. “ Going There ” picks up right where it ’ s predecessor left off, sounding a vaguely anthemic head before locking down on a discernable rhythmic framework via Short ’ s robust traps. Unexpectedly the momentum soon dissipates into another moody musing, this time from Hess, before once again building steam. These unexpected shifts in tempo and design are both liberating and frustrating. They speak directly to the musicians ’ pact to position their own desires in a place of paramount importance.

On paper this date may not seem a deviation from the stereotypical CIMP fare- piano-less quartet takes a stab at passionate free jazz showing of formidable technique in the process. Judged by these largely superfluous (but all to prevalent) criteria it isn ’ t. But careful conscientious reveals the true . That ’ s one of the abiding beauties of improvised music. Even with what might be considered generic implements erudite musical minds can still devise exceptional methods of expression.

_ By DEREK TAYLOR, Published: March 1, 2002, AAJ

Links in Comments!

I remember Zeke's Gallery – Poster - No. 1

Graphic Design:
Poster – No. 1
Live Performances At Zeke’s Gallery – Montreal, Canada – 2005/07
Different Perspectives In My Room ...! about Zeke's Gallery, which stopped working in August 2007
Artwork and Complete Design by VITKO Salvarica
The used materials are the old photos, for the new posters.

The Zeke’s Gallery Performances & Interviews , were included live band recordings, poetry readings, theater performances, and interviews with artists and other people involved in making art and culture in Montreal. A fiercely independent art gallery started in 1998, Zeke's Gallery began recording the bands and poets who performed in their space in 2001. As time progressed, the recordings began to expand in scope and incorporated in-depth interviews with artists exhibiting at the gallery.

Zeke's Gallery, sadly, closed its doors in August 2007.

(Excerpt from interview)
Zeke's Gallery closes its door for good tomorrow.
Chris "Zeke" Hand, an outspoken advocate for fringe art, opened the alternative art gallery on St. Laurent Blvd. almost 10 years ago. But the decade has taken its toll and Hand wants a change of pace.
"I'm 45 years old," Hand said. "It's hard competing with the 20-year-olds out there pushing art."
Hand said there were no other alternative art galleries in Montreal when he opened up shop but now there are more than 10 similar galleries, most of them in Zeke's neighbourhood.
"I would become emperor of the world and force everybody to build up their own collections of Quebec art," Hand said. "Quebec artists are fantastic and don't get the recognition they deserve."
_ By The Gazette (Montreal) August 30, 2007

Periodically, in several episodes, I'll introduce you to some interesting shots, which occurred on the premises of Zeke's Gallery. The material I found on "The Zeke's Gallery Podcasts".
I fixed the sound quality, digital audio format is MP3@320, and you can find a link in the comments.
As such, this material, will be published only on this blog.
I hope that you will discover something new.

Meet today:
THE ISAIAH CECCARELLI QUINTET : Isaiah Ceccarelli, drums, Fabrizio Gilardino, casettes, Frank Lozano, saxophone, Pierre-Yves Martel, double bass, Steve Raegele, guitar.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Label: Les Disques Victo – VICTO CD 067
Format: CD, Album; Country: Canada - Released: May 1999
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded on 15 May 1998 live at Victoriaville during the 15th Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville
Packaging: Jewel Tray


Recorded live at the Victoriaville Festival in 1998 , this 67-minute spontaneous composition is explosive not only for what happens in it, but for what doesn't. The guns don't blaze here very often, but they are just as deadly with silencers on. And needless to say, when Urs Leimgruber is the least-known musician in a quartet, you have some heavyweight players. The quartet is aptly named, given its performance, which uses night not only as a metaphor, but as an m.o. for improvisation, where texture, space, and economy become a hypnotic wilderness of sound devoid of light and all sensation but hearing. 

The opening section is the longest, at 14 minutes. It is the area where the band members establish the language from which they will speak. That syntax develops very slowly on this record, moving one step at a time but no less packed with ideas for its easy, even tortoise-like pace. There is nothing tentative in the manner in which these players relate to one another, but it is subtle. Crispell clearly has control; she keeps each element blending into the others with her colorful swaths of clustered notes and mode-changing lines. Leandre and Hauser forge their own sense of rhythm for Leimgruber to create the group's melodic sensibility and intervalic coordination. Finally, in the very last of eight movements, dawn begins to break and the light startles the players. Crispell drives into the coming storm first, charging in a flurry of augmented chords and single-note runs. Leimgruber follows as Hauser triple-times everyone. 

As tension reaches a fever pitch and everyone has been wakened from their somnambulant pondering in this beautiful abyss, Leandre brings in the final aspect of a dawn rooted to not only the sun, but the earth, and the piece comes to a winding, floating halt — leaving, I am sure, everyone in that audience wondering just what had taken place during that hour when they were hypnotized. 

— by Thom Jurek

Links in Comments!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

JOËLLE LÉANDRE and AKOSH S. – Győr (2005)

Label: Reqords – REQ001
Format: CD, Album; Country: France - Released: 2005
Style: Free Improvisation
Recorded live during the Festival Mediawave in the ancient synagogue of Györ, Hungary, May 1, 2003.
Design (front cover reproduced above) by Joseph Nadj


Naturally, many strategies pursued solo can be as satisfying done in pairs. The extended mutual improvisations on Györ prove the veracity of this statement. Initially the sonic intermingling is such that it sounds as if Léandre and S could be playing different components of the same instrument, but soon the bassist advances to tremolo vibrations and the saxophonist to smeared and echoing timbres. As her bass lines fatten and become lower- pitched, he roughens his tenor tone with tongue-slaps and trills, and she responds with double and triple staccato swelling.  

Unleashing his metal clarinet, S shrills irregularly-pitched contralto chirps until Léandre ’ s encircling continuo leads to a solo section. Taking up the challenge, he reappears with intense, sonorous obbligatos that uptick to tongue-slaps, glottal punctuation, and bell-muting episodes. Finally his textures splinter into shards of trilled and popped notes in ghost registers and she continues strumming, setting up a proper backdrop on which variations can be displayed. The finale involves crooked reed whines on his part and stropped, jagged perambulating string jettes on hers. 

Even more spectacular, the nearly 25-minute “ Györ part 2 ” weaves Jewish Magyar intonation into the performance through S ’ a cappella ululation of sustained shofar-like timbres from his taragoto. After about a minute, Léandre joins in with darker, sustained double-stopping behind his ethnic-styled double-tonguing. Changing positions, the double bassist moves to the forefront, exposing variations on choked spiccato patterns that are struck near the peg box as well as the bridge. Protracted thumps then intermingle with flute tones from S, which in context sound positively bird-like and melodious. At this point, panting verbal interjections appear along with slapped and stopped plucks from Léandre. With the metal clarinet back in use, S chokes out strangled yelps in between Herculean gusts, matching the bass woman ’ s stentorian sweeps and conspirational, whispered asides. 

Not that all the notes are discordant, however. Slightly after the midpoint, S plays mellow, unaccompanied variations on the theme, with his clarinet tone as legato here as it was atonal earlier on. As trills, slurs, and ghost notes bubble through his instrument ’ s body tube, and before he reenters with wiggling tongue-stopping cadences, the bassist ratchets up her harmonic intensity, toughness, and atonality. Conclusively, the climatic crescendo reveals choked, bellowing note piles, each rougher than the next. Beginning the postlude, Léandre gentles the reedist ’ s grainy growls and irregular pitch vibrations with a soothing continuum. These sweeping harmonies dissolve into single notes, pure sounds and finally silence. 

By Ken Waxman, 21 November 2005

An interesting note:

Performance of Josef Nadj, Cécile Loyer, Joëlle Léandre and S. Akosh, December 6, 2011 at 20:30 - Theatre of Cahors - France

Links in Comments!

Monday, January 14, 2013

TRIO-X (McPhee / Duval / Rosen) – Journey (2003)

Label: CIMP – CIMP 283
Series: Spirit Room Series – 163
Format: CD, Album; Country: US - Released: 2003
Style: Free Jazz, Contemporary Jazz
Recorded at The Spirit Room, Rossie, NY, Feb. 6 & 7, 2003
Produced by Robert D. Rusch
Recording Engineer: Marc D. Rusch; Liner Note Author: Robert D. Rusch
Arrangers: Dominic Duval, Jay Rosen, Joe McPhee


In the music industry, politics and economics continue to share uncomfortable commonalities with the racial disparities that gained the national stage during the Civil Rights Movement. These days ’ inequities aren’t so much based on complexion as they are on artistic choice. Choose creative improvised music and you ’ ll likely be playing the fringes without a record contract.

In the Sixties, the dismissal of Anglican surnames in favor of the letter ‘ X ” became a means of symbolizing African American disenfranchisement. The trio of Joe McPhee, Dominic Duval and Jay Rosen adopted the signifier for analogous reasons. Their collective X is meant as a comment on the ambivalence of most press to their music and an expression of the resulting anonymity it occasioned. The name stuck and four recordings later certain segments of the media and public are now the wiser, as plaudits continue to greet the three players who now comprise a fully seasoned unit.

For their latest excursion Journey, the trio adheres to extemporaneous pieces with the evergreen spiritual “ Amazing Grace ” being the sole standard, so to speak. After a brief prelude of bass and drums, the calm before a rising storm, McPhee’s tenor saxophone takes wing with a leathery flap of coarse-grained phrases. Bassist Duval and drummer Rosen stir up a swirling backdrop, prodding and pulling in eddying rhythmic currents that put their respective instruments through a grueling set of paces. The title track unfolds at a less feverish clip, radiating out on Duval’s dour arco ribbons and McPhee’s somber legato lines. Rosen adds subdued gong and cymbal embellishments, leaving the bulk of his massive kit to the jurisdiction of silence. Midway, the sounds congeal into a forward-marching tempo and McPhee’s breath hardens, splitting in places into emotion-heavy overtones.

A funky backbeat fuels “ Jaywalkin ” and Rosen has a chance to mix things up with Duval in faux hip hop style. McPhee honks and shakes his tail feathers on top, favoring a meaty tenor tone caked with highly flammable vibrato that eventually explodes in a burst of flanging notes. “ Blue Moves ” resides at the other stylistic pole, a contemplative poem built from the quiet patter of Rosen’s mallets and McPhee’s lyrical alto soliloquies. Duval’s improvised bass reverie opens “ Autograph ” and Rosen follows on scuttling brushes. But McPhee bides his time waiting until the median to voice his thoughts at length via stoop-shouldered tenor. It ’ s an approach that contrasts sharply with the caustic blowout that hits with crater-causing impact on the aptly named “ Everything in Nothing Flat. ”

Rosen takes a swift, but precisely measured solo turn on “ For Charles Moffett ” in honor of the departed drummer before the trio reconvenes on the good-natured, heavily syncopated “ Rossie 2 Step, ” so named in homage to the town which CIMP HQ calls home. The anthemic “ Albert’s Alto, ” which finds McPhee reveling in Alyeresque vibrato above a porous rhythmic pattern, rounds the program out along with the aforementioned gracious spiritual movingly interpreted in memory of Duval’s deceased wife.

Trio X will no doubt continue to engender quizzical responses and an absence of recognition in the public at large. But listeners familiar with what lies beneath the alias in the names of McPhee, Duval and Rosen know what to expect when it comes to the music. This outing does not disappoint and advances the exceptional track record established by their earlier releases. With their growing popularity, the impetus of their chosen sobriquet may no longer hold immediate sway, but the reasons behind it still speak to the obscurity faced by so many of their peers.

_ By Derek Taylor
(Dusted Reviews, date: Jun. 23, 2003)

Links in Comments!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

LOU GRASSI QUARTET – Avanti Galoppi (2004)

Labe : CIMP Records 313
Format : CD, Album; Country: US - Recording Date : 2004
Genre : Modern Jazz, Free Jazz, Avant-Garde
Recorded: June 8, 2004, Rossie, New York.
Produced by Robert D. Rusch
Recording Engineer: Marc D. Rusch
Cover Art: Avanti Galoppi by Kara D. Rusch

Description : Featuring Rob Brown on alto sax, Herb Robertson on trumpets, Ken Filiano on double bass and Lou Grassi on drums. The downtown drum sensation Lou Grassi's 7th superb release for the CIMP/Cadence empire, his 21st appearance on CIMP alone. This is the first release by this swell downtown all-star quartet, although it would hard to tell from listening to this inspired offering. All four members contributed compositions, so we have a most diverse program. Rob's "Underground Elevation" features a solemn theme and warm harmonies for both horns, with Ken's lovely bass strumming eloquently underneath and Lou's sublime cymbal and mallet work. It is Rob's passionate alto solo that really shines through as Herb also spins off another of those spunky, spectacular (pocket?) trumpet solos. The title piece features more somber horn playing as the rhythm team plays this goofy, prancing groove. Ken's "Dancing Shadows" has the bass and drums fluttering profusely while horns spiral around one another like bees around a hive. Herb's solo is another astonishing flurry of notes, which is too good to believe. "Ballad of 9/11" is a somber, dreamy ballad with some sad, drifting horns, which builds into a fine affective portrait of a sad day. Herb's strange "Squatting Women" is filled with unexpected twists and turns, hypnotic bowed bass creates a unnerving cushion below the odd horn squeaks and squawks, trading ideas back and forth and together as they ascend. Truly, an incredible piece. Finally, Ken's "Willie B" is fueled by more mesmerizing bowed bass, spinning mallets and droning horns which make way for a crowning conclusion, after a few inspired solos from Rob and Herb.


Inspiration for album titles rarely conforms to any sort of conventional wisdom. Witness the curious phrase chosen by drummer Lou Grassi to christen his latest CIMP offering. The Italian expression translates to "gallop ahead," a directive that mirrors Grassi's tendency toward barely bridled energy behind his kit. Subtlety and passivity aren't his usual temperaments and he's vigorously stoked the rhythmic engines of many a free music ensemble. Still, his sensitive touch on the balladic opening piece here counters the argument that his sticks are somehow allergic to poise or restraint.

Grassi's colleagues on this early summer Spirit Room date are just as adept at dodging easy codification. Brown remains one of the foremost active voices on his horn. His name surfaces on a steady number of sessions each year as sideman and leader, but it does so unassumedly and without ego. Robertson and Filiano keep similar busy schedules. But again their efforts largely elude the notice of the larger jazz press, a routine blunder made all the more distressing given their deserving talents. Fortunately CIMP protocol doesn't revolve around industry scuttlebutt, and these four receive a justly earned opportunity to commit a handful of original compositions to tape.

The title track unfurls as a taciturn dirge anchored on the dull drone of Filiano's bass and a clip-clop rhythm on Grassi's cymbals and toms. Brown and Robertson engage in exchange of liquid legato lines framed by pockets of polyphony that lead to a sudden and pensively stated close. Built on a cyclic rhythmic vamp, Filiano's "Dancing Shadows" sounds a bit threadbare across its nearly fourteen minutes, but a singing stops-laden solo from the composer late in the piece counterweights earlier meandering moments. Brown's "Lake George" also works off a repetitive ostinato from Filiano coupled to a steady shuffle beat. Among the criminally unsung on his instrument, the bassist's pitch-perfect patterns convey the harmonic glue of the group. Robertson's muted pocket trumpet is oddly (if intentionally) off-mic and the transitions feel a bit forced, particularly from Grassi's corner, but the finely-threaded theme is a memorable one. The trumpeter's stuttering smears and growls on "Squatting Woman" register in stark contrast, exemplifying his complete command of tonal dynamics and a voice as expressive as it is exacting.

Sincere in sentiment and appropriately downcast in mood, the leader's "Ballad of 9/11" doesn't strike sparks until its final minutes. when the horns ramp up the intensity in a push of florid, twining lines led by Brown's gravity-nullifying alto. The band closes with "Willie B," another Filiano piece that gains momentum from unaccompanied prefatory exchange between the horns. Grassi's churning tom rolls punctuate the action in a brawny closing solo more in line with his usual brio. The program may not register with as the finest work from any of these players, but there's still more than enough collective creativity and quality on hand to recommend it.

Published: November 23, 2004 (AAJ)

Links in Comments!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

COXHILL / HASLAM / RILEY / RUTHERFORD – The Holywell Concert (1990)

Label: Slam Productions – SLAMCD 302
Format: CD, Album; Country: UK - Released: 1990
Style: Contemporary Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded at the Holywell Music Room, Oxford, 22 February 1990.
Producer, Design – George Haslam
Recorded By [Digital] – Michael Gerzon

The oldest custom-built concert hall in Europe, it opened its doors to the public for the first time in 1748. Designed by Thomas Camplin, Vice-Principal of St. Edmund Hall, the building was probably the brainchild of William Hayes, then Professor of Music at the University. 

This is the story of George Haslam and SLAM Productions

By Ken Waxman

Serendipity not strategy led to the birth of the British label SLAM 23 years ago, which since that time, from its base in Abingdon, six miles south of Oxford, has grown to a catalogue of almost 160 releases from European, South and North American improvisers.

SLAM simply came about when journeyman multi-reedist George Haslam, who at 50 had played with everyone from ‘ 30s dance band trumpeter Nat Gonella to free music trombonist Paul Rutherford decided he wanted to release a disc of solo baritone saxophone improvisations. “ I made a couple of LPs on Spotlite with my group, but I wanted to make a solo improvised recording and I knew this would not fit with Spotlite whose beginnings had been with Charlie Parker, ” he recalls. “ I spoke to Eddie Prévost [who runs the Matchless label] and others, coming to the conclusion that the best way to do this and have complete control, was to do it myself. Eddie advised me to do a CD, not an LP – which, in 1989, was excellent advice. In the event I recorded an album of solos and duos with Paul Rutherford called 1989 - and all that ”.
The only idea was preserving his own work, he adds. “ I had no intention of creating a new CD label. I played a concert in Oxford with [soprano saxophonist] Lol Coxhill, Paul Rutherford and [pianist] Howard Riley; Michael Gerzon made a beautiful recording and so I made the CD The Holywell Concert [1990]. Sometime later, Howard [Riley] approached me with a great recording by the quartet he co-led with [alto saxophonist] Elton Dean, asking if I would like to put it out ‘ on your label ’ . I agreed and that was when the label was established.” 
A one-man outfit, with Haslam preferring the title “ sole proprietor ” , SLAM soon grew exponentially as other musicians began offering him sessions to release. Not liking the clichéd “ 001 ” , his first CD was numbered “ 301 ” with a different numbering system needed for other release. UK musicians ’ discs come out on the 200 series; the 400 series is for compilations; and 500 for non-UK artists. “ One or two have slipped in the wrong series, purely by mistake, ” he jokes. 
Certainly there have been many CDs to deal with in nearly a quarter-century, during which Haslam has “ built great working relations with studios, design artists, photographers, pressing and printing plants and legal advisors ” . SLAM ’ s first non-British releases date from 1992 when Haslam was arranging a jazz festival in Oxford. Admiring the work soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, with whom he had previously played, had done with pianist Mal Waldron, he invited them to the festival. The recorded concert became Let ’ s Call This … Estee. Interestingly enough this was Haslam ’ s first meeting with Waldron, with whom he would record Waldron-Haslam in 1994, which remains one of the label ’ s best-selling discs.
Always a world traveler –Haslam often plays in Eastern Europe and South America, in the mid- ‘ 90s SLAM gradually began putting out discs featuring the saxman with local players. 
“Since around 2005, he elaborates, 
“I’ve been contacted by musicians from many different countries – always unsolicited and quite out of the blue. Where appropriate I have tried to present their music. I guess they see SLAM as active in the same area of music as themselves.” 
One improviser who does is Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser, whose Solo Bone CD appeared on SLAM in 2008 and who is to record a new solo trombone album for the label at the end 2012. “ Solo Bone was actually my very first solo concert I gave in Switzerland. It was recorded by Swiss radio and the results turned out so well that I decided to release it. I started shopping it around, but few labels were interested.One reason was due to the difficulties to sell such a challenging product. Unfortunately few people have an interest in listening to a trombone by itself. However, George automatically showed interest and asked me to send the recording. I heard back from him a couple of weeks after that telling me he loved it and that he wanted to put it out. I am really thankful George decided to release Solo Bone and even more happy to work with him on the following one. I guess George takes some risks to release this music. It ’ s challenging to put out free jazz music in today's market. Fortunately we still have people like George who continuously support our community.” 

All discs that appear on SLAM in what Haslam calls a "joint venture” arrangement. Although he self-finances he own releases, other avenues such as recording grants available from the Arts Council of England were discontinued years ago. “ Musicians need to find a level of funding which I put towards the costs of printing, pressing, licensing etc. The musicians ’financial input is expected to be returned through gig sales and royalties. I see SLAM sitting somewhere between a ‘self release’ and a signed up contracted operation. The musicians have complete control over the music, artwork etc., but hopefully benefit from being on an established label.” 
Besides Haslam, who has appeared on about 40 of the imprint ’ s releases, SLAM ’ s the musician who has appeared on the most SLAM CDS is tenor saxophonist Paul Dunmall. “ I knew George in the late ‘ 70s early ‘ 80s before he set up SLAM records when I played every Sunday night at the old fire station in Oxford, ” recalls Dunmall. “ George said he was going to start a label and when I recorded the double CD in 1993 that became Quartet, Sextet and Trio. 
I asked if he would be interested in releasing it. He agreed, and basically we have had a very good working relationship since then. Now sometimes I have a recording and think it would be perfect on SLAM. I don't remember him ever turning anything down that I have offered him. He does a very thorough job and really makes a lot of effort to get releases known in the press etc. Also he makes the business side of things very clear and he is a very honest man. He has a very open policy with his ideas of the music that will work on his label. It's not just improvised music, there's a huge variety of styles although of course it is jazz based somewhere along the line. SLAM really has had a huge impact on the improvised/jazz music scene especially here in the UK. You only have to look at his vast catalogue to see what a great job he has done.” 
Dunmall, who started his CDR-only DUNS Limited label in 2000, says he did so to have discs to sell at gigs. “ To release a CD back then was quite expensive, so I could probably just do one CD for SLAM a year if I was lucky, but with DUNS I could put out one CDR a month. But I think it was also important to have music released on established labels like SLAM. I hope the label keeps going for years to come. It will be tough, but George is a determined guy.” 
Overall SLAM releases about six or seven CDs a year, with sales ranging from those which don ’ t reach three figures to those which sell about 1,000 copies or so. Besides Waldron- Haslam, the label ’ s other best sellers are Explorations … to the Mth Degree, a duet by drummer Max Roach and Waldron; and The Vortex Tapes, recorded at that London club by Dean in group featuring among others, bassist Paul Rogers, drummer Tony Levin and trombonist Rutherford. 
Due to Prévost ’ s prescient advice there were never any SLAM LPs issued, although there were cassettes. “ Last year I looked at producing an LP ” , he reveals. “ But the costs were quite high. I ’ d like to do it, apart from anything else the scope for artwork on a 12-inch sleeve is appealing, ” he says. Digital downloads of 11 out-of-stock CDs can be ordered through iTunes, and eMusic. As well, The Middle Half by the Esmond Selwyn Hammond Organ Trio is only for sale digitally. “ Esmond ’ s first SLAM CD, Take That, sold out completely; his second The Axe, a collection of jazz standards on solo guitar, sold very few, in spite of rave reviews around the world. Esmond sells them by the dozen on his gigs, ” te saxophonist explains. “ When he came along with The Middle Half I discussed this with him. He wanted to stay with the label so we went for the digital release with limited quantity pressed for promotion and gig sales. It ’ s an experiment, but it ’ s too early to judge results, sales figures take months to trickle through.” 

 Among the sessions scheduled for release is what Haslam calls “ a great new CD by Paul Dunmall playing Coltrane compositions. We sometimes take the masters too much for granted and it is good to be reminded of their contribution to the music.” 
He adds: “ When a recording is offered to me for release on SLAM, I listen to it and consider is SLAM the right place for it? I don ’ t have a style template to which the music must fit. There is a wide range of music on the label and the SLAM slogan has always been Freedom of Music. I remember many years ago playing a concert with Lol Coxhill; at one point he was asked to play a solo piece, He said he was going to play ‘ Autumn Leaves ’ . ‘ But this is a ‘ free ’ gig, Lol ’ someone said. ‘ So, ’ said Lol ‘ Am I free to play what I want? ’ What ties the catalogue together, I hope, is the objective of a) preserving music which may otherwise be lost and b) making this music available to a listening public. To try to ‘ educate ’ or lead a public would be counterproductive but the music is there to be discovered. ” 

--For New York City Jazz Record
   (August 6, 2012)

Links in Comments!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

AMM – Sounding Music (2010)

Label: Matchless Recordings – MRCD77
Format: CD, Album; Country: UK - Released: 2010
Style: Abstract, Free Improvisation
Recorded at the 'Freedom of the City' festival, Conway Hall, London on Sunday 3rd May 2009.
Artwork [Calligraphy] – Qu Lei Lei
Design – Myah Chun; Liner Notes – Harry Gilonis

The album cover:
: Ming (Korean : Myung ) means sound – the cry of a bird, or human singing. A starting- point, then, for words and music both, the fact of sound and its sounding.


So to Sounding Music then, the new album by AMM. The release contains the recording of the quintet performance from last year ’ s Freedom of the City Festival that I wrote about here. The AMM group on that occasion was made up of regular members Eddie Prévost and John Tilbury alongside recent frequent collaborator John Butcher, the American composer and previous occasional AMM collaborator Christian Wolff plus the young London based cellist Ute Kanngiesser, a regular at Prévost ’ s weekly improvisation workshops and here the first woman to appear on an AMM record. I have listened to this CD almost constantly since I received it on Monday, perhaps I have listened to it through some fifteen times already. Going back over the post I wrote following the concert in question I have picked out a few of the thoughts I had at the time. I mentioned in the comments after the post that the music did not feel ground-breaking, but it did feel like AMM Music, perhaps more so than on any of the other occasions I had seen the group since the departure of Keith Rowe. I also mentioned that while he fitted well into the group, Christian Wolff seemed to play the disruptive role in the set, taking things out of what might be perceived as “ safe ” AMM territory more often than not.

Listening back to the recording now, I have mixed feelings about these thoughts now. Certainly in places this sounds like AMM through and through. When Prévost and Tilbury are working together it really cannot be anything else. I find myself hearing the connections between these two musicians through everything else, no matter what other sounds are there to be heard. There are the little climaxes, the slow arcs towards the small explosions of expression, the way Prévost uses his bowed sounds as the scaffold for the others to climb up and over, the sprinkling of Tilbury ’ s piano sounds throughout in just the places Tilbury leaves them, the connections between these two sets of sounds leaves the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. They did eighteen years ago when I first hear them live, they still do now. Then though, there are the elements in this recording that stand out as something new, sounds that do not seem to belong traditionally in AMM, and yes most of them here do come from Wolff, the little burst of pocket harmonica, the tapping of stones together that ends the performance, the single plucked guitar note that ends a section of the music twenty minutes in, but they don ’ t sound so intrusive here, just little elements that catch your ear as unusual. Kanngiesser also stands out now and again as something new, the moment two thirds of the way through when after a mini climax the sounds drop away to find her bowing a series of slow notes in a fluid, almost tuneful manner really catches the ear. So what we have is AMM as we know them, augmented by some new elements. John Butcher by the way, plays wonderfully, and sounds completely at home in the group, none of his contributions sound out of place at all.

No matter how familiar the end results here might end up being, the one thing that has occurred to me over the past few days listening to this music is the amount of risks that were taken in its creation. Risk-taking has always been a part of the AMM philosophy, and the danger involved with potential failure has always been something encouraged rather than shied away from. For this recording, there is the obvious risk taken through the assemblage of a quintet playing percussion, piano. sax. cello and a table top electric guitar. The history the group has with that arrangement of instrumentation left a great weight of expectation hanging over the performance. Then there was the inclusion of Kanngiesser, her gender of course not a risk at all, but her relative inexperience compared to the weight of musical history on stage around her could perhaps been seen as a risk, certainly it is unusual for someone so young and without many years of playing experience to join the group. Then there was the uncertainty concerning the health of John Tilbury, who had been at a hospital that very day and was recovering from a stroke. He played with just one hand on the day. Despite all of these things, some unavoidable, some deliberately created by Prévost and Tilbury the music contained on this album is wonderful. It captures AMM, where AMM are right now, or where they were on the 4th May 2009.

It shows a spirit of invention, a challenge to the musicians involved as new musical relationships needed to be forged, and also a sense of playfully creative mischief in the return to the quintet format. The group has always changed, always evolved, often sounded different, but the underlying ethics, the way the music is approached, considered and subsequently played is as strong here as ever. There is no resting on laurels. The group didn ’ t have to be expanded for this performance but it was. If Trinity was the album that really convinced me that the group was as vital a force as it ever had been, then Sounding Music is the album that shows that the music can still be stretched and expanded outwards into new areas successfully. So not groundbreaking in any wider sense, then that has never really been a goal of AMM, but considered as new ground broken for a group with a forty-five year long history then most certainly. Wonderful people, wonderful music, thoroughly inspirational.

_ Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear 15th April 2010

Links in Comments!

Jazz Masters Clinical Archives – Promotional Poster – Vol.10

Graphic Design:
Promotional Poster - Vol.10
Jazz Masters Clinical Archives - Original Masters Series - PSYCHO / JAZZ 
SCHLEIGHO Live At Nietzsche's 2008
Artwork and Complete Design by Vitko Salvarica

"I used to live in a room full of mirrors; all I could see was me. I take my spirit and I crash my mirrors, now the whole world is here for me to see".
(Jimi Hendrix)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

DUNMALL / EDWARDS / GIBBS / SANDERS – Boundless (2010)

Label: FMR Records – FMR CD278-0709
Format: CD, Album; Country: UK - Released: 2010
Style: Free Improvisation
Recorded on January 17th, 2008 at University of the West of England, Bristol
Engineer by Stephen Allan


"Boundless energy, boundless creation,, and boundless musical integrity! These musicians , the finest improvisers in the uk produce here a never ending stream of highly stimulating improvised music . The music threads its way through endless permutations of mood and dynamic range , but always with a total and uncanny empathy. No musical ideas are excluded, its all valid and there areas of extreme free jazz feel to electronica as well as collective improv. But what words can you use to describe the musical range, its so large, so full, so rewarding. Listen with unbounding enthusiasm and elation to the musical outpourings of masters of the genera!!! A two guitar setup could have been a bit busy but it works perfectly as the two disparate approaches complement perfectly Sanders sublte drums and the ever brilliant paul Dunmall."

                                                                               Edwards, Dunmall, Sanders

Multi-instrumentalist Paul Dunmall is no stranger to Trevor Taylor's FMR label; two of his band mates on this energetic improv date, drummer Mark Sanders and guitarist Philip Gibbs, are certainly familiar names to the Dunmall enthusiast. Guitarist Barry Edwards is the relative unknown here, having recorded very infrequently and with Dunmall only once before, also for FMR. This album boasts Dunmall's unique blend of free jazz and European improv, but with a twist, as Edwards' fretwork ups the anti and the volume.

Right away, the two guitarists lock into a multilayered dialogue of timbral transparency and tonal complexity. Their delicate musings, augmented by Sanders' crystalline cymbal strokes and deep bass drum rumbles, form the perfect backdrop for Dunmall's entrance. His playing embraces the atomistic concerns of late Coltrane while maintaining a fluidity and intricacy that's all his own. Listen to the hairpin precision with which he'll inflect certain tones, his tenor raising or lowering pitch by a whisker's breadth amidst the subtlest of dynamic shifts. Even early in the disc, ideas seem to flow from him like fresh water, as was the case only with prophetic figures such as Jimmy Lyons.

As the disc progresses, it is Edwards that continually pushes everyone beyond the comfort zone. He is capable of an endless variety of timbres, from bell-like overtones to crunchy distortion. Derek Bailey's fluidity might be a point of comparison, but there can be more "out" rock in Edward's styling, ala Mark Ribot or Sonny Sharrock.

It all adds up to an exhilarating experience. There's a thrilling moment in "AB," where Edwards is sliding and bending, Dunmall's screaming, Sanders swings the cymbals while interjecting bursts of raw percussion, and Gibbs is anchoring the whole thing with those razor-sharp alien harmonies only he knows.

There's contrast a-plenty as the album proceeds. On "AD," Dunmall and Sanders sit out while the guitarists have a field day. A wonderful drums and saxophone dialogue opens the final track. This is one of Dunmall's most interesting sessions to date and an excellent addition to Edwards' fledgling discography.

Review by Marc Medwin

Links in Comments!