Tuesday, April 30, 2013

BAILEY / STEVENS / WATTS – Dynamics Of The Impromptu - 1973/74 (1999)

Label: Entropy Stereo Recordings – ESR004
Format: CD, Album; Country: US - Released: 1999
Style: Free Improvisation
Recorded live at the Little Theatre Club, Garrick Yard. St. Martins Lane, London, in 1973/74.
Processed & premastered at Dynamic Audio Productions, Hastings, England.
Track 1 recorded 12/11/1973.
Tracks 2-3 recorded 18/12/1973.
Tracks 4-6 recorded 17/1/1974
Cover art by Mike Johnston. Photography by Jak Kilby (Traycard photo by Mike Johnston); Layout and design by Ben Bracken, Mike Johnston.
Executive Producer: Mike Khoury
Technician [Processed], Mastered By [Premastered] – Will Thompson

Imagine three scholars sitting under dim lights at a coffeehouse discussing world politics or social disorder? Dynamics of the Impromptu may imply such a scenario as three of the founding fathers of the British Free-Jazz movement coalesced at London ’ s “ Little Theater Club ” in 1973 and 1974. Dynamics of the Impromptu represents previously unreleased material which signifies a flourishing and historical time for this endearing and important era of free-improvised jazz.

Bailey, Stevens and Watts perform 6 improvised pieces titled “ Impromptu Dynamics 1-6 ” . Impromptu is an elegant word indicating spontaneity or in musical jargon — “ improvised ” . Here, the three masters immerse themselves in articulate dialogue through unconventional musical invention. Watts ’ spurious and at times briefly stated activities on soprano sax intersect Bailey ’ s uncanny, totally unique chord structures, harmonics and ingenious thematic approach. The late John Stevens, well known for his cutting edge Spontaneous Music Ensemble is a true clinician here and proves beyond a doubt that he was one of the early innovators or stylists within the British Free movement. Stevens, subtle and intricate patterns keep pace through suggestion or rhythmic intimation, which contrasts textbook style meter and tempo.

These pieces run the gamut from whispery low key musings through enraging or boisterous call and response. The moods constantly shift and evolve as Watts, Bailey and Stevens purvey musical structures that defy logic. Emotions flare up as in “ Impromptu Dynamics #6 ” . Arguments or debates are imminent. The sensibilities of unity and collaboration resurface as the music seems to transcend conventional ideology or acceptable agendas. Dynamics of the Impromptu provides a glistening snapshot of a thriving British music scene, which had initiated a campaign of renaissance spirit and anarchistic behavior enacted through music.

_ By GLENN ASTARITA, Published: May 1, 1999 (AAJ)

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

WADADA LEO SMITH – Reflectativity (2000)

Label: Tzadik – TZ 7060
Series: Composer Series – Format: CD, Album
Country: US - Released: 2000
Style: Free Jazz, Contemporary Jazz
Recorded in January 2000 at Avatar Studio, NYC.
Executive Producer – John Zorn
Executive Producer [Associate] – Kazunori Sugiyama
Mastered By – Allan Tucker
Recorded By – Jim Anderson
This CD is dedicated to Glenn, Edna and Kenzo Horiuchi

This new version of Wadada Leo Smith's classic Reflectativity from 1972 -- now a memorial for Duke Ellington -- shows his compositional strengths as fully developed, even at that time. Yet, in this piece, he reworks his own notation to open up his lyrical side over his improvisational dimension. His unusual notation -- which resembles Anthony Braxton's of the period and later -- was actually a system being worked out over the range of multi-tonalities and improvisational possibilities within the erected framework. In this manner, where mode and harmonics establish a base and architecture, lyrical invention and dissonance find room to extend the original line and idea from both above the meter and below. Rhythm becomes an idea and a question within these contrasts, and is resolved by the rhythm section (sans drums). For his collaborators on this date, Smith relied on the tried and true talents of old friends: pianist/composer Anthony Davis and bassist Malachi Favors Maghostus. Over 18 minutes, the piece unfolds an interior world where sound, image, and ambivalence encounter what is unknown in musical language and attempt to deal with it -- if not resolve its issues. And this is the case with the other three compositions on this set. Smith looks for a way into a place where his written score breaks itself and, at that point (listen closely to the end of the first four minutes of "Fisherman T WMUKL-D"), music begins to present itself to the trio as a field of language to develop and systemize according to the strengths of each individual improviser -- all of whom are responsible for the restraint necessary to allow each of the other members to find his place in that system while erecting their own in relation to the work. Jazz and blues provide some hint as to where that language should come from, and European classical music where it may have tried to go and failed miserably; theatrical music (or musical dramatics) is another source, but none holds the entire root language (contained within the developing system itself and opening onto another field of language -- not of music, but of sound and color). The swinging opening theme "Hanabishi" illustrates this, where quotes from Thelonious Monk are juxtaposed against children's themes and "Revelie" on the trumpet. Next, Smith moves into Miles Davis' mid-'60s modalism in search of a key to leave the building he created. Davis is pushing at all the windows and doors, Maghostus burrowing into the floorboards, and Smith going right for the attic. They meet in midair, where all of them realize that the space inside is far bigger than it is outside. It's not physically possible to be sure, but sonically, there are no limits to inner space; equations don't have to add up to a squared whole. Hence the piece moves, bounces, and wends its way not so much horizontally but vertically, carving out a music from the air; intersections and reverberations become the same thing in a non-meat terrain where Fats Waller can meet Bach's Fugues and Cage's "Atlas Eclipticalis." Smith's Reflectativity is easily his most adventurous and consistent album since 1979's Divine Love.


Small cultural corner:

CHOREOGRAPHER-DANCER OGURI & TRUMPETER WADADA LEO SMITH – Premiere held March 1 – 3, 2013 @ Electric Lounge

NOTAWAY: Quest for Freedom , a major new evening-length work by dancer- choreographer Oguri with music by Wadada Leo Smith , he had its world premiere with four performances at Electric Lodge on March 1-3, 2013 as part of Body Weather Laboratory ’ s Flower of the Season 2013 series. Inspired by the quintessential American novel,Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, NOTAWAY is a complex, multilayered work blending choreography and musical compositions with improvised music and dance. The international cast includes Oguri and Japanese choreographer Yasunari Tamai along with composer-trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and his Golden Quartet featuring Anthony Davis on piano, John Lindberg on bass, and Pheeroan akLaff on drums. Morleigh Steinberg created the lighting design and is artistic supervisor. 

Performances were held on Friday, March 1, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 2, at 5 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, March 3, at 3 p.m. at Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Avenue, Venice, CA.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

ELTON DEAN QUINTET – Silent Knowledge (1996)

Label: Cuneiform Records – RUNE 83
Format: CD, Album; Country: US Released: 1996
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded at The Premises Studio, London, United Kingdom, 1995-06-01
Design, Layout – Steffi Green
Painting [Cover] – John Gardiner
Photography By [Band] – Andrew Putler
Recorded By – Paul Westwater

Yes, this strange lady is Sophia Domancich. The rest of band (uglier part) surely you know

Although Dean is titular head of the quintet, three-fifths of its personnel is made up of members of the Mujician group — Tony Levin on drums, Paul Rogers on bass and Paul Dunmall on tenor sax. Regular Mujician pianist Keith Tippett is replaced by Sophia Donmancich, who has a robust, two-handed attack, although perhaps less of Tippett's musical eccentricity. Dean plays his customary alto sax and saxello, no longer doubling on electric keyboards as he did during his early Soft Machine days. The long opening piece, "Gualchos," betrays a strong and not unwelcome Coltrane influence, beginning with the rolling thunder of Donmancich's piano, and then a solemn minor theme played by the saxes in unison. Everyone then has ample opportunities for soloing, with Dunmall's hoarse, impassioned tenor a highlight, along with a serpentine duet between the unaccompanied horns at the end of the piece. A subsequent ballad, "First in the Wagon," has Dean taking an initial lyrical solo, followed by Donmancich and then apparently by Dean again on his other horn. Very lovely playing, indeed. The remained two tracks on the CD are more in the mode of Mujician, going beyond the standard jazz format of theme and solos and into the more challenging world of collective improvisation where the musicians take turns following one another's lead and combine in temporary duets and trios, pushing the music in various directions. These pieces are abstract and sometimes abrasive, with fewer touchstones for the listener, but they offer substantial creative challenges for both listener and musician. Whatever the territory, this group of musicians traverses it with panache. 


This is a studio album, concert version was prepared by Andy on Inconstant Sol blog. http://inconstantsol.blogspot.com/2013/02/elton-dean-quintet-1995.html


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Sunday, April 21, 2013


Label: Slam Productions – SLAMCD 262 
Format: CD, Album; Country: UK - Released: 2005 
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded at the Steam Rooms Studio, London, 21st October 2004.
Artwork (back) – Paul Dunmall
Design – Andy Isham
Engineer – Jon Wilkinson
Painting (front) – Mary Ramsay

A set of 2 powerful improvisations by 4 masters of the genre. Alex Von Schlippenbach, one of the pioneers of the free jazz movement in Berlin in the 1960's, known for his legendary big band the Globe Unity Orchestra and his trio with Evan Parker and Paul Lovens. Recently he has recorded the complete works of Thelonius Monk. Paul Dunmall, one of the leading lights in melodic free improvising over the last 25 years on saxophone and his more revolutionary work on bagpipes, has an immense range of experience playing with Johnny Guitar Watson, London Jazz Composers Orchestra, Mujician and Danny Thompson's ‘ Whatever ’ . Paul Rogers is an integral part of the European Improvised music scene, working with all the recognized players across the continent and beyond, whilst developing his outstanding approach on his own designed 7 string bass. Tony Bianco, firmly rooted in the Jazz Tradition from his home in New York, has embraced all forms of improvised music. His drive and stamina are exceptional.

Description: Featuring Alex Von Schlippenbach on piano, Paul Dunmall on tenor sax, Paul Rogers on 7 string A.L.L. bass and Tony Bianco on drums. This is a colossal studio date and first time meeting of four giants of European improv. Of course, us Dunmall fanatics have heard the amazing Dunmall, Rogers & Bianco play in a number of different combinations, our favorite with Keith Tippet in Mujician. But never with piano master Schlippenbach: an all- star FMP great, in a longtime trio with Evan Parker & Paul Lovens and founding member of the Globe Unity Orchestra. 'Vesuvius' features two epic-length pieces, "Salamander" and "Leviathan",is over an hour long and is incredible throughout! Monster contrabassist, Paul Rogers, is erupting right from the beginning, burning and pushing the rest of the quartet higher and higher. American born drummer, Tony Bianco, has been living in England for the past 7 years, and is another unsung hero who has worked with Dave Liebman, as well as on a few Dunmall discs. He sounds superb swerving and moving intensely through the waves of rhythm with Rogers. I've had the good fortune to hear piano master, Schlippenbach, twice in the past few years at Tonic with Evan Parker & Paul Lytton, as well as up at Victo in a double trio Peter Brotzmann, William Parker & Hamid Drake. We've all been fortunate that Alex has been well recorded over the past few years: two box sets (that 'Complete Monk' on Intakt is killin' and that other standards box is out-of-print), a trio Aki Takase & a DJ on Leo, a double disc with the trio on PSI, that double trio on Victo and a couple of Globe Unity discs. Both Schlippenbach and Dunmall sound particularly inspired here, often riding the waves of rhythm and spinning out cascading lines of notes. All four musicians take a number of outstanding solos, both unaccompanied and with the quartet. "Leviathan" starts out fills with suspense as Alex rubs things inside the piano, the rest of the quartet floating eerie spirits in a ghost-like haze. For those who can't wait for that next Mujician disc, this is an equally cosmic date. 

BLG (Downtown Music Gallery)

This is effectively Mujician with Tony Levin giving way to Tony Bianco on drums and Keith Tippett replaced by Alex von Schlippenbach on piano. But Schlippenbach has always let it be known that free jazz – and sometimes changes-and-rhythm jazz – are still very much what he does. The linear energy he brings to this is very different from Tippett ’ s more shamanic approach. The music remains more on a single level, without the transcendant leaps you ’ d expect from Mujician. Vesuvius works wonderfully – two large slabs of urgent, probing sound with no fat and little room for meditative pause. The pianist probes and prods at ideas that float up from some common pool of musical language, and then dismantles them. Paul Dunmall, playing only tenor saxophone this time, resorts to shorter and more angular phrases than usual, with phrasing that contends with the piano line. In a rather uncomfortable position in the stereo picture, Paul Rogers coaxes some highly effective sounds from his seven-string ALL bass, making full use of its cello range end, but never setting aside his familiar role, like a drifting anchor. Tony Bianco ’ s playing sits much further away from jazz again, even if some of his fast, urgently hissing figures constantly hint at a fast jazz 6/8 without ever resolving into it. He is what makes this such a different sounding date, and such a good one. The shorter “ Salamander ” does sound proven in fire, its surface bubbling and shifting like something molten cast into as yet uncertain form. The longer “ Leviathan ” manages not to lumber, but there are a couple of places where the direction seems in doubt and the four participants lose touch with each other. Even so, this is a remarkable, unexpected record with a real edge.

_ BRIAN MORTON, THE WIRE, December 2005

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Friday, April 19, 2013

ANTHONY BRAXTON QUARTET – Live At Moers Festival (2LP-1974)

Label: Moers Music / Ring Records – Ring 01010-11
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Germany / Released: 1974
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded at The International New Jazz Festival Moers, June 2nd, 1974, Germany.
New Design by ART&JAZZ Studio; Cover design by VITKO
Engineer – Hans Schlosser, Norbert Freibrück
Photography By – Ralph Quinke, Rob Söteman, Roberto Masotti
Producer – Burkhard Hennen
(Vinyl Rip; 2LP's - four lines)

A  -  6-------77--(NJD)--T AR--36K .............................................. 26:23
B1 - 489M 70-2--(THB) M .......................................................... 21:50
B2 - 84°--KELVIN–M ................................................................... 1:42
C1 - 84°--KELVIN–M ................................................................... 9:00
C2 - BOR---N-K64 (60)--M 0 H S .............................................. 18:15
D1 - F64-- H488 ......................................................................... 10:08
D2 - RBHM-F KNNK .................................................................. 10:59

Anthony Braxton – reeds
Kenny Wheeler – trumpet
Dave Holland – bass
Barry Altschul – drums, percussion

Braxton's new quartet, that basically replaced Corea's piano with Kenny Wheeler's trumpet (keeping Holland and Altschul), debuted on Live at Moers Festival (june 1974), a double-LP that contained six of Braxton's long compositions.

The Moers Festival is an international jazz festival in Moers, Germany, happening yearly every Whitsun.
Many famous musicians have appeared there, including Fred Frith, David Murray, Cecil Taylor, Lester Bowie, Herbie Hancock, Abdullah Ibrahim, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra, and Jan Garbarek.
The festival was founded in 1971 by Burkhard Hennen, as initiator and artistic director. The International New Jazz Festival Moers established itself quickly in the national and international free jazz scene.
In the early years it took place in the paved yard of the castle. Later (1975), it moved to a nearby park because of the growing audience. After a few years outdoors, it moved to a large marquee where it remains now.
In 1974 the Germany-based jazz record label Moers Music was created to document performances at the festival.
In 1979 the festival was enlarged with several morning projects.

In 1968, Anthony Beaxton recorded For Alto, the first-ever recording for solo saxophone. He lived in Paris for a short while beginning in 1969, where he played with a rhythm section comprised of bassist Dave Holland, pianist Chick Corea, and drummer Barry Altschul. Called Circle, the group stayed together for about a year before disbanding (Holland and Altschul would continue to play in Braxton-led groups for the next several years). Braxton moved to New York in 1970. The '70s saw his star rise (in a manner of speaking); he recorded a number of ambitious albums for the major label Arista and performing in various contexts. Braxton maintained a quartet with Altschul, Holland, and a brass player (either trumpeter Kenny Wheeler or trombonist George Lewis) for most of the '70s.

New FLAC Rip and complete remastered recordings.


Only for serious collectors.

If you find it, buy this album!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Label: Balance Point Acoustics – bpa 003
Format: CD, Album; Country: US - Released: 2002
Style: Free Improvisation
Tracks 1-7 studio recordings 10/19/01 in Emeryville, Ca 
Tracks 8-11 live recordings 10/17/01 at Tuva Space in Berkeley, Ca 
Track 12 live rec. 10/18/01 at the Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco, Ca
Mastered by Scott R. Looney
Photos by Edgar Alan Brightbill
Cover artwork by Max Neumann, 2001 (200 x 160 cm)
Layout & graphic design: Carol Genetti (Noodlemeister design)
Produced by Jerome Bryerton

Culled from three dates last October, two live and one in the studio, "Three October Meetings" features the King Übü of clarinets and saxophones, Wolfgang Fuchs, and Chicago's outstanding Jerome Bryerton on percussion. It's a total triumph: the turn-on-a-dime reactivity of his younger sparring partners pushes Fuchs to deliver some of his best work for years. Check this out.

For listeners who do not enjoy freely improvised music or 'instant compositions', this release may prove to be a difficult experience. The sounds are based around colors, moods and textures, rather than melodic lines or avant wailing. As such it is very demanding of ones attention (this is not background music). Those who enjoy free improv or have a curious ear may find themselves rewarded by these improvisers who clearly enjoy working together on their collective expressions.

Three October meetings is the third release on bassist Damon Smith's Balance Point Acoustics label. These three musicians met on three occasions in the Bay Area during October of 2001. The disc consists of two live performance s on consecutive days followed by a single studio encounter, which although last in time is the first music heard. What is noteworthy is that these musicians all hail from different geological locations; Fuchs is based in Berlin, Bryerton in Chicago and Smith in the Bay Area. While they may originate from different parts of the world, their work here is in harmony, as the focus of the music is on the manner in which silence is used in conjunction with free improvisation. Much of the music contains tension akin to an impending storm, which at times proves to be a demanding task. Some may view the music here as too abstract, wondering when more melodic or flowing lines will emerge, but thats really the point: the music is about using silence and space and the way these three musicians exploit these organic conceptions.

Meeting Three begins the album with seven relatively short vignettes, each capturing a mood or feeling they generally dark with much of the focus on rhythmic sounds that jump around the surface. Fuchs emits disparate tones from his bass and contrabass clarinets and sopranino saxophoness in order to offer variance. They range from short blasts, to car horn honks, to bubbling sopranino squeeks to low rumbling, simmering bass clarinet reflections that sound like the hum of assembly line machines. Such contributions inspire both Smith and Bryerton. Smith's bass technique utilizes a range of arco lines to percussive scraping and hand plucked string notes. What is particularly engaging is to listen to the interaction between Fuchs clarinets and Smith's techniques, which constantly play off of one another. Perhaps it is my drum/percussion bias, but the real stand out here is Bryerton. Because the music is very percussive Bryerton really shines. Bryerton's approach suggests the influence of the Oxely/Lytton/Lovens axis, driven by the manipulation of a variety esoteric, multi-ethnic percussion as well as the exploration of the sound of an arco against his cymbals. Meeting One and Meeting Two feature lengthier explorations, perhaps showing works in progress. these live performances suggest that the musicians were getting to know one another's ideas and boundaries. As above, the music is similar in that what is particularly engaging is listening to Bryerton navigate his way around the textures of his instruments and as a counterpoint to the dialogs between Smith and Fuchs. Bryerton mixes away like scientist, a little of this and a little of that.

This music is not for the weak hearted and certainly not everyone's cup of tea. That is fine of course, as this is a challenging recording, calling for focused listening. this recording demonstrates that these musicians have a rapport one that must have been fascinating to witness live.

Reviewed by: JAY COLLINS, Cadence

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Monday, April 15, 2013

SURRENDER TO THE AIR – Surrender To The Air (1996)

Label: Elektra – 61905-2 
Format: CD, Album; Country: US - Released: 1996 
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation, Experimental
Studio album released in March of 1996
Recording Produced by Trey Anastasio
Engineered and Mixed by Ed Thacker
Mastered by Bob Ludwig
Design: Carol Bobolts / Red Herring; Design Photography: Danny Clinch

A colorful exploration of sound, texture and space, featuring long sections of free group improvisation connected by short segments conducted by Trey Anastasio. Dense, noisy, aggressive, sparse, etherial, and beautiful; this album shows Trey in a new light as the catalyst and performer of intensely energetic and personal music.

1. Intro  1:49
2. And Furthermore  7:18
3. We Deflate  7:15
4. And Furthermore  7:06
5. Down  2:52
6. Intro  2:01
7. And Furthermore  4:12
8. And Furthermore  11:10
9. Out  5:38

Members: Marshall Allen - saxaphone Trey Anastasio - guitar Kofi Burbridge - flute Oteil Burbridge - bass Damon R. Choice - xylaphone Jon Fishman - drums Bob Gullotti - percussion James Harvey - trombone John Medeski - keyboards Michael Ray - trumpet Marc Ribot - guitar

Surrender To The Air is the result of good timing and luck. With a short break from touring with Phish, and some available studio time at his disposal, guitarist Trey Anastasio assembled some of his favorite players for a two day, free form recording session. The group, a veritable who's who in the world of jamband improvisers and eclectic free form jazz, laid down many many hours of jams onto tape before it was all over. After some editing and shaping the result would be the group's only album release ..., which proved to be confounding to Phish fans and a challenge to music lovers with even the most attuned jazz ear. The band convened for a pair of performances at the Academy of Music in New York City in April of 1996 which featured guest performances by various Sun Ra alumni and Phish keyboardist Page McConnell. While various members have expressed a desire to get together for more appearances, the challenge of gathering the 11 members together for an encore has so far not been met.

Trey’s first official side project from Phish found him exploring free jazz. Surrender to the Air was a colorful exploration of sound, texture and space, featuring long sections of free group improvisation connected by short segments conducted by Trey. The group produced one studio album released in March of 1996 followed by two live performances at the Academy in New York City on April 1st and 2nd, 1996.

In Trey’s words: “It was very loose. Everybody was just set up in the room, and you’d just come and go as you please. Sometimes it broke down to just two people. Most of the session was spent doing free stuff. [But, he adds,] The sound I wanted was free form and the structure I wanted was structure. It was basically a matter of figuring how to get both of those things. The problem that I don’t like about most free-form things is that it meanders. And to my ear, this doesn’t meander; it has direction all the time. It keeps going down a course ”

Since guitarist Trey Anastasio is the leader of Phish, it would seem that he would sound nearly identical to his band when he's on his own. Not so. Surrender to the Air, his first solo release, recalls a free form, improvisation-based jazz record more than hippie rock; in that sense, it is close to the actual spirit of the Grateful Dead, if not their sound. Anastasio has assembled a diverse, experimental band featuring guitarist Marc Ribot, trumpeter Michael Ray, keyboardist John Medeski, and saxophonist Marshall Allen. With such a stellar cast, it isn't surprising that Anastasio lets his fellow musicians cut loose. Everyone improvises over a loose structure, disregarding conventional notions of melody or rhythms. Though Anastasio doesn't solo as much as some of his comrades, his open-minded spirit is evident throughout the record. Though many Phish fans might not initially enjoy Surrender to the Air, the guitarist should be commended for not resting on his laurels.

_ By Stephen Thomas Erlewine (AMG)

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Friday, April 12, 2013


Label: Intakt Records – Intakt CD 053
Format: CD, Album; Country: Switzerland - Released: 1998
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded December 19,1995 at Rote Fabrik Zürich, Switzerland
Artwork By [Cover Art] – Gottfried Honegger
Artwork By [Cover Layout] – Eugen Bisig; Liner Notes – Ulrich Stock
Mastered By – Barry Guy, Maya Homburger
Photography – Karin Hofer
Producer – Patrik Landolt, Rosmarie A. Meier
Recorded By – Peter Pfister

Personnel: Philipp Wachsmann (violin); Evan Parker, Paul Dunmall, Simon Picard, Trevor Watts (reeds); Henry Lowther (trumpet); Marc Charig (cornet); Chris Bridges, Alan Tomlinson (trombone); Irène Schweizer, Marilyn Crispell (piano); Pierre Favre, Paul Lytton (drums).

By the time of this recording, the London Jazz Composers Orchestra had produced an exemplary collection of recordings, captured by the adventurous Swiss label, Intakt. Each of them features some of the leading British jazz improvisers in wildly ecstatic and creative settings, all composed and arranged by bassist Barry Guy. Like the others, this one, too, is filled with remarkable moments, particularly the performances by pianists Irène Schweizer and Marilyn Crispell, who are both guests on the recording. (Both Crispell and Schweizer have recorded with the orchestra before, but never together.) The ensemble work borders on the spectacular. Evan Parker, Paul Rutherford, and Pierre Favre (as a third guest) are very good, and devotees of the group will want this in their collection.


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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

RAYMOND MacDONALD & GÜNTER 'BABY' SOMMER – Delphinius & Lyra (2007)

Label: Clean Feed – CF086CD
Format: CD, Album; Country: Portugal - Released: 2007
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation, avant-garde
Recorded on 8 September 2005 at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow
Mixed and Mastered by – Kenny McLead
Design – Rui Garrido
Re-Design (pages: 2,3,4,5) by ART&JAZZ Studio, By VITKO
Packaging: Cardstock foldover

Here it is, naked to the bone, free jazz in all its glory, loose, intense and fur ious, not in hanger but with “ joie de vivre. ” A sax-drums duo like this, in which one of the performers is Gunter “ Baby ” Sommer, a hallowed name in European improvised music, makes you anticipate an essentialist approach to the communicative powers of improvisation. This is an encounter of generations, German percussionist and free-jazz pioneer Sommer meets a new presence on the international scene, Scottish saxophonist (and a psychologist, who uses sounds as a therapy for the mentally handicapped) MacDonald. We are all musical, the Glasgow-based MacDonald has lectured. From this universal musicality grow infra- music and hyper- music, music before and after music, nuclear and at the same time cosmic, on the path blazed by John Coltrane and Rashied Ali. The Sommer-MacDonald duo isn’t as spiritual, but the celebration of life is the same. Back in the 60s and 70s Sommer was part of the gang that included Peter Brotzmann, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Peter Kowald, Evan Parker, Leo Smith, and Cecil Taylor when the world was challenged by a new music that rejected both traditional jazz and academic classical composition. He, with his unusual drum kit and literary collaborations, is a living monument. MacDonald is far from being mesmerized by the personal history of his partner: he himself gained the status of one of the most important reedmen in the United Kingdom, with the Burt-MacDonald Quintet, the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, and gigs with Keith Tippett, Maggie Nicols, Lol Coxhill, Harry Beckett, and other notables. You can’t ignore the energy and fresh perspectives in this joint venture.

Performers: Raymond MacDonald, Günter ’Baby’ Sommer

Believe me, an album that will love you long time. Enjoy!

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Monday, April 8, 2013


Label: Circulasione Totale – CTCD11
Format: CD, Album; Country: Norway - Released: 2009
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded live at the Molde International Jazz Festival 2008
Recorded and mixed by Frode Gjerstad
New Design (pages 2,3,4,5,6) by ART&JAZZ Studio; Artwork and Design by VITKO
Produced by Gjerstad / Bradford / Håker Flaten / Nilssen-Love

Of his ten-year relationship as part of the Cecil Taylor Unit, bassist William Parker writes "It is great music, but you have to be a great musician to play it because you are given so much freedom that it can become meaningless...(Jimmy Lyons) knew his horn and he didn't just honk and scream, he had a language...while at the same time he maintained and developed his own identity."

No strangers to the aforementioned free-jazz pitfalls, trumpeter (and sole non-Norwegian of the group) Bobby Bradford (here on cornet), sax / clarinetist Frode Gjerstad, bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love gathered at the 2008 Molde International Jazz Festival. Drawing on their ridiculously extensive experience, you will be happy to know they capably passed Parker's test.

Filling the sonic spectrum with an incredible amount of information, the quartet rips through an hour-long set best described, in the jazz parlance, as smoking: nimble and explosive, bordering on mayhem, but a controlled chaos. Largely eschewing extended techniques and completely forgoing garish instrument supplements (i.e. amplification, electronic manipulation), they attack from their respective corners with virtuosic showmanship and prowess, navigating through tangling rhythmic highways, aggrandized forms and harmonic accord / relocation / dispersion. Nilssen-Love's fleet, multi-armed waves of crashes, pedal taps, rolls and multi-stylistic patterns conjoin with Håker Flaten's lyrical rumble, a rhythm section met with Bradford's tendency to rasp and sway and Gjerstad's ability to go from graceful to squealing like a dog on fire to prolonged, dashing, technically perfect scalar runs.

The group knows how to step aside and let the individual members shine, but glories in nearly stepping on toes — while making the latter gestures seamless and congruent to the global push. During "Reknes 4", Bradford bursts to the front with a lick from Stravinski's regal Ballerina Dance (from Petrushka), reconfiguring and transposing the phrase. Do the other three follow? Håker Flaten digs deep with a wrenching, bowed grind, someone comes close to yodeling, Nilssen-Love adopts a Latin funk groove with someone (possibly the yodeler) calling out the down beats. Dexterously, Gjerstad eludes and instantly takes the work back to a sprint, never missing a beat or breaking the spell.

A note about the mixing: captured in near-mono, the recording lends itself to the bare- knuckles jaunt and inspires nostalgia for records where the fight was the performance, not the display of microphone, EQ and compression techniques.

Reknes, however, is not a one-up competition; nor does its strength lie in an obvious devotion to, as Parker relates, a higher power. It is simply this: fun. This group is fun. Quoth Gjerstad: "Isn't it important to enjoy what you are doing? And if you enjoy what you do, presumably you will do it much better. And if you like what you are doing you will do it with conviction. And then the audience, hopefully, will appreciate an honest performance." Yes, we do appreciate it.

_ Review by DAVE MADDEN, 2010-06-02

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