Monday, March 27, 2017

Peter Brotzmann and Johannes Bauer - Blue City (Trost records, 2017)

Recorded live at Blue City in Osaka, Japan in 1997, this tape was found by serendipity, in a box of archived music labelled with date, venue, city. The music is a duet between Peter Brotzmann on tenor and alto saxophones, b-flat clarinet and tarogato and Johannes Bauer on trombone and they create some strangely fascinating music. "Name That Thing" is a raw and immediate journey, whose opening shows the music blasting off the launchpad on to a nearly half hour long performance. Great peals of saxophone fly over the accompanying trombone, creating sparks and opportunities for exploration allowing the musicians to make the most of the particular circumstances of the setting. The forces the musicians are experiencing in those two different directions make for delightful contrast and creating an underlying symmetry that is very impressive. There is an interesting unaccompanied section for Brotzmann, who is then rejoined by the trombonist for a raw and scouring section of music. Bauer repeats a phrase building focus and the music drifts to near silence. They build back up dynamically, with Brotzmann's exotic torogato creating waves of sound, shadowed by trombone, and slowly enveloping one another in an elaborate dance with a unique symmetry that shows the music transforming by degree over time. Brotzmann moves back to tenor for long tones of saxophone, haunting and powerful, punctuated by rending squeals and Bauer's contrasting sound. Brotzmann moves to clarinet for "Poppy Cock," swirling and swaying across the gentle accompaniment of the trombone. The music begins slowly and carefully, and the musicians take their time developing a fine improvisation, led by Bauer's thoughtful and patient tone which explores aspects of pure sound in open space for the majority of this performance. "Heard and Seen" takes the music in another direction, with powerful blowing and a scouring search, making their music enthralling for the listener. Raw sound is very exciting in this situation, suggesting infinite possibilities for improvisation. Ripe sounding saxophone bursts forward followed by subtle trombone riffs. They conclude with the very exciting "Hot Mess" which brings everything together for a fine concluding statement. Bauer, who passed away last year, had a very successful career in music including many collaborations with Peter Brotzmann and this album serves as a fine reminder of their empathetic relationship. Blue City - amazon.com

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ivo Perelman - The Art of Perelman - Shipp Volume 1: Titan (Leo Records, 2017)

This is the first volume in an audacious seven disc series that places tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and pianist Matthew Shipp in a wide variety of formations. They are joined on this album by a longtime partner, bassist William Parker for a thrilling trio recording. "Part One" begins with spare air quivering in space, as piano and bass gradually build in near the vocalized saxophone. The music is spacious and open, as befits conversation between equals who have deep trust in one another, and have developed an honest musical discourse. The music will develop a raw edge to it, with bounding bass amidst strident saxophone and patient piano notes and chords. The Perelman - Shipp interaction is in full force on "Part Two" with Parker's sawing bowed bass providing and excellent foil for both the pianist and saxophonist. Waves of sound fade in and out with the dynamic nature of the music, allowing a quieter and more introspective sound space to develop and be expounded upon by the musicians."Part Three" has a more strident and passionate performance, creating a ripe collective improvisation that is quite potent with Perelman's raw saxophone tone amidst the fully developed piano and interacting to create an impressive whole. Powerful peals of saxophone rip forth with deeply pulled bass and droplets of spare piano. Building from a gentle piano and saxophone introduction, "Part Four" is yearning and emotional. Parker's deep bass provides a firm foundation for a performance that seems fraught with danger and sadness. "Part Five" develops a raw and urgent trio improvisation, with strong full band interplay driving the music forward with great passion and spirit. Perelman steps out for some wonderfully nimble piano and bass interplay and he returns with great peals of sound that arc across the other instruments, and leads into a torrid section of free improvisation. Everything comes together on "Part Six," a nearly twenty minute master class in group interplay beginning with long tones of bowed bass and saxophone framed by droplets of piano. The music seems to warp space and time and develop its own reality of pure sound, waxing and waning in intensity and pace as the narrative of the music develops in real time. The musicians form a single organic unit which evolves and grows with an epic performance, including a very compelling section where Shipp excuses himself creating a great bass and saxophone interchange, followed by a section for bass and piano. This is a great album, and an excellent introduction to the collection. Shipp and Perelman have a nearly otherworldly connection, and adding the great bassist Parker to the equation only adds to the excitement. Titan - amazon.com

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Interesting Links 3/24


  • NPR uncovers the bizarre story of the most pricey record never sold: "Discogs, Billy Yeager And The $18,000 Hoax That Almost Was."
  • There is a long and fascinating interview on bobdylan.com with the man himself: "Q and A with Bill Flanagan."
  • The Best New Jazz on Bandcamp: February 2017.
  • Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth is the feature on the most recent Bimhaus Radio podcast. "Chris Cheek and Tony Malaby on tenor saxophone, Craig Taborn on piano/wurlitzer, Chris Lightcap on doublebass and Gerald Cleaver drums."
  • Chuck Berry died at age 90, he was one of the few musicians who legitimately changed the world.
  • Rob Mazurek speaks out about the new Chicago/London Underground LP, and his collaboration with Emmett Kelly. (Last week's link was broken... sorry!)
  • NPR has information about the new Lee Morgan documentary "I Called Him Morgan."


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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mostly Other People Do the Killing - Loafer's Hollow (Hot Cup, 2017)

Mostly Other People Do the Killing have long been one of the most exciting bands on the progressive jazz scene. This expanded version of the group features Moppa Elliott on bass, Jon Irabagon on saxophones, Brandon Seabrook on banjo and electronics, Kevin Shea on drums, Ron Stabinsky on piano, Dave Taylor on bass trombone and Steven Bernstein on trumpets. This larger version of the group adds a few new faces and this allows the band to explore some interesting textures. The recording draws on books and music, with new compositions that explore early jazz with some dedicated to writers. "Hi-Nella" sways in on and old-timey groove with feathering banjo and punchy brass. Their commitment to the sound of the past is pure, but the improvisations are as fresh as today's news, particularly in Bernstein's solo which is wide open and unaccompanied. There is a languid and slow tempo on "Honey Hole" with slinky brass and a gentle beat. An easy swinging saxophone solo breaks out framed and then joined by the other instruments, building to a stronger and decidedly modern improvisation section. Strong piano band bass provide the backbone for "Bloomsburg" upon which the brass and rhythm build. The brass instruments snake through the tune as Shea's drums break up the rhythm and open the music for a nice collective improvisation. "Kilgore" has ominous bass and fearsome growls before the band comes together for a mid-tempo swing with filigrees of banjo, before going rogue with extended sounds for brass and reeds. This is the most outside track on the album, throwing the remaining performances into sharp contrast with a bracing free improvisation for very high pitched saxophone and then a section of madcap barrellhouse piano. The tempo mellows on "Mason and Dixon" with quiet and patient piano solo introduction followed by the rest of the band crashing the party with some torrential drumming leading to a banjo feature and a free for all that takes the music in an exciting new direction. "Meridian" keeps an even keel with a thoughtful opening and variations on the theme they establish. There is another fine solo section for the brass section buoyed by the band's impeccable support. A jaunty straw-boater tipping melody opens "Glen Riddle" with lightly stepping horns accompanied by vibrant piano and banjo, before the music takes a darker turn with a more open improvisation anchored by Elliott's bass. Everything comes together again as the group seamlessly rejoins for a rousing conclusion. Effects give "Five (Corners, Points, Forks)" the sound like it was being played on a at 78 RPM on an old Victrola, but the music is decidedly modern with choppy banjo met with growls and shrieks of saxophone and trumpet framed by twinkling piano, the remaining instruments fold in and the effects are dropped for a fascinating interpretation of the music's possibilities. This is another fine album from this relentlessly creative band. Elliott's compositions take into account the whole continuum of jazz from pre-bop to free improvisations and the band interprets them with grace and poise. Loafer's Hollow - amazon.com

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Chicago Edge Ensemble - Decaying Orbit (Music+, 2017)

The city of Chicago is know for it's broad shouldered head strong jazz from the time Louis Armstrong brought the revolution north on a train from New Orleans through to fellow travelers Sun Ra, the members of the AACM, Ken Vandermark and the modern day keepers of the flame. Guitarist Dan Phillips brought together a hard hitting crew to pay respect to the jazz of Chicago, enlisting Mars Williams on saxophones, Hamid Drake on drums, Jeb Bishop on trombone and Krysztof Pabian on bass. The music works very well, combining the brawny swing the town is known for with progressive free elements that add to the excitement. The album is dynamic and ever evolving, starting with the lengthy opener "Attitude Adjustment" which develops patiently with complex horn interplay and solos that seem to bubble up from the firmament of the music itself. "Bi-Polar Vortex" begins with a rush of fast and exciting sound, incorporating collective and solo improvisations. After the manic episode of the cascading free improv ripens until the inevitable happens and the music crashes into a descending spiral to its uncertain conclusion. "Uptown Swagger" has the leader's snarling and snaking electric guitar locking in with with thick bass and propulsive drumming and shades of brass. It's a righteous and exciting tune that moves at a snappy pace with the snotty guitar making way for muscular horns and a sparkling saxophone solo. A strikingly brawny theme open "Not Here You Don't," creating an urgent atmosphere of anticipation. The storm clouds arrive and squalls of torrential music rain down in a startling collectively improvised section, led by crashing drums. A sparking guitar solo breaks free showering the scene with showers of flinty sound before the brisk and no-nonsense horns return to usher the music to a fine conclusion. This is a fine album of interesting themes and powerful performances by the full ensemble and the soloists. Everyone draws deeply from the limitless well of the city's musical history and creates a bold and thoughtful statement. Decaying Orbit - Bandcamp

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Interesting Links 3/18/2017

Aquarium Drunkard talks to Rob Mazurek about his recent Chicago/London Underground LP, and his collaboration with Emmett Kelly.
Bandcamp dips into the music of the great drummer Paal Nilssen-Love.
Ethan Iverson posts an interview with Geoffrey Keezer.
The Guardian on British experimental jazz at South by Southwest.

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Led Bib - Umbrella Weather (RareNoise Records, 2017)

Led Bib is a consistently interesting progressive British jazz band with fusion overtones consisting of Mark Holub on drums, Pete Grogan and Chris Williams on alto saxophone, Liran Donin on bass and Toby McLaren on keyboards. This is a forward looking jazz ensemble that has evolved to the to a point where their trust each other implicitly and allow the music to flow naturally. They develop a muscular form of music that sets interesting and memorable themes which evolve into spirited improvisations. Most of the music on this album came about organically in the studio through a tight sense of collective improvisation, starting with “Lobster Terror," which opens the album with a choppy melody that makes way for some excellent collective playing from the group and then evolves into “Too Many Cooks,” which ups the ante even further, folding in elements of rock and electronic music to make for a very powerful performance. It's not all blistering tempos however, because on the wonderfully named “Insect Invasion” the band develops an atmospheric and spaced out groove which is also used on the melodic and jaunty concluding track “Goodbye." The group has become a stable and well oiled machine, evolving naturally and incorporating on each of the member's ideas and influences. The band adroitly travels the realms of jazz with pop and world music overtones, creating something provocative and memorable. Having two saxophones moving together over a heavy rhythm team that keeps the music moving continuously forward creates a very powerful sense of momentum. The band has developed gradually from a group that Holub put together for a university project into an organic and ever changing group of musicians. Hopefully we can receive more regular updates on their progress. Umbrella Weather - amazon.com

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