Rob Mazurek —
Rome ... CD CleanFeed (Portugal), 2017. New Copy ...
An incredible solo record from Rob Mazurek – a wonderful change from some of his larger group and collaborative projects – even though we love those a heck of a lot too! This set's a great reminder of the core improvisational genius that Rob's always had, but which sometimes is overshadowed by the group activity on his other records. Here, Mazurek blows cornet alone, and also plays both standard and prepared piano – and colors things with just a dash of his great electronics – often used in more sparing and subtle ways than some of his group efforts. A really beautiful set from a musician who continues to reward us over the years – with titles that include "Twombly At New Church", "Gazing Through Walls", "King Of Rome", and "Sweet Life In Disrepair". CD
Meridian Trio (Nick Mazzarella/Matt Ulery/Jeremy C —
Triangulum ... CD CleanFeed (Portugal), 2017. New Copy ...
Triangulum – a great title for the wonderful energy of this group – which swings perfectly between the three sharp points of Nick Mazzarella on alto, Matt Ulery on bass, and Jeremy Cunningham on drums! These guys are freewheeling, but always soulful – not just because of Nick's well-shaped sense of tone – which can be arch-modern, yet with a surprisingly warm core – but also because the bass of Ulery has this completely rapt (wrapped?) approach – almost like some deep force watching over the whole proceedings, which then seems to set Cunningham free on drums. The group represents an amazing third (or fourth?) wave in the contemporary avant scene in Chicago – the kind of joyous expression that continues to make us proud to live in a city that can create music this wonderful. Titles include "Ringdown", "Reminiscing", "Witch Hazel", "Rhododendron", "Strange", and "Inflection Point". CD
A totally cool combination of musical elements – baritone sax and analog electronics – both played here by Jonah Parzen-Johnson with a style that's unlike anything else we can think of! Sure, saxes and electronics have come together before – ever since Richard Tietelbaum and Anthony Braxton first recorded together back in the 70s. But there's also a very different vibe here that comes both from the baritone, and its deeper sonic range – and the way that Jonah uses his electronics, sometimes with flutteringly rhythmic elements that really make the music shimmer, but without overwhelming it at all. He's also not afraid to blow straight and soulfully at times too – which is especially great when the electronics are more abstract – and throughout, the album's full of these revelatory moments that make the whole thing a delight. Titles include "These Shoulders Those Shoulders", "Cabin Pressure", "I Have Questions", "What Do I Do With Sorry", "Guns Make Us Murderers", and "Too Many Dreams". CD
Susana Santos Silva/Torbjorn Zetterburg/Hampus Lin —
If Nothing Else ... CD CleanFeed (Portugal), 2015. New Copy ...
A wonderful continuation of the spirit of the previous collaboration between trumpet and flugelhorn player Susana Santos Silva and bassist Torbjorn Zetterberg – but a record that also adds in a cool extra element with the organ of Hampus Lindwall too! The music has this spacious, open quality – these tonefull lines from Silva which flow out in space, but which also have a quality that's not nearly as cold as, say, an ECM session of this type – thanks to the always-amazing, always-soulful work of Zetterberg on bass – who gives the record an organic grounding, which is then supported by Lindwall's lines on organ. And we're not exactly sure what type of organ he's using, but at times it almost feels like a pipe organ – as the sounds have both a depth, and sense of presence that really makes the music unique – even at points when his contributions are very low on the sonic totem pole. Titles include "Stop Chords", "Fiddling", "Distance", "First Initiative", "Second Initiative", "One Note Each", and "One Note Song". CD
A record as enigmatic as its title – slow-building sounds crafted by the trumpet of Yaw Tembe and percussion of Monseiur Trinite – both musicians we don't know at all, but who really find a special space with this album! The sound is very open and spacious – much more in an ECM legacy than the usual releases on CleanFeed – but also with a sound that's individually its own, and which isn't trying to copy the ECM style at all. Percussion is often very spare and stark – not loud, but striking – and the performance appears to be live, in a space that also allows for lots of room echo to expand the individual elements. Titles include "A Kind Of Jester's Kindness", "Delta", "Trial", "King Before Kings", "Inner Suite Three Magnificent Ride", and "No Body". CD
The title might be a bit of a joke, but the music here is something else entirely – tremendously well-formed, well-played work from a group headed by bassist Mark Dresser – who also wrote all the material on the set! There's almost an AACM vibe to the whole thing – a mixture of larger concepts and individual spirits, always coming together in a highly collaborative way – and shining in the brilliance of players who include Nicole Mitchell on flutes, Marty Erlich on clarinet and bass clarinet, Michael Dessen on trombone, Joshua White on piano, David Morales Boroff on violin, and Jim Black on drums and percussion. The woodwinds have these shading, sliding qualities that are completely sublime – and often echoed, and augmented by the violin – in work that takes us back to the 70s brilliance of players like Leroy Jenkins or Billy Bang. Dresser's presence is felt strongly throughout – and titles include "Sedimental You", "Newtown Char", "Two Handfuls Of Peace", "Will Well", and "Trumpinputinstoopin". CD
Drummer Nick Fraser leads the group, but we're in love with the contributions of all the individual members – including saxophonist Tony Malaby, who's at his creative tonal best – and the mix of Andrew Downing on cello and Rob Clutton on bass – performing together here in a wonderfully rich texture of strings! The album begins in moody territory, but soon moves into bolder moments – which really draw a lot of subtle emotional balance in the range between the tenor and cello especially – working together to evoke worlds of unseen images, with an offbeat mix of past and future. Titles include "Disclosure", "Skeleton", "Arachnid", "The Predictor", and "Quicksand". CD
Scandinavian jazz, recorded in Bali – in a great shift from previous volumes in this series – as all musicians play a bit of gamelan as well! Make no mistake, the format is definitely freely improvised music with a strong jazz current – with the mighty Jonas Kullhammar on tenor and flute, Susana Santos Silva on trumpet, Torbjorn Zetterberg on bass, and Espen Aalberg on drums and percussion – working together as a fantastically cohesive unit, with a bold sense of confidence that really shows the players' understanding of each other. Yet there's also a special vibe here – really marking the album as a special outing from the musicians – even if the gamelan is used sparingly alongside the more familiar instrumentation. Titles include "Irama Berat", "Dewas Dance", "Slow Ostinato", "Suling", and "Ilir Ilir". CD
The Rova Sax Quartet not only pay tribute to the late Steve Lacy – whose work on soprano sax was such a huge influence on their sound – they also reunite with guitarist Henry Kaiser, a Bay Area associate from the early days who was a key part of their scene! The quartet rework the songs that Steve Lacy first presented on his groundbreaking Saxophone Special album – but the presence of both Kaiser's guitar, and analog electronics from Kyle Bruckmann really make the whole thing sound quite unique – certainly in a mode that Lacy would approve, but also with maybe more of the noisy elements that marked the generation or Rova and Kaiser's early improvisations. Titles include "Staples", "Swishes", "Sops", "Dreams", and "Snaps" – plus bonus tracks "Cliches" and "Sidelines". CD
A really fantastic set from this Swedish nine piece ensemble – a record that's overflowing with brash performance and unbridled energy – adventurous, but never totally free – and always given the right sort of focus to make things come across with a tremendous amount of power! The feel is almost like a Moserobie Records take on a Charles Mingus style – and the lineup features Martin Kuchen on alto and tenor – who also composed the album's five long tracks – plus Magnus Broo on trumpet, Matthias Stahl on vibes, Goran Kajfes on cornet, Mats Aleklint on trombone, Eirik Hegdal on baritone, Alexander Zethson on piano, Johan Berthling on bass, and Andreas Werliin on drums. If you know any of those players at all, you can imagine the greatness of the group – on titles that include "Adror", "Equality & Death", "Pacemaker", "Disappeared Behind The Sun", and "Love Flee Thy House". CD
One of the headiest Peter Brotzmann albums we've heard in years, thanks to the sound of the Black Bombaim group from Portugal – who play with a guitar-heavy drive that almost takes us back to Brotzmann's Last Exit recordings of the 80s! The group play with a forward energy that takes off right from the start – heavy drums and full-on fuzzy guitar, plus some deep electric bass as well – all of which puts the reedman in a different setting than most of his recent projects, and one that reminds us just how well-suited he can be for such an experience! Some of the performances here really blow our minds all over again – with a tone that's strong, and incredibly clear – sometimes even more focused than on some of Brotzmann's other recent records, but still very free and sharp-edged overall. The album was recorded live in the studio, with a very jamming vibe – and the CD seems to have one more track than the vinyl LP. CD
Great work from the Canada Day combo of drummer Harris Eisenstadt – a group that may well be his best in recent years – thanks to a really creative sense of interplay between the musicians! The group features no piano – just the trumpet of Nate Wooley and tenor of Matt Bauder criss-crossing over drums from Harris and bass from Pascal Niggenkemper – in a way that begins with sort of an Ornette Coleman early 60s energy, but quickly takes off into very individual textures and tones – informed both by the song structures provided by Eisenstadt, and the sublime interplay between Wooley and Bauder. Things are never too far out, but always chromatically creative – and titles include "Sometimes You Gotta Ask For What You want", "A Fine Kettle Of Fish", "Innuendo Is Nobody's Friend", and "We All Ate What We Wanted To Eat", in a number of different sections. CD
With a title and cover like this, we had to check the record out – and the sound within doesn't fail to disappoint! The song titles themselves are extremely political, but the music has a very universal appeal in the freer side of the spectrum – almost a poetic take on the world of free improvisation, with as much tunefulness as unbridled sense of exploration in the musicians! Players include Simone Graziano on piano, Gabriele Evangelista on bass, and Francesco Cusa on drums – working with guest Carlo Atti on saxes. Titles include "Delivering A Load Of Musical Boxes To Wall Street", "Adam Smith Counts Every Penny", "Fiscal Regime In The Life Of The New York Taxidriver/Jazzman", "Sun Ra Vs Donald Trump", and "Accelerating From The Global Society To The Foamed Society". CD
A really old school trio setting – one that has a loose, open, freely exploratory vibe that really takes us back to the loft jazz generation – as the musicians work in very creative territory that really shows their individual spirits, yet still also come together strongly as a whole! Joe McPhee is great on tenor and trumpet – and really reminds us of those tremendous textures and tones he started developing in the late 70s – and the rest of the trio features Pascal Niggenkemper on bass and Stale Liavik Solberg on drums – both younger musicians, but equally creative in the setting. Titles include "i", "A", and "Zero Supreme Love" – the last of which is dedicated to John Coltrane. CD
A really unusual combination of instruments – or, that is, a familiar combination – but used here in really unusual ways! The group features Taiko Saito on vibes and marimba, Niko Meinhold on piano, and Tobias Schirmer on clarinet and bass clarinet – and all instruments are often used at the gentlest side of their sonic range – so that the flow of the tones together is almost more important than the performance of any individual member – always tuneful, even when dark – but also extremely creative in the way the sounds are put together! We're used to hearing modern clarinet players work with unusual phrasings from the time of Jimmy Giuffre onward – but we've never heard that instrument combined this way with piano and vibes – with a sound that reminds us that the right players can always unlock new possibilities from familiar instruments. Titles include "Wellen", "Etude In Eb", "Snow Moon Flower", "Bikkuri", "Komodo No Kodomo", and "Feldmannchen". CD
John Lindberg BC3 with Wendell Harrison & Kevin No —
Born In An Urban Ruin ... CD CleanFeed (Portugal), 2016. New Copy Gatefold ...
Out Of Stock
Bassist John Lindberg is the leader here – but the record starts with a beautiful solo clarinet piece by reedman Wendell Harrison – who we've loved ever since his Tribe Records work of the 70s! Harrison has played in many formats over the years – some more straight or polished than others – but here, in the company of a great trio, he reminds us that he can still be an incredibly powerful, spiritual player when needed – working here on both bass clarinet and standard clarinet – with a creative sound that rivals John Carter at his best on the instruments. The group also features wonderful vibes from Kevin Norton – whose tones balance things out nicely, and have this sharper attack at points that resonates well with Lindberg's bass. Norton also plays additional percussion – and titles include "Swooping Deep", "The Excavation", "The Left Wrist", "Devastation Of Vegetation", "Born In An Urban Ruin", and "Vermont Roadside Family". CD
Mat Maneri/Evan Parker/Lucian Ban —
Sounding Tears ... CD CleanFeed (Portugal), 2017. New Copy ...
Out Of Stock
An incredible combination of sounds – as the viola of Mat Maneri comes into play with the always-inventive reed work of Evan Parker – a player whose decades of creativity never seems to stop him from being completely fresh and in the moment! To our ears, the interplay between offbeat string and reed sounds is the real charm here – although the piano of Lucian Ban is certainly strong, and maybe adds in a dark current at all the right moments – even if his presence is sometimes a bit more conventional (although maybe that's also a good thing, too. Titles include "Blessed", "This", "Blue Light", "Da Da Da", "Parallex", and "Scilence". CD
Rob Mazurek's working here with a group of players who are most associated with his Sao Paulo Underground – although the album's not billed as such – and the leader has definitely leapt back strongly into that electronic mode that really characterized the initial second chapter of his career! Rob blows cornet on the record, but maybe handles more electronics overall – and the group also features more electronics from Thomas Rohrer, who also blows flute and soprano – plus additional keyboards from Guilherme Grado. More acoustic elements come into the music from the drums of Mauricio Takara and piano (both regular and prepared) of Philip Somervell – and overall, the sound is very dark and noisy – maybe more so than any other previous Sao Paulo projects. Titles include "The Blue Haze", "Android Sun", "Raked Harmonic Sun Burst Strata", "Sparklers For Eyes Like Splintered Lightning", and "Sun Flare Extensions & Other Dimensions". CD
Kjetil Moster/Jeff Parker/Josh Abrams/John Herndon —
Ran Do ... CD CleanFeed (Portugal), 2017. New Copy ...
Out Of Stock
Tenorist Kjetil Moster works here with a great trio of musicians from the Chicago scene – Jeff Parker on guitar, Josh Abrams on bass, and John Herndon on drums – the last of whom comes as a bit of a surprise on a date like this! Yet the drums are often a very important part of the sound here – as they're sometimes full-on and rhythmic, other times more muted but a strong part of the structure of the performances – which allows for some especially creative moments from Parker and Moster, who find these really cool ways to bring unusual sounds from their instruments together! Abrams is a delight, as always – definitely much more on the avant side of his spectrum – on titles that include "Dig Me Out", "Orko", "Pajama Jazz", "Anicca", and "Island Life". CD
A trio of live performances from this excellent trio – material recorded in Oslo, Ljubljana, and the North Sea festival – brought together here in a really wonderful package! The first CD features just the trio – Gard Nilssen on some incredibly dynamic drums, working with Petter Eldh on bass and Andre Roligheten on tenor and soprano sax – a group who really find a new way to open things up past the original trio mode of Sonny Rollins in the 50s, but without the oft-trod territory of the familiar avant power trio too. The group is joined by Fredrik Ljungkvist on tenor and clarinet on the second CD – and we always love Fred's work on any session, this one included. The final CD features a quintet – with the presence of Jorgen Mathisen on tenor and clarinet, and Kristoffer Berre Alberts on alto, tenor, and baritone – which really ups the reed power of the album! A heck of a lot of music in one short space – all free, but nicely structured into songforms too. CD
The bass of Eric Revis sounds better than we ever remember – and that's saying a lot, because we've really liked his other records too! Yet here, it almost feels like Revis is out to re-state himself as a musician – coming on strong with a tone that could put him up there with the giants of earlier years – and beautifully matched with drummer Chad Taylor, who's always been an amazing example of that rare quality of being tight and loose at the same time! Ken Vandermark blows tenor and clarinet – but in a way that really seems to respect the path taken by Revis and Taylor – as does the piano of Kris Davis, which punctuates the sound perfectly. Titles include "Sing Me Some Cry", "PT 44", "Good Company", "Rye Eclipse", "Rumples", and "Drunkard's Lullaby". CD
A record that comes on with the frenzy of an Ornette Coleman Quartet session – and one with a very similar lineup too – given that Nate Wooley is on trumpet, Chris Pitsiokos is on alto, Brandon Lopez is on bass, and Dre Hocevar is on drums! Yet the sound is freer, and bolder too – as the instruments flurry together in clusters, then burst out into incredible sonic territory as the set moves on – with moments that include Wooley blowing fast and tuneful with a mute, like some speed freak Miles Davis – or hitting these popping, punctuated sounds that are really unusual. The record's one that really keeps us on the edge of our seats – and furthers the sense of surprise that can make real jazz improvisation so special! CD