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Thumbscrew (Michael Formanek / Tomas Fujiwara / Mary Halvorson): Ours (Cuneiform Records)

The New York free improvising jazz trio Thumbscrew with long-time collaborators guitarist Mary Halvorson, double bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara in the 1st of 2 albums on the reborn Cuneiform label, here presenting creative original compositions from each of the three musicians in 9 virtuosic, sometimes quirky, and always warmly adventurous tunes. ... Click to View


Thumbscrew (Michael Formanek / Tomas Fujiwara / Mary Halvorson): Theirs (Cuneiform Records)

The second of two albums from the reborn Cuneiform label by New York free improvising jazz trio Thumbscrew with long-time collaborators guitarist Mary Halvorson, double bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, here presenting compositions from jazz greats Benny Golson, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Nichols, Stanley Cowell, Misha Mengelberg, &c. ... Click to View


Paul Dunmall / Philip Gibbs / Neil Metcalfe / Ashley John Long : Seascapes (FMR)

Long-time collaborators, saxophonist Paul Dunmall and guitar Philip Gibbs are joined by Neil Metcalfe on flute and Ashley-John Long on bass for a concert at the Victoria Rooms, in Bristol, England in 2017, six collective improvisation of spectacular technique and inventive playing, often at very fast tempos, but always resolving to an inner calm and beauty. ... Click to View


Frode Gjerstad / John Stevens / Johnny Mbizio Dyani: Detail 83 (FMR)

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Fake Humans (Fisher / Didur): Exegesis [ VINYL] (Shhpuma)

The Toronto-based duo of Colin Fisher on woodwinds and percussion and Carl Didur on keyboards and bass bridge acoustic and electronic improv with science fiction sensibilities in their four part "Exegesis", a critical exposition of un-genred music that borrows from global sources in service to their unusual and exotic tale; a wonderfully perplexing album. ... Click to View


Jaap Blonk : Irrelevant Comments (Kontrans)

As he delves further into electronics, Netherlands vocal improviser and experimental artists Jaap Blonk finds an ever-increasing array of approaches to modify his voice and set it into alien and astounding environments, here in 16 tracks of musique concrete, sound poetry, pulse based electronics, soundscapes, and inexplicable hybrids of the same. ... Click to View


Tomomi Adachi / Jaap Blonk: Asemic Dialogues (Kontrans)

Performing together since 2004 between Tokyo and Amsterdam, Dutch vocal improviser, innovator and electronicist Jaap Blonk meets Japanese vocal improviser and fellow electronics artists Tomomi Adachi at Lettretage in Berlin in 2017, recording this, the 5th in Kontrans Electronic Improvisation, for two extended and energetic dialogs of unique creative interplay. ... Click to View


Jason Kahn : Voice and Sky [BOOK + CD] (Editions)

Sound experimenter and electroacoustic organizer Jason Kahn revisits previous works and expands on them with the book and CD release, with an essay on his approach towards public space interventions and text / sound installations, a track listing, photographs from the locations of his field recordings, and texts and prose poems to accompany the listener. ... Click to View


Jason Kahn : Space Text Sound [BOOK] (Editions)

A 244 page book documenting text material used in three of sound experimenter Jason Kahn's recent installations: "An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Hong Kong (After Perec)" (2016), "Drifting" (2016) and "Other Ghosts" (2015), emphasizing how words can convey the sense of place sounds can and how these words impart a feeling for inner spaces. ... Click to View


Sean Conly : Hard Knocks (Clean Feed)

The history of bassist Sean Conly's collaborations and releases shows a strong love of the jazz tradition and a perceptive writing style that references that tradition, heard here in free and lyrical original Conly compositions performed in the studio in a trio setting with fellow New York musicians Satoshi Takeishi on drums and Michael Attias on alto saxophone. ... Click to View


Caterina Palazzi Sudoku Killer: Asperger (Clean Feed)

A wicked hybrid of jazz, avant rock and cinematic elements, bassist Caterina Palazzi's quintet Sudoku Killer takes on the music of Disney in a suite where each track is dedicated to an antagonist from movies like "Snow White" or "Sleeping Beauty", performed with Giacomo Ancillotto (guitar), Maurizio Chiavaro (drums), Sergio Pomante (sax) and Antonio Raia (sax). ... Click to View


Alberto: Pinton Noi Siamo: Opus Facere (Clean Feed)

Multi-reedist and wind player Alberto Pinton's quartet Noi Siamo ("We Are") with Niklas Barno on trumpet, Torbjorn Zetterberg on bass and Konrad Agnas on drums, are caught at the Swedish Glenn Miller Cafe in Stockholm for this exciting album of knowledgable and passionate free jazz, a dynamic concert referencing Eric Dolphy, Freddy Hubbard, and Ornette Coleman. ... Click to View


Jemeel Moondoc Quartet: The Astral Revelations (RogueArt)

Saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc takes his masterful NY quartet of pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist Hilliard Green, and drummer Newman Taylor Baker to perform live at Bimhuis in Amsterdam in 2016, capturing four remarkable improvisations of Moondoc compositions including an extended rendering of "Cosmic Nickelodeon", the band balancing lyricism with intensely creative playing. ... Click to View


North Of North (Pateras / Tinkler / Veltheim): North Of North (Offcompass)

The first release on pianist Anthony Pateras' new label OffCompass intended to explore a more diverse set of projects is from the North Of North trio of Anthony Pateras on piano, Scott Tinkler no trumpet, Erkki Veltheim on electric violin, using improvisation, Carnatic music, 20th and 21st century compositional strategies, mathematical theories and open forms of jazz. ... Click to View


Will Guthrie : 6 Days into 8 [CASSETTE] (Careful Catalog)

The sixth set performed during an 8-day tour of Japan in 2018 by Australian drummer / percussionist Will Guthrie (Ames Room, The Sommes Ensemble) took place at 0g in Osaka, captured here as a 32 minute set of vigorous playing tempered with introspective passages, using powerful technique and unorthodox approaches to his kit; cathartic and captivating. ... Click to View


Karl Berger: In A Moment - Music For Piano And Strings (Tzadik)

Pianist and vibraphonist Karl Berger is also a professor of composition, having won numerous awards and commissions for his work, here presenting the final part of a trilogy written Tzadik, a beautiful 14-part suite for piano and string realized with Berger himself at the keys in a septet of well known NY performers including Ken Filiano, Tomas Ulrich, Jason Kao Hwang. ... Click to View


Dave Holland Feat. Evan Parker / Craig Taborn / Ches Smith: Uncharted Territories [2 CDs] (Dare2 Records)

Reuniting late bassist Dave Holland with saxophonist Evan Parker, a longtime friend from their early days in London, and joined by Craig Taborn on piano and electronics, and Ches Smith on percussion, as the group performs as a quartet and also in a variety of permutations of duo and trio configurations, for a set of rich and informed dialogs of masterful skill. ... Click to View


Eugene Chadbourne : Fuck Chuck (Chadula)

An unsual album even by Chadbourne's standards, this reissue and remaster of material recorded in the 80s and 90s from his cassette series brings recordings from his noise group Chuck with Murray Reams and David Nikias together with recordings with Ut Gret (Joee Conroy and David Stilley) to create a hybrid of live experimental improv and found sounds. ... Click to View


Eugene Chadbourne : Lets Get Weird But Comfortable (Chadula)

Named for an audience comment that their music was "weird but comfortable", guitarist Eugene Chadbourne's band with Jeb Bishop on trombone, Jorrit Dijkstra on saxophone, Nate McBride on bass, and Curt Newton on bass are caught live in Boston covering the music of Thelonius Monk, Misha Mengelberg, Steve Lacy, Duke Ellington, Doc Chad, Willie Nelson and The James Gang. ... Click to View


Omelette: Live At The JazzLab (FMR)

Australia's performing trio Omelette of Jordan Murray on trombone, Ronny Fereller on drums, and Luke Howard on piano follow up their 2014 album on Jazzhead with this live album, the trio joined by Chilean percussionist working in Melbourne Javier Fredes, for a lyrical and rhythmically rich live performance at Melbourne's JazzLab in 2017. ... Click to View


Implicate Order, The : At Seixal (Clean Feed)

The very first album from Portugal's impressive Clean Feed Records is this live album at Auditorio do Forum Cultural do Seixal from the trio of Steve Swell on trombone, Ken Filiano on bass and Lou Grassi on drums, joined by Paulo Curado on alto sax and Rodrigo Amado on baritone sax, a significant concert merging free players from two nations with profound influence on jazz music. ... Click to View


Magnus Granberg : Es Schwindelt Mir, Es Brennt Mein Eingweide (Another Timbre)

An hour-long work for an ensemble of six musicians by Swedish composer Magnus Granberg performed by Anna Lindal on baroque violin, d incise on vibraphonen electronics, Cyril Bondi on percussion, Anna Kaisa Meklin on viola da gamba, Christoph Schiller on spinet, and Magnus Granberg himself on prepared piano, transforming material from a song by Franz Schubert. ... Click to View


John Cage: Two2 (Another Timbre)

One of a handful of John Cage's number pieces, this work for two pianists follows the forms of Renga poetry, composed with 36 lines of music, each containing 5 measures, and each line having 31 events occuring in the sequence 5-7-5-7-7, with the pianists allowed their own tempo but waiting to synchronize each measure, as performed by Mark Knoop and Philip Thomas. ... Click to View


Bondi / Martel / Schiller: tse (Another Timbre)

With backgrounds in both improvisation and compositional music, the new trio of Cyril Bondi on harmonium, Pierre-Yves Martel on viola da gamba, and Christoph Schiller on spinet, agreed on a sequence of pitches for this 5 part improvisational work, allowing space for the players to explore pitch and melody within a contemplative and pensive framework. ... Click to View


Angles 3: Parede (Clean Feed)

Martin Kuchen's Angles band changes shape constantly, originally a trio and expanding as large as Angles 10, but this album, recorded live at SMUP, Parede, Portugal in 2016, returns the band to the original trio of Kuchen on sax, Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten on double bass, and Kjell Nordeson on drums & percussion, reworking Angles compositions to their essence. ... Click to View


Honest John w/ Ab Baars: Treem (Clean Feed)

The Norwegian quintet Honest John of Ole Henrik Moe on violin, Kim Johannesen on guitar & banjo, Ola Hoyer on double bass, Erik Nylander on drums & drum machine, on Klaus Ellerhusen sax and clarinet, are joined by multi-reedist and shakuhachi player Ab Baars at Nasjonal Jazzscene Victoria to capture this quirky, controlled, and incredibly knowledgeable concert. ... Click to View


Chris Pitsiokos / CP Unit: Silver Bullet In The Autumn Of Your Years (Clean Feed)

Pushing the envelope in genre-smashing collective improvisation, Brooklyn-based sax and synth player Chris Pitsiokos and his CP Unit with 2 electric bassists--Tim Dahl and Henry Fraser--2 drummers--Jason Nazary and Connor Baker--and guitarist Sam Lisabeth, take a twisted path through improv, rock, and electronics that always shows a fierce allegiance to free jazz. ... Click to View


Scott Clark: Tonow (Clean Feed)

Drummer Scott Clark continues to explore his Native American roots in this album dedicated to the protests at Standing Rock, North Dakota, each heartfelt piece titled for aspects of those demonstrations, performed with bassist Cameron Ralston, trumpeter Bob Miller, saxophonist Jason Scott, guitarist Alan Parker, and extended with Chicago guitarist Tobin Summerfield. ... Click to View


Lynn Cassiers: Imaginary Band (Clean Feed)

Composer, vocalist and electronics artist Lynn Cassiers' new septet with Sylvain Debaisieux (soprano and tenor saxophone), Ananta Roossens (violin), Niels Van Heertum (euphonium), Erik Vermeulen (piano), Manolo Cabras (double bass) and Marek Patrman (drums) in their adventurous debut album blending improv, pop aesthetics, electronics, dreamlike voice, and solid playing. ... Click to View


AMM: An Unintended Legacy [3 CDs] (Matchless)

A beautiful 3-CD set with a hardcover book presenting 3 full concerts from 2015 & 2016 of the AMM trio configuration of John Tilbury (piano), Keith Rowe (guitar) and Eddie Prevost (percussion). The 70 page book, dedicated to saxophonist Lou Gare, includes an AMM discography, plus photos, and essays by Paige Mitchell and Allen Fisher; Keith Rowe; Eddie Prevost; and Seymour Wright. ... Click to View


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  Visions from the Past  

The 2003 Vision Festival Resurrects Legends from the '60s


By Kurt Gottschalk 2003-06-24

History cut in line on May 24, when Henry Grimes took the stage two days prior to his much anticipated spotlight during the 2003 Vision Festival.

The festival was bookended by a couple of lost ESP artists, with vocalist Patty Waters (now living in Hawaii) on opening night, and bassist Grimes playing with William Parker's Jeanne Lee Project closing the fest.

But on Saturday night, just before a duet by Parker and Rob Brown, festival organizer Patricia Nicholson announced that a "very special guest" would be joining the two. With no more hype than that, the legendary bassist, who played on some great sides in the late '60s and disappeared from public view shortly thereafter, took the stage.

Grimes presumably had little time to rehearse, not having played in roughly 30 years. Parker sent him a bass this spring, after articles announcing that Grimes had been found, alive and well in California, appeared in Signal to Noise and The Wire. Grimes played a gig with guitarist Nels Cline in San Francisco before heading east for his New York re-debut.

Like a modern day Mississippi John Hurt, the resurgence of Henry Grimes is the stuff of legend. He received a standing ovation before playing a note that night, and sat in the front row throughout the six-night festival. He already has a gig booked for July at the upscale club Iridium in midtown Manhattan.

No doubt many in the audience were wondering, miraculous as his return was, how his playing would be. As it turns out, Grimes was fast and nimble, quiet but assured; he clearly remembers his Juilliard schooling. He and Parker began as two of a kind, opening arco, their hands moving nearly in unison, Brown's searing alto soaring above. The set progressed, Brown dropping out at times to allow a bass duo, and was rewarding if not entirely remarkable. Parker is always amazing and Grimes more than held his own.

Patty Waters
Patty Waters    [Photo by M.P. Landis]
Waters, too, proved an elder but rewarding version of the youthful exuberance documented on her two ESP releases. She opened with a shaky voice and a sweet smile, saying simply "Thanks for coming. Let's all hope for world peace and justice." Then, ably backed by pianist Burton Greene (with whom she recorded those early sides) and bassist Mark Dresser, she launched into a stirring version of "Strange Fruit," a song that not only mirrors her plea for justice but perhaps represents a woman whose voice shows her years. Seamlessly they drifted into a lyric version of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" and, later, Holiday's "Don't Explain," "Nature Boy" and Waters' "Moon Don't Come Out Tonight." She might not have had the range or the power she once demonstrated, but she still carried every bit of the drama, standing in repose during instrumental segments, and leaving the stage during some of Dresser and Greene's own compositions.

The Vision Family

Family comes in different forms, and family is what the artist-run New York City institution is all about. If that's a little corny, then it's the kind of corniness William Parker, Patricia Nicholson and their growing list of sympathizers embrace. More musicians each year add their names to the list of those traveling (at their own expense) from near and far to be a part of the venerable shoestring operation. Grimes is no doubt part of the clan now, and Waters may prove to be as well.

The 2003 Vision Festival Schedule

Wednesday May 21

  • Joe Maneri Trio (Matt Maneri / Randy Peterson / Christine Coppola)
  • Carl Hancock Rux / DJ Spooky
  • Billy Bang Sextet (Frank Lowe with Todd Nicholson, Andrew Bemkey, Tyshawn Sorey, and Tatsuya Nakatani)
  • Patty Waters / Burton Greene / Mark Dresser

Saturday May 24

  • Amina & Amiri Baraka with Blue Ark: The WordShip (Dwight West / Rahman Herbie Morgan / Andy McCloud / Vijay Iyer / Rudy Walker)
  • Rob Brown / William Parker / Henry Grimes
  • Milford Graves / Peter Brotzmann
  • Jin Hi Kim Trio (Billy Bang / William Parker)
  • Louis Belogenis / Roy Campbell / Hill Green / Michael Wimberly
  • Improvs: Tatsuya Nakatani, Roy Campbell, Lewis Barnes, Jonathan LaMaster and others

Thursday May 22

  • Bill Cole Project (Warren Smith / Cooper-Moore / Patricia Smith)
  • David S. Ware Quartet (Matthew Shipp / William Parker / Guillermo E. Brown)
  • Fred Anderson / Harrison Bankhead
  • The Jemeel Moondoc / Connie Crothers Quintet (Nathan Breedlove / Adam Lane / John McCutcheon)

Sunday May 25

  • Thomas Buckner / Roscoe Mitchell / Jerome Cooper / Harrison Bankhead
  • Masada String Trio (Mark Feldman / Erik Friedlander / Greg Cohen, John Zorn conducting)
  • Matthew Shipp Quartet (Daniel Carter / William Parker / Gerald Cleaver )
  • Whit Dickey / Rob Brown / Roy Campbell / Joe Morris
  • Patricia Nicholson's PaNic (Joseph Jarman / Cooper-Moore)

Friday May 23

  • Edwin Torres / Sean G. Meehan
  • Kali Fasteau / Mixashawn / Maria Mitchell / Newman Taylor-Baker
  • Roy Campbell / Joe McPhee, Warren Smith, William Parker
  • Andrew Cyrille / Kidd Jordan / William Parker
  • Raphe Malik Quartet (Sabir Mateen / Larry Rolands / Warren Smith)

Monday May 26 ~ Jeanne Lee Memorial

  • Steve Dalachinsky / Treva Offutt / Frederico Ughi
  • Gunter Hampel Galaxy Dream Band (Perry Robinson / Lou Grassi / Mark Whitecage / Ruomi Lee Hampel / Hershel Silverman / Prince Alegs
  • Amina Claudine Myers
  • William Parker's Jeanne Lee Project (Thomas Buckner / Ellen Christi / Jay Clayton / Lisa Sokolov / Rob Brown / Lewis Barnes / Joe Daley / Cooper-Moore / Gerald Cleaver / Henry Grimes)

So what better way to open the festival (after illness canceled Joseph Jarman's traditional opening invocation) than master of microtones Joe Maneri with his son and daughter-in-law, violinist Mat and dancer Christine Coppola and their longtime collaborator, drummer Randy Peterson. The three musicians played as one, tenor saxophone, electric viola and percussion in tight-sync improvisation Coppola opened with the two Maneris, adding a surprising energy to their slow, taut lines. When she left the stage, the elder Maneri took over the dance, slowly rocking in his chair, eyes closed, arms akimbo, whenever his reed left his lips.

Fred Anderson was one of the first out-of-towners to commit to the annual trip, usually appearing in a remarkable quartet with Kidd Jordan, William Parker and Hamid Drake. But this year the tenor twins were bifurcated (and Drake, touring Europe, not on the bill), so he brought along one of his Chicago compatriots, the great bassist Harrison Bankhead.

Chicago's AACM boasts many great players (specifically saxophonists) too little known outside their hometown, and Bankhead is one of the best. They played a beautiful duet of lyrical, fast-paced ballads, simmering but never boiling over.

With the Anderson/Jordan/Parker/Drake quartet out of commission this year, it was left to Parker, Joe McPhee, Roy Campbell and Warren Smith to rock the roof off the house. Other regulars also delivered pieces of what the festival has become known for. Davis S. Ware brought his firestorm groove. Kali Z. Fasteau told musical tales of world travels. Brotzmann and Graves went 0-60 in zero seconds, hitting hard and not backing down, Brotzmann blowing clarinet with enough force to make it sound for all the world like an alto sax. Matthew Shipp was in rare, free jazz mode, laying out with Parker, Daniel Carter and Gerald Cleaver, not relying on formalist, geometric structures but instead playing the sweet, hard stuff.

Guitarist Joe Morris has also been a recurring part of the festival, but this was the first year for Morris the bassist. When he started picking up the banjo a few years ago, he sounded very much like himself on banjo. His more recent upright bass playing has been that much more of a surprise as a result. Far from the fast lines he favors on the smaller strings, on bass Morris tends toward simple, heavy, repeated lines, sounding something like hislong time partner Parker. Whit Dickey led a set with Morris on bass, Brown on saxophone and Roy Campbell on trumpet. Like Dickey's recent recordings on Aum Fidelity and Riti, the set was a satisfying, cogent statement.

Although Jarman gave a scare when he missed the opening invocation, leaving Nicholson to lead the festival blessing, he was in fine form four nights later, dancing across the stage, playing sopranino, bells on his ankles. He went through a variety of settings withCooper-Moore providing percussive basslines and momentary blasts from a strung and heavily amplified table.Nicholson danced and sang, breathily invoking the "Vision for Peace" mantra that reverberated throughout the festival. "So much sadness and a few moments of unbounded joy," she sang, whispered and screamed as she spun across the stage. "Rise UP!" It was captivating enough that painter Jeff Schlanger, another Vision regular and self-proclaimed "Music Witness" was still, not painting a stroke.

Dalachinsky  Offutt
Steve Dalachinsky & Treva Offutt
[Photo by Kurt Gottschalk]
The festival occurs over Memorial Day weekend every year, and the final night appropriately serves as a memorial for a musician who died during the previous year. This year's closing night commemorated the vocalist Jeanne Lee, who died in October 2000. Poet Steve Dalachinksky read a long piece capturing her passion for life, with drummer Federico Ughi and the remarkable dancer/singer Treva Offutt. Lee's husband, reed player and vibraphonist Gunter Hampel, played a set of strong jazz complimented by poetry from their son Ruomi Lee Hampel and some rambunctious street dance by Prince Alegs.

Henry Grimes Brown
Henry Grimes & Rob Brown
[Photo by M.P. Landis]
Parker's Jeanne Lee Project, a 14-piece band with four vocalists,was similar to his Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra. The long piece opened with cutely boppy four-part vocals that morphed into swirling vocalese and then into an extended solo by Grimes who, thanks to the attention of The New York Times and other local media, was responsible for packing the house. To say his playing is strong does not require the caveat "four months practice after 30 years of not playing." Grimes and second bassist Nick Rosen, along with four percussionists (Parker being among the latter) laid down an earthy groove, and the six horns swelled in shining fanfare. If there's anyone who can surf that sort of wave, it's Billy Bang, who rose with his violin from center stage and tore through the funk. It was pure Parker, grand and great Parker.



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