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Recorded during Ken Vandermark's residency titled "The Unexpectable", in Krakow in 2017 at Klub Alchemia, plus concerta at Hevre and Black Box in Germany, with duos, trios and quartests in a variety of configurations with artists including Ken Vandermark, Nate Wooley, Ikue Mori, John Butcher, Kent Kessler, Steve Noble, Mette Rasmussen, Eddie Prevost, Joe McPhee &c. ... Click to View


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Iconoclastic legend of the European Free Jazz movement, saxophonist Peter Brotzmann surprises with a (mostly) lyrical album of jazz standards (and some of his own compositions), interpreting pieces by Harry Barris/Gordon Clifford, Sigmund Romberg/Oscar Hammerstein II, Herbie Nichols, Dizzy Gillespie, George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin, and Sonny Rollins. ... Click to View


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Akiyama / Field / Vidic: Interpersonal Subjectivities [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

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Gorilla Mask: Brain Drain (Clean Feed)

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Gorilla Mask: Brain Drain [VINYL] (Clean Feed)

The 4th album from German saxophonist Peter Van Huffel's Gorilla Mask, the 3rd on Clean Feed, is another powerful blending of jazz and rock forms in restless and profoundly determined music, energetic but intelligently structured, with great riffs and melodic grooves from Roland Fidezius (electric bass) and Rudi Fischerlehner (drums and percussion). ... Click to View


Jose Lencastre Nau Quartet: Live in Moscow (Clean Feed)

The collective free jazz Nau Quartet led by alto saxophonist Jose Lencastre with Red Trio pianist and bassist Rodrigo Pinheiro and Hernani Faustino and drummer Joao Lencastre are caught live at Moscow's DOM Cultural Center for this album of thoughtfully informed improvisation, using open and spontaneous structures as they evolve each conversation in organic ways. ... Click to View


Tim Stine Quartet: Knots (Clean Feed)

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Kimchi Moccasin Tango (Nyberg / Bjora / Andersen): Yankee Zulu (Clean Feed)

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Almeida / Duynhoven / Klein: Live at the Bimhuis (Clean Feed)

This is the 2nd release by this trio on Clean Feed, with Tobias Klein (alto saxophone, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet), Goncalo Almeida (double bass) and Martin van Duynhoven (drums) captured live at Bimhuis in Amsterdam in 2017, taking on compositions by Ornette Coleman alongside original compositions from all three players in a free jazz mode. ... Click to View


Egil Kalman / Fredrik Rasten: Weaving a Fabric of Winds (Shhpuma)

Swedish bass player Egil Kalman, here on modular syntheizer, joins Norwegian guitarist Fredrik Rasten for a lovely album of drifting electronics and beautifully entwining acoustic guitar, unhurriedly developing environments of warm, slowly evolving chord structures that show influences from players like Catherine Lamb or the Wandelweiser collective. ... Click to View


Egil Kalman / Fredrik Rasten: Weaving a Fabric of Winds [VINYL] (Shhpuma)

Swedish bass player Egil Kalman, here on modular syntheizer, joins Norwegian guitarist Fredrik Rasten, for a lovely album of drifting electronics and beautifully entwining acoustic guitar, unhurriedly developing environments of warm, slowly evolving chord structures that show influences from players like Catherine Lamb or the Wandelweiser collective. ... Click to View


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  Christopher Fox 
  Topophony  
  (hat[now]ART) 


  
   review by John Eyles
  2019-07-24
Christopher Fox: Topophony (hat[now]ART)

In 2014, the renowned English composer, writer and academic Christopher Fox was commissioned to compose a new piece for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Shortly afterwards, he was contacted by the orchestra's esteemed conductor, Ilan Volkov, who suggested adding an improvisation to the piece. Although initially skeptical, Fox soon realized that the difference between composition and improvisation could be the foundation of the music. He eloquently explains, "I wanted the orchestral music to become a landscape within which the improvisers could play, rather like when we walk in the mountains... each time it will be different for us, but the mountains don't change." The resultant piece, "Topophony", was first premiered at the 2015 Tectonics Festival in Glasgow, with harpist Rhodri Davies as the improvising soloist.

The three versions of "Topophony" which comprise this album were recorded in Köln by the WDR Symphony Orchestra, also conducted by Volkov; a January 2016 version had trumpeter Axel Dörner and drummer Paul Lovens as soloists, while two versions were recorded in May 2017, one without soloists and the second with saxophonist John Butcher and Thomas Lehn on synthesizer as soloists. Based on the soloists employed so far, it seems Fox and Volkov decided to opt for first-rate improvisers to play in the piece, but not soloists of any particular instruments. Together, the three contrasting versions here are an ideal way to listen to "Topophony" and appreciate its intentions. Hearing them one after another never feels repetitious but, in Rashomon style, provides triangulated viewpoints which give listeners a fuller, richer picture of the piece.

"Topophony II", the version without improvisers, shows the piece to be serenely beautiful, built up from layers of slowly-evolving, meditative sound which combine into a beguiling landscape clearly designed with improvisers in mind; the magic of the piece is that it works equally well with or without improvisers. The two versions with improvisers reinforce that point. The composition is not a concerto with designated slots for the improvisers to play in. Instead, they have no instructions except that they should start playing after the orchestra's music has begun and finish before it ends. As a result, the improvised music does not sound awkwardly bolted-on, but becomes a natural, integrated part of the piece; credit for that should go to all concerned. Topophony is sure to appeal equally to followers of contemporary composition and of improv. Along the way, it will doubtless make converts from one camp into the other. A major achievement which deserves to be performed frequently.



Christopher Fox: Topophony
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