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Bill Dixon:
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Jessica Ackerley / Patrick Shiroishi:
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The Locals (Thomas, Ward / Thomas / Lash / Hasson-Davis):
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Roscoe Mitchell & Mike Reed:
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Helary / Rayon / Gilbert / Lavergne:
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Jeremiah Cymerman / Charlie Looker:
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Jeremiah Cymerman / Charlie Looker:
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A series of ominous duos on the dark side from NY improviser Jeremiah Cymerman on clarinets & pedals, and Charlie Looker (Extra Life, Psalm Zero) on guitars & piano, each of the five pieces exploring murky caverns of warmly bleak environments rendered through Looker's deep piano & guitar work, perforated by cracks of light through Cymerman's riffs & exclamations. ... Click to View


Tomas Fujiwara (w / Brennan / Reid):
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Gus Garside / Herve Perez:
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Saxophonist Herve Perez and double bassist Gus Garside spent much of the pandemic lockdown recording these intimate duos, interpretations of a 13th Century Poem, "The Guest House" by Rumi, recording in their respective homes using software designed for real-time audio collaboration, as they developed this introspective set of dialogs with strong lyrical affinity between the two. ... Click to View


Various Artists curated by Nick Vander:
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Natsuki Tamura / Satoko Fujii / Ramon Lopez:
Mantle (Not Two)

While on a tour of Japan in 2019, Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii and Spanish drummer Ramon Lopez asked trumpeter Natsuki Tamura to join them, and to join in a challenge to write a new piece of music for the trio each day while on tour; this studio album selects the finest of those compositions, performed with nearly telepathic control in a mix of fire and lyrical beauty. ... Click to View


Step In (Carlo Morena / Joe Fonda / Felix Lecaros Herrera):
Voila La Tendresse (Not Two)

Pianist Carlo Morena leads this lyrical and energetic piano trio with bassist Joe Fonda and drummer FĂ©lix Lecaros Herrera, performing 6 Morena compositions and one piece by Emil Boyd, recording at the Firehouse 12 studio in Connecticut for the 3rd album under the Step In name, and the first with drummer Herrera; upbeat but never cloying, a very compelling album. ... Click to View


Mars Williams / Vasco Trilla:
Spiracle (Not Two)

A truly unique duo album of sax and drums from Chicago reedist Mars Williams and Spanish percussionist Vasco Trilla, using their immense technical skills to pivot reflective and meditative playing around exuberant free jazz spirit, maintaining a sense of journey and sonic introspection through unusual and extended technique; a beautifully balanced album. ... Click to View


Georg Graewe / Sonic Fiction Orchestra:
Fortschritt und Vergnugen (Random Acoustics)

First introduced at the "Konfrontationen" festival in Nickelsdorf in 2006, German pianist and composer Georg Graewe's Sonic Fiction Orchestra developed these diverse works of jazz, fusion-tinged, and chamber improv during a residency at the 2018/19 Porgy & Bess in Vienna, recording in the studio in 2020 for this impressive album, particularly the large "Redshift E" composition. ... Click to View


Souchal / Nick / Lazro / Cappozzo:
Neigen (Ayler)

An album of explorative and restrained improvisation, primarily acoustic but also using object and an electro-acoustic octave violin, from the quartet of Nicolas Souchal on trumpet & flugelhorn, Michael Nick on violin & electro acoustic octave violin, Daunik Lazro on tenor & baritone saxophones, and Jean-Luc Cappozzo on trumpet, flugelhorn & objects. ... Click to View


Gary Lucas:
The Essential Gary Lucas [2 CDs] (Knitting Factory)

A retrospective of the work of guitarist and one-time Captain Beefheart Magic Band member Gary Lucas, in two CDs, the first devoted to songs recorded with Lucas' psychedelic jazz-rock band Gods and Monsters, the second devoted to solo works, rarities and collaborations, with an incredible list of performers reflecting Lucas' diverse 40-year career. ... Click to View


Vasco Trilla:
Unmoved Mover (Listen! Foundation (Fundacja Sluchaj!))

A dramatic set of improvisations performed on timpani and gongs from Spanish percussionist Vasco Trilla, from the quietest of moments to massively profound and encompassing events, Trilla's timing evoking both meditative passages and moments of power, in a rich and spiritual album that impresses by both technical ability and by the sense of story he reveals. ... Click to View


Alex Cunningham :
Echo's Bones Were Turned to Stone [CASSETTE] (Storm Cellar)

A muscular album of improvised "fiddling" from St. Louis violinist Alex Cunningham, five works of assertive playing based on recurring and evolving figures, often rapid string patterns that show Cunningham's skill and stamina on the instrument, interspersed with quirky expressions and extraneous instrumental sound that keep his listeners on edge and captivated. ... Click to View


Steve Baczkowski / Bill Nace:
Success [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD] (Notice Recordings)

A rough-and-tumble improv encounter between Steve Baczkowski performing on tenor & baritone saxophones and Bill Nace performing on electric guitar, captured live at The Wild Detectives in Dallas, Texas for two extended improvisations, the first a cantankerously energetic exchange, the second mysteriously evolving from introspective to barbed interaction and back. ... Click to View


Montgomery & Turner :
Sounds Passing Through Circumstances [CASSETTE W/ DOWNLOAD] (Astral Editions)

Chicago sound artists Jayve Montgomery on saxophone & flute and Nick Turner on Mellotron, present an epic two part work of effected sound, two contemplative pieces of twilight environments, the first mysteriously punctuated with distant percussive elements, the second a hopeful work of glacial melody and harmonic tones; a great sonic companion under the influence. ... Click to View



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  Chris Cundy 
  Mountains  
  (Aural Terrains) 


  
   review by Brian Olewnick
  2021-02-02
Chris Cundy: Mountains (Aural Terrains)

Cundy presents six relatively recent compositions for bass clarinet, sometimes overdubbed, sometimes with taped accompaniment. There are two works by Cornelius Cardew, "Solo with Accompaniment" and "Mountains", as well as one each from Ton de Leeuw (also titled "Mountains"), Thanos Chrysakis ("Fryktoria") and John Cage ("Five").

"Solo with Accompaniment" (1964) has been recorded by others in various guises and seems to be capable of myriad different expressions, involving matrices which contain elements subject to certain rules of association and much more. It's also humorously perverse in that the "solo" section is relatively simple, the "accompaniment" complex, inverting the standard relationship. Here, the drawn-out bass clarinet lines waft around skittering though sporadic elements, percussive, whistling, quavering and otherwise. There's a sense of sadness in there, maybe a constrictedness; it's oddly moving. Both "Mountains" compositions were written for the Dutch bass clarinetist Harry Sparnaay, each also dated 1977. de Leeuw's is for bass clarinet and tape, the latter created by the composer. The sections are sometimes heard separately, engaged in a kind of playful, distanced dance with each other, here and there joining hands for some delicate and generally joyful interplay. Over the course of its 18+ minutes, it becomes progressively more tonal, ending in an area not all that far from, perhaps, a Jon Hassell piece from around the same period, though at once freer and more rigorous. Altogether very enjoyable.

Cardew's "Mountains" has, to the best of my knowledge, only been previously recorded once, by Ian Mitchell on his release with Christopher Hobbs, "the edge of the world" (Black Box, 1995). It certainly occupies a unique place in Cardew's oeuvre, written during a time when he was still preoccupied with working in an area largely given over to socialist workers' songs (the score does, indeed, include a quotation from Mao). However, the piece is structured on variations of Bach's "Partita No. 6" for solo keyboard and contains in its four sections transformations and inversions of same (sounding almost Braxtonian), a graphic section (having previously scorned his immense amount of work in that area), an improvisatory sequence and an up-and-down portion written to clearly evoke, within the staves, visual impressions of mountains. Cundy's performance traverses all of these "obstacles" with ease and good nature, managing to weld them seamlessly and with imagination, presenting a lively, vigorous image, brisk and bracing as a mountain ridge.

Chrysakis' "Fryktoria" (2019) and Cage's "Five" are both recorded with five bass clarinets. The former is a thoughtful sequence of explorations using various aspects of the instrument, moving slowly and with consideration for color and a subtle, only slightly perceptible forward motion. The Cage work is five minutes of unhurried, floating beauty, the five long-held tones weaving and gently glancing off one another like ribbons in a soft breeze. For all the admirable intricacy and flair of the preceding compositions, this might be my favorite from a very strong selection.



Chris Cundy: Mountains
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