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Jacob Sacks: Fishes (Clean Feed)

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Peter McEachern Trio : Bone-Code (Clean Feed)

A trombone trio led by Peter McEachern, with the frequent collaborators, the formidable rhythm team of Mario Pavone on bass and Michael Sarin on drums; here they dedicate their lyrical, blues tinged but avant embracing album to Roswell Rudd as they play a set of McEachern compositions, along with one from Mario Pavone and one from Alice Coltrane. ... Click to View


Jonas Cambien Trio (w / Roligheten / Wildhagen): We Must Mustn't We [VINYL] (Clean Feed)

Leveraging influences in improvisation and contemporary compositional music, Belgian/Oslo pianist Jonas Cambien, a member of Simiskina and Platform, extends his own trio of saxophonist Andre Rolighete and drummer Andreas Wildhagen with trumpeter Torstein Lavik Larsen on 2 tracks, as they balance jazz, avant, free improv and other hybrid forms in a compellingly creative album. ... Click to View


Gunter Sommer Baby (w/ Till Bronner): Baby's Party (Intakt)

For his 75th birthday celebration, German free jazz legend Guther "Baby" Sommer joined with German trumpeter and flugelhornist Till Bronner for a rhythmically inventive, lyrical, and joyful album of free improvisation, nine pieces from Sommer plus "Danny Boy" (Weatherly) and Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood", making for a stylish and upbeat party! ... Click to View


Stefen Aeby Trio (w/ Andre Pousaz / Michi Stulz): The London Concert (Intakt)

The Stefan Aeby Trio at the Intakt Festival at Vortex Jazz Club in London 2017, the pianist leading his trio with bassist Andre Pousaz and drummer Michi Stulz through lyrical original compositions from Aeby, with one from Pousaz, a wonderful example of the modern piano trio that embrace a wealth of styles and approaches while flowing clearly in jazz history. ... Click to View


Skerebotte Fatta: Riders From The Ra (Creative Sources)

Members of the Polish Infant Joy Quintet and Warsaw Improvisers Orchestra--saxophonist Jan Malkowski and drummer Dominik Mokrzewski--pair off in a dynamic album of solid free jazz, influences feeling like Albert Ayler or Steve Lacy, as the two show great technical and creative skills, sometimes in great motion, sometimes reflective, showing great command and direction. ... Click to View


Ornette Coleman : Looking For Ornette [DVD] (La Huite)

Two films documenting and seeking insight into the work of late alto saxophonist and free jazz trail blazer Ornette Coleman, to some an iconoclast, to others a pioneering musician; the first film by Jacque Goldstein creates a portrait through interviews of those influenced by him; the 2nd, Stephane Jourdain follows Coleman's influence in today's music. ... Click to View


Donald Sturge / Anthony McKenzie II (feat. Elliot Sharp, Bill Laswell, Vernon Reid): Silenced II - Views from the Auction Block [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (577)

Drummer Donald Sturge Anthony McKenzie II trades off duos with a set of masterful musicians in the second volume of his "Silenced" project, here with guitarist Elliott Sharp for a complex and inspired dialog; with bassist Bill Laswell for a rich and moody soundscape; and with guitarist Vernon Reid in a piece for McKenzie's daughter; plus one solo drum piece. ... Click to View


Listening Group (feat. Daniel Carter / Patrick Holmes / Jeff Snyder / Stelios Mihas / Federico Ughi): Live at the Forward Festival 2016 [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (577)

A live performance at Forward Festival 2016, in Brooklyn, NY, merging chamber music, free improvisation, free and avant jazz and other forms in a an ensemble with Daniel Carter (sax & trumpet), Claire de Brunner (bassoon), Patrick Holmes (clarinet), Nick Lyons (sax), Jeff Snyder (electronics), Stelios Mihas (guitar), Jonah Rosenberg (piano), Zach Swanson (bass), and Federico Ughi (drums). ... Click to View


Listening Group (feat. Daniel Carter / Patrick Holmes / Jeff Snyder / Stelios Mihas / Federico Ughi): Live at the Forward Festival 2016 (577)

A live performance at Forward Festival 2016, in Brooklyn, NY, merging chamber music, free improvisation, free and avant jazz and other forms in a an ensemble with Daniel Carter (sax & trumpet), Claire de Brunner (bassoon), Patrick Holmes (clarinet), Nick Lyons (sax), Jeff Snyder (electronics), Stelios Mihas (guitar), Jonah Rosenberg (piano), Zach Swanson (bass), and Federico Ughi (drums). ... Click to View


Choi Bae Sun / Junji Hirose / Motoharu Yoshizawa / Kim Dae Hwan: Arirang Fantasy (NoBusiness)

A 1995 live concert at Romanisches Cafe in Tokyo from the South Korean and Japanese free improvising quartet of Choi Sun Bae on trumpet, Junji Hirose on tenor & soprano saxophones, Motoharu Yoshizawa on electric vertical five strings bass, and Kim Dae Hwan on percussion, in five collective improvisations including an homage to Charlie Parker. ... Click to View


Choi Bae Sun / Junji Hirose / Motoharu Yoshizawa / Kim Dae Hwan: Arirang Fantasy [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

A 1995 live concert at Romanisches Cafe in Tokyo from the South Korean and Japanese free improvising quartet of Choi Sun Bae on trumpet, Junji Hirose on tenor & soprano saxophones, Motoharu Yoshizawa on electric vertical five strings bass, and Kim Dae Hwan on percussion, in five collective improvisations including an homage to Charlie Parker. ... Click to View


Morton Feldman: Triadic Memories & Piano [2 CDS] (Hat [now] ART)

Two substantial works for solo piano from late composer Morton Feldman, performed by Dutch avant-garde pianist John Snijders; "Triad Memories" is presented in two sections over 2 CDs, following Feldmans's socre, Snijders holding the sustain pedal halfway down for unusual harmonic decay, while "Piano" exploring permutations in a work of suspended time and motion. ... Click to View


Morton Feldman: Trio (Hat [now] ART)

Reissuing the 1996 recording of Morton Feldmans' "Trio" performed by Ives Ensemble members Job Ter Haar on cello, John Snijders on piano, and Josje Ter Haar on violin, Feldman's compositions sparse with tension over spacious moments of lyrical beauty, tense dissonance, unhurried repetition, and a sense of drifting momentum, evasive yet beautiful music. ... Click to View


Metal Chaos Ensemble: Blast Furnace (Evil Clown)

PEK and Yuri Zbitnov's working project exploring chaotic rhythms on metallic instruments using a wide range of sonorities, including gongs, chimes, glockenspiel, Tibetan Bowls and other metallic sounds and horns, plus accompaniment tracks, with special guests Bob Moores on trumpet and guitar and Eric Woods on analog synth, and performing real time Signal Processing. ... Click to View


Leap Of Faith: Proof Theory (Evil Clown)

The core trio of the Leap of Faith Orchestra is Boston area PEK on clarinets, saxophones, double reeds & flutes, Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice, and Yuri Zbitnov on drums & percussion, here expanded with Eric Dahlman on trumpet, whistles and game calls, and and Jim Warshauer on saxophone, in an incredibly diverse live performance at Outpost 186, in Cambridge, 2018. ... Click to View


Antonis Anissegos / Christos Yermenoglou: Intertitles (Creative Sources)

Berlin pianist Antonis Anissegos and Greek drummer Christos Yermenoglou in an album of obscurely titled free improvisations, sophisticated and thoughtful discourse using both traditional and extended techniques, Anissegos inside and out of the piano, as the two converse through understated yet strong melodic threads, a truly lovely and accomplished album. ... Click to View


Univers Zero: Ceux Du Dehors [VINYL] (Sub Rosa)

A remarkable work of chamber rock in the the 1981 third album from Belgian band Univers Zero led by drummer/percussionist Daniel Denis, who alo provides the complex and darkly brooding compositions for the ensemble, inspired and guided by the writing of H. P. Lovecraft, here in a much-needed vinyl reissue. ... Click to View


Mike Westbrook: Starcross Bridge (Hatology)

A solo piano album of lyrical jazz compositions from London pianist and band leader Mike Westbrook, including pieces from Monk, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Lennon & McCartney, and original work from himself and his partnership with Kate Westbrook, an album of musical and personal references with the title track dedicated to saxophonist Lou Gare. ... Click to View


Luzia von Wyl Ensemble: Throwing Coins (Hatology)

Swiss pianist and composer leads her Luzia von Wyl Ensemble, a 10 piece band orchestrated with piano, bass, drums, flute, bassoon, clarinet, bass clarinet, violin, cello, and marimba, in a series of original jazz pieces that embrace third-stream jazz and Middle Eastern modal melodies, her players taking on exceptional solo spots fueled by her sophisticated compositions. ... Click to View


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  Charming the Cobra  

A first-hand account of organizing a performance of John Zorn's most famous game


By Eyal Hareuveni 2003-08-20

John Zorn, in the liner notes to the latest recorded version of Cobra, on Tzadik, said of his most popular game-piece that "at its worst it can become psychodrama", but "at its best it's like magic." As it happened, the first official Israeli Cobra was almost doomed to become a kind of political psychodrama. Seventy-two hours before the concert, Zorn, who was supposed to be on hand as the conductor/prompter, decided to cancel his visit to Israel because of the shaky and troublesome situation in the Middle East. Luckily, due to the most creative and wise conduction by the Israeli viola player Nori Jacoby, the Israeli Cobra turned out with many magical moments.

The Israeli Cobra was being planning by Zorn and the Israeli Artistic Director, bass player Jean-Claude Jones, who jammed with Zorn during his 1994 visit to Israel with the Masada quartet (and was thanked on the liner notes of Masada in Jerusalem double disc on Tzadik), for the Israel Festival at Henry Crown Hall on June 7, 2003. For eight months prior to the performance, Jones and I had been assembling the players according to Zorn's suggestions - i.e. at least two female players, two Israeli-Arab players (one of them cancelled a month before the concert), a DJ and players from diverse backgrounds - jazz, improv, classical music, electronics. Zorn wanted playful, adventurous players, and emphasized that he does not care at all about virtuosity.

As we began to look for the players, we found out that most of them have heard of Zorn; vocal artist Maya Dunietz had even played with him an improv nights at Tonic in New York City. Only few of them owned any of his recordings, however, and none knew what the hell Cobra is. The sole exception was Jacoby, who was drafted a month before the concert. Jacobly learned Cobra from a Canadian musician and even conducted and played in some underground performances of the piece. None of the players really understood the rules Zorn sent, and even Jacoby needed a hour-long talk with Zorn, a day before the concert, to fully realize the key dynamics of a successful Cobra. Zorn last word of advise to Jacoby, an hour before the concert were quite short: "Have fun!"

After much preparation, the 13 players met for the first time nine hours before the performance for a quick sound check and a long rehearsal. Some had played with each other before, but not in such a large formation. Some had tried to rehearse the piece a few weeks before the concert. None of the players canceled after hearing that Zorn had decided to stay home. The players were: Jones, one of the best known jazz player in Israel, on bass and electronics; Dunietz on vocals, toys, shoes, percussion and synth; Taiseer Elias, who played in world music ensembles such as Bustan Abraham and Ziryab Trio, on oud; Dana Waxman, a member of the Israeli improv group Tel Aviv Art Ensemble, on cello; Ofer Ganor and Nadav Remez on electric guitars; multi instrumentalist Adam Scheflan on dobro, mini-vibes and kazoo; Daniel Ran on piano; Jeffrey Kowalsky, lead percussion player in the Beer Sheba Symphonietta, and long time collaborator of Steven Horenstein, on vibes, steel drums and darbouka; Hagai Freshtman, a long time collaborator with Assif Tsahar and Ori Kaplan (two Israeli saxophonists living in New York) on drums; video artist Ran Slavin on lap-top; Yoav Bernstein as DJ and special guest Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz (who played in the festival with Daniel Zamir's Satlah) on bass. The youngest player was Remez, only 19 years old. The oldest, at 53, was Kowalsky.

The first characteristic of the Israeli Cobra players that our conductor Jacoby tackled was their insistence on playing all the time. Every time that Jacoby signed 'pool' (as he explained it, the cue means that every player can jump into the pool, but not all players have to jump at the same time) everybody began playing, seeming to enjoy the overall chaos. Then all the players tried to check out how fun the guerilla tactics are, but all was done in a very playful way. Slowly, but in a very confident way, Jacoby turned the rehearsal from a psychotherapeutic workshop for suppressed musicians into a really creative process. It began to seem that Zorn's absence would not hinder the concert.

Cobra was scheduled to open the festival, a free performance that filled the 700-seat hall. More than half the attendees did not know what to expect, believing they had come to see a jazz concert led by a well known Jewish musician (but only a few dozen left during the performance). The beginning of the first piece was hesitant, the players seemed to have lost some of their self-confidence since the last rehearsal, but it quickly evolved into a game of duos and Jacoby kept signing the players almost randomly, sometimes surprising them.

The real magic happened halfway into the concert, during the third piece. Jacoby created an event, selecting Elias on oud, Blumenkranz on bass and Kowalsky on the hand drum darbouka, and the three of them improvised beautifully on a Middle-Eastern scale with Elias leading, while the rest of the players tried to catch up. Jacoby used a lot of jump cuts between the three players and the other musicians and you could feel the kaleidoscopic musical vision of Zorn comes alive with a beautiful cello solo by Waxman, strange e-bow playing on the dobro by Scheflan, gibberish vocals from Dunietz and funny LP selections from Bernstein. The last section focused on the outer worldly laptop playing of Slavin and the piano outbursts of Ran, while the other players improvised in and out of the setting that Slavin and Ran created. Really beautiful music.

After more than 70 minutes the players were exhausted, physically, emotionally, but all of them felt so high, thanking anyone around, from the great sound engineer Uri Barak, to the festival officials, each other, me. All the tension was released. It was a unique experience for all of them, for the spectators, for the festival. The recording of this Cobra will soon be sent to Zorn to let him know what he was missing, and most of the players are planning to stage more Cobras in Israel in the near future.



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