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Robert Dick : Our Cells Know (Tzadik)

Using multiphonics, percussive effects, circular breathing and other extended approaches to the contrabass flute, composer/performer/improviser Robert Dick releases a mesmerizing album of improvisations, breaking new terrain by letting the largest of flutes lead his muse. ... Click to View


John Zorn : The Mockingbird (Tzadik)

John Zorn's Gnostic Trio of Bill Frisell on guitar, Carol Emanuel on harp and Kenny Wollesen on vibes and chimes, perform Zorn's compositions inspired by the classic novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" in lyrical chamber jazz of great depth and nuance. ... Click to View


Jacob Bandolin do : Great Jewish Music (Tzadik)

A tribute to Jacob do Bandolim, one of the founders of the Brazilian instrumental style choro in the 30's and 40's, in compositions from Tzadik artists Davka, Cyro Baptista, Carla Kihlstedt, Jon Madof, Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz, Ben Perowsky, Rob Burger, Jamie Saft, &c. ... Click to View


Smith Quartet with John Tilbury: Morton Feldman: Music for Piano and Strings Volume 3 [DVD-AUDIO] (Matchless)

Recorded live at the Huddersfield Festival of Contemporary Music in 2006, this is the 3rd and final volume of works by Morton Feldman performed by the Smith Quartet with John Tilbury on piano, recorded in high quality DVD audio and with extensive liner notes by Tilbury. ... Click to View


Dave Douglas High Risk: Dark Territory (Greenleaf Music)

Electronic-inspired ensemble High Risk with Dave Doublas on trumpet, Jonathan Maron on bass, Mark Guiliana on drums and Shigeto on electronics, exploring the intersection of creative improvisation and modern electronic music production in persuasively rhythmic music. ... Click to View


Universal Indians w/ Joe McPhee: Skullduggery [VINYL 2 LPs] (Clean Feed)

The free improvising trio of John Dikeman on sax, Jon Rune Strom on bass, and Tollef Ostvang on drums, invites Joe McPhee on pocket trumpet and alto sax for a release of rugged free improv using unorthodox approaches and amazing dexterity in their playing. ... Click to View


Rodrigues / Yamauchi / Santos: The Presence Of Air Particles Ignited By Memory (Creative Sources)

Temarkably detailed, slowly moving improvisation from the trio of Katsura Yamauchi on alto sax, Carlos Santos on electronics, and Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, harp and objects, a beautiful balance of acoustic and electronic sound in intensely concentrated music. ... Click to View


Johannes Nastesjo / Vasco Trilla: Ginkgo (Creative Sources)

The duo of Johannes Nastesjo on double bass and Vasco Trilla on drums and percussion, an album of extended techniques and unexpected devising, using quietly agressive techniques balanced by concentrative improv to create unexpected eruptions and unusual sonic environments. ... Click to View


Fridolin Blumer : Camping; Cafe Bar (Creative Sources)

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Miimo: Miimo 4 (Amorfon)

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Tony Marsh / Chefa Alonso: Goodbye Red Rose (2008/9) (Emanem)

During her stay in London from 2004-2008, saxophonist Chefa Alonso developed a rewarding duo with percussionist Tony Marsh of great technical and musical value, as heard on these excellent recordings from Red Rose and Ryan's Bar in London, and Matadero in Huesca, Spain. ... Click to View


Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Withdrawal (1966/7)[REISSUE] (Emanem)

Featuring the earliest published recordings of Barry Guy & Evan Parker, percussionist John Steven's presents transitional sextet and septet performances of his groundbreaking free improv group from 1966 & '67 with Trevor Watts, Paul Rutherford, Kenny Wheeler, and Derek Bailey. ... Click to View


Duck Baker : Outside (1977-83) (Emanem)

Fingerstyle guitarist Duck Baker was influenced by Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor, recording these solo original improvisations plus 2 Ornette Coleman pieces from '77-'83 in London, Torino & Calgary, plus 2 duos with guitar madman Eugene Chadbourne. ... Click to View


Kent Carter: Oratorios and Songs (2010) (Emanem)

The Riviere Ensemble led by bassist Kent Carter with Christiane Bopp (trombone), Albrecht Maurer (violin), Katrin Mickiewicz (viola) and Laura Tejeda Martin (mezzo soprano) recording original works in historic churches in France, blending classical, jazz, free improv & traditional musics. ... Click to View


Anker / Lonberg-Holm & Jackson / Serries: Two Duos [CASSETTE with download] (Astral Spirits)

Two aspects of reed & string duos, side A presents Chicago cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm with Danish/NY saxophonist Lotte Anker in 4 free improvisations of unusual technique; side B is UK saxophonist Dave Jackson & Dirk Serries on electric guitar for an extended improv live at Cafe Oto. ... Click to View


Chatoyant: Place Of Other Destination [CASSETTE w/ download] (Astral Spirits)

With members of Wolf Eyes and Volebeats, Crime and the City Solution, &c. this Detroit quartet blends acoustic and electronic instruments in spontaneous composition with a rock aesthetics, a dark fusion of sound that plays both burning improv and mysterious soundscape. ... Click to View


Black Spirituals: Black Tape [CASSETTE with download] (Astral Spirits)

The duo of Zachary James Watkins on guitar and electroncis and Marshall Trammell on drums in a dark album of distorted riffs and heavy polyrhythmic drumming, free playing that demands attention while entrancing the listener in gritty sound. ... Click to View


In Love With (Ceccaldi / Ceccaldi / Darrifourcq): Axel Erotic (BeCoq)

The French experimental jazz trio of Theo Ceccaldi (violin), Valentin Ceccaldi (cello) and Sylvain Darrifourcq (drums, percussuions, zither) in a playful release of quick paced, creative improvisations in an album of exciting and somewhat off-kilter music; superbe! ... Click to View


Louis Minus XVI : Kindergarten (BeCoq)

Joining noise rock and free jazz, the Louis Minus XVI quartet is fronted by two saxophonists--Adrien Douliez on alto and Jean Baptiste Rubin on tenor--with Maxime Petit on bass and Frederic L'homme on drums, in a balanced album of powerful and introspective compositions. ... Click to View


Bi-Ki?: Quelque Chose Au Milieu (BeCoq)

The alto sax duet of Jean-Baptiste Rubin and Sakina Abdou sculpt sound material that draws on the acoustic resources of the space within which they play, captured here in various locations in Northern France by the keen ear of saxophonist/conceptualist Jean-Luc Guionnet. ... Click to View


Michael Moser: Antiphon Stein [2 Vinyl LPs] (Edition Rz)

A site-specific sound installation in the nave and choir of Minoritenkirche in Krems/Stein that engages with the architecture and sound of this church space from composer Michael Moser working with Berndt Thurner, Klaus Lang, Hannah Schwegler and Nik Hummer. ... Click to View


Ghedalia Tazartes : 5 Rimbaud 1 Verlaine [VINYL 10-inch] (Holidays Records)

A 10" vinyl reissue of outside artist Ghedalia Tazartes' tribute to the poetry of Rimbaud and Verlaine, reinterpreting six small poems through a variety of genres that are playful and profound, previously available only in a small mini CD edition on the Jardin au Fou label. ... Click to View


Peter Brotzmann / William Parker / Hamid Drake: Song Sentimentale (Otoroku)

One of a dual CD/LP release documenting three nights at London's Cafe Oto by the trio of Peter Brotzmann on reeds, William Parker on double bass, guembri, shakuhachi, and shenai, and Hamid Drake on drums, an incredible display of improvised music from three masters of the form. ... Click to View


Peter Brotzmann / William Parker / Hamid Drake: Song Sentimentale [VINYL] (Otoroku)

One of a dual CD/LP release documenting three nights at London's Cafe Oto by the trio of Peter Brotzmann on reeds, William Parker on double bass, guembri, shakuhachi, and shenai, and Hamid Drake on drums, an incredible display of improvised music from three masters of the form. ... Click to View


Paul Dunmall / Philip Gibbs / Ashley John Young: Now Has No Dimension (FMR)

Live recordings from the trio of Paul Dunmall on soprano and tenor sax, Philip Gibbs on guitar, and Ashley John Young on double bass, performing at Cardiff University School of Music Concert Hall in 2016, a great example of concentrative, complex and lively interplay. ... Click to View


Frode Gjerstad / Ramiro Molina: Unseen Seas (FMR)

Frode Gjerstad returned to Chile after his 2013 Trio tour to meet with guitarist Ramiro Molina, both to sample the amazing fish recipes Molina introduced him to, but more importantly, to perform live and to record these delicate and sophisticated improvisations. ... Click to View


Luis Conde / Fabiana Galante / Frode Gjerstad: Give And Take (FMR)

During multi-reedist Frode Gjerstad's tour of South America in 2015 he met with pianist Fabiana Galante and fellow reedist Luis Conde to record these excellent improvisations, all three using unusual and extended techniques to create these 8 captivating dialogs. ... Click to View


Stefan Keune / Lovens, Paul: Live 2013 (FMR)

Working together in various ensembles since the early 90s, Stefan Keune on sopranino, alto and baritone saxophone and Paul Lovens on drums and cymbals captured these three extraordinary improvisation in the studio in Brussels, Belgium and live Munich Underground in Germany. ... Click to View


Trevor Watts / Stephen Grew: Con Fluent (FMR)

Saxophonist Trevor Watts and pianist Stephen Grew improvised these pieces at a distance, Grew sending recordings of two separate solo concerts from Newcastle, which Watts improvised over resulting in these intricate and exuberant "Improvised Compositions". ... Click to View


Rob Hall / Chick Lyall: Myth (FMR)

A lyrical and sincere dialog from the Scottish duo of Rob Hall on clarinets and Chick Lyall on piano, recoreded at the chapel in St Mary's Music School in Edinburgh, blending improvisation with chamber music, free jazz, contemporary classical and folk idioms. ... Click to View


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  John Zorn 
  Redbird  
  (Tzadik (1995)) 

   review by Brian Olewnick
  2003-08-20
John Zorn: Redbird (Tzadik (1995))

For all his hyperkinetic musical activity over the last few decades, some of Zorn's most beautiful moments have, for me, been those rare examples of stasis, when he reaches a territory and allows himself to observe instead of quickly disrupting it. Granted, those moments are few and far between, but things like the closing minutes of his string quartet Forbidden Fruit, the brief, lonesome surf guitar forays played by Ribot in Bar Khokba or even, in an odd way, the entirety of Leng T'Che with its obsessive exploration of one fearful emotion are among the examples of his music that have had the most staying power for me.

When 'Redbird' appeared, I was immediately heartened by the lovely Agnes Martin painting adorning its front cover. Not only was this a refreshing change from what I found to be the increasingly puerile and shock-for-shock's-sake illustrations more typically found on his releases, but for what it possibly promised regarding the music within. Happily, the artwork and music share a common sensibility.

The first of two pieces, 'Dark River' is a solo performance by Jim Pugliese on bass drum. It has, ostensibly, one zone of reference: the low rumble. But over the course of its nine minutes, Pugliese creates a palpable world wherein one never has any sense of sameness but instead a breathing pocket of reality. No steady rhythms, only mild fluctuations in volume, just a natural, billowing flow of deep, echoing booms achieving an almost wind-like quality at times. I have no idea how much of this is to the credit of Pugliese's own creativity or Zorn's score (I imagine a bit of both) but it's a trivial matter. It's also, presumably intentionally, an intriguing prologue to 'Redbird' proper, a processional of sorts, dark into medium light.

Zorn had cited Morton Feldman as an influence on many prior occasions but I was rarely, if ever, able to hear it in his actual music. That breathing quality, the ultra-slow rhythms as subtly irregular as they were organic, found little expression in the younger composer's work. Redbird is about as close as I've heard him get, and it's a ravishing achievement. I'm reminded very much of Feldman's orchestral work For Samuel Beckett in the sense the listener gets of having stumbled into an ongoing performance, a piece that began well before you hear the first note and continues well after the disc is over. Scored for harp, viola, cello and percussion, it also has an instrumental flavor akin to a number of Feldman's chamber works. Other influences make their presence known to be sure: one hears snatches of George Crumb and you can even pick up some sonorities in the strings that recall Ornette Coleman's 'The Skies of America'. There's also a plaintive, almost romantic aspect to some of the writing, something Feldman might abhor (though he, too, didn't sidestep it completely) but which, in my opinion, is a central part of Zorn's persona. The overall feeling is of being on a gentle seesaw, undulating back and forth, seeing almost the same view reappear time after time but always noticing some new detail, some different tinge. Eventually, it stops rather than ends.

It's been several years now since I've picked up a new Zorn release; although he'd occasionally explore similarly intriguing areas (as in Duras), too much of his recent work had struck me as treading water, and less and less interesting water at that. Although it's perhaps too much to ask of so restless a composer, I still wouldn't mind if, at least once in a while, he picked a plot of land and worked it, then worked it some more, then continued to work it. I'm fairly confident that I'd be pleasantly surprised at what he was able to grow.





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