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Satoko Fujii / Joe Fonda: Mizu (Long Song Records)

With commanding instrumental skills and a growing history of collaboration, bassist Joe Fonda and pianist Satoko Fujii are heard again in two live concerts as part of their 2017 European tour, two duos from Belgium and one in Germany, the CD taking its title from the Japanese word for "water" as the two converse in powerfully emotional and technically breathtaking ways. ... Click to View


Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. I (The Embedded Sets) [2 CDs] (Pi Recordings)

With his earliest and most current performance history tied to the enduring Manhattan jazz club The Village Vanguard, alto saxophonist Steve Coleman records his Five Elements in a 2017 live show with Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Miles Okazaki on guitar, Anthony Tidd on bass, and Sean Rickman on drums for a fiery, exuberant and masterful concert of modern jazz. ... Click to View


Steve Coleman's Natal Eclipse: Morphogenesis (Pi Recordings)

Steve Coleman's Natal Eclipse brings together 9 musicians in a chamber jazz setting without a drum set--Jonathan Finlays(trumpet), Jen Shyu (vocals), Matt Mitchell (piano), Mara Grand (tenor sax), Rane Moore (clarinet), Kristin Lee (violin), Greg Chudzik (bass), and Neeraj Mehta (percussion)--performing 9 of Coleman's sophisticated original compositions. ... Click to View


Barker Trio: Avert Your I [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

After releasing drummer Andrew Barker's duo with Daniel Carter, "Polyhedron", Astral Spirits takes on Barker's trio album with sidemen Michael Foster on tenor & soprano sax, plus electronics, and Tim Dahl on bass, Barker also adding synth & electronics, for an album of ruggedly intense, propulsive playing with a probing inquisitiveness. ... Click to View


Charles Barabe : De la Fragilite [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

Victoriaville, Quebec electronic composer Charles Barbare creates abstract electroacoustic works, here in an impressive 6-movement work that covers a wide ground from minimalistic rhythmic sections to time-stretched voices and electronics to musique mystery, his inquisitive approach allowing his scores to unfold in decipherable, dramatic and coherent ways. ... Click to View


Hvizdalek / Nergaard / Tavil / Garner: Juxtaposition (Nakama Records)

Sonic sources of a wide variety of timbre, rhythm and tone, mixed with voice, feedback, even bird sounds, make up the strata of this intriguing album from Oslo Improvisers Agnes Hvizdalek (voice), Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard (electric bass, electronics, field recordings), Utku Tavil (snare drum, no input mixer, sampler), and Natali Abrahamsen Garner (voice, electronics). ... Click to View


Hvizdalek / Nergaard / Tavil / Garner: Juxtaposition [CASSETTE] (Nakama Records)

Sonic sources of a wide variety of timbre, rhythm and tone, mixed with voice, feedback, even bird sounds, make up the strata of this intriguing album from Oslo Improvisers Agnes Hvizdalek (voice), Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard (electric bass, electronics, field recordings), Utku Tavil (snare drum, no input mixer, sampler), and Natali Abrahamsen Garner (voice, electronics). ... Click to View


Goh Kwang Lee / Christian Meaas Svendsen: Gibberish, Balderdash and Drivel (Nakama Records)

Three "nonsensical" musical conversations between Malaysian experimental musician and Herbal International label founder Goh Lee Kwang, and Norwegian bass player and Nakama label leader Christian Meeas Svendsen; a first encounter between two different mindsets, nationalities and generations, packaged with a pencil to let you draw your own cover. ... Click to View


Goh Kwang Lee / Christian Meaas Svendsen: Gibberish, Balderdash and Drivel [VINYL] (Nakama Records)

Three "nonsensical" musical conversations between Malaysian experimental musician and Herbal International label founder Goh Lee Kwang, and Norwegian bass player and Nakama label leader Christian Meeas Svendsen; a first encounter between two different mindsets, nationalities and generations, packaged with a pencil to let you draw your own cover. ... Click to View


Hal Hutchinson: Factory Metal Sound [CASSETTE] (Banned Production)

British noise artist Hal Hutchinson (Der Bunker Records) in a record of apparent field recordings of metallic factory sounds, a machinist's daydream of rotating and subdued lathe sounds, each side of the cassette with a distinct timbre and recording ambiance as the mysterious sounds provide a cantankerously complex set of audio environments. ... Click to View


Mako Sica / Hamid Drake: Ronda [VINYL 2 LPs] (Feeding Tube Records)

The long-running Chicago free-rock trio Mako Sica currently comprised of Przemyslaw Drazek (trumpet & guitar), Brent Fuscaldo (guitar) and Chaetan Newell (drums & piano) are joined by free improvising legend Hamid Drake on drum kit, tablas and frame drum for a beautiful and rich album of genre merging, spiritually warm, primarily instrumental music, inclusive and persuasive. ... Click to View


Mako Sica / Hamid Drake: Ronda [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

The long-running Chicago free-rock trio Mako Sica currently comprised of Przemyslaw Drazek (trumpet & guitar), Brent Fuscaldo (guitar) and Chaetan Newell (drums & piano) are joined by free improvising legend Hamid Drake on drum kit, tablas and frame drum for a beautiful and rich album of genre merging, spiritually warm, primarily instrumental music, inclusive and persuasive. ... Click to View


Musaeum Clausum: Musaeum Clausum (Umlaut Records)

Musaeum Clausum is a French-German trio that features Louis Laurain on cornet (Die Hochstapler, Umlaut Big band, ONCEIM), Hannes Lingens on drums (Obliq, Konzert Minimal) and Sebastien Beliah on bass.(Un Poco Loco, Ensemble Hodos, Umlaut Big Band), in an album of patiently developing improvisation giving each player freedom and flexibility within a composed framework. ... Click to View


Sebastien Beliah : Nocturnes (Umlaut Records)

Sebastien Beliah is a Paris-based double bass player, a member of Umlaut Big Band, The Coquettes, Un poco loco, &c., here in a solo album of bass noir, dark and resonant tones evoked through strong bowing, finding harmonics between the strings and from the instrument itself, creating beautiful passages in a mirage of engulfing deep timbre. ... Click to View


Charles Noyes K. / Owen Maercks w/ Henry Kaiser / Greg Goodman: Free Mammals [VINYL] (Feeding Tube Records)

A great example of open-minded West Coast free improvisation around the late 70s from the quartet of Charles K. Noyes on percussion & saxophone, Owen Maercks on guitar, Henry Kaiser on guitar, and Greg Goodman on piano & percussion, side A from a live concert in Berkeley recorded by guitarist Henry Kaiser, side B from sutdio sessions in San Francisco. ... Click to View


Toshimaru Nakamura : Re-Verbed (No-Input Mixing Board 9) (Room40)

Tokyo-based electronics artist Toshimaru Nakamura's 9th album of No-Input Mixing Board music, elucidating sound from the mixing board without any audio sources, showing the amazing evolution of his approach as he turns this "empty" "instrument" into an amazing source of rhythmic and assertive sound that's both surprising and wonderfully musical. ... Click to View


Paul Flaherty / Chris Corsano: The Hated Music [VINYL 2 LPs] (Feeding Tube Records)

Gary Panter's artwork is updated and the format is vinyl this time for this welcome reissue of the 2000 Ecstatic Yod CD from the now long-running duo of tenor & alto saxophonist Paul Flaherty and drummer Chris Corsano, a superb free jazz album of great invention and seriously deep playing, from hard attacks to introspective musing, truly impressive! ... Click to View


Sidsel Endresen / Jan Bang: Hum (Confront)

Using sampler, dictaphone, and voice, the duo of Sidsel Endresen and Jan Bang improvise and interact to create unorthodox hybrids of fractured electronics and articulated word, as edgy and engaging as it is unusual, captured live at Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene, in Oslo, Norway in 2016, a great followup to Bang's "And Poppies From Kandahar" Samadhi album. ... Click to View


Don Cherry: Home Boy, Sister Out (WeWantSounds)

Trumpeter Don Cherry recorded this funk album in France in 1985 with a set of multi-ethnic Paris players including Elli Medeiros and produced by Ramuntcho Matta, the songs crossing funk with jazzy vamps, rock roots and modern approaches, reissued with new liner notes and 5 bonus tracks including the cult 1983 single "Kick" featuring legendary author Brion Gysin. ... Click to View


Don Cherry: Home Boy, Sister Out [VINYL 2 LPs] (WeWantSounds)

Trumpeter Don Cherry recorded this funk album in France in 1985 with a set of multi-ethnic Paris players including Elli Medeiros and produced by Ramuntcho Matta, the songs crossing funk with jazzy vamps, rock roots and modern approaches, reissued with new liner notes and 5 bonus tracks including the cult 1983 single "Kick" featuring legendary author Brion Gysin. ... Click to View


Small Cruel Party: ἡσυχασμός (complacency) [CASSETTE] (Banned Production)

The first new release from William Key Ransone's Small Cruel Party, two 12 minute pieces, the first a work of subtle noise that ebbs and flows in subliminal ways; the second a work of strong tone combinations with distracted percussion and unusual tonal interruptions, a unique album of atmosphere and tension. ... Click to View


Axel Dorner / Jason Kahn: For Berner Munster (Confront)

The pairing of German trumpeter Axel Dorner, and NY-born experimental artist Jason Kahn living and performing in Zurich, brings the tradition of avant free jazz and nonidiomatic improvisation into an unusual merging of techniques and approaches, each applying their advanced virtuosity to this intense concert, recorded during Hamburg's Zoom In Festival, 2017. ... Click to View


Douglas Benford : For Now (Confront)

Sprawl Imprint label leader Douglas Benford developed this fascinatingly layered composition with a diverse set of instruments, objects, and field recordings from captures made at the Stockholm Music Museum and at performances in Lithuania and England between 2009 and 2017, assembling them to create this exceptional odyssey of concrete, ambient and ethnic sources. ... Click to View


Isotope Ensemble: Barium (Creative Sources)

Large scale improvisation of the most subtle nature from Portugal's Isotope Ensemble led by Ernesto Rodrigues, 17 musicians slowly unfolding this beautiful work of consonance and dissonance dedicated to element atomic number 56, recording live at O'Culto da Ajuda in Lisbon with instrumentation including acoustic reeds, strings, brass, percussion, and electronics. ... Click to View


Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues / Andrew Lafkas / Bryan Eubanks: 0 Minutes And 0 Seconds (Creative Sources)

Lisbon-based viola player Ernesto Rodrigues joins three Berlin-based musicians--cellist Guilherme Rodrigues, double bassist Andrew Lafkas and electronics artist Bryan Eubanks--merging the lowercase approaches of Creative Sources groupings with experimental electronics for a 5-part album that ranges from the subliminal to assertive tones and momentum. ... Click to View


Sergio Merce: Three Dimensions Of The Spirit (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Conservatory trained Argentinian saxophonist Sergio Merce uses a prepared tenor sax and a microtonal sax to create rich harmonics and slowly moving tonal works, layering aberrant and alluring tones in restrained configurations that allow each stratum of sound to be distinguished and appreciated, creating mesmerizing compositions of elusive and illusionistic sound. ... Click to View


Beuger.Boon.Susam: (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Pianist and composer Dante Boon performs his own work "Years, Numbers", alongside Antoine Beuguer's "Pour Etre Seul(e), Sans Reserve" and Taylan Susam's "Tombeau", and Bueger's "Nov. (piano)", four works of graceful and introspective beauty using minimal approaches to tone, chord, or spaciousness, recorded live at University Of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2014. ... Click to View


Cyril Bondi / d'Incise: Kirari-Kirari (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

A sextet of Cyril Bondi (vibraphone), d'Incise (metallic objects), Magnus Granberg (piano), Anna Lindal (Baroque violin), Anna-Kaisa Meklin (viola de gamba) and Christoph Schiller (spinet) perform two works composed by Bondi and d'Incise, recorded by Simon Reynell of Another Timbre, works of repetition with distinct variations that evolve as each piece progresses. ... Click to View


Johan Lindvall: Giraffe (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Fourteen pieces for solo guitar from Norwegian composer Johan Lindvall, sparse yet warmly spaced pieces that focus on the individual notes or simple chords in intimate ways, meditative yet warmly evocative; two sections are presented in multiple movements, with "five songs for voice and guitar", Rasten singing words written by Marianne Moore; lovely and refined. ... Click to View


Stephen Cornford : Battery Acid [CASSETTE] (Banned Production)

UK Sound experimenter Stephen Cornford took the bare wires of two microphone cables and submerged them in the cavaties of a large but run-down car battery, plugged it into a mixer, panned hard left and right and recorded, adding a 12 Volt trickle charger to the external terminals of the battery and made a second recording, the results heard here unchanged. ... 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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