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Sylvaine Helary : Spring Roll / Printemps [2 CDs] (Ayler)

A hybrid of theater, music, sound poetry and political manifesto from Sylvaine Helary, focused on the "Arab Spring" in Egypt, using intertwining words and voices around the quartet performances of Hugues Mayot, Sylvain Lemetre, Antonin Rayon and Sylvaine Helary. ... Click to View


Korekyojinn: Fall Line (Magaibutsu)

The 5th studio album from the trio of Tatsuya Yoshida (Ruins alone / Koenji Hyakkei), Kido Natsuki (Bondage Fruit / Salle Gavoux), Nasunomitsuru (Altered states / Umbeltipo), avant-progressive instrumental rock, melodic and complex rock performed at breakneck speed. ... Click to View


PYN (Yoshida / Pittard / Nasuno): Songs for children who don't want to sleep (Magaibutsu)

P (Yann Pittard on oud and guitar & vocals), Y (Tatsuya Yoshida on drums & vocals) and N (Mitsuru Nasuno on bass & vocals) performing Arabian Progressive Pop Improvisation, an unusual melding and orchestration of arabic progressions and melodic prog rock. ... Click to View


Bryan Eubanks & Stephane Rives: fq (Potlatch)

French soprano saxophonist Stephane Rives and US Sound artist Bryan Eubanks on oscillators and feedback sythg recorded this extended improvisation after performing live together in Berlin in 2014, using twisting acoustic and electronic tones punctuated by dramatic confrontations. ... Click to View


Seijiro Murayama : Broken Iteration [2 CDs] (Herbal International)

A 2-CD release from Japanese percussionist Seijiro Murayama, performing solo on "objects" which combines clearly percussive objects and other electroacoustic items of obscure origin, creating active, rich and curious sonic environments that envelop the listener. ... Click to View


Murmer: Framework 1-4 [2 CDs] (Herbal International)

Patrick McGinley (Murmer) in a series of bold experiments with untreated field recordings, exploring notions of musicality within the structures of found sound, written partially as a reaction against the idea of documentary or objective presentation of found sound. ... Click to View


Roldolphe Alexis / Stephane Rives: Winds Doors Poplars (Herbal International)

Rodolphe Alexis composed these works from a diverse set of recordings of trains, factories and other potent sounds, pairing them with recording from saxophonist Stephane Rives using extended and unusual techniques, yielding these inventive and irrepressible sound works. ... Click to View


Goh Kwang Lee : Good Vibrations (Herbal International)

Aberrant experiments with a stereo DJ mixer from Herbal International label leader Goh Lee Kwang, 5 tracks of unexpected sounds, micro-drills, crackles, purrs, hums, buzzes, quirks and bleeps from the mixer itself, performed live with no overdubs or pre-programming. ... Click to View


Jason Kahn / Phil Julian: Valentines (Confront)

The first meeting of Jason Kahn and Phil Julian, both performing on analogue modular synthesiser, intended to be recorded as material for studio sound compositions, but which was so compelling as improvised work that they chose to release the album as recorded. ... Click to View


IST: London: Conway Hall (Confront)

IST, the trio of Rhodri Davie (harp), Simon H. Fell (double bass) and Mark Wastell (violincello) from their 2003 live performance at London's Freedom of the City Festival, 8 years into the project, showing the remarkable sonic language the trio had developed. ... Click to View


IST: New York (Davies / Fell / Wastell / Zorn): Featuring John Zorn (Confront)

Acoustic string improvising trio IST was invited by Derek Bailey in 2001 for his Company event at Tonic in NYC, here in the entire and intense concert they performed that night, including a 2nd set pairing with John Zorn, pushing the band into amazing and unexpected territory. ... Click to View


Joacim Nyberg : Fylkingen, March 27, 2014 (Confront)

Guitarist Joacim Nyberg, also performing on double bass, bell and recorder, in a live performance in Stockholm, Sweden at Fylkingen in 2014, using "Wood, steel, air. Hands, fingers, heart" in an open-ended and ardent exposition of his interpretation of jazz. ... Click to View


Matthew Shipp Quartet Declared Enemy: Our Lady Of The Flowers (RogueArt)

Named after Jean Genet's infamous novel, New York pianist Matthew Shipp's quartet Declared Enemy with Sabir Mateen on tenor sax & clarinet, William Parker on double bass, and Gerald Cleaver on drums, return for a second outstanding album of dynamic and masterful jazz. ... Click to View


The Turbine! (Bankhead / Duboc / Drake / Lopez + guests): Entropy/Enthalpy [2 CDs] (RogueArt)

The transatlantic quartet of Harrison Bankhead & Benjamin Duboc on double bass, and Hamid Drake & Ramon Lopez on drums and percussion in recordings from a 2014 tour of France as part of The Bridge, with guests William Parker, Jean-Luc Cappozzo, and Lionel Garcin. ... Click to View


Sonny Simmons: Leaving Knowledge, Wisdom and Brilliance / Chasing The Bird? [8 CD BOX] (Improvising Beings)

An 8 CD set presenting 2 major works from saxophonist Sonny Simmons celebrating his 80th birthday, split into two sections: "Chasing The Bird" and "Leaving Knowledge Wisdom And Brilliance", using a variety of approaches using improv and world music to create a visionary music. ... Click to View


John Zorn: Pellucidar-A Dreamers Fantabula (Tzadik)

The 4th album from John Zorn's Dreamers (Cyro Baptista, Joey Baron, Trevor Dunn, Marc Ribot, Jamie Saft, & Kenny Wollesen) is a lyrical album of tuneful compositions and superb soloing, in an ornate package accompanied by a 36 page book of colorful drawings. ... Click to View


Les Rhinoceros: Les Rhinoceros III (Tzadik)

Compellingly lyrical music with a klezmer influence from this Washington, DC trio, blending rock, world music, math rock, klezmer, reggae, noise, ambient and jazz into wonderful groove-based works, here in their 3rd album after 5 years, with a host of guests. ... Click to View


Chuck Bettis : Pixel Bleed (Living Myth)

New York improvisor and electronic artist Chuck Bettis in an exploration of decay and repetition, performed live using Max/Msp with no overdubs or sequencers, using simple pop melody progressions and superimposing them over the cut-up techniques of musique concrete. ... Click to View


Rob Mazurek : Vortice of the Faun [CASSETTE with download code] (Astral Spirits)

An unusual 18 piece work from Chicago trumpeter Rob Mazurek, entirely constructed through electro-acoustic means, using hundreds of samples selected for their audio quality, joined to electronics utilizing oscillators and modules, some of which sample acoustic sources. ... Click to View


Mike Majkowski: Neighbouring Objects [CASSETTE with download code] (Astral Spirits)

Double bassist Mike Majkowski in his 4th solo album, two long works using variation from repetition to create an album of rich extended bass sonics through the use of bowing, processing, and the mysterious addition of accordion, bass guitar, percussion, and piano. ... Click to View


SSBT (Chris Cogburn, Steve Jansen & Parham Daghighi): 247 Main [CASSETTE with download code] (Astral Spirits)

Free improvisation from the Austin-based SSBT of Chris Cogburn (drums, percussion, electronics), Steve Jansen (electronics, tapes, guitar, saxophone), and Parham Daghighi (guitar, saxophone, vocals), a unique electro-acoustic blend of frantic and ecstatic playing. ... Click to View


Brotzmann / van Hove / Bennink: 1971 (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Unreleased material from legendary European players Peter Brotzmann (sax), Fred Van Hove (piano) and Han Bennink (drums), captured live in 1971 for intensely heavy playing at the 2nd Internationales New Jazz Meeting Auf Burg Altena, and in detailed studio work at Radio Bremen. ... Click to View


Steve Lacy / Steve Potts: Tips (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Recorded in Paris in 1979, Steve Lacy (soprano sax) and Steve Potts (alto sax) perform music for the aphorisms of Georges Braque, as sung by Irene Aebi; originally issued on Hat Hut records, this reiusse remasters the original release and includes images from the score. ... Click to View


Tom Prehn Quartet: Axiom (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Pianist Tom Prehn's quartet with Frits Krogh on tenor sax, Poul Ehlers on bass, and Finn Slumstrup on bass, superb European free jazz recorded in 1963 in Copenhagen but never formally released, here remastered and issued with an unreleased track from 1966. ... Click to View


John Butcher / Burkhard Beins / Mark Wastell: Membrane (Confront)

Mysteriously dark electroacoustic improv from the adept trio of John Butcher on acoustic and amplified saxophones, Burkhard Beins on amplified bass drum and electronics, and Mark Wastell on amplified 32" paiste tam-tam, slowly evolving, rich environments in sound. ... Click to View


Tony Wilson 6tet: A Day's Life (Drip Audio)

The first recording of Tony Wilson's music inspired by the plight and lives of the homeless and drug addictied in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, in a band with P Carter on trumpet, Jesse Zubot on violin, Peggy Lee on cello, Russell Sholberg on bass and Skye Brooks on drums. ... Click to View


Joyfultalk: Muuixx (Drip Audio)

Vancouver-based Jay Crocker, half of Bent Spoon with Chris Dadge, in an album of electronics using homebuilt instruments and treatments, rhythmically based music with effective melodies and a quirky, sometimes lo-fi, but always engaging approach. ... Click to View


Gordon Beeferman Trio (w/ James Ilgenfritz, Michael Evans): Out In Here (OutNow Recordings)

Pianist/composer Gordon Beeferman's trio with bassist James Ilgenfritz and drummer/percussionist Michael Evans in an entirely acoustic record that conjures up electronica, noise, free jazz, and new-complexity, in a sublimely creative fashion. ... Click to View


Yoni Kretzmer / Pascal Niggenkemper / Weasel Walter: ProtestMusic (OutNow Recordings)

Passionate jazz from Brooklyn saxophonist Yoni Kretzmer, in a trio with double bassist Pascal Niggenkemper and drummer Weasel Walter, from aggressive blowing to subtle and beautiful use of sound, and despite the track titles, near-telepathic interplay. ... Click to View


Davidovski, EFT (Bukelman Bymel): Spatial Awareness (OutNow Recordings)

Formed in 2010, Israeli trio EFT of Ido Bukelman (guitar), Daniel Davidovsky (electronics) and Offer Bymel (drums) create a resilient hybridization of genres and musical approaches, incorporating free jazz, improvisation, noise and modern electronic music. ... 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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