The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Wadada Smith Leo Great Lakes Quartet:
The Chicago Symphonies [4 CD BOX SET] (Tum)

Inspired by Don Cherry's 1966 Symphony For Improvisers and intended to illustrate the profound cultural contributions Chicagoans & Midwesterners have made, trumpeter Leo Smith's presents four expansive symphonies, three performed with Henry Threadgill (sax & flute), John Lindberg (bass) and Jack DeJohnette (drums), the fourth with Jonathon Haffner (sax) plus Smith, Lindberg and DeJohnette. ... Click to View

Wadada Smith Leo / Vijay Iyer / Jack Dejohnette :
A Love Sonnet For Billie Holiday (Tum)

One of two albums marking trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith's 80th birthday, and showing his creative and technical skills still in peak form, here in a trio for the first time uniting independent collaborators, pianist & keyboardist Vijay Iyer and drummer Jack DeJohnette, in compositions from each of the performers plus one collective improvisation. ... Click to View

Sten Sandell / Lisa Ullen:
Double Music (Clean Feed)

The first duo album by pianists Sten Sandell and Lisa Ullén, recorded in their home country of Sweden, performing eight freely improvised piano works which include the two-part "Double Music" and two-part "Onyx", each recording contrasting complex interplay of discord and harmony with beautiful passages of introspection and intellectual depth; a remarkable merging of masterful talent. ... Click to View

Friends & Neighbors (Roligheten / Johansson / Gronberg / Rune Strom / Ostvang):
The Earth Is # (Clean Feed)

Referencing 60s free jazz (the band's name is from an Ornette Coleman album) and structuring their tunes with melodic heads that develop into intricate structures giving the players room for impressive soloing, in the 5th album from the Scandinavian quintet of Andre Roligheten (winds), Thomas Johansson (trumpets), Oscar Gronberg (piano), Jon Rune Strom (bass), and Tollef Ostvang (drums). ... Click to View

Crazy Doberman:
"Everyone Is Rolling Down A Hill" ... [VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

The Indiana collective Crazy Doberman in a 15-performer configuration including core members Tim Gick and Drew Davis, merging jazz and indescribable approaches to free improvisation with a mix of acoustic & electronic instruments, building their pieces from mysteriously cantankerous rumination to ecstatic grooves and much in-between. ... Click to View

Jerome Bryerton / Damon Smith :
There Must be a Reason for Generating Sounds... [CD + BOOKMARK] (Balance Point Acoustics)

From the late 1990s to the early 2000s, drummer Jerome Bryterton & double bassist Damon Smith toured & recorded with legendary German multi-reedist Wolfgang Fuchs, who was a great influence on both musicians, here presenting a tribute to the late improviser through 11 recordings titled with quotes from Fuchs, and released with a bookmark from an improvisation workshop in Oakland. ... Click to View

New Old Luten Quintet:
Big Pauer (Euphorium)

Opening with a powerful solo set from pianist Elan Pauer the album, released on the occasion of Pauer's 80the birthday, then reveals itself to be the incredible free jazz quintet of of Pauer, Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky on clarinet & shepherds' flutes, both John Edwards & Robert Landfermann on double bass, and Christian Lillinger on drums & percussion. ... Click to View

Block Ensemble (Ratkje / Joh / Pernille / Ingvaldsen / Rasmussent ...):
Hugs and Bugs (Clean Feed)

Conceived by saxophonist Kirstoffer Berre Alberts and Lasse Marhaug, who composed this large acoustic work for strings, percussion, blowing instruments, pipes (organ and accordion) and vocals, soliciting solo recordings created in isolation during the pandemic which they layered and blocked in the studio to create these two remarkable works of eccentric timbre, motion & pitch. ... Click to View

Ritual Habitual (Marogna / Almeida / Ernsting):
Pagan Chant (Clean Feed)

Presented as a a tribute to past jazz masters John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Don Cherry and Charlie Haden, Rotterdam's Ritual Habitual trio led by double bassist Gonçalo Almeida with drummer Philipp Ernsting and Riccardo Maronga on tenor sax, bass clarinet & synthesizers, create a sense of ritual through deep repetition of modern creative jazz rooted in free jazz tradition. ... Click to View

Steve Swell's Systems For Total Immersion:
Hommage A Luciano Berio (Silkheart)

After Bartok and Messiaen, trombonist & composer Steve Swell takes his sextet with Marty Ehrlich (winds), Sam Newsome (sax), Jim Pugliese (marimba), Ellen Christi (voice) and Gerald Cleaver (drums) into an exploration of Italian composer Luciano Berio with a diverse set of works reflecting Berio's vast curiosity and ovouer; a spectacular collection from a fantastic band. ... Click to View

William Parker / Patricia Nicholson:
No Joke! (ESP Disk)

An unapologetically political album from double bassist William Parker in collaboration with poet Patricia Nicholson, confronting injustice and inequality through spoken word set over Parker's compositions, performed with James Brandon Lewis on tenor saxophone, Devin Brahja Waldman on alto saxophone, Francisco Mela on drums, vocals, Melanie Dyer on viola and Gerald Cleaver on drums. ... Click to View

Charles Noyes K. / Elliott Sharp:
Besotted (zOaR Records)

A series of collaborative electracoustic improvisations recorded remotely during the pandemic by long-time associates, electric guitarist Charles K. Noyes and multi-instrumentalist Elliott Sharp, here performing on arches h line (a 9-string double neck instrument), violinoid, triple course bass pantar, analog synthesizers, sax & bass clarinet. ... Click to View

Futari (Satoko Fujii / Taiko Saito):
Underground (Libra)

Pandemic restrictions having cancelled their European tour, the Futari duo of pianist Satoko Fujii and vibraphonist Taiko Saito chose instead to develop a new collaborative album of improvisations exchanged by sound file, each intently listening to the other's recordings, their care and pensive responses creating an astounding and sublime album of stunningly beautiful music. ... Click to View

Dan Phillips / Hamid Drake:
L'Avventura Di Vivere (Lizard Breath)

The second duo collaboration of Chicago percussionist Hamid Drake (Fred Anderson, Peter Brotzmann, DKV Trio, &c) and guitarist Dan Phillips (Chicago Edge Ensemble, Quartet Next, Dan Phillips Trio, Dan Phillips Quartet), recording in the studio for 11 improvisations that present a variety of moods and intensity, in textures and melodies from minimal to intricate interplay. ... Click to View

Big Bad Brotzmann Trio (feat John Edwards / John Eckhardt):
Hot Ass / Sexy Legs [3'' MINI CD] (Euphorium)

Two recordings from naTo in Leipzig, Germany, the first an energetic free jazz romp from the Big Bad Brötzmann Trio of Peter Brötzmann on tenor sax & taragato, Oliver Schwerdt on piano & percussion and Christian Lillinger on drums & percussion; then a furtively powerful double bass duo between John Edwards and John Eckhardt, a tour de force of extended technique and deep sound. ... Click to View

Matthew Shipp:
Codebreaker (Tao Forms)

An unusually contemplative solo record from New York pianist Matthew Shipp, belying the intricately subtle density of his inventive approach to solo piano improvisation, with an innate lyricism through unusual motive and direction; perhaps one of the most succinct and concise albums Shipp has released, and a beautiful reflection of his creative intentions. ... Click to View

Darius Jones:
Raw Demoon Alchemy (A Lone Operation) (Northern Spy)

Drawing on compositions from black artists who have created something uniquely their own--Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, Roscoe Mitchell, Georgia Anne Muldrow--alto saxophonist Darius Jones pulls from the depths of emotion and vulnerability in five solo tracks recorded in Portland, deeply felt blues reflecting the black experience in America and the pain of isolation. ... Click to View

Various Artists:
CICP Collaborative Recordings vol. 1 (Habitable Records)

An introduction to Habitable Records, initiated by members of the Composers and Improvisers Community Project led by Argentinian guitarist Javier Subatin, their work crossing composed and improvised boundaries, here in 18 duos and trios including work by Zé Alemeida, Pedro Melo Alves, Killick!, Federico Calcagno, Luis Figueiredo, Samuel Gapp, Javier Subatin, &c. ... Click to View

Herr Borelgrip (Pierre Borel / Joel Grip):
The Great European Stool Sample [2 LPs] (Umlaut Records)

The first album from the amalgamated band name Herr Borrelgrip, a play on the names of alto saxophonist Pierre Borel and double bassist Joel Grip, developing their work in Stockholm, Berlin and Paris starting in 2008 as a performing duo, heard here in a beautiful gatefold double LP studio release with an extensive LP-sized booklet of text in French and images. ... Click to View

Patricia Bosshard :
Onceim-CoO (Potlatch)

Two major works of evolving acoustic soundscape from Swiss violinist & composer Patricia Bosshard realized by the 27-member Orchestra des Nouvelles Creations, which includes Bosshard, Stephane Rives, Bertrand Denzler, &c.; "Sillon" employs a percussive pulse over 27 independently transforming grooves; "Reflets" a harmonic composition for bowed strings, including three double basses. ... Click to View

Eliane Radigue:
Opus 17 [2 CDs] (Important Records)

French electroacoustic composer and innovator Eliane Radigue's final work made with feedback material from 1970, five pieces that strip away at the familiar, deconstructing and decomposing classical works into mesmerizing drones, or creating rich pulsating works of sound with intense harmonic development and controlled feedback, a powerful opus of sound. ... Click to View

PEK Solo / An Orchestra of PEKs:
Electrolysis (Evil Clown)

A follow-up to Stretching the Fabric of Space, this solo release from David Peck presents an extended layered set of fize improvisations using a base of prerecorded and premixed tracks with some electronic processing to speed up and slow down, to raise and lower pitch, and to build up thick mixes of sounds from the same sonority set. ... Click to View

Joe McPhee / Michael Bisio / Fred Lonberg-Holm / Juma Sultan:
The Sweet Spot (RogueArt)

Bringing together four masterful players into the studio in NYC--Joe McPhee on saxophones, Michael Bisio on double bass, Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello and Juma Sultan on percussion--for a set of with one composition each from McPhee, Sultan and Lonberg-Holm, two collective improvisations, Charlie Haden's "Human Being" and Henry Grimes "For Django". ... Click to View

Miles Okazaki / Trevor Dunn / Dan Weiss / John Zorn:
Hive Mind (Tzadik)

A new collective trio of New York luminaries from bassist Trevor Dunn, guitarist Miles Okazaki and drummer Dan Weiss, Okazaki and Weiss having collaborated in Weiss' own Large Ensemble and Dunn a part of Weiss' Starebaby, here in a set of unbridled and unorthodox collective improvisations, with alto saxophonist John Zorn joining the trio on two tracks. ... Click to View

Evan Parker / John Edwards / Tony Marsh:
Medway Blues (FMR)

A superb 2009 concert at Command House, in Chatham, UK from the trio of saxophonist Evan Parker, double bassist John Edwards, and late drummer/percussionist Tony Marsh, a single 36 minute improvisation of cohesive and energetic free jazz where all three pull together as a nearly telepathic unit, plus two extended duo sections between Edwards and Marsh and a Marsh solo. ... Click to View

John Edwards / N.O. Moore / Eddie Prevost / Alan Wilkinson:
EMPoWered (577 Records)

A live performance from London's I'klectik by British musicians John Edwards (double bass), N.O. Moore (guitar), and Eddie Prévost (drums), who have a long-standing history as a trio known for both energetic playing and extraordinary introspection, here expanded with saxophonist Alan Wilkinson for two outstanding performances of technical mastery and deep communication. ... Click to View

Carlos Zingaro & Pedro Carneiro:
Elogio Das Sombras (Clean Feed)

Translating to "Eulogy of the Shadows", the free improvising duo of violinist Carlos Zingaro and percussionist Pedro Carneiro performing on marimba with a damper pedal, structure their work as though emerging out of the dark night, each step subtly increasing the glow of luminescence through intensity of interaction until receding again into obscurity; sublime. ... Click to View

#140 Fall 2021 [MAGAZINE + CD] (Musicworks)

Canada's leading avant music magazine in their Fall 2021 issue, with articles on Understory (Nicole Rampersaud, Parmela Attariwala, and Germaine Liu), Frank Denyer, Taylor Brook, record & live reviews, plus a 14 track CD with pieces from Rocío Cano Valiño, Understory Show One: Gabriel Dharmoo/SlowPitchSound/Lan Tung, Frank Denyer, Nick Storring, &c. ... Click to View

New Old Luten Quintet:
Rabatz! (Euphorium)

The second step in this evolutionary project, the title referring to "noisy bustle; Riot" started with the trio of wind & reed player Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, pianist Elan Pauer and drummer Christian Lillinger (Radau!), then expanded to this quintet with two double bassists-John Edwards & Robert Landfermann--captured live at naTo/ in Leipzig, Germany in 2015. ... Click to View

New Old Luten Septet:
Remmidemmi! (Euphorium)

This evolutionary project titled as "loud, colorful hustle & bustle" started with the trio of wind & reed player Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, pianist Elan Pauer and drummer Christian Lillinger (Radau!), then expanded to a quintet with two double bassists-John Edwards & Robert Landfermann--and here as a septet with saxophonist Urs Leimgruber and trumpeter Axel Dörner. ... Click to View

  •  •  •     Join Our Mailing List!

The Squid's Ear
Facebook: Squidco Sales

Heard In

Reviews of artist releases:
cd's, books, magazines, &c.

  Oliver Leith 
  Me Hollywood  
  (Another Timbre) 

   review by Thomas Mellish
Oliver Leith: Me Hollywood (Another Timbre)

Me Hollywood consists of songs composed by Leith over the course of four years. After composing these pieces, Leith then gave the Explore Ensemble the task of executing and actualizing his pieces; in his own words, " music [was] in their fingers..."

Leith, when discussing his process, notes the importance of 'something.' What this 'something' refers to is just as indeterminate as one would expect. When constructing a piece, Leith continues to play and tinker with it until he feels 'something.' A sequence, note, or track, possesses this 'something' insofar as it can be listened to perpetually and does not become tiresome. The importance of this 'something' is evidenced by the fact that it even figures into the song titles themselves. Leith's titles reflect the images that pop into Leith's head concurrently as that sensation of 'something' is felt. Here we come to Me Hollywood. Regarding the composition, Leith imagines a willing Trueman. That is, someone who regards their life as being deserving of a film. So, they pay for a score of their life to be produced. As the album progresses, however, one begins to wonder what sort of person this patron is. We'll come back to this.

The eponymous track "Me Hollywood" commences the album. Speaking further on the 'something' that engendered Me Hollywood, Leith said that they imagined a patron who " hoping, or knows even, that the music will elevate each banal gesture." In accordance with this, the beginning of "Me Hollywood" is marked by the sounds of pouring and the resonance of several glasses; the patron is hosting some unremarkable event. Keys and strings slowly emerge and begin to enhance these banal sounds. Strings morph from staccato assertions to elongated and prolonged arguments whilst being underscored by adroitly placed chords. This musical milieu, however, does not last. Distorted murmurs and pining strings ooze into the fore, whilst atonal keys occasionally splutter in the distance. This then leads to some saccharine sounding keys and strings, which all come together to form a sickly-sweet sonic soup, maybe to distract us from the sonic quagmire that just preceded it. The track then traipses toward a cathartic apotheosis, where shrieking strings underpin layers of virulent keys spurting polyrhythmic sequences. Did I forget to mention that all this clamor is simply to score the patron's shower? This is the first clue that the tone of this score, and perhaps the character of the patron, is not as sincere as one first thought.

We then have "Grinding bust turning," which provides a brief moment of sonic reprieve. Harmonic strings escort us in, whilst jubilant keys provide a playful yet sturdy musical framework. The two sonic modalities converse and elide for minutes, consistently striking up moments of rapport.

Then "664 love songs guaranteed to cure heartache" follows, which consists of three movements. The first movement is typified by monolithic orchestral swells, which are concluded by discordant string crescendos noising their truth. In the second movement, we hear individual instruments break out into their mutated calls, like birdsong from some dystopian world. Pusillanimous instrumentation and fractious scales dart in and out of ear shot. The final sequence continues this sense of sonic disquiet: haunting drones are attuned by the occasional fasciculations of woodwind instrumentation. Dissonant swells envelop the mix like a primordial miasma. Again, at this point one begins to question precisely who and what this patron is. Are they someone whose troubled life is being accurately reflected in the score? Or are they some self-aggrandizing individual who wants to overstate and overplay the importance and difficulty of their life?

The final track, "Balloon," is also formed of three discrete movements. Much like before, the first two movements play with the dissonance / harmony binary. "Balloon" treads the line between harmony and acrimony, dipping its toes into these notions only for brief moments at a time. Strings modulate between flourishing movements and souring scales as the tempo gradually slows to total silence. The third movement marks a moment of total cohesion, with movements that are tokens of sonic serenity. This conclusion is a puzzling one when we entertain the questions regarding the character of the patron once again.

My hunch is that the patron is a bit like Damon Albarn's "charmless man." As Leith said, the patron thinks that "[F]ilms will eventually be made about him, so he's just making it happen now, his life is filmic, it just needs a score, he drinks, he sings, he plays the piano, he cares for his guinea pigs." The score belies the actual character of the patron, who is dull and unremarkable. Unlike the patron, however, the music is charismatic and captivating. The Explore Ensemble plays with a consummate ease, providing an appropriate stage for Leith's pieces to be realized. Me Hollywood represents a fantastic intersection between vision and technique, ideas and deeds. I certainly felt 'something.'

Oliver Leith: Me Hollywood
Is On Sale at Squidco!

Comments and Feedback:

The Squid's Ear presents
reviews about releases
sold at
written by
independent writers.


Recent Selections @ Squidco:

Steve Swell's
Systems For
Total Immersion:
Hommage A Luciano Berio

Eliane Radigue:
Opus 17
[2 CDs]
(Important Records)

Patricia Bosshard:

Futari (
Satoko Fujii /
Taiko Saito):

New Old Luten Septet:

John Edwards /
N.O. Moore /
Eddie Prevost /
Alan Wilkinson:
(577 Records)

Joe McPhee /
Michael Bisio /
Fred Lonberg-Holm /
Juma Sultan:
The Sweet Spot

Will Guthrie:
People Pleaser 2

Evan Parker /
John Edwards /
Tony Marsh:
Medway Blues

Alex Zethson
Some Of Them
Were Never
(Relative Pitch)

Assif Tsahar /
William Parker /
Hamid Drake:
In Between
The Tumbling
(Hopscotch Records)

New Old Luten Quintet:

Joao Lencastre
Communion (
Lencastre /
Cirera /
Toscano /
Lackner /
Fernrandes /
Branco /
Hasselberg /
Unlimited Dreams
(Clean Feed)

Federico Calcagno /
Stefano Grosso /
Filippo Rinaldo:
(Habitable Records)

Morton Feldman (
Judith Wegmann /
Andreas Kunz):
For John Cage
[2 CDs]
(ezz-thetics by
Hat Hut Records Ltd)

Liz Allbee:
(Relative Pitch)

Ballrogg (
Ellerhusen-Holm /
Arntzen /
Rolling Ball
(Clean Feed)

Who Trio (
Wintsch /
Hemingway /
(Clean Feed)

Daniel Carter /
Ayumi Ishito /
Eric Plaks /
Zach Swanson /
Jon Panikkar:
Open Question
Vol. 1
(577 Records)

Paula Shocron /
William Parker /
Pablo Diaz :
El Templo
(Astral Spirits)

Click here to
advertise with
The Squid's Ear

The Squid's Ear pays its writers.
Interested in becoming a reviewer?

The Squid's Ear is the companion magazine to the online music shop Squidco !

  Copyright © Squidco. All rights reserved. Trademarks. (12352)