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Dreamstruck (Crispell / Fonda / Sorgen):
With Grace In Mind (Fundacja Sluchaj!)

Officially taking their group name from the title of their first album, The Dreamstruck trio of Marilyn Crispell on piano, Joe Fonda on bass and Harvey Sorgen on drums are heard in this innately lyrical and masterfully controlled, concise set of studio recordings, with compositions from each performer and two collective improvisations, a remarkable example of the modern piano trio. ... Click to View


Rempis / Reid / Abrams:
Allium (Aerophonic)

The second release from the Chicago chamber-oriented, collective free jazz trio of Dave Rempis on alto & tenor saxophone, Tomeka Reid on cello, and Joshua Abrams on bass, expanding on their highly concentrative and contemplative approach to group dialog, a powerfully assured and seemingly composed set of nine impeccable improvisations. ... Click to View


Seabrook / Cleaver / Cooper-Moore:
In The Swarm [VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

The second album from guitarist Brandon Seabrook's Trio with Gerald Cleaver on drums & pulsating & punctuating electronics, Cooper-Moore providing massive and unconvential bass sounds on his Diddley Bow, and Seabrook himself playing banjo in inexplicably rapid and staccato runs or electric guitar with eccentric effects; rip-roaring, sometimes surreal, absolutely superb! ... Click to View


Horace Silver Quintet:
Live New York, Revisited (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

Recorded around the time of his most famous records, Song For My Father and The Cape Verdean Blues, lyrical hard bop/Blue Note pianist and composer Horace Silver's band is heard live at The Half Note in NYC and at "The Cork & Bib" on Long Island with his spectacular band including trumpeters Carmell Jones & Woody Shaw and saxophonist Joe Henderson. ... Click to View


Lionel Hampton Orchestra 1958:
The Mess Is Here, Revisited (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

An influence on the next generation of small band and bop players, vibraphonist and Band Leader Lionel Hampton's programs included both crowd-pleasers and sophisticatedly complex sections, heard here in this 1958 studio recording from Stuttgart, Germany while touring Europe, Ghana and Israel with his exceptional band expanded by three German jazz musicians. ... Click to View


The Work:
The Worst of Everywhere [2 CDs] (Ultragash)

Originally released by Woof Records in 1982 on cassette, this double CD reissues an essential lo-fi document from The Work (Bill Gilonis, Mick Hobbs, Tim Hodgkinson and Rick Wilson) in live performances from gigs and rehearsals assembled in cut-up form, adding new pieces and expanding on others, joined at times by Catherine Jauniaux, Bob Ostertag, Chris Cutler, &c. ... Click to View


Christian Wolfarth :
39 / Part I - III (Hiddenbell Records)

39 tracks make up this compelling 3-part solo percussion work from Swiss improviser and composer Christian Wolfarth, using a game approach where some sequences are determined by the roll of a dice for note values, rest and tempo, Wolfarth performing on dead wood, a drum or 39 pine cones, augmented with recordings of stones, water, footsteps, church bells, &c. ... Click to View


David Ryan (Crosby / Innocenti / Lash):
Fields And Refrains (Aural Terrains)

A collection of three modified solo pieces and one collective performance with a minimalist aesthetic through compositions by David Ryan, performed by William Crosby on guitar, Luca Innocenti on church organ & Hammond organ and Dominic Lash on contrabass, each score allowing for interpretation and improvisation, particularly the final collaborative piece. ... Click to View


Sage Harlow J :
Variations Without A Theme (Drones Ongs) (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Australian sound poet and vocalist Sage J Harlow aka Sage Pbbbt, whose innovative vocal work takes inspiration from Tuvan and Mongolian overtone singing and Inuit throat singing, created this mysterious set of electroacoustic compositions on the unceeded lands of the Whadjuk People of the Noongar Nation, developing four works of spellbinding spectral ambience. ... Click to View


Samuel Blaser:
7th Heaven (Between The Lines)

Based in New York at the time of this recording, Swiss trombonist and composer Samuel Blaser's quartet with Thomas Morgan on double bass, Gerald Cleaver on drums and Scott Dubois on guitar explore rhythmic and tonal approaches to improvisation, bridging modern compositional forms with traditional jazz in energetic playing of an engagingly relaxed mood. ... Click to View


Jeff Parker / Eric Revis / Nasheet Waits:
Eastside Romp (RogueArt)

Though having worked together in various collaborations, the trio of Jeff Parker on guitar, Eric Revis on double bass and Nasheet Waits on drums had never recorded as a trio before this 2016 studio date in Pasadena, CA, each player contributing compositions for the album, along with one collective improvisation and a cover of Marion Brown's "Similar Limits". ... Click to View


Jeff Parker / Eric Revis / Nasheet Waits:
Eastside Romp [VINYL] (RogueArt)

Though having worked together in various collaborations, the trio of Jeff Parker on guitar, Eric Revis on double bass and Nasheet Waits on drums had never recorded as a trio before this 2016 studio date in Pasadena, CA, each player contributing compositions for the album, along with one collective improvisation and a cover of Marion Brown's "Similar Limits". ... Click to View


Sylvain Kassap Sextet :
Octobres (RogueArt)

An extension to a cycle of recordings that started in 1985 with his Saxifrages Octet, clarinetist Sylvain Kassap leads his sextet through original compositions that integrate jazz, compositional and avant rock structures into a unique chamber jazz form, a sophisticated approach to writing as Kassap commemorates the 1917 October Revolution in Russia. ... Click to View


Graewe / Lonberg Holm / Gratkowski:
Trilinear Polarity (Fundacja Sluchaj!)

In 2004 legendary European Free Jazz pianist Georg Graewe and German multi-reedist Frank Gratkowski met with Chicago cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm on the stage at LOFT in Cologne, Germany to perform these six collective improvisations with an innate chamber jazz feeling, particularly the four part "Trilinear Polarity"; a spectacular set available for the first time. ... Click to View


Joel Futterman:
Intervals 2 (Fundacja Sluchaj!)

Technically brilliant and creatively inventive, pianist Joel Futterman expands on his 2020 Listen! Foundation CD with a second three-part journey into his powerfully investigative approach to solo jazz improvisation, referencing a history of styles and techniques that display both a dynamo of intricate ability and a sensitivity to timing, space and melodic expression. ... Click to View


Playfield (Carter / Muhr / Ishito / Plaks / Namenwirth / Takahashi / Swanson / Panikkar):
Stepping Out, Vol. 1 (577 Records)

Having previously released outdoor live performances integrating the sounds of NY into their expansive improvisations, the Playfield octet led by Daniel Carter with Ayumi Ishito (Sax), Eric Plaks (Piano & Rhodes), Aron Namenwirth (Guitar), Yutaka Takahashi (Guitar), Luisa Muhr (voice), Zachary Swanson (Bass) and Jon Panikkar (Drums) step inside to record three far-reaching and inclusive studio improvisations. ... Click to View


Yamazaki / Ino / Hayashi:
TRYANGLE (Doubtmusic)

Two 60's collaborators of Japanese guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi--drummer Hiroshi Yamazaki and bassist Nobuyoshi Ino--formed this "Tryangle" to invite third improvisers for their performances, here joining forces with alto saxophonist Eiichi Hayashi (Catle Band, Aki Takase) for this exceptional live concert at Koen-dori Classics, in Tokyo, Japan in 2022. ... Click to View


New Monuments (Don Dietrich / Ben Hall / Camille Dietrich / Tony Gordon):
Language is the Skin [CD w/ DOWNLOAD] (Torn Light)

Recording in Detroit in 2021 the ruggedly extreme free jazz quartet New Monuments of Don Dietrich (Borbetomagus) on saxophone, Ben Hall on percussion, Camille Dietrich on cello and Tony Gordon on electric bass guitar shred through six collective improvisations, taking time for burning solo moments and electrically-fueled exchanges; scorching! ... Click to View


Nickolas Mohanna :
Sight Drawings [VINYL w/ DOWNLOAD] (Run/Off Editions)

Using sources from the world about him--field recordings, sampled orchestral noises, and voice recorders--New York composer and sound artist Nickolas Mohanna explores the spatial impressions of sound within a delicate acousmatic language, weaving inexplicable sounds into reorganized, recognizable components, creating a solid and compelling structural language. ... Click to View


Marina Rosenfeld :
roygbiv&b [BOOK] (Run/Off Editions)

A handsome spiral-bound book to accompany experimental sound artist and turntablist Marin Rosenfeld's roygbiv&b project riffing on the title through performance memory exercises, with text including a "User's Manual", a foreward by musicologist Benjamin Piekut, color & b/w images from the performance & exhibition, and four fold-out pages with scores. ... Click to View


Keefe Jackson / Oscar Jan Hoogland / Joshua Abrams / Mikel Patrick Avery:
These Things Happen [VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

Drawing on the traditions of jazz by reference and by covers of "Bemsha Swing" (Monk), "The Happenings" (Nichols) and "Gotta Get Some Sleep" (Redman), this exuberant 2016 concert at Bimhuis in Amsterdam brings together three great Chicago players--Keefe Jackson on sax, Joshua Abrams on bass & Mikel Patrick Avery on drums--with Dutch pianist Oscar Jan Hoogland. ... Click to View


Nomad Trio (feat Gordon Grdina / Matt Mitchell / Jim Black):
Boiling Point (Astral Spirits)

The second release from guitarist and oud improviser Gordon Grdina's Boiling Point Trio with Matt Mitchell on piano and Jim Black on drums, following their excellent 2020 Martian Kitties album, solidified into a tight unit from touring, Grdina's writing showcasing each player's ability to improvise around complex rhythmic, harmonic, and melodically rich compositions. ... Click to View


John McCowen:
Models of Duration [VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

A co-release with Dinzu Artefacts, clarinetist John McCowen continues his investigation into the physical possibilites of the clarinet family, here on contrabass clarinet for four fully acoustic recordings of continuous tones and unexpected aural phenomena through circular breathing while generating intense harmonics and multiphonics of earth-shaking ferocity. ... Click to View


Die Hochstapler :
Within (Umlaut Records)

Their group name Die Hochstapler translating to "The Impostors", the fifth exuberant free jazz album from the Berlin quartet of Pierre Borel on alto saxophone, cymbals & bird calls, Louis Laurain on trumpet & vocals, Antonio Borghini on double bass and Hannes Lingens on drums & vibraphone was recorded during their February 2022 residency at Au Topsi Pohl. ... Click to View


Great Waitress (Mayas / Brooks / Altman):
Back, Before (Splitrec)

Gorgeously subtle improvisation of a primarily acoustic nature through unfolding soundscapes of intricate restraint and deep listening, from the trio of Berlin pianist Magda Mayas and Sydney improvisers Monica Brooks on accordion and Laura Altman on clarinet & feedback, in their 4th release, recorded live in the reverberant church hall of the Annandale Creative Arts Centre. ... Click to View


Tatsuya Nakatani / Kawabata Makoto:
Reverse Fault (Acid Mothers Temple)

Recording at percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani's studio Nakatani-Kobo in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico and at Acid Mother's Temple guitarist Kawabata Makoto's studio in Asuka, Nara, Japan, the duo continue their collaborations honed through live touring and various improv configurations, generating incredible seismic sonics through unusual use of their instruments. ... Click to View


Bill Orcutt:
Music for Four Guitars [VINYL] (Palilalia)

Using four guitars tracks, each assigned to a specific melody in counterpoint, Bill Orcutt presents an assertive set of fourteen compositions in a minimalist form--think Steve Reich--each part organized through controlled freneticism that tames the wild nature inherent in each piece; a downloadable 80 page score illustrates the complex madness of the guitarist's mind. ... Click to View


Hedvig Mollestad :
Tempest Revisited [VINYL] (Rune Grammofon)

For her 2nd solo record aside from her rock trio, guitarist Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen expands her orchestration to an octet, adding jazz-rock elements while balancing scorching playing with lyrical and open passages, as she pays tribute to Arne Nordheim's 1979 composition for Shakespeare's "The Tempest", and for her own experiences of furious weather in her home town of Ålesund. ... Click to View


Jaki Green Shelton:
I Want to Undie You [CD EP] (Soul City Sounds)

A CD EP from North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green, the first African American and third woman to receive the appointment, persenting her work "I Want to Undie You" expressing her sorrow at the unexpected death of her daughter Imani and a celebration of her life, with audio arrangements by Alec Ferrel, plus versions of the text and music only. ... Click to View


Susie Ibarra / Tashi Dorji:
Master of Time [VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

Commissioned for the Tang Museum's "The Second Buddha: Master of Time", the duo of percussionist Susie Ibarra and guitarist Tashi Dorji envision the legendary figure Padmasambhava, who brought Buddhism to Tibet, through two extended improvisations of close communication and tight interaction, including gamelan-like percussion and unusually tuned guitar abstractions. ... Click to View



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  Joe McPhee 
  Route 84 Quarantine Blues  
  (Corbett vs. Dempsey) 


  
   review by Nick Ostrum
  2022-08-15
Joe McPhee: Route 84 Quarantine Blues (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Close mic. Huffs, puffs, bites, and tongue plucks all audible. This is like a living room performance, as if Joe McPhee is just ten feet away playing as much for himself as for the attendees. Apparently, this was actually recorded (beautifully, mind you) in McPhee's own closet. It is almost confessional.

During the first two years of the pandemic, it seems nearly every musician began churning out solo releases. There is something about this specific release, however, that makes this one different. Although he is a living tenor legend, McPhee is even more than that. And this and so many other recent releases show that. Clearly, at 82 years old, he is not done.

I cannot help but think of Arthur Doyle's solo endeavors Plays and Sings from the Songbook, Volume 1 or The Songwriter in terms of unvarnished intimacy and the simple repeating melodies that bind each track. Given the three decades of sound technologies separating them, it should not be surprising that this sounds much better and, of course, McPhee is a much different musician than Doyle. However, that feeling of a visionary musician driven to make an album in the face of opposition, comes through. It reaches toward that kind of purity of sound, warts, warbles, warps and all.

Route 84 Quarantine Blues starts small, with huffs and disjointed tones, which eventually evolve into a familiar, bluesy melody. Then he unfurls. Huffing begets squawking begets squeaking. McPhee can hold his own among honkers. Just think of Two Bands and a Legend or Brötzmann's Chicago Tentet. Nevertheless, he maintains a rare tenderness as his ghostly, broken, avant-blues takes center stage. This becomes especially clear on the title track, wherein several of McPhee's horns are layered. This bursts the solo living room illusion, but also reminds the listener of the estrangement of the times. He soars on Route 84, laying jagged lick upon jagged lick. However, through it all and in contrast with the pure solo setting of the rest of the album, this piece points to an earlier and (hopefully) future time, wherein horns can join in real-time and achieve a collective vision. Coupled with the poetry and pronouncements which have become a staple of McPhee's small group and solo performances and recordings as of late, Route 84 yearns for conversation and engagement.

It is potent and it is personal. Especially in track two, which he dedicates to his forebearers who chose to sink into the Atlantic over enslavement, one can really hear the aching in the tenor's quaver and McPhee's muffled vocal cries. This is a song of tragedy and loss, but also, in a disconcerting but very real sense, of the triumph of the lone human spirit and the African will for freedom against everything.

The album consists of 11 tracks. These include McPhee improvisatory riffing on both Carla Bely and Charles Mingus themes, including an ode/take on Joni Mitchell's rendition of "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" lightheartedly titled "Goodbye Porky Pig Hat" — and a lot of McPhee's own instant compositions and meditations on the moment. Inspirations range from the Black Panthers to Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Interstate 84 to, or course, the Covid pandemic. Throughout it all, the recording sounds close. One can hear everything, from the huff and hiss of his breath as he pushes it through the horn to the air slipping out of the side of his lips to the click of his tongue that vibrates the reed. It all sounds so natural at this point, as if even the inevitable unintentional sounds are there for a reason. And, as McPhee does, he often leans into those accidents as if they are more than incidental products. This is something that has made this musician so distinctive over the years. He plays with confidence and force but also with a vulnerability that I have not heard captured quite so potently before.

For those not yet acquainted with McPhee's solo work, I can think of no better place to start. For those already initiated, this one may still surprise you.



Joe McPhee: Route 84 Quarantine Blues
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Recent Selections @ Squidco:


Dreamstruck (
Crispell
Fonda
Sorgen):
With Grace In Mind
(Fundacja Sluchaj!)



The Work:
The Worst
of Everywhere
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Rempis
Reid
Abrams:
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Seabrook
Cleaver
Cooper-Moore:
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Revisited
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Hat Hut Records
Ltd)



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Lonberg Holm
Gratkowski:
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Joel Futterman:
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Sylvain Kassap Sextet :
Octobres
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Nickolas Mohanna :
Sight Drawings
[VINYL w/
DOWNLOAD]
(Run/Off Editions)



Great Waitress (
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Brooks
Altman):
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Die Hochstapler :
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Nomad Trio (
feat
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Matt Mitchell
Jim Black):
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Michel Banabila :
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Susie Ibarra
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