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Carlos Bica & Azul (feat. Frank Mobus / Jim Black): Azul In Ljubljana (Clean Feed)

For their 7th album after 20 years of collaboration, double bassist Carlos Bica's trio Azul with Frank Mobus on guitar and Jim Black on drums presents this exemplary live album recorded at the 2015 Ljubljana Jazz Festival in Lsovenia, clearly illustrating their characteristic clean and lyrically melodic sound through beautiful textural and energetic playing. ... Click to View


LFU (Lisbon Freedom Unit) : Praise Of Our Folly (Clean Feed)

Without a leader, this 9 piece collective ensemble includes members of Red Trio (Rodrigo Pinheiro, Hernaani Faustino and Gabriel Ferrandini), Garden (Jose Bruno Parrinha, Ricardo Jacinto, Luis Lopes), the duo Eitr (Pedro Sousa and Pedro Lopes), 2/3 of the Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio (Amado, Ferrandini) and hafl of the Luis Lopes Humanization 4tet (Lopes and Amado). ... Click to View


Mario Costa (w/ Marc Ducret / Beniot Delbecq): Oxy Patina (Clean Feed)

Drummer, composers and electronic artist Mario Costa in his first solo album as a leader, presenting 9 original compositions performed at the 26th Festival de Jazz na Praca da Erva in a trio with French improvisers Benoit Delbecq on piano, prepared piano and synth, and Marc Ducret on guitar, a great album an absolutely stunning concert by three masterful players. ... Click to View


Schnell (Borel / Borghini / Lillinger): Live At Sowieso (Clean Feed)

An album of accelerated bebop from the perspective of the original intention of the form, performed live in Berlin from the trio of Pierre Borel on saxophone, Antonio Borghini on bass, and Christian Lillinger on drums, their goal to investigate speed, stasis and trance and play jazz "on its verge, at high speed, where body memory, intuition and the unconscious are essentials". ... Click to View


Dave Ballou / Beephonk: The Windup (Clean Feed)

The Baltimore area quartet of Dave Ballou on trumpet, Anthony Pirog on guitar, Adam Hopkins on double bass, and Mike Kuhl on drums, met in 2011 at Baltimore's Windup Space where Adam Hopkins organized weekly concerts through the Out Of Your Head Collective; finding common ground they took the name BeepHonk, this being their first album, appropriately recorded live. ... Click to View


Chrome Hill: The Explorer [VINYL] (Clean Feed)

The Norwegian quartet formerly known as "Damp" with baritone guitarist Asbjorn Lerheim, tenor saxophonist Atle Nymo, drummer Torstein Lofthus, and double bassist Roger Arntzen, blend expressive forms of jazz with blues and rock in an expansive and rich set of tunes that both pay homage and look to new and inclusive formations of emotional and effusive music. ... Click to View


Celano / Badenhorst / Baggiani: Lili & Marlene (Clean Feed)

Expanding the long-running duo Celano/Baggiani Group of guitarist Guillermo Celano and drummer Marcos Baggiani with clarinetist and saxophonist Joachim Badenhorst, this trio works to re-imagine the boundaries between composition and improvisation, between conventional harmony and abstract sound explorations through melody, groove and texture. ... Click to View


The Holy Mountain : Toad Of Light [VINYL] (Shhpuma)

Cinematic aesthetics and themes from the Norwegian Holy Mountain duo, performing on the uncommon pairing of two instruments--accordion played by Andreas Angell, and drums with acoustic and electronic parts and vintage synthesizer played by Aleksander Tidemann--in their 3rd release inspired by the "dystopian sci-fi visions of John Carpenter, Philip Glass and Daft Punk. ... Click to View


Dystil (Qu / Mayes / Ballyk): Dystil (Clean Feed)

For their first album together the trio of Bryan Qu on alto saxophone & objects, Quincy Mayes on piano & objects, and Mark Ballyk on percussion, voice & objects, resolved to live together for three months, achieving through intense effort the synthesis of different approaches to improvisation to create this large and encompassing "imaginary film". ... Click to View


Mia Dyberg Trio: Ticket! (Clean Feed)

The Scandinavian trio led by saxophonist Mia Dyberg with Asger Thomsen on double bass and Dag Magnus Narvesen on drums take a divserse set of approaches to improvisation, pursuing melody, texture and timbre in upbeat and concise compositions, primarily from Dyberg with 3 from Thomsen, imparting playfulness and experimentation to an open interpretation of creative jazz. ... Click to View


Nakatani Gong Orchestra: Live Concert At Silo City (Nakatani-Kobo)

A full scale concert of Tatsuya Nakatani's Gong Orchestra with 15 performers bowing and striking Nakatani's collection large gongs under the conduction of Nakatani, recorded at the Silo City performance space in Buffalo, NY in 2017 in a rich, deep and mysterious album of large tones using the natural resonance of the Marine A Grain Elevator. ... Click to View


Jerome Noetinger / SEC_: La Cave Des Etendards (Mikroton Recordings)

Titled from the two venues where these concerts were recorded, the duo of Jerome Noetinger and Mimmo Napolitano both use revox reel to reel recorders, plus feedback systems, laptop and other electroacoustic devices to create strange and gripping aural narratives, built of abstract elements yet deceptively concrete, compelling stories; exceptional. ... Click to View


New Thing Unit: For Cecil Taylor (Creative Sources)

Dedicated to the late free jazz legend Cecil Taylor, this Lisbon sextet of Paulo Alexandre Jorge on tenor saxophone, Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Eduardo Chagas on trombone, Manuel Guimaraes on piano, Miguel Mira on cello, and Pedro Santo on drums performs four energetic and well-balanced collective improvisations, respecting and evoking the incredible legacy Taylor left behind. ... Click to View


Brinicle (McCormick / Bjorgo / Antalova): First Frost (Creative Sources)

Dynamic and compelling improvisations from the Oslo-based international guitar trio of Brinicle is an improvising trio comprised of Norwegian Hakon Norby Bjorgo on upright bass, Canadian Mike McCormick on electric guitar and Michaela Antalova on drum kit, who met in 2015 to join their interestes in the intersection of avant improvisation and post-rock. ... Click to View


J@K@L (Keefe Jackson / Julian Kirshner/ Fred Lonberg-Holm): After A Few Days (Jaki Records)

The amalgamation of the names of Chicago mainstays, saxophonist Keefe Jackson, drummer Julian Kirshner and Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello, tenor guitar and electronics, J@K@L are captured live the Hungry Brain in Chicago in a concert of intricate, dynamic, fast-paced and expressive free improvisation with a unique palette and extraordinarily strong communication. ... Click to View


Polyorchard: Sextet | Quintet (Out and Gone Music)

Quintet and sextet recordings from the Polyorchard group of Jeb Bishop on trombone, Chris Eubank on cello, Bill McConaghy on trumpet, David Menestres on double bass, David Morris on tuba, Dan Ruccia on viola, Jeb Bishop on trombone, Jacob Wick on trumpet, recording at "The Store" in Raleigh, NC, for sublime and complex and collective free improvisation. ... Click to View


Simon Rose / Philippe Lemoine: Seance (Tour de Bras)

Tenor and bariton saxophones in an exchange of spectral interactions that emphasize harmonic overtones and intersections, unusual emanations from both instruments in a perfectly paced improvisations, each of the 12 dialogs named aptly for locations and crossing in Englad and France, adding a sense of journey to these mysterious and wonderful expeditions. ... Click to View


Michel Bonneau / John Heward / Scott Thomson : 4x3 (Tour de Bras)

An unusual mix of instruments from the Montreal trio of percussionist Michel Bonneau on congas & balafon, John Heward on drums, and Scott Thomson on trombone, all members of Ratchet Orchestra and Heward's Murray Street Band, in an album of active and uniquely layered confident rhythmic floors over which Thomson freely plays with remarkable technique. ... Click to View


Beaudoin-de-la-Sablonniere, Louis / Eric Normand / Louis-Vincent Hamel: Brulez les Meubles (Tour de Bras)

Seeking to extend the guitar trio into new and unique territory, the Quebec trio of Eric Normand on electric bass, Louis Beaudoin-de-la-Sablonniere on electric guitar, and Louis-Vincent Hamel on drums, reference performers like Jim Hall, Sonny Sharrock, John Abercrombie, Bill Frisell while focusing on harmolodic force and unusual melodic lines. ... Click to View


Bill Orcutt: Why Does Everybody Love Free Music But Nobody Loves Free People? [VINYL 2 LPs] (Palilalia)

An horribly recorded album of solo guitar that begins with the concert promoter screaming at the audience, as Bill Orcutt takes the stage and plays an amazing set of solo acoustic guitar, a visceral album that perfectly fits Orcutt's history and playing style. ... Click to View


Giles Thornton Jazz Orchestra: Be In Today (FMR)

A large band project from UK composer, arranger and conductor Giles Thornton, directing 29 musicians through original works and reinterpretations of ballads like Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You", in a blend of acoustic and electronic musicians that avoids overt fusion overtones while keeping the music melodic with the occasional exotica flair. ... Click to View


Peter Brotzmann The Octet : Machine Gun [VINYL] (Cien Fuegos)

One of the exemplary albums of European free jazz originally issued on Peter Brotzmann's on BRO label in 1968, aggressive but astute music from now-legendary players Brotzmann, Evan Parker & Gerd Dudek on tenor sax (Brotzmann doubles on baritone sax), Peter Kowald on bass, Fred Van Hove on piano, Buschi Niebergall on bass, and two drummers - Han Bennink and Sven-Ake Johansson. ... Click to View


Peter Brotzmann The Octet : Machine Gun - Alternate Takes [VINYL] (Cien Fuegos)

First time issued on vinyl: alternate takes from the essential "Machine Gun" album on Brotzmann's BRO label in 1968, aggressive but astute music from now-legendary players Brotzmann, Evan Parker & Gerd Dudek on tenor sax (Brotzmann doubles on baritone sax), Peter Kowald on bass, Fred Van Hove on piano, Buschi Niebergall on bass, and two drummers - Han Bennink & Sven-Ake Johansson. ... Click to View


Derek Bailey / Jamie Muir: Dart Drug [VINYL] (Honest Jons Records)

A reissue of the 1981 Incus LP of guitarist Derek Bailey with one-time King Crimson percussionist Jamie Muir ("Larks Tongues in Aspic"), also a member of Bailey's Music Improvisation Company, an album of hovering harmonics from Bailey's feedback amidst Muir's kitchen-sink collection of items that creates a unique and riveting complement to Bailey's playing. ... Click to View


Derek Bailey: Aida [VINYL 2 LPs] (Honest Jons Records)

Extending UK improvising guitarist Derek Bailey's 1980 solo album on his own Incus label with a full additional album of solo guitar recordings from the BBC in the same year, giving a fuller story of Bailey's development of his self-defined non-idiomatic improvisation, wonderfully commanding playing of great technical skill and clear intention. ... Click to View


Amado / Mcphee / Kessler / Corsano: A History Of Nothing (Trost Records)

Following up their 2015 Not Two album "This is Our Language", the quartet organized by tenor saxophonist Rodrigo Amado with Joe McPhee on soprano saxophone and pocket trumpet, Kent Kessler on double bass, and Chris Corsano, a superb album of intense communication and soloing from a collective that merges free and lyrical playing, from ballads to full-on fury. ... Click to View


Amado / Mcphee / Kessler / Corsano: A History Of Nothing [VINYL] (Trost Records)

Following up their 2015 Not Two album "This is Our Language", the quartet organized by tenor saxophonist Rodrigo Amado with Joe McPhee on soprano saxophone and pocket trumpet, Kent Kessler on double bass, and Chris Corsano, a superb album of intense communication and soloing from a collective that merges free and lyrical playing, from ballads to full-on fury. ... Click to View


Spring Heel Jack / Wadada Leo Smith / Pat Thomas / Steve Noble: Hackney Road [VINYL] (Treader)

The Spring Heel Jack duo of guitarist and multi-instrumentalist John Coxon and keyboard & electronics player Ashley Wale are joined by UK improvising masters Pat Thomas on synth, keyboard & theremin, Steve Noble on drums, and US legend Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet, for a six "Scene" album of staggeringly intense improvisation over rich soundscapes; superb. ... Click to View


Fay Victor's SoundNoiseFunk (feat Joe Morris): Wet Robots (ESP)

SoundNoiseFUNK is New York free vocalist Fay Victor's quartet with Sam Newsome on soprano sax, Joe Morris on electric guitar and Reggie Nicholson on drums, a great collective group of leaders who perfect support Fay's wordless vocals and pointed statements, the title "Wet Robots" refererring to technology that is useless to help in an apocalyptic age; impressive. ... Click to View


Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O.:: Hallelujah Mystic Garden Part 1 (Important Records)

Two long sides of "blissed-out, super tight Acid Mothers Temple jams that somehow stretch into the future while staying strongly rooted in the group's celebrated psychedelic history" performed with AMT core members Cotton Casino (voice), Kawabata Makoto (guitar), Higashi Hiroshi (keys), Mitsuru Tabata (guitar), Staoshima Nani (drums), and S/T Wolf (bass). ... Click to View


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A Month of Zorndays
John Zorn's 50th Birthday Celebration at Tonic

Updated througout the month

John Zorn







John Zorn Improv Night  (Tonic) 

September 29, 2003

With Derek Bailey unable to make it to town for his scheduled night in the monthlong Zornfest, John Zorn pulled together an old-fashioned improv night (although having drummer Joey Baron still in town certainly made it something more than an ordinary night). It was the first nonevent of the month, which almost carried with it a tinge of relief.

Two opening pieces by Baron, pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and cellist Erik Friedlander achieved the often-claimed-but-usually boring improvised classical. Violinest Mark Feldman and laptop percussionist Ikue Mori followed in a similar vein, Feldman playing bold, heavy notes, leaving Mori's laptop as the melody instrument. Their second piece took a very different path, with Feldman playing fast lines and scratches over Mori's busy backing. Feldman and Friedlander also carried the high-art torch for a piece, and were joined by Courvoiser (making the group into Courvoisier's Abaton trio) for an equally stunning piece.

Baron and Zorn had of course already shared the stage during the month - two weeks prior had been the Masada quartet's first gig in over a year - but seeing them in duet was just good. Starting and stopping, completing each other's sentences until they built to a roar, only Baron to stop and play a quiet, slowly metered rim roll while Zorn carried on full throttle. Later Baron backed Zorn with licked-finger drum-head rubs, not just for effect but really playing with Zorn's saxophone.

Better yet was Baron sitting in the Susie Ibarra seat with the Mephista line-up. He's a faster, busier player than Ibarra, it's not really fair to call it Mephista at all, but they played wonderfully, although he ultimately overpowered Courvoisier and Mori. A second, quieter piece where Baron rode cymbals worked better. The piano, drums and laptop created torrents of rhythm together, and Courvoisier and Mori now have the shared pleasure of playing with the two happiest drummers in the world.

The final group piece opened with Baron, Friedlander and Mori, then Zorn coming in, suggesting combinations that hadn't been heard, and built slowly to a gorgeous sextet, Zorn blowing a slow lament, Feldman complementing him while Friedlander carried a deep bass, the rest melding into a beautiful, thick blanket.

Perhaps it wasn't quite like old times, not just in Zorn's calling consecutive pieces by the same ensembles, but in the near-formal virtuosity exhibited throughout. Certainly it was a different sort of Improv Nite than he would have presented 10 years ago. And if anything really stands as a testament to the growth of John Zorn and the scene he embraces, it's what they do for fun.

- Kurt Gottschalk






Bezique  (Tonic) 

September 24, 2003

Bezique is the last game piece Zorn conceived, and by his own admission in introducing the piece, "it's very strange." It differs from other pieces in that the players - the musicians involved - create the settings ahead of time rather than while they are playing. As a result, more coherent musical statements are made without losing the structured improvisations that can make the game pieces so rewarding.

The game pieces in general are interesting not just because of the music that's made, the characters they bring out or the mystery in which they're kept. They predate what could be called Zorn's "index card" period, and seem to have informed it. After creating a series of situations where he could hear styles, genres and moods crashing into each other, he began to use it as a formula for composing and arranging, most notably on the album The Big Gundown and the piece Spillane. Beziques was written in 1989, just two years before Spillane was recorded, and combines the tools of the game pieces with a compositional approach.

Each of the 11 players (Trevor Dunn, 5-string electric bass; Anthony Coleman, Farfisa organ; Sylvie Courvoisier, piano; Marc Ribot, guitar; Jim Publiese and William Winant, percussion; Jim Staley, trombone; Mark Dresser, bass; Okkyung Lee, cello; Mark Feldman, violin; and Jamie Saft, Fender Rhodes, synthesizer and effects) got a turn creating a piece, calling out a series of directives ("EP1, Ribot; M7, Courvoisier, Lee, Winant; EP3-1...") while a "gaffer" played interlude music. It was reminiscent of Duke Ellington's idea that he writes for individual musicians, except purely that, without scores. Zorn would write down the directives that he would then guide them through by holding up his familiar cue cards, and reminding the arranger of rules and trying to keep an overall cohesion between pieces. "The hardest thing is coming out of Ts," he reminded the group more than once. "You can't just write a whole piece and think it's gonna work," he told them later. "You gotta think about the piece that came before it. You gotta think about the pieces in order."

While pieces like Cobra show player's proclivities in what they want to hear at the moment, it was fascinating to watch entire pieces borne of one player's musical sense. Dresser created a beautiful suite. Lee jumped back and forth between styles, relying heavily on a Ribot/Saft/Dunn trio. Coleman injected humor, which in itself is impressive when you're only able to suggest with genre, tempo and volume. But "M4 and 9 for Dresser and Sylvie" got a good laugh from the bandstand. (When they got to that point in the piece, Zorn showed the two cards "Quiet" and "Rock" to the audience.) Likewise, it was interesting to watch players run the pieces through their heads as they were being called.

The performance lasted 80 minutes, and it's a shame that Bezique has been forgotten over the years. While the other game pieces make for great theater and a fun night of in-the-moment creation, Bezique resulted in some truly memorable music.

- Kurt Gottschalk






John Zorn's Lacrosse, Hockey, Rugby  (Tonic) 

September 24, 2003

In the progression of game pieces that led John Zorn to create the magnificent Cobra and Xu Feng structures, several earlier games were devised. Lacrosse was developed in 1977, originally performed in the days of Studio Henry in lower Manhattan where, as Zorn recalled at the beginning of the performace, the music competed with the sounds of crickets in the building. This rendering of the game had Anthony Coleman on keys, Marc Ribot on guitar, William Winant and Jim Pugliese on percussion and Zorn on alto. The game was very interactive, the players motioning amongst themselves and using a sparse set of rules, each calling segments and directing the game while in motion - unlike most of Zorn's game pieces there was no prompter. They used extended techniques on their instruments, and the piece was enjoyable if for no other reason than the mastery each showed: Zorn and Ribot played off each other, Coleman working inside the grand piano, and both Pugliese and Winant seeming to utilize every inch of their percussive sources. The ensuing music was not particularly coherent, a series of stop-starting quotations that were often punctuated but rarely lyrical.

Following was Hockey, a piece from 1978 that Zorn described as "exotic aquatics." He displayed the score for the game, explaining that at the time of its writing he believed that "all you really needed for an evening of music is one sheet of paper." Hockey limits each player's language to five sounds, which are carried out through a series of solos, duos and trios. Two versions of Hockey were presented, the first which Zorn referred to as the "dry version" with Okkyung Lee on cello, Jim Pugliese on percussion and Zorn on duck calls. This version was tremendous fun, particularly in seeing Zorn playing the duck calls again, a fistful of varying bird and buzzer sounds that are clearly enjoyable to play. Lee provided an excellent foil to Zorn as she scraped, sawed and zipped around her cello while Pugliese provided often rollicking outbursts. The music frequently shifted, Zorn sometimes calling off directives to change the rhythm. More sophisticated than Lacrosse, the piece still paled to later game pieces in its sometimes spastic results. The second rendering of Hockey was presented by Anthony Coleman, Marc Ribot and Mark Dresser on bass. Zorn described this as the "wet version,", and the difference between the two renditions was remarkable. Coleman here stuck to his heavily effected Farfisa organ. Ribot as well played heavily effected and downright alien guitar, while Dresser was a monster on the bass, sometimes playing with a stick, plucking around the neck or bowing below the bridge. Zorn prompted from the front as the three played with clear enjoyment. The results were, once again, fun to watch, somewhat dubious in their music results, but inspiring and important in their ability present new possiblities in improvisational playing.

The last piece, Rugby, was written several years later, in 1983, and was more like his later pieces. Sylvie Courvoisier was on piano, Trevor Dunn on bass, Mark Feldman on vioin, Jim Staley on trombone, William Winant on percussion, with Zorn prompting using a card system. The interplay this time was much more obvious, players pointing to each other to suggest musical direction to Zorn. The cards instructed the players with phrases like "Intercut," "Trans," "1 Clock Changes" or "4 Trades," and the piece seemed to work at time similar to Butch Morris' conductions. A series of escapades and interludes, the structure provided much more lyric and expressive opportunities to the musicians, adding a quirky and playful air to the resulting music. Zorn once again showed the single sheet that defined the game, but this time it was clear that the direction he was to take game pieces in 20 years ago held great potential for making excellent and unpredictable music.

- Phil Zampino






September 12, 18, 25 2003

Bar Kokhba - (Tonic) September 12, 2003, 8:00 set
Masada - (Tonic) September 18, 2003, 8:00 set
Electric Masada - (Tonic)September 25, 2003, 8:00 set

One of the wonderful things about Zorn's 50th birthday month was the opportunity it presented to hear the various Masada permutations on successive or nearly-successive nights, the chance to compare the way the different voicings and personnel shaped the music (sometimes even the same charts), and the air around us, the actual feel of the world, or as much of it as you can fit inside the little Tonic warehouse. This is evocative music, music that reaches down into the limbic system and plants fleeting images of places that, for a few moments, I have a terrible longing to visit.



continued...




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

Squidco

Recent Selections @ Squidco:


LFU
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Praise Of
Our Folly
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Schnell
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Carlos Bica & Azul
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Nakatani Gong Orchestra:
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Peter Brotzmann The Octet :
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Peter Brotzmann The Octet :
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