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Peter Brotzmann / Majid Bekkas / Hamid Drake:
Catching Ghosts (ACT Music + Vision)

A powerful, spiritual and warmly dynamic album of international and cross-cultural free improvisation meticulously recorded live at Jazzfest Berlin in 2022 from the trio of German reedist Peter Brötzmann on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Chicago drummer/percussionist Hamid Drake, and Moroccan guembri player and vocalist Majid Bekkas. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman Quartet (w/ Shipp / Helias / Rainey):
Water Music (RogueArt)

After shattering the mouthpiece he had used for years, tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman searched for a replacement, choosing the same mouthpiece used by Paul Desmond, provoking a shift in style to more melodic lines, as heard in this studio album performed with the exemplary quartet of pianist Matthew Shipp, double bassist Mark Helias and drummer Tom Rainey. ... Click to View


Joel Futterman / Ike Levin Duo:
Infinite Dimensions (CLM)

Two spontaneously composed original improvisation from the collaborative partnership of Ike Levin on tenor saxophone and Joel Futterman on piano & Indian flute, their long history together allowing great depth of connection, passionate expression and periods of reflective contemplation, weaving their playing with meticulous detail inside an impressive and masterful journey. ... Click to View


Henry Kaiser:
The Lost Chord (Metalanguage)

Includes a free copy of Trouble with the Treble while quantities last!
Focused around a poem by Adelaide Anne Procter title "A Lost Chord", West Coast guitarist Henry Kaiser invokes the spirit of Procter's words through a stunningly beautiful album of both contemplative and technically excellent work, his first solo album performed on the lower tuned baritone guitar, in 10 tracks inspired by Frith, Xenakis, Evan Parker, Ligeti, &c. ... Click to View


Polwechsel:
Embrace [4 LP BOX SET] (NI-VU-NI-CONNU)

BACK IN STOCK! The current Polwechsel quartet of Werner Dafeldecker, Michael Moser, Martin Brandlmayr and Burkhard Beins — merging improvisation and contemporary forms for outstandingly paced and conceptualized performance — are joined by luminaries John Butcher, Klaus Lang, Magda Mayas, Andrea Neumann and Peter Ablinger, released in a deluxe 4-LP box set with a 32-page booklet. ... Click to View


Otomo Yoshihide :
Hummingbird and Four Flowers: Turntable and Harmonium Solo Live (Hitorri)

Part of a concert to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of Ftarri's physical store in Suidobashi, Tokyo, drawing on performers from the Improvised Music From Japan imprint, turntable and sonic legend Otomo Yoshihide performed this solo concert in two sets, first using a turntable and the Ftarri store's harmonium (pump organ), and then on the turntable alone. ... Click to View


J. Gregg J. / David Van Auken:
Lunar Prairie [CD w/ DOWNLOAD] (IntangibleCat)

After meeting through mutual esteem of their individual SoundCloud presences, these Oregon string players met to develop their compellingly engaging work in rehearsal, David Van Auken's guitar arrangements the perfect canvas for the sitar melodies of J.J. Gregg; after touring together they went into the studio for this album's 8 tracks, plus two live recordings. ... Click to View


Nomi Epstein:
Shades (Another Timbre)

Influenced by New York School composers, Fluxus, Oliveros Sonic Meditations, and Wandelweiser, Boston-based composer Nomi Epstein's fascinating scores take unique and experimental approaches to composition, heard here in three chamber works, two recorded by London's Apartment House, and a live recording from a 2019 concert in Berlin, "sounds for Berlin". ... Click to View


Marco Baldini:
Maniera (Another Timbre)

Seven works from Italian composer Marco Baldini, a follow-up to his well received 2023 album Vesperi, this album introducing a variety of recent chamber works for strings from trios to quintets, performed by members of London's Apartment House ensemble, with the pieces "Selva", "Plutone" and "Otto" written specifically for Apartment House. ... Click to View


Florian Wittenburg :
Regenprasseln (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Translating to "rain pattering", German-born international sound artist Florian Wittenburg uses a MetaSynth and the Kyma visual programming language for sound design to emulate the sounds of rain pattering from aperiodic to periodic in two parts, along with heating noises in two parts, and a clock ticking; compellingly structured accompaniment to your personal ambiance. ... Click to View


Oliver Schwerdt / Barry Guy / Baby Sommer:
Fucking Ballads (Euphorium)

An enthusiastic and energetically powerful trio meeting between three masters--Oliver Schwerdt on grand piano & percussion, Barry Guy on double bass and Baby Sommer on drums & percussion--performing live in 2021 at naTo, in Leipzig for two extended improvisations of remarkable communication, incredible virtuosity, but most importantly, incredible and compelling creative drive! ... Click to View


JAKAL (Fred Lonberg-Holm / Keefe Jackson / Julian Kirshner):
Peroration (Amalgam)

Formerly known as J@K@L, this Chicago trio has explored hard hitting improvisation since 2014, the band name an amalgamation of the performer's names--Keefe Jackson on tenor & sopranino saxophone & tube, Julian Kirshner on drums and Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello, tenor guitar and electronics--in a dynamic and exciting 2022 concert at Elastic Arts, in Chicago. ... Click to View


The Remote Viewers :
Inside The Blizzard / Trivia (Remote Viewers)

UK Composer David Pett's Remote Viewers present two large works: "Inside the Blizzard" in five parts of configurations from solo to quintet; and "Trivia", a quintet work in eight parts; solid, compelling work of forceful confidence from members Adrian Northover, Sue Lynch, Caroline Krabbel & Petts on sax, John Edwards on bass, Hutch Demouilpied on trumpet and Rosa Theodora on piano. ... Click to View


Teiku (Harlow / Taylor / Shahid / Formanek / Leafar):
Teiku (577 Records)

Teiku, a Talmudic acronym that roughly translates to "unanswered question", was co-founded by pianist Josh Harlow and percussionist Jonathan Barahal Taylor to explore each of their family's unique Passover vocal melodies through improvisation and sonic exploration, performed in a quintet with Art Ensemble/Sun Ra bassist Jaribu Shahid and reedists Peter Formanek & Rafael Leafar. ... Click to View


Jorge Nuno:
Labirinto (Phonogram Unit)

After recovering from heart surgery, Portuguese guitarist Jorge Nuno (Ensemble MIOA, Isoptope, Voltaic Trio, &c) records this solo improv album to show his resilience, performed primarily on acoustic guitar in a balanced journey of assertive and introspective playing, accompanied by an insert of a text work by Rui Baião. ... Click to View


Bruno Duplant / Rutger Zuydervelt:
Edge Of Oblivion (Machinefabriek)

The third collaboration between sound and electronic artists Bruno Duplant and Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek) is a darkly heavy and dramatic work of subtle motion that slowly unfolds and shifts through vast sonic environments, fueled by acousmatic sources that take the listener to the edge of darkness and then pulls them back in warm waves or rich ambiance. ... Click to View


Felix Profos / Peter Conradin Zumthor:
Grund (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Since 2021 Swiss composer Felix Profos and drummer Peter Conradin Zumthor have performed as the duo Grund, Profos performing on harmonium and on the 1973 Italian organ Bontempi Pop3, Zumthor on bass drum, gong, bells & snare, their extended work on this self-titled album a tranquil and meditative work of slow transitions with moments of terse activity, receding with grace and serenity. ... Click to View


Leap Of Faith:
Emergent Spacetime (Evil Clown)

The core of the Boston improvising collective Leap of Faith Orchestra are the duo of cellist Glynis Lomon and reedist and multi-instrumentalist David Peck, here joined by Eric Woods on analog synth and new collective member Jared Seabrook on drums & percussion, for two examples of Peck's broad palette concept yielding evolving transformations through free playing ... Click to View


Expanse:
Reach (Evil Clown)

Perhaps the most synthetic of Evil Clown releases, Expanse represents space and restraint, this the 8th album from the Boston improvising collective of David Peck on reeds, winds, synths and percussion, Robin Amos on synths, Michael Knoblach on percussion (including egg beater, humpty dumpty toy, and teething rings) and Joel Simches providing real-time processing; inexplicably interesting. ... Click to View


Ethnic Heritage Ensemble:
Open Me, A Higher Consciousness Of Sound And Spirit (Spiritmuse Records)

Celebrating 50 years, percussionist Kahil El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble as the trio of El'Zabar, Corey Wilkes (trumpet) and Alex Harding (bar. sax), joined on tracks by James Sanders (violin) and Ishmael Ali (cello), reinterpret classics including "Great Black Music", "Ornette" and Aretha Franklin's "Compared to What", along with Miles' "All Blues" and McCoy Tyner's "Passion Dance". ... Click to View


Simon Hanes:
Tsons of Tsunami (Tzadik)

Drawing on a far-ranging set of influences--jazz, rock, contemporary, surf & exotica--California-born improvising guitarist Simon Hanes (of Trigger, who covered Zorn's Bagatelles) now resides in NYC, appropriately releasing an album of eclectic, generally upbeat, sometimes quirky, typically melodic instrumentals performed with an octet ensemble of incredible musicianship. ... Click to View


Joel Futterman:
Perspicacity (Soul City Sounds)

Five extended improvised piano solos from Joel Futterman recording in his home base of Virginia Beach, each an incredible journey in free playing that quotes and comments on the history of jazz piano, living up to the album's title through insight, perceptiveness, wit and intuition, Futterman's technique and mastery expressing narratives of amazing confidence and solid direction. ... Click to View


Kimmel.Ali.Harris (Jeff Kimmel / Ishmael Ali / Bill Harris):
Flora Oblique [CASSETTE w/ DOWNLOAD] (Amalgam)

The third release for the Chicago collective improvising trio of Jeff Kimmel on clarinet & electronics, Ishmael Ali on cello & electronics and Bill Harris on drums & feedback, acoustic interplay in the foreground with electronics adding layers of intriguing sonic pressure as their playing evolves through clear and cohesive conversation over punctuated & textural foundations. ... Click to View


Anthony Donofrio :
These Calm Words (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

An exquisite recording of composer Anthony Donofrio 1972 work for solo vibraphone captured at the University of Nebraska where Donofrio teaches and directs their new music ensemble, this extended work for solo vibraphone performed by Donofrio himself, living up to its title in a delicate advancement from clear playing to unusual vibraphone timbres and technique. ... Click to View


Eva-Maria Houben (Kei Kondo / Takahiro Kuroda):
His Master's Voice / Aus Den Fliegenden Blattern Eines Fahrenden Waldhornisten / Lose Verbunden (Ftarri Clasical)

One of two albums capturing a May 15th, 2023 concert in Tokyo by composer Takahiro Kuroda at the Ftarri performance space, titled "Square of Thoughts Vol. 2: Eva-Maria Houben and Horn + x", this album presenting two Houben works for solo horn performed by virtuoso horn player Kei Kondo, and one solo piano piece performed by Kuroda on upright piano. ... Click to View


Eva-Maria Houben (Takahiro Kuroda / Kei Kondo):
Echo Fantasy II (Ftarri Clasical)

The second of two albums capturing a May 15th, 2023 concert in Tokyo by composer & pianist Takahiro Kuroda at the Ftarri performance space, titled "Square of Thoughts Vol. 2: Eva-Maria Houben and Horn + x", this album presenting a 2018 Houben composition for horn and piano titled "Echo Fantasy II", performed by virtuoso horn player Kei Kondo and Takahiro Kuroda on upright piano. ... Click to View


Rutger Zuydervelt :
Kites (music for a performance by Roshanak Morrowatian) (Machinefabriek)

Music for a solo dance piece performed by Roshanak Morrowatian and composed by Netherland electronic artist Rutger Zuydervelt, the subject of the dance reflecting on the experience of young asylum seekers forced from their native countries to grow up somewhere unfamiliar, the music in seven parts weaving fragments of Iranian popular music into Zuydervelt's abstract electronics. ... Click to View


Simulacrum:
Mimesis (Evil Clown)

Expanding on their 2023 Homunculus, the Boston-based collective ensemble Simulacrum with a core of David Peck on reeds, percussion, keys and direction, Eric Woods on analog synth and Bob Moores on space trumpet & guitar are expanded with Cecil Taylor bassist Albey OnBass, synthesist Eric Zinman, reedist Michael Caglianone and drummer Michael Knoblach. ... Click to View


John Butcher + 13:
Fluid Fixations (Weight of Wax)

Commissioned for the 2021 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, John Butcher's fantastic work for 14 improvisers of unique approach employs what Butcher refers to as "psychological orchestration"--imagining how each performer might respond to particular ideas & their sonic company--the score, which includes photographic imagery, directing specific solos, duos & small groupings. ... Click to View


Phantom Orchard (Ikue Mori / Zeena Parkins):
Hit Parade of Tears (Tzadik)

Distilling their ensemble to its original duo configuration, New York improvisers Zeena Parkins and Ikue Mori reflect on the stories of Japanese author Izumi Suzuki through ten mysteriously eclectic and beautifully developed compositions of harp (acoustic and electric), electronics, percussion, harmonium, ondes martenot, and much more; wonderful, imaginative and evocative work. ... Click to View



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  Chad Fowler / George Cartwright / Chris Parker / Kelley Hurt / Luke Stewart / Steve Hirsh / ZA 
  Miserere  
  (Mahakala Music) 


  
   review by Nick Ostrum
  2024-03-25
Chad Fowler / George Cartwright / Chris Parker / Kelley Hurt / Luke Stewart / Steve Hirsh / ZA: Miserere (Mahakala Music)

Miserere is the recent brainchild of Chad Fowler, and it is a deeply inspired one. One can glean this from the title, which means the imperative "forgive." The inside flap contains blotches of color and the words, "Domine deus noster miserere nobis," ("Lord, our God, forgive us)" likely pointing to origins in the Catholic liturgy. In line with that theme, the final track is a take on the 11th century composition "Ut Queant Laxis " ("Do let our voices") by Guido of Arezzo.

The project found inspiration deep in the tradition of western music and, one could add, in the metaphorical confines of the cloister, in traditions maintained over centuries, in a language (musical and spoken) nearly extinct, understood by few, imbued with lost meaning and claims of metaphysical truth and therefore somewhere between cryptic and magical. Stylistically, the group draws on the exuberant spiritual jazz of the 1970s, whose complex entanglement of sounds and unwritten rules can make it similarly enigmatic and, at its best, emotively transcendent.

The first piece, the titular "Miserere", begins with a sweeping force. The full band contributes to the theme. Members then peel off and nervously squeak and squonk around it, while Chris Parker's piano and beautiful baritone voice provide the gravitational thematic/melodic pull against which the others fight. Indeed, any forgiveness worth begging for (or granting) requires tension between conformity and rebellion, a set path and deviation, a center and the forces that break it apart.

"Wonderful Words of Life" and "Inhaling & Exhaling" are almost companion pieces. The first starts as a somber hymn but devolves and reforms as an ebullient concoction of wailing horns and the churning vroom of rhythm. "Inhaling & Exhaling for Davey Williams", meanwhile, is an homage to recently deceased American guitarist Davey Williams. After a quick recitation of Williams' own writings, the band bursts out in an energetic jaunt through controlled, panting and growling breath, soon joined by the fierce rhythm section of Luke Stewart, Steve Hirsh and Parker, who churn the piece into a veritable vortex of sound. Cartwright also picks up his guitar a few minutes later, spewing characteristically fractured lines. As much as "Wonderful Words" leans toward Ayler, "Inhaling & Exhaling" appropriately pulls on Curlew, Cartwright and Williams' erstwhile group, though only for sections.

"Ut Queant Laxis" is the oddball and a true standout. Conceived a millennium ago, the composition follows a different musical system, an older, now obscure language. Still, the drive to bring sound to the fore, to let voices resound, to meditate on the interior and spiritual, make this piece as much an essential component to this album (and it needs to be heard as a coherent and select series of pieces) as a bridge between traditions. This realization is absolutely stunning. It slowly unfolds from a breathy bass-flute playing Arezzo's original theme accompanied by soft ambient crackles and jangles into a full free-improv soundscape to which Hurt adds muted and mournful moans, which evoke the medieval choral tradition as much as they do blues. In the last few minutes, the leitmotif returns, now exorcized from its demons and anxieties, now somber and serene, and it drifts on, seemingly even after the ritual ends. The voices have sung. The bells have rung. And, given the passion and beauty of Miserere, forgiveness had to have been granted.



Chad Fowler / George Cartwright / Chris Parker / Kelley Hurt / Luke Stewart / Steve Hirsh / ZA: Miserere
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