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Ensemble 5 (Geisser / Blumer / Staub / Morgenthaler / Dell):
The Human Factor (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

The long-running quartet of percussionist Heinz Geisser, bassist Fridolin Blumer, pianist Reto Staub and trombonist Robert Morgenthaler have for years extended their 4-tet with a 5th guest, here asking vibraphonist Christopher Dell to join them in the studio after a successful live performance in the spring of 2022, capturing this spectacular, wide-ranging example of collective improvisation. ... Click to View


Kenny Dorham:
Round About Midnight At The Cafe Bohemia To Matador - Revisited (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

Revisiting and remastering two essential albums from New York hard bop trumpeter Kenny Dorham, a tremendous musican who died much too young but left a legacy of 20 albums as a leader, here in his 1956 Blue Note album in a sextet that included Bobby Timmons and Kenny Burrell, and his 1963 United Artists Jazz album in a quintet with Jackie McLean, Bobby Timmons, Teddy Smith and JC. Moses. ... Click to View


Silvan Schmid / Tom Wheatley / Eddie Prevost:
The Wandering One - High Laver Levitation Volume 2 (Matchless)

A live recording of freely improvised improv captured at All Hallows Church in High Laver, Essex in 2023 from the trio of AMM drummer and Matchless label-leader Eddie Prévost, Zürich and Maastricht trumpeter Silvan Shmid, and London double bassist Tom Wheatley of the group Widdershins, heard in three investigative conversations of great creative drive. ... Click to View


Natsuki Tamura / Jim Black:
NatJim (Libra)

Right out of the gate one feels the energy and excitement between Japanese trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and NY drummer Jim Black, each pushing the other through strong instrumental character and outrageous technique over nine Tamura compositions recorded in the studio in Switzerland, their first recording in 25 years since their 1999 Buzz Records album White and Blue. ... Click to View


Joe Mcphee / Ken Vandermark:
Musings of a Bahamian Son: Poems and Other Words (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

27 concise poems written and read by saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, punctuated by 9 musical interludes between McPhee on soprano sax and Chicago reedist Ken Vandermark on clarinet and bass, fortifying McPhee's captivating words that mix life observations among jazz references to Dolphy, Monk, Brötzmann, Coleman, &c.; a truly embraceable "book" of poetry. ... Click to View


Birgit Ulher:
Split Friction - Audiovisual Works [BOOK] (Private)

Published on the occasion of Birgit Ulher's exhibition Split Friction at Errant Sound in Berlin from November 24-26, 2023, an interdisciplinary project spanning the intersection between exhibition, video, performance, concert and sound installation, documented in this 96 page full-color book with images from the installation, graphic scores, and essays in English & German. ... Click to View


STHLM svaga:
Plays Carter, Plays Mitchell, Plays Shepp (thanatosis produktion)

The Swedish free jazz septet STHLM svaga work at the liminal edges of delicate improvisation and song, for this album commissioning works from Archie Shepp, Ron Carter and Roscoe Mitchell, Carter traveling to Stockholm to provide guidance on his composition "Desert Lament"; the band also performs Coltrane's "Jupiter" and Per Henrik Wallin's piece "Winter Rhapsody". ... Click to View


Bob Drake:
The Room In The Tower (Crumbling Tones)

A great set of 11 succinct songs and instrumentals from multi-instrumentalist, prog icon Bob Drake of Thinking Plague, The Science Group, VRIL, and Peter Blegvad fame, vignettes that play with pop formats in insidious ways around recurring Drake themes including a Planet of Dogs, three rustic tales, and a perturbing room in the tower, all noted in a colored foldout poster with lyrics. ... Click to View


Space (Ullen / Bergman / Lund):
Embrace the Space (Relative Pitch)

A startlingly exciting album of piano trio jazz from three creative innovators, in the followup to the 2022 debut of the Swedish Space Trio of Lisa Ullen on piano, Elsa Bergman on double bass and Anna Lund on drums, recording in the studio for eight collective improvisations of extremely well matched, highly interactive and exhilarating modern improv. ... Click to View


Yedo Gibson:
Conic Tube (Relative Pitch)

Born in São Paulo, Brazil and working in Amsterdam and Lisbon, and also part of the London Improvisers Orchestra, Yedo Gibson unleashes an album of solo improvisation on the soprano and tenor saxophones, his "conic tubes" which he uses to express the potential to change environment and energy through technically impressive, expressive playing. ... Click to View


Rodrigues / Rodrigues:
Intenso como o Mar (Creative Sources)

With the nearly telepathic communication that only a father & son duo could have, Lisbon violist and Creative Sources label leader Ernesto Rodridgues and cellist Guilherme Rodrigues recorded these two string improvisations live at Cossoul in Lisbon during the "Esta Noite Improvisa-se", a melding of remarkable technique, concentration and profound expression. ... Click to View


Violaine Gestalder :
Furtive (Creative Sources)

With an impressive resume in improvised and contemporary forms, French saxophonist Violaíne Gestalder presents three major conceptual works for multiple players, using studio layering to perform all parts herself on soprano sax, voice & effects, a comprehensive, yearning, powerful and often mysteriously beautiful album that draws on her skills as a composer, improviser and experimenter. ... Click to View


Loris Binot / Violaine Gestalder :
Loris Binot & Violaine Gestalder (Creative Sources)

A contemplative and building collection of electroacoustic improvisations from French alto & soprano saxophonist Violaine Gestalder, augmenting her horn with effect pedals, and pianist Loris Binot, using preparations, magnetic bows and electronics to create sustained and percussive elements, recording in the CIM auditorium in Bal-Le-Duc, France for five rich and fascinating dialogs. ... Click to View


Gabriel Vicens:
Mural (Stradavarius )

Reflecting on the slow decay of Roman and Egyptian murals, New York City-based, Puerto Rican-born composer, guitarist, visual artist and No Base Trio member, Gabriel Vicéns, presents a collection of chamber works including two piano trios, a wind quintet performed by Nu Quintet, cello & violin and violin & piano duos, a solo piano work, and a sextet conducted by David Bloom. ... Click to View


Simulacrum:
Archetypes (Evil Clown)

One of the more electronic/ea ensembles from the Boston area collective led by David Peck, Simulacrum is an offshoot of Metal Chaos Ensemble, the core being Peck on reeds, percussion & electronics, Eric Wood on analog synth and Bob Moores on space trumpet & guitar, joined by Michael Caglianone (sax), Faruq Hassan (sampler), and Michael Knoblach (percussion). ... Click to View


Leap Of Faith:
Cyclic Models (Evil Clown)

A larger ensemble for the Boston-area collective Leap of Faith of David Peck on clarinets, saxophones & flutes, and Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice, here extended with two horns, three strings, and drums including Cecil Taylor bassist Albey OnBass, plus John Fugarino on trumpets & brass, Tor Snyder on guitar and Eric Rosenthal on drums & percussion. ... Click to View


Chefkirk:
Giant Size (Love Earth Music)

Eight distinctive works for electronics and sound from the alter ego of Roger H. Smith, using noise, percussive elements and unusual synthetics, layered around static and arpeggiated rhythms and punctuated with strange asides, the works run from 3:14 to 18:37 and were developed over a year and half; an excellent introduction to the sonic diversity Chefkirk revels in. ... Click to View


Midnight Only (RJ Myato / Jabe Ledoux):
Midnight Only (Love Earth Music)

An album of dense electronics, drums and gongs from Vermont drummer and experimenter Jabe Ledoux, aka Jo Bled, and Pittsburgh noise artist RJ Myato, co-founder of NNN Coalition and curator of Enforced Existence label, in three works from assertive jumbles of sound, to buzzy drones with muted percussion and ending with an ocean of blurred and swooping harmonics. ... Click to View


Liba Villavecchia Trio (Reviriego / Trilla) + Luis Vicente:
Muracik (Clean Feed)

Trumpeter Luís Vicente joins the Spanish saxophonist Liba Villavechia's Trio with double bassist Alex Reveriego and drummer Vasco Trilla for a studio album of four Villavecchia compositions, and one each from Reviriego and Vicente, propelling the band into hard swinging free improv balanced with introspective abstraction and sonic extensions; masterful. ... Click to View


TGB (Carolino / Frazao / Delgado):
ROOM 4 (Clean Feed)

Twenty years of activity and advancement is heard in this fourth album from the dynamic tuba power trio of tubist Sergio Carolino, guitarist Mario Delgado & drummer Alexandre Frazao, an electric jazz unit of deep power and drive, on this album leaving behind cover tunes that included Deep Purple and Thelonious Monk to focus on compositions from each band member. ... Click to View


Ghost Trees:
Intercept Method [VINYL 2 LPs] (Future Recordings)

Appropriately recording in New Jersey in the Van Gelder Studios, the North Carolina sax & drum duo of Brent Bagwell and Seth Nanaa stand in the shadows of Coltrane & Ali or McHenry & Cyrlle on their fourth release, a 2-LP, 180gm red-vinyl album of swinging, structured free jazz with a lyrically inclined outside attitude; twelve tracks of concise and compelling dialogs. ... Click to View


Garcia / Moimeme / Reviriego / Rodrigues / Santos:
Mars Reveri (Creative Sources)

An intense album of pyschedelic and subliminally detailed electroacoustic improvisation from the Portuguese quintet of Miguel A. Garcia on electronics, Abdul Moimeme on guitar & metals, Alex Reviriego on double bass, Ernesto Rodrigues on piano harp & viola and Carlos Santos on electronics, a powerful live set recorded in 2018 at Le Larraskito Kluba in Rekalde, Bilbao. ... Click to View


Eventless Plot:
Structures (Creative Sources)

Three configurations of delicately detailed, reductionist electroacoustic improv from the Greek Eventless Plot trio of Vasilis Liolios (inside piano, e-bow piano, objects & psaltiri), Yiannis Tsirikoglou (objects, guitar, MAX/MSP) and Aris Giatas (piano), in one piece as a trio, then with guest Chris Cundy on bass clarinet, and a third with Louis Portal on percussion. ... Click to View


Karin Johansson / Lisen Rylander Love:
Arter [VINYL] (Havtorn Records)

The Swedish title translating to "Species", the contemplatively elegant interactions between pianist Karin Johansson and tenor saxophonist Lisen Rylander are named for extinct species of animals and plants, as the two improvise over the loss of species that disappear from the earth every year, their wistful music augmented through preparations, kalimbas, live electronics and percussion. ... Click to View


Peter Van Huffel's Callisto:
Meandering Demons (Clean Feed)

A step into a darker world than Gorilla Mask from the debut of baritone saxophonist Peter Van Huffel's bass-less quartet Callisto with Lina Allemano on trumpet, Antonis Anissegos on piano & electronics and Joe Hertenstein on drums, a solid jazz quartet that shies from cliché in devilishly deep collective interplay fostered by Van Huffel's inventive compositions. ... Click to View


Dave Douglas:
Gifts (Greenleaf Music)

A new book of compositions and four interesting interpretations of Billy Strayhorn songs from trumpeter Dave Douglas' premier of a new quartet with tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis and two members of the post-rock trio Son Lux — guitarist Rafiq Bhatia and drummer Ian Chang — in a lyrically embraceable and sophisticated album dedicated to the gifts of life and music we all share. ... Click to View


Sean Ono Lennon :
Asterisms (Tzadik)

The chameleonic styles of Sean Ono Lennon are in full force on this instrumental record, merging rock, jazz, experimental and cinematic styles in captivating ways, performed with the spectacular ensemble of Devon Hoff (bass), Yuka Honda (electronics), Johnny Mathar (drums), João Nogueira (Wurlitzer), Ches Smith (drums), Michael Leonhart (trumpet) & Mauro Refosco (percussion). ... Click to View


Matt Mitchell:
Illimitable [2 CDs] (Obliquity)

"100% improvised, one take, no edits" from New York pianist Matt Mitchell's solo album in four extended improvisations of impressive detail and creative direction, eschewing any particular style while crossing many, Mitchell's technical skills making complex passages clear even when he names them as abstruse, an impressive accomplishment and an absorbing album of solo piano improv. ... Click to View


Steph Richards (w/ White / Takeishi / Cleaver / Jaffee) :
Power Vibe (Northern Spy)

Using a democratic compositional concept of cues that any of the musicians can employ to redirect all players into new structures, leading to exemplary improv from the core quintet of Steph Richards on trumpet & flugelhorn, Joshua White on piano, Stomu Takeishi on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drumset, plus Max Jaffe replacing Cleaver on drums & sensory electronics for one live track. ... Click to View


John Zorn:
The Hermetic Organ Volume 12 - The Bosch Requiem (Tzadik)

Part of composer, saxophonist and organ improviser John Zorn's 70th birthday celebration, this 12th volume in his The Hermetic Organ series finds Zorn performing on the two organs at the Grote Kerk (Great Church) in Den Bosch, The Netherlands, first solo and then with John Medeski, in a tribute to the 15th century proto-Surrealist painter Hieronymus Bosch. ... Click to View



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  Alan Shorter 
  Mephistopheles To Orgasm — Revisited  
  (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd) 


  
   review by Andrey Henkin
  2024-04-18
Alan Shorter: Mephistopheles To Orgasm — Revisited (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

Jazz has always been a family business, both parents and children (sometimes even grandchildren) and siblings and cousins. But fame is — much as is the case in another American gift to the world that is baseball — rarely apportioned equally. With the exception of the Joneses, Heaths, Adderleys and Breckers, there was usually a player in the shadow of his brother.

Trumpeter/flugelhornist Alan Shorter epitomized this phenomenon. In a vacuum he could be seen to have a decent career, with work under Archie Shepp, Marion Brown, Alan Silva and François Tusques and a pair of leader dates, but compared to younger brother Wayne he becomes a shadowy figure, barely talked about these days.

He did appear on one of his brother's albums, the 1965 Blue Note set The All Seeing Eye, but only one one track, his composition "Mephistopheles" (a song he would rerecord with Brown a month later for his eponymous ESP-Disk' album). Three years later Alan suddenly got a major label opportunity with Verve, yielding Orgasm (released in the UK on Polydor as Parabolic). It is a fascinating date, comprising sessions with two different bands: tenor saxophonist Gato Barbieri was part of both but the rhythm section — continuing the theme of disproportionally famous brothers — was either Muhammed Ali (drums) and Charlie Haden (bass) or Rashied Ali (drums) and Reggie Johnson (bass). It should be noted that the latter pair were the rhythm section for the aforementioned Brown date.

Ezz-thetics by Hat Hut, Ltd. Revisited Series now packages "Mephistopheles" with the entirety of Orgasm, with engineering work by Michael Brändli. "Mephistopheles" is essayed by a starry band of the Shorters, James Spaulding (alto), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Grachan Moncur III (trombone), Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (bass) and Joe Chambers (drums) and is one of weirdest songs in the Blue Note catalogue, menacing in its piano vamp and eliciting very different solos than typical of the time from Wayne and Hubbard. It sounds like nothing else in Wayne's catalogue and the only analogue is Andrew Hill's period work for the label.

Alan wrote all six pieces on Orgasm and they feel very much a continuation of "Mephistopheles", demonstrating a penchant for slower tempos and darker feels helped along by the lack of a chordal instrument. In an interesting bit of programming, the two pieces with Haden and Muhammed Ali — also the two longest — open and close the date, the middle four with Johnson and Rashied.

Shorter's playing here presages much of what would now be common among modern-day avant garde trumpeters, usually eschewing any real bop influences or high-note pyrotechnics more common to his era, maybe why real success eluded him. And it would take photo finish to award the garland of flowers to either rhythm section. But the real reason to pick up this set is Barbieri, one of the last times he would fully embrace the role of fire-breather before moving into slicker Latin realms. He was fiscally smart to make the change but one laments the loss of his feistier side.

Shorter died in 1988 at only 55, away from music but apparently writing monumental novels, barely remembered by the jazz audience at large, waiting for the world to get hip to what he had been doing 20 years earlier.



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