The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

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


Sean Lennon Ono:
Asterisms [VINYL] (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


Chorale Joker / Ensemble SuperMusique:
Demantibule•es (Ambiances Magnetiques)

Merging members of Ensemble SuperMusique with a subset of the ensemble Chorale Joker, Joane Hétu presents four premieres that explore our experiences during the pandemic, SuperMusique focused on electronics and synthetic instruments and offset by a wind quintet, the music and vocal interactions often explosive, reflecting on our mental states during an overwhelming cultural malady. ... Click to View


Josh Berman / Eli Wallace / Ishmael Ali / Bill Harris:
An-Ill Fitting Garment [CASSETTE w/ DOWNLOAD] (Amalgam)

Cornetist Josh Berman, drummer Bill Harris, and cellist Ishmael Ali meet with NY pianist Eli Wallace in Chicago, recording live in the studio for a session that focuses on acoustic interplay using unusual techniques, inside piano playing, textural percussion with scrapes & drags and melodic & harmonic fragments, Fitting quite well in a set of interesting moods and motion. ... Click to View


IKZ (Chris Dammann / Kevin Davis / John Niekrasz / Toby Summerfield):
I Saw The Cryptic Problem Of My Generation Destroyed (Amalgam)

Four improvisations that start as dense and scrabbly electroacoustic improv and then transport into beautiful sonic interaction from the Chicago collaborative quartet of Chris Dammann (Scott Clark) on double bass, Kevin Davis (Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore) on cello, John Niekrasz (Poor School, The Naked Future) on drums and Toby Summerfield (Larval, Algernon, Scott Clark) on guitar. ... Click to View


Joao Gato / Bruno Parrinha:
Two (Phonogram Unit)

Two Portuguese saxophonists of different generations both playing on alto sax--Bruno Parrinha, an established and extraordinary player involved with many projects on Clean Feed and Creative Sources, and João Gato, leader of Apophenia Quartet--present 11 improvisations recorded in the studio, their voices intertwining amid masterful technique and creative impulse. ... Click to View


Danya Pilchen :
Two Songs. Anne, Germaine, Koen, Seamus, Danya (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Two "songs" from a series of works by Netherlands composer and pianist Danya Pilchen, exploring the possibilities of making and experiencing time through attentive listening, these works focused on creating a dialogue between two measures of time, performed with Anne La Berge on flute, Germaine Sijstermans on clarinet, Seamus Cater on harmonica and Koen Nutters on double bass. ... Click to View


Paul Newland:
Things That Happen Again (Another Timbre)

A portrait of UK interdisciplinary composer Paul Newland's music through five pieces dating from 2009 to 2023 performed by members of London's Apartment House ensemble, including a string quartet, two different trio combinations, a short work for solo piano, and a score for open instrumentation, realised in this recording by a septet. ... Click to View


Michel Banabila :
The Unreal Realm (Tapu Records)

A collection of works from Netherlands composer Michel Banabila, including a piece developed with saxophonist Dave Liebman and previously released only digitally; a work with Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek); a work with Pierre Bastien; and excerpts from scores for Yin Yue's choreography in two works: "Somewhere" for New York Live Arts and "Timeless Tide" for BalletMet. ... Click to View


Rotem Geffen:
The Night Is The Night (thanatosis produktion)

Singer, songwriter and pianist Nelly Klayman-Cohen, aka Rotem Geffen, explores the fringes of dreamy pop music with lyrics in German, English and Hebrew that explore themes of memory, love, grief, loss, and the night as a vibrating room, with collaborators including Alexander Zethson on keyboards, Isak Hedtjar on clarinets and winds, Vilhelm Bromander on double bass, &c. ... Click to View



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  Guelph's Caring Adventure  

The Little Engine in Ontario


By Mike Chamberlain
Photos: Michael E.J. Powers, 2003 2003-12-18

The Guelph Jazz Festival might be thought of as The Little Festival That Could. Could what? Well, bring high calibre non-mainstream jazz and improvised music to a small university town and make it an important part of the community’s cultural calendar, for one. For ten years now, the festival’s artistic director, Ajay Heble, and his cadre of volunteers have made Guelph, an hour west of Toronto, a good place to be during the week following Labor Day.

This was my fifth visit to the Guelph festival. On my first visit, I was captivated by the charm of the town, the friendliness of the people, and the manner in which the music was presented. None of that has changed over the years, but Heble’s ambitions have grown along with the festival’s budget. This year, the centerpiece of the program was a jazz opera by pianist/composer D.D. Jackson and poet George Elliott Clarke commissioned by Heble. Also on the program were performances by Evan Parker, Steve Lacy, Myra Melford, Mark Dresser, the Willem Breuker Kollektief, and the Peggy Lee Band. As usual, Saturday afternoon featured a number of free concerts in a tent in the city’s downtown shopping area.

The colloquium, which runs from Wednesday to Friday, gives the public a chance to participate in some of the academic discourses around jazz and improvised music. It is a vital component of the festival, and one that sets it apart from other events of its kind. Keynote addresses this year were given by Georgina Born of Cambridge University and Paul Miller, aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid.

Jerry Granelli
Jerry Granelli
The music began on Wednesday evening with a performance by Iron Sky, who are Halifax percussionist Jerry Granelli and bass clarinetist Jeff Reilly. Besides a normal trap set, Granelli works with metal sound sculptures designed by Nova Scotia blacksmith John Little. Working with the acoustics of the Macdonald-Stewart Art Centre, Granelli coaxed mid-range overtones out of Little’s creations, while Reilly played against those tones. The duo seemed a bit timid, with the concert not quite living up to the results of their album, Love Slave. Nevertheless, the performance had some touching moments.

Thursday afternoon’s performance by Myra Melford and Canadian violist Tanya Kalmanovitch, also at the MSAC, had flashes of spark, but ultimately faltered due to a certain paucity of ideas, with Kalmanovitch, who shares a fascination for Indian music with Melford, clearly out of her league. Too often, the improvisations ended up revolving around what sounded like Broadway show themes.

Evan Parker’s solo performance in the sanctuary of St. George’s Anglican Church on Thursday evening was an undisputed highlight of the festival. Working with the acoustic properties of the deep nave and high ceiling, Parker, especially on soprano saxophone, piled overtones one on top of another in an arresting display of control. While Parker’s soprano playing might have seemed a little cold to some, the gorgeous tone of his tenor contained worlds of emotion. This was the first time I had seen Parker solo — unforgettable.

The Willem Breuker Kollektief was, alas, just as I remembered them from my previous two experiences: tight, precise, and too much shtick. The only thing that kept them away from excesses such as the dog act was the size of the stage. Not my cup of tea, and, I suspect, it never will be.

Raw Materials, the duo of pianist Vijay Ayer and saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, were in synch right from the beginning of their Friday noon concert at Macdonald-Stewart. Working in tight unison much of the time, Maranthappa’s keening sound was balanced by Iyer’s darker-hued tonalities. This was the second time in two months that I was fortunate enough to see them. (I had seen them at the Montreal jazz festival in late June.) If anything, the second performance was even more satisfying both artistically and emotionally than the first.

The trio of Evan Parker, Sarah Peebles (electronics), and Nilan Perera (guitar) on Friday afternoon at the MSAC were a bit hit-and-miss, though Parker and Perera found much common ground in exploring microtonal possibilities, with Peebles having a bit of trouble finding a groove that jived with the other two.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Kalaparush and the Light, who performed at the Guelph Youth Music Centre in a late afternoon performance on Friday. The trio — Kalaparush Maurice McIntyre (tenor), Jesse Dulman (tuba), and Ravish Momin (drums) — are apparently a street band. (From what I gathered, they have all spent a fair bit of time playing on the streets of New York City.) As the performance went along, the cohesion improved, with McIntyre and Dulman picking up on each other’s melodic ideas, but unfortunately, the three often sounded as though they were playing on three different street corners.

Friday evening was taken up by the premiere of Quebecité, the afore-mentioned collaboration by D.D. Jackson and George Elliott Clarke commissioned by the festival. Billed as a jazz opera, the piece, an interracial love story that dealt with the dynamics of marginalized voices in a multicultural context, did for the most part adhere to the dictates of both forms. The music, played by a promising quintet of Jackson, John Geggie (bass), Jean Martin (drums) and Peggy Lee (cello) was definitely jazz, most of it fairly hard-driving at that. And the singers — Dean Bowman, Yoon Choi, Haydain Neale, and Kiran Ahluwalia — were operatic, in that they sang all of their lines. Unfortunately, the singers were buried much of the time in the sound mix, and technical snafus had their microphones cutting in and out. As a result, much of the message in the libretto was lost; the audience got little more than a broad-brush exploration of the libretto’s themes.

Steve Lacy’s solo set at the Guelph Youth Music Centre on Saturday morning was an affecting performance with intimations of mortality. Lacy alternated his own compositions with those of Thelonious Monk. He also employed a piano as a not-quite-silent partner, with a block depressing the sustain pedal, which produced subtle overtones as the air from Lacy’s soprano hit the strings. For most of the performance, Lacy stood at the front of the stage, but on one piece, Lacy placed the block so that it held the sustain pedal all the way down and then played into the body of the piano. I’m not a fan of encores, but Lacy’s version of “Crepuscule With Nellie” made me glad I hadn’t followed my usual practice of leaving the room before the encore.

Most of Saturday afternoon was taken up by a double concert, again at the Guelph Youth Music Centre. First up were the Peggy Lee Band, a sextet led by cellist Lee, playing her compositions that evoked those of Robin Holcomb and Bill Frisell’s neo-Americana. Particularly strong among the soloists were trumpeter Brad Turner and guitarist Tony Wilson.

Denman Maroney
Denman Maroney
Mark Dresser’s trio with pianist Denman Maroney and flautist Matthias Ziegler comprised the second half of the double bill. The music was paradoxically spare yet intricate at the same time, equally concerned with tonal and thematic development. An added bonus was the inclusion of three short films for which the group provided the live soundtrack in the second half of the concert.

Saturday evening at Chalmers United Church saw the final double concert of the festival. The trio of Myra Melford, Mark Taylor (French horn), and Bourque Simmons (soprano voice) was more precious and pretentious than penetrating. However, the quartet of Steve Lacy, George Lewis, Jean-Jacques Avenel and John Betsch gave a fully-realized performance. Drummer Betsch and (especially) bassist Avenel were astoundingly inventive in their roles, while Lewis (on trombone) and Lacy were very subtle in their exploration of melody. The quartet played a mix of older Lacy pieces such as “The Bath” and “The Rent” as well as compositions from the recent Beat Suite Quintet recording inspired by the writings of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, and a new, unfinished piece titled “Baghdad.” In the absence of Irene Aebi, who was home battling a throat infection, Lacy read the beat poetry between the musical pieces, an approach that took nothing away from either the poetry or the music.

Evan Parker
Evan Parker
A tribute to writer Paul Haines, which took place on Sunday morning, was the final performance I attended. (A seven-hour drive precluded my seeing the duo of Martin Tetreault and percussionist Jesse Stewart that evening.) Coda editor Stuart Broomer, making a return to performance after approximately two decades, hosted the tribute, reminiscing about Haines, who died earlier this year, reading some of his work, and singing a Haines poem while accompanying himself on guitar. Guelph-based percussionist Jesse Stewart told a funny Haines story about Tony Oxley’s stool and did a short solo piece. He was followed by baritone saxophonist David Mott and pianist Michael Snow, who both spoke little and played much. Then, Evan Parker, who enjoyed a thirty-year friendship with Haines, spoke emotionally of their friendship before presenting his own solo improvisation. Finally, the five musicians did a “free for Paul,” as Broomer put it. All five listened, and all five contributed mightily in a collective effort that Haines would most probably have greatly appreciated.

This last performance stands for some of the best values that the festival represents — caring, community, and adventurous music-making. It’s for those reasons that I continue to go back to Guelph every September. If you haven’t been, you must do yourself the favor sometime.



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Recent Selections @ Squidco:


JAKAL (
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