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Nate Wooley: Battle Pieces 2 (Relative Pitch)

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Rempis Percussion Quartet, The (w/ Haker Flaten / Daisy / Rosaly): Cochonnerie (Aerophonic)

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Chicago saxophonist Dave Rempis approached the idea of his first solo album under the shadow of the greats before him, in 2017 choosing to journey across the country on a solo tour, performing 31 concerts of which these 6 recordings represent the best reflection of his unique solo vocabulary on the instrument and his enthusiasm for a wealth of musical styles. ... Click to View


Wadada Smith Leo / Natsuki Tamura / Satoko Fujii / Ikue Mori: Aspiration (Libra)

Pianist/composer Satoko Fujii's "Aspiration" brings together four masterful improvisers and innovators--trumpeters Wadada Leo Smith and Natsuki Tamura, and Downtown NY laptop player Ikue Mori--for an album of exciting and exceptional free playing over compositions from Fujii, Tamura, and one collective composition, a brilliant pinnacle of creative music. ... Click to View


Satoko Fujii Quartet (w/ Natsuki Tamura / Keisuke Ohta / Takashi Itani): Live at Jazz Room Cortez (Cortez Sound)

Presenting a different line-up from the 2001 debut of Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii's Quartet, remaining is trumpeter Natsuka Tamura, with Keisuke Ohta on violin and Takashi Itani on drums, performing evolving and rich collective improvisation with a strange edge, captured live at the Jazz Room Cortez in Mito, Japan in 2016 for two extended and bewitching sets. ... Click to View


Satoko Fujii / Natsuki Tamura: Kisaragi (Libra)

On their 5th album together, pianist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura push the limits on approach and technique on their instruments to create otherworldly and captivating improvisations, both players deciding against using "normal instrumental sounds" instead using preparations and textural approaches to create truly unique music. ... Click to View


Gato Libre (Fujii / Tamura / Kaneko): Neko (Libra)

Trumpeter Natsuki Tamura's Gato Libre's 5th album brings a beautiful light-through-the-leaves melodic melancholy to their unhurried pace, now the trio of Tamura, Satoko Fujii on accordion, and Yasuko Kaneko on trombone, as the cats on the cover stop to find allure in the late day while bringing profound and introspective music to our ears. ... Click to View


Musicworks: #128 Summer/Fall 2017 [MAGAZINE + CD] (Musicworks)

Summer 2017 issue of Canada's premiere new music magazine, with a CD featuring tracks from selected artists covered in the magazine; Bekah Simms; Senyawa; Pantayo, HanHan, and Luyos MC; Brodie West; Artificiel; Another Timbre's Canadian Composers Series; Vicky Chow; Festival de International Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, 33rd Edition reviewed; &c. &c. ... Click to View


Rudiger Carl Inc.: King Alcohol (New Version) [2 CDs] (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

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Hans Reichel: Wichlinghauser Blues (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

The debut LP by legendary German guitar improvisor and instrument inventor Hans Reichel, an incredible display of brilliant playing, both technically and by approach, playing on acoustic and unfiltered electric guitars, originally issued on FMP in 1973, here re-mastered from the original tapes and retaining the original design; highly recommended. ... Click to View


Hans Reichel: Bonobo (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Second LP in the catalog of German guitarist and instrument inventor Hans Reichel (1949-2011), a program of microtonal string investigations that is still beguiling and fresh four decades later, originally released on FMP in 1976, with a great cover from Reichel demonstrating how he created his neck-to-neck guitar; absolutely impressive and essential. ... Click to View


Billy Bang: Distinction Without a Difference (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

The late American violinist Billy Bang's first album, originally issued on Hat Hut Records, is reissued with an additional track, plus 4 previously unissued solo tracks recorded in Tilberg, Netherland in 1978, demonstrating this great artist broad range of innovative techniques, mixing free-form and melodic passages in extended and joyful improvisations. ... Click to View


Leap of Faith Orchestra: Possible Universes (Evil Clown)

Started in 1995 as an interdisciplinary unit of improvisational artists led by Boston area reedist/multi-instrumentalist David Peck and cellist Glynis Lomon, exploring multi-phonics, glissando, microtones, graphic & descriptive scores, and extended techniques, expanding the ensemble with like-minded musicians, here in this 2017 recording of full 24-piece orchestra. ... Click to View


Crux Trio (Hanslip / Somervell / Gauden): BELieVE (FMR)

A wonderfully balanced example of melodic free improvisation from the UK trio of Mark Hanslip on tenor saxophone, Colin Somervell on bass, and Ed Gauden on drums, frequent collaborators with an interest in both lyrical and free/collective improvisation, with an approach that uses technique and conceptual approaches in accessible and embraceable ways. ... Click to View


David Myers Lee: Superpositions [CASSETTE with Download Code] (Cronica)

David Lee Myers, AKA Arcane Device, explores feedback in its most beautiful forms, over decades developing systems to capture the microscopic edges of errant signals and convert them into lovely long tones, using a series of matrix mixers to manipulate them in real time, creating works of fragile charm, impressive interstices of rhythm, and gorgeous melodic nodes. ... Click to View


Asi Mina: Bialo (Bolt)

Sound interpretations of Miron Bialoszewski's poetry, who's work focuses on the mundane aspects of the everyday life, usually from an autobiographical perspective and using an overtly colloquial language, interpreted by vocalist Mina Asi, aka Asia Bronisławska, speaking and singing over understated keyboard work. ... Click to View


Tony Buck: Unearth (Room40)

Starting from nearly inaudible rumbling, Necks percussionist Tony Buck takes his listeners on a wild ride of sound, from quiet moments of introspective sound onto the densest potency, slowly unfolding his detailed journey in rhythmic, harmonic, melodic, and concrete additions, like an impressive storm brewing until it slowly overwhelms you. ... Click to View


Roscoe Mitchell : Discussions (Wide Hive)

Four original improvisations, taken from legendary AACM composer, improviser and saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell's "Conversations" album transcribed and performed by a twenty piece Bay Area orchestra, along with two orchestral improvisations and two duets with Roscoe Mitchell and flutist Wilfredo Terrazas. ... Click to View


Akira Sakata / Manuel Mota / Giovanni Di Domenico / Mathieu Calleja: Jomon [VINYL] (Holidays Records)

Named for the Jomon period of Japanese history, when Japan was inhabited by a hunter-gatherer culture, the trio of radical saxophonist Akira Sakata joins forces with frequent collaborator, keyboardist Giovanni Di Domenico, Portuguese guitarist Manuel Mota, and drummer Mathieu Calleja to record these powerfully cathartic and ritualistic improvisations. ... Click to View


Massimo Pupillo / Alexandre Babel / Caspar Brotzmann: Live At Candy Bomber Studios, Vol.1 [VINYL] (KARLRECORDS)

The insanely powerful work of this new trio--bass player Massimo Pupillo (Zu, Laniakea), drummer Alexandre Babel (Sudden Infant) and Caspar Brotzmann on guitar--captured live at Candy Bomber Studios, in Berlin for two monumental free improvisations of raw energy that blend noise rock, drone, and improvisation into something uniquely fearsome and wonderful. ... Click to View


Zeitkratzer / Svetlana Spajic / Dragana Tomic / Obrad Milic: Serbian War Songs [VINYL] (KARLRECORDS)

Reinhold Friedl's Zeitkratzer ensemble and special guests, vocalists Svetlana Spajic, Dragana Tomic, and diple / gusle player Obrad Milic, explore the possibilities found in traditional Serbian songs from and about World War I, including the classic epic "Assassination In Sarajevo", and songs chosen specifically by Spajic and Tomic. ... Click to View


Zeitkratzer + Elliott Sharp: Oneirika: Live at Berghain Berlin [VINYL] (KARLRECORDS)

Commissioned by Berlin's Maerzmusik Festival and premiered in 2014, Elliott Sharp's composition & soundscape is named after the Greek waking dream and inspired by John Cage, Sharp using a methodology to filter and process his musical manuscripts via Photoshop, which are interpreted through amplification of acoustic instruments by the Zeitkratzer ensemble. ... Click to View


Charlemagne Palestine : The Lower Depths [3 CDs] (Alga Marghen)

Charlemagne Palestine conceived this composition of unique piano sonorities in 1977 as a trilogy, taking it's name from the potential of his Bosendorfer piano, writing the first section for the middle keyboard, the second section for two octaves above, and the third at the bottom of the keyboard, producing a deep and singular work of minimalism. ... Click to View


Hermann Nitsch: Orgelkonzert Jesuitenkirche 20.11.2013 (Trost Records)

Austrian avant-garde musician and multimedia artist Hermann Nitsch performed these powerful and mesmerizing solo organ drone works during the 2013 "Shut up and listen" festival in in the Jesuit church of Vienna, releasing the 4 recordings with an 8-page booklet of art and an essay from Nitsch himself, with mastering by Martin Siewert. ... Click to View


Hermann Nitsch: Orgelkonzert Jesuitenkirche 20.11.2013 [VINYL 2 LPs] (Trost Records)

Austrian avant-garde musician and multimedia artist Hermann Nitsch performed these powerful and mesmerizing solo organ drone works during the 2013 "Shut up and listen" festival in in the Jesuit church of Vienna, releasing the 4 recordings with an 8-page booklet of art and an essay from Nitsch himself, with mastering by Martin Siewert. ... Click to View


Haco: Qoosui (Someone Good / Room40)

An hypnotic, lush and beautiful album of sound and lilting voice from Japanese vocalist and electronic experimenter Haco (After Dinner), seven songs of subtle sophistication that create dreamlike environments of floating tones and invoking voice, refined from decades of experimentation and investigation to yield this enchanting album. ... Click to View


Pat Patrick And The Baritone Saxophone Retinue: Sound Advice (2017 Repress) [VINYL] (Art Yard)

Baritone saxophonist and flautist Pat Patrick was a member of Sun Ras's Arkestra for 35 years, and also played with Duke Ellington, Eric Dolphy, Thelonious Monk, and John Coltrane; in 1977 he assembled this 12-piece band with 8 baritone sax players, 4 of them doubling on flute, to present incredible versions of original work and modern standards. ... Click to View


Nate Wooley / Daniele Martini / Joao Lobo : Legacy of Ashes (Creative Sources)

A free jazz session recorded in Brussells between trumpeter Nate Wooley and half of the Daniele Martini Quartet--saxophonist Martini himself and drummer Joao Lobo--stepping in and out of modal jazz with a contemplative approach, using extended techniques to great effect, Lobo handling the foundation and rhythm in absolutely impressive ways. ... Click to View


Dafna Naphtali / Gordon Beeferman: Pulsing Dot (Clang)

Gordon Beeferman and Dafna Naphtali perform duet pieces and improvisations for piano and voice with kinetic sound processing, fractal rhythms, and polyphonic/kaleidophonic disturbances, as Beeferman creates solid structures which are augmented by Naphtali's live processing, while she employs extended vocal techniques and hand & voice activated electronics. ... Click to View


String Theory [Boston, USA]: Condensed Phases of Matter (Evil Clown)

String Theory was formed as the string section for Boston's Leap of Faith Orchestra, the core being David Peck on reeds, game calls, fog horn, sirens, &c, and Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic and voice, with Jane Wang (cello) and Mimi Rabson (violin), creating a wonderfully assertive and somewhat skewed approach to improvisation, captured live at Mobius in Cambridge, 2016. ... 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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