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Thumbscrew (Michael Formanek / Tomas Fujiwara / Mary Halvorson): Ours (Cuneiform Records)

The New York free improvising jazz trio Thumbscrew with long-time collaborators guitarist Mary Halvorson, double bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara in the 1st of 2 albums on the reborn Cuneiform label, here presenting creative original compositions from each of the three musicians in 9 virtuosic, sometimes quirky, and always warmly adventurous tunes. ... Click to View


Thumbscrew (Michael Formanek / Tomas Fujiwara / Mary Halvorson): Theirs (Cuneiform Records)

The second of two albums from the reborn Cuneiform label by New York free improvising jazz trio Thumbscrew with long-time collaborators guitarist Mary Halvorson, double bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, here presenting compositions from jazz greats Benny Golson, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Nichols, Stanley Cowell, Misha Mengelberg, &c. ... Click to View


Paul Dunmall / Philip Gibbs / Neil Metcalfe / Ashley John Long : Seascapes (FMR)

Long-time collaborators, saxophonist Paul Dunmall and guitar Philip Gibbs are joined by Neil Metcalfe on flute and Ashley-John Long on bass for a concert at the Victoria Rooms, in Bristol, England in 2017, six collective improvisation of spectacular technique and inventive playing, often at very fast tempos, but always resolving to an inner calm and beauty. ... Click to View


Frode Gjerstad / John Stevens / Johnny Mbizio Dyani: Detail 83 (FMR)

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Fake Humans (Fisher / Didur): Exegesis [ VINYL] (Shhpuma)

The Toronto-based duo of Colin Fisher on woodwinds and percussion and Carl Didur on keyboards and bass bridge acoustic and electronic improv with science fiction sensibilities in their four part "Exegesis", a critical exposition of un-genred music that borrows from global sources in service to their unusual and exotic tale; a wonderfully perplexing album. ... Click to View


Jaap Blonk : Irrelevant Comments (Kontrans)

As he delves further into electronics, Netherlands vocal improviser and experimental artists Jaap Blonk finds an ever-increasing array of approaches to modify his voice and set it into alien and astounding environments, here in 16 tracks of musique concrete, sound poetry, pulse based electronics, soundscapes, and inexplicable hybrids of the same. ... Click to View


Tomomi Adachi / Jaap Blonk: Asemic Dialogues (Kontrans)

Performing together since 2004 between Tokyo and Amsterdam, Dutch vocal improviser, innovator and electronicist Jaap Blonk meets Japanese vocal improviser and fellow electronics artists Tomomi Adachi at Lettretage in Berlin in 2017, recording this, the 5th in Kontrans Electronic Improvisation, for two extended and energetic dialogs of unique creative interplay. ... Click to View


Jason Kahn : Voice and Sky [BOOK + CD] (Editions)

Sound experimenter and electroacoustic organizer Jason Kahn revisits previous works and expands on them with the book and CD release, with an essay on his approach towards public space interventions and text / sound installations, a track listing, photographs from the locations of his field recordings, and texts and prose poems to accompany the listener. ... Click to View


Jason Kahn : Space Text Sound [BOOK] (Editions)

A 244 page book documenting text material used in three of sound experimenter Jason Kahn's recent installations: "An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Hong Kong (After Perec)" (2016), "Drifting" (2016) and "Other Ghosts" (2015), emphasizing how words can convey the sense of place sounds can and how these words impart a feeling for inner spaces. ... Click to View


Sean Conly : Hard Knocks (Clean Feed)

The history of bassist Sean Conly's collaborations and releases shows a strong love of the jazz tradition and a perceptive writing style that references that tradition, heard here in free and lyrical original Conly compositions performed in the studio in a trio setting with fellow New York musicians Satoshi Takeishi on drums and Michael Attias on alto saxophone. ... Click to View


Caterina Palazzi Sudoku Killer: Asperger (Clean Feed)

A wicked hybrid of jazz, avant rock and cinematic elements, bassist Caterina Palazzi's quintet Sudoku Killer takes on the music of Disney in a suite where each track is dedicated to an antagonist from movies like "Snow White" or "Sleeping Beauty", performed with Giacomo Ancillotto (guitar), Maurizio Chiavaro (drums), Sergio Pomante (sax) and Antonio Raia (sax). ... Click to View


Alberto: Pinton Noi Siamo: Opus Facere (Clean Feed)

Multi-reedist and wind player Alberto Pinton's quartet Noi Siamo ("We Are") with Niklas Barno on trumpet, Torbjorn Zetterberg on bass and Konrad Agnas on drums, are caught at the Swedish Glenn Miller Cafe in Stockholm for this exciting album of knowledgable and passionate free jazz, a dynamic concert referencing Eric Dolphy, Freddy Hubbard, and Ornette Coleman. ... Click to View


Jemeel Moondoc Quartet: The Astral Revelations (RogueArt)

Saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc takes his masterful NY quartet of pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist Hilliard Green, and drummer Newman Taylor Baker to perform live at Bimhuis in Amsterdam in 2016, capturing four remarkable improvisations of Moondoc compositions including an extended rendering of "Cosmic Nickelodeon", the band balancing lyricism with intensely creative playing. ... Click to View


North Of North (Pateras / Tinkler / Veltheim): North Of North (Offcompass)

The first release on pianist Anthony Pateras' new label OffCompass intended to explore a more diverse set of projects is from the North Of North trio of Anthony Pateras on piano, Scott Tinkler no trumpet, Erkki Veltheim on electric violin, using improvisation, Carnatic music, 20th and 21st century compositional strategies, mathematical theories and open forms of jazz. ... Click to View


Will Guthrie : 6 Days into 8 [CASSETTE] (Careful Catalog)

The sixth set performed during an 8-day tour of Japan in 2018 by Australian drummer / percussionist Will Guthrie (Ames Room, The Sommes Ensemble) took place at 0g in Osaka, captured here as a 32 minute set of vigorous playing tempered with introspective passages, using powerful technique and unorthodox approaches to his kit; cathartic and captivating. ... Click to View


Karl Berger: In A Moment - Music For Piano And Strings (Tzadik)

Pianist and vibraphonist Karl Berger is also a professor of composition, having won numerous awards and commissions for his work, here presenting the final part of a trilogy written Tzadik, a beautiful 14-part suite for piano and string realized with Berger himself at the keys in a septet of well known NY performers including Ken Filiano, Tomas Ulrich, Jason Kao Hwang. ... Click to View


Dave Holland Feat. Evan Parker / Craig Taborn / Ches Smith: Uncharted Territories [2 CDs] (Dare2 Records)

Reuniting late bassist Dave Holland with saxophonist Evan Parker, a longtime friend from their early days in London, and joined by Craig Taborn on piano and electronics, and Ches Smith on percussion, as the group performs as a quartet and also in a variety of permutations of duo and trio configurations, for a set of rich and informed dialogs of masterful skill. ... Click to View


Eugene Chadbourne : Fuck Chuck (Chadula)

An unsual album even by Chadbourne's standards, this reissue and remaster of material recorded in the 80s and 90s from his cassette series brings recordings from his noise group Chuck with Murray Reams and David Nikias together with recordings with Ut Gret (Joee Conroy and David Stilley) to create a hybrid of live experimental improv and found sounds. ... Click to View


Eugene Chadbourne : Lets Get Weird But Comfortable (Chadula)

Named for an audience comment that their music was "weird but comfortable", guitarist Eugene Chadbourne's band with Jeb Bishop on trombone, Jorrit Dijkstra on saxophone, Nate McBride on bass, and Curt Newton on bass are caught live in Boston covering the music of Thelonius Monk, Misha Mengelberg, Steve Lacy, Duke Ellington, Doc Chad, Willie Nelson and The James Gang. ... Click to View


Omelette: Live At The JazzLab (FMR)

Australia's performing trio Omelette of Jordan Murray on trombone, Ronny Fereller on drums, and Luke Howard on piano follow up their 2014 album on Jazzhead with this live album, the trio joined by Chilean percussionist working in Melbourne Javier Fredes, for a lyrical and rhythmically rich live performance at Melbourne's JazzLab in 2017. ... Click to View


Implicate Order, The : At Seixal (Clean Feed)

The very first album from Portugal's impressive Clean Feed Records is this live album at Auditorio do Forum Cultural do Seixal from the trio of Steve Swell on trombone, Ken Filiano on bass and Lou Grassi on drums, joined by Paulo Curado on alto sax and Rodrigo Amado on baritone sax, a significant concert merging free players from two nations with profound influence on jazz music. ... Click to View


Magnus Granberg : Es Schwindelt Mir, Es Brennt Mein Eingweide (Another Timbre)

An hour-long work for an ensemble of six musicians by Swedish composer Magnus Granberg performed by Anna Lindal on baroque violin, d incise on vibraphonen electronics, Cyril Bondi on percussion, Anna Kaisa Meklin on viola da gamba, Christoph Schiller on spinet, and Magnus Granberg himself on prepared piano, transforming material from a song by Franz Schubert. ... Click to View


John Cage: Two2 (Another Timbre)

One of a handful of John Cage's number pieces, this work for two pianists follows the forms of Renga poetry, composed with 36 lines of music, each containing 5 measures, and each line having 31 events occuring in the sequence 5-7-5-7-7, with the pianists allowed their own tempo but waiting to synchronize each measure, as performed by Mark Knoop and Philip Thomas. ... Click to View


Bondi / Martel / Schiller: tse (Another Timbre)

With backgrounds in both improvisation and compositional music, the new trio of Cyril Bondi on harmonium, Pierre-Yves Martel on viola da gamba, and Christoph Schiller on spinet, agreed on a sequence of pitches for this 5 part improvisational work, allowing space for the players to explore pitch and melody within a contemplative and pensive framework. ... Click to View


Angles 3: Parede (Clean Feed)

Martin Kuchen's Angles band changes shape constantly, originally a trio and expanding as large as Angles 10, but this album, recorded live at SMUP, Parede, Portugal in 2016, returns the band to the original trio of Kuchen on sax, Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten on double bass, and Kjell Nordeson on drums & percussion, reworking Angles compositions to their essence. ... Click to View


Honest John w/ Ab Baars: Treem (Clean Feed)

The Norwegian quintet Honest John of Ole Henrik Moe on violin, Kim Johannesen on guitar & banjo, Ola Hoyer on double bass, Erik Nylander on drums & drum machine, on Klaus Ellerhusen sax and clarinet, are joined by multi-reedist and shakuhachi player Ab Baars at Nasjonal Jazzscene Victoria to capture this quirky, controlled, and incredibly knowledgeable concert. ... Click to View


Chris Pitsiokos / CP Unit: Silver Bullet In The Autumn Of Your Years (Clean Feed)

Pushing the envelope in genre-smashing collective improvisation, Brooklyn-based sax and synth player Chris Pitsiokos and his CP Unit with 2 electric bassists--Tim Dahl and Henry Fraser--2 drummers--Jason Nazary and Connor Baker--and guitarist Sam Lisabeth, take a twisted path through improv, rock, and electronics that always shows a fierce allegiance to free jazz. ... Click to View


Scott Clark: Tonow (Clean Feed)

Drummer Scott Clark continues to explore his Native American roots in this album dedicated to the protests at Standing Rock, North Dakota, each heartfelt piece titled for aspects of those demonstrations, performed with bassist Cameron Ralston, trumpeter Bob Miller, saxophonist Jason Scott, guitarist Alan Parker, and extended with Chicago guitarist Tobin Summerfield. ... Click to View


Lynn Cassiers: Imaginary Band (Clean Feed)

Composer, vocalist and electronics artist Lynn Cassiers' new septet with Sylvain Debaisieux (soprano and tenor saxophone), Ananta Roossens (violin), Niels Van Heertum (euphonium), Erik Vermeulen (piano), Manolo Cabras (double bass) and Marek Patrman (drums) in their adventurous debut album blending improv, pop aesthetics, electronics, dreamlike voice, and solid playing. ... Click to View


AMM: An Unintended Legacy [3 CDs] (Matchless)

A beautiful 3-CD set with a hardcover book presenting 3 full concerts from 2015 & 2016 of the AMM trio configuration of John Tilbury (piano), Keith Rowe (guitar) and Eddie Prevost (percussion). The 70 page book, dedicated to saxophonist Lou Gare, includes an AMM discography, plus photos, and essays by Paige Mitchell and Allen Fisher; Keith Rowe; Eddie Prevost; and Seymour Wright. ... Click to View


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  Flying through Vancouver     The 16th Annual Time Flies Festival  


By Paul Serralheiro 2004-04-26


[Photo: (c) Brad Winter]
The sun shone all week on the bare, clean streets of Vancouver, glinting against the brilliant silver and glass of the new towers and the brick and wood of the late 19th century buildings in this recently prosperous city. The western ridge of the Rocky Mountains, snowcapped in the distance, and a slight arctic chill were the only signs of a Canadian winter. With a steady offering of mainstream jazz and classical music in the city’s clubs and concert halls, February was a rather ordinary month, but from the 18th to the 21st, the musical doldrums were stirred by the sound waves raised by eight musicians from different parts of the world who got together for four days of free improvisation.

It was fitting that the 16th annual presentation of Time Flies, a highlight of Vancouver’s thriving creative music scene, took place at the concert hall of The Western Front on East 8th Street, a block away from the busy triangular intersection of Broadway, Kingsway and Main that is crisscrossed by electric buses, their antennae gliding under the wire webbing overhead. The Western Front, an artist-run center housed in a quaint old blue wood frame building, has, since 1973, served as a vital venue for an eclectic range of creative work of the quietly eccentric artistic community of this temperate west coast metropolis.

Curated by bassist Torsten Muller and Ken Pickering, artistic director of the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society (the organization that also presents the city’s international jazz festival), Time Flies provides a unique setting for the interaction of creative improvisers. This year, the artistic goal of the event, which is loosely modeled on Derek Bailey’s Company Week, was to “shift away from the more typical free jazz style of hard blowing…toward a distinctly contemporary improvisational chamber setting that allows for nuance, texture, and subtlety,” so the press release informed us; the festival itself definitely delivered.

The sounds created by the eight musicians in various permutations were indeed nuanced, textured and subtle. The first evening began with all the musicians on stage and from there they broke up into different groupings over the four nights (two sets a night). The audience, about 30 to 50 people per night in the intimate concert hall, was treated to solos, duos and trios and, finally, on the last set of the last night, a reunion of all eight musicians.

The pieces of the creative puzzle were varied: Steve Beresford, an Englishman best known for his work with the group Alterations; Norwegian guitarist Ivar Grydeland and his fellow Osloite, drummer Ingar Zach; English harpist Rhodri Davies; Montreal trombonist, keyboardist and composer Tom Walsh; Vietnamese master musician Bic Hoang; Vancouver trumpeter J.P. Carter; and Muller himself.

Steve Beresford performed on a wide array of electronic and acoustic gadgets and gismos with the carefree aplomb of a particularly playful schoolboy given free range over the band room’s instruments who chooses instead to pluck at elastic bands and a kazoo in a Wallace Stevens-like eloquent funk. A transformation to a more demure prankster occurred when Beresford, in a dark suit and white shirt, accented by a simple bow tie, sat at the grand piano where he plunked, elbowed, pizzicatoed, rubbed, banged and flowingly fingered his way through the evolving pieces.

A tad more solemn was Ivar Grydeland, a musician who has collaborated with such creative luminaries as Derek Bailey and Susie Ibarra and who works in trio formation with sound poet Jaap Blonk and drummer Ingar Zach. The guitarist’s focused search for new sounds had him using violin bows, e-bows, propellers and prepared settings for his six-stringed expressions. His guitar is set at an E-A-D-G-C-F tuning, because “it’s more logical.” It is the same kind of logic perhaps that had him flashing the dial of a cheap crank-up transistor radio which he had picked up at the Kingsgate mall Radio Shack the afternoon of the last concert and proceed to explore the possibilities of its waves of noise.

Ingar Zach’s role through the four nights in Vancouver was like that of a well-calibrated, freshly oiled machine. The drummer played with a furious and intense rhythmic sense, arms and hands in constant motion, picking up bells, chimes, cups, clashing and thrashing, using skins as resonators for all kinds of percussive timbres imaginable, making audience members crane necks to figure out the source of that particular mysterious sound of the moment. Zach and Grydeland run SOFA, a Norwegian label of improvised music, and the drummer also shares a collaborative past with the fourth member of the musical personalities brought together for this Time Flies band: Rhodri Davies.

To call Rhodri Davies a harpist would be like calling the Pacific a pond. Like the Pacific, Davies - a regular in the London improvised music scene - is calm and deep. Sounds seem to well up from silence and flow out of his multiple manipulations: fingers, wooden blocks, bows, balls, pins, tambourine and sundry other sonic preparations. Almost as often, Davies sits in monkish contemplation. He is a meditative player who creates sound experiences that leave a lasting imprint.

Humour, brash gutturals and keyboard samplings were provided by Tom Walsh, a jocular gentlemanly trombonist from Newfoundland who now makes Montreal home where he leads a group called NOMA. Walsh brings an earthy, resonant presence to the music, developing, building, producing all kinds of sounds, from Ellingtonian suave, to full-bodied blaring, to buzzing, horse flapping, and vocal outbursts. As well as waxing expressive on the trombone, Walsh voiced a number of sampled passages from the digital keyboard that decontextualized and deconstructed familiar sounds such as pop radio grooves, advertising jingles and ambient sounds.

Bic Hoang is a Vancouver resident who brought her Vietnamese background and instruments to the collective creation. With graceful motions, and always concentrated intention she produced some surprising sounds from the dan bau (a one-stringed zither), bells, bamboo flute and the totally fascinating Ko ni, a two-stringed stick fiddle played with a bow, whose strings are held by means of a disc in the player’s mouth which serves as resonating chamber. Movements of lips and tongue provide the means of inflections in colour and tone, uncannily like the human voice. Hoang’s musical career is mostly spent performing traditional Vietnamese music, but this kind of setting, she said, is quite a stimulating change. “Doing this I feel fresh and when I return to my ensemble, I have a new perspective.” Coming to this music requires open ears, and Hoang does certainly have those. “I just listen, and I play what I hear will sound right, depending on what’s happening at the moment.”

The youngest of the group, trumpeter J.P. Carter, was also the newcomer. Squeezing out sound threads (with the help of electronics), the Vancouver musician played with restrained intensity and excellent control. He avoided the open harmonic resonance that is the trumpet cliché and, instead, explored the more breathy and lippy timbres of the instrument.

Towering over his instrument at center stage stood Torsten Muller, commanding the double bass, mustering enormous forces of sound - deep rumblings, cello lyricism, violinistic extremes and unusually articulated glissandi. Muller is the very personification of creative intensity. A Vancouver resident for the last three years, the German-born Muller is co-founder of the Europeans ten-piece ensemble King Ubu Orchestra, and he has worked with John Zorn, Evan Parker and Ken Vandermark.

The event also featured afternoon workshops facilitated by Davies on Thursday, Beresford on Friday and Grydeland and Zach on Saturday. These practical sessions were attended by flute players, singers, guitarists, a pianist, a harpist, trumpet players, a violinist, a drummer, a saxophonist and one contralto clarinet player. At Thursday’s session, Davies had attendees explore sustained tones, pointillism, and white noise in solos, duos, trios, and full ensemble and discuss the results. Grydeland and Zach, on a very sunny Saturday, were a little more formal, asking for introductions and statements of poetics from participants. When the playing began, however, the Norwegian improvisers offered some insightful and enlightening interactions and feedback on the efforts. They stressed the importance of sounds that are non-idiomatic or referential, non-programmatic and encouraged an investigation of the concrete phenomenon of sound without preconceived context and meaning - a message almost identical to Davies’ approach.

The basic but all-important lesson learned was the need for musicians to use their ears, the difficulty of the art of playing with intention, concentrating, limiting the ideas and developing them without laying it on thick. From that realization to being able to create on the level that the Times Flies musicians function at is no easy trek, but it is well worth the effort. The reward is some creative music that resonates on a very profound level.






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