Bassist Max Johnson's quartet with multi-reedist Mark Whitecage, trombonist Steve Swell and drummer Tyshawn Sorey in an upbeat album of free collective improvisation from the downtown NY scene.
Label: Not Two Records
Released in: Poland
"With the onset of fan donation pages all over the Internet, artists, musicians and inventors of all sorts can now speak directly with their fans and solicit funds for all types of projects. Some are fantastical like 'help me turn into a cat' fund or 'help make my paper clip rocket ship a reality', but more often than not it is a musician with a book of songs that means the world to them and are looking for a way to make their vision a reality. There are even added perks to sites like these. They come in the form of incentives for the public's donations, such as a copy of the completed album or even executive producer credits.
The Max Johnson Quartet is a success story born from this new artist driven way to produce music. From a business model to recording and art work, (fantastic by the way if you can get a close look at it) to getting Not Two Records to back the recording.
Track 1 entitled 'Elephant March', is as close to a perfect track as I have ever heard. It has an accessible opening jazz structure and not just one designed to get to the solos quickly. It is full of youthful abandon and it sounds like it could fall apart and moment in a good way, a very good way. Tyshawn Sorey (drums) is tasked with a very complicated chart as the rest of the quartet; Max Johnson (bass), Steve Swell (trombone), and Mark Whitecage (saxes and clarinet) try everything in their collective power to shake him. They are sometimes ahead of the beat and sometimes behind it. Part pebble tossed in a clear pond, part tsunami but always on the verge of disaster yet still gorgeous to look at (listen to).
Part of what makes a leader great is the ability to be humble when needed to be, be genuine and confident in their decisions and have the skill and ability to perform when the finger eventually gets pointed at them. A perfect audible explanation of this is 'Lost and Found (for Henry Grimes)'. Johnson studied under Grimes during his stay at New School University and this track reads part final exam and part pride in what was passed from master to student. Johnson travels through many bass techniques without ever sounding like a warm up exercise. The track is a well thought out and very personal dedication indeed.
'60-66' is one of those tracks that start out as a good idea in theory but ends up being a great track in reality. It develops into a track of duos as Swell and Whitecage build a sound to give way to Johnson and Sorey who also develop their own sound. Each time the duos change it gets better until the finale where both duos are on fire.
Johnson releases a sigh as the album comes to an end on 'Iset-Ra'. A joyous melody leads to a bass solo where all the pressure of making an album and the realization of why people do it in the first place all gets released through his fingers and the wood and steel responds.
So follow your musicians closely and donate to get their albums released. It could mean the difference between getting them recorded or not."-Philip Coombs, FreeJazz-Stef
• Show Bio for Mark Whitecage
"Mark Whitecage is an American jazz reedist. Whitecage played in his father's family ensemble as early as age six. In the 1980s, he played with Gunter Hampel's Galaxy Dream Band, Jeanne Lee, and Saheb Sarbib. After touring solo in Europe in 1986, he put together two bands as a leader, Liquid Time and the Glass House Ensemble. In the 1990s, and his first release with Liquid Time was chosen by Cadence Magazine as one of the year's best albums. He worked in the Improvisers Collective from 1994, and began releasing albums on CIMP in 1996 Late in the 1990s he worked with Anthony Braxton, including in performances of Braxton's opera, Trillium R. He has also played with William Parker, Perry Robinson, Joe Fonda, Dominic Duval, Joe McPhee, and Steve Swell. He is married to clarinetist Rozanne Levine; they perform together with Perry Robinson in a trio called Crystal Clarinets."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Whitecage)
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• Show Bio for Steve Swell
"Born in Newark, NJ, Steve Swell has been an active member of the NYC music community since 1975. He has toured and recorded with many artists from mainstreamers such as Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich to so called outsiders as Anthony Braxton, Bill Dixon, Cecil Taylor and William Parker. He has over 40 CDs as a leader or co-leader and is a featured artists on more than 100 other releases. He runs workshops around the world and is a teaching artist in the NYC public school system focusing on special needs children.
Swell has worked on music transcriptions of the Bosavi tribe of New Guinea for MacArthur fellow, Steve Feld in 2000. His CD, "Suite For Players, Listeners and Other Dreamers" (CIMP) ranked number 2 in the 2004 Cadence Readers Poll. He has also received grants from USArtists International in 2006, MCAF (LMCC) awards in 2008 and 2013 and has been commissioned twice on the Interpretations Series at Merkin Hall in 2006 and at Roulette in 2012.
Steve was nominated for Trombonist of the Year 2008 & 2011 by the Jazz Journalists Association, was selected Trombonist of the Year 2008-2010 , 2012 and 2014-2015 by the magazine El Intruso of Argentina and received the 2008 Jubilation Foundation Fellowship Award of the Tides Foundation. Steve has also been selected by the Downbeat Critics Poll in the Trombone category each year from 2010-2016.
Steve is presently a teaching artist through the American Composers Orchestra, Healing Arts Initiative , Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center (Bronx), the Jazz Foundation of America and Leman Manhattan Preparatory School.
Steve was also awarded the 2014 Creative Curricula grant (LMCC) for the project: "Metamorphoses: Modern Mythology in Sound and Words" which was taught in a month long residency at Baruch College Campus High School in Manhattan."-Steve Swell Website (http://www.steveswell.com/SteveSwellBio.htm)
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• Show Bio for Tyshawn Sorey
"Tyshawn Sorey (born July 8, 1980 in Newark, New Jersey) is an American musician and composer who plays drum set, percussion, trombone and piano.
Since graduating from William Paterson University, Sorey has been a sought-after musician in many different musical idioms. He is both a performer and composer, and has had works reviewed in The Wire, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Modern Drummer and Down Beat. In August 2009, Sorey was given the opportunity to curate a month of performances at the Stone, a New York performance space owned by John Zorn. He was selected as an Other Minds 17 (2012).
Sorey recently completed a Master of Arts in composition at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. In the fall of 2011, he began pursuing doctoral work in composition at Columbia University.
To date, Sorey has released four albums as a leader: That/Not (2007, Firehouse 12 Records), Koan (2009, 482 Music), Oblique (2011, Pi Recordings) and Alloy (2014, Pi Recordings). He has recorded or performed with musicians including Wadada Leo Smith, Steve Coleman, Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Steve Lehman, Joey Baron, Muhal Richard Abrams, Pete Robbins, Vijay Iyer, Dave Douglas, Butch Morris and Sylvie Courvoisier, among many others."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyshawn_Sorey)
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Related Categories of Interest:
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
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Shipping Weight: 3.00 units
Quantity in Basket: None
Label: Not Two Records
Catalog ID: MW 889-2
Squidco Product Code: 16491
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold Foldover
Recorded by Tom Tedesco at Tedesco Studios.
Mark Whitecage-alto saxophone, clarinet
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1. Elephant March 8:47
2. Lost & Found (for Henry Grimes) 10:56
3. Disharmony in 5 Notes or Less 1:00
4. 60-66 11:09
5. Atonement 8:02
6. Iset-Ra 8:52