The first meeting of the trio of Nick Mazzarella (sax), Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten (double bass) & Avreeayl Ra (drums) performing live at Chicago's Constellation club in 2014, an adventurous and sophisticated album spanning three generations of free improvisation.
Mazzarella / Haker Flaten / Ra
Azimuth (Live at Constellation) [CASSETTE with download code]
Label: Astral Spirits
Released in: USA
"The first meeting recording live at Constellation in Chicago, IL one year ago in September 2014 of this excellent trio. 60+ minutes of pure free improv that finds each member of the trio venturing outside of their comfort zones.
When Ingebrigt initially gave us the recordings of this show he made a specific point to mention that Avreeayl is on fire...and indeed Avreeayl is quite animated, stretching into many different zones (and beyond) where the Phil Cohran/Sun Ra influences are quite apparent. But this is a TRIO recording and both Haker-Flaten & Mazzarella turn in masterful performances. Haker-Flaten as always knows when to turn on the power and when to lay back into the groove, always with a masterful command that shapes and prods the improv. Nick Mazzarella may be a (slightly) lesser-known name in free jazz circles but I'm sure that will change very shortly. Mazzarella has been tearing up the Chicago scene (playing with his own trio as well as Ken Vandermark's Audio One, Chicago Reed Quartet, and many many more) and is set to become one of the head honchos...Mazzarella's playing on the opening 30 minute epic "Vega" goes from measured tones to almost Roscoe Mitchell-esque runs by the end and all levels in between. Most of what we've heard from Nick has been in more compositional settings so it's extra exciting to hear him really stretch out around a world class free improv rhythm section.
I could go on and on and on about how much I love this tape...and how much I think these are 3 of the top improvisers around...but I'll spare us both. Listen below for yourself. This is not to be missed."-Astral Spirits
"Earlier this summer alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella celebrated the release of his trio album Ultraviolet (International Anthem) with a performance at Constellation. The group-with bassist Anton Hatwich and drummer Frank Rosaly-has been the one that Mazzarella has played with most often during the last half-decade, and its third release is also its strongest. On Monday the trio plays a free concert at the Empty Bottle with Health & Beauty and Marrow-once again celebrating the release of the new recording (this particular evening fetes the emergence of the vinyl version of the album, so I guess the earlier show was just for the CD).
But Mazzarella has a newer trio recording that's just dropped. Last September he corralled bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (a former Chicagoan now based in Austin, Texas) and drummer Avreaayl Ra together for an improvised set at Constellation, which Mazzarella recorded. The performance is now available from the increasingly impressive Austin-based cassette label Astral Spirits, and it offers a nice contrast to the concise, swing-driven approach of Mazzarella's outfit with Hatwich and Rosaly. The tape Azimuth (Live at Constellation) features three lengthy group improvisations all marked by a fiery intensity, with the front man's playing less indebted to his usual Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane influences.
Side A of the tape consists entirely of "Vega," a 30-minute jam that ebbs and flows with an organic sense of development-grooves quicken and release, as do volume and energy. Although the musicians don't work together often, they're very much locked in here, responding to one another as an ensemble that rises and falls as one. That's not to say that each player isn't afforded lots of space to make individual statements-there are plenty of extended breakout passages, including an especially effective bass-drum duet halfway through "Vega"-but ultimately what makes the work most compelling is how collective it is. Below you can check out an eight-minute excerpt from "Vega." The trio has no Chicago shows on the calendar, but here's hoping they get to celebrate a cassette release soon, let alone a digital download."-Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader
"Alto saxophonist and composer Nick Mazzarella has been active as a bandleader, sideman, and presenter in Chicago's jazz, free jazz, improvised music, and rock scenes since 2002, and maintains a continuous performance schedule encompassing a variety of musical contexts. His eponymous trio, quartet, and quintet are the primary platforms for his endeavors as a composer and leader, while his notable work as a sideman includes collaborations with: Ken Vandermark (Audio One; Chicago Reed Quartet), Rob Mazurek (Alternate Moon Cycles; Exploding Star Orchestra), Frank Rosaly (Green and Gold), Dana Hall (Black Fire; Polyglot; Dana Hall/Nick Mazzarella Duo), Avreeayl Ra (Mazzarella/Håker Flaten/Ra; Ha-Ra-Lo-Ma), Fred Lonberg-Holm (Ha-Ra-Lo-Ma), Mike Reed (Sound of the City Workshop), Devin Hoff (Bastet), Cameron Pfiffner, (Sabertooth; Marco Polo), Mars Williams (NRG Ensemble; Chicago Reed Quartet), Mikel Avery, Bill MacKay (Darts and Arrows), Wayne Montana and Damon Locks (The Eternals' Espiritu Zombi), and Angela James.
In addition to working as a performer and composer, Mazzarella is also a music presenter. He is the creator and organizer of the Anagram Series, which hosts weekly performances of jazz and improvised music at Elastic Arts Foundation in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood. The mission of the series is to bring diverse elements of the Chicago music scene into close proximity in order to inspire new collaborations and creative growth within the musical community, and to foster programming that reflects the full variety of thoughtful Chicago artists working in modern music. The series' concerts feature both developing and established musicians and composers, serving as a haven for the incubation of new ideas, as well as a platform for the presentation of mature work."-Nick Mazzarella website
• Show Bio for Ingebrigt Haker Flaten
"Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (b. 1971, Oppdal) - studied Jazz at the Music Consevatory in Trondheim, Norway (1992-1995) under the tutelage of bassplayer Odd Magne Gridseth.
When one listens to the great bassists in modern jazz history, a striking thing (though it may not be immediately arrived at) is that greatness is reached through open-mindedness and diversity. William Parker, Malachi Favors Maghostut, Peter Kowald, Wilbur Ware, Bertram Turetsky, Buell Neidlinger - all of these bass players have embraced a lifestyle of playing all sorts of music and the breadth of each musicians' technique is a testament to those experiences. Norwegian bassist and composer Ingebrigt Håker Flaten is also a musician whose experience is both geographical and aesthetic. While the fertile Scandinavian new jazz scene offered a vast amount of opportunities to work in different bands with musicians whose concepts are as individual as the grains in a reed, Flaten has found home and on-the-bandstand education in places as far flung as Chicago and his current residence Austin, Texas.
A muscular player whose tone and attack run the gamut from Paul Chambers to Buschi Niebergall, his sense of both openness and control serves ensembles as diverse as The Thing, Free Fall, Atomic, Scorch Trio and the Kornstad/Håker Flaten Duo. In addition to his own Chicago Sextet and Austin-centric Young Mothers, Flaten has also recorded and performed with Frode Gjerstad, Dave Rempis, Bobby Bradford, the AALY Trio, Ken Vandermark, Stephen Gauci, Tony Malaby, Daniel Levin, Dennis Gonzalez and numerous others. Flaten studied at the Conservatory in Trondheim (1992-1995), turning professional shortly afterward, yet his hunger to play in new situations with new musicians - schooled or amateur, frequently recorded or just starting out - puts him in a rare class, that of a truly broad-minded artist. That mettle has served him well, living and developing the music under his own steam and drawing from influences as diverse as Derek Bailey, George Russell, Chris McGregor, filmmakers Ingmar Bergman, contemporary pop melody and gritty punk music as well as everyday sights and sounds.
There is a calmness and self-assuredness that imbues all great artists, in that the diversity of their work comes with very little ego. Flaten's artistry is often in collective, leaderless ensembles and in fact, following a decade of professional musicianship it wasn't until 2004 that his leader-debut was released - Quintet (Jazzland, followed in 2008 by The Year of the Boar, and a Sextet recording is upcoming). This latter fact is partly due to the necessity of a copacetic situation - in an interview in 2010 with the Austinist he noted that "I use people where I'm located. It's inspiring to have your own band to write for, but you have to make sure that people feel free and not limited by the music; the compositions should lead the way to a player's open mind, and that is a challenge." Certainly not every bandleader/composer thinks this way.
In 2011, he formed another ensemble, The Young Mothers, which includes drummers Stefan Gonzalez (Dallas) and Frank Rosaly (Chicago), trumpeter/poet/rapper Jawaad Taylor (New York), saxophonist Jason Jackson (Houston), and Jonathan Horne (Austin) on guitar. It's a group of varying levels and influences and as it grows organically, will be another excellent lens through which to view Flaten's aesthetic, philosophy, and musicianship. The next few years see him in a position where established ensembles can steep and spread their influence, while experimenting with and nurturing a wide range of new relationships."-Ingebrigt Haker Flaten Website (http://www.ingebrigtflaten.com/about-me/)
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Label: Astral Spirits
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Record live at Constellation in Chicago, Illinois, in September 2014 by David Zuchowski.
Nick Mazzarella-alto saxophone
Ingebrigt Haker Flaten-bass
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