The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Okkyung Lee:
Na-Reul (나를 ) (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Extremely personal and passionate, cellist Okkyung Lee recorded this album after separation from her instrument for months as she traveled to Korea to be with her dying father during pandemic; the 9 pieces are layered with strings, instrument sounds, voice and with profound timing, creating an intensely beautiful album reflecting anguish and loss of the time. ... Click to View

Joe McPhee:
Route 84 Quarantine Blues (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

One of Corbett vs. Dempsey's Black Cross Solo Sessions, Joe McPhees approaches his album recorded during pandemic lockdown in his home through tenor sax, voice, water, objects and field recordings, the center of the album a cycle of compositions by Charles Mingus, alongside works by Carla Bley and influences by Joni Mitchell, and a virtual symphony of saxes on the title track. ... Click to View

Ken Vandermark:
The Field Within a Line (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

One of Corbett vs. Dempsey's Black Cross Solo Sessions, Ken Vandermark recorded these twelve succinct, insightful and technically superb solo recordings at his home during pandemic lockdowns, part of new book for compositions for solo reed instruments, each piece dedicated to an artist across multiple disciplines, including Joe McPhee, Anthony Braxton, Samuel Beckett, &c. ... Click to View

Moreno Veloso:
Every Single Night (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Brazilian singer Moreno Veloso recorded these songs from a songbook developed from his favorite artists, inspired while singing his children to sleep during pandemic, selecting lyrical songs that he performs accompanying himself on acoustic nylon-string guitar, recording the album in a corner of his living room, giving the album a beautiful intimacy and sincerity. ... Click to View

Paul Dunmall / Jonathan Impett / Andrew Ball / Paul Rogers / Phillip Gibbs:
Undistracted (FMR)

A 2004 quintet recording from Victoria Rooms in Bristol with the core of long-time collaborators Paul Dunmall on tenor sax, Paul Rogers on bass and Philip Gibbs, performing with two improvisers also well known for their work in compositional forms--Jonathan Impett on trumpet and Andrew Ball on piano--bringing unique perspectives to their far-ranging, advanced improvisation. ... Click to View

Paul Dunmall / Simon Thoumire / John Edwards / Phillip Gibbs:
Brothers In Music (FMR)

2021 reissue of this 2004 release on the DUNS label bringing together a uniquely voice quartet with Paul Dunmall on tenor & soprano saxophones, virtuoso concertina player Simon Thoumire, John Edwards on double bass and Philip Gibbs on guitar, with both Dunmall & Thoumire performing on bagpipes on two tracks; a welcome reissue to a distinctive and thought provoking album. ... Click to View

Theresa Wong:
Venice Is a Fish (Euphorbia Records)

Five pieces composed as a diary manifest in song from Bay Area cellist and singer Theresa Wong, reflecting on her time in Venice through labyrinthine melodic and rhythmic pathways, adding piano and the Japanese 5-string tonkori instrument to add exotic flavor to each eclectic song, blurring genres as Wong's impressions and expression lets each song lead where it must. ... Click to View

Udo Schindler / Wilbert De Joode:
Participation & Interplay [LowToneStudies] (FMR)

Concentrating on the lower end of their instruments, Udo Schindler and double bassist Wilbert de Joode improvise live at DasKihotzky_wagnisARt and at the 99th Salon für Klang+Kunstover in Munich, for 10 parts of their "[LowToneStudies]", Schindler performing on bass clarinet, f-tuba and tubax (a contrabass saxophone), occasionally complementing their lower end with soprano sax. ... Click to View

Darius Jones:
Raw Demoon Alchemy (A Lone Operation) [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (Northern Spy)

Drawing on compositions from black artists who have created something uniquely their own--Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, Roscoe Mitchell, Georgia Anne Muldrow--alto saxophonist Darius Jones pulls from the depths of emotion and vulnerability in five solo tracks recorded in Portland, deeply felt blues reflecting the black experience in America and the pain of isolation. ... Click to View

Darius Jones:
Raw Demoon Alchemy (A Lone Operation) [PINK VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (Northern Spy)

Drawing on compositions from black artists who have created something uniquely their own--Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, Roscoe Mitchell, Georgia Anne Muldrow--alto saxophonist Darius Jones pulls from the depths of emotion and vulnerability in five solo tracks recorded in Portland, deeply felt blues reflecting the black experience in America and the pain of isolation. ... Click to View

Wadada Smith Leo Great Lakes Quartet:
The Chicago Symphonies [4 CD BOX SET] (Tum)

Inspired by Don Cherry's 1966 Symphony For Improvisers and intended to illustrate the profound cultural contributions Chicagoans & Midwesterners have made, trumpeter Leo Smith's presents four expansive symphonies, three performed with Henry Threadgill (sax & flute), John Lindberg (bass) and Jack DeJohnette (drums), the fourth with Jonathon Haffner (sax) plus Smith, Lindberg and DeJohnette. ... Click to View

Wadada Smith Leo / Vijay Iyer / Jack Dejohnette :
A Love Sonnet For Billie Holiday (Tum)

One of two albums marking trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith's 80th birthday, and showing his creative and technical skills still in peak form, here in a trio for the first time uniting independent collaborators, pianist & keyboardist Vijay Iyer and drummer Jack DeJohnette, in compositions from each of the performers plus one collective improvisation. ... Click to View

Sten Sandell / Lisa Ullen:
Double Music (Clean Feed)

The first duo album by pianists Sten Sandell and Lisa Ullén, recorded in their home country of Sweden, performing eight freely improvised piano works which include the two-part "Double Music" and two-part "Onyx", each recording contrasting complex interplay of discord and harmony with beautiful passages of introspection and intellectual depth; a remarkable merging of masterful talent. ... Click to View

Friends & Neighbors (Roligheten / Johansson / Gronberg / Rune Strom / Ostvang):
The Earth Is # (Clean Feed)

Referencing 60s free jazz (the band's name is from an Ornette Coleman album) and structuring their tunes with melodic heads that develop into intricate structures giving the players room for impressive soloing, in the 5th album from the Scandinavian quintet of Andre Roligheten (winds), Thomas Johansson (trumpets), Oscar Gronberg (piano), Jon Rune Strom (bass), and Tollef Ostvang (drums). ... Click to View

Crazy Doberman:
"Everyone Is Rolling Down A Hill" ... [VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

The Indiana collective Crazy Doberman in a 15-performer configuration including core members Tim Gick and Drew Davis, merging jazz and indescribable approaches to free improvisation with a mix of acoustic & electronic instruments, building their pieces from mysteriously cantankerous rumination to ecstatic grooves and much in-between. ... Click to View

Jerome Bryerton / Damon Smith :
There Must be a Reason for Generating Sounds... [CD + BOOKMARK] (Balance Point Acoustics)

From the late 1990s to the early 2000s, drummer Jerome Bryterton & double bassist Damon Smith toured & recorded with legendary German multi-reedist Wolfgang Fuchs, who was a great influence on both musicians, here presenting a tribute to the late improviser through 11 recordings titled with quotes from Fuchs, and released with a bookmark from an improvisation workshop in Oakland. ... Click to View

New Old Luten Quintet:
Big Pauer (Euphorium)

Opening with a powerful solo set from pianist Elan Pauer the album, released on the occasion of Pauer's 80the birthday, then reveals itself to be the incredible free jazz quintet of of Pauer, Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky on clarinet & shepherds' flutes, both John Edwards & Robert Landfermann on double bass, and Christian Lillinger on drums & percussion. ... Click to View

Block Ensemble (Ratkje / Joh / Pernille / Ingvaldsen / Rasmussent ...):
Hugs and Bugs (Clean Feed)

Conceived by saxophonist Kirstoffer Berre Alberts and Lasse Marhaug, who composed this large acoustic work for strings, percussion, blowing instruments, pipes (organ and accordion) and vocals, soliciting solo recordings created in isolation during the pandemic which they layered and blocked in the studio to create these two remarkable works of eccentric timbre, motion & pitch. ... Click to View

Ritual Habitual (Marogna / Almeida / Ernsting):
Pagan Chant (Clean Feed)

Presented as a a tribute to past jazz masters John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Don Cherry and Charlie Haden, Rotterdam's Ritual Habitual trio led by double bassist Gonçalo Almeida with drummer Philipp Ernsting and Riccardo Maronga on tenor sax, bass clarinet & synthesizers, create a sense of ritual through deep repetition of modern creative jazz rooted in free jazz tradition. ... Click to View

Steve Swell's Systems For Total Immersion:
Hommage A Luciano Berio (Silkheart)

After Bartok and Messiaen, trombonist & composer Steve Swell takes his sextet with Marty Ehrlich (winds), Sam Newsome (sax), Jim Pugliese (marimba), Ellen Christi (voice) and Gerald Cleaver (drums) into an exploration of Italian composer Luciano Berio with a diverse set of works reflecting Berio's vast curiosity and ovouer; a spectacular collection from a fantastic band. ... Click to View

William Parker / Patricia Nicholson:
No Joke! (ESP Disk)

An unapologetically political album from double bassist William Parker in collaboration with poet Patricia Nicholson, confronting injustice and inequality through spoken word set over Parker's compositions, performed with James Brandon Lewis on tenor saxophone, Devin Brahja Waldman on alto saxophone, Francisco Mela on drums, vocals, Melanie Dyer on viola and Gerald Cleaver on drums. ... Click to View

Charles Noyes K. / Elliott Sharp:
Besotted (zOaR Records)

A series of collaborative electracoustic improvisations recorded remotely during the pandemic by long-time associates, electric guitarist Charles K. Noyes and multi-instrumentalist Elliott Sharp, here performing on arches h line (a 9-string double neck instrument), violinoid, triple course bass pantar, analog synthesizers, sax & bass clarinet. ... Click to View

Futari (Satoko Fujii / Taiko Saito):
Underground (Libra)

Pandemic restrictions having cancelled their European tour, the Futari duo of pianist Satoko Fujii and vibraphonist Taiko Saito chose instead to develop a new collaborative album of improvisations exchanged by sound file, each intently listening to the other's recordings, their care and pensive responses creating an astounding and sublime album of stunningly beautiful music. ... Click to View

Dan Phillips / Hamid Drake:
L'Avventura Di Vivere (Lizard Breath)

The second duo collaboration of Chicago percussionist Hamid Drake (Fred Anderson, Peter Brotzmann, DKV Trio, &c) and guitarist Dan Phillips (Chicago Edge Ensemble, Quartet Next, Dan Phillips Trio, Dan Phillips Quartet), recording in the studio for 11 improvisations that present a variety of moods and intensity, in textures and melodies from minimal to intricate interplay. ... Click to View

Big Bad Brotzmann Trio (feat John Edwards / John Eckhardt):
Hot Ass / Sexy Legs [3'' MINI CD] (Euphorium)

Two recordings from naTo in Leipzig, Germany, the first an energetic free jazz romp from the Big Bad Brötzmann Trio of Peter Brötzmann on tenor sax & taragato, Oliver Schwerdt on piano & percussion and Christian Lillinger on drums & percussion; then a furtively powerful double bass duo between John Edwards and John Eckhardt, a tour de force of extended technique and deep sound. ... Click to View

Matthew Shipp:
Codebreaker (Tao Forms)

An unusually contemplative solo record from New York pianist Matthew Shipp, belying the intricately subtle density of his inventive approach to solo piano improvisation, with an innate lyricism through unusual motive and direction; perhaps one of the most succinct and concise albums Shipp has released, and a beautiful reflection of his creative intentions. ... Click to View

Darius Jones:
Raw Demoon Alchemy (A Lone Operation) (Northern Spy)

Drawing on compositions from black artists who have created something uniquely their own--Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, Roscoe Mitchell, Georgia Anne Muldrow--alto saxophonist Darius Jones pulls from the depths of emotion and vulnerability in five solo tracks recorded in Portland, deeply felt blues reflecting the black experience in America and the pain of isolation. ... Click to View

Various Artists:
CICP Collaborative Recordings vol. 1 (Habitable Records)

An introduction to Habitable Records, initiated by members of the Composers and Improvisers Community Project led by Argentinian guitarist Javier Subatin, their work crossing composed and improvised boundaries, here in 18 duos and trios including work by Zé Alemeida, Pedro Melo Alves, Killick!, Federico Calcagno, Luis Figueiredo, Samuel Gapp, Javier Subatin, &c. ... Click to View

Herr Borelgrip (Pierre Borel / Joel Grip):
The Great European Stool Sample [2 LPs] (Umlaut Records)

The first album from the amalgamated band name Herr Borrelgrip, a play on the names of alto saxophonist Pierre Borel and double bassist Joel Grip, developing their work in Stockholm, Berlin and Paris starting in 2008 as a performing duo, heard here in a beautiful gatefold double LP studio release with an extensive LP-sized booklet of text in French and images. ... Click to View

Patricia Bosshard :
Onceim-CoO (Potlatch)

Two major works of evolving acoustic soundscape from Swiss violinist & composer Patricia Bosshard realized by the 27-member Orchestra des Nouvelles Creations, which includes Bosshard, Stephane Rives, Bertrand Denzler, &c.; "Sillon" employs a percussive pulse over 27 independently transforming grooves; "Reflets" a harmonic composition for bowed strings, including three double basses. ... Click to View

  •  •  •     Join Our Mailing List!

The Squid's Ear
Facebook: Squidco Sales

Heard In

Reviews of artist releases:
cd's, books, magazines, &c.

  Steve Swell 
  Music for Six Musicians: Hommage a Olivier Messiaen  

   review by Massimo Ricci
Steve Swell: Music for Six Musicians: Hommage a Olivier Messiaen (Silkheart)

On a first glance at the title we're automatically reminded of a milestone of minimalism by another famous Steve; but there is nothing in this work by Steve Swell that can be reported on as "minimalist". Rightly applauded as a virtuoso trombonist, the man is also a discerning composer, this CD fully supporting our assumption. Picking Olivier Messiaen as the subject of a tribute is in itself a brave move; assembling a quintet of top-notch instrumentalists to concretize the sterling configurations and the spontaneous germinations implied by a partially notated score might even represent a danger, all the more in a live context. One can't completely manage the "ego factor" in a grouping of talents, and we have had our fair shares of big-named disorganization hidden under the umbrella of some sort of prestigious "project". However as Stephen Rush correctly writes in the liner notes these artists are "talking at once, but listen". Difficult to ask for more if the outcome is on such a level of complexity and intensity.

Let's name the players, then. Besides the principal on trombone and aerophone we have Jason Kao Hwang (violin, viola, electronics), Tomas Ulrich (cello), Jim Pugliese (drums, percussion), Rob Brown (alto sax) and Robert Boston (piano, organ). The opus comprises five movements, but make no mistake: there are no actual breathers for unequipped audiences. This is not music to use as a backcloth for conversation; it requires the ability to keep parallel focuses on diverse courses over an extended period. You must soak up the multifarious rhythmic structures, the outpourings distinguishing an often bewildering counterpoint, the performers' individual idioms, the shifts between sonic typologies. It takes a moment to enter the "superficial pronouncement area" when the brain gets shut in front of something not grasped and, for that reason, disparaged according to a rigid code of interpretation. In other words, what cannot be instantly classified is doomed to the oblivion of the aurally restricted.

Music For Six Musicians will not end like that. Several flashes of veritable acoustic enlightenment constitute the reward for the scrupulous study of its implications, for Swell carved a niche of uniqueness on the wall that separates modern chamber from cultivated improvisation. I could churn out pictorial descriptions that would waste both my time and yours, but let's leave it at this: when conscious beings are entertaining a frank discussion around certain coordinates, the most intelligent attitude for a newcomer is sitting quietly, listen silently, and learn things to hold within for the days requiring a bigger dose of inner strength. If you are looking for "erudite gibberish" materials, turn the wheel and step on the gas pedal: we're speaking seriousness over here.

Steve Swell: Music for Six Musicians: Hommage a Olivier Messiaen
Is On Sale at Squidco!

Comments and Feedback:

The Squid's Ear presents
reviews about releases
sold at
written by
independent writers.


Recent Selections @ Squidco:

Steve Swell's
Systems For
Total Immersion:
Hommage A Luciano Berio

Eliane Radigue:
Opus 17
[2 CDs]
(Important Records)

Patricia Bosshard:

Futari (
Satoko Fujii /
Taiko Saito):

New Old Luten Septet:

John Edwards /
N.O. Moore /
Eddie Prevost /
Alan Wilkinson:
(577 Records)

Joe McPhee /
Michael Bisio /
Fred Lonberg-Holm /
Juma Sultan:
The Sweet Spot

Will Guthrie:
People Pleaser 2

Evan Parker /
John Edwards /
Tony Marsh:
Medway Blues

Alex Zethson
Some Of Them
Were Never
(Relative Pitch)

Assif Tsahar /
William Parker /
Hamid Drake:
In Between
The Tumbling
(Hopscotch Records)

New Old Luten Quintet:

Joao Lencastre
Communion (
Lencastre /
Cirera /
Toscano /
Lackner /
Fernrandes /
Branco /
Hasselberg /
Unlimited Dreams
(Clean Feed)

Federico Calcagno /
Stefano Grosso /
Filippo Rinaldo:
(Habitable Records)

Morton Feldman (
Judith Wegmann /
Andreas Kunz):
For John Cage
[2 CDs]
(ezz-thetics by
Hat Hut Records Ltd)

Liz Allbee:
(Relative Pitch)

Ballrogg (
Ellerhusen-Holm /
Arntzen /
Rolling Ball
(Clean Feed)

Who Trio (
Wintsch /
Hemingway /
(Clean Feed)

Daniel Carter /
Ayumi Ishito /
Eric Plaks /
Zach Swanson /
Jon Panikkar:
Open Question
Vol. 1
(577 Records)

Paula Shocron /
William Parker /
Pablo Diaz :
El Templo
(Astral Spirits)

Click here to
advertise with
The Squid's Ear

The Squid's Ear pays its writers.
Interested in becoming a reviewer?

The Squid's Ear is the companion magazine to the online music shop Squidco !

  Copyright © Squidco. All rights reserved. Trademarks. (16649)