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Eva Novoa:
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Lopez Trio (Brandon Lopez / Steve Baczkowski / Gerald Cleaver):
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Bringing to ears a 2003 encounter in Chicago, IL between legendary violin improviser, conceptualist and writer Malcolm Goldstein and exploratory cello improviser Fred Lonberg-Holm, through two extended dialogs weaving their strings around each other and finding unusual intersections and unions, from rapid action to introspective beauty; unsettling and inspired. ... Click to View


Damon Smith / Louis Wall / NNN Cook / Michael William / Fred Tompkins:
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A dark album of sound art from the quintet of mostly St. Louis improvisers--Damon Smith, Louis Wall, NNN Cook, Michael Williams and noted flutist Fred Tompkins on two tracks--starting through shrouded percussion and unidentifiable sources, the group's sessions are edited into a cohesive album that takes its listeners on a unique journey of electronic and acoustic interaction. ... Click to View


Max Johnson :
When the Streets Were Quiet (New Focus Recordings)

Better known for his bass work with his own free jazz trio and quartet, or as a sideman for Simon Nabatov, Chris Pitsiokis, &c. this album reveals another facet to the musician, presenting a chamber music album of strings, reeds and piano, where his role as composer and conductor brings life to works with references to Messiaen & Kafka. ... Click to View


Leap of Faith:
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The core duet of the Boston-based free improvising ensemble Leap of Faith Orchestra (LOFO) of David Peck on reeds, winds & an amazing collection of percussive instruments and Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice are joined by keyboardist Eric Woods for an extended exploration adding unusual electronics to their typically acoustic sets for unexpected and remarkable sonic journeys. ... Click to View



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  Fred Moten / Brandon Lopez / Gerald Cleaver 

  (Relative Pitch) 


  
   review by Nick Ostrum
  2023-03-14
Fred Moten / Brandon Lopez / Gerald Cleaver:  (Relative Pitch)

"Art don't work for abolition
Art works for bosses like you and me."
-Fred Moten

So begins "the abolition of art, the abolition of human freedom, the abolition of you and me," the first track of Fred Moten, Brandon Lopez and Gerald Cleaver's self-titled 2022 release. It is a perfect entry point to what follows, as the three contort sounds and words in ways that are as powerful and perplexing as those first few lines. Abolition of what? Does "for" in the first line denote "towards the objective of," "in favor of" or "under"? Even once that meaning becomes clear in the second line, the pronouns dangle. Does art work for bosses as you and I do, or are we the bosses who create and deploy the art?

One could go through Fred Moten's poems line by line like this, as he wends partial pop culture reference into declamations of the military-prison-industrial complex. His verse is invariably potent and incisive. It is also calmly rhythmic. Moten's delivery rarely betrays emotion, at least through dynamic range, but lays an unembellished cadence with a control that brings all focus to the words, and pauses, rather than the volume or pitch. In a sense, the words speak more than the speaker. Behind him Brandon Lopez and Gerald Cleaver assume the collective role of laying waves of thrumming ambience, but also of prodding the pieces forward. And, at times they drift to the fore with a force and (a)rhythmicism that would stand even without Moten's interventions. They play with each other as much as they support Moten. The result is propulsive and dark.

At times, one expects to hear a sax or trombone cutting through the soundscape. But part of the strength lies in that very absence. The listener can focus on the deep tones of Lopez and Cleaver's loose rhythms. And of course, that means the listener can also home in on Moten, who takes on the front-man role, replacing melody with meter. And Moten is a hell of a poet. As pieces such as "a poem for black art" indicate he is steeped in the Black Arts movement and Amiri Baraka, and that influence comes through in his free-flowing aphorisms, his heavy use of alliteration and assonance and his paring New York School casualness with biting social observation and critiques of unbridled capitalism, consumerism, militarism, education, structural and physical violence, and much more. Despite any due homage, however, this is hardly Black Dada Nihilismus 2.0. (Admittedly, it is hard to listen to this without thinking of the New York Art Quartet and Amiri Baraka at certain intervals.) Rather, this is rooted in that tradition, but is also vitally and urgently contemporary, and something wholly its own. A must-have, as far as I am concerned.



Fred Moten / Brandon Lopez / Gerald Cleaver:
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