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Crossing styles, generations and approaches to improvisations, multi-reedist and composer Ned Rothenberg's quartet of Rothenberg on clarinets & alto sax, Sylvie Courvoisier on piano, Mary Halvorson on guitar & effects and Tomas Fujiwara on drums perform five Rothenberg compositions and one by Rothenberg & Courvoisier of spectacular timbral, rhythmic and melodic intersections. ... Click to View

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Albert Ayler (incl. Milford Graves, Cecil Taylor, Jimmy Lyons, Sunny Murray, &c):
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Bill Evans (Evans, Hall, Peacock, Motian, Israels, Bunker):
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Scott Amendola / Henry Kaiser / Michael Manring:
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Mars Williams / Vasco Trilla:
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Tony Oxley / Stefan Holker:
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Armonicord (Querlier / Minor / Houari / Traindl):
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Four free players from the assertive history of French free jazz--Jean Querlier on alto saxophone & soprano oboe, Jouk Minor on baritone & sopranino saxophones, Rachid Houari (the original drummer for Gong) on drums and Joseph Traindl on trombone--are heard in this exceptional and determined set performing two compositions by Jouk Minor at the 1st Massy Independent Festival in 1975. ... Click to View

Thanos Chrysakis / Chris Cundy / Peer Schlechta / Ove Volquartz:
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The follow-up to Music for Two Organs and Two Bass Clarinets, combining the collective work of clarinetists Chris Cundy, (bass clarinets, soprano ocarina) & Ove Volquartz (bass clarinets), Thanos Chrysakis (chamber organ & voice) and Peer Schlechta (pipe organ), recorded in the natural resonance of the Neustadter Kirche church in Hofgeismar, Germany. ... Click to View

Catherine Lamb / Kristofer Svensson:
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Butcher / Prevost:
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Long-time collaborators and iconoclastic improvisers, drummer Eddie Prévost and saxophonist John Butcher, met at All Hallows Church, in High Laver, Essex in 2023, using the natural ambience of the space to capture these three improvisations, Prévost playing primarily on a drum kit and both in a more jazz-oriented sax and drum duo, extended by both players' exceptional technique. ... Click to View

Charbin / Prevost:
The Cry of a Dove Announcing Rain (Two Afternoon Concerts at Cafe OTO) (Matchless)

Two unfolding, extended sets from a 2022 concert at Cafe OTO by AMM legendary percussionist Eddie Prévost and French pianist based in London, Marjolain Charbin, the pianist playing inside and out her of instrument augmented by objects, Prévost creating sonic environments through cymbal bowing and scraping, as the duo evolve into high motion and withdraw into suspenseful beauty. ... Click to View

Eddie Prevost / NO Moore / Henry Kaiser / Binker Golding / Olie Brice:
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Jessica Pavone:
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With a septet of women improvisers and contemporary performers, composer and violinist Jessica Pavone's long-form collective improv compositions are titled after innovations made by women throughout history to circumvent obstructions to their freedoms, revealed through string and bassoon orchestration that balances harmony, dissonance, drone and disruptive experimentation. ... Click to View

ZYFT (Felixbrodt / Taubenfeld / Zwerver):
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The sophomore release for the acoustic free improvising Amsterdam trio of Ziv Taubenfeld on bass clarinet, Henk Zwerver on guitar, and Maya Felixbrodt on viola, upping the intensity in a set of abstract improvisations of an active nature using unorthodox and extended techniques; upbeat and often exciting collective discourse that leads to great moments of individual expression. ... Click to View

Ernesto Rodrigues / Nuno Torres / Guilherme Rodrigues / Eric Bauer / Stephen Flinn:
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Junji Hirose / Kazuo Imai / Darren Moore:
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The catalyst for this album is Australian drummer based in Singapore Darren Moore, whose 2022 tour of Japan took him to Tokyo where he performed with legendary Japanese free improvisers, Kazuo Imai on electric guitar and Junji Hirose on tenor saxophone, this album recorded in GOK Studio, the session anything but Quiet!!!, but definitely energetically charged and assertive. ... Click to View

Jurg Frey / Apartment House:
String Trio (Another Timbre)

Reworking a piece for string trio originally commissioned by the Concertgebouw Brugge and premiered by the Goeyvaerts Trio as part of the 2019 SLOW Festival, this new version expands on the original composition to bring elegant calmness and clarity to the work, performed by UK's Apartment House members Mira Benjamin on violin, Bridget Carey on viola and Anton Lukoszevieze on cello. ... Click to View

Toshimaru Nakamura / David Lee Myers:
Elements (Surface World)

Two like-minded electronic sound & feedback artists, David Lee Myers, aka Arcane Device from NYC and Toshimaru Nakamura from Japan, use feedback matrices & modular electronics (Myers) and No-input Mixing Board (Nakamura) in a remote collaboration of alien overlays, sonic extensions and disruptive digressions through 12 complex and varying compositions. ... Click to View

Phillip Gayle:
Mammoth Flower (Public Eyesore)

A psychedelic set of recordings based around the guitar work of Philip Gayle, improvised, recorded, and layered into diverse experiments in sound and performed on banjo, bass, cello, door, guitars, mandolin, percussion, piano, toy piano, voice, ukulele and waterphone, with guests including saxophonist Shogo Ohshima and vocalists Shizka Ueda, Omusubisan and Fuuchan. ... Click to View

No Nation Trio (Nuno / Faustino / Valinho):
Habitation (Phonogram Unit)

Presenting concentrative and contemplative free improvisation from the Portuguese trio of Jorge Nuno on acoustic guitar, Hernâni Faustino on double bass and João Valinho on drums & percussion, recording in the studio for a 4-part and cohevise set of improvisation through muscular plucking, rich bowing, abstracted string progressions and mysterious drums & percussion; fascinating. ... Click to View

Myra Melford's Fire And Water Quintet:
Hear The Light Singing High (RogueArt)

Drawing inspiration from the same set of Cy Twombly drawings as her previous release, For The Love Of Fire And Water, and with nearly the same ensemble — Myra Melford on piano, Mary Halvorson on guitar, Ingrid Laubrock on tenor saxophones, Tomeka Reid on cello and here Lesley Mok on drums — Melford presents five brightly original and sophisticated compositions. ... Click to View

Zoh Amba / Chris Corsano / Bill Orcutt:
The Flower School (Palilalia)

An enthusiastic and well-balanced studio recording in San Francisco from the trio of Zoh Amba on tenor saxophone, Chris Corsano on drums and Bill Orcutt on electric guitar, following Amba & Corsano's duo tour of the West Coast; this is a first meeting between Amba & Orcutt, who perform as a duo on two tracks, including a guitar duo with Amba on acoustic. ... Click to View

Art Ensemble of Chicago:
Tutankhamun [VINYL] (Org Music)

Reissuing and remastering this exceptional 1969 album from avant-garde jazz pioneers Art Ensemble of Chicago as Lester Bowie (trumpets, horns & bass drum), Joseph Jarman saxophones, reeds, winds keys), Roscoe Mitchell (saxophones, reeds, winds, sirens, bells & whistle), and Malachi Favors (bass, banjo & sitar), adding two bonus tracks: "Tthinitthedalen" Parts 1 & 2. ... Click to View

Jose Lencastre (Lencastre / Zingaro / Lai / Almeida / Sousa):
Common Ground (Phonogram Unit)

An exquisite album of chamber-oriented free improvisation that naturally merges contemporary and jazz forms while underpinned by swinging grooves, each player expressing passion and abstraction to create unique sonic combinations, from Jose Lencastre on alto saxophone, Carlos Zingaro on violin, Clara Lai on piano, Goncalo Almeida on double bass and Joao Sousa on drums. ... Click to View

Teufelmuzik (Creative Sources)

Portugal's suspenseful reductionist improvising ensemble, blending acoustic and electronic instruments in delicately detailed motion, heard in this live recording at SMUP in Parede from Ernesto Rodrigues (viola), Nuno Torres (sax), Bruno Parrinha (bass clarinet), Luisa Goncalves (piano), Flak (electric gutiar), Joao Madeira (bass), Carlos Santos (analog synth) and Jose Oliveira (percussion). ... Click to View

Maria Valencia:
Compendio de Alofonias Abisales (Relative Pitch)

Part of Relative Pitch's extraordinary solo series, fascinatingly creative improviser from Bogota, Colombia, multi-reedist Maria Valencia, was inspired by old naturalist manuals, imagining these 16 succinct improvisations where each piece reveals moments of nature in locations between the town of Sutatausa (Colombia) and the mountains of Banff (Canada). ... Click to View

Jean-Marc Foussat / Urs Leimgruber / Carlos "Zingaro":
L'Aile D'Icare (Fou Records)

A remarkable journey in free improvisation and free form electroacoustic improv from the trio of Jean-Marc Foussat on synth & effected voice, Urs Leimgruber on soprano & tenor saxophones and Carlos Zingaro on violin, three masterful improvisers who employ unusual sonic palettes and remarkable technique in a carefully controlled conversation drawing on diverse styles. ... Click to View

Merche Blasco / Lucie Vitkova:
Anette [2 CDs] (XI Records)

An unusual pairing of effected accordion and a 3D printer from Czech accordionist living in NY, Lucie Vitkova, also performing on harmonica, Korg Volca Bass and Moog, and NY multimedia artist Merch Blasco, the album titled for the name of Blasco's 3D printer "Anette", which also printed the thimble-microphones she wears on her fingers to capture parts of this performance. ... Click to View

Seamus Cater:
A History of Musical Pitch (Another Timbre)

Investigating the experimental legacy of Victorian polymath Alexander J. Ellis, author of the 1880 paper, The History of Musical Pitch, composer Seamus Cater uses 74 tuning forks tuned to represent Elliss research of just ratios of 480Hz, in three compositions focusing on the most consonant tones of the system, and balancing them through minimalist chamber work from a 7-piece ensemble. ... Click to View

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  Steve Swell's Fire Into Music 
  For Jemeel: Fire from the Road (2004-2005)  

   review by Marc Medwin
Steve Swell's Fire Into Music: For Jemeel: Fire from the Road (2004-2005) (RogueArt)

Several years ago, the New York Art Quartet received a lavish box set treatment, considerably augmenting their slim discography with hours of live material. It was a revelatory release, and I'm reminded of it by this new three-disc set from Steve Swell's wonderful group Fire Into Music. Saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc's 2021 passing stalled the long-awaited sequel to the group's sole studio album, Swimming in a Galaxy of Good Will and Sorrow, also on Rogue Art and released in 2007. These unfortunate circumstances make the release of such beautifully recorded performances all the more poignant.

Fire into Music was a nexus of sorts, a cross-fertilization of intersecting free music scenes that can be heard on these lengthy tracks anticipating that 2007 studio effort. The opening melody of "Improvised Music at the El Dorato" is both linear and fragmented, conjoining New York and Chicago aesthetics in a winning blend that continues as William Parker and Hamid Drake augment Swell and Moondoc's effortless counterpoint. That melodic interplay also graces the two versions of Moondoc's "Junka Nu." The second, recorded at the Guelph Jazz Festival in 2005, unfolds with a slow-burning affect that works particularly well, from the horns' hushed entrance via a slowly climbing dynamic leading into the simmering and then boiling groove laid down by Parker and Drake.

This is where things get tricky for the poor scribe. Anything I describe would entail the encapsulation of a moment, an absolute injustice to music whose entire existence hinges on the minute in the infinite and vice versa. How is it possible to depict in mere verbiage the joy, the celebration of freedom in glorious fragments unified by gradually shifting tempo and volume, pervading each track? It would be easy to posit that there's a load of room for soloing, as with Drake's blistering solo in that second version of "Junka Nu," which emerges from and returns to a funky groove only that drum-and-bass pair could master. Rather than attempt description of how Drake manages to maintain it while stretching it nearly beyond recognition, it may be best simply to cite the audience reaction as evidence of serious swing in pan-genre celebration. While each solo is wonderful, memory keeps tossing back to me those moments in which the players achieve a terrifying synchronicity, like the tail-chasing elucidation in "Swimming in a Galaxy of Good Will and sorrow." About 8:53 in, Moondoc and Swell are hovering around the middle register, buzzing around it as around something inexpressibly sweet, when Drake lets go on kick and cymbals, anchoring the whole thing and blasting Moondoc into the sinewy upper registers of time, memory and line so far beyond cliché! Listeners to this music wait for moments like that, coveting their transcendence and anticipating the next infiltration of infinity into a fully charged moment of shared creation, but how does Moondoc get that sound? It penetrates, but it's smooth and sweet, as if eras of history converged to imbue each note with immortality.

The set is full of similar relationships, and, as previously stated, even the second disc's mono recording is very clear and present. Swell's "Space Cowboys" benefits from that clarity as its loping groove gains drive and intensity. More than anything, even beyond any moment, peak or valley, the sense of a group having fun is palpable. The chains of beat and meter are in continual stretch as Moondoc and Swell pull at them. It's difficult to know quite how to feel upon the set's completion. On the one hand, I couldn't help wishing for more and lamenting that there will be no more, but on the other, each gesture and interplay calls for the listener to celebrate in kind. It may be best to revel in the music and especially those contributions from the superb musician to whom this indispensable set is dedicated.

Steve Swell's Fire Into Music: For Jemeel: Fire from the Road (2004-2005)
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Recent Selections @ Squidco:

High Laver Levitations
Vol 1:

The Cry
of a Dove
Announcing Rain (
Two Afternoon Concerts
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Jessica Pavone:
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Apartment House:
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Zoh Amba/
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