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Alexander von Schlippenbach (Piano) & Dag Magnus Narvesen (Drums)

Soweiso, Berlin. July 16, 2016 Photo by Paul Acquaro

Snakeoil in the Palmengarten 8/4/2016

Tim Berne (as), Oscar Noriega (cl), Ryan Ferreira (g), Matt Mitchell (p) and Ches Smith (perc). Frankfurt, Germany. Photo Martin Schray

Flin van Hemmen Drums of Days 6/18/2016

FvH (piano/drums), Todd Neufeld (acoustic guitar), Thomas Morgan (bass) Firehouse Space, Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Paul Acquaro

Monday, August 29, 2016

Fred Frith Trio – Another Day in Fucking Paradise (Intakt Records, 2016) ****

Fred Frith’s latest record for the Swiss Intakt label finds him looking to the past: “I appeared to be channeling some of my earliest rock and roll experiences,” he remarks, dropping names like David Gilmour, Muddy Waters, and John McLaughlin. But it’s important to note that this is an assessment made retrospectively, after the music had taken shape, rather than a driving conceptual motivation. “When I proposed this trio I had nothing in mind beyond getting together with a couple of formidable musicians who I love and respect and seeing what would happen, which is pretty much the way things go in my world.” So don’t come to Another Day in Fucking Paradise expecting anything cute or clever—nostalgia, homage, pastiche. Instead, prepare to hear the veteran guitarist take the power trio into the future with two relatively younger players, both former Mills College students: Jason Hoopes on electric and double basses, and Jordan Glenn on drums and percussion.

Though the album is broken into 13 mostly-short tracks, each one communicates fluidly into the next like a series of open doors, from the gloomy chimes of “The Origin of Marvels” to the propulsive brushwork of “The Ride Home.” This continuity invites the listener to experience the music in its broader structural shape, vaguely narrative, as the first several tracks sketch the introduction of conflict. The above-mentioned “Origin,” for example, leads into “Dance of Delusion,” upbeat and punchy, which leads into the oddly plaintive vocals of “Poor Folly,” which descends into the aptly titled “La Tempesta.” While Hoopes and Glenn are responsible for much of the character of these early tracks—springy electric bass and trashy cymbals—it’s Frith’s layered guitar wizardry that defines the sound of the more abstract middle tracks. At over 11 minutes by far the longest piece on the album, “Yard With Lunatics” is a landscape of spare, eerie noise, from tinny remote strumming to warning-siren wailing. Several more tracks of distorted ambience climax in “Schlechtes Gewissen” (that is, “bad conscience”), where Frith’s torture-device guitar effect bristles antagonistically up against Hoopes’s feverish bowing. The album ends back on the firmer ground of meter and groove, though as the title of the penultimate track, “Phantoms of Progress,” warns us, we would do best to keep our guard up.

Rez Abbasi & Junction – Behind the Vibration (Cuneiform, 2016) ****

By Eric McDowell

Following up last year’s Intents and Purposes, an all-acoustic album of jazz-rock covers, Rez Abbasi is back with a new quartet for his Cuneiform debut, Behind the Vibration. Along with Abbasi on electric guitar, Junction includes Mark Shim on tenor sax and MIDI wind-controller; Ben Stivers on keyboards, Hammond B3 organ, and Fender Rhodes; and Kenny Grohowski on drums. In Abbasi’s own words, “Junction is where it all meets”—the breadth of traditions and genres each member brings to the quartet. “It is my most inclusive project to date in terms of engaging diverse musical influences and technology. For me, this is ‘music of now.’”

Opener “Holy Butter” provides a ready example, combing influences, according to the label’s press notes, from classical South Indian dance with piping hot guitar lines and irrepressible funk courtesy of Shim’s MIDI wind-controller. Elsewhere Shim’s jazz background comes through his tenor solos, as on the moodier second track “Groundswell” or on the short closer, “Matter Falls.” Though Stivers, who has an impressive pop pedigree, proves adaptable throughout—filling in for bass with his left hand or supplying atmospheric chords—he has no problem stepping into the spotlight. See, for instance, his Rhodes work on “Holy Butter” or his B3 feature on “New Rituals.” Similarly, while Grohowski’s experience in heavy metal lends his playing a certain robust precision that’s essential to Behind the Vibration’s overall power (a good example would be the burning “Uncommon Sense”), on tracks like “Inner Context” or “And I You,” he shows another, more reserved side.

A great album for fans of hard-hitting, rock-leaning fusion and funk.

Chatoyant – Place of Other Destination (Astral Spirits, 2016) ***½

By Eric McDowell

From Detroit comes Chatoyant, an improvising quartet assembled from well-known local musicians Matthew Smith of Outrageous Cherry and The Volebeats on guitar; Jim Baljo, who plays guitar with the noise band Wolf Eyes, on drums; Joel Peterson, whose venue Trinosophes has hosted a range of stellar acts, on Fender Rhodes and double bass; and Marko Novachoff, who has played with LaMonte Young and Frank Pahl, on winds. In March the group played the Big Ears Festival, and in May, they released their debut cassette on Astral Spirits.

The two side-long jams that make up Place of Other Destination are sometimes broody and lumbering, sometimes manic and frenzied, developing in vague patterns of rise and fall. Thanks in part to the live character of the recording—there’s a distant quality, as if we’re hearing instruments played underwater, each voice struggling for distinction—it’s Smith’s guitar and Baljo’s percussion that tend to shape the sound here, at least in its broad strokes. So it’s easy to appreciate Smith’s darkly intense picking and hectic strumming (I’m reminded of some of the playing on Peter Walker’s Long Lost Tapes 1970), or Baljo’s energy on the toms and his judiciousness in when to lay down a beat. Though Peterson’s and Novachoff’s contributions are harder won, for me, they’re no less important. There’s a quiet passage halfway through side A where the group achieve a kind of equilibrium, keyboards and winds weaving hauntingly through a rotten netting of guitar and drums. Side B, “The Secret No More,” with some nice arco work from Peterson early on and impressive blowing from Novachoff later, may be even better for my money than its counterpart—perhaps a tad less exploratory and a tad more surefooted, up to and including the album’s beautifully mellow, almost tender final moments.

Guitar Week

Picasso's Guitar
An occasional feature on the blog, a new Guitar Week starts today (a true guilty pleasure of mine). We ran the last one back in March, and we'll again be covering a wide range of guitar music over the coming days. We begin with Eric McDowell's eclectic collection and you'll be hearing soon from (in no particular order) Martin Schray, Chris Haines, Eyal Hareuveni, Troy Dostert, Tom Burris, David Menestres, and myself.

We hope you enjoy!

- Paul

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Anna Webber’s Percussive Mechanics - Refraction (Pirouet, 2015) ****

Anna Webber is a Brooklyn-based composer and instrumentalist who has been making ever-expanding waves since her 2010 debut as a leader, Third Floor People. Since that time, she’s been primarily associated with two groups: Montreal People and Percussive Mechanics, as well as the trio with Matt Mitchell and John Hollenbeck that produced the wondrous Simple. Percussive Mechanics is an international septet, with players hailing from both the States and Germany, where Refraction was recorded. Their first album together, self-titled, was a tantalizing blend of improvisation, Braxtonesque playfulness, and a rhythmic sensibility that owed more to motorik and Reichian minimalism than to the wilder-and-woollier branches of traditionally “American” jazz. This clean, precise sound has been carried over to Refraction, but not without some fresh touches: this recording surprises and astounds in spots, and it reveals Webber to be one of the most exciting young voices in contemporary jazz - both as a player and a composer.

Opening with a spacious, spare trickle of notes, “Five (Action)” is a tightly-wound opener, one that moves forward with the ineluctable persistence of a mechanical clock. It establishes the rhythmic modus operandi of the group: controlled taps, short bursts of notes that are as efficient as they are energetic, and hefty amounts of space. “Tacos Wyoming” takes this palette as a starting-point, but quickly adds to it an infectious melodic motif that winds its way throughout the piece. By the end, when the reeds, vibraphone, and piano are locked together in a convoluted, ecstatic dance, it’s exhilarating - it sounds like a jazzier reworking of Music for 18 Musicians, with shapes and patterns that shift, fuse, detach, and then go on to form different configurations. There are short instances of improvisation, it seems, but Percussive Mechanics truly shine in their sense of precision and control - with these compositions, there’s little room for error, and Webber has assembled the perfect group to bring her vision to life.

“Theodore,” one of the longer pieces on the album, starts with a series of tentative rustlings; after a few minutes, that formlessness is replaced with a solid groove from drummer Martin Kruemmling. Compared to the pointillistic percussion of the previous tracks, it’s somewhat surprising, but the rest of the septet waste no time in taking advantage of it. Almost as soon as it begins, however, it dissolves in an extended wail from the reeds - and then back again into the abstract sound-world of the beginning, with Max Andrzejewski’s marimbas, Julius Heise’s vibraphones, and Elias Stemeseder’s piano offering soft droplets of color.

“The All Pro 3 Speed” is something of a slow burner at first, with Igor Spallati’s bass providing the firm, rock-steady foundation. Additionally, Anna Webber here plays the flute, improvising with fervid exuberance and showing that her instrumental abilities are just as formidable as her talents for composition. As the piece develops, Wylie (on alto saxophone) joins her, and the two engage in a primal outburst that is rare for the group. While the restraint and exactitude of Percussive Mechanics are admirable, it’s admittedly exciting to hear them go a little haywire. As its name implies, “The All Pro 3 Speed” works in several modes - towards the end, the (two!) drummers approach tempos that are closer to Drum ‘n’ Bass music than jazz, but not for long - soon, we are back to the group’s aforementioned modus operandi: clattering rhythms that intersect and complement one another with machine-like methodicalness.

Anna Webber’s Percussion Mechanics is a joy to listen to, and they provide an interesting take on contemporary jazz, one that is as informed by Reich, Terry Riley, and composer Arvo Pärt as it is by maestros like Braxton and Henry Threadgill. Hopefully, Webber will get involved in more projects soon and release music that is of the same high-caliber as Refraction - I, and many others, will be eagerly waiting for it!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Aardvark Jazz Orchestra – Passages (Leo Records, 2016) ****

Here’s proof that there’s always something new to discover in the world of creative jazz and improvised music. The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, which I hadn’t heard of whatsoever before reviewing this, their most recent release, has been around for decades (since 1973, to be exact), and they’ve released over a dozen albums in that time, most of them for Leo and Nine Winds. The constant presence since the orchestra’s inception has been Mark Harvey, who founded the group and has long been a fixture in the Boston-area improvised music scene. Harvey’s well-honed compositions and adventurous improvisational strategies are what give the group its character, making this an engaging and valuable release.

The record includes four pieces: “Spaceways,” a punchy and dynamically rich Sun Ra tribute that features some especially strong ensemble work from the horns and some delightfully jagged interjections on guitar from Richard Nelson; “Saxophrenia,” a sprawling 18-minute feature for the group’s saxophonists which moves in and out of a catchy Latin-themed rhythmic structure, and which offers terrific use of the orchestra as a whole in supporting each soloist; “Twilight,” a spare collective improvisation that effectively establishes a mood of mystery and introspection; and the album’s centerpiece, “Commemoration (Boston 2013),” a three-part suite in homage to those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing of a few years ago. What is striking about this suite is its emotional range: from the jarring dissonance and turmoil of the first part, “Maelstrom,” we move into the much more somber “Aftermath” and “Elegy,” both of which gain their power not from the orchestra’s physical force but from its more subtle harmonic textures and poignant melodicism. The overall effect is quite compelling, as Harvey refuses to resort to easy sentimentality; there are suggestions of hope by the conclusion of the suite, although they are tinged with a certain irreducible sorrow, as one hears in the stirring flute and arco bass passages at the heart of the haunting “Elegy.”

A very engaging release, especially for fans of creative improvisation with larger ensembles.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Virginia Genta - Rough Enough (Holidays, 2016) ****1/2

By JA Besche

If various internet sources are accurate, Virginia Genta has been playing music since she was a young child, always self-taught and in the vein of free improvisation. I heard her play not long after her most consistent group, Jooklo Duo, started releasing music in 2007 (to the best of my knowledge, it’s a little murky). Her playing, predominantly on tenor saxophone (though she plays almost all variations of the instrument and is as likely to sound like Peter Brotzmann as she is Yusef Lateef), has always bent towards free improv, cosmic exploration, and passion. Over these ten years or so, she has also picked up a lot of technique, lyricism, and overall virtuosity.

So then, it comes at a perfect time for Holidays to release her first (not including a self-released lathe 7”) release of solo sax recordings. It’s brief, only a two sided single, but fits nicely into the great tradition of the solo jazz/improv record. In my estimation, the solo recording has always been about making a statement, stripped down from the trappings of structure, interplay, etc. It’s a chance to put the artist’s voice on full, idiosyncratic display, typically by soloists who are more used to leading groups, but also in the artists who worked mostly in this medium (such as the incomparable Kaoru Abe).

So on this short recording, Genta makes sure to state her voice early and quickly. This is no calm introduction, but a blast of dense, high-pitch noise coming deep from the gullet, peppering the listener’s ear drums with pointillist, staccato notes that are hardly discernible. If you had never been introduced to VG before, this is not the restrained, beginner’s version. If you’re going to dive headfirst into this, you had better like your saxophone squelching, rumbling, stabbing, noisy, piercing, burning…anything but what you might expect.

And as much as the saxophone itself is being pushed to the limits, I felt my own ears were at times, too, especially because of the high register that dominates both pieces. There is also time for more thoughtful, drawn out playing, and the bursts of silence really highlight the incredible intensity that precedes them. Typically, the phrases last as long as she can keep her breath going.

Genta has played in so many different set ups on so many albums that you could just as easily find drone, psychedelic rock, noise, and folk in her oeuvre as you can jazz and free improv. These pieces are a nice encapsulation of this, though more in the urgent, intense mood than anything else, they touch on the fire of New York loft jazz, the absence of structure found in European free improv, and the experimental technique of the ‘post-jazz’ improvisational melting pot. This is a fine recording, and the length is set very well for the level of power, which probably could exhaust you if it was a full LP, or at least make your cats go crazy.

As Genta continues to explore different musical realms while defining her individualistic style, this record will stand as a fiery summary of her unpredictable and idiosyncratic style circa 2016, while also highlighting the technique and vision she’s built over decades.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Roberto Del Piano - La Main Qui Cherche La Lumière (Improvising Beings, 2016) ****

Roberto Del Piano has been a stalwart of the Italian free jazz scene of the 1970s, with stints in some of the most significant ensembles of the period, from Gaetano Liguori’s Idea Trio to Guido Mazzon’s Gruppo Contemporaneo. After a period of voluntary retirement, in recent years he resumed playing in both jazz and free improvisation, and this double CD is actually the first release credited solely to him. 

The first disc gathers a series of collective improvisations by a group consisting of Del Piano on electric bass, Silvia Bolognesi on acoustic bass, Massimo Falascone on saxophones and Pat Moonchy on vocals. Live electronics, handled by Falascone, Moonchy and a few guests, have and important role in defining the general mood of the album, combining old-fashioned sounds with a forward-thinking attitude that give the record a dark, intriguing cinematic atmosphere. "Scarlinga Merlùss" exemplifies the complex character of the album, with Bolognesi and Del Piano's probing bass lines contrasted by Falascone’s pungent sax excursions and Moonchy’s eerie vocalizing, over an electronic backdrop complete with sampled voice readings and shifting noise modulations. The research for a more readable dimension comes to fruition on a couple of later pieces: in “Waisvisz”, after a long introduction of high-pitched exchanges between voice, saxophone and electronics, Bolognesi launches a bouncing ostinato that provides the musicians a springboard for a busy exchange of melodic ideas. The synth of the following “Swami Takabanda” wouldn’t be out of place in the soundtrack for an Italian sci-fi movie from the Sixties, but it eventually leaves space for the basses to build a throbbing pulse over which Falascone builds an agile, continually inventive solo.

The second disc features a more familiar concept and instrumentation, focused on distinct free jazz traits and tighter instrumental exchanges, but the results are far from predictable. The record is organized in different instrumental combinations, with a series of duets by Del Piano with Marco Colonna on clarinets, trios with Stefano Giust on drums, and quartets with Falascone on alto and baritone saxes. The opening “Meeting in Milan” features clarinet and baritone at their most aggressive, screaming over a thunderous base of bass and drums – a declaration of intents, establishing an uncompromising space of action for the following tracks. But soon the atmosphere changes, with the musicians free to follow their diverse attitudes. “Quiet Place” highlights Colonna’s passion for melodic explorations; “Mirrors” his mastery of circular breathing technique, complemented by Falascone’s concise delivery. Giust’s taste for unusual timbres and broken rhythms is evident in pieces like “Scratch” or “Polyphonic Organization”, while Del Piano participates in the performance without indicating any particular direction, sometimes suggesting clear-cut rhythmic lines (“Tired Blues”), but mostly using the electric bass as a pure improvising voice.

Combining an unusual free improvisation session and an equally engaging free jazz meeting in the same package, La Main Qui Cherche La Lumière is not only an effective overview of Del Piano’s distinctive style and different activities, but it also offers a precious occasion to discover some of the excellent voices that animate today’s Italian free music scene.

Roberto Del Piano: electric bass 
Massimo Falascone: alto and baritone saxophones, Ipad, crackle box, live electronics 
Pat Moonchy: vocals, TAI machine 
Silvia Bolognesi: double bass 
Roberto Masotti: crackle box 
Robin Neko: crackle synth 
Paolo Falascone: double bass 

Roberto Del Piano: electric bass 
Marco Colonna: clarinet, alto clarinet, bass clarinet 
Stefano Giust: drums 
Massimo Falascone: alto and baritone saxophones 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Introducing the Danish Insula Label

By Eval Hareuveni

Insula Music is a record shop (in the true, original sense of the word, i.e. vinyl) in downtown Copenhagen. The shop runs its own label - Insula Music/Insula Jazz, that releases limited-edition cassettes and vinyl of local free jazz and free-improvisation groups, often together with other labels who offer download options.

Lars Greve / Thomas Harres / Eduardo Manso / Felipe Zenicola - Live at Audio Rebel (Insula Jazz/Hiatus, 2016) ****

A first time, free improvised meeting is always unique. The elements of surprise, danger and the constant sense of treading uncharted territories are built into the setting. Such was the meeting between Danish reeds player Lars Greve, known from the popular Girls in Airports quintet but also from more experimental collaborations with bass player Peter Friis Nielsen and sax player Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard, with three musicians of the Brazilian experimental scene - guitarist Eduardo Manso, bass player Felipe Zenicola - both known from their collaboration with drummer Paal Nilssen-Love on Bota Fogo (Audio Rebel/PNL, 2014) - and drummer Thomas Harres. The four performed at the Audio Rebel studio-club-label-luthier shop in the beachfront part of Rio on December 2015.

The four musician connected immediately. On the first side, the meeting sounds as if Greve is drawn into the cathartic-noisy mayhem of the Brazilian musicians and submits to their refined Afro-Brazilian rhythmic patterns. But as the music progresses his role becomes more crucial and he charges the dynamic interplay a strong sense of contemplative abstract, sometimes even lyrical playing. The second side enjoys the already established interplay and now the four musicians experiment more with textures, rhythmic patterns and dynamics. The music changes fast from gentle and dreamy to wild and chaotic to abstract and sparse sonic searches, slowly gaining momentum towards the powerful-rhythmic coda.

Yes Deer – Get your Glitter Jacket (Insula Music/Gaffer Records, 2015) ***½

Yes Deer is a Scandinavian power trio featuring Danish-born, Sweden-based sax player Signe Dahlgreen, Norwegian guitarist Karl Bjorå, who plays in another Norwegian like-minded trio Brute Force, and Danish drummer Anders Vestergaard, known from his previous collaborations with pianists Jacob Anderskov and Kasper Staub and the power-noise duo Laser Nun. The trio was founded in 2010, aiming to engage "in the friction between intellect and libido, pre and post, collectivism and individualism."

Get Your Glitter Jacket is the sophomore release of the trio after The Talk of Tennis (Gaffer, 2014). Yes Deer's music is indeed libidinal, but in the most manic and brutal sense of the term. The trio unleashes its thunderous-chaotic, improvised attacks, noisy and dirty ones, from the first second and never looks back. The collective onslaughts sound as taking the explosive energy of seminal groups as Peter Brötzmann’s Last Exit, John Zorn’s Naked City and Napalm Death but raising it a few steps louder and noisier. The 34 minutes of Get Your Glitter Jacket offer concise strategies of cacophonic sonic meltdowns, but it feels as if the time passes in few seconds. Beware, later you will need few hours to balance your hearing with the so-called normal, daily sounds.

Jesper Elving / Anders Mathiasen / Bjørn Heebøll / Felia Gram-Hanssen – Bekeks (Insula Jazz, 2016) ***

Poet Jesper Elving has been experimenting in the last decade with different forms of writing, publishing, and performances, often with improvising musicians or in art exhibitions. Bekeks presents four improvised sound poetry pieces that Elving developed in the last four years together with songwriter-guitarist-sound artist Anders Mathiasen, who released with Elving the duo album meker (2013) and plays here on prepared acoustic guitar; free jazz drummer Bjørn Heebøll, known from his collaborations with sax player Peter Brötzmann and pianist Agustí Fernández, plays here on prepared drums; and visual and performance artist Felia Gram-Hanssen, plays on singing bowls, cymbals and homemade xylophone.

You need to understand the Danish language to fully appreciate Elving poetics (and, unfortunately, I don’t). Still, the four pieces on this double-cassette release emphasizes Elving unique manipulation of the Danish language syntax as he dissects it into a series of disjointed syllables. The three musicians wrap his dramatic, sometimes possessed delivery with busy and weird percussive sounds that accentuate Elving reciting.

Tom Prehn Kvartet (Insula Jazz/Centrifuga, 1967/2016) *****

This legendary album is considered a milestone in the history of Danish jazz, a revolutionary album that shaped the local incarnation of free jazz. The quartet of pianist Tom Prehn with tenor sax player Fritz Krogh, double bass player Poul Ehlers and drummer Preben Vang began to work in 1963 in Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city, far from the vibrant and updated jazz scene of Copenhagen. Maybe that distance enabled this quartet to develop a sound that was so far away from anything else, fully matured on this self-titled album, originally released in 1967.

This album was already re-released on the Unheard Music Series of the Atavistic label under the direction of John Corbett, who also re-released the quartet debut album Axiom, originally recorded in 1963 (Corbett vs. Dempsey, 2015). The new. remastered and vinyl-only edition (the debut by Danish label Centrifuga) features the original liner notes plus new ones by Danish jazz scholar Tim Thorlund Boisen and Danish pianist F.E. Denning and a collection of reviews from the time of the album release, one including that calls this “type of music” not exactly “Sunday morning coffee music choice”.

It is certainly my choice for a morning coffee, any day of the week. The music sounds today, almost fifty years its release, fresh and kicking. Denning summarizes it best: “The Quartet doesn’t sound like an imitation of John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor or Ornette Coleman. It sounds like all three at once. It takes the explosive energy of Coltrane, mixes it with abrupt avant-garde of Taylor and adds Coleman’s lyrical sense of melody”.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Flin van Hemmen - Drums of Days (neither nor records, 2016) ****

By Paul Acquaro

Brooklyn-based, Dutch drummer/pianist, Flin van Hemmen has created a delicate and adventurous album with Drums of Days. His well-disciplined trio is bassist Eivind Opsvik, acoustic guitarist Todd Neufeld, and himself on drums and piano.

The album opens with 'Drums of Days I', van Hemmen on piano, striking open-ended tonal clusters, while Opsvik draws out some long droning tones. Neufeld provides deliberately cool strokes of chord tones, striking hotly on occasion as well. They create an atmosphere fraught with tension and possibility. The follow up 'Morsel!', featuring guest saxophonist Tony Malaby, begins with an eerie whistle and tentative melody played high on the bass. It's short, a bridge to the percussive clatter that ensues in a three-way dialog of 'Dream Tree'. The next big track is 'Aching Arches', which finds van Hemmen back at the piano playing over some taped ambient sound. Two plus minutes into the track, the trio rises again, fragmented chords trail off into silence, the arpeggiated melodies flicker like sparks against the void, as a musical glow begins to appear, then gives way to a spoken section - the poem 'Tide' by musician/poet Eliot Cardinaux - and the words intertwine with the instruments.

The three-part suite 'Sensitive Chaos' is a musical poem of sorts, no strong melody lines, rather an exploration of textures and times. 'Field, Sound' offers more coherent melodic phrases and a stronger pulse, and 'Vorpmi Tsal', is one of the more song-like tracks of the album, and a nice morsel to sink your ears into. Ending with a bright piano refrain, 'Drums of Days II' takes on a solid groove and proves that there is nothing quite like the sound of the classical guitar in avant-garde jazz. The closing track is called 'Ives', and I will go out on the limb to say that it is in some way an homage to the early 20th-century modernist composer. After a long deliberate start, the song opens up into an energetic exchange of ideas, and fitting end to the album.

Drums of Days is a quiet and exploratory album. van Hemmen has created something unique and worth a deep listen.

Available at Downtown Music Gallery.