Wednesday, February 29, 2012
A "Fremdenzimmer" is the German word for a guest room, litterally "a room for strangers", usually paid for, in private houses, farms or other places, the kind of room which you have kind of accept the way it is when you are travelling and can't find no other lodging. The title demonstrates a willingness for adventure, including the risk of the unknown, and the acceptance of what will befall them.
Whether this relates to the musicians or the listener is not clear, possibly to both, and you're taken on this musical journey by Joachim Badenhorst on clarinet, bass clarinet and tenor, Pascal Niggenkemper on bass, and Frantz Loriot on viola, respectively of Belgian, German-French and French-Japanese origin.
The journey goes deep into the realm of lyricism and sonic beauty, a journey of strange harmonic encounters, timbral greetings, shared distances, differences of perspectives adding to the overall texture. As with these encounters, possibly hiking, on foot, the pace is slow, vulnerability a prerequisite for openness, openness the prerequisite for suprise, suprise the prerequisite for new ideas and the aha-erlebnis of new possibilities.
You get stories here, tiny and small and real and sensitive and authentic, the beauty of strangers meeting and becoming friends, immediately going to the essence, talking about joy or misery, without too much elaboration, without varnish and polish, because the chemistry is here, in the personalities, the voices, including the low-volume singing by Badenhorst, the emotional sharing, the musical vision.
Just beautiful. So real!
Buy from Instantjazz.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
On their second release, "The Stone Quartet" continues their ephemeral study of fleeting sounds, as on their debut album "DMG@The Stone". The word "debut" is a little bizarre for such seasoned musicans as Joëlle Léandre on double bass, Roy Campbell on trumpet and flutes, Marilyn Crispell on piano, and Mat Maneri on viola.
All four have been instrumental in giving shape to avant-garde music in the last decades, and they continue to do so on this album. Without being rooted in the ground, due to the absence of percussion, the overall sound evolves like waves in a stream, with phrases colliding and contrasting, yet all moving in the same direction. The second element that strikes the listener is the absolute avoidance of predictability, yet without sounding too unfamiliar either.The third aspect is the timbral explorations, especially by Mat Maneri on his viola, bringing different sounds, changing the expectations, yet adding to it too, meaningfully, emotionally. Last but not least, there is the incredible sense of pace, quite slow, yet determined, creating eery soundscapes, full of longing and inherent tension between the four instruments.
Again, a captivating listening experience. Léandre, Crispell, Campbell and Maneri in a joint top-performance.
Buy from Instantjazz.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Delphine Dora, Paulo Chagas, Bruno Duplant - Onion Petals As Candle Light (Self-published, 2012) ****
Have you ever heard of Delphine Dora? French piano player born in 1980? Probably not. She's a singer songwriter and improvisor, and this should be her thirteenth album so far. Yet no singer songwriter stuff on this album, ... or no, I should say it differently: this music captures the essence of good songs but without the vocals.
Each of the ten pieces is self-contained, short and with a precise character and sound, which is gentle yet profound, full of intimate lyricism and beauty.
Her companions in gentleness are Paulo Chagas on clarinets and Bruno Duplant on bass, two musicians whom I've written favorably about before.
All three are in the same storytelling mode, full of vulnerable emotions and precise phrasing, and with sufficient sense of contrasts to keep the attention going. Notes are used sparingly, but to great effect.
Listen for yourself. I can only hope to hear more from this trio soon.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
On this exquisite and genre-defying album, we find three likeminded artists from three continents exploring aesthetic and authentic beauty. Gebhard Ullmann plays bass clarinet and bass flute, and both Chris Dahlgren and Clayton Thomas play double bass and objects.
As the band's name suggests, they explore in the low ranges, though not exclusively.The title track, split in three parts, is by itself worth the purchase of the CD, evolving around the long drone-like sounds of the bowed basses and circular breathing, the listener is sucked into a mysterious universe, with a few heart-piercing tender high phrases by Ullmann to emphasise the built-up tension.
The second longest piece, "The Epic" contains a full album in itself, creating a dramatic story ranging from adventurous avant-garde with dark conflicts between the instruments, to sweet world music references, a story of contrast and musical development as its title suggests. "Ornette's Closet" suddenly has the basses in pizzi and the bass clarinet fully voiced, a short and fun piece, yet it acts a little bit as a coherence-breaker in the album, unfortunately.
The album ends with the long last part of the title piece, as dark and compelling as it gets, with Ullmann's mesmerizing and eery high-toned clarinet again in perfect contrast and unity with the basses.
Great stuff, and addictive.
Buy from Instantjazz.
Friday, February 24, 2012
By Paul Acquaro
Hammond makes a grand entrance on the anthemic 'Adored'. The title track kicks off with some sound effects but quickly segues into a Neil Young inspired mash of chords from his slightly overdriven guitar. But, it's when Vinny Golia comes in with a keening line from his sax that things ratchet up a notch. Alex Cline's percussion propels the sweeping statements and Steuart Liebig's electric bass pulsates. Tensions mount as the group's improvisation builds.
The next song 'Sesquipedalian' takes off with a rockish introduction and beat followed by a rather catchy bass groove. Golia takes the first edgy solo, followed by Hammond who seems to be favoring texture over technical. His playing skirts the edges of both jazz and rock, never falling squarely into either camp. Other songs follow suit, different approaches and feels, but overall, the playing is free, fresh and seemingly open to all types of music, whether its a noisy jam that never truly loses its sense of melody like on the title tune, the folksy whimsy on 'She's My Little Girl' or the spacious soundscape of 'Just Knowing You're There'.
This Californian quartet comes as a surprise to me. Hammond's fellow travelers are of course big names in avant-garde circles and their recorded output speaks volumes for itself, however Hammond's voice on guitar is a new and welcome one to me. The atmosphere of the recording is a hopeful one, there is a vibrancy that permeates the album, even in the throes of a noisy free improv. The group works with big swatches of sound that showcase a cohesive sound and interactive playing. 'Adored' feels honest and authentic, and it's is a pleasure to listen to. Go ahead - give it a try.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Nick Moran Trio - "Say Hi to Paris":
Indigo Kid - "First Light":
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Buy from Instantjazz.
Friday, February 17, 2012
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Australian pianist Marc Hannaford is part of the forward looking band "The Antiprodean Collective"with Scott Tinkler on trumpet, as on this album. The other musicians are Tim Berne on alto sax, Simon Barker on drums and Philip Rex on double bass.
The five musicians stepped into the studio last year, improvised these three pieces of music, ranging between twenty and thirty minutes long, and that was it. No edits, no changes. You have an album. It sounds easy, but it is not. The music is of the kind that you don't want to stop listening to. It evolves gently, gradually, with all five musicians interacting as one, creating a common group sound that is at the same time abstract and warm, without harsh moments, yet also without smooth moments, and the result is mesmerising and beautiful.
On "Dolls", the long first track, boppish elements come into play when the tempo picks up, with the improvising lines weaving a fascinating tapestry of intensity. On "Weflux", slowness is of the essence, creating an eery atmosphere of vulnerable fragility, allowing both Tinkler and Berne to profile their unique sound, which is quite a good match, and is kept that way as the tension increases, with heavily accentuated though weird beats of the rhythm section, with the two horns playing simultaneously the whole time. The piece ends with a captivating outro of piano, bass and drums.
The same structure is held on the the title track, now starting with slow trumpet, then again the whole band creates this wonderful blend of different phrases all merging into a strong musical and lyrical coherence, with shifting moods, from playfulness to darkness, all magnificently kept together by Hannaford's orchestrations on his piano.
Without a doubt one of the best albums I've heard this year, taking into account that it's only February.
Listen and buy from Bandcamp.
Friday, February 10, 2012
By Joe Higham
Listen, buy, or generally enjoy at Bandcamp.
* = Of course the Downtown Scene covered many areas of music from minimalism of Steve Reich and Philip Glass, performance art of Laurie Anderson and many others. Check out Wiki's entry on downtown to get a general idea.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
The Grand Reportage Ensemble Deluxe & Lucien Dubuis - Live from the Surface of the Sun (Altrisuoni, 2011) ****½
Saturday, February 4, 2012
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of writing about The Veil, a recording with altoist Tim Berne, guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Jim Black. While the twists and turns on Snake Oil are comparable, many elements of this latest release make it an apples to oranges endeavor. Whereas 'The Veil' was a scathing free improvisation of unabashed noise and gritty power, 'Snake Oil' embraces a more compositional and melodic approach.
The instrumentation on 'Snake Oil' is a bit more introspective, yet can coalesce with some power. With Oscar Noriega on clarinet and bass clarinet, Matt Mitchell on piano, Ches Smith on percussion, Berne has a nice palette of timbers and tonalities with which to work. The melodic passages showcase his complex compositions and an affinity for mixing these qualities. Right from the first tune there is an assuredness in the intertwining melodies and ever evolving musical ideas. Quiet passages are contrasted by intense ones, and the ebb and flow throughout is seamless. Patterns and melodic memes often begin as small tributaries and flow into powerful rivers of sound.
The press material captures what I think is an important aspect of the recording:
It’s an arresting collective sound, from a disciplined crew: two years of workshopping and woodshedding preceded the recording to reach what Berne calls “the necessary ‘looseness’ essential for a group identity”, and to realize “the dynamics that would enable the sonic details of this chamber-like band to emerge clearly.”
When listening, it can be difficult to parse is what is composed and what spontaneously emerged, but in the end it all seems to composed - or actually - it doesn't. A spirit of freeness permeates the recording.