Monday, March 30, 2015

Artur Mackowiak & Grzegorz Pleszynski - A Sound Of The Wooden Fish (Wet Music, 2014) ***

 By Stef

It's always nice to get to know unknown musicians, as with this duo of Artur Mackowiak on guitar, synth and electronics, and Grzegorz Pleszynski on plastic tube trumpet and voice. They are joined on the first track by Jerzy Mazzoll on clarinet, who is a musician we do know in the meantime.

It's a short CD, fourty-four minutes in total, offering us rock-influenced arpeggio guitar with distant plastic tube trumpet sounds (and mixed in clarinet sounds on the first track). It's atmospheric music, floating effortlessly forward, repetitive and easy, once in a while some drama is added with heavy beats.

Mackowiak's approach is somewhat in the style of Loren Mazzacane Connors, dark sound sculptures on electric guitar with slight changes in the overall texture, with the single tone plastic tube trumpet howling over it, sometimes beautifully, but nothing that will wake you up from the contemplative listening this music requires, and that is maybe the downside of their approach, namely that few risks are taken, and what is true for sports is also true for music : you cannot win if you are afraid to take the risk to loose.

Yet it will be interesting to hear how their concept matures.

Listen and download on Bandcamp.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Going Solo

A round up of some intriguing solo recordings that have come to our attention in recent months.

By Paul Acquaro

Vinny Golia - Solo (Gold Lion Arts, 2015) ****

Get it while you can! This treat of a tape release from Gold Lion Arts is a scant run of 75 copies. Featuring the always excellent Vinny Golia on singing bowls and various woodwinds, Solo is 30 intimate minutes of performance. Side A features an intense sax workout, that after reaching the apex, is followed by what sounds like a wood flute or recorder and then the clarinet (Golia has an amazing assortment of wind instruments). Side B is a continuation, where Golia breaks out the bass clarinet (always a joy to hear!). 

Amy Reed - Gold Lion (Gold Lion Arts, 2015) ***½

Amy Reed is a guitarist and painter from Sacramento, California, home to the Gold Lion Arts performance space where she recorded this evocative solo guitar piece. Like some of her paintings, in which the abstract is met with precise strokes of paint and large open spaces, her extended technique solo guitar work takes advantage of similar motifs. The short tape release sees Reed creating an expectant atmosphere, pulling out all sorts of sounds from her instrument, from long pendulous swings to fine crackling bursts of bristling notes.

Paulo Chagas - Live Solo (Plus Timbre, 2014) ****

Am I biased on this one? Sure, why not. I had the honor of writing liner notes for Chagas' album Solo Saxophone, which I enjoyed greatly, and so chances were low that I not enjoy this follow up live album. Recorded live in the studio, the tone is dry and the sound clear and the album captures Chagas’ imaginative playing in intimate detail ... and it all starts with a squeak. The intro track sets the mood and clears the palette. The follow up ‘Pentola' begins with a gentle melody as Chagas introduces rhythmic breaks and stops to give the music a certain buoyancy. The melodies unfold with their own internal logic, and though you may wonder where you are by the end of the tune, you have no problem knowing how you got there. Enjoy (it’s a free download).

Keir Neuringer - Ceremonies out of the Air (New Atlantis, 2014) ****

My colleague Stefan already reviewed this one a few months ago, but I wanted to revisit it as I have now had a chance to catch the saxophonist play a couple of times, each time coming away more and more impressed. Ceremonies Out of the Air really crept up on me slowly. The music comes from somewhere deep and personal, as its creation has a lot to do with the emotions surrounding the passing of his mother. While there are moments of mourning, the music rather is a huge, deep, breath that just pours generously out over the course of the double album.

Will Guthrie - Stepped Stoned (Astral Projections, 2014) ***½

Will Guthrie is a France based drummer who works with several different groups like the Ames Room and Ellwood & Guthrie, but who also has been amassing a body of solo work. I wrote about his last album Sticks and Stones and Breaking Bones in 2012 and am happy to be following up with Stepped Stoned. Side one of this tape release takes a while to pick up, about four minutes of nearly silent tape runs, with a small sound growing stronger until a strain of incessant clatter, atmospheric cymbals and ghostly kick drum hits fill the space. About five minutes into side two (a continuation of side one), Guthrie involves more and more of the kit, until hitting a peak and slowly coming down. A captivating listen.

Scott Munro - Monty (Bug Incision, 2014) ***½

Recorded live in Calgary, Scott Munro creates something otherworldly with his baritone guitar. It’s a morphing shape of sound, sculpted from feedback and scratches, drones and percussive hits. Track one is slow, ambient, lugubrious, playing out over fifteen minutes. Track two begins with scattered picking, like a shower of broken glass, and about 5 minutes he begins introducing drone tones and sharp edged tonal clusters. The song fades into white noise … haunting.

Wilhelm Matthies - Breathing (Dark Pebble, Blue Wave, 2014) ***

Something utterly intriguing about Wilhelm Matthies solo album is that he has developed his own instrument - the 'mosesa' - which is a stringed instrument and as you can hear, he uses a bow to pull out tones in range similar to a cello, but that seems to be about where the similarities end. The music is about breathing, it feels organic, and though it does not have a melody or tempo, it draws you in in an unusual way. I think the best thing to do is to experience it:

Erik Friedlander - Illuminations (2015) ****

This solo cello album is utterly gorgeous. Straddling a line between classical and world music, Friedlander digs deep into the instrument and delivers an album of stunningly beautiful melodies and captivating motion. The rich tone he gets from the cello is reason enough to hear the album. I just wanted to give this one a quick mention in this solo round up - Illuminations should be receiving a longer review on the blog soon.

Mirbeau - White Blues (s/r, 2014) ***½

Mirbeau is a guitarist living in Brooklyn. His solo EP recording is a crispy, crunchy, free form blast of guitar that should provides quick satisfaction to the thirsty sonic adventurer. Though he is referencing track names from Miles Davis' cool jazz period (Cookin, Walkin, Steamin, Relaxin), the four short tracks on White Blues are all his own.

Brian Chase: Bass Drum Drone 

A little while back, drummer Brian Chase, who works with the group the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs shared some solo percussion/drone music and video pieces that he had been working on. About the project, he writes "in the sound from one drum there are a near infinite amount of tones. Drums and Drones explores the space inside the sound of a drum". Enjoy:

From Drums & Drones. Music by Brian Chase, drummer for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, video by New York video artist Ursula Scherrer.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Peter Brötzmann Round-Up

By Martin Schray

When you go to a Brötzmann concert in Germany, they are not really crowded in general. The reason mainly is that he has been touring a lot and many people have seen him quite often. Recently when I spoke after a show with young German drummer Oliver Steidle, I asked him how Brötzmann was doing because at close range he looked a bit rough (on the other hand he had just turned 75 in March). He said that he was okay for his age but had problems with his lungs, blowing out was still alright but breathing in was a problem due to smoking a lot when he was younger. I was a bit worried hearing this but then again it was a very good show although he could only play a one-hour-set plus encore. He seems to have become a bit mellow with age, there is more melancholic bluesy stuff than harsh outbursts which fits his style perfectly, though. And if you have a look at his homepage, the spring is packed with tours and single dates all over Europe and Japan. On top of this there is a steady output of new releases, here is a short overview of the latest ones.

Brötzmann/Edwards/Noble – Soulfood Available (Clean Feed, 2014) ****

Soulfood Available is Brötzmann’s second album with this trio. His ties with Edwards go back a long time and Noble seems to be one of his favorite  drummers recently. When I said that Brötzmann’s tone was a bit mellower lately,  this album could prove me wrong, at least partly. Everything that has made his  latest work so great is presented here: his familiar call to arms (as Colin  calls it), the “Master of a Small House” theme (although barely recognizable  since it is alienated and overblown), the shivering notes, his aggressive  approach to his material. He is supported by Edwards’ and Noble’s city jungle  rhythms, which deliver a dark pulse for Brötzmann’s outbursts as well as for  the quieter moments. A rock solid free jazz album, you can’t go wrong with it.

Soulfood Available is available on CD and can be bought from the label:

Peter Brötzmann/Jason AdasiewiczMollie‘s in the Mood (BRÖ, 2014) ****

When Brötzmann worked  together with Jason Adasiewicz it was indeed his first collaboration with a  vibraphonist and since then (on Going  All Fancy in 2012) he has played with him several times, even in a  quartet with John Edwards and Steve Noble that also released the splendid Mental  Shake.

Mollie’s in the Mood rather shows the new Brötzmann, more placable, introspective, less angry – but still gripping. A perfect example is the  beginning of the title track, one of the most accessible tracks Brötzmann has  recorded in his career. It is a pure jazz ballad that could almost pass as free  cool jazz. Adasiewicz’s style is brittle and crystal clear again, as if his instrument was made of ice. He contrasts Brötzmann in a strange but perfect way, no matter if the old colossus of Wuppertal decides to play in an Ayler-esque or melancholic way.

The album is available in a limited vinyl pressing of 600 copies. You can buy it from or from the label:  

Peter Brötzmann/Peeter Uuskyla – Red Cloud on  Silver (Omlott, 2015) ****

Before we start talking about the music on this album, one thing which is hardly mention is the fact that Peter Brötzmann is also a great fine artist. Recently he had an exclusive exhibition of his art in China, I also saw one in Wuppertal once. Like his saxophone/clarinet sound, his visual artistic style is also unique and has a high recognition value. The covers of all the albums reviewed here are designed by Brötzmann himself. So, when you buy a Brötzmann album you get a piece of fine arts as a bonus.

As to the music: Brötzmann  has worked quite often with Swedish drummer Peeter Uuskyla (e.g. on Dead  and Useless) since 1997 and in general the reeds/drums line-up is something he feels very comfortable with. His duos with Han Bennink, Hamid Drake, Paal Nilssen-Love and Steve Noble belong to best releases in free jazz.  Uusklya cannot quite keep up with these drummers because they are able to challenge him. Uuskyla is more the supporting kind of a drummer on this album.

My favorite passage is on side B when Brötzmann plays a particularly tender version of the “Master of  a Small House” theme, one of three or four themes he likes to integrate especially in solo and duo performances, Brötzmann once told me. Uuskyla simply drops out here, then he adds a just a few sparse few sounds, which is just perfect. And then it is him who pulls Brötzmann back to rougher waters. In  general Red Cloud on Silver is a rather  rough, torn and bumpy album.

Red Cloud on Silver is available on double vinyl. It’s an edition of 300 only, so you better be quick.

You can buy it from

Peter Brötzmann/Keiji Haino/Jim O’Rourke – Two  City Blues 2 (Trost, 2015) **** 

Looking at Brötzmann’s career and at the people he played with you might think that he had played with  almost everybody who has a name in improvised music. In this context it’s interesting that he has chosen two guitars, an instrument he seems to have a  particular interest in lately (have a look at his website and you’ll see that he plays with this group in Japan in April and with pedal steel guitarist Heather Leigh in Glasgow). Haino is one of his long time companions, and here you find the Japanese madman on guitar and vocals, although he is rather barking than singing. As usual he is the good old thirsty animal you either love or hate. Jim O’Rourke adds some wonderful Ry Cooder-like slide guitar  riffs which make the whole brew sound like Captain Beefheart. It’s surprising how the three get along together, there are moments of immaculate intimacy. In the huge Brötzmann discography this is an interesting new color.

Two City Blues 2 is available on CD only. You can buy it from

Peter Brötzmann/Keiji Haino/Jim O’Rourke – Two  City Blues 1 (Trost, 2015) **** ½

Interestingly enough Two City Blues 1 was released after Two City Blues 2. The recordings were taken from the same tour but part 1 is even a bit more interesting than part 2. Keiji Haino is only on guitar here, there are no vocal eruptions, O’Rourke’s slide guitar is wilder and more ecstatic, it is rather contrasting Haino’s staccato style – including some high pitched frequencies that could make glass burst. Brötzmann seems to wrestle with the guitars, especially when they try to push the performance into calmer, more  melodic waters. Usually he doesn’t allow this, and he tries to undermine their  attempts relentlessly. Only at the very endings of the two tracks, the mood is more conciliable. In the title track Brötzmann leaves this part to the guitars,  in “Eyes Stay the Same” he joins them – vulnerable, crying, desperate.

Two City Blues 1 is available on vinyl only. You can buy both –  vinyl and CD – from or directly from the  label

Listen to it here:


Six weeks after the show with Olli Steidle I saw Brötzmann playing with Steve Swell (tb) and Paal Nilssen-Love at the Manufaktur in Schorndorf – and it was a fascinating performance. The trio played as if they had been together for  years (albeit it was only their fourth gig). Brötzmann was in perfect shape and after the show we sat together with some people and he was telling stories,  joking, he was witty – and he looked much better than some weeks before.

On our way home my friend Riccarda (who booked Brötz’s tour with Swell and PNL with her partner Ralf) checked her facebook account and somebody asked  her if she had some recommendations as to Brötzmann’s albums. The guy said that  he had seen him twice but he didn’t have any of his recordings. He could start with any of the albums mentioned above (or with one of the classics), he wouldn’t be disappointed.

Peter Brötzmann keeps on touring – and he keeps on releasing excellent stuff. I hope he will be able to continue for a long time.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Rob Mazurek Round Up

By Matthew Grigg

Rob Mazurek is a busy guy. Whilst his annual output has not quite reached the Vandermarkian levels of his Chicago neighbour, here are a few releases which slipped out during the closing weeks of 2014. 

Rob Mazurek - Alternate Moon Cycles (Waxing Crescent) (International Anthem, 2014 LP/DL) ***½

Alternate Moon Cycles (Waning Crescent) (International Anthem, 2014 Cassette Only) ***½

Loss has been the creative catalyst shaping some of Mazurek's recent output, the sudden death of his mother yielding both 'Return the Tides' and 'Mother Ode' in 2014. Upon the passing of his mentor and colleague in 2010, Mazurek conceived a tribute entitled '100 Cs for Bill Dixon', re-imagined here as a minimalist work for trio comprising the cornetist alongside Matt Lux (Bass Guitar) and Mikel Patrick Avery (Collapsible Pump Organ). Released by Chicago's new International Anthem Recording Co. on LP/DL and cassette (which features an alternative performance to the LP), both variations consist of music which is almost entirely harmonically static, occupying a space somewhere between the drone of LaMonte Young, the grand vistas of post-rock's sweeping landscapes, or even a somnambulant beat-less Krautrock. Nuance and detail derive from the subtle delay and phasing of the bass' throbbing pulse, the changing oscillations of the pump organ, and the cornet's deft investigation of the tremulous margins which skirt pure tone. Whilst there is little to recommend one version over the other, the cassette come in a handsomely carved wooden case, whilst the LP takes a more expansive musical approach on the B side, all three musicians pushing at the bounds of their minimalist confines. 

Novellino/Rosi/Mazurek/Barnes - Objects in Mirror are Closer than They Appear (Discreet Records LP/DL, 2014) ***½

This Electro-Acoustic LP features field recordings of Italy's oldest operational wool mill captured by Attilio Novellino and Saverio Rosi. The pair subsequently processed them to create a foundation upon which a myriad of analogue and digital, acoustic and electric instruments were added, resulting in two side long suites. Mazurek (Cornet & Electronics) and Tim Barnes (Percussion & Objects) then added their contributions which were subsequently edited, processed and entwined with Novellino and Rosi's contributions. The resultant LP comprises two densely constructed pieces, rich in texture and detail, with melody occasionally punctuating the grinding abstractions. Such is the level of processing and manicuring of both source material and instrumental overdubs that the boundaries between the 'Electro' and the 'Acoustic' become blurred. The resultant sound world is awash with ambient timbres, drones subsumed by industrial clatter and densely woven sonance; soothing, jarring but never less than fully engaging.  

Bill Frisell - Richter 858

Well here's a treat - the slideshow that accompanied Bill Frisell's Richter 858 recording has been made available on YouTube. The slideshow was originally included on the enhanced CD that came out in 2005. Time moves on and formats change, but happily the Gerhard Richter slideshow is now ready for you to blow up full screen to watch, listen and enjoy. The music? A mix of Frisell's more adventurous compositions that follow the contours and lines of Richter's squeegee paintings. Performed by Bill Frisell (guitar), Jenny Scheinman (violin), Eyvind Kang (viola) and Hank Roberts (cello).

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Orange The Juice

Orange The Juice – The Drug Of Choice (CD/DVD, For Tune, 2014) ***½ 

 Orange The Juice - The Messiah is Back (Self Produced, 2014) ***½

By Eyal Hareuveni

The Polish sextet Orange The Juice redefines the concept of eclecticism. This group is not only genre-blind, but its hyperactive post-modernist aesthetics transforms each of its pieces into a colorful pastiche of colors, dynamics and moods. The group that began working in 2005 can blend what may sound as conflicting, even alienating elements, as surf music with metal, angelic choir singing with aggressive free improvisation, often in the same music sentence, moving organically between styles in lighting speed and millisecond precision.

Orange The Juice is not shy from stressing its obvious influences. The dark sense of humor of Frank Zappa bands, the references to John Zorn work - the concise, tightly dense sonic mayhem of Naked city; lead vocalist Konrad Zawadzki performs with the same manic intensity of Naked City guest vocalist, Yamatsukea Eye, and gifted with charismatic theatrical personality similar to the one of another Zorn associate, Mike Patton; sax player Mariusz Godzina even quotes some of Zorn sax licks when he plays the alto sax; and guitarist David Lewandowski sound owes much to Marc Ribot sound in Zorn’s The Dreamers and Electric Masada. But Orange The Juice musical stew by no means an updated replica of Zorn’s bands. There are many more ingredients in its musical stew, from atmospheric prog-rock to intoxicating Balkan brass band songs, jumping between a mockery of the apocalyptic nightmares of death metal bands as fellow Polish Behemoth to festive ska anthems, Chopinesque keyboard intervals and electronic, lounge-techno beats, spicing it with a disturbing fascination with the Daleks, the notorious extraterrestrial mutants from the TV science-fiction series Doctor Who.

The Drug of Choice is the group first live recording. It is a double Disc/DVD that documents the group performance in Teatr Rozmaitości in Warsaw in October 2012, augmented with three horn players (on most of the songs but excel on moving, poetic arrangement of “Sabat Mater”) and the Voice of Poland finalist Ida Zalewska (on the schizophrenic soul-metal “I Was Wrong”). If one can not experience this group alive, the best alternative is to watch it perform on the almost 80-minutes DVD (the set list is identical to the disc), showing the group as photographed by seven cameramen. The limited-edition (comes with a special cover full with Polish toffee candies) The Messiah is Back is another live recording, this time in the band hometown Stalowa Wola, again with guests, among them sax player Maciej Obara, Zalewska and the local Cantus Choir. It feature the same songs (except the brief “A body without A Head” and a hidden instrumental, loungey bonus track) in similar yet expanded arrangements.

These two live recordings take the listener/watcher into a joyful roller coaster ride. Orange The Juice is a group that feels natural on stage, before an audience, often one that can or does not expect its full palette of sounds, Only on stage the group full potential is realized. The reckless energy, wild intensity, impressive sense of drama, the commanding technical skills of all group musicians and fascinating stage presence of frontman Zawadzki (who seem as totally possessed by higher powers) justify the immediate invitation of this fascinating group to any major rock or jazz festival.     

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Piho Hupo - Foump (Indigo, 2014) ****

By Paul Acquaro

Piho Hupo, is a quartet based in Hamburg, Germany - a beautiful city, that as far as I know, isn't as known for avant-garde jazz as it is for the lovely Außenalster, the lively Reeperbahn, a renowned opera house, the early Beatles, and the sprawling Elbjazz festival. But, that's as far as I knew, until bassist John Hughes informed me about a series in Hamburg he’s curating called ‘Multiphonics’. So this, along with the work of Piho Hupo, and at least some of the gaps in my knowledge are filling in. 

The group is comprised of saxophonist Rolf Pifnitzka, keyboardist Jörg Hochapfel, percussionist Chad Popple, and the aforementioned Hughes. More importantly, Foump is a true group effort and there are few times when there is a 'soloist'. The album starts of with 'Angustura Rags', with all hands on deck as a frenetic melodic line whirls about. The percussion cuts through and leads a transitional moment where the energy shifts and the rhythmic textures become one with the melodic lines.  Oh, and when it sounds like there are two horns playing but only one person credited, that is exactly the case. Then it shifts again - the piano at first a dominant voice but soon superseded by an aggressive sax. This in the course of one track! The next song, "Somebody Say Tennesee" begins on a much darker note - lurching and lurking, the sax and insides of the piano providing atmosphere.  Muffled speaking rises out of the back as the tension mounts. The piano and sax battle it out on the track 'Roland Grave' and 8-bit electronics and sound effects make up the cord of the ambient 'Mause Anmalen'.

I'll stop here, half way through, the variation and imagination on Foump makes it a solidly interesting listen and one that can really withstand being in your CD player for a long long time.

Check out the video below:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Emil Strandberg - More Music For Trumpet, Guitar And Bass (Bandcamp, 2014) ****

By Stef

A trio with trumpet, guitar and bass is a rare thing, strangely enough, and only the following albums come to mind : the Ruby Braff trio with "Me, Myself & I" (Concord, 1989), or Chet Baker with Philip Catherine and Jean-Louis Rassinfosse on "Crystal Bells" (LDH, 1983), and - of a totally different nature - the A Trio's "Live In Nickelsdorf".

Braff and Baker set a typical cool atmosphere, creating a nice chamber feel without the drums, intimate, playful and technically superb music, entertaining and inventive at the same time.

It is almost in that tradition that you can listen to this wonderful album with Emil Strandberg on trumpet, David Stackenäs on guitar, and Pär-Ola Landin on bass. With a tune by Paul Desmond and one by Monk, tradition is also served, but their own compositions and improvisations beautifully merge with tradition without actually copying it. They keep the atmosphere but give it a very refreshing open approach, full of joy and incredible accuracy, not only technically but especially improvisationally.

Why is it called "More Music For Trumpet, Guitar and Bass"? Well, because the other album "Works", released in 2013, has the same line-up and overall feel.

And if you're still not convinced that it's good, please read Eyal Haruveni's review for Allaboutjazz.

Listen and download from Bandcamp.

PS: Suggestions for other trumpet, guitar and bass trios are welcome! Please add them in the "comments" section below.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Myra Melford - Snowy Egret (Enja, 2015) ****

By Paul Acquaro

Sitting at a bar stool in a crammed West Village club during Winter Jazz Fest this year, I knew I had a dilemma on my hands after only the first few minutes of Myra Melford's appearance with her group Snowy Egret.  The trouble, I reckoned, would be that I would want to write about the group's upcoming release for the Free Jazz Blog, and while we have covered several other of Melford's projects through the years like the great Trio-M, this effort really seemed to have a strong compositional slant to it, as much as an improvisational one. I thought, maybe I should run it by the legal department or something first, but then on impulse, I decided to risk it all...

The group is impressive, and it was the their collective sound that besotted me right away. Melford of course is on piano; on guitar, Liberty Ellman; bass guitar, Stomu Takeishi; cornet, Ron Miles; and drums, Tyshawn Sorey. At this particular show, clarinetist Ben Goldberg subbed for Miles, but on record it's Miles' lyrical tone that helps round out the group’s edgy but restrained tone and energy.

Besides the group's well rounded sound, there is also a great deal of improvisation that flows seamlessly in and out of the written material. Ellman’s fretwork really shines on the recording, from the syncopated blast of energy of the opening track, to the gorgeous chordal solo on “Night of Sorrow”,  to the rock solid delivery on “First Protest” and beyond. Takeishi’s takes full advantage of the sound of his acoustic bass guitar, as opposed to the electric or upright bass, and he uses it to make the bass lines a real melodic presence. He fills in and around the spaces, for example, playing wonderfully off Melford’s bluesy references on tracks like “Night of Sorrow”. I have yet to encounter a recording - or show - where Sorey doesn’t impress in some way, and it’s no different here, his work on the kit throughout is never dominating and always spot on. Miles’ playing is a highlight on “Promise Land”, between the interplay with Melford during the track’s opening and his solo during the song, it is a treat.

As Melford explains in the liner notes, the music was initially inspired by author Eduardo Galeano's 'Memoria del fuego', a collection that mixes fiction and history to tell the story of the New World. From this, the music mixes in rhythms and textures evocative of the America's, while creating something else entirely. Snowy Egret is a really beautiful album - and though it somewhat expands the ‘free jazz’ definition of the blog, it would be a terrible shame not to rave about it a bit.

Here's a snippet of the band from a 2013 show ...

Snowy Egret is performing during Melford's residency this week at the Stone in NYC. They perform on Saturday, March 28th.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bande à Part - Caixa-Prego (Creative Sources, 2014) ****

By Stef  

To co-create improvised music that is not only coherent, but that is also captivating and beautiful, remains an amazing thing of magic. And here we can listen to this musical magic from a Portuguese trio that deserves wider attention : Joana Guerra plays cello, Ricardo Ribeiro bass and soprano clarinets, and Carlos Godinho objects (wooden boxes, plates, a bicycle bell, balloons, billiard balls and sticks).

Their music is measured and open-ended. One instrument takes the lead, and when the others join they add color, depth and expand. As simple as that. Or not? The result is intimate and restless, calm and intense, familiar and unsettling, moving between odd sounds and sometimes repetitive phrases as the backbone for the piece, as on the haunting "Chapa 3", the centerpiece of the album.

The trio manages to create a very warm and surprising album, elegant and gentle but with strong character, less focused on individual sounds than it is on group exploration of atmosphere and texture, skilfully navigating between lyricism, silence and adventure.

Listen and buy from Bandcamp.