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Gorilla Mask: Peter Van Huffel (as), Roland Fidezius (b), Rudi Fischerlehner (dr)

Schorndorf, Manufaktur; 1/17/2020

Silke Eberhard Trio: Kay Lübke (d), Jan Roder (b), Eberhard (c)

KM28, Berlin; 1/13/2020

Schlippenbach Trio: Alexander von Schlippenbach (p), Evan Parker (ts), Paul Lytton, (dr)

Tempel, Karlsruhe, 12/10/2019

Bassdrumbone: Gerry Hemingway (d), Mark Helias (b), Ray Anderson (t)

Eric's House of Improv @ Zurcher Gallery, New York, NY 11/09/2019

Schnell: Christian Lillinger (dr), Pierre Borel (as), Antonio Borghini (b)

Manufaktur, Schorndorf, 11/15/2019

Friday, April 10, 2020

Virtual Gig List

 Keeping On, Carrying On During the Covid-19 Pandemic

The shutting down of public life as a response to containing the Covid-19 Pandemic, in order to spread out the infection to not overwhelm the health system, is important. However, the impact of the shut down can be devastating for musicians - gigs cancelled, festivals cancelled, tours cancelled, lessons cancelled - which can put people into precarious financial positions.

In order to offer some help, the Free Jazz Blog is inviting musicians and venues who are offering virtual gigs a place to list when and where the video stream can be found. We will update this list periodically.

In order to submit your gig, please fill in this form. If the event fits with the blog's theme, we will add to the list as soon as we can. 



Live cast from Dirk Serries

Sunday April 5th, 8pm (CET)

This home live concert is exclusively for you as Dirk Serries returns to his realm of ambient music. Armed with an electric guitar and a couple of effects he dwells in the zone of his ambient solo works and the music of vidnaObmana.


Live cast from Devin Grey:

Very happy to announce the new Live show: Shed Threads!
Please join us this Friday April 3rd, 2-3pm EST for a musical discussion on FB & Insta live - Extra special guest Gerald Cleaver!


Live cast from Argentina:

Info: Algo en un Espacio Vacío is a collaboration between Paula Shocron (piano, cello and voice) and Pablo Díaz (drums, percussion and sound objects). Exploring deeply in sound and performing arts on free improvisation concerts, the boundaries between music and other artistic disciplines seem to be blurred, opening the way for something new. This approach enables the artists involved to play their instruments in a number of different and creative ways and to interact with different kind of materials in order to get visual textures or performative situations.

Both based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, they have been working together for at least five years, performing in that city, as well as in New York, Berlin or Amsterdam, among other locations in Argentina and around the world. In 2019 they toured around Europe and they were awarded a grant by Robert D. Bielecki Foundation to present their work in New York.

Concert at home w/ pianist Paula Shocron and drummer Pablo Díaz, and their project Algo en un Espacio Vacío.

4/1 - 4/7

Live from Our Living Rooms Festival

Bill Frisell, Chick Corea, Linda May Han Oh, Fabian Almazan, Antonio Sanchez, Thana Alexa, Dave Liebman, Julian Lage, and others. More info.


From Catalytic Sound:

Any additional income generated through Catalytic before the end of March 31st will be paid out to the co-op partners on April 1st. 100% of all donations made will be split evenly and go directly to the musicians. Funds from the membership platform have been reorganized so that 1/3 will go to Catalytic business overhead, $450 will go to the Catalytic Artist Album participants; the remaining membership income will now be split evenly among the cooperative. There is an ongoing 10% sale (15% for members) on all albums [LP, CD, digital] released before 2020. This sale will continue throughout the Covid 19 disaster, and musicians will receive full payment for their recordings- the discount will be applied to the business revenues only. Until this catastrophe abates, payments to the co-op partners will become monthly instead of quarterly. My gratitude to musicians everywhere and those who support them- stay well and keep safe.

Catalytic Sound is: Ab Baars, Sylvie Courvoisier, Tim Daisy, Terrie Ex, Mats Gustafsson, Ben Hall, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Elisabeth Harnik, Ig Henneman, Joe McPhee, Andy Moor, Ikue Mori, Joe Morris, Paal Nilssen-Love, Dave Rempis, Luke Stewart, Ken Vandermark and Nate Wooley


Sidebar ( is broadcasting/livestreaming an exclusive solo performance by Mark Dresser at 7:00 PM Central Time (8:00 PM EST) on Friday, March 27. The show should be archived and streaming for about 24 hours after the initial broadcast, until the next day's performer, Helen Gillet, takes over with a solo cello show.


From David Rempis:

Tonight, March 25th, at 9 pm CST, I'll be partaking in The Quarantine Concerts, organized by Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago, along with my fellow Elastic Arts curators Daniel Wyche and Ben Billington.  Visit:


Also, please check out these efforts...

Monday, April 6, 2020

Joe McPhee and Fred Lonberg Holm - No Time Left For Sadness (Corbett vs Dempsey, 2020) ****

By Sammy Stein

No Time Left For Sadness is the first release from Joe McPhee (tenor saxophone) and Fred Lonberg Holm (cello, electronics) where they are working as an improvising duo. It is challenging and quite charming in its own way. Joe McPhee and Fred Lonberg-Holm have worked together before in combos including Survival Unit III, with drummer Michael Zerang, but the pair have never released a CD of duets. The recording was made in Lone Pine Studios in upstate New York where both players live. The intimacy of the recording makes for some close encounters of the intuitive kind and both Mc Phee and Lonberg- Holm demonstrate an uncanny understanding of each other's presence. There is an emotional intensity to the recording too.

There are just 3 tracks and the titles ' That Time, ' This Time' and 'Next Time' may be arbitrary but also might herald the dawning of an endearing and continuing collaboration.
'That Time ' sees the pair working together to produce sounds, explorations and diversions, whilst constantly re-imagining the landscapes they are creating. There is a sense of relaxed understanding here, each taking a chance to outshine and then support the other and the different manner in which the 'cello can contribute to music is explored fully. An uplifting track which veers across registers, explores the reedal tones as well as that of the strings as they are pulled taut, scraped, plucked and bowed in many different ways.

One might wonder why the 'cello does not feature more in improvised music. Joe Mcphee's solo section is sublime and the tenor sax parps and squawks the life out of itself, offset with sensuously bowed strings and it is a delight to hear the upper notes of the 'cello played with such control.
In the second track, 'This Time' the opportunity for further exploration is taken further with an opening section of pizzicato strings, tempered with saxual interruptions and perfectly placed riffs from McPhee. The music is expressive, emotive and switches mood with mercurial speed at times. There is also a gentle touch which pervades the entire track and is almost tangible. It adds colour and temper to the music. The folk-like ending is surprising and quite lovely.

In the third track ' Next Time' the CD culminates in a climax extemporary improvisation. Mc Phee and Lonberg-Holm provide multiple directions, creating landscapes which have few musical signposts, yet every direction leads to another deeper and exquisite revelation.

Although there is electronic additional material on the tracks, the combination of acoustic and electronic sounds works a treat because here the additional noises are worked in as part of the music - almost as a third instrument and it is only in the final track that they are more apparent.

There are several combinations working here - that of Joe McPhee and Fred Lonberg-Holm, that of 'cello and sax, of reed and string and that of the different tones - which come together in a surprising number of places, the notes of each instrument rising to meet before diverging again. There are patterns created which are then torn apart, melodies begun and then deciphered and coded once more. It is an album of intrigue, interest and constantly changing emphasis. Both musicians explore different balances, reacting to each other in different ways and pitches of sound. Bursts of energy one moment and gentle, take-down melodies the next yet also an awareness of each other. In 'Next Time' there is a wonderful section where the strings shriek under the pressure of the bow whilst the body of the 'cello provides deep, drum-like single notes.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Two from Charles Gayle

By Nick Ostrum

Charles Gayle has received a lot of love on FJB, and for good reason. Bear with me for a minute and I will try to keep the redundancy to the essentials.

From truly humble beginnings, Charles Gayle has become a legend. His story is almost the very stuff of jazz fantasy: a lone artist devotes himself completely to his craft in the face of an unyielding world (or music industry) only to overcome obscurity and gain due recognition – albeit on the fringes – in his later years. That romantic tinge only holds, however, if you focus on the uncompromising quest for self-realization through music and strip it of the hardships endured in a decade and a half of homelessness, whereby Gayle survived by busking in a fashion more likely to repel than attract the average passer-by. This, of course, was how Gayle refined his sound, which lies somewhere between freneticism of Charlie Parker, the spirituality of Albert Ayler and late-stage John Coltrane, and the off-the-walls adventurism of Arthur Doyle. If you have listened to his previous recordings, you already know he digs deep into the new thing tradition and, if you have heard Solo Piano or Live at the Glenn Miller Café you know his roots run still deeper beyond free-bop and be-bop. Gayle’s inspiration also emanates quite unapologetically from his religious faith (listen to the brief thank you at the end of Seasons Changing for a brief and inclusive declaration) and his oft-noted resistance to commercial conformity, as well as his experience, all those decades ago, on the streets of New York. As Gayle himself explains, “I tried to copy the sounds I heard: the traffic, the fire engines, the police cars, even babies crying. Everything. It’s just automatic. You do it all these years so that becomes your music.” This odd brew of obstinacy and spiritualism, deeply human music and accidental noise pollution, struggle and discipline, tradition and vanguardism, makes him hard to pin down. This also makes him so exhilarating.

Now, some three decades after his first releases on Sweden’s Silkheart label, Gayle is an octogenarian and he is still blowing his uniquely colored fire, as these two recordings from 2019 attest.

Charles Gayle, Giovanni Barcella, and Manolo Cabras - The Alto Sessions (el Negocito, 2019) ****

The Alto Sessions is a studio recording with two musicians Gayle first played with in 2011: Giovanni Barcella (bass) and Manolo Cabras (drums). Since their first meeting these three have consistently practiced and toured and intermittently recorded. This is their second album together.

It begins with a series of twisted wails. Barcella and Cabras bide their time for a minute, and chime in with similarly gnarled lines and broken rhythms. From there, a wild ride ending abruptly with energy and some of Gayle’s (?) vocal howls. The second track, “Charles’s Speech” is a ballad, softer and blusier than Gayle usually lays. The rhythmic accompaniment is sparse and lyrical. “Three Lonely Legs,” the third track, returns to the energy music paradigm, laden with squeals and tortured scales. In a way that it seems only Gayle can muster, however, behind this aggressive, inspired abstraction resides and underlying pensiveness and meditation. This theme carries over into the next track, Cabras’s steadily lumbering and meditative solo-drum piece “Solitudine.”

The ominously titled “Dark Optimism” is one of the surprise treasures on this album. It begins with Barcella’s squealing arco bass, soon followed by tentatively rummaging drums and a surprisingly restrained Gayle on piano. A fan of Time Zones, I found his piano work here more disciplined, effective, and, well, dark. Except for a brief twinkling of upper register keys at the end of the piece, I find little evidence of optimism, but maybe that is the point: the lightness comes imperceptibly and only as the darkness retreats. Barcella steps in for the next piece, “Balosismik,” a slow solo-bass meditation that leads into the final piece, “Sun Sin.” Here, the group reconvenes in their original formulation as Gayle returns to the alto and his truncated, contorted phrasings overlaying a propulsive, deeply synergistic rhythm section. All in all, a well-balanced recording of the frenzied, clunky free jazz that has granted Gayle renown.

And, speaking of soaring alto screeches knifing through a synergistic rhythm section…

Charles Gayle, John Edwards, Mark Sanders - Seasons Changing (Otoroku, 2019) ****½

Seasons Changing is pure Gayle fire-spitting riding atop densely latticed, knotted groves of John Edwards (bass) and Mark Sanders (drums). Given their extensive, compelling history together, Edwards-Sanders might just be England’s answer to America’s William Parker-Hamid Drake, or maybe Parker-Rashied Ali of By Any Means and Touchin’ on Trane fame. As much as those latter releases offer some context particularly for Gayle’s approach, however, this November 15, 2017 concert at London’s now legendary Café Oto documents a very different outing.

Seasons Changing takes me back to my first few spins of my first Gayle album, Live at the Glenn Miller Cafe. That is not because it rehashes, but because of its unfaltering drive, its free-bop-reprised dynamics, and its sheer intensity. Clearly, Gayle has still got it. And, clearly, Edwards and Sanders have got their own thing going on that intertwines so impeccably with Gayle’s. Six-minutes into the first piece on this two-disc live date, Sanders and Gayle step aside and let Edwards show his angular chops. What sticks out on this live recording is not just Edwards’ dexterity, speed, and sense of rhythm, but the contrast between the static and manic sections of this extended run. Soon, Sanders recaptures the grove and Gayle squeaks his way back into the fray, falling into a sharp, spirited melody.

Intersperse adjectives such as “soulful,” “squonky,” “pained,” and “beatific” here and there, and the description above describes the entirety of these two sets, whether Gayle is on sax or piano. Whether Edwards is playing a jagged walking blues or meticulously percussing to elicit creaks and clamps. Whether Sanders is laying down a rolling groove or playing around the melody a la Tony Oxley and Sunny Murray. This album is packed with spiked improv punch. It is replete with erudite references (I am sure) that I am too daft to tease out. And, it is oddly, at times somber, at others joyfully exuberant. This is classic free jazz chiseled for the present by decades (in Gayle’s case, eight decades) of musical history, exploration, and awareness. Absolutely riveting.

This album is available as a double CD and download.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Singular Vision of Swedish Pianist Lisa Ullén

Swedish pianist Lisa Ullén is a free spirit and a versatile composer-improviser with a singular vision. Some of her recent collaborations include one with long-time collaborator, double bass master Nina de Heney and another in a the trio with reeds player Johan Arrias and violinist Angharad Davies, both demonstrate, again, her unique vision.

Lisa Ullén & Nina de Heney - Hydrozoa (Found You Recordings, 2020) *****

Ullén and de Heney Duo have been playing as a duo since 2007, soon releasing their first album, Carve (LJ Records, 2009), and later expanding the duo with like-minded innovative collaborators - vocalist Mariam Wallentin on More (Disorder, 2012), cellist Okkyung Lee on Look Right (LJ Records, 2013) and violinist Charlotte Hug on Quarrtsiluni (Lamour Records, 2016). The double-album Hydrozoa was recorded in two intense, free-improvised sessions done in the Haga Church in Göteborg in March 2017, one evening with a live audience, the other one without, and offers almost two and a half hours of music.

Hydrozoa refers to aquatic organisms, amazing in their diversity and in the complexity of their life-cycles, “swaying forms uplifting their tentacles in the vast wings of the surrounding oceans”. Accordingly, the improvisations of Ullén and de Heney attempt to sway in the vast oceans of tantalizing, delicate sounds.

The interplay is immediate, totally intuitive and free-associative. The ongoing, rich dialog between Ullén and de Heney streams with natural ease and organic, emotional power, allowing both to just let the music breathe and speak for itself, in its own reserved but highly poetic manner. Ullén and de Heney opt here for a minimalist, intimate and very quiet interplay that plays, shapes and sculpts the light dissonances and the elusive, abstract sounds. They often employ preparations, objects and extended bowing techniques that enable both to expand their range of sounds but also to sketch only the fragile contours of their imaginative textures, triggering, in their turn, evocative, seductive sonic visions.

Sometimes, the patient dynamics gravitate slowly towards an eccentric yet playful, song-like format, as on “Leatolina” or ‘Plumularia”. On other times, Ullén and de Heney simply court and spark each other as on the enigmatic- sensual “Athecata” and “Laomedea”, playfully exploring new timbral qualities and dynamics on “Trachylina” and “Liriope” or weaving surreal, dream-like textures on “Catablema” and “Aglantha”. There are countless, instantaneous-telepathic games that Ullén and de Heney play with each other, often sounding as one sonic organism that colors its constant shift of rhythmic pattern with a spectrum of light, melancholic colors as on “Thuiria”.

A true masterpiece of deep-listening free-improvisation.

Johan Arrias / Angharad Davies / Lisa Ullén - Crystalline (ausculto fonogram, 2020) ***½

Ullén with fellow-Swedish clarinet and alto sax player Johan Arrias explored their options as a duo before deciding to invite Welsh violinist Angharad Davies in February 2014 to work as trio towards a concert at London’s Cafe OTO. The trio reconvened again in February 2017 for a residency and concert at The Gerlesborg School of Fine Art on the Swedish west coast, and again in September 2018 to record their debut album for Arrias label at the Atlantis studio in Stockholm. In the meantime Ullén and Angharad Davies have kept working together and released soon after the recording of Crystalline a duo album, 14.10.18 (OTOroku,2019)

All three musicians contributed compositions to Crystalline and all employ distinct preparations to their respective instruments. Ullén's “Undercurrent” sets the chamber, restrained atmosphere of this album, where the sparse and resonating, percussive touches of Ullén's piano blend gently into the ethereal breaths of Arrias’ clarinet and through the light, overtones of Davies and all flow together in a delicate and transparent stream. Davies’s “Rydal Mount'' suggests an abstract drone, sketched by her careful bowing and plucking of the violin strings. Arrias’ two-parts of “Rituals” offers a more physical and tensed interplay where his extended breathing techniques create lyrical, darker undercurrents. The improvised “Etude” deepens the close sonic experiment of this trio and the last “Coda '' offers playful, emotional comfort.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Yiorgis Sakellariou – Nympholepsy (Noise Below, 2019) ****

By Fotis Nikolakopoulos

History can very often be a burden. Your past comes back to haunt you, to remember the great John Fahey. Living in Greece there are two realities you have to endure. First is the narrative of the Greek state. The Greek authorities are eager and willing to sell the classical times any way they can. Everything else becomes a blur, just a note in history’s long trajectory. The mainstream needs the “democracy of ancient Athens” and all that comes along with it. Secondly, it is a matter of scale. Everything is measured up by the size. Numbers, buildings, antiquities. Having worked, very lately, in the field of tourism, all the people coming to Greece get the idea that only kings, queens and people of the upper classes existed here. There’s no reference of everyday life and its people, the images, the sounds, the boring normality and the burdens of it maybe. Many times some very beautiful and important sites seem totally empty in any meaning, if you ignore the real people that lived there, touched the marbles, changed and determined the landscape.

This site specific recording came into my attention during my own personal procedure of reassessing my past to continue into the future. It is inspired by the history and the immediate environment of ancient Messene. In the liner notes you will find the key to Nympholepsy, which is the link between the sound of now and the materials which date many centuries ago. Like music is a non verbal language, Nympholepsy provides a bridge, a communiqué maybe, between the present and past. But who is to say that time is linear? And why do we measure everything, so obsessed, by time? Nympholepsy stays in the middle, not wanting to give definite answers.

Nympholepsy uses the voice of Savina Yannatou as a core material manipulated and combined with site- specific field recordings. Yannatou is a well known greek singer, one of the very few with strong ties with the greek folk tradition and European improvisation as well. This fact in a country that music tradition is a do not touch affair is really difficult. The cd only last for 23 minutes. I caught myself wanting to hear more. Sakellariou, apart from the personal nature of this recording, seems to understand really well the balance needed. Nympholepsy could very easily be an audio guide to the ancient Messene site. It walks with you, reveals the audio qualities, hidden voices, current noises of the site. Guides you even. It has the relaxed vibe of someone (not a tourist in a hurry to see as much as possible) who is willing to integrate and, at the same time, the intensity the weight the past (glory days, days of happiness and disasters) carries for any place.

This site-specific recording was presented at an event produced by Onassis Cultural Center in 2018 and even though I hate the way they patronize modern culture in Greece, OCC is one of the very few that tries to present a different non-mainstream side of modern Greece. Not everything is just black or just white it seems.


Thursday, April 2, 2020

Palynology - Axel Dörner & Agustí Fernández (Sirulita Records, 2019) ****½

By Stephen Griffith

A few years ago, an online friend sent me a note urging me to pick this up. Since that guy's musical tastes dovetail with mine and he wouldn't recommend something willynilly I quickly ordered it. After all, Mark Sanders was an excellent drummer on things I liked on Emanem and other labels and I liked Dörner's playing with Die Enttäuschung and on Monk's Casino. There's no need to restate anything in the earlier review other than it opened my ears to Dörner's use of advanced trumpet techniques and electronics in a duo setting to create very interesting soundscapes.

Fast forward to 2019 and Sirulita releases a 2001 recording of Axel and Agustí Fernández called Palynology, a term meaning the study of plant spores or pollen, both ancient or modern. Since the three song titles are all plant names perhaps there's one item successfully explicated. Bandcamp seems to be the key to unlocking a lot of older unreleased performances which, at least in this case, show no signs of being musty period pieces. Rather this proves that effective use of advanced techniques and electronics have been employed by these two musicians for at least two decades.

"Poinsettias" gets things off to a jarring start as Agustí's woodblock over strings scraping is immediately overtaken by rapid fire electronically manipulated pulses by Dörner in each of the channels quickly creating alternating herky jerky rhythms. Fernandez briefly plays the keys but most of the playing in this piece is rubbing the strings creating reverberant sounds. Axel alternates soft acoustic techniques with the electronics to add slowly changing movements with a tension throughout. At the 14 minute mark Fernández plays a brief rumbling motif in the lower register with seemingly damped strings and an extremely resonant soundboard. From here the piece winds down ending with an electronic hum. "Azaleas" is a more ethereal piece featuring mostly soft noteless exhalations of varying intensity by Dörner as Agustí almost imperceptibly builds a rhythm across the strings that at times sounds like a ghostly train going through a dream.

The 20 plus minute "Saruma" features one of those jaw dropping performances that fans of the Catalan pianist are somewhat conditioned to but never fail to get fresh pleasure from each new experience. From the beginning he creates a sonic howl in the lower and middle registers within which melodic figures flit in and out as the intensity ebbs and flows. Dörner mainly plays a harsh noteless blast of white noise in the center constantly (I think I detected one break). There's enough variation going on throughout that interest never wanes; I have no idea if the piano was prepared specially for this or adroit use was made of the pedals to have such easy to detect melodies within the squall. Finally as the piano winds down you hear soft higher note embellishments of the low keys. After wondering if it was odd harmonics of the piano, it's Axel quietly adding the accents from his trumpet as the song fades out. Nearly twenty years later it sounds fresh and great.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Ivo Perelman and Matt Shipp - Amalgam (Mahakala Music, 2020) ****½

By Sammy Stein

Ivo Perelman and Matt Shipp have made several recordings together and seem to have found, in each other's playing, approach to improvisation and delivery a musical dizygotic twin. The difference fate dispensed is one is a pianist, the other a saxophone player. Each has strong individual traits yet also that innate ability to listen intently and know the right moment to soar or step back. I have reviewed their music before and in fact, Ivo, I have reviewed with a number of different collaborators. Of this album, he told me, " we feel this is the most accomplished effort of the duo so far".

With most music Ivo puts out of late, tracks have just a number but on this CD, tracks have two numbers and the numbers don't even equal the number of tracks (there are 12 tracks but the numbers go up to number 17) so we have track 1 is number 7 track2 is number 13, track 3 is number 8 track 4 is number 16, track 5 is number 1 and so on so, I am just going to go through in order. Is this important? No, just inexplicable.

So, track number 1 (7) is breathy tenor over gentle chords from the piano , the tenor creating melodic, sensual lines which carry a song in many places, whilst the piano follows, using the phrases to intersperse chords and progressions aiming always towards the expected destination of the sax - which is not always where Perelman ends up. In places, Matt ship crashes keys, as if to impose a change and inject a note of insistence of his path, which Perelman accepts momentarily, before returning to his gentle meanderings and improvisations. Track 2 (13) begins with piano dark and deep, contrasted by Ivo's tenor , light and cheeky, under which the piano rumbles and rolls before joining in the tomfoolery with some playful lines of its own. Perelman then changes the atmosphere and timing with some sharp, driving, incisive notes, under which the piano offers contrapuntal rhythms aplenty, whilst remaining firmly in the lower octaves. Perelman then soars into altissimo before returning to lower register and creating some responsive stut notes and interruptions of his invention. The last section with both players bashing out notes is impressive improvising - and catch that cheeky little bar and a half of swing inserted from Shipp.

Track number 3 (8) is a conversation between sax and piano, with Perelman in squeaky but controlled altissimo over Shipp's chordal ingressions. On this track you can hear the quality of Perelman's extended altissimo notes- something he is a bit of a specialist in lately. He slurs and sweeps from lower to upper registers, swapping melodic lines for short phrases and the piano follows relentlessly. Track 4 (16) is faster, energetic, both Shipp and Perelman devouring notes and spitting them out seemingly in the hope they come to lie in a way that makes musical sense - and , because of good old intuition, they do. One glorious section of piano rumbling around the low notes under the sax creates a deeper, threatening tone, which unleashes itself as Perelman discovers more notes than any sax deserves in the middle range of his tenor. Track 5 (1) is shorter, with a darker undercurrent running through it . There is a sense, from the melodic lines from Perelman coupled with some equally tuneful phrases from the piano, that this track may have started out as something melodic and melancholic. It does not end that way. In one section a bit of swing almost breaks through, just under the melody but this is swamped as improvisation takes over and Perelman is led where the musical muse leads him. This is a stand-out track.

Track 6 (2) is high energy, short, sharp phrases from both saxophone and piano, with Perelman bashing out the stut notes in militaristic rhythms before switching to a gentle, softer line. A little angry squealing in altissimo over some devilish piano before relaxing into a softer, melodic section.

Track 7 (14) is more piano-led with Perelman responding to the piano lines and key suggestions - again indicative of that listening which happens with great improvisers. The piano is heads up on this track, its dark chords suggesting the changes and directing the rhythms more. In Shipp's solos, you can hear his rapid-fire single note progressions which somehow manage to keep each note crystalline.

Track 8 (17) sees Perelman exploring a musical phrase for the entire first third before dispensing with that and diverging into a place which attracted his attention earlier. The piano is steady and worth a listen as, in the second third it seems to explores a single phrase in different ways itself, whilst sax improvises across. By the final section both players are in tune with each other once more and the ending with piano floating under slurred sax is gorgeous. Track 9 (9) sees Perelman fast and furious over gentle, intricate piano, working his way towards a 7-note phrased section and some rather lovely reedy altissimo. The track has a light, effervescent feel to it, yet is incredibly intricate in both piano and sax lines.

Track 10 (15) begins with solo sax which sets up a journey which both musicians then embark on, sax gently melodic over equally gentle and pure sounding piano. Just after the three minute mark the piano sets up a rocking rhythm over which the sax speaks and squeaks, the altissimo sounding alarmingly like Mr Punch in a couple of places. Track 11 (6) is another fast-delivered , inventive flurry of phrases, motifs and little nuances, all briefly explored and delivered at breakneck speed. It is short, too short. Track 12 (11) is more melodic in structure , with the sax taking on a reflective stance and there are some great sections where both sax and piano are tremuling in tandem. Perelman lets the notes roll and spikes the sound by tonguing at regular intervals, whilst the piano sets up a steady , thudding rhythms , which the sax then picks up and then, suddenly, it finishes. Press play again.

Ivo said earlier he felt this was his and Matt's best music yet and, whilst that is debatable, purely on the basis of the choice now available (and some gems are there), their music is in essence like bubbles. Different shapes and sizes of sound float and pop to release the sounds within. Some are gentle droplets of sounds, subtle in colour and almost butterfly-like in their caress whilst others release a deluge of thick, heavy sounds, the colours dark and rich , the weight heavy on the ears. It all depends which bubbles you pop. There is in this release more emotion, especially from Perelman, than I have heard recently, which is engaging.

Whilst every track sounds different, there are threads linking them together. The central section has a melodic phrase, the final section includes a dialogue between the instruments and the outre is generally one musician on their own. So there is subtle pattern and structure in this improvisation and from the piano, an adhesion to an almost classical train of structure. What that means and why it makes this paring quite rarefied is that you have free improvisation yes, but there is also enough structure and a touch of rigidity, which the brain sub-consciously deciphers, fixes on and finds comfort in. Good music, good improvisation, everything to like.

Order on Bandcamp

Read Sammy's insightful interview with Ivo Perelman.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Jooklo Trio - It Is What It Is / Virginia Genta - Amplified Sopranino Sax 7"

By Nick Metzger

It's pretty undisputed at this point that the Jooklos (Virginia Genta and David Vanzan) bare the torch for unabashed third eye opening, cosmic energy sourced, 21st century fire music. Their various incarnations and groupings explore free jazz, psychedelia, and punk with such ferocity, passion, and power that listening to the music can border on transcendence. The music is exciting and unpredictable and I've yet to hear anything they've been involved in that I didn't fall head-over-heels for. Below are a couple of releases I've been slow in getting to. One is a 7" lathe cut of Virginia Genta on solo amplified sopranino saxophone from Relative Pitch records and the other a limited edition CDR of their trio with Brandon Lopez on their own Troglosound imprint. I've been blown away by both of these releases and am certain after listening to these against their prior work that the Jooklos are still steeply ascending and nowhere near their high water mark.

Virginia Genta - Amplified Sopranino Sax (Relative Pitch, 2019) *****

This latest solo outing from the esteemed saxophonist Virginia Genta comes lathe cut into a jagged square of plexiglass from Relative Pitch records. Her third solo release after 2012's ultra limited edition "Tenor" and 2016's excellent " Rough Enough " finds her again making an all-to-brief 7" statement, this time on amplified sopranino saxophone. I never actually saw this pop up on Relative Pitch's website but as of this writing there are still affordable copies available on Discogs. Genta has really developed as a player since her beginnings. Initially noted for her immense power and expressiveness this single documents her growth as a technician, showing off her circular breathing prowess and hypersonic fingerwork. As if that weren't enough she goes amplified here, adding an overdriven cutting-edge to her tempest.

The record absolutely howls from the drop of the needle and never lets up. Genta weaves together lightning fast fundamentals, overtones, quarter notes, and feedback into an organic, albeit extraordinarily intense, sonic tapestry. The two roughly three minute tracks elicit a wild mix of touchstones, ranging from straight horn giants like Evan Parker and John Butcher to the speed metal soloing of Trey Azagthoth. This speed makes it somewhat overwhelming on first listen, like sticking your head out the window of a speeding vehicle and trying to catch your breath. But soon the logic takes form and the pieces inherit a strange beauty imbued by their intensity. The key is to let it wash over you, to concede to the currents and let them take you where they may. Fantastic.

Jooklo Trio - It Is What It Is (Troglosound, 2019) ****1/2

Recorded at GSI Studios in Manhattan at the end of August, 2018, this limited edition CDR captures what is sure to become a legendary coupling. Genta and her long-time-partner-in-crime David Vanzan plus one Brandon Lopez, all amasse under the moniker Jooklo Trio. As you can imagine the meeting plays out like a stellar collision, their sonic masses caught in an accelerating spiral and merged in a blast of power and intensity. Amplification, feedback, and distortion play a big part here, adding oxygen to the fire and making it roar with a white-hot blast furnace of free-jazz-punk energy. Lopez's sledgehammer bass playing is saturated in fuzz, and made all the more crushing by Vanzan's energetic avalanche of percussion. Genta's amplified tenor and sopranino saxophones light up their suffocating murk like rooster tails of sparks flying off the grinding wheel.

"Last Parasites" builds a foundation of snarling bass and hyperactive drums that Genta laces with shrieking feedback and reedy guitar-esque runs. On "Cripple Eye" Genta switches to tenor, squealing and barking amid Vanzan's explosive percussion and Lopez's slinky bass crunch. "Toxic Spit" continues the onslaught, with the trio sounding like Full Blast on steroids. Vanzan is such an under-rated drummer, and here he pushes the other players into the red with his raw energy. Lopez fits right in with the duo, and you can hear him and Genta throttling with the surges of percussion. "Smile of Insanity" might be the harshest piece on the album, with Genta peeling the paint off the walls in an almost unbroken narrative of respiratory aggression. On the fantastically titled "Trash Over Rice" the bass throbs within a web of death metal percussion. The din is punctuated with ecstatic banshee howling. The final track, "Shitty Kid" is manic with an incomprehensible energy given the intensity of the preceding tracks. Genta blows piercing serpentine lines in ceaseless variations, beckoning the cosmos with her purifying fire. Epic.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Jim Denley, Christian Marien, Pierre-Yves Martel, Matthias Müller - Dis-Drill (mamü music, 2020) ***½

By Keith Prosk

The duos Jim Denley/Christian Marien and Pierre-Yves Martel/Matthias Müller each freely play a host of extended techniques for a sidelong track on the split album Dis-Drill. Recorded in 2019 at Canberra’s SoundOut Festival, which emphasizes first meetings, Dis-Drill documents the first time Denley (woodwinds) and Marien (drums, percussion) or Martel (viola da gamba, pitch pipes) and Müller (trombone) played together. Of course, Müller/Marien record together as the duo Superimpose and Denley/Martel recorded Transition De Phase with Philippe Lauzier, Kim Myhr, and Eric Normand.

The Denley/Marien set, “Drill Bit,” drifts through a collection of extended techniques for the instruments involved. Like much of the music these musicians make, it’s less overt conversation or call-and-response and more communication through changes in tempo, space, and volume on a substrate of timbre (with glimpses of more traditional tone). A quick ticking rim and skittering skins from Marien is met with an undulating resonant hum from Denley that transitions to a draining suck as the ticking becomes more urgent; spit play accompanies brushes like branches against the window; bowed metal with blown drumheads; swaths of breath and waves of brushes. These timbres most often begin and end with each other, rather than transitioning into each other, and can be separated by hard resets of silence, creating the feeling of a collaged environment. Sometimes the tempo, space, and volume build together towards a crescendo in these episodes before breaking into the next timbre, but most often the dynamics are relatively constrained. It’s usually quiet, but there’s not much silence beyond the timbral breaks.

The Martel/Müller set, “Dirt Bill,” follows the same dynamics and structure. But Martel’s pulsing string rubbing and percussive body tapping is met with Müller’s wood wick candle fluttering and hydraulic release exhalations; Martel’s creaking with Müller’s wheezing; Martel’s scratching glass with Müller’s rubbing balloons; and Martel’s viola sounding like a harmonica with Müller’s trombone sounding like a didgeridoo, recalling a John Hillcoat western score with Warren Ellis (which I’m sure someone in the Australian audience also heard). Martel only utilizes pitch pipes a couple times but to amusing effect towards the end of the track, sounding off a simple, almost childlike non-melody while Müller creates a kind airplane ambiance before making the pitch pipes sound like a harmonica too.

The two tracks on Dis-Drill are well-played, especially considering they’re first meetings, but want the concept and resulting structure, complexity, and cleverness that makes other echtzeitmusik recordings landmarks in contemporary music. It’s still a worthwhile listen, a promising springboard for future collaborations between these two sets of musicians, and a solid selection for the third release from Müller’s mamü music, after solo trombone and The Monophonic Havel .
Dis-Drill is available digitally and on cassette.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Falling behind Ernesto Rodrigues

By Nick Ostrum

Catching up with Ernesto Rodrigues is a futile pursuit. I had been planning this post for a few weeks at the end of 2019. I aggregated a slew of albums, a non-methodically chosen most of his Creative Sources releases over the last few months of the year. And now, just a few weeks later, he has already outpaced me. Hence, despite my best efforts, I am still falling behind.

Nevertheless, here is a review of some (and just some) of Rodrigues’ final releases of 2019.

IKB – Paradoxurus Hermaphroditus (Creative Sources, 2019) ****

Compared to many of his recent releases (i.e. Lisbon String Trio) and some of the other releases in this review, Paradoxurus Hermaphroditus is a return to form for Rodrigues. Although it is not quite as quiet as the most minimal of his releases, it maintains the subtleties and delicate clicks, clanks, and breaths that Rodrigues started exploring decades ago. This is particularly notable as Paradoxurus Hermaphroditus was recording live at CreativeFest XII in 2018. Unlike other amelodic, nonidiomatic music like this, Paradoxurus is slight music magnified, rather than a wide-ranging sonic engulfment. It is about fine textures and miniscule ripples. It is about small sounds and diminutive tones. Even in such understatement, however, it is still about expansivity and big movement. This is all the more remarkable given the line-up of 20 musicians. (In that, it reminds me the Insub Meta Orchestra with more independently moving parts). This is music that begs to be played loud (if only to be audible) and commands close attention. And, it is one of the most consistently engrossing albums I have heard from Rodrigues lately.

Marie Takahashi, Ernesto Rodrigues, Guilherme Rodrigues & Hui-Chun Lin – double x double (Creative Sources, 2019) *** 1/2

Especially for an irrepressible musician, arranger, and label owner like Rodrigues, I imagine one must expend a lot of energy just keeping things interesting. Much of that energy seems dedicated to the single-minded quest to push the boundaries of the music, creating pieces that oscillate in that sweet spot just a hair too abrasive for Wandelweiser and much too Wandelweiser for a large swath of the rest of the listening public. Some must also go into imagining and staging new configurations of musicians seasoned in this type of lowercase music. It seems a small world, but, somehow, Rodrigues and his collaborators still find new contours to explore.

A string quartet of two violas and two cellos, double x double is just one of these working ensembles. From the first deep bows of the first track, “Dawn Burglary,” the listener knows he is in for a very different experience than the much larger ensemble on Paradoxurus Hermaphroditus produced. The music here is dark and clear, rather than almost inaudible restive. The tension is unmistakable. The melodies are sinister, blending a romantic sense of harmonic development and sway with a postmodern feel for interlaced droning tones and a postmodern fascination with all things non-conventional. (By now, of course, much that had been unconventional has been incorporated into and refined by the Rodrigues/Creative Sources repertoire.) Think: contrasting dynamics of prolonged shimmering and scratchy whispers and sharp, percussive strings, barely audible clicks, wooden creaks, and slide-whistle glissandos. A fine showcase of the potentialities of a modern, unorthodox string quartet.

Ernesto Rodrigues, Luis Senra, Gianna De Toni, Luis Couto, Biagio Verdolini – Prima Practica (Creative Sources, 2019) ****

Slow-motion deconstruction of bassline supported by crackles, chimes, plucks, and hollow metallics. Light wafts of half-melodies. Delicate percuss and saxophone clucks. Softly but restively screeching strings. Speaks to both the common ideas and discipline of the group dedicated to discovering the minute, dissonant idiosyncrasies of the musical moment and extending them deep into time. A second can be an instant or a prolonged meditation on a single bent tone, scraped surface, or, more often, combinations of minor events.

What makes this unique in this bunch is the primary role played by Gianna De Toni’s bass. It frequently stands out in its depth and clarity and seems the linking element between prevalent atmosphere of strange sounds (Luis Senra’s contorted sax huffs, Luis Couto’s altered guitar, Biagio Verdolini’s bag of homemade devices, and, of course, Rodrigues’ viola) and more traditional and recognizable musical elements.

Ernesto Rodrigues, Guilherme Rodrigues, Paulo Curado, Joao Silva, Andre Hencleeday, Carlos Santos, Joao Valinho Spiegel (Creative Sources, 2019) ****

Recorded at the CreativeFest XII (as was Paradoxurus Hermaphroditus), Spiegel is one of several recent releases that caught a Rodrigues ensemble live. The sound quality, however, hardly suffers, and that is an extreme complement for music like this. One can still hear the slightest squeak, most breathy hiss, and faintest rumbling. These are set against forceful but restrained piano, sparse single-note cello pizzicato, and other mysterious loud tones. In the sense of contrast (rather than movement), this is potently dynamic. Although there is a rawness to this music, there is also a clear refinement. Noise is not made to simply to fill space, but to continue a musical thought or transition to a new one. The layers bend and blend into each other, creating a quiet wall of sound. Yet, somehow, this stops short of the ambient sound-sculpting that it so often tempts. Two long tracks of subtle, mysterious, and masterful music captured in its purest live form.

Biliana Voutchkova, Ernesto Rodrigues, Rodrigo Pinheiro – White Bricks and the Wooden Mutes (Creative Sources, 2019) ****1/2

Of the albums in the round-up, this is the one I had anticipated with the most eagerness. Two violas and a piano? Lisbon-scene stalwarts Rodrigues and Rodrigo Pinherio with Biliana Voutchkova of Blurred Music renown? What’s not to like?

Another live recording (though from a 2017 date), White Bricks and the Wooden Mutes promised to be bold (and understated) and forceful (but subtly so). This assumption may have encouraged me to listen harder or concede to it certain intentionality. That says, it is nevertheless a standout among this compelling set of releases. One viola turns to drones. The other, clicks plucks. Pinherio’s piano responds with metallic chords, flight runs, and rapid interior pizzicato. The music then glides into some of the most active and spirited exchanges I have heard Rodrigues engaged in. This approaches free jazz at its clunkiest and most energetic. But, it does this briefly. As with Rodrigues’ quieter releases, the group focuses on shaping sound out of a dialogical morass. It concentrates on dynamics, rather than melodicism or unfettered ebullience. Still, counter to my expectations, understatement and near-silent nuance are the exception, though they do appear at brief moments in the valleys. Much of the rest is composed of the layers of whistling notes, frayed crackles, nervous scrapes, and controlled dynamism that have come to characterize Rodrigues’ projects, albeit here at comparatively amplified volumes. It is an odd combination for Rodrigues, but a wholly satisfying one.