How to find the right middle ground between simplicity and complexity? Too much elaborated pieces tend to be stifling for direct emotional delivery and spontaneous interventions, but you have the expectional results of some bands that prove the contrary (Little Huey Orchestra, Exploding Star Orchestra), and if it's too simple, you need to be a fantastic instrumentalist too keep the attention going. Think of some of Wadada Leo Smith's albums or Peter Evans. What the extremes show, is that when you do, you have to go all the way, diving into those regions of unexplored music that touch the soul and the heart directly and differently, leading to a gripping listening experience. If you get stuck in the middle-ground, hesitating between the two approaches, you risk to get caught in the vast majority of records that are published, and that are interesting at best. Sometimes, a few get above the mowing line, mixing both, and the ideas and inventive musicianship make them noteworthy.
Tintinabulum - Not The Wind, Not The Flag (Barnyard, 2009) ***
David Crowell Ensemble - Spectrum (Innova, 2009) ***
Alto saxophonist David Crowell is joined by Grey Mcmurray on guitar, Mike Chiavaro on electric bass, and Jason Nazary on drums. Crowell played with Philip Glass and that can be heard on some of the tracks where repetitive themes shift over rhythm, but he also varies well with powerful uptempo pieces built along long unison lines. Lots of ideas by this young band, still a little struggling to find its own voice.
Ryan Blotnick - Everything Forgets (Songlines, 2008) ***
Tony Wilson Sextet - The People Look Like Flowers At Last (Drip Audio, 2009) ***
Mysterium - An Electric Soundpainting Septet (Eavesdrop Music, 2009) ***
Soundpainting" improvisation technique of Walter Thompson, the pieces by this septet sound very composed, and even well arranged. Mixing many jazz styles into one very coherent whole, making this a quite entertaining ane enyoyable album. With Eric John Eigner on drumset, James Ilgenfritz on electric bass, Adam Caine on electric guitar, Sam Kulik on trombone, Jeremy Danneman on alto sax, Lorenzo Sanguedolce on tenor sax, and Evan Mazunik as the soundpainter.