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Monday, December 31, 2012


This must have been the most boring competition for the HAPPY NEW EARS AWARD we've ever had, with the winner in the lead from the first hour to the last, and capturing almost one third of all votes. Eve Risser, Benjamin Duboc and Edward Perraud are the deserved winners with "En Corps", which already featured on many top-10 of the year lists too. They have indeed given us some novel listening experience. Congratulations to the winners, and to all other contenders for the great music and ear-opening - and mind-opening - musical ideas. Thanks to all voters for their contribution.

  1. Eve Risser - En Corps (27%)
  2. RED Trio + Nate Wooley - Stem (15%)
  3. Eivind Opsvik - Overseas IV (8%)
  4. Stian Westerhus - The Matriarch (8%)
  5. Tim Berne - Snake Oil (7%)
  6. Thomas Heberer's Clarino - Cookbook (6%)
  7. Angharad Davies, Tisha Mukarji, Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga – Outwash (5%)
  8. Mikolaj Trzaska's Ircha - Zikaron Lefanaj (5%)
  9. Evan Parker, Okkyung Lee, Peter Evans – The Bleeding Edge (3%)
  10. Pão - Pão (3%)
  11. Evan Parker’s Electro-Acoustic Ensemble: Hasselt (3%)
  12. Levity - Afternoon Delights (2%)
  13. Katherine Young's Pretty Monsters (1%)
  14. MMM Quartet - Live at the Metz’ Arsenal (0%)
  15. Bobun - Suite Pour Machines À Mèche (0%)

Paul Lytton/Nate Wooley + Ikue Mori & Ken Vandermark – The Nows (Clean Feed, 2012)****½

By Paolo Casertano 

End of the year. Time for judgments. Nate Wooley is my favourite 2012 trumpet player. An overview of all the astounding releases he has given us during this year could justify a monographic review of many pages. I realized my admiration even better after this impressive work done in collaboration with the veteran and pioneer drummer Paul Lytton, and featuring Ikue Mori and Ken Vandermark as well. The suppleness of registers and styles that Wooley deploys, with results always at ease, is really mind-boggling. He can easily switch from pure experimentalism delving into rumorism à la Toshinori Kondo and Axel Dörner (to be more frequently found in his solo productions or in superb collaborations with the other young trumpet phenomenon Peter Evans) to more traditional and sentimental phrasings à la Magnus Broo. I’ve never seen him live, so I really wonder which kind of amplifying settings he adopts to achieve this sound.

Obviously the 35 minutes long “Free Will, Free Won’t” is an exhaustive manifesto of such an attitude. We find blasting open notes sounding like scratches on vinyl, raucous and screeching passages with the marching Lytton’s drums running after. Some unbelievably long notes achieved with circular breathing transfigure in drone carpets. In the meanwhile Lytton amuse himself with thousands of Mikado sticks - I like to think he’s indeed using these - hitting every inch of skin, metal and wood he can reach. For many minutes in the second half of this composition Wooley doesn’t produce anymore a single recognizable note. He plays instead with the air silently blown in his instrument’s tubing.

Ikue Mori creates in “Abstractions and Repetitions” a minimal electronics scenario where Lytton inserts subtle and far interludes of clangors and beats while Wooley seems to explore the vocal potentialities of trumpet. As Meredith Monk could do. I personally consider not to be missed the last four minutes of intensive dialogue between Mori and Lytton in “Berlyne’s Law”.

“Men Caught Staring” opening disc two is another gem offering the duo’s total music vision, comfortably oscillating between innovation (watch out for Wooley's distorted synth and “Vocoder” starting around minute ten or the gibberish effect in the final part!) and solid, awe-inspiring free interplay as in the short and perfect “The Information Bomb”.

The presence of Vandermark’s sax starting from “Automatic” drives Wooley and Lytton to more traditional but not less remarkable soundscapes. Brasses face each other through long sentences joining in emotional crescendos. Lytton is now set free for long soloing and when the other two musicians come back are clearly influenced from the rhythmic environment he has built, choosing at first a short syncopated conversation, and then intensifying the groove up to the final outburst.

This is a live recording. Sound quality is outstanding.

Quantity is seldom a per se value, but we have here one hundred and nine minutes of pure, passionate, involving high quality music. I regret to not have included this in my personal 2012 Best Album List.
Sincere thanks as a listener to Clean Feed for its productive efforts in the field of free jazz. It is, in my opinion, the label that has contributed more than any other to the production of memorable music during 2012. Music that will certainly last for many years to come.

Buy at Instantjazz

Take a look to an excerpt of the gig documented in disc two (and know why sometimes listening a well mixed and mastered record is better than attending to a concert!)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

15 From 2012 Right Before 2013 (part 2/2)

By Stanley Zappa

Picking up from where we left off yesterday ...

Catherine Sikora, Ian Smith, Han-earl Park - Cork 04-04-11 (Bandcamp, 2012)  ***½

Bill Dixon used to say (more or less) “there's always a leader in the band, even if it isn't the leader.” What he meant by that was there was always someone who is the “best” in the band (cf Brian Blades with Joshua Redman.)

On "Cork 04-04-11" there is no doubt that Sikora is the most luminous of the three, so much so that this recording is, now and forever “one of Catherine Sikora's early recordings.” This is less the recording's fault and more the fault of Ms. Sikora's continued emergence as a leading, steering voice on the tenor saxophone. I say “continued” as Han-earl Park, despite being “first”, found me long after this more recent solo performance by Ms. Sikora, found again on the Kreilley video channel.

Joelle Leandre / Phillip Greenlief – that overt desire of object  (Relative Pitch Record, 2012) ****½
Vinny Golia Quartet – Take Your Time (Relative Pitch Record, 2012) ****½

And just who is this Kevin Reilly and why does he have such a great YouTube page? Mr Reilly is the proprietor of the delightful Relative Pitch label, responsible for two equally compelling through very different releases showcasing two distinct approaches to the single reed. Yes, more than just the single reed is showcased—certainly readers of freejazz-stef have at some point solemnly nodded along as they read one glowing review after another about the undeniably glowing Joelle Leandre. In a perfect world, an equal amount of solumn nods have already affirmed the undeniably excellent Bobby Bradford's cornet playing. Yet, when That Overt Desire of Object and Take Your Time, are listened to one after the other, you hear two different yet equally remarkable realizations of the saxophone's place in improvised music. The Yin and Yang if you will.

In the Yin corner we have Phillip Greenlief in duo with Leandre on That Overt Desire of Object. The cover of the recording is a blurry photo, in the liner notes is written:

Joelle and I have talked a lot about the state of the world throughout our friendship
a common underlying theme was greed, and all the malaise it causes.

Key words = asymmetry, “other sounds”, “lowercase” music writ large, cursive handwriting; all the things mechanization and increased production necessarily crush. Does That Overt Desire of Object remind anyone else of that Belgian crime fighting sensation Hercule Poirot? Perhaps it is the portrayal of that time between the “great wars”: the last days of a certain kind of civility and attitude towards art, those twilight hours before the Holocaust and The Bomb, before plywood and plastic above ground pools, that fabled time when everything was made by hand and made beautifully. Isn't it funny how non narrative improvised music made by two people can evoke the gestalt of an era?

In the Yang corner we have Vinny Golia with the gripping Take Your Time. It was interesting to read in the liner notes that Mr. Golia was first a graphic artist. There is something about Golia's playing; a-musical isn't the right word, but it will do the trick if it differentiates your sound image of Golia from someone who started Suzuki violin at age 3. There is a uniformity and thoroughness to Golia, a density and concept of form that makes me think of columns of news print seen at a distance, or one of those fractal screen savers more than our tonal forefathers. Golia's placement of notes on top of notes on top of notes, combined with Bradford's placement of notes on top of notes on top of notes, both in composition and in improvisation, creates a super-musical moire effect which is not to be missed.

So when is Golia going to get his MacArthur?

Lisa Mezzacappa, Eneidi, Golia, Anderson – Hell-Bent in the Pacific (No Business, 2012) ****½

...Hopefully right around the time Eneidi get's his MacArthur.

Once again, a meeting of two absolute masters of the single reed, and Marco is one of them. The combination of Golia and Eneidi, like the combination of Eneidi and Spearman (The Marco Eneidi Coalition), and Eneidi and Brotzman (B.E.E.K. Live at Spruce Street Forum) before, promised joys untold. I was not disappointed.

Nor was I disappointed by Vijay Anderson, who I've heard perform with Eneidi. (It was epic.) Anderson's playing brings to mind that of long time Eneidi colleague, the undeniable, under appreciated genius of percussion, Jackson Krall. Both have an active sound that is well peppered and punctuated. Anderson knows what makes percussion exciting to listen to and he lithely delivers. Of course he does fabulously with the down tempo, but I'm more of a car chase guy.

Mezzacappa is a wonderfully lyrical bassist whose lines in the ensemble could just as easily stand as solos...indeed throughout the recordings there were times when I wish the recording came with alternate “dub” takes.

This is an absolutely fantastic recording. Just get it already, will you?

Max Johnson Quartet (Not Two, 2012) ***½

The Max Johnson Quartet also celebrates the composed among the improvised. Mark Whitecage, an under appreciated long time stalwart of our beloved improvised music, gives us another reading of the alto's place in our beloved music. One of the benefits of FreeJazz-Stef is the ability to listen to a number of different contemporary alto players, and in so doing really have had more than one “beyond good and evil” moment wherein all the musicians really are sitting at a round table, are all manifestations of Sarswati, and as such, are all equal.

And so it is neither condemnation nor praise, but merely synesthesia when I say Whitecage is a little more oaky than Lehman—less of a patio sipper, less “bright” less “fun.” Combined with Max Johnson's rough and ready, present and accounted for bass with Tyshawn Sorey's understandably celebrated drumming, and the fantastic Steve Swell's trombone (here really isn't much a trombone can't make better) the pairing is well rounded, full bodied and complete.

Mr. Coombs' 5 star assessment strikes me as a bit of a stretch, though by no means a future impossibility. It's times like these one wishes the US didn't have that addiction to expensive wars, and was a little more loose with the grant money. There is so much to like about each individual musician, mostly because their musical personalities are so well developed, which in this case may be a liability. The voices need more time to meld, to become even greater than the sum of the parts. Were this group to have the luxury of extended stretches of rehearsal and work as a group (like, months in a castle somewhere, or a state sponsored tour of the United States) I'd wager a lasting work would emerge.

Darius Jones – Grass Roots (AUM Fidelity, 2012) **** 

Darius Jones in the quartet configuration on Grass Roots is a different Darius Jones than on Big Gurl. It should then come as no surprise that Grass Roots is quite a different listening experience than Big Gurl. With Grass Roots, Jones more than absolves him self for any low hanging fruit he may have grabbed on Big Gurl.

Equally exciting as Jones is the extremely exciting baritone saxophone of Alex Harding. Like the trombone, there isn't much a baritone saxophone can't improve either. Harding lends distinction to an already distinct recording. My new favorite baritone saxophonist!

Jones digs deeper on this one. He sounds like he's trying harder. The compositions are less contrived than on Big Gurl. The grace and support of Sean Conly on bass and Chad Taylor on drums also makes this one worth hearing. Now I can't wait to hear Man'ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) with the ultra-mega excellent Cooper-Moore and the equally fantastic Rakalam Bob Moses.

Rakalam Bob Moses – Sacred Exhalations (2012) ****

Though clearly most would disagree, certainly someone hears me when I say if Pat Metheney only put out one recording, and that recording was Bright Size Life, his esteemed place in music would be just as secure as it is now, all those recordings and awards later.

There is a perfection to Bright Size Life, much like there is a perfection to... The Lowell Davidson Trio. HA! Bet you never saw that one coming! But really, Rakalam Bob Moses trajectory has, with Sacred Exhalations, taken him from the birth of our Metheny consciousness all those years ago, put him right next to Milford Graves at the drummer's round table. What's more, the 3 horn/1 drum instrumentation harkens this listener back to Graves' Babi Music.

As with Babi Music, what I love about Sacred Exhalations (and Hell Bent in the PacificLost in June, and so many other records within our beloved area of music) is the sound of non quantized, pan-tonal, pan-rhythmic spray of prana. Either you like that kind of thing, or you don't.

Either way, it's a way of being in music that “before” was not, then, one day was. Still today, despite the smothering in life brutal tapestry, “This music” this way of making music exists, attracting musicians of all ages and all backgrounds.

Wadada Leo Smith and Louis Moholo-Moholo – Ancestors (TUM, 2012) ****½

And so we end our meditation on 2012 with Wadada Leo Smith and Louis Moholo-Moholo's release Ancestors. A fitting concluding rite.

A lot of music, improvised music included, has something to prove or something to say. Ancestors has something to share. No need to prove anything. If you don't get it, it's not for you. Though the chances of any listener “not getting” Ancestors is pretty low. It is a music for everyone—much in the same way clean drinking water, appropriate housing, medical care and equal treatment under the law is for everyone.

The beauty of Smith's sound (both sonority and attack) eclipses all concerns about “right notes” in all but the most pathologically neurotic. His sound is the careful distillate of the entire history of the trumpet? Is that fair to say? There certainly is a majesty and complexity that doesn't emerge overnight.
That's for certain.

For large stretches, Moholo-Moholo plays unadorned patterns, but plays them magically. Here's a
confession: sometimes when I'm listening to music, I'm also washing the dishes. There is an arresting authenticity to Moholo-Moholo's drumming, even at its most plain that made me take off the yellow rubber gloves, put down the dishes and listened with my full, undivided attention.

Ancestors, like Look Up, includes vocals. In this instance it is less an admonition for our arrogance (appropriate though that is) and more a declaration of love for colleagues and antecedents. Something we should all do more often.

© stef

Saturday, December 29, 2012

15 From 2012 Right Before 2013 (part 1/2)

By Stanley Zappa

Did you miss me?

In my wont to beat the drum one last (first?) time in 2012, I find myself forced to adopt a shorter form than usual, which is a pity, as all of these recordings deserve extended dialectic for one reason or another.

The Charles Gayle Trio – Look Up (ESP, 2012) ****½

When confronted with the list of those recordings available for review—no doubt a tiny portion of the many sent to freejazz-stef each year—Look Up was the one I listened to first. I've been loving the music of Charles Gayle now for over 20 years. Yippee A “new” recording from 1994, when Gayle was is in full flower.

And full flower power it is. Gayle is “an end” to the saxophone. We get to hear it. How much further (in that direction) can the tenor saxophone be pushed? What hasn't Gayle played on that horn? On Look Up, Gayle covers a great deal of ground on the Bass Clarinet as well, all the while supported and punctuated by Michael Bisio on bass and an exceptionally effervescent Michael Wimberly on drums.
Gayle also takes the time shares some Christian beliefs. While many will find those beliefs unbearably odious, if you are able to yell “LA LA LA” over the really Christian parts and can focus on the tone and phrasing of Gayle's spoken word, a new perspective on (and appreciation of) Gayle's horn playing awaits.

David Liebman, Ellery Eskelin, Tony Marino & Jim Black – Non Sequiturs (Hatology – 2012) ***½

Keeping the theme of New York Tenor players, I must admit it was my interest in Catherine Sikora's music that brought me to Non Sequiturs. Alas, wrong as usual, it is George Garzone and not David Liebman who can claim Sikora as pupil.

The mistake is honest, as Garzone, Liebman and Eskelin inhabit (and thrive) in the “inside-outside” musical ecology. The demands of that environment are many, and many of those demands are diametrically opposed, i.e., reconciling the parent culture's expectations of clever, public radio segue friendly heads and compositions with a now 50 year history of (and continued migration towards) anti-capital screeching noises within the realm of composition.

Make no mistake, the “inside-outside” composer/improviser has it tough. On the one hand, the “inside” composer is up against 500 years of tonal music and such hit makers as Bach, Brahams, Beethoven, Berlioz, Bruckner, Boulez, Beiber as well as the other 25 letters of the alphabet. The “outside”, the improviser, is up against Charles Gayle, Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker, William Parker, Evan Parker, and so on. To be barely conversant in either language, let alone fluid in both, is no simple feat.
While I choose Gayle and all things outside, there is no denying the craftsmanship and dedication exhibited inNon Sequiturs. A distinct gestalt emerges from the writing, rather than a gray plop of difficult to sight read tedium. A most treasured edition to the inside-outside canon.

Michael Attias – Spun Tree (Clean Feed, 2010) ****½

Fully expecting to have the same I've-been-sitting-on-the-nice-furniture-too-long-and-I-need-to-go-out-side-now feeling with Michael Attias' Spun Tree as I have with most thoughtfully written, sensible adult person music, I instead found myself enjoying the luxury of sonority and beauty of pattern that comes from compositions where mastery of craft collide with widely informed inspiration.

At no point were Attias' composition a burden, insult, or a segue to the next segment on The Weather Channel. It is as if Attias got out his best pen, opened up to the greater vibration and let the music write it self through him. And while it is by no means made for TV movie twaddle...this is the kind of music in which TV, NPR, the Weather Channel should partner. Attias' music could elevate all three without offending. There is an ease of listening without that shame feelings that comes after too fluff.

Attias also surrounds himself with similarly minded bar raisers, like Sean Conly on bass (cf Grass Roots) and Kevin Reilly YouTube channel regular, Tom Rainey on Drums. In their instantly evident musicality and ability, the ensemble follow the high road by whipping out just enough to “win,” keeping the understood ample technical reserves sheltered in tastefulness.

So when is Attias getting his MacArthur?

Steve Lehman Trio – Dialect Flourescent (pi recordings, 2012) ***½

With Dialect Flourescent, Steve Lehman and his Trio deliver the finest avant-patio-spritzer music money can buy. That is meant to frame the music and by no means to deny it. All over the world, wine makers with PhD's, grants, awards, and all the rest of the parent culture's congratulations are working very hard at this very moment to come up with something fruity, floral and fun to drink by the pool. Something that goes well with everything from truffles to 7-up. Something for the under aged and ancient alike.

And (obviously) there's nothing wrong with that. If there was, why, in the year of our lord 2012, would anyone go to the trouble of crafting, ornamenting, maintaining and managing the facilities necessary to pound outMoment's Notice, let alone with Lehman's verve? Lehman's trio is a tidy, tight ship. It has to be. Or does it? There will only ever be one John Coltrane, and I wouldn't trade Lehman's Moment's Notice for Coltrane's.

And so I ask my self (and, rhetorically, Mr. Lehman) why go there?

And yet at the same time, why not go there? That's the fun of post modernity and late capital—all things all the time. Besides, the Lehman trio's reading of that piece is hardly shabby—and it is only one of the many tunes on the album for heavens sake. Stop shouting at me.
More immaculate musicianship, clever writing and arranging for those of you for whom that is important or interesting.

Darius Jones - Big Gurl (Smell My Dream) (AUM Fidelty, 2012) ***½

In other NYC alto saxophone trio news, we have Darius Jones' Big Gurl (Smell My Dream). My personal (irrelevant) sorrow with Jones is a familiar one, namely the imbalance between actual and perceived (and later advertised) accomplishment. Bill Dixon often talked about how once something became popular, he ran the other way. He also talked about how Down Beat was a fantastic guide to new music—ignore the 5 star recordings and check out the 1 stars. I am starting to get that very feeling from the New York Times—the larger the article, the more tepid the work, and once they are on to it, it's time to check out something else. That is neither Mr. Jones fault, and I hardly imagine he (or anyone else) sees it as a “problem.”

While there is nothing wrong with Big Gurl, and indeed there is much to like, set against the mountains of hosannas churned out by the culture machine, I was left wanting more. I guess you can never recapture the feelings that come from that initial shattering of the musical mind—especially when dealt by Marco Eneidi in the late 80's. Times have changed. The music has changed. Expectations of changed. Standards have changed. The self congratulating culture machine's insidiousness has changed in so much as it has increased, and it is ruining my experiences with music. Thanks culture!
Big Gurl brings to mind a Joshua Redman I innocently attended back in the mid 90's. All I can remember from that well managed experience was drummer Brian Blades. While the difference isn't nearly as stark on Big Gurl, I must admit there were times during my listening when paid more attention to the rhythm section ass kickery that is Adam Lane on bass and Jason Nazary on drums.

Dennis Rea, Wally Shoup, Tom Zdonc – Subduction Zone (2012) ***½

Another alto trio, this time with the guitar, Subduction Zone by Dennis Rea, Wally Shoup and Tom Zdonc, merits attention, at least in the Pacific North West of North America, if not beyond. Before I moved to “America's Hat” I lived in Portland, Oregon for about a decade. My understanding is that during that time Rea and Shoup (though I don't know about Zdonc) lived a mere 3 hours north, in jolly olde Seattle, Washington. Though totally incidental to the music at hand, I can't help but pause and marvel at the fact that in that 10 years, I never met either and never saw them once perform in Portland. That is not to say that they have never performed Portland...I just never never recall them perform live there, nor any recollection of any press announcing their presence. I assume exactly 33 1/3 % responsibility for that.

This is remarkable only when you consider when I did live in Portland, I saw Frode Gerstad, Evan Parker, Han Bennik with The Ex--all of whom live a lot further from Portland than Rea and Shoup. Now don't get me wrong, I love me some Evan Parker, and I like Gerstad well enough to put on my pants and leave the house. Hard though it may be to believe, I also think the sense of self-worth of many Portlanders was even further elevated with the presence of such undisputed giants of music from that far away, mythical Europe, where improvised music comes from.

And yet a mere 3 hours away were Rea, Shoup and all the rest of the Seattle improvisers whom I never met, who rarely came to Portland, and if/when they did, never received the welcome quite like our esteemed colleagues from across the pond. Why is that?

As for Subduction Zone, if Dr. Albert Hoffman were Improvised Music, the guitar would be his problem child. When the guitar (like LSD) is good, it's great. When the guitar (like LSD) is not good, it's a nightmarish experience unlike any other. Rea never dips into the nightmarishly bad, and occasionally makes it to great psychedelic heights. As with just about all the improvised recordings I've listened to since 1988, that which sounds composed sounds composed, that which sounds improvised sounds improvised. I like the latter. I also like when Rea is using his guitar more like a sound generating device and less of a thing requiring “technique.” Shoup also shines when he's putting knuckle to cheek, which he does occasionally, than when “making nice.”

Is Subduction Zone better or worse than Big Gurl? Is it better or worse than the Frode Gerstad trio with William Parker and Hamid Drake? Should one command more attention than the other? I guess that depends on who you ask and which label put out the recording.

Steve Lacy – Lost in June (Ictus, 2012) ****½

We continue our survey of the trio with one of the largest gaps in my listening, the music of Steve Lacy, namelyLost In June, recorded in 1977.

My first introduction to the music of Steve Lacy came with the video Lift the Bandstand. While I didn't hate it, it didn't capture my attention the same way as did Cecil Taylor's Call it the Eighth or Charles Gayle's' then releases on Silkheart. In 2012 I did attend the ICTUS tribute to Steve Lacy at the comfortable and redolent Stone in beautiful Down Town Manhattan. The performance was quite compelling, featuring 5 soprano saxophones and, coincidentally, the same Andrea Centazzo on percussion as on Lost in June.

It is the lost-ness of this trio that makes it on to the short list of my favorite recordings of 2012. If the taut, well turned out precision and professionalism that permeates Lehman's recording were to reside on on side of a spectrum, Lacy's Lost In June, exists on the other. Just as Attias' music sounds as if it was composed throughhim (as opposed to by him) the same is true with Lacy, both in terms of his composition and improvisation. There is a grace, a connection to a higher vibration that is bigger than the quantized gesture. Even the “heads”--the composed parts—are a reflection less of culture and more of nature, of a musical pureness that is rarely heard 35 years later.

© stef

Musician of the Year 2012 (an addendum)

By Martin Schray

I guess it has been quite obvious by my reviews that my favorite musicians this year are Mats Gustafsson and Peter Brötzmann.

Mats Gustafsson is a phenomenon. Like Evan Parker, Barry Guy, Ken Vandermark and others he has released more than ten albums this year and all of them of stellar quality. It may seem that I am a bit generous with superlatives or that I am an uncritical fan but in the end let’s face facts: He has the ability to integrate interesting new musicians (and therefore elements) to his long-term collaborations Fire! (feat. Oren Ambarchi) and The Thing (feat. Barry Guy; and Neneh Cherry), in the first case my album of the year (far ahead of anything else: “In the Mouth a Hand”) because it combines kraut rock and free jazz in an unheard way, in the second case he gears down to more classical free jazz (“Metal!”) and makes an 1980s pop star return from oblivion (“The Cherry Thing”). He also recorded with an Ethiopian musician (Mesele Asmamav, on an instrument called krar) and the  result of an out-of-the-blue- 45-minute jam session in a hotel room in Addis Abeba  is one of the most surprising pieces of music I have heard this year (“Baro”; with Paal-Nilssen-Love on drums). Additionally, he is one of the few who can fascinate listeners with solo records on which he reveals a romantic side and a deep knowledge of history (“Bengt”, “Mats G plays Gullin”). If you think you get it about him, he releases stuff like “Play some fuckin’ Stooges” with Thurston Moore, an ideal crossover record between free jazz, alternative rock, punk attitude and new music. In the end you can see what a great musician he is when you listen to his trio with Raymond Strid and John Russell where he plays in a very intimate way (“Birds”) or in his mind-blowing duo with Colin Stetson (“Stones”). How does this man do it?

Have I mentioned that he is also part of Peter Brötzmann’s Chicago Tentet?

Peter Brötzmann is 71 years old and he keeps on touring and releasing stuff – it’s simply amazing. Although he is always interested in new collaborations he is mostly admired for his consequence. His tentet (+1) is the most fascinating larger ensemble in free jazz (only rivaled by Anthony Braxton’s band and Evan Parker’s Electro-Acoustic Ensemble) and the fact that he has broken it up after 14 years was one of the saddest news lately. “Walk, Sleep, Love” is a marvelous example for large group interaction, his duo with Jason Adasiewicz on vibes proves that his sound also works in a completely different context (“Going all Fancy”). Almost classic are his collaborations with trios (with John Edwards and Steve Noble on “The Worse the Better” and with Masahiko Satoh and Takeo Moriyama on “Yat”) and with drummers, this year he worked with Jörg Fischer for the first time (“Live in Wiesbaden”), another great album. Although I like him best when he lets the beast out (on “Snakelust” with Hairy Bones or on the first CD on “Trio Roma”) I discovered what an outstanding solo performer he is. My personal performance of the year was his concert at the Center for Jewish Studies under Heidelberg’s old quarter (the second CD of “Trio Roma” gives you an impression). Chapeau!

Friday, December 28, 2012

End-of-year Lists Galore

Allright, here they are then, the albums of the year 2012 as selected by the entire review team of the Free Jazz Collective. Each reviewer presented his (unfortunately not her) list of the ten best albums of the year. Based on the commonalities between those lists, we selected the top-10 that we all favoured.

The Free Jazz Collective Top-10 albums of 2012

  1. Eve Risser, Benjamin Duboc & Edward Perraud - En Corps
  2. Angles 8 - By Way Of Deception
  3. The Thing With Barry Guy - Metal!
  4. Aram Shelton Quartet - Everything for Somebody
  5. Henry Threadgill Zooid – Tomorrow Sunny / The Revelry, Spp
  6. Nicole Mitchell - Arc Of O
  7. Mary Halvorson Quintet - Bending Bridges
  8. Martin Küchen - Hellstorm
  9. Levity - Afternoon Delights
  10. Stian Westerhus - The Matriarch & The Wrong Kind Of Flower

Every contributor to the blog also made his own list of preferred albums.

Denti Alligator

1.             Eve Risser, Benjamin Duboc & Edward Perraud - En Corps
2.             Aaron Novik - Secret of Secrets
3.             Neneh Cherry & The Thing -  The Cherry Thing
4.             Bester Quartet -  Metamorphoses
5.             Charles Gayle - Streets
6.             Keith Rowe -  September
7.             Mats Gustafsson - Bengt
8.             David Krakauer -  Pruflas -  The Book of Angels Volume 18
9.             King Tears Bat Trip -  King Tears Bat Trip
10.          The Thing With Barry Guy -  Metal!

Paul Acquaro

1.             Mary Halvorson Quintet - Bending Bridges
2.             Elliot Sharp Trio - Aggregat
3.             9 Volt - Open Circuit
4.             Elephant9 with Reine Fiske - Atlantis
5.             Joe Morris, William Parker, Gerald Cleaver - Altitude
6.             Paul Dunmall & Tony Bianco - Thank You To John Coltrane
7.             Eivind Opsvik - Overseas IV
8.             Aych - As the Crow Flies
9.             Scorch Trio with Mars Williams - Made in Norway
10.          Tim Berne - Snake Oil

Tom Burris

1.             Eve Risser, Benjamin Duboc & Edward Perraud – En Corps 
2.             Nicole Mitchell – Arc of O 
3.             Jooklo Duo & Bill Nace – Scratch 
4.             Mary Halvorson Quintet - Bending Bridges 
5.             Henry Threadgill Zooid – Tomorrow Sunny / The Revelry, Spp 
6.             Rob Mazurek Pulsar Quartet – Stellar Pulsations 
7.             Sam Rivers, Dave Holland & Barry Altschul – Reunion: Live in New York 
8.             Hairy Bones – Snakelust 
9.             Noah Bernstein – Six 
10.          Ballister – Mechanisms 

Daniel Sorrelis

1.             Eve Risser, Benjamin Duboc & Edward Perraud - En Corps
2.             Eli Keszler - Catching Net
3.             Angles 8 - By Way of Deception: Live in Ljubjana
4.             Angharad Davies, Tisha Mukarji, Dimitria Lazaridou-Chatzigoga - Outwash
5.             Pedro Sousa & Hernâni Faustino - Falaise
6.             Martin Küchen - Hellstorm
7.             Way Out Northwest - The White Spot
8.             Mikołaj Trzaska, Ollie Brice, Mark Sanders - Riverloam Trio
9.             John Tilbury - For Tomasz Sikorski
10.          Henry Threadgill Zooid - Tomorrow Sunny/The Revelry, Spp.

Phil Coombs

1.             Angles 8 - By Way of Deception - Live in Ljubljana
2.             Nicole Mitchell - Arc of O
3.             Steve Lehman Trio - Dialect Fluorescent
4.             Daniel Erdmann - How to Catch a Cloud
5.             MMM Quartet - Live at Metz' Arsenal
6.             Emile Parisien - Chien Guepe
7.             Aram Shelton Quartet - Everything for Somebody
8.             Matthew Shipp Trio - Elastic Aspects
9.             Max Johnson Quartet
10.          Eve Risser - En Corps

Joe Higham

1.             John Butcher and Toshimaru Nakamura - Dusted Machinery
2.             Levity - Afternoon Delights
3.             Aram Shelton Quartet - Everything for Somebody
4.             Daniel Erdmann - How to Catch a Cloud
5.             Marc Ducret - Tower Vol. 4
6.             Eve Risser - En Corps
7.             Outhouse - Straw, Sticks + Bricks.
8.             Arts and Sciences - New You
9.             Kay Grant & Alex Ward - Fast Talk
10.          Fred Lonberg-Holm's Fast Citizens - Gather

Paolo Casertano

1.             Stian Westerhus - The Matriarch And The Wrong Kind Of Flowers
2.             Joe McPhee & Eli Keszler - Ithaca
3.             Nate Wooley/Peter Evans - Instrumental Vol. 1
4.             Colin Stetson & Mats Gustafsson - Stones
5.             The Thing with Barry Guy - Metal
6.             Steve Lehman Trio - Dialect Fluorescent 
7.             Martin Küchen - Hellstorm
8.             Peter Kolovos - Black Colors
9.             Paradoxical Frog - Union
10.          John Tilbury - For Tomasz Sikorski

Ananth Krishnan

1.             Thomas Heberer – Cookbook
2.             Angles 8 - By Way of Deception: Live in Ljubjana
3.             Levity - Afternoon Delights
4.             Trespass Trio - Bruder Beda
5.             Maya Homburger and Barry Guy - Tales of Enchantment

Stef Gijssels

1.             Eve Risser, Benjamin Duboc & Edward Perraud – En Corps
2.             RED Trio + Nate Wooley - Stem
3.             Mikołaj Trzaska Ircha Clarinet Quartet* ‎– Zikaron - Lefanay
4.             Thomas Heberer's Clarino - Cookbook (Red Toucan, 2012)
5.             Mathias Küchen - Hellstorm
6.             Wadada Leo Smith - Ten Freedom Summers
7.             Skogen - Ist Gefallen In Den Schnee
8.             Angles 8 - By Way of Deception: Live in Ljubjana
9.             Pretty Monsters
10.          Dark Poetry

Martin Schray

1.       Fire! - In the Mouth a Hand
2.       Peter Brötzmann's Chicago Tentet+1 - Walk, Sleep, Love
3.       Evan Parker's Electro Acoustic Ensemble -  Hasselt
4.       Stian Westerhus -  The Matriarch and the Wrong Kind of Flowers
5.       Hairy Bones - Snakelust
6.       Martin Küchen - Hellstorm
7.       Mats Gustafsson/Thurston Moore -  Play Some Fucking Stooges
8.       Colin Stetson/Mats Gustafsson - Stones
9.       Pao -  Pao
10.    Arts and Science  New You

.... and by the way, you can still vote for the HAPPY NEW EARS AWARD  for the most innovative listening experience of the year.