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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Clean Feed Tributes (3/3)

 Be sure to see day 1 and day 2 of our celebration of Clean Feed.

Stef Gijssels:

 Clean Feed and the discovery of modern jazz bands

Clean Feed also has had the knack to identify new bands who never released any albums before. The label's reach was relatively broad, ranging from what we could call 'modern creative' jazz to fully improvised music. Regardless of the style or subgenre, the musicianship together with the quality and coherence of the music always determined the selection for the release, but possibly even more so was the band's singular musical voice and approach. Needless to say that the recording quality is also excellent.

I select a few albums that illustrate this for me. From the tender story-telling of Baloni, the free chamber americana of Ballrogg, the trancendental sound of the Alipio C. Neto Quartet, the psychedelic listening experience of The Godforgottens, the marching band of Fight The Big Bull, the re-hashed bluesy tunes of Roots Magic, the ephemeral avant-garde of Memorize The Sky, to the terror jazz of The Ames Room, these are all albums that are artsy, 'independent' in movie critic terms, bands that stood out of the crowd because of their interesting and creative vision on how music could sound, familiar and yet innovative and boundary-breaking at the same time, welcoming and requiring active attention by the listener ... and of course the inimitable and infectious Angles, a band that was a kind combining all of this. 

There are of course many more examples, but looking back, these records showed something else, something that few other labels would invest in, because of their unconventential sound. "Who is the audience?" I hear other labels ask. 'It's too unusual for traditional jazz lovers, it's too gentle for free jazz addicts, it's too composed for free improv afficionados'. Clean Feed showed that they cared about the music, less about the mental boxes. Thanks for all these great discoveries. All these albums remain little treasures to cherish. 


Petra Cvelbar, photographer:

Clean Feed was one of my doors of entry into a new world of improvised music. I started to follow the label in 2010, at a time when I was also getting serious about photographing music. The most special album for me is Angles 8's By Way of Deception, Live in Ljubljana. Graphic designer Travassos used one of my photos for the cover and it was our first collaboration. I loved the band, which was a fresh discovery and I liked how everything turned out – both the music and the layout. The follow-up album Angles 9 Injuries is also often on my playlist. Another dear album is Joe McPhee's Sonic Elements. Hearing Joe’s music for the first time at the concert blew me away, after which Travassos & Pedro Costa picked some of my photos for the cover and inner sleeve. It’s actually pretty hard to choose out the albums from the great legacy of the label, but for sure they influenced and broadened my music photography language in many aspects.


Sarah Grosser:

The Killing Popes - Ego Kills (2021)

On Bandcamp it says that there are 200 limited edition green vinyl pressings of The Killing Popes Ego Kills, but I know for a fact that there are just 199, because the one I ordered in the mail was completely obliterated by the post. It was as if someone had folded the vinyl it in half on purpose. I will never forget the sound it made when I unpacked it: the sound of splitting plastic, crumbling into pieces against the cardboard packaging - shattered, like my heart.

Thank heavens Oli Steidle sent me a replacement because the music slaps.


Nuno Catarino, critic and editor at

Adam Lane / Ken Vandermark / Magnus Broo / Paal Nilssen-Love - 4 Corners (2013)

Reunited at the suggestion of Pedro Costa (Clean Feed), Ken Vandermark, Magnus Broo, Adam Lane, and Paal Nilssen-Love forged their collaboration as a quartet in the city of Coimbra, Portugal, during the Jazz Ao Centro festival in June 2006. Over three consecutive nights, the quartet played late-night sets at the warm Salão Brazil, in an “after hours” ambiance. The two North Americans, Lane and Vandermark, brought the compositions and the two Nordics, Broo and Nilssen-Love, got along. Vandermark left aside his usual tenor saxophone and showcased his versatility playing clarinet, bass clarinet, and baritone saxophone, displaying mastery across all three. Broo's trumpet soared with supersonic energy, adding layers of intensity. Lane's bass provided a robust foundation, occasionally incorporating distortion, while Nilssen-Love's drums drove the rhythm. From fiery close-to-hardbop numbers to tender ballads, the quartet demonstrated impeccable chemistry and musicianship. The audience observed the growth of the group along those three nights as the quartet set Coimbra on fire with its electrifying contemporary jazz. Fortunately, these performances were preserved in this album, a pure gem within a rich catalogue.


Marcello Lorrai, writer and critic with Il Manifesto and Radio Popolare:

Rob Mazurek – Milan (Clean Feed, 2024)

At Radio Popolare, an independent radio station in Milan founded in 1976, we have a little auditorium with a stage and 99 seats. I have attended many of Rob Mazurek’s concerts over the years, also his wedding in Sardinia in 2012, and have developed a friendship with him. Last year in May, I invited Rob to take part, along with Corrado Beldì, the artistic director of Novara Jazz, in my weekly radio program “Jazz Anthology” for a live presentation of the upcoming 2023 edition of the festival – where Rob was playing with the Exploding Star Orchestra and others projects – and to perform something during the show. Rob was pleased to find a piano in the auditorium and played two solo pieces with piccolo trumpet, piano, bells and voice. He enjoyed the acoustics of the place, and felt good with our technicians. 

The next evening during dinner, Rob reminded me of his solo album recorded in 2014 in Rome at the Italian State-owned radio-television Rai studios by the program “Rai Radiotre Suite Jazz”, resulting on the Clean Feed album entitled Rome and said: “What about a solo album recorded at Radio Popolare and entitled “Milan”? I can ask Clean Feed if they would publish it.”  

In the following weeks we agreed for a three-day residency at Radio Popolare in September, and I suggested beginning with a solo performance broadcasted live during the show. On September 25th, 2023 at 11 p.m. “Jazz Anthology” was on the air with a dozen friends in the room. After a short introduction, Rob started his solo. We agreed on letting the performance go non-stop until about 10 minutes before the end of the program, so we could have a little live talk after it. The solo turned out amazing. At 11.50 Rob stopped : I didn’t understand for sure if he was taking a break or if it was the end of the piece, and in doubt I preferred not interrupting the magic; from his side, seeing that I was not speaking, Rob thought he had to play some more, and played until a few seconds before the end of the program, just in time for me to thank the audience for their attention. It was a fortunate misunderstanding. We had a 50-minutes solo, perfectly rounded by the wonderful last ten minutes. During the next two days Rob recorded new material with the technicians, also in the auditorium. We listened to and mixed the new tracks, and Rob was satisfied with the result, thinking of releasing the “studio” recordings.

We didn’t listen to the recording of the live performance; I just told Rob that in my opinion that first evening of performance during the show had a strong and beautiful coherence, with great artistic value. At the last moment – almost for doubt’s sake – Rob agreed to listen to those live recordings. He immediately felt it was something of worth, and decided to use the live recordings – without any editing, only mixing – for the Clean Feed record Milan.