KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

RedGreenBlue – “The End and the Beginning” – [Astral Spirits]

Thurston Hunger   12/6/2022   CD, Jazz

Note for the Goodwrench DJ Review send two KFJC boxtops to the station…

You could start at the Beginning, side A listen for a few minutes to the upright bass question mark, over organ drone and gong/rim-shot/tap of drums, and take a guess where they are from. The land of Art Ensemble, of Underground Duo/Quartet/Orchestra Something about Chicago that produces the slinkiest, suavest grooves. This album feels like a separated at birth twin to Joshua Abrams’ “Represencing” – mystical winds blowing in off the Lake? Charlie Kirchen’s bass leads the meditation, Ryan Packard’s percussion is aquatic, but keep an ear on Paul Giallorenzo’s keys which hit your BuddhaMachine right on the third eye towards the end of this side long piece. Or perhaps start on the flip side with “The End” where Kirchen is more insistent, but still a man making a bass statement. His mates are joined by Ben LaMar Gay who percolates on his cornet for 10 or so minutes before Giallorenzo’s organ shimmers in for a calming respite. The quartet spends some time in a darker place before rising radiance before a solemn end to “The End.”
-Thurston Hunger
PS Hah, looking up Ben, he’s connected to the Natural Information Society helmed by Abrams. Chicago improv scene a small world with big sound!

Mazzy, Jimmy / Newberger, Eli – “Shake It Down” – [Stomp Off Records]

karma   12/4/2022   CD, Jazz

1996 release. Jimmy Mazzy and Eli Newberger are traditional jazz musicians. Unlike classic jazz (which is different than traditional jazz), this album features banjo (Mazzy) and tuba (Newberger). The goal of the album was to record jazz and traditional pop standards in the country blues style. The result is accessible without being pedestrian; tributary without being derivative. Though innovative with its choice of instrumentation, the album is old-school, good-time jazz. In an era where it seems like everything is rapidly changing and change occurs for the sake of change, it is nice to have some things just like they used to be.

Connors, Loren, and Carter, Daniel – “The Departing of a Dream Vol. VII” – [Family Vineyard]

Brian Damage   11/18/2022   12-inch, Jazz

A dark, atmospheric release from two of those New York avante-garde cats, Loren Connors (guitar) and Daniel Carter (horns, reeds).

It’s two 15-minute soundscapes; the soundtrack to being trapped in a huge, dark cave. There is music out there, somewhere. You can hear it, but you can’t precisely locate it. Is it meant to reassure, or menace?

It’s either the soundtrack to a dream, or a nightmare.

Ford, Ricky – “The Wailing Sounds of Ricky Ford: Pauls Scene” – [Whaling City Sound]

Brian Damage   11/14/2022   CD, Jazz

Ricky Ford may not have the public profile of some of our other tenor giants, but that makes his playing no less compelling. Now 68, he has played in some legendary bands: the Duke Ellington Orchestra at the age of 20, Charles Mingus, Dannie Richmond, the Mingus Dynasty, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Mal Waldron. He has recorded with Yusef Lateef, Sonny Stitt, McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, and more.

All this varied background comes pouring out on Paul’s Scene: a virtuosic performance from start to finish, in many modern jazz styles. Lighting the fuse with a gorgeous bossa nova, Mr. Ford moves from strength to strength, ripping through a dozen tracks in perfect form. There’s not a clunker in the bunch. Inventive, lyrical, melodic playing, a smokin’ band (Mark Soskin – piano, Jerome Harris – bass, Barry Altschul – drums), fantastic songwriting and arrangements, and an impeccable recording make this a winner.

Let’s cut to the chase: Paul’s Scene is the best modern jazz record of the year. It gets my highest recommendation.

Robbe, Fabien – “24 Preludes” – [Mazeto Square]

Brian Damage   11/14/2022   CD, Jazz

Fabien Robbe is a French musician from Brittany. A precocious musician, he started in on trumpet at a very young age until he discovered his neighbor’s piano at age 7. A diversion to electric guitar in his teens and twenties faded, and he found himself back with his real love: piano.

24 Préludes is a newly-recorded collection of pieces of music he has been writing over a period of 35 years. The influences range from soundtracks, to Vince Guaraldi-esque piano jazz, to Chopin etudes, yet it all sounds of-a-piece because it comes from the mind and hands of one person.

This is really delightful, and there is something here for everyone, even if only to use as a sonic palate cleanser to juxtapose between heavier or more disparate things. This is ripe for use as a topping on a sonic layer cake on Day of Experiments!

I love it; I’m going to play it. You should, too.

Ambarchi, Oren / Berthling, Johan / Werliin, Andreas – “Ghosted” – [Drag City]

Thurston Hunger   10/25/2022   12-inch, Jazz

Clearlight dawn, open freeway, gas tank filled, mind empty but lucid and ready for the road. This Drag City lp embarks in pristine manner. On the flip side it travels at night, headlights off easing up on the accelerator. Exquisite drone/jazz/rock ragas for a three piece, although the mesmerizing lead-off track features a guest passenger riding shotgun on the ngoni, Christer Bothen. Bothen is no stranger to playing with Fire! And 2/3 of that Swedish project are here as the engine, Johan Berthling on bass and Andreas Werliin on drums. (Side note: KFJC has an Oren + full Fire! trio 2012 release including a flaming Mats Gustaffson). The entire album is a smooth ride from start to finish, merges lanes with The Necks in that vivid hypnotic. Ambarchi through-out adds treated guitar vapors, almost there/not-there, like the air with the windows down, or the freeway vanishing on the distant horizon.

-Thurston Hunger

Clevenger, Nathan – “I had a Dream About Amnesia” – [Apoplectics]

carsonstreet   10/19/2022   CD, Jazz

Nathan is from Oakland, CA. i had a dream about amnesia presents two suites of new music, composed and recorded during the Covid-19 quarantine. Five Memos from the New Millennium (for Lee Konitz)’ is a series of pieces composed for soloists and duos to perform during lockdown.
Trio 2021(the last three tracks) is a suite of pieces for trio, composed on plague themes, and premiered live (in the studio) as part of the online festival, Unsolitary Music Series. Really impressive supporting cast including: Cory Wright (bass clainet), Kasey Knudsen (alto sax), Sam Bevan (bass), Mark Clifford (vibraphone) Johnn Finkbeiner (guitar), Lisa Mezzacappa (bass), Beth Schenck, Nathan Clevenger (piano, guitar, percussion) and Jordan Glenn (drums percussion). Minimalist with a classical feel on many tracks. Not in your face experimental but not trad jazz either. Very nice.

Jim Witzel Trio & Quartet – “Feelin’ It” – [Joplin & Sweeney Music]

Cousin Mary   10/17/2022   CD, Jazz

Very cool guitar/organ/percussion (and on some tracks sax) sounds from Bay Area artists. Jim Witzel plays and teaches jazz guitar and there are three examples of his compositions on this album. Jason Lewis on percussion is also a local jazz educator and player. Bay Area native Brian Ho’s very fine jazz organ swings on solos and in the background. Dann Zinn’s sax on Witzel’s compositions takes it all to another level. The tracks that are covers give us a whole new perspective on these pieces. Recommended!

Amendola, Scott and Blades, Wil – “Everybody Wins” – [Royal Potato Family]

Cousin Mary   10/13/2022   12-inch, Jazz

Amendola vs. Blades provides a fun improvisational meeting between percussion (Scott Amendola) and organ (Wil Blades). However, that only accounts for 3 of these 8 tracks. Other musicians include guitarist Jeff Parker, saxophonist Skerik, percussionist Cyro Baptista, and keyboardist Rob Burger. Listen for electronics, funk, boogaloo, psychedelic and experimental influences. Very cool, a departure from the usual jazz organ sound.

Tuba Skinny – “Some Kind-A-Shake” – [Self Release]

aarbor   9/21/2022   12-inch, Jazz

Tuba Skinny is a jazz band from New Orleans. For over 10 years the band has evolved from a loose collection of street musicians into an ensemble of excellent players dedicated to bringing the traditional New Orleans sound to audiences around the world. Their range of musical influences is from spirituals to Depression-era blues, from ragtime to traditional jazz. Their sound evokes the musical heritage of New Orleans. Their loyal following likes their distinctive sound, their commitment to reviving long-lost songs, and their live performances. This release is from 2019 and is primarily ragtime and traditional jazz. Instruments: sousaphone, trombone, clarinet, cornet, alto sax, banjo, guitar, percussion. Some of their other recordings include a washboard (frottoir). AArbor

Boyle – “Psych-Jazz Collage I”

carsonstreet   8/10/2022   CD, Jazz

On bandcamp they say: “A most succinct and descriptive album title Boyle’s Psych-Jazz Collage I is exactly what it advertises. Brilliant cut-and-paste in the spirit of Faust Tapes, layers of reeds drone while percussion skitters across the stereo field. Pure endlessness.” All instruments and voices by Boyle. No effects or backwards masking used in this recording. Wild stuff psych, jazz and noisy stuff. One long track (43:29) fade in and out and have some fun.

Guitarist Gary Boyle was born in India, 1941. In the early sixties he attended the Leeds College of Music in the north of England. Before releasing his solo debut album in 1977, Boyle had played and recorded with many kinds of artists, e.g. Dusty Springfield, Bert Jansch, Keith Tippett and Stomu Yamash’ta, and had founded his own fusion group Isotope in 1973.

Shipp, Matthew and Gauci, Stephen – “Pandemic Duets” – [Gauci Music]

Max Level   7/19/2022   CD, Jazz

Gauci’s tenor sax teams up with Shipp’s piano, bringing us eight active conversations in which the two players weave around each other, suggesting things, following each other’s lead, staying fully engaged throughout. Creative improvisation at its best. This is one of nineteen improvised sessions in Gauci’s “Pandemic Duets” series, recorded in Brooklyn NY in the summer of 2020 when the Covid pandemic had brought activity in the NY music community to a standstill. Gauci resolved to give players in the local avant-jazz scene an outlet to express what they were feeling in those challenging times by inviting them to perform duets with him and recording the sessions. This release is solid and I don’t doubt the others in the series are as well.

Jean-Pierre Jullian Quintet – “Foret Lacandone”

carsonstreet   7/11/2022   CD, Jazz

Foret Lacandone is a jungle with thousand-year-old trees in the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico. Since the 1990s, it has been home to the Zapatista humanist resistance movement, whose desire is to protect the dignity and rights of the Indians. The emblematic figure of this movement is Subcomandante Marcos. Jean-Pierre says: “With the music of the quintet, I evoke a journey at once, uncertain, perilous, magnificent through this inextricable, inhospitable, thorny forest. It ends up clearing up and finally, benevolent, it offers the traveler an opening towards the light that brings hope to emerge regenerated, peaceful, happy. With the music of the quintet, I evoke a journey at once, uncertain, perilous, magnificent through this inextricable, inhospitable, thorny forest. It ends up clearing up and finally, benevolent, it offers the traveler an opening towards the light that brings hope to emerge regenerated, peaceful, happy.” Listen and you can hear the jungle and the journey on every track.

Markley, Ben Big Band with Ari Hoenig – “Ari’s Funhouse” – [OA2 Records]

aarbor   6/1/2022   CD, Jazz

Ben Markley is a pianist, arranger, and leader of the Ben Markley Big Band, an ensemble known for their creative/daring takes on modern and contemporary jazz classics. Ari’s Funhouse is a big band album featuring the music of drummer Ari Hoenig, with Hoenig himself in the drum chair. Markley asked whether he could arrange Hoenig’s work. In the process they communicated regularly to maintain the integrity of the arrangements. Hoenig said, “When I first heard what he was working on the first thing that hit me was the quality and attention to detail he gave in each of the arrangements,” Hoenig says. “He really took the rhythmic language I use and included it in the arrangements while at the same time bringing in his creative unique voice.” In addition to great arranging the performers are very strong and deliver excellent performances. AArbor

Weather Report – “Heavy Weather”

carsonstreet   5/31/2022   12-inch, Jazz

Weather Report was an American jazz fusion band active from 1970 to 1986. The band started as a free improvising jazz group with avant-garde and experimental electronic leanings and then moved to a funky, edgy sound incorporating elements of R&B and world music. Joe Zawinul used the latest developments in synthesizer technology and took advantage of a large variety of sounds and tone colors to make the band stand out. During the first half of their career, Weather Report were seen as one of the defining acts in modern jazz, winning the DownBeat “best album award” five times in a row. Heavy Weather is Weather Report’s eighth album was a commercial hit thanks to “Birdland,” a catchy change of pace for FM radio and a nice unification with older jazz styles. Austrian leader and keyboardist Joe Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter were the only original members left. After their introduction on 1976’s Black Market, Florida bassist Jaco Pastorius, Peruvian drummer Alex Acuña and Puerto Rican percussionist Manolo Badrena were promoted to full-time players on Heavy Weather.

Welker, Marius and Bec, Matieu – “Free Tao”

carsonstreet   5/31/2022   CD, Jazz

Marius Welker is from Le Vigan, France and has teamed up with Mathieu Bec to make this beautiful jazz. Bandcamp translated from the French: " Marius Welker, multi-instrumentalist, great improviser, with many facets. You will find here all styles of productions from jazz, to free jazz, fusion, sometimes with just the right amount of electro... Happy listening and god bless you" Welker Bec is a duo born from an encounter around the love of jazz, world music and nature. Marius Welker on sax, flute, clarinet and vocals and Mathieu Bec on drums. They get a little wild sometimes, but don't we all.

Sumrra – “7 Visions” – [Clermont Music]

Cousin Mary   5/15/2022   12-inch, Jazz

This fine piano trio from Santiago de Campostela in Spain looks at stellar time from different viewpoints in this album. Very accessible but unusual. The piano lead sometimes seems more in line with classical etudes than jazz riffs. I was curious about the language on the cover, it appears to be Galician rather than Spanish or Portuguese. Manuel Gutierrez on piano, Xacobe Martinez Antelo on double bass, Lar Legido on drums.

Sun Ra & His Intergalactic Infinity Arkestra – “Night of The Purple Moon, The” – [Saturn Research]

Cousin Mary   5/15/2022   12-inch, Jazz

1970 recording where the Arkestra is down to no more than 4 members, with some solo keyboard pieces. The first track on each side is a bit more accessible than most Sun Ra, while the remaining tracks soon launch into outer space. Sun Ra plays the Moog synth and also the Rocksichord electric harpsichord. Just when I thought the KFJC library did not need another Sun Ra album, this comes along to prove me wrong. With John Gilmore, Danny Davis and Stafford James.

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