Music Reviews

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.

Stowell, John / Glenn, Dave and the Hawcaptak Quartet – “Violin Memory” – [Origin Records]

aarbor   5/11/2022   CD, Jazz

John Stowell is a guitar player and Dave Glenn a trombone player. They have played together in various settings including as a duo – an interesting pairing. This recording has 21 tracks, most of which are pairs: An Intro played by the Hawcaptak Quartet and the paired track played by Stowell and Glenn. John Stowell wrote most of the pieces and Dave Glenn arranged most of the string quartet versions. I hear the string quartet Intros as the Yin (melodious and feminine) to the Stowell/Glenn duo’s Yang (trombone grounded and masculine). AArbor

Toned – “Toned” – [Self Released]

Max Level   5/9/2022   CD, Jazz

An electroacoustic dream with nightmare attached. Make sure you are firmly strapped in for this one. East bay trio Toned slices and dices everything within reach, mixing and matching the sounds of outside jazz, noise, spoken word, loud ambient tone layers, crazy crashing percussion, electronic blurts, etc etc etc—-basically more things than I can name—into a hyperactive, blinding, deafening, audio assault that defies description. Sometimes sounds like unrelated tracks of noisy playing piled on top of each other, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad way to do things. Track 10 bursts out of the speakers like some unholy rampaging monster come to life.

Carter/Ishito/Plaks/Swanson/Panikkar – “Open Question Vol.1” – [577 Records]

carsonstreet   4/26/2022   CD, Jazz

Warm freely improvised music. The band formed organically in 2019 from weekly jam sessions in Harlem. It is comprised of tenor saxophonist Ayumi Ishito, pianist Eric Plaks, bassist Zach Swanson, drummer Jon Panikka and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter. Recording an album of only free improvisation was Ishito’s long-time dream. Open Question’s music today, while fully improvised, remains firmly rooted in the jazz tradition. Can be edgy but won’t hurt you. A second volume is to follow soon.     

Lugerner, Steven; Lang, Garret; Tootie Heath, Albert – “It Takes One to Know One” – [Slow and Steady]

carsonstreet   4/26/2022   CD, Jazz

Jazz reedist Steven Lugerner typically spends a lot of time composing new music for a variety of bold new ensembles. He has taken a different, more laid-back approach for It Takes One to Know One. By inviting drumming legend Albert “Tootie” Heath into his inner circle, Lugerner has recorded five covers with as much reverential care for the material as his drummer. Throw in bassist Garret Lang, and you have yourself a “chordless” trio – three instruments that are incapable of playing a musical chord. Lugerner sticks to the bass clarinet for the entire album made up of a Joe Henderson cover, an Irving Berlin cover, an Ellington/Strayhorn cover, and two tunes written by Heath’s older brother Jimmy Heath. When you add it all up, it’s all as easygoing as the cover art depicting three guys sitting on a bench next to a yawning dog.

Ponty, Jean-Luc – “Live” – [Atlantic (Jazz)]

carsonstreet   4/26/2022   12-inch, Jazz

Live is a live album by French jazz fusion artist Jean-Luc Ponty, recorded in December 1978 and released on April 18, 1979. Ponty was born into a family of classical musicians. His father taught violin, his mother taught piano. At sixteen, he was admitted to the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, graduating two years later with the institution’s highest honor, Premier Prix (first prize). He was hired by the Concerts Lamoureux in which he played for three years. While still a member of the orchestra in Paris, Ponty picked up a side job playing clarinet (which his father had taught him) for a college jazz band, that regularly performed at local parties. It proved life-changing. A growing interest in Miles Davis and John Coltrane compelled him to take up tenor saxophone. One night after an orchestra concert, and still wearing his tuxedo, Ponty found himself at a local club with only his violin. The rest is jazz history.

Parker, William – “Painter’s Winter” – [Aum Fidelity]

Cousin Mary   4/25/2022   CD, Jazz

William Parker on bass and Hamid Drake on percussion give a whole new definition to the term rhythm section, sometimes swinging, sometimes not. Parker’s turns on trombonium and shakuhashi (especially on track 4) are splendid. Daniel Carter’s trumpet, sax, clarinet and flute carry and set the themes. Elegant and original!

Moondog – “More Moondog/The Story of Moondog” – [Prestige/New Jazz]

aarbor   4/13/2022   CD, Jazz

Moondog is Louis Thomas Hardin b. 1916 in Marysville, KS. He grew up amidst Native Americans in Wyoming and began his career as a Manhattan street musician during World War II. He lost his sight at age 17 due to an accident with a dynamite cap. I first heard him as a preschooler in NY on a record I had. I later saw him on the street in NY and was fascinated by his Viking costume. I bravely walked up and told him that he was on a record I had. Some bits of the percussion from that record are found here and there on this release which includes 30 tracks of his 2nd and 3rd Prestige releases. This is sounds of NY: the tugboats, ocean liners, people on the streets, instruments real and invented, dances in different time signatures. I love it because it’s part of my childhood in sound and it’s Moondog’s world. AArbor

Jones, Boogaloo Joe – “Boogaloo Joe Jones” – [Prestige/New Jazz]

aarbor   4/13/2022   CD, Jazz

Ivan Joseph “Boogaloo Joe” Jones (b. 1940) is an American jazz guitarist. These recordings are from August 1969 and February 1970 re-released as part of the Legends of Acid Jazz series in 1996. These tracks are a part of early “acid jazz” which incorporated psychedelic elements into jazz in the form of percussion and electronic dance beats. Boogaloo adds a bit of funk and soul too. Track 4 quotes audibly from Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love”. Track 9 is wonderfully funky. Jones was a session musician for the Prestige label at the time of this recording. AArbor

Shner, Idit and Mhondoro – “Heat Wave” – [OA2 Records]

aarbor   4/6/2022   CD, Jazz

Idit Shner is sax player from Israel, John Mambira is a traditional musician from Zimbabwe, the rest of the crew are all from Oregon (where they live today). From backyard jams and living room recording sessions during the pandemic came the song Fingerprints [7] and then the other 6 tracks of this release. Mhondoro means “the lion spirit’ in Shona (a Zimbabwe language). A band and release born of the pandemic Shner and Mambira were in a “parent pod” (their children attended online school together). It’s global and hyper-local jazz – how American. AArbor

Guinea Pig – “The New Neighbors” – [Edgetone Records]

Max Level   4/4/2022   CD, Jazz

Guinea Pig is a jazz quartet that formed in 1995 and has finally released their second album. Recorded live in 2019 at the SF Musicians Union Hall. The lineup is Timothy Orr–drums/percussion, Rent Romus–saxophones, Robert Kuhlmann–electric bass, and Tony Passarell–saxophone and cornet. Six pieces of solid outside jazz, ranging from around 4 to 7 minutes in length. Check out the cool blowing-two-saxes-at-once action. Orr on drums really propels this group. Nothing I don’t dig about this.

Wilson, Cassandra – “Thunderbird” – [Blue Note]

aarbor   3/23/2022   CD, Jazz

Cassandra Wilson was born in Mississippi. After college she lived in New Orleans briefly and then moved to New York. There she was a part of the M-Base collective with Steve Coleman, Greg Osby and Geri Allen in the 1980s and then pursued a solo career. This release, one of many on Blue Note, is from 2006. One reviewer called it “a contemporary-sounding bluesy roots album that people under the age of 40 might want to hear”. Some songs are traditional [tracks 3, 5], track 7 is a Willie Dixon song, and Wilson herself contributed to writing tracks 1,4,6,10. AArbor

Sete, Bola – “Samba In Seattle: Live At The Penthouse (1966-1968)” – [Tompkins Square]

aarbor   3/16/2022   CD, Jazz

Bola Sete (born Djalma de Andrade) was from Brazil. He left in 1959, at age 36 and never returned. He played at various hotels around the U.S. ultimately settling in the SF Bay Area These 3 CDs are from 6 live concerts, 2 each in 1966, 1967 and 1968, at Seattle’s venue the Penthouse. The music is mostly by Brazilian composers (including a couple of his own compositions), although J.S. Bach, Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn and Johnny Mandel are also represented. Sete is a virtuoso guitar player. It’s always a pleasure to listen to such mastery. The liner notes by various heavy hitters, pay tribute to him including an article written by John Fahey for Guitar Player Magazine. AArbor

Dewar, Andrew Raffo – “Ekphrasis Suite” – [Rastascan Records]

Max Level   3/7/2022   CD, Jazz

Thoughtful, spacious compositions by soprano saxophonist Dewar, working here with three stalwarts of the Bay Area improv/new music scene: Kyle Bruckmann on oboe/English horn, Gino Robair on percussion/vibraphone, and John Shiurba on acoustic/electric guitars. The four have worked together previously under the name Interactions Quartet. On this release, four visual artworks (reproduced in the CD package) are interpreted musically by the ensemble. This gives each of the four pieces (which range from 10 to 16 minutes in length) a distinctly different flavor from the others. Overall, the music is a bit spacey but never disjointed. Recorded in 2014, but not released until 2021.

Noertker’s Moxie/Walking On Blue Eggshells

carsonstreet   3/7/2022   CD, Jazz

Bassist/composer Bill Noertker has been active in the Bay Area jazz and avant-garde scene since the late 1980s. Since 2001, he has lead his own ensemble, Noertker’s Moxie, as a forum for compositions inspired by visual artists such as Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Salvador Dalí and others.  He has composed over 150 pieces of music including the soundtrack for Curious Worlds: the Art and Imagination of David Beck and the extended suites Sketches of Catalonia; the Blue Rider; the Druidh; Tricycle; and In Billville.

Walking on Blue Eggshells is volume one of the new Billville trilogy, a collection of 25 previously unreleased live performances spanning two decades. The compositions contained herein are Noertker’s reflections on his travels, his encounters with art, his penchant for poetry, his love of Catalonia, his sense of wonder at words, his fondness for the tritone, his fascination with film.

Ruiz, Jorge Lopez – “El Grito” – [Light in the Attic]

aarbor   2/9/2022   12-inch, Jazz

Jorge Lopez Ruiz was an Argentine double bass player, composer/arranger who was known for his soundtracks. This is a suite for jazz orchestra – the sound is 1960’s Big Band jazz. It could easily be mistaken for a soundtrack for a 1960’s film. Lopez Ruiz is the band leader on this 1967 recording. El Grito means the scream. The album was banned on its release because it takes a critical stance towards Argentina’s chaotic political situation and the military regime at that time. In its day it was a trailblazing release, very non-conforming. AArbor

Weston, G. Calvin – “Hydrogen 77” – [Self Released]

Max Level   2/8/2022   CD, Jazz

Super fresh, atmospheric jazz fusion from drummer Weston working in a trio format with fellow Philadelphians Richard Hill on bass, and Colton Weatherston on guitar. Impeccable musicians, all of them. Nimble, creative bass and drums keep this thing moving while spacy, unpredictable guitar lines (always with stereo delay effect) float on top. Bassist Hill is new to me, and I really dig his active interplay and funk exchanges with Weston, straight up a master drummer who is never afraid to drop in a ferocious accent when the time is right. The sounds are sometimes reminiscent of the late-80s trio Power Tools, a project I absolutely loved. Track 11 features a couple of guests on electronics and spoken word, with only Weston’s powerful drumming as accompaniment. Your head needs to hear this CD.

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