KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Toniutti, Agnese – "Subtle Matters" – [Neuma]

Cousin Mary   7/30/2021   CD, Jazz

Italian pianist Agnese Toniutti explores the possibilities of sound from piano, timbre piano, and toy piano in the her compositions and those of Lucia Dlugoszewski, Tan Dun, Phillip Corner. Tinkly, booming, comedic, and thought provoking.

PGM: Some tracks go quiet quite a few seconds before they end.

Murray, Kevin / Sato, Kazuto / Weeks, Tom – “Hard Boiled” – [Wolfsblood Records]

Max Level   7/19/2021   CD, Jazz

Great playing by this drums/bass/sax trio. Three long tracks of (I’m assuming) improvised creativity. I’m used to hearing saxophonist Weeks on alto, but on Track 2 he moves over to baritone and it’s a nice change. On that same track, upright bassist Sato switches to electric bass guitar for a while and then switches back. Murray on drums is supportive throughout and plays interesting parts without calling attention to himself. These guys are a high-functioning outside free jazz unit and it sounds like they get off on playing with one another. What more can you ask for?

Harlem In Vogue: Poetry Jazz of Langston Hughes [coll] – [Fingertips Records]

Thee Opinataur   7/8/2021   CD, Jazz


This compilation consists of four separate recordings from 1958-60. . The first ten tracks
are Langston Hughes accompanied by Leonard Feathers All-Star Sextet. The next eleven
tracks are Hughes’s poetry with Charles Mingus & The Horace Parlan Quintet. Six tracks
of Hughes poetry follow, closing with two tracks from Bob Dorough’s interpretation of
Hughes poetry. While Hughes did most of his writings years earlier, these were his first
attempts to bridge the jazz and written word. The ‘Weary Blues’ with Leonard Feathers
Quintet as well as ‘Motto/ dead in there’ are some of the best works on this lengthy
compilation. However, while some of his most important works such as ‘I have known
rivers’ and ‘I too’ are wonderful to hear from the author’s own voice, they could have
used some accompaniment. The last two tracks put this otherwise fine collection to
shame as the quality of Bob Dorough’s interpretation of Hughes falls completely flat. A
fine historical piece overall – Thee Opinataur

Lenoci, Gianni – "A Few Steps Beyond" – [Amirani Records/Amirani Contemporary]

aarbor   6/23/2021   CD, Jazz

Gianni Lenoci was an Italian jazz pianist, composer and educator who departed this life in 2019 at the age of 56. This (posthumous) album was released this year. It’s a live concert at the Talos Festival September 4, 2019 – his last concert, he died later that month. Here he’s a jazz pianist playing other people’s work. It’s an Ornette Coleman sandwich, with Jerome Kern, Paul and Carla Bley, and Gordon Jenkins as the creators of the sandwich innards. Classical themes sublimated in noir semidarkness, meditative glimpses, unexpected diversions. AArbor

Lake Oliver,Tchicai John, Osgood Kresten, Westergaard Jonas -Lake | Tchicai | Osgood | Westergaard – [Passing Thru Records]

Thee Opinataur   6/9/2021   CD, Jazz

Oliver Lake [Black Artists Group, World Saxophone Quartet] has collaborated with many of the jazz greats of the past 4+ decades. Recorded in 2003 in Copenhagen, Oliver Lake, Alto Sax, completed a tour of Denmark with Danish tenor saxophonist John Tchicai, drummer Kresten Osgood and bassist Jonas Westergaard. They immediately went into the studio afterward, the product of which is this release on Lake’s Passin’ Thru record label. All four artists contributed compositions to this album. Heavily steeped in swing with a vast amount of improvisation, and a bit of poetry and chanting mixed in on tracks 5 & 7 respectively.

To the ears, this recording feels like you are actually situated in a small intimate live space, not a studio, which is a great treat for the listener. Lake and Tchicai take turns leading us on several journeys throughout with timely phrasing and great energy. The youngest of this group, Kresten Osgood to me is the unsung star, his understated timing, and control to keep this quartet loose, free, and yet playing together as one is a thing of beauty. 

This album is such an engaging and pleasant experience. Its warmth will tickle that sweet spot in your body and brain and yet not let you get too comfortable as it insists on opening your mind and spirit to new places not yet experienced. 

Thee Opinataur

Soldier, Dave – "Eighth Hour of Amduat, The" – [Mulatta Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/8/2021   CD, Jazz

KFJC’s worship of Sun Ra is well known, and we are not alone. Professor-purveyor-pilot Dave Soldier helps keep Sun Ra alive, with no less than Marshall Allen among the crew for this 2017 release. There may be no air in space, but this release launches with an aria and then includes a dixieland space walk. Track two, electronics, deep tuba, maybe an erhu and Bastet (cat God) on vocals? Harp ripples in on #3, strings both classical and angry angular guitar are summoned. Impressively, sax forces are Marshall’d; Mr. Allen served many tours on Sun Ra’s interplanetary journeys and judging by his playing on here, he has not aged a single note, though he may be 90+ in Earth years. The combination of natural sounds (water beneath the boat, birds on the breeze) along with the swelling choir, help the journey, but the EVI from Allen and Soldier’s own digital squiggles are nice sonic spikings. Ultimately this is an opera, and Sahoko Sato Timpone shines brightest, but the gravity of Sun Ra’s creativity pulls it all together. -Thurston Hunger

Hot 8 Brass Band – "Rock With The Hot 8 Brass Band" – [Tru Thoughts]

aarbor   5/26/2021   CD, Jazz

The Hot 8 Brass Band is from New Orleans. It’s a 20 year old band forged from 2 separate groups who all went to Fortier High School: the High Steppers and the Looney Tunes Brass Band. Sadly 4 of the original members are gone due to illness and street violence. Hurricane Katrina displaced band members as well. The Hot 8’s funk style is a blend of influences from the Dirty Dozen and Rebirth brass bands, with more elements of contemporary R&B, Rap and its local variation called “Bounce”. The Hot 8 have been featured in 2 Spike Lee documentaries. This release from 2007, the band’s first on Tru Thoughts, includes many of the original members. Enjoy! AArbor

Arthur Doyle Plus 4 – ‘Alabama Feeling’ – [Rank and File]

Thee Opinataur   5/25/2021   12-inch, Jazz

Arthur Doyle Alabama Feeling Album

Recorded Live at the Brook, New York City, Nov 11, 1977. Reissued in 2009 on Rank & File Records out of Berlin.
While Doyle had previously supported other Free Jazz greats, such as Noah Howard (Black Ark) and Sun Ra, This is Doyle’s first album where he leads. He is credited on this album playing Tenor Voice-O-Phone, Bass Voice-O-Net whereas he not only plays but sings at the same time through his instrument. Its results are a fierce raw cerebral energy right from the beginning with ‘November 8th & 9th – I Can’t Remember When’. In fact, the whole first side is a nonstop uncompromising bastion of energy that literally blows you back and really doesn’t stop until you flip to side two. Here the two drummers Rashied Sinan and Bruce Moore blend beautifully in a dark tribal rhythmic duet on ‘Ancestor’ as one by one the other members join in the journey. Charles Stephens Trombone is all over the place throughout this album as he goes from swampy elongated pitches to short, full blasts exploding perfectly alongside Doyle. Not to be outdone, Doyle’s childhood friend from Birmingham, Richard Williams on Fender Bass is magnificent in support of keeping complex time. There is definitely confrontation all along this journey, but I believe that is purposeful, and why this recording stands out and has defied the test of time in its relevancy even today.
While the original master was lost, this reissue was captured from the original vinyl recording. It is lo-fi and has an almost field recording feel to it, and it is absolutely perfect.

Sarid, Daniel / Kretzmer, Yoni / Evans, Michael – "Bring" – [Out Now Recordings]

Hemroid The Leader   5/17/2021   CD, Jazz

BRING Daniel Sarid, Yoni Kretzmer, Michael Evans

Like the angry guy at the mouthpiece make-out party, restrained free jazz trio gusts and squalls and never quite draws blood, forges unique sound. Searching melodic piano approach from leader Sarid. Outnow honcho Kretzmer’s klezzy Ayler-isms emit smoke but stop short. Evans absurdly kicks the kick down Cymbalism St. & Dada Lane. His original/absurd drum solo closes out 7. Solid release, adds to our Outnow/Kretzmer collection.

Schulze, Klaus – "Dziekuje Poland Live '83" – [Mig-Music]

aarbor   4/21/2021   CD, Jazz

Klaus Schulze started out as a drummer with Psy Free (1967-’69), Tangerine Dream (1969-’70) and Ash Ra Tempel (1970-’71). In 1971 he started a solo career an an electronic musician. He released several very experimental electronic albums including “Cyborg” and “Irrlicht” (both in the KFJC library). Schulze says that for him electronic music is totally sensual. He describes his approach as very physical and playful. This recording is from a tour of Poland which he did with Rainer Bloss in 1983. Poland was still behind the “Iron Curtain” and the audiences were very grateful. The tracks are long and live. AArbor

Henry, Ashley – "Beautiful Vinyl Hunter" – [Sony Music U.K.]

aarbor   4/21/2021   CD, Jazz

Ashley Henry, who will turn 30 this year, is a part of the New London Jazz scene, but his style is more traditional than his compatriots. This is gentle piano jazz. I didn’t find it very challenging but it’s authentic, well played and composed by Henry himself. Henry’s musical resume is impressive for musician his age. Be sure to check out the track Battle which features Binker Golding and Moses Boyd, it is much closer in sound and spirit to what I consider the sound of the New London Jazz scene. Makaya McCraven is featured on Dark Honey (4TheStorm). AArbor

Greenlief, Phillip – “Barbedwire” – [Creative Sources Recording]

mickeyslim   4/6/2021   CD, Jazz

All the way back in July 2019, Phillip Greenlief planned to perform at KFJC with the Social Stutter Quartet to promote their performance at that year’s Outsound New Music Summit. Unfortunately, one of the quartet wasn’t able to make it, so Greenlief pulled out this gigantic book of graphic scores, and the then trio performed from the pages of this book. Little did we know, we were getting a live sneak peak into what would become this first-in-a-series album of improvised works to these graphic scores.

Whether the trio consists of more traditional instruments or live electronics, these trios bring to life these graphic scores that, while they look like twisted barbed wire, don’t have that harsh, scratchy, metallic feel. Each track is quite different than the last, but all maintain a certain placidity that momentarily gets disrupted, only to lull you back into that oh-so-comfortable false sense of security.

Ingeniously designed, masterfully-executed, perfect for KFJC. Enjoy!

Weeks, Tom & Corder, Nathan – “Diamondback” – [Makeshift Encounters]

mickeyslim   3/30/2021   CD, Jazz

Skronky skronk noisejazz. Improv-jamz galore. Frantic freestlyin’ just enough to take you under and bring you back. Strings/wind/percussion, probably Weeks on sax at some point, not that you’d be able to tell through the madness. Did you already take the red pill? Only one way to find out…

Blake, Michael – "Hellbent" – [Self-released]

aarbor   3/17/2021   CD, Jazz

Michael Blake is a saxophone player from Canada who has lived in the SF Bay Area but spent serious time in New York playing with artists including The Lounge Lizards (1990-1999), Charlie Hunter, Medeski, Martin and Wood and many others. He has released 15 albums, this is a live album from 2010. Blake wrote all the tracks here and is joined by Steven Bernstein on trumpet and slide trumpet, Marcus Rojas on tuba and G. Calvin Weston on drums. The best part of this recording is its playfulness and sense of humor. AArbor

Barker, Andrew / Irabagon, Jon Duo – “Anemone” – [Radical Documents]

Max Level   2/25/2021   CD, Jazz

Drums and tenor sax duo. Free Jazz Explorations. Inspired and interesting interplay. I can recommend each track individually, but listening to the whole CD in one sitting is somewhat exhausting. Free jazz drums/sax duet records tend to be like that for me. I can’t help it–after a while I’m like where’s the upright bass dude? Four adventurous tracks here, 11 to 14 minutes each; pick one (or two) and you can’t go wrong.

Dickey, Whit Trio – "Expanding Light" – [Tao Forms]

aarbor   2/24/2021   CD, Jazz

Whit Dickey made a name for himself as the former drummer of David S. Ware’s famous quartet. Since then Dickey’s musical contributions have gone well beyond his work as a drummer. Dickey is also composer. In recent years he has been recording with small groups. Here he plays with a new trio: his long time collaborator alto saxophonist Rob Brown, and an amazing young bass player, Brandon Lopez. Dickey described the experience of recording with his new trio as “incessantly and mightily grabbing the dragon by the tail, and not caring.” In other words, losing oneself to intangible inspiration, wherever it may lead. The result is a visceral ferocity that is very appealing. AArbor

Fuller, Wesley – "Seven By Seven" – [Neuma]

aarbor   2/17/2021   CD, Jazz

Wesley Fuller died at the age of 89 as this, his first full length release was about to be pressed. He was a pioneer in the field of electroacoustic music. His music combines acoustic instruments (piano, violin, viola, flute and percussion) and fixed media (formerly known as tape). It illustrates the development of electroacoustic music over the decades – from 1970s-era analog synthesizers housed in institutions to living room digital studios. He described his approach here by saying “…the computer is being used as a composer, and it is, if you will, a kind of collaboration between composers.” AArbor

Newberger / Mazzy / Thompson – "Men They Will Become, The" – [Stomp Off Records]

aarbor   2/10/2021   CD, Jazz

Eli Newberger is a pediatrician and a musician whose undergrad studies were at Juilliard. In 1999 he wrote a book called The Men They Will Become and was inspired to get his Dixieland outfit together to record a companion album to the book looking at issues in the book with a musical lens. This could be a trite rehash of well-known old tunes, but it isn’t – there are some absolute treasures here. The 3 musicians (tuba, piano, clarinet and voice) recreate these tunes with love, expertise and a slight edge which make them well worth playing. (love the tuba!) Tracks 5 and 20 are instrumentals. AArbor

Nels Cline Singers, The – “Share The Wealth” – [Blue Note]

SlartiBartfast   1/24/2021   12-inch, Jazz

This is a trippy, noisy, rocking, and fuzzy fusion/prog/psyche Jazz 2020 release from the sextet of The Nels Cline Singers. No singing here, except for one track with some guttural vocal whispers. This is a musical journey through a wide range of musical styles. Imagine taking a bit of DNA from the Mahavishnu Orch., Charlie Hunter, King Crimson, John Zorn, and a hint of Zappa, mixed it all together, and creating a finely crafted 2LP release on Blue Note. With Nels Cline (gt fx), Scott Amendola (dr), Skerik  (ten. Sax, fx), Trevor Dunn (bass, fx), Brian Marsella (keys, fx), and Cyro Baptista (perc.), “Share the Wealth” is bound to appeal to a wide array of musical tastes and ears. It will keep your mind swirling and your toes tapping.

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