KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Logan Hone’s Similar Fashion – “Logan Hone’s Similar Fashion” – [Pfmentum]

humana   6/4/2018   CD, Jazz

This is refreshingly accessible avant-garde jazz from a quartet featuring Hone on alto sax and bass clarinet, Lauren Baba on viola, Gregory Uhlmann on guitar, and Mike Lockwood on drums.They are capable composers and improvisers. “Play” (7) sounds like a wonky circus act, while “Morning Bear” (9) is a lovely creation (written by and featuring pizzicato by Baba) worthy of many listens.

Otherworld Ensemble – “Live At Malmitalo” – [Edgetone Records]

Cousin Mary   5/10/2018   CD, Jazz

Oakland musician and Outsound New Music Summit organizer Rent Romus takes his sax and flute to Helsinki, Finland where he is joined by excellent Finnish musicians to make this remarkable live 2017 album.  Very weird but very beautiful and listenable.  Sound is terrific, lovely tones from all instruments.  The tracks do not remind me of anything I have heard before and that’s a good thing.  (A kantele is a traditional Finnish zither.)

Hill, Andrew – “Black Fire” – [Blue Note]

Cousin Mary   5/10/2018   CD, Jazz

Hard bop meets avant garde in this outstanding session from 1963.  Original recording and remastering were both done by Rudy Van Gelder.  Excellent piano from leader Andrew Hill, stunning “side men” include Joe Henderson on sax, Richard Davis on bass, Roy Haynes on drums.  Does it get any better than that?  Edgy and marvelous.

Chen/ Kaiser/ Smith/ Winant – “Ocean of Storms” – [Fractal Music]

billiejoe   4/18/2018   CD, Jazz

Ambient spacey jazz brought to you by piano, trumpet, guitar, and percussion. Long trips. Smith and Kaiser go way back but this album came out this year. Perhaps Ocean of Storms refers to the Oceanus Procellarum, a basaltic plain on the moon that is the result of ancient volcanic eruptions.

— Billie Joe Tolliver

Segala, Luca Libertrio – “La Rete Indra” – [Amirani Records/Amirani Contemporary]

Hemroid The Leader   4/12/2018   CD, Jazz

Sax-bass-drums trio recorded in Milan, 2015. Tony’s Hungry is an Afro-mid-eastern groove that recalls John Zorn’s Masada. Segala’s free-and-easy melodic tenor brings to mind classic Sonny Rollins. At the same time, Segala’s compositions are very sharp. Fresh take, not dated. A quality recording. Intellectual blues, European jazz.

Parker, Evan / Lazro, Daunik / McPhee, Joe – “Seven Pieces Live At Willisau 1995” – [Clean Feed]

Phil Phactor   4/11/2018   CD, Jazz


Clean Feed brings the goods once again with this document of a 1995 meeting of three titans of the modern saxophone. From the opening long-held tones of “Echoes of Memory,” it’s clear that this is going to be a conversation, not a shouting match. These guys know how to play, but they also know how to listen. Moments reminiscent of a Bach fugue evolve effortlessly into moments of unbridled free play. This recording has been remastered from cassette, and the tape hiss and occasional cough really help in the feeling of being there. The track “Florid” (T4) is solo Evan Parker, and it is one of his classic circular-breathing ascending-to-heaven epics. Worth the price of admission all by itself. The last track ends with extended rhythmic clapping.

Motif – “My Head Is Listening” [Clean Feed]

humana   3/17/2018   Jazz

Energetic, fresh, forward-thinking jazz from Norway, all composed by Ole Morten Vagan, who plays double bass. The last track (“Lontano Sea”) is the most subdued of the bunch. Make sure your head is listening as you take in this unique sound.

Cambien, Jonas Trio – “Zoology of The Future, a” – [Clean Feed]

Phil Phactor   3/14/2018   CD, Jazz

Modern, quirky, jazz miniatures from this trio of Europeans. It’s the very opposite of a skronk-fest, as all the tracks are composed (at least in part), and most clock at under five minutes. The compositions are highly rhythmic, with the melodic material hinting at all kinds of things from modern classical to lounge jazz. A polite, measured treat.

Stein, Norbert/ Pata Messengers – “We are Here For You/ Derby Girl” – [Pata Music]

Hemroid The Leader   2/19/2018   CD, Jazz

German tenor saxophonist Norbert Stein calls his high-minded yet addictive European jazz quartet the Pata Messengers, after patyaphysics, an “an imaginary realm additional to metaphysics” developed by the Parisian absurdist Alfred Jarry (1873-1907). Fluid from freedom to in time, according to Michael Rusenberg, “Pata music floats in a large area of brackish water … between singable waltz … and complete dissolution of the meter.”
Drummer Etienne Nillesen uses only a prepared snare drum and cymbal for a kit and makes it work very well. Philip Zoubek is Stein’s first piano player and rounds out the proceedings, you can hear the difference between this and the other Stein / Pata Music releases in our library.

Liberatore, Matteo – “Solos” – [Innova Recordings]

billiejoe   2/6/2018   CD, Jazz

Liberatore lives in Brooklyn and is from Italy. This album is solo guitar experiments. It sounds like a meditation on vibrations. Very conceptual on first hear but the playful qualities come through.
– Billie Joe Tolliver

Bad Jazz – “Endtable Transmissions” – [Tymbal Tapes]

billiejoe   1/16/2018   CD, Jazz

This project was formed out of NorCal Noisefest in 2014. They are Ben Salomon on percussion and invented instruments, Tania Chen on found objects, toys, and electronics, and Bryan Day also on invented instruments. It sounds like sonic examinations. Their homemade sounds make for some great creative experiences. These are some noise researchers.
— Billie Joe Tolliver

Evangelista, Karl/ Grex – “a Love Supreme” – [Brux Records]

billiejoe   1/16/2018   CD, Jazz

This is John Coltrane’s work arranged and produced by Evangelista, the Filipino-American guitarist and composer. On this album he is playing guitar with M. Rei Scampavia on keys and electronics, Robert Lopez on drums, and Dan Clucas on trumpet. All together they are called Grex. To me it sounds like psych with trumpet. It’s emotional and playful.
— Billie Joe Tolliver

Gerowitz, Joshua – “Solano Canyon” – [Pfmentum]

Phil Phactor   1/16/2018   CD, Jazz

This is the debut album from Socal-based guitarist Joshua Gerowitz, and it’s exceedingly hard to pin down. The lead-off track seems simple enough, with the horns blowing over a swinging, dad-jazz vamp, when all of a sudden Gerowitz launches a fuzzed-out attack and blows things wide open. The Hamburger Isand tracks (T2, T5, T7) are noisy, vocal-led drone improvisations and available in a variety of track lengths for your programming convenience. Morning Landscape Illusion (T4) is a bluesy dirge with lots of filigreed horn work that slowly builds in intensity. Last track is a lonely, looper-ed, Bill Frisell-style send off.

Allen, Marshall Volcano Quartet – “Volcano Swing” – [Vibraphone Records]

Hemroid The Leader   12/28/2017   CD, Jazz

Marshall Allen Volcano Quartet, Volcano Swing

Marshall Allen was part of the Sun Ra Arkestra and this band is a continuation of that. They were in London in 2011 when a volcano exploded in Iceland, grounding all lights. The band took a three-day residency at Cafe Oto in North London.

They stopped by the BBC Radio to promote the gig and recorded this CD. First track is totally interstellar, but then they settle into a traumatic jazz quartet groove. the end of the CD there is a live interview and Marshall Allen reveals that he was a member of the Sun Ra Arkestra trapped in Seattle when Mount Saint Helens exploded in 1984.

Burrell, Kenny – “Cool Cookin'” – [Cadet Records]

Hemroid The Leader   12/19/2017   12-inch, Jazz

Detroit guitarist Kenny Burrell recorded at the Village Vanguard with Rochard Davis (b) and Roy Haynes (d). Also includes a mess of reissues from his other Cadet albums, even Christmas tunes. This is head-in-the-clouds stuff, but not interstellar. “Cool” guitar jazz.

Newsome, Sam – “Straight Horn of Africa, The a Path to Liberation” – [Self Released]

Hemroid The Leader   12/19/2017   CD, Jazz

Solo soprano sax originals by Sam Newsome, who was in Terence Blanchard’s band in the 90s. A solo investigation, “The Straight Horn of Africa,” ventures to many places – swinging, otherworldly sounds, African nature sounds, American jazz sounds, Mimmo-isms, Afrobeat and Highlife — it’s all here. Really cool sounds, pure, beautiful, strange.

Mazurek, Rob – “Chimeric Stoned Horn” – [Astral Spirits]

Max Level   12/18/2017   CD, Jazz

A fantastic listen. Trumpeter/cornetist Mazurek dives fully into electronic manipulation of his piccolo trumpet. Synth processing, samples, and loops are the tools being used. My impression is that the trumpet is largely the source of the sounds, and sometimes that is apparent, but a lot of the time it’s hard to tell–the sounds are bent and modified and crushed and corroded and squonked-out beyond recognition, so who knows? Mazurek’s super creative manipulation drops you into a sound-world the likes of which you have probably never heard before. Long tracks, short tracks, it’s all here. Fascinating.

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