KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Sharrock, Linda Network, The – “They Begin to Speak” – [Improvising Beings]

Hemroid The Leader   8/7/2017   CD, Jazz

Somewhere between AHH! and UH! lie these collectively improvised free jazz livestock orgies out on improvising beings. The same 50-minute-plus composition is performed in the studio on disc 1 and live on disc 2. Linda Sharrock’s post-stroke vocals are wild and primal. Very challenging and rewarding. The sidemen are right along with her, Itaru Oki, Makoto Sato, Eric Zinman, Mario Rechturn et al. CD1’s larger group’s collective improvising recalls Ornette Coleman Free Jazz LP. CD2 is a smaller group and it gets raw.

Corsano / Courvoisier / Wooley – “Salt Task” – [Relative Pitch Records]

Hemroid The Leader   8/7/2017   CD, Jazz

Chris Corsano – drums
Sylvie Courvoisier – piano
Nate Wooley – trumpet

The premiere recording of this lineup, in Brooklyn 2015. These four tracks work out a very promising relationship. Wooley and corsano come from a DIY/free music background and Courvoisier was educated at the conservatory in Lausanne. But maybe these distinctions are not very important as they are having a very advanced musical discussion.
The first track is 21 minutes long and it is the wildest and most tenuous. They continue to explore through the next two and by the last tune there is a sound. This band has a great sound and I think they would be crazy not to record more of it.

Thollem / Mazurek – “Blind Curves and Box Canyons” – [Relative Pitch Records]

Phil Phactor   7/26/2017   CD, Jazz

Trumpeter Rob Mazurek (Chicago Underground, Isotope 217) and electric pianist Thollem McDonas (Tsigoti, Estamos Ensemble) meet for the first time in Marfa and head for the outer limits. As might be expected from a pair of experienced improvisers with incredibly diverse interests, they hit a variety of spots along the way. It helps that Mazurek is packing a sampler, a modular synth, bells, and his prodigious voice in addition to his horn. Electric-era Miles is the obvious referent, but there are also Oval-style glitch experiments, modular synth workouts, free-folk psych freakouts, and even some “straight” free-improv. Of particular note are those moments when Mazurek’s shamanic chanting breaks through the squall, and the whole thing threatens to break itself apart. Noisy, messy, and joyous.

William Parker Quartets: Meditation / Resurrection [coll] – [Aum Fidelity]

Hemroid The Leader   7/26/2017   CD, Jazz

Follow up to 2016’s Wood Flute Songs oversize box. All compositions William Parker. In the tradition of Mingus and Ellington. Both CDs recorded live on the same day in 2016.
Parker’s namesake quartet on CD1 features OKC’s Jalalu Kalvert-Nelson on trumpet, CD2 In Order To Survive quartet features Cooper-Moore on piano. Both CDs feature Parker-bass, Rob Brown-alto, Hamid Drake- drums.
CD1 – Kalvert-Nelson on “Rodney’s Resurrection”. Brown on “Handsome Lake.” Drake and Parker swing hard all disc.
CD2 – Cooper-Moore channels Cecil Taylor and Don Pullen. Check out “Some Lake Oliver.” Parker’s bow on “Sunrise ..” lets you know he is completely in control.

Ryan, Jim / Glenn, Jordan – “Mindless Thing” – [Edgetone Records]

Phil Phactor   7/25/2017   CD, Jazz

Oakland-based percussionist and composer Jordan Glenn is a modern-day Mingus, known as much for his mastery of his chosen instrument as for his unique and compelling ensemble work (cf. BEAK, Wiener Kids). Here, he collaborates with Jim Ryan, a Bay Area poet who used to pal around with Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. Glenn’s compositions feature hammered dulcimer, vibraphone, and piano, and mesh perfectly with Ryan’s gravely, sage-like voice. The mood is mostly somber and melancholy (although watch out for T5 which works itself into a bit of a frenzy with some hand percussion and guitar pyrotechnics), and I can’t help but envision an old man alone in his castle, whiskey coursing through his veins, slowly going insane. Guaranteed to both fit in and stand out in any show. Highly recommended!

Roscoe Mitchell and the Sound and Space Ensembles

milo   7/16/2017   CD, Jazz

This 1984 offering from Roscoe Mitchell and friends presents a mix of approaches, spread over a half-dozen tracks ranging from 2-12 minutes in length. In opener “Words,” vocals and a pair of saxophones tiptoe around one another in alternating bouts of drawn out, held notes and quick choppy phrases. “You Wastin’ My Time” features a much larger ensemble busting out an off-kilter, ass-shaking groove with Sugar Hill-esque rap–notable for the percussion, and lots of spirited sax and bass work. Short-form improv “Views A, B, and C” is laid back like a plastic bag caught in the wind. “View D” has almost no percussion, but squeaky everything– these dudes take turns doing insane runs, but make it sound so easy. “Lifeline Lyon Seven” is an upbeat, more traditional cut held down with ride, snare and bass; Mitchell delivers a hazy, extended solo out front. It also includes a frenetic solo by Mike Mossman (trumpet) and some true wackiness from Spencer Banfield (guitar).

Bad Jazz – “Daymare” – [eh?]

Hemroid The Leader   6/11/2017   CD, Jazz

One long track 39m. Piano and a bunch of fumbling. Will make you think something is wrong with the car. About 38 minutes in a toy drum machine takes over. Noises. A plastic straw makes an ominous sound and brings the proceedings to an absurd finale.
Tanya Chen (Tender Buttons) plays piano, electronics, toys.
The liner notes have a picture of some salmon fillets and a microphone.

Circus, Lena / Itaru Oki – “Zanshin” – [Improvising Beings]

socialnorm   6/11/2017   CD, Jazz

Zanshin is a collaboration album between the French experimental jazz trio Lena Circus and the Japanese trumpeter, flugelhornist, and perennial collaborator Itaru Oki, released 2016. The album moves back and forth between minimalistic noise and cacophonous noise, always with trumpet. Drums are an afterthought. Could be good bed music, but the textures are unpredictable tracks tend to crescendo toward the end. On the whole, only moderately interesting, somewhat lethargic, with passages of panic like Miles Davis unable to wake up from a heroin dream. Has two tracks over 10 minutes for bathroom breaks. Squirrels and farts here and there. If you do two takes of an experimental improvisational piece, do you have one track or two. Social Norm

Rothenberg, Ned/Feldman, Mark/Courvoisier, Sylvie – “In Cahoots” – [Clean Feed]

Naysayer   6/4/2017   CD, Jazz

Nine wonderful tracks of “free jazz” exploration tempered with continuous references and returns to meter, rhythm, repeated phrases of almost melodic quality. Sylvie Courvoisier on piano and Mark Feldman on violin had recently teamed up with Ikue Mori and Evan Parker for an album, so they come from experience and skill. Adding Ned Rothenberg on clarinet, alto saxophone, bass clarinet and shakuhachi makes for an interesting, challenging and lovely trio. No drums. Fascinating for a jazz album. And not missed in the least. These pieces explore so many dimensions capable with this list of instruments. For instance, when Feldman bows his violin it’s more shocking and head shaking than when he plucks, which would seem to make more sense. Songs start off and seem to explode, a rhythm played which begins to twist then loose itself in pure emotion. Pushing the definition of what is jazz, this collection of sounds positively broadens that idea.

Grosse Abfahrt – “Luftschifffeiertagserinnerungfotoalbum” – [Setola Di Maiale]

Louie Caliente   5/17/2017   CD, Jazz

Grosse Abfahrt is a project started by Gino Robair to explore improvisation with large groups or musicians. The core of the group consists of Robair, John Shiurba, Matt Ingalls, Tim Perkis, and Tom Djll. On this album (whos title means something like “airship holiday souvenir photo album”) they are joined by Frank Gratkowski, Kjell Nordeson, Liza Mezzacappa, Phillip Greenlief, and John Bisschoff. The session was recorded at Mills College in 2009.

Given the nature of the group, and the wide variety of instrumentation (all kinds of wind, string, percussion, electronics…) I expected something pretty frenzied and cacophonous, but it’s actually quite subtle and delicate. The artists spend most of their time listening, and slowly build intricately layered soundscapes that breath and flow.

The album starts off sparse and droney, and slowly picks up some speed as it progresses. Tracks 5 and 6 sound are more energetic and skittery (although still short of cacophonous) than the others, as if the group took a quick espresso break before recording them. There is a brief frenzied climax on track 6 that really hit the spot, and then track 7 slowly unwinds, bringing us back to the vast, wide open spaces that characterize the first few tracks.

Red Trio & Butcher, John – “Summer Skyshift” – [Clean Feed]

Cousin Mary   5/4/2017   CD, Jazz

Recorded live in Lisbon in 2015 with the Red Trio (bass, drums, percussion) and their Guest John Butcher on tenor and soprano sax. Free and abstract, all improvised with a fine collaboration that interweaves Butcher’s foundation with the trio’s response. Musically interesting and engaging.

Hoosier Hot Shots – “Everybody Stomp” – [Proper Records]

Naysayer   4/15/2017   CD, Jazz

Hoosier Hot Shots ??? ???Everybody Stomp/Hot Lips??? ??? [Proper Records]

The Hoosier Hot Shots were a four piece swing, jazz, corn pone, hillbilly country outfit from Indiana. Steeped in the tradition of vaudeville, the group took parts of the U.S. by storm with their weekly radio broadcasts, their stage presence, their prolific recording career and their continued appearance in Hollywood westerns. This collection, ???Everybody Stomp??? is a 4 CD set of 100 Hoosier Hot Shot delights. The guys were multi-instrumentalists, playing a variety of brass instruments as well as guitar, string bass (various), clarinet and some unique handmade instruments including the Zither and the Wabash Washboard. It consisted of a corrugated sheet metal washboard on a metal stand with various noisemakers attached, including bells and a multi-octave range of squeeze-type bicycle horns???. Also, slide whistles are in most numbers. The Hoosiers selected many standards and familiar songs of the time to cover with a jaunty, silly twist. Vocals include conversation between the musicians, with some of the singers using this high pitched kind of hillbilly accent. And don???t forget the penny whistles. Once beyond the goofiness, though, take a listen to the amazing musicianship between the members. It???s quite impressive. A fun addition, fitting many of the styles of our station???s shows.

Lovens, Paul/Hubweber, Paul/Edwards, John – “Papajo” – [Emanem]

Louie Caliente   4/12/2017   CD, Jazz

Modern free jazz pushing the boundaries of structure and technique. Propulsive but not explosive, these three accomplished musicians find a comfortable yet still edgy middle ground between sparse and skronk.

The songs have a tight feeling of cohesion not normally found in this kind of improvised music. It’s as if the works already exist out in the ether, moving along with their own internal shape and inertia, passing through the musicians who give them voice.

Hubweber plays the trombone like an alto sax, with long blasts of notes in between gasps and gurgles. Edwards scratches, bows, and thumps the bass, achieving some bizarre reverberations and harmonics. Lowens provides many percussive layers simultaneously. Playing skittery textures during the more abstract moments, but not afraid to lay down a bursts of driving rhythmic beat when the mood calls for it.

Nutimbre – “Cycles” – [dEN Records]

Thurston Hunger   4/6/2017   CD, Jazz

Label-leader and dEN-master Stefano Ferrian assembled
this five piece, with a decidedly electric timbre
although his spinning sax and Vito Emanuele Galante’s
trilling trumpet cross paths a lot. The album’s title
is the musical mantra for Ferrian’s compositions here
with heaps of arpeggiated arrays and hopped up cycles
of sound. Sometimes like on “Sharp Colors” they move
at a measured pace, but even that drops out and
let’s Simone Quatrana finger flip a solo on his keys,
as Fabrizio Carriero drum punctuates. “Closed Walk”
has a plodding gait, Luca Pissavini getting thick
with his electric bass (it feels like an acoustic
tree trunk.) Ferrian’s first solo sparcs nicely,
I get a little lost in Quatrana’s closing riffwork.
But I like the down Chicago feel to that piece. The
title cut has a more frenzied fusion feel for me.
I do like Ferrian’s kind of zig-zag melody use.
Another extended round from Quatrana on the closer
with some nice muted trumpet by Galante. Cycles
that are dizzying and perhaps refreshingly
Gillespie-ing? 2014 release, at least I found it
before Discogs has! -Thurston Hunger

Eckemoff, Yelena Quintet – “Blooming Tall Phlox” – [L & H Production]

Hemroid The Leader   2/18/2017   CD, Jazz

CD1: Summer smells / CD2: Winter smells
Pianist/composer Yelena Eckemoff recruited Finnish jazz players to record this homage to the scents of her childhood in Russia. The band is comprised of trumpeter Verneri Pohjola, drummer Olavi Louhivuori, vibraphonist Panu Savolainen and bassist Antti Lotjonen. They are a younger band, very investigative, stimulating. More IN than OUT. Eckemoff is new to our library. She gives the band a lot of room within the compositions, but they retain a strong structure.

Mimmo, Gianni & Sjostrom, Harri – “Live At Bauchhund Berlin 2010” – [Amirani Records/Amirani Contemporary]

Hemroid The Leader   2/18/2017   CD, Jazz

Out on Mimmo’s own label Amirani Contemporary, a duo of soprano sax natives Gianni Mimmo and Harri Sjostrom (ho-STROAM) performing live at Bauchhund Salonlabor in Berlin, June 4, 2010. Track 1 is a spoken intro. It was recorded on the anniversary of Steve Lacy’s passing, a fact mentioned in the intro. Lots of mouthpiece sounds. They get very into the instrument. Almost private. Track 9 features Sjostrom playing a special plastic cup.

Hoosier Hot Shots – “Everybody Stomp/Hot Lips” – [Proper Records]

Naysayer   2/12/2017   CD, Jazz

The Hoosier Hot Shots were a four piece swing, jazz, cornpone, hillbilly country outfit from Indiana. Steeped in the tradition of vaudeville, the group took parts of the U.S. by storm with their weekly radio broadcasts, their stage presence, their prolific recording career and their continued appearance in Hollywood westerns. This collection, “Everybody Stomp” is a 4 CD set of 100 Hoosier Hot Shot delights. The guys were multi-instrumentalists, playing a variety of brass instruments as well as guitar, string bass (various), clarinet and some unique handmade instruments including the Zither and the Wabash Washboard. It consisted of a corrugated sheet metal washboard on a metal stand with various noisemakers attached, including bells and a multi-octave range of squeeze-type bicycle horns”. Also, slide whistles are in most numbers. The Hoosiers selected many standards and familiar songs of the time to cover with a jaunty, silly twist. Vocals include conversation between the musicians, with some of the singers using this hight pitched kind of hillbilly accent. And don’t forget the penny whistles. Once beyond the goffiness, though, take a listen to the amazing musicianship between the members. It’s quite impressive. A fun addition, fitting many of the styles of our station’s shows.

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