Music Reviews

Lurie, John – “African Swim and Manny & Lo ” – [Strange & Beautiful]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   CD, Jazz

A film that no longer exists plays blindly
for us…its dozen ditties dripping with
soulful strut, ripe Ribot (!!!) guitar, a
little crusty rustic banjo, and somehow this
starched shirt clarinet that totally connects
“African Swim” is half goony-bassoony march
and half heat-crazed impulse.
“Manny & Lo” lifts off w/ a sort of jangle
pop anthem riffette (“Guadalcanal Diary?”)
met at the crossroads by Bill Ware’s marimba.
After that this album sweats a juju-virus
and discovers a more pensive tick-tock vibe
as opposed to willful shimmy of tracks 1-12.
Bittersweet & Lo?
Each side/suite has a classy clowny moment
(#3 and #17). Hip and hypnotic, songfishing
w/ a Lurie allure and Bernstein bait.

Knit Classics Sampler [coll] – [Knitting Factory Records]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   CD, Jazz

Collections like this are tantalizing and/or
frustrating. Certainly a ton of history, and
a lot of promise here — the lead track revs
duel-fueled electric bass under Vernon Reid
ripping riffs, then boom it’s a countrified
McLaughlin donning Mingus “‘bye Pork Pie Hat”
Fred Hopkins’ serves a sterling, scraping
anchor to David Murray and Olu Dara. Milt
Jackson gets some vibes flying, Rashied Ali
helps “Trane” Marvin Blackman…and then
Joe Lee Wilson soulfully vocalizes to
“Blue Trane”. Primal primer.

Eskelin, Ellery – “Ramifications ” – [Hat Hut Records Ltd]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   CD, Jazz

The triumphant trio of Eskelin, Parkins and Black
is aided & abetted here by Erik Friedlander(cello)
and Joe Daley(tuba). It’s like a bass player split
via musical mitosis, to get the plunk or scree
musings of cello with the deep jolly-green-giant
footsteps of tuba. With the low-end covered, thus
Andrea’s accordion moves with more ethereal ease.
While I like Eskelin’s playing, dipsy-doodle jumps
some flutter-blowing, mellifluous…his composition
and arrangement really captivate me. Whether the
past three trio releases or here adding tuba (some
funk, some rumble) and the cello (some tension,
some melancholy…usually with accodrion) to me it
seems like Eskelin cleverly gets more out of more
players by leaving more space..counter-intuitive?’
When will we be blessed with Eskelin escalating to
a Tentet?

Krill – “Krill ” – [Mass Particles]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   CD, Jazz

Sweet smoke jazz, this quartet would probably
be huge if their worm turned in the Big Apple.
Instead they are out of DC, with direct
connections to the Companion Trio. Sultry in
a Masada manner, outside but never blisteringly
so. Alley-way bass lines. Is #8 a tribute to
Fred Hopkins? Bowed bass too, yahoo. Definite
Rapport between reeds…that’s what reminded
me of Masada, though no trumpet here, they
latch onto each other so well.

Fasteau, Kali & Rafael Garret – “Memoirs of a Dream ” – [Flying Note]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   CD, Jazz

Quixotic and exotic jazz gypsy raw field
recordings. KFJC is blessed with several zounds
of Zusaan, her multi-instrumentality always
charmed me, now it is revealed that it comes
from her adventure/union with Donald. Each has
a knack for picking up any instrument, clarinet,
bass, thumb piano, flute, conch and finding the
voice inside it. Magical. An enchanted forest.
Vocalizations always a treat with Fasteau. We
are very fortunate to have this music and info,
documenting two whose life was music (whether
or not the tape was rolling), in fact this is
life itself. Earthly delight folk jazz.

Douglas, Dave/Tiny Bell Trio – “Constellations ” – [Hat Art Records]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   CD, Jazz

Trumpet, guitar and drums…Brad Shepik’s
guitar though works like bass & piano here
low fat notes root around and provide a
backbone, upper chords fill and float in
spaces…spaces that Douglas then owns…
arcing, fluttering, sustaining…a little
edgier than the other Tiny Bell Trio CD
KFJC has…perhaps cuz this was rec’d on
tour. Drummer Jim Black adds subtle/cymbal
strength. StormAndStress and Ellery Eskelin
know Black’s art, so should you. More sting,
than swing. The middle-eastern flair of
Shepik (check Pachora, and Darriau/Paradox
Trio!!!) and Douglas’ soulfulness take this
to supernova.

Thirteen Ways – “Focus ” – [Palmetto Records]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   CD, Jazz

Airy free threesome, Clusone-alone Michael Moore on
rippling-flag-in-the-breeze sax & pesky clarinet.
Fred Hersch’s piano is restrained, well-oiled and
well-calculated. The more perplexed it gets, the
more I dig this…other times it’s just so wizened
and so set. Gerry Hemingway rides a lot of cymbal
and brushed snare, very effective on say the icy,
“blues with a PhD” of #3. This is all about a light
touch (spend some time with the liner notes), free
jazz without the volcano, the squonk, but truth be
told…as in the beauty of #5 my still early ears
tell me that a lot of this is charted and charted
well…but on that there’s still a short clarinet
as shakuhachi siren impersonation and other side
journeys. Track #7 flutters up the most force here,
but still eases off the gas.

New York Art Quartet – “35TH Reunion ” – [Diw]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   CD, Jazz

Most people are going to hear this, and rightfully
marvel at and be mesmerized by the chants, rants
and powerful presence of Amiri Baraka. A whirlwind
of words, a stream-of-consciousness scream of
conscience. Big themes of art’s place in society,
notions of a creator, Black awareness. But he’s
just the *extra* added to this legendary quartet.
35 years times 4…it’s just not going to fit
here. But it did somehow all fit into June 14,1999.
These are masters at work, play, worship, creation!
Graves percussion rolls, splashes, slithers,
rattles…it’s so alive!!! Tchicai’s sax strong
sour and sweet linking Rudd’s muted tbone wooing
you bluesily. Workman’s rubbery bass looks around
corners, somehow always knows what’s coming. Lot’s
of ESP, extra sonic-sensory perception between all.
So much more than four, this is a force.

Frisell, Bill – “Ghost Town ” – [Nonesuch]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   CD, Jazz

Frisell’s guitar work is always intricate and
delicate, here it’s all him (with loops, bass
and banjo) populating a Ghost Town that makes
Casper look like whatever was inside Linda
Blair back in the 70’s. Soothing w/o being
sonorous…adept w/o distracting pyrotechnics
…dissonance w/o disturbance…Really quite
a masterful display, the ghosty guitarwork
inhabits various bodies, styles & odd covers.
Banjo blesses this Town with a dry creaky air.
Blues blowbacks on 6 and 12. Volume sustain
vignettes 4, 10 and 16 recall the haunting of
Zorn’s New Trads in East Asian Bar Bands!
Summon the polite polterguiater.

Gold Sparkle Band – “Nu Soul Zodiac ” – [Squealer Music]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   CD, Jazz

Muscular jazz, horn-fed by Charles Waters and
Rover V. Ruzow. Tracks #6 and #1 are hyper-
active Woody Woodpecker flexing Popeye’s pecs
numbers. This album is laced with Brotzman-
esque echoes of fury. Adam Roberts on bass
is an anchor, allowing great detached drumming
and accelerating flurries by Andrew Barker.
That pace has these relatively short pieces,
feeling dense and satisfyingly long enough.
Wild circular breathing buzz saw solos add to
the power. Ayler, Coltrane, Sun Ra — the
torch is passed and afire. Guest cello too,
and it’s bowed!! Go for the Gold.

Field, Ken – “Pictures of Motion ” – [Sfz]

Thurston Hunger   10/1/2005   CD, Jazz

Pour a little saxophone syrup on your speaker
cones.. Ken Field’s sophomore solo release is
heavily layered swirls. Monolithic cascades
sliding like monks at matins…not quite the
(Odeon) Pope, but good. Field is also in
The Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, as well as a
soundtrack composer…BUT he learned a lot on
the streets, well at least on “Sesame Street”
In fact two songs here are allegedly for that
show, I’d bet #6 & #8,they taste the most like
kid’s cereal. #11 is the most ambitious piece.
On cuts without percussion, key changes sorta
waft…from soothing to hive-talking buzzsax.
More of the former than the latter, sadly.
Big Bird Songs of the Mesozoic.

Eye Contact – “Embracing the Tide ” – [Utech]

Thurston Hunger   9/22/2005   CD, Jazz

Eye Contact proved to be quite an eye-opener and ear-charmer.
Matt Lavelle is the catalyst here on bass clarinet (with
riveting digeridoo undertones on the first track) as well as
flugelhorn and trumpet (“Wiz Church” features a tight muted
solo over some skippery high bowing by bassist Matt Heyner.)
Though its title features a watery, this CD conjured images of
mountain climbing to me, that rush of how’d they get so high.
Simply put this is a STAGGERING release. Gotta hear more from
Lavelle who evidently escaped us for a decade or so in NYC.
The first track gets a ground-clearing by Heyner and drummer
Ryan Sawyer, then Lavelle just scorches (is that a) bcl? It
sounds like a hornet in a shenai for minutes before dropping
down into the familiar bubbly register. At 13 1/2 minutes in,
though getting stronger all the time, the piece takes a quiet
chimed tone with slow poetic playing, then a long enjoyable
climb back to thrilling heights. Next track is a horserace
neck-and-neck Lavelle galloping trumpet against Sawyer, at
the end the darkhorse bcl emerges to win. He brings flavors
of Addis Abada at the end of “Wiz Church.” And then all holy hell breaks out for “Father” – pure passion!

Silva, Alan & Parker, William – “A Hero’s Welcome ” – [Eremite]

Thurston Hunger   9/22/2005   CD, Jazz

Gothic improv? At least parts have that sort of shadow and
spire sonic architecture, certainly when William Parker bows
his strings with the slow squeak of rusty cemetery gates.
Parker covers a lot of territory under the sounds of Silva,
spinning spidery webs of sound from contrabass. Moments when
he gets slappy and twitchy like on the beginning of the last
track summon an Ennio Morricone tenseness. Sometimes Silva’s
experimental keys (is it the Synclavier from “Emancipation
Suite?”) get crazy otherworldly, but he deftly switches at
just the right times to the acoustic piano (which sounds
like it was recorded on a new wood stage right at ear level.)
Back to earth, back inside the atmosphere. Just gorgeous.
I was stunned when I heard an audience at the end. They
were quiet as the night sky during the performance.
Midi-timpani (?) thumps away on the beginning of #4, the
thunder spoke and conversed with short staggers of piano.
A nice reminder of piano as percussion. The piano itself
never lurches and searches like the synth, its interspersal is the grounding that keeps the rest aloft.

Haiku review:

Silva screens synth dreams
Parker stretches canvas wide
Images collide

Joos, Herbert – “Philosophy of the Flugelhorn ” – [Japo Records]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   12-inch, Jazz

Vienna Art Ensemble loony flugelbirdhornman
with an old lp where he does the one-man,
many-tracks overdub creation. Sustained
horn drift that all your Space-y Heads
dig…definite alien landscape jazz, but
with a friendliness. Lazy me, I wish I’d
written this review back when we added
this album and all the things I liked about
it were fresh in my mind. It’s solid european
jazz…more math/melody, plenty of adventure,
less aggression than US jazz which I also
dig. Respect to all multi-instrumentalists!
Lucid Joos

Eskelin, Ellery+Parkins+Black – “Five Other Pieces ( + 2 ) ” – [Hat Hut]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   CD, Jazz

One of the best trios going returns w/ a powerhouse
release. From the first ominous merry-go-round
moments of the McLaughlin cover through 4 other
covers to the bonus 2 Eskelin penned tracks, this
has effortless grace. “April” swings w/ 2.5 mins
of succulent sax solo (w/ just the right amount
of reverb) before Andrea Parkins hijacks the
piece and then Jim Black ignites it. Black keeps
the fuse sparking right through “India” where
Parkins goes guru on the sampler. “Song for Che”
always marvels, such an optimistic tune. Next
Gershwin takes on a cool Rumblefish shadow. As
good as all that, the two concluding originals
are even better. Sweeping showcases w/ discord,
dynamics + depth. Eskelin excellence.

Bernstein, Steven – “Diaspora Soul ” – [Tzadik]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   CD, Jazz

Bernstein combines the sultriness of his Sex Mob,
the greatest (under-the-)covers band going with
some more solemn tunes on this incredible release.
Joined by plenty of the NY Downtown scenesters
(this shares the warmth & the personnel of Ribot’s
excellent Prosthetic Cubans CD), while Bernstein’s
curvy, teasing slide trumpet is prominent, the
funky come-hither keyboards are what make this
so dusky and enchanting. None of the tracks ever
rush, the Disapora guarantees a lot of different
flavors…Klezmer Congo R&B strutting all over
the map. We should probably put a copy of this
in the Soul library. Built to last.

Kaiser, Jeff/Aplanalp, Woody – “Asphalt Buddhas ” – [Pfmentum]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   CD, Jazz

Venturan venturer Kaiser with the third
release on the label/newsletter that
he runs. Trumpet (and other horns) get
muted and mutated, acoustically and
w/ electronics. Nice gritty distortion,
rooms of reverb, spit-drenching valve
action, sampled trumpet ala Spacehead
Andy Diagram and samples ala C.W. McCall
(CB radio ghosts). A heady mix. Very
scruffy horn and scrubby guitar…but
then there are moments of lucid playing
amidst the chaos. Pretty cool noise-jazz
experimental adventura electric Miles
on a Martian probe.

Eisenbeil’s Crosscurrent Trio – “Mural ” – [Creative Improvised Music]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   CD, Jazz

Free jazz guitar led pieces w/ clean
scurrying and a high dry timber to
the notes (not helped by CIMP’s one
mic’s enough recording policy/excuse)
Little twilight zone dissonances,
along with the busy fretwork give
this a twitchy, neurotic vibe that
fits the nature of these days. More
muscle, less twinkle would be cool,
and definitely more of the bowed
bass from #6/$8. A well recorded #8
would be so ominous and powerful,
still it’s a stellar composition,
even though the drums sound like

Aaly Trio and Ken Vandermark – “Live at the Glenn Miller Cafe ” – [Wobbly Rail]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   CD, Jazz

Live rollercoaster jazz that really has
the spirit of rock’n’roll…white hot
knuckles clench flaming saxaphones. Plain
ol’ genuis Mats Gustaffson teems up with
certified MacArthur Genius Ken Vandermark
for some wildhorsepowerhouse braying over
Kjell Nordeson’s avalanche drums. Inspired
Ayler sailing on “Ghosts”…including a
Peter Janson slap-n-rattle solo at the
end. A great balance of skronk ‘n’ swing
like the Brotzman Octet/Tentet on Okkadisk.
I give it an AA++

Gregorio, Guillermo Trio – “Red Cube(D) ” – [Hat Hut Records Ltd]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   CD, Jazz

Tightrope tension across the wound-up
wires of Mat Maneri’s electric violin.
Pandelis Karayorgis tosses in some piano
pratfalls, while trio leader Gregorio
inserts some almost comedic melodic runs.
He quotes from safer times on the ground
or grounded in the scores of earlier works
but most of the pieces spend a lot of time
up in the free jazz air. While Gregorio’s
sax and clarinet flutter, paradoxically
there’s a heaviness here…from pregnant
pause and slow whole notes.

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