KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Swell, Steve “Slammin the Infinite” [Cadence Jazz]

outlier   3/12/2005   CD, Jazz

HARD BOP with freeish developments, Grachan Moncur (New Africa Suite w/ Roscoe Mitchell, Dave Burrell, Alan Silva and Andrew Cyrille) is my best point of reference. Swell’s compositional style is edgier than Moncur and his trombone work is more modern with a slip and slide delivery. No chatter, some reed screed and blowout ‘bone, but we are slammin the infinite here not regressing to the average. Mateen(tenor sax, alto sax ,clarinet) gives a spirited performance while Heyner-bass and Kugel-drums seriously sustain the energy delivered by the leadmen.
3w: Limitless FREE BOP
– Outlier

Sun Ra and the Myth Science Arkestra “Live in London” [Blast First]

outlier   3/12/2005   CD, Jazz

The good vibes on this recording are infectious. Sun Ra channels the world’s discord and uses the mystical powers of the Myth Science Arkestra to convert this malaise into musical merriment. Ranging from Afro Jazz chaos to spacey intoxicated big band sounds, this set captures the unorganized cohesion that was the magic of the MSA. 1-3 are astral jazz explorations while 4-6 run the old school stride and ballad routines, singing included on 5,7 and 8. Not as out there as “Concert for the Comet Kohoutek” but nobody goes home disappointed.
3w: Cosmic Party Jazz
– Outlier

Giardullo, Joe / Zingaro, Carlos “Falling Water (Live at Mae de Agua)” [Drimala Records]

Thurston Hunger   3/10/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Okay so this duo is really a trio, as the setting for the
sound steals a lot of the scenes. Recorded in an ancient
aqueduct in Lisbon, the amazing depth of this dank palace
alters the timbre of Giardullo’s saxes and especially
Zingaro’s violin to make this album often seem like it is
a communication between hyper-intelligent galactic whales.
Also riding with the extended reverb is fun, so lots of
times a note will drone into a sea of sustain. Slap the
violin’s body and listen to it careen around the cavern
(check #5 for some of that, maybe it is also the fluttering
of Giardullo’s fingering). There are still flights of more
fanciful playing, but the sound comes more often in streaks
rather than flurries. And as such, it is really a wonderful
release. A lot of modern jazz has musicians treating their
instruments and deviously working to pull new sound from
them…the ingenuity of “Falling Water” was to let the
situation instill the strangeness. It is often difficult to
discern who is creating what sound. And that is tremendous!
It would be interesting to hear a recording of just the
instruments, sans the nine-second shadow of reverb, interesting
but not as worthy. Immerse…

Kirk, Roland “I Talk with the Spirits” [Limelight]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   12-inch, Format, Jazz

Pre-Rassan flute frenzy… Kirk as accustomed to blowing many
minds at a time as he was accustomed to playing 2 or 3 saxes
(or flutes) at the same time, relaxes and struts here with
a sweetheart of an album. Still there’s some fierce blowing,
from shrill squeals, to raspier reed-rattling. His breathy
grunts and choked chuckles are all mic’d up tight…and you
can hear him singing right on down and out the holes. Bobby
Moses drops in on some tracks with vibes that work so well
with the flute… One track, “Fugue’n and Alludin'” is gone
too quickly but the title track with Miss C. J. Albert
harmonizing along with them both is hauntingly captivating.
The short solo from Kirk on that begs to be turned up loud
to catch every nuance of sound that this blindman could pull
out of the dark center of a flute (or a sax or a trumpet or
an unique horn made just for him…but here he is confined
to flutes). The music box of “Ruined Castles” pitches an
almost gamelan shadow and that tinkering (Moses?) lingers
on into “Django” before the piano and bass take over and
we get a more standard combo toe-tap tour. Kirk’s exhaled
his last in 1977, but this 1964 album still breathes fine.

Smith, Wadada Leo – Light Upon Light (Tzadik)

outlier   2/9/2005   CD, Jazz

Wadada Leo Smith – Light Upon Light (Tzadik)
A fucking masterpiece of sophisticated psychedelia that transcends being a hybrid of jazz and classical. Dreamy, transporting tones wind and mesh through space as a sonic counterbalance. (3,5) Trumpetronics, (1,2,4) String pieces. (3,5) Toshinori Kondo’s ‘Nerve Tripper’ sound – beats + master composer’s awareness of passages’ natural spaces = Wadada Leo Smith ! Proof left to the listener as an exercise. (1,2,4) Similar to Once Festival material (see Tyke), searching phrases unfolding clusters, mid and low-register cello sound, intense minor key stuff but not dark. Stravinsky/Bartok moves with an AMM sense of space, very powerful yet subtle. (4) is like a psychedelic symphony only with a small ensemble. (3) gets to Japan psych chant rock spaces but from an African jazz point of origin.
– Outlier

Eskelin, Ellery – Ten (Hat Hut Records)

outlier   2/9/2005   CD, Jazz

Ellery Eskelin – Ten (Hat Hut Records)
10yr anniversary of the outside jazz trio of Eskelin, Parkins and Black. EPB explore underdeveloped textures in jazz. Forget the Grey Poupon Shit, ‘Ten’ is alive with spirited lyricism of theatrical quality and force. Marc Ribot appears on guitar on last half of cd. Jessica Constable delivers stellar vocal energy on 4 tracks, comparable to Fontella Bass w/ Art Ensemble of Chicago in feel. 2-8 minute tracks, adventurous sound. No formal attire required, just a head for sound reflection.
– Outlier

Hooker, William Quartet – Lifeline (Silkheart)

outlier   2/9/2005   CD, Jazz

William Hooker Quartet – Lifeline (Silkheart)
(1) Loosely woven alto sax runs accent the percussive conversation b/w Wm Parker and Hooker. Double sax solo opens into main theme followed by a Hooker recitation then 40m+ of blowing and pounding. Not as edgy as a Vandermark or Brotzmann piece, it flows fluently, unburdened by structural constraints, as if exploring the edges of familiar territory without wandering. (2) ts-trb-pn-dr, Chamber jazz w/choppped piano and recitation setting up a blowout. (3) same instr as 2, a Muhal Richard Abrams type blowout (Wise in Time-condensed w/o percussion). Refined yet relentlessly unleashed jazz energy.
3w: Flowing Forceful Free-verse
– Outlier

Parker,Drumm and Zerang, Jeff, Kevin, Michael – Out Trios Volume 2 (Atavistic)

outlier   2/9/2005   CD, Jazz

Parker Drumm Zerang – Out Trios Volume 2 (Atavistic)
A musical maelstrom of free sounds from 2 gtr w/ elec and drums of the organic noise variety with fuge-like interchanges as home base. Sounds like what the main character of Memento heard in his head when he tried to remember shit. Flashing, percolating meshes of sonic sorcery with sustained ferocity. The 2nd release of the Out Trios on Atavistic but definitely not 2nd place stuff. Ranges from an active continuum of surging flashpoints with chopped guitar to Hafleresque soundscapes with driving drums or chord progression mutations. Out of the Chicago scene, Parker (Chicago Underground Duo, Isotope, Tortoise), Drumm (Vandermark territorial band) and Zerang (Solisitice w/ Hamid Drake) get OUT and take you on their journey to the other side – the OUTSIDE ! “Onslaught” smashes the sonic barrier.
3w: Massive Memento Maelstrom
– Outlier

Ware, David S Quartet – Oblations and Blessings (Silkheart)

outlier   2/9/2005   CD, Jazz

David S Ware Quartet – Oblations and Blessings (Silkheart)
No bowties here, this is the HARD stuff ! Jazz in attack mode elegance and ballad ballistics. Ware catches the TRANE out of town and out of the stratosphere, blasting the quartet’s way to new truths communicable only in phrases of music. The musical messages within have concise urgency like a war zone reporter on a 1m call to the main bureau. This is Ware in ’95 backed by Shipp, Parker and Dickey – a classic quartet of ts-pn-bs-dr whose heritage is of pure late Impulse era Coltrane Quartet stuff. Undeniable momentum forward, upward and OUT, leveraged by Shipp’s McCoy Tyner/ John Hicks style of comping.
3w: Coltrane Resurrection Revelation !
– Outlier

Odean Pope “Almost Like Me” [Moers]

Thurston Hunger   2/3/2005   12-inch, Format, Jazz

1982 sounds like next week. Pope’s tenor pumps
nectar over Cornell Rochester’s passionate
percussion and Gerald Veasley’s force-to-be-
reckoned-with electric bass. You heard me,
electric…normally that sends a shiver in
one ear, down the spine, back up and out the
other ear…electric bass in jazz can sound
like a rubber tree in a cartoon. The range
and expression of the upright tower over its
cousin. But this is exceptional, Veasley is
nimble, from deep-fried rumble to lighter
than air harmonics. This release should get
some nice crossover on plenty of shows. At
times there’s a manic power that makes you
think of Japan’s Ruins. Besides a secret
tunnel to rock, there’s another big one to
funk. Still the thrill to the ride is Pope’s
sweet sax sermonizing, matched by his often
heart-stopping (and in some spots heart-
shattering) composition. Drums were recorded
a bit flat…but everything else soars. This
is a blessing from on high.

Phillip Ranelin/Wendrel Harrison “A Message from the Tribe” [Tribe Records]

Thurston Hunger   2/3/2005   12-inch, Format, Jazz

A hippy vibe with Black Pride coming from the flip side of
Motown Records. This album oozes “lanquidity” coasting from
note to note. I preferred the first side, guided by label
co-founder and trombonist, Phil Ranelin. He keeps bassist
Charles Eubanks popping, and then adds vocals from Jeamel
Lee on two tracks to pour a little Angela Davis gasoline
on the simmering warmth. By the time that side ends, he’s
built up a firecracker of a number with “How Do We End
All Of This Madness” on which he sings as well. Ranelin’s
trombone adds to the curvaceousness of this release, only a
few moments of Wendell Harrison’s sax spike up out of the
mellifluous melange. What holds this all together, and
maybe holds the spiking solos back, is the omnipresence of
electic piano. It’s just an instrument that fills, often
prettily, but rarely commands. It is more dominant, along
with some flute on the side that Harrison composed. Some
30 years later, Ranelin is still rolling, co-creating his
own label with artistic control back then showed a lot of
foresight and soulful sound.

William Parker Clarinet Trio “Bob’s Pink Cadillac” [Eremite]

Thurston Hunger   2/3/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Featured clarinetist Perry Robinson has played with the
Fugs, Pete Seeger as well as various jazz luminaries
like Archie Shepp, Charlie Haden, Don Cherry. For me,
the clarinet is the neediest of reeds; too often it has
a thin timber and a sort of whininess. Over the course
of these two discs, we get a broader display. On the
studio disk we embark in a toe-tapper riding a slinky,
spiraling melody. “Blue Flower” starts blown-out but
gentle, like writing a poem with a hangover. Over time
its scratchiness goes smooth. Ultimately we get more
flurrious and wobbly playing on “Fence in the Snow.”
It’s a crazy beauty that starts w/ xylophonic tinkery
and includes Parker dervishing on one of his found
foreign reeds himself. That winds up with some weird
aquatic vocals. Aces! The second live Tonic disc finds
Parker as ebullient as ever. The improvising is wide
open, and people can come in on many wavelengths
from Dixieland, to Bop, to vague Klezmer marches to
other regions of imagination.

John Lindberg Quartet “Ruminations Upong Ives and Gottschalk” Between-the-Lines

Thurston Hunger   1/30/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Between the lines of composition lies room for fantastic
improvisation. Lindberg’s quartet this time is in a mostly
mellow mood. Even the more fiery moments have a tranquility
to them. Witness the hopping cookers that match melodies
and start/close the album, each spiked with Susie Ibarra’s
quick crash Chinese gongs and seesaw seasoned by Lindberg’s
bowed bass. Also check the kooky kinetics of “Generations”
rattled by Ibarra and slapped by Lindberg to get it rolling.
Now that’s marching to a *difficult* drummer, twice it stops
to let Baikida Carrol chase a hummingbird. Steve Gorn is
here with a variety of winds, elegantly on “Implications”
which is all him halfway till a timpani roll and then a
kinda disharmonious join by Carrol. Weird. That and the
Gottschalk-inspired “Great Spirit…” missed me, but all
else here is meticulously mapped. I really dig Lindberg’s
composition, and Carrol does spend a lot of time with
the mute en tote. That gives the trumpet a little more
grimace to its glide. Ibarra is always a treat, her
kulingtang on “Beau Theme” is heavy on the kul, light
on the tang. “Yatan-Na” is part paean to a pagoda but
then its got this crime jazz alley at the center. Gorn’s
bansuri is strong on both cases. Another outstanding
outing on this label run by Franz Koglmann.

Peter Kowald, Miya Masaoka & Gino Robair “Illuminations” [Rastascan]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Liquid strings and bowed drums, these are the dreams
this trio spins. For me the album found its voice when
Kowald used his (Tuvan style on #5). After that point,
I was hooked…(well aside from grunting byproducts
on other tracks) The first two tracks have a muscular
maelstrom approach…if you want something with all
three off to the races. On the third Masaoka’s koto is
flinging shadows over Kowald careening between two
bowed notes. Track four has Robair’s drums upfront and
ominous and the koto keeping closer to its nature.
Then that vocal breather (Kowald has sung this way
before and worked with Sainkho Namchylat so he may
have picked up a tonsil trick or two.) After that it
was all gold to me, Masaoka sounding more harp-like
on #8 (like on her Monk tribute), Kowald slaps fat
rattling lines on #10, it’s hard to see but track 11
might be Robair bowing styrofoam, and track 12 maybe
he’s got the e-bow on the snare? He’s inventive so
it could be a brand new maneuver… This is also on
his label (glad to see its still going). Applaud the
discrete efforts, as much fevered inspiration as in
a 60 minute single session but with more scope and
better prospects to hop into a KFJC playlist.

Kalaparush and the Light “The Moment” [Entropy Stereo]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Grant Kalaparush his new name, Maurice McIntyre
must seem like another man, a lifetime ago.
In his lengthy absences, one assumes lesser
musicians would have vaporized into myth. But
this CD proves he’s very much alive, indeed
these are all live recordings. Thus fidelity
is okay, but the fluidity is assured. Even
at his speedier cycles, Kalaparush has an
unshakeable lyricism. Thus as he near 70 years
of age, his playing here is fresh, driving. He
is rarely resting now once he’s going, this
makes a nice workout for young tuba player,
Jesse Dulman. Dulman huffs and puffs, and
gets whoops of encouragement from Kalaparush
at times. This release seems to ride on
Dulman’s back…when he’s on the album
succeeds (check the end of #5) but when he
gets soggy, it slogs.

Gregorio, Guillermo “Otra Musica” Atavistic

Thurston Hunger   1/27/2005   A Library, CD, Format, Jazz

John Corbett’s gotta feel proud about unearthing this sonic
document for his Unheard Series. Check out the release notes
that trace Guillermo back to his Argentinian beginings, very
informative. The album itself is wild and wooly, with the
latter third a foray into the familiar unfamiliarities of
free jazz…including two splendid multitrack excursions
(#15 – the sax piece seems to fight against itself, while
#14 – the clarinet seems to be one mind with many mouths)
The first third of the CD showcases a gritty Pierre Schaeffer
in-flux-uence. Scrapey and tink-plinky under-the-hood
piano on #1, tape time travel of bells on #2, on #4/#5 the
star is not the clarinet or voice so much as the sounds of
40-year-old tape, and the slipperiness of its sound. The
middle third is my favorite, as we get various eclectic
ensembles making music in micromoments. #6 verges on non-
existence, but #7 after a raspy start gets into hiccuping
percussion and then drunk strings, then some hummingbird
sax. #8 is a spooky spine-tingler, #9 is muy guapo with a
probable cello-player and haunting vibes/accordion action.
#10 fits between musique concrete, Albert Ayler & Caroliner.
Music from the planet of Outer Otra.

London, Frank “Scientist At Work [Tzadik]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Originally a limited self-release in 1999, now back after
some cosmopolitan surgery. Powerful overdubs added by
people like violinist Mark Feldman and vocalist Jennifer
Charles still retain that inherent crazy casbah (meets
caballah) sound. Many of the Shekhina Big Band are also
Hasidic New Wavers, but this release forsakes rock for
sand. Less chunky, more drifty. Horns and guitars are
blown about by wind, more seductive and shape-shifting.
“Alef” and its palindrome “Fela” are more bounce and
sunshine, I prefer the other darker tracks, especially
Feldman’s jagged violence in the shadows of #6. In
mixing middle eastern sounds and instruments with an
NYC jazz/rock duality, London has found his calling…
as have others, Matt Darriau’s work in this vein flies.
Is it time for “Nomad Wave New York”

Fortune, Sonny/Harper, Billy/Cowell, Stanley/Workman, Reggie and Hart, Bill “Great Friends” [Evidence]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Originally this came out on Black and Blue records back in
1986. The interplay of Sonny Fortune (alto) and Billy Harper
(tenor) is the magnet to this release. On “Cal Massey” and
“Thoughts” they double down on a strong melody to make it
unbreakable. On “Synapse” a hanging phrase is repeated over
and over by Harper to allow Fortune to mingle with it, and
solo over it. Reggie Workman is nimble fingered as showcased
on “East Harlem Nostalgia.” When this album cooks it is
thanks to Workman connecting with drummer Billy Hart. Hart
gets to launch “Insight” w/ a minute of iced roll and crash;
that track seems to be in a rush to complete. The album then
closes with “Awakening” which seems like it will be a lonely
soliloquy for Fortune, but after a beautifully desolate
minute and a half, he is joined by his “Great Friends.” In
a way I preferred the isolation even more.

El-P/Blue Series Continuum “Sunrise Over Bklyn” [Thirsty Ear]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

El-P, aka Jamie Meline, brings this one-sided 10″
as a tease for an upcoming Blue Series full-lenght.
This piece sets up two-chords as antipodes and let’s
an all-star cast of musicians fly between them like
a flock of exotic birds. The early call is issued
by Ray Campbell on delayed trumpet…from then on
Matthew Shipp carries the lead on piano, revising
a simple melody so quick and often it develops depth.
At times the piano masses momentum, and then finding
an alley to relax and recapture strength. Like a
hero on the run. It’s a lengthy piece and about
3/4 through…it seems to lose focus…but pulls it
together by the finish line. It sounds like some
very subtle if any post-production was mixed in…
Hey if this is a magnet that pulls more folks to
the Series and these musicians, that’s alright.

Denman Maroney “Fluxations” [New World Records]

Thurston Hunger   1/25/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Provocative release with somewhat arbitrary slicing
(several “parts” have quite a bit of change in them,
and there is no deadtime between ’em). Often the music
here feels like there are two clocks not quite ticking
at the same second. Maroney’s “hyperpiano” is prepared
piano, often the damping of strings by objects (or
Maroney’s hands) induces a not unpleasant harpsichord
hangover. I think he’s sliding some metallic objects in
parts…for a nice wobble to some otherwise mechanical
movements. But the composition is more peculiar than the
monkeying of keys. Even when not in hyperpiano mode,
Maroney leaps pretty odd Conlon Nancarrow-y intervals.
Chords are struck with a very precise “mistiming”,
unravelling in a disheveled manner. It grew upon me.
When Dresser’s bass moves to the front, the “fluxations”
are most accessible…by track four an almost minimalist
momentum is built but it gets properly unhinged before
long. Ned Rothenberg tosses in a solo on #5 that fits
with the bi-clock beneath, while connecting to a Village
Vanguard vibe. While soul jazz pumps involuntary muscles,
this twitches very voluntarily to mindmath.

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