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Music Reviews

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.

David S. Ware String Ensemble “Threads” Thirsty Ear

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

Liner notes present the confession of a former
flame thrower falling in love with a fountain.
Cooler composing heads prevail, at least for
now; however this certainly has flashes of
Ware’s scintillating solos (the “Weave” cuts)
Overall, there’s a quasi illbient undervibe.
Fans of the recent El-P should enjoy the
“Sufic Passages” with its bass and cymbal
smooth ride. That’s an easy entry. I dug the
opening track, very tense, very “Angel Heart”
with all players getting limber. The twin
strings of Daniel Bernard Roumain and Mat
Maneri are thickened further by Matthew
Shipp’s banks of synth strings. Especially
on the title track, which will either be
beautiful or bogged down for listeners. I
think this is a nice first step towards a
balance between blast and ballad…chops and
comps…purists can still return and burn
with older Wares.

Courvoisier, Sylvie/Feldman, Mark/Friedlander, Erik “Abaton” [ECM]

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

Three’s company, New York Avant style? Swiss miss Sylvie
Courvoisier moves to NYC to join her violinist husband
Mark Feldman, and cellist Erik Friedlander makes three.
The trio may also be known as Abaton as this release is.
I really enjoyed the second disc of improvisations,
where the playing seems hyperdramatic. The first disc of
compositions by pianist Courvoisier seems restrained,
albeit with moments of madness. Maybe she is striving to
not spotlight herself, indeed she sits out “Poco a poco.”
“Abaton” has a tense Hitchcock running-up-and-down-stairs
vibe that leads to the furious flights Feldman excels at.
It is by far the most fervid of the four, by its end tho’
silence overshadows the return of the running strings.
The 19 improvisations, none longer than 5 minutes, are
like watching batting practicer: quicker crowd-pleasing
action. From pizzicato caves(#5) to weird whistly string
playing(#17), to wind-swept melodies(#11), firecracker
snap(#9). Lots of prepared piano too. Both rewarding in
different ways.

Cosmosamatics Three s/t [Boxholder]

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

In space, no one can hear you scream. In the vacuum of bass,
one is less likely to hear a sax scream. This album rides
on watery crests of tom rolls and cymbal crashes from JAY
ROSEN, while saxmen SONNY SIMMONS and MICHAEL MARCUS trade
a lot of spry cycles and merge for half-chords, keeping a
pretty taught tether to the melody of these compositions.
No doubt there are solar flashes (certainly on “Avant Garde
Destruct”), but the moonwalk cord keeps the hornmen closer
to the mothership, which works fine by this passenger (and
the Amsterdam-ned in attendance for tracks #5-#8). Two of
those live numbers, “12 Seasons of Love” and Simmons’ solo
rendition of “‘Round Midnight” balance a more stately flow
against burnished extended solos. Rosen returns invigorated
for a 2.5 min drum rollick to launch the closing “Requiem”
with rooted baritone from Marcus and cool oblique echos
from Simmons eventually join them. “Futura” and “Bring on
the Funk” give the listener the smoothest flight path,
I dug those, but along with “Avant…” my favorite was
a very nebulous “Tonal Magnitudes” with slippery scales
and solos. Next stop, Venus.

Masashi Harada’s Condanction Ensemble “Enter the Continent” [Emanem]

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

Bostan-based set of musicians performing guided
improv, not by baton…nor by game piece…but by
the feet (and body) of dancer Masashi Harada.
Results traverse a very spacious nebula of sound.
Starlight flicker of Phil Tomasic’s sliding guitar,
windy wordless vocals from the whole cast, breathy
work from Nmperign duo, rings of string from Aleta
Cole and Dan Levin. The sound always appears to be
way up high, although there’s mysterious dark matter
(not just molten trombone) in much of the silence
that this ensemble manages to preserve. This is
Halloween jazz with an otherworldy beauty. I wish
I had witnessed the Big band big Bang at the point
of creation. Proof of an expanding universe

CKW Trio “The Is” [Black Hat]

Thurston Hunger   1/22/2005   A Library, CD, Format, Jazz

There’s a lot of doors into this fine release from this local
trio (and once and future veterans of KFJC’s pit). #4 offers
an acid-folk tablet of tabla, flute and bouzouki, as welcome
as it is unique on this CD. “Mondrian en Amerique” has more
complicated lines and colors than its title’s inspiration,
it’s kinda of Clusone-y in its sawing cello and giddy spurts
and stalls. On “4+#11m6m7” (known as track 7 to its friends)
a bassoon goes hunting in a forest of trinkling percussion,
bowed cello grows like shadows on the trees. “R’izhii” is a
hobo’s waltz with dixie DT’s and Klezmer shakes. “Augmented”
was my fave, very fluid, high register intertwined sax and
cello. “Iram” pumps a spastic, avant funk nicely. On #8 Alex
Kelly’s slithery cello (sounding like some analog electronics
oscillating wondrously) connects a more fiery beginning to
passages with chinese gong and sweeter pondering’s from band
and label leader, Michael Cooke. While Cooke is the obvious
sonic focal point, Kelly’s wildcard nature is what I think
elevates this band. The letter W and assorted batterie are
provided by Andrew Wilshusen, his talent is as an empath
between the other two gents. I could see him adding touches
of electronics to the mix as well. This ain’t “Was” jazz,
enjoy the evolving “Is.”

Mraz, George – “Moravia ” – [Milestone]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

George Mraz is from the eastern part of what was Czechoslovakia so his jazz influences include a lot of the more traditional folk music of the area. His bass playing is very full and classical and that sets the pace for this recording – no “up” songs. Zuzana Lapcikova plays the cymbalom (hammer dulcimer) and sings some songs in Moravian – you probably won’t understand them, but it is pretty, interesting and different – give it a try! *review by David Richoux

Irzarry, Ralph & Timbalaye – “Best Kept Secret ” – [Shanachie Entertainment]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

Following many years working with Ruben Blades, Timbal player Ralph Irizarry has formed his own group. The result is naturally percussive, but there is a lot more going on here. It is a bit hard to figure expressive jazz in a danceable Latin style, but these guys do it somehow, without being too “commercial.” *review by David Richoux

Cimposium Vol 7 [coll] – [Creative Improvised Music]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

Yet another great sample of jazz and more from all over the place. All recorded at the Spirit Room in Rossie, New York in 1999. From slightly scary sax squirts to tasty violin & guitar, cello & trombone duets, this covers a lot of territory. Track 9 is an almost trad reading of “Just a Closer Walk,” but most everything else is original compositions. Lots of short tracks here, drop them in anyplace! *review by David Richoux

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