Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Joe McPhee / Pascal Niggenkemper / Stale Liavik Solberg - Imaginary Numbers (CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2017)

A living legend of the open-form kind of jazz he plays since the Sixties, Joe McPhee is one of the most requested players of several musical fronts besides jazz, from Pauline Oliveros’ “deep listening” approach to new music to the free rock coalition formed by The Thing and Cato Salsa Experience (he played the music of Led Zeppelin with them), going through a collaboration with the noise makers of Nihilist Spasm Band. In recent years, he’s being invited frequently to work with European musicians of the improvised music field, and this trio is one of those cases: we find him with the German-French double bassist Pascal Niggenkemper (mostly associated with people like Harris Eisenstadt, Frantz Loriot and Joachim Badenhorst) and the Norwegian drummer who initiated this trio Ståle Solberg, usual companion of the likes of John Russell, Steve Beresford and John Edwards. And free improvisation is what you have in “Imaginary Numbers”, even though the one with its inner essence derived from the tradition of free jazz – in this case, searching for a stronger connection with the source, as the piece “A Supreme Love”, dedicated to John Coltrane, testifies. Indeed, the music here seems a coming back to its original home, with the improvisatory ideas of the rhythm section making peace with all the American cultural bag we listen in the way McPhee uses the pocket trumpet and the tenor saxophone. But this isn’t the peace of the swamps: there’s tension all along the narratives, showing that a group improvisation isn’t the search of a lowest common denominator. There’s no bad record with Joe McPhee on it, but this one may be one of his best.

1. I 23:43
2. A Supreme Love (For John Coltrane) 10:19
3. Zero 9:03

All music by McPhee/Niggenkemper/Solberg (JOMAC Publishings / ASCAP – GEMA – TONO)

Recorded at JACK in Brooklyn on December 13th 2015 | Recorded by Jonathan Goldberger, mixed by Fred Lonberg-Holm, mastered by John Butcher
Produced by McPhee/Niggenkemper/Solberg | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos

João Camões / Jean-Luc Cappozzo / Jean-Marc Foussat - Autres Paysages (CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2017)

The years spent in Paris by Portuguese violist João Camões prove to be fruitful once again with this new CD, his third with French synthesist Jean-Marc Foussat (the first one was a trio with Claude Parle and the second one a duo). This time, their creative partnership involves one of the most amazing trumpeters active today, Jean-Luc Cappozzo, and it goes to its highest pick ever. “Autres Paysages” is an intriguing opus of electro-acoustic improvisation, combining aspects of contemporary classical and experimental music with all the weight of the history of jazz, very well known by Cappozzo – the only French trumpet player, that we know of, to be invited by Dizzy Gillespie to play with him in concert. The music is collective in its essence, and sometimes it’s difficult to identify who is playing what in the formed clouds of timbre and pitch or, as we read in the liner notes of the record, «who hides behind the universality of sound». Preparations and extended techniques are used in the playing of the acoustic instruments, changing their respective tones and confusing them with the sounds coming from the electronic devices. But it’s not always like that, and both the viola and the trumpet find space to marvel us with its chamber and jazzy qualities, supported by the pulses of a Synthi AKS. Few times abstract music was this moody, putting you in a dreamlike state, surrendered to the beauty of it all.

1. L'espace Qui Nous Sépare 21:17
2. Des Tes Yeux Aux Miens 15:20
3. Berceuse Pour Manuel 17:24

Gard Nilssen's Acoustic Unity - Live in Europe (3CD SET) CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2017

If we were in the seventies and a release like this – a triple LP – crossed our way, we would think that progressive rock was receiving its most ambitious conceptual album ever, but no. The year is 2017 and “Live in Europe” is something else entirely: a celebration of improvised music in its purest form, recorded in concert – as it should. Gard Nilssen’s trio Acoustic Unity played in the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Ljubljana Jazz Festival and the Oslo Jazz Festival in 2016 and the entirety of those performances were documented. Only in the first vinyll we find the triangle formed by the drummer with André Roligheten and Petter Eldh. The second has the contributions of Fredrik Ljungkvist and the third of Kristoffer Alberts and Jørgen Mathisen. The effect, anyhow, is very similar: this is a very special edition, and it has the same impact in the present creative jazz scene that it would have 40 years ago if it was something coming from King Crimson or Frank Zappa. The importance of this group in instantaneous composition with jazz as its foundation is equivalent. Nilssen’s enthusiasm on the liner notes is very clear: this is «one of the best bands I’ve ever been a part of by far». Why? Because these musicians are re-inventing melody and rhythm while improvising, and that’s not a common task.

1. When Pigs Fly 4:53
2. Hymne / Roudtrip 11:31
3. Mormor 5:27
4. Jack 6:47
5. Zig Zag 3:07
6. Rushen 3:47
7. Gammal Rottegift 5:47

1. Summer Ale 7:09
2. Ruchen 4:59
3. Gammal Rottegift 7:35
4. Hymne / Roundtrip 9:35
5. Zig Zag 3:12
6. Salad Days 4:51

1. Hymne / Roundtrip 13:40
2. Mormor 7:56
3. When Pigs Fly 5:53
4. Utleimegleren 4:30
5. Zig Zag 5:14
6. Adam's Ale 4:58

Fredrik Ljungkvist  tenor saxophone & clarinet (CD2)
Kristoffer Berre Alberts  alto,tenor & barytone saxophones (CD3)
Jørgen Mathisen  tenor saxophone & clarinet (CD3)

CD1 recorded live at North Sea Jazz Festival on July 8, 2016
CD2 recorded live at Ljubljana Jazz Festival on July 2, 2016
CD3 recorded live at Oslo Jazz Festival 18th of August 18, 2016

Playlist for Tom Ossana – The Thin Edge – December 13, 2017 MST 7:00 to 9:00p.m.

http://www.kzmu.org/listen.m3u ~ Use this link to access the show online.

The adjective “quicksilver” refers to someone or something that’s unpredictable, erratic or fickle; mercurial. Each of the versions of Horace Silver’s “Quicksilver” is unpredictable. Horace performs the first recorded version of his tune with Curly Russell’s bass and Art Blakey’s drums. This comes from in “Horace Silver Trio” (Blue Note 1952). While snooping for Silver’s version, I ran across the unlikely trumpet combination of West Coaster Conte Condoli with East Coaster Lee Morgan. They had a meeting in 1957 that resulted in their cover on “Double or Nothing” (Fresh Sound 1957/remastered 2003). This cut features Conte and Lee together with Bob Cooper (ts), Frank Rosolino (tb), Red Mitchell (b) and Wynton Kelly (p). Newcomer baritone saxophonist Glenn Kostur concludes our exploration of Silver’s tune with his “The Way of It” (Artist Alliance 2017) featuring Steve Kovalcheck’s guitar. Also new to the show comes Finland’s premiere reedman Eero Koivistoinen in a performance of “Big Five” - named after 5 African game animals and with a time signature of 5/4 – from his “Illusion” (Svart Records 2017). During this cut we’ll get reacquainted with the piano wizardry of Finland’s Alexi Tuomarila. Toronto based drummer Ernesto Cervini's Turboprop ~ “Rev” (Anzic Records 2017) brings this half to a close with his “The Libertine” featuring Joel Frahm and Tra Davidson’s reeds and Adrean Farrugia’s piano.

Sherman Irby’s “Momentum” kicks off the second half with a Jazz Messengers’ like cover of Irby’s “Racine” with solos by a Cannonball sounding Irby on alto, Vincent Gardner on trombone and Eric Reed’s piano. In a Cannonball Adderley recording that rivals Miles’ 1959 “Kind of Blue” – the bestselling jazz album of all time – “Somethin’ Else” (Blue Note 1958) gives us a taste of Nat Adderley’s “One for Daddy-O”. Cannonball’s alto improvises first followed by Miles, the incredible Hank Jones’ piano with a wrap-up from Cannonball and Miles. I had doubts seeing the album cover of Jimmy Chamberlin Complex’s “The Parable”, not to mention the first cut title “Horus and the Pharaoh”. “Don’t judge a book by . . .” works here. With Jimmy’s drums pushing the group forward we’ll hear from guitarist Sean Woolstenhulme, saxophonist Chris Speed and pianist Billy Mohler. Woody Herman’s First Herd concludes this half with a cover of Neal Hefti’s “The Good Earth” with Woody’s clarinet and a tenor solo from the wildly popular Flip Phillips who bridged the gap between swing and bop.

Ken Fowser returns to get the third half underway with the title track from his “Now Hear This!” (Posi-Tone Records 2017) with solos from Ken’s tenor, Josh Bruneau’s trumpet and Rich Germanson’s piano. Concord resurrected a Bill Evans Trio 1976 Madison, Wisconsin recording, naming it “On a Monday Evening (Live)”. With bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Eliot Zigmund, we’ll hear a cover of Frank Churchill’s “Someday My Prince Will Come”. My favorite living pianist, Marcin Wasilewski follows with Pawel Krawczyk Katarzyna Nosowska Marcin Zabrocki’s “Do Rycerzy, Do Szlachty, Do Mieszczan” (Knights, Nobles, Townspeople) featuring the usual trio - Slawomir Kurkiewicz, double bass - Michal Miskiewicz, drums – with Joakim Milder’s tenor from Marcin’s “Spark of Life (ECM 2014). Pianist Stanley Cowell gets us ready for romance with his trio cover of McCoy Tyner’s “You Taught My Heart to Sing” featuring Jay Anderson (b) and Billy Drummond (dr).

The Romantic Half-Hour begins with Sweden’s songbird, Jeanette Lindström’s eighth release, “Whistling Away the Dark” (2006). We get her cover of Alan & Marilyn Bergman and Michel Legrand’s “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” backed up by Sweden’s premiere pianist, Bobo Stenson. Miles Davis follows with a cover of Harry Warren’s “You’re My Everything” from his “Relaxin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet” (Prestige 1958), his second of four releases resulting from Davis’ famous May and October 1956 marathon sessions. We call the group – Miles, Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones – his first great quintet. “Love Like Ours”, a tune penned by Dave Grusin with lyrics by Alan & Marilyn Bergman, follows as imagined by Alan’s magical vocal with a large ensemble from “Lyrically, Alan Bergman” (Verve 2007). Grammy winner Cécile McLorin Salvant’s “Dreams and Daggers” (MACK AVENUE RECORDS 2017) returns with her treatment of Jay Gorney and Sidney Clare’s “You’re My Thrill”. Gregory Porter pays his respects to Nat King Cole with a cover of Gladys Shelley’s “I Wonder Who My Daddy Is” from his “Nat King Cole & Me [Deluxe Edition]” (Blue Note 2017). I asked Karen Egert to return to the show with a cover of Bonnie Rait’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” from her “What Is This Thing Called Love” (2007 Karen Egert). My pleas to the gods of love come to an end. The rest is up to you.

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt. — Charles Schulz

Let's have some fun!

Thanks to Music Director Serah and friends around the world for the program's content.

Eve Risser / Kaja Draksler - To Pianos (CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2017)

‘To Pianos’ can read as a dedication: an act of celebration of the instrument. But being a pianist, I also read the phrase as something of a supplication. We’ve each hopefully made some kind of peace with our own instruments at home – and if we’re lucky, we may even love them. But whenever we travel to perform, we’re at the mercy of the particular piano we find at the other end. Whatever cosmic force controls this particular lottery, sometimes you just have to pray to it.

All of which makes it remarkable that musicians such as Eve and Kaja sound so utterly distinctive each time they sit at the instrument. But there’s another thing: as pianists, we’re almost always the only one of us on stage; so that on those rare occasions where we do get to play with other pianists, there’s something thrilling about the particular type of selflessness which the situation requires. This, then, is perhaps even more remarkable: that the pianists you hear on these two pianos remain so individual and distinctive, and the same time as they are able to come together to forge something so completely new, shared and selfless. And a true rarity: that they can project such personality in part simply (…but if only it were simple…) by remembering to let the instruments speak for themselves.

We might almost be observing surgery, as they stand working deftly over the innards of their instruments. But at the same time, there’s a kind of glee in the experimentation itself, and this is where the music is assuredly different from surgery: an often-mischievous, always curious ‘what happens if I do this?’ attitude pervades this collaboration, and I for one am happy if doctors don’t think in this way.

If it balances playfulness and rigour in this disarming way, the music similarly exhibits humanity at the same time as celebrating its mechanical aspects. The pianists are brave in wresting out the strange and ugly sounds from their instruments; but in the context of experimental music, are perhaps even more fearless in being free enough also to deal with possibilities such as melody and romanticism. But listen harder, and you may also notice the machines here giving themselves away as living, breathing things: compare the pianos’ changing beauty as their overtone-laden brilliance early on in the album drifts almost imperceptibly towards a more ethereal wooziness later in their working day.

wo pianos, four hands; 176 tuned drums, two harps in boxes: but this doesn’t quite cover it. The listener will probably perceive any number of ‘other’ instrumental sonorities evoked at various stages during this music. If it’s clear that both pianists have the forensic inclination to mine the details of single sounds, they also possess the Ellingtonian conception of symphonic piano playing. Take, for example, the track To Women, and imagine it orchestrated: the exercise somehow seems to complete itself, entirely because the pianism is so replete with colour and nuance, and so immaculately organised with respect to so many musical parameters.

Abstraction and representation; romanticism and asceticism; playfulness and rigour; microscopic and panoramic perspectives; human and machine elements: all of these are in play here, and it would certainly be possible to write plenty more about this unique music. Ultimately, however, this is a special document because what it captures will almost certainly be quite unlike what you hear when you are fortunate enough to hear Kaja and Eve again. And the miracle of this is that when you do, you will still know instantly that it is them.

Alexander Hawkins

1. Dusk, Mystery, Memory, Community 6:49
2. To Pianists 10:20
3. Eclats 9:38
4. Sestri (To a Sister-Two Sisters) 5:20
5. Kallaste ou la Ville Abandonnée (Kallaste or The Ghost Town) 8:36
6. To Women 9:53
7. Walking Batterie Woman 5:40
8. To You 3:32

Recorded during the 57. Jazz Festival Ljubljana, on 2.7.2016, and 1.7.2017 in the Gallus Hall of Cankarjev Dom, Ljubljana, Slovenia | Recorded, mixed and mastered by Luis Delgado
Produced by Eve Risser and Kaja Draksler | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos | Drawings by Eve Risser | Liner notes by Alexander Hawkins

Nick Fraser / Tony Malaby / Andrew Downing / Rob Clutton - Is Life Long? (CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2017)

What do Anthony Braxton, Wynton Marsalis, William Parker and Dave Liebman have in common? The fact that they have played with a drummer from the Toronto jazz scene, Nick Fraser, one of those few cases of a musician so flexible that he can practice all the tendencies of this music. Or, when he is the band leader and composer, chooses to cross those different styles, as that combination enables his capacities to swing and to color, to control time and to design textures. Generally, you either shine in one domain or the other, but not Fraser, preferring small gestures instead of technically exhibitionist actions  and always committing to the kind of improvisation that has a sense of natural, moment to moment form. He has found a soul mate in Tony Malaby and if their previous partnerships were already gems of contemporary jazz, the new “Is Life Long?” has all the ingredients to convince you to take this record to your hidden island. One of them is the way Andrew Downing’s cello combines either with Malaby’s saxes, amplifying the melodic effect, or with the double bass of Rob Clutton, for a richer harmony. The others are on the CD for you to find…

1 Quicksand 12:43
2 Disclosure 5:16
3 Empathy 6:15
4 Skeleton 7:35
5 Arachnid 6:25
6 The Predictor 11:07

Nick Fraser  drums
Tony Malaby  saxophones
Andrew Downing  cello
Rob Clutton  bass

William Evans / Donat Fisch / Bänz Oester / Jorge Rossy / Andy Scherrer - Schlitten (QFTF RECORDS 2017)

The Schlitten of the title Schlitten refers of course to Don Schlitten, a legendary record producer and label owner, who, among other things, founded Signal Records (with Harold Goldberg and Jules Colomby), recording Duke Jordan and others from 1955 before selling the label to Savoy; then working freelance before founding Cobblestone Records in 1972 with another legendary producer, the late Joe Fields, recording Sonny Stitt and producing the 1972 Newport Jazz Festival, as well as (later) the Muse and Onyx Record labels. The partnership dissolved and Joe Fields went on to found the highly successful Jazz Depot (HighNote and Savant) while Don Schlitten founded Xanadu Records and recorded Charles McPherson, Ronnie Cuber and other big names in Jazz music.

Schlitten has been masterminded by Tom Gsteiger, a Swiss writer with a profound love for Jazz, who also teaches at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and at the University for Music, Basel. And while Mr Gsteiger and OFTF the label responsible for this release might seem strange bedfellows, there is nothing strange or whimsical about the music on Schlitten Both the label and the producer seem firm in the belief that a tribute to the kind of Jazz that drove generations of audiences insane from the turn of the 20th century and laid the groundwork for the avant-garde of the 1960s and everything is worth returning to every now and then.

Clearly Mr Gsteiger knew what he wanted to achieve and also didn’t have to look too far to find five musicians to make it swing and then swing some more on eight classic tunes written from 1912 onwards that have entered the canon of Jazz for over a little over one hundred years. And so you would also be hard pressed to find a recording of these works, more true to classic, no-nonsense, straight-shooting melody, harmony and polyrhythms and more thrilling than this one. Throughout William Evans, Donat Fisch, Banz Oester, Jorge Rossy and Andy Scherrer play with usual trademarks of incisive attack and beautifully accented and dramatised Time.

This pays rich dividends not only in the warmth of each solo, but in the masterful flights of harmonic fancy when the musicians engage in the kind of ensemble playing that really hasn’t been heard since giants such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Kenny Clarke and Max Roach, Charles Mingus and a handful of others in the Jazz pantheon walked the earth. The group of William Evans, Donat Fisch, Banz Oester, Jorge Rossy and Andy Scherrer is particularly alive to the theatre of these quintessentially Jazz works from Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” to Thelonious Monk’s “Misterioso” and the magic lingers long after last bars of “Bill” die down. All this in praise of Don Schlitten too.

By Raul da Gama / JazzdaGama

Jitterburg Waltz (5:02) (Fats Waller, 1942) 
Sweet Lorraine (6:06) (Cliff Burwell/ Mitchell Parish, 1928)
I’m Getting Sentimental Over You (4:53) (George Bassmann/ Ned Washington, 1932)
Day Dream (5:58) (Strayhorn/Ellington/La Touche, 1941)
Misterioso (4:50) (Thelonious Monk, 1948) Bemsha Swing (6:10) (Thelonious Monk/Denzil Best, 1952)
I Want To Be Happy (4:06) ( Vincent Youmans/Irving Caesar, 1925)
Bill (5:02) (Jerome Kern/P.G. Wodehouse, 1917;rev. 1927)