Thursday, February 8, 2018

Igor Lumpert & Innertextures - Eleven (CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2018)

Here is the third reprise of Igor Lumpert’s project Innertextures, but this time (after “Innertextures” and “Innertextures Live”), not with the previous trio format. The band with Chris Tordini and Nasheet Waits is now a quartet, with Greg Ward playing the second saxophone and Kenny Grohowski taking the drum sticks, and in “Eleven” there’s two guests summing up: trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson on a couple of tracks and bass clarinetist John Ellis playing on another one (in the past, Lumpert had the collaboration of musicians like Robert Glasper and Jacob Bro, and even his trio was once formed with Matt Brewer and Tommy Crane).

Important to notice is the fact that Lumpert, Tordini, Grohowski and Finlayson studied together at the New School of Music. The musical formula remains the same, but now more matured and with other nuances: a kind of «hyper-mode bop» with funk elements and some aspects of Slovenian folk music (he was born in Novo Mesto), as the specialized press noted, with «odd-metered rhythmic pacing and mesmeric variances in pitch». For more than 15 years living in New York, Lumpert’s jazz is sounding more American than ever, full of verve and groove, but without losing its “trademark” of complexity and unpredictability.

Maybe the most internationally recognized of all Slovenian jazz musicians, this former pupil of Chico Hamilton and Billy Harper who played with luminaries like John Abercrombie and Sonny Simmons is really the face of the present universal dimension of this music genre, with each composition brilliantly confirming that status. A must listen, must have record, marvelously produced by Robert Sadin.

1. 13th of August 7:27
2. XmD 4:44
3. Poseidon 7:49
4. Paha 5:40
5. Eleven 8:28
6. Brela 7:29

Igor Lumpert  tenor saxophone
Greg Ward  alto saxophone
Chris Tordini  double bass
Kenny Grohowski  drums
Jonathan Finlayson  trumpet on 3 and 5
John Ellis  bass clarinet on 6

All compositions by Igor Lumpert

Recorded at Bunker Studios, Brooklyn, New York on May 10th, 2017 by Ted Tuthill | Mixed and Mastered by Dave Darlington at Bass Hit Studios
Produced by Robert Sadin | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos

Mark Egan / Arjun Bruggeman - Dreaming Spirits (WAVETONE RECORDS 2018)

On this duo project Dreaming Spirits, bassist-composer Mark Egan joins forces with tabla-percussionist Arjun Bruggeman along with guest guitarist Shane Theriot for a set of music that is at once meditative and invigorating, incorporating drone tones and ambient textures into a compelling world music mix while also leaving room for dynamic improvisation and in-the-moment dialoguing between the players. “I feel like I’ve always heard this music and I’ve always wanted to record this type of project” says the acclaimed bassist whose distinctive sound on his Pedulla fretless electric basses has made him a world renowned musician with a mastery of many styles of music. “This music is an entrance into more ambient sonic spaces and I’m pleased that we have created some calming music to offset this hectic world that we live in.”

The exotic Eastern percussion grooves and textures heard on Dreaming Spirits are supplied by Arjun Bruggeman’s tabla, frame drum and tone drums. Arjun has recorded and performed with artists such as Jason Mraz, Belinda Carlisle, Jon Anderson, Trevor Hall, Robert Bly, Michael Franti, Hu Dost, Snatam Kaur and Shyamdas.

Egan explains that he met world percussion and session recording artist Bruggeman in 2008 when they were both recruited to record and tour with master Kirtan singer-chanter Krishnas Das. “We had an immediate musical connection and we’ve had this wonderful musical dialogue ever since,” says Egan. “We’ve been talking about doing a creative project together since we first met and finally decided to organize sessions at my studio which were the genesis of this project.” Together these two kindred spirits reveal rare chemistry in their duets on Dreaming Spirits like “Morning Light,” “The In Between,” “Waking Spirits” and “Joy Ride.”

Rounding out the chemistry on ten other melodic modal jams is guitarist Shane Theriot, a native of New Orleans who has played with the Neville Brothers and Dr. John and currently is the musical director for Hall & Oates and for the video series Daryl’s Place, hosted by Daryl Hall. Theriot’s acoustic guitar adds another layer of intrigue to atmospheric numbers like “Mombossa,” “C Drone Expanion,” “Framonics” and the spacious title track while he flaunts stinging blues-tinged electric guitar licks on numbers like “Village Call,” “Wave Motion,” “Canyon Walk,” “Spirit Blues” and the lively closer, “When Spirits Dance.” And he layers on a touch of lap steel on “Mombossa.” Said Egan of Theriot’s contribution on Dreaming Spirits, “I sent Shane some of the music that Arjun and I had recorded and he really did his homework,” Egan recalls. “He came to the session with a notebook filled with different altered tunings that he had prepared for the songs which gave each composition a distinctive guitar sound.”

A member of the original Pat Metheny Group of the mid ‘70s, Egan’s extensive credits also include recordings with the Gil Evans Orchestra, Sting, John McLaughlin, John Abercrombie, Larry Coryell, Pat Martino, Joan Osborne, Sophie B. Hawkins, Roger Daltrey and the Duran Duran off-shoot group Arcadia. His last two releases as a leader on his own Wavetone label— 2014’s About Now and 2015’s Direction Home — reunited him with drummer and longtime collaborator Danny Gottlieb, with whom he co-leads the group Elements.

But Dreaming Spirits is unlike anything the veteran bassist has done before in his illustrious career. “This recording draws from ideas from all of my past recordings, especially the more ambient moments playing 4 and 8 string fretless basses,” says Egan.

Along with his melodic, singing fretless bass lines, Egan adds layers of what sound like evocative synth washes but are actually triggered from his basses using various electronic effects units. “Everything that you hear on this CD that sounds like a keyboard pad or a synth or organ, is bass-generated,’ he explains. “I call them bass waves.” And there is even an all-important element of groove tying up these entrancing tracks. Indeed, you can hear a quote from Wilson Pickett’s “Funky Broadway,” a favorite R&B groove of Egan’s one-time bass teacher, Jaco Pastorius, pop up in his playing on “Mombossa.” As Mark says, “The music always has to have a thread of the groove happening throughout. That was something that obviously Jaco had intuitively in his playing and that’s something I also feel strongly about.”

Regarding the use of ambient textures throughout Dreaming Spirits, Egan acknowledged his longstanding interest in blending East and Western music coming to fruition on Dreaming Spirits. “I’ve always been interested in Indian music from the first time I heard Ravi Shankar in high school and later, Shakti with John McLaughlin. I haven’t formally studied traditional Indian music with odd meters and ragas but I’ve always been attracted to the aura of the music drone and the fretless bass is sympathetic to that sound zone. The Pedulla fretless bass also sonically compliments the low Bayan drum of Arjun” Says Egan, “Arjun and I wanted to make a record that had depth and intensity and also that was meditative and relaxing. I think there’s a sincerity to this music that allowed us to communicate from spirit to spirit.” Whether it’s the melodic grooves, hypnotic drones or the stellar musicianship and interplay, Dreaming Spirits will attract listeners that enjoy multidirectional adventurous music.

Village Call
Wave Motion
C Drone Expansion
Canyon Walk
The In Between
Joy Ride
Spirit Blues
Dreaming Spirits
Morning Light
Waking Spirits
When Spirits Dance

Mark Egan Bass
Arjun Bruggeman Tabla
Shane Theriot Guitar

Orquesta del Tiempo Perdido - Stille (SHHPUMA RECORDS 2018)

The name of this project references Marcel Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time”, but that doesn’t prepare us for the music played on “Stille”. Orquesta del Tiempo Perdido is a wildly eclectic, ‘post- everything’ explosion, taking on aspects of contemporary classical music, jazz, experimental electro- acoustic, math-rock, pop, non-Western folklore, exotica and vaudeville. The points of reference are deftly approached on their own terms, and recontextualised in impossible composites. 

The album was conceived in the unquiet mind of the idiosyncratic Dutch musician and composer Jeroen Kimman, for whom this represents a first release as producer and engineer. In addition to playing most of the instruments of the Orquesta (although it also features contributions by some of Amsterdam’s most creative musicians), Kimman has produced the sound world of the album in microscopic detail, taking the instruments further into deranged sonic territories. Despite the scope of the record, there is a unity to the music that owes more to the film soundtracks of Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota, and the virtuosic experimentalism of early studio pioneers such as The Three Suns, Les Baxter and Martin Denny, than to other contemporary attempts at eclecticism. It comes out of Kimman’s genuine love of, for example, country and western or striptease bands, combined with his experiences writing for theatre, dance and animated cinema. The result may seem bizarre but it’s a work of genius.

1. scenario
2. blue train
3. strol
4. shawty
5. zen in tummy
6. cross
7. hillyrock II: fricchettone
8. jive mandolin
9. a merlefriend solid
10. poseidon
11. hills for seamus

TRISTAN RENFROW . drums on 1, 5 & 7, drum rolls on 4
LEO SVIRSKY . accordeon on 3 & 7
MICHAEL MOORE . clarinet on 1 & 4, alto sax on 11
ANNA VOOR DE WIND . clarinet on 10 & 11, bass clarinet on 10
KOEN KAPTIJN . trombone on 1 & 4
MARK MORSE . lapsteel guitar on 5 & 10, screw on 4
SEAMUS CATER . concertina & bass harmonica on 11
SJENG SCHUPP . double bass on 2 & 11
MICHIEL VAN DIJK . tenor sax and flute on 1
JEROEN KIMMAN . all other instruments

Orquesta del Tiempo Perdido - Strol from Jeroen Kimman on Vimeo.

The Heat Death - The Glenn Miller Sessions (3 CD) CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2018

We didn’t see (or, more exactly, heard) this coming. How could we expect a band like The Heat Death to turn their attention to the music of Glenn Miller? But here it is, once again confirming the notion that everything is possible when coming from the Scandinavian scene. Truth is that this quintet always had an orchestral approach, in the organization of the collective inputs and due to the doubling of instruments, Kjetil Møster playing clarinet besides his tenor saxophone and Martin Küchen turning to the flute when not playing the alto sax, summing up with the presence of a pasting trombone (Mats Aleklint) to unite every part, but what they use to do was miles way from the swing big band Miller’s sound: a free improvised music metamorphing to free jazz, sometimes with African rhythms, reminding us of Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath, and sometimes with the repetitive, “motorik” balance of krautrock, not so strange when we think that Can’s drummer, Jaki Liebezeit, was an original member of Alexander von Schllipenbach’s Globe Unity Orchestra. But here it is, introducing a new form to understand the problem with thermodynamic energy known by science as “the heat death”. If there was a compositional factor in the way this group used to improvise, finding structures when there wasn’t one, now they deal with it in a more committed way. Of course, the resulting music has few resemblances to what the Glenn Miller Orchestra continue to do until this day, but the spirit is there, exploring aspects which were implicit, but never fulfilled, with all the respect to the historic figure who conceived it. Prepare yourself to be surprised.

CD 1
Myriads of Space 1 29:05
2 Myriads of Space 2 23:45
3 See Don't Tell 15:13

CD 2
1 Myriads of Space 3 20:54
2 Hear Don't Say 11:15
3 Unservable Jazz Soup 30:51

CD 3
1 Towards the Uncool 31:30
2 A Clandestine Jazz Operation 18:47
3 Myriads of Space 4 15:09

Kjetil Møster  tenor saxophone and clarinet
Martin Küchen  alto saxophone and flute
Mats Aleklint  trombone
Ola Høyer  double bass
Dag Erik Knedal Andersen  drums

All compositions and arrangements by The Heat Death

Recorded by Mats Äleklint | Mixed and mastered by Christian Obermayer
Produced by The Heat Death | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos

Michael Dessen Trio - Somewhere In The Upstream (CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2018)

Praised as a “musician for this moment” (Downbeat) for his imaginative work with music technology, trombonist Michael Dessen culminates over a decade with his electro-acoustic trio in this fourth Clean Feed release, an homage to the late Yusef Lateef.

After studying with Lateef for several years and making his debut as an improviser on one of Lateef’s albums in 1996, Dessen has since carved his own individual path through jazz and contemporary music worlds, acclaimed both for his “black belt” trombone playing (praise from close collaborator Mark Dresser) as well as for his unique work as a composer-bandleader that “straddles the line between the avant garde and the accessible better than most” (All About Jazz). Here Dessen honors Lateef’s memory with Somewhere In The Upstream, a longform “scorestream” in which notations are displayed on screens for the improvisers to interpret, shifting unpredictably for each performance.

Fluidly melding intricate composition, radically open group improvisation and otherworldly live electronic soundworlds, the music of the Michael Dessen Trio has been recognized with major awards and commissions from Chamber Music America, the Fromm Foundation, and New Music USA. This album distills the core qualities that critics have praised in the band’s music over their previous three releases: Compositional structures deeply shape the music but at the same time are always elusive, abstracted by the band in such a way that the focus remains on the organically unfolding interactions among the improvisers and the incredibly wide-ranging expressive dynamics of an entire set.

Dessen wrote this music specifically for his longstanding trio members, virtuoso improvisers Chris Tordini (bass) and Dan Weiss (drums), and the album was recorded in a single take to capture the immersive feel and powerful chemistry that the band is known for in their live performances. Tordini deftly grounds the music’s kaleidoscopic polyrhythms and constantly surprises the listener with endless gradient explorations of sound, and Weiss similarly combines a broad timbral palette with his renowned rhythmic sensibilities. Dessen completes the trio with his own playing on both trombone and computer, using live processing and sampling in ways that  complement but never overwhelm the band’s acoustic foundation.

Combining the band’s live aesthetic with extraordinary recording quality and a heightened attention to sonic detail that will reward repeated listening, Somewhere In The Upstream is a singular compositional achievement by one of the truly original bands of our time.

1. Part 1 7:07
2. Part 2 2:55
3. Part 3 7:20
4. Part 4 6:24
5. Part 5 3:37
6. Part 6 6:19
7. Part 7 6:17
8. Part 8 10:05

All compositions by Michael Dessen (Cronopio Music, ASCAP)

Recorded at Systems Two in Brooklyn on June 6, 2016 | Recording Engineer: Max Ross | Mixed and mastered by Rich Breen
Produced by Michael Dessen | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul

Jon Rune Strøm Quintet - Fragments (CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2018)

Yes, you can create a band concept from the double bass position, but instead of putting himself as the focus of the collective music of his quintet, bassist and composer Jon Rune Strøm enlisted a second bass player, Christian Meaas Svendsen, for the group, like him doubling the upright instrument with an electric one. Which means that the idea is on the sound, not the personality. And the choice of companion explains much of what we find in “Fragments”. If Strøm is known for his incredible energy and physicality, Svendsen is a force of nature, sometimes using two or three bows or performing with arms, legs, feet and mouth. The center of gravity of the music is low, but the two horns manage to take it to the highest levels possible, namely trumpeter Thomas Johansson and tenor saxophonist André Roligheten, with drummer Andreas Wildhagen gluing it all and covering the fortuitous gaps like an octopus. That’s what differenciates the Jon Rune Strøm Quintet from all the other bands including Strøm’s contribution, namely Friends & Neighbors, All Included, Universal Indians and Frode Gjerstad Trio. The project belongs to the same family tree, call it free music or free jazz as you wish, but there’s something else going on. Bass-driven pleasure in its purist form, that is.

Thomas Johansson: trumpet
André Roligheten: tenor saxophone
Christian Meaas Svendsen: double bass, fender bass [left channel]
Jon Rune Strøm: double bass, fender bass [right channel]
Andreas Wildhagen: drums

All music by Jon Rune Strøm (Tono)

Recorded by Christian Obermayer at Victoria, Nasjonal Jazzscene, March 2017 | Mixed by Obermayer at Strype Audio, Oslo, September 2017 | Mastered by Obermayer and Strøm at Strype Audio, Oslo, November 2017
Produced by Jon Rune Strøm | Co produced by Pedro Costa at Clean Feed | Design by Travassos | Picture by Petra Cvelbar | Painting by Jon Rune Strøm

Mats Gustafsson Trio: Fire! - The Hands (RUNE GRAMMOFON 2018)

For 20 years Rune Grammofon has made a habit of releasing music that is beyond easy classification, in later years typified by Swedish trio Fire!, consisting of Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin. All three are highly accomplished musicians, but Fire! music is not “difficult” in the sense that jazz and especially free jazz is often perceived. Very much a tight knit unit with three equal players, Fire! has been likened to powerful guitar led trios such as Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, but with Berthling´s heavy, doom laden basslines being such a typical identifier, we can´t help but thinking of Black Sabbath´s debut album when it comes to hypnotic impact.

The Hands is the trio´s sixth album and once again displays a totally uncompromising and intriguing mix of (mostly) heavy, dark and intensely burning music whether one decide on calling it jazz or rock. The album closes on a quiet and reflective note with the appropriately titled “I Guard Her To Rest. Declaring Silence”.

And we say it´s easily their best so far.

1 The Hands 4:39
2 When Her Lips Collapsed 4:52
3 Touches Me With The Tips Of Wonder 3:31
4 Washing Your Heart In Filth 4:54
5 Up. And Down 4:44
6 To Shave The Leaves. In Red. In Black 9:10
7 I Guard Her To Rest. Declaring Silence 4:50

Johan Berthling: Electric and double bass
Andreas Werliin: Drums, percussion and feedback