Saturday, May 19, 2018

John Christensen - Dear Friend (SHIFTING PARADIGM RECORDS June 15, 2018)

1. John Christensen - Dear Friend
2. Something Said In Passing
3. Hay-De Hoedown
4. Slate Icicles On Trees
5. Spooky Action At a Distance
6. Prairie Grass Suite
7. Smells Are Awesome

John Christensen - bass
Johannes Wallmann - piano
Dave Miller - guitar
Andrew Green - drums

Chad Taylor - Myths and Morals (EARS&EYES RECORDS 2018)

One of the most prolific drummers/percussionists over his three decades of performing and recording with some of the modern, improvised music’s most influential musicians such as the late Fred Anderson, Nicole Mitchell, Matana Roberts, Ken Vandermark, Marc Ribot, and Jeff Parker, Chad Taylor has defined his voice as one that is unique, rawly refined, unending in creativity, and historically relevant in the world of modern creative music. His partnership with Rob Mazurek in the Chicago/ London Underground Duo/ Trio/ Quartet/ Orchestra, has placed him in an individualistic stylistic mode of playing that is distinct and undoubtedly original.

Let's also not forget his contributions to folk/rock/pop groups such as Stereolab, Sam Prekop, Yo La Tengo, Doug McComb’s Brokeback, Glen Hansard and Iron & Wine. Most recently, Taylor’s work can be heard on critically acclaimed releases of 2017 such as Jaimie Branch’s Fly Or Die (praises from The New York Times, Arcade Fire’s Sarah Neufeld, Ryley Walker, Jazz Right Now, BandCamp Best of…, and more) and Eric Revis’ Sing Me Some Cry release alongside MacArthur Fellow Ken Vandermark and Kris Davis.

This album isn’t a typical solo drum recording with the artist playing a drum set the whole time with repetitive beats and/or complex fills. It really resonates as an adventure through a variety of sonic fields. Take ‘Gum Tree’ for example where you can hear the actual fingers hit the keys of this difficult and rare instrument heard in the jazz field: the Mbira, which comes from the Shona people where what is modern day Zimbabwe, Africa. ‘Carnation’ feels as if we’re in the soundtrack recording session of a mystery lo-fi set in the middle of a darkened forest with his use of cymbal treatments.

1. Arcadia 06:47
2. Phoenix 06:02
3. The Fall of Babel 06:14
4. Carnation 04:11
5. Gum Tree 03:32
6. Abtu and Anet 03:28
7. Island of the Blessed 09:05
8. Simcha (bonus track) 01:44

Elliot Bergman - electric kalimba 
Recorded by Will Holland at Selva Recording, Brooklyn NYC

All music by Chad Taylor (CTORB ASCAP)

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Alex Inglizian at Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago USA

except 'Simcha'

Hood Smoke - Cannonball Porch (EARS&EYES RECORDS)

Bridging both genres and generations with original music steeped in the history of its influences, Hood Smoke’s sonic narrative illustrates timeless stories using beautifully simple melodies set to a rhythmic foundation built firmly from the bass up. 

Since the release of their debut album, Laid Up In Ordinary (2012), Chicago’s Hood Smoke has continued to narrow the gap between retro and modern sounds in a unique and sincere way. 

The band is a tour de force whose past and present members have performed with Quincy Jones, Earth, Wind & Fire, Koko Taylor, Rhymefest, Nick Lowe, Chris Thile, and Umphrey’s Mcgee. 

With their second album, Regular Neurotic (2014), the band began its collaboration with producer and engineer Anthony Gravino. The record’s anthem “Never Suffering” gained the band recognition from American Songwriter and the Chicago Sun-Times declared Hood Smoke a “must-see act.” 

With their third release Rough Around The Hedges (2016), which Newcity described as “whip-smart jazz-funk-fusion” whose “lyrics are top-notch throughout,” Doherty proved his prolificacy as a composer and lyricist. 2016 also marked the band’s first national tour as they wooed audiences at large rock festivals and intimate jazz clubs, alike. 

The band’s fourth album Cannonball Porch (2018) showcases Doherty’s vulnerable and melancholic voice on what he promises to be “the most simplistic, lyrically creative, and to the point” Hood Smoke album to date. 

1. Storybook 05:24
2. Porcelain Flowers 04:43
3. Blue Janie 03:57
4. Seneca Lake 03:08
5. El Salvador 03:39
6. Feel Lost 04:07
7. Crackerjack 04:51
8. Easy To Obsess (So Much Of One) 04:44
9. Depending On The Fool 03:29
10. Off Clouds 04:18

Matt Piet Trio - Live In Chicago (EARS&EYES RECORDS 2018)

Pianist Matt Piet is joined by other notable rising Chicago improvisers Charlie Kirchen on bass and Julian Kirchner on drums. 

This compilation of three albums tracks the live, in-performance progress of three improvising musicians over six months: from autumn of 2016 to spring of 2017. 

"Live In Chicago" chronicles: 
three up-and-coming young improvisers 
in their first three live performances together as a trio 
at three of Chicago's most essential outlets for improvised music. 

"Matt Piet has so much to say and this [trio] becomes the perfect vehicle for it." - Philip Coombs, Free Jazz Collective 

Compilation Features: 

Three Matt Piet Trio Albums 

-Live At Constellation 
-at the Hungry Brain 
-Live at Elastic Arts 

Album art painted live at the trio's first performance by artist Lewis Achenbach 

HD video of the full performance of Live At Constellation, from the same performance

1. Improvisation One 22:27 video
2. Improvisation Two 18:55 video
3. Improvisation Three 10:14 video
4. A Tad Forward 04:46
5. Aluminum Ally 12:45
6. Trialogue 06:29
7. Assembly Required 08:58
8. Shan't Be Gone Long 08:22
9. I 24:22
10. IIa 09:02
11. IIb 06:14
12. IIc 05:39

Charlie Kirchen, bass
Julian Kirshner, drums

"Live at Constellation"
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Dan Nichols

"at the Hungry Brain" and "Live at Elastic Arts"
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Dave Zuchowski

Album artwork by Lewis Achenbach
Painted live 10/22/2016
3X4FT acrylic on panel

Matt Piet - City In A Garden (EARS&EYES RECORDS June 15, 2018)

Matt Piet is an improvising pianist, composer, and music director. Matt was born and raised in suburban Chicago, began his studies as a pianist and vocalist at age ten, and was a proficient classical pianist and accompanist by his early teens. Piet set aside his classical studies to focus on jazz, improvisation, and composition during his studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Piet returned to Chicago in 2014, and has since been an active participant in Chicago's rich jazz and improvised music scene. In addition to playing many ad hoc improvised performances as a leader and a sideman, he has three working trios: Four Letter Words, Matt Piet Trio, and the trio Rempis/Piet/Daisy. In 2018 he released two highly praised recordings on Clean Feed Records and Astral Spirits Records, with a forthcoming release, City In A Garden, to be released June 15th, 2018 on ears&eyes Records. In addition to performing regularly as an improviser, Piet works actively as a teacher, Music Director, and accompanist throughout the Chicagoland area.

1. with Macie Stewart I
2. with Gerrit Hatcher, Charlie Kirchen & Julian Kirshner 09:22
3. with Steve Marquette I
4. with Bill Harris & Jake Wark I 02:00
5. with Charlie Kirchen & Julian Kirshner
6. with Macie Stewart II 05:02
7. with Steve Marquette II
8. with Gerrit Hatcher
9. with Bill Harris & Jake Wark II

All tracks are "named" by the musicians on the track, as they are all improvisations... 

Bill Harris - drums
Gerrit Hatcher - tenor saxophone
Charlie Kirchen - bass
Julian Kirshner - drums
Steve Marquette - guitar
Macie Stewart - violin & voice
Jake Wark - tenor saxophone

Recorded at belAir Sound Studio by Todd Carter in Chicago IL USA
Mixed & Mastered by Dave Zuchowski
Produced by Matt Piet
Executive produced for ears&eyes Records by Matthew Golombisky
Art/design by Fede Maks

Mike Westbrook Concert Band - The Last Night At The Old Place (CADILLAC RECORDS May 25, 2018)

So many good things were contained within the Mike Westbrook Concert Band of 1968 that it’s hard to know where to start. Its personnel included the components of a whole scene of young London-based jazz musicians, bursting with energy and the desire to express the sounds they were discovering collectively and as individuals. 

For a time, this band gave them the ideal structure. And when they needed a setting, Ronnie Scott and Pete King were there to provide it. The gift of the remaining 18 months of the lease on the basement of 39 Gerrard Street handed young musicians the precious opportunity to perform regularly in the heart of the West End in a sympathetic environment, free from the usual commercial pressures. 

What went on in that basement is crystallised in this historic and previously unheard recording of its very last night, during which the band performed Westbrook’s Release, a suite that drew together many of the composer’s own areas of interest while providing space for a selection of magnificent improvisers to display their distinctive and fast-evolving personalities. What Westbrook had learnt from Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus was the importance of treating an ensemble as a group of individual voices

The humanity of the music was never to be compromised by prioritising a display of technical precision. Which is not to say that these guys couldn’t play. John Surman and Paul Rutherford were just two of the band’s members then engaged in extending the available vocabulary of their instruments. But this was never at the expense of the warmth and exuberance that delighted the band’s listeners, and never more clearly than on this night in May 1968 at the Old Place. 

Three months later, Release would be recorded by the producer Peter Eden for the Deram label, its episodes trimmed in order to fit the playing time of a 12-inch LP. In this version, with no time constraints and in front of a sympathetic and sometimes vocally appreciative audience, the musicians are allowed to stretch out in a majestic sprawl of relaxed creativity.

So we have a chance to appreciate at greater length the frantic brilliance of George Khan’s tenor and Bernie Livings’s alto, Surman reaching a peak of youthful ebullience, the nerve-tingling dialogue between Dave Holdsworth’s trumpet and Alan Jackson’s drums, Harry Miller’s unflagging support play, and the wonderful contrast of trombone approaches set up by Malcolm Griffith’s proud roar and Rutherford’s oblique nurdling.

A special place is reserved for the immortal Mike Osborne, whose solo feature linking the standard “Lover Man” and the Westbrook original “For Ever and a Day” occupied four minutes of the studio recording but here is stretched to more than twice that length in a breathtakingly contoured passage of soul-piercing, heart-stopping, sweetly bruised beauty. 

I wasn’t lucky enough to be there that night to hear all this magic filling a Chinatown basement. Perhaps you weren’t, either. But we are now.

1. The Few 06:51
2. Lover Man
3. For Ever & A Day
4. We Salute You
5. The Few (2)
6. Folk Song
7. Flying Home
8. Sugar
9. Who's Who
10. Can't Get It Out Of My Mind
11. A Life Of It's Own

Mike Westbrook Concert Band:
Dave Holdsworth - trumpet
Malcolm Griffiths, Paul Rutherford - trombones
Mike Osborne, Bernie Living, George Khan, John Surman - saxophones
Mike Westbrook - piano
Harry Miller - bass
Alan Jackson - drums

Compositions & arrangements by Mike Westbrook, recorded by George Smith 

Album produced by Mike Westbrook & Mike Gavin