Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Alessia Martegiani / Andrea Modesti / Alfredo De Vincentiis - La Strada delle Api (2021 Dodicilune / Ird)
Giancarlo Schiaffini (trombone) e Sergio Armaroli (balafon cromatico, water drum, calebasse, talking drum, mbira, shaker, bull-roarer, percussion), collaboratori di lunga data, propongono una suite di quasi un'ora nella quale l’improvvisazione, della quale sono autentici maestri, fa da raccordo tra Thelonious Monk, l’Africa e la musica contemporanea europea.
«Da Monk - che Schiaffini nel corso della sua carriera ha interpretato nei modi più diversi, dei quali qui si ritrova qualche memoria - i due hanno ripreso una decina di blues, usandoli soprattutto come pretesti, ispirazioni ideali di un percorso musicale tutto loro; dall’Africa hanno tratto alcuni ritmi e molteplici tipi di strumenti perlopiù percussivi (balafon, tam buri vari, mbira), utilizzati però in modo tutt’altro che africano, con sonorità nitide», sottolinea Neri Pollastri. «La componente contemporanea sta nel progetto stesso, trasversale e di ricerca, ma si fa palese nella base registrata che funge da terza voce, alternando suoni elettronici, canti, estratti di composizioni, altre percussioni che dialogano con quelle dal vivo. Il tutto, appunto, è legato dall’improvvisazione, che i due sviluppano dialogando sulle basi e lasciandosi trasportare dalla libera - talvolta liberissima - interpretazione dei temi monkiani. L’esito è sorprendente: una suite di quasi un’ora, nel corso della quale - quasi senza soluzioni di continuità - vengono inanellati temi come Straight No Chaser e Blue Monk, Misterioso e Something in Blue. Monk appare - citato ora dai toni acuti dalle percussioni, ora da quelli scuri del trombone - per poi scomparire: trasfigurato dai suoni registrati che, senza essere mai invadenti, lo trasportano in luoghi on irici, talvolta in un’Africa immaginaria, talaltra in spazi siderali evocati dall’elettronica; oppure assorbito dalle improvvisazioni del trombone, il cui canto borbottante è a sua volta in magico equilibrio tra l’Africa e la Mitteleuropa», prosegue il critico musicale. «Un Monk e un’Africa singolari, quindi: all’inizio spiazzanti, poi via via sempre più in sintonia tra loro; a momenti ipnotici, in virtù del reiterarsi dei temi e della voce meditativa del trombone; in altri invece rasserenanti, per la nitidezza dei timbri e degli impasti; comunque sempre spontanei, quanto lo è il dialogo che intrattengono il trombone e le percussioni - o, meglio, Schiaffini e Armaroli - quasi fossero vecchi amici che d’Africa e di Monk parlino assieme, con chiarezza e profondità. Ascoltarli è una gioia».
«La musica africana, oltre ai noti elementi ritmici, ha con il jazz altre caratteristiche comuni, come l'aspetto decisamente responsoriale e una certa ripetitività», scrivono i due compositori e musicisti nelle note di copertina. «Di Monk abbiamo voluto scegliere i Blues, curiosamente tutti nella tonalità di Si bemolle, spesso formati di un nucleo tematico semplice, con ampi spazi di respiro tipici del carattere africano del Jazz», proseguono Schiaffini e Armaroli. «Una semplicità che a volte sconfina in un primigenio minimalismo che mai si riduce a una semplice ripetitività. Abbiamo scelto un organico strumentale falsamente etnico (balafon, mbira, talking drum e altro) in dialogo con il trombone, cercando un senso a questo divagare tra paesaggi sonori primari e motivi melodici segreti. Il lavoro improvvisativo si dipana quindi come una terza via fra i temi monkiani, quasi mai citati direttamente, e il flusso acusmatico preregistrato».
1. Deconstructing Monk in Africa
Giancarlo Schiaffini: trombone
Sergio Armaroli: vibraphone, balafon, water drum, idiophone, talking drum, mbira, shakers, bullroarer, percussion
Monday, March 1, 2021
"Inspired in the American jazz of the Sixties, but with a North European perspective of inquestionable modernity, Fredrik Nordström imposed himself already as one of the most powerful and intriguing saxophonists in the tenor variant coming from the Old Continent. His prestige as a performer is extensive to the compositional work he’s developing, such is the richness of ideas in terms of harmony and rhythm presented by his quintet.
"In his new album, saxophonist and composer Fredrik Nordström deals with a format that reminds of a double quartet of the same type as Ornette Coleman recorded in the early 1960’s. For someone always interested in exploring different possibilities of group interaction, the decision isn’t really a surprise in itself: what surprises us are the results. Instead of acting as a double quartet, Nordström and his fellow Swedish musicians sometimes acts as an octet or as a trio, a quintet, or, you name it! The (double) rhythm section shows off some groovy and hard swinging parts as one unit, but the freedom to contribute individually in this collective of great improvisers is fundamental.
Nordström’s writing and conduction of the improvisational developments are, as always, subtle and meticulous, like hidden geometrical forms in an (apparently) abstract canvas. And if the double quartet matrix is generally connoted with the free jazz subgenre, in “Needs” something else is in equation, coming from the bop and hard bop traditions (Nordström’s tenor style owes something to Dexter Gordon) adding adventurous compositions with dazzling improvisations and giving expression to what the leader of this one day session calls «progressive jazz with unquestionable influence of contemporary classical and rock music». A must."
1. Needs 07:37
2. Fake Face 04:34
3. House of Tales 07:09
4. Hometown Prophet 05:51
5. Hope 07:29
6. Brand New Dollars 06:13
7. Morning Bliss 09:02
Fredrik Nordström - tenor & baritone saxophones
Mats Äleklint - trombone
Filip Augustson - double bass
Christopher Cantillo - drums
Fredrik Ljungkvist - clarinet & tenor saxophone
Niklas Barnö - trumpet
Torbjörn Zetterberg - double bass
Fredrik Rundqvist - drums
All compositions by Fredrik Nordström
Recorded March 23, 2018 at BAS, Bandhagen Sweden by Mats Äleklint
Mixing and mastering at Bluenord Studio, Högdalen Sweden by Fredrik Nordström
Produced by Fredrik Nordström
Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul
"Words, sounds, speech, men, memory, thoughts, fears and emotions—time—all related…all made from one…all made in one." —John Coltrane, 1964
There comes a time when musical expression flows directly from the soul—unimpeded, unfiltered. Unmasked. A point when the modes of expression—the way a person plays and sings, the way he walks and talks and even wears his hat—are all on the same wavelength, all drawing from the same inner spirit. Their music reveals not just who the individual musician might be, but reflects who we all are. Message, music, and identity weave together into one.
Archie Shepp, more than sixty years into a career of supreme dedication, has devoted a lifetime to this idea of spiritual singularity. His vast discography is peppered with moments of deep connection: small ensembles and big bands. Significant studio projects and equally historic live performances, as sideman, leader, and very often, collaborator.
A special thread connects the saxophone/piano duets and makes them standout, Shepp’s meetings with such greats as Horace Parlan, Joachim Kühn, Mal Waldron, Jasper Van’t Hof, and Abdullah Ibrahim (back when he went as Dollar Brand.) Four hands, two instruments, one common statement. Shepp has found a way to consistently excel in this space, as a speaker and as a listener. Much of it has to do with the intensity of the interaction between the two voices, how that space allows the dialogue to stand out. Shepp, in all these instances, has elevated it further: developing these conversations with just the right amount of form and freedom.
Neither Shepp nor Jason Moran are old, and neither are they young—except in spirit and delight. Moran is the more recent arrival, and he’s no new kid on the block. They carry age and experience in their playing as much as a youthful fascination with the songs and forms that define this tradition we call jazz. Let My People Go is the timely title of this collection, but when has that message not been relevant? Now, sadly, as ever.
This is their first recording together, a gathering of duet performances from 2017 and 2018, chronicling a relationship that can sound like the intimate huddling of two old friends: whispered asides, excited exclamations, utterances coinciding with practiced harmony, followed by bursts of laughter. “Ain’t misbehavin’!” cries out one. “Waahhhh!!”, says the other. (That’s really Shepp speaking both parts—but you get the idea.)
The Sound Will Tell You, Moran's 3rd Solo piano recording, was made on January 4-6, 2021. Half of the works use an effect dubbed "DRIP", a filter to allow the sound cast a shadow. The Drip gives the note another gravity. These pieces are marked by "tear", "honey" and "shadow. Moran, from Houston, also recalls DJ Screw's ability to give a song a new sluggish gait. Drawing out the drawl and sinking the beat into the mud. The music moves in slower motion.
Many of the titles refer to Toni Morrison, the author Moran read most frequently during quarantine. She evokes sound often and speaks of the pitch black night as "it may as well be a rainbow." - Song of Solomon.
The Sound Will Tell You is being concurrently released with an exhibition of new works on paper at the Luhring Augustine Gallery in Tribeca, New York. Moran's practice of recording his hand motions on the piano manual creates a variation on the "recording". The attack of the finger on the key leaves a mark and accumulates residue.
A believer in "melody", much like his idols Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols, Moran writes pieces that retrace themselves. The songs step into their own footsteps, a choreography of repetition, occasionally disrupting their own dance. Body and Soul remains a piece Moran circles around, this time with a nod to Eddie Kendricks' Intimate Friends.
For Love was recently heard in the film version of Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me, which Moran scored. His dedication to the melody is what pulls this record into another territory, aiming to eliminate the differences between melody and solo. The narrative drives these works.
How much more terrible was the Night highlights America's current state of pandemonium.
1. Follow the Light 02:38
2. Spoken in Two (Tear) 02:55
3. For Love 03:56
4. My Mother's Handful of Tea 03:35
5. Only the Shadow Knows (Honey) 04:56
6. Body & Soul with Intimate Friends (Shadow) 03:06
7. Dawns after the Dream 02:13
8. Bee Mantra (Honey) 03:22
9. How much more terrible was the Night 03:12
10. The only morning coming (Tear) 02:34
11. Hum then Sing then Speak 05:16
12. Toni Morrison said Black is a Rainbow (Shadow) 04:23
Jason Moran: piano solo
When the Cecil Taylor quintet was ready to play at the Tampere Jazz Happening on October 30, 1998, all the musical world knew the virulent compactness of Taylor's groups, especially after the American pianist had established an on-going link with Berlin and the European public. That day in Tampere, a superlative performance of free improvisation (Harri Sjöström on soprano sax, Tristan Honsinger on cello, Paul Lovens on drums and Teppo Hauta-aho on double bass) was able to represent Taylor's enormous creative potential. It is a concert discovered in the archives of Finnish Radio YLE, never documented on a recording medium, which allows us to enter that absolutely unique world of Taylor’s groups: art and sound density, expressive universes that leave you speechless even after their conclusion.
That day the sound power produced by the group was even able to impress Steve Lacy who, at the end of the concert, went to find the musicians backstage, saying:"...You guys really lifted the bandstand...", a statement that has been carved into the memory of that evening and also provides the title of this live recording. In Lifting the Bandstand the structure is typical: Cecil enters the stage, poetizes on his verses and enters into a free dance; then some deep clusters on the piano; the string musicians offer themselves in an abstract design and the development of a sort of propitiatory ritual outlined in all its excitement and fullness when the clusters start to become cutting and the musical set becomes explosive. In this concert Taylor and the four European musician-personalities continue their enthusiastically celebrated non-hierarchical style of play that they started from the very beginning of this constellation.
They sow the seeds for a free and choral relationship that favors the shattering, the physical prowess of the musicians and a phenomenology of music. The first half hour of Lifting the Bandstand is an uncontrolled expansion of the sound mass, with the instruments continuously expanding so that one cannot believe that musicians can play with that intensity for so long: an instinctive, chemical experiment consumes itself, in which all "music" is demolished and re-presented according to a project of apparent intangibility, not a sterile but a constructive fury, which upsets for the speed undertaken and the extended techniques; only after an hour the shockwave fades into a cubic phase, less thunderous, more oriented towards a melodic quality and a timbre line, where onomatopoeia intervenes; there are some attempts to replicate operatic singing and we find reminiscences of classicism camouflaged in areas of interaction.
Even when the music calms down in the end, there are still electric shocks of music, small refluxes of the instruments, which the musicians cannot completely dominate in this new situation of relaxation. When the ritual ends, the sensation is to have experienced the equivalent of a virtuous myth, a regenerating force that leaves the listener astonished, breathless and enriched not really knowing to where he had been taken. Ettore Garzia
1. Desperados A 28:25
2. Desperados B 47:08
Cecil Taylor, piano
Harri Sjöström, soprano sax
Tristan Honsinger, cello
Teppo Hauta-Aho, double bass
Paul Lovens, drumset, cymbals and gongs
Recorded October 30.1998 at Tampere Jazz Happening by the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE at Tampere Jazz Happening. Originally produced for YLE by Veli- Pekka Heinonen
Final mix by Patrick Römer and Harri Sjöström + Paul Lovens
Mastering by Patrick Römer of Unisono Records
Marek Malinowski / Robert Rychlicki-Gąsowski / Wojciech Zadrużyński - Scratching Fork (2021 Fundacja Słuchaj Records)
A place between structure and fluctuation where planning and spontaneity intertwine, enriched by rational thinking or wild instinct. A connection between cold focus and wonderful oblivion. The art of compromise without compromising. It might be a place where the hardness of metal touches the softness of skin. Scratching Fork could be all of these. One thing is certain – it is a band, a talented trio playing jazz-like music in contemporary style. The story of this band started in 2015 and since then Scratching Fork has been growing without rush, but consistently and inevitably, just like the mountains of New Zealand. Developing, not seeking attention or caring about changing trends, simply focusing all its energy on its purpose, emotions and discovery.
Slowly cultivating its music, the band has grown stronger by firmly following its local Kuyavian roots. And what about these roots? What, or rather who creates Scratching Fork? The idea to create the group, just like the first song of Ilúvatar, seeded in the mind of Marek Malinowski. He then invited two musicians from Toruń to cooperate, Wojtek Zadrużyński (drums) and Robert Rychlicki (double bass), who had cooperated in rhythm sections for years. Both were fascinated by Marek’s music from the very first rehearsal and thus, adding a touch of their own sounds and emotions, became part of the band.
1. When She Sleeps 07:00
2. Mountains 10:05
3. Vertigo 03:06
4. Dancer In Galoshes 05:17
5. 7 O'Clock 04:18
6. Goodbye Poem 04:43
7. Fairytale Land 05:14
Marek Malinowski - guitar
Robert Rychlicki-Gąsowski - double bass, bass guitar
Wojciech Zadrużyński - drums
All compositions by Marek Malinowski