Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Miguel Zenón – Law Years: The Music of Ornette Coleman (March 12, 2021 via Miel Music)

Out a few days after Coleman’s birthday, album features an international quartet recorded live in Switzerland

Digital release available March 12, 2021 via Miel Music

The digital album – featuring Zenón with an international quartet: tenor saxophonist Ariel Bringuez, bassist Demian Cabaud, and drummer Jordi Rossy – will be available on all digital platforms including Miguel’s Bandcamp page on March 12, 2021.

Alto saxophone icon Miguel Zenón commemorates Ornette Coleman’s 91st birthday (March 9) with Law Years: The Music of Ornette Coleman. Recorded in May 2019, after a residency at Bird’s Eye Jazz Club in Basel, Switzerland, the album features Zenón with an international quartet: tenor saxophonist Ariel Bringuez, bassist Demian Cabaud, and drummer Jordi Rossy. Though the musicians – all with connections to Zenón – had never played together in this particular configuration, the performances display remarkable synergy and intensity. The release will be available digitally on March 12, 2021.

As Miguel writes in the liner notes, “We were all just having fun, inspired by the energy from the crowd and the special feel of the occasion. And Ornette’s music proved to be the perfect platform for this kind of engagement: the kind of music that opens the door to endless possibilities for interaction and pushes you to hit the ground running.”

A special aspect of the quartet is that each member hails from a different part of the world. “I’m Puerto Rican, Ariel is Cuban, Demian is Argentinian, and Jordi is Catalan,” says Zenón. “The fact that we are all from different parts of the globe and all Spanish speakers raises another important point: Jazz music knows no boundaries or labels; it is as inclusive now as it has ever been.”
Coleman has long been one of Zenón’s musical heroes. The first time he heard Ornette’s music, Zenón was a teenager still living in Puerto Rico. “I just kind of stood there, mesmerized and in shock, trying to figure it out,” he says. “It was entirely different than anything I had heard before. There is freedom there, and lots of it. But there’s also a deep sense of cohesiveness and structure. And, above all, melody: beautiful and inspired melodic lines that serve as springboards for everyone involved.”

Later, Zenón was fortunate enough to meet Ornette. He remembers their interactions fondly. “He was always nice and supportive,” says Zenón. “Our interactions went pretty much the same way every time. Me: ‘Mr. Coleman, I’m not sure if you remember me – my name is Miguel, and I’m an alto saxophonist and one of your biggest fans.’ Ornette: ‘Nice to see you, Miguel. Have you ever thought about what would happen if you played A and Eb at the same time?’.”

Playing a concert of exclusively Ornette Coleman music proved to be magical, exciting, and more bittersweet than the quartet knew. “As I listen to the music,” says Zenón, “it almost feels like a different time. A time when we weren’t afraid to be close to each other. A time when we could still play in a packed room, with the audience right in front of us, and just feed off their energy. A time that will come back soon enough. And when it does, we’ll be ready to do it all over again.”

About Miguel Zenón
A multiple Grammy® nominee and Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow, Zenón is one of a select group of musicians who have masterfully balanced and blended the often contradictory poles of innovation and tradition. Widely considered one of the most groundbreaking and influential saxophonists and composers of his generation, Zenón has also developed a unique voice as a conceptualist, concentrating his efforts on perfecting a fine mix between jazz and his many musical influences. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Zenón has recorded and toured with a wide variety of musicians including Charlie Haden, Fred Hersch, The SFJAZZ Collective, Kenny Werner and Bobby Hutcherson.  

Zenón’s 2021 releases also include El Arte Del Bolero, a duo album with pianist Luis Perdomo (digital release: January 8, Miel Music)  and the fall release of an album with his long-standing quartet.

Available on all digital platforms including Miguel’s Bandcamp page

Bill Harris - ONOMAT (March 5, 2021 Amalgam Music)

100% of the funds collected from the purchase of ONOMAT will go to Brave Space Alliance (www.bravespacealliance.org). Brave Space Alliance is the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ+ Center located on the South Side of Chicago, dedicated to creating and providing affirming, culturally competent, for-us by-us resources, programming, and services for LGBTQ+ individuals on the South and West sides of the city. We strive to empower, embolden, and educate each other through mutual aid, knowledge-sharing, and the creation of community-sourced resources as we build toward the liberation of all oppressed peoples.


1. Onomatopoeia
2. Mangosteen 04:16
3. Razbliuto
4. Vagaries
5. We Are Alone But Not the Same
6. Barramundi 05:54
7. The Superintendents
8. Modern Bodies
9. Heavy Curtains

Solo improvisations for drum set,
Metal and wooden objects,
Particle 2 (tracks 1, 7),
Microphone/amplifier (tracks 2, 3, 5, 7, 9),
Drum feedback manipulation (tracks 3, 5, 9),
Close-mic detuned floor tom (track2)

Matt Piet (pentimento) / 2021 Amalgam Music


: a reappearance in a painting of an original drawn or painted element which was eventually painted over by the artist

: Italian, literally, repentance, correction, from pentire to repent, from Latin paenitēre

In a traumatic time…

It goes without saying that, at the time of this writing, the country into which I was born is suffering. Like a set of stacking dolls, our current trauma houses other trauma, which houses yet more trauma, and on and on. It is not merely “2020” that is our national tragedy. Thankfully, more and more people who are not among the most disenfranchised are waking up to this. If you are reading this, you know what I mean, and it is not I who ought to have the first or last word on any of it. All I can speak to is my own personal trauma, and that is what I aim to do with these words, and with this recording.

…the individual…

In the spring of 2018, I suffered a mental collapse largely of my own making. After a decade of struggling with substance abuse and mental illness, I was finally receiving recognition for my art and did not know how to process it. The death of Cecil Taylor impacted me in ways I had not anticipated. I was proud of the work I was releasing, but could not reconcile that pride with the guilt I felt knowing that Cecil had opened the door for me in so many ways.

How can I accept any recognition right out of the box when this man paved the way? What have I stolen from him? Am I a fraud? Can I see artistry as a long game, the way he did? How could I reconcile, as a queer white man in the 21st Century, what had so long been denied my hero of heroes?

I could not stop thinking about it.

It was not the anxiety of influence that was affecting me most. Abrupt cessation of all mind-altering substances, including psychiatric medication, led me to experience nearly two years of self-doubt, paranoia, anxiety, depression, and numbness to pleasure. This inability to experience pleasure was most evident in my capacity to listen to music, let alone play it. I was not myself, I was not playing like myself, and I had brought this anhedonia upon myself through sheer neglect of my spiritual condition and my health. I was proud enough of the material I had released that I found myself thinking, “Well, if I never play again, at least I did this.” Yet my creative paralysis made me fearful that this sentiment might be true. I was frightened that I had lost my creative spark, and that it would never return. I had forgotten to live by Cecil’s own words: “You own nothing. It isn’t about possession; it’s about giving.” I needed to learn how to give again.

…given a set of circumstances…

Cut to 2020. I was beginning to be able to play again, beginning to find joy in the making of music. Just as I was ready to return to the stage, abruptly there were no stages available to me. Fine. There was still much work to be done. I took this as an opportunity to get to work, in private, and get back in touch with my creativity. In that hermetic environment, it worked. I had awakened from dormancy with such gratitude that I could play music again in any capacity, grateful that music is an essential part of who I am, and fortunate that I play an instrument that one can explore at great length, alone.

After two years, I was ready to speak once again through my music. But how? Without being able to record new music with others safely, and feeling no need to make just another solo piano record, what was I to do? I decided that I would go against my own instincts to make something new. I wondered what might be possible if I went into the studio alone and overdubbed some improvised vignettes. I settled on three layers of multitrack solo piano, just as Bill Evans had done on Conversations with Myself. I wrote down a few concepts I wanted to explore. Just words on a page, a prompt for myself. I was concerned with texture and simplicity, and how these prompts (like “open fifths”; “inside the piano”; “within one octave” etc.) might be a vehicle for instant composition through a gradual process. In the interest of spontaneity, I wanted to record each subsequent overdub without listening back, relying on my own memory and the element of surprise to produce a finished product. I stuck to this process for the recording session, which yielded 20 pieces, 15 of which this record is composed.

…finds that the process is the product.

When I conceived of this record, the word “pentimento” came to me first as an art history term with which I was vaguely familiar. It seemed an appropriate analogue for what I aimed to do in the studio. A pentimento, in painting, is "the presence or emergence of earlier images, forms, or strokes that have been changed and painted over." This seemed appropriate enough for what I was trying to create: a series of multi tracked improvisations made in sequence so that their layers would create a sound world that would not, and could not be created on one piano in real time by one pianist. That was enough for me, having a fitting title. However, it was not until I investigated the etymology of the word “pentimento” itself that it became clear to me what I was doing with this project. “Pentimento” in Italian means “repentance.”

Now, I am admittedly drawn to double-meanings, whether they be lewd for the sake of humor, poetically useful, or conveniently revelatory. In this case, it was the latter, and the concept of repentance colored my approach to the personal content. To get out of this rut, and get past it, I needed to repent for the sins I had committed against myself in the past, and I needed to do so by documenting my present feelings in an honest, discrete way. The process of recording this music was as important as the final product. In fact, in the case of this record, the process is the product. Following through on this creative act allowed me to extend myself some mercy, in the hope that I can get better, but also be better: be a better artist, a better person, a better citizen…

Just… better.

I hope we are all better soon.

Matt Piet

1. only a phase 00:58
2. alt-man 01:03
3. swipe left 01:53
4. hands of time 01:39
5. a(whole)nother thing 02:07
6. fluster cuck 01:45
7. 750 ml. 03:06
8. held hostage 01:08
9. danse macabre 02:05
10. insense 02:25
11. to elijah 03:02
12. say on 01:22
13. the power and the freedom 00:56
14. momento mori 02:10
15. plod on as one 03:22

Matt Piet - Piano
(improvised sequentially in three subsequent layers)

Recorded June 27, 2020 at belAir Sound Studio by Todd Carter.
Mastered by Bill Harris

The Underflow - Instant Opaque Evening (2021 Drag City Records)

An epic second installment from the trio of Mats Gustafsson, David Grubbs, Rob Mazurek, nearly 90 minutes of intense live performances from January 2020. They converge here on a wide swath of sounds: expansive free improvs, full-tilt electronics, alt-universe chamber music and spontaneous arrangements of three previously released Grubbs’ songs.

1. Instant Opaque Evening 16:58
2. Planks 05:18
3. An Optimist Declines 05:16
4. Self Portrait as Interference Pattern 13:42
5. A Thiny Eternity 03:48
6. Not at My Funeral 06:06
7. Sound of a Wet Leather Ball 08:58
8. Gethsemani Night 05:11
9. Purple Lacquer Portal 12:28
10. Cooler Side of the Pillow 08:24

JD Allen "Who Owns This Culture?" | Jazz and Social Justice: A Salon with Music Vol. 14 : The National Museum in Harlem : Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 7pm

Vol. 14: JD Allen – Who Owns This Culture?

This event is presented on the Museum FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE page.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

7:00 pm

Performance - JD ALLEN TRIO w/Justin Dawson & Cedric Easton


Curated & Hosted by Larry Blumenfeld

The legacy of and audience for jazz culture relies on access to the music. The story of the music depends on who does the telling, how it’s told and who’s there to listen. Jazz’s lineage relies on education, equity and a community. JD Allen is an essential voice on jazz’s landscape for both his force and his restraint, as well as for the beauty of his tenor saxophone’s sound. Off the bandstand, Allen is a co-founder of We Insist!, a jazz and arts action community and their sister organization, We UP – Re UP.

For this virtual edition of the “Jazz and Social Justice” series, Allen will lead his trio, with bassist Justin Dawson and drummer Cedric Easton, through a hard-swinging performance. Following the music, in discussion with host Larry Blumenfeld, Allen, drummer Nasheet Waits, and pianist Alexis Lombre will talk about equity, opportunity and outreach, and about how best to uphold jazz’s legacy.

JD Allen:
Hailed by the New York Times as “a tenor saxophonist with an enigmatic, elegant and hard-driving style,” JD Allen is a bright light on today’s international jazz scene, with 14 albums as a leader to his credit. His unique and compelling voice on the instrument – the result of a patient and painstaking confrontation with the fundamentals of the art – has earned Allen years of critical attention signaling his ascension to the upper ranks of the contemporary jazz world.

Originally from Detroit, Allen’s apprenticeship, anchored by his lengthy tenure with Betty Carter, occurred largely in New York, where he worked with legends Lester Bowie, George Cables, Ron Carter, Louis Hayes, Frank Foster Big Band, Winard Harper, Dave Douglas, Cindy Blackman, Butch Morris, David Murray, Wallace Roney, Rufus Reid and Geri Allen. Allen’s most recent album, “Toys / Die Dreaming” (High Note/Savant), extends his singular and well-honed approach to the trio. His solo saxophone release, “Queen City,” will be released in 2021. Off the bandstand, Allen is a co-founder of We Insist!, a jazz and arts action community and their sister organization, We UP – Re UP, a collective of jazz musicians whose primary goal is to foster jazz performance curating opportunities within non-traditional inner city and rural performance settings.

Jazz and Social Justice:
This ongoing series connects the music we love with the social and political issues that matter to us all. Each salon blends live performance with conversation between artists, activists, and experts. Curated and hosted by journalist Larry Blumenfeld, whose NJMIH programs during the past dozen years have considered Afro-Cuban influence within New York’s jazz scene and contemporary New Orleans.

Flow Trio with Joe McPhee - Winter Garden (March 26, 2021 ESP Disk')

It is an interesting question how old “free jazz” is. At some point, even a theme and a plan became optional. In the ESP-Disk’ catalog, “Taneous” on the Giuseppi Logan Quartet’s eponymous album sounds like this approach of complete freedom starting from scratch; it was recorded on November 11, 1964. Joe McPhee, in 1967, appeared on Clifford Thornton’s album Freedom and Unity, so his recording career covers 53 of those 56 years, 95% of the approach’s history. Each succeeding decade found another player on this album joining the confraternity: Downs in 1976, Morris in 1983, and Belogenis in 1993. By that method of counting, there are 159 years of collective experience being heard on this album.

Joe McPhee: tenor saxophone
Louie Belogenis: tenor and soprano saxophones
Joe Morris: bass
Charles Downs: drums

All compositions by McPhee, Belogenis, Morris, and Downs.
Recorded on January 11, 2020 by Jim Clouse at Park West Studios, Brooklyn NY

Ivo Perelman Trio - Garden Of Jewels (Tao Forms / Aum Fidelity 2021)

A rather exquisite new communion between these three master improvisers.

One of the most exhilarating qualities shared by great improvising musicians is the ability to bring one’s immediate situation – the joys, sorrows, fears and desires of the day – into each unique performance. What made this most recent convening of the Ivo Perelman Trio so singular was the fact that not only were all three musicians – prolific saxophonist Ivo Perelman, pianist Matthew Shipp, and drummer Whit Dickey – immersed in the same present-day miasma, so was every potential listener, wherever they might be.

Garden of Jewels was recorded in June 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic raged across the globe. On the day that these three longtime collaborators warily (and safely) entered the studio for the first time since the virus forced us indoors, the un-precedented circumstances provided the trio a profoundly urgent source of inspiration. At the same time, the country was in the midst of a series of turbulent protests that added an additional layer of vitality to the proceedings.

“There was so much creative tension in the air,” Perelman recalls. “It was the first time that I came out of hibernation in my Brooklyn apartment, where I’d been focused on playing the saxophone for many, many hours every day while listening to sirens outside and wondering what life was about. Matt, Whit and I came together and cathartically created music out of all this mess.”

While Garden of Jewels is only the second time that Perelman, Shipp and Dickey have recorded as a trio – the first, Butterfly Whispers, was released in 2015 – all three share a long and rich history. Shipp and Dickey, of course, worked together as integral members of the David S. Ware Quartet & in Shipp’s own Trio, while the pianist and Perelman have spent the last decade creating one of the most well-documented partnerships in improvised music history.

The trio entered the studio without having discussed what might transpire at the session – the eight tracks that resulted provide vivid evidence of the band’s deft spontaneity, kaleidoscopic versatility and deeply felt camaraderie. It’s also the latest glimpse of the ongoing evolution of their collective identity. “We’re like scientists dealing with sound,” Perelman says with a chuckle. “Each recording is a means to check our development.”

Also of note here is Perelman's revived interest in jewelry-making, which Perelman initially took up 20 years ago and resumed shortly before the pandemic. One example of his recent work graces the cover of Garden of Jewels. In addition to suggesting its title, the graceful, elegant piece seems to materialize the fluid swoops and whorls of Perelman’s tenor sax lines into golden arabesques.

These pursuits not only provide an outlet for Perelman’s indefatigable creativity, but a source of light amidst the darkness of the present era. That balance is one that Perelman says the trio felt that June day in New York, and one whose energy pervaded beyond the studio walls.

“There was a dark energy surrounding all of us, counterbalanced by the sheer power of creation. We had to become an antenna to capture the angst and anxiety of the times and transform it into art and catharsis. There was a social function to that music, not just for us but for anyone who might hear it one day. I left the studio with a new soul.”

1. Garden of Jewels 06:09
2. Tourmaline 04:51
3. Amethyst 06:51
4. Onyx 07:12
5. Turquoise 07:20
6. Emerald 06:48
7. Sapphire 06:20
8. Diamond 05:25

Ivo Perelman: tenor saxophone
Matthew Shipp: piano
Whit Dickey: drums