Monday, April 12, 2021

Sarah Vaughan - Live At The Berlin Philharmonie 1969 (April 2021 Challenge Records)

This two-fold recital, recorded on 9 November 1969 at the Berlin Philharmonie as part of what was then known as the Berliner Jazztage, took place at a particular phase of Sarah Vaughan’s career. For the first time ever, this double album brings us these moments of enchantment in their entirety, just as they were performed. In line with the practice of the festival at the time, Vaughan gave two public performances that same day. 

These emotionally intense concerts are all the more remarkable because of the artist’s high wire act, a balance constantly maintained throughout between her professional savoir faire (a vocal technique at the apex of her art and her interpretive skills) and her emotional abandonment to the moment as she gives her all. The entire performance, with Vaughan pouring out her heart, seems in hindsight at once perfectly timeless in terms of its formal classicism yet thoroughly in the fleeting moment.

At the end of the day, these recordings are invaluable. As Vaughan explores the most lyrical, emotional aspects of her art, she overwhelms her listeners as she bares her soul. Her virtuosity in using her imagination to deploy all her technical skills and the extraordinary range of her tessitura are restrained rather than ostentatious. It is as if she has rid herself of the affectations that detracted from some of her earlier recordings, when the desire to appeal was too obvious. During the magical moments that make up these concerts, Vaughan treads a delicate line, maintaining a balance between naturalness and sophistication, simplicity and refinement. She literally reaches the stars and gives us a unique lesson in music as a form of the art of living.

CD 1
1. A Lot of Livin' to Do 02:48
2. And I Love Him 03:44
3. Alfie 05:38
4. On a Clear Day 02:28
5. Passing Strangers 05:01
6. Misty 06:07
7. I Cried for You 02:06
8. My Funny Valentine 06:00
9. All of Me 02:49
10. Tenderly 04:49

CD 2
1. Fly Me to the Moon 05:44
2. Time After Time 04:08
3. The Trolley Song 02:34
4. By the Time I Get to Phoenix 05:10
5. The Sweetest Sounds 03:48
6. Polka Dots and Moonbeams 05:00
7. Day In, Day Out 02:38
8. What Now, My Love 05:32
9. I Had a Ball 02:07
10. Didn’t We? 06:13

© 2021 - NewArts International / Challenge Records Int.

Slowfox - Freedom (April 16, 2021)

A double bass line, eloquent, elastic, not far from “So What” from Miles Davis' album of the century Kind Of Blue. Elegant. Some Jarrett drizzles from the wing. The saxophone body breathes. Then, as if of free will, the melody materializes, and “I” is in the room, the opener of the new Slowfox album. After barely half a minute the song grew together, unexpectedly and in no hurry. As if it had never been there before.

Freedom, the third album by the Cologne trio, stands for freedom and radiates it. Bandleader Sebastian Gramss calls the music of the collective “Melodic Avantgarde”, always able and willing to perforate borders in whatever direction. Just because. Or - also not. It's not loud. But uncompromising.

The name of the album goes back to an iconic sentence with which the great Nina Simone replied to an interviewer in 1968 when he asked about her definition of freedom: “I will tell you what freedom is to me: No fear. I mean really no fear. ” Detached from the syntax, the words now serve as titles for the tracks on the Slowfox album. The essence of the content remains untouched in its original artistic reference, not charged with new meaning by the band.
Slowfox have been trying to find song titles by quotation since their debut album The Woods (2014). Then it came from US poet Robert Frost. With ECHO award winner Gentle Giants (2017) it is a US proverb that is often attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche.

Brought together in 2013 by Sebastian Gramss, the instrumental trio plays chamber music-like composition jazz in pop song format: short pieces, none longer than five minutes, which quickly get to the point with a high level of complexity.

Freedom shows a very tidy synthesis of modern sound aesthetics and our own conception of contemporary melodies with no artistic limitations. Meticulously thought out and arranged, put together and set in motion with intuition and know-how, this complex stuff is nevertheless easy to grasp.

1. I 04:13
2. WILL 04:26
3. TELL 03:29
4. YOU 03:05
5. WHAT 03:36
6. FREEDOM 03:45
7. IS 02:18
8. TO ME 04:01
9. NO FEAR ! 03:54
10. I MEAN 02:21
11. REALLY 04:03
12. NO 05:06
13. FEAR ! 03:04
14. NINA 02:54
15. SIMONE 03:58

Hayden Chisholm – Saxophone, Flute
Philip Zoubek – Piano, Prepared Piano, Moog
Sebastian Gramss – Double Bass, Spacebass*

* Spacebass – modified double bass with 12 additional sympathetic strings

Music composed by Sebastian Gramss
except Track 10 – traditional Korean song

Label: Rent A Dog
Produced by: Sebastian Gramss & Ana Lakčević
A production of Sebastian Gramss & SLOWFOX
Recorded by Christian Heck at the Loft Studios, Cologne
Recording Assistant: Lukas Lohner
Mixed and Mastered by Reinhard Kobialka - Topaz Studio, Cologne

Evan Parker's Electroacoustic Ensemble with Sainkho Namtchylak - Fixing the Fluctuating Ideas (Victo Records 2021)

The FIMAV performance is an extraordinary recording, an aural opportunity to hear the Ensemble exploring at length, stretching the contemporaneous studio documentation, but even with the Ensemble’s brilliant and transformative history, Sainkho Namtchylak’s spontaneous addition to Fixing is unique. Namtchylak’s intensity transcends the metaphoric. This performance is not folkloric. It is folklore. It is not shamanic. It is shamanism.

The ElectroAcoustic Ensemble is one of the most significant events in the humanization of electronic music, in making it mobile and spontaneously responsive. Fluctuating, by the Ensemble itself, is more than a valuable document, it’s a major revelatory work. Stuart Broomer

1. Fixing 39'40"
2. Fluctuating 32'33"

Sainkho Namtchylak - voice
Barry Guy - bass
Paul Lytton - percussion, electronics
Philipp Wachsmann - violon, alto saxophone, electronics
Marco Vecchi - diffusion sonore, live electronics
Walter Prati - live electronics
Evan Parker - soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone

Moppa Elliott - Pinpoint (20th Anniversary Remaster) Hot Cup Records

Recorded on March 11, 2001 in the TIMARA recording studio at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, this is the first studio recording by Moppa Elliott, Peter Evans, and Charles Evans.
Peter Evans (trumpet), Charles Evans (baritone saxophone), Kelly Roberge (tenor and alto saxophone), Allan Baker (piano), Moppa Elliott (bass), James Kittleman (drums).
Recorded and mixed by Nicholas Party.
Original album artwork by Becky Fellows.
Remastered by Seth Foster.

1. Talked Down 07:05
2. Pinpoint 05:45
3. Past Disappointment 07:43
4. Blues for Hawes 04:58
5. Fuzzy 05:01
6. Peace 09:21
7. Penalty Box 04:17
8. Pinpoint (reprise) 05:49

QOW TRIO - The Album (2021 Ubuntu Music)

Tradition ain’t what it used to be.

QOW TRIO’s debut release is not so much an album of standards as an infectiously joyful compendium of vintage tunes bursting from the heart of the music, like so many blood-red silk handkerchiefs gushing from the chest of a mime at the firing squad. Given that all of creation exists as a simultaneous roar of perfection, think of this sax-bass-drums trio not as old-fashioned but timeless: Sonny Rollins is still perched on the bridge, blowing long, cold lines into the wind and always will be, after all. Hear how Riley’s loquacious sax quips a nonchalant quote from Bird’s ‘Cool Blues’ about 90 seconds from the end of the hip, dancing ‘Cheryl.’ Dig Spike’s crisp snare ‘n’ cowbell funk and Eddie’s hump-backed bass drone opening up a power swing on their namesake tune, a crashing dive through Dewey Redman’s ‘Qow,’ with Riley growling up a real out moan.

Catch yourself sighing in beautiful melancholy for ‘God Bless The Child,’ with bells and cymbals shimmering like Frank O’Hara’s lost cigarette end in the great, black night. Right now, it’s about eight months since I last really heard any live music, the world shudders and groans. But these sounds are the real virus: always alive, always mutating, indestructible. Daniel Spicer

1. Slow Boat To China (F.Loesser) 06:06
2. Qow (D.Redman) 05:54
3. Serenity (J.Henderson) 05:06
4. Cheryl (C.Parker) 04:54
5. Qowfirmation (R. Stone-Lonergan) 04:54
6. God Bless The Child (B.Holliday/A.Herzog) 05:40
7. It's Alright With Me (C.Porter) 04:04
8. Pound For Prez (R.Stone-Lonergan) 07:15
9. You Do Something To Me (C.Porter) 06:07
10. Qow 05:54

Riley Stone-Lonergan - tenor sax
Eddie Myer - bass
Spike Wells - drums

Recorded by Ben Lamdin at Fish Market Studio
Produced by Ben Lamdin and Qow Trio
Executive Producer - Martin Hummel

Pedro Moreira Sax Ensemble - Two Maybe More (2021)

Two Maybe More was commissioned by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation for a contemporary dance performance by Sofia Dias, Vítor Roriz and Marco Martins, at the Teatro Maria Matos (2014). It was originally written for the Gulbenkian Choir. For the present version the piece was revised and expanded.

1. Lado 06:42
2. Dois, Talvez 13:22
3. Giggly Giggling 05:52
4. Binário 03:54
5. Sonho 05:52
6. Improv 1 02:16
7. Brancas 03:11
8. Improv 4 02:57
9. Como a Poesia 07:39
10. Stairway to the Stars 03:02
11. Giggly 04:23
12. In-Verso 03:00
13. Oh Cat 09:04
14. T3 02:33
15. Improv 3 03:41
16. Cinco 09:37
17. Improv 2 03:24
18. Brancas Dois 01:24

Soprano sax: Bernardo Tinoco, Tomás Marques
Alto sax: Daniel Sousa, Ricardo Toscano
Tenor sax: Mateja Dolsak, Pedro Moreira
Bari sax: Francisco Andrade, João Capinha
Bass: Mário Franco
Drums: Luis Candeias

All music by Pedro Moreira © SPA 2020

Recorded at Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa on 18th, 19th and 20th April 2019

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Luis Candeias