Thursday, July 8, 2021

Noah Becker's Underthought - The Hollow Count (July 2021)

I find myself doodling lines in a notebook otherwise devoted to to-do lists and itineraries during the first track of "The Hollow Count," Underthought’s debut album. Noah Becker—Underthought’s leader, straddling alto saxophone and clarinet—has assembled a varied band: Alex Levine on guitar, Tyrone Allen on bass, and Stephen Boegehold on drums. Each speaks curiously, forcefully. From the outset of “Strange Fish,” we are in a meticulously designed universe of melodies and voices. A syncopated clarinet-guitar line gives way to a phased contrapuntal space. Tyrone delivers his entrance with graceful authority, emblematic of his contributions throughout the record. Stephen seems to breathe this music, further animating the composition, as when an isolated snare accent in one of the final choruses propels the band back towards the closing head.

Alex shines on the title track. The seam of “The Hollow Count” is a trio of harmonically agnostic melodic thirds in the guitar through which the rest of the band threads. The cycle recurs with regularity for most of the piece, like the ticking of a slow clock. In his solo, Noah vaults through these thirds—having traded clarinet for alto, he exploits the latter’s power without sacrificing any of his tone’s precision. Alex tags in after, stepping away from his line for a subdued, articulate solo that functions as a foil to Noah’s.

The two play exceptionally well together over the course of the album. Their relationship, when not in unison, is that of a sound and its subsequent reflections, sustaining some tones while letting others decay. And those roles change from piece to piece. At times, Levine’s distinct approach to linear playing can give one the impression of listening to a chordless quartet, making his dyads and triads resonate with intense significance when they do appear.

These compositions are the work of a creator for whom form is a plaything, not a burden. The album’s first five tracks sketch a big arch: from up-tempo and in time to the unmeasured “We Knew Perfectly Well (Of Course)” and back, the last being the metrically modulating “The Silence of a Convent (From Which the Nuns Have Departed).” On the way back up, the band interpolates “Untitled” (co-written by Noah and Alex), a ballad founded on a pivoting arpeggio that Tyrone and Alex endow with great feeling, and that Noah uses as a launch pad for the melody and his slurred clarinet ascents. Stephen’s brushwork here is supple, his timbral choices intuitive and apt for each register of the clarinet.
Noah’s music erects elastic structures that give when stressed, then snap back into shape. It also knows its performers, and features remarkable dovetailing of improvised and through-composed material. “The Silence of a Convent” is not silent, but I can hear an emptiness in it: the melody darts through the air, from apse to nave, testing for echoes. Alex carries that spirit into his solo, zigzagging like a tailback. When Tyrone suddenly joins him on an octave melody halfway through the guitar solo, I sit up straight in my chair. It is as though Noah’s notated figure were springing directly from Alex’s mind, or Alex’s improvisation were of Noah’s devising. I laugh the laugh of one musician digging another, marveling at Noah’s grip on things, even as he lays out—and when he reenters soon after, he storms after my attention, breezing through the changes on a blistering solo while Tyrone, Stephen, and Alex comp at full tilt.

I am leaning forward now. Outside the room where I’m listening, car stereos have started to compete with “Silence.” And now, suddenly, there’s shouting. It repeats, relents, repeats. Has it been going on this whole time, below the music? Is everything OK? Who—what is it? I get up and turn around, move towards a window.

Meanwhile, the needle slides into “Détente.” I do not notice the transition until something in the music hits the back of my head like a geyser.

For an instant I forget the yells outside. I almost forget the rest of the album, and only now realize that my shoulders have been tensing higher and higher since the end of “We Knew Perfectly Well,” microcosmic in retrospect. I turn halfway back around, not so much relaxing as giving in to all the sound around me. Something has been here, counting down, that I could never have forecasted.

–Griffin Brown

1. Strange Fish 03:51
2. The Hollow Count 05:20
3. We Knew Perfectly Well (Of Course) 06:12
4. Untitled 05:16
5. The Silence of a Convent (From Which the Nuns Have Departed) 05:32
6. Détente 04:39

Noah Becker – alto saxophone, clarinet
Alex Levine – guitar
Tyrone Allen – upright bass
Stephen Boegehold – drums

All compositions by Noah Becker,
except "Untitled" co-composed by Noah Becker + Alex Levine
©2021 Noah Becker | Pelican's Arc Publishing (ASCAP)

Recorded, mixed + mastered by Edward Gavitt
Album art by Zekkereya El-magharbel
Liner notes by Griffin Brown
Filming by Arielle Toub
Video editing by Alex Hunter

Recorded at The Jazz Gallery
New York, NY ● February 6, 2020

Akihiro Yoshimoto / Nanami Haruta / Makoto Togashi / Raiga Hayashi - Live At Batica (July 8, 2021)

"Live At Batica" (Ebisu,Tokyo, Japan)

1. Funny Book 08:52
2. Crazy Rabbit 06:33

Akihiro Yoshimoto - tenor saxophone
Nanami Hatuta - Trombone
Makoto Togashi - Bass
Raiga Hayashi - Drums

Engineer : Shun Yamaguchi
Mastering by Aaron Choulai

Octante-et-Onze / Sous​-​Jacent (July 2021)

1. Prologue 01:49
2. Prisme 04:36
3. Kungsleden 03:47
4. Aconitum 03:02
5. Orbite 04:09
6. Mortimer 05:17
7. Blanc Foncé 04:51
8. Gris Clair 05:26
9. Soupir 03:58
10. Aube 01:31

Elori Baume (tenor saxophone)
Julien Ehrensperger (guitar)
Loïc Baillod (double-bass)
Corentin Barro (drums)

Tracks 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9 composed by Elori Baume, tracks 5, 6 composed by Loïc Baillod, track 4 composed by Julien Ehrensperger and track 10 composed by Baume/Ehrensperger/Baillod

Recorded and mixed by Chris Diggelmann,
Mastering by Serge Christen
at Mazzive Sound Productions, Bellmund, Switzerland

Cover by Yves Hänggi

Carlos Niño & Friends ||| Jeff Parker solo guitar from International Anthem / Live Stream Ticket + Digital Album

July 11, 2021

Start time
5:00 AM GMT+2

Producer/percussionist Carlos Niño celebrates the release of his new International Anthem LP 'More Energy Fields, Current' with a quartet performance featuring friends Surya Botofasina, Efa Etoroma Jr, and Pablo Calogero.

The night opens with a special solo guitar set by Jeff Parker.

DJ sets before & between by heavyweight selectors - in from Chicago - Ayana Contreras and King Hippo.

Presented by International Anthem & Gold Diggers

Includes unlimited streaming of More Energy Fields, Current via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

Buy Now  $9 USD or more 

This live stream is hosted on Bandcamp, and requires a free Bandcamp fan account to view.

A replay of this stream will be available for 24 hours