Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Dave Sewelson - Smooth FreeJazz (December 31, 2021 Mahakala Music)

Smooth jazz has always seemed like a contradiction in terms. The idea that jazz, a musical gift to America from black people that includes revolutionary concepts of cooperative improvisation and trust, could have its edges beveled and the thrill of spontaneity muted and made “safe”, would be like taking the revolution out or revolutionary and just leaving the airy. Smooth FreeJazz is a creative display of this dichotomy by contrasting a smooth center with a fiery edge. Who better to lead the way than Dave Sewelson, one of the oldest members of New York’s Downtown Scene. Instead of music being a shag rug on the floor with the scent of air freshener, we see that it's a dirt floor with a strong wind through the window.

1. Nature Boy
2. Song Moth
3. The Moment
4. Bill
5. Nature Boy (radio version)

Dave Sewelson – Baritone Saxophone, Voice
Mike Neer – Lap Steel Guitar
Dave Hofstra – Bass
Bernice “Boom Boom” Brooks – Drums

Recorded at Park West Studios, Brooklyn, NY
Recording Engineer, Mixing and Mastering - Jim Clouse
Cover Art - Mark LaRiviere
Cover Design: Chad Anderson

Human Feel - Speak To It (Remastered) October 2021

The American quartet Human Feel – reeds players Andrew D’Angelo and Chris Speed, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel and drummer Jim Black was formed in Boston in 1987 and soon was one of New York’s most distinctive downtown bands of the mid 90s. 'Speak To It' was released to great acclaim in 1996 and is the fourth album of the quartet. Human Feel regrouped again in 2007 for 'Galore' (Skirl) and released its last album 'Gold' in 2019 (Intakt).

This new mastering of 'Speak To It' keeps the music of this quartet fresh, urgent and edgy. Human Feel was at the mid-nineties a powerful working band, fierce but also openly emotional, risk-taking but with an almost telepathic interplay, and a great sense of fun. Human Feel’s inclusive kind of downtown free jazz welcomed heavy riffs from Seattle’s grunge rock bands and irregular rhythmic patterns, injected a quirky sense of humor to its tight dynamics and sounded like no other band of the nineties. D’Angelo and Speed sound like identical twin brothers, always complementing each other’s ideas, and never surrender to familiar narratives; Rosenwinkel pushes Human Feel into unpredictable courses and often anchors the commotion; the hyperactive drumming of Black keeps all on their toes and supplies uplifting grooves. Great album.

Eyal Hareuveni
1. Darker Joys 02:35
2. Speak To It 06:47
3. Spaze 12:44
4. Not About You 04:53
5. Nimble Demons 08:06
6. Left Alone 04:16
7. Tic, Tics 04:37
8. Eno Eva Yood Nodi 08:32
9. Hey Roma Ain't Vein 04:34
10. Cat Teachers 07:28

Remastered Oct 2021 by Chris Gestrin for digital release. these files are 16/44.
Originally released May 15, 1996 on Songlines.

Andrew D'Angelo - bass clarinet, alto saxophone
Chris Speed - clarinet, tenor saxophone
Kurt Rosenwinkel - guitar
Jim Black - drums

Greg Amirault - News Blues (October 2021)

A jazz quartet recording with some trio tunes and two solo guitar pieces.

1. News Blues 03:55
2. Tribute Tune 08:30
3. Sweet Way 06:19
4. Song for Nova Scotia 03:52
5. Uninvited 05:22
6. Meeting the Master 05:27
7. If You Could See Me Now 02:30
8. Reissued 05:49
9. Embraceable You 02:08

Greg Amirault - guitar
Steve Amirault - piano
Adrian Vedady - bass
Jim Doxas - drums

Fazer - Plex ( January 14, 2022 City Slang)

Fazer’s music cannot simply be described as Jazz; the Munich band is shaped by the experimental pop music of Talk Talk, the Afrobeat of Fela Kuti, the Krautrock of Can and the dub techno of Rhythm & Sound, but masterfully take aspects of all this and more, to create their own sonic identity. Each player and their instrument has an individuality, but together they blend into an organic and flowing overall sound.

Coming from different musical backgrounds, the members of Fazer met while studying jazz at the Academy for Music and Theatre in Munich. The German city has a rich history of improvised music; home to labels ECM (Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Steve Reich) and Enja (Archie Shepp, Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, Elvin Jones) as well as Krautrock icons Amon Düül II, Popol Vuh & Embryo.

1. Ghazal
2. Thea
3. Dezember
4. Grenadier
5. Morning
6. Prague
7. Cuentro
8. Jaculysses
9. Fannie's Theme
10. Cycle
11. Nago

Valmaggia Project - But Still (October 15 2021)

Valmaggia Project is an Amsterdam-based octet, whose repertoire has original music only.

A mix of innovation and tradition, improvisation and structure. With the never-ending goal of telling something.

1. But still 03:44
2. The man with the umbrella 05:08
3. Fare finta di avere una vita sociale 05:22
4. La Mutti e il Putti 04:54
5. Two realities 03:52
6. The fight (love at first fight) 04:24
7. Ballad for the weather 06:34
8. Wrong day 03:48
9. Life of an expat 05:42

Agnese Valmaggia - drums & compositions
César Puente - double bass & electric bass
Jelle Willems - piano
Álvaro Artime - trumpet & flugelhorn
Pablo Castillo - trumpet & flugelhorn
Willy Becuwe - trombone
Martí Mitjavila - clarinet & bass clarinet
Martín Díaz - alto sax, soprano sax & flute

Special guests:
Vera Morais - voice on track 7
Simone Bottasso - diatonic accordion on track 9

Recorded at Conservatorium van Amsterdam with Ido Zilberman, April 2021
Editing and mixing: Canteen Music Studio
Master: Udo Pannekeet
Artwork: Maria Soffientino

Oct 26: Ches Smith celebrates 'Path of Seven Colors' at Roulette in Brooklyn (live & live streamed)

© Mimi Chakarova

Ches Smith and We All Break celebrate Pyroclastic Records release
Path of Seven Colors
 
Live & live streamed on Tuesday, October 26 at Roulette in Brooklyn
 

Project melds Haitian Vodou and contemporary improvisation
 
5 stars “A tour de force of jazz innovation.”
– John Fordham, The Guardian
 
4 stars “[Smith] breaks new ground with We All Break, and with no template for this hybrid model, he has created something new and extraordinary. Highly recommended.”
– Karl Ackermann, All About Jazz
 
“I’ve been on the scene, and know a lot of people, but projects like this are the kind of thing you live for.”
– saxophonist and MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón 

Drummer/composer Ches Smith and his extraordinary ensemble We All Break celebrate their “sublime magnum opus” (Jazziz) Path of Seven Colors with an album release concert at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, October 26 at Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn. The concert will also be live streamed free of charge on the night of the performance and archived for future viewing. 
 
The performance features the band from the album including Smith on drums and vocals, pianist Matt Mitchell; alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón; vocalist Sirene Dantor Rene; rising star bassist Nick Dunston; and Daniel Brevil, Markus Schwartz, and Fanfan Jean-Guy Rene on tanbou and vocals. Also performing will be vocalists Tossie Long and Lalin St. Juste. Tickets $20. For information call 917-267-0363 or visit https://roulette.org/event/ches-smith-and-we-all-break-path-of-seven-colors-record-release-show/.
 
Path of Seven Colors (Pyroclastic Records, June 11, 2021) – a remarkable merging of traditional Haitian Vodou music and au courant composition and improvisation – is earning wide critical acclaim.
“A groundbreaking album…stunningly original and mesmerizing in its ritualistic power.”
– Allen Morrison, DownBeat
 
“Ches Smith has produced one of the most significant, beautiful and exciting works of this first part of the century.”
– Aldo Gianolio, AudioReview
 
“Drummer-composer Smith, who has immersed himself in Haitian vodou music for nearly two decades, delivers a sublime magnus opus.”
– Eric Snider, Jazziz
 
“Inviting and engaging, playing to tradition without being beholden to it.”
– Kurt Gottschalk, Stereophile
 
“Path of Seven Colors is nothing short of stunning… It would be a shame if it does not end up on multiple Best Of lists for 2021.”
– Robert Bush, New York City Jazz Record
 
“Path of Seven Colors promises to make the spirits take notice.”
– Emily Pothast, The Wire

The project features deluxe packaging including two extensive booklets with photos, track-by-track narratives, and lyrics in Haitian Creole and English; it also includes a bonus disc of the 2015 eponymous recording by the original quartet (Smith, Mitchell, Brevil, and Schwartz). In addition, the ensemble’s music and collaborative process are highlighted by a 50-minute film “We All Break,” available on the release date via the websites of Pyroclastic, Smith, and award-winning filmmaker Mimi Chakarova.
 
While the band’s first album featured a quartet of three drummers with piano (and occasional vocals), the new recording uses an octet to orchestrate the material and greatly expands the vocal dimension, pushing the band into new terrain. “There is no existing model marrying traditional Haitian songs with original instrumental compositions and contemporary improvisation in this way,” says Smith. “We just had to keep trying things, in the spirit of experimentation, until the balance was right and we’d created our own mold.”
 
Smith’s dedication to Haitian Vodou began more than twenty years ago. “My attraction was instant and strong,” he says. “In 2000 I got called to accompany a Haitian dance class. I was captivated, likely because things central in the various musics I play – polyrhythm, polytonality, improvisation, extended timbral awareness, tension and release, channeled aggression and power, and most vitally surprise – I found again, and anew, in this traditional form.”
 
His compositional vision aimed to incorporate and transform elements of this tradition. “I wanted these elements – lead/chorus song structure, polytonal relations among singers and drums, conversations between the drums, and kase (‘breaks’) – at the center of each piece,” he says. “A traditional rhythm would be the foundation of each composition, while that rhythm’s spiritual, political, and visual associations could function as deep wells of information and feeling, levering the work into a new dimension.”
 
Pianist Mitchell’s melodic and harmonic sense, improvisational talents, and keen sense of rhythm made him a natural for the band. Smith also enlisted his master-teachers, Brevil and Schwartz. “I knew they would tell me straight whether this project was flying or not,” says Smith. He also brought in Jean-Guy Fanfan Rene, co-leader with Sirene Dantor Rene of Vodou-activism group Fanmi Asòtò. Smith also had an idea to pile-drive the bottom end, bringing in Nick Dunston: “I pictured a broad, taut, multi-colored tapestry dense with rhythmic detail in the low range of the music. This sound would include the contrabass for its harmonic and time-keeping roles, but also to function, slyly, as a fifth drummer.” Serendipitously, Ches played a gig with alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, who expressed an interest in Haitian drumming. Smith says, “His playing on his own records, and his stunning compositions, told me he would be another force to push the music forward.” The final addition to the octet arose from Brevil’s suggestion to add a female voice. Enter Sirene Dantor Rene. “She sings with supreme conviction,” says Smith, “using traditional inflections in a voice wholly hers.”
 
Brevil began finding traditional Vodou songs, melodies and lyrics to nestle within Smith’s instrumental compositions. “Daniel composed many of the songs himself,” says Smith, “and fervently searched for others in the tradition, coming back with a multi-authored body of work. His curation brought up questions about the distinction between ‘traditional’ and ‘original.’ I once read that new songs may be created in a particular Vodou house and enter the tradition in that fashion. Perhaps this was happening before my eyes with Daniel’s original songs.”
 
The result is a triumphant, pioneering ascent, tracked and mixed beautifully by the legendary Ron Saint Germain. The band rehearsed and recorded for a week in February 2020 amidst mutual respect, focus, excitement, and a commitment to going all in on their trailblazing collaboration. Says Smith, “An almost uncanny feeling accompanied us the whole time. If I may be allowed a bit of speculation: if in Vodou the invisible becomes visible, here, perhaps, the inaudible becomes audible.”