Thursday, February 3, 2022

Elsa Nilsson charts Atlas of Sound with first series release 'Coast Redwoods 41°32’09.8”N 124°04’35.5”W' out April 22 (ears&eyes)

Flutist and composer Elsa Nilsson charts Atlas of Sound with first series release Coast Redwoods 41°32’09.8”N 124°04’35.5”W
due out April 22, 2022 via ears&eyes Records

“One of the most dynamic bandleaders in the New York jazz scene” 
— Hot House Jazz Magazine

“A musical marauder with as many interests as skills to deploy her ideas” 
— DownBeat

“[Nilsson] is the logical choice to provide a needed next step for her instrument in the world of jazz and improvised music” 
— All About Jazz 

Flutist and composer Elsa Nilsson issues Coast Redwoods 41°32’09.8”N 124°04’35.5”W on ears&eyes Records, the first release from her Atlas of Sound series inspired by human connection to locations of the natural world, on April 22, 2022. Lush and melodic, at times subversive, Nilsson’s trio recording invites listeners into dense woody thickets where breezes idle and sounds of footsteps disappear into layers of pine needle. The ten-movement suite emerged from improvised material Nilsson recorded at two sets of coordinates, a month apart from each other. When she began composing in earnest, the Brooklyn-based artist out of Sweden had in mind her personnel: Jon Cowherd on piano and Chris Morrissey on bass, two fiercely exploratory artists who intuit aspects of Nilsson’s orchestration and enter each sound grove with nimble awareness. 

“The secret is in the tempo,” says Nilsson, “how slow [the redwoods] move. For me to hear them I have to slow down, stay still. Really, really listen. When I do, I find music in every movement. There’s a melody in the rustle of leaves as the wind blows through them and they release and float to the ground, a groove in the sound of footsteps, real or imagined.” 
Another secret is in Nilsson’s treatment of leitmotif throughout the recording: “For me, an ecosystem is expressed in the similarities and connections between things.” She sought to have the gesture appear in every movement, but not wholly materialize, developing instead across the arc of the suite. “It pops up and goes away.” Elements of the motif might emerge in the bass movement, or in the piano responding to a related phrase. “When you get to the final movement, it’s familiar and you don’t know why. It’s like the feeling you get when you’re walking among trees where you’ve never walked before.” 

Certain movements, including “Old Growth,” “Hold On To Each Other” and “Proof of the Unseen,” engage the leitmotif using giant intervallic leaps. Others, as in “Sunshift Haze,” allow melodies to pass from one instrument to another: “I’ll take a piano melody and move two or three notes into the bass part — there’s a connection to every part of the ecosystem from the bottom of the roots to the top of the trees.” 

During her visit to the north end of Redwood National Park, Nilsson recorded what would become the seeds for seven movements, later recording those for “Old Growth,” “Proof of the Unseen” and “Coralie” in the Grove of Old Trees outside Occidental. “The suite depicts many different aspects of how we relate to the Redwoods and their connection to each other … It is a story of interconnectedness that spans our history and informs our future.” 

The third of her records to be mastered by Nate Wood, the Coast Redwoods opens in tender inquisition on “Sunshift Haze,” named for the morning hours when fog blooms across the redwoods before the sun breaks through. The melody develops over time, playing in totality only toward the end of the movement. “As the piece progresses, the melody becomes more and more clear, like the sun burning off the fog,” says Nilsson. “The flute represents the sun, bass and piano the fog, and together we clear the way for the day to begin. 

Throughout the suite, motivic melody passes intentionally among piano, bass and flute/ Morrissey handles its lyrical arc on “Catching Droplets,” the first movement to unveil the suite’s leitmotif in its entirety. “The bass [represents] the roots enjoying their gift of water from the fog,” says Nilsson. “The flute and piano represent the droplets falling from the canopy and running down the bark, making little rivers from the Redwood created rains.” Beautiful and somber, “Old Growth” features Morrissey’s arco as it engages the vocal quality of Nilsson’s flute song alongside atmospheric motion from Cowherd. 
Nilsson composed “The Ground is Its Own” for First Nations “that belong to the trees.” The gesture spotlights nimble spontaneity between Nilsson and Cowherd. Charting the deep-rooted symbiotic relationship between the redwoods and fungal mycorrhiza, “Proof of the Unseen” feature’s Morrissey performing lyrical ornaments around Nilsson’s long-held melodies. “Epicormic” prompts an energetic current of improvisation that settles into an almost cyclical melody, exploring fire as a natural part of the redwood life cycle. “I wrote this [movement] in the midst of lockdown when I felt my world falling apart around me in a myriad of ways,” says Nilsson. “Even when the world around us burns, there are seeds for something new to come.” Cowherd and Morrissey proffer thoughtful solos on “Fairy Rings” before Nilsson and Cowherd take out a percussive variation on the melody. 

“Coralie” opens in meditative warmth, unfolding in tribute to Nilsson’s niece, part of “the third generation to grow up calling these trees home.” The Coast Redwoods leitmotif emerges in the piano part on “Molted Steps,” one of the suite’s gentle yet kinetic movements. Intentional pauses and beats of non-playing reflect the feeling of walking along the fallen needles. “Suddenly you don’t hear your own feet anymore,” says Nilsson. “You feel the motion of it — you feel that things are moving — but it doesn’t sound like it.” When listeners hear “Hold On To Each Other,” the suite’s final movement, they encounter an unnamed familiarity in the resolution of the leitmotif: “It’s an exhalation. If we support each other we are all stronger. If we all hold on to each other, less of us are likely to fall.” 

Nilsson ensures each leader release includes an element of written word. The Atlas of Sound series invites listeners into the expanse of her imagination through original poetry, providing them the option of gaining a different perspective on her music and her artistic expression. “The way poetry and instrumental music complement each other,” says Nilsson, “is that they can either focus or dispel a direction. 

“Because of the abstraction of instrumental music, what I put out into the world doesn’t belong to me anymore. It belongs to the listener. That doesn’t mean that all of the thought and all of the processing and all of the growth…everything that goes into creating art is gone. It just means that it’s taking on its own life.”

1. Sunshift Haze
2. Catching Droplets
3. Old Growth
4. The Ground Is It's Own
5. Proof Of The Unseen
6. Epicormic
7. Fairy Rings
8. Coralie
9. Molted Steps
10. Hold On To Each Other

Elsa Nilsson - flutes/composition
Jon Cowherd - piano
Chris Morrissey - upright bass

Recorded by Chris Benham at Big Orange Sheep, Brooklyn NY USA.
Mixed by Mike Tierney
Mastered by Nate Wood

EKE - Eke in Rotterdam (February 2022 Doek RAW)

A ten-year anniversary release. Ten years ago in 2012, EKE was in top shape as you can hear from this live recording. On the edge, pausing, eking, shifting and transforming, always building tension, forward moving counterpoint with incredible control over the unique sound spectrum they get out of their instruments.

Misha Mengelberg was listening from the second row, since this was a double bill with the ICP orchestra. EKE played a full-on set in the big hall of LantarenVenster. Han Bennink and Oscar Jan Hoogland were interviewed in the intermission about improvisation, music, life and the notion of generations by Mijke Loeven, who is now the director of the Bimhuis in Amsterdam. It was at the Bimhuis EKE played its first concert ever (released on Red Note as 'EKE live at the BIM' and also available on the Doek bandcamp page By the time of this Rotterdam concert, however, they had already toured extensively through Europe and did a legendary tour in Brazil playing in Sao Paulo nightclubs, small beach towns, Rio de Janeiro underground venues and big public stages. It pushed the music to the level you hear in this release.

1. piece one 09:00
2. piece two 15:21
3. piece three 08:23

Yedo Gibson soprano, tenor and baritone saxophones, flute, trombone
Oscar Jan Hoogland electric clavichord
Gerri Jaeger drums

All compositions by Gibson, Hoogland, Jaeger

Photos by Sara Anke Morris

Recorded September 15, 2012 in LantarenVenster by... unknown! If you have any information, please let us know.

Susan Gai Dowling & Carl Dewhurst (2022)

1. Bernie 03:50
2. Hush 04:44
3. Wrap Me Up Inside 04:14
4. Be At Peace 05:00

Susan Gai Dowling: vocals
Carl Dewhurst: electric, acoustic & slide guitar, electric bass & drums
Lisa Parrott: alto saxophone (track 1)
Ollie Thorpe: pedal steel (track 1)
Timothy Constable: vibraphone (track 2)
Nick Garbett: trumpet (track 2)
Mary Rapp: cello (track 3)
James Greening: trombone (track 4)

Composed by Carl Dewhurst except Hush composed by SGD
Recorded and produced by Carl Dewhurst in Marrickville, Australia
Mixed by Sean Carey @ Church St Studios
Mastered by Michael Lynch
Photography by Timothy Constable
Design by Carl Dewhurst

Sebastián de Urquiza - Unity Vol. 2 (ears&eyes Records)

Sebastián de Urquiza Unity is a project inspired by the experience of having lived and shared the stage with some of the greatest jazz influences. Being from Argentina, it is a record inspired by the different cultures he had been in touch with during his time living in Switzerland.

Counting on musicians from different parts of the world, the main goal was to explore different aspects of music, thus providing a space for each artist to express themselves in a colorful and climatic environment, at times very energetic, and others very intimate. With vol. 1 and 2, Urquiza has divided the bigger picture into a "bright side" and a "dark side". The first is cheerful, although it has moments of reflection, it tends to go towards the light. On the other hand, the second (this current Vol. 2) is more reflective, with more intimate climates. If there is something that unites the two, it is that they are very colorful, with singing melodies that go through intense harmonic movements, and always full of rich interaction. Each piece has a particular job, and the names of them are what they evoke.

It can be implied by the music that de Urquiza is a musician in constant growth, and that he is very open about music. It can be appreciated that, although jazz and improvisation are what unite the group, they can do it in different musical environments and still achieve that unity that Urquiza proposes with the title of the album. Meticulous writing, standard forms, songs, moments of well academic music, stories, lyrics of different themes are just some of the things that the composer shows with this work. 

1. Acorralado 07:29
2. Tema y Variaciones 09:38
3. Lo Que Nos Hace Ser 05:12
4. Sinking 00:47
5. Pausa 06:14
6. Sometimes I Dream 05:25
7. Cottontail 07:33

Oscar Latorre - trumpet (Spain)
Sam Barnett - alto sax (England)
Charley Rose - tenor sax (France)
Yossi Itskovich - trombone (Israel)
Iannis Obiols - piano (Spain)
Silvan Joray - guitar (Switzerland)
Jordi Pallares - drums (Spain)
Sebastián de Urquiza - contrabass, vocals & compositions (Argentina)

Special guests:
Clara Díaz - vocals (Argentina)
Ezequiel Brizuela - flute (Argentina)

Recorded by Daniel Somaroo at JazzCampus Studio in Basel, Switzerland
Mixed and mastered by Sam Barnett in Basel, Switzerland
Original art and design by Sebastian de Urquiza

Brandon Lopez & Steve Baczkowski - chanchullo (2022)

Duet from Roulette Intermedium. 60 minute timer was set, and we went. Yet again, the audio quality isn't optimal, but the material shines through.

1. borracho 32:00
2. borrachón 28:14

Steve Baczkowski - Saxophones
Brandon Lopez - Bass