Thursday, February 24, 2022

The Trackers featuring Gary Husband & Alf Terje Hana - Vaudeville 8​:​45 (March 15, 2022)

What appears next on a resumé as weighty as Gary Husband's is always a matter of musical interest. Even with long and satisfying associations with legends like John McLaughlin and Allan Holdsworth, the talented drummer/keyboardist continually seeks different worthy and intriguing paths to explore – whatever his vehicle of expression. So when his latest project is co-led by a comparatively under-the-radar musician – in this case, Norwegian guitarist Alf Terje Hana – additional curiosity ensues. To that end, the story of their collaboration begins with both a long admiration and a “shot in the dark” from Hana:

“Discovering Gary (through Allan Holdsworth’s I.O.U. album in 1982) was the start of a lifelong, fan-like observation for me. I was always catching up on what he was up to, and what turns he presented musically.” In recent years, Hana became so enticed by video clips from Husband popping up on the internet, it spurred him to reach out. ”I so very much wanted some of his ‘outer space’ and ‘not-within-my-reach’ stuff to blend into my music that I just sent a request. That’s how it started.”

Husband recalls their first musical encounter, “My introduction to Alf and his music was via an invitation to perform some keyboards on a track called “The Elders Too” for his 2016 album, Invisible Colours. Right from the start, I found myself under the spell of his powerfully evocative music. Then, penetrating that music expressively, I felt an effortless conversational empathy with Alf’s guitar utterances within the vibe of the composition. It all just seemed to click completely with Alf and his whole approach. I very much wanted to continue exploring the intriguing musical blend we make together.”

The musical bond was formed but awaited a catalyst – one that would later arise from a very sudden and personal vacuum in Husband’s life:

“When Allan Holdsworth passed, I lost a very close and special long-term musical relationship immensely central to my ongoing development and creativity as a drummer. To ease the pain of that loss and the sheer void it brought about, I knew I had to start something new - build myself a new way to continue.”

That “new way” gradually took shape for Husband: ”I knew I wanted a three-piece; I knew I wanted guitar. I had even come up with a name while waiting for a flight in Hamburg Airport. I knew that this band - The Trackers - was going to happen.”

Husband also knew that the guitar chair was going to require a special choice. It would have to be someone unique enough to stand apart from the imposing shadows cast by his prior guitar colleagues.
“I became really into the idea of casting Alf to occupy the guitarist role. He sounded nothing like Allan or John McLaughlin, which was important to me. Plus his way and trajectory are very different from mine. He’s unlike any musician I’ve ever worked with actually. In a way, we are quite unlikely musical bedfellows but I knew that the new avenues presented by such a great artist – one that occupies worlds quite different from mine – would stretch me and demand new approaches from me.”

Hana was thrilled and a little taken aback: “To be asked to join The Trackers was unreal for me and came out of the blue. It made me proud, happy, and also close to a nervous breakdown! I almost felt that I didn’t have shoes that size! Nevertheless, I immediately started composing music for this outfit.”

Hana’s initial trepidation seems somewhat amusing as it’s apparent fairly immediately on Vaudeville 8:45 that he’s a compelling co-conspirator and provocateur to Husband. And while he may exhibit trace connections to guitarists as disparate as Beck, Torn, Aarset and Rypdal, they’re culled by Hana into a musical avatar that’s as singular as it is exciting, as Husband confirms:

“In his voice, there’s overdriven rock blended with the unfamiliar and the abstract. He has a unique cry that is very particular to him. Alf’s also got a certain theatre, a certain ‘Jean Cocteau’ inherent in what he creates and I adore these aspects! He has his own sense of dramatically interesting textures and timing - and what he chooses to leave out too. There’s nothing superfluous. For me, it’s like the spirit of Miles Davis is alive and well right here in 2022. Alf’s a real artist.”

With the duo’s program incorporating funk, rock, avant-garde and abstract classical elements, allusions to jazz and fusion, and strong aspects of mood and atmosphere, Husband called upon an extraordinary roster of bassists to complete the project, casting them accordingly. “It required some introspection but the pieces themselves strongly dictated who I might ask for each tune. I’m fortunate to have had first-hand experience with all of these gentlemen throughout my life, and to call them all friends.”

“Jimmy Johnson took a couple of Alf’s pieces to the stratosphere, in a way only he can. Étienne MBappé blessed “Two Foxes” with his colossal groove, as I knew he would. Jimmy Haslip provided his inimitable brand of interplay and propulsion on “The Middle Distance”, Guy Pratt brought the perfect attitude and drive to “Living Time” (the riff of jazz composer George Russell), and Kevin Scott gave lovely movement and feeling throughout two of my productions on the album. Mark King of course (on “Wide Awake Running”) was perfection and provided everything that machine-like groove called out for. Plus I was really keen to use Alf’s excellent bassist (from his own band Athana) Øyvind Grong for two selections, on which he plays beautifully & elegantly. The attention to detail and spirit they all brought was just perfect.”

While these key bass contributions substantially elevate the proceedings, they also further highlight what an exceedingly rare vein of collaborational gold Husband and Hana have struck. Together they have created a uniquely broad and stylized sonic canvas on Vaudeville 8:45 – one that elicits bold strokes and fresh colors from all involved. For Hana, it’s a deserved entrée to a larger audience. For Husband, it's an unquestionably exciting addition to an already impressive musical CV. More importantly, The Trackers represents exactly what he had been searching for – a new way indeed. One can hope that it’s just the beginning.

- Mike Jacobs, freelance writer and contributor to All About Jazz 

1. Two Foxes
2. The Drowning
3. Nisco
4. The Middle Distance
5. Wolf Moon
6. Wide Awake Running
7. Deep Stepping
8. Garden of Bliss
9. Living Time
10. All I Need (Bonus Cut only available here)

Gary Husband (Drums, Organ, Electric Piano)
Alf Terje Hana (Guitars, Octave Guitar, Synth, Programming)
Mark King, Etienne MBappé, Jimmy Johnson, Jimmy Haslip, Øyvind Grong, Guy Pratt, Kevin Scott (Bass)

Thomas Milovac Sextet - Sun Ray (February 2022 Cosmo Sonic Collective)

Composer Ben Shorstein wrote about “Sun Ray”:

“Thomas Milovac is an alchemist. I’m fascinated by his masterful combination of elements - textures, instrumentation, composition, structure, free improvisation, structured improvisation, dissonance, harmony, dynamics, space. He uses these aural elements as a visual artist uses the physical to create a unified and harmonious whole; each piece is greater than the sum of its parts. Milovac’s music lives within this sublime contrast of aspects. With this album, I feel pulled in different directions, my expectations continuously thwarted (in a good way). This wouldn’t be possible without the top-class musicians on the album. The absence of piano adds much, as the freed up space allows for greater sonic exploration. The title track, Sun Ray, is a great swingin’ tune, and I particularly enjoy the tasty trumpet solo, punctuated by the bass and drums. Still Moments is emotional wizardry, with beautiful ensemble textures especially from the horns and bowed bass. Quasar is a transcendent, hypnotic exploration of texture and extended techniques of the bass, accompanied by bells. Black Mask is a lovely piece with unique structure, reminiscent of a Duke Ellington ballad, with a Milovacian twist. As an album, this is thoughtfully designed, balanced, and artfully executed creative music.”

"Sun Ray" is bassist and composer Thomas Milovac's debut studio album. Flying through the musical cosmos, the Thomas Milovac Sextet visits the many worlds of the composer's mind. Varying styles, textural landscapes, driving swing, and improvisational communions bring the listener in on this sonic odyssey. We implore you to strap in for the ride.

All compositions by Thomas Milovac except for "King Porter Stomp" which was composed by Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton.

1. 10721 03:08
2. Sun Ray 11:20
3. Still Moments 10:10
4. Six Angles 05:27
5. Quasar 06:29
6. Black Mask 04:14
7. King Porter Stomp 08:34

Thomas Milovac - Double Bass, Bass Guitar, Percussion
Justin Mendez - Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Soprano Sax
Ryan Devlin - Tenor Sax, Soprano Sax
Shawn Villanueva - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Zach Muth - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
Eric Bailey - Drums

Autumn Paul - Bells on "Quasar"
Jack Miller - Percussion on "Black Mask"

Mixed, Mastered, and Produced by Jack Miller

Recorded on May 29th, 2021 at Jack Miller's home studio in Jacksonville, Florida.

Simon Nabatov String Trio - Situations (February 2022)

"What all this music has in common is willingness to explore mixed methodologies to break new ground, articulating possibilities, experiences and fresh reservoirs of consciousness. Together Nabatov, Lubbe and Davis mark out fresh and delightful terrain, whether it's taut reverie, ecstatic turmoil or zones and conditions that resist binary, tertiary or any other kind of naming."

Stuart Broomer

1. Situation 1 Unfold - Fold 11:36
2. Situation 2 Reverie 08:49
3. Situation 3 Stern Looks 08:51
4. Situation 4 Sunrise Twice 08:33
5. Situation 5 Temper Issues 06:28
6. Situation 6 Meta Morph 10:36

All music by Simon Nabatov (GEMA)

Simon Nabatov - piano
Gareth Lubbe - viola
Ben Davis - violoncello

Recorded by Christian Heck in LOFT Cologne November 21 2015
Mixed and mastered by Stefan Deistler
Cover image by Oguz Buyukberber

Bouncing Trio - Soul Refractions (February 2022)

We could have called this album "Introducing Bouncing Trio", because it collects our music production since our foundation in 2017; these are the original songs we played in the last four years gigs.

But in this music there's our soul, and our suol has many shades. So here it is our "Soul Refractions".

1. West 04:34
2. Incontro Stoppato 06:09
3. Darsi un tono 05:10
4. Luna piena 05:29
5. Rainbow 06:18
6. Valencia 05:48
7. D'arroganza 03:59
8. Saluto al sole 03:46

Emiliano Candida - Guitar
Luca Mazzoni - Bass
Patrizio Balzarini - Drums

Music by Bouncing Trio
Produced by Bouncing Trio

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Luca Mazzoni at Metro Music Lab
Cover Art by Luca Checchinato

Gareth Lubbe / Simon Nabatov - LUBATOV (February 2022)

The history of the LUBATOV duo is a series of discrete events that took place over the past decade - a few concerts occurring once a year at the most, but, luckily, recorded every time these two brilliant musicians presented their music in Cologne's LOFT.

The CD comprises two such documents, captured in 2010 and 2014, thus demonstrating the trajectory of the tandem's musical evolution over the course of years.

Free(ly) improvised music informed by the elements of classical or new academic fields is not a novel proposal per se. However, here the aesthetics and compositional tactics of the Modern Classics of the 20th century seem to be the prevalent taste, while keeping the recipes wide open to other possibilities.

The duo clearly prefers to create spontaneous yet well defined macro-forms, as opposed to cut-and-chop proceedings so often permeating the world of improvisation these days.

Add to the mix Lubbe's mesmerizing and innovative vocals, and you have an hour of compelling and absorbing music to enjoy.

Nick Duvidowski

1. Plush Suite I 08:53
2. Plush Suite II 08:11
3. Plush Suite III 03:53
4. Plush Suite IV 03:10
5. Plush Suite V 09:31
6. Suite In Be I 09:18
7. Suite In Be II 06:14
8. Suite In Be III 04:31
9. Psalm 07:40

All music by Gareth Lubbe (GEMA) and Simon Nabatov (GEMA)

Gareth Lubbe - viola, voice
Simon Nabatov - piano

Talking Therapy Ensemble - Talking Therapy (February 2022 Movementt)

Talking Therapy Ensemble are something between free-jazz madness and groove, somehow between composition and improvisation, and exist somewhere between the public and the private.

Through the cathartic process of improvisation they find a release of stress and suffering - their talking therapy - inspired by the blues, crusty punk, the confessional poets of the 50s and 60s, and artists such as Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sun Ra Arkestra, Albert Ayler, and Irreversible Entanglements.

1. Talking Therapy Ensemble & Emma-Jean Thackray - I Didn't Want To Wake Up Today 05:20
2. Too Much / Too Little 02:55
3. Talking Therapy Ensemble & Emma-Jean Thackray - Panic 01:03
4. Talking Therapy Ensemble & Emma-Jean Thackray - Shh 01:43

Ben Haskins Quartet - Apocryphal (Single) February 2022 HPBC Records

In anticipation of their forthcoming album, The Ben Haskins Quartet release their bold new single ‘Apocryphal’ this February. Recorded during the summer of 2021, this track displays the dynamic and diverse sound of this tenor and guitar led quartet as well as Haskins’ strong compositional voice.

Taking influence from artists such as Wolfgang Muthspiel and Ambrose Akinmusire the composition uses a driving 6/8 groove coupled with changes in metre to foster an unpredictable melody and thrilling rhythmic interaction. A tenor and drums driven solo takes the track into new territory and pays tribute to tenor masters such as John Coltrane, Steve Grossman and Joe Henderson.

1. Apocryphal (single) 05:16

Ben Haskins - guitar and compositions
Ben Powling - tenor saxophone
Owen Burns - bass
Theo Goss - drums

Recorded at Nave Studios By Tom Orrell Mixed by Tom Orrell
Mastered by Carl Rosemond

Maxim Frischmann - UN​.​DEVELOPMENT (March 4, 2022)

Es gibt musikalische Ereignisse, an die man nicht einmal im Traum zu denken wagt: Was wäre etwa, wenn sich der Tenorsaxofonist Maxim Frischmann von seinen persönlichen Erfahrungen und Stationen in Deutschland und Schweiz der letzten 7 Jahre, dazu inspirieren lässt, seine eigene Debüt EP zu schreiben? Wenn es der improvisierende Musiker mit der strukturellen Logik einer kleinen Platte aufnimmt? Es entsteht eine Synthese, die sich als pulsierende Einheit aus entwickelter und unentwickelter Musik darstellt: „UN.DEVELOPMENT“ heißt die neue EP des Saxofonisten. Mal zurückhaltend und stoisch, dann kontrolliertes Chaos. Gelassen, aber nie träge. Ein wahrer Einblick in das Artefakt, scharf fokussierter künstlerischer Arbeit - Die Essenz des jungen Musikers Maxim Frischmann.

1. Pretty OK!
2. Birdmotion
4. Softness in Darkness
5. Get It Through With

Mixed by: Felix Wolf, Mastered by: Christoph Stickel, Artwork: Lea Hofmann and Elena Rudolph

Musicians: Maxim Frischmann, Paul Brauner, Matthieu Mazué, Michael Cina

Special guest: Tobias Krüger