mardi 20 juillet 2010
dimanche 18 juillet 2010
dimanche 11 juillet 2010
Gebhard Ullmann: soprano saxophone, bass clarinet
Michael Jefry Stevens: piano
Joe Fonda: bass
Matt Wilson: drums
|Review||by Thom Jurek|
Conference Call is a quartet made up of reed and woodwind master Gebhard Ullmann, bassist Joe Fonda, the criminally under-recorded pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, and drummer Matt Wilson. This date is not a session by a group of musicians who've adopted a moniker, but a full-on working band who rehearses, composes, and plays together as often as it can since each member is a working soloist in his own right. The prime directive here is, not unexpectedly, Ullmann's intense and fluid sense of off-kilter lyricism. His seamless approach to the horn and staggered sense of open harmonics and tonal structuralism are ever-present. What is surprising is his pairing with Stevens on the front line. Stevens is a knotty pianist whose influences are Cecil Taylor, Bill Evans, Andrew Hill, McCoy Tyner and Horace Silver. His stunning architectural renderings of vast, previously unshaped chords; minor shadings; and furious ostinato are tremendous solo gifts, but in this ensemble, they create a wide and deep floor for not only Ullmann as a soloist, but for the rhythm section as well. What's more, Stevens provides the necessary punch and clamor for the band to swing unencumbered by their considerably complex improvisational style, which is often slipped inside a scored section or bridge. A fine example is "Could This Be a Polka," an effortless series of off-minor piano phrases strung together by the bassline and loped into a melody by Ullmann's gorgeous restraint and willingness to turn the harmony inside out in an even exchange with the impressionistically beautiful melody. Elsewhere, the band's theme, written by Ullmann, features all of the band's intensity and tension in a furiously paced, yet wonderfully rendered melodic architecture of tonal inquiry and multi-scalar invention. But it is Stevens' shimmering balladry on "Liquid Cage" that brings all of the band's influences into play. There is the sense of silence and tension as compositional elements à la Morton Feldman, the notion of tonality itself as a construct of not only sonic dimension, but metaphysical space as well. The idea that rhythm can exist in a melody this intricate and subtle is revolutionary, but Fonda and Wilson carve out a space in inner space and inform and extend the improvisational structures that emanate from the heart of Stevens' gloriously restrained pianism. This is a remarkable record with a surprise at the end that will leave the listener wondering why this band isn't headlining festivals all over the world.
2002 FINAL ANSWER
Paul Lytton: percussion & live electronics
|Review||by François Couture|
The early '70s were still formative years for saxophonist Evan Parker and percussionist Paul Lytton. Following the release in 1995 of Three Other Stories, a CD of 1971-1974 studio recordings by this duo, in 1996 Emanem issued a companion CD, Two Octobers, consisting of one studio and two live improvisations found while preparing the previous album. The sound quality of the live material is surprisingly good. The two longest tracks (the live ones) were recorded in October 1972 and October 1975 (hence the title). Parker's circular-breathing technique had almost reached its peak already -- just listen to the middle section of the mammoth 43-minute improv "Two Horn'd Reasoning, Cloven Fiction" for a stunning example. The most surprising moment comes in "Then Wept! Then Rose in Zeal and Awe," when Lytton starts producing long string-like drones (a bowed string? an electronic trick?) and is answered by Parker vocalizing drones of his own in a tube, turning the piece into a Tibetan ceremony for a few minutes. The level of communication is not yet what it would be within the Parker/Lytton/Barry Guy trio of the 1990s, and some tricks and techniques had yet to be fully developed and integrated in each musician's vocabulary (the drummer's ill-inspired ultimate fill at the end of the longest piece is a good example of how not to end an improv). Yet, Two Octobers makes a nice CD and a meaningful addition to Parker's under-documented 1970s output.(AMG)
1972-75 TWO OCTOBERS
Lê Quan Ninh: surrounded bass drums & electronics
Günter Müller and Lê Quan Ninh are both improvising percussionists who have worked increasingly with electronics over the past few years. Müller has released numerous records on his groundbreaking For 4 Ears label, including collaborations with Christian Marclay, Voice Crack, Otomo Yoshihide, and Erik M. Two more recent records involve Taku Sugimoto, The World Turned Upside Down (Erstwhile), which is a trio concert with Keith Rowe, and a duo released this fall, I Am Happy If You Are Happy (For 4 Ears). Earlier this year, Müller also released the gorgeous Direct Chamber (33revpermi), with Michel Doneda and Fabrice Charles. Ninh has worked extensively both in the improv and in the contemporary classical genres. His improv side has probably best been captured thus far by two superb trio projects on FMP, Burning Cloud (w/Butch Morris and J.A.Deane) and Open Paper Tree (w/ Michel Doneda and Paul Rogers), as well as by his solo tour de force, Ustensiles (For 4 Ears). As for his classical side, he's a member of the Hêlios Quartet, a percussion ensemble which recently released a self-titled CD on Vand'ouevre, containing compositions by Ninh, Jean-Christophe Feldhandler, Vinko Globokar and Toru Takemitsu. Ninh has also recorded John Cage's Ryoanji (Auvidis Montaigne), in duo with Joelle Leandre.
Müller and Ninh first met and played together in 1988, and have occasionally performed together since, most notably in the quartet Plugged in Zeit Reel with Jim O'Rourke and J.A. Deane. In January of 2000, Müller and Ninh traveled to CCAM in Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy, France and recorded four hours worth of material, from which the 75 minutes contained on this CD has been carefully selected. The title was inspired by a passage from L'Eau et les Rêves (Water and Dreams), a book by French philosopher Gaston Bachelard. The two musicians demonstrate their seemingly limitless palettes, slipping back and forth between percussion and electronics to create endlessly inventive systems of sound.
"The collaboration of these two percussive pioneers offers some of the most inspired performances I have heard by either musician to date. While not minimizing the quality of any of their other superb records, this seems to be a culmination of their history. Müller and Ninh are percussionists of two very different styles, and that is this record's strength- the sparse to the dense, the electronic to the acoustic ... a wonderfully dynamic ride." -- Tim Barnes2000 LA VOYELLE LIQUIDE
Assif Tsahar: bass clarinet
Stephen Horenstein: soprano & baritone saxophones
JC Jones: bass
Jonathan Albalak: guitar
Yoni Silver: bass clarinet
Yonatan Kretzmer: tenor saxophone
"But the feel of openness and tolerance that is the foundation of our music, is not always to be felt. I soon found myself exposed to an atomosphere of strain and tenseness, demarcation lines separating past, present, peoples. Where am I? Thrown back in time, into the former GDR?" are some of the honest, straight from the heart liner notes from German master drummer Günter "Baby" Sommer, about his stay in Jerusalem, and referring to the political situation. But he was there for the music, and welcomed in bassist JC Jones' Kadima Music Salon. He was also welcomed by the various saxes and bass clarinets played by Assif Tsahar, Steve Horenstein, Yoni Silver, Yonatan Kretzmer and the guitar of Yonatan Albalak, in various line-ups ranging from Sommer solo on drums over trios to quartets. With the exception of JC Jones and Assif Tsahar, the other musicians are unknown to me, although I heard Horenstein play on the recent Joëlle Léandre album, "Live In Israel", also on Kadima. Sommer is gigantic, driving these musicians on and on, onward and forward, "hypercussive nimbleness", as described by Yonatan Albalak, a real pleasure to hear him interact, and he is indeed the star of the album, but Tsahar is also quite strong. Listen to "Bast" a trio with drums and two saxes, or to "Sababa" a duet between Tsahar and Sommer. Most of the album is free jazz at a very high level, well recorded, with a very open and disciplined approach despite the freedom of the music itself. All musicians respect each other and give sufficient space to the other players to do their thing, and with excellent results. "Playing together means peaceful communication. Our discourse is a discourse in free speech. ... working on a new foundation for a better society - a human groove", writes Sommer. May peace be with you all, and enjoy the freedom of music. (from Free Jazz)
2009 LIVE IN JERUSALEM
samedi 10 juillet 2010
Gebhard Ullmann: tenor & soprano saxophones, bass clarinet
Michael Jefry Stevens: piano
Joe Fonda: bass
George Schuller: drums, percussion
Conference no longer needs introduction. It's the stellar free jazz band consisting of Gebhard Ullmann on tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, and bass clarinet, Michael Jefry Stevens on piano, Joe Fonda on bass, and George Schuller on drums. A kind of supergroup if you want.
The first piece, called "After Like, Part 1" is fully improvised and creates an otherwordly eery environment, without real established rhythm, or patterns whatsoever. It is organic and flows like the wind, grows like nature, with the power and drive increasing as it moves forward. It is fantastic. The next piece is in the same vein, certainly at the beginning closer to free improv than to jazz.
Then you have a style-shift for the next three pieces, which are composed, and built around traditional concepts, although they do evolve into exploratory timbral excursions, yet the harmonics, the theme remain the central focal point, whether ballad-like, as on "What About The Future?", or boppish as on "Circle".
CD2 starts with "After Like, Part 3", the qualitative equivalent of the first tracks of the first CD, fully in the same vein, and equally stellar: Ullmann's playing is fabulous, but the eery accents by Stephens, Fonda's arco and Schuller's extended use of percussive possibilities are of the same high level.
But then to my dismay, the next piece is a polka! True, it gets the necessary deconstruction, but to hear this somewhat humorous track after you've been entranced by a fabulous musical universe, is a real shame. "Litmus" is boppish again, and the last two pieces could again be part of the more serious atmosphere of the first track. Ullmann is better than I have heard him before.
So you get the bizarre mixture of real artistic creation with some silly or plain entertaining music, true, all brought with great skills and drive, but somehow not fitting together.
A selection of the best pieces on the album would have resulted in a real musical treat. Two great albums in two different styles somehow got mixed here. (from Free Jazz)
2010 CD1 / CD2
Evan Parker: soprano & tenor saxophones
Barry Guy: bass
Tony Oxley: drums
|Review||by Thom Jurek|
A super-session in theory, this one-off gig was recorded in Berlin in 1990 during another of Cecil Taylor's extended stays. According to the liner notes, this gig was tense from the start because of some ill will between some of the band's members, hence the title of the album. Whatever. The two tracks that comprise this set are full of the explosive, full-bore playing each of this quartet's members is well-known for. It's easy to believe there is tension here, the playing from the outset starts at furious and gets wilder. But what's more interesting is that given Taylor's gigantic stature among musicians, even the three he's playing with, he doesn't dominate the proceedings. This is group improvisation the way it's supposed to be, with ideas being tossed into the fire from every angle. Some are picked up and extrapolated upon; others are left smoldering in the ashes. When it is time for Taylor to solo, none of the others stay out of the mix completely, not even Parker. Guy's bowed bass accompanies Taylor through each theme and phrase, each color and mode change until Taylor cedes the floor. Yes, it is all about muscle: all competition, all struggle, all music. As in the bebop days of old, this is a cutting contest in the purest sense of that word. Everybody bleeds here. At times, the playing is so intense the listener just wants to hate everyone on the bandstand, at others, so forceful (s)he is beaten into submission, and still at others, nothing but a resounding YEAH! Throughout the house or car will do. Sizing up the individual contributions to this mass of aural mayhem is fruitless. This is a group who insists on being individuals in a collective setting and, therefore, the listening level is so high -- so as not to miss any gauntlet laid down -- the attention to execution and imagination can't help but be top-notch. So, in essence, this is a super-session, but not one in the usual sense. It is among the finest of all the recordings released under Taylor's name from either of his Berlin periods, and, for the others, it charts with their best playing anywhere. This is group improvisation at its angriest, freest, and truest.
1990 NAILED (fmp)
Carlos Zingaro: acoustic & electroacoustic violins
Sakis Papadimitriou: piano
Jean Bolcato: bass, voice
Ronnie Beer: alto & tenor saxophones
Evan Chandley: bass clarinet, flute
François Tusques: piano, balafon
Beb Guerin: bass
Earl Freeman: bass
Claude Delcloo: drums
1969 LOVE REJOICE
vendredi 9 juillet 2010
Paul Dunmall: tenor saxophone
Paul Rogers: bass
Paul Lytton: drums
This is a quartet of 1970s-vintage European free-improvisers – three out of four called Paul – still warming to the task in 2008. Saxist and bass clarinettist Paul Dunmall's model was Evan Parker, while Paul Lytton actually played drums with Parker for years. Bass virtuoso Paul Rogers has spanned the postbop and improv scenes here and in New York, and Belgian pianist and movie composer Fred Van Hove started as a bebopper in the late 50s, then loosened up to spar with German sax free-blaster Peter Brötzmann. All that spontaneous music-making was caught at the Europa jazz festival in Le Mans in May 2008. There are only two tracks: one lasting 46 minutes and one of 15 minutes, with Dunmall's big, rounded sound and spiralling runs bursting out of a low-key overture, and then engaging in a long, dignified dance with Rogers's dark bowed chords. Dunmall sometimes builds solos in patterns of brief, squirted sounds a la Evan Parker, but he stays closer to post-Coltrane tonality for more of the time. Meanwhile, Van Hove unleashes glittering streams of notes with a Cecil Tayloresque intensity; his solo on the first track has an orchestral scope. The shorter episode begins as a bass drone pulsating like a didgeridoo, builds to the best full-on free-playing on the album, shifts to a lament-like section, a briefly resurfacing turmoil, and then evaporates into silence. An attentive and responsive quartet of experts in the genre. (from guardian)
Christy Doran: guitar, devices
Bobby Burri: bass, devices
Fredy Studer: drums, percussion
2010 OM : WILLISAU
mardi 6 juillet 2010
jeudi 1 juillet 2010
Gino Robair: percussion, whirled instruments, motorized implements, toy horns, calabash
1995 UNITY IN MULTIPLICITY
Evan Parker: soprano saxophone
Kenny Wheeler: trumpet, flugelhorn
Dave Holland: bass
John Stevens: drums
|Review||by Scott Yanow|
This CD reissues the second album by the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, retaining two musicians from the initial 1966 set (trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and drummer John Stevens) and adding Evan Parker on soprano, guitarist Derek Bailey and bassist Dave Holland. The young British all-stars (all virtually unknown at the time) stretch out on the six-part "Karyobin," playing quite freely in an idiom influenced a bit by their American contemporaries but already on its way to developing a more European sound. Bailey is mostly in the background with the key voices being Wheeler and Parker, but all five musicians make their contributions. The music is episodic and ends inconclusively but rewards repeated listenings. An important early recording for these five future greats.