Thursday, April 27, 2017

Links 4/27

Stereogum ranks The Rolling Stones LP's
Aquarium Drunkard has a Dudu Pukwana playlist and they also interview Dave Davies.
Jeremiah Cymerman has another excellent podcast conversation, this time with Chuck Bettis.
The Guardian offers a list of the ten best King Crimson tracks.
My friend John hipped me to the excellent Blues Unlimited podcast.
An interesting interview with flute player and composer Nicole Mitchell.
Tom Hull offers another music week post.
Ethan Iverson hosts an interview with David Murray.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Brian Marsella - Buer: Book of Angels 31 (Tzadik, 2017)

Well versed in the music of John Zorn, the trio of Brian Marsella on piano, Trevor Dunnon bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums is the perfect group to interpret a collection of compositions from Zorn's Book of Angels. This is one for the jazziest albums in the series, with echoes of McCoy Tyner, Andrew Hill setting the scene for this collection. "Jekusiel" opens the album with a strong trio performance, and everyone is playing in a very fast and percussive manner. The brash and intrepid piano soloing resonates through the music with thick elastic bass and insistent drumming in support and on the full band improvisation. Crisp-sounding drumming opens "Akzariel," leading to a rattling and flowing trio section. Storming keyboard work keeps the excitement building, and crafty drumming adds to the feeling of propulsion, making for a fast and ferocious performance. "Parymel" uses powerful bass to begin, and intensely hued piano playing and ripe percussion draw from a deep well of energy. The music is loud but impeccably played, taking the interesting melody and expanding upon it, creating music that is at the same time provocative and probing, with Marsella moving percussively up and down the keyboard and recalling the great Don Pullen. There is a haunted medium tempo theme to begin "Karkiel", which gives way to a tempest of piano, percussion and bass that delves deeply into the music's emotional resonance. This track uses dynamic tension to provide shades of light and shadow, from sudden slashes of piano to rippling cymbal play, then coming together with high-speed cooperation. "Tsirya" is another short and furiously played performance, with an excellent drum solo and then the trio coming together to create music that’s both vivid and self-reliant. The improvisation is brimming with energy and dizzyingly well performed and together the trio creates a boiling stream of endlessly fascinating rhythm. Another very exciting fast paced performance is "Zagin," with muscular piano abutted by the interplay of powerful bass and drums. Much the same is "Petahel," developing deeply percussive music from all three instruments and allowing the music to take energy from a choppy theme and ply it in a sparkling improvised section. This makes for a spirited performance, encapsulating a some fine drum soloing and trade-offs between piano and drums. The music on this album is made by a trio of kindred spirits, and they make sounds that are inventive and inviting, using the memorable themes from the Book Of Angels and cooking up superb music from them. Buer: Book of Angels 31 - amazon.com

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Ivo Perelman - The Art of Perelman - Shipp Vol. 7: Dione (Leo Records, 2017)

The concluding volume of this excellent series of meetings between tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and pianist Matthew Shipp welcomes the legendary drummer Andrew Cyrille who famously recorded with Cecil Taylor and other luminaries in addition to a vibrant solo career. He fits in beautifully with the two principals and works with them to develop eight pieces of collective improvisation. "Part 1" opens the album with a subtle drum solo that leads into the trio developing a vibrant collective improvisation, with emotionally resonant tenor saxophone, and strong and percussive piano, and Cyrille's open ended drumming weaving in and out of the music's structure.  "Part 2" has a quieter nature to it with Shipp playing soft and melodic piano with rising tones of saxophone greeting him. The music is open and spacious, and takes a patient and gentle path. The longest track on the album is "Part 3" which develops like a improvised suite, beginning with a raucous din of powerful trio playing, with percussive repetitive piano building energy that the potent saxophone and free ranging drums tap into. The music is played with a great deal of clarity and focus and the development of the interplay is very impressive. The combination of their individual instruments into a collective whole is very powerful before the music throttles down to a spacious murmur, with soft percussion on cymbals, then raw long tones of saxophone and softer piano which take the music to its conclusion. "Part 4" takes flight at a medium tempo, with the members circling around one another as the improvisation gains pace. The music develops a faster stride, with sweltering saxophone weaving in and out of the piano and percussion keeping the music upbeat and energetic. Spare tones and  rhythms set the foundation for "Part 5" with thick piano notes and skittering percussion along with Perelman's smears of colorful saxophone playing adding urgency to the performance. On "Part 7," dark tones of piano and scattered percussion with saxophone move carefully, and dark storm clouds envelop, infusing the music with crackling energy and potent wind. The music is powerful and exciting and the trio develops it in a wide-ranging fashion. The culmination of the album occurs on "Part 8" which has an onrushing torrent of music from the trio, creating an exciting and wild-eyed form of fresh jazz. This is a thrilling end to this extraordinary collection of albums. Adding the drum legend Cyrille is the perfect finishing stroke to this very impressive and sustained run of creativity from Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp. Dione - amazon.com

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Ivo Perelman / Matthew Shipp - The Art of Perelman-Shipp Vol. 6 (Leo Records, 2017)

Of all of the music released in this impressive series, this duet may be the centerpiece for tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and pianist Matthew Shipp, whose musical partnership goes back decades. This cumulative experience allows them to pare away anything extraneous to get to the core of the music which is presented shorn of ornamentation or sentimentality. The music is a ten part improvised suite, beginning with "Part 1" which has a melancholy and mournful theme, with raw emotional content. Drops of piano glisten against pinched peals of saxophone and "Part 2" which follows up with urgent and raw playing from both musicians with the pushing and pulling of their playing developing a kinetic energy and heat that powers their improvisation. "Part 4" develops some ripe piano and saxophone interplay building a dynamic loud to soft dynamic structure, while "Part 5" develops a spacious and thoughtful improvisation where hearty squalls of saxophone are met with globules of piano in near telepathic interplay. The openness of the terrain leads to nearly endless possibilities for the music and there is a sense of mystery inherent in the their playing that keeps the music continuously compelling, especially on "Part 7" where they employ great patience in creating sounds that are spare and deep building to "Part 9" where massive low end blocks of piano set the stage for flying sparks of saxophone. Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp share a deep musical connection the is on fine display with this album. Trust is the key, the understanding that however out and abstract the music may get, they support each other and persevere, continuing to make fine art completely in the moment and creating a celebration of musical freedom. Saturn - amazon.com

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Eivind Opsvik - Overseas V (Loyal Label, 2017)

Norwegian bassist and composer Eivind Opsvik is on the fifth volume of his Overseas series which deftly combines progressive jazz with tinges of rock and electronic music. He is joined in this endeavor by Brandon Seabrook on electric guitar, Tony Malaby on tenor saxophone, Kenny Wollesen on drums and percussion and Jacob Sacks on keyboards. The band is open in time and space, and the improvisations are very thoughtful and exciting. "Hold Everything" melds strong drumming with electronics making for a tight foundation. The leader's thick bass adds further strength and there are sparks of guitar accenting the music. Malaby's tenor gradually folds in, developing a gutsy and immediate tone that provides contrast to the electronics. There is an urgency to the strong rhythm on "Brraps!" with sawing bowed bass playing off against ecstatic guitar. The band comes together for a very nice collective section, taking aspects of funk and adding potent saxophone for a very interesting mixture. The rhythm and the beat are central to this performance, and they allow for a great sense of propulsion leading to an abrupt ending. "First Challenge of the Road" features an insistent and strong rockish sensibility and a sense of repetitiveness that allows the music to gather strength and energy before finally breaking free to a powerful full band improvisation that takes the music to new heights, a post-modern combination of modern jazz and alternative rock that would fit comfortably with the likes of Tortoise as they mine a deep and memorable groove. "IZO" has shifting rhythms and tumbling grooves that are alluring and allow the music to move organically within certain boundaries. Instruments bubble up for short solos and features only to be dragged back into the tumult. Brawny saxophone meets disjointed piano and scratchy guitar to excellent effect, creating music that is both engaging and intellectual. The finale, "Katmania Duskmann" is an excellent example of genre-bending improvisation, with raw guitar and saxophone butting heads with strong rhythm section. The music twists and turns through ever-shifting textures, creating a very exciting and compelling performance. This album gives the listener an excellent example of how modern jazz musicians are incorporating popular music forms into their sound without undermining the complexity of the form. Overseas V - amazon.com

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Dennis Coffey - Hot Coffey in the D (Resonance Records, 2017)

This is a previously unreleased live album by Motown associated guitarist Dennis Coffey which was recorded live In Detroit in 1968 in the company of Lyman Woodard on organ and Melvin Davis on drums. It is a fine recording of the soul-jazz variety and one that is worthy of hearing as they cover a wide range of rhythm and blues and pop music with a jazzy flair and nonchalant virtuosity. "Fuzz" opens the album with a pleasing organ and drums groove, with some snarling and effects tinged guitar giving the music grit and propulsion. The trio moves together nicely with sparks of electric guitar igniting the clouds of swirling keyboard and snappy drumming. This was a weekly gig for the trio at the time and that led to some very tight playing and inventive improvising. The Jimmy Webb pop song "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" is taken with a lighter and more melodic touch, painting in pastel tones which made for a much jazzier performance. The longest piece of the album, "The Look Of Love" is another pop song, made popular by Dusty Springfield in 1967. The band patiently takes the listener on a journey from a plaintive statement of the theme, that is the foundation for a slowly unfolding extrapolation of the music complete with waves of rolling organ, shards of guitar and a deep rhythmic groove, making for a very interesting improvised jam. Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" brings the music back to modern jazz territory taking a subtle guitar-led reading of the melody over shimmering keyboard and percussion. They double down into a more complex and exciting improvised section, upping the speed of the performance, before delving back down for a subtler landing. "The Big D" takes the group back into rhythm and blues territory, with Coffey adding effects to his guitar and the organ and drums locked in tight, making for a storming soul jazz improvisation. This was a very good recording, and it was definitely deserving of release. Something special happened when these three people played music together, and their ability to meld jazz and soul contributed to a continuously interesting album. Hot Coffey In The D - amazon.com

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Gary Clark Jr. - Live North America 2016 (Warner Bros., 2017)

Modern blues guitarist and singer Gary Clark Jr.'s second live album in a few years is another worthwhile effort and it leans toward the exciting hard blues punctuated by some falsetto drenched soul. The best parts of the music embraces raw grit and funk, developing talented solo and ensemble performances, with several lengthy and memorable guitar led jams. He fronts a rough and ready band and they come out of the gate hard with the appropriately titled "Grinder" and "The Healing" which lead the way with some blistering riffs and soloing and setting the tone for the rest of the album. "When My Train Pulls In" was one of the foundation tracks of his extraordinary debut album and this live version is very potent, with huge slabs of guitar riffing and a massive solo framed by deep and powerful vocals. The group ends the album with an epic trio of performances beginning with a version of blues legend Jimmy Reed's "Honest I Do" that is steeped in the country blues tradition and then the intensity begins to ramp up with some corrosive guitar soloing on "My Baby's Gone" followed by a triumphant version of "Numb" that brings everything together in a powerful conclusion of heavy guitar playing sand insistent rhythm. Overall this is a very good collection of rock tinged hard blues that should appeal to fans of both electric blues and rootsy rock 'n' roll. This album consolidates the raw electric blues of his early recordings and his sweet soulful ambitions and ties them together in a solid collection of live performances. Live North America 2016 - amazon.com

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