dimanche 15 janvier 2012

Theo Bleckmann + John Hollenbeck : "Static Still"


The human voice is presumably the most immediate and touching instrument in music. Even more so if it is masterfully flowing between pure emotions and subtle abstractions as it is the case of Theo Bleckmann. The highly distinguished vocalist from Dortmund, who has been based in New York for many years, doesn’t need lyrics to communicate impressive sentiments. In contrast to some of his colleagues in the crossover field of jazz, improvisation and contemporary music, Bleckmann doesn’t identify himself as an artificial vocal acrobat, although he would undoubtedly be capable of doing so technically. Eccentric vocal caprioles have always been used sparingly with Bleckmann; where others get lost in excessive deconstructions, he always keeps the song in mind".

Norbert Krampf

"Defying categorization has become as predictable as any of the old categories ever were. It's simply really: just reference music without committing to any of it. So how beautiful it is to hear two players who explode all boundaries with their embrace-who commit to all, and all at once...a rich and strange world of noise, motion and melody, all of it infused with wit and unerring musicality. The myriad strains are all there, from country to jungle to operatic, but they're drawn out with a tender glance, not a wink."

Mark Fefer (Seattle Weekly)


mercredi 4 janvier 2012

Reuben Radding trio : "Intersections"

(Pine Ear Music, 2005)

Themes are often somber and long-limbed, with large interval leaps that inspire the trio to stretch phrasing and loosen tempo to the point of open-ended entanglements that spontaneously reshape the music from the inside. Matt Moran’s vibes brighten the ensemble palette, whether in rattling, resonating solos, bowed to create hazy, shimmering harmonics, or sparsely yet percussively comping underneath Oscar Noriega’s deft, rhapsodic, slightly tart clarinet. The key to Radding’s compositional approach lies in the program’s final piece—an arrangement of the sixth movement of Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du Temps, where the extended melody is given a light swing feel and used as a “head” for solos, while motifs are fragmented and abstracted to serve as accompaniment. Throughout the disc, the trio alternates between this chromatic harmonic syntax and Webernesque melodic contours spun like spider webs, upon which they improvise with tightly focused interaction."

Art Lange (Point of Departure)


samedi 24 décembre 2011

Brian Allen trio : "Synapse"

(Braintone, 2006)

Trombonist Brian Allen brings a burst of energy to contemporary creative music on Synapse (his fifth release), as his trio fits melody, harmony and rhythm into a mixed bag of free-flowing ideas. Tony Malaby plays a major role on this album too, as he helps steer the trio toward more outside adventures. Along with Allen and drummer Tom Rainey, he provides multi- directional flavors that keep the session on edge.
Veterans all, the three artists hail from points west: Rainey from Southern California, Malaby from Southern Arizona and Allen from Southeast Texas. With their free attitude on display, each participates equally, pushing each improvised piece with unbridled passion. The scenes rise and fall as the mood shifts, but the trio never boils over. They control each situation so that impressions remain vocal-like and natural. Malaby's aromatic tenor wafts melodic while Allen drives in circles of animated motion and Rainey colors with aplomb. Cohesive, the trio takes cues from each other gracefully and soars eloquently. With a great respect for poetry in motion, the trio uses most of its energy to work collectively, creating three-way scenes that reflect different impressions. "Tageshif drives powerfully with a forceful manner while "Espancino dances joyfully in celebration of the trio's free spirit. "Tenrayle begins with a quiet lull that morphs gradually into a soulful, vocal-like moan while "Expecade includes bombs from the drummer and wails from the two horns. Unique through its original instrumentation and free through its wide-ranging array of impressions, Allen's trio provides a lively yet integrated program of avant-garde jazz.

Jim Santella (All About Jazz)


vendredi 9 décembre 2011

Ben Stapp trio : "Ecstasis"

(Uqbar, 2008)

It's a prime example of the new globalism. California-born tubist Ben Stapp graduated from UCLA, studied with English tuba master Roger Bobo overseas, then spent additional time studying in Portugal before returning home to record his debut album, Ecstasis. Demonstrating nimble dexterity and a keen melodic sense, the youthful Stapp holds his own in the heavyweight company of saxophonist Tony Malaby and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi.
Tuba driven small combos were a favored line-up of saxophonists Arthur Blythe and Sam Rivers during the seventies loft era; the tuba helped reestablish a historical connection between free jazz and the rich polyphony of early jazz styles such as Dixieland and ragtime. Stapp mostly avoids such pre-swing forms however, tending towards a slightly modal pan Asian aesthetic. Malaby's serpentine soprano and muscular tenor musings, Takeishi's scintillating Taiko influenced percussion and the leader's euphonious bass lines congeal into an exotic mosaic of plangent themes and soaring motifs. Modal structures notwithstanding, Stapp also works conventional chord changes, thorny counterpoint, and elastic rhythms into his tunefully accessible, yet harmonically intricate writing.
The trio vacillates between the written and improvised with poised authority and an empathetic rapport that blurs the line between freedom and form. Stapp's melodious variations complement Takeishi's ceremonial fanfares and kaleidoscopic accents, providing the trio with a harmonically solid, yet rhythmically fluid foundation that veers from buoyant to introspective. Malaby reigns in his extroverted tendencies, splitting his time evenly between soprano and tenor, while embellishing Stapp's memorable themes with lyrical restraint.
Despite the limited instrumental palette, Stapp utilizes an array of inventive arrangements to provide the trio with ample space for individual expression. Unaccompanied cadenzas, intimate duets and collective improvisation are all featured alongside more conventional devices, like hypnotic bass ostinatos and concise call and response, keeping the structures malleable and joyously unpredictable.
A credit to both the trio's conversational interplay and Stapp's resilient writing, the session flows with the graceful logic of a suite rather than a collection of disparate tunes. Ecstasis marks the solid debut of a fresh, new voice.

Troy Collins (All About Jazz)


mardi 29 novembre 2011

Dynamite Club : "The legend of tiger mask"

(Big Sleep records, 2002)

Imagine the sixteen year-old siblings of Mr. Bungle -- still relatively unskilled, far too easily excitable, and frightened by the prospect of a good drugged-out dirge -- fronted by a screamer with nary an intelligent thought in his head. This is Dynamite Club. Self-described kung-fu rockers and purveyors of "retard-core", this New York City trio clearly own most of the Boredoms' recorded output and hold something more than a passing fancy in Zappa at his most obtuse. After dramatic string swells and improvised clanks and clutter, album opener "Cutt Ball" settles into a spastic burst of arty punk for barely a minute before the track concludes. The majority of the selections follow the same trajectory -- just take your pick: "Nicole Kidman Shades", "Pissed Off Pussies", "Suck A Nice Love Song". They all begin as something akin to blues rock, ascend into unrefined jazz-rock and then explode in a massacre of drum rolls and squawking, distorted guitars. Insert quirky, tasteless and often unintelligible lyrics masked in numerous special effects and you've got the formula all sorted out. It's like a shot of caffeine in the middle of a dead sleep, followed by a smack in the head.
Not for the faint of heart, nor for the academic set, The Legend of Tiger Mask is certainly ill-advised for the wee hours of the morning.

Mike Baker (Splendidezine)

This is some questions and responses (?) for (and from) Dynamite Club in 2004 :

HC (« Houston Calling ») : How did Dynamite Club come together?
MP (Mike Pride) : The same radioactive gamma rays that brought Thor and the Incredible Hulk together in 1984.
KS (Kentaro Saito) : I started this when I found out that BFA in Jazz ain’t worth a cent. Mike joined when original drummer was too busy making cocktails. Byrne joined when the bassist of the time decided to search a light in jazz again.
HC: What do consider to be your musical influences?
KS: American music.
BK (Byrne Klay) : Anything that makes me smile.
MP: Jim Hall.
HC: What’s your take on the state of the music industry? Are you for or against the MP3 “revolution”? How are you using the internet as a tool to market the band?
MP: It takes me 20 f***ing minutes to write an email on my sh***y computer. Don’t talk to me about the internet.
BK: It doesn’t matter what we think. Things are the way they are and we all have to adapt. Entertainers are whores.
KS: I would be happy if Santa decided to give me an i-pot.
HC: If you could have any band cover one of your songs, what song would it be and what band?
KS: I would like to see Meat Loaf singing “Spritual.”
MP: Diana Krall doing “Junkies.”
BK: David Lee Roth should sing “Tight Pants.”
HC: How would you describe Dynamite Club’s music/sound to someone who has never heard it before?
MP: Noise-Math-Jazz-International-Seizure Core, or any combination of the 5. You choose. That is what promoters are paid to do.
KS: It’s deep.
HC: What is the one description that you hate to hear about your music?
BK: I don’t know if the music is serious enough to warrant an offensive misunderstanding.
KS: It’s deep. “Hate” sounds as strong as “Love.”
MP: “I think this guy is going through a mid-life crisis.”
HC: What is on your CD player right now?
BK: David Allan Coe, Van Halen, and Megadeth. I’m a redneck at heart.
KS: Devo.
MP: Dust.


vendredi 25 novembre 2011

Lucien Dubuis trio : "Tovorak"

(self-produced, 2005)

Lucien Dubuis answers the musical question which Miles Davis' later bands always sought to resolve. Why can't jazz bands be entertaining like rock bands? Dubuis tackles that one on Tovorak while shaking you, sometimes violently.
Sure sure, jazzbos have injected punk attitude and funk into their music for some time. Think of early Ken Vandermark with Big Head Eddie, John Zorn and Marc Ribot's 1980s Knitting Factory work, and the Lounge Lizards. All shared rock sensibilities, their real musical heritage and upbringing.
Enter Swiss-born saxophonist Lucien Dubuis, who has enough attitude to hold his own with punks, neo-cons and George Clinton! Tovorak is a followup to his trio's 2001 disc Sumo. Powered by the well-placed heavy bass licks of Roman Nowka, Dubuis powers through this disc, alternating between the squawking alto saxophone and the deep notes of his bass and contrabass clarinets. Yes, he fires up sounds from the deep darkness of bass clarinet-ville.
The deep tones raise the reggae beat of "Bal les masques!, making it an especially interesting composition played against the Hammond organ. When he's not mixing unusual combinations, Dubuis brings the funk, as on "Non pas and the P-Funk/blues thriller "Mammouth. The group gets to a Blue Oyster Cult sound on "Insomnia before breaking up somewhere (hopefully) over an open ocean. Boom!
This band isn't just rocking in the free world here; on "Boubouille and "La goutte au nez, the trio pieces together some slow-paced and adventurous sound explorations.
These blues children fashion their basic premise from the blues. Combining heavy beats and an exceptional feel for the deep notes of Dubuis' clarinets, this is a special recording.

Mark Corroto (All About Jazz)

« A tremendous roar of life. Simple and heart-wrenching. Lucien Dubuis' music is the result of new definitions, new horizons. Simultaneously modern and primitive, it achieves to be concept-driven while using a teenage language of revolution. Imagine a chromosomic mingling of a touch of John Coltrane genes and the DNA of the Beastie Boys: the Lucien Dubuis Trio just enjoys playing the jazz stuff, just as Madonna would enjoy sex after a year in jail, with lust! »


Rick Peckham trio : "Left End"

(Perfected Music, 2004)

There aren't many jazz guitarists around who'd namecheck Paul Kossoff, Billy Gibbons or (gulp) Ritchie Blackmore as influences, but Rick Peckham's not your average jazz guitarist by a long chalk. Though he's a new name to me, his CV includes work with Dave Liebman, Mike Gibbs and John Medeski, but most suprising is the fact that he's been teaching guitar at Berklee's Jazz department for the best part of 20 years.
While Berklee's come to be associated with a highly technical approach to improvisation that's produced a seemingly endless stream of heavy metal bebop guitarists(Mike Stern's got a lot to answer for), Peckham's music is a joyful, boisterous union of rock, er,'primitivism' and seat-of-the-pants improv.
Peckham's raw, wiry Telecaster lines thrash and ooze their way round the tumbling dialogues of double bass and drums (Tony Scherr and Jim Black respectively). Unlike many of his peers Peckham doesn't go for oodles of techie effects. There's a smattering of delay, a touch of distortion, but that's pretty much it.
Importantly though, Peckham's understanding of rock guitar goes way beyond the application of the odd power chord or turning his amp up to 11. THough his technique's pretty impressive, it doesn't get in the way, and there's a feral energy to his chordal slashes and bluesy, tumbling runs that'd give Marc Ribot a run for his money. Add to that a slightly cerebral approach to soloing (not unlike the off-kilter logic of Bill Frisell at his best) and you've got a pretty potent combination.
Black is the ideal drummer for such a venture; his economical, crisp timekeeping can pack a hefty punch ("Gibbons") or the lightest swish ("Soporific"). Scherr is right behind him, unfazed by the testosterone on display. It's the double bass that gives the music its character; Scherr's agile touch and elastic, resonant toneadds a touch of warmth and space that stops the whole thing turning into power trio cliche.
After tributes to Billy Gibbons and Neil Young, the triohead back towards jazz country with their flying leap at the oblique pleasures of Monk's "Evidence". Black and Scherr play cat 'n' mouse with each other as Peckham whips out a thoughtful, restrained solo.If you're like me, you'll find yourself clapping at the end of it (but make sure no-one's around or they'll laugh at you). Very, very nice.

Peter Marsh (BBC)