lundi 20 juillet 2009

Bachir Attar + Elliott Sharp : "In New York"


Moroccan musician Bachir Attar is the leader of the phenomenal Master Musicians of Jajouka, a performing ensemble whose history extends back centuries. Every so often, their music has been "discovered" by luminaries as diverse as the writer/composer Paul Bowles, Rolling Stone guitarist Brian Jones and jazz revolutionary Ornette Coleman. Here, Attar by himself was lured to New York City for a one-shot collaboration with omnipresent Downtown composer/guitarist/math whiz Elliott Sharp. The sessions has a bit of an introductory feel with the musicians concentrating on slower, more languid pieces, allowing each player to stretch out at their leisure. In general, Sharp appears to defer to Attar's traditions both in the style of the compositions and in reining in his own flamboyant impulses. Instead, he provides a blues-inflected support to Attar's vocals and embroideries on rhaita and guimbri, the former a double-reed horn similar to the shenai, the latter a kind of North African flute. In fact, some of Sharp's playing prefigures his later work with his blues ensemble, Terraplane. On the negative side, some of the drum machine sounds produced by Sharp sound stiff and out of place.
While none of the music here rises to the heights of either the ecstatic music of the Master Musicians or the hyperdense controlled chaos of numerous Sharp projects, this is still a fairly successful meeting of disparate traditions with both musicians clearly approaching each other with open ears.

Brian Olewnick (All Music)


Tronzo trio : "Yo ! Hey !"

(Tradition & Moderne, 1995)

« Tronzo is some kind of mad scientist, having spliced together two completely disparate idioms-slide guitar and bebop jazz. On a bad night, he sounds like Duane Allman grafted onto Charlie Parker. On a good night, he’s like nothing you’ve ever heard before ».

New Yorker Magazine (August 1994)


Andy Laster : "Hydra"

(Sound Aspects, 1994)

As a saxophonist, Andy Laster has a unique approach, spinning webs of primarily alto saxophonistic sound from the Eric Dolphy/Ornette Coleman/Gary Bartz school — just the right balance of enough tart sweetness and rambling & stark melodicism to make his personalized music quite palatable. Hydra finds him in the company of ever-fresh trumpeter/cornetist Herb Robertson, always in the blue gutbucket bassist Ed Schuller, and razor sharp drummer Tom Rainey. They collectively play these 14 Laster-penned compositions to the hilt from a thematic, spiritual, and utterly original standpoint. Laster, who also plays a little flute or baritone sax, uses a multitude of devices to his best advantage while writing concentrated, complex music that is more valued and heavy with repeated listenings. "Darshon" is perhaps the most highly developed chart, going from free to supercharged bop with hot accents, lower triple pianissimo harmonics from the leader, and intense counterpoint while reviewing and repeating several of these motifs. Mixing Dixieland-type interplay, funky R&B rhythms, and Ornette style approximate harmolodicism in 6/8 on "Hagia Sophia," or conjuring a bluesy, reggae-ish inquisition with melodic statements and drum inserts during "The Four Questions," the band proves they can do it all in short strokes. Robertson also has considerable mettle to showcase throughout the proceedings. His hymnal trumpet on "Cluniac" leads to both modernistic horns joyously bopping, his sputtering comedic repartee for "The Rocket Club" turns to tango incursions, and a mushy, muted cornet on "Parachute" follows mixed staccato and legato lines. There's a scattered, leapfrogging bounce melody with Robertson's creative wailing on "Radbaz"; Rainey's brushed intro to the lugubrious waltz "Eelpout" with soulful, staggered counterpoint and "unison"; and the free (a la Ornette) ballad "Their Last End." Sprinkled in between are alto sax-drum duets "Canto I-IV," varying from a free discourse to more edgy, beat-oriented musings; an overt swinger; a calm-to-heated discussion; and free groove in a mezzo piano dynamic. Hydra not only hits on all four cylinders, but in a high artistic and musical vein that the modern jazz world at large should pay close attention to. Recommended.

Michael G. Nastos (All Music)


Christian Marclay-Ikue Mori-Elliott Sharp

This disc is a treasure simply because new material by any one of these three artists is always worth hearing ; improvising together, they create soundscapes that are by turns eerie, amusing, dense, and pointillistic. Sharp's approach to his instruments is completely unbounded by any traditional considerations, and the noises he produces are otherworldly ; Marclay is a pioneering virtuoso of turntable manipulation, skilled at using the decks to take familiar sounds and twist them beyond recognition ; and Mori spends at least as much time using her drum machines to produce pitches and textures as to produce beats. Highly recommended.

Rick Anderson (All Music)


Semantics : "Bone of contention"

(SST, 1987)

1- R-byte mock fry
2- Trumped up charges
3- Addressee unknown
4- Subsequential
5- Shredded
6- Revolver
7- Animal farm
8- Pay for their crimes
9- Code ring
10- The big sleep

musicians :

Samm Bennett : drums, percussion, voice, FZ-1
Ned Rothenberg : saxophones, clarinet, ocarina, panpipe, FZ-1
Elliott Sharp : guitars

When you hear the powerful, dissonant blast of "R-Byte Mock Fry," the first cut on Bone of Contention, it's hard to believe that the album could possibly all be this confrontational. Surprise! You're listening to what is probably the most accessible and conventional cut. The Semantics pulled no punches anywhere on this amazing release, which ranks with the most daring and successful examples of avant-garde rock. Elliott Sharp's guitars and basses howl, pound, and occasionally soothe; Ned Rothenberg blows up a jazz fury on not only saxes and clarinet, but ocarina and panpipe, and it's a measure of how good he is that he can get demonic riffs out of the latter two instruments. Samm Bennett pounds the heck out of all sorts of drums, often playing in time signatures that at first seem to have nothing to do with the rest of the music, but somehow make sense. It's an overpowering sound that can leave a listener sonically bruised and exhausted, but amazed at the passion, power, and inventiveness of it all.

Richard Foss (All Music)


Nicolas Collins : "100 of the world's most beautiful melodies"

(Trace Elements, 1989)

This album is played by an all-star downtown group: Nicolas Collins, Pippin Barnett, Anthony Coleman, Tom Cora, Peter Cusack, Shelley Hirsch, George Lewis, Christian Marclay, Ben Neill, Zeena Parkins, Robert Poss, Ned Rothenberg, Elliott Sharp, Davey Williams, John Zorn, and Peter Zummo. A tongue-in-cheek title, perhaps, depending on your idea of "beautiful melody," as the sounds range from electronically and physically modified instruments with a definite edge to the barely perceptible, awakening the ear. Collins is also part of the Impossible Music group (with David Weinstein, David Shea, Ted Greenwald, and Tim Spelios) who, performing live, manipulate CD players in the spirit of Plunderphonics and rap-scratch style, creating a new style of electronic ensemble with works like the spatial and surreal "Simulcatastrophy," a performance of Collin's "In CD" (a title pun on Riley's "In C," of course) often humorously re-thinking Beethoven and Mozart cadences and form (he has made some recent work with Ben Neill along this same line), and the dense work "Salvador Dali's Digital Cinema".

"Blue" Gene Tyranny (All Music)


John King Electric World : "Hot thumb in a funky groove"


"Everybody needs a little funk and noise, and Electric World offers a hefty dose of both. This is rock'n'soul for the head and heart." CMJ New Music Report

"The classic guitar-bass-drums trio led by John King is held together by their virtuosic playing. This is an exciting crossover band that many funk-metal bands should look to, enviously, for inspiration." OOR Magazine (Holland)

"The unsuspecting audience was massaged with funk rhythms until we were completely wet. Then we were nailed to the wall with Hendrix-esque guitar solos. In one hour, the trio created a kind of music which made one long for citizenship in King's Electric World." Esmaspaev (Estonia)

"King didn't even have time to wipe the hair away from his face, his funk-passionate guitar creating solo after solo. It seems like this white man has combined training and tradition with Black ethnic sincerity and God-given talent." Kronika (Estonia)


NB : this is an other fantastic record from John King' Electric World trio with two swiss partners, JoPo and Markus Stauss called "JoPo + Markus Stauss meet John King electric World, NY" (XOPF, 1990) : HERE (on great Lucky Psychic Hut blog)

dimanche 19 juillet 2009

Kenny Wollesen + Ben Goldberg : "The relative value of things"

(33 1/4 Records, 1992)

"Kenny and I recorded this in my living room with Jeff Cressman at the controls. I think it at least partly reflects Kenny's beautiful homemade philosophy. Kenny designed the actual packaging as well as the cover images and it was printed at his mother's printshop. The title is from Robert Henri's The Art Spirit, a book introduced to me by my brother Adam that had a deep effect on many of us at the time".

Ben Goldberg

On the surface, it might not seem like such a good idea, putting a duet session together between a clarinetist and a drummer. But that's the lovely thing about ideas often we are surprised at how wrong we are. This is a gorgeous little date between two of the downtown scene's most singing and adaptable personages. Here is a program of gently swinging originals and jazz nuggets that offer a startling view of all the tonal possibilities offered by such a stripped down pairing. Most notable are the Monk tunes, which lend themselves to almost any instrumental configuration but are seldom played correctly. Here, "Light Blue" and "Children's Song" are given the royal harmonic-bending treatment by creating Monk's rhythmic bass in the kit and his melodic and harmonic invention in Goldberg's single lines of shifting rhythmic length and texture. Goldberg's use of Monk's deceptively simple lyric line is anchored in a near contrapuntal harmonic one, so that as one element of the tune articulates itself, another complements and eventually undoes it to the point of extension. Meanwhile, Wollesen focuses on the syncopated accents and draws them out with small flourishes on the cymbals and snare fills to keep them anchored in time. Also groovy is the duo's reading of Dizzy Gillespie's "Salt Peanuts." What's amazing here is that Goldberg takes the original melody, without changing a note, only it's key and time signature, and makes it a near klezmer tune. The wild thing is that nothing sounds rushed or forced; it comes flying out of his clarinet like an old dance tune dusted off and put to use by the jazzers. Wollesen here has a running left hand tapping out the ride cymbal while using the other to syncopate the snare with a tom tom flare up once in a while. Amazing.

Thom Jurek (All Music)