Friday, December 22, 2017
It's post-Milesian psychedelic avant music done to a turn. This is the Yo Miles idea allowed to blossom out and find its very personal, conclusive-for-now expression. Any of you who might have been skeptical about electric music, the classic Miles sides, and all the other things wonderful that have come out then and since (and I think you were wrong about that) listen to this and think again. For this in a way is a conceptual, compositional and improvisational culmination of all that. But there is still more Miles and Miles to go in this genre. It is by no means a dead creative avenue. Just listen to this one and use your imagination.
It is supremely balanced, elevated freedom music. And again, if you think we do not need freedom, look around. Some people may think they did it and do it "my way." No way to some of those folks. Your way? No, this way, please. Step forward or step aside.
There is a wonderful balance between AkLaff's churning drums, Laswell's smartly solid bass anchoring, the beautiful coloring and punch or the guitars and Wadada's supremely soulful smarts on the trumpet.
You wonder where it is going yet it is already there and moving ahead always. THIS is part of that.
Whoever you are, and I no doubt know many of you personally, I enjoin you to give this music some close and repeated attention. It is forward moving and a joy to hear.
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
It is true in general also of modern classical composers and avant rock artists. The promotion of the next big thing is no longer a priority with the moneyed music business interests as a rule, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Absolute hegemony in modern music scenes would kill off much of what is excellent out there that did not fit the bill of the would-be big avant stars of the present.
And perhaps it is so that the mainstream audiences for such things is no longer very large, though one might argue all-the-more dedicated. Much of new jazz is an underground affair. The available work in clubs and concerts has shrunk a good deal in the last 30 years, making it necessary for hyper-local scenes to remain relatively isolated and insular. Like the old territory bands, there are sub-genres in new jazz, quite a few if you take the time to locate them. All this is probably a good thing for the quantity of good-to-excellent new jazz emerging out there. It is decidedly not a very good trend for the economic health of the artists.
With all this in mind I turn to a recent release that exemplifies the importance of new jazz along with its sometimes obscurity. Here we have Abstract Window (WhyPlayJazz RS032), featuring drummer Kasper Tom Christianson, pianist Alexander Von Schippenbach and clarinet-bass clarinet master Rudi Mahall. It is a European free date that allows a very creative and spontaneous frisson of eloquent free invention from three important figures very much active today.
Kasper Tom may be less known but he shows us he is fully worthy to be in the company of these two stellar artists. The program consists of 11 relatively short improvisations that cohere in the best senses of what the jazz-past-drenched realm of freedom in Europe means today.
All three are in mutually coherent dialog throughout, each responding on a three-way channel of independence-through-togetherness synchronicity.
It is an exciting example of one subrealm of free improv jazz that continues to grow and evolve today.
More you will understand if you give this album some deep listening. It is in its own way landmark.
Monday, December 4, 2017
An unusual arrangement of "Light Blue" with an off-kilter drum part is also notable, here present in two different versions plus a set of rehearsal takes (the latter of which is not essential).
The band is definitely on it and Monk himself is in top form. We get several solo Monk versions of things and multiple takes of "Rhythm-a-Ning" of "Crepuscule with Nellie," a single take of "Six in One," two solo takes of "Pannonica" and two quartet takes, and so forth.
Any Monk fan will find all of this a delight. If they had left out the rehearsal takes of "Light Blue" it all would fit comfortably on a single CD. On the other hand a Monk devotee would hardly quibble about this, as the content is primo and a refreshing go for this period.
Therefore I do shout the praises of this offering! Monk ever lives.
Thursday, November 30, 2017
The premise is simple: turn Wadada loose in the studio with just his trumpet and some clear ideas on how solo improvisations can capture the essence of Monk's special mastery while also allowing Wadada to create art wholly his own.
This is tour de force trumpet artistry and a source of insight into Wadada the gifted improvisational inventor. Every phrase seems deliberate, nothing is as if an aside.
You hear Wadada as he is right now, an artist who in a way has come full circle through Yo Miles and ambitious jazz compositions, all of a very high order. Now once again he proudly proclaims his artistic independence as a player and in the process shows his great respect and love for the master, Thelonious Monk.
I could blather on at great length here. It is not entirely necessary. Suffice to say that Wadada Leo Smith is one of our real treasures, a giant among American artists living and excelling today, one of the world's musical wonders, so to speak.
He says it all with the utmost of inspiration and compactness, with just his trumpet and all his considerable innovative faculties.
Can I suggest you get this and live with the music for a while? You'll come away with something you would not have inside you otherwise, maybe. That is how rewarding this set is.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
This new recording, Peace Worshipers (Affetto 1706), by arguably the greatest living Hindustani exponent of the Sarod, Amjad Ali Khan, and his colleagues Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash on sarods and Elmira Darvarova on violin is very worthy of our attention. It brings to us the excitement of Jugalbandi (duet improvisations on a Raga structure) and the freewheeling compositional possibilities both inherent in Jugalbandi and beyond.
Most of the music is based on a particular Raga and composed by Amjad Ali Khan, There is also a recomposition of a Bulgarian folk song by Elmira Darvarova.
Davarova is a very fine violinist who fits in well with the Indian classicists. She and Amjad turn in some beautiful performances. And the ensemble as a whole engages in exciting and beautiful exchanges. Some of it reminds of Ravi Shankar's elaborate compositions that went into synchronized variations and thematic expositions based on but travelling beyond Indian tradition. Other have the subtle Jugalbandi interplay.
It is music in every way worth your time. Amjad Ali Khan brings brilliance to our ears in his lively and beautiful compositions. And the playing is all you could hope for. This is a stunner! Grab it by all means.
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
The music is very lively, with the tres holding forth nicely, percussion and bass laying down a rock solid foundation and flute and ensemble embellishing it all while Yudelkys' voice soars atop in those numbers where she is featured. Tres solos sprinkle the music with a brilliance anyone can recognize.
In short this is contemporary Cuban music of real distinction, something that sounds great any time of day, any season, whenever you are in the mood to groove and stretch your soul. Recommended. Viva Ansonica Records for bringing this to us.
Friday, November 10, 2017
Such an album is most definitely Brian Lynch's Hollistic MusicWorks Presents Tone Twister by Rob Schneiderman (Hollistic MusicWorks HMW 16). It is finely honed quintet jazz capturing the essence of classic Blue Note hard bop in the finely composed, arranged and nicely improvised mode. The piano-trumpet-tenor-bass-drums instrumentation of course is venerable. It is made concrete by the fine players who form Hollistic MusicWorks: Rob Schneiderman on piano, Brian Lynch on trumpet, Ralph Moore on tenor, Gerald Cannon on bass and Pete Van Nostrand on drums. All very good players well suited for the music Schneiderman envisions.
"Unforgettable" is the one standard we hear, and it forms a familiar island in a sea of inventive hard bop. The rest are Schneiderman-penned numbers, each with an element of style known well to us, Latin-tinged, loping, swinging funk, boplicitous excursions, mid-Trane-ish, Tyneresque feels, Monk-Duke modes, in short a good variety of moods and grooves. Within the whole there are nicely tight interlocking horn voicings, piano strengths and subtleties, and a continual powering by the rhythm team.
A happy confluence is what we get throughout. Put it on and engage!