Jazz Consumer Guide (27)

Banned by the Village Voice

by Tom Hull

Pick Hits

Dan Raphael/Rich Halley/Carson Halley: Children of the Blue Supermarket (Pine Eagle)
The setup is simple enough: Raphael declaims his postbeat poetry, Rich Halley chases every stanza with his garrulous postbop tenor sax, and his son the drummer accents. Not sure how the poetry flows on paper, but the mad rush of images is so vibrant you hang on every word, and the sax drives every point home. A

David S. Ware: Onecept (AUM Fidelity)
His life saved by a kidney transplant, the avant saxophonist's rehab continues: first the solo Saturnian improv with stritch and manzello for variety, now he adds bass and drums -- old hands William Parker and Warren Smith, who can follow him anywhere. He works up subtle schemata, but the main thing you hear is his towering sound. A MINUS


Muhal Richard Abrams: SoundDance (Pi)
Two discs with the AACM guru-pianist, each a duo: an easy one comping behind Fred Anderson's warmest, gentlest free sax, and a difficult one with George Lewis running interference on laptop and trombone, the distilled essence of forty years of breaking all the rules. A MINUS

Rodrigo Amado: Searching for Adam (Not Two)
An imposing tenor saxophonist for more than a decade in groups like the Lisbon Improvisation Players and the Humanization 4Tet, Amado fronts a group that frames him as smartly as his photography. With John HÚbert on bass, Gerald Cleaver on drums, and Taylor Ho Bynum on contrasting brass, cornet, and flugelhorn. The group can freewheel, but the focus sticks to Amado, especially when he slows down and dips into the baritone sax. A MINUS

Mathias Eick: Skala (ECM)
Like so many Norwegian jazz players, has a rock background which he still indulges in Jaga Jazzist and Motorpsycho, but ECM focuses him more narrowly: the rhythms shift free, the piano rumbles, sax and harp slip in and out, while the trumpet is warm and bright enough to dispell any thoughts of Nordic chill. A MINUS

Ellery Eskelin/Gerry Hemingway: Inbetween Spaces (Auricle)
Terrence McManus/Gerry Hemingway: Below the Surface Of (Auricle)

A pair of drummer duos: whereas Paal Nilssen-Love is all muscle circling his opponents, Hemingway is finesse, patiently drawing his partners out. Eskelin's tenor sax is fractal, each excursion revealing more detail as Hemingway picks it apart. McManus's electric guitar is louder, more dissonant, the fractures less by design than by stress. Both: A MINUS

Avram Fefer/Eric Revis/Chad Taylor: Eliyahu (Not Two)
Sax-bass-drums trio, more soulful than you expect from free jazz, tightly focused with a humane tone. Named for Fefer's late father, a thoughtful reckoning. A MINUS

Free Fall: Gray Scale (Smalltown Superjazz)
Ken Vandermark's fourth take on the Jimmy Giuffre trio, where Hňvard Wiik's piano finaly rivals Paul Bley's for fluid invention, and centers the bass and clarinet abstractions. A MINUS

Humanization 4tet: Electricity (Ayler)
Guitarist Luis Lopes provides the juice, welding the bass and drums of Dennis Gonzßlez's sons into a taut, metallic undercarriage -- just the platform for Rodrigo Amado's sax bombs. Heavy metal but jazz. A MINUS

Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya: Sotho Blue (Sunnyside)
A septet with three saxes and a trombone, just enough tones to let the leader play the band the way Ellington used to, although the piano is more thematic, stitching together the glorious panorama of colors. A MINUS

Inzinzac: Inzinzac (High Two)
A guitar-sax-drums trio playing "rock music in odd time signatures" -- by "rock" they mean loud, and by "odd" they mean odd. Guitarist Alban Bailly, who named the group for his home town in Brittany, drives his pieces, but more often than not Dan Scofield's soprano sax provides the sharp, shiny, metallic edges. A MINUS

Jon Irabagon: Foxy (Hot Cup)
The Sonny Rollins cover takeoff is just as goof, as are the "Foxy"-"Proxy"-"Chicken Poxy" titles. Not cowtunes; more like A Night at the Village Vanguard. And if Barry Altschul wants to play louder than Elvin Jones, the saxophonist cranks it up that much more. A MINUS

Steve Swell's Slammin' the Infinite: 5000 Poems (Not Two)
The dependable, long-struggling avant trombonist drops his best album ever and the main things you notice are how Sabir Mateen has a tour de force on everything from flute to tenor sax, and how new pianist John Blum crashes the rhythm to shards. But the trombone does keep up, and holds the chaos together. A MINUS

Tarbaby: The End of Fear (Posi-Tone)
Looks like a piano trio juggling guest horns on 8 of 12 tracks but Orrin Evans, Eric Revis, and Nasheet Waits pick up energy on their own, just not as much as Nicholas Payton, J.D. Allen, and especially Oliver Lake. Covers from Fats Waller to Bad Brains, originals by all three including a Monkish one by Revis. Everything holds together. A MINUS

Honorable Mention

Eero Koivistoinen & Co.: 3rd Version (1973, Porter)
Avant fusion from Finland, McLaughlin-influenced guitar/keybs with a saxophonist who steps boldly forth.

David S. Ware/Cooper-Moore/William Parker/Muhammad Ali: Planetary Unknown (AUM Fidelity)
More progress: a new quartet with older players than the old quartet, the old fire too.

Honey Ear Trio: Steampunk Serenade (Foxhaven)
Tough young tenor sax trio can still wax sentimental on "Over the Rainbow."

Jerry Bergonzi: Convergence (Savant)
His basic tenor sax tour de force even when he tries something different, like overdubbing his with soprano.

Conference Call: What About . . . . ? (Not Two)
Prodigious avant sax/clarinetist Gebhard Ullman roars and roils over Memphis-based pianist Michael Jefry Stevens.

Mostly Other People Do the Killing: The Coimbra Concert (Clean Feed)
As rough and tumble as you'd expect, beating up not the bebop classics but their own bent deconstructions thereof.

Matthew Shipp: Art of the Improviser (Thirsty Ear)
The craft of the jazz pianist -- a solo disc you have to chew on, leavened by a trio that carries you along.

Harriet Tubman: Ascension (Sunnyside)
Fusion band aims high, adding trumpet and turntables to Coltrane's rafter raiser.

I Compani: Mangiare! (Icdisc)
Bo van der Graaf's soundtrack serenaders take spaghetti westerns and load on the sauce and cheese.

Terrence McManus: Transcendental Numbers (NoBusiness)
With Mark Helias and Gerry Hemingway, so call this BassDrumGuitar, a little more abstract given the higher math.

E.J. Antonio: Rituals in the Marrow (Blue Zygo)
Scratchy raw poetry laced with Joe Giardullo free sax, with a gospel whoop when her blood gets riled up.

Rakalam Bob Moses/Greg Burk: Ecstatic Weanderings (Jazzwerkstatt)
Improv with African allusions, abstract piano in a jungle of worldly drums.

Jaruzelski's Dream: Jazz Gawronski (Clean Feed)
Politically tinged Polish jokes in the Italian group's titles, freebop sax in their grooves.

Sonic Liberation Front: Meets Sunny Murray (High Two) Bata beats and avant-sax, joined by Kevin Diehl's mentor but a bit out of sorts.

Mike Reed's People, Places & Things: Stories and Negotiations (482 Music)
New freebop from Chicago, tapping old-timers from Sun Ra's 1950s for fresh stories.

Ken Filiano & Quantum Entanglements: Dreams From a Clown Car (Clean Feed)
MichaŰl Attias and Tony Malaby as quirky saxophonists, indeterminacy a fundamental law of their universe.

Stephen Gauci/Kris Davis/Michael Bisio: Three (Clean Feed)
Subtle avant sax riffing around abstract piano and mischievous bass.

Trygve Seim/Andreas Utnem: Purcor (ECM)
Nordic sax-piano duets, some folkloric, some improvised, served chilled.

J˙lio Resende: Assim Falava Jazzatustra (Clean Feed)
Beatwise piano, Perico Sambeat's tasty sax, rumbling rhythm, Pink Floyd cover.

The Ullmann/Swell 4: News? No News! (Jazzwerkstatt)
Avant shuck and jive, freewheeling tenor sax or bass clarinet brought down to earth by gritty trombone.

Decoy & Joe McPhee: Oto (Bo Weavil)
World's freest saxophonist combusts caustically with Hammond B3 trio.

Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore: Three Kinds of Happiness (Not Two)
Bass clarinet-led free jazz trio, kind of like a big buck with velvet horns.

Andrew Lamb Trio: New Orleans Suite (Engine)
More post-Katrina fallout -- sax and bass, flute and didgeridoo -- with Warren Smith declaiming and hitting things.

Scenes: Rinnova (Origin)
John Stowell's guitar trio -- subtle craftsmanship for postbop ambience.

Brian Landrus: Foward (Cadence Jazz)
A postbop smorgasbord, shifting horns anchored by the leader's baritone sax/bass clarinet.

The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band: Gypsy Rendezvous, Vol. One (Origin)
Drummer-singer and better half Bonnie Eisele trade surreal standards in a hot club in Hawaii.

Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord: Accomplish Jazz (Hot Cup)
Sax-toting gunslingers take a break to attend church with the Louvin Brothers.

Correction: Two Nights in April (Ayler)
Sebastian Bergstr÷m's hard-edged piano trio, leans free on a rock solid base.

Barb Jungr: The Men I Love (Naim)
Standardizing Neal Diamond, Todd Rundgren, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Webb.

Franšois Carrier/Alexey Lapin/Michel Lambert: Inner Spire (Leo)
The pianist prefers dense, dark clusters; the saxophonist searches for the light.

Todd DelGiudice: Pencil Sketches (OA2)
Highly improbable sax hero, bright, lush, and never sketchy.

William Hooker: Crossing Points (1992, NoBusiness)
In a duo with altoist Thomas Chapin, the drummer jumps out front and dares the saxophonist to keep up.

The Jazz Passengers: Reunited (Justin Time)
The Peaches & Herb hit, bent and laced with avant-skronk, padded with two Debbie Harry leads from the good old days.

Jamaaladeen Tacuma: For the Love of Ornette (Jazzwerkstatt)
Prime Time bassist sneaks Coleman into the studio and teases him with new turns on old times.

Premier Roeles: Ka Da Ver (Vindu)
Dutch free jazz bash -- the sort of thing that will be touted thirty years from now in some critic's Unheard Music Series.

Rated

This table provides a working guide to how the JCG is shaping up. This does not include anything moved to bk-flush: these include items relegated to Surplus, reviewed in Recycled Goods, or just passed over. Entries in black are written, gray graded but not written, red ungraded but with prospect notes (all these are at the bottom of their approximate grade levels, alphabetized). A-list, B-list and Duds are alphabetical; HM lists are ranked, with breaks for three-two-one stars.

Picks
  • Dan Raphael/Rich Halley/Carson Halley: Children of the Blue Supermarket (Pine Eagle) A
  • David S. Ware: Onecept (AUM Fidelity) A-
A
  • Muhal Richard Abrams: SoundDance (Pi) A-
  • Rodrigo Amado: Searching for Adam (Not Two) A-
  • Mathias Eick: Skala (ECM) A-
  • Ellery Eskelin/Gerry Hemingway: Inbetween Spaces (Auricle) A-
  • Terrence McManus/Gerry Hemingway: Below the Surface Of (Auricle)
  • Avram Fefer/Eric Revis/Chad Taylor: Eliyahu (Not Two) A-
  • Free Fall: Gray Scale (Smalltown Superjazz) A-
  • Humanization 4tet: Electricity (Ayler) A-
  • Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya: Sotho Blue (Sunnyside) A-
  • Inzinzac: Inzinzac (High Two) A-
  • Jon Irabagon: Foxy (Hot Cup) A-
  • Steve Swell's Slammin' the Infinite: 5000 Poems (Not Two) A-
  • Tarbaby: The End of Fear (Posi-Tone) A-
HM [A-]
  • Eero Koivistoinen & Co.: 3rd Version (Porter)
  • David S. Ware/Cooper-Moore/William Parker/Muhammad Ali: Planetary Unknown (AUM Fidelity)
  • Honey Ear Trio: Steampunk Serenade (Foxhaven)
  • Jerry Bergonzi: Convergence (Savant)
  • Conference Call: What About . . . . ? (Not Two)
HM [***]
  • Mostly Other People Do the Killing: The Coimbra Concert (Clean Feed)
  • Matthew Shipp: Art of the Improviser (Thirsty Ear)
  • Harriet Tubman: Ascension (Sunnyside)
  • I Compani: Mangiare! (Icdisc)
  • Terrence McManus: Transcendental Numbers (NoBusiness)
  • E.J. Antonio: Rituals in the Marrow (Blue Zygo)
  • Rakalam Bob Moses/Greg Burk: Ecstatic Weanderings (Jazzwerkstatt)
  • Jaruzelski's Dream: Jazz Gawronski (Clean Feed)
  • Sonic Liberation Front: Meets Sunny Murray (High Two)
  • Mike Reed's People, Places & Things: Stories and Negotiations (482 Music)
  • Ken Filiano & Quantum Entanglements: Dreams From a Clown Car (Clean Feed)
  • Stephen Gauci/Kris Davis/Michael Bisio: Three (Clean Feed)
  • Trygve Seim/Andreas Utnem: Purcor (ECM)
  • J˙lio Resende: Assim Falava Jazzatustra (Clean Feed)
  • The Ullmann/Swell 4: News? No News! (Jazzwerkstatt)
  • Decoy & Joe McPhee: Oto (Bo Weavil)
  • Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore: Three Kinds of Happiness (Not Two)
  • Andrew Lamb Trio: New Orleans Suite (Engine)
  • Scenes: Rinnova (Origin)
  • Brian Landrus: Foward (Cadence Jazz)
  • The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band: Gypsy Rendezvous, Vol. One (Origin)
  • Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord: Accomplish Jazz (Hot Cup)
  • Correction: Two Nights in April (Ayler)
  • Barb Jungr: The Men I Love: The New American Songbook (Naim)
  • Franšois Carrier/Alexey Lapin/Michel Lambert: Inner Spire (Leo)
  • Todd DelGiudice: Pencil Sketches (OA2)
  • William Hooker: Crossing Points (NoBusiness)
  • The Jazz Passengers: Reunited (Justin Time)
  • Jamaladeen Tacuma: For the Love of Ornette (Jazzwerkstatt)
  • Premier Roeles: Ka Da Ver (Vindu)

Album count: 49; Word count: 1591 (graded 14: 811; additional 35: 780).

Prospecting

I try to write up an informal note on every jazz record I hear the first (or sometimes second) time I play it. Those notes are collected over the course of a week, then posted in the blog. They are also collected here.

Surplus

The surplus file collects final notes when I decide that I cannot realistically keep a record under active consideration for the Jazz Consumer Guide. These notes are mostly written at the end of a JCG cycle and posted to the blog when the column is printed. In effect, they are the extended copy to the column. There are various reasons for this. For old music it is often because I wrote something in Recycled Goods and figure that was enough. Sometimes good records have just gotten old. Most of the time the records aren't all that interesting anyway. I can handle 25-30 records per column. It just doesn't make sense for me to keep more than 60-80 graded records in the active list at the start of a new cycle. In many cases, I decide the prospecting notes or Recycled Goods review suffices, so note that in the file.

Pending

Working on the following (both new and old). When done they will go to the print or done or flush file. When the column is published, the done entries will be dumped into notebook.