More extended free jazz from Futterman, Levin, and Fielder
Mary Halvorson has had a busy year, release-wise. In addition to this, there's a duo CD on Skirl with violinist Jessica Pavone, and an other duo record on ugEXPLODE with Weasel Walter on the drums (haven't listened to that one yet, but it promises to be, um, loud.)
Source: NY Times
(Used without permission.
Click the pic for the NYT story.)
Dragon's Head is an intriguing mix of lilting jazz guitar and
downcast/grumpy indie-rock instrumental.
"Momentary Lapse" is a good example.
Opening with expansive-feeling guitar sweeps, it eventually delves into post-
rock territory, settling on blunt, dissonant chords you'd more likely
associate with Rumah Sakit or some similarly angular indie band. And then
the Sonic Youth distortion kicks in, and Halvorson is basically pummelling you
with sound. Along the way, John Hébert gets a bass solo that makes you feel
like you're still in a jazz world, but Ches Smith's drum hammering elsewhere
is miles away from any jazz club.
"One Two Six Four Two Dies" (maybe the title is the new emergency number) has a more properly "jazz" feel to open the record,
especially in Smith's drums, but the prickly guitar soloing lets you know
the rock and possibly modern-classical influences are stewing under the
"Screws Loose" has become a favorite track of mine on here. It's a short
song that feels like an indie-rock instrumental.
Like Peter Evans, Halvorson is a relatively new sighting on my horizons.
I recall seeing her name on Anthony Braxton sessions, but it's only recently
that I've gotten chances to hear her playing. You can find out a little more
about her here, and of course,
there are the abovementioned records to delve through.
ARTIST -- "TRACK TITLE" -- ALBUM TITLE (LABEL, YEAR)
Horizontal lines denote microphone breaks.
Tim Berne -- "Huevos" -- Science Friction Screwgun, 2002)
* Oliver Lake Organ Trio -- "In Walked John" -- Makin' It (Passin' Thru, 2008)
* Brinsk --
"Svensfagel" -- A Hamster Speaks (Nowt, 2008)
* Paul Carlon
"Yorubonics" -- Roots Propaganda (Deep Tone, 2008)
* Oliver Lake Organ Trio -- "Say Girl" -- Makin' It (Passin' Thru, 2008)
Lucien Dubuis Trio -- "Insomie" -- Tovorak (Tovorak, 2006)
While this isn't as crazy as you'd think, judging from the album cover, it's still plenty adventurous. It's hip, young, energetic, and thoughtful jazz that plays off a base of free improvising but also includes some catchy composing.
On the latter front, you've got jazzy pieces like "Svensfagel" and
"One," bringing out the band's kicking three-horn attack. The slower, more
abstract tracks are just as rewarding, though. "Laser Eyes" is a
standout, a dark mysterious jungle of horn squawks and heavy drums.
"Mrs. Zurne" has gloomy overones but carries on patiently, the spare drumming
masking what's actually a brisk pace. "Soul Devoured" might best exemplify
the band's demeanor, starting out with a slow pulse that's tough and
solid, building into a nicely percolating jam.
You've also got two tracks with vocals, which is a little different.
"Andy" is a weird, slow song (as in, actually sung, in stumbly,
breathy tones). "The Gun I Used To Be" is a sparse, evil improv fronted
by a croaking, deep-voiced narrative that crafts a dark mood.
That cover ... it's a secret-agent or superhero hamster who's using a laser-eye weapon to defeat an attacking robot snake. (Or maybe it's an integrated cyborg/bio-snake; it seems to spout blood.)
* Jean Martin and Evan Shaw -- "Me Softly With His Kill" -- Piano Music (Barnyard, 2007)
* Mary Halvorson Trio --
"Screws Loose" -- Dragon's Head (Firehouse 12, 2008)
* Zehetmair Quartett --
"String Quartet No. 5" [Bartok, 5th mvmt] -- Bela Bartok and Paul Hidemith (ECM, 2008)
I'm not going to lie and say I can compare these performances
to others; I'm not that well versed in classical, and certainly
not in Bartok string quartets. It sounds plenty good to me and
the Bartok 5th is a dynamic, intriguing piece. This final movement
has lots of swooping drama, as well as some plinking quiet zones that
resemble the tiptoeing music in Chuck Jones cartoons.
I also like the quiet fourth movement; it's got a lot of motion
and tension to it.
* Kyron x Griddle -- "Urbis" -- City Made of Teeth (Black Note, 2008)
The Bartok is paired with Paul Hindemith's String Quartet No. 4.
It's got its bold moments and a bit of good heavyhandedness, but
it's just not as edgy as the Bartok.
So, according to those Web links up there, Kyron and Griddle are
different people who combined forces for this hour-long "remix."
It's cool-handed electronica, with some nicely crunchy noisy tracks
like this one.
* Mary Halvorson Trio --
"Old Nine Two Six Four Two Dies" -- Dragon's Head (Firehouse 12, 2008)
-- 4:00 p.m. --
* Carla Kihlstedt, Gino Robair, Matthew Sperry -- "After Sonarchy" -- Sonarchy 1998 (Majmua, 2008)
-- "Ancient Futures" -- Solo Piano (Pax, 2005)
Piano work that we've classified as "jazz" but really belongs
in the "smart-assed nearly classical" section. Many tracks are
characterized by heavy pounding or rollicking, fast rhythms, often
contrasted with quiet segments to show that, yes, McDonas is
messing with you. It's a very college-radio kind of piano album.
* Mamadou Diabate -- "Douga Mansa" -- Douga Mansa
(World Village, 2008)
nk. -- "Displacement" -- The Epidemic of Ideas (Thirsty Ear, 2008)
? Elliott Carter -- "String Quartet No. 3" [sample excerpt off of YouTube]
Because Carter is still alive, I'm giving his
attention than Messiaen's (and apparently, I
wasn't the only one).
In other words, he gets an extra spin after
and it's a good 20-minute one, at that.
Elliott Carter -- "Cello Concerto" [Fred Sherry, cello] -- The Music of Elliott Carter, Volume Seven (Bridge, 2007)
There's a local mailing list for creative/avant-garde musicians,
kind of an offshoot of the
where some folks were listing their favorite Carter compositions.
happened to note this string quartet, likening it to being punched in the
face repeatedly for two hours, in a good way.
How can you not follow up on a recommendation like that? We didn't have
this one in the library, though, so I took the desperation YouTube
route. The reason this was so important: This quartet has the viola and
bass playing at one tempo, and the violins at a faster tempo.
It's not as much of a pileup as the Darius Milhaud 5th quartet (where
each player is in a different key), but it was still plenty jumbling and
confusion upon first listen.
So, I introduced the Carter piece with very short snippets if the third
quartet. Funny thing is -- the snatches I played on air seemed to make
sense, much more so than when I'd first listened. Did I just
get used to the music, or did I get "lucky" and find less crazy
passages ... or is it really not as insane as the description makes it
As for Carter in general ... his 100th was celebrated with a warm profilein this week's NY Times
A 20-minute piece in six continuous movements. I'd meant to play
only about half of it, but I really got into it and decided to just
let it roll. It's a dynamic, exciting piece, and Fred Sherry really
can let sparks fly on the cello.
He's also the star on the Steven Mackey piece noted
* Rudresh Mahanthappa -- "Snake!" -- Kinsmen (Pi Recordings, 2008)
-- 5:00 p.m. --
* New Haven Improvisers Collective -- "Darkmatter" -- Interference (self-released, 2008)
* Yellowcake -- "You, in My Shadow" -- Yellowcake (Rastascan, 2006)
* Paul Shapiro -- "Essen" -- Essen (Tzadik, 2008)
You normally associate Tzadik with dark, serious material,
stern classical abstractions, creepy aggressive music ... but here,
you've got a fun Klezmer soundtrack with a damn funny narration about
a very Jewish New Yorker time vacationing in the catskills and
turning down all the activities offered there except for the eating.
The stereotypical accent and attitude are played 'way over-the-top,
as are the sounds of the partying crowd during the chorus.
bLevin bLechdom -- "Avian Enamel..." -- Gular Flutter (Aagoo, 2008)
* Ron George -- "Gupta Sloka Chand" -- The Floating Bubble (Innova, 2008)
* Trio Encompas -- "Small Farmer's Song" -- Trio Encompas (Avant Coast, 2008)
* Joel Futterman, Alvin Fielder, Ike Levin Trio -- "Ascendance" [et.al.] -- Traveling Through Now (Charles Lester Music, 2008)
Another extended free-form jazz exercise from Futterman on
piano and sometimes sax, Fielder on drums, and Levin on sax.
Big power-jazz passages that start from a McCoy Tyner kind of
storminess on piano and ascend into Cecil Taylor territory.
* Frank Lowe -- "In Trane's Name" [excerpt] -- Black Beings (ESP-Disk, 2008; orig. released 1973)
* = Item in KZSU rotation
! = Pop anomaly
? = Item not in KZSU library
-- Go back to Memory Select playlists.
-- Bay Area free/improv music calendar: http://www.bayimproviser.com.