Jazz Consumer Guide (27)
Banned by the Village Voice
by Tom Hull
Dan Raphael/Rich Halley/Carson Halley:
Children of the Blue Supermarket
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.
David S. Ware:
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
Muhal Richard Abrams:
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.
Searching for Adam
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.
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.
Ellery Eskelin/Gerry Hemingway:
Terrence McManus/Gerry Hemingway:
Below the Surface Of
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:
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.
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.
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.
Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya:
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
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.
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.
Steve Swell's Slammin' the Infinite:
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.
The End of Fear
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.
Eero Koivistoinen & Co.:
Avant fusion from Finland, McLaughlin-influenced guitar/keybs with
a saxophonist who steps boldly forth.
David S. Ware/Cooper-Moore/William Parker/Muhammad Ali:
More progress: a new quartet with older players than the old quartet,
the old fire too.
Honey Ear Trio:
Tough young tenor sax trio can still wax sentimental on "Over the
His basic tenor sax tour de force even when he tries something different,
like overdubbing his with soprano.
What About . . . . ?
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
As rough and tumble as you'd expect, beating up not the bebop classics
but their own bent deconstructions thereof.
Art of the Improviser
The craft of the jazz pianist -- a solo disc you have to chew on,
leavened by a trio that carries you along.
Fusion band aims high, adding trumpet and turntables to Coltrane's
Bo van der Graaf's soundtrack serenaders take spaghetti westerns
and load on the sauce and cheese.
With Mark Helias and Gerry Hemingway, so call this BassDrumGuitar,
a little more abstract given the higher math.
Rituals in the Marrow
Scratchy raw poetry laced with Joe Giardullo free sax, with a
gospel whoop when her blood gets riled up.
Rakalam Bob Moses/Greg Burk:
Improv with African allusions, abstract piano in a jungle of
Politically tinged Polish jokes in the Italian group's titles,
freebop sax in their grooves.
Sonic Liberation Front:
Meets Sunny Murray
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
New freebop from Chicago, tapping old-timers from Sun Ra's 1950s for
Ken Filiano & Quantum Entanglements:
Dreams From a Clown Car
MichaŰl Attias and Tony Malaby as quirky saxophonists, indeterminacy
a fundamental law of their universe.
Stephen Gauci/Kris Davis/Michael Bisio:
Subtle avant sax riffing around abstract piano and mischievous bass.
Trygve Seim/Andreas Utnem:
Nordic sax-piano duets, some folkloric, some improvised, served chilled.
Assim Falava Jazzatustra
Beatwise piano, Perico Sambeat's tasty sax, rumbling rhythm, Pink
The Ullmann/Swell 4:
News? No News!
Avant shuck and jive, freewheeling tenor sax or bass clarinet brought
down to earth by gritty trombone.
Decoy & Joe McPhee:
World's freest saxophonist combusts caustically with Hammond B3 trio.
Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore:
Three Kinds of Happiness
Bass clarinet-led free jazz trio, kind of like a big buck with
Andrew Lamb Trio:
New Orleans Suite
More post-Katrina fallout -- sax and bass, flute and didgeridoo --
with Warren Smith declaiming and hitting things.
John Stowell's guitar trio -- subtle craftsmanship for postbop
A postbop smorgasbord, shifting horns anchored by the leader's
baritone sax/bass clarinet.
The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band:
Gypsy Rendezvous, Vol. One
Drummer-singer and better half Bonnie Eisele trade surreal standards
in a hot club in Hawaii.
Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord:
Sax-toting gunslingers take a break to attend church with the Louvin
Two Nights in April
Sebastian Bergstr÷m's hard-edged piano trio, leans free on a rock
The Men I Love
Standardizing Neal Diamond, Todd Rundgren, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Webb.
Franšois Carrier/Alexey Lapin/Michel Lambert:
The pianist prefers dense, dark clusters; the saxophonist searches
for the light.
Highly improbable sax hero, bright, lush, and never sketchy.
In a duo with altoist Thomas Chapin, the drummer jumps out front and
dares the saxophonist to keep up.
The Jazz Passengers:
The Peaches & Herb hit, bent and laced with avant-skronk, padded
with two Debbie Harry leads from the good old days.
For the Love of Ornette
Prime Time bassist sneaks Coleman into the studio and teases him with
new turns on old times.
Ka Da Ver
Dutch free jazz bash -- the sort of thing that will be touted thirty
years from now in some critic's Unheard Music Series.
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.
- Dan Raphael/Rich Halley/Carson Halley: Children of the Blue Supermarket (Pine Eagle) A
- David S. Ware: Onecept (AUM Fidelity) 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-
- 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)
- 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).
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
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.
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.