:::air cavalry #4:::

Posted: Tuesday, 27 November 2012 by jazzlover in Etykiety:

During one of the timeout in Yves Simon's schedule, his backing band profited from the spare time to record their first album. Indeed this was quite quick (6 days in mid-May at Studio Davout), because they had had time to prepare it, and where even playing their own numbers at soundchecks of the singer's tours. 
The standard prog quartet developed an excellent jazz-rock that was rivalling the classic-driven Mahavishnu Orchestra, where the songwriting was fairly evenly spread out between the four accomplished musicians, although I wouldn't call them seasoned veterans. On a Spanish scale, you could place them between Fusioon's first two albums and Iceberg's jazzier opus like Coses Nostres.
The artwork might induce you to think the group is very percussive, but the sound is very much balanced. 14 relatively short tracks (max 3'40") that meddle into one giant number. In some ways, you'd guess that the tracks written by drummer Bouvier are more rhythmic, but then once they morph into bassist Guselli- written ditties, they don't necessarily become funky. As the short tracks keep speeding by, the listener is never bored, because they (tracks) are all very different and never repeat themselves. Their jazz-rock is still fairly academic, but complex, melodious and subtle finesse.
An excellent but short debut album that did not go unnoticed in the French jazz scene, Priglacit (no idea as to what the title means) is probably the best introduction to Transit Express' music, but you can't go wrong by choosing anyone of their three opus. And when this is the case, it's best to start chronologically.
:::Review by Sean Trane:::

Transit Express - Priglacit (1975)

1- Priglacit 
2- Drousia I 
3- Drousia II 
4- Contrat Session 
5- Planerie 
6- Bahar 
7- Contradiction 
8- Ludition 
9- Vanda 
10- Vinitier 
11- Connection 
12- Flaure 
13- Coexistence 
14- ls

Dominique Bouvier / drums, vibraphone, percussion
Jean-Claude Guselli / el & ac bass
Christian Leroux / guitars, synths
Serge Perathoner / el & ac piano, clavinet, ring modulator, synths

:::off the back of a lorry #4:::

Posted: Monday, 26 November 2012 by jazzlover in Etykiety:

Saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh seems right at home on Pi Recordings, who have steadily assembled a roster of serious conceptualists. The Californian player and academic (do yourself a favor and check out his writings) has always impressed with his synthetic imagination, but on Post-Chromodal Out! he sets himself an almost impossibly ambitious task. Modirzadeh himself describes his “quest to create a seamless exchange of musical structures across cultures.” But rather than another entry in the history of faintly awkward jazz and exotica “fusions,” Modirzadeh’s “chromodality” system is rooted in a very rigorous tuning and harmonization concept that explores the intersections between Iranian dastgahmusic and improvisational polytonality ranging from Harry Partch to Joe Maneri.
Over the course of two lengthy suites — his own nearly 50-minute “Weft Facets” and James Norton’s “Wolf and Warp” (Modirzadeh wanted to see if his system could stand up to another composer’s explorations) — the results prove to be surprising, quizzical, and “fuck yeah” exhilarating. This quintet — the leader on tenor and soprano, trumpeter Amir ElSaffar (with whom Modirzadeh co-led Radif Suite), pianist Vijay Iyer, bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Royal Hartigan — plays with so much range and feeling and technique that they at times sound nearly orchestral. At the heart of these often head-turning effects is the integration of standard and Iranian classical tunings and intonations to shape improvisational possibilities. There’s microtonality simply everywhere, not just in the subtle intervals Modirzadeh uses to make up his craggy, fast-moving lines, but in the timbre of the horns and the piano (Iyer is a knockout from start to finish, playing an instrument retuned to three-quarter tones). Each of these multi-sectioned suites moves through sequences of fascinating tension between passages for swing rhythm section and jabbing piano (“Wolf Two,” for example, or “Facet Seventeen,” which sounds like a Persian Ornette cover band with player piano, buoyed by an immense Filiano/Hartigan groove). Modirzadeh and ElSaffar play fascinating solos where the horn tones seem to flip, quaver, vibrate, and have their own bottom drop out (notice the soprano flourishes on “Facet Twenty-Two” or ElSaffar’s exchanges with Iyer on “Facet Twenty-Four”), as Iyer shifts deftly between disorienting prepared piano and conventional playing, often within a single bar. It’s a pretty terrific effect.
The “Weft Facets” suite features three guests who pop up for extra timbre to boot: Danongan Kalanduyan plays Filipino kulintang on three sections; Faraz Minooei plays Persian santur on another three; Tim Volpicella handles guitar on two. “Interlude One” and “Facet Sixteen,” in particular, shine with these contributions, and Iyer sounds outrageously good alongside the santur on “Interlude II.” Filiano and Hartigan are absolutely central to the coalescence of these multiple moments, an ominous throb here, an anchored groove there, a terpsichorean race all popping up rapid-fire as definable rhythmic and harmonic shapes both set and scramble the contexts for Modirzadeh’s thematic material.
Norton’s “Wolf & Warp” starts out sounding superficially more like what one expects from “jazz.” But as the close harmonies of the horns develop alongside Filiano’s arco and pounding, decentered piano, it speaks to you in its own language that is distinct from the compositional material in Modirzadeh’s suite, even as it is shaped by his concept. And while the leader’s writing tends to blur the boundaries of composition and improvisation more emphatically, Norton’s slightly more lyrical writing (just check the gorgeous closing fragment) tends to put the spotlight on good ol’ solos just a bit more. “Wolf Two – Ensemble” and “Wolf Six” are tours de force for Iyer in this piano idiom, with probing accompaniment from Filiano (who also does some slurring double-stops to great effect). But Modirzadeh and ElSaffar are dazzling as well, combining quick melodic imagination with false fingerings, a wide range of embouchures, and modest overblowing here and there to bring out polytonality.
The effect of Post-Chromodal Out! is like having your head buffeted by a barrage of head-scrambling information, all of it resisting conventional listening, and most emphatically not announcing itself as anything close to conventional jazz-plus-exotica. It’s a powerful statement from a composer, instrumentalist, and band that deserve your time and acclaim.
:::Review by Jason Bivins:::

Hafez Modirzadeh - Post-Chromodal Out! (2012)

1. Facet Thirteen 2:57
2. Facet Fourteen 8:26
3. Facet Fifteen 1:49
4. Interlude I 2:44
5. Facet Sixteen 1:46
6. Facet Seventeen 6:04
7. Facet Eighteen 1:49
8. Interlude II 2:06
9. Facet Nineteen 0:41
10. Facet Twenty 3:12
11. Facet Twenty-one 2:48
12. Facet Twenty-two 3:36
13. Interlude III 1:47
14. Facet Twenty-three 0:55
15. Facet Twenty-four 3:11
16. Interlude IV 2:24
17. Facet Twenty-five/Reprise 2:16
18. Wolf One 1:57
19. Wolf Two-piano Solo 0:57
20. Wolf Two-ensemble 3:40
21. Wolf Two-bass Solo 1:44
22. Warp Three-ensemble 2:39
23. Warp Three-drum Solo 1:00
24. Warp Four 2:29
25. Wolf Five-part One 2:41
26. Wolf Five-part Two 2:24
27. Wolf Six 2:43
28 .Wolf Seven 2:40

Bass – Ken Filiano
Drums – Royal Hartigan
Piano – Vijay Iyer
Saxophone – Hafez Modirzadeh
Trumpet – Amir ElSaffar

:::onion philosophy #3:::

Posted: Thursday, 8 November 2012 by jazzlover in Etykiety:

If jazz was ever meant to be a religion, its prayers might sound something like Nan Madol. The title means “spaces between,” and no description of this music could be more apt. The album is an eclectic mandala of drones, eruptions of ecstatic liberation, and snatches of melody from both near and far. Influences range from Japanese folk melodies to Alpine herding calls, and all of them strung by a powerful understatement of continuity.
We open our eyes to find ourselves in a field at night in which a nearby forest looms with untold life. Soprano sax verses mingle with the shawm-like nagaswaram, dripping with the luscious slowness of honey from a broken hive as abstract solos bounce over a corroded surface of ever-so-slightly detuned harps. We proceed from meditation to incantation, calling upon the sounds of spirits rather than the spirits of sound. Melodies drag, are picked up, only to drag again: the final paroxysms of a dying organism laid bare for our imaginations. Motifs flit in and out of earshot like radio transmissions struggling to hang on. The instruments weep as if the entire album were nothing but a cathartic ritual. 
On the surface, the musicians seem unaware of each other, all the while reveling in their secret synergy far beyond the threshold of audibility. This is music on its own plane and we must approach it as we are. There is no middle ground, no meeting point to be had.
This may not be “fun” album to listen to, and certainly not an easy one to describe, but it is rewarding in more metaphysical ways. Far from a jazz album to tap one’s foot to, it is instead a free-form surrender to the possibilities of automatic music. Its mood is inward while its exposition is extroverted and full of exquisite contradictions. If nothing else, the stunning “Areous Vlor Ta” will leave you breathless and vulnerable to the grand Return that brings the listener full circle to where it all began.
:::Review by ecmreviews.com:::

Edward Vesala - Nan Madol (2007)

1. Nan Madol
2. Love For Living
3. Call From The Sea
4. The Way Of...
5. Areous Vlor Ta
6. The Wind

Alto Saxophone, Performer [Snaga Varam], Flute – Charlie Mariano (tracks: 5, 6)
Double Bass, Voice – Teppo Hauta-aho (tracks: 1, 4 to 6)
Flute – Sakari Kukko (tracks: 1)
Harp – Elisabeth Leistola (tracks: 4)
Soprano Saxophone, Bass Clarinet – Pentti Lahti (tracks: 5, 6)
Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Seppo Paakkunainen (tracks: 5, 6)
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute, Piccolo Flute, Bells, Voice – Juhani Aaltonen (tracks: 1, 2, 4 to 6)
Trombone – Mircea Stan (tracks: 5)
Trumpet – Kaj Backlund (tracks: 1, 4, 5)
Violin, Viola, Voice, Bells – Juhani Poutanen (tracks: 1, 4 to 6)

:::old dogs with new tricks #3:::

Posted: Monday, 5 November 2012 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , ,

(Editor) One of the best and most significant recordings of then just 27-years old legendary Polish altoist Zbigniew Namysłowski...

"Jazz fills up my life. It means to me everything -- said Namyslowski. -- Playing in a quartet suits me best... Until recently I did not set great store by composition. But now to be successful one cannot merely play Horace Silver's themes and other people's arrangements. And so I have created my own quartet and my own music, to be able to play what I want and how I want...". 

Quoting these words I cannot help recalling a thin and insignificant looking boy who burdened with a huge cello scrambled on to the gigantic stage of the Forest Opera in order to play with the Modern Combo group, which was taking part at the II International Jazz Festival at Sopot (August 1957), as a completely unknown soloist. And yet a few years later Zbyszek Namyslowski won recognition not only with jazz fans and connoisseurs at home but also with the exacting critics abroad -- after numerous tours of his quartet in such countries as Italy, Belgium, West Germany, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Finland, USA. Namyslowski went through most suitable stages before he achieved his present-day results; he played the trombone in traditional and swing bands, for some time also the trumpet and cornet, and when there was need he accompanied the vocalists on piano. 

But the ambitious musician was never after the label of a "multi-instrumentalist". Eventually he chose the alto saxophone in which he could prove himself completely. What we appreciate with Namyslowski particularly is his equally enthusiastic attitude to all styles in jazz; he is always himself while playing hard-bop along with rhythm and blues, free-jazz and the third current along with the fringes of pop-music, and who at the same time would feel an irresistible fascination towards new ventures? A separate chapter could be devoted to Namyslowski's compositions, the more so that his ambition is to draw inspiration from Polish folk-lore which leads to the sort of music that Poland exports as her contribution to the world of jazz. 

While writing on Namyslowski we must say a few words about the remaining members of the band as they also have their say in modern jazz. The pianist ADAM MATYSZKOWICZ (b. 1940) made his first steps as jazzman within the Cracow "jazz boheme"; in 1963 he made his mark as member of "The Jazz Darlings", and already in those days critics predicted him a fine career which was to lead him subsequently to appearances in the quartet of the known Polish tenore saxophonist Michal Urbaniak. His greatest success abroad was his accompanying to the known Polish group "Novi" which won the first prize at the 15th International Jazz Festival in Zurich (1965). The percussionist CZESLAW BARTKOWSKI also became a jazzman in a student milieu having begun his career in the FAR quartet. In 1961 he made himself known to the wider public at the International Jazz Jamboree at the Warsaw Philharmonic, then he participated in the triumphant tour of Namyslowski's quartet (among others in Britain, Italy, West Germany). From time to time he joins other bands such as the excellent quartet of the Polish pianist Krzysztof Komeda. The bass player JANUSZ KOZLOWSKI (b. 1941) started, like his colleagues, as member of modern student bands. For some time he played with traditional bands such as "Warsaw Stompers", Ragtime Jazz Band, the group Bossa Nova Combo and "Pagart's" big band with whom he went on numerous tours abroad.

Siodmawka (Seven-Four Bars) -- After the composition based on Polish mountaineer's themes called "Piatawka" (Five-Four Bars) in which Namyslowski used rarely appearing in jazz rhythm 5/4, the composer went here still farther and used in "Siodmawka" the beat 714. Along with the free form we hive here harmonies of a mountaineer's tune. This is undoubtedly one of the most interesting items of the record. 

Despair -- In respect of melody and harmony, an equally interesting piece. This is a twelve-bar form of  blues, but without the use of the blues scale. 

Frances the Terror -- Here we come to know the quartet operating within free-jazz, the sort of music which perhaps does not appeal to all, but expresses, however, the artistic changes occurring in our days and the evolution of jazz. The band is improvising in two tempi, two phases, and does it very consistently. 

The Beetle Humming in the Reeds -- A folk-tune again, this time it's a Krakowiak. The quartet plays it with dash and half-jokingly. 

My Dominique -- A typical ballad of simple harmonies, in slow tempo. The composer wrote it with his little daughter, Dominika, in mind. 

The Wardrobe -- The composition, which is being played dynamically and in a "dirty" way, may be regarded as a mixture: free harmony + big beat. Let's hear what's been the result. 

Mead Drinker Lola -- A sort of Charleston, a musical joke with typical solo parts. It can do without commentary, being simply a musical relaxation. 

"Despite the comings and goings of our many American visitors in 1964, one of the most refreshing things to hit the British jazz scene last year was the visit of these four young Poles. This album... is a striking illustration of the high standard of European jazz. ("Melody Maker", London, Jan. 9th 1965) "...As an orthodox modern jazz group, they possess all the qualities one would look for in their American counterpart... As a group, the four men are obviously well accustomed to each other's playing.. In addition their music has a strange attractive flavor which one can only put down to their contact with Polish folk music...".  
:::Review by polish-jazz.blogspot.com:::

Zbigniew Namysłowski Quartet - Polish Jazz Vol.6 (1966)

1.  Siódmawka / Seven-Four Bars 8:05
2.  Rozpacz / Despair  6:10
3. Straszna Franka / Frances The Terror 10:55
4. Chrząszcz Brzmi W Trzcinie / The Beetle Humming In The Reeds 9:00
5. Moja Dominika / My Dominique 7:10
6. Szafa / The Wardrobe 7:10
7. Lola Pijąca Miód / Mead Drinker Lola 1:30

Zbigniew Namysłowski - alto sax
Adam Matyszkowicz - piano
Janusz Kozłowski - bass
Czesław Bartkowski - drums

:::air cavalry #3:::

Posted: Sunday, 4 November 2012 by jazzlover in Etykiety:

Latest (so far, the fourth) album from Forgas' troupes, and maybe the best one yet, but it comes after a three or four year silence (Soleil 12 dates from 05) that had us worried. Actually, parts of the compositions were already written a while ago(the next album was originally scheduled in 06), but the line-up suffered a few changes (now a septet), then some tracks were re-written (trimmed down), more added and by the time all of this was dealt with, they were in the summer 08. Just four tracks, all penned by Patrick, packed in an uncompromising fluvial artwork
Opening on one of the older track La Clef that's been on the live repertoire quite while and it shows because the band is really tight on this track, Mlodecka's violin and Alexaline's trumpet on the forefront, the latter distilling a light Spanish ambiance throughout the album. The 16- mins+ title track is the album centrepiece, first as a piano-driven tune where Trognon alternate on sax and flute, then allowing everyone to have its moment in the sunshine. The other cornerstone on which the album is built is the trimmed-down 14-mins Double Sens, a piece that lost over 20 minutes of ideas, most likely to pop up on future albums. What's left is an impressive and tight composition, starting on a strong bass line, but later (the second half) featuring a grandiose exchange of brass, violin and guitar licks, lines and solos over a delightful electric piano. No doubt the album's highlight. The closing 13th Moon starts out as a smooth bass and electric piano-driven mid-tempo on which trumpet, flute and guitar and violin are gliding , but gradually speeds up, gets frantic, than manic ( love these short brass answers between solos and ending up in a wild guitar solo.
Not only is Forgas a brilliant drummer, he's also become an excellent composer (something he wasn't in the 90's), but he's also letting his mates plenty of room for them to express themselves musically. As good as Soleil 12 was, it easy to understand that the FBP has jumped another hurdle and reaches the category of the giant JR/F of the millennium. One of my album of the year.
:::Review by Sean Trane:::

Forgas Band Phenomena - L'Axe Du Fou (2009)

1.La Clef (10:50)
2.L'axe du Fou (16:32)
3.Double-Sens (13:50)
4.La 13ème Lune (8:24)

-Patrick Forgas/ drums
-Sébastien Trognon/ tenor & soprano sax, flute
-Dimitri Alexaline/ trumpet & flügelhorn
-Benjamin Violet/ guitar
-Karolina Mlodecka/ violin
-Igor Brover/ keyboards
-Kengo Mochizuki/ bass

:::off the back of a lorry #3:::

Posted: Saturday, 3 November 2012 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , ,

No, Martin Küchen isn't a composer of programmatic music, conceived only to accompany silent movies, dancers or stage actors, but even if this wonderful Swedish saxophonist also had made music for theatre, dance and cinema, his main work in the fields of jazz and free improvised music has as a personal characteristic the particularity of telling stories. Or, at least, of presenting specific situations you can visualize. Each recording of the several projects lead by Küchen is, somehow, a narrative, and the new Trespass Trio album 'Bruder Beda', is no exception. We're told about a relative of his, Ernst Gerson, a Jewish German veteran of the World War I who became a Catholic monk, adopting the name Bruder Beda. When he decided to return to the secular world, when both the Nazis and the Zionist movement were growing, big troubles waited for him. The music has a narrative drive, telling us a story without words but with emotional depth. It's like a film with sounds, enabling our imagination to build the details. There's intense moments and there's space, with the interposed silences adding more unquietness to the flux of events. Always combining economy of notes and restraint of expression, only going to the extremes when it's relevant and necessary, this is another great accomplishment by Trespass Trio, With other words; Martin Küchen, Per Zanussi and Raymond Strid are back! Don't miss this one: the sax, the bass and the drumkit cry, shout and sigh as if they were alive; Per Zanussi always present, an true anchor, he stands like an old beautiful tree in the middle of a newly erected garden... and Raymond Strid , a master of timbre and dýnamics, is sometimes forceful, other times delicate, but always strangely precise in everything he does. Highly recommended

Trespass Trio - Bruder Beda (2012)

1. Ein Krieg In Einem Kind (take 3)
2. Don't Ruin Me
3. Bruder Beda ist Nicht Mehr
4. Todays Better Than Tomorrow
5. A Different Koko
6. Ein Krieg In Einem Kind (take 4)

Martin Küchen – alto & baritone saxophones
Per Zanussi – double bass
Raymond Strid – drums