Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Recent Listening: Slowfox - The Wood

The Wood (Jazzwerkstattis the first release from the trio Slowfox comprised of Sebastian Gramss (bass) Hayden Chisholm (alto sax) Philip Zoubek (piano). The album was recorded in September 2013 at the Loft in Cologne and was released earlier this year.

All of the compositions are by Gramms and most of the fourteen tracks are fairly short with the longest clocking in at six-and-a-half minutes (the meditative haunting “To Keep”) and only three others break the four-minute mark. While I don’t really have too much of a problem with longer tracks, it is refreshing to have plenty of shorter pieces. 

I'm not a huge fan of prepared piano but don't mind its use in moderation - here discretion is used throughout. Its use on "Deep" sets up great groove with the bass with Chisholm floating on top. There is more subtle use of prepared piano on "But I Have" which adds to the mood, bringing things down before the return of the melody.

Those who know me know that Hayden Chisholm is one of my favourite saxophonists and musicians. I find it difficult writing about my friends but I've decided to add a few thoughts. His expressive use of bends, trills, vibrato and dynamics. The way he embraces the air in his tone – something that runs counter to many teachers thoughts on saxophone sound production. There is urgency in his higher register that popped out to me on this recording. He has explored microtonality in depth and anyone interested in microtonal concepts would be wise to check out his music (it's present on the Slowfox album). You can hear his roots in Johnny Hodges coming through in “Are Lovely.” The fleetness to his lines on the up-tempo “The Woods” and the economic approach on "To Keep" grabbed me. The effortless of it all is the high point for me. All told, he has such a distinctive voice on the horn, one that hits me on a deep personal level. 

A very enjoyable recording and I'm looking forward to future releases from Slowfox. Here's some video of the studio session and this is a 30 minute live clip from earlier in the year (sans piano).

Chisholm is part of another sax/piano/bass trio, Breve (with John Taylor and Matt Penman) who are due to release an album this year on Pirouet. The trio has a couple of earlier concerts available at Plush Music.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Cannonball looks at Ornette Coleman

I was browsing through a few old magazines the other day at came across this article from the May 26, 1960 issue of Down Beat.

Down Beat Magazine May 26 1960

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Chicago Reed Quartet at The Hideout

I was at The Hideout on Wednesday evening for the Immediate Sound Series. This week they were presenting the Chicago Reed QuartetMars Williams (tenor/alto/soprano/sopranino saxes) Ken Vandermark (baritone/tenor saxes, clarinet/bass clarinet) Dave Rempis (baritone/tenor/alto saxes) and Nick Mazzarella (alto sax). Earlier this year the quartet had a weekly spot at Elastic which, due to school, I was unable to attend so I was keen to check them out this time around.

The two sets were comprised of about a dozen original compositions evenly spread between the quartet's members. The pieces sounded well rehearsed with nice tight ensemble passages and the countless combinations of instrumentation provided plenty of colour and textural variety. There was plenty of rapport during improvised sections too as evidenced in the solo trading section of Mars Williams' "Inner Circle" (I tried scribbling down the song titles but missed a few… apologies if I got them wrong) with brief solos getting "passed" around the quartet. I also noted the smooth transitions between the written and improvised sections and the overall balance of composition and improvisation.

ken vandermark nick mazzarella mars williams dave rempis saxophone quartet

I was a little surprised that the audience wasn't larger (at a quick glance it looked to be between 20-30). Perhaps late nights mid-week put off those that need to rise early for work (I live relatively close and I usually don't get home until around 1am). For those that would like to catch them a bit earlier, The Chicago Reed Quartet will be playing at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Tuesday evening (August 12) from 5.30-8pm.

During the set break I hit the merchandise table and picked up a copy of Vandermark's recent release from his group Audio One - The Midwest School. This group will be playing at Constellation on August 22 & 23. I heard them at the Green Mill last year and it's a group worth checking out.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Connie Crothers Residency at The Stone

Just got this in the (e)mail from Connie Crothers and decided to share it with you all. I'm looking forward to a fun week in NYC.

Connie Crothers Residency —The Stone
I will be performing in every set with these great musicians–from Tuesday, August 19 through Sunday, the 24th. I am very happy about this, especially since every set will be very different from the other sets. Not only are the musicians different, the way they approach improvisation is different. A friend, noting this, said, "You like a challenge." I responded, "Yes, I thrive from a challenge. That is where the fun is." That's also where the surprises are, and the joy.

The Stone, East 2nd Street, corner Avenue C, Manhattan, http://thestonenyc.com
$15 each set (the Stone’s minimum at present)
I intend to keep the air conditioner on, unless we get unexpected cool weather.

Connie Crothers, piano, with—

Tuesday, August 19
8:00 Andrea Wolper, voice; Ken Filiano, bass (TranceFormation)
10:00 Lorenzo Sanguedolce, tenor saxophone; Nick Lyons, alto saxophone; Pete Swanson, bass; Todd Capp, drums

Wednesday, August 20
8:00 Jemeel Moondoc, alto saxophone; Henry Grimes, bass, violin
10:00 Adam Caine, guitar; Ken Filiano, bass; Federico Ughi, drums; Alexis Parsons, voice

Thursday, August 21
8:00 Jessica Jones, tenor saxophone
10:00  Louie Belogenis, tenor saxophone, Ken Filiano, bass; Michael Wimberley, drums

Friday, August 22
8:00 Kevin Norton, Vibes, percussion; Ed Schuller, bass; Roger Mancuso, drums
10:00 Eva Lindal, violin; Tomas Ulrich, cello; Michael Bisio, bass

Saturday, August 23
8:00 Richard Tabnik, alto saxophone; Ken Filiano, bass; Roger Mancuso, drums; Mark Weber, poet
10:00 Richard Tabnik, alto saxophone; Ken Filiano bass; Roger Mancuso, drums

Sunday, August 24
8:00 Pauline Oliveros, accordion, electronics
10:00 Cheryl Richards, voice
Richard Tabnik, Ken Filiano, Roger Mancuso
Connie Crothers Quartet - photo by Scott Friedlander

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Straight Horning: Time Lapse/Follies/Chirps

Evan Parker Time Lapse (Tzadik)

Recorded in various sessions between 1996 and 2001 this solo album mixes up solo pieces with overdubbed solo works. Parker sticks to soprano throughout (aside from “Organ Point” where he plays organ in addition to soprano). Check out the strong melodies he blows over the hypnotic backing on “Ak-Kor-Deer” (great, clean tone here too). “Pulse and the Circulation of the Blood” features more hypnotic soprano’s circling around each other. “Chorus After Alaric 1 or 2 for Gavin Byers” has an eerie, lyrical, unrushed quality to it that appeals to me. The three solo pieces are more in line with Parker’s previous solo soprano recordings. The more I listen to Parker the more I dig is sound. When Parker holds notes/plays clean his tone really comes to the fore – something that doesn’t always show through on his solo outings.

Steve Lacy Quintet Follies (FMP)

Steve Potts (alto sax) Irene Aebi (cello) Kent Carter (b) Oliver Johnson (d) I picked this up from the Destination Out store. It’s pretty raw live recording (Berlin 1977) and that rawness matches the intensity of the music. It’s an intense album and recommended for those looking for some full-throttle Lacy (check out his burning solos on “The Crust” or the title track. The band is breathing fire with the two saxophones blowing on top. Aebi’s cello adds to the vibe, it has a dark mysterious quality to it – this album would sound very different without it (or if it had been replaced with, say, piano). Potts has a distinctive voice on alto for which I feel he gets very little acknowledgement. Lacy really took the horn places… not just soprano, but the saxophone in general and the music too.

Steve Lacy & Evan Parker Chirps (FMP)

Another disc I picked up at the Destination Out store. The first three tracks are from a Berlin concert in 1985 and the remaining three tracks were recorded at the same venue following the concert. The two soprano masters are well attuned to one another and have a great blend (tone/sounds and musically). It’s nice to hear the Lacy influence on Parker’s playing. He plays differently here - I was (pleasantly) surprised to hear just how much Parker moved towards Lacy during this disc. This is a very listenable set and one that I’m sure to return to again and again. Soprano players put this on your required listening, and anyone interested in duo performances will take plenty away from this album. It’s a very nice sounding recording too.