REVIEW: Berlin Soundpainting Orchestra’s “Holothuria”

Berlin Soundpainting Orchestra photo BerlinSO_cover_zpsirodvswq.jpg Aut Records described this album by the Berlin Soundpainting Orchestra this way:
Led by soundpainter and pianist Hada Benedito, the Berlin Soundpainting Orchestra consists of 16 experimental musicians, improvisers and composers, all coming from different backgrounds and nationalities. Their live composed works could be described as a trip of obscure and colourful images, an expansive way of traveling among improvisation and avant-garde music beyond contemporary jazz..”

What does that exactly all mean? It’s improvisational, it’s spontaneous and like a good amount of music, it is unpredictable. The first thing I thought of was John Zorn, when he had his Cobra project and all of the musicians involved play what they had to be played by looking at cue cards with anything from numbers to symbols and gibberish, each describing what they are to do. In a way, you could say the Berlin Soundpainting Orchestra are creating their own language by what they’re seeing, or what they’re saying, or what they’re feeling. It’s fun to hear too because while it may sound like some kind of Ornette Coleman jam session, it is going somewhere if you pay attention. It is neither jazz or classical, it could easily be Pink Floyd in Atom Heart Mother mode but fans of avant-garde classical or jazz may consider that comparison an insult. Nonetheless, it is what I hear and I could only image what this would sound like in a live setting. There are two people who contribute dialogie to this album, somewhat helping the listener out from point A to point B, imagine if Laurie Anderson came into a room and decided to split herself in two. Parts of this reminded if of Andrew Poppy’s wonderful album The Beating Of Wings, as I could hear a few similarities here and there. I hope the “Orchestra” will do more albums in the years, decades, and perhaps centuries to come.

REVIEW: Bug Jargal’s self-titled album

 photo BugJargal_cover_zps0c4d4c22.jpg There was a comment saxophonist Anthony Braxton said in an interview that I felt was very interesting. I’m paraphrasing here, but he said something to the effect that just because he plays the saxophone doesn’t mean he plays or has to play jazz all the time. The instrument is held solid with jazz, even though it can be used in a wide range of settings, like a guitar, but the saxophone is just jazz. I thought of this as I was listening to this album by a trio who call themselves Bug Jargal. Nello Da Pont, Giorgio Pacorig, and Luciano Caruso begin in a very open fashion, not free jazz or anything but slowly building themselves up and I hear Caruso’s saxophone world. Here I was, expecting something textural and then Da Pont’s drums kick in and… it has a groove. Not funky, but it grooves well, just bars repeated without a bass line, and I say this because it’s what I generally crave in other music. Then Pacorig plays his Fender Rhodes and it sounds very much like jazz to me, or at least avant-garde jazz. It could be something freaky on ECM, it could be something on another distant record label, it could be one of Sun Ra’s musicians doodling in an earthbound manner. It’s not a garbled mess, there is some sense of precision going on, but it’s nice to hear just three guys playing for the sake of playing, very improvisational (at least to my ears) and without a care of where they’re going to go next, or with each other. Pacorig sometimes plays with the spirit of Herbie Hancock or Keith Jarrett so at times it may feel like you’ll think Miles Davis will come out, play his trumpet for two minutes, then stair at the wall for the next 22 minutes. As the liner notes state, “there is respect, mutual trust and complicity” and that can be felt. Again, unsure of where they’re going, but they’re going, and I’m glad they did. Further journeys, gentlemen.

REVIEW: Luciano Caruso/Luigi Vitale’s “Tripterygion”

 photo LucianoCaruso_cover_zps73b3c738.jpg Tripterygion (Aut) is a unique jazz album by Luciano Caruso (soprano sax) and Luigi Vitale (vibes), and if you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy avant-garde or improvsational jazz, you are not going to like this album. On this, the two musicians have a musical dialogue, an exchange that sounds like two people having a discussion about what happened the night before or throughout the week. Caruso’s saxophone work is alive and vibrant, while Vitale’s vibe work is primarily subdued when it has to be, but very active when it has a statement to be made. In a piece like “Balistes Carolinensis”, the vibraphone takes on a different path, as it is played in a fashion that sounds like someone packing their suitcase, prepared to go on a short vacation. When it reaches “Codium Bursa”, that’s when it gets a bit more musical, although throughout the 14-track experience you discover how musical a conversation can be, whether it’s between the voices of two instruments, a metaphor for the voices of two people. A nice-yet-interesting (and curious) listen.

(Tripterygion can be ordered digitally or as a hard copy CD directly from