Frantic or frenetic? On Naca (Aut), the music of Tony Cattano is a bit of both but with something extra. Italian jazz is an entity onto itself and this form of jazz is on the free side, where Cattano (trombone), Andrea Melani (drums), Matteo Anelli (bass), and Emanuele Parrini (violin) seem to be going wherever they want but there is a level of consistency where what they’re doing is not scatterbrain. The album’s opening track (“Fior di Conio”) is the basis of the album, building and developing itself while the colors and shapes are forming continuously, unsure of where it goes but one follows and see what happens. Then the album gets locked in places but is able to travel, whether it’s in a bit of a strut as they do in “Il Salto del Pachiderma” or fall off the edge of the world in “Impro”. There’s form in what Cattano does but the basis of Naca is trying to listen to where things fall out of form or whether it will drift off into a place unknown. What I also like are some of the folk-ish elements, or perhaps it’s more cultural but throughout, you’re able to tell where they’re from and why they play this way, all while staying true to what jazz means.
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.
As Cantiere Simone Weil (Aut) was beginning and processing, my first assumption was that this was a contemporary classical piece. Then as the music goes on, the saxophones were going off on a different label, making me realize “is this more on the jazz side?” Then I realized it may be a bit of both, or none.
The album by Szilárd Mezei (viola) Tim Trevor-Briscoe (alto and tenor saxophones, soprano and bass clarinets), and
Nicola Guazzaloca (piano) begins almost out of nowhere and even as the music slides along the way, I was unsure of where it was going, what it was doing or when I would be able to say “this is more classical than jazz but wait a minute: this IS jazz. Or is it?” Guazzaloca has always bee peculiar but in a good way and it’s nice to sit through the three piecs here and wondering where the end points will be or if they are just segueways towards the inevitable and if there is an inevitable, will I know if it is a true ending or just another starting point? Nonetheless, it was quite enjoyable, hearing it as a solid trio or as a light touching towards something that could be bigger and brighter.
The music on Matteo Tundo’s Zero Brane (Aut) isn’t what I would call free jazz but it could easily be called free form, if not leading to free form tendencies. Someone who is more in tune will say “this isn’t exactly free form” but let me explain before I started getting into a self-debate over what this music is.
Tundo is the guitarist within the band that features not only a traditional jazz group (whatever “traditional” may mean to you) but there’s also an occasional electronic vibe to it to, or at least someone named Alessio Riccio is credited with just “electronics”. He may be the Brian Eno of the function for all I know but while some of the music played on the album is free form, where things aren’t always as predictable as you want to assume, there is form and structure in each song. It’s not loose or an anything goes adventure but what Tundo and friends do is pull you into their scope and try to lure you with each movement, enhancement, and sound to make you stay on for their voyage. Traditional jazz this is not although that traditional side does pop up occasionally. It is an interesting listen but one that will make you want to hear this continuously and hear new things with each play.
(Zero Brane can be purchased from Amazon.com by clicking the cover below or through the Bandcamp player at the bottom.)
Balance (Clean Feed) begins in a very free form manner, where all of the musicians in the Joe Morris Quartet play in a scattered manner, unsure of where to go but knowing that they’re going is part of the adventure. Eventually, they all get into a slightly polished manner but Balance is not an album for those who are solely into proper jazz, or at least jazz within some sense of structure. The music here has structure but it takes a number fo songs to get to proper form, if there is form and if it is proper. If you know of the musicians, you know about their capabilities, and each of them go under and over them in every second of each song.
If you’re looking for a bit of new free jazz, you’ll want to check out a new EP by Guillermo Pizarro & Christopher S. Feltner with Gleb Kanasevich. This one is called A Tribute To Jack Dempsey, with Pizarro saying that it came about after rediscovering Miles Davis’ A Tribute To Jack Johnson and also enjoying a recent album by The Rita, Ballet Feet Positions. After realizing he could also combine his love of the works of Peter Brötzmann and Michael Finniss, that’s when he decided to put this project togethger.
The downtown New York music scene has shown brilliance for years, and two of its geniuses have now created a unique album together. @ (Tzadik) is John Zorn and Thurston Moore entering a room, coming together, opening the microphones to see what happens. Everything is improvisational (or most of it) so there is a “take it as it comes” approach to it. Zorn will play the sax, bite the reed, then suck, smoke, beat, choke, startle, squeeze and tickle his instrument, and that may be during the first two minutes of a track. Moore will do his Moore doodle thing and play what comes to him. Anyone who has followed Moore’s more adventurous works knows that this isn’t the first time he has made music like this where the structure of the piece lacks structure, but has some sense of construction, even if there isn’t a blueprint. There are times when it sounds as if they are complimenting each other, reacting to what the other does, and I guess for the most part that’s what they’re both doing, just to see what one draws from the other. What I like is how it sounds as if this was recorded in two different rooms during two different times and someone said “okay, let’s piece this together and release it as a an album. It has our names on it, it will sell a handful of copies on that basis alone.” What also works is when there’s deliberate magic to create a song, which comes through in “Her Sheets”. Then in a track like “Strange Neighbor” we hear the metaphorical strangeness of two people in two different worlds, the only thing holding them back is the wall or yard between them, as Moore’s guitar turns into percussion and sheets of metal. One could also say that “Her Sheets”, placed directly in the middle of the album (as song 4 of 7), could be the wall, or the space between friends and what Zorn and Moore are exploring the dimensions and color of that wall before the wall falls, if at all. There are times when what Zorn plays sounds, to me at least, Indian, or considering his roots, perhaps Jewish or Middle Eastern. I just imagined the sound of Kadri Gopalnath within, but as interpreted by Zorn for a moment. @ is not meant to be loved by everyone but then again, if you’re aware of who Zorn and Moore are, then you’re already halfway there.
I will say this: if you are a producer who is looking to sample unusual sounds and tones, or a weird drone or two, there are a few moments here that would be perfect for it. Of course, if you’re going to sample from them, ask for permission first or do some serious filtering.
ADA is a project headed by Peter Brötzmann and features Fred Lonberg-Holm and Paal Nilssen-Love. They did a performance with drummer Steve Noble at Cafe Oto in London early 2012 and decided to not only record the performance, but release it as a live album. OTO (no label) is an exciting and vibrant free jazz performance where I wasn’t sure what was coming or going. The CD features two tracks, with the first going for 39 minutes. It may seem like Brötzmann is doing nothing but biting saxophone reeds and blowing into his instrument, as everyone around him is just bashing around. Maybe that’s exactly what they’re doing but there’s also some level of depth and loose structure in the cacophony and clusterfuck of sound. It then leads to a five minute track and while it lacks a proper title, it is shown as being Part 2, even though it could be listened to as its own piece of work. The question I have is “why split it when fans would be more than happy to consume a 44 minute piece?” but it doesn’t matter. However you choose to go into it, you may not leave the same way upon departure.
(You may watch the performances of these two tracks with the videos below.)
When you name your group after a Philip K. Dick character who felt his body odor was lethal, even if said order didn’t exist, and yet the one thing you’re known for is being the official White House pianist, and that you can play the piano with your mind, you know there are some head games going on. Perhaps that was the point when Alberto Collodel, Davide Lorenzon, and Ivan Pilat came up with Kongrosian, and the sounds they came up with on their debut album, Bootstrap Paradox (my review of which can be read here). With their brand new album, it is the continuation of the mind moving forward, figuring out what to do, where to go, and allowing the mind to take you, the creator and individual, where it feels it needs to be.
The Exit Door Leads In (Aut) is based after the title of a short story Dick wrote and published in 1979, and the entire album was written and put together in his honor. The assembly of creation in free jazz is something I enjoy, errors and all, and along the way they bring in Nello Da Pont (drums), Tim Trevor Briscoe (alto saxophone/clarinet), Edoardo Marraffa (tenor saxophone), Nicola Guazzaloca (piano), and Piero Bittolo Bon (alto saxophone, alto clarinet, and kou xiang) to help them on their mission. The majority of the tracks on the album are on-the-spot improvisations, and it’s nice to hear what they come up with in the spirit of the theme of the album. Four of the tracks were written by Kongrosian’s Pilat, while Bittolo Bon also offers up the very nice (and clever) “Sahdeecoolow”. Even the songs that have form tend to sound as if they have no form or structure due to the freeform feel of the other material here, but then things begin to gel and the listener (or at least I) gets a sense that all of this is meant to be. With multiple listens, I’m sure The Exit Door Leads In will reveal new things not felt before, and maybe that’s how it was meant to be as well.
These are the three things I thought of while listening to The Trees (Ilk), and while that may not make any sense at first, it may upon completion of hearing this album.
The Mark Solboorg Trio are Mats Eilertsen on double bass and Peter Bruun on drums, percussion and kalimba. The trio also welcome in Herb Robertson on trumpets, kalimba, and pump organ and Evan Parker on saxophone, kalimba, and gong, playing a style of jazz that is uniquely European but also never straying far from their American influences (with the only American performing on this is Robertson). While this isn’t all out free jazz, there is a sense of freedom here that isn’t heard in traditional jazz, and wondering where each of these musicians will take themselves and one another is one of the highlights of The Trees. Some of these songs come off like “a spaniard in the words”, where you’re not sure if they’re trying to come up with a solution, or are merely releasing the deliberation of possible ideas to display, but it’s fun to hear what they come up with. Parker’s saxophone work stands out in “Skyrækker”, and as he slowly moves into the background, the others layer themselves in future songs and it becomes less than individual songs and more as one cohesive piece. Even if you’re unsure if all of it should stick with one another or it’s just diverse influences placed under one umbrella, you listen because the listen is thrilling, and you don’t want to let go while flying through. Perhaps this is why they called this album The Trees. One can only wonder.