REVIEW: Joe Morris Quartet’s “Balance”

Joe Morris Quartet photo JoeMorris_cover_zpscd06d6f6.jpg 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.


REVIEW: Jacob Anderskov’s “Granular Alchemy”

Photobucket Jacob Anderskov‘s latest album, Granular Alchemy (ILK Music) has him playing with Agnostic Revelations, which includes Gerald Cleaver (drums), Michael Formanek (bass), and Chris Speed (saxophone and clarinet). The title give a slight hint as what to expect at first: the seeds (or in this case, sand granules) being placed somewhere, eventually leading to the creation of four firmly composed and written songs. Anderskov helps to make sure the path is clear for everyone, although everyone, especially Speed, goes their own way and it’s not a race to see who gets to the finish line first, but to simply enjoy the path each of them go towards reaching a common spot. Some of it sounds like a more beautifully constructed form of free jazz, but when each of them get to a place of commonality, the results are superb. Tracks like “Sediments”, “Sand”, and “Metal” are mere elements (figuratively and literally) towards the construction of the album, but when it gets to the two-part suite of “Wind/Skin”, one begins to truly sense what is being created.

Granular Alchemy is an interpretation of what we see, hear, touch, smell, and feel, but it may also be the sound interpretation of us. Only in sound can it be this simple, and yet it sounds anything but simple.

REVIEW: Lotte Anker’s “Floating Islands”

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The moment I see or hear about a new Lotte Anker album, I get excited. I know, before going into it or hearing it, that it’s going to be something that expands the boundaries of what she had done on previous albums. Throw out any preconceived notions about Anker being a woman, being a European playing jazz, throw all of that away and just listen. What you get is an incredible musician who has a plan with her music, executes it, and lets things fall, collapse, or build to create… anything. The passion is in beginning, knowledge is its conclusion, but the skill is on how to get there. This is what she, along with Craig Taborn, and Gerald Cleaver do with the mindfuck of an album known as Floating Islands (ILK).

I’ll tell you what moved me first. Upon looking at the back cover, I see five songs. I’m set. I look at the lengths: “Floating” is a trusting 9:34 while “Ritual” goes in to explain its title by going in at 16:22. “Floating” begins with a calling by Anker, a way to say “welcome, I am coming in to your mental dome, welcome us, we are about to mess up your senses.” She kind of does that purr or roll with her saxophone, and it’s a slow path towards the point where all three are ready to load, lock, and shoot. Her projects are known for being free, but she unites her love of free/improvisational jazz with form and precision, nothing is done in a ridiculous manner. Then it kicks into “Ritual”, with Taborn’s piano playing being very basic and repetitive, but that takes in the listener to a place they want to take you into, and it feels as if she has entered the John Coltrane tunnel to say “I will add to the vivid pictures that are already here”. At times her notes are played as fierce as Pharoah Sanders, John Gilmore, Marshall Allen, and Lester Bowie. At 16½ minutes, the duration compliments what they’re all trying to do, and it’s getting there that makes the song a trip.

“Even Today I Am Still Arriving” sounds as if Anker, Taborn, and Cleaver, are slowly putting away their instruments in cases, ready to move on to the next town. The music on Floating Islands are not a circus, but those who aren’t familiar with the creativity and spirit of jazz, they may hear it as complete outsider music. What makes this album a joy to hear is that it’s not the outsiders fearing this, but instead they’re in denial of wanting to go in.