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The brilliant UK pianist John Riley is caught live in a US tour in the fall of 1976, recorded at 3 locations in NYC and in Buffalo, NY, each of the well-recorded improvisation a masterwork of extended form as he plays both outside and inside the piano, ranging from warm sections of lyrical quality to fast-paced streams of consciousness in a Cecil Taylor mode; magnificent. ... Click to View


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Drolleries are small creatures adorning the margins of 13th-15th century illuminated manuscripts; Sam Weinberger is a Brooklyn saxophonist known for groups W-2 and this Bloor project with electric guitarist Andrew Smiley and drummer Jason Nazary, an assertive and rugged trio playing Weinberg's compositions about the perceptual phenomenon of ever-changing repetition. ... Click to View


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"3 Phases", or different aspects of the approach that violist Ernesto Rodrigues applies to improvisation, in three different groupings over three different days, all live at O'Culto da Ajuda, in Lisbon, Portugal in 2018, here in an acoustic sax trio with strings, with Bruno Parrinha on soprano, Nuno Torres on alto, Paulo Galao on tenor sax. ... Click to View


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"3 Phases", or 3 aspects of the approach that violist Ernesto Rodrigues applies to improvisation, in 3 different groupings over 3 different concerts at O'Culto da Ajuda, in Lisbon, here in an electroacoustic ensemble with Miguel Mira, Guilherme Rodrigues, Joao Silva, Eduardo Chagas, Paulo Curado, Noel Taylor, Miguel Almeida, Andre Holzer, Andre Hencleeday, Carlos Santos, and Joao Valinho. ... Click to View


Ferran Fages : Detuning Series For Guitar (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

The 2nd part of a trilogy for guitar and sinetones composed between 2015-18, alongside "What Might Occur (Rereadings of Triadic Memories by Morton Feldman for guitar and sinewaves)" (2015-17) and "Un Lloc Entre Dos Records" (2017); this work, originally written in 2016, and revised in 2018, is heard in a recording at GMEA, France, with guitarist Benjamin Maumus. ... Click to View


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Laura Cole: Enough [2 CDS] (Discus)

Pianist Laura Cole's first solo album presents 2 CDs; the first a collection of arrangements of pieces given to Cole for the album from friends and colleagues, including Robert Mitchell, Alex Wilson, Nikki Iles, Jason Yarde and Corey Mwamba; the 2nd disc, "As Warm As The Sun" is a collection of compositions and improvisations by Cole herself. ... Click to View


Luis Ianes: Antiguas Construcciones Utiles (Crusoe) (Creative Sources)

With references to "Robinson Crusoe" and titles referencing islands, the sea and shipwrecks, Argentinian guitarist living in Brooklyn, NY, Luis Ianes (Parias Ensemble) records his album that roughly translates to "Useful Ancient Constructions", using effects to create percussive, accompanying, and aquatic sounds, sometimes idiosyncratic, always interesting. ... Click to View


Dietrich Petzold / Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues : Ljubljana (Creative Sources)

German violinist & composer Dietrich Petzold joins violist Ernesto Rodrigues and cellist Guilherme Rodrigues, Petzold bringing along a viola, clavichord and bowed metal objects, as the three perform live at SKUC Gallery, in Ljubljana, Slovenia for the 6 improvisations that build from languid tonal environments to detailed, rapid improv, all with remarkable control and patience. ... Click to View


Kuzu (Dave Rempis / Tashi Dorji / Tyler Damon): Hiljaisuus [VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

Kuzu is a hard-charging but patient trio that came together in the fall of 2017, after saxophonist Dave Rempis, a stalwart of the Chicago improvised music scene, worked with both Tashi Dorji (guitar) and Tyler Damon (drums) individually as part of a lengthy solo tour of the U.S.; this new trio is captured at Elastic Arts, in Chicago in an intense and dynamic live set. ... Click to View


Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere: Theta Four (Discus)

Declaring Terry Riley, Magma, Krautrock, and Sun Ra as influences, this is the fourth album from wind and keyboard player Martin Archer's Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere, an augmented six-piece UK ensemble whose rock affinities also embrace improvisation and minimalism, a heady mix of virtuosic playing with melodic intention and extremely detailed tapestries of sound; dreamy and elegiac. ... Click to View


Das Rad (Archer / Robinson / Dinsdale): Das Rad (Discus)

Influenced by progressive rock, kosmiche, and fusion forms, the UK trio Das Rad of Nick Robinson on guitars & electronics, Martin Archer on sax, reeds, winds, keys and electronics, Steve Dinsdale on drums and percussion, and Julie Archer on voice, bringing 70s sounds to modern sensibilities and superb creative playing, a great achievement. ... Click to View


John Tilbury / Keith Rowe / Kjell Bjorgeengen: Sissel (Sofa Music)

AMM alumni, pianist John Tilbury and guitarist Keith Rowe, join with Norwegian performer/conceptualist Kjell Bjorgeengen, whose work is often an amalgamation of sound waves, moving images and lights; here Kjell suggested a painting by Nicolas Poussin as a focal point for the trio's improvisation at this performance in Stavanger, Norway. ... Click to View


Tom Johnson : Spaces . An Hour For Piano (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Two works for solo piano from composer Tom Johnson and performed by Keiko Shichijo; "Spaces" was written after his teacher, Morton Feldman, helped Johnson elucidate his voice as a composer through a study of chords; "An Hour for Piano" was written in 1971 based on a series of short, improvisatory sketches written for modern dance, merged and expanded to exactly one hour. ... Click to View


Ian Brighton: Imaginings (FMR)

Looking back and fondly imagining some of the locations and configuration that UK guitarist Ian Brighton played in the 70s, Brighton developed the pieces on this album, each compositions varying the personnel from life-long partners (Taylor, Wachsmann, Mattos) to musicians Brighton has performed with since his 2016 return to improvisation (Carrier, Beresford, Metcalfe). ... Click to View


Shock Troops: Central Dada Time (FMR)

Recorded in 1989 and only now released, this studio album includes Pat Thomas on keys & electronics in a sextet with guitar & bass, synth, turntables, electronic wind instruments, drum machines, samplers, &c., merging ea-improv approaches with disruptively odd asides, fragmented voices, and swelling interventions, making something otherworldly out of then-revelatory technology. ... Click to View


Hifiklub: E Lisboa (Shhpuma)

A collaborative French instrumental rock band led by and with compositions from the core quartet of Anthony Belguise (drums), Jean-Loup Faurat (guitar), Regis Laugier (bass) and Nico Morcillo (guitar), with a list of 22 international guests across 8 songs and instrumentals, including Rafael Toral, Maria Radich, Paulo Furtado, Carlos Zingaro, Rui Carvalho, &c. ... Click to View


Franziska Baumann / Udo Schindler: Blue Sonic Vibrations (Creative Sources)

German saxophonist and leader of the Salon for Klang + Kunst started the Improx, or "The X for the Unknown and the Unheard" with Gunnar Geisse, here in the third edition of the series with Swiss free improvising vocalist Franziska Baumann, captured live at two performances in 2018 in Germany & Switzerland, for unusual, quick-witted and innovative interchanges. ... Click to View


Zwerv (Taubenfeld / Vicente / Lucifero / Zwerver / Chientaroli / ven der Weide / Hadow): Music From Any Moment (Creative Sources)

Guitarist Henk Zwerver leads this collective free improvising band in their second release, now extended to a septet with the addition of Salvoandrea Lucifero on trombone, joining Zwerver: Ziv Taubenfeld on bass clarinet, Luis Vicente on trumpet, Nico Chientaroli on piano, Raoul ven der Weide on double bass, objects, and George Hadow on drums. ... Click to View


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  George Lewis & Splitter Orchester 
  Creative Construction Set™  
  (Mikroton Recordings) 


  
   review by Brian Olewnick
  2017-07-11
George Lewis & Splitter Orchester: Creative Construction Set™ (Mikroton Recordings)

I had the good fortune to see the Splitter Orchester twice in recent years, once in Paris and once in Huddersfield, the latter event occurring three or so weeks after the recording in question. In Paris, they ably skirted what is treacherous ground for any large, improvising ensemble by creating an air-filled, unencumbered sonic space, very clearly limned with delicate tracings of sound, anchored by the placement of percussionists Burkhard Beins and Morten J. Olsen on opposite corners (playing horizontally-oriented bass drums) of a kind of square set up, their diagonal "conversation" serving as a scaffolding of sorts upon which the other instrumentalist strung their lines. In Huddersfield, arrayed over a large interior space that allowed the listener to move freely about, the result was less successful; one had the impression that they're best served when there's some overarching compositional aspect in effect though that clearly may have been an isolated instance.

For this meeting, George Lewis concocted a set of strategies loosely based on memories of The Creative Construction Company, an early 70s ensemble made up of various AACM-affiliated musicians (and which released two very fine albums on Muse). The piece involves text instructions/prompts written on cards distributed to twenty-four Splitter members (Including, among others, Werner Dafeldecker, Kai Fagaschinski, Axel Dörner, Magda Mayas, Andrea Neumann and Clayton Thomas, plus Lewis himself) which not only seek to evoke musical responses but, perhaps more importantly, social ones with regard to cooperation, group formation, individuality within a group experience, etc. It's the sort of experience that necessarily loses something when heard via recording — a well-made video document would go further in fulfilling that ideal — but with a bit of imagination, the listener can at least begin to get a grasp on what had occurred. Three selections, probably culled from a wider set, are offered here.

The first (#3) immediately enters dense, resonant territory but remains clear, the heavy percussion, splattered brass and siren sounds from somewhere slicing through the thick atmosphere. The track proceeds to dissipate and sharply recollect in an appropriately unpredictable manner, the musicians presumably forming alliances, debating tactics and perhaps choosing secession. It has an endearing stumbling, lurching quality, the mostly heavy and dark sounds banging off one another, but playfully, before ending gently with drones and plucked metal strings. #1, the second track, is a harsher affair, the sounds generally pitched higher, grainier, more splintered, incorporating tapes at the start. It's more difficult to attempt to follow any cooperative procedures, but eventually a steady, low piano figure from Mayas or Simon James Phillips emerges, serving as something of a spine, or at least tendril, off of which sprout a bewildering set of brief, curling sounds. Again, the work shifts abruptly near its conclusion, developing sets of discrete tutti flourishes connected by the thinnest of strands. The final portion, #2, is probably the most problematic, the music entering a more diffuse, disparate and superficially scattered and non-homogenous phase for its first half, though still remaining fascinating; one can only guess at the levels of cooperation (or not) that took place. Ultimately, cohesion arrives in the form of an enormous welter of percussive bangs, strangulated brass, fluttering electronics and deep, rapid arco bass and cello. Very satisfying.

A strong effort and bracing to hear what Lewis can evoke and provoke in a large grouping of very talented, improvising musicians.



George Lewis & Splitter Orchester: Creative Construction Set™
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