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Evan Parker:
NYC 1978 (Relative Pitch)

In 1978 after recording his acclaimed solo album Monoceros, saxophonist Evan Parker embarked on a solo tour of the US and Canada, in New York City performing at the legendary loft space Environ, his first-ever solo performance in NYC and a masterpiece of extended techniques, circular breathing and spectacular control on the soprano and tenor saxophones. ... Click to View


Illegal Crowns :
Unclosing (Out Of Your Head Records)

The 3rd stellar album of modern jazz recorded in the studio after a five-city tour from the quartet of Tomas Fujiwara on drums, Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet & flugelhorn, Mary Halvorson on guitar and Benoit Delbecq on piano, performing three compositions each from Halvorson, Fujiwara and Delbeq, illustrating their distinctive approach to creative improvisation. ... Click to View


Henry Threadgill Ensemble:
The Other One (Pi Recordings)

Composed by Henry Threadgill based on his observations of the exodus of people from New York City during the Covid pandemic and the debris left behind, this work titled "Valence" and dedicated to percussionist Milford Graves, is a chamber jazz piece in three movements was taken from recordings at Roulette of the second of two performances entitled "One" and "The Other One". ... Click to View


Marc Ducret:
ICI (Ayler)

With a booklet of images showing the riverside location of the first performances of French guitarist Marc Ducret's sophisticated compositions reflecting tidal river flows & fluctuations by season, the four meticulous recordings on this album were captured in the studio with Fabrice Martinez on trumpet, flugelhorn & tuba, Christophe Monniot on saxophones and Samuel Blaser on trombone. ... Click to View


Milford Graves w/ Arthur Doyle / Hugh Glover:
Children of the Forest [VINYL 2 LPs] (Black Editions Archives)

From the Milford Graves Archival Series is this double LP of previously unreleased recordings in a trio with Hugh Glover on sax, percussion, klaxon horn & vaccine trumpet and Arthur Doyle on sax & flute; then a duo with Glover; then Graves solo; taken from three 1976 sessions in Grave's own basement workshop for 8 burning, passionate and ecstatic free jazz improvisations. ... Click to View


Allen Lowe And The Constant Sorrow Orchestra:
America: The Rough Cut (ESP-Disk)

Saxophonist Allen Lowe's statement on American music and American song form across the many genres and styles that make up the terrain, including jazz, the blues, gospel, honky tonk, heavy metal, hillbilly/minstrel song & medicine shows, &c.; diverse forms of popular music that reflect a commingled society, as Lowe blurs the sacred and the profane with a stellar ensemble of musicians. ... Click to View


Flak / Guilherme Rodrigues / Bruno Parrinha / Ernesto Rodrigues:
Aeon (Creative Sources)

The cosmological concept of the aeon, the conflict between matter and spirit, is explored in eight "Chronicles" of collective free improvisation using impressive technique and concentrative interaction from the Portuguese quartet of Flak on acoustic guitar, Guilherme Rodrigues on cello, Bruno Parrinha on bass clarinet and Ernesto Rodrigues on violin. ... Click to View


Art Ensemble Of Chicago:
Les Stances a Sophie [VINYL] (Play Loud! Productions)

Recording in France in 1970, the Art Ensemble of Chicago (Malachi Favors on bass, Joseph Jarman on saxophone, Roscoe Mitchell on saxophone, Lester Bowie on trumpet) recorded the soundtrack to director Moshé Mizrahi's movie Les stances à Sophie, joined by vocalist Fontella Bass, releasing a classic and exciting album that stands as a great testament to the versatility of its players. ... Click to View


Franco Donatoni / Iannis Xenakis / Xavier Bonfill / Thanos Chrysakis / Tim Hodgkinson :
Music For Trombones, Bass Clarinets & Horn (Aural Terrains)

Five interpretations of works by contemporary composers Franco Donatoni, Iannis Xenakis, Xavier Bonfil, Thanos Chrysakis and Tim Hodgkinson performed by a stellar set of performers in varying configurations, including bass clarinetist Jason Adler, trombonist Christian Larsen, bass clarinetist Yoni Silver, clarinetist Hodgkinson, horn player Julian Faultless, &c. ... Click to View


David Myers Lee:
Partikelrauschen (pulsewidth)

Referring to the music on this album from New York feedback and electronic pioneer David Lee Myers as "firmly rooted in the electronic music of the 1950s-1960s", over nine tracks we are taken on an otherworldly journey of detailed particulate electronic adventures, sometimes swooping, vertiginous, monstrous and unpredictable, each track captured live in Myer's Pulsewidth studio. ... Click to View


Kevin Drumm:
Battering Rams [VINYL] (A Sunken Mall)

An album of transporting drones and industrial soundscapes from Chicago experimental artist Kevin Drumm, drawing the listener into his soundspace slowly through distracted studio clatter and then journeying deep into textures and tones, maintaining a natural quality to synthetic and obscure sources in this fine addition to his expansive discography. ... Click to View


Clifford Thornton / Arthur Jones Trio :
Ketchaoua / Scorpio (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

Two powerfully intense 1969 free jazz recordings by American ex-patriots, saxophonist Arthur Jones and cornetist Clifford Thornton, recorded days apart in the same studio and released on BYG Records, Jones this reissue's connection with his own trio, and joining Thornton for four uniquely configured sessions that include Archie Shepp, Grachan Moncur III, Dave Burrell, and Sunny Murray. ... Click to View


Wayne Shorter:
Adams Apple To Super Nova Revisited (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

Following the evolution in form and approach of composer and tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter from his 1966 Blue Note album Adam's Apple with Hancock, Workman and Chambers (including a pre-Miles "Footprints") to the 1969 Weather Report precursor Super Nova with John McLaughlin, Sonny Sharock, Miroslav Vitous, Chick Corea, and Jack DeJohnette. ... Click to View


Satoko Fujii:
Torrent (Piano Solo) (Libra)

The ninth solo album from pianist Satoko Fujii, the most recent in a "torrent" of solo releases over the last six years, this album a remarkable display of force and beauty in improvised playing on the keyboard and inside the piano, captured live at IYO Yume Mari Kan Bunka Hall in six improvisations of cascading notes and introspective passages; spectacular! ... Click to View


Peggy Lee Band:
A Giving Way (Songlines)

Rich in lyrical playing and creative freedom, Vancouver cellist Peggy Lee's 6th album expands on her goal to explore different strategies for improvisation within composition, featuring the unique voices of her ensemble including Brad Turner (trumpet), Jon Bentley (sax), Jeremy Berkman (trombone), Ron Samworth & Tony Wilson (guitars), Andre Lachance (bass) and Dylan van der Schyff (drums). ... Click to View


Natural Information Society Community Ensemble:
Since Time Is Gravity [VINYL 2 LPs] (Eremite)

Expanding the rhythmically exuberant Natural Information Society led by Chicago bassist & guimbri player Joshua Abrams with core members Lisa Alvarado (harmonium), Mikel Patrick Avery (drums) & Jason Stein (bass clarinet), are Hamid Drake (percussion), Josh Berman & Ben Lamar Gay (cornets), Nick Mazzarella & Mai Sugimoto (alto sax & flute), Kara Bershad (harp) and Ari Brown (sax). ... Click to View


Pere Ubu:
Trouble On Big Beat Street (Cherry Red)

The 19th Pere Ubu album brings members from the history and offshoots of the band that initiated in Cleveland with vocalist David Thomas, melded with members Keith Moline and Andy Diagram from Pale Boys, legendary drummer Chris Cutler (Wooden Birds & Pere Ubu), clarinetist & guitarist Alex Ward and bassist Michel Templem, for 17 wide-ranging songs, often eccentric, but always uniquely Ubu. ... Click to View


Elijah McLaughlin Ensemble:
III [VINYL w/ DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

The third album in Chicago 6- & 12-string guitarist Elijah McLaughlin's numbered album series of original compositions, rich flowing works of lyrical textures augmented with environmental field recordings and tape loops, performed with Jason Toth on upright bass, Katinka Kleijn on cello, effects, Joel Styzens on hammered Dulcimer and Adler Scheidt on piano. ... Click to View


Chris Williams Quintet (w/ Patrick Shiroishi / Joshua White / Eric Revis / Guillermo Brown):
Live [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

Trumpeter Chris Williams in a limited white label cassette release of a post-processed/collaged live concert at Blue Whale in Los Angeles, 2018, performing on trumpet & electronics with a quintet of incredible free players: Patrick Shiroishi on saxophones & objects, Joshua White on piano, Eric Revis on acoustic bass & electronics and Guillermo Brown on drums & electronics. ... Click to View


Mike Pride:
I Hate Work [ORANGE VINYL 2xLP] (Rarenoise Records)

A warmly lyrical, mostly instrumental album of modern jazz that surprisingly takes it's title from legendary punk band MDC, and its songs from their 1982 debut album Millions of Dead Cops, led by NY drummer Mike Pride and performed with Jamie Saft (keys), Brad Jones (bass), Mick Bar (guitars) and on a few songs, vocalists JG Thirlwell (Foetus), Sam Mickens (The Dead Science) and Dave Dictor from MDC itself. ... Click to View


Three-Layer Cake (Mike Pride / Mike Watt / Brandon Seabrook):
Stove-Top [GREEN VINYL] (Rarenoise Records)

Circumventing pandemic lockdowns, the trio of Brandon Seabrook on guitar, banjo & tapes, Mike Pride on drums, marimba, glockenspiel, bells & organ and Mike Watt on bass recorded their contributions in separate studios and file-shared to create this genre-merging album of free improv, rock, experimental and inexplicable forms; an inspired and seriously unique album of challenges overcome. ... Click to View


Marion Brown Quartet:
Mary Ann (Live In Bremen 1969) [2 CDs] (Moosicus)

A beautifully recorded session at Germany's Club Lila Eule for Radio Bremen from 1969 by the Marion Brown Quartet, his touring band at the time with AACM legendary drummer Steve McCall and German double bassist Siggi Busch and trombonist Ed Kröger, performing eight solid free jazz pieces including "Ode to Coltrane" and "Juba Lee"; a spectacular addition to Brown's discography. ... Click to View


Chris Cochrane / John Thayer:
Excavation [VINYL] (Astral Editions)

The core duo of guitarist & bassist Chris Cochrane (No Safety) and drummer & electronics artist John Thayer dig deep into a bag of aural tricks in eight compelling tracks that blur rock, jazz and experimental approaches to upbeat rhythmic music, assisted on various pieces by an excellent cast including Zeena Parkins, Graham Haynes, Gelsey Bell, and Kato Hideki. ... Click to View


KVL (Quin Kirchner / Daniel Van Duerm / Matthew Lux):
Volume 2 [VINYL w/ DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

Exploring the crossing point of jazz and funky electro-beats, experimental electronics and dub grooves, the Chicago trio of Quin Kirchner on drums, percussion, sampler & electronics, Daniel Van Duerm on acoustic & electric pianos, organ, mellotron & electronics and Matthew Lux on bass & electronics dig more deeply into their engaging and upbeat approach to modern forms of fusion improv. ... Click to View


David Lord:
Forest Standards, Volume 3 [VINYL] (Big Ego / Astral Spirits)

The third volume in West Coast/Montreal/Kansas guitarist David Lord's series exploring the concept of what makes a jazz standard, in ten beautifully warm and lyrically rich Lord compositions performed with Chad Taylor on drums & percussion, Christine Tavolacci on flute, David Tranchina on double bass and Nathan Hubbard on vibraphone, marimba & percussion. ... Click to View


Xavier Charles / Eric Normand:
Balises [VINYL] (Tour de Bras / Ramble)

Seven forays into dark experimental electroacoustic improvisation from electric bassist and Tour de Bras label-leader Éric Normand and French clarinetist Xavier Charles, leveraging unlikely techniques on both instruments, eight dialogs both assertive and cautiously mysterious, employing harmonic overtones, remarkable reed techniques, and rich electronic foundations. ... Click to View


Gerrit Hatcher:
Solo Five (Kettle Hole Records)

An intimate set of solo expressions from Chicago tenor saxophonist and Kettle Hole label-leader Gerrit Hatcher, seven improvisations recorded in the studio that bring together the soloist's interests in free jazz, lyrical playing and intricate technical passages on the sax, infused with a sense of whimsy alongside serious concentrative playing. ... Click to View


Guilherme Rodrigues :
Acoustic Reverb (Creative Sources)

58 Compositions for Cello as part of a sound investigation process from Portuguese cellist based in Berlin, Guilherme Rodrigues, recording in 11 locations with interesting resonant properties, capturing several brief improvisations at each space, the architecture, delay, decay, and interaction affecting his approach and the sonic response to his playing. ... Click to View


Guro Skumsnes Moe / Philippe Petit:
Guro Skumsnes Moe & Philippe Petit (Public Eyesore)

Bringing together two noise improvisers and experimenters, Guro Skumsnes Moe from Sult and MoE performing on octabass & electric bass, and Philippe Petit (who has albums on Aural Terrains, Monotype and Bolt) performing on synthesizer and turntables, both also providing vocal utterance, for two thick journeys of twisted, diverse and often deep sonics bridged by an abstract interlude. ... Click to View


Jeff Surak:
Eris I Dysnomia [CASSETTE w/ DOWNLOAD] (Eh?)

Washington DC-area sound artist and Zeromoon label-leader Jeff Surak, creating audio environments since the 80's home taping days, in a set of sound recordings of electro-acoustic drones, tape generated musique concrete, "plus a heavy dose of weirdness"; five tracks of diverse approaches to sonic experimentation, particularly the epic "Parasite Lost". ... Click to View



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  Wadada Leo Smith / Sabu Toyozumi 
  Burning Meditation  
  (NoBusiness Records) 


  
   review by Dave Madden
  2020-01-16
Wadada Leo Smith / Sabu Toyozumi: Burning Meditation (NoBusiness Records)

Consciously wearing the title of athlete denotes that one excels with grace, confidence, stamina, and excellence and, with some sports, the person is quick as hell and displays supernatural abilities beyond their peers. There is all that talk about "no I in team", but the catbird seat is assumed by being number one.

As out of place as that paragraph is in a publication dedicated to "unusual and experimental music", it resonates through the history of so-called Free Jazz, a "genre" critics and fans often label "athletic" when a gig starts cooking. Performers need to demonstrate a virtuosic precision and supernatural speed to be esteemed among the greats. Faster, faster, more riffs...and then the thrilling impact and overwhelming chaos can fade into tediousness. There is flash and there is substance and flashy substance / substantive flash and these can be found at any pace.

So when Sabu Toyozumi starts with rolls and cymbal crashes and Wadada Leo Smith's lips form speedy trumpet blurbs, the initial blaze of "Creative Music-1- Red Mountain Garden, Wild Irises and Glacier Lines" leads the listener to believe we're about to bear witness to development on a theme that only ends when the players put down their instruments (or with a skip button).

Now do not get it twisted. This momentum slows to a coast, and the duo divides the number of notes to stretch out tension over several minutes. There is (literally) a lot of breathing room between Smith's pointillistic runs, melodic shrugs and sighs. Toyozumi changes tempo here and there and periodically dips into a bag of tricks throughout the sixteen-minute work; he breaks out a little woody stick pitter-patter, creates a wind chime-like flow with pan-rhythmic clamor (Smith answers this one with brisk flute lines), eases out some subtle tom-tom flams, stumbles into a lugubrious march, and sometimes simply remains silent.

While "Burning Meditation Uprising" lingers on this palette, the rest of the works explore more color and an expansive, inspired bent. Smith begins "Voices Agano River Flow" with sloppy mouth-piece honks as Toyozumi strikes every piece of metal within arm's length; both fade out and return with several minutes of sultry trumpet song on top of a very serious focus on wind-up noise-maker. "Don Cherry, A Silver Flute Song" features at least three different woodwinds and melodies sampled from as many continents. The star of the show is the penetrating, stop-everything-you're-doing "There Are Human Rights Blues" with "blues" being an understatement. Accompanying himself on kalimba, Smith sings with much longing and sorrow-tinged hope, recalling legend Skip James and his droning open D tuning at his best. It's that awesome (and haunting).

The beginning and end of closer "Stars, Lightening Bugs and Chrysanthemum Flowers" calls to John Cage's time-based compositions where two players and multiple events taking ample, independent strides may or may not meet at some point, the results being awkwardly organic and rich.

Smith and Toyozumi developed their craft from years (and years, and years) of practice drills and conditioning minutia, but they choose to channel it, not scoring 50 points a game, but with 200-foot free throws from a helicopter and dunking with their feet, so to speak.



Wadada Leo Smith / Sabu Toyozumi: Burning Meditation
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