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Satoko Fujii: Solo (Libra)

A stunning album of solo performances, the first of 12 monthly releases from Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii celebrating her 60th birthday, in an impressive set of seven original compositions illustrating her incredible skills in both profoundly beautiful and technically spectacular playing both inside and out of the piano, an exceptional start to the series. ... Click to View


Kaze (Fujii / Tamura / Pruvost / Orins): Atody Man (Libra)

The fifth album from the French and Japanese quartet Kaze, initiated by drummer Pter Orins, with two trumpeters--Christian Pruvost and Natsuki Tamura--and pianist Satoko Fujii, all using extended and unusual techniques as they perform innovative compositions from Fujii, Orins, and Tamura with a balance of serious and playful approaches; brilliant. ... Click to View


Fire!: The Hands (Rune Grammofon)

The genre-defying trio Fire! with Mats Gustafsson on saxophones & electronics, Andreas Werliin on drums, percussion and effects, and Johan Berthling on upright and electric bass, blend heavy and dark elements of free improvisation, free rock, free blues, sound and noise, and sampled overlays in their latest, cultured and crude album of brooding and gripping music. ... Click to View


Fire!: The Hands [VINYL + CD] (Rune Grammofon)

The genre-defying trio Fire! with Mats Gustafsson on saxophones & electronics, Andreas Werliin on drums, percussion and effects, and Johan Berthling on upright and electric bass, blend heavy and dark elements of free improvisation, free rock, free blues, sound and noise, and sampled overlays in their latest, cultured and crude album of brooding and gripping music. ... Click to View


Lisa Mezzacappa : Glorious Ravage (New World Records)

San Francisco Bay Area composer, acoustic bassist, and bandleader, Lisa Mezzacappa used the 1872 writings of British world traveler Isabella Bird "I am doing what a woman can hardly ever do ..." as the basis for lyrics for her adventurous ten-part "panoramic song cycle for improvisers, with Fay Victor handling the vocals with a stellar ensemble of modern improvisers. ... Click to View


George Lewis: Assemblage (New World Records)

Composer George Lewis leads an ensemble that bridges compositional and improvisation skills through four large compositions written between 2012 and 2014 using the concept of "assemblage," a pragmatic, material, non-teleological approach to composition on four differing themes, yielding fascinatingly complex yet diverse, thrilling and embraceable results. ... Click to View


Daniel Levin / Chris Pitsiokos / Brandon Seabrook: Stomiidae (Dark Tree Records)

A collective trio of vanguard improvisers and frequent New York collaborators, Daniel Levin on cello, Chris Pitsiokos on alto saxophone, and Brandon Seabrook on electric guitar, a working band captured here in the studio at Firehouse 12 for a powerful set of idiosyncratic and exhilarating improvisations with tracks and the title named for a family of deep sea fish. ... Click to View


Jaap Blonk / Terrie Ex: Thirsty Ears (Terp Records)

Ex guitarist Terrie Ex improvises with Dutch sound poet and electronicist Jaap Blonk for 9 stories and sonic works, using unusual phonetic interpretations in strange stories with electronic asides and interventions, a truly unique album drawing on the evolution of their duo since 2012 that includies performances in Ex's Ethiopian "Soundpoetry" series of concerts and workshops. ... Click to View


Plan B (Joe Mcphee / James Keepnews / David Berger): From Outer Space [VINYL with DOWNLOAD] (Roaratorio)

Spinning an unusual story, the trio of saxophonist and pocket trumpeter Joe McPhee, guitarist and laptop artist James Keepnews, and drummer David Berger envision the first encounter between alien life and a delegation of earthlings, while giving a nod to jazz's original man from another planet, Sun Ra, with a side-long suite dedicated to him. ... Click to View


Rutger Zuydervelt (w/ Ilia Belorukov / Rene Aquarius): The Red Soul (Sofa)

Music for the movie "The Red Soul" by Jessica Gorter, a chilling and fascinating look at the legacy of Josef Stalin, from an electroacoustic trio of Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek) editing and processing the playing of saxophonist Ilia Belorukov and percussionist Rene Aquarius, a dark and muted set of 14 emotional tracks that reflect a dark history. ... Click to View


Lasse Marhaug: Void [7"] (BeCoq)

Two dark works of sound creating a mysterious chasm of drones, pulsations, electronic stretches, and mysterious percussive engines, a strange pair of recordings that definitely fit the title of this 7" record from Norwegian sound experimenter Lasse Marhaug. ... Click to View


Makoto Kawabata / Richard Pinhas / Tatsuya Yoshida: (Bam Balam Records)

Makoto Kawabata (Acid Mothers Temple), Richard Pinhas (Heldon), and Tatsuya Yoshida (Ruins), modern and prolific explorers in the 21st century evolution of so-called progressive rock, reunite at the Studio Condorcet in Toulouse (France) to record a series of fiery improvisations and experimentations blending free noise, blues, and psychedelia. ... Click to View


Makoto Kawabata / Richard Pinhas / Tatsuya Yoshida: (Bam Balam Records)

Makoto Kawabata (Acid Mothers Temple), Richard Pinhas (Heldon), and Tatsuya Yoshida (Ruins), modern and prolific explorers in the 21st century evolution of so-called progressive rock, reunite at the Studio Condorcet in Toulouse (France) to record a series of fiery improvisations and experimentations blending free noise, blues, and psychedelia. ... Click to View


Dominik Karski : GLIMMER Flute o'clock (Bolt)

... Click to View


Cortex: Avant-Garde Party Music [VINYL] (Clean Feed)

Cortex propels their persuasive, groove oriented approach to jazz with this swinging album that blends free jazz styles with great hard bop, in line with a band like The Thing, this Scandinavian group wants to make your body move without indulging in excess or pandering, instead following a muse that's solidly in the exuberant free jazz tradition. ... Click to View


Evan Parker / Barry Guy / Paul Lytton: Music For David Mossman (Intakt)

David Mossman is the founder of The Vortex Jazz Club in London, where in January 1983 the British trio of Evan Parker on sax, Barry Guy on bass, and Paul Lytton on drums recorded their first album together on the Incus label, "Tracks"; returning now, 43 years later, to pay tribute to the club and to record this absolutely impressive album of commanding free improvisation. ... Click to View


Amok Amor: We Know Not What We Do (Intakt)

An edgy, technically spectacular, inventive and slightly twisted jazz quartet of German-based free improvisers Christian Lillinger (drums), Petter Eldh (bass), Wanja Slavin (sax), with NY trumpeter Peter Evans (Mostly Other People Do the Killing) on trumpet, for 9 innovative compositions that thrill, amuse, and keep you on the edge of your seat. ... Click to View


Jurg Wickihalder / Barry Guy / Lucas Niggli: Beyond (Intakt)

A working trio formed from 3 generations of free jazz players dedicated to performing and recording, Jurg Wickihalder (sax), Barry Guy (bass) and Lucas Niggli (drums) spent two days at the Loft in Cologne, Germany recording this album of virtuosic skill and joyful playing, effortlessly passing from lyrical to abstract sections with always a song in their collective heart. ... Click to View


Eskelin / Weber / Griener: Sensations of Tone (Intakt)

Taking their title from a 19th century text by Hermann von Helmholtz on acoustics and perception of sound, the trio of NY saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, German drummer Michael Griener, and Swiss bassist Christian Weber present a a series of improvised pieces alternated with early jazz compositions, juxtaposing both approaches to highlight their similarities and the differences. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman (w/ Matthew Shipp / William Parker): The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 1 Titan (Leo)

For more than 20 years Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and New York pianist Matthew Shipp have collaborated in a diverse set of projects that have led to more than 30 albums; this first volume of 6 albums brings the two together with frequent collaborator William Parker for a 6 part work, fittingly dedicated to Saturn's largest moon, "Titan". ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman (w/ Matthew Shipp / Bobby Kapp): The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 2 Tarvos (Leo)

For more than 20 years Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and New York pianist Matthew Shipp have collaborated in a diverse set of projects that have led to more than 30 albums; this second volume brings the duo together with legendary drummer Bobby Kapp, who's nimble and relaxed approach showcases himself and the duo of Pereleman Shipp with grace. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman (w/ Matthew Shipp / William Parker / Whit Dickey): The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 3 Pandora (Leo)

For more than 20 years Brazilian/NY saxophonist Ivo Perelman and NY pianist Matthew Shipp have collaborated in a diverse set of projects that have led to more than 30 albums; this 3rd volume brings David S. Ware's (or Shipp's Trio) rhythm section the studio for a turbulent and ultimately fiersome album of free improv that only such long relationships can invoke. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman (w/ Matthew Shipp / Michael Bisio): The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 4 Hyperion (Leo)

For more than 20 years Brazilian/NY saxophonist Ivo Perelman and NY pianist Matthew Shipp have collaborated in a diverse set of projects that have led to more than 30 albums; this 4th volume celebrating that partnership adds another long-term compatriot, NY bassist Michael Bisio, for a 10 part series of improvisations exploring a diverse set of approaches. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman (w/ Matthew Shipp / William Parker / Whit Dickey): The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 5 Rhea (Leo)

For more than 20 years Brazilian/NY saxophonist Ivo Perelman and NY pianist Matthew Shipp have collaborated in a diverse set of projects that have led to more than 30 albums; this 5th volume celebrating that partnership brings the duo together with bassist William Parker and drummer Whit Dickey, where the long-term bonds of all 4 players push each to great heights. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman (w/ Matthew Shipp): The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 6 Saturn (Leo)

For more than 20 years Brazilian/NY saxophonist Ivo Perelman and NY pianist Matthew Shipp have collaborated in a diverse set of projects that have led to more than 30 albums; this 6th volume bring us back to the core, evoking the planet Saturn in a 10-part series of duos between these two masterful players, showing fire and angular playing in mid-tempo exploration. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman (w/ Matthew Shipp / Andrew Cyrille): The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 7 Dione (Leo)

For more than 20 years Brazilian/NY saxophonist Ivo Perelman and NY pianist Matthew Shipp have collaborated in a diverse set of projects that have led to more than 30 albums; this 7th and final volume brings legendary drummer Andrew Cyrille together with the duo in a subtle album propelled by Cyrille's authoritative rhythms and superb interaction of all three players. ... Click to View


Myra Melford Trio: Alive In The House Of Saints CD 2 (Hatology)

The much-anticipated 2nd volume in pianist Myra Melford's series of live performances, "Alive In The House Of Saints", documenting sublimely beautiful and innovative playing with her trio of Lindsey Horner on bass and jazz legend Reggie Nicholson on drums, performing live in two concerts in Germany in 1993. ... Click to View


Michael Adkins Quartet (w/ Russ Lossing / Larry Grenadier / Paul Motion): Flaneur (Hatology)

Much is made of Canadian saxophonist Michael Adkin's mid-tempo approach to jazz, heard here in his 3rd album, "Flaneur", which translates to "stroller" or "saunterer", an apt description of the lyrical, unhurried yet technically adept and sophisticated approach taken by his quartet with Russ Lossing on piano, Larry Grenadier on bass and Paul Motian on drums. ... Click to View


Samuel Blaser Trio (w/ Marc Ducret / Peter Bruun): Taktlos Zurich 2017 (Hatology)

With a history of work in Switzerland, NY and Berlin, trombonist Samuel Blaser brings his multi-national trio with avant improvising guitarist Marc Ducret and Dutch drummer Peter Bruun to the stage of the Taktlos Festival in Zurich, Switzerland in 2017 for a set of extended improvisations, all three players displaying a unique language of incisive and fascinating free jazz. ... Click to View


Markus Eichenberger / Daniel Studer: Suspended (Hatology)

Swiss compatriots with a long history of creative approaches to improvisation, double bassist Daniel Studer and clarinetist & bass clarinetist Markus Eichenberger join together for a studio album recorded at Radio Zurich in 2016, an album of furtive tension and suspense, each track named for a motion or subtle action that they carefully describe. ... Click to View


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  Charming the Cobra  

A first-hand account of organizing a performance of John Zorn's most famous game


By Eyal Hareuveni 2003-08-20

John Zorn, in the liner notes to the latest recorded version of Cobra, on Tzadik, said of his most popular game-piece that "at its worst it can become psychodrama", but "at its best it's like magic." As it happened, the first official Israeli Cobra was almost doomed to become a kind of political psychodrama. Seventy-two hours before the concert, Zorn, who was supposed to be on hand as the conductor/prompter, decided to cancel his visit to Israel because of the shaky and troublesome situation in the Middle East. Luckily, due to the most creative and wise conduction by the Israeli viola player Nori Jacoby, the Israeli Cobra turned out with many magical moments.

The Israeli Cobra was being planning by Zorn and the Israeli Artistic Director, bass player Jean-Claude Jones, who jammed with Zorn during his 1994 visit to Israel with the Masada quartet (and was thanked on the liner notes of Masada in Jerusalem double disc on Tzadik), for the Israel Festival at Henry Crown Hall on June 7, 2003. For eight months prior to the performance, Jones and I had been assembling the players according to Zorn's suggestions - i.e. at least two female players, two Israeli-Arab players (one of them cancelled a month before the concert), a DJ and players from diverse backgrounds - jazz, improv, classical music, electronics. Zorn wanted playful, adventurous players, and emphasized that he does not care at all about virtuosity.

As we began to look for the players, we found out that most of them have heard of Zorn; vocal artist Maya Dunietz had even played with him an improv nights at Tonic in New York City. Only few of them owned any of his recordings, however, and none knew what the hell Cobra is. The sole exception was Jacoby, who was drafted a month before the concert. Jacobly learned Cobra from a Canadian musician and even conducted and played in some underground performances of the piece. None of the players really understood the rules Zorn sent, and even Jacoby needed a hour-long talk with Zorn, a day before the concert, to fully realize the key dynamics of a successful Cobra. Zorn last word of advise to Jacoby, an hour before the concert were quite short: "Have fun!"

After much preparation, the 13 players met for the first time nine hours before the performance for a quick sound check and a long rehearsal. Some had played with each other before, but not in such a large formation. Some had tried to rehearse the piece a few weeks before the concert. None of the players canceled after hearing that Zorn had decided to stay home. The players were: Jones, one of the best known jazz player in Israel, on bass and electronics; Dunietz on vocals, toys, shoes, percussion and synth; Taiseer Elias, who played in world music ensembles such as Bustan Abraham and Ziryab Trio, on oud; Dana Waxman, a member of the Israeli improv group Tel Aviv Art Ensemble, on cello; Ofer Ganor and Nadav Remez on electric guitars; multi instrumentalist Adam Scheflan on dobro, mini-vibes and kazoo; Daniel Ran on piano; Jeffrey Kowalsky, lead percussion player in the Beer Sheba Symphonietta, and long time collaborator of Steven Horenstein, on vibes, steel drums and darbouka; Hagai Freshtman, a long time collaborator with Assif Tsahar and Ori Kaplan (two Israeli saxophonists living in New York) on drums; video artist Ran Slavin on lap-top; Yoav Bernstein as DJ and special guest Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz (who played in the festival with Daniel Zamir's Satlah) on bass. The youngest player was Remez, only 19 years old. The oldest, at 53, was Kowalsky.

The first characteristic of the Israeli Cobra players that our conductor Jacoby tackled was their insistence on playing all the time. Every time that Jacoby signed 'pool' (as he explained it, the cue means that every player can jump into the pool, but not all players have to jump at the same time) everybody began playing, seeming to enjoy the overall chaos. Then all the players tried to check out how fun the guerilla tactics are, but all was done in a very playful way. Slowly, but in a very confident way, Jacoby turned the rehearsal from a psychotherapeutic workshop for suppressed musicians into a really creative process. It began to seem that Zorn's absence would not hinder the concert.

Cobra was scheduled to open the festival, a free performance that filled the 700-seat hall. More than half the attendees did not know what to expect, believing they had come to see a jazz concert led by a well known Jewish musician (but only a few dozen left during the performance). The beginning of the first piece was hesitant, the players seemed to have lost some of their self-confidence since the last rehearsal, but it quickly evolved into a game of duos and Jacoby kept signing the players almost randomly, sometimes surprising them.

The real magic happened halfway into the concert, during the third piece. Jacoby created an event, selecting Elias on oud, Blumenkranz on bass and Kowalsky on the hand drum darbouka, and the three of them improvised beautifully on a Middle-Eastern scale with Elias leading, while the rest of the players tried to catch up. Jacoby used a lot of jump cuts between the three players and the other musicians and you could feel the kaleidoscopic musical vision of Zorn comes alive with a beautiful cello solo by Waxman, strange e-bow playing on the dobro by Scheflan, gibberish vocals from Dunietz and funny LP selections from Bernstein. The last section focused on the outer worldly laptop playing of Slavin and the piano outbursts of Ran, while the other players improvised in and out of the setting that Slavin and Ran created. Really beautiful music.

After more than 70 minutes the players were exhausted, physically, emotionally, but all of them felt so high, thanking anyone around, from the great sound engineer Uri Barak, to the festival officials, each other, me. All the tension was released. It was a unique experience for all of them, for the spectators, for the festival. The recording of this Cobra will soon be sent to Zorn to let him know what he was missing, and most of the players are planning to stage more Cobras in Israel in the near future.



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Recent Selections @ Squidco:


Lisa Mezzacappa :
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Fire!:
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