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Recently @ Squidco:

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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The Squid's Ear
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A Month of Zorndays
John Zorn's 50th Birthday Celebration at Tonic

Updated througout the month

John Zorn







John Zorn Improv Night  (Tonic) 

September 29, 2003

With Derek Bailey unable to make it to town for his scheduled night in the monthlong Zornfest, John Zorn pulled together an old-fashioned improv night (although having drummer Joey Baron still in town certainly made it something more than an ordinary night). It was the first nonevent of the month, which almost carried with it a tinge of relief.

Two opening pieces by Baron, pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and cellist Erik Friedlander achieved the often-claimed-but-usually boring improvised classical. Violinest Mark Feldman and laptop percussionist Ikue Mori followed in a similar vein, Feldman playing bold, heavy notes, leaving Mori's laptop as the melody instrument. Their second piece took a very different path, with Feldman playing fast lines and scratches over Mori's busy backing. Feldman and Friedlander also carried the high-art torch for a piece, and were joined by Courvoiser (making the group into Courvoisier's Abaton trio) for an equally stunning piece.

Baron and Zorn had of course already shared the stage during the month - two weeks prior had been the Masada quartet's first gig in over a year - but seeing them in duet was just good. Starting and stopping, completing each other's sentences until they built to a roar, only Baron to stop and play a quiet, slowly metered rim roll while Zorn carried on full throttle. Later Baron backed Zorn with licked-finger drum-head rubs, not just for effect but really playing with Zorn's saxophone.

Better yet was Baron sitting in the Susie Ibarra seat with the Mephista line-up. He's a faster, busier player than Ibarra, it's not really fair to call it Mephista at all, but they played wonderfully, although he ultimately overpowered Courvoisier and Mori. A second, quieter piece where Baron rode cymbals worked better. The piano, drums and laptop created torrents of rhythm together, and Courvoisier and Mori now have the shared pleasure of playing with the two happiest drummers in the world.

The final group piece opened with Baron, Friedlander and Mori, then Zorn coming in, suggesting combinations that hadn't been heard, and built slowly to a gorgeous sextet, Zorn blowing a slow lament, Feldman complementing him while Friedlander carried a deep bass, the rest melding into a beautiful, thick blanket.

Perhaps it wasn't quite like old times, not just in Zorn's calling consecutive pieces by the same ensembles, but in the near-formal virtuosity exhibited throughout. Certainly it was a different sort of Improv Nite than he would have presented 10 years ago. And if anything really stands as a testament to the growth of John Zorn and the scene he embraces, it's what they do for fun.

- Kurt Gottschalk






Bezique  (Tonic) 

September 24, 2003

Bezique is the last game piece Zorn conceived, and by his own admission in introducing the piece, "it's very strange." It differs from other pieces in that the players - the musicians involved - create the settings ahead of time rather than while they are playing. As a result, more coherent musical statements are made without losing the structured improvisations that can make the game pieces so rewarding.

The game pieces in general are interesting not just because of the music that's made, the characters they bring out or the mystery in which they're kept. They predate what could be called Zorn's "index card" period, and seem to have informed it. After creating a series of situations where he could hear styles, genres and moods crashing into each other, he began to use it as a formula for composing and arranging, most notably on the album The Big Gundown and the piece Spillane. Beziques was written in 1989, just two years before Spillane was recorded, and combines the tools of the game pieces with a compositional approach.

Each of the 11 players (Trevor Dunn, 5-string electric bass; Anthony Coleman, Farfisa organ; Sylvie Courvoisier, piano; Marc Ribot, guitar; Jim Publiese and William Winant, percussion; Jim Staley, trombone; Mark Dresser, bass; Okkyung Lee, cello; Mark Feldman, violin; and Jamie Saft, Fender Rhodes, synthesizer and effects) got a turn creating a piece, calling out a series of directives ("EP1, Ribot; M7, Courvoisier, Lee, Winant; EP3-1...") while a "gaffer" played interlude music. It was reminiscent of Duke Ellington's idea that he writes for individual musicians, except purely that, without scores. Zorn would write down the directives that he would then guide them through by holding up his familiar cue cards, and reminding the arranger of rules and trying to keep an overall cohesion between pieces. "The hardest thing is coming out of Ts," he reminded the group more than once. "You can't just write a whole piece and think it's gonna work," he told them later. "You gotta think about the piece that came before it. You gotta think about the pieces in order."

While pieces like Cobra show player's proclivities in what they want to hear at the moment, it was fascinating to watch entire pieces borne of one player's musical sense. Dresser created a beautiful suite. Lee jumped back and forth between styles, relying heavily on a Ribot/Saft/Dunn trio. Coleman injected humor, which in itself is impressive when you're only able to suggest with genre, tempo and volume. But "M4 and 9 for Dresser and Sylvie" got a good laugh from the bandstand. (When they got to that point in the piece, Zorn showed the two cards "Quiet" and "Rock" to the audience.) Likewise, it was interesting to watch players run the pieces through their heads as they were being called.

The performance lasted 80 minutes, and it's a shame that Bezique has been forgotten over the years. While the other game pieces make for great theater and a fun night of in-the-moment creation, Bezique resulted in some truly memorable music.

- Kurt Gottschalk






John Zorn's Lacrosse, Hockey, Rugby  (Tonic) 

September 24, 2003

In the progression of game pieces that led John Zorn to create the magnificent Cobra and Xu Feng structures, several earlier games were devised. Lacrosse was developed in 1977, originally performed in the days of Studio Henry in lower Manhattan where, as Zorn recalled at the beginning of the performace, the music competed with the sounds of crickets in the building. This rendering of the game had Anthony Coleman on keys, Marc Ribot on guitar, William Winant and Jim Pugliese on percussion and Zorn on alto. The game was very interactive, the players motioning amongst themselves and using a sparse set of rules, each calling segments and directing the game while in motion - unlike most of Zorn's game pieces there was no prompter. They used extended techniques on their instruments, and the piece was enjoyable if for no other reason than the mastery each showed: Zorn and Ribot played off each other, Coleman working inside the grand piano, and both Pugliese and Winant seeming to utilize every inch of their percussive sources. The ensuing music was not particularly coherent, a series of stop-starting quotations that were often punctuated but rarely lyrical.

Following was Hockey, a piece from 1978 that Zorn described as "exotic aquatics." He displayed the score for the game, explaining that at the time of its writing he believed that "all you really needed for an evening of music is one sheet of paper." Hockey limits each player's language to five sounds, which are carried out through a series of solos, duos and trios. Two versions of Hockey were presented, the first which Zorn referred to as the "dry version" with Okkyung Lee on cello, Jim Pugliese on percussion and Zorn on duck calls. This version was tremendous fun, particularly in seeing Zorn playing the duck calls again, a fistful of varying bird and buzzer sounds that are clearly enjoyable to play. Lee provided an excellent foil to Zorn as she scraped, sawed and zipped around her cello while Pugliese provided often rollicking outbursts. The music frequently shifted, Zorn sometimes calling off directives to change the rhythm. More sophisticated than Lacrosse, the piece still paled to later game pieces in its sometimes spastic results. The second rendering of Hockey was presented by Anthony Coleman, Marc Ribot and Mark Dresser on bass. Zorn described this as the "wet version,", and the difference between the two renditions was remarkable. Coleman here stuck to his heavily effected Farfisa organ. Ribot as well played heavily effected and downright alien guitar, while Dresser was a monster on the bass, sometimes playing with a stick, plucking around the neck or bowing below the bridge. Zorn prompted from the front as the three played with clear enjoyment. The results were, once again, fun to watch, somewhat dubious in their music results, but inspiring and important in their ability present new possiblities in improvisational playing.

The last piece, Rugby, was written several years later, in 1983, and was more like his later pieces. Sylvie Courvoisier was on piano, Trevor Dunn on bass, Mark Feldman on vioin, Jim Staley on trombone, William Winant on percussion, with Zorn prompting using a card system. The interplay this time was much more obvious, players pointing to each other to suggest musical direction to Zorn. The cards instructed the players with phrases like "Intercut," "Trans," "1 Clock Changes" or "4 Trades," and the piece seemed to work at time similar to Butch Morris' conductions. A series of escapades and interludes, the structure provided much more lyric and expressive opportunities to the musicians, adding a quirky and playful air to the resulting music. Zorn once again showed the single sheet that defined the game, but this time it was clear that the direction he was to take game pieces in 20 years ago held great potential for making excellent and unpredictable music.

- Phil Zampino






September 12, 18, 25 2003

Bar Kokhba - (Tonic) September 12, 2003, 8:00 set
Masada - (Tonic) September 18, 2003, 8:00 set
Electric Masada - (Tonic)September 25, 2003, 8:00 set

One of the wonderful things about Zorn's 50th birthday month was the opportunity it presented to hear the various Masada permutations on successive or nearly-successive nights, the chance to compare the way the different voicings and personnel shaped the music (sometimes even the same charts), and the air around us, the actual feel of the world, or as much of it as you can fit inside the little Tonic warehouse. This is evocative music, music that reaches down into the limbic system and plants fleeting images of places that, for a few moments, I have a terrible longing to visit.



continued...




The Squid's Ear presents
reviews about releases
sold at Squidco.com
written by
independent writers.

Squidco

Recent Selections @ Squidco:


Lisa Mezzacappa :
Glorious Ravage
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Fire!:
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Fire!:
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Jaap Blonk /
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