The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Irene Schweizer / Joey Baron : Live! (Intakt)

Two generations and two masters of monumental free improvisation from Europe and New York joined together at the unerhort!-Festival Rote Fabrik Zurich in 2015 to unleash this technically awesome and ebullient and duo in a fantastic concert of dynamic power, lyrical insight, intense rhythmic support and counterpoint, and profound musical ideas; incredible! ... Click to View


Die Enttauschung (Axel Dorner / Michael Griener / Rudi Mahall / Jan Roder): Lavaman (Intakt)

The remarkable European Free Jazz quintet Die Enttauschung, crossing bop forms with modern creative approaches to jazz for over 20 years, take a new drummer--Michael Griener--and adds trombonist Christof Thewes, to join Rudi Mahall on clarinets, Axel Dorner on trumpet, and Jan Roder on bass, for an exciting and upbeat album of succint tunes that both revere and abuse jazz history in wonderful ways. ... Click to View


Trio Heinz Herbert (w/ Dominic Landolt / Ramon Landolt / Mario Haenni): The Willisau Concert (Live) (Intakt)

Textural improv of improbable grooves and tones driven by intense periods of interaction balanced with spatial sonic environments; adventurous and exuberant dialog caught live at the Jazzfestival Willisau, in Switzerland, 2016 from the trio of Dominic Landolt on guitar, Ramon Landolt on Hammond organ, synthesizer & samples and Mario Haenni on drums. ... Click to View


Aruan Ortiz : Cub(an)ism (Intakt)

Cuban pianist Aruan Ortiz explores a range of musical idioms and styles, drawing on experiences from many phases of Ortiz' life in Cuba, Spain, France and the US, exploring cubist principles, faceting, and multiple perspectives with folkloric elements, as he presents 10 original compositions of passionate and playful music, performed with virtuosic skill. ... Click to View


Aki Takase / Paul Ayumi : Hotel Zauberberg (Intakt)

Pianist Aki Takase and voilinist Ayumi Paul's 1st collaboration is an 18 movement suite for violin and piano blending composition and improvisation, with 11 movements from Takase and 5 written with Paul, plus Mozart's "K. 1 minuet in G major" and the Preludio movement from Bach's solo violin partita in E major; an absorbing set of recordings inspired by the writings of Thomas Mann. ... Click to View


Hans Hassler: Wie Die Zeit Hinter Mir Her (Intakt)

Swiss accordionist Hans Hassler stands above the (small) crowd of improvising accordionist in the breadth of his career, his ability to balance both lyrical, abstract, serious, and humorous aspects in his approach the instrument, a true original in intent and ability to engage his listeners, in 15 original and diverse compositions recorded in 2017. ... Click to View


Pan-Scan Ensemble: Air And Light And Time And Space (PNL)

"Pan-Scan" refers to pan-Scandinavian, and the nine players on this thrilling and joyful recordings are all of that origin, performing live at Blow Out in Mir, Oslo, Norway in 2016, including both Lotte Anker and Ann HOgberg on sax, Thomas Johansson, Emil Stranberg and Goran Kajfes on trumpet, Sten Sandell on piano, and Paal Nilssen-Love and Stale Liavik on drums. ... Click to View


Xavier Charles / Michel F Cote / Franz Hautzinger / Philippe Lauzier / Eric Normand: Torche! (Tour de Bras)

An exceptional free improvising quintet of Montreal & Quebec improvisers--bassist Eric Normand, drummer Michel F. Cote, and bass clarinetist Philippe Lauzier--with French clarinetist Xavier Charles and German trumpeter Franz Hautzinger, performing live during the 2016 Festival de Musique de Creation, creating fascinating commontion with incredible restraint. ... Click to View


Fraufraulein: Heavy Objects [CASSETTE] (Marginal Frequency)

The duo of Brooklyn electronics, field recording, bass guitar and french horn artists Billy Gomberg and Anne Guthrie, using musical and abstract sounds to create something between the concrete textures of field recording and spontaneous composition, presenting restrained yet detailed sound that engages the listener through transition and mystery. ... Click to View


Joda Clement / Mathieu Ruhlmann: Kindred (Marginal Frequency)

A unique cover of Brian Eno's "Taking Tiger Mountain" using synthesizer, field recordings, electromagnetic feedback, treatments, objects, oscillators, shruti box, reel to reel, ukelin, guitar, piano, clarinet, cello and voice, from Joda Clement and Mathieu Ruhlmann joined by Cristian Alvear, Gregory Moskos, Alexandra Spence, Tim Clement, Judith Hamann and A.F. Jones. ... Click to View


Mars Williams presents (w/ Berman / Lonberg-Holdm / Baker / Kessler / Sandstrom / Hunt): An Ayler Xmas: The Music of Albert Ayler & Songs of Christmas (Soul What Records)

Chicago saxophonist Mars Williams directs his Albert Ayler tribute band, Witches and Devils, to merge Ayler-esque compositions with Christmas songs, performed by Josh Berman (cornet) Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Jim Baker (keys, viola), Kent Kessler (bass), Brian Sandstrom (bass, guitar, trumpet); an unexpected and welcome present for your free jazz festivities! ... Click to View


Boneshaker (Mars Williams / Paal Nilssen-Love / Kent Kessler): Unusual Words (Soul What Records)

A CD intended to sell at concerts from Mars Williams' own Soul What Records label, a studio recording in 2012 from the powerhouse trio of Chicago multi-reedist Mars Williams, in-demand Norwegian drummer/percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love, and Chicago bassist Kent Kessler, running the gamut from furious blowing to introspective interaction. ... Click to View


Elliott Sharp / Mary Halvorson / Marc Ribot: ERR Guitar (Intakt)

Elliott Sharp's New York Studio zOaR was the meeting place for three New York guitarists--Sharp himself, Mary Halvorson, and Marc Ribot--who find common ground by blending a variety of approaches to the instrument in 12 excellent and generally succinct collective improvisations, stretching, bending, plucking and inexplicably effecting their guitars. ... Click to View


John Cage: Klang der Wandlungen [3 CDs] (Edition Rz)

An impressive triple-CD box with recordings of some late works by John Cage, including "Seventy-Four for Orchestra, 1992", "103 for Orchestra, 1991, part 1 & 2", In a Landscape fur Harfe", "Postcard From Heaven fur Eine Bis Zwanzig Harfen", and some of "The Harmony of Maine"; including a 32 page booklet with photos and liner notes by Jakob Ullmann. ... Click to View


Jurg Frey: L'ame Est Sans Retenue I [5 CDs] (erstwhile)

A massive work from composer Jurg Frey focused on the dynamic relationship between sound and silence, and how it can affect our perception of the silence in a frame of space and time, using environmental sounds of field recordings and silence to create a massive work over six hours, modifying pitch, rhythm, dynamics, texture, and overtone, here properly released on 5 CDs. ... Click to View


Michael Pisaro / Samuel Dunscombe / Steven Andrew Flato / Wen Liu / Celeste Oram / Johannes Regnier: Organ For The Senses (Marginal Frequency)

San Diego's Parkeology director Kate Clark and composer Samuel Dunscombe organized this concert to take advantage of the Balboa Park's Spreckels Organ, inviting local and regional experimental composers to develop works for the 5,017 pipe instrument, attracting artists like Michael Pisaro, Samuel Dunscombe, Steven Andrew Flato, Wen Liu, &c. ... Click to View


Jon Irabagon / Joe Fiedler / Todd Neufeld: In Formation Network (Nuscope)

Saxophonist Jon Irabagon, trombonist Joe Fiedler, and guitarist Todd Neufeld met in April, 2017 in Mount Vernon at the Oktaven Audio studio to record these nine varied compositions, presenting a unifying trio sound and identity that reflects Chicago's Giuffre trio, but with a unique collective attitude as the trio employs a varied set of compositional strategies. ... Click to View


Joe McPhee: The Willisau Concert (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Recorded in 1975 at the Swiss Willisau Jazz Festival, Joe McPhee's trio with John Synder on synth and Makaya Ntshoko on drums, and McPhee on tenor and sopranox sax, was Hat Hut's 2nd release and has been out of print since; Corbett vs. Dempsey asked McPhee what unavailable album he'd like to see in print, and this suberb album was his first choice. ... Click to View


Eugene Chadbourne : The Lost Eddie Chatterbox Session [2017 REISSUE] (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Reissuing free improvising guitarist Eugene Chadbourne's 1977, San Francisco recording of compositions by the likes of Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Ornette Coleman, plus a few standards and originals, captured on an ailing quarter-track tape deck, but saved for the force of his playing, here restored, corrected, and remastered. ... Click to View


Sun Ra: Discipline 27-II [2017 REMASTER] (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

The 2nd volume in Sun Ra's "Discipline" series was recorded during the same sessions as 1972's Impulse release "Space Is the Place", with Sun Ra on electronic keyboards and Moog, and a large band including Marshall Allen, John Gilmore, Danny Davis, Akh Tal Ebah, June Tyson, &c. ... Click to View


Leap of Faith Orchestra: The Expanding Universe (Evil Clown)

The Leap of Faith Orchestra is a large improvisation ensemble comprised of 5 ub-units--Leap of Faith, Metal Chaos Ensemble, String Theory, Turbulence, and the New Language Collaborative--all assembled here for a massive and far-ranging experience, scored with time indices and English language descriptions by leader David Peck; dense and spectacular. ... Click to View


Lisbon String Trio with Luiz Rocha: Akuanduba (Creative Sources)

The 4th collaboration for Portugal's Lisbon String Trio of Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Miguel Mira on cello, and Alvaro Rosso on double bass, with Brazilian clarinetist based in Barcelona Luiz Rocha, all captured live at Casa dos Bicos, Fundacao Jose Saramago, in Lisbon in 2017 for free improvisation that maintains a calm center amidst seething and commanding playing. ... Click to View


Lisbon String Trio with Etienne Brunet: Telepathie (Creative Sources)

Portugal's Lisbon String Trio with Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Miguel Mira on cello, and Alvaro Rosso on double bass, in a series of releases adding one additional improviser, here joined by Etienne Brunet on soprano saxophone, for two extended improvisations of active counterpoint and beautiful open sections, an excellent and rousing collaboration. ... Click to View


Un Coup de Des (Barriere / Sainz): Volcan Evaporado (Creative Sources)

Two women in a duo of voice and amplified objects, Lali Barrier using a variety of devices that are clearly micro-amplifed and mixed in performance, as Marta Sainz intones vocal sounds, never speaking but creating innuendo and drama at a cautious pace, allowing Barrier's objects to interact, creating an unusual sonic environment of unpredictable and interesting discourse. ... Click to View


Steve Roden : Between Yellow And White On One Side. Between Blue And Black On The Other (Banned Productions)

Part of a trilogy of cassette-related works that began with a piece sound artist Steve Roden created for an online exhibition for ICA London in early 2012, these two works were composed from 1983-84 recordings Roden made in his bedroom, recorded at double speed and here playing at half speed, half in reverse, which were organized into these two compositions. ... Click to View


Kullhammar, Aalberg Zetterber & Santos Silva: Basement Sessions Vol.4 (The Bali Tapes) (Clean Feed)

The 4th volumes of this remarkable set of "basement sessions" from the Swedish trio of Espen Aalberg on drums & percussion, Jonas Kullhammar on saxophone & flute, and Torbjorn Zetterberg on bass, joined by Susana Santos Silva on trumpet, for a beautiful album of free hard bop, encompassing spiritual and ritual aspects of gamelan music in a unique and wonderful album. ... Click to View


Imaginary Numbers (McPhee / Niggenkemper / Solberg): Imaginary Numbers (Clean Feed)

Playing both pocket trumpet and tenor sax, Joe McPhee joins German/French/NY bassist Pascal Niggenkemper, and Norwegian drummer Stale Liavik Solberg, for an authoritative and bold album of collective free improv, three extended conversations that center on "A Supreme Love (For John Coltrane)", pointing to the history and sympathies of these impressive musicians. ... Click to View


Gard Nilssen's Acoustic Unity : Live in Europe [3 CDs] (Clean Feed)

Three complete 2016 concerts at North Sea Jazz Festival, Ljubljana Jazz Festival and Oslo Jazz Festiva, and 3 CDs to present them, from drummer Gard Nilssen's Acoustic Unity, a superb free/post-bop group with a core of Nilssen, bassist Petter Eldh, and saxophonist Andre Roligheten, featuring 3 saxophonists: Fredrik Ljungkvis, Kristoffer Berre Alberts, and Jorgen Mathisen. ... Click to View


Tree Ear (Strinning / Troller / Hemingway): Witches Butter (Clean Feed)

After percussionist and composer Gerry Hemingway migrated to Luzern, Switzerland he joined forces with the creative improvising community in that city, in particular with guitarist Manuel Troller and saxophonist and bass clarinetist Sebastian Strinning, the trio taking the name Tree Ear, blending free and idiomatic improv in bold, uncommon and spellbinding ways. ... Click to View


Eve Risser / Kaja Draksler: To Pianos (Clean Feed)

Two pianists dedicate to their instruments at the Gallus Hall of Cankarjev Dom during the 57th Jazz Festival Ljubljana: Paris-based pianist Eve Risser (Umlaut, En-Corps, &c) and Slovenian pianist Kaja Draskler (I/O, Draskler Octet, &c.), to record these inventive duos, weaving their keys together or working inside and out of the piano in incredible sonic approaches. ... Click to View


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  The Tyranny of the Tens  

A Belated Look Back at 2003

It must be hard to be a year. You have to come up with ten great movies, ten great records, ten great books - anymore than that and you're just spinning your wheels. History is written in decasets, or - with sufficient hindsight - in groups of 100.

Problem is, of course, there are good years and there are bad years. So rather than asking our writers to scrap for or limit themselves to ten, we gave them the sky as the limit for their end-of-the-year wrap-ups: a more democratic process, we feel. Those who had a better listening year get more votes because they want them, a vague sort of proportional representation.

A common complaint among avid listeners about the digital age is that there are just too many records these days. There have always been talented people, of course, but we fanatics have never been so saddled with knowing about them. Perhaps that's why only five records were named more than once, and perhaps this is how we might name the best records of 2003. And if anything can be gleaned from that half-a-ten, perhaps it's that we had a fairly melancholy year.



Sylvie Courvoisier - Abaton (ECM)The two surprises on Sylvie Courvoisier's two cd set are almost the same. The pianist proves herself to be a fine composer, and her trio with violinist Mark Feldman and cellist Erik Friedlander make a strong enough improvising unit that they nearly emulate the composer's voice even when playing without charts. The first disc contains four striking compositions and the second, recorded immediately after the first, captures three of New York's strongest improvisors in duo and trio settings. Abaton is a remarkable achievement, one that might bring the talented Courvoisier to many more ears.



Peter Kowald/William Parker - The Victoriaville Tapes (Victo) - Death, of course, brings immortality to the greats, and the German bassist Peter Kowald was no doubt one of the greats. He died in 2002 at the home of his longtime friend and fellow bassist William Parker, and this set from that year's Victoriaville Festival captured the two in a beautiful duet.



The Necks - Drive By (Fish of Milk) - The Australian piano trio The Necks are no doubt the least known of our Fab Four, which is a shame because they're as enjoyable as they are accessible. Landing somewhere between Miles Davis' In a Silent Way and Bernard Herrmann's film soundtracks, their music is slow, dramatic and engaging. Here they add Hammond organ to the piano/bass/drum line-up to a softly psychedelic effect.



Keith Rowe/John Tilbury - Duos for Doris (Erstwhile) - Two-thirds of slowsound forebearers AMM met in January, 2003, in Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy, France, for a session that almost didn't happen but turned out to be one of Erstwhile's biggest sellers. The mood of the musicians was no doubt hampered by the fact that Tilbury's mother died at age 95 three days before the recording was to take place. The two-cd set is a worthy addition to AMM's nearly 40 years of exploring.



John Zorn - Masada Guitars (Tzadik) - A strange criticism surrounds the proliferous John Zorn. While he cut his first working band, Naked City, too short, his second long-term project has gone on too long. Plenty of cds have been released under the Masada name, and the plethora has pushed away some old-school fans. From the core quartet, with Joey Baron, Greg Cohen and Dave Douglas, to the string trio, chamber groups, and "cover" albums, the Masada songbook has become lovingly dogeared. Those who jumped ship somewhere around the fourth DIW record or the fifth live album, though, would be advised to return to the fold for this solo guitar recital. The well familiar pieces are given new breath by Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot and Tim Sparks and the album, from beginning to end, is a work of beauty.



That said, here's the list, alphabetically and with apologies to believers in the decimal system.

  • Abdullah Ibrahim - African Magic (enja)
  • Absolute Zero - Crashing Icons (Recommended Records)
  • Adam Lane - Fo(u)r Being(s) (CIMP)
  • Ahmad Jamal - In Search Of: Momentum (1–10) (Birdology/Dreyfus)
  • Albert Ayler - The Copenhagen Tapes (Ayler)
  • Andrew Drury - A Momentary Lapse (Innova)
  • Anthony Braxton - Four Compositions (GTM) 2000 (Delmark)
  • Art Ensemble of Chicago - Tribute to Lester (ECM)
  • Bob Drake - 13 Songs and a Thing (Crumbling Tones/Recommended Records)
  • Carla Kihlstedt - 2 Foot Yard (Tzadik)
  • Charles Hayward - Abracadabra Information (Locus Solus)
  • Christian Fennesz – Live in Japan (Headz)
  • Cooper Moore and Assif Tsahar – America (Hopscotch)
  • Dave Douglas- Freak In (Bluebird)
  • David Budbill/ William Parker/ Hamid Drake- Songs for a Suffering World (Boxholder)
  • David Sylvian - Blemish (Samadhi Sound)
  • Dingobats - Pöck (Bergland Productions)
  • DJ Wally - nothing stays the same (Thirsty Ear)
  • Elliot Sharp - Velocity of Hue (Emanem)
  • Evan Parker and Joe McPhee - Chicago Tenor Duets (Okkadisk)
  • Fred Anderson – Back at the Velvet Lounge (Delmark)
  • Fred Frith - Keep the Dog: That House We Lived In (Recommended Records)
  • Fredi Luescher, Cécile Olshausen, Nathanael Su, Dear C. – The Music of Carla Bley (Altrisuoni)
  • Geof Bradfield - Rule of Three (Liberated Zone)
  • Giorgio Pacorig - My Mind Is on the Table (Splasc(h))
  • Globe Unity Orchestra 2002 (Intakt)
  • Gordon Beck - Gyroscope (Art of Life)
  • Grand Mal - Perfect Fit (Unsounds)
  • Gunther Muller - Eight Landscapes (For 4 Ears)
  • Hiroaki Katayama - Quatre (Studio Wee)
  • Hoahio - Peek-Ara-Boo (Tzadik)
  • John Butcher - Invisible Ear (Fringes)
  • John Fahey - Red Cross (Revenant)
  • John Lindberg- Ruminations upon Ives and Gottschalk (between the lines)
  • John Surman - Free and Equal (ECM)
  • John Wall – Hylic (Utterpsalm)
  • John Zorn - Masada Guitars (Tzadik)
  • Jon Rose - The People's Music (Recommended Records)
  • Jon Rose and Hollis Taylor - Great Fences of Australia (Dynamo House)
  • Josh Abrams - Cipher (Delmark)
  • Josh Abrams Quartet - Ciper (Delmark)
  • Julien Ottavi – Nervure Magnetique (Sigma Editions)
  • Julius Hemphill - One Atmosphere (Tzadik)
  • Keith Rowe – 29 October 2001 (Sound)
  • Keith Rowe/John Tilbury - Duos for Doris (Erstwhile)
  • Kevin Norton/Joelle Leandre/Tomas Ulrich - Ocean of Earth (Barking Hoop)
  • Larry Coryell - The Power Trio: Live in Chicago (HighNote)
  • Le Quan Ninh - Le Ventre Negatif (Meniscus)
  • Limescale - Limescale (Incus)
  • Lisbon Improvisation Players - live_lx meskla (Clean Feed)
  • Lutz Glandien - Lost Rooms (Recommended Records)
  • Markus Eichenberger - Domino Concept for Orchestra (Emanem)
  • Martin Siewert/Martin Brandlmayr – Too Beautiful to Burn (Erstwhile)
  • Marty Ehrlich - Line on Love (Palmetto)
  • Morton Feldman – Early Piano Works (Stefan Schliermacher)
  • Oren Ambarchi/Gunther Muller/Philip Samartzis -Strange Love (For 4 Ears 1448)
  • Paul Rogers - Listen (Emanem)
  • Peter Brötzmann - More Nipples (Atavistic UMS)
  • Peter Kowald/William Parker - The Victoriaville Tapes (Victo)
  • Phil Minton and Roger Turner - drainage (Emanem)
  • Philip Samartzis – Mort Aux Vaches (Staalplaat)
  • Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Compliments of the Mysterious Phantom (Hyena)
  • Repeat – Pool (Cut)
  • Rhodri Davies - Trem (Confront)
  • Robert Marcel Lapage - La machine ŕ exploRecommended Records le tempo (Ambiances Magnetiques)
  • Sachiko M/Sean Meehan – [untitled] (upsidedownbowl)
  • Satoko Fujii and Tatsuya Yoshida- Toh-Kichi (Victo)
  • Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Live (Sickroom)
  • Spring Heel Jack - Live (Thirsty Ear)
  • Staffan William-Olsson - Pop! (Real Records)
  • Supersilent- 6 (Rune Grammofon)   
  • Sylvie Courvoisier/Mark Feldman/Erik Friedlander- Abaton (ECM)
  • The Necks - Drive By (Fish of Milk)
  • The Vandermark 5 - Airports for Light (Atavistic)
  • Tim Berne's Science Friction - The Sublime and. (Thirsty Ear)
  • Trio-X - Journey (CIMP)
  • Vijay Iyer - Blood Sutra (Artists House)
  • Vijay Iyer & Mike Ladd- In What Language? (Pi)
  • VRIL [Bob Drake, Lukas Simonis, Chris Cutler] (Recommended Records)
  • Whit Dickey - Prophet Moon (Riti)
  • William Parker Trio - Scrapbook (Thirsty Ear)
  • William Parker/Joe Morris/Hamid Drake - Eloping with the Sun (riti)

The Nominating Committee: Nate Dorward, Kurt Gottschalk, Eyal Hareuveni, Andrey Henkin, Brian Olewnick, Phil Zampino



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

Squidco

Recent Selections @ Squidco:


John Cage:
Klang der Wandlungen
[3 CDs]
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Leap of
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Mars Williams presents
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Musicianer
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Matthew Lux's
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