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Trio & Octet compositions from UK double bassist Olie Brice: "Fire Hills" in five parts, commissioned by Jazz South and performed by the trio of Brice, Tom Challenger (sax) and Will Glaser (drums); then three pieces including the title track, with Alex Bonney & Kim Macari (trumpets), Jason Yarde, George Crowley, Cath Roberts & Rachel Musson (saxophones), and Johnny Hunter (drums). ... Click to View


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Florian Wittenburg :
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Starting with a systematic variation of polyphony in each of the three movements of "Bis 4-Stimmung", German composer and pianist Florian Wittenburg deviates from strict structures through a component of randomly generated core notes which he then makes coherent through harmony and melody, each part punctuated with layers of Wittenburg reciting Dutch poet Cees Noteboom. ... Click to View


Wade Matthews / Carmen Morales:
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Inspired by and recorded at the basilica of a former monastery overlooking a valley in southern Spain, the duo of Wade MatthInspired by and recorded at the basilica of a former monastery overlooking a valley in southern Spain, the duo of Wade Matthews on digital synthesis & field recordings and Carmen Morales on prepared piano, present improvisations with a unique palette of timbres, contrasting spacious moments against rapid interaction as they "Plunge and Tumble" through five captivating dialogs.ews on digital synthesis & field recordings and Carmen Morales on prepared piano, present improvisations with a unique palette of timbres, contrasting spacious moments with rapid interaction as they "Plunge and Tumble" through five captivating dialogs. ... Click to View


Quatuor Umlaut (Karl Naegelen / Morton Feldman):
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Philip Corner:
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Early tape collage works from Fluxus founder and member of the Experimental Media Foundation Philip Corner, five distinct pieces recorded and developed between 1962 to 1963 in New York's Lower East Side, including Lucinda Pastime" for a a dance piece by Lucinda Childs, and "Oracle, a Canata on Images of War" commissioned by the Living Theatre; includes a 16-page booklet. ... Click to View


Leap Of Faith:
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The first Leap of Faith set in a quartet lineup expanding the core of David Peck on reeds, winds & percussion and Glynis Lomon on cello & aquasonic with trumpeter Vance Provey and percussionist Michael Knoblach, in an introspective livestreamed set that balances the strings of Lomon against two horns while bringing out a wealth of unusual percussive interactions. ... Click to View


Fire! w/ Stephen O'Malley / David Sandstrom:
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Flying Luttenbachers, The:
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The ever-shifting lineup of jazz/no-wave/avant/aberrant improvisers The Flying Luttenbachers, anchored by drummer Weasel Walters, brings multi-reedist Matt Nelson, two guitarists (Brandon Seabrook & Henry Kaiser), bassist Tim Dahl and Brad Laner on synth for an aggressively informed and excitingly unpredictable album of superb playing and possibly bad intention; recommended! ... Click to View


Zorn / Chadbourrne / Bradfield / Baker / Hutton:
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Two exceptional live performances of John Zorn's interactive "Fencing" concept leading free improv into unusual directions, from the early Downtown NY scene in 1978, first at Zorn's own loft in the trio of guitarists Eugene Chadbourne, Duck Baker and Randy Hutton; then at Bard College, in Kingston, NY with Zorn on multiple reeds, Chadbourne on guitar and Polly Bradfield on violin. ... Click to View


Heroes Are Gang Leaders:
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Eunhye Jeong (Jeong / Burik / Ridley / Mela / Kim):
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An energetic and sophisticated album of free improvisation based around three compositions by and under the direction of Boston-based South Korean pianist Eunhye Jeong, in a quintet with Allison Burik on alto saxophone & bass clarinet, Max Ridley on double bass, Francisco Mela on drums and Mina Kim on cello, who also performs Jeong's solo work for cello on the center track. ... Click to View


John Zorn (Marsella / Roeder / Smith):
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Blurring the lines between composed and improvised music, John Zorn's ten-part composition in his "Suite for Piano" was inspired in part by the Goldberg Variations and Schoenberg's solo piano music, set in the classic piano trio format and performed by extraordinary New York musicians and improvisers, Brian Marsella on piano, Jorge Roeder on bass, and Ches Smith on drums. ... Click to View


Kirk Knuffke Trio (w/ Bisio / Shipp):
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AAVD Trio (Alexander Adams / Danny Andrade / Daniel Van Duerm):
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Stefan Thut:
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Creating complex intervals that the players must "notice among each other" as a model for coexistence, cellist Stefan Thut's score for three string players and sine waves, here configured for double bass (Félicie Bazelaire), acoustic guitar (Fredrik Rasten) and cello (Thut) with Léo Dupleix on sine waves tuned to multiples of prime numbers and attached to the wooden boxes that serve as transducers. ... Click to View


Amirtha Kidambi / Luke Stewart:
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Referencing the highs and lows to which the NY duo of free improvising vocalist Amirtha Kidambi and bassist Luke Stewart take their listeners, both bringing along electronics as they divert between clear acoustics and extreme processing, pouring out the turbulence of the time with a unique sense of duress and oddly hopeful musing; frighteningly unique and fascinating. ... Click to View


Hippie Diktat:
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The 3rd album from the French Hippie Diktat trio of Antoine Viard on baritone sax, Julien Chamla on drums and Richard Comte on guitar, drawing parallels to Sunn O))) and the raw power of Peter Brötzmann, here in a four-part work of primal rhythms and powerful textures, applying the use of space and timing around repetition to create a bedrock of brawny sound. ... Click to View


Richard Comte / Julien Pontvianne:
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The long-standing duet of guitarist Richard Comte and tenor saxophonist Julen Pontvianne (Onze Hours Onze) is a conversation of introspective and resonant repetition around silence, tonal decay, slow call and response and submerged themes, here symbolically immersed as they explore four sunken islands from around the world: Vordonis; Lohachara; Semionovski and Elugelab. ... Click to View


Albert Ayler Quintet:
At Slugs' Saloon 1966, Revisited (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

Combining the two Italian ESP/BASE LPs from 1982 and the 1995 ESP reissues, this spectacular concert with perhaps Ayler's most essential band--Ayler on tenor sax, Donald Ayler on trumpet, Michel Samson on violin, Lewis Worrell on double bass and Ronald Shannon Jackson on drums--is fully remastered to bring out more details from the complete, ecstatic 1966 concert. ... Click to View


Markus Eichenberger / Christoph Gallio:
Unison Polyphony (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

A seeming contradiction in terms, the unison voices and divergent polyphony that emerges best describes the subtle interactions between these two Swiss reed players--Markus Eichenberger on clarinet and Christoph Gallio (Day & Taxi) on soprano and C-Melody saxophones--their "harmony of coherence" strategies guiding their melodic interlacing and fragmentation. ... Click to View


Yaroslav Likhachev Quartet:
Occasional Sketches (Clean Feed)

Performing the embracingly angular compositions of Russian-born, German-based saxophonist Yaroslav Likhachev that pivot on hard bop transformed through inventive approaches, since 2016 Likhachev's Quartet with Yannis Anft on piano, Conrad Noll on bass and Moritz Baranczyk on drums have pursued new forms of expression while maintaining jazz, traditions here in nine well-defined "sketches". ... Click to View


Ziv Taubenfeld's Full Sun:
Out Of The Beast Came Honey (Clean Feed)

Amsterdam-based bass clarinetist Ziv Taubenfeld's sextet perform the leader's innovative compositions that include a tribute to alto saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc, and a graphic composition for Sunny Murray, in a band with Michael Moore (sax & clarinet), Joost Buis (trombone), Nico Chientaroli (piano), Omer Govreen (double bass) and Onno Govaert (drums & percussion). ... Click to View


Daniel Carter / Watson Jennison / William Parker / Federico Ughi:
Live! Volume 1: Erie (577 Records)

Working together in tours and recording since 2005, the NY trio of multi-reedist and wind player Daniel Carter, bassis William Parker and drummer/percussionist Federico Ughi are joined by saxophonist Watson Jennison also on flute, recorder and keyboards for this enlightened album of modern and transcendent jazz in a limited, remastered LP edition with bonus material. ... Click to View


Chad Fowler / WC Anderson:
Lacrimosa (Mahakala Music)

Free jazz recorded one person at a time from the duo of saxophonist Chad Fowler and WC "Chad" Anderson who, constrained by pandemic, chose to create "simulated concerts" by exchanging solo recording, each starting the process for different pieces and surprised at how "live" the results felt, as they built up the twelve excellent, rule-breaking tracks of this album. ... Click to View


Daniel Carter / Jim Clouse:
Playing Retention (Mahakala Music)

Known first as one of New York's finest audio engineers running Park West Studios, Jim Clouse is also a drummer and saxophonist, this his first recorded foray into free jazz partnering with legendary multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter on sax, trumpet, piano & drums, for seven diverse and extremely well informed improvisations as each follows their natural inclinations. ... Click to View


Kyle Motl / Patrick Shiroishi:
Apparitions [CASSETTE w/ DOWNLOAD] (Notice Recordings)

The second album on Notice Recordings for West Coast free improvising saxophonist Patrick Shiroishi is a duo with San Diego-based double bassist Kyle Motl, in an exceptionally well-balanced example of powerful expression from both players, free blowing and turbulent exchanges offset by experimental introspective passages in four extended and excellent improvisations. ... Click to View


Cordoba (Brianna Tong / Eric Novak / Cam Cunningham / Zach Bain-Selbo / Khalyle Hagood / Zach Upton-Davis):
Specter (Amalgam)

Combining elements of neo-soul, jazz fusion and hip hop, the Cordoba genre-bending sextet from Chicago use their warm, slightly off-center grooves to present vocalist Brianna Tong's articulate lyrics that observe and reflect on the state of world, the band's arrangements extended on five songs with the Latin America-influenced Kaia String Quartet. ... Click to View


Michael Pisaro-Liu :
Two Scrolls From Western Australia (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Composer Michael Pisaro-Liu asked guitarist Jameson Feakes and saxophonist Josten Myburgh to each select a location in Western Australia and make a set of field recordings at different times of day, providing the basis for a musical scroll akin to Chinese scroll paintings, each musician then a poetic character placed into the virtual landscape of their recordings. ... Click to View



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  The Magic I.D. 
  till my breath gives out  
  (erstwhile records) 

   review by Phil Zampino
  2008-03-02
The Magic I.D.: till my breath gives out (erstwhile records)

Erstwhile Record's first foray into "pop" music won't strike many as being in a pop mold, but it does extend the understated forms of electro-acoustic music into more embraceable yet still abstract song territory. lowercase song forms, you think? Not completely, but there are so many tonal and minimal aspects to this album that the comparison has to be made. It's probably more accurate to say that this blends the sensibility of minimal ea-improvisation with the avant/minimal compositional world, adding a song sensibility that understands and plays with popular form. The pieces have a strong use of dynamics and harmonics, with unconventional repetition and rhythm, a detached but clear vocal style, wielded with a subtle hand that implies the concentrative interaction of improvised music in conjunction with strong compositional skills.

Michael Thieke is perhaps best known for his work with on the Creative Sources label, alone and in a quartet with label leader Ernesto Rodrigues; he's also a part of The International Nothing, another fascinating minimalist recording group which, not surprisingly, has all of the players on The Magic I.D. at one point or another. Clarinetist Kai Fagaschinksi has worked with vocalist and electronics artist Christof Kurzmann on their excellent duo record under the name Kommando Raumschiff Zitrone, First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, covering the Roberta Flack number of the same name, along with other songs of delicacy and a hint of space's massive vacuum. Kurzmann has also recorded with John Butcher on The Big Misunderstanding Between Hertz and Megahertz. Margareth Kammerer is also heard as a vocalist on Otomo Yoshihide's ONJO New Jazz Live Series 1 & 2.

"True Holiday" opens till my breath gives out with a Kafka-esque quality of distant despair in the dual tonal clarinet work of Thieke and Fagaschinski. They practically birth the album in long coloured tones that suddenly break into Kammerer's impassive vocal, telling us that she can prove that we've met before. In fact, in an over-the-shoulder way, one almost shivers to feel that they've been listening to this song for years without ever noticing it. That implication is prominent, a distantly familiar soundscape and subdued words, ideational tales that carry an isolable openness; they simply make sense when you finally hear them.

"Martin Fierro" is the most song-like of the album, backed by the strumming guitar of Margareth Kammerer. It's a pretty piece in its way, and acts as a bit of relief from the remote intensity of the balance of the songs. "Loopstuck" shows the stylistic border for this band, coming close to silliness in its plaintive sing-song quality, ultimately brought back by Kammerer's entrance with the warmly pale abstraction that makes these pieces work. "Wintersong" is an extraordinary example of what this band is capable of, Kurzmann's voice carrying a European pathos in a song that parallels the starkness of winter with the colourless march of nation states. The song evokes an Art Bears sensibility while only needing a hint of their instrumentation. The intensity of tones and their intersection makes a sort of pure tension that hunches your shoulders as though something were about to drop out of the sky, using urgent siren-like dissonance, disturbed thumping sounds, and electronically pulsing panic buttons. When the music breaks free of the instrumental section for the final lyric it leaves you expecting winter to wrap its frozen arms around you, a superb example of how less can be so much more.



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