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Simon Nabatov Quintet (w/ Speed / Robertson / Hebert / Rainey):
Plain (Clean Feed)

Russian-born Germany/NY-based pianist Simon Nabatov's Quintet with the new lineup of Chris Speed on tenor sax & clarinet, Herb Robertson on trumpet & cornet, John Hebert on double bass and Tom Rainey on drums, performing Nabatov's magnificently lyrical, sophisticated and often chamber-oriented compositions, an incredible achievement in writing and performance. ... Click to View


Luis Lopes Humanization 4Tet (w/ Amado / Gonzalez / Gonzalez):
Believe, Believe (Clean Feed)

Energetic and assertive jazzcore improv from Portuguese guitarist Luis Lopes' long-running Humanization 4Tet with saxophonist Rodrigo Amado and the near-telepathic rhythm section of Aaron Gonzalez on double bass and Stefan Gonzalez on drums, in an album recorded in the studio in front of an audience in New Orleans during their 2018 tour, finding the band in formidable form. ... Click to View


Carl Testa :
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The third volume of NY bassist, composer, and electronic/computer musician Carl Testa's amazing Sway project, giving an interactive electronic processor its own voice interacting with any size ensemble, here with two new works--one for quintet among a set of Chicago improvisers, the other in Portland, Maine with a sextet--each uniquely voiced and excitingly unpredictable. ... Click to View


Joanna Mattrey :
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The first solo record for NY violist Joanna Mattrey, performing also on the Stroh violin, in a deep exploration of the sound possibilities for both instruments, using preparations to alter the resonance of the viola, masking its overtly singing and beautiful nature and allowing for unexpected and unusual textures which weave around melodic lines; unique and fascinating. ... Click to View


Bedrnhard Meyer / John Hollenbeck:
Grids (Shhpuma)

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Day & Taxi:
Devotion [VINYL 2 LPs] (Percaso)

A melodically subtle and sophisticated album of twenty improvisations composed by saxophonist Christoph Gallio and performed with Gerry Hemingway on drums and Silvan Jeger on electric bass, with Friederike Mayrocker providing words on several tracks, the compositions as short as 19 seconds and a long as 7:40, each dedicated to visual artists and colleagues. ... Click to View


Dominic Cramp / Mike Khoury / Philip Greenlief / Gino Robair:
Compassion & Evidence (Creative Sources)

Recorded live at Temescal Art Center in Oakland, CA as part of their Babylon 2018 evening, the quartet of Gino Robair (electronics), Phillip Greenlief (tenor sax and clarinet), Mike Khoury (viola) and Dominic Cramp, aka Lord Tang (lyra) improvise in 2 short and 2 extended electroacoustic conversations of detailed restraint, unique pointillism and unforseen atmospheres. ... Click to View


Jim Denley / Eric Normand:
Plant 3 [VINYL] (Tour de Bras)

The collaboration of Quebec bassist Eric Normand and Australian saxophonist Jim Denley, both dedicated experimenters, in their third duo album under the Plant name, here recording live at the 2019 Syndey, Australia NowNow Festival, with Denley also playing bass flute, fruits and objects, and Normand using objects and playing the bass amp itself. ... Click to View


Marc Edwards / Guillaume Gargaud:
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A shredding session between French improvisational guitarist Guillaume Gargaud and NY free jazz drummer Marc Edwards (Slipstream Time Travel), recorded in Queens, NY in 2017, for 5 rapid-fire displays of pyrotechnics and attentive dialog, as they take themselves to the cliff's edge and back in a dizzying album of dense technical dexterity and harmolodic force. ... Click to View


The Necks:
Three (Northern Spy)

Three extended improvisations from the three Australian improvisers Chris Abrahams (piano), Lloyd Swanton (bass), Tony Buck (drums/percussion) in their 21st album of mesmerizing music, from the dynamic opener "Bloom" to the introspective "Lovelock" dedicated to Damien Lovelock of The Celibate Rifles, ending in lyrical and rich groove of "Further". ... Click to View


MPH (Maguire / Pynew / Hewins):
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Alex Ward Item 4:
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UK guitarist Alex Ward's quartet featuring his compositions for improvisers, performed with a set of younger players on London's free improv scene--Charlotte Keeffe on trumpet & flugelhorn, Otto Willberg on double bass, and Andrew Lisle on drums--heard here in two intricately exciting 2018 concerts in London at Set Dalston Lane and at Cafe Oto Project Space. ... Click to View


Alex Ward :
Frames (Relative Pitch)

Originally a clarinetist, UK improviser Alex Ward began exploring the guitar in rock settings, first bringing the instrument to his improv work around the year 2000 with N.E.W. (w/ Steve Noble & John Edwards); this is his 1st solo guitar album, showing a wide range of styles that embrace improv, rock and compositional styles, a remarkable display of skill and creative drive. ... Click to View


Kaja Draksler Octet:
Out For Stars (Clean Feed)

After setting music for the poetry of Pablo Neruda and Andriana Minou (Gledalec), Slovenian pianist Kaja Draksler turns to the work of Robert Frost in a set of 7 sophisticated compositions, sung by Laura Polence & Bjork Nielsdottir in an improvising octet with reedists Ab Baars & Ada Rave, violinist George Dumitriu, bassist Lennart Heyndels and drummer Onno Govaert. ... Click to View


Toned (Corder / Suarez / Weeks):
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Schizophrenically skronky improv of ea-cutups and semi-maniacal segments that resolve to near-stillness from the West Coast TONED trio of Nathan Corder on electronics, Leo Suarez on drums, and Tom Weeks on sax, using a nonlinear and nonhierarchical organizational process and multiple layers of compositional feedback loops to create unpredictably bizarre and overtly fun music. ... Click to View


Ron Caines / Martin Archer AXIS:
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The "AXIS" of UK saxophonist Ron Caines and multi-reedist Martin Archer, also on organ and electronics, in a subtle septet with outstanding players including Laura Cole on piano and Johnny Hunter on drums, in a set of dream-like and lyrically beautiful improvisations, merging electronics and horns over a powerfully solid rhythm section that create warm textural cycles. ... Click to View


IKB:
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The large IKB electroacoustic ensemble of diverse orchestration led by violist Ernesto Rodrigues, where each release is characterized by an animal, here with the long-snouted seahorse in an extended improvisation recorded at CreativeFest XIII at O'Culto da Ajuda, Lisbon, 2019, building to undulating cycles of intense interaction of absolutely precise control. ... Click to View


Ernesto Rodrigues / Nuno Torres / Abdul Moimeme:
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Three frequent collaborators--Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Nuno Torres on alto saxophone, and Abdul Moimeme on electric guitar--captured live in 2019 at Logradouro da Compostinha, in Lisbon, Portugal, each using their instruments with unusual approaches through extended techniques, in a half hour set balancing subtle aural ambience with rich, detailed activity; spellbinding. ... Click to View


Orchestra Entropy:
Rituals (Discus)

An extended work for 10 improvisers using a composite composition of graphic scores, open notations, and two trio sub-pieces titled "skelf" (electric guitar, double bass and drums) and "antiphon" (violin, viola and double bass), all directed by UK saxophonist Matt London in an ensemble with reeds, winds, brass, strings, electric guitar, and Mark Sanders on drums. ... Click to View


Geordie Approach, The (Birkeland / Fadnes / Charkey):
Shields (Discus)

Two Norwegians and a Geordie (ie, NE Englander), from drummer Stale Birkeland, saxophonist Petter Frost Fadnes, and guitarist Chris Sharkey, since 2007 creating epic works of rich electroacoustic improvisation, recording their third album after extensive touring through Europe and Japan, using the the natural resonance of the Chapel FM, in Leeds to enrich their sound. ... Click to View


Corey Mwamba :
Nth (Discus)

A sophisticated and lyrical album of modern jazz led by UK vibraphonist Corey Mwamba, also on glockenspiel & beak flute, in a quartet with Laura Cole on piano, Andy Champion on double bass, and Johnny Hunter on drums & small percussion, with all pieces "devised and scored" by Mwamba alongside one collective improvisation; powerfully refined modern jazz. ... Click to View


GGRIL:
Plays Laubrock (Tour de Bras / Circum-Disc)

The GGRIL (Grand groupe régional d'improvisation libérée) improviser ensemble based in Quebec invited German saxophonist living in NYC, Ingrid Laubrock, to compose three works, taking the band on adventerous journeys of texture, abstraction and melody, harnessing the power of the band's unique orchestration of electric guitars, percussion, and strings. ... Click to View


Benjamin Vergara / Fred Frith:
Fanfarrisimo (Tour de Bras)

Recording in Chile at the University Austral in 2018, trumpeter Benjamin Vergara and guitarist Fred Frith take us on two extended journeys through free electroacoustic improvisation, Frith's providing diverse and intense sonic environments over which Vergara's virtuosic and intuitive approach to the trumpet soars; impressive, creative, cathartic. ... Click to View


Mathieu Bec / Robin Servant:
Escarbilles (Tour de Bras)

The Canadian free improvising duo of accordionist Robin Servant (GGRIL, P.O.W.E.R., Danielle Palardy Roger) and drummer Mathieu Bec (Dubovnik, Michel Doneda) are heard in this 2019 performance at la Maison de la Culture du Pic Champlain, in a gripping set of dialogs using preparations and extended techniques to create unusual sonic approaches to both instruments. ... Click to View


Lisbon String Trio & Gabriel Ferrandini:
Sediments (Creative Sources)

Portugal's Lisbon String Trio of saxophonist Nuno Torres, electric guitarist Abdul Moimeme and violist Ernesto Rodrigues, are joined by Red Trio/ Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio drummer Gabriel Ferrandini for this concert performance at O'Culto da Ajuda, in Lisbon, Portugal as part of the CreativeFest XIII, finding inspired balance in introspective sections and periods of exciting activity. ... Click to View


Krci (Loris Binot / Emilie Skrijelj):
Krci (Creative Sources)

Filled with mystery and innuendo, the duo of French pianist and keyboardist Loris Binot, performing on prepared piano, prepared Fender Rhodes, Moog & electronics, and French-based accordionist Emilie Skrijelj, also on samples & electronics, are heard in a recording at the performing arts theater at CCAM in Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy for two extended and superbly intriguing improvisations. ... Click to View


Dopolarians (William Parker / Kidd Jordan / Alvin Fielder / Chad Fowler / Christopher Parker / Kelley Hurt):
Garden Party (Mahakala Music)

Legendary players, drummer Alvin Fielder, bassist William Parker, and saxophonist Kidd Jordan joined younger generation players pianist Christopher Parker, vocalist Kelley Hurt, and saxophonist Chad Fowler in New Orleans to record this exceptional album of modern jazz compositions primarily from Fowler, plus a collective improvisation and a narrative from Hurt. ... Click to View


Dave Sewelson (w/ Steve Swell / William Parker / Marvin Bugalu Smith):
More Music for a Free World (Mahakala Music)

Baritone saxophonist Dave Sewelson leads this collective quartet of New York associated players Steve Swell on trombone, William Parker on bass, abd Marvin Bugalu Smith on drums, a masterful example of modern creative jazz with a strongly lyrical attitude, through two extended improvisations and ending with a shorter "Reflections"; exemplary free jazz. ... Click to View


The Balderin Sali (feat Paul Lovens / Evan Parker / Philipp Wachsmann):
Variations [2 CDs] (Leo Records)

Part of The Soundscapes Concert Series organized by saxophonist Harri Sjostrom and named for the Helsinki venue where it was recorded, over 2 days 11 incredible musicians in various configurations presented a spectacular set of performances, with improvisers including Evan Parker, Paul Lovens, Phil Wachsmann, Sebi Tramontana, Harri Sjostrom, Teppo Hauta-aho &c. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman / Matthew Shipp:
Efflorescence Volume 1 [4CDs] (Leo Records)

"Efflorescence", to reach an optimum stage of development or blossom, as heard through four studio-recorded CDs, expanding on the warm and enduring duo of saxophonist Ivo Perelman and pianist Matthew Shipp in beautifully flowing, succinct improvisations with a lyrical inclination, allowing for exploration through the sophisticated support each brings; beautiful. ... Click to View


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  Grosse Abfahrt 
  Erstes Luftschiff zu Kalifornien  
  (Creative Sources) 

   review by Darren Bergstein
  2008-09-10
Grosse Abfahrt: Erstes Luftschiff zu Kalifornien (Creative Sources)

Shades of Mimeo, the Creative Sources label presents an electroacoustic improv "supergroup" of sorts, assembled from around the world, centered in Berkeley (where this recording was committed to tape, or disc, as it were). Formed by trumpet deconstructionist Tom Djll, the group corrals European players Serge Baghdassarians and Boris Baltschun together with their American counterparts Chris Brown, Tim Perkis, Gino Robair, and others in a renegade soundclash, an emergent systems music whereby actual systems are abandoned, structure negated, technology used then disassembled and anarchy harnessed/reinforced. All of this is accomplished with little sonic fanfare and squeakily wrestled to the ground in the finest onkyo tradition, where less is more, the stereofield requiring sophisticated electron-magnification to unveil all the nuance contained deep within the aural spectrum.

In fact, with all the insectile scurrying going on amidst the opening piece's first tentative seconds, you'd be forgiven in thinking that you've stumbled upon some mutant environmental recording by accident. While faint, bass-like rumbles establish tremors along an amelodic fault line, the players scatter a vast multitude of sounds (suffocating shortwave signals, scratchy guitar, growing hums, electronic raindrops) across the penumbra like so much sonic debris. With the template established, Grosse Abfahrt proceed to virtually tear apart pat analogs and instrument clarity in the service of yielding spectacularly unnerving (and previously unheard) results. The eighteen minute "Interkontinentale Luftschiffahrt" reads like the autopsying of some vast bank of alien computing equipment: Matt Ingalls' clarinet probes dark depths throughout the tableaux etched by the diminutive noises of his colleagues, mental states altering pitches shuffled along by nagging frequencies, rubbed feedback, squalls of unknown electronics building on event horizons. These acts of febrile sound-scaping seem to truck more with the likes of Subotnick or Buchla than most any dozen modern-day electroacousticians. True, improvisation is the glue holding these pieces together the artists are, no doubt, organizing these tactile environments on the fly but the results court extremely experimental ideals more so than anything faintly tickling dusty corners of "jazz."

Overall, this is a protean work of electrical magic, outsourced from machines, bent into shape at the hands of their circuit manipulators, sounding like little else around. The octet's name translates as "great departure" can't think of a better moniker with which to outfit any other explorers of sound this year.



Grosse Abfahrt: Erstes Luftschiff zu Kalifornien
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