Sunday, January 30, 2011

Jazz Alchemist radio with Stan, Glass and others

Stan Getz

While I won't be able to be in the studio to provide the usual live commentary, the playlist is ready and will be played on at 8pm CET (as most mondays) with birthdays of Stan Getz, Louis Sclavis, Philip Glass and with some music from recently reviewed cds by.

I'm also proud to announce the very first interview - with Jeremiah Cymerman, that will be posted soon on the blog. :)

detailed tracklist will be posted tomorrow. I'm waiting for You on the facebook chat, during the program.

1. Stan Getz - You go to my head
2. Aldo Romano, Louis Sclavis, Henri Texier - Soweto Sorrow
3. Philip Glass - Melodies For Saxophone - Melody 11 (tenor)
4. Philip Glass - Concerto For Saxophone - Quartet - Movement I
5. Trifonidis Free Orchestra - Chromatic Sixteen
6. Oluyemi Thomas, Sirone, Michael Wimberly - Mystic Way
7. Stan Getz  S'Wonderful
8. Louis Sclavis - Louis
9. Jeremiah Cymerman - Act VI
10. Trifonidis Free Orchestra - Free Warsaw
11. Philip Glass - Serra Pelada
12. Stan Getz - Parker 51
13. Oluyemi Thomas, Sirone, Michael Wimberly - Heavenly Wisdom
14. Trifonidis Free ORchestra - Playground
15. Stan Getz - The Song is You
16. Aldo Romano, Louis Sclavis, Henri Texier - Bob De Klipton
17. Aeroplane Trio - Lucky Loonie
18. Philip Glass - Mishima/Closing

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Trumps at Eszeweria (27.01)

The Trumps:
Ian Smith - trumpet
Ricardo Tejero - tenor sax, slide flute
Katarzyna Kuchnicka - trombone

guest: Adam Golicki - drums (2nd set only)

Eszeweria 27.01.2010

Although they all met each other playing in London Improvisers Orchestra, The Trumps are an international band  - with Ricardo coming originally from Portugal and Katarzyna from Poland. Free improv - connecting people :)
With an unusal line-up they obviously bring an uncommon palette of sounds to the table. First long piece   is mellow, merging all three horns together, sometimes, especially when extended techniques are involved and sonic experiments, making it hard to distinguish one from another. Nice flow of ideas, sounds coming from the distance, from some hidden space, players complementing one another. The new, or at least not so common in so often dead-serious free-improv music, is the sense of humour. At their most searching, probing strange sound territory, the trio sounds light, cartoonish even. Quite often when hearing a spirited sound-games I think of some Tom & Jerry fight sound fxs, swishes, swooshes, clicks and clacks and all kinds of those, the toyish sound of slide flute enhances that entertaining effect. (as John Cage said once - laughter is preferrable to tears; and it's funny looking around at the faces, audience members hiding their smile, not sure whethere it is ok to laugh or maybe this is supposed to be taken seriously)
The second track of the first set was supposed to be "short and loud", but, after initial fanfaric shouts, it turns deeply harmonic and melodic. Nice touch before the short pause.

The second set adds a drummer to the mix (snare drum, hi-hat, cowbell, couple of plates) and it changes drastically the sound texture of the music, allowing for some more conventional, more "jazz" playing with trombone providing often the bone bass structure to the proceedings - sometimes with a robust, expansive shouts of the New Orleans traditional jazz (joined once by great, joyfull solo statement by Ian Smith). The music has more traditional, but no less inspiring feel to it and all players can establish more clearly their solo personality - with a jazz solo by Ricardo being my personal favourite - at one point he introduces a charming melody (during the concert I was sure it was a Monk's tune but now my mind is playing tricks on me and I can't find it) - and he plays it with gently, warm timbre, slowly building up, breaking loose, finishing up with muscular and vibrating tone.

That was a good, imaginative, and surprisingly accessible free-improv, played in front of 20 something strong audience, in a small room of Eszeweria. Maybe not an earth-shattering, mind-blowing or awe-inspiring but this was a very solid improvising performance - an achievement that could get easily undervalued. While I definitely invite you to look up and see those musicians if you have a chance, the most important thing I want to say is - there's no music like live music. Get up and go see some concerts this weekend! I know I'm going to :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Oluyemi Thomas, Sirone, Michael Wimberly - Beneath Tones Floor [NoBusiness]

Beneath Tones Floor

Oluyemi Thomas - bass clarinet, flute, soprano, musette, percussion
Sirone - bass
Michael Wimberly - drums, percussion

NoBusiness Records 2010

To balance the content of last couple of reviews (big groups, orchestral compositions, string quartets etc) I jumped into the music of this improvising trio, and it's quite a big contrast.

This is free-jazz at its best. With fantastic musicianship throughout, with ideas flowing freely in and out, with the band members both reacting to one another and pushing each other forward, sometimes acting like three minds in one body. A journey, a mystical revelation, a metaphysical experience. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Maciej Trifonidis Bielawski - Trifonidis Free Orchestra : ... be like a child ...[Slowdown] like a child...

Trifonidis Free Orchestra:
Maciej Trifonidis Bielawski - tenor sax; 
Daniel Polkowski - alto sax; Ray Dickaty - tenor sax; Louis Nubiola - alto sax; Kamil Szuskiewicz - trumpet; Kacper Szroeder - trumpet; Piotr Janiec - tuba; Wojtek Traczyk - double bass; Pawel Szpura - drums

Slowdownrecords 2009

Another big group, my favourite position in the slowdownrecords catalogue - not really surprising if You notice the 'free' word both in the band's name and in this blog's title. While still a set of composed pieces this one allows much more room for improvisation and brings You also the most balanced instrumental line-up - with 2 tenors, 2 altos, 2 trumpets, a tuba and the rhythm section.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Maciej Trifonidis Bielawski - Downtown Project / Tricphonix Street Band [Slowdown]

Maciej Trifonidis Bielawski could be known to some of You as the bass player in Horny Trees trio - clarinet-bass-drums band led by Pawel Szamburski which released its first cd on Kilogram Records - Mikolaj Trzaska's label. But he's also a multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer, working in and leading his own projects in very different musical enviroments, from raw freejazz improvisation (would love to hear his upcoming trio concert with Pawel Szpura and Ksawery Wojcinski - rhythm section from Hera) up to large groups with strings, accordions, brass, horns, playing mostly composed, strictly arranged music, balancing classical and popular influences (the biggest of those - Trifonidis Orchestra - is 16 men strong). His recent releases on his own Slowdownrecords label testify to his vast talents and multiple skills. And while I'm not that big a fan of such orchestral ventures, the sonic richness those can offer and many of the simply charming melodies he delievers are definitely not to be missed because of such a prejudice.

so here are some thoughs about two  recent albums, both big groups, first one clearly outside the jazz genre, the second one mixing it with all kinds of popular influences. The best is yet to come as the third review will be posted (most probably) tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Jeremiah Cymerman - Under a Blue Grey Sky [Porter]

Under a Blue Grey Sky

Olivia De Prato - violin
Jessica Pavone - viola
Christpher Hoffman - cello
Tom Blancaforte - bass

Jeremiah Cymerman - composition, electronics

Porter Records 2010

With a couple concerts of Jeremiah Cymerman coming this week I decided to gave this one a few closer listenings, never mind it doesn't exactly fit the blog's profile (meaning it's most definitely not jazz). And I can definitely say that this is a very rewarding record, even if it takes some time getting into it. With string quartet and electronic treatments (subtle ones) this one takes You into a sonic world that is rich and deep, both classical and forward-thinking. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jazz Alchemist waits for You - another monday 8pm CET

At this time the playlist is not yet ready but I'm sure of some of the ingredients:
-some pieces from recently reviewed Luc Houtkamp trio cd.
-some music from Jeremiah Cymermans' cd released on Porter Records (as Jeremiah is playing a couple of gigs in Poland next week)
-songs by Chlopcy Kontra Basia band which played a great concert recently, about which here.
and there's a lot of birthdays to celebrate - Julius Hemphill will definitely appear but there's a long list of artists who should be mentioned somehow (birthdays of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Etta James, Aki Takase, Bobby Hutcherson, Derek Bailey, Ahmed Abdul-Malik and others all in the next week).

Tune in at 8PM (CET) to and find my facebook profile to chat while the music plays.
Detailed tracklist will appear in this very post after the program. As usual.

Julius Hemphill
1. Antonio Carlos Jobim & Ellis Regina - Waters of March (Antonio's birthday on 27th)
2. Julius Hemphill Sextet - Otis' Groove (Jiulius' birthday today)
3. Chlopcy Kontra Basia - Oj Tak
4.  Ahmed Abdul-Malik - The Hustlers (Ahmed's birthday 30th)
5. Julius Hemphill - Savannah Suite (for cello, flute, percussion, with Erik Friedlander, Marty Ehrlich, Pheeroan AkLaff)
6. Jeremiah Cymerman - Act I (from "Under a blue grey sky" review will be posted tomorrow)
7. Luc Houtkamp - State Street Blues (from "Luc Houtkamp in Chicago")
8. Derek Bailey - Three Pieces for Guitar (Derek's birthday on 29th)
9. Derek Bailey - What it is (with Jamaladeen Tucuma and Calvin Weston)
Ahmed-Abdul Malik with Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane
10. Julius Hemphill Sextet - Floppy
11. Chlopcy Kontra Basia - Mam ja Męża
12. Julius Hemphill - Dogon A.D.
13. Luc Houtkamp - Who is Claude McLin
14. Jeremiah Cymerman - Act VI
15. Ahmed Abdul-Malik - Waikida Hena
16. Chlopcy Kontra Basia - Tomasz
17. Julius Hemphill Sextet - The Answer

Saturday, January 22, 2011

for something a bit different - Chlopcy Kontra Basia duo - Eszeweria 20.01.11

Chlopcy Kontra Basia (duo)
Only the oldest readers will remember the last 'about a concert' post - it's been long time indeed (40 days), a difficult experience to addicts like me, to go without any live music.

This was another young polish group singing polish songs* (surprisingly not an obvious thing) and once again much of the charm remains in lyrics so this time I decided to write the proper review in polish, if You speak this strange language You can find it on impropozycja or magnetoffon (here and here). For those who don't just a quick resume on this blog.

Chlopcy Kontra Basia (usually a trio with perscussion, bass, voice/occasional clarinet, this time without the percussion guy) is a young group that merges in a very surprising way jazz groove (catchy, infectious, simple and effective) with folk melodies and witty, folk culture-inspired, lyrics, usually a rhyming story with a surprising point to it. You'd never have thought that folk music could be so sexy (lyrics play a huge part to it, but also the theatrics and dance movement, and naturally also the music - sometimes getting into melodic trans, more often quite danceable).
The only name I can think of to describe it better is Iva Bittova, who, at her most accessible, does a bit similar thing. And while there's still a long road ahead of this young band, the youthful energy and sense of humour they bring to the stage, combined with the obvious talents displayed make for a great promise.

You can check some songs on group's MySpace page and I will also put them on the next radio playlist. Hope You'll like them.

Chłopcy Kontra Basia (duo) – Eszeweria 20.01.2011
Barbara Derlak – vocal, clarinet
Marcin Nenko – double bass

*I'm referring to this post

Friday, January 21, 2011

Luc Houtkamp - Luc Houtkamp in Chicago [Entropy]

Luc Houtkamp - tenor saxophone
Kent Kessler - double bass
Michael Zerang

Entropy Stereo 1999

While free-jazz may seem to be all about surprise, even the most radical fans have a list of favourite musicians and it's easier to stick with the safe choices - players that You know can deliver what You want to hear. But then one uses the oldest method available to jazz fans if they want to hear more of their favourite thing - checking out some guys who are playing with guys who played with THE guy on Your list. Like in: I don' know this  band but there's a musician who did something together with this guy who played with Miles Davis. What sometimes can be a misleading marketing trick (happens also in jazz world) does quite often work as the most effective method of finding new names and great music that could otherwise go unnoticed.
What I really want to say is that I've never heard about Luc Houtkamp before, but when one plays with Kent Kessler and Michael Zerang, and You can find Ken Vandermark's liner notes inside*, it's good enough recommendation for me.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mikolaj Trzaska Ircha Clarinet Quintet feat. Joe McPhee - Lark Uprising [Multikulti]

Ircha Quintet:
Joe McPhee - alt clarinet
Mikolaj Trzaska - alt & bass clarinet
Waclaw Zimpel - bass clarinet, clarinet, tarogato
Pawel Szamburski - clarinet, bass clarinet
Michal Gorczynski - bass clarinet

Multikulti 2010

Imagine a foggy night at the sea, and the sound ships sirens emerging from the silence and the darkness,  five of them, calling each other out, responding to voices coming from all the directions. Finding a freindly waters, where they can exchange some personal stories, with the listening choir commenting on those all the time. They reach an agreement and start singing together (absolutely stunning and oh so peacefull harmonies in the middle of the track) and then move back and forward between the solo narration, duos and the entire choir parts, with everyone finding a role to play and never looking for a front spot. That is how this albums starts on "Ant-hill Builder".

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

new URL

I'm glad You made it this far - You know already that the blog changed its URL address, please pass the word to any other parties interested :)
If You linked to the blog or any particular post (You have my eternal gratitude for that) please update the link.
Aside from the URL and the slight adjustment to the blog's title nothing else has changed.

Aeroplane Trio (JP Carter, Russel Scholberg, Skye Brooks) - Naranja Ha [Drip Audio]

Naranja Ha

Aeroplane Trio:
JP Cartet - trumpet
Russell Scholberg - bass, saw, thumb piano
Skye Brooks - drums

Drip Audio 2010

With piano trio and sax trio being probably the most popular line-ups in  jazz music, one could expect that a trio led by a trumpet (an instrument commonly associated primarily with jazz genre) would be much more of a common thing, while the fact is that a group like that remains relatively rare (Stef Gijssels compiles a nice list to be found here).

That being said, this one makes a nice addition to category. While the trio has been playing together for some years now, this is their first official release and showcases both matured group interplay and fresh attitude (which made me put them in the 'newcomer band' top3 in my votes for El Intruso Poll 2010). And it both delivers and promise more good music coming from this group, even if it as uncertain what path will they follow - as this is a very much an album of two faces.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ivo Perelman & Brian Willson - The Stream of Life [Leo]

The Stream of Life

Ivo Perelman - tenor sax
Brian Wilson - drums

Leo Records 2010

Ivo Perelman released a couple of great records last year and with this one he made the last second jump to my El Intruso 2010 Poll votes on saxophone so I guess I should put some writing behind that vote. 

Sax - drums duos are easily among my favourites (beginning with Coltrane & Ali on "Interstellar Space", my first truly free listening experiene, the one that opened new both stellar and interstellar spaces in my mind). With just two instruments this is as simple as it gets, primal indeed - just kick and cry, rhytm and melody, and yet (or thus) it can go all ways and directions imaginable, with two instruments and two instrumentalists on full display, bare, without any possibility to hide from Your ears.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Jazz Alchemists tomorrow (Monday) at 8pm. Tune in for some punk-rocking jazz and else

I'd like to remind You all that tomorrow, like almost any given monday, Jazz Alchemist presents his playlist on at 8 PM CET - 2 hours of music and my  blah-blah (with, luckily, much more of the first one and blah-blah done in polish). We will listen to some pieces from albums recently reviewed ("Kablys; Live at 11:20", "Barrel Fire", "Live at the Knitting Factory vol.1") as well as couple of others I'm planning to review during this week. Plus a happy birthday to one great Horace Parlan.

Tune in. During the program I'm available on facebook (just search 'jazzowy alchemik' and add it to Your friends list) and I'd love to chat with You.
Horace Parlan
The detailed tracklist (as always) will be published after/during the program, below in this very post.

1. Ivo Perelman & Brian Wilson - Agua Viva (review of this duo's recording will appear tomorrow on the bog)
2. Gordon Grdina Trio with Mats Gustafsson - 229 (review here)
3. Aeroplane Trio - Whitehorse (review in next few days)
4. Mina Agossi - Caravan (birthday of Juan Tizol on 22st Jan.)
5. Charles Mingus - Cryin' Blues (birthday of Horace Parlan on 19th. Jan)
6. Liudas Mockunas, Eugenijus Kanevicius and Dalius Naujokaitis - Broke (review here)
7. Lou Grassi PO Band with Marshall Allen - RePoZest (Lou Grassi's birthday on  ; review here)
8. Mikolaj Trzaska Ircha Quinet feat Joe McPhee - Sleeping Deep in the Moss (review to be posted this week)
9. Archie Shepp & Horace Parlan - Amazing Grace
10. Liudas Mockunas, Eugenijus Kanevicius and Dalius Naujokaitis - Hooked
11. Gordon Grdina Trio with Mats Gustafsson - Barrel Fire
12. Mikolaj Trzaska Ircha Quinet feat Joe McPhee - Swampquake
 13. Aeroplane Trio - Callejuela

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gordon Grdina Trio with Mats Gustafsson - Barrel Fire [Drip Audio]

Barrel Fire

Gordon Grdina - guitar, oud
Mats Gustafsson - saxophone
Tommy Babin - bass
Kenton Loewen - drums

Drip Audio 2010

Here's another one for those amongst You who like it when free jazz rocks. And it rocks hard. With music getting pretty crazy, but always driving forward thanks to the relentless work of rhythm section.

This is pretty simple and fun, always very sincere (punk is not dead :). Gordon shredds his guitar strings a lot, gritty bass and drums chase each other and saxophone sharpens the raw edges. "Burning Bright" features a great theme that somehow reminds me of Ayler's march, and it serves well as driving vehicle for the ensemble improvisation. "229" after a short percussion intro and a fast, rhythmic, punk guitar-riff turns to sax trio setting, with the rhythmic section providing a hard swinging like hell backbone! (check the crazy pace of bass walking), riff comes back again and Mats backs off leaving space for Gordon and a fiery solo. His sound on guitar is quite intriguing, bit like classic swing guitar with a lot of distortion to it and he puts some nice twists into speeding lines. Track ends with bass solo (nice drive to it), which ends up suddenly, quite inconclusive*.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lou Grassi PO Band with Marshall Allen - Live at the Knitting Factory vol. 1 [Porter Records]

Live at the Knitting Factory Volume 1

PO Band:
Lou Grassi - drums
Marshall Allen - alto sax, flute
Paul Smoker - trumpet
Steve Swell - trombone
Perry Robinson - clarinet
Wilber Morris - double bass

Porter Records 2010
recorded at Knitting Factory on September 26, 2000

While some of the most active avant-garde / free-jazz musicians release a handfull of records each year other remain criminally underrecorded which makes each available cd/lp even more precious. Bill Dixon comes to mind - an extraordinary artist of immense vision whose almost entire recorded output fits comfortably into one small box ("Complete Recordings on Soul Note and Black Saint" box set). What makes the recording presented here worthwile is obviously the music, but the fact that You get to hear such musicians like Perry Robinson, Paul Smoker or Marshall Allen (whose recordings outside of the Sun Ra Arkestra are extremely rare) makes it also one of a considerable historic value for jazz maniacs like You and me (or maybe just me). This is also somehow of an archival set since the concert presented took place a decade ago.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jazz Alchemist votes for El Intruso 2010 Poll - Part IV

Final part of my votes for El Intruso 2010 Poll:

1. Barry Guy
2. John Edwards
3. Ingebrigt Haken-Flaten

1-The number of times the ‘Barry Guy New Orchestra” phrase appears in this list should explain why this name appears on the top.
2-The introduction to “Volume” review explains the 2 nd place.
3-For his playing with Joe McPhee on “Blue Chicago Blues” [Not Two] and with Atomic on “Theater Tilters” vol. 1 & 2 [Jazzland].

1. Paal Nilssen-Love
2. Gerald Cleaver
3. Pierre Favre

1-Paal’s duo with Ken Vandermark “Milwaukee Volume” is arguable their best release so far which says a lot. And don’t forget he’s playing with Atomic.
2-While all musicians are fantastic, Gerald’s drumming on “Searching for Adam” still amazes me.
3-I mentioned the duo concert with Samuel Blaser, Blaser’s was great, Pierre was breathtaking and the sense of melody and his light touch unbelievable – true master at work.

Possibly the most crowded category overall. Mike Pride, Tim Daisy, Frank Rosaly, Pawel Szpura, Tomas Fujiwara, Brian Willson, Michael Zerang and many others deserving a spot.

Other instruments
1. Jason Adasiewicz - vib
2. Per Ake Holmlander - tuba
3. Mattias Stahl - vib

1-Jason Adasiewcz released great “Sun Rooms” [Delmark] – a rare trio with vibraphone, bass and drums. Great sound. And he contributes to the latest Exploding Star Orchestra “Star Have Shapes” (also on Delmark)
2-Per-Ake was simply impressive on stage with Barry Guy New Orchestra and all the small line-ups of the week.
3-Mattias Stahl gives the Angles incredible and original sound that, if anything, reminds me of one of the best jazz record ever – Eric Dolpy’s “Out Lunch” with Bobby Hutcherson.

Female Vocal
1. Sainkho Namtchylak
2. Andre' Pabarciute

These votes are easily explained with the reviews presented on the blog. Sainkho is casting her usual and still effective shamanic spells on “Not Quite Songs” while Andre’ Pabarciute takes You to the centre of the earth on “Varpai”.

Male Vocal

Can’t think of any 2010 record I heard with male vocal present.

Concert Band
1. Phall Fatale
2. Angles

I'm not really sure of the sense of this category. The best concert I attended this year was Barry Guy New Orchestra, with sets by Augusti Fernandez/Mats Gustafsson duo and Gustaffson / Guy / Strid trio coming really close. Since improvised music is really a 'live music' I'd say that any great band is first and foremost a great concert band. And with this kind of experience, sometimes the only way to have it is the concert, and the 'music' somehow is lost when recorded on a cd.

1- I decided to go with the 'fun factor'. Phall Fatale played one of the most exciting music I heard live this year (more on that in the 'newcomer band' section). 
2- Haven't heard the Angles on stage but the "Epileptical West - Live in Coimbra" assures me I would love to (as they find their spot on 'band' section). 
3- Same thing with the energetic and hardrocking music of Liudas Mockunas / Eugenijus Kanevicius / Dalius Naujokaitis trio as presented on their lp release (Liudas can be found also in “newcomer musician” category)

Record Label
1. Not Two
2. Clean Feed
3. NoBusiness

Since it's based in Krakow I am able to track Not Two's activity on a very regular basis, and I am still more impressed with the high quality and large quantities of cds he's producing. (with many cds that can be found here or in the "My Favourites 2010" list, or simply in the reviewed cds section, proving my point)
Clean Feed brings to the world some of the most striking music again and again, with both quantity and quality being there. Angles and Full Throttle Orchestra cds are just a tip of the iceberg.
NoBusiness managed to create an impressive catalogue in very short span of time and they mantain the quality they began with (like the staggering David S. Ware "Live in Vilnius" double lp) slowly increasing the quantity of the discs released. They bring a lot of new names to Your attention, as well as re-release some of the long-gone music (Amalgam, Muntu, Commitments, Atomic) and they keep alive the vinyl fetish among jazz lovers.

Honorable mention goes to Multikulti and Laurence Family, with very modest catalogue (6 cd releases by Multikulti, double-lp by Laurence Family) but "Hera" and "Passion" alone prove the quality of their releases.

Now the whole list is available, I'm waiting to see how the general voting will turn out. Comments section is all Yours!

Jazz Alchemist votes for El Intruso 2010 Poll - part III

3rd portion of my votes for El Intruso 2010 Poll

1. Steve Swell
2. Samuel Blaser
3. Jeb Bishop

-Steve Swell leads the pack with his Slammin’ The Infinite release “5000 Poems”, or his apperances on Sabir Mateen/Frode Gjerstad “Sound Gathering (both Not Two) and Lou Grassi’s Po Band “Live at Knitting Factory vol.1” [Porter Records] (release will be posted tomorrow).
-Samuel Blaser is probably the best polyphonic trombone player since Albert Mangelsdorff. The precision he displays when utilizing this technique is impressive as was to be heard on  concert with Pierre Favre (Krakow Jazz Autumn Festival) and on the duo’s cd – “Vol a Voile” [Intakt].
-Jeb Bishop playing is simply great and his compositions are kicking on his trio outing (“2009” [Better Animal Recordings])  as well as on the 2nd cd by The Engines (“Wire and Brass” [Okkadisk]) or Hamid Drake’s Bindu “Reaggelogy” [RogueArt].

Violin / Viola
1. Szilar Mezei
2. Maya Homburger

3. Rosie Hertlein

-Szilard Mezei viola playing is inspiring throughout his quartet’s “February Fadontes” lp [NoBusiness] as well as on “Bot” [Not Two] – a symphonic, large-scale project.
-Maya Homburger virtuosic solo performances of Barry Guy’s compositions were incredibly satisfying if ‘and now for something completely different’ moments of the Barry Guy New Orchestra week in Krakow.
-Rosie Hertlein appears on Ivo Perelman’s “Near the Wild Heart” record and her “strings duo” with Dominic Duval is a pure, chamber pleasure for Your ears.

1. Daniel Levin
2. Fred Lonberg-Holm

Daniel Levin owns this spot for his duo with Rob Brown – “Natural Disorder” on Not Two.
Fred Londbergo-Holm contributes strongly to the sound of Vandermark V Special Edition (“The Horse Jumps and The Ship is Gone”  [Not Two]) and Vox Arcana led by Tim Daisy (“Aerial Age” [Allos Documents]).

1. Mary Halvorson
2. Raphel Roginski

1-Mary Halvorson caught jazz-lovers' attention with her trio’s outing “Dragon’s Head” and with her last year quintet release she keeps it as she makes the “Saturn sings” [Firehouse 12] combining her incredible guitar sound with great compositions and strong leadership.
2-Raphael Roginski is polish guitarist who possesses an extraordinary sound. Example of his playing can be heard on debut Cukunft cd [Lado ABC] but should be experienced live to really appreciate it.

I leave the third spot empty but I’d like to mention two great pairing of guitars :
-Ava Mendoza and John Finkbeiner contribute to the unusual sound of “Hardboiled Wonderland" [Not Two] by Vijay Anderson.
-Geoff Farina and Dan Littleton combine team up together in the unusual line-up of “West” [Clean Feed] by Lawnmower (with Luther Gray and Jim Hobbs).

final part will be posted later today

Jazz Alchemist votes for El Intruso 2010 Poll - part II

and here goes the 2nd part of my votes

1. Harris Eisenstadt
2. Adam Lane
3. Satoko Fujii

-I already wrote about staggering beauty of "Woodblock Prints". After fantastic, afro-inspired, "Guewel" Harris Eisenstadt brings You into completely different territory, one full of gentle and somehow exotic charm of Japan.
-Adam Lane revives big band in a truly amazing fashion. Duke, Mingus, Black Sabbath and Iannis Xenakis - it's all there and much more, all to Your delight.
-Satoko Fujii is one of the most intriguing composers in the pool today, with quirky themes, dramatic twists and post-modernistic plays. Great release with Ma-Do Quartet ("Desert Ship" on Not Two) and fantastic concert entitled "Chopin Noise" guarantee her the 3rd spot on this list. 
-Honorable mention to Waclaw Zimpel whose conceptual writing for both "Hera" and "Passion" releases is awe-inspiring for its majestic touch and complete vision. Yet I don't want to spoil him too much.
Ken Vandermark is always high in this category also, with live album by Vandermark V Special Edition presenting absolutely killer stuff, but we knew those compositions already and now I'm waiting impatiently for the second "Resonance" release coming soon.

1. Augusti Fernandez
2. Satoko Fujii
3. Myra Melford

-With his playing during the Barry Guy New Orchestra concerts in Krakow, and adding the “Morning Glory” to it there really was no other choice for me than to put Augusti on the 1st spot.
-It’s impossible to set aside someone’s playing skills apart from the other roles she’s responsible for. Satoko Fujii’s place on the spot is not only my acknowledgement of her piano playing but also her ability to lead the band and, yet again, her composing, and her musical vision – all in full display on already mentioned “Desert Ship” [Not Two] and “Chopin Noise” project.
-Same thing goes in Myra Melford case whose Be Bread Sextet’s release the “Whole Tree Gone” surprises with unusual line-up, intriguing compositions and great leadership on Myra’s part, as much as great playing.

1. Rodrigo Amado
2. Ivo Perelman
3. Ken Vandermark

-With “Searching for Adam” not getting to the top 3 in this poll I just had to give Rodrigo Amado his due spot in this category, his playing on this album is absolutely splendid, mature, passionate, imaginative.
-Ivo Perelman’s presence is a last-second change in this category as I am taken by his playing on “Stream of Life” [Leo] – a duo with Brian Willson (that will get reviewed this week or so). Putting it together with another duo (“The Apple in the Dark” with Gerry Hemingway, also on Leo Records) and the trio “Near to the Wild Hear” [Not Two] makes his case strong enough.
-Ken Vandermark playing on “Milwaukee Volume” with Paal Nilssen-Love is fantastic as ever, and he got his share of releases last year, but he’s on the list mostly because I couldn’t forget about his solo concert.
-Joe McPhee would be always at the top of the list too (great “Magic” release with Mikolaj Trzaska, Dominic Duval, Jay Rosen; fantastic duo with Ingebrigt Haken-Flaten “Blue Chicago Blues”, both on Not Two). So would Dave Rempis, Mikolaj Trzaska, Martin Kuchen and many more, all fantastic musicians and sensitive artists.

1. Waclaw Zimpel
2. Jason Stein
3. Sabir Mateen

-The first place couldn’t be anything else. Waclaw is already present here in ‘best musician’, ‘newcomer band’, ‘best cd’ categories so ‘nough said.
-Jason Stein gives You a fantastic bass clarinet jazz record with his “Three Kinds of Happiness” [Not Two] by Locksmith Isidore trio
-Sabir Mateen plays exclusively clarinet on great duo cd with Matthew Shipp “Sama” [Not Two again]

1. Taylor Ho Bynum
2. Magnus Broo
3. Peter Evans

Another crowded category
-Taylor Ho Bynum playing is to be found on “Searching For Adam” with Rodrigo Amado’s quartet, “Ashcan Rantings” by Adam Lane’ Full Throttle Orchestra and great duo “Stepwise” [Not Two] with Tomas Fujiwara. You can’t miss any of those.
-Magnus Broo was also busy and while I haven’t yet heard his own quartet cd (shame on me) he’s playing with Vandermark V Special Edition, Angles and Atomic can’t be ignored.
-Peter Evans gets the 3rd spot because of his playing with Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton on “Scenes from the House of Music” but I have to admit it was a tie between him and equally creative Nate Wooley (a duo cd, coming in 2011 should be a real blast).

And it’s great to see that so many young trumpet players are coming forward with likes of Jaimie Branch, JP Carter (Aeroplane trio), Christian Pruvost (playing right next to Natsuki Tamura in Kaze Quartet), Kirk Knuffke.

third and the final forth part will be made available tomorrow.
comments section waits for Your oppinions :)

(edit: I just remembered that the Poll has also the keyboard category but I couldn't really remember anyone impressing me on keyboards this year so I skipped it)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jazz Alchemist votes for El Intruso 2010 Poll - part I

this is the first part presenting my voting for El Intruso 2010 Poll

musician of the year
1. Waclaw Zimpel
2. Barry Guy

-With such inspiring releases like "Hera" and "Passion" and participation in "Lark Uprising" by Ircha Quintet, Waclaw Zimpel gave You (me) some of the most creative music of 2010. 
-Barry Guy's stunning playing is displayed on "Morning Glory" with Augusti Fernandez and Ramon Lopez as well as on "Scenes from the House of Music" with Evan Parker, Paul Lytton and Peter Evans. But still he's presence on this spot is due to the wonderful music played over the course of 5 days in Krakow with musicians from Barry Guy New Orchestra. That project was a direct impulse to create this blog in first place and You can find all about it in the very first posts written.
-I left the 3rd spot empty because there were so many musicians that would deserve the spot I couldn't really pick one.

band of the year
1. Adam Lane Full Throttle Orchestra
2. Angles
3. Atomic

-None comment needed here really, those bands play jazz of highest quality, adventourous and fun, with great arrangements and fantastic compositions, and a great ensemble sound. Reminding You about the greatest working bands in jazz history, a phenomenon that is quite rare these busy days. Full Throttle Orchestra "Ashcan Rantings" and Angles "Epileptical West. Live in Coimbra" were released by Clean Feed. Atomic presented two volumes of "Theater Tilters" released by Jazzland.

newcomer musician
1. Maciej Obara
2. Liudas Mockunas

-Two saxophone players that with some great releases this year are coming to wider recognition and promising a whole lotta more coming from them in the future. Maciej Obara released "Four" and "Three" on Ars Cameralis. Liudas Mockunas released "Kablys. Live at 11:20" and "Vacation Music" on NoBusiness. I saw them both on stage and I can say to You that those guys are only starting to impress You.

newcomer band
1. Hera
2. Phall Fatale
3. Aeroplane Trio

-"Hera" by Hera (Waclaw Zimpel, Pawel Postaremczak, Ksawery Wojcinski, Pawel Szpura) comes as one of the brightest points of 2010.
-Phall Fatale is a band led by Fredy Studer, combining free improvisation with drum'n'bass groove and a rap song form. The concert I saw this year was both fun and impressive (that's the one where I got myself a copy of "Volume" by John Edwards) and I can't wait to get their first release, coming in 2011.
-Aeroplane Trio, though active for a couple of years, just released their first official cd on Drip Audio and it's very promising. Fun and creative, I should write something about it soon.

Album of the year
1. Undivided "Passion" (Multikulti)
2. Adam Lane Full Throttle Orchestra "Ashcan Rantings" (Clean Feed)
3. Harris Eisenstadt "Woodblock Prints" (NoBusiness)

-The hardest one for me to fill up. While "Hera" gets more enthusiastic reviews, I simply had a chance to spend much more time with "Passion" and it's emotional power and musical vision just gets to me.
-Adam Lane's Full Throttle Orchestra is musical statement that brings back to life the spirit of Mingus who is one of my all-time favourites (and combines it wih rock energy). Fantastic playing, energetic and passionate while still accessible. And it's a double cd so it doubles the fun :).
-"Woodblock Prints" is a creation of staggering beauty. And the closer You listen to it the more beautifull it gets.
-Right next to those (and depending on the mood going up to the top 3) would be:
"Magic" by Joe McPhee / Mikolaj Trzaska / Dominic Duval / Jay Rosen (Not Two)
"Searching For Adam" by Rodrigo Amado / Taylor Ho Bynum / John Hebert / Gerald Cleaver (Not Two)
"Milwauke Volume" by Ken Vandermark & Paal Nilssen-Love (Smalltown)
"Epileptical West - Live in Coimbra" (Clean Feed)
"Kanata" by Oirtrio  (Not Two)
 And a fantastic release
"The Blue Mountain's Sun Drummer" (Kabell) by Wadada Leo Smith & Ed Blackwell
was cut from the list because it is somehow an archival recording - and a real gem indeed to be found after so many years. Not maybe a valid reason but I (and I admit it) wanted to make just a little bit easier on myself.

the 2nd part coming later today :)
what would be Your votes? the the comments section is waiting.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jazzowy Alchemik votes for El Intruso 2010 Poll (introduction)

I wrote before about invitation to participate in El Intruso 2010 Poll which I am very proud of. The Poll includes quite a lot of categories (over 20!) and allows 3 votes per category - which is sometimes heartbreaking really and many of those could be ordered differently or contain different names altogether and still present a pretty good image of what I have heard and liked the most (crucial point - it's about my listening experience, not about what was globally available) in 2010. I tried also to not repeat too many names so I could put as much as possible into this list. This is complementary to "My Favourites 2010" list already posted and, remembering the doubts about lists in general expressed in this old post, I want to remind You that those are just for fun and don't really mean that much otherwise. Which isn't to say thay don't matter at all because ain't fun what music is about after all?

The list is ready but with so many categories and my added comments it is simply too long so it will be divided into few parts appearing over next couple of days.

the categories listed by El Intruso as they will be divided into posts on the blog are:

Part I                                                                    Part II
-Musician of the year                                            -Composer
-Band of the year                                                  -Piano
-Newcomer musician                                            -Saxophone
-Newcomer band                                                 -Clarinet
-Album of the year                                                -Trumpet

Part III                                                             Part IV
-Trombone                                                           -Bass
-Violin / Viola                                                       -Drums     
-Cello                                                                   -Other instruments
-Guitar                                                                 -Female vocal
                                                                            -Male Vocal
                                                                            -Concert Band
                                                                            -Record Label

the first part will be posted tomorrow morning (CET) the 2nd one in the evening the whole list should be available in the next 48 hours. Any comments, discusssions, debates and polemic comments are welcomed and awaited :) .

Liudas Mockunas, Eugenijus Kanevicius and Dalius Naujokaitis - Kablys. Live at 11:20 [NoBusiness]

Kablys. Live at 11:20

Liudas Mockunas - tenor, baritone and soprano saxophones
Eugenijus Kanevicius - bass and electronics
Dalius Naujokaitis – drums

NoBusiness Records 2010

Had the decision to start this blog came just one day earlier the first post would be about Liudas Mockunas, Rafal Mazur, Raymond Strid concert. To make up for it I'd like to present You this release. Liudas Mockunas comes to, what I hope is, international attention of free-jazz lovers, thanks to recent releases of NoBusiness and this one makes his case even stronger.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Jazz Alchemist awaits for You at 8pm CET with Max and others

I'd like to remind everyone that at 8pm (CET) at we can listen together to some good music. Today we'll continue re-listening to some of the best 2010 releases. Plans for today's meal include amongst others: Mary Halvorson's Quintet "Saturn Sings", Myra Melfold Be Bread "The Tree Is Gone", Jeb Bishop's Trio "2009", recently reviewed Oirtrio's "Kanata" and Vijay Anderson's "Hardboiled Wonderland" and more. We'll also celebrate birthday of Max Roach and Ivo Perellman (and one has to at least mention William Parker's birthday today).

Max Roach
1. Jason Adasiewicz Trio - Get in there
2. Myra Melford Be Bread Sextet - I see a horizon
3. William Parker Raining on the moon - Watermelon Song (William Parker's birthday today! :)
4. Jeb Bishop Trio - 900
5. Max Roach & Abdullah Ibrahim - Inception (Mas Roach's birthday today ! :)
6. Max Roach & Anthony Braxton - Birth
7. Ivo Perellman & Brian Willson - Murmirios (this duo cd "Stream of Life" will probably get its review soon; Ivo's birthday on 12th Jan)
8. Mary Halvorson Quintet - Moon Traps in Seven Rings (No. 17)
9. Oirtrio - Najire (reviewed here)
10. Vijay Anderson - Dilation (reviewed here)
11. Max Roach & Abdullah Ibrahim - Consanguinity
12 Ivo Perellman & Brian Willson - Vicarious Punishment
13. Mary Halvorson Quintet - Saturn Sings (No. 18)
14. Myra Melford Be Bread - Night

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Oirtrio (Frank Gratkowski, Sebastian Gramms, Tatsuya Nakatani) - Kanata [Not Two]


Frank Gratkowski - alto saxophone, clarinets
Sebastian Gramms - double bass, bows
Tatsuya Nakatani - percussion, bowed gongs

Not Two 2010

(yet another review rewritten  for You in english, to justify the presence of the cd in subject on my 2010 favourites list (originally written in polish on This was the first written text after a long pause so I think the english version is now much better then the original one. I promise that next review will be posted soon and will  a fresh one)

"Kanata" is a cd that offers a handfull of challenges/surprises. Firstly, of a philological nature. If I managed to guess it right (thanks to aunt wikipedia and uncle google) the name of the group comes from spanish 'oir' which "means "to listen" (and it's a big "If" since the graphics and the track titles point towards japanese, the title of the cd - "Kanata" means in japanese "far away" or "beyond"). You can have fun with trying to find the meaning of track titles, I was lucky only in some cases.

Than you have the instrumental line-up. It seems to be a typical, free jazz pianoless trio with sax (clarinet) - bass - drums. But it's deceiving - where else have You seen a similar description - Sebastian Gramms plays double bass and bows (quite unusal naming 'bow' an instrument) and Tatsuya Nakatani percussion and bowed gongs which is also more specific that your usual 'drums'.

And finally, the sounds You can hear. Music (as generic and of little precision a term it is) on this cd was recorded live, divided into 7 tracks but in fact there are only 2 improvisations, first one, around 35 mins, spanning tracks 1 to 5 and the second, tracks 6 and 7, about 10 and something mins. And by the begining of the second track You can put aside all those notions about music like melody, harmony, rhythm, phrase, note. While all those appear, none of them is what You expect it to be. You have to just listen ('oir') to the activity of the sounds and let Yourself go.

You will hear whispers, clicks, bangs, cries, singings of birds and stomps of little feet, all kind of sounds. Forget about what You know about music, even the one of free improv kind, this one manages to create a world that is unique and that have little to do with whatever music might have been played before or after. Impressive task on its own, but, while the sounds are going and coming from all directions, the sense of unity, of focus is immense and makes it not only a curiosity or musical experiment but a piece of real, if unreal, beauty.

This is a sonic adventure, music from other world, from the outside, from far beyond ("kanata" indeed). It's like listening to great poetry in the language You don't understand, where You can recognize some structures, phrases, sounds reappearing in order, rhymes and rhythms, but You still have no idea what does it say. The instruments loose their characteristics sound (it really is sometimes to tell which sound is coming from which player), everything goes into micro scale and You have to find a magnifying glass to see those microtonalities, microstructures, micromelodies.  No sense in analyzing the tracks or the playing (although it's hard no to think about what kind of metallic objects is Tatsuya moving on the drumhead, I don't think he's ever concerned really with something as trivial as playing rhythm on drums).

You will need a lot of focus, You will need to clear Your mind (the drones of bowed gongs help a lot). And You will be taken into another world. And while it won't be anything like the world You know, it is quite amazing.

ps1. Hard not to notice the amazing sound quality, You can hear each physical aspect of this metaphysical playing, objects moving on plastic, metal, wood or through the thin air, strings being plucked, keys tapped, fingers moving. Like a magnifying glass indeed.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Vijay Anderson - Hard-boiled Wonderland [Not Two]

Hard-boiled Wonderland

Vijay Anderson - drums, bowls
Sheldon Brown - alto, tenor, soprano saxophones
Ben Goldberg - clarinet, contra alto clarinet in E-flat
Ava Mendoza - electric guitar
John Finkbeiner - electric guitar
Smith Dobson V - vibraphone

Not Two 2010

(since this cd appears on 'my favourites 2010' list I decided to get back to the review originally published at, below You can find the english text)

Vijay Anderson, the instigator of this project (although he calls it an 'egalitarian venture') combines two trios he is a part of : Vijay, Ben, Sheldon (drums, sax, clarinet) and Vijay, Ava, John (drums, two guitars). To complete the overall sound Smith Dobson V on vibraphone joins the ensemble. Thus the basis of this one is a double trio, a group that draws equally from the tradition of Ornette Coleman Double Quartet as King Crimson's double trio experiments from the mid 90-s. The music was completely improvised, wth the line-ups changing for most of the pieces.

I have to admit, ashamed, that I'm not very familiar with some of the names in this band. Vijay Anderson can be heard on some albums by Adam Lane (fantastic trio dates with Vinny Gollia for CIMP, as well as the first Full Throttle Orchestra cd where John Finkbeiner also plays). I associate Ben Goldberg with couple of klezmer Tzadik releases (*at least I did so when I was originally writing this review). And that would be pretty much it. Which makes the music on this release even a bigger surprise.

The sonic palette of the whole sextet is impressive, travelling freely between worlds of postrock and postjazz (whatever that could mean). Gently weaved sounds create dreamy visions, walls of sound, palpable yet thin and almost transparent. Everything is volatile, with new layers constantly appearing (first track contains some overdubbed guitars and gongs) just to disappear in a moment, leave space for new waves, new sounds coming. Full of different misty spots, like on gloomy impressionistic landscape. You won't find here any classic jazz (or rock) soloing and while the playing is amazingly free and spacious, there is also an incredible sense of self-temper and discipline. Group playing that using modest means, without any wild cavalcades and boiling culminations, manage to creata a constant, misty, intriguing tension.

You can view this band also as a 'triple duo' (two reeds, two guitars, two percussion instruments) and (bit paradoxically) the tension is created when two from the same pair meet or confront each other, which is even more apparent in the pieces played by smaller line-ups. With two instruments playing a dominant part, the music moves between the rhythmic counterpoint (like clarinet playing rhythm base in low register and saxophone building with fluid lines on it - "A Few More Hands") and harmonic interplay (same track when the vibraphone takes over the rhythmic base and two reeds can engage in intervallic dialogue). Good example of this 'meeting' and 'confronting' duology is "Dilation", the only quartet of the album (guitars and reeds) with melodies constantly interlacing, entwining or cutting each other (imagine the spiral structure of DNA code), with contrasting chords keeping the suspense in control. And when it seems they gather enough speed and volume to explode, instead of culmination, slow and gently decrescendo gesture arrives. One could analyze each other track but I will just mention also "Nix" (tenor, two guitars) where You can hear clearly two guitarists playing with and against each other, and, while it's generally impossible to tell one from the other in the course of entire album, their contribution to the sonic palette is crucial.

The constantly changing line-up gives You variety, the common attitute towards improvising gives the sense of unity to this project. This music would be great for a movie, preferably noir genre, black & white film, with action not very dynamic, but slowly evolving and full of suspense. And add to that some psychodellic elements (eerie guitar sounds, foggy vibraphone) of dreaming awake. This dream and the suspense is ended by aptly titled "March at the End of the World" with somehow apocalytpic and twisted swing section, the only track of the album that ends with strong kick on the drum (all the other ones rather die slowly off with last sounds echoing in the silence). Just a musical way to tell You "Wake up!".

ps1. The titles of the first and the last track of the album (first one being also the title of the album) reference the writing of Harumi Murakami - novels "Harboiled Wonderlad" and "End of the World"
ps2. As it happens a lot with "double" ensembles the stereo channel division gives uncommon sense of space in the music and makes for a great listen on headphones.