Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Avram Fefer, Eric Revis, Chad Taylor at Alchemia (30.05)

 I've recently written about this trio's last cd here so I'll only briefly write about the last evening's performance. Based on the selection of songs from both of the band's cds (although leaning more heavily towards the new once) the trio delivered what was promised by the studio recording and more. Sticking for the most part to the head - solos - head format they nonetheless played music that was exciting and fresh. Avram Fefer's way of playing is emotional and intense, introducing expressivity of fire free music to tonal modes and catchy melodies (think Archie Shepp, David Murray, Rahsaan Roland Kirk). Eric Revis, with most of the tracks being based on a solid and steady bass motiv serves as a true anchor to this group, his tone is so deep and strong. Chad Taylor adds his african polyrhythmics and keeps the music dancing lightly and joyfully mantaining the tap factor high.
They started gently but with each track they gathered strength and memomentum with wild and relentless take on "Eliyahu" (dedicated to Avram's late father) being the highlight of the evening - extended improvisations, free and wild, true spiritual fire, raw bowed bass solo (Eric Revis may be the bass player of choice for Branford Marsalis but, oh man, he can play free!). Just four tracks of the first set clocked over 70 minutes (hardly even to be noticed) which gives a good idea of how engaging and enjoyable this concert was. Whether it's the south africa chant of "Song for Dyani" or furious fast-walking free-bop of "City Life", or finally the lullaby-ballad "Taste for Love" they played as the encore - this band can swing, bop or free making those adjectives irrelevant and bringing the finest in jazz.

Avram Fefer - tenor saxophone, alto saxophone
Eric Revis - bass
Chad Taylor - drums

Alchemia. Krakow. 30.05.2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Free Jazz Alchemist Radio Archives - Anthony Braxton and some old news from 2009

Since at around 8pm CET on monday  I'll be getting ready to enjoy the Avram Fefer trio concert at Alchemia (I wrote about their new cd "Eliyahu" recently here), no live show and no new playlist tomorrow. Instead, from the not so vast archives Jazz Alcehmist, a program that was aired originally on 08.06.2009 will be replayed, there was some talk about Anthony Braxton's birthday (04.06) and, at the time, a handful of fresh releases among which, incidentally, the frist cd "Ritual" by the Avram Fefer, Eric Revis, Chad Taylor trio. Hope you'll enjoy it:

www.radiofrycz.pl at 8pm CET.

1. Nu Band - The Last of the Beboppers
2. Dave Rempis Percussion Quartet - Zoni
3. Avram Fefer, Eric Revis, Chad Taylor - Club Foot
4. Tony Malaby - Sonoita
5. Anthony Braxton Charlie Parker Project - Night In Tunisia
6. Loco Star - Flags (for something completely different, an alternative pop band that played couple of days before the program)
7. Maciej Obara Trio - The Other Obara
8. Charles Mingus - Original Fables of Faubus (ft. Ted Curson - birthday on  03.06)
9. Transit (Jeff Arnal, Seth Misterka, Nate Wooley, Reuben Radding) - Speaking in Tongues
10. Anthony Braxton & Joe Fonda - Autumn in New York
11. Avram Fefer, Eric Revis, Chad Taylor - When The Spirit Moves You

Friday, May 27, 2011

Harrison Bankhead Sextet - Morning Sun / Harvest Moond [Engine]

Harrison Bankhead - bass
Ed Wilkerson - tenor sax, clarinet, alto clarinet, didgeridoo
Mars Williams - alto, tenor, soprano and sopranino sax, clarinet, autoharp, wooden flute
James Sanders - violin
Avreeayl Ra - drums, percussion, wooden flute
Ernie Adams - percussion

Engine Records 2011

Harrison Bankhead appeared on numerous sessions and has been playing regularly with the most important figures of Chicagoan AACM scene like Fred Anderson, Roscoe Mitchell or Nicole Mitchell, but (to my knowledge) this is his first session as a leader.

"Morning Sun / Harvest Moond" starts the album gentle as a breeze, fragile indeed like the sun beams of the morning sun, with soft intertwining lines by two flutes and two string instruments. Violin sound is enchantingly beautiful.
"Chicago Senorita" that follows is driven by a strong melodic bass groove, double percussion and staccato horn line - all just a platform to violin solo that starts charmingly melodic to slowly gain bit wilder momentum, groove is incessant as the music dances forward, light and joyful. The piece ends with ethnic percussion solo that keeps the dance alive.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vojtech Prochazka Trio at Piec'ART (25.05)

It would be great to listen to music without having any kind of expectations. I've recenlty been proven wrong assuming Piec'ART is exclusively a mainstream jazz venue (I guess it's still mostly mainstream but it's a big difference). I recently reviewed inspiring performance by JazzTrio Trabant and Adrian Myhr's coming back to Piec'ART was a big reason that I wanted to be there again. Still, I assumed it could very well be another modern-jazz-post-bop piano trio (something I tend to dislike strongly) but I was proven wrong again. And I love surprises like that.

First good omen was when Vojtech Prochazka, while introducing the band, said that it would be a concert of 'improvised music'. Second good omen happened when instead of taking a seat he bent over the piano looking inside and started playing on piano strings with mallets. In fact it's hard to think about this performance as a piano trio as during the extended improvisation that filled the first set (around 40 minutes) Vojtech barely touches the keyboard, instead he plays on strings with drumsticks, mallets, metal objects, ducktape, bare hands. The piano sounds like harp, toy, marimba, machine .... the spirit of John Cage was definitely somewhere near the place. The trio engages in dialogue that is beyond any genre of music, beyond most traditional views on what is called music actually. Evoking eerie moods with unusual sounds, minimal, barely audible hushes, scraping the strings and drums, bowing the plates. With incredible focus and attention to detail. Abstract yet cohere, going into the rabbit hole, right into the logic of madness, where texture, structure, harmony, note, lenghth, tempo become all non-sense terms.
The entire performance (including the second set improvisation - another 40 minutes) was also absolutely egoless, almost no soloing (in sense of making a single statement that proves the musicall prowess on the instrument) - instead a playing that follows the feeling of the moment, the natural (and irrational) flow of the music, without any clear leading part (or, if anything, one provided more often by the bass, not the piano). All three musicians display considerable skills playing both conventional and (for the most part) unconventional ways. Dark, mysterious, full of rising tension, focused performance demanding a focused listening but absolutely rewarding. 

With music as intriguing and deserving as much attention as any, much more popular, names in the field of improvised music it seemed wrong that such concert was appreciated by the audience only slightly larger that the number of the musicians on the stage. I strongly hope those musicians will get the recognition they deserve.

ps 1. After the break Vojtech talked again bit more (although I think the audience present had already understood that) that, nonetheless they're playing in a 'jazz club' their music is not jazz at all and it's much better to call it 'just music', a fitting term indeed.

ps 2. Whilre writing the post I'm listening to the "Amoeba's Dance" cd by this trio and I have to admit I feel bit cheated as it is exactly what I feared the concert would be - a piano trio recording (no extended improvisation, no sonic experiments, no prepared piano). In fact it was called by the group 'their best shot so far at playing jazz music' and while it's not bad at all (brings back some compositions by Herbie Nichols, a great cover of Ornette's "Una Muy Bonita" tune and couple of nice originals) the music is not nearly as compelling, gripping and thrilling as the live performance they've just delivered. Which makes me hope that they will record an improvised session soon.

Vojtech Prochazka - piano, prepared piano, whistle, mouth organ, objects
Adrian Myhr - double bass
Tore Sandbakken  - drums

Piec'ART. Krakow. 25.05.2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ha Tichona Trio (Trzaska / Brice / Sanders) at Alchemia (24.05)

by Krzysztof Penarski
 It's hard to say what makes the free improvisation a successful one, what notes make the difference between poor, good or great. Yet sometimes everything seems just right.
It was the first day of this trio's tour and one could see the excitement those musicians felt about the opportunity to play together. And it did transfer into the music, and it was passed to the audience. I really don't know what to begin with. Mikolaj sound on alto is mesmerizing, even at most lyrical ther's the inner tension in the timbre, you could hide entire planets in there, even at his most expansive and screaming, there's something intimate and emotional to what he plays. Olie Brice had a keen ear, able to find notes that were both logical and surprising. And Mark Sanders absolutely brilliant, dense and light at the same time, embedding the sax and bas with polirhythmic clouds of of sounds (lot of plates) that were both rhythmic and melodic, his attention to details unbelievable.
But everyone who knows those musicians know that they can play. Good improvisation needs to be a whole that is more than the sum of its parts, and that was the case. The reactions immediate enough that it was close to telepathy, following instantly the instrument that would assume the leading part (usually the alto, but still that was a very democratic development). The ability to sustain a long, free-form narration, make the development seem natural and organic, through builds and breaks, duo and solo sections. Through moments of pure screaming wild expression and hushed whispers, echoes of swing and soul or abstract jumps and coulurful, textural plays. Until the serene and beautiful encore that seemed like a gospel hymn, with gentle melody (slow, full of air tone on bass clarinet, great harmony chords laid down on bass) and fragile and delicate accents on the plates. With the audience in complete silence and the trio frozen on the stage after the music was over, hanging on to the last echoes of the last sounds, making sure there was no more coming before breaking into the applause.
I know that this texts seems a lot like a repetition of jazz / improvised music cliches. But frankly I don't know what else can I write, the energy, the passion (I challenge anyone for a duel who insists that free improvisation is merely an intellectual workout), the musicianship, the heart, soul and mind being all united in the moment - it was all there. The first set blew me away, the second one kept me in the stratosphere - one of the very best concerts I've seen this year. 

If this trio is playing anywhere near you in the next days of the tour - don't miss it.

Ha Tichona Trio:
Mikolaj Trzaska - alto sax, bass clarinet, duduk
Olie Brice - double bass
Mark Sanders - drums

Alchemia. Krakow. 24.05

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

AutorYno & Pitom at Piękny Pies (23.05)

Another concert under the Muzykoterapia wings. I run from the radio studio to get to this one, but if John Zorn's personal recommendation isn't good enough reason to be at the concert than what is?

Actually the second big reason for me to see the event was expected presence of Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz and Kevin Zubek - fantastic rhytm section that fueled some fantastic music with its energy (trio ledy by Daniel Zamir comes to mind as another example or Radical Jewish Culture movement, but also a great cd with Daniel Carter or astyonishingly beautiful release with polish piano player - Joachim Mencel). Bad news though - those two had to stay in NY and Pitom band would play with the rhythm section of AutorYno filling in.

Pitom's music is complex and highly structured, quirky riffs, almost mathematical precission to some of the passages, the violin adds more subtle, more exotic accent and the unisonos between the guitar and violin are sharp. Yoshie Fruchter's soloing is engaging and inspiring, Jeremy Brown is even rawer, his tone passionate and cuts the edge. But while Bertrand and Cyril were doing a great job filling in, the fact that they're not entirely familiar with the material was showing in a way that the playing lacked the natural flow, the sense of liberty. Hard to judge this performance since I've seen only a half of it, considering the circumstances it was solid and enjoyable, but there was too little spark to it. The compositions are strong and heavy, the soloing is adventourous yet it seems that the potential is not entirely realised.

The spark(s)  came through with the second set and AutorYno with David Konopnicki (can't have a more clearly polish surname than that) stepping onto the stage. Powerfull guitar trio that would do it all : fusion, hard rock, punk, psychodelic, rock''n'roll, klezmer. The synergy is clear, the rhythm section shows its true value, allowing itself much more liberty. The guitar solo pyrotechnics are absolutely great, the music danceable, very enteraining with extremely high value of foot-tapping and head-banging factors - riffs are energetic, grooves are hard and infectious. What else to want really from a rock guitar trio? 

The party is on and fun sparks are flying all around when the Pitom frontline joins AutorYno for the encores. First there's a surfin' rock klezmer tune with a round of blistering solos. Then the tour manager joins the group for some funky hip-hop, and I tell you he's got moves.

Two very interesting groups, led by two very original guitarits. If you're looking for energetic and adventourous instrumental rock, you should check those. And if you want to have fun evening - you can't go wrong with those two bands either.

David Konopnicki - guitar
Bertrand Delorme - bass
Cyril Grimaud - drums

Yoshie Fruchter - guitar
Jeremy Brown - violin
(Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz - bass; Kevin Zubek - drums) - absent

Piękny Pies. Krakow. 23.05.2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Free Jazz Alchemist Radio with Miles, Bob and others

As usually, Monday 8 pm CET I invite you to tune in to www.radiofrycz.pl for some good music. I'll present some music from the recently reviewed cds (Veryan Weston's "Different Tesselations", Avram Fefer Trio "Eliyahu", James Falzone's KLANG "Other Doors"), a piece or two from Super Seaweed duo EP (they just played in Krakow, more about that here). Bob Dylan's birthday is this week so I'd like to play his song performed by a tribute band Jewels & Binoculars led by great Michael Moore. Also Miles Davis' birthday so I guess he has to make at least a short cameo appearance on the playlist. Plus a possible co-host for the evening (just passing through Krakow).
Hope to catch you on facebook chat during the program.

1. KLANG - These Foolish Things (postlude)
2. KLANG - Stompin' at the Savoy
3. Avram Fefer, Eric Revis, Chad Talyor - Song for Dyani

due to some technical issues the playlist started late and first songs will appear again during the usual 'replay' after the live program is over.

4. Veryan Weston - Vociferous Choir - Tesselations II second part
5. Avram Fefer, Eric Revis, Chad Taylor - Appropriated Lands
6. Super Seawed Duo - track 6 (untitled from their EP)
7. Veryan Weston - Leo Svirsky - Tesselations I (scales 6-14)

8. Jewels & Binoculars - Visions of Johanna
9. Miles Davis - Blues No. 2
10. KLANG - Memories of you
11. Jewels & Binoculars - Highway 61 Revisited
12. Avram Fefer, Eric Revis, Chad Taylor - City Life
13. Veryan Weston - Vociferous - Tessellations II third part

Ensemble 56 at Harris (21.05)

by Krzysztof Penarski
It was supposed to be tha last day before the end of the Universe, but if you are reading this I guess the Apocalypse didn't happen. 
Ensemble 56 trio had a long run with Attilla Dora (great cd for Not Two "1st Year of the Dragon") but now the sax spot is a loose one and different musicians are playing with the core of Rafal Mazur (acoustic bass guitar) and Mieczyslaw Gorka (drums). Marek Stryszowski (who used to play with Gorka in the Laboratorium -  polish fusion band, in the 70s) was to fill the spot on this particular evening (just 2nd concert with the group) and I had mixed feelings about this. The particular synergy this group had (oversimplyfying the description for the sake of argument) was the three-directional tension between the band's members - with Gorka's fusion experience showing up in the tendency for solid and stable rock grooves or at least accents every once in a while, with Mazur's dense and dark style, with Dora's inclination towards sonorus experimentation and minimalism. With the change on saxophone spot the risk of loosing this equilibrium was great, but in improvised music new is also chance for something spontaneous and surprising so I was still curious about this performance.

The first set was really great. Marek Styszowski, while his playing is rooted in post-bop language, can be very expressive, and reach over the standard scale with some overblown shrieks on the alto saxophone - energetic and powerfull. Rhythmic intervallic jumps or the circling, swift lines - there's a nice narrations to his solos and enough variety to keep a listener on his toes. He also plays flute (some overtones) - creating an ethnic aura which is complemented well by Mieczyslaw Gorka percussion and toy-objects subtle play. And he sings (wordless vocalisations, flamenco-like cries, shrieks) which is definitely a new element to this group's sound and is a good surprise.
by Krzysztof Penarski

The second set however, an exception to general rule ('the 2nd set is always better') was quite dissapointing. It started with a forgettable EWI solo - both the sound and dynamic flatness and inexpressivity (and retro-fusion sound) of this instrument leave me totally indifferent. The choir harmonizer effect seems a bit too much in my oppinion either (I can enjoy Weather Report but those kinds of sounds are simply old and cliche now). It's not all bad as there was another engaging vocal improvisation and a passionate sax solo. Also a fun and funky-groove piece which, while bit too obvious, was also hard to resist to be enjoyed. The "Ultimate" final track is a peacefull and gentle ballad on soprano, with, fortunately, subtle and colourfull support by the rhythm section keeping it from getting (God forbid) too smooth or new-age.

I might have put too much focus on the Marek Stryszowski here, but since he was the new element in the group (and he plays the leading instrument) he had a crucial impact on the general outcome of the evening. Plus I had many occasions to write about both Rafal and Mieczyslaw recently so let me just add to that the chemistry they developed is a pleasure to watch and listen to. 
While not entirely successfull it still was a solid gig (especially the first half of it). I hope Ensemble 56 will continue its journey.

Ensemble 56
Marek Stryszowski - alto sax, soprano sax, EWI, flute, alto flute, vocal, percussion
Rafal Mazur - acoustic bass guitar
Mieczyslaw Gorka - drums, percussion

Harriss Piano Jazz Bar. Krakow. 21.05.2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

Super Seaweed Duo at Eszerweria (19.05)

Muzykoterapia (I think it doesn't need translation) concert series presents experimental music of any sort and delivers underground live experience that is usually even more alternative than free-jazz. Super Seaweed Duo comes from the New York and that is almost a recommendation in itself so that's already two reasons to show up this evening at Eszeweria . During the period of students' festival and all kind of big, open-air, mass events, this served as a great antidote to the popular culture (if anyone wants one).

With a small drums set, guitar and array of loops and effects this mini-group can play both minimal and expansive. They start with a drone motive on drums, repetition inside repetition, hipnotic, trans-inducing and  slowly evolving. The communication is apparent and beyond the verbal. Within spontaneous structure of sine wave moments of destruction would bring new drones, new ambiental landscapes, new loops, echoes, feedbacks and distortions. With minimal movement and maximum focus this duo creates music that is engaging, quite mellow even while mantaining its experimental edge . And somewhere within this shapeshifting magma sonic reality moments of volatile beauty manifest.  

Still not sure what it was (let's call it experimental, minimalistic, post-rock, post-jazz, post-punk free improvisation) but I thouroughly enjoed it.

Super Seaweed Duo
Justin Veloso - drums
Paul Wheeler - guitar / effects

Eszeweria. Krakow. 19.05.2011

You can listen to almost entire material of  their EP on http://soundcloud.com/superseaweedsexscandal/ (no.s 3 and 4 could be the closest to the music they played during this gig, but it's all good)
as well as part of the material of EP by Super Seaweed Sex Scandal which this duo is a core of.
The group nears the end of it european tour but you can still catch them in Krakow (tonight again with a noise evening, different place and additional musicians, I hope to catch the last set), Wroclaw, Moers and Ghent in the next few days.

I only catched two last pieces of the next day concert (the music was still dense, minimalistic - guys played a whole piece on just a couple of notes, much darker) - while there's no sense in posting a separate review I just had to mention the place the concert was in - Cellar Gallery is just a regular old, dusty, dark basement space. With art objects exhibited on the brick naked walls. One of the most underground and surprising spaces I've ever been to and the most underground space I've ever witnessed a concert in. Hope more is coming.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Avram Fefer, Eric Revis, Chad Taylor - Eliyahu [Not Two]

Avram Fefer - alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
Eric Revis - bass
Chad Taylor - drums

Not Two 2011

There's something immensely enjoyable about this cd, which is the second release from the trio ("Ritual" came out in 2009 on Clean Feed). The music is direct, authentic, somehow both rich & simple. Right from the joyfull and danceable groove of "Song for Dyani" (one of the two compositions on the disc by Chad Taylor) you know you're in for a treat. There's emotional power and expressivity of free-jazz, rhythm sensibility and spirituality associated with AACM and its Great Black Music tradition and yet it's much more mainstream than you'd expect. Avram Fefer's tone is round and elegant, although he can also get wild and take it to the edge. Eric Revis and Chad Taylor are both great laying thick and infectious rhythms, their interplay is clear and deep. Taylor's inclined towards  african -like percussive sounds, Revis anchors the melodies with immovable precision, and he's rock solid at the spot.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Veryan Weston, Leo Svirsky, The Vociferous Choir - Different Tessellations [Emanem]

Different Tesselations
Veryan Weston - composer
Tesselations I
Leo Svirsky - piano
Tesselations II
The Vociferous Choir:
Anush Apoyan, Eris Ederer, Annette Giesriegl, Dorthea Jaburek, Sofija Knezevic, Siruan Kung, Franz Schmuck, Patrick Thurner, Veryan Weston

Emanem 2011

This release is something very uncommon. Veryan Weston is obviously a very accomplished improviser and piano player but here he presents two extended compositions, and he doesn't even play the piano in here as he invites another piano player to perfrom one ot those, while the other one is executed by an a'capella choir with Veryan among them. The Tessalations are both based on a progression of 52 pentatonic scales, with one note going up by one step with each progression. Sounds quite fascinating and, also, bit scary - as it could easily turn out to be an intellectual and overtly academic research more than a music work. So I have to admit I had my doubts when approaching this cd but they were quickly solved.

Tesselations I is performed by Leo Svirsky, a piano player with classical education and an impressive resume, only 21 (!) at the time of this performance, active also in the field of alternative music and improvisation.
The extended performance relies heavily on fast arpeggios, repetitive lines that grow from the exploration of the scales. While Leo Svirsky becomes a co-composer of the piece it is quite difficult to say how much of the music is improvised and which parts are strictly written (or maybe there was just a sketchy outline of how to play the music) but does it really matter?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Free Jazz Alchemist Radio with archival birthday playlist for something completely different

Today, at the usual time (8pm CET) and the usual place (www.radiofrycz.pl) a bit unusual playlist. Found deep hidden in my vaults a program that was originally aired on 20.04.2009. Which was close to a date that the program was born, there was a special guest in the studio to chat and sing 'happy birthday' with, lot of unusual songs (blues, latino, mainstream, some alternative rock music too). In short - a lot to enjoy!

As I hope you will. Though I will be stuck elsewhere (which is the reason a live program with a new songs can't be done) I will be available on the facebook chat which is where I hope to catch you all.

1. Ella Fitzgerald - Slap that bass (birthday on 25.04)
2. Charles Mingus - Better Get Hit In Your Soul (birthday 22.04)
3. Gonzalo Rubalcaba Trio - Caravan (he was about to play in Krakow)
4. Tito Puente & India - Fever (Tito's birthday on (birthday on 20.04)
5. The Complainer & The Complainers -  (alternative band that just had played a concert during the OFF OFF Festival, I was literally addicted to their cd after that concert)
6. The Complainer ft. Urkuma & Usonia - Animulae
7. Ella Fitzgerald & Joe Pass - I Ain't Got Nothing But The Blues
8. Tito Puente & India - Love for Sale
9. Charles Mingus - The Clown
10. Tiziano Tononi - Ecclesiastics
11. The Complainer & The Complainers - Substytuty
12. The Complainer & The Complainers - Pasja i Uraz
13. The Complainer & The Complainers - Metka            (you see what I meant? :) )
14. Maceo Parker - Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (was about to play in Warsaw)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

KLANG - The Other Doors [Allos Documents]

James Falzone - clarinet
Jason Adasiewicz - vibraphone
Jason Roebke - double bass
Tim Daisy - drums

special guests:
Josh Berman - cornet
Jeb Bishop - trombone
Keefe Jackson - tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
Fred Lonberg-Holm - cello, electronics

AllosDocuments 2011

The program presented by this cd was created for 2009 Chicago Jazz Festival to celebreate 100th aniversay of Benny Goodman's birth. Which could be surpriging if you look at the names playing in this group. But it all clicks amazingly here, with swing, chamber and free-jazz meshing together, sometimes in the same piece, creating an unique presentation of historical continuum.

Samuel Blaser solo & Jam Session at Piec'ART (13.05)

Second evening in a row at Piec'ART for me and another good concert. This time my expectations were high (I did see Samuel Blaser already on stage, I do know his cds) but not necessaraily very clear. Because what can you expect from a solo trombone concert? It's a cliche to say, but somehow very true, that a solo recital can be treated as the most difficult form of performance - both for the artist and the audience.
The concert started with some timbral explorations, lot of playing with the mute and wah-wah effect. Definitely intriguing but also very demanding piece. But it only got better with each piece. It's definitely unexpected to write about harmonic depth when describing a solo trombone concert, but it was there indeed, and the level of control of those multiphonics techniques is what makes Samuel's playing really impressive (and gets him, deservingly,  all the Albert Mangelsdorff comparisons). Sometimes it almost sounds like an african choir chant, somehow it reverberates through all the brass material, Blaser is making it seem easy which is a great talent.
Even better, it makes the music surprisingly accessible, as he manages to create an engaging rhytmic structure anchoring the groove in a returning bass note, keeping the time with his foot. His actually very fond of blues, and his jubilant and roaring lines are downright humorous. Those rhythmical bluesy tracks (like "Solo Bone", "Lonely Blues" or "Finally Alone" which ends the concert) are for me definite highlights of the night.
For a bis Samuel plays "Mood Indigo" by Duke Ellington and his take on this classic shows both adventorous spirit and respect towards the jazz history.
If you think that solo trombone jazz concert can't be fun Samuel Blaser is there to proove you wrong.

Samuel Blaser
Piec'ART. Krakow. 13.05

After the concert there was a jam session (well, sort of) and I have admit I feared it a lot, expecting same old cliche, elegant mainstream but I was enormously surprised. The (sax - piano - bass - drums) quartet with the first track really blew my mind as they played this free-from post-bop jazz, indebted definitely to John Coltrane Quartet, but with a sesne of urgence, with a very raw energy and clear passion that was infectious. The music was adventorous and quite wild, the solos would dig deep, the interplay was apparent as the quartet would break into smaller groups (into a piano trio to begin with but then the sax-piano, piano-bass or bass-drums duos. An ankle breaking drum&bass indebted drums solo was among the highlights, the sax player experimented a lot with distorted sound and influence of free and avant-guarde techniques was very clear, the pianist was storming through the keys. 
The second track wasn't that wild, some jazz standard, the reading of the theme almost elegant if it wasn't for the distorted sax sound (some nice unaccompanied saxophone passages on this one too) and the piano solo started bit too conservative, but then it would through history, getting back even to ragtime and the band would play the theme like it was a soundtrack to a slapstick Charlie Chaplin movie (which puts a big smile on my face immediately).
After the break (with a change on the drummer's spot) the band plays a strange tune with a hypnotic salsa rhythm, led by a saxophone player using both tenor and alto and they were joined by Samuel for a lenghty solo on this one. They (quintet now) end the evening with simple blues, having a lot of fun.
While the first track promised more than they eventually delivered I'm still very positively surprised by that part of the evening. While, in private conversations with other jazz fans in Krakow, the theme of bad jazz education returns quite often (the system produces very capable musicians with almost no sense of individuality) the things might be actually better than I'd have thought and those young guys made me a beliver again. Beware! Youth is coming!

unfortuantely I did manage to write down only two names:
Slawe Pezda - tenor sax, alto sax
Pawel Orzechowski - piano

Friday, May 13, 2011

JazzTrio Trabant at Piec'ART (12.05)

Piec'Art is usually a mainstream jazz venue but evey once in a while there's a space for something more adventorous too. I have to admit that this band was completely anonymous for me and I came by this concert completely unprepared, almost by accident, not knowing really what to expect. Couple of listens to some samples from myspace convinced me enough to come and I'm really glad I did.
Trabant trio (great name really) is a sax trio wchich from the beginning earns them my trust as this is an instrumental setting I really like, and even when played in a mainstream way it gives a sense of freedom and flexibility that really good jazz needs (just listen to Sonny Rollins trios to hear what I mean, some amazing music there). Secondly on their MySpace you can find a cover song by PJ Harvey and in the descripion of the band you'll find named other influences like The Band or Led Zeppelin. Perception of jazz as an exclusively elite and extremely demanding music is hurting it big time. And I love it when young jazz musicians admit willingly that they like popular music and it influenced they way they play jazz. The Thing turn punk outside out, Ken Vandermark after hours sings along to the sax solos of James Browns funky tunes. If you are my age you probably were listening to Nirvana. Trying to disconnect jazz from popular music is artificial and pretentious. But let me get back to the concert as this monologue is getting too long...

The music is charmingly melodic, the themes are downright catchy, the clear pulse keeps the foot (well, at least my foot) tapping. And that's not only the covers I'm talking about but the originals proposed by the band share the some song-like quality. Among the covers there's a tastefull rendition of Dylan's "The Times Are A-Changin'", riff-rocking "Ocean" by the Led Zeppelin, moody, dark  "Talk to you" by PJ Harvey, dreamy and enchanting "Sleeping Lessons" by The Shins and very appealing "Unfaithful Servants" by The Band. Quite a ground to cover (so to speak) and good example of how versatile this trio is. 
Svein Magnus Furu posesses a very beautifull tone on tenor, fragile and gentle in slower tunes, soulful and passionate when the grooves is on, very Jimmy Giuffre-sque on clarinet. His soloing is very melodic, phrasing reminds you of a classical jazz tunes but the melodics inspired by the tunes (including the originals) are less juzz inclined, much more modern. But that doesn't mean he can occasionaly hit a high, screaming note or polyphonic whisper (nice solo with a delay effect). Adrian Myhr on the bass keeps the harmony simple but not banal, his soloing is sensible, his touch is very light, very melodic. Audun Lunnan Hjort is my personal hero of the evening, his playing is infectiously energetic, he stirrs the things up, he times the accents perfectly, he both follows and pushes the solo narration, and he adds this little bit of crazy ingredient. While being very attentive to the melodic aspect of the drums, he never forgets to keep the rhythm going.

This band's performance is built on melodies but that doesn't mean the are afraid of letting it loose every once in a while, and though those freer passages are rare, the possibility of them happening, the open-mindset keeps the audience on their toes. The only band that can play rock tunes like that I can think of is Jewels & Binoculars (a trio led by Michael Moore which plays exclusively Bob Dylan's songs). Those guys are still pretty young, their playing is fresh, energetic and also very accessible, so, even if their names tell you nothing, be sure to watch them play if they have a gig nearby. I'm really glad I did and I'm waiting impatiently now to hear their first cd (coming later this year). 

In the meantime you can check their myspace page.

JazzTrio Trabant

Svein Magnus Furu - tenor saxophone, clarinet
Adrien Myhr - double bass
Audun Lunnnan Hjort - drums

Piec'ART. Krakow. 12.05.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rafal Mazur & D'Incise Electro-Acoustic Quintet at Alchemia (08.05)

by Krzysztof Penarski
Among the late occasions to see Rafal Mazur's activity on Krakow's improvisation scene this was the most unusual combining both the electro and acoustic side of improvisation as three different nations on the stage.
Actually the musicians played in the middle of the room, surrounded by the audience, with speakers situated on all for corners of the room making for quite unique sound scene experience (unique for a concert as the 'sourround sound' is now something quite obvious in a home cinema). 
In such events what excites me the most is quite frankly not the music itself but the possibility to see the laptop whizz produce sounds in a way that escape my cognitive capabilities. Ludger would use some kind of touchpad, and he started with magnifying the air-conditioning noise in the room. D'incise, apart from using the laptop would also bow small gongs, use the wooden table, metal plates and other objects. Jonas Kocher's playing was pretty minimalistic, as he would create dark and brooding backgrounds on the accordion. Rafal would keep the touch of the strings lighter and more abstract than usual, utilizing bow quite often, plucking gently, playing the bass guitar like a cello (which was his primarily instrument). The music was quite minimalistic, dreamy-like, somehow hypnotic, exploring different textures. Tomek Choloniewski did a good job of stirring the proceedings every now and then with a sudden cry or thundering drumroll.
Definitely and intriguing performance although with this kind of music-creation it's really different to give any kind of quality evaluation as this music kind of comes firectly from the strenght of the individuals playing, but then gets zen, looses the sense of individuality, becomes this kind of formless, shapeless energy cloud. Which can be as much disturbing as relaxing experience, or a mix of both sometimes.

D'incise - electronics, sound objects
Jonas Kocher - accordion
Ludger Henning - electronics
Tomek Chołoniewski - drums, percussion

Rafal Mazur - acoustic bass guitar

Alchemia. Krakow. 08.05.2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

Free Jazz Alchemist Radio with Gary & Keith, Ahmed, Major and others.

Today's program will include samples from recently reviewed ("De Profundis" by Anrzej Przybielski & Oles Brothers and "Karate" by Alexy Kruglov and Jaak Sooaar Trio). Also we'll have some birthday wishes to Keith Jarrett and Gary Peacock, Ahmed Abdullah, Mary Lou Williams. Last but not least couple of songs by Jorgos Skolias / Bronilaw Duzy duo (who played a nice concert only two days ago).

The program starts at 8pm (CET) on www.radiofrycz.pl. Waiting for you to tune in and chat via facebook.
Playlist will be posted here near the end of the show and as is the custom lately, will be repeated after the program is over.

1. Andrzej Przybielski & Oles Brothers - Afroblue
2. Ahmed Abdullah Quartet - Mayibeu (Ahmed's britdhay on 10.05)
3. Jorgos Skolias & Bronislaw Duzy Duo - Imena
4. Alexey Kruglov & Jaak Sooaar Trio - Pust' Vsegda Budet Solntse
5. Dave Dougls Sextet  - Mary's Idea (piecy by Mary Lou Williams  - born on 08.05.1910)
6. Keith Jarrett Trio - When I Fall In Love (Keith's birthday on 08.05, Gary Peacock born on 12.05)
7. Ahmed Abdullah Solomoni Quintet - Gypsy Dance
8. Alexey Kruglov & Jaak Sooaar Trio - The Battle
9. Anrzej Przybielski & Oles Brothers - Guru
10. Jorgos Skolias & Bronislaw Duzy - Zeimbekiko
11. Keith Jarrett Trio - Free Fade

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Jorgos Skolias & Bronek Duzy at Harris (07.05)

I don't venture too often to Harris Piano Jazz Bar which is usually a mainstream (jazz, blues, fusion) venue. But on the other hand there's little or nothing mainstream about this duo - voice and trombone, nor in the instruemental setting, nor in the material and the execution.
Jorgos Skolias and Bronislawa Duzy (with the help of Jorgos's son Antonis on the drums in the 2nd set) create a musical that is mutli-ethnic, multi-lingual (as Jorgos sings mixing polish, english, suahili or greek) yet universal in its nature. Whether it's dynamic take on Jimi Henrix's "Foxy Lady" or emotional folk-like song "Imema" the music created by this duo is deep and coulurfull. Both Jorgos and Bronislaw use two microphones -one with natural sound, the other with an electronic feedback effect on it, but it doesn't take away the fact that their are bare and exposed and every little detail of their playing is audible. Bronislaw use extensively harmonic sound on trombone (thus stating both the melodic and harmonic base of the song) and Jorgos treats his voice in a very instrumental way, takes extensive solos (quite often humorous), experiments with his timbre, with folk, roots vocal techniques (ethno scat if you'd like to find a catchy name for it). 
In the meantime Jorgos keeps the dialogue with the audience vivid and joyful, which only makes the music more accessible and enjoyable, while mantaining a spiritual ethos of those songs. I've seen this duo a couple of times and while I'd like to hear more new material, they are quite unique, creating a musical message on their own. Recommended

Jorgos Skolias - voice, small percussion objects
Bronislaw Duzy - trombone
Antonis Skolias - drums

Harris Piano Jazz Bar. Krakow. 07.05.2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

Andrzej Przybielski & Oles Brothers - De Profundis [Fenommedia]

Andrzej Przybielski - trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet, pocket trumpet
Marcin Oles - double bass
Bartlomiej Brat Oles - drums

Fenommedia 2011

The significance of some releases transcends the music. Such is this case. This cd is, and will be, the last one recorded by Andrzej Przybielski. A true artist if there ever was one, legendary if somewhat obscure character of polish jazz, always underrecorded, never caring much about publicity, recording deals. Hero of whole ton of anectodes, unpredictable musician who would thrive in improvised situations, didn't like the recording studio, hated rehearsals, didn't care about the 'professional' side of music making but lived as freely as free was the music he loved.
Here he's introduced by a Oles brothers rhythm section as they share in the liner notes some the experiences they had with Andrzej Przybielski. He played as a guest with their first band - Custom trio, he recorded with them the first ever session as a leader (released as "Abstract" on Not Two in 2005, he was 61 at that point!). It was his wish to record this concert, while Oles brothers hoped to do a studio session to present Przybielski's new compositions. This, unfortunately, will never be done.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

RED Trio & Keir Neuringer at Alchemia (04.05)

Because of other obbligations I couldn't arrive at Alchemia around 8 pm to see the whole concert, but as soon as I was free I run to the place hoping to catch at least the final moments of the evening. I consulted the timetable afterwards and it turned out I was just a couple minutes late for the 2nd set, and was immediately surprised - as I could hear clearly (however unnaturally high screaming it was) sound of a saxophone. And surprise was even greater when I saw it was Keir Neuringer, whom I praised recently for his playing with Rafal Mazur (here).
I haven't took any notes so here's just some quick summary before I forget what I wanted to write:
The 2nd set consisted of two extended improvisation, and it was a great display of powef of communication - the interplay between the trio players is clear, their synergy almost visible, but to add one completely unknown element to this mixture and mantain the ability of such drammatic narration is absolutely stunning. The quartet, with a very much ensemble and democratic playing, would move through dark and eerie landscapes, at ease creating new build-ups and sudden collapses. Within a limited frame of notes that would resonance forever they were able to create feeling of space that is both open and frightening. There were some wild and raw energy exchanges, other moments would remind of Cage's piano interludes fragile, beauty (repetitive phrases on prepared piano), most of the time they'd stay somewhere in the no man's land, those mysterious moments in which you know that the storm is coming, when the tension underlying the playing is much more powerfull device of expression than the storm itself. As if they were following Alfred Hitchcock's recipes for suspense.
The great news is that the 2nd set was recorded. Can't wait to hear it again. Dark, gripping, powerful stuff.

RED trio
Rodrigo Pinheiro - piano
Hernani Faustino - double bass
Gabriel Ferrandini - drums
Keir Neuringer - alto saxophone (2nd set only, which incidentally was the only one I could have see)

Alchemia; Krakow. 04.05.2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Alexey Kruglov & Jaak Sooaar Trio - Karate [Leo]

Alexey Kruglov - alto sax, soprano sax, bassethorn, recorder, declamation
Jaak Sooaar - guitar, live electronics
Mihkel Malgand - double bass
Tanel Ruben - drums

Leo Records 2011

Could be simply the fact that I didn't follow the subject close enough, but a lot of very promising new music is coming our way from Eastern Europe, often via polish jazz-soil as a bridge (Mark Tokar, Ilia Belorukov). Obviously it's no news to Leo Feign as Leo Records introduced western audiences to a considerable number of artists coming from post Soviet Union countries, starting a long time ago with the famous Ganellin Trio. Alexey Kruglov is a mojor discovery (it's his third cd for Leo in just a year) and not only a continuator of Ganellin Trio tradition (he has played with all three members of the trio) but also one of the main figures of Moscow improvising scene.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Free Jazz Alchemist Radio with James Brown

Due to the long weekend the studio is closed tonight but from archive vaults a program dedicated to James Brown (aired on 04.05.2009 originally) and funk element in free jazz will be played :) whole lotta funky fun. Tune in to www.radiofrycz.pl at 8pm CET. 

Playlist will be posted here:
1. Dragons 1976 - Drifting (the day the program was aired Trioton with Aram Shelton was playing at Krakow)
2. Lester Bowie Brass Fantasy - Papa's got a brand new bag
3. William Parker Octet - We people darker than blue (from Inside songs of Curtis Mayfield which was about to play a concert in Warsaw)
4. Albert Beger. William Parker, Hamid Drake - Funky Lacy
5. Kris Wanders Unit - Continual Derangement (about to play a concert in Krakow)
6. Mitch & Mitch - Frankkus's Dilemma (the same :), that was a good spring)
7. Spaceways Inc. - Red Hot Mama /Super Stupid
8. Sex Mob - Please, Please, Please
9. James Brown - Papa's got a brand new bag / I got You (I feel good) / I got the feelin'
10. Dee Dee Bridgewater - Sex Machine
11. William Parker Quartet - Groove
12. Liquid Soul - Ramblin'
13. William Parker Raining on the moon - Music Song
14. William Parker Raining on the moon - Watermelon
15. Ray Anderson Big Band - Don't Mow Your Lawn
16. William Parker / Hamid Drake - Never Run But Go part 2 (from trio cd with Peter Brotzmann)
17. William Parker / Hamid Drake - Black Cherry
18. Jason Adasiewicz - Rolldown