AMN Picks of the Week: Reid Karris / Rodrigo Amado / Lamia Vox

Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended.

Reid Karris – Ambiens Sonitus (2014)
Rodrigo Amado / Motion Trio / Peter Evans – The Freedom Principle (2014)
Rodrigo Amado / Motion Trio / Peter Evans – Live in Lisbon (2014)
Rodrigo Amado – Wire Quartet (2014)
Lamia Vox – Inlumaeh (EP) (2014)

AMN Reviews: Ross Martin / Max Johnson / Jeff Davis – Big Eyed Rabbit (2014; Not Two Records)

coverNew York bassist Max Johnson is back with a new trio for his third release of this year.  Big Eyed Rabbit features Johnson, as well as Ross Martin on electric guitar and Jeff Davis on drums.  Despite Johnson and Davis being more known for left-of-center New York jazz, their teamup here with Martin is actually a bluegrass recording.  And listening to this release will help drive home the difference between “bluegrass” and “country” – the latter closer to pop and the former more soulful.

Martin’s guitar sets the mood for this release, as he picks through covers and originals. At times the melodies are catchy, though the atmosphere is that of haunted Appalachia. For instance, Cluck Old Hen and Poughkeepsie Ridge are both tuneful and foreboding in their own ways. Without Martin’s playing being what it is here, I don’t think the loose label of bluegrass would apply at all.

As for the other tracks, Brown County Breakdown is almost a dance tune, though with a rhythm too disjoint for that activity. One of My Happiness is mostly upbeat, though with a sadistically complex bass line. Fisherman’s Footlocker follows in suit, while My Last Days on Earth is slow, noisy, and free.

Genre-bending can be hit or miss. Big Eyed Rabbit is not exactly jazz…not exactly country…not hillbilly music. Instead, it is bluegrass informed by modern free improv and stellar musicianship. Martin, Johnson, and Davis hit this bent genre out of the park. A remarkable effort that goes places not expected.

Free Jazz Blog Reviews

Joe McPhee
Cover of Joe McPhee

From Free Jazz:

Primitive Arkestra – Dolphy’s Hat (Slam Productions, 2014) *
Paul Flaherty and Randall Colbourne – Ironic Havoc (Relative Pitch, 2014) ****
Ben Bennett and Jack Wright – Tangle (Public Eyesore, 2014) ****
Peter Evans & Raleigh Dailey – Measures from Zero (Llama, 2014) ****
Brandon Ross & Stomu Takeishi – Revealing Essence (Sunnyside, 2014) ***½
Bogan Ghost – Zerfall (Relative Ptich, 2014) ****
Massimo de Mattia 4et – Hypermodern (Rudi, 2014) ****½
Joe McPhee – Nation Time: The Complete Recordings (1969-70) CD box set (Corbett vs. Dempsey, 2013) *****
Joe McPhee – The CjR Years 1969-1974 (Bo’ Weavil, 2014)
Russ Johnson – Meeting Point (Relay, 2014) ****
Jason Ajemian – A Way A Land Of Life (No Business, 2014) ****
Arktis/Air – en-trance (Wire Globe/Zach Records, 2013) ****½

New England Conservatory Jazz and Classical 2014-15 Season

Anthony Coleman
Cover of Anthony Coleman

Selections from the New England Conservatory‘s upcoming season:

New England Conservatory’s Jazz Studies & Contemporary Improvisation Departments Present Nearly 100 Free Performances for 2014-2015 Season

Fall 2014

Concerts at 8 p.m. except where noted. In the Mix events take place at 7, 8 and 9 p.m., each with a different ensemble.

Tuesday, September 2 – Opening Night – Brown Hall
7:30 pm Join NEC’s groundbreaking Contemporary Improvisation Department in kicking off the academic year with a concert featuring CI faculty and teaching fellows, including Hankus Netsky (Chair), Eden MacAdam-Somer (Assistant Chair), Ran Blake (Chair Emeritus), Mal Barsamian, Cristi Catt, Linda Chase, Anthony Coleman, Dominique Eade, Nima Janmohammadi, Tanya Kalmanovitch, Carla Kihlstedt, Jerry Leake, Amir Milstein, Joe Morris, Nedelka Prescod, Ted Reichman, Peter Row, Bert Seager, and David Zoffer.

8 p.m. Eden MacAdam-Somer is one of the most exciting and versatile young musicians performing today. Hailed by the New York Times as reflecting “astonishing virtuosity and raw expression,” her music transcends genre through soaring violin, sweet vocals, and percussive dance, weaving in and out of the many cultures that have formed her experience. Tonight’s program features “duos” for one, two, or more musicians, with some of Eden’s newest compositions, inspired by her recent travels to Afghanistan and Italy, as well as works by Charles Ives, Thelonious Monk, and Alan Ridout. She will be joined by special guests, including noir artist extraordinaire Ran Blake and NEC’s President Tony Woodcock.

Thursday, September 18 – Workshop: Evan Parker – Pierce Hall
3 – 5 p.m. A pioneer of free improvisation, Evan Parker is considered to be one of the most influential saxophonists in the Post-Coltrane era. Since the late 1960s he has remained a dynamic and innovative voice who has expanded the range of his instrument and the expressive possibilities of improvised music.

Tuesday, September 23 – Masterclass: John Hollenbeck and Claudia Quintet – Brown Hall
6:30 – 8 p.m. – Widely acclaimed as a composer, conceptualist, drummer and percussionist, Hollenbeck brings his fresh, eclectic, forward-thinking and vibrant musical ideas to NEC in this masterclass with his Claudia Quintet.

Tuesday, September 30 – Masterclass with Vijay Iyer and Jason Moran – Williams Hall
4 p.m

Thursday, October 2 – The Music of Dave Holland – Brown Hall
Visiting artist-in-residence legendary bassist/composer Holland will lead NEC students in a performance of his music.

Monday, October 6 – Fred Hersch Masterclass – Pierce Hall
3 p.m. – Jazz pianist, composer and NEC faculty member/alum Fred Hersch will present a masterclass for NEC students. Hersch’s most recent CD Floating, a studio recording with his trio, is earning rave reviews.

Thursday, October 16 – The Music of George Russell – Jordan Hall
NEC Jazz Orchestra conducted by Ben Schwendener.
NEC faculty member Schwendener will lead the NEC Jazz Orchestra in a program featuring excerpts from several of George Russell’s most ambitious works: “Listen to the Silence,” “Vertical Form,” and “The African Game.” The concert will include two of Russell’s best-known compositions, “All About Rosie” and “Ezzthetic,” as well as “La Folia,” a piece co-composed by Schwendener and Russell. Russell taught at NEC for some 35 years and for many of those, students in the NEC Jazz Orchestra worked with Russell to prepare an end-of-semester concert of his music. Through coachings and rehearsals, they were exposed to Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Concept and his Vertical Form approach to composition, which demanded a high level of alertness and intuition from soloing players.

Tuesday, November 4 – Fred Hersch Masterclass – Pierce Hall
3 p.m.

Tuesday, November 4 – The Music of John Zorn: A 35-year Retrospective – Jordan Hall
7 p.m. – Pre-Concert Q & A with John Zorn.
8 p.m. – Concert.
Curated by John Zorn and Anthony Coleman, the concert, sponsored by NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation Department, will include NEC’s faculty, students and ensembles. Repertoire will be drawn from a wide variety of Zorn projects including Masada, Naked City, string trios, recent chamber compositions, madrigals, as well as his iconic game pieces. During the concert, NEC president Tony Woodcock with present Zorn with an Honorary Degree.

Monday, November 17 – Jazz Composers Ensemble – Brown Hall
Jorrit Dijkstra coaches performances by NEC jazz students of their own


Concerts at 8 p.m. except where noted. In the Mix events take place at 7, 8 and 9 p.m., each with a different ensemble.

Thursday, February 26 – The Music of Ken Schaphorst and John Medeski – Jordan Hall
The NEC Jazz Orchestra conducted by Ken Schaphorst performs music by Schaphorst and keyboardist and NEC alum John Medeski.

Thursday, April 16 – The Music of Gil Evans and Duke Ellington – Jordan Hall
Ken Schaphorst conducts the NEC Jazz Orchestra