RIP Geri Allen

English: Geri Allen, taken in Brooklyn, NY.

Sad news as Geri Allen has passed away.

In addition to her varied and commanding work as a leader, Allen made her mark as a venturesome improviser on notable albums with the saxophonist-composers Ornette Coleman, Oliver Lake, Steve Coleman and Charles Lloyd; drummer Ralph Peterson, Jr.; bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Paul Motian; and many others. Her recent collaborations with drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, in separate trios featuring bassist Esperanza Spalding and tenor saxophonist David Murray, found her in a ceaselessly exploratory mode, probing new harmonic expanses and dynamic arcs.

AMN Reviews: Magma – Ẁurdah Ïtah (Remaster) (2017; Seventh Records)

Magma has slowly been traversing its back catalog over the last several years, remastering its older and classic releases. Ẁurdah Ïtah is the latest of such efforts.

The album was initially released under Christian Vander‘s name as the soundtrack to Yvan Lagrange’s film Tristan et Iseult. It consisted of Vander on vocals, piano, and percussion, his wife Stella Vander on vocals, Klaus Blasquiz also on vocals, and Yannick Top on bass. About 15 years later, it was re-released as a Magma album and is considered to be the second part of the band’s Theusz Hamtaahk Trilogy. The stripped-down lineup provided a sparser, yet still distinctive, representation of Christian Vander’s compositional style. Notably, the phrasing is forceful and Wagnerian, but in a chamber rather than orchestral sense. Thus, this is perhaps the least jazz-oriented of any early Magma effort, though liberal use of overdubs makes Ẁurdah Ïtah sound bigger than its quartet.

So, how does this remaster compare to the original? Overall it is clearer, in that it is easier for the listener to focus on each individual instrument.  This is particularly noticeable for Stella Vander’s vocals, which often get buried in the original mix. Also, a muddiness present in the rhythm section tracks is gone. The result is a punchier, more distinctive mix that allows the listener to further appreciate subtle instrumental interplay.

Perhaps most importantly, this remaster includes 25 minutes of unreleased material entitled Ẁurdah Ïtah Prima Materia. Recorded in early 1972, this single track served as the demo for the album.  Even more sparse than the 1974 recording, and without Stella Vander, the focus is on the male vocals (overdubbed), piano, and bass.  Percussion is mostly absent and when present drums are replaced by shakers and other more subtle instrumentation. The vocal phrasing diverges a bit from that of the formal album, as Vander and Blasquiz seem less sure of the words, slurring them from time to time. Some might think that enunciation doesn’t matter when one is singing in Kobaian, but it does make a notable difference.

While not absolutely essential, 2017’s Ẁurdah Ïtah is recommended for both collectors and more casual fans. The former will appreciate the raw energy of the demos, while the later will find much to like in the remix.

Wadada Leo Smith and Mary Halvorson Big Winners in DownBeat Poll

English: Mary Halvorson, Jazz guitarist; Pictu...

Source: DownBeat News.

Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and guitarist Mary Halvorson are among the artists who topped multiple categories in the 65th Annual DownBeat International Critics Poll.

Smith topped the Trumpet category, he was voted Jazz Artist of the Year, and his Cuneiform release America’s National Parks was voted Jazz Album of the Year.

“Decades into his remarkable career, Wadada Leo Smith continues to reach new peaks,” said Bobby Reed, DownBeat editor. “America’s National Parks is an engaging, important work of art—one that illustrates not only that Wadada is a great musician but also an intriguing, ambitious conceptualist.”

Halvorson topped four categories: Guitar, Rising Star–Jazz Artist, Rising Star–Jazz Group (for her namesake trio) and Rising Star–Composer. Halvorson, who has become an in-demand collaborator as well as a revered bandleader, will headline a residency at New York’s Village Vanguard on July 18–23.

5049 Records Podcast Episode 120 – Matt Nelson

Source: 5049 Records.

Matt Nelson plays tenor sax and has been living in Brooklyn since 2010. Raised in the Bay Area, he has worked with tUNEyARDS, Peter Evans, Travis Laplante and his newest project, GRID. He attended Oberlin College and Conservatory to study with Gary Bartz and Paul Cohen, among others. For this talk we cover a lot of ground, from sax/electronics aesthetics to wearing a suit to a jazz gig. Good shit.

June Point of Departure Released

Source: Point of Departure.

Page One: a column by Bill Shoemaker

Mark Dresser: New Sounds, New Platforms: an interview with Troy Collins

The Book Cooks:
Claude Ranger: Canadian Jazz Legend
Mark Miller
(Mark Miller; Toronto 2017)

Ezzthetics: a column by Stuart Broomer

The Art of Conduction: A Conduction Workbook: a review by Taylor Ho Bynum

Jumpin’ In: a column by Greg Buium

Moment’s Notice: Reviews of Recent Recordings

Musique Machine Reviews

Source: Musique Machine.

The Westerlies – The Westerlies
Angelic Foe – Mother Of Abominations
Robert W. Chambers – The Yellow Sign
The Chap – The Show Must Go
Doctors Of Madness – Perfect Past- The Complete Doctors Of Madness
Roger Döring and Konrad Korabiewski – Komplex

Creative Music Studio Changes Hands at a Critical Moment for Jazz 

Source: The New York Times.

Mr. Berger and his wife, the vocalist Ingrid Sertso, have been holding C.M.S. workshops since the early 1970s. They founded the organization in Woodstock as a haven for expressionist improvising and cross-pollination between global musical cultures. With a year-round educational program, C.M.S. became a beloved creative breeding ground two hours north of New York City. But by the late 1980s, with grant funding drying up, it was virtually defunct.

In the past five years, though, life has flooded back into the organization thanks to the efforts of a new executive director, Rob Saffer, and a network of C.M.S. veterans who have happily come out of the woodwork. Sensing a new chapter, Mr. Berger and Ms. Sertso have decided that it is time to pass the artistic reins to new hands.