AMN Reviews: Three Eyed Makara – Moonmilk Roof (2017; Crow Versus Crow)

Moonmilk Roof might be what you would get if you had a modern version of Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza with a bit of psychedelia mixed in – an information-rich slab of shifting tectonics built upon free improvisation. Irish collective Three Eyed Makara revolves around Natalia Beylis (electronics) and Willie Stewart (assorted percussion). This recording also includes Ailbhe Nic Oireachtaigh (viola) and Djuna Keen (saxophone). The album is only about 33 minutes long but packs quite a bit of atmosphere and musical density across its three tracks.

Heavy emphasis is on rattling, pseudo-rhythmic percussion underneath walls and wails from the electronics, viola, and sax. The result is a burbling witches cauldron of disjointed motifs and drones that never seems to slow down or repeat. Moonmilk Roof was intended to evoke a primeval landscape with battling fauna. Regardless of theme, it stands on its own as an excellent example of small-group improv sounding much bigger than the sum of its parts.

AMN Reviews: Max Johnson – In The West (2017; Clean Feed)

Take New York bassist Max Johnson, add Kris Davis on piano, Susan Alcorn on pedal steel guitar, with Mike Pride on drums, and you have the makings of a supergroup. On In The West, under Johnson’s leadership, this quartet of improvisers and innovators outdoes themselves – and that’s saying a lot.

Despite the album title and cover, there is no distinct western feel, despite a bit of twang from Alcorn. The four tracks, ranging in length from 7 to 21 minutes, instead are a cohesive showcase of the current creative music scene.

Ten Hands features Davis banging out a short Brubeck-styled theme and reprise as part of a much larger rhythm-driven improvisation. Johnson and Pride are in top form, with both demonstrating how to be active and unpredictable simultaneously. A good portion of this track is collective improvisation, with Johnson switching between picking and using a bow, Alcorn twisting notes, and Pride rattling away.

Greenwood begins with a free section before Davis leads the group in a more structured direction. Alcorn joins in this role, while Johnson and Pride provide atmosphere and fill in the empty spots. Eventually, this builds to Davis and Alcorn providing dense, rapid clusters of notes over a disjointed base.

The trend continues on Great Big Fat Person, with Davis and Alcorn setting forth angular melodies while improvising off of one another. Pride contributes busy, non-repetitive efforts. Alcorn’s speed picking, in particular, adds color to this piece. Eventually, Davis brings the group back to Earth with a repeating downtempo theme.

Once Upon a Time in the West manages to be the most evocative track of the bunch, combining a haunting, pastoral feel with industrial elements (the latter supplied by Pride’s cymbals). There is a heavy emphasis on extended techniques and spontaneous structure rather than melody or harmony, though those elements sneak in from time to time. Being the longest track, the quartet has plenty of room to stretch and explore at a deliberate pace.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of In The West is that Johnson, as the ostensible leader, does not dominate. The album does not come across as a bass player’s solo effort, though it does reflect Johnson’s penchant for subtle complexity. Instead, if I had been told that it was a leaderless recording, I would be none the wiser.

In The West is a rich offering from four musicians at their prime, and an easy album of the year candidate. Bravo.

Luke Stewart Interview and Profile

Source: Jazz Right Now.

Luke Stewart has emerged as one of the most exciting young bassists on the improvised music scene on the east coast. Based in Washington, DC, he plays regularly in New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, and has toured in Europe. He has gained considerable exposure playing with the James Brandon Lewis Trio and he also leads or co-leads his own projects including Ancestral Duo with Jamal Moore and Heart of the Ghost with Ian McColm and Jarrett Gilgore. As a solo artist, he has composed a series of improvisational structures forupright bass and amplifier, utilizing the resonant qualities of the instrument to explore new sounds. He has also been integral to the literary jazz group Heroes Are Gang Leaders.

Seattle Scene: July 27 – August 4, 2017

From Seattle’s Wayward Music Series:


Chapel Performance Space at Good Shepherd Center

4th Floor, 4649 Sunnyside Ave. N, Seattle 98103 (corner N 50th St. in Wallingford)

Every month, Nonsequitur and a community of like-minded presenters and artists offer ten concerts of adventurous music in an informal yet respectful all-ages setting: contemporary classical, free improvisation, the outer limits of jazz, electronic music, microtonal/new instruments, sound art, and other extraordinary sonic experiences.

Earshot’s 2nd C.: Greg Belisle-Chi
Thu. July 27, 8 PM; $5 – $15 at the door

Earshot’s Jazz: the 2nd Century series concludes with guitarist/composer Gregg Belisle-Chi’s Book of Hours project. Three years ago he set out to write a full, five-movement Mass using instruments instead of voices, allowing room for improvisation and a guitar solo. For this revised quartet version he’s joined by stellar local musicians Daniel Salka (keyboards), Mark Hunter (bass), and Thomas Campbell (drums).

Wed. Aug 2, 8 PM; $5 – $15 at the door

Scrape is a conductor-less string orchestra with harp and guitar that performs within a blend of jazz and classical traditions. Scrape plays the music of Jim Knapp and features improvising guitarist Gregg Belisle-Chi, bassist Chris Symer, and guest soloist Mark Taylor with guest composer Toni McGowan and vocalist Chérie Hughes. Concertmaster Heather Bentley guides us through the night without a conductor in sight.

Thea Farhadian + Ewa Trębacz
Thu. Aug. 3, 8 PM; $5 – $15 at the door

Thea Farhadian (SF/Berlin) works primarily with free improvisation, and live electronic processing using Max/MSP software, integrating extended techniques, microtonality, and sound-based material. Ewa Trębacz is a Polish-American composer currently working as a Research Scientist at the UW’s DXARTS. Tonight she presents three works, two in collaboration with French horn player Josiah Boothby.

Gretchen Yanover
Fri. Aug 4, 8 PM; $5 – $15 at the door

Locally grown Seattle cellist Gretchen Yanover celebrates the release of her third album, Bridge Across Sound with a solo concert. Using her electric cello and loop sampler, Gretchen builds her compositions in the moment. String layers create a nuanced landscape, with melodies that map the heart.

The Free Jazz Collective Reviews

Source: The Free Jazz Collective.

William Parker, Cooper-Moore, Hamid Drake, and Rob Brown @ Shapeshifter Lab July 12, 2017

Colin Stetson – All This I Do For Glory (52HZ, 2017) ***

Christian Lillinger/Tobias Delius – Dicht (Relative Pitch, 2017) ****

Hear In Now – Not Living in Fear (International Anthem, 2017) *****

Nick Mazzarella & Tomeka Reid – Signaling (Nessa, 2017) ****½

Trespass Trio – The Spirit of Pitesti (Clean Feed, 2017) ****½

Küchen & Müntzing Scheibenhonig ‎– Rop På Hjälp (Inexhaustiable Editions, 2015) ***½

Martin Küchen / Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga ‎– Bauchredner (Cathnor Recordings, 2015) ***½

Amina Baraka & the Red Microphone (ESP-Disk, 2017) ****

Monumental Late Piece by Composer Roland Kayn Set for Debut Release 

Source: The Wire.

A lost magnum opus of electronic music is set for its first ever release this autumn. A Little Electronic Milky Way Of Sound is a late work by the composer Roland Kayn – a former member of the groundbreaking Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, who went on to forge his own style of cybernetic music – which is one huge piece running to almost 14 hours and spanning tape music, musique concrète and electronic and electroacoustic sounds.