AMN Reviews: Jessica Ackerley – A New Kind of Water (2019; Bandcamp)

Guitarist Jessica Ackerley returns with her sophomore effort, A New Kind of Water. This time around, she leads a quartet including Sarah Manning on alto sax, Mat Muntz on bass, and Stephen Boegehold on drums. But similar to her debut, Coalesce, this group provides a rich, detailed, and often understated set of tracks.

The addition of Manning, if anything, accentuates Ackerley’s outside tendencies. Manning’s melodies include long-held notes and discordant leads, with staccato lines that blend well with Ackerley’s strumming and picking. The two women trade leads in a collaborative and non-showy fashion, with Ackerley’s clean electric notes also serving as a counter-rhythm to the bass and drums. But where this album shines is when the four head down less structured paths. While not exactly freely improvised, these more open-ended sections are subtle and frequently quiet. The listener is occupied by expectations of unusual notes and patterns, while tension builds until being released by another solo. On the other hand, Ackerley’s composed themes are interspersed throughout, and tend to be labyrinthine and tangled. But just when you think you have her modus operandi figured out, a twisted piece with a walking bass line will make you wonder whether that is the case.

The result is an endearingly unclassifiable mix of indeterminacy and pattern, restraint and liberation, and intellect and emotion. Like so many people in modern creative music circles in this era, Ackerley and company are completely comfortable in between multiple genres. And that, along with stellar musicianship and writing, is what makes A New Kind of Water so compelling.

AMN Reviews: Keith Fullerton Whitman – STS (2019; Bandcamp)

Two caveats to this review. One is that STS is a set of recordings from sound installations, and as such is missing the extra dimension of space – being able to control the mix of channels as you move about the installation. Second is that the release of STS contains several hours of sounds, and this review focuses on a 28-minute excerpt posted for free download. But spot-checking the excerpt against the official release suggests that the former is reasonably representative of the latter. So, onward.

Keith Fullerton Whitman is a sound designer and musician who has poked around the edges of synthesized and generative experimental music for better than 20 years. When listening to his output, you get a sense of controlled improvisation. He isn’t just noodling about, but instead is executing a master plan known only to him. He is process-oriented, and describes his technique as “the mapping of the frequency spectra of time-aligned formants to a catalog of full-range synthesizer signals yield[ing] a warm, attenuated field of sustained sound that ebbs through each space at a modest volume, inviting the listener to dwell on individual timbres, phrases, and conversations while assessing the overall sound-field.”

STS features layered drones, with varying degrees of harshness, fading in and out or moving from speaker to speaker. These constituent parts resemble everything from soft synth waves to grinding walls and sharp feedback, and each has its own character and texture. Typically at least two or three of these voices are present at any point in time. Similarities exist between STS and the musique concrète of INA-GRM in Paris (in fact, Whitman studied there for a while), but this would be more of a drone-based cousin to that loose style. Overall, this particular recording of STS is a baleful and moody amalgam that populates various points on the emotional spectrum from spooked to menacing high-tech horror (but avoiding any sudden transitions or jump scares).

Upcoming Myra Melford Performances

Source: Myra Melford .

September 11, 2019
9:30 pm The Jazz Standard
New York, USA Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom

September 13, 2019
8:30 pm The Stone
New York City, USA MZM

September 15, 2019
City of Asylum
Alphabet City, PA, USA Nicole Mitchel and Myra Melford with Poets, Jazz Poetry Festival

September 16, 2019
Experimental Sound Studio
Chicago, IL, USA Solo Piano

September 19 – 20, 2019
Guadalajara, Mexico Dialogue

September 21 – 22, 2019
Mexico City, Mexico Dialogue

September 28, 2019
7:00 pm Night Club
Monterey, CA, USA Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom at the Monterey Jazz Festival

October 2, 2019
Berkeley, CA, USA Trio: Fay Victor, Lisa Mezzacappa Myra Melford

October 3, 2019
The Poetry Center at the Center For New Music
San Francisco, CA, USA Fay Victor, Myra Melford

October 6, 2019
SF Music Day, War Memorial Building
San Francisco, CA, USA Trio: Fay Victor, Lisa Mezzcappa, Myra Melford

October 10, 2019
6:00 pm Western Front Society
Vancouver, BC, Canada Fay Victor/Myra Melford

October 12, 2019
Seattle, WA, USA Fay Victor/Myra Melford

October 17, 2019
8:00 pm Edgefest
Ann Arbor, MI, USA Melford/Golia/Bruckmann Trio

October 17, 2019
9:00 pm Edgefest
Ann Arbor, MI, USA Myra Melford performs her composition with UM Creative Arts Orchestra

October 26, 2019
BRIC JazzFest 2019
Brooklyn, NY, USA Snowy Egret

Frank Rosaly and Rob Clearfield Interviewed on Creative Jazz in Europe

Source: Chicago Reader.

When avant-garde jazz drummer Frank Rosaly moved from Chicago to Amsterdam in 2016, he did it for love, not to further his musical career. But on the professional front, Europe has always treated him well. He entered Chicago’s improvised-music scene in 2001 and watched the rise and growth of new concert series here, but it wasn’t until he started touring Europe in 2003 that he began performing for larger audiences.

Chicago-raised pianist Rob Clearfield similarly found bigger stages on European tours, and this year he moved to Paris, drawn by its strong jazz scene and renown as an arts mecca. He’d spent his whole life in Chicago and felt like it was time to experience somewhere else.