The Free Jazz Collective Reviews

Source: The Free Jazz Collective.

Ilia Belorukov & Vasco Trilla – Laniakea (Astral Spirits, 2019) ***½

Nick Mazzarella Trio – Counterbalance (Astral Spirits, 2019) *****

Sean Ali, Leila Bordreuil, Joanna Mattrey – I Used To Sing So Lyrical (Astral Spirits, 2019) ****

Astral Spirits – Upcoming Releases

Keefe Jackson / Benjamin Vergara / Jim Baker / Phil Sudderberg – The Hallowed Plant (Relative Pitch, 2018) ****

The Madness of Tom Ward

Jazzfest Berlin 2019

The Best Jazz on Bandcamp: October 2019 

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

In a year in which I’ve repeatedly said, “This is one of the very best things to be released in 2019,” I keep finding new reasons to say it yet again. And as a testament to the enduring strength of the current generation of jazz musicians, two of this month’s featured artists (Yazz Ahmed and Jaimie Branch) were responsible for the two best albums of 2017, and Chris Lightcap released the best album of 2015. And that’s not even diving into the impact Mantana Roberts, Matt Ulery, Tomeka Reid and the Bad Plus have had on the shape of jazz today. What I’m getting at here is that: Yes, 2019 is truly a special year in new releases, but the musicians who are cementing that designation have been putting their stamp on the scene for years now

Satoko Fujii on Tour in Europe 

Source: Satoko Fujii.

The pianist, composer, and bandleader Satoko Fujii will embark on a five-concert European tour Friday, November 15 – Friday November 22. The first stop features the Satoko Fujii Orchestra, followed by two performances with bassist Joe Fonda and a show by Wandering the Sound Quintet. The week-long stint wraps up with a solo concert by Fujii.

∙ Friday, November 15 – Satoko Fujii with Orchestra. Am I Jazz? Festival, Kiev, Ukraine.

∙ Saturday, November 16 – Satoko Fujii, piano and Joe Fonda, bass. 9:30 p.m. Festiwal Jazz Jantar, Gdansk, Poland.

∙ Sunday, November 17 – Satoko Fujii, piano and Joe Fonda, bass. Krakow Jazz Autumn 2019, Alchemia, Krakow, Poland.

∙ Monday, November 18 – Wandering the Sound Quintet. Krakow Jazz Autumn 2019. With Fujii, bassist Rafal Mazur, clarinetist Guillermo Gregorio, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, drummer Ramon Lopez.

∙ Friday, November 22 – Solo piano concert. Handelsbeurs, Ghent, Belgium.–atomic.

Upcoming Sound It Out! Performances

Source: NY’s Sound It Out!

Thursday December 5, 7:30pm — Francisco Mela’s MTP Trio w/ special guest Cooper-Moore

Double-bill: Wendy Eisenberg, solo guitar + Devin Gray’s GPS Trio w/ Devin Gray, drums; Chris Pitsiokos, alto saxophone; Luke Stewart, double-bass

Ever-evolving drummer-composer Devin Gray — who played the second show in the Sound It Out series back in 2012 and has come back many times since as a leader and sideman —returns to the Greenwich House stage to celebrate the release of the first album with his trio featuring saxophonist Chris Pitsiokos and bassist Luke Stewart. About Devin’s art, Jazzwise magazine has said: “A musician-drummer rather than a drummer-drummer, Gray is interested in making music that is deeply evocative… shaped by a fizzing, often restless push-pull energy.”

Reflecting on his new trio, Devin says: “When I think about Chris and Luke as players and improvisers, I’m drawn to the energy of life that they bring to each of their deeply personal sounds. The trio recording we’ve made — due out via my Rataplan label at the end of November — is something that I’ve been working toward for years, in terms of the dynamic between the three of us. To me, it sounds very much like music of today, like the modern life we all live, that odd mix of the comfortable and the uncomfortable, if you know what I mean. These guys are totally real — and that’s the sort of energy that I, as a drummer and composer, always strive to channel. I’m excited to share our music — not only with the new record but what we do live, which always feels special to me.”

Thursday December 19, 8:00pm — Michael Formanek’s Very Practical Trio

Michael Formanek’s Very Practical Trio w/ Michael Formanek, double-bass; Tim Berne, alto saxophone; Mary Halvorson, guitar

Bassist-composer Michael Formanek’s Very Practical Trio — featuring saxophonist Tim Berne and guitarist Mary Halvorson — returns to the Sound It Out series for the final show of 2019, celebrating the Intakt release of Even Better, the trio’s first album together. Michael, a longtime Sound It Out favorite, scored three consecutive five-star reviews in DownBeat for his previous albums on ECM, and The New York Times has described his music as “graceful in its subversions, even sumptuous.” Jazzwise has praised Tim’s art as being “suffused with genuine humanity and more than a little wisdom,” while the Wall Street Journal called Mary “one of the most exciting and original guitarists in jazz — or otherwise.” The music of Even Better conveys Michael’s special sense of instrumental song. “It may not be what comes to mind for some people when you say the word ‘song,’ but it’s a personal idea of song for me,” he explains. “I conceived the compositions as cohesive, song-like structures, with a lyrical quality — not just head/solo/head in the usual jazz way. The pieces aren’t overly arranged, but the improvisations do spin out of the material of the songs and then go back into it. I think this record really brings out the tuneful nature in everyone’s playing.” DownBeat gave Even Better a glowing review, declaring the album “gorgeous.”
Tickets: $20 ($15 students/seniors)

Big Ears Festival Expanded Lineup Announced

Source: Big Ears Festival. More acts added to this March festival.


Performance & Literary Program


THEREMIN NOIR with Rob Schwimmer / Uri Caine / Mark Feldman

The Big Ears lineup has expanded to include the 100th anniversary of the invention of the Theremin, where Theramin master Rob Schwimmer will lead a trio featuring pianist Uri Caine and violinist Mark Feldman in a concert marking the 20th anniversary and recent release of their collaboration, Theremin Noir.

Montreal’s post-rock chamber ensemble Bell Orchestre, featuring Arcade Fire members Sarah Neufeld and Richard Reed Parry, will make their Big Ears debut on the heels of a long-awaited new recording. Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O’Halloran’s A Winged Victory for the Sullen return to Big Ears with a stunningly beautiful new recording, The Undivided Five, inspired by the mystic Swedish painter, Hilma af Klint.

Chicago’s groundbreaking chamber ensemble Dal Niente will be joined by saxophone virtuoso Ken Vandermark, performing music written for them by Roscoe Mitchell, along with works by Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, and others contemporary composers. Dal Niente and Vandermark are also planning a kaleidoscopic array of performances at the Knoxville Museum of Art during the festival weekend.

Fennesz, whose richly textured guitar and electronics dazzled the very first Big Ears audience on opening night back in 2009, returns to the festival at long last. His latest release, Agora, was cited as one of the best recordings of the year in Pitchfork, which described it has having “a cumulative force that is unlike anything he’s done in years.”

Nivhek is the name of a new project from Big Ears alum, Liz Cooper (Grouper), also cited by Pitchfork as one of the finest records of 2019, “…her music remains in an enigmatic class of its own.”

Danish sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard will bring his evocative and mysterious explorations of the world that surrounds us, with both installations and live performance.

New additions include Pakistani singer / composer Arooj Aftab’s Vulture Prince Ensemble, with Gyan Riley, Maeve Gilchrest, Shazad Ismaily, and Greg Fox; the mysterious mezzo-soprano folk singer Josephine Foster channeling Harry Smith’s “old weird America;” composer / percussionist extraordinaire John Hollenbeck’s minimalist/maximalist post-jazz ensemble, The Claudia Quintet; Chicago’s adventurous, boundary-pushing composer / cornet player Ben LaMar Gay and his band; an evocative solo performance from Múm’s cellist and singer Gyda Valtysdottir; saxophonist Sam Gendel’s haunting reimagining of jazz standards; the spirited Argentine / Mexican / North Carolina string band wizardry of Che Apalache; composer/performer Astrid Sonne, who explores perception and its accompanying emotional states through her viola and electronics; Sonja LaBianca, whose solo saxophone performances create poetic, minimalist soundscapes; cellist D. Scot Williams performs solo music by Hindemith, Crumb, and Overall.

Additional artists and special performances will be announced in the coming weeks, along with information about the film and literary programs, talks and discussions, and other facets of the Big Ears experience.

Newsbits: UK Prog Book / Ragas and Braxton Reviewed / Tony Conrad Book / Bishop, Blonk, Smith, & Walter / Icelandic Classical Music

The Wire reviews a new book on UK progressive rock in the 1970s.

A raga festival, as well as an Anthony Braxton performance, are also reviewed.

A new book of Tony Conrad writings is out.

A Madison performance of the quartet of Bishop, Blonk, Smith, and Walter is previewed.

A new album of modern Icelandic classical music is reviewed.