AMN Reviews: Recent Releases from NoBusiness Records

NoBusiness Records, the Lithuanian label that specializes in reissues of adventurous jazz from the generation of the 1960s and 1970s as well as new improvised music in the jazz tradition, approaches the year’s end with a clutch of releases highlighting unusual instrumental ensembles.

First is Zenith, the second installment in the label’s essential Sam Rivers archival release series. Zenith is a live recording made at the Jazztage Berliner 1977 with an unconventional quintet of Rivers on tenor and soprano saxophones, flute and piano; Dave Holland on double bass and cello; Joe Daley on tuba and euphonium; and both Barry Altschul and Charlie Persip on drums. The quintet was a subset of the larger orchestra Rivers brought to Europe; this may have been their only performance together as a quintet. And an intense performance it is: a single, 53-minute improvisation that establishes and maintains a high energy level throughout. The two drummers mesh well and don’t overwhelm the rest of the group; Holland and Daley, who developed a finely-tuned working relationship in the Rivers quartet during this period, complement each other well and avoid any redundancy of line or color in the lower registers. Rivers’ playing is explosive and inspired, which is no surprise in light of the rich textures his bandmates weave.

Reptiles is a recording of the Israeli trio Bones, comprising bass clarinet (Ziv Taubenfeld), double bass (Shay Hazan), and drums (Nir Sabag). While the pianoless saxophone trio is a well-established configuration within jazz, the pianoless bass clarinet trio is less so. Bass clarinet and double bass are known for being among the quieter instruments in any ensemble but on this raw, forceful recording they show a more aggressive side. Taubenfeld’s sound tends toward the acerbic while Hazan favors a blunt-edged pizzicato on most of the tracks; Sabag’s free polyrhythms provide the trio with a propulsive push. Odd-numbered tracks are collective pieces, while the even-numbered tracks are solo performances for double bass, bass clarinet, and drums, respectively.

Recorded in an intimate live setting in Yamaguchi, Japan in 1997, The Aiki represents a rare meeting of pianist Masahiko Satoh and drummer Sabu Toyozumi. The two long duets that make up the release are the product of a chemistry that is as deep as it is rarely given occasion to combust, as Satoh’s tightly coiled, knotty lines find a fine foil in Toyozumi’s muscular excursions ranging over the entire drum kit. If the pairing of piano and trap drums implies a relatively restricted palette of timbres, Satoh and Toyozumi compensate by building their improvisations through a sophisticated use of space and dynamics.

Another recording from the 1990s, Blue Cat is a 1991 session for the quartet of cornetist Bobby Bradford, alto saxophonist Frode Gjerstad, double bassist Kent Carter, and drummer John Stevens. The four play a finely crafted free swing especially notable for the mutually supportive, motivic interplay of the two horns and solid playing from the rhythm section.

Finally, Brain in a Dish from the trio of Steve Swell on trombone, Robert Boston on piano and organ and drummer Michael Vatcher is a freely improvised collection of eleven pieces that takes Swell’s extended vocabulary of growls, squeals, air notes and buzzes and situates them within a sympathetic and stimulating setting. Particularly intriguing are the pieces for the timbrally distinctive combination of trombone and organ.

Daniel Barbiero

4th Annual Umbrella Music Festival

The 4th Annual Umbrella Music Festival is coming to Chicago in November. Click through for a full lineup.

Umbrella Music is pleased to announce the final schedule for the fourth-annual Umbrella Music Festival, November 5th-8th. The event pcelebrates jazz and improvised music from Chicago and beyond.

Called by the Chicago Reader “perhaps the most important jazz festival in Chicago,” the Umbrella Music Festival features cutting-edge jazz and improvised music from around the world, with a particular focus on artists from the diverse, cooperative and thriving local scene.

The festival opens Thursday, November 5th with a special evening dubbed “European Jazz Meets Chicago,” co-presented by Umbrella Music, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, and several European consulates and cultural organizations. These concerts will feature some of the best improvising musicians on the European scene, some of them with their regular working groups, and some of them in first-time collaborations with their Chicago counterparts.

The concerts continue over the weekend at the regular Umbrella Music venues, and this year will feature three elder statesman of the improvised music world: legendary trumpeter Bobby Bradford, renowned multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, and the Chicago debut of Japanese alto-saxophone legend Akira Sakata.

The complete schedule, as well as all festival-related news and updates are available at http://www.umbrellamusic.org.

UMBRELLA MUSIC is a group of Chicago musicians and presenters working to provide performance opportunities for creative and improvising musicians. Umbrella members book weekly concert series on Wednesdays at the Hideout, Thursdays at Elastic, and Sundays at the Hungry Brain. More information on the festival, the group, and the events they coordinate is available at: http://www.umbrellamusic.org.

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August Point of Departure

I’m not sure how it happened but we missed last months Point of Departure. So we’re making up for that now.

Bobby Bradford @ 75: an appreciation by James Newton

Page One: a column by Bill Shoemaker

What’s New?: The PoD Roundtable

The Book Cooks: Fear Of Music: Why People Get Rothko But Don’t Get Stockhausen
by David Stubbs & Wicked Theory, Naked Practice: A Fred Ho Reader, Edited by Diane C. Fujino

Far Cry: a column by Brian Morton

Moment’s Notice: Reviews of Recent Recordings

Ezz-thetics: a column by Stuart Broomer

Travellin’ Light: Ab Baars Ig Henneman

Future Shock: a column by Kevin Patton

Parisian Thoroughfare: curated by Alexandre Pierponte

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Vinny Golia Sextet, Slumgum, and Axis Trio in LA

Mr. T’s Bowl in LA will be the scene for an event:

Vinny Golia Sextet, Slumgum, and Axis Trio
FREE!
April 15th, 9pm
Mr T’s Bowl
5621 1/2 Figueroa St., Highland Park

A triple bill featuring LA jazz legend, Vinny Golia! A virtuoso improviser on dozens of woodwind instruments, Vinny has been a featured performer with other avant-garde masters such as Anthony Braxton, Bobby Bradford, and John Zorn. At Mr. T’s he will perform with his electric sextet. Expect explosive solos driven by a psychedelic hurricane from the rhythm section!
http://www.ninewinds.com/Artists/golia.html

Slumgum performs original music that is packed with unbridled imagination. A jazz quartet overflowing with spontaneity, their live shows are volatile and pumped with energy. With a rare band dynamic abounding in vitality, their joy on stage is contagious.
http://www.slumgummusic.com

The Axis Trio is a drums/bass/rhodes ensemble with roots in Pakistan, Morocco, and Iran. In an intoxicating whirlwind, they consistently push the boundaries of a traditional piano trio. With compositions ranging from dreamlike dirge to blazing groove, their performances are kaleidoscopes of sonic color.
http://www.axistrio.com

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