Wide Hive Records

Wide Hive Records has a new release coming out featuring Phil Ranelin.

& Tribe Renaissance LIVE! REMINISCENCE

Phil Ranelin’s third release on Wide Hive Records, Phil Ranelin and Tribe Renaissance Live! is inspired by Ranelin’s intuitive understanding of a younger audience’s yearning for music that matters, and the spontaneity and truth that manifests through playing to a live audience.

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Performances Reviews

Arve Henriksen and Nils Petter Molvaer at Le Poisson Rouge


At first blush Arve Henriksen and Nils Petter Molvaer might seem nearly indistinguishable. Both are pristine-sounding Norwegian trumpeters with conspicuous investment in electronics. They share a fondness for fragile lyricism and rippling atmosphere, building on a 40-year tradition that began with the Miles Davis album “In a Silent Way.” Both have pushed toward modern fusions, imbuing chamberlike or folkloric pop music with currents of improvisation. Each has recorded for the German label ECM.

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Free Music General

Edgar Varèse and the Jazzmen

A rare set of recordings has been discovered, including Edgard Varese conducting Charles Mingus. They are now available for free download.

Edgard Varèse conducts a workshop with jazzmen Art Farmer (trumpet), Hal McKusik (clarinet, alto sax), Teo Macero (tenor sax), Eddie Bert (trombone), Frank Rehak (trombone), Don Butterfield (tuba), Hall Overton (piano), Charlie Mingus (bass), Ed Shaughnessy (drums), probably John La Porta (alto sax)… We don’t know who is on vibes…

It might be the first free jazz recording (totally unissued) of History of Music. Varèse might have influenced jazzmen or was he only aware of what was happening on the jazz scene? No matter of the answer, it’s a bomb, as this music is 3 years earlier than Free Jazz by Ornette Coleman! We also know Charlie Parker wanted to study with Varèse in autumn 1954 but the composer flew to Europe to conduct Déserts. When he came back to New York in May 1955, Parker had already died. We also know that Varèse used to listen to John Coltrane at the Village.

Between March and August 1957, these Sunday jam-sessions were followed by arranger George Handy, journalist Robert Reisner, composers James Tenney, Earle Brown and John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham. The organizers were Earle Brown and Teo Macero who will become Miles Davis‘ producer among others. Varèse used certain extracts of the workshop for his Poème électronique.

The original of this tape is at Fondation Paul Sacher.

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Jazz Listings From the New York Times

Cover of "On the Corner"
Cover of On the Corner


MILES DAVIS’S ON THE CORNER (Monday) Released in 1972, “On the Corner” was Miles Davis’s attempt to reconnect with a young African-American fan base. This tribute includes the saxophonist Dave Liebman, an alumnus of the original sessions, as well as a crew seemingly inclined to emphasize the album’s avant-garde undercurrents, including the pianist Karl Berger and the trumpeter Graham Haynes. At 8 p.m., Merkin Concert Hall, 129 West 67th Street, Manhattan, (212) 501-3330,; $30; $20 for members. (Chinen)

ANGEL OV DEATH (Wednesday) If the name suggests a hardcore band rather than a jazz trio, relax; that’s precisely what its members want you to think. In fact, the group dynamic of the multireedist Andrew D’Angelo, the keyboardist Jamie Saft and the drummer Mike Pride is informed as much by post-bop protocols as by post-punk dynamics. At 9 p.m., Zebulon, 258 Wythe Avenue, near Third Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, (718) 218-6934,; no cover. (Nate Chinen)20090521

CONLY/ATTIAS/MCPHERSON (Monday) This exploratory trio features the collective efforts of the stalwart bassist Sean Conly, the inquisitive alto and baritone saxophonist Michaël Attias and the deftly propulsive drummer Eric McPherson. At 9:30 p.m., Royale, 506 Fifth Avenue, between 12th and 13th Streets, Park Slope, Brooklyn, (718) 840-0089,; $5 suggested donation, with a one-drink minimum. (Chinen)20090521

KRIS DAVIS TRIO (Wednesday) In her piano playing as well as in her composing, Kris Davis favors a sparkling restlessness, often skirting chaos but rarely succumbing to it. This trio relies on her rapport with the bassist John Hébert and the drummer Tom Rainey. At 9 and 10:30 p.m., Tea Lounge, 837 Union Street, near Sixth Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn, (718) 789-2762,; $5 suggested donation. (Chinen)20090521

MICHAEL MUSILLAMI TRIO +3 (Sunday) Michael Musillami, a guitarist firmly entrenched in the contemporary avant-garde, celebrates the release of “From Seeds” (Playscape), an album featuring not only his working trio but also the trumpeter Ralph Alessi, the multireedist Marty Ehrlich and the vibraphonist Matt Moran, who all regroup here. At 8:30 p.m., Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia Street, West Village, (212) 989-9319,; cover, $10, with a two-drink minimum. (Chinen)20090521

WADADA LEO SMITH/GRAHAM HAYNES (Saturday) Mr. Smith, a trumpeter, and Mr. Haynes, a cornetist, hail from different generations but share a fondness for textural tensions. In this double bill Mr. Smith leads his excellent Golden Quartet, with the pianist Vijay Iyer, the bassist John Lindberg and the drummer Pheeroan akLaff; Mr. Haynes works with Hardedge, an electronic sound designer. At 8:30 p.m., Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, at 95th Street, (212) 864-5400,; $25 in advance; $30 day of show; $20 for members. (Chinen)20090521

JESSE STACKEN TRIO (Friday) On “That That” (Fresh Sound New Talent), a recent album, the pianist Jesse Stacken presents a program of original pieces showcasing his slippery rapport with the bassist Eivind Opsvik and the drummer Jeff Davis, who rejoin him here. At 9 and 10:30 p.m., Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia Street, West Village, (212) 989-9319,; cover, $10, with a $7 minimum. (Chinen)20090521

CECIL TAYLOR (Thursday) At 80, Mr. Taylor is an elder statesman by any measure, and his music has continued to bedazzle, growing more luminous but no less rigorous in recent years. At 8 and 10:30 p.m., Blue Note, 131 West Third Street, Greenwich Village, (212) 475-8592,; $35 at tables, $20 at the bar, with a $5 minimum. (Chinen)20090521

NATE WOOLEY (Tuesday) Nate Wooley is a trumpeter who favors restlessness and tension; he works here with a smart ensemble featuring Josh Sinton on bass clarinet, Matt Moran on vibraphone, John Hebert on bass and Harris Eisenstadt on drums. At 8 p.m., the Stone, Avenue C and Second Street, East Village,; cover, $10.

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Free Music General

Ears Wide Open in Fort Worth

The experimental music scene in Fort Worth, Texas is profiled.

Fort Worth has been growing an experimental music scene, bit by bit, for a decade or so. Herb Levy, a well-known “new music” promoter in Boston and Seattle, has been presenting experimental artists of international stature in classy settings like the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth since 2005. Last weekend, the Metrognome Collective reopened in a new space with the announced intention of providing a venue for experimental sounds. Fort Worth native Michael Chamy is creating some waves with the Zanzibar Snails, his noise/improv outfit, and his Mayrrh Records label. There’s even a house in Arlington that’s been putting on shows by local avant-gardistas.

Some of this music might ring a faint bell for listeners who’ve heard experimental musical influences in movie soundtracks and the work of ’60s rockers like the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Frank Zappa or even Lou Reed‘s Metal Machine Music.

But experimental sounds in their undiluted form also resonate for a younger generation who came of age with the entire history of recorded music accessible at the click of a mouse. The twentysomething rock ‘n’ roll kids at the Chat Room Pub have been exposed to frontier-pushing innovators from ’70s-era Miles Davis to prolific Japanese noise artist Masami Akita (who performs under the Germanic moniker Merzbow). Their ears are wide open, and there’s more to hear all the time

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Sam Rivers: Avant-garde jazz master to perform at University of Miami’s Frost School of Music

From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

Sam Rivers is no ordinary snowbird, although he was looking to escape wintry Northern climes when he dropped anchor in Orlando in 1991.

Long considered a giant of avant-garde jazz, the saxophonist, flutist, pianist and composer had recorded a string of adventurous, milestone albums for the Blue Note and Impulse labels; toured with the bands of Miles Davis and Cecil Taylor; and kickstarted the experimental loft-scene in New York City with his free-jazz laboratory Studio Rivbea.

But Rivers had no plans to retire. He found a font of great local players, who were eager to stretch, among the musicians on the Disney dole as well as on the faculty at the University of Central Florida. Utilizing his regular trio mates as the free-swinging rhythm section, Rivers formed the Rivbea Orchestra to play his swirling, color-filled compositions and arrangements.

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Firehouse 12 To Present The Julian Lage Group March 20th

From Improvised Communications:

On Friday, March 20th, New Haven’s Firehouse 12 will launch its 2009 Spring Jazz Series with a two-set performance by the Julian Lage Group. Led by Boston-based guitarist/composer Julian Lage, this ambitious young quintet will be on tour celebrating the March release of his debut recording, Sounding Point, on the storied jazz label, EmArcy Records. The group also features Ben Roseth (alto and soprano saxophones), Aristides Rivas (cello), Jorge Roeder (bass) and Tupac Mantilla (drums and percussion).

Lage’s long-awaited first release as a leader, Sounding Point features music ranging from through-composed original compositions to impromptu solo, duo and trio improvisations to covers of Miles Davis’ “All Blues”, Neil Hefti’s “Lil’ Darlin’” and Elliott Smith’s “Alameda”. “I’ve been in a position where I could have recorded an album when I was younger,” he explains, “but was never in a rush because I wanted to allow these compositions to grow and evolve in their own time. I really wanted to approach recording my first album from a holistic point of view and everything came together. It was a great group effort.”

Only 21 years old, Lage’s career already stretches back an astonishing 13 years, when he first earned attention as the titular eight year-old guitar prodigy in the Oscar® nominated documentary film, Jules at Eight. Since then, he has studied Dawg music with David Grisman, Indian music at Ali Akbar College of Music and classical music at San Francisco Conservatory. His discography includes recordings with noted jazz artists Gary Burton, Taylor Eigesti, Nnenna Freelon and Marian McPartland. His own band, the Julian Lage Group, features four like-minded contemporaries he met as a student at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, and is joined on Sounding Point by special guests, Eigesti, Nickel Creek mandolin player Chris Thiele and banjo icon Béla Fleck.

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Tom Hull’s Best Jazz of 2008

Cover of
Cover of Golden Quartet

Tom Hull gives us his picks for the best jazz of 2008, with many picks familiar to readers of this blog.

François Carrier: The Digital Box (1999-2006 [2008], Ayler, 7CD): Download only, as I understand it, although the label very generously provided clumsy me with a set of CDRs, packaged with their usual exceptional care. (Ayler has been going more and more to download-only product, which I always thought a shame, not least because their original artwork and packaging is so nice. I understand they’re still producing the artwork, which can be downloaded with the music, so you can print your own packaging — not that you’re going to be able to print it on slick card stock.) Sometimes I complain about multi-disc sets being too much extra work, but one way to handle that is to just let them flow into a single impression — and that’s a pleasure here. Carrier plays alto sax, increasingly soprano sax as well. A free player, I go back and forth on how original or distinctive he is, but he has a spirit and clarity of vision that becomes increasingly compelling the longer he plays. First disc here is a 1999 trio with Dewey Redman joining on on one cut. The rest of the material runs from 2004-06: two discs of duets with drummer Michel Lambert (a constant presence on all 7 discs); two trio discs with bassist Pierre Côté; two quartet discs with guitarist Sonny Greenwich and bassist Michel Donato. The bassless duets run a little slower, working through short, relatively patchy pieces, more like practice, or work even. The others offer long takes, the trios more improv, the quartet a long thematic piece called “Soulful South.” It adds up to more than the sum of the parts. A-

Exploding Customer: At Your Service (2005-06 [2007], Ayler): Swedish group, two horns up front — Martin Küchen on alto and tenor sax, Tomas Hallonsten on trumpet — bass and drums in the rear — Benjamin Quigley and Kjell Nordeson. Küchen is the effective leader, writing 6 of 7 pieces, his sax more prominent than the trumpet. Like a lot of Scandinavian groups, they play adventurous free bop with rock energy. The odd piece out, starting off with a Carla Bley arrangement of “Els Segadors,” adds an infectious Latin twist, closed out by a riff (“Sin Nombre”) from Hallonsten. Their previous album, Live at Tempere Jazz Happening, should have been an HM; so should this. B+(***)

Stephen Gauci’s Stockholm Conference: Live at Glenn Miller Café (2007 [2008], Ayler, 2CD): Tenor saxophonist, b. 1966, based in Brooklyn, plays free, has a few records out, has yet to establish himself as a distinctive leader but usually gives a solid team performance. Two quartet sets here, both with Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on bass and Fredrik Rundqvist on drums; the first adds Mats Äleklint’s trombone, the second Magnus Broo’s trumpet. The trombone actually has a little more hop to it. B+(**)

Rashied Ali/Charles Gayle/William Parker: By Any Means: Live at Crescendo (2007 [2008], Ayler, 2CD): By Any Means is probably meant to be the group name, but the principals are listed on the front cover, top to bottom as above (that would be alphabetically), and their names go further toward explaining what this is or why anyone should care. This is the same trio that recorded, under Gayle’s name, Touchin’ on Trane back in 1991 — one of those Penguin Guide crown albums. So it’s a little disconcerting that this gets off so awkwardly at first — even more so that Parker is the odd man out. Ali gets 3 of the first 4 pieces; Gayle the other one and the next 3; Parker recovers on his own 3-song second disc stretch, ending with a group improv. The sound isn’t all that sharp. The moves are unexceptional for these guys — Gayle at full speed is quite a treat, but he’s been there and done that many times before. B+(*)

Rob Mosher’s Storytime: The Tortoise (2007-08 [2008], Old Mill): Soprano saxophonist, from Canada, based in New York, also plays oboe and English horn here, writing for a 10-piece group with four reed players — more clarinet and flute than saxophone — three brass including French horn, guitar, bass and drums. Reportedly Mosher is self-taught, so it may not be fair to attribute this to the jazz-classical merger in the academies. But this is as pop-classical as Prokofiev, with all the hokum laid out so intricately you sometimes forget how the game works. It’s an old saw that jazz is America’s classical music, but that came out of an age when we all thought that America was different, so naturally our classical music would be something else. Now jazz is the world’s classical music, and it’s returning to its common denominator. B-

Charlie Hunter: Baboon Strength (2008, Spire Artist Media): Trio, with Hunter on his familiar 7-string guitar, Erik Deutsch on organ and Casio Tone, and Tony Mason on drums. Fairly pleasant grooves, and not much more. B

Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet: Tablighi (2005 [2008], Cuneiform): Trumpet player, goes back to the 1970s when he was one of the AACM cats searching for an avant-garde path out of the end-of-history that playing far out and radically free led to — a fellow traveler to Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Much of this effort maintains the studied diffidence that always made him hard to grasp, except when he opts to channel Miles Davis. Quartet includes Vijay Iyer on keyboards, John Lindberg on bass, Shannon Jackson on drums. B+(**)

The Microscopic Septet: Lobster Leaps In (2007 [2008], Cuneiform): Seven-piece group: four weights of saxophone, piano, bass, and drums, led by soprano saxophonist Phillip Johnston and pianist Joel Forrester. Group recorded enough material 1981-90 to fill up 4 CDs of History of the Micros, then disbanded until this reunion, Johnston leading scattered projects like his Captain Beefheart tribute band, Fast ‘N’ Bulbous. The old Micros were hard enough to pigeonhole, fitting about as well in postbop as Raymond Scott in show music. The new one is more prebop, albeit surrealistically, as befits the title track’s take on Lester Young swing. Only personnel change is at tenor sax, where Mike Hashim replaces Paul Shapiro. Hashim is primarily an alto saxophonist, having some marvelous records on his resume. A-

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