AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Tashi Dorji and Tyler Damon – Soft Berm (2018; Magnetic South Recordings)

Hear ye, aesthete! Hear ye, free music(s) fan! Hear ye, improvisers! The brash, virulent duo of Tashi Dorji and Tyler Damon hold the keys to the kingdom and are ready to storm the palace of non-idiomatic form. Shimmy Soft Berm, the latest from guitarist Dorji and drummer Damon’s ever-proliferating corpus, into the deck. Comprised of a single live performance from Fall 2017, this one has all the hallmarks and hits the high points.

Soft Berm is a fine specimen of contemporary audio verité: the wow, flutter, and hiss of the original source recording, the sounds of shuffling feet and crowd noise, and even a few unsteady moments during the duo’s sonic explorations remain preserved and presented. Whilst their studio releases afford the pair a degree of forgiveness and/or rumination on the productive process, make no mistake, Berm’s fleeting moments of disorientation are as fascinating as the eons of pure exhilaration captured on this performance. From Damon’s crystalline drum paradiddles to Dorji’s prepared guitar hypno-raga, the duo spends just over 40 minutes trekking through three distinct sonic movements, in which they sanguinely explore space, syncopation, timbre, tension, and release. Damon is easily one of the most exciting percussionists to appear on the scene since Chris Corsano and having recently witnessed Kuzu, Damon and Dorji’s trio with Dave Rempis, I can assert that his technical proficiency and stamina behind, around, and in front of the drum kit are top-notch. Meanwhile, Dorji remains one of the few contemporary guitarist possessive of a Bailey-esque sensitivity, which is manifestly apparent in his tasteful engagement with his looping pedal.

Barring any wanton self-indulgence or dives off the proverbial deep end, this duo is walloping towards canonization. You heard it here first. Don’t be surprised when you hear someone half your age name-checking Damon and Dorji alongside Rashied Ali and John Coltrane as a force to be reckoned with in the realm(s) of free/improvised/art rock.

– J. Sebastien Ericsson Saheb


Jazz Listings from the NY Times

In the Times:

DARCY JAMES ARGUE’S SECRET SOCIETY (Friday) This postmillennial big band, led by Mr. Argue, an indefatigable young composer, recently released an admirable studio debut, “Infernal Machines” (New Amsterdam). In performance the group balances airtight precision with a good measure of looseness and crackle. At 9 and 10:30 p.m., Jazz Gallery, 290 Hudson Street, at Spring Street, South Village , (212) 242-1063,; $15, members $10. (Nate Chinen)20090917

TAYLOR HO BYNUM (Saturday) Mr. Bynum is a cornetist drawn to combustible interaction, but on his new release, “Madeleine Dreams” (Firehouse 12), which features his jazz-meets-classical ensemble SpiderMonkey Strings, he seeks out a gentle aesthetic, with vocal and literary touches. The same group appears here, drawing deeply from the album. At 9 and 10:30 p.m., Jazz Gallery, 290 Hudson Street, at Spring Street, South Village , (212) 242-1063,; $15, members $10. (Chinen)20090917

FRANK CARLBERG’S TIVOLI TRIO (Tuesday) Mr. Carlberg, an adventurous pianist and composer, pursues unusual textures and surprising actions in this trio, with the bassist John Hébert and the drummer Gerald Cleaver. The group will soon be recording an album, for release next year; so this one-nighter counts as a dress rehearsal. At 8 p.m., Douglass Street Music Collective, 295 Douglass Street, near Third Avenue, Gowanus, Brooklyn ,; $10. (Chinen)20090917

JAMES CARTER (Friday and Saturday) Mr. Carter is a saxophonist of rampaging energies and unstoppable charisma, and he does some of his best work when tethered loosely to a concept. Here he pays tribute to the horizon-scanning music of John Coltrane with Rashied Ali, leading a plugged-in group that consists of the guitarist Bruce Edwards, the Hammond B-3 organist Gerard Gibbs and the drummer Eli Fountain. At 8:30 and 11 p.m., Birdland, 315 West 44th Street, Clinton , (212) 581-3080,; $30, general seating; $40, premium seating. (Chinen)20090917

? CLEAN FEED FEST (Friday and Saturday) Named after a record label based in Lisbon, this festival celebrates the exploratory side of modern jazz. Among the highlights during the event’s final stretch: the multireedist Avram Fefer, leading the trio from his new album, “Ritual” (Friday at 10:30 p.m.); the trumpeter Kirk Knuffke, revisiting the music from his most recent release, “Big Wig” (Saturday at 8); and Fight the Big Bull, a raucous large group joined here by the trumpeter Steven Bernstein (Sunday at 9:30). Cornelia Connelly Center, 220A East Fourth Street, East Village ,; $15. (Chinen)20090917

COLTRANE REVISITED (Wednesday and Thursday) In commemoration of John Coltrane, whose 83rd birthday would have fallen next week, the tenor and soprano saxophonist Joe Lovano leads a band with the pianist Steve Kuhn, the bassist Lonnie Plaxico and two drummers, Billy Hart and Andrew Cyrille. The repertory seems likely to coincide partly with “Mostly Coltrane” (ECM), a fine album recently released under Mr. Kuhn’s name, with Mr. Lovano as a featured guest. (Through Sept. 26.) At 8:30 and 11 p.m., Birdland, 315 West 44th Street, Clinton , (212) 581-3080,; $30, general seating; $40, premium seating. (Chinen)20090917

JEMEEL MOONDOC QUARTET (Saturday) The saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc practices a form of boisterous exploration descended from the 1960s jazz avant-garde. He has the right partners for such a task here: the pianist Connie Crothers, the bassist (and now violinist) Henry Grimes and the drummer Chad Taylor. At 8 and 10 p.m., the Stone, Avenue C and Second Street, East Village ,; $15. (Chinen)20090917

NEW LANGUAGES FESTIVAL (Thursday) Now in its fifth year, this musician-run festival draws a range of left-of-center musicians under its umbrella. This weekend that lineup includes the trombonist Ben Gerstein, presenting an electro-acoustic project he calls the Gates (Friday at 8:30 p.m.); the guitarist Brandon Ross, leading a trio (Saturday at 8:30); and the tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry, with his quintet (Saturday at 10). Next week it will include a trio consisting of the saxophonist Pete Robbins, the bassist Mario Pavone and the drummer Tyshawn Sorey (Thursday at 10), and a septet led by the festival’s chief organizer, the saxophonist Jackson Moore (Thursday at 11:30). (Through Sept. 26.) McCarren Hall, 98 Bayard Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn ,; $10 per night. (Chinen)20090917

JOHN O’GALLAGHER TRIO (Saturday) John O’Gallagher is an intrepid alto saxophonist and composer, but with a clear melodic streak. He draws here from his most recent album, “Dirty Hands” (Clean Feed), leading a responsive trio with the bassist Masa Kamaguchi and the drummer Jeff Williams. At 9 and 10:30 p.m., Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia Street, West Village , (212) 989-9319,; cover, $10. (Chinen)20090917

CHES SMITH’S THESE ARCHES (Wednesday) Avant-garde jazz and experimental rock are essentially intertwined in the music of These Arches, led by Mr. Smith, a drummer, and featuring the tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby, the guitarist Mary Halvorson and the accordionist Andrea Parkins. At 8 p.m., Barbès, 376 Ninth Street, at Sixth Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn , (347) 422-0248,; $10. (Chinen)20090917

STELLAR REGIONS (Wednesday) The recent death of Rashied Ali, the visionary drummer in John Coltrane’s late-period bands, lends an especially poignant air to this free-jazz Coltrane tribute. Mr. Ali was a mentor of sorts to each of the musicians on hand here: the saxophonist Louie Belogenis, the trumpeter Roy Campbell Jr., the pianist Andrew Bemkey, the bassist Hilliard Greene and the drummer Michael Wimberly. At 8 p.m., Middle Collegiate Church, 50 East Seventh Street, at Second Avenue, East Village , (212) 477-0666,; suggested donation, $15.

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Upcoming Shows at Ars Nova

From Philly’s Ars Nova Workshop:

Friday, September 11, 8pm
with Mary Halvorson, el. guitar; Jonathan Finlayson, trumpet; Jon Irabagon, alto saxophone; Trevor Dunn, bass; and Tomas Fujiwara, drums

International House Philadelphia, 3701 Chestnut Street
$12 General Admission

A veteran of esteemed composer Anthony Braxton’s ensembles and “probably the most original jazz guitarist to emerge this decade” (Chicago Reader), guitarist Mary Halvorson returns with her new quintet. For this special performance she is joined by bassist Trevor Dunn (John Zorn’s Electric Masada, Fantomas), saxophonist Jon Irabagon, winner of the 2008 Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition and member of MOPDTK, and rising stars Tomas Fujiwara and Jonathan Finlayson (Steve Lehman, Steve Coleman). In addition to her acclaimed trio and quintet, she co-leads a chamber music duo with violist Jessica Pavone and the avant-rock band, People, with drummer Kevin Shea, as well as performs in groups led by Tim Berne, Taylor Ho Bynum, Jason Moran and John Tchicai. Not to be missed.

Thursday, September 24, 8pm
with Cooper-Moore, diddly-bo/banjo; Assif Tsahar, reeds; and Chad Taylor, drums

Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, 1616 Walnut Street, Suite 100
$12 General Admission

Cooper-Moore has been a major catalyst in the world of creative music for over 30 years. His first fully-committed jazz group was formed in 1970 – the collective trio Apogee with David S. Ware and drummer Marc Edwards – which opened up for Sonny Rollins at the Village Vanguard in 1973. Following a trying European tour with Ware, Beaver Harris and Brian Smith in 1981, Cooper-Moore returned home and destroyed his piano – with sledgehammer and fire – in his backyard. It was not until the early 90s, when William Parker asked him to join his ensemble, In Order To Survive, that Cooper-Moore’s gifts were again regularly featured in a jazz context. For this rare appearance, he performs with Digital Primitives featuring Israeli reedsman Assif Tsahar, known for his work with Rashied Ali, Peter Kowald and Hamid Drake, and drummer Chad Taylor, a member of the Chicago Underground Duo, Iron and Wine, and a major contributor to Chicago’s post-rock scene where he has recorded with Tortoise, Isotope 217, Stereolab and Sam Prekop.

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Performances Reviews

By Any Means brings chemistry and history to the Newport jazz festival

The Boston Globe reviews the supergroup By Any Means Necessary.

The trio of alto saxophonist Charles Gayle, bassist William Parker, and drummer Rashied Ali play with a potency and urgency that can make your hairs stand on end. They also just happened to have made one of the greatest albums in free jazz, a 1993 date called “Touchin’ on Trane,’’ a collection of tunes inspired by, rather than composed by, John Coltrane. (For contractual reasons, the album was released under the artists’ individual names rather than by By Any Means.) In 2008, more than 20 years after it formed, By Any Means finally released a proper album, a superb two-CD set called “Live at Crescendo’’ that was recorded at a club in Sweden.

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Jazz Listings From The New York Times

In the Times:

RASHIED ALI QUINTET (Wednesday and Thursday) Rashied Ali has had a substantial career in the jazz avant-garde, but hard bop is the foundation for this quintet, which works here to celebrate the release of a new album, “Live in Europe” (Survival). The band’s rough-and-tumble front line features the trumpeter Josh Evans and the tenor saxophonist Lawrence Clark; its rhythm section includes the pianist Greg Murphy and the bassist Joris Teepe. At 9:30 and 11 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., Zinc Bar, 82 West Third Street, Greenwich Village, (212) 477-9462,; cover, $5, with a one-drink minimum. 20090709

? DARCY JAMES ARGUE’S SECRET SOCIETY (Wednesday) This postmillennial big band, led by Mr. Argue, an indefatigable young composer, recently released an admirable studio debut, “Infernal Machines” (New Amsterdam). In performance the group balances airtight precision with a good measure of looseness and crackle. At 7:30 p.m., Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, near Thompson Street, Greenwich Village, (212) 505-3474,; $15. (Chinen)20090709

? STEVEN BERNSTEIN’S MILLENNIAL TERRITORY ORCHESTRA (Thursday) This brashly exuberant little big band, led by the slide trumpeter and arranger Steven Bernstein, always has another trick up its sleeve. Here it’s a repertory hook: the band will be playing music by Sly and the Family Stone, with help from the former Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell and a proudly diverse array of vocalists, including Martha Wainwright, Sandra St. Victor and Shilpa Ray. At 7 p.m., Castle Clinton National Monument, Battery Park, State Street and Battery Place, Lower Manhattan,; free; tickets will be distributed on a first-come-first-served basis, starting at 5 p.m. (Chinen)20090709

ANDREW DRURY’S CONTENT PROVIDER (Friday) Mr. Drury is a drummer with a tenacious experimental streak, which he indulges freely in this working band. Its powerful lineup includes the trumpeter Peter Evans, the alto saxophonist Briggan Krauss and the tenor saxophonist Chris Speed. (A later set, at 10 p.m., will feature the Australian vocalist Kristen Berardi, joined by Sean Wayland on piano and Miles Okazaki on guitar.) At 9 p.m., I-Beam, 168 Seventh Street, Gowanus, Brooklyn,; $10 suggested donation. (Chinen)20090709

MISTAKEN INDEMNITY (Wednesday) This new trio — with the guitarist Jonathan Goldberger, the bassist Todd Sickafoose and the drummer Jim Black — takes aim at presumptive roles and conventional expectations, improvising with an upfront collective ideal. At 8 p.m., Barbès, 376 Ninth Street, at Sixth Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn, (347) 422-0248,; cover, $10. (Chinen)20090709

REGGIE NICHOLSON PERCUSSION CONCEPT (Thursday) The name tells much of the story when it comes to this ensemble, led by the incisive drummer Reggie Nicholson and featuring three additional percussionists: Warren Smith, Don Eaton and Daniel Carter (who also plays woodwind instruments). The group will be revisiting music from a recent live release, “Timbre Suite” (Tone Colors). At 8 p.m., the Stone, Avenue C and Second Street, East Village,; $10. (Chinen)20090709

NATE WOOLEY-PETER EVANS DUO/DAN PECK TRIO (Saturday) In the early set here, Mr. Wooley and Mr. Evans — fellow trumpeters and sonic adventurers — engage in a prickly and shape-shifting duo interaction. Then the tuba player Dan Peck will lead a group with Tom Blancarte on bass and Brian Osborne on drums, exploring a low-slung improvisational terrain partly informed by doom metal. At 9 and 10 p.m., I-Beam, 168 Seventh Street, Gowanus, Brooklyn,; suggested donation, $10. (Chinen)

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This Week at the ISSUE Project Room

From New York’s ISSUE Project Room:

07/02 @ 8pm – Hisham Bharoocha w/Ben Vida + Ateleia w/Sadek Bazaraa
+ Ateleia and Sadek Bazaraa + Hisham Bharoocha w/ Ben Vida Issue Project Room Doors at 8PM

Tonight’s performance marks a new instance of ‘Archegram’, the ongoing collaboration between musician James Elliott, aka Ateleia, and visual artist Sadek Bazaraa. Combining Ateleia’s pulsing ambient soundscapes and Bazaraa’s deeply atmospheric video art, the two strive to generate a hermetic sensory environment […]

07/03 @ 8pm – Alan Licht and Loren Connors + Evidence

Over the past two decades, guitarist Alan Licht has worked with a veritable who’s who of the experimental world, from free jazz legends (Rashied Ali, Derek Bailey) and electronica wizards (Fennesz, Jim O’Rourke) to turntable masters (DJ Spooky, Christian Marclay) and veteran Downtown New York composers (Rhys Chatham). Licht is also renown in the indie […]

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All About Jazz Reviews

From All About Jazz:

10-Jun-09 Sun Ra
Sun Ra (featuring Pharoah Sanders & Black Harold) (ESP Disk)
Reviewed by Jerry D’Souza

10-Jun-09 Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy
Spirit Moves (Greenleaf Music)
Reviewed by Martin Longley

09-Jun-09 Steve Lehman Octet
Travail, Transformation, and Flow (Pi Recordings)
Reviewed by Troy Collins

08-Jun-09 Tyft
Smell The Difference (Skirl Records)
Reviewed by Troy Collins

07-Jun-09 Joelle Leandre / William Parker
Live At Dunois (Leo Records)
Reviewed by Glenn Astarita

06-Jun-09 Rashied Ali
Rashied Ali: Meditations, Live in Europe and Art-Work
Reviewed by Kurt Gottschalk

06-Jun-09 Multiple Artists
Solo Septuagenarian/Octogenerian Piano: Abdullah Ibrahim, Ran Blake, Paul Bley & Martial Solal
Reviewed by Ken Dryden

06-Jun-09 Sun Ra
Sun Ra
Reviewed by Stuart Broomer

06-Jun-09 Steve Swell
Steve Swell: Magical Listening Hour & Planet Dream
Reviewed by Wilbur MacKenzie

06-Jun-09 Peter Brötzmann
Peter Brötzmann – Sweet Sweat & The Brain of the Dog in Section
Reviewed by Ted Gordon

06-Jun-09 Multiple Artists
Bass Clarinetists: Rudi Mahall, Matt Lavelle & Jacques Foschia
Reviewed by Fred Bouchard

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Squid’s Ear Reviews

From the Squid’s Ear:

Yoshi Wada – Earth Horns with Electronic Drones
Guy Klucevsek – Dancing on the Volcano
Rashied Ali Quintet – Live In Europe
Ronnie Boykins – The Will Come, Is Now
Anker / Courvoisier / Mori – Alien Huddle
Gordon Mumma – Music for Solo Piano (1960-2001)
Denman Maroney Quintet – Udentity
Marc Ducret – Le Sens de Marche
Alex Cline – Continuation
Gauci / Cline / Filiano / Pride – Red Feast

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Free Jazz Blog Reviews

From Free Jazz:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The Nu Band – Lower East Side blues (Porter, 2009) ****½

Sunday, March 22, 2009
Henry Grimes & Rashied Ali – Going To The Ritual (Porter, 2009) ***½

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Releases Reviews

DMG Newsletter March 6th, 2009

From DMG:

Evan Parker & Ingebrit Haker-Flaten, BENGT BERGER BITTER FUNERAL BEER BAND With DON CHERRY, Aki Takase & Eugene Chadbourne Play Fats Waller, THE 13th ASSEMBLY w/ TAYLOR HO BYNUM & MARY HALVORSON, ROSCOE MITCHELL Solo,

The Return of Matt Darriau’s Paradox Trio w/ Brad Shepik, Noel Akchote & Han Bennink, Steve Geraci w/ Arthur Rhames & Rashied Ali, Abdullah Ibrahim Solo Piano Disc,

2 from Borbetmagus, 2 from Faust, Paul Flaherty LP Only & Trio w/ Greg Kelley & C. Spencer Yeh, Merzbow, Oren Ambarchi & The Institute of Sunology!

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