Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rodrigo Amado: Wire Quartet

Rodrigo Amado
Wire Quartet (Clean Feed; 2014)
Rodrigo Amado (sax)
Gabriel Ferrandini (drums)
HernĂ¢ni Faustino (bass)
Manuel Mota (guitar)

A Rodrigo Amado release is always going to be filled with some excitement. And Wire Quartet is definitely exciting and does not disappoint. A wonderful line up that features members of Red Trio and the increasingly rewarding, Manuel Mota. 

Wire Quartet consist of three very extended pieces. "Abandon Yourself" opens the album with slow building introduction where each member moves gently with well place focused notes. The piece moves into its second structure when Amado and Mota both let loose and Faustino and Ferrandini follow making this section of the piece the most chaotic and beautiful. The tone settles in the latter stages as each musician has their own moment to rise above. Great compositional/leadership work here from Amado allowing the members the freedom to craft the passages within the outlying structure.

Blues-like yet still encompassing sense of moving far beyond, "Surrender" has lots of free movements with Mota's guitar screeching like Branca, Bailey or Thurston Moore rolled into one. Amado's rolling tones and the some atmospheric brush-work from Ferrandini add a nice shine to the track. While on the closing number, "To The Music," Amado really let's loose with some terrific tones and patterns that feel like Ayler or Braxton. Mota's guitars wails alongside Amado but never overpowers the piece.

Wire Quartet is a rock album with jazz undertones. It loud, fierce and abrasive like any other Amado record. Similar to Amado's work with Luis Lopes but here we get the added touches of a fantastic quartet that pours even more muscle to Rodrigo Amado's compositions. Which I didn't think was possible. And the results are excellent and frankly--bloody brilliant stuff!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Danny Fox Trio: Wide Eyed

Danny Fox Trio
Wide Eyed (Hot Cup Records; 2014)
Danny Fox (piano)
Chris Van Voorst (bass)
Max Goldman (drums)

I always have the discussion with friends, artists and managers about signing to major labels and higher aspirations. My response and argument has always been, stay independent or on the indie label that has signed you. Your growth, acceptance and skill will expand the way the spiritual powers want it to expand.

Now after my big soliloquy, we have a group that so far has remained independent and their skill continues to grow--the Danny Fox Trio. With their second album, Wide Eyed, they continue on the rich textures and bold composition of their debut but broaden the adventure with a little more urgency and in some case fun.

"All Tolled" and "Drone." illustrate a huge leap in confidence and musicianship from the trio. Melodic pacing and subtle yet bold upfront melodies radiate from these pieces. Fox has a strong hand on the keys but with "All Tolled" Voorst shows impressive plucking indeed. "Drone" shoots out of the gate brilliantly with Fox on a rolling set of notes. Goldman is equal to the pacing and gives a solid foil in unison. This while Voorst comes riding in heavy on the bassline which carries the piece through till Fox and Voorst rejoin providing jubilant finish.

"Funhouse Memory" is funky but with a number incongruent chord changes and notes. It's fun with demented intentions. Moving in various directions that felt The Meters grooving with Friedrich Gulda. "Tumble Quiet" concludes this beautiful session in stately fashion. While the notes are bold and intricate; the piece is well grounded and calming place the listener at the edge of a long journey.

Wide Eyed is the Danny Fox Trio moving from strength to strength. A record of extremely high quality in both composition and performance. If it were on a major label you might have known about it already. But it might not have the freedom and buoyant expressiveness that comes with being on your own and letting the music come to you as you go. Wide Eyed, is a record that you will come back to time and again. And it is definitely one of my albums of the year. Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Zero Centigrade: Birch

Zero Centigrade (duo)
Birch (Obs, 2014)
Tonino Taiuti (guitars; electronics)
Vincenzo de Luce (guitars; electronics)

One of my favourite duos, Zero Centigrade return with albeit short but highly effective album, Birch, that continues there quest in manipulating sound structures in beautiful new ways.

Birch is essentially one long piece with a number of different movements nestled inside. Opening with a common theme of folk/blues style plucking that we have become accustomed to from the duo, it gently slides into move melodic heavy drones around the six minute mark. This effectively represent the next movement which has a number of rising octaves and tremolos that haunt the senses and permeates throughout the reminder of the piece.

The hypnotic nature of the middle movements also incorporate a number of found sounds that provided the added space and intrigue to Birch. The final structure to Birch returns to the first movement with more delicate, romantic but short chords from Taiuti wrapped with searing electronic lines across the top from de Luce.

Another beautiful and absorbing release from the Italian duo. Birch continues to explore the territory that their last release, Selce did but with even more imagination left to the listener. Birch is a wonderful and meditative piece that is both engrossing with and without headphones. Highly Recommended.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Halvorson/Knuffke/Wilson: Sifter

Mary Halvorson (guitar)
Matt Wilson (drums)
Kirk Knuffke (cornet)
Sifter (Relative Pitch; 2013)

While this stellar collaboration actually came out last year, Sifter has been on repeat in house for some time now. It is probably one of the most fun and expressive releases I have heard Mary Halvorson on in a long time. The trio of Halvorson, Knuffke and Wilson demonstrate a unique companionship, they have worked with each other on various projects over the last the years, but Sifter for me, is one of their standout projects.

The performances are very melodic in their phrasing but as each musician bounces off each other the tunes become vitalized with a real hyper sense of jubilation. "Cramps" and "Don Knots" both provide rustic twang balanced out with jagged notes that mold themselves into a unified piece very quickly. Both pieces provide an element of melody that becomes very catchy and foot-stomping good.

Halvorson and Knuffke give "Original Blimp" that dangerous element with some both providing different directions for the song to follow. Halvorson guitar flows with a fun haunting and rolling pace, while Knuffke's cornet rises high along with Wilson steady kit work. All this makes for a grooving little marching number which reminded me of slowed down ska number.

"Forever Runs Slow in Cold Water" and "Absent Across Skies" are ballads but with very twisted chord changes. The trio show how their fun can turn serious a complex ed within seconds. Both pieces are intense and really shine light on how specific, calculated and united the musicians are within each number. Halvorson's looping lines towards the closing of "Forever.." are marvelous.

While I may talk about Mary Halvorson allot throughout this piece, it really is a trio session. Each musician provides writing credits for the music in the session. They each challenge each other and each rise to that challenge. But what makes this one of the my favourite records right now is the sheer fun they are having on every single track. Sifter is a good damn brilliant piece of work that every fan of these musicians should seek out quickly. Highly Highly Recommended!