Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Paul Lytton & Nate Wooley: The Nows

Paul Lytton (percussion)
Nate Wooley (trumpet)
The Nows (Clean Feed; 2012)
Ikue Mori (electronics)
Ken Vandermark (sax, clarinet)

An ambitious duo project from Nate Wooley and Paul Lytton that began only a few years ago but has evolved into an exciting collaborative effort. And with the two disc opus, The Nows, the listener gets to experience it in two separate live settings with guest musicians.

Lytton and Wooley have a chemistry that feels as though it goes farther back than just a few years. They begin their conversations slowly and roll into a volcano of improvised patterns that still maintain strong organic structure. "Free Will, Free Won't" features various crackles from Lytton's kit meshed against Wooley extended harmonics that feel like the tea kettle boiling over and no one cared.

"Abstractions and Replications" adds Ikue Mori's electronics to the proceeds. Mori's gadgetry turns the piece into an underwater scifi journey. There are smooth curling motions with tiny and intricate treatments. You have to stay still to hear the minor notes. This kind of skill requires the listeners undivided attention. And it's a brilliant discovery.

The second live set is with one of my favourite musicians, Ken Vandermark. "Automatic" sees Wooley share passages with Vandermark and it/s beautiful to hear the conversation escalate than drop out as one horn takes the lead. This all the while with Lytton ram shackling the hues in the background. It may read like chaos--but its a beautiful chaos. Vandermarks clarinet is deep and billowy.

"The Ripple Effect" is the shinning conclusion to this experimental journey. Wooley and Lytton are in fiery form and Vandermark quietly marches in toward the middle passages. Vandermark really compliments the duo, adding the exclamation points in each verse.

Lytton and Wooley are a powerful and emotion-bending duo that get even more creative with each guest musician. The Nows is another example of terrific collection of free thinking crafting new outlooks. An absolutely great live set.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Angelica Sanchez: Wires & Moss

Angelica Sanchez (piano)
Wires & Moss (Clean Feed; 2012)
Tony Malaby (sax)
Marc Ducret (guitar)
Drew Gress (bass)
Tom Rainey (drums)

Everyone knows I tend to rave about Fred Hersch and Jason Moran as my favourite modern pianists. But there are others that are emerging with the same talent and vision as these two future legends. Kris Davis is definitely one of those that I put in the list. Recently I have also been listening another bright and inventive composer, Angelica Sanchez.

Sanchez, now with her forth album (third for Clean Feed), hopefully will find a wider audience. With Wires & Moss, she explores an ever growing lyrical and conceptual structure that is both calm and free flowing. "Loomed" is an expansive piece with various layers of expression, tightly pulled together by Ducret, Malaby and Rainey. Sanchez and Gress play the static calm palate to the trio's frenetic brushes. But it's always the leader who carries the tune's soft undulating notes towards the close.

"Wires & Moss" is a stunning display of rolling melodies. Sanchez's performance is filled with multiple chord changes and jagged directional cues for the rest of the quintet. Early on, Ducret shines with crafty Arto Lindsay meets Thurston Moore type qualities. The piece moves up, down and outward. The rest of the group approach midway through and it becomes more poetic with each movement. Gress and Sanchez take the band quietly out with some beautiful passages.

Motionless might be the feeling you get from the closing number, "Bushido." This starts off gently but then moves roughly in staccato motion while consistently holding the listener in place. The entire quintet is scorching on this number and exemplifies Sanchez's creative vision that she has worked on since setting out as a leader over a decade ago.

Angelica Sanchez writes with a very cerebral approach that puts her in a category of the previous mentioned artist from my point of view. If you haven't experienced her music before--now is the time. Wires & Moss is absolutely brilliant and highly, highly recommended!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Black Motor w/Verneri Pohjola: Rubidium

Black Motor w/Verneri Pohjola
Ribidium (Tum Records; 2013)
Sami Sippola (sax)
Simo Laihonen (drums)
Ville Rauhala (bass)
Verneri Pohjola (trumpet)

A meeting of two growing sets of Finnish musicians, the Black Motor trio and Verneri Pohjola is a cause for celebration. The artfulness of Pohjola's trumpet and expansive sound of the Black Motor have produced the stellar, Rubidium. An album covers a small amount of ground but provides every bit of detail in the journey.

"Song Of India" (originally written by Rimsky-Korsakov, is wonderfully and creatively filled and stretched all over the place. While still keeping the underlining romantic nature of the original piece, the quartet do manage to bring in new bold structures that give the tune more improvisation and originality.

"Rubidium" and "Old Papa's Blues" feel like soulmates. Both tight ballad frameworks are definitely free formed epics that highlight each musician at their best during this session. A bright and intense conversion happens between Pohjola and Laihonen during the title that is just soft but still killer. "Old Papa's Blues" is an emotional dedication and celebration with the trio being more the focal point.

"Kynnyspuulla" is almost indescribable in its depth and beauty. Soulful, epic and the emotional distance that Sippola's sax travels in staggering. The piece is slow moving and drips with intensity. Moving passages of stillness and heartache, the quartet take the listener on a journey that is immediate and passionate.

Rubidium is a great session of young musicians with immense talent that continue to be on the rise. They are showing how expansive the Finnish jazz scene continues to be. This is an excellent outing and well worth checking out. I hope you dig it as much as I did.