Reviews that mention Fred Lonberg-Holm

June 15, 20127

Fred Lonberg-Holm/Adam Golebiewski

Relephant
Bocian Records No #

Ballister

Slag

Aerophonic 013

Stirrup

Cut

Clean Feed CF 378 CD

By Ken Waxman

Perhaps one day some canny jazz entrepreneur will come up with a Where’s Waldo game featuring Fred Lonberg-Holm. Over the past quarter century, the Gary-based cellist is as likely to appear on a disc recorded in Denmark as Chicago and as frequently in the company of Europeans as Americans. Like an ever-adaptable character actor, Lonberg-Holm’s sophisticated use of cello, electronics and recently, guitar, brings exuberant novel concepts to each situation. MORE

June 15, 20127

Stirrup

Cut
Clean Feed CF 378 CD

Fred Lonberg-Holm/Adam Golebiewski

Relephant

Bocian Records No #

Ballister

Slag

Aerophonic 013

By Ken Waxman

Perhaps one day some canny jazz entrepreneur will come up with a Where’s Waldo game featuring Fred Lonberg-Holm. Over the past quarter century, the Gary-based cellist is as likely to appear on a disc recorded in Denmark as Chicago and as frequently in the company of Europeans as Americans. Like an ever-adaptable character actor, Lonberg-Holm’s sophisticated use of cello, electronics and recently, guitar, brings exuberant novel concepts to each situation. MORE

June 15, 20127

Ballister

Slag
Aerophonic 013

Stirrup

Cut

Clean Feed CF 378 CD

Fred Lonberg-Holm/Adam Golebiewski

Relephant

Bocian Records No #

By Ken Waxman

Perhaps one day some canny jazz entrepreneur will come up with a Where’s Waldo game featuring Fred Lonberg-Holm. Over the past quarter century, the Gary-based cellist is as likely to appear on a disc recorded in Denmark as Chicago and as frequently in the company of Europeans as Americans. Like an ever-adaptable character actor, Lonberg-Holm’s sophisticated use of cello, electronics and recently, guitar, brings exuberant novel concepts to each situation. MORE

May 13, 2017

Fred Lonberg-Holm/Adam Golebiewski

Relephant
Borcian Records No #

Ugly Beauties

Strange Attractors

No Label No #

Rodrigo Amado’s Motion Trio

Desire & Freedom

NotTwo MW 946-2

Trio Kimmig/Studrr/Zimmerlin and John Butcher

Raw

Leo Records CD LR 766

Rémy Bélanger de Beauport

D’éclisses
Ambiances Magnétiques AM 233 CD

Something in the Air: The Cello Comes Into Its Own

By Ken Waxman

Heir to a long and prominent role in notated music, exploration of the cello as a front line partner has a shorter history in improvised music. Yet like a visual artist’s apprentice who subsequently envisages novel ways to utilize painterly techniques that surpass earlier conventions, today improvisers’ cello showcases expose the four-string instrument in a multitude of unexpected and interactive situations. MORE

April 6, 2017

Label Spotlight

Aerophonic Records
By Ken Waxman

Saxophonist Dave Rempis doesn’t disagree when it’s suggested his Chicago-based Aerophonic imprint can be characterized as a “vanity project”. But there’s an important difference. “Sure, it definitely is,” agree the alto, tenor and baritone saxophonist, who is the label’s sole owner. “I’ve put out 17 releases since mid-2013, all of which I feel proud. But we’re at a point where no one else is going to do that, particularly with that type of quantity. So if I want to get my work out, it’s on me to do it. If that makes it a vanity label, then so be it.” The main difference is that Aerophonic “is self-sustaining. If it was really a vanity label I’d probably be pouring more and more money into it.” MORE

December 1, 2016

Hélary/Lonberg-Holm/Risser/Reed

The Sync
The Bridge Sessions TBS 02

Like Facebook, iPads and Uber, the Bridge sessions are a uniquely 21st Century conception. While recognizing the basic ephemeral nature of many ad-hoc musical groups, the Bridge builders aim for rapprochement among shifting ensembles of French and American players who record and tour for a while in both countries and then, like recruits serving tour of duty, return to their regional sectors. Case in point is this session, recorded in France following a short national tour. Representing the American side are cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and drummer Mike Reed, two Chicagoans known for their collaborations with a hotel register-like list of players on both sides of the Atlantic. Showing France’s tricolor flag are pianist Eve Risser and flutist Sylvaine Hélary, both Paris based. MORE

April 7, 2016

Festival Report

VinterJazz
By Ken Waxman

When attending a Copenhagen gig, ensure you’re on time. Unlike “jazz time” where a set begins from one-half to one hour late, the Danes are so punctual that during the final days of Copenhagen’s annual VinterJazz (VJ) festival February 24 to 27, 15 minutes was the average “delayed” start time. Created 15 years ago as a relation to the summer Copenhagen Jazz Festival, in 2016, hundreds of shows throughout the city took place under the VJ banner often simultaneously, so selectivity was the watchword. MORE

January 6, 2016

Vox Arcana

Caro’s Song
Relay Recordings 010

Steel Bridge Trio

Different Clocks

Relay Recordings 011

Tim Daisy

October Music Vol. 1: 7 Compositions for Duet

Relay Recordings 009

By Ken Waxman

Quietly – well as quiet as a drummer can be – and consistently, Chicago-based percussionist Tim Daisy has over the past decade established himself as one of jazz’s go-to players. Besides ongoing partnerships with the likes of reedists Dave Rempis mostly in a duo and Ken Vandermark in small and large ensembles, Daisy’s discs showcase his own bands playing his compositions which range from the raucous to the refined. Like a screenwriter equally proficient at penning action thrillers and character-driven dramas, the drummer proficiently showcases particular genres on each of these releases. MORE

October 21, 2015

Ballister

Worse for the Wear
Aerophonic Records AR008

Easel

Bloom

Veto-exchange 011

Advanced improvisations with the identical number of tracks, recorded in Chicago by two youngish reed/string/percussion trios both one-third European and two-thirds Yank, confirms the continued vitality of the Windy City’s Jazz scene. Yet despite being taped almost exactly one month apart and sharing the same cellist, the CDs likewise affirm the futility of trying to paint all Free Music sessions with the same brush – the resulting sound pictures are usually much different. MORE

October 21, 2015

Easel

Bloom
Veto-exchange 011

Ballister

Worse for the Wear

Aerophonic Records AR008

Advanced improvisations with the identical number of tracks, recorded in Chicago by two youngish reed/string/percussion trios both one-third European and two-thirds Yank, confirms the continued vitality of the Windy City’s Jazz scene. Yet despite being taped almost exactly one month apart and sharing the same cellist, the CDs likewise affirm the futility of trying to paint all Free Music sessions with the same brush – the resulting sound pictures are usually much different. MORE

December 21, 2014

NPR 9th Annual Jazz Critics Poll: 2014

Ken Waxman’s ballot

NEW RELEASES

1. Yoni Kretzmer-Pascal Niggenkemper-Weasel Walter, Protest Music (OutNow)

2. Paul Giallorenzo, Force Majeure (Delmark)

3. Kyle Bruckmann, . . . Awaits Silent Tristero's Empire (SingleSpeed Music)

4. Sakata/Lonberg-Holm/Gutvik/Nilssen-Love, The Cliff of Time (PNL)

5. Alexander Hawkins, Step Wide, Step Deep (Babel)

6. François Carrier-Michel Lambert-Alexey Lapin, The Russia Concerts Volume 1/The Russia Concerts Volume 2 (FMR)

7. Rodrigo Amado & Jeb Bishop, The Flame Alphabet (NotTwo) MORE

November 26, 2014

Sakata/Lonberg-Holm/Gutvik/Nilssen-Love

The Cliff of Time
PNL 022

No-holds-barred Free Jazz, the four selections on this CD are very firmly in the tradition established by Albert Ayler and others 50 years ago, but equally connected to the 21st Century. No longer the New Thing; Free Improv, like other styles of Jazz, has spread throughout the world with many other players besides (Black) Americans adding their own textures and ideas.

Case in point is this CD which unites a nearly-70-year-old Japanese saxophonist/clarinetist, who has been exploring Free Jazz since its beginnings, with one American and two Norwegians in their thirties and forties who maintain Free-Jazz proficiency alongside skills in other musics. It’s no surprise that alto saxophonist and bass clarinetist Akira Sakta is able to hit the ground running in these situations having played with figures as disparate as Jim O`Rourke and Peter Brötzmann. Never at a loss for a rhythmic pattern, Oslo-based percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love, has over the past 20 years worked in groups ranging from duos to big bands. Demonstrative saxophonists are frequently his partners, with the drummer in on-going relationships with Mats Gustafsson, Brötzmann, Fride Gjerstad and Joe McPhee among others. Chicago-based cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm is as busy with about as many bands as the percussionist; while Oslo-based guitarist Ketil Gutvik is moving out from gigs in the Scandinavian scene to work with other Europeans. MORE

April 18, 2014

Survival Unit III

Game Theory
NotTwo MW 907-2

Joe McPhee-Paal Nilssen-Love

Red Sky

PNL 016

Evan Parker & Joe McPhee

What/If/They Both Could Fly

Rune Grammofon RCD 2149CD

Nearly 40 years after his first recording session there seems to be little that American multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, 74, can’t express on his saxophones or pocket trumpet. But the Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based experimental musician keeps challenging himself in new situations. Each of the small group CDs here, recorded over a four year period, is excellent in its own way, and on each McPhee brings the proper horn(s) and mind set to create high quality improvisations. Additionally each is distinctive enough to set it apart from the others and confirm McPhee’s status as an original. MORE

February 11, 2014

Artist Feature

Dave Rempis
By Ken Waxman

For proof that a committed improviser can build an impressive career outside of NYC, look no further than Chicago saxophonist Dave Rempis. The Massachusetts native, who relocated to the Windy City in ’93, is kept busy touring with his own bands as well as in a variety of other groups. This month he’ll play two rare gigs in the Apple, as part of a completely new configuration with trumpeter Nate Wooley, bassist Pascal Niggenkemper and drummer Chris Corsano.

Rempis would often bump into Wooley at European festivals and Chicago gigs, so eventually they decided to combine forces. The trumpeter suggested the other players and the four will record following the dates. The resulting CD may be a joint release on Wooley’s imprint plus Rempis’ six-month-old Aerophonic label. MORE

September 9, 2013

On DVD

Concert for Fukushima Wels 2011
Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet (PanRec/Trost Records)

By Ken Waxman
Passion is an adjective often associated with German sax avatar Peter Brötzmann, especially as on this DVD, you can see as well as hear the efforts that go into producing his gut-busting sounds. Concert for Fukushima Wels 2011 is a valuable addition to the saxophonist’s cannon for not only focusing on the passion behind his playing and that of the other musicians featured in this 75-minute live concert from an Austrian festival. The DVD also highlights Brötzmann’s compassion as well. Always politically engaged the Wuppertal-based reedist asked four Japanese innovators to play with the Chicago Tentet that night with all proceeds from the gigs going to two organizations aiding the victims of the then recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami. MORE

April 6, 2012

Fred Lonberg-Holm/Nick Stephens

Attic Antics
Loose Toque LT 023

Fred Lonberg-Holm/Piotr Mełech

Coarse Day

MultiKulti Project MP1014

By Ken Waxman

Chicago’s, or is it improvised music’s, busiest cellist, Fred Lonberg-Holm travels overseas with these CDs for timbre intermingling with a Polish clarinetist and a British bass player respectively. Yet it’s a tribute to his mercurial versatility that while each disc pushes the limits of the instruments’ expected qualities, neither wanders into the realm of unidentifiable textures. MORE

April 6, 2012

Fred Lonberg-Holm/Piotr Mełech

Coarse Day
MultiKulti Project MP1014

Fred Lonberg-Holm/Nick Stephens

Attic Antics

Loose Toque LT 023

By Ken Waxman

Chicago’s, or is it improvised music’s, busiest cellist, Fred Lonberg-Holm travels overseas with these CDs for timbre intermingling with a Polish clarinetist and a British bass player respectively. Yet it’s a tribute to his mercurial versatility that while each disc pushes the limits of the instruments’ expected qualities, neither wanders into the realm of unidentifiable textures. MORE

February 25, 2012

Fred Lonberg-Holm/Piotr Mełech

Coarse Day
MultiKulti Project MP1014

Blip

Calibrated

Splitrec 20

Expanding the limits of what constitutes a duet these woodwind-and-string duos exploit free improvisation’s technical openness to distend the terrestrial qualities of their respective instruments. The results are exploratory, spontaneous and ultimately convincing.

The background to these CD meetings couldn’t be more different. Saxophonist and flautist Jim Denley and bassist Mike Majkowski are both experienced Free music players from Sydney, Australia. Over the years, Denley has played with the likes of German trumpeter Axel Dörner and Norwegian guitarist Kim Myhr; and Majkowski with German drummer Paul Lovens and Dutch keyboardist Cor Fuhler, among many others. The two have also worked as a duo since 2008, although this unedited disc is the first time they’ve managed to successful record together. In sharp contrast, Chicago cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and clarinettist Piotr Mełech from Poznan, Poland are first-time collaborators. A member of the long-established local Enterout Trio, the reed man has also worked with outsiders ranging from Australian bassist Clayton Thomas to Chicago percussionist Michael Zerang, a long-time associate of the cellist. Lonberg-Holm is arguable the busiest cellist in improvised music, working regularly with everyone from American reed men Ken Vandermark to German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann. MORE

February 25, 2012

Fred Lonberg-Holm/Nick Stephens

Attic Antics
Loose Toque LT 023

Chamaeleo Vulgaris

Reset

Acheulian Handaxe aha 1003

Organizing notable string duets can be a challenging affair, what with the necessity of producing all sonic coloration from vibrating wires. The task is made doubly risky when the players involved eschew time keeping and melodies for experimental sessions. Luckily both CDs here neatly avoid that conundrum.

The Paris-based improvisers who operate as Chamaeleo Vulgaris overcome the string section drawbacks, by first of all using the electric versions of their instruments: electric guitar in the case of Jean-Sébastien Mariage and electric bass for Frederick Galiay. Also as card-carrying microtonalists – Mariage is a members of the French-Swiss quintet Hubbub and Galiay has played with different Hubbubers as well as German saxophonist Daniel Erdmann and Belgian trumpeter Bart Marris – both use their string sets for sound processing a lot more than producing narratives. American cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and British bassist Nick Stephens are less experimental in their duets – you always know that a string instrument is playing for instance – but no less skilled in creating a common strategy. Experience helps. Stephens has regularly played with everyone from the late British drummer John Stevens to Norwegian saxophonist Frode Gjerstad, while Lonberg-Holm’s associates include American reed man Joe McPhee plus German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann. MORE

October 10, 2011

Loose Torque

Label Spotlight
By Ken Waxman

London’s Loose Torque label is the audio equivalent of a small press publisher which concentrates on aesthetics. Just as those firms’ limited-edition books are printed on high-quality paper with covers produced by hand-operated letterpress, Loose Torque CDRs are computer-burned in batches of 100, using specialist Taiyo Yuden discs, with professionally designed packaging.

Loose Torque is the brainchild of veteran British bassist Nick Stephens, who describes himself as “artist-producer-runner. I play on and record the music, mix and edit it, think of titles, burn, print and pack the discs and take them to the post office.” Founded in 2005, Loose Torque has already released 21 CDRs, ranging from archival sessions with such major UK players as alto saxophonist Dudu Pukwana and drummer John Stevens, to contemporary dates that showcase Norwegian saxophonist Frode Gjerstad, British trumpeter Jon Corbett and South African drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo among others. The label’s literal in-house art staff is Stephens’ wife Fay, an illustrator and New Media designer, who also maintains the Web site. MORE

July 27, 2011

Charlotte Hug & Fred Lonberg-Holm

Fine Extensions (2009)
Emanem 5012

Roy/Courtois/Tchamitchian

Amarco

Émouvance émv 1032

Alternative approaches to intermixing string improvisations are exhibited on these CDs. While American cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and Swiss violist Charlotte Hug expose the sonic modifications within pure improvisation, the instant compositions showcased by the French trio of violist Guillaume Roy, cellist Vincent Courtois and bassist Claude Tchamitchian have a strong relationship to notated chamber music. MORE

December 9, 2010

Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet +1

3 Nights in Oslo
Smalltown Superjazz STSJ197CD

Anthony Braxton/Gerry Hemingway

Old Dogs (2007)

Mode Avant 9/12

Sun Ra

The Heliocentric Worlds

ESP-Disk 4062

Rivière Composers’ Pool

Summer Works 2009

Emanem 5301

Something in the Air

By Ken Waxman

Boxed sets of recorded music have long been a holiday gift. But sophisticated music fans won’t settle for slapped together “best of” collections. Boxes such as these, collecting multiple CDs for specific reasons, should impress any aware listener. MORE

November 1, 2010

Tim Daisy Vox Arcana

Aerial Age
Allos Documents 004

Jean-Marc Foltz

To The Moon

Ayler Records AYLCD-112

Daniel Levin Quartet

Bacalhau

Clean Freed CF 195 CD

Kathryn Ladano

Open

No Label

Extended Play: Chamber Improvisations

By Ken Waxman

Derided in the past as effete or derivative, chamber-style improvising has fascinated musicians at least since the 1920s, both on the jazz (Benny Goodman, Red Norvo) and classical (George Gershwin, Ferde Grofé) sides. However, as this group of CDs demonstrates, with contemporary musicians conversant with both strains of sound, the transitional awkwardness of the past has been replaced by inspired flexibility MORE

June 1, 2010

The Frame Quartet

35 MM
Okka Disk OD 12078

Rempis/Rosaly

Cyrillic

482 Music 482-1064

Matthew Shipp

Nu Bop Live

Rai Trade RTPJ 0015

Connie Crothers-Michel Bisio

Sessions at 475 Kent

Mutable 17537-2

Extended Play: Combos: Ad Hoc and Long Constituted in Toronto

By Ken Waxman

Long-established jazz groups have become as common as pop hits based on Mozart melodies topping the charts – they sometimes exist. But with accomplished improvisers tempted by side projects, bands often reconstitute and sidemen regularly have their own gigs. In most cases, though, this doesn’t affect the music’s quality. MORE

May 12, 2010

Aram Shelton’s Fast Citizens

Two Cities
Delmark DE 590

Jason Adasiewicz’ Rolldown

Varmint

Cuneiform Rune 292

Organizing many bands with shifting, but similar, local personnel seems to be a factor uniting the newest generation of Chicago improvisers, with earlier jazz folk from territory towns like Chicago and Detroit. Unlike places such as New York, Los Angeles and Toronto where every player seems to be from somewhere else and may soon be heading elsewhere, Windy City folk have an overriding sense of place – even if they eventually move on. MORE

December 12, 2009

Daniel Levin Quartet

Live at Roulette
Clean Feed CF 147 CD

Nate Wooley

Throw Down Your Hammer and Sing

Porter PRCD-4022

One of the trumpeters who, over the past few years, have committed to lower-case improvisation, Brooklyn-based Nate Wooley has also subtly adapted his distinctive playing to different situations. As a matter of fact, listening to these noteworthy CDs, it may appear as if Wooley, who was born in the Pacific Northwest, has a separate Midwestern and East Cost persona.

That statement may be a bit louche however. That’s because the fragmented texture-gliding he exhibits with Chicagoans cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm – who may be the most-frequently recorded cellist in New music – and bassist Jason Roebke, who anchors a clutch of Windy City combos – is close to what the trumpeter brings to some New York groups. However as a charter member of cellist Daniel Levin’s quartet since 2001, he attentively tries to meld with the impressionistic and legato impulses from the cellist as Live at Roulette attests. The band is filled out by vibist Matt Moran, who also plays in drummer John Hollenbeck’s ensembles, and bassist Peter Bitenc. MORE

December 12, 2009

Nate Wooley

Throw Down Your Hammer and Sing
Porter PRCD-4022

Daniel Levin Quartet

Live at Roulette

Clean Feed CF 147 CD

One of the trumpeters who, over the past few years, have committed to lower-case improvisation, Brooklyn-based Nate Wooley has also subtly adapted his distinctive playing to different situations. As a matter of fact, listening to these noteworthy CDs, it may appear as if Wooley, who was born in the Pacific Northwest, has a separate Midwestern and East Cost persona.

That statement may be a bit louche however. That’s because the fragmented texture-gliding he exhibits with Chicagoans cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm – who may be the most-frequently recorded cellist in New music – and bassist Jason Roebke, who anchors a clutch of Windy City combos – is close to what the trumpeter brings to some New York groups. However as a charter member of cellist Daniel Levin’s quartet since 2001, he attentively tries to meld with the impressionistic and legato impulses from the cellist as Live at Roulette attests. The band is filled out by vibist Matt Moran, who also plays in drummer John Hollenbeck’s ensembles, and bassist Peter Bitenc. MORE

May 25, 2009

The Flatlands Collective

Maatjes
Clean Feed CF 127 CD

Tone Dialing

Rigop Me

Evil Rabbit ER 07

Two complementary – and exemplary – looks at the compositional and improvisational skills of Jorrit Dijkstra, a transatlantic musician who frequently works with musicians both in his native Holland and the United States.

Now based in the Boston area, Dijkstra’s partners on Rigop Me are Dutch guitarist Paul Pallesen – in whose Bite the Gnatze, the saxophonist also plays – and Berlin-based, Melbourne-born drummer Steve Heather. Curiously enough, all the other members of The Flatlands Collective are Chicagoans – trombonist Jeb Bishop, clarinetist James Falzone, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Frank Rosaly – all part of that city’s explosion of now not-so-young improv talent. On Maatjes Lonberg-Holm also plays electronics, while Dijkstra plays lyricon and analog electronics as well as alto saxophone. However the sax is left in its case on Rigop Me as Dijkstra only works out on lyricon, loop machine and analog electronics. MORE

May 25, 2009

Tone Dialing

Rigop Me
Evil Rabbit ER 07

The Flatlands Collective

Maatjes

Clean Feed CF 127 CD

Two complementary – and exemplary – looks at the compositional and improvisational skills of Jorrit Dijkstra, a transatlantic musician who frequently works with musicians both in his native Holland and the United States.

Now based in the Boston area, Dijkstra’s partners on Rigop Me are Dutch guitarist Paul Pallesen – in whose Bite the Gnatze, the saxophonist also plays – and Berlin-based, Melbourne-born drummer Steve Heather. Curiously enough, all the other members of The Flatlands Collective are Chicagoans – trombonist Jeb Bishop, clarinetist James Falzone, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Frank Rosaly – all part of that city’s explosion of now not-so-young improv talent. On Maatjes Lonberg-Holm also plays electronics, while Dijkstra plays lyricon and analog electronics as well as alto saxophone. However the sax is left in its case on Rigop Me as Dijkstra only works out on lyricon, loop machine and analog electronics. MORE

April 8, 2009

Peter Brötzmann/Fred Lonberg-Holm

The Brain of the Dog in Section
Atavistic ALP 186 CD

Tony Malaby Cello Trio

Warblepeck

Songlines SGL SA1574-2

Hardest working man in cello business, Chicago-based Fred Lonberg-Holm is the point of intersection for these sessions. More to the point, even though both feature his strings and electronics plus the talents of an unfettered saxophonist – as well as percussionist John Hollenbeck on Warblepeck – the results couldn’t be more different.

Partnered alongside Lonberg-Holm on The Brain of the Dog in Section is veteran Peter Brötzmann playing alto and tenor saxophones, Bb clarinet and torogato in his usual take-no-prisoners style. Lasting fewer than 38 minutes both men demonstrate how stark, unfettered, harsh improvisation reveal the essence of improvisation. MORE

April 8, 2009

Tony Malaby Cello Trio

Warblepeck
Songlines SGL SA1574-2

Peter Brötzmann/Fred Lonberg-Holm

The Brain of the Dog in Section

Atavistic ALP 186 CD

Hardest working man in cello business, Chicago-based Fred Lonberg-Holm is the point of intersection for these sessions. More to the point, even though both feature his strings and electronics plus the talents of an unfettered saxophonist – as well as percussionist John Hollenbeck on Warblepeck – the results couldn’t be more different.

Partnered alongside Lonberg-Holm on The Brain of the Dog in Section is veteran Peter Brötzmann playing alto and tenor saxophones, Bb clarinet and torogato in his usual take-no-prisoners style. Lasting fewer than 38 minutes both men demonstrate how stark, unfettered, harsh improvisation reveal the essence of improvisation. MORE

October 5, 2007

James Falzone – Allos Musica

The Sign and the Thing Signified
Allos Document 002

The Flatlands Collective

Gnomade

Skycap Cap 035

Clarinetist James Falzone and percussionist Tim Mulvenna plus a cellist and a double bassist are the connective strands of these two sessions recorded four month apart in Chicago, although each is unique in many ways. The Sign and the Thing Signified is most notable for exposing the compositional and playing talents of Falzone. However, appreciation for the 13 tracks delineated in barely 41 minutes, depends on the listener’s tolerance for chamber-improv assayed by bassoon, viola, cello and bassist Brian Dibble as well as Falzone and Mulvenna. MORE

October 5, 2007

The Flatlands Collective

Gnomade
Skycap Cap 035

James Falzone – Allos Musica

The Sign and the Thing Signified

Allos Document 002

Clarinetist James Falzone and percussionist Tim Mulvenna plus a cellist and a double bassist are the connective strands of these two sessions recorded four month apart in Chicago, although each is unique in many ways. The Sign and the Thing Signified is most notable for exposing the compositional and playing talents of Falzone. However, appreciation for the 13 tracks delineated in barely 41 minutes, depends on the listener’s tolerance for chamber-improv assayed by bassoon, viola, cello and bassist Brian Dibble as well as Falzone and Mulvenna. MORE

May 1, 2006

FRED LONBERG-HOLM TRIO

Other Valentines
Atavistic ALP 165CD

FRED LONBERG-HOLM QUARTET
Bridges Freeze Before Roads
Longbox Records lbt036

Chicago cello crusader Fred Lonberg-Holm is usually so busy with his back-up duties in bands ranging from the Vamndermark5 to Peter Brötzmann’s Tentet to what seems like half the CDs recorded in that city, that his solo dates are infrequent.

From the evidence presented here, this may be a wise strategy. OTHER VALENTINES is his own trio’s follow-up tribute CD to the music of pioneering jazz cellist Fred Katz. It also includes compositions by, among others Sun Ra, Gil Scott-Heron, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett. But indolent pacing and a limited color palate stick the 10 tracks in a box of muted sameness that it barely escapes. MORE

April 10, 2006

GUILLERMO GREGORIO

Coplanar
New World Records NW 80639-2

Truthfully a New music session, the eight notated compositions by Argentinean-American composer/reedist Guillermo Gregorio owe their overall careful implementation and shape to more than the Chicago-based saxophonist and clarinetist’s theoretical basis for writing. Nearly all of the members of Gregorio’s Madi ensemble and featured guests have experience with improvised music, including the leader himself. Additionally he has such respect for the spontaneous impulse that space was left in the final track for an improvisation by bass clarinetist Ken Vandermark. MORE

January 9, 2006

Birgit Ulher/Gino Robair

Sputter
Creative Sources

Birgit Ulher/Michael Zerang/Lou Mallozzi
Landscape: recognizable
Creative Sources

Punctual Trio
Grammer
Rossbin

By Ken Waxman
January 9, 2006

For years North American improvisers have gone to Europe to play with like-minded musicians; today the traffic is as frequently the other way .Sputter and Landscape: recognizable are a couple of souvenirs from Hamburg-based trumpeter Birgit Ulher’s recent American odysseys that show her interaction with similarly minded Yank music experimenters. Meanwhile Grammer captures an earlier meeting in Chicago between Portuguese violinist Carlos Zingaro and two locals, one of whom is also on one of the trumpeter’s CDs. MORE

January 2, 2006

PETER BRÖTZMANN CHICAGO TENTET

Be Music, Night
OkkaDisk OD 12059

This CD may ruin saxophonist Peter Brötzmann’s long-held reputation as the ferocious, hard-hearted wild man of Free Jazz.

For the entire hour-plus CD by the German reedman’s mostly Chicago-based band is designed as homage to American poet Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972). Additionally, the longest – more than 42 minutes – of the three tracks features mellifluous-voiced Welsh poet Mike Pearson integrated into the ensemble reading selections from Patchen’s work that are, for all intents and purposes, love poems. MORE

April 18, 2005

Fred Lonberg-Holm

Dialogs (2002)
Emanem

Noid
Monodigmen
aRtonal

By Ken Waxman
April 18, 2005

Solo cello recitals are becoming increasingly common in improvised music as more instrumentalists playing so-called classical instruments are drawn to the sounds. With the novelty gone – Mark Wastell of the United Kingdom and Nikos Veliotis of Greece have created impressive solo cello sets recently – the challenge is to establish an identity within the ever-shifting music.

Vienna’s Arnold Haberl – who performs as Noid – and Chicago’s Fred Lonberg-Holm have created impressive documents by adopting two simple, yet expressive strategies. Noid’s Monodigmen is more than 73 minutes of repeated loop patterns, creating 13 hypnotic tracks that range from four seconds to almost 12½ minutes. Repeated, close listening exposes the rhythms and patterns in what seems at first to be a monochromic sound. Elsewhere Noid has collaborated with musicians as different as Israeli saxophonist Assif Tsahar and British-Australian violinist Jon Rose, as well as with performance artists and dancers. MORE

December 6, 2004

PETER BRÖTZMANN CHICAGO TENTET

Signs
Okkadisk OD 12048

MS4
PETER BRÖTZMANN CHICAGO TENTET
Images
Okkadisk OD 12047

More than five years after it was first organized, German reedist Peter Brötzmann’s mostly Chicago-populated Tentet has become a welcomed presence on the international improv scene.

In the tradition of the Globe Unity Orchestra -- of which Brötzmann was also a member -- the reed-heavy band plays long, involved compositions more concerned with spur of the moment interpretation than elaborate arrangements. Yet, as this matched set of live and studio material demonstrates, the 10-piece band actually sounds best when organized patterns and section work are added to the massed firepower. MORE

August 2, 2004

Carlo Actis Dato

American Tour
Splasc(H)

By Ken Waxman

August 2, 2004

With his ebullient personality and colorful outfits that often suggest one of the Seven Dwarfs inbred with the Three Stooges, Turin’s Carlo Actis Dato is perhaps the prototypical Italian free improviser.

Valued member of a clutch of local bands under his own name or led by others -- not to mention his part in the all-star Italian Instabile Orchestra -- Actis Dato is up for any kind of improvisation, in varied situations with all types of musicians. MORE

February 9, 2004

MATT BAUDER

Weary Already of the Way
482 Music 482-1025

MATT BAUDER/JASON AJEMIAN
Object 3
Locust no. 38

Probably the biggest challenge facing listeners to reedist Matt Bauder’s two new CDs is figuring out how much of the music is composed, how much is improvised and how much is the result of studio manipulation. On the other hand you can merely allow the sounds to seep from your organ of Corti into your consciousness, reacting to them on a purely visceral level.

Bauder is one of the many young Chicago improvisers whose allegiance is as much with post-rock, contemporary classical and electro-acoustic drone as it is with jazz. Most of the players work in each others’ bands and a considerable number of them -- including at least three on the sextet date -- have played with the scene’s most prominent representative, saxist Ken Vandermark. MORE

June 9, 2003

AXEL DÖRNER/FRED LONBERG-HOLM

Object 1
Locust Music L 23

Dadaist in conception and execution, OBJECT 1 is the first of a series of collaborations that asks improvising musicians to create a so-called soundtrack for static objects. In this case the Duchampian objects to be aurally pictured are a bowling ball [!], a chest x-ray[!!], and a brillo pad [!!!].

Propitiously enough, the inceptive experimenters are German trumpeter Axel Dörner and Chicago cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, who both have plenty of experience negotiating the cracks between noise, music and silence. While the end results are unique, they’re best sampled in small doses, perhaps one track at a time. Plus, left unanswered, if all the music isn’t designed as a collage of images, is which inanimate object is described on each of the five unlabeled tracks. MORE

March 17, 2003

VANDERMARK/STRID/SANDELL/STACKENÄS/NORDESON

Two Days in December
Wobbly Rail 012

THE VANDERMARK 5 Free Jazz Classics Vols. 1 & 2
Atavistic ALP1372CD

TERRITORY BAND-2 Atlas
Okka Disk 12050

Ken Vandermark seems to put out more discs in a year than some earlier jazzmen did in a career. But if he keeps turning out fine sessions like this single CD (ATLAS) and two double CDs, then there's little reason to complain.

Like other improvising musicians before him, the multi-reedman realizes that the best way to keep things fresh is to consistently change playing situations. On these five discs the circumstances range from a series of duos with four different Swedish improvisers (TWO DAYS); 13 recreations of 1960s-1970s advanced jazz standards with his regular quintet (FREE JAZZ); and a speedy romp through four original compositions as part of a 12-piece mixed American/European band (ATLAS). MORE

February 10, 2003

XMARSX

XMARSX
Atavistic ALP138CD

TIM BERNE
Science Friction
Screwgun Screwu 013

Just because many -- most? -- of the advances transmitted by jazz-rock fusion had been ground into formula by the early 1980s, doesn’t means that there isn’t scope for exploration with that mixture of highly amplified instruments and improvisation.

Fusion doesn’t have to be what it has become -- bass guitar grandstanding, drummers using more equipment than finesse, and onanistic lead guitar indulgences -- as these two CDs set out to prove. Still its conventions are so strong that you can almost literally hear the musicians struggling to stretch the formula. Whether they prevail is open to interpretation and may depend on your history on the jazz or rock side of the fence. MORE

June 7, 2002

PETER BRÖTZMANN TENTET PLUS TWO

Short Visit To Nowhere
Okka Disk OD 12043

PETER BRÖTZMANN TENTET PLUS TWO
Broken English
Okka Disk OD 12044

Three years after it was first organized and a year after it first toured, Peter Brötzmann’s Chicago Tentet (Plus Two in this case) displays, in these 2000 recordings, that it has become an exemplary example of how to adopt free improv to large aggregations.

With a mixed cast of seven Chicagoans, three members from New York state, a Swede and Brötzmann, a German, it has all the firepower of a traditional big band with its eight horns. Plus, the three-man string section and two percussionists ensure that not only is its bottom covered -- so to speak -- but that the strings can alternately meld with the horns or shore up the rhythm section. Also, while the German reedman wrote two of the compositions, he’s democratic enough to make room for one piece each by Chicago multi-woodwind player Ken Vandermark, Swedish reedist Mats Gustafsson and Chicago cellist/violinist Fred Lonberg-Holm. MORE

October 15, 2001

AXEL DÖRNER/FRED LONGBERG-HOLM/MICHAEL ZERANG

Claque
Meniscus Records MNSCS 006

Innovations usually depend on a singular flash point to begin. Axel Dörner has provided it for the trumpet's future. On this, the Berlin-based brassman's first solo disc, he has consolidated his trumpet concept and created a session that will probably be consulted by valve students and others for years to come.

Ignoring all the brass fanfares, mellow caresses and straightahead melody making most associate with the cylindrical wind instrument, he uses every part of the horn to slice, dice, splice and spice sounds. Along the way, he transforms how we conceive of and hear the trumpet as profoundly as Briton Evan Parker did the saxophone with his first disc as a leader in the 1970s. MORE

October 15, 2001

BHOB RAINEY

Sweet Sonk
Crouton No #

BHOB RAINEY/GREG KELLEY
nmperign
Selektion No #

BHOB RAINEY/JACK WRIGHT
Signs of Life
Springgarden No #

BHOB RAINEY/ JACK WRIGHT/FRED LONBERG-HOLM/BOB MARSH
Double Double
Springgarden No #

Step right up ladies and gentlemen for the thrills and chills on show in each of the areas of our four-ring improv circus. Featured performer is saxist Bhob Rainey who performs a series of kinky, usual and death defying feats with his curved soprano saxophone. See him physically take it apart in front of your eyes. Hear him play through every part of the instrument and blow air, sonics and just about anything else you can imagine through those metal parts. Watch him deconstructing the very fabric of what we know of as music. And marvel at how interested you are in the process, even though you may never have seen anything like it before. MORE

October 1, 2001

JOHN BUTCHER

Music on seven occasions
Meniscus Records MNSCS 004

JOHN BUTCHER/DYLAN VAN DER SCHYFF
Points, snags and windings
Meniscus Records MNSCS 010

As amiable as he is adventurous, British saxophone explorer John Butcher rarely misses an opportunity to collaborate with similar intrepid musical explorers. Comfortable in a variety of formations, the two accomplished discs here highlight his duet work.

A superb pair, the main difference between them is choice of partners. MUSIC ON SEVEN OCCASIONS is just that, recorded over a three year period in the 1990s in different American and British studios, featuring nine partners plus four solo saxophone interludes. POINTS, SNAGS AND WINDINGS, on the other hand, has one fewer musician on board then there are nouns in the title. It's a record of duets between Butcher and Vancouver, B.C.-based percussionist Dylan van der Schyff, done last year in Vancouver. MORE

August 4, 2000

WITCHES & DEVILS

At The Empty Bottle
Knitting Factory KFW-282

Thirty years after insurgent tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler jumped headfirst into New York's East River, admiring jazzers are still celebrating his achievements.

That's because Ayler's important work reinterpreted the music. The most "out" of "out" jazzers, his playing and composing was made up in equal parts of unbridled energy and recurrent, quasi-childlike ditties. Ayler's performances didn't "swing" -- as the neo-cons understand it -- but lurched along like an out-of-control crowd at a carnival, then abruptly stopped to dance around in juvenile joy. Concurrently Ayler music was the sound of uncharted space travel and of the most primitive marching band, communicated through pure emotion.

MORE