Reviews that mention John Lindberg

October 14, 2013

Festival Report

Guelph Jazz Festival
By Ken Waxman

New combination and new conceptions, sporadically sprinkled with touches of exotica, characterized the 20th anniversary edition of the Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF) September 4-8. Affiliated with a contiguous academic Colloquium on improvisation, the GJF, located in a small university city, fewer than 100 kilometres west of Toronto, has from its beginning stretched the definition of “jazz”, while avoiding populist pandering. The approach obviously works well, with the GJF slowly expanding. On Saturday, afternoon and evening free outdoor concerts now take place in front of city hall; the free, dusk-to-dawn Nuit Blanche offers intimates performances in non-traditional downtown spaces. Plus a full schedule of workshops and formal concerts unrolls each day. MORE

September 14, 2013

Wadada Leo Smith and TUM Orchestra

Occupy The World
TUM CD 037-2

Nicole Mitchell’s Ice Crystal


Delmark DE 5004

Satoko Fujii Ma-Do

Time Stands Still

NotTwo MW 897-2


Arômes d’allieurs

Malasartes mam 016

Something In The Air: The Guelph Jazz Festival Turns 20

By Ken Waxman

Twenty years after its modest beginning, the Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF), which this year takes place September 3 to 8, has grown to be one of this country’s major improvised music celebrations. Unlike many other so-called jazz fests which lard their programs with crooners masquerading as jazz singers, tired rock or pop acts, or so-called World or C&W performers who make no pretense of playing jazz, the GJF continues to showcase committed improvisers in sympathetic settings including during the fourth installment of the dusk-to-dawn Nuit Blanche. MORE

May 8, 2013

Wadada Leo Smith

Ten Freedom Summers
Cuneiform Records RUNE 350/351/352/353

By Ken Waxman

Striving to musically capture defining moments in African-American history, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith has written 19 compositions to mostly reflect events of the Civil Rights era from 1954-1964; the Ten Freedom Summers of the title. In a gestation period that began in 1977 and consumed most of his time during a three-year stretch before this four-CD set was recorded in late 2011, Smith broadened his focus back to the Dred Scott case and forward to September 11th. Interpreted by the jazz-sophisticated members of his Golden Quartet/Quintet (GQ) plus the Southwest Chamber Music (SCM) group, 70-year-old Smith calls the program, “one of my life’s defining works”. Personal rather than pedantic, the compositions celebrate defining moments. Although there are related motifs among them, linkage is more psychological than sonic. Each composition is designed to stand on its own. MORE

September 10, 2011

John Lindberg’s Tripolar

[A] Live at Roulette, NYC
Jazzwerkstatt JW 114

By Ken Waxman

Linchpin of the String Trio of New York (STNY) for more than 30 years, bassist John Lindberg has always been involved in parallel ensembles that tackle more strenuous improvisations. Tripolar – coincidentally a trio – is one of the best, as this CD demonstrates. This shouldn’t surprise. Besides the bassist, whose playing partners have ranged from mainstream drummer Ed Thigpen to experimental trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, Tripolar includes multi-reedist Don Davis, a long-time Microscopic Septet member and Kevin Norton, whose vibes and percussion have backed stylists as distinct as Anthony Braxton and Joëlle Léadre. MORE

April 3, 2011

Anne LeBaron

1, 2, 4, 3
Innova 236

Perhaps it’s the because of a longer and more genteel recital tradition, but while improvisers such as the United Kingdom’s Rhodri Davies and France’s Hélène Breschand have forged unique microtonal and multiphonic roles for the concert or Celtic harp, as far as most music followers are concerned, in North America only Zeena Parkins is involved with similar multi-string experiments. Well, not quite.

Anne LeBaron, who teaches at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, and is best-known as a composer of operas and other New music celebrating fantastic figures such as Pope Joan, Marie Laveau, and the American Housewife, has a parallel career as a harpist. LeBaron’s forays have included recordings with Jazz and/or Free Musicians such as pianist Muhal Richard Abrams and reedist Wolfgang Fuchs and his King Übü Örchestrü. This two-CD set consists of notable improvisations from eight different sessions between 2002 and 2010. MORE

May 27, 2010

Wadada Leo Smith

Spiritual Dimensions
Cuneiform Rune 290/291

During a career that stretches from the mid-1960s, Mississippi-born trumpeter and educator Wadada Leo Smith has never followed one path. A founding member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM), Smith – who excelled at playing acoustic music with stylists such as reedist Anthony Braxton and drummer Günter Baby Sommer, has also become comfortable with electric instruments, most notably in the Yo Miles! project with guitarist Henry Kaiser.

However while accepting the strictures affiliated with thicker beats and electricity Smith also doesn’t kowtow to any accepted formula. Plugged-in wave forms are used in his compositions and performances exactly in the same fashion as acoustic timbres. Take this impressive two-CD set as an example. On the first disc, the percussion input is doubled, making what formerly was a Golden quartet a quintet; while on disc two, with the Organic ensemble, the string section includes not only bass, electric bass and cello, but also features at least three and sometimes four electric guitarists. MORE

May 20, 2009

String Trio of New York

The River of Orion: 30 Years Running
Black Saint 120178-2

What began as an anomaly has, after more than three decades of evolution, become an institution. Yet, as the String Trio of New York (STNY)’s The River of Orion demonstrates, innovation and musical smarts still are still paramount in the group. These are expressed in two distinctive suites.

Guitarist James Emery’s title track is a nine-part investigation of what could probably be called Chamber Improv. Bassist John Lindberg’s five miniatures grouped under the title “Journey Platz” show off another side of the trio and could easily be labeled Chamber Swing. MORE

October 8, 2008

Variations on a Theme

Guelph Jazz Festival Musicians On Their Own
Extended Play

Barry Guy/Mats Gustafsson/Raymond Strid


Maya MCD0801

Junk Box

Cloudy Then Sunny

Libra Records 203-019

John Zorn

News For Lulu

hatOLOGY 650

Matana Roberts

The Chicago Project

Central Control CC1006PR

Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet


Cuneiform Rune 270

AMMÜ Quartet

AMMÜ Quartet

January 16, 2006


Frozen Ropes
Barking Hoop BKH-009

The Traveller
Jazzaway JARCD 011

Recording with strings seems be the secret desire of every saxophonist, at least ever since Charlie Parker did his famous BIRD WITH STRINGS sessions in the 1950s. These two CDs, recorded almost simultaneously, but in different countries, show how two veteran alto players of the first and second wave of the avant garde adapt to variations of this setting.

Sonny Simmons, 72, who first recorded with fellow California saxist Prince Lasha back in 1962, chooses the accepted with-strings formula. This session from Oslo playing over harmonies composed, arranged and conducted by flautist Vidar Johansen and interpreted by the Kringkastningsorkesteret of two violins, a viola and a cello. MORE

December 5, 2005


Winter Birds
Between the Lines BTLCHR 71203

Konnex KCD 5141

Variations on a quartet theme, the different strategies working bands put across depending on whether they’re involved in a live or a studio situation are illustrated by these CDs.

Recorded on gigs in Rochester, N.Y., Amherst, Mass. and Chicago, LIVE showcases extended five performances from the all-star Nu Band quartet that allow its veteran members extensive space in which to let loose. On the other hand, WINTER BIRDS captures the quartet of bassist John Lindberg, with as stellar a line-up, working in a studio date that followed 13 European concerts in 15 days. Playing nine of the bassist’s tunes and one written by flautist Steve Gorn, the CD recreates in a studio the tightness of the touring quartet MORE

March 14, 2005


Time-Space Modulator
Barking Hoop BKH-008

Sunnyside Records SSC 1137

Evolving his improvising from the odd side of convention, while maintaining a healthy respect for tradition, soprano and tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby could be the successor to Joe Lovano in terms of being an all-around, advanced inside player.

Like the older woodwind player, he teaches sax workshops, is on call as a sidemen for many bands as well as his own, interprets standards, jazz and otherwise, as well as writing his own material. Heck, with his girth and beard he could pass for Lovano’s kid brother. MORE

September 13, 2004


Intuitive Structures
Cadence Jazz Records CJR 1166

Intakt CD 092

Cellos and tenor saxophones have similar timbres, which means that increasingly composers are putting together combos that use this musical blend as a starting point for improvisation.

Even though both CDs here feature that line up as well as four long compositions each, the results couldn’t be more different. That’s because New Jersey-based percussionist Kevin Norton plays up the jazz-orientation of his quartet, while Oakland, Calif.-based saxist Larry Ochs of ROVA Quartet fame, injects his cellist into a musical situation that draws on structured and cued improvisations mixed with elements of so-called New and World music. MORE

August 4, 2003


Ruminations on Ives and Gottschalk
Between the lines btl 025

Seven compositions joined together in a suite form this CD, honoring two idiosyncratic American classical composers, but featuring -- not surprisingly -- jazz players rather than members of the so-called serious music fraternity.

What do you expect? While classical snobs’ abhorrence of jazz as mere popular music is well known and exists to this day, the symphonic establishment has also never been particularly welcoming to visionary composers, especially of the non-European variety. MORE

June 29, 2002


Red Toucan RT 9320

A reunion of sorts, this CD not only matches woodwind player Frank Gratkowski with pianist Georg Graewe, with whom he has had a decade-long collaboration, but features his second ever concert with American bassist John Lindberg, with whom Graewe first played with 15 years ago.

The resulting more than 57 minutes of restrained chamber jazz recorded last year at Cologne’s Loft by these two Germans and one Yank, succinctly demonstrates how complimentary stylists can fit together like ball-and-socket despite differences of geography and time. MORE

May 17, 2002


Two By Five
between the lines btl 019/EFA 10189-2

Conceivably an unconscious attempt to prove, in hindsight, their worth to their first music teachers, writing for and performing with strings has always been a particular aspiration for jazz musicians. Often, however, the result is merely pretty and decorative.

Ironically enough though, this exceptional piece of notated composition comes from a youngish improviser, who probably has less academic training than most contemporary jazz musicians. Unlike his university-educated confreres, bassist John Lindberg dropped out of school in Grade 10 to get that much more quickly into the jazz life. But in a classic instance of learning on the job, Lindberg’s more than 30 years of playing experience with folks as varied as mainstream drummer Ed Thigpen, ROVA saxophonist Larry Ochs and composer/instrumentalists like Wadada Leo Smith and Anthony Braxton have served him well on this disc. MORE

December 18, 2000


A Tree Frog Tonality
between the lines 008/EFA 10178-2

Mainstay of the long running String Trio of New York, John Lindberg has an obvious affinity for chamber jazz. But that's not his only outlet. A multi-skilled bassist who was recording with the likes of Jimmy Lyons and Anthony Braxton while still in his early twenties, away from the String Trio, he tries to perform in different combinations as often as possible.

An aural souvenir of one of those excursions, TREE FROG, finds Lindberg in a classic free jazz setting with three other improv veterans. An AACM member, West Coast-based trumpeter Smith has added Ratafarianism and academics to his outlook over the years. Bay area saxophonist Larry Ochs is a founding member of the ROVA quartet, while Andrew Cyrille helped "invent" free drumming during his tenure with Cecil Taylor in the 1960s and 1970s.