Reviews that mention Paal Nilssen-Love

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

September 8, 2017

Brötzmann/Swell/Nilssen-Love

Krakow Nights
Not Two MW-937-2

BassDrumBone

The Long Road

Auricle Records AUR 16/17

Anemone

A Wing Dissolved in Light

NoBusiness Records NBLP 105

Toxic

This is Beautiful because we are Beautiful People

ESP-Disk ESP 5011

Something in the Air: New Excitement at the Guelph Jazz Festival

By Ken Waxman

After a couple of quiet years the annual Guelph Festival (GJF), September 13 to September 17, is newly energized and asserting its role as one of Canada’s most consistent showcases of adventurous music. Another reason for this year’s buzz is that besides the outstanding Canadian and American musicians consistently featured at the GJF, major European improvisers will be on hand as well. MORE

January 7, 2017

The DKVThing Trio

Collider
NotTwo MW 930-2

Arashi

Semikujira

Trost TR 146

By Ken Waxman

Seemingly more ubiquitous than a smart phone, Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love appears to be everywhere at once, especially when advanced improvised music is involved. Not only does the percussionist lead his own large unit and smaller aggregations, but he also turns up in groups led by players ranging from Frode Gjerstad to Peter Brötzmann. These recent sessions are particularly notable for a couple of reasons. Semikujira is the newest chapter in the history of an on-again/off-again trio made up of Nilssen-Love, Swedish bassist Johan Berthling and veteran Japanese alto saxophonist/clarinetist Akira Sakata. Ratcheting the intensity level up into the red zone, Collider solders together The Thing, the drummer’s punk-jazz trio with Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten with its U.S. counterpoint, the DKV trio of reedist Ken Vandermark, bassist Kent Kessler and drummer Hamid Drake. MORE

January 7, 2017

Arashi

Semikujira
Trost TR 146

The DKVThing Trio

Collider

NotTwo MW 930-2

By Ken Waxman

Seemingly more ubiquitous than a smart phone, Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love appears to be everywhere at once, especially when advanced improvised music is involved. Not only does the percussionist lead his own large unit and smaller aggregations, but he also turns up in groups led by players ranging from Frode Gjerstad to Peter Brötzmann. These recent sessions are particularly notable for a couple of reasons. Semikujira is the newest chapter in the history of an on-again/off-again trio made up of Nilssen-Love, Swedish bassist Johan Berthling and veteran Japanese alto saxophonist/clarinetist Akira Sakata. Ratcheting the intensity level up into the red zone, Collider solders together The Thing, the drummer’s punk-jazz trio with Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten with its U.S. counterpoint, the DKV trio of reedist Ken Vandermark, bassist Kent Kessler and drummer Hamid Drake. MORE

December 1, 2016

Large Unit

Ana
PNL Records PNL 033

Zlatko Kaučič Cerkno Jubileum Orchestra

In Memory of Boštjan Cvek

Klopotec IZK CD 040

Large ensemble organizers are comparable to climbers of Mount Everest: they continue to brave the preparation and discomfort that goes into formulating the ascent for the fulfillment of the completed task. Still despite 21st century socio-economic considerations big bands are still formulated, but with the proviso that for every touring unit literally 100 others come together briefly for a particular program. The ensembles here, each coincidentally led by a percussionist, reflect both side of this equation. Subsidized by merchandise sales, government aid and his own gumption, in between his many other commitments, Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love has kept his Large Unit on the road since 2013. Ana is a distinctive part of its discography because his three compositions add Brazilian rhythms played by Brazilian percussionists to his band already made up of musicians from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. MORE

November 11, 2016

Mats Gustafsson’ Peace & Fire

At Porgy & Bess
Trost Records TR 140

Keith Rowe/John Tilbury

enough still not to know

SOFA 548

Mopomoso Tour 2013

Making Rooms

Weekertoft 1-4

Barry Guy Blue Shroud Band Small Formations

Tensegrity

NotTwo MW938-2

Something In The Air: Multi-Disc Box Sets Offer Depth As Well As Quantity

By Ken Waxman

When a CD box of improvised music appears it customarily marks a critical occasion. So it is with these recent four-disc sets. One celebrates an anniversary tour by nine of London’s most accomplished improvisers. Another collects small group interactions in Krakow by musicians gathered to perform as an orchestra. A third is a souvenir of concerts celebrating Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson’s 50th birthday. Finally enough still not to know captures extended improvisations by pianist John Tilbury and table-top guitarist Keith Rowe, who have worked with one another on-and-off for 40 years. MORE

September 21, 2016

Arashi

Semikujira
Trost TR 146

Sousa/Berthling/Ferrandini

Casa Futuro

Clean Feed CF 334 CD

Musically self-effacing at least in terms of projecting himself into mass public consciousness, Swedish bassist Johan Berthling works in various groups with Mats Gustafsson and others, whole dabbling in avant-pop and production. However like the pinch hitter brought into the ball game when true expertise is needed, these similarly constituted trio sessions benefit from his modest bottom-accentuated conceptions. MORE

August 6, 2016

Artist Feature

Frode Gjerstad
By Ken Waxman

After more than three decades on the cutting edge of free music, Norwegian saxophonist Frode Gjerstad, 68, is more modest than he should be. “I realized very early that I couldn’t make a living playing the music I was interested in,” relates the Stavanger-based musician. “So I got an education and became a teacher while still playing.” Merely describing himself as a teacher downplays that Gjerstad taught economics, social science and sound design at university and college. Plus, before Gjerstad made the transition to full-time playing about 10 years ago, he worked steadily with some of the music’s heaviest hitters including drummer John Stevens, pianist Borah Bergman and cornetist Bobby Bradford. “I’m happy that I didn’t become a full time musician at an early age. With kids and a wife I stayed at home and could concentrate on the music I like. I’m not a big spender plus my wife has always been very helpful. She owns a kindergarten and I help her with that. She has been my biggest supporter all these years.” MORE

August 6, 2016

Festival Report

Ljubljana Jazz Festival
By Ken Waxman

Located on both banks of the picturesque Ljubljanica River, Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia, is a pleasant city containing, unique historical edifices mostly designed by the city’s early 20th century starchitect Jože Plečnik. Ljubljana is replete with pedestrian-only areas, especially near the iconic Triple Bridge, with parts of its main street restricted to public transit and bicycles. In modern times, Ljubljana has been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, under Italian or French control, ruled by native dictators and kings and a member of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Declaring independence in 1991, Slovenia joined the European Union in 2004. Always supportive of improvised music, the Ljubljana Jazz Festival celebrated its 57th anniversary June 29th-July 2nd this year. Performances were presented in different indoor spaces and the back-garden of the multi-level Cankarjev Dom cultural centre, one of Europe’s largest. MORE

May 22, 2016

The Thing

Shake
TROST TTR 005 CD

Gush

The March

Konvoj Records Kor 005

More than a quarter century after he almost literally blew into public consciousness as a Swedish augmentation of the corybantic Peter Brötzmann-Albert Ayler saxophone tradition, multi-reedman Mats Gustafsson has continued to develop manifold playing styles. Like the comic actor who scores in dramatic parts while retaining a commitment to comedy, Gustafsson bounces from intense, atonal improvisations to other settings where burly rhythm is as much a construct as atonal scrutiny. MORE

December 11, 2015

Festival Report

Krakow Jazz Autumn
By Ken Waxman

Krakow’s Kazimierz district, which includes Poland’s oldest standing synagogue building, and architecture dating mostly from the 18th century, was early on a centre of intellectual ferment, and more recently known for its large concentration of bars and restaurants. But it’s likely that rarely has the area witnessed such an open display of power and emotion as took place during German reedist Peter Brötzmann’s four-day residency November 5 to 8 at the basement Alchemia Club during Krakow Jazz Autumn. MORE

November 16, 2015

Label Spotlight

PNL Records
By Ken Waxman

Clichés frequently contain a kernel of truth. For instance apply the adage “if you want something done right, do it yourself” to drummer Paal Nilssen-Love’s Oslo-based PNL record label and the bromide makes perfect sense. Although recording for other imprints – which he still does – since the early ‘90s, by 2007 Nilssen-Love had so many projects he wanted to expose that he decided to become a label owner himself.

“I wanted to be more hands on,” he recalls. “Already in 2007 I was on several labels with various bands which is fine enough, but I wanted to do things myself. I wouldn’t say that I had been chasing labels with a ton of recordings but I figured that I couldn’t depend on other labels to have the music released. There´s also a long tradition of musicians putting out records themselves. You’re in full – well almost – control of the product and if something goes wrong, you’re the one to blame. It makes things easier that way.” 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 1, 2015

Festival Report

Météo
By Ken Waxman

Multi-media, theatricalism and electronics were the motifs that kept cropping up during the Météo Festival (August 25-29) in this Alsatian city known for its textile industry and unique German-French flair. There were also plenty of intense improvisations in its venues, confirming the continued strength of the 33-year-old festival.

Artistic mixing was most prominent during Météo’s opening concert in the Italianate 19th Century Théâtre de la Sinne as the French Surnatural Orchestra interacted with a screening of Italian director Dario D’Aregento’s 1975 slasher film Profondo Rosso. Unlike most music-with-cinema programs where live playing is subordinated to the visuals, this bloody over-the-top Hitchcock-Goddard-Fellini pastiche was frozen at various junctures for limber solos by a dancer, a speaker’s pseudo-pretentious film analysis, a scream from the stalls, cabaret style singing and a Second Line march through the audience. Still, no sonic moments stood out, and the exercise could be liked to someone decked out in full Carnaby Street fashion surmounting the outfit with a Viking helmet. MORE

July 6, 2015

Festival Report

Ring Ring
By Ken Waxman

Try to imagine any North American TV network telecasting a performance by Charles Gayle that’s simultaneously broadcast on radio and via live streaming. Impossible, right? But that’s exactly what took place mid-way through the annual Ring Ring Festival in Belgrade Serbia. Facing an enthusiastic studio audience, Gayle on piano and tenor saxophone plus Polish bassist Ksawery Wojcinski’s subtle string bending and German drummer Klaus Kugel’s aggressive, but un-antagonistic beats played for one hour. This unique programming characterizes Ring Ring (May 19-25) in colorful Belgrade, a city poised between East and West which has been subject to periodic sieges and bombardments since the 14th Century including NATO’s in 1999. Slightly constrained by the studio, Gayle’s tenor saxophone playing was less ferocious than in the past although still characterized by wide vibrato and molten intensity, which was put to good use on a run through of “Ghosts” and during duets with the bassist’s choppy thrusts. A unique pianist, Gayle favored the instrument’s dark register with boogie-woogie allusions, supplemented by his own voicing, which re-harmonized standards like “I’ll Remember You” and “What’s New”, dissected them, eventually revealing the melody, like an X-ray of the skeleton beneath the skin. MORE

April 7, 2015

Festival Report

Artacts ‘15
By Ken Waxman

Situated in the midst of Austria’s Tyrolean Alps where chair lifts are a 20 minute walk from the central square, every second store sells ski equipment and alpine-outfitted fanatics crowd the streets, the resort of St. Johann in Tirol welcomed an equally committed but different type of fanatic March 6-8. Celebrating its 15th anniversary the annual Artacts Festival presents improvised music at the Alte Gerberei cultural centre and elsewhere. Evening performances ranged from the focused minimalism of the opening Gutvik/Kjær/Strøm trio to drummer Paal Nilssen-Love’s 11-piece Large Unit that closed the festival with confrontational brawn. MORE

March 13, 2015

Mats Gustafsson NU Ensemble

Hidros 6 - Knockin’
Not Two MW 915

Yves Charuest and Ellwood Epps

La Passe

Small Scale Music SM 005

Pierre Yves Martel/Phillippe Lauzier

Sainct Laurens Volume 2

E-tron Records ETRC 019

Barry Guy

Five Fizzles for Samuel Beckett

NoBusiness Records NBEP 2

Something In The Air: Unusual Formats for New Music

By Ken Waxman

Everything old is new again doesn’t go quite far enough in describing formats now available for disseminating music. Not only are downloads and streaming becoming preferred options, but CDs are still being pressed at the same time as musicians experiment with DVDs, vinyl variants and even tape cassettes. Happily the significance of the musical messages outweighs the media multiplicity. 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

November 6, 2014

Sten Sandell & Paal Nilssen-Love

Jacana
Rune Grammofon RCD 2159 CD

Zlatko Kaučič/Augustí Fernández

Sonic Party

NotTwo MW 912-2

Recorded live slightly more than a week apart at different European festivals, two accomplished piano-drums duos demonstrate the width and breadth of concentrated improvisations on these discs.

All the players are peripatetic veterans, who have worked with other masters of the genre(s) like saxophonists Peter Brötzmann and Evan Parker; and each set of players brings am individual sensibility to the interface. Perhaps by happenstance the two Southern Europeans – Spanish pianist Augustí Fernández and Slovenian percussionist Zlatko Kaučič Zlatko Kaucic appear more committed to the Jazz tradition, while the two Northern Europeans – Swedish pianist Sten Sandell and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love – operate more within the realm of Free Music. Each approach is equally suitable and significant MORE

June 25, 2014

Paal Nilssen-Love Large Unit

First Blow
PNL Records PNL 021

Graham Collier

Luminosity-The Last Suites

Jazzcontinuum GCM 2014

Barry Guy New Orchestra

Amphi, Radio Rondo

Intakt CD 235

Danielle Palardy Roger

Le Caillou

Ambiances Magnetiques AM 215 CD

Modern Art Orchestra Plays the Music of Kristóf Bascó

Circular

BMC CD 204

Something In The Air: Translating a Singular Vision to a Large Ensemble

By Ken Waxman
MORE

June 14, 2014

Something Else Musically in Steeltown

A New Music Festival
By Ken Waxman

With local jazz festivals becoming increasingly populist improvised music audiences and musicians yearn for programs oriented towards more experimental sounds. Unexpectedly the situation is being resolved 60 kilometres away in downtown Hamilton. From June 16 to 21 the first SOMETHING ELSE! festival of creative music, takes place at Hamilton Artists Inc. 155 James St. North, when local musicians share the stage with international improvisers.

“We moved to Hamilton two years ago, and while it’s fine to see music in Buffalo and Toronto, eventually there comes a time that you want good things to happen wherever you live,” explains Zula Presents’ festival curator Cem Zafir. Discovering that some of his favorite musicians would be in the area in June, Zafir decided to showcase them in Hamilton alongside deserving local artists. Suddenly the festival was born. MORE

April 18, 2014

Joe McPhee-Paal Nilssen-Love

Red Sky
PNL 016

Evan Parker & Joe McPhee

What/If/They Both Could Fly

Rune Grammofon RCD 2149CD

Survival Unit III

Game Theory

NotTwo MW 907-2

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

June 18, 2013

Double Tandem

Cement
PNL Records PNL 013

The Resonance Ensemble

What Country is This?

NotTwo MW 885-2

Fire! Orchestra

Exit!

Rune Grammofon RDCD 2138

Lean Left

Live at Café Oto

Unsounds 32U

Something in The Air: Modern Rhythms and New Jazz

By Ken Waxman

As the rhythmic base of jazz has changed over the past half century, adding emphases besides pure swing to improvisation, the role of the percussionist has changed as well. No longer just a time keeper the modern drummer must be conversant with varied beats from many genres of music. This familiarity with other cultures is also why many non-Americans have become prominent. Case in point is Norwegian percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love, who plays with the Euro-American band Lean Left band at the Tranzac on June 15. Nilssen-Love, whose associates range from the most committed electronics dial-twister to free-form veterans is equally proficient laying down a hard rock-like beat as he is trading accents with experimental timbre-shatters. The two extended tracks on Live at Café Oto Unsounds 32U demonstrate not only Nilssen-Love’s cohesive skills amplifying the improvisations of Chicago-based tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Ken Vandermark as he does in many other contexts, but shows how both react to the power chords and violent string distortions which characterize the style of guitarists Andy Moor and Terrie Ex from Dutch punk band The Ex, who complete this quartet. In spite of Vandermark’s consistent overblowing which encompasses pumping altissimo honks and frenetic slurs; plus the guitarists’ constant crunches, smashes and frails, the drumming never degenerate into monotonous rock music-like banging. Instead, while the backbeat isn’t neglected, auxiliary clips, ruffs, ratamacues and smacks are used by Nilssen-Love to break up the rhythm, with carefully measured pulsations. This strategy is most obvious during the climatic sections of the more-than-37 minute Drevel. With all four Lean Lefters improvising in broken octaves, the narratives shakes to and fro between Vandermark’s collection of emphasized freak notes and dyspeptic stridency and the dual guitarists’ slurred fingering that leads to staccato twangs and jangling strums. Not only is the climax attained with a crescendo of volume and excitement, but the final theme variations are in contrast as stark and minimalist as the earlier ones are noisy. As guitars methodically clank as if reading a post-modern composition, and the clarinet lines emphasize atonal reed bites, intermittent stick strokes and toe-pedal pressure from the drummer concentrates the sound shards into the track’s calm finale. MORE

June 18, 2013

Lean Left

Live at Café Oto
Unsounds 32U

Double Tandem

Cement

PNL Records PNL 013

The Resonance Ensemble

What Country is This?

NotTwo MW 885-2

Fire! Orchestra

Exit!

Rune Grammofon RDCD 2138

Something in The Air: Modern Rhythms and New Jazz

By Ken Waxman

As the rhythmic base of jazz has changed over the past half century, adding emphases besides pure swing to improvisation, the role of the percussionist has changed as well. No longer just a time keeper the modern drummer must be conversant with varied beats from many genres of music. This familiarity with other cultures is also why many non-Americans have become prominent. Case in point is Norwegian percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love, who plays with the Euro-American band Lean Left band at the Tranzac on June 15. Nilssen-Love, whose associates range from the most committed electronics dial-twister to free-form veterans is equally proficient laying down a hard rock-like beat as he is trading accents with experimental timbre-shatters. The two extended tracks on Live at Café Oto Unsounds 32U demonstrate not only Nilssen-Love’s cohesive skills amplifying the improvisations of Chicago-based tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Ken Vandermark as he does in many other contexts, but shows how both react to the power chords and violent string distortions which characterize the style of guitarists Andy Moor and Terrie Ex from Dutch punk band The Ex, who complete this quartet. In spite of Vandermark’s consistent overblowing which encompasses pumping altissimo honks and frenetic slurs; plus the guitarists’ constant crunches, smashes and frails, the drumming never degenerate into monotonous rock music-like banging. Instead, while the backbeat isn’t neglected, auxiliary clips, ruffs, ratamacues and smacks are used by Nilssen-Love to break up the rhythm, with carefully measured pulsations. This strategy is most obvious during the climatic sections of the more-than-37 minute Drevel. With all four Lean Lefters improvising in broken octaves, the narratives shakes to and fro between Vandermark’s collection of emphasized freak notes and dyspeptic stridency and the dual guitarists’ slurred fingering that leads to staccato twangs and jangling strums. Not only is the climax attained with a crescendo of volume and excitement, but the final theme variations are in contrast as stark and minimalist as the earlier ones are noisy. As guitars methodically clank as if reading a post-modern composition, and the clarinet lines emphasize atonal reed bites, intermittent stick strokes and toe-pedal pressure from the drummer concentrates the sound shards into the track’s calm finale. MORE

February 12, 2013

Peter Brötzmann

Solo +Trio Roma
Victo cd 122/123

Moriyama/Satoh/Brötzmann

Yatagarasu

NotTwo MW 894-2

Sonore

Café Oto/London

Trost TR 108

Hairybones

SnakeLust

Clean Feed 252CD

Something In The Air: Peter Brötzmann’s Triumphant Seventh Decade

By Ken Waxman

Although the witticism that “free jazz keeps you young” has been repeated so often that’s it’s taken on cliché status, there’s enough evidence to give the statement veracity. Many improvisers in their eighties and seventies are still playing with the fire of performers in their twenties. Take German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, who celebrated his 70th birthday and nearly 50 years of recording a couple of years ago. Case in point is Solo +Trio Roma Victo cd 122/123, recorded at 2011’s Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV) in Quebec. Not only does Brötzmann play with unabated intensity for almost 75 minutes, while fronting a bassist and a drummer about half his age on one CD; but on the other inventively plays unaccompanied, without a break, for another hour or so. The multi-reedist still blows with the same caterwauling intensity that characterized Machine Gun, 1968’s Free Jazz classic, plus a balladic sensitivity now spells his go-for-broke expositions. Solo, his overview is relentlessly linear mixing extended staccato cadenzas with passages of sweet romance that momentarily slow the narrative. Climatically the nearly 25-minute Frames of Motion is a pitch-sliding explosion of irregular textures and harsh glissandi that seems thick as stone, yet is malleable enough to squeeze the slightest nuance out of every tune. Slyly, Brötzmann concludes the piece with gargling split tones that gradually amalgamate into I Surrender Dear. Backed by Norwegian percussion Paal Nilssen-Love and Italian electric bassist Massimo Pupillo, Brötzmann adds lip-curling intensity and multiphonic glissandi to the other program. Centrepiece is Music Marries Room to Room that continues for more than 69½ minutes. Besides wounded bull-like cries tempered with spitting glissandi from the saxophonist, the piece includes jet-engine-like drones from the Pupillo as well as shattering ruffs and pounding shuffles from the drummer. Several times, just as it seems the playing can’t get any more ardent, it kicks up another notch. Indefatigable, the saxophonist spins out staccato screams and emphasized renal snorts in equal measures, with his stentorian output encompassing tongue slaps, tongue stops and flutter tonguing. Brief solos showcase Pupillo crunching shards of electronic friction with buzz-saw intensity, while Nilssen-Love exposes drags, paradiddles, rebounds, and smacks, without slowing the beat. There are even lyrical interludes among the overblowing as Brötzmann occasionally brings the proceedings to a halt for a capella sequences, which suggest everything from Taps to Better Git It in your Soul. Finally the broken-octave narrative reaches a point of no-return to wrap up in a circular fashion with yelping reed cries, blunt percussion smacks and dense electronic buzzes. Rapturous applause from the audience spurs the three to go at it again at the same elevated concentration for an additional five minutes. MORE

February 12, 2013

Hairybones

SnakeLust Clean Feed 252CD

Peter Brötzmann

Solo +Trio Roma

Victo cd 122/123

Moriyama/Satoh/Brötzmann

Yatagarasu

NotTwo MW 894-2

Sonore

Café Oto/London

Trost TR 108

Something In The Air: Peter Brötzmann’s Triumphant Seventh Decade

By Ken Waxman

Although the witticism that “free jazz keeps you young” has been repeated so often that’s it’s taken on cliché status, there’s enough evidence to give the statement veracity. Many improvisers in their eighties and seventies are still playing with the fire of performers in their twenties. Take German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, who celebrated his 70th birthday and nearly 50 years of recording a couple of years ago. Case in point is Solo +Trio Roma Victo cd 122/123, recorded at 2011’s Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV) in Quebec. Not only does Brötzmann play with unabated intensity for almost 75 minutes, while fronting a bassist and a drummer about half his age on one CD; but on the other inventively plays unaccompanied, without a break, for another hour or so. The multi-reedist still blows with the same caterwauling intensity that characterized Machine Gun, 1968’s Free Jazz classic, plus a balladic sensitivity now spells his go-for-broke expositions. Solo, his overview is relentlessly linear mixing extended staccato cadenzas with passages of sweet romance that momentarily slow the narrative. Climatically the nearly 25-minute Frames of Motion is a pitch-sliding explosion of irregular textures and harsh glissandi that seems thick as stone, yet is malleable enough to squeeze the slightest nuance out of every tune. Slyly, Brötzmann concludes the piece with gargling split tones that gradually amalgamate into I Surrender Dear. Backed by Norwegian percussion Paal Nilssen-Love and Italian electric bassist Massimo Pupillo, Brötzmann adds lip-curling intensity and multiphonic glissandi to the other program. Centrepiece is Music Marries Room to Room that continues for more than 69½ minutes. Besides wounded bull-like cries tempered with spitting glissandi from the saxophonist, the piece includes jet-engine-like drones from the Pupillo as well as shattering ruffs and pounding shuffles from the drummer. Several times, just as it seems the playing can’t get any more ardent, it kicks up another notch. Indefatigable, the saxophonist spins out staccato screams and emphasized renal snorts in equal measures, with his stentorian output encompassing tongue slaps, tongue stops and flutter tonguing. Brief solos showcase Pupillo crunching shards of electronic friction with buzz-saw intensity, while Nilssen-Love exposes drags, paradiddles, rebounds, and smacks, without slowing the beat. There are even lyrical interludes among the overblowing as Brötzmann occasionally brings the proceedings to a halt for a capella sequences, which suggest everything from Taps to Better Git It in your Soul. Finally the broken-octave narrative reaches a point of no-return to wrap up in a circular fashion with yelping reed cries, blunt percussion smacks and dense electronic buzzes. Rapturous applause from the audience spurs the three to go at it again at the same elevated concentration for an additional five minutes. MORE

August 27, 2012

The Thing with Barry Guy

Metal!
No Business Records NBLP 47/48

With the Scandinavian trio The Thing having set itself up as improvised music’s version of the Rock power trio – albeit with a saxophone instead of a lead guitar – it’s instructive to note how well senior improvisers operate when entering into the band’s self-defined context.

Having established a mutually satisfying interchange with American saxophonist/trumpeter Joe McPhee, The Thing now uses this two-LP set to showcase the adaptations of British bassist Barry Guy to their sound. Guy, who founded the London Jazz Composer’s Orchestra in the 1970s, and is known for his collaborations with most top-rank European improvisers including tenor saxophonist Evan Parker, was involved in Free playing from around the time the Thing members were born. Since the early 1990s however, Swedish saxophonist and Thing member Mats Gustafsson has been playing with Guy in larger or smaller ensembles. Meanwhile on their own the other Thingers – Norwegians, bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love – have racked up a history of affiliations with a cross-section of committed improvisers ranging from saxophonist Peter Brötzmann to guitarist Raoul Björkenheim. MORE

May 11, 2012

Paal Nilssen-Love, Mesele Asmamaw, Mats Gustafsson

Baro 101
Terp Records AIS-19

David Sait

History Ship

Apprise Records AP-05

Rudresh Mahanthappa

Samdhi

ACT Music ACT 9513-2

Amir ElSaffar’s Two Rivers Ensemble

Inana

PI Pi41

Something in the Air: Provocative Ethnic Blends

By Ken Waxman

Product of musical miscegenation, jazz has always been most welcome to sound influences. Meanwhile much of so-called ethnic music, especially from non-Western countries, features some variants of improvisation. Blending the freedom of jazz with aleatory additions from other cultures produces provocative sounds as these CDs attest. Yet all are noteworthy because, rather than using either music as mere exotica or rhythmic overlay, each is performed with the same respect. 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

March 19, 2011

Sten Sandell Trio

Face of Tokyo
PNL Records PNL004

Bennink/Puglisi/Glerum

LAIV

Bassesfere BS014

Putting new spins on the delicate art of the Jazz piano trio are these two ensembles which produce notable work with their approaches the situation. Instructively enough each trio operates with the similar variables: a dominant drum stylist is linked with a solidly inventive double bass player plus an exploratory piano soloist who is comfortable playing both inside and outside.

On Face of Tokyo, the veteran player is Swedish pianist Sten Sandell, who has been that country’s paramount experimental keyboardist since the 1980s, most prominently in bands with drummer Raymond Strid and saxophonist Mats Gustafsson. His cohorts are almost a generation younger. Bassist Johan Berthling, a fellow Swede, has partnered figures as diverse as Free Jazz saxophonist Fredrik Ljungkvist and microtonal guitarist Oren Ambarchi. Norwegian percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love is one of the busiest drummers in the world, in ensembles ranging from Atomic to Peter Brötzmann’s Tentet. The ratio is reversed on LAIV. Here drummer Han Bennink, from the Netherlands is the old hand, having worked with most important figure in Free Jazz since the mid-1960s, including Brötzmann and is best-known for his long-time membership in the ICP Orchestra. Another Amsterdam-based ICP member – though a bit younger than the drummer – is bassist Ernst Glerum, who has also partnered Bennink in many combos. The youngest member here is Bologna-based pianist Fabrizio Puglisi, member of the Bassesfere Collective, who has worked with everyone from ICP cellist Tristan Honsinger to Italian drummer Zeno De Rossi’s different bands. MORE

January 3, 2011

Paal Nilssen-Love

Miro
PNL Records PNL007

Terje Evensen

Still You. You Still Here

Fonorum NO #

Didier Lasserre

Sur quelques surfaces vacant

Réf point 01

Skin, wood and metal are the essential materials which make up a drum set, extended with bits of wire and plastic. Yet in the right hands – and using the right implements – expressive, imaginative and in many cases unimaginable – sounds can be created from these primeval objects. This becomes more apparent – and often significantly more spectacular – when a percussionist plays solo. These CDs from two Norwegian drummers and one French one confirm this state of affairs. 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

October 6, 2010

Festival Météo, Mulhouse, France

August 24 to August 28
By Ken Waxman

Proving that varieties of improvised music can sound as different as the personalities of those who play it, the annual Météo festival offered a cornucopia of noteworthy sounds from the bombastic to the barely audible, solo or in groups.

Venues in this Upper Rhine French city, located 30 kilometres northwest of Basel, Switzerland, also reflected this sonic diversity. Performances take place in the hushed surroundings of a 12th Century chapel downtown, and on the city’s outskirts, a capacious night club usually used for rock shows; and, new this year, within the expanses of an abandoned 1930s’ thread manufacturing factory. MORE

July 28, 2010

Calling Signals 08

From Café Oto
Loose Torque No #

Coxhill/Edwards/Noble

The Early Years

Ping Pong 003

Perhaps it’s an example of the dry sense of humor that those in the United Kingdom are supposed to possess, but less than five years separate the fine trio improvisations featuring saxophonist Lol Coxhill on The Early Years from the equally stirring quartet improvisations with Coxhill and Norwegian reedist Frode Gjerstad in the front line.

If earlier in this century are “early years” what about the prior career of Coxhill, which in improvised music dates from the late 1960s and professionally from the 1950s – and who sometimes seems to have played with absolutely every musician in the UK and the Continent? His associates on the disc, drummer Steve Noble, who was involved with jazz and improvised music by the early 1980s with Rip, Rag and Panic among others; and bassist John Edwards was committed to the sound at a similar juncture, at first with the Pointy Birds and B-shops for The Poor.. MORE

July 18, 2010

Atomic

Theater Tilters Vol. 1
Jazzland Recordings 273339-7

The Godforgottens

Never Forgotten, Always Remembered

Clean Feed CF 164 CD

Swedish trumpeter Magnus Broo and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love are the soldering points of both these CDs. However, not only is each disc significant in its own way, but the thought process involved in creation is as different as the other musicians involved.

Energetic Young Lions with class, the five members of Atomic have put together a CD of hard-hitting originals whose ball-in-socket performance speaks to the group’s constant touring over the past decade. Two other Atomics are Norwegian – pianist Håvard Wiik and bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten – and one, multi-reedist Fredrik Ljungkvist – is Swedish. Leaders in other circumstances – as are Nilssen-Love and Broo – collectively the players have worked in different groups in Europe and North America, with fellow Scandinavians, Americans, such as multi-reedist Ken Vandermark and pianist Marilyn Crispell plus Germans, including saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and trumpeter Axel Dörner. MORE

July 18, 2010

The Godforgottens

Never Forgotten, Always Remembered
Clean Feed CF 164 CD

Atomic

Theater Tilters Vol. 1

Jazzland Recordings 273339-7

Swedish trumpeter Magnus Broo and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love are the soldering points of both these CDs. However, not only is each disc significant in its own way, but the thought process involved in creation is as different as the other musicians involved.

Energetic Young Lions with class, the five members of Atomic have put together a CD of hard-hitting originals whose ball-in-socket performance speaks to the group’s constant touring over the past decade. Two other Atomics are Norwegian – pianist Håvard Wiik and bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten – and one, multi-reedist Fredrik Ljungkvist – is Swedish. Leaders in other circumstances – as are Nilssen-Love and Broo – collectively the players have worked in different groups in Europe and North America, with fellow Scandinavians, Americans, such as multi-reedist Ken Vandermark and pianist Marilyn Crispell plus Germans, including saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and trumpeter Axel Dörner. MORE

July 3, 2010

Densités Festival

Fresnes-en-Woëvre, France
October 23 to 25 2009

A rural French hamlet in the Lorraine countryside isn’t the setting you imagine for a world-class festival of unadulterated Electronic and Free Music. Yet the Densités Festival in Fresnes-en-Woëvre – population 500 – about 80 kilometres from Nancy, is that. During three days in late October, the 16th Edition presented a sonic banquet of unstoppable Free Jazz, minimalist improv, sound installations, electro-acoustic meetings, poetry recitations and interactions between instrumentalists and dancers. MORE

March 18, 2010

Rodrigo Amado

Motion Trio
European Echoes 004

Amado/Kessler/Nilssen-Love

The Abstract Truth

European Echoes 003

Turning a cliché on its head, it’s evident with these CDs that familiarity breeds creativity. For while Portuguese saxophonist Rodrigo Amado’s session with American bassist Kent Kessler and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love is only good, his Motion Trio disc with two fellow Lisbon musicians is exceptional.

A photographer as well as an improviser, Amado has been committed to advanced music for years, as a member of the Lisbon Improvisation Players and collaborating with American jazzers such as bassist Ken Filiano and cellist Tomas Ulrich; he even recorded an earlier trio session with Kessler and Nilssen-Love. MORE

August 30, 2009

Brötzmann/Kondo/Pupillo/Nilssen-Love

Hairy Bones
Okka Disk OD 12076

More than 40 years after Machine Gun, 1968’s seminal Free Jazz explosion on LP, and about 45 since he became a full-time improvising musician, the warp and woof is still present in saxophonist Peter Brötzmann’s playing.

Without resorting to hyperbole, one could make the argument that at 68, the Wuppertal-based reedist’s ideas and execution are as first-rate as they ever were. On two long tracks here, recorded at Amsterdam’s Bimhuis, Brötzmann directs an international combo that matches his invention and vigor, as well as being the musical equivalent of many of the saxophonist’s quartets of the past. MORE

November 9, 2008

Atomic School Days

Distil
Okka Disk OD 12073

Ab Baars Trio & Ken Vandermark

Goofy June Bug

Wig 15

Without trying to make him sound celestial and selfless, Ken Vandermark is one of those rare musicians who is as comfortable in an ensemble as fronting one. Despite recording so often as leader, the Chicago-based multi-reedist is just as apt to show up on disc as an addition to an existing band or as part of a generically titled ensemble. That was happens on these two CDs.

Over the years, collaborations with Europeans have also proven to be particularly fruitful for the saxophonist and clarinetist’s musical growth. This is confirmed on Goofy June Bug and Distill with each offering a divergent – and equally notable – take on improvised and composed music. MORE

November 9, 2008

Ab Baars Trio & Ken Vandermark

Goofy June Bug
Wig 15

Atomic School Days

Distil

Okka Disk OD 12073

Without trying to make him sound celestial and selfless, Ken Vandermark is one of those rare musicians who is as comfortable in an ensemble as fronting one. Despite recording so often as leader, the Chicago-based multi-reedist is just as apt to show up on disc as an addition to an existing band or as part of a generically titled ensemble. That was happens on these two CDs.

Over the years, collaborations with Europeans have also proven to be particularly fruitful for the saxophonist and clarinetist’s musical growth. This is confirmed on Goofy June Bug and Distill with each offering a divergent – and equally notable – take on improvised and composed music. MORE

July 7, 2006

Calling Signals

Dreams in Dreams
FMRCD177-i0805

Calling Signals
Calling Signals
Loose Torque LT 004

Band names are a convenience, usually created when players don’t want to call a group so-and-so’s quartet. Yet the designation can also be deceptive if the make-up of a group changes substantially without altering the name.

So it is with these CDs by two ensembles called Calling Signals. The quartet was initially put together following an all-day memorial concert for British drummer John Stevens by British bassist Nick Stephens and Norwegian reedist Frode Gjerstad, who had both played extensively with Stevens. The self-titled CD is a 1996 edition of the group with its founders joined by South African drummer Louis Moholo of Blue Notes fame and Dane Hasse Poulsen on guitars and effects, best-known for his association with French reedist Louis Sclavis. MORE

April 17, 2006

LARS-GÖRAN ULANDER TRIO

Live at Glenn Miller Café
Ayler aylCD 013

WBZ
Prima Ballerina
Ilk Music 117 CD

Veteran Scandinavian saxophonists are the focal point of both these trio sessions. But while PRIMA BALLERINA is the first document from a well-balanced Danish sax-bass-drums aggregation that has been playing together constantly since 2002, LIVE is a one-off club date that is actually a Swedish reedist’s first headlining session, and where his rhythm section partners are far better known then he.

Umeå-born alto saxophonist Lars-Göran Ulander’s day job is as chief jazz radio producer for the Swedish Broadcasting Corp. He also played in different bands over the years, most notably in the 1960s and 1970s with trombonist Lars Lystedt and pianist Per Henrik Wallin. But after 40 years of recording, this is the initial CD released under his own name. Look at his backing dream team however. Young Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love has in a short time become the go-to percussionists for leaders on both sides of the Atlantic from Chicago reedist Ken Vandermark to British saxophonist Evan Parker. As for Stockholm-native, bassist Palle Danielsson, he was a member of the touring bands of Americans, pianist Keith Jarrett and saxophonist Charles Lloyd in the 1970s, and now works all over Europe. 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

August 22, 2005

Bayashi

Rock
Jazzaway Records JARCD 007

Crimetime Orchestra
Life is a Beautiful Monster
Jazzaway Records JARCD 009

Trinity
Sparkling
Jazzaway Records JARCD 005

By Ken Waxman
August 22, 2005

You could probably chalk up the more-or-less 30 year gap in the recording career of Norwegian bassist Bjørnar Andresen, who died 2004, to changing tastes in jazz fashion. There are little-recognized veteran stylists like him playing around wherever there’s some sort of scene, but their recording opportunities are limited. MORE

November 15, 2004

JOHN BUTCHER/GINO ROBAIR

New Oakland Burr
Ratascan BRD 051

PAAL NILSSEN LOVE/MATS GUSTAFSSON
I Love It When You Snore
Smalltown Supersound STS 063 CD

Stripping down to essentials, intrepid improvisers find solos and duos present unvarnished sounds with the fewest possible obstructions.

Especially popular are discs that match a single reedist with a single percussionist to see what sparks fly. Participants in these two short CDs recorded around the same time have frequently been involved in similar situations. While all four have the scope to display outstanding, extended techniques, nowhere is there a feeling that these aren’t just new notches in the players’ belt. They may be impressive to newbies, but they’re not near any of the player’s highest standard. MORE

August 23, 2004

ATOMIC/SCHOOL DAYS

ATOMIC/SCHOOL DAYS Nuclear Assembly Hall
Okkadisk OD 12049

More of an internationalist than most American musicians, Chicago-based reedist Ken Vandermark has made a point of forming concordances with European musicians. Not only is he one of the key constituents of saxist Peter Brötzmann’s Chicago Tentet, but he often works in half-European/half American bands like the AALY trio, the Territory Band and the group featured here.

As its name makes clear, the octet combines the School Days band -- Vandermark, trombonist Jeb Bishop, vibist Kjell Nordeson, bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love -- with trumpeter Magnus Broo, reedist Fredrik Ljungkvist and pianist Håvard Wiik who with Håker Flaten and Nilssen-Love make up the Scandinavian quintet Atomic. The results spread over two CD sides are dazzlingly spectacular. MORE

May 10, 2004

Sten Sandell Trio

Flat Iron
(SOFA)

By Ken Waxman

May 10, 2004

Undeniably tough as iron, but with all the striations and curves on show, the music produced by this Scandinavian trio is anything but flat. Listening to the three tracks on this CD, you’ll note how in the right hands, standard jazz trio instrumentation can be molded into take-no-prisoners free improv.

With his harsh, jabbing piano lines, leader Sten Sandell has been exhibiting his stylistic influences from folk and ethnic musics, contemporary classical and improv since the late 1970s. Gush, a Swedish co-op he’s part of with saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and percussionist Raymond Strid, is how most non-Swedes know him. But he’s also scored for music for film and dance performances and even recorded in duet with American saxist Ken Vandermark. MORE

July 7, 2003

BRÖTZMANN/PARKER/DRAKE

Never Too Late But Always Too Early
Eremite MTE 037/038

FRODE GJERSTAD TRIO WITH PETER BRÖTZMANN
Sharp Knives Cut Deeper
Splasc (h) CDH 850

More than 35 years after he roared onto the international Free Jazz scene, German reedist Peter Brötzmann’s playing still seems as ferocious as ever. This is a good thing. For unlike some of his contemporaries who have settled into a sort of middle-aged timidness, the tenor saxophonist still improvises with the same intensity and commitment at 60 as he did when he was 25. MORE

September 2, 2002

AALY TRIO/DKV TRIO

Double or Nothing
Okka Disc OD 12035

SCHOOL DAYS
In Our Time
Okka Disc OD 12041

SPACEWAYS INCORPORATED
Version Soul
Atavistic ALP 130 CD

Eventually Ken Vandermark is going to have to stop wearing his emotions --and influences -- on his sleeve and CD booklet.

Now that the Chicago-based reedman has established himself nationally and internationally as an extender and interpreter of free music, aren’t the dedications he appends to each of his original compositions getting to be a bit redundant? MORE

June 22, 2002

KORNSTAD TRIO

Space Available
Jazzland 014 724-2

ATOMIC
Feet Music
Jazzland 016 558-2

Working musicians participate in many situations and our view of their talents is often shaped by the particular role in which we hear them.

Take Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, for instance. In North America, if he’s known at all, it’s for his work with countryman altoist Frode Gjerstad or as part of various bands led by Chicago’s Ken Vandermark, two roles that place him very firmly in the avant-garde. MORE

June 22, 2002

FRODE GJERSTAD

Last First
Falçata-Galia FALÇ-0007/0079

No matter how proficient the musicians are, every group takes time to find its particular niche and gel into a coherent whole. Especially vulnerable are diminutive groups such as trios, which alter considerably along with the players. No one, for instance, could confuse the Jimmy Giuffre 3 with Jim Hall and Ralph Peña with Giuffre’s trio featuring Paul Bley and Steve Swallow, or mix up Sonny Rollins’ recording with Ray Brown and Shelly Manne with his session with Henry Grimes and Pete LaRoca. MORE

April 5, 2002

JANSON/KULLHAMMER/NILSSEN-LOVE

Live at Glenn Miller Café Vol. 1
Ayler Records aylCD-012

Existing as a big blank mass at the top of Europe for most North American jazz fans, Scandinavia occasionally swims into consciousness either when some famous American takes up resident or records there, or when a musician from Norway, Sweden or Denmark moves to the United States.

Improvised music in those three countries involves a lot more than that, of course. Most interestingly is the recent emergence of a pan-European musical generation that treats the tenets of so-called free jazz as much a part of its heritage as Bop or Dixieland. It’s that accepting openness that enlivens this first-rate blowing session. MORE

July 16, 2001

STEN SANDELL

Standing Wave
SOFA 504

PAAL NILSSEN-LOVE
Sticks & Stones
SOFA 505

Taking the traditional jazz piano trio one step forward into the future, this admirable CD also shows off the advanced instant compositional skills of some of the musicians who live on the roof of Northern Europe.

Consisting of two Swedes -- pianist Sten Sandell and bassist Johan Berthling -- plus Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, the band is just one of the three musicians' ongoing projects. Leader Sandell, whose interests encompass contemporary composed and ethnic music as well as free improvisation is best-known for his association since 1988 with saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and percussionist Raymond Strid in Gush. Young bassist Berthling, is part of a working trio with Strid and saxman Fredrik Ljungkvist, and has toured with Gustafsson and saxist Ken Vandermark. Understated drum stylist Nilssen-Love not only played with Norway's Free Jazz father, saxophonist Frode Gjerstad, but also was part of the School Days quartet with Chicago's Vandermark and trombonist Jeb Bishop. MORE