Reviews that mention Tom Rainey

April 22, 2018

Jason Stein Quartet

Lucille!
Delmark DE 5025

Chugging along in his career as a bass clarinet crusader, Chicago-based reedist Jason Stein extrapolates the unique harmonies available from a two reed-two rhythm combo on a series of tracks that highlight his compositional/arrangement talents and cherry picking of the Jazz tradition. Stein, who doubles on no other instrument, has made his presence felt playing in groups with other Chicagoans such as cornetist Josh Berman and Keefe Jackson, the latter of whom adds his tenor saxophone and contrabass clarinet to this disc. Busy Chicago bassist Joshua Abrams and drummer Tom Rainey, a New York interloper, fill out the quartet. MORE

July 1, 2016

Ingrid Laubrock

Ubatuba
Firehouse 12 Records FH12-04-01-022

Le Rex

Wild Man

Cuneiform Records RUNE 411

Distinctively re-jigging the rhythm section so that the tuba takes the places of a double bass gives many ensembles a certain post-modern fillip. At the same time by reverting to the early Jazz configuration of a brass bass, the band runs the risk of waddling too often into Second Line simplicity. Two sextets – one American and one Swiss – deal with this challenge inventively, but in different ways, confirming that the lowest-toned member of the brass family usually needs more than condensed space in which to express its full tonal range. MORE

June 6, 2016

Tom Rainey Trio

Hotel Grief
Intakt Records CD 256

By Ken Waxman

Comfortable in settings from big band to solo, guitarist Mary Halvorson joins with soprano and tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock to roughen the edges of the five instant compositions on this CD. Cultivated and self-effacing, leader/drummer Tom Rainey is as far removed from a braggadocious percussion show off like Buddy Rich as Donald Trump is from Martin Luther King. Discretion doesn’t mean withdrawal however, and in context the drummer’s sophisticatedly positioned strokes contribute more to the architectures of the tracks than would any clamorous rhythm display. MORE

September 6, 2015

Ingrid Laubrock Anti House

Roulette of the Cradle
Intakt CD 252

Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up

After All Is Said

482 Music 482-1089

Jason Adasiewicz’s Sun Room

From The Region

Delmark DE 5017

Fred Frith/Evan Parker

Hello, I Must Be Going

Victo cd 128

Mary Halvorson Trio

Ghost Loop

ForTune 0010/010

Something In The Air: Many musical Interconnections at 2015’s Guelph Jazz Festival

By Ken Waxman

As the Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF) settles into maturity, dependable musical choices and the vagaries of touring means that a few of the performers at this year’s bash, September 16 to 20, are featured at more than one ensemble. The happy end result is that the audience gets to sample some musicians’ skills in more than one challenging setting. MORE

March 28, 2015

Marc Ducret

Tower-Bridge
Ayler Records AYLCD 139-140

Culmination of a multi-year creative project, Tower-Bridge collects all the players involved in Paris-based guitarist Marc Ducret’s four previous Tower CDs for a raunchy blow-up recorded at two French jazz festivals. With the six compositions described as programmatic, but not obviously so, the real point of this two-CD set is how well the 12-pice ensemble and different sub sets of the band interpret the guitarist’s spiky compositions. Influenced by Ducret’s appreciation for Vladimir Nabokov’s 1969 novel Ada, how well his adaptations reflect the novel’s themes is best left to Nabokov scholars and other literary types. Musically, the only audible leitmotif is frequent reliance on the ADA palindrome. MORE

April 2, 2014

Tom Rainey

Obbligato
Intakt Records CD 227

Douglas/Doxas/Swallow/Doxas

Riverside

Greenleaf Music GLM 1036

Flex Bent Braam

Lucebert

BBBCD 16

The Whammies

Play the Music of Steve Lacy Vol. 2

Driff Records CD 1303

Braxtornette Project

Die Hochstapler

Umlaut Records ub004

Something In The Air: A New Take on Standards – Jazz and Otherwise

By Ken Waxman

Since jazz’s beginnings, the measure of a musician’s talent has not only been how well the person improvises, but also how he or she interprets standards. In the 21st century a standard song has evolved past its Tin Pan Alley origins, plus distinctive purely jazz compositions have entered the canon. But while more conservative players treat standards as immutable, the CDs here are noteworthy because their creators distinctively re-imagine standards. MORE

March 8, 2014

Artist Feature

Ingrid Laubrock
By Ken Waxman

One of the many non-American musicians who have set up shop in NYC, German-born saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, 43, has quickly become a presence on the local scene. But the soprano and tenor saxophonist one who was already recognized for her playing and writing elsewhere – London’s highly competitive improv scene – before she crossed the ocean permanently in 2008.

Then again, the Hundewick-raised reedist has always thrived on new situations and challenges. And as someone who didn’t start playing the saxophone until her teens she declares that “I didn't really decide that I wanted to become a musician, it more or less happened … I sort of drifted into it.” MORE

October 14, 2013

Simon Nabatov/Nils Wogram/Tom Rainey

Nawora
Leo LR 647

By Ken Waxman

Recorded at the Loft performance space in Cologne, Germany, Russian-American pianist Simon Nabatov’s adopted home town, Nawora – a combination of the first syllables of the players’ last names – is one of a trio of discs featuring the pianist’s favorite musicians in various configurations. Truthfully the CD’s sophisticated improvisations easily stand on their own due to the congenial dealings among the pianist, hot-shot German trombonist Nils Wogram and sensitive American drummer Tom Rainey, both of whom have been Nabatov associates for either side of two decades. MORE

September 9, 2013

Mark Dresser Quintet

Nourishments
Clean Feed CF 279 CD

By Ken Waxman

Double bass master and educator Mark Dresser is known for his ability to stunningly interpret the most advanced notated and improvised music – often in a solo context. However on this, his first quintet date in decades, he shows he can compose and play sounds that are affecting and swinging without neglecting his matchless technique.

While the line-up of trombone, alto saxophone, piano, bass and drums may read like that of a standard bop combo, each of the sidemen is so accomplished instrumentally that the results are out-of-the-ordinary. The most obvious departure from the norm is that Denman Maroney plays so-called hyperpiano throughout, allowing him to expose in-and-outside the frame multiphonics along with expected patterns. Alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, who co-wrote “Not Withstanding” with Dresser, is in the Mauger band with the bassist, and his knowledge of Carnatic music helps negotiate the shimmering changes of Dresser’s “Rasaman” honoring a sitar-playing colleague. Trombonist Michael Dessen is established in mainstream and avant contexts; while Tom Rainey and Michael Sarin, who split drum duties, are both sympathetic, un-showy accompanists. MORE

August 28, 2013

Ingrid Laubrock’s Anti House

Strong Place
Intakt CD 208

Ches Smith and These Arches

Hammered

Clean Feed CF 270 CD

Guitarist Mary Halvorson may be the connection between these two New York-centred quintet sessions, yet their striking individuality results from who’s sitting behind the drum kit. On Hammered, Ches Smith, whose experience encompasses drumming for rock bands such as Secret Chiefs 3, brings a punkish energy to an affiliation with certified New York downtowners. Meanwhile, although Strong Place is under saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock’s leadership – she also composed all the tunes – much of the disc’s definition comes from the laid-back rhythm strategy of drummer Tom Rainey, who usually fronts a trio filled out by the German-born tenor and soprano saxophonist and Halvorson. Other players on Strong Place include pianist Kris Davis, who is Canadian, and bassist John Hébert who isn’t, despite the way he spells his last name. MORE

May 13, 2013

Kris Davis

Capricorn Climber
Clean Feed CF 266 CD

Creating a cohesive program that moves from experimentation to straight-ahead swing and lush inventions – often on the same track – pianist Kris Davis outlines a series of moods on this program of her own compositions. Calgary-born Davis has made a reputation for herself as an arranger as well as a soloist and each of her compositions displays her sidefolk – some of New York’s most accomplished players – to their collective best advantage.

Take for instance Pass the Magic Hat, which starts off as a swirling and spiraling exposition for her piano plus the bass of Trevor Dunn and the drums of Tom Rainey, but soon evolves to a contrapuntal duel between her metronomic comping and Ingrid Laubrock’s pulsating tenor saxophone. A spikier secondary theme developed by violist Mat Maneri arrives, eventually to be harmonized with piano and reed slurs. On the other hand, Bottom of the Well is a cohesive recital-styled track with low-pitched piano clunks underscoring the chromatic string sets. Before a legato finale, Dunn vibrates a solo in the cello-range while the violist harshly rubs his strings. With Davis’ narrative literally more low-key and impressionistic, Pi is Irrational balances Maneri’s tremolo stridency with Rainey’s rugged ruffs and taps, until Laubrock’s gentling arpeggios presage a brief, rhythmically sophisticated bass solo. MORE

April 21, 2013

Angelica Sanchez Quintet

Wires and Moss
Clean Feed CF 259 CD

Nick Fraser

Towns and Villages

Barnyard Records BR 0330

Arriving in New York from his native Tucson in 1995, Tony Malaby has since made his distinctive tenor and soprano saxophone tones part of that city’s scene, both with his own bands and as a sideman – most notably with bassist Mark Helias’ trio. His high- quality improvisations are featured on both these CDs, although he does have much closer ties to one leader than the other.

That’s because pianist Angelica Sanchez, who also composed Wires and Moss’s half-dozen tracks, is Malaby’s spouse, as well as being a respected jazzer in her own right. Another session reflecting her unique vision, the disc unites the two with a top rhythm section of bassist Drew Gress and drummer Tom Rainey plus French guitarist Marc Ducret. A responsive time-keeper who composed all the titles on his CD, Toronto-based drummer Nick Fraser calls on Malaby’s skills more platonically on Canadian Towns and Villages. The distinctiveness of this CD comes from the juxtaposition of his and the saxman’s instruments with those played by two other Toronto-based musicians. The distinctive timbres of Andrew Downing’s cello and Rob Clutton’s bass are both cleverly worked into the arrangements. MORE

November 21, 2012

Tom Rainey Trio

Camino Cielo Echo
Intakt CD 198

Ingrid Laubrock/Javier Carmona/Olie Brice

Catatumbo

Babel BDV 12103

Well-travelled, Münster-born saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock is now a Brooklyn resident, but spends time in London, where she was based for two decades, to maintain involvement in bands on both sides of the Atlantic. Recorded six months apart with closely allied personnel, these CDs demonstrate her trans-oceanic skills.

A live date from London’s Vortex club, Catatumbo matches Laubrock with two high-class improvisers with plenty of other axes in the fire. Madrid-born percussionist Javier Carmona spent seven years in London before settling in Barcelona. Besides membership in the London Improvisers Orchestra, he was in a duo with tenor saxophonist Mark Hanslip. UK-native, bassist Olie Brice’s affiliations include a duo with veteran flautist Neil Metcalfe and a band with Hanslip. Meanwhile in a Brooklyn studio, Camino Cielo Echo unites the saxophonist with her husband, drummer Tom Rainey, a Santa Barbara-native now one of New York’s busiest percussionists, who is also part of a Laubrock trio with British pianist Liam Noble. String strength comes from Boston-born guitarist Mary Halvorson, who works with everyone from drummer Weasel Walter to trumpeter Taylor Ho Bynum. MORE

March 11, 2012

Michael Bates

Acrobat: Music For, and By, Dmitri Shostakovich
Sunnyside SSC 1291

Fred Ho and the Green Monster Big Band

The Sweet Science Suite

Mutable/Big Red Media 003

Ariel Shibolet/Nori Jacoby

Scenes from an Ideal Marriage

Kadima Collective KCR 28

Adam Pierończyk

Komeda - The Innocent Sorcerer

JazzWerkstatt JW 104

Something In the Air: Improvisers’ Unexpected Inspirations

By Ken Waxman

Over the past few years as post-modernism has made anything fair game for musical interpretation, sophisticated improviser/composers have taken inspiration from the most unlikely sources, far beyond the motifs, historicism and pastels of earlier times. Canadian bassist in New York Michael Bates for instance, has organized a salute to Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975), using his own music and variants on the modern Russian composer’s oeuvre. Iconoclastic American composer/saxophonist Fred Ho has produced a five-part suite honoring boxer Muhammad Ali (b. 1942) as a militant, outspoken fighter for social justice. The luminous canvases of American visual artist Cy Twombly (1928-2011) stimulate Israeli saxophonist Ariel Shibolet’s creativity, while Polish saxophonist Adam Pierończyk recasts in his own fashion the distinctive film scores of composer Krzysztof Komeda (1931-1969). MORE

December 5, 2011

Marc Ducret

Tower Vol. 2
Ayler Records AYLCD 119

By Ken Waxman

Fraternal, but not identical twin to French guitarist Marc Ducret’s Tower Vol. 1, this CD features him with a completely different cast, yet is just as noteworthy. The only horn is alto saxophonist Tim Berne, whose association with Ducret goes back 15 years. Drummer is in-demand Tom Rainey and unparalleled string variations come from fellow Gaul, violinist Dominique Pifarély, who has worked with reedist Louis Sclavis.

Consisting of three, extended – the briefest is nearly 17 minutes – multi-sectional compositions, the quartet operates at a high level throughout. Organic and polyphonic, the musical narratives frequently depend on textural similarities among the three lead instruments as Rainey stays in the background with strokes, pops and bounces. MORE

June 20, 2011

Sclavis/Taborn/Rainey

Eldorado Trio
Clean Feed CF 193 CD

New Old Luten Trio

White Power Blues

Euphorium EUPH 025

Taking as a starting point the trio instrumentation used superbly by piano experimenters such as Cecil Taylor and Alexander von Schippenbach, these CDs demonstrate improvisational concepts plus a balance between older and younger players. Skillful improvisations, the results produced are completely divergent, if equally significant.

Both recorded live, each session differs from the get-go. A Leipzig meeting, White Power Blues – an apt if somewhat politically incorrect title – celebrates a meeting between 75-year-old reedist Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky and two improvisers at least 40 years his junior: pianist Elan Pauer and percussionist Christian Lillinger. Petrowsky, along with trombonist Conrad Bauer, pianist Ulrich Gumpert and percussionist Günter Baby Sommer created noteworthy advanced Jazz in the former East Germany. A Sommer- protégé, Berlin-based Lillinger with his own Hyperactive Kid trio and backing players such as saxophonist Henrik Walsdorf, has become a lively, energetic drummer. Meanwhile Pauer ranges over the keyboard while touching on a multiplicity of sonic impulses. In short, the two extended tracks are no-holds-barred Free Jazz. MORE

June 15, 2011

Simon Nabatov

Roundup
Leo Records CD LR 586

Lucas Niggli Big Zoom

Polisation

Intakt CD 174

Probably the most interesting younger trombonist in Europe, who is affiliated neither with out-and-out Free Music or the Mainstream, is German-born Nils Wogram. Like most contemporary players he leads his own ensembles while lending his inventiveness to a variety of other groups. Paradoxically though, while his own CDs lean towards the populist, the challenge of sidemen duties often brings out a more adventurous side, as these CDs demonstrate. MORE

October 12, 2010

Tom Rainey Trio

Pool School
Clean Feed CF 185 CD

Owen Howard

Drum Lore

BJU Records BJUR 017

Harris Eisenstadt

Woodblock Prints

No Business NBLP 18

Heinrich Köbberling

Sonnenschirm

Jazz Werkstatt JW 093

Extended Play: Drummers as leaders and composers

By Ken Waxman

Constantly the brunt of other musicians’ jokes for their supposed fixation on rhythm, over the years drummers have actually proven themselves as organized band leaders and sophisticated tunesmiths. Edmonton-born, Brooklyn-based percussionist Owen Howard strikes a blow for his stick-wielding brethren with Drum Lore BJU Records BJUR 017 as he leads a sextet through compositions by 11 different drummers. including himself. His notable CD, along with others by drummer/leaders, demonstrates these players’ overall improvisational and compositional smarts. MORE

June 8, 2009

Ingrid Laubrock with Liam Noble & Tom Rainey

Sleepthief
Intakt CD 146

Trio Werchowska/Pontévia/Boubaker

Décalage vers le rouge

Petit Label pl son 002

Two takes on the piano-drums-and saxophone trio end up with widely divergent emphasis on the colors accessible from the instruments’ timbres. Free form as possible, the unbridled Décalage vers le rouge extends an identity that was initially advanced by pianist Cecil Taylor’s pioneering units. More neutral and technique-oriented, Sleepthief’s orientation leans towards the sometime free, sometime formalist trio of pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach. Each strategy is equally valid. MORE

June 8, 2009

Trio Werchowska/Pontévia/Boubaker

Décalage vers le rouge
Petit Label pl son 002

Ingrid Laubrock with Liam Noble & Tom Rainey

Sleepthief

Intakt CD 146

Two takes on the piano-drums-and saxophone trio end up with widely divergent emphasis on the colors accessible from the instruments’ timbres. Free form as possible, the unbridled Décalage vers le rouge extends an identity that was initially advanced by pianist Cecil Taylor’s pioneering units. More neutral and technique-oriented, Sleepthief’s orientation leans towards the sometime free, sometime formalist trio of pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach. Each strategy is equally valid. MORE

April 2, 2009

Alban Darche

Trumpet Kingdom
BMC CD 136

The MacroQuarktet

Each Part a Whole

Ruby Flowers RF06CD

Brass improvisation in duo or trio forms characterize these two sessions. Both take advantage of trumpet and other horns’ timbres. However the American MacroQuarktet is engrossed in sound patterns available from sonic interaction, while the Hungarian-Belgian-French octet led by Gallic tenor saxophonist Alban Darche is cast in the more familiar form of a modern jazz showcase.

Darche, who composed all the tunes save one here, designed the CD to exhibit how he and follow French musicians – bassist Sébastien Boisseau, drummer Emmanuel Birault, woodwind player Sylvain Rifflet – plus Pécs-born guitarist Gábor Gadó, now based in France, react to the input of different trumpet soloists. While the results are impressive, if not outstanding, the irony is, that except in a matter of degrees, none of the prize-winning trumpeters – Eric Vloeimans from the Netherlands, Belgian Laurent Blondiau and Geoffroy Tamisier from France – sound that different from one another. MORE

April 2, 2009

The MacroQuarktet

Each Part a Whole
Ruby Flowers RF06CD

Alban Darche

Trumpet Kingdom

BMC CD 136

Brass improvisation in duo or trio forms characterize these two sessions. Both take advantage of trumpet and other horns’ timbres. However the American MacroQuarktet is engrossed in sound patterns available from sonic interaction, while the Hungarian-Belgian-French octet led by Gallic tenor saxophonist Alban Darche is cast in the more familiar form of a modern jazz showcase.

Darche, who composed all the tunes save one here, designed the CD to exhibit how he and follow French musicians – bassist Sébastien Boisseau, drummer Emmanuel Birault, woodwind player Sylvain Rifflet – plus Pécs-born guitarist Gábor Gadó, now based in France, react to the input of different trumpet soloists. While the results are impressive, if not outstanding, the irony is, that except in a matter of degrees, none of the prize-winning trumpeters – Eric Vloeimans from the Netherlands, Belgian Laurent Blondiau and Geoffroy Tamisier from France – sound that different from one another. MORE

June 6, 2008

Scott Fields

Bitter Love Songs
Clean Feed CF 102 CD

Evan Parker-Mark Wastell-Graham Halliwell-Max Eastley

A Life Saved By a Spider and Two Doves

Another Timbre at06

Kidd Jordan/Kali Z. Fasteau

LIVE at the Kerava Jazz Festival: Finland

Flying Note FNCD 9012

Open Loose

Strange Unison

Radio Legs RL 013

Jason Stein

A Calculus of Loss

Clean Feed CF 104 CD

By Ken Waxman

Arguments exist as to the commercial benefits of free trade agreements. But musicians wish similar treaties existed for their trade. In the period since NFTA, for instance, the ability of performers to travel across borders has become worse. That’s what makes festival season important. Foreign performers ranging from respected veterans to savvy tyros get Canadian exposure. Recent CDs here capture older jazzers’ alchemy and suggest newer players to watch. MORE

June 6, 2008

Kidd Jordan/Kali Z. Fasteau

LIVE at the Kerava Jazz Festival: Finland
Flying Note FNCD 9012

Evan Parker-Mark Wastell-Graham Halliwell-Max Eastley

A Life Saved By a Spider and Two Doves

Another Timbre at06

Scott Fields

Bitter Love Songs

Clean Feed CF 102 CD

Open Loose

Strange Unison

Radio Legs RL 013

Jason Stein

A Calculus of Loss

Clean Feed CF 104 CD

By Ken Waxman

Arguments exist as to the commercial benefits of free trade agreements. But musicians wish similar treaties existed for their trade. In the period since NFTA, for instance, the ability of performers to travel across borders has become worse. That’s what makes festival season important. Foreign performers ranging from respected veterans to savvy tyros get Canadian exposure. Recent CDs here capture older jazzers’ alchemy and suggest newer players to watch. MORE

June 6, 2008

Evan Parker-Mark Wastell-Graham Halliwell-Max Eastley

A Life Saved By a Spider and Two Doves
Another Timbre at06

Kidd Jordan/Kali Z. Fasteau

LIVE at the Kerava Jazz Festival: Finland

Flying Note FNCD 9012

Scott Fields

Bitter Love Songs

Clean Feed CF 102 CD

Open Loose

Strange Unison

Radio Legs RL 013

Jason Stein

A Calculus of Loss

Clean Feed CF 104 CD

By Ken Waxman

Arguments exist as to the commercial benefits of free trade agreements. But musicians wish similar treaties existed for their trade. In the period since NFTA, for instance, the ability of performers to travel across borders has become worse. That’s what makes festival season important. Foreign performers ranging from respected veterans to savvy tyros get Canadian exposure. Recent CDs here capture older jazzers’ alchemy and suggest newer players to watch. MORE

June 6, 2008

Jason Stein

A Calculus of Loss
Clean Feed CF 104 CD

Evan Parker-Mark Wastell-Graham Halliwell-Max Eastley

A Life Saved By a Spider and Two Doves

Another Timbre at06

Kidd Jordan/Kali Z. Fasteau

LIVE at the Kerava Jazz Festival: Finland

Flying Note FNCD 9012

Scott Fields

Bitter Love Songs

Clean Feed CF 102 CD

Open Loose

Strange Unison

Radio Legs RL 013

By Ken Waxman

Arguments exist as to the commercial benefits of free trade agreements. But musicians wish similar treaties existed for their trade. In the period since NFTA, for instance, the ability of performers to travel across borders has become worse. That’s what makes festival season important. Foreign performers ranging from respected veterans to savvy tyros get Canadian exposure. Recent CDs here capture older jazzers’ alchemy and suggest newer players to watch. MORE

June 6, 2008

Open Loose

Strange Unison
Radio Legs RL 013

Evan Parker-Mark Wastell-Graham Halliwell-Max Eastley

A Life Saved By a Spider and Two Doves

Another Timbre at06

Kidd Jordan/Kali Z. Fasteau

LIVE at the Kerava Jazz Festival: Finland

Flying Note FNCD 9012

Scott Fields

Bitter Love Songs

Clean Feed CF 102 CD

Jason Stein

A Calculus of Loss

Clean Feed CF 104 CD

By Ken Waxman

Arguments exist as to the commercial benefits of free trade agreements. But musicians wish similar treaties existed for their trade. In the period since NFTA, for instance, the ability of performers to travel across borders has become worse. That’s what makes festival season important. Foreign performers ranging from respected veterans to savvy tyros get Canadian exposure. Recent CDs here capture older jazzers’ alchemy and suggest newer players to watch. MORE

January 1, 2007

Simon Nabatov-Tom Rainey

Steady Now
Leo CD LR 463

Reducing their 15-year association in larger groups to its essence, Russian-American pianist Simon Nabatov and American drummer Tom Rainey combine for this nine-track recital, which skirts keyboard glibness to exhilarate.

Prodigiously educated, Nabatov so dominates his instrument – which here is extended with preparations and primitive electronics – that it’s often difficult for him to hold back. Considering he’s held his own with heavy hitters like German trombonist Nils Wogram and Dutch drummer Han Bennink that’s no surprise. Resonating note clusters, slinky vamps and contrapuntal passing chords ooze from his fingers along with key clipping, basso explorations plus struck and strummed internal string patterns. On “Não Olhe Para Trás”, a quasi bossa nova for instance, he affixes stride variations and atonal contrasting dynamics onto the Latinesque theme. Elsewhere he references Romantic Era crescendos, Monkish note-bending and pumping ragtime lines – sometimes on the same track. MORE

September 25, 2006

MALABY/SANCHEZ/RAINEY

Alive in Brooklyn Vol. 2
Sarama Records No #

MARK HELIAS' OPEN LOOSE
Atomic Clock
Radio Legs RL 012

By Ken Waxman

What a difference one musician makes. Both these sessions were recorded two months apart in the same Brooklyn club by the same engineer and with two of three players on both discs. So why then does ATOMIC CLOCK tick with barely repressed animation, while ALIVE IN BROOKLYN seems to meander?

However facile the answer may seem, responsibility shouldn’t rest with Angelica Sanchez, who plays electric piano in place of Mark Helias’ bass, featured on the first disc. Sanchez, a fine pianist and tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby’s spouse, obviously has a close bond with him. Drummer Tom Rainey, the last member of the trio has played with both husband and wife for years. In truth there’s also some sameness on ATOMIC CLOCK since, except for one track, where Open Loose is joined by Ellery Eskelin, its previous tenor player, there aren’t that many textures that three instruments can wring from a limited sound field. MORE

January 23, 2006

HERB ROBERTSON NY DOWNTOWN ALL STARS

Elaboration
Clean Feed CF042 CD

Organized to bring out the best qualities of trumpeter Herb Robertson’s more-than-48-minute composition when it was performed at the Vancouver (British Columbia) Jazz Festival, the NY Downtown All Stars is no misnomer.

Each of he players has a long history with one another, and all – with the exception of drummer Tom Rainey – have frequently recorded as leaders. Alto saxophonist Tim Berne has been had his own bands since the early 1980s, around the time he first met the drummer and the brassman, both of whom have played in his combos. Swiss pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, who has a long-standing affiliation with another downtowner, violinist Mark Feldman, has worked with Robertson since the mid-1990s. As for bassist Mark Dresser, now teaching at the university level in California, his associations on both coasts run the gamut from multi-reedman Anthony Braxton to pianist Satoko Fujii – and everyone in between. MORE

November 22, 2004

BIG SATAN

Souls Saved Hear
Thirsty Ear THI 5751.2

MS4
Smash the Tomatoes
ILK q04.1

Catapulting drum rhythms, chiming guitar runs and inventive saxophone lines unite this American trio and Danish quartet. But each has worked out its own way to mold the excitement of rock and adroit improvisations without falling into the trap of splashy fusion.

The secret of success seems to involve original compositions from more than one band member, an imaginative fretman, a laid-back drummer and a subtle reedist. Yet interestingly enough, the young Danes and slightly older Americans are affiliated in such a way that the MS4 could be siblings of Big Satan. MORE

February 23, 2004

ANGELICA SANCHEZ

Mirror Me
OmniTone 12203

TONY MALABY
Apparitions
Songlines SGL SA 1545-2

Commentators often ascribe a certain innate togetherness to the playing of married couples who record together, which in reality is no more than the sort of sympatico feelings band members can express for one another. More critically, husband and wife musicians can and should develop separate musical personalities.

That’s the fascination and interest in MIRROR ME and APPARITIONS. For while Jersey City, N.J. saxophonist Tony Malaby and pianist Angelica Sanchez have been married since 1998 and together for years before that, their albums aren’t that much similar than any two others by a pianist and saxophonist. The tenor and soprano man may play on his better half’s CD, in fact, but the outcome is different. MORE

January 26, 2004

TIM BERNE

The sublime and. Sciencefrictionlive
Thirsty Ear RHI 57139.2

MARC DUCRET
Qui parle?
Sketch SKE 333038

Leaving well enough alone has never had particular appeal to those involved in creating electrified jazz/rock fusion music. Why keep the volume control knob turned to nine when it can reach 10? And why play for a few minutes when a half-hour or so is available?

Alto saxophonist/composer Tim Berne -- who has proven his talents in many situations ranging from working in standard-size jazz combos to writing for a classical sax quartet -- flirts with excess on this two-CD set, recorded live in Switzerland. While he and drummer Tom Rainey stick to acoustic instruments, the allure of showing off the textures available from Marc Ducret’s guitar(s) and effects and Craig Taborn’s electric piano, laptop computer and virtual organ evidentially prove too seductive. Although in total the Science Friction band session clocks in at 109 minutes, it includes three tunes in the 20-minute range and one that rocks on for more than 30. MORE

October 27, 2003

MARK HELIAS’ OPEN LOOSE

Verbs Of Will
Radio Legs RL 011

DAY AND TAXI
Private
Percaso 20

Differences that exist between these two saxophone-bass-and-drums sessions hinge less on the fact that one trio is Swiss and one American, than the comparisons extant from a working group and a newly constituted one.

Bassist Mark Helias’ Open Loose trio has been around for awhile, with tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby and drummer Tom Rainey filling it out for the past couple of years. VERB OF WILLS is a record of how the three sounded after playing together for weeks on an extended West Coast tour. 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

November 5, 2001

MARK HELIAS' OPEN LOOSE

New School
Enja ENJ-9413 2

Mark Helias is a relaxed sort of guy. At least that's what you figure when you see him play, and on evidence of the tunes on this fine CD here.

That doesn't mean that the bassist isn't an intense improviser on stage, or a consummate advanced composer. It's just after 25 years in the jazz trenches, working alongside the likes of Ed Blackwell, Dewey Redman, Ray Anderson and Gerry Hemingway, he doesn't have to keep himself front-and-centre all the time.

He's confident enough in his ability that while Open Loose is definitely his band -- he wrote all the tunes and has his name is on top -- there's more than enough space on this CD to show off the skills of drummer Tom Rainey and tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby. MORE