Reviews that mention Jim Black

July 21, 2020

Jim Black Trio

Intakt CD 334

Uwe Oberg/Joe Fonda/Lucía Martínez


NotTwo MW 994-2


Live at artacts ’19 St. Johann

Creative Sources CS 622 CD

Andy Milne and Unison

The Remission

Sunnyside Records SSC 1576

Favored in many styles of Jazz at least since the early 1950s, the conventional piano, bass and drums trio has been used by everyone from Teddy Wilson on one hand to Cecil Taylor on the other. The true test of interpretation for many though is how to assert individuality within the category’s parameters. Each trio here does so, but happily with singular solutions. MORE

April 13, 2020

Gordon Grdina

Nomad Trio
Skirl Records 044

Radical Empathy Trio

Reality and Other Imaginary Places

ESP 5035

Joe Morris/Evan Parker

The Village

Fundacja Słucha FSR 13/2019



BMC CD 257

Marcelo de Reis/Valentin Ceccaldi/Marco Franco/Luis Vincente


MultiKulti Project MPSMT 016

Something in the Air: Forging a Guitar Identity in Improvised Music

December 13, 2019

Miles Perkin Quartet

The Point in Question
Clean Feed CF 529 CD

Michael Formanek Very Practical Trio

Even Better

Intakt CD 335

Izumi Kimura/Barry Guy/Gerry Hemingway

Illuminated Silence

Fundacja Sluchaj FSR01/2019

Gabriela Friedli Trio


Leo Records CD LR 828

Torbjörn Zetterberg & the Great Question


Corbett vs. Dempsey CvsD CD 058

Something in the Air: Double bassists Score from the Background

By Ken Waxman

July 29, 2019


Exits into a Corridor
Hubro HUBROCD2618

Møster, Parker, Abrams & Herndon

Ran Do

Clean Feed CF 457 CD

A Norwegian saxophonist playing in a quartet including an American guitarist plus bass and drums could produce CDs that are mirror images of one another. Instead there’s very little to link Exits into a Corridor and Ran Do except personnel. For a start the five tracks on Exits into a Corridor were all composed by Norwegian bassist Rune Nergaard who is in as many local combos such as Bushman's Revenge, as fellow young Norwegian saxophonist Kristoffer Berre Alberts, known for his work with Cortex. Americans, drummer Jim Black and sometime Wilco guitarist Nels Cline fill out the group and everyone plays in a style that much closer to excessive Rock dynamics than slippery Jazz improvisations. Those other elements are most obvious on Ran Do’s five instance compositions. Here the saxophonist is Norwegian Kjetil Møster, the guitarist Jeff Parker, member both of the AACM and Isotope 217, while the other Chicagoans on board are bassist Joshua Abrams and drummer John Herndon from the Exploding Star Orchestra and Tortoise. MORE

July 19, 2019

Mark Dresser Seven

Ain’t Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You
Clean Feed CF 510 CD

Refining his compositional and improvising dexterity with a series of affectionate or acerbic compositions is veteran bassist Mark Dresser, whose adept septet is able to being out every nuance of Dresser’s creations. Furthermore the 11 accomplished creations confirm that his years as music professor at University of California, San Diego haven’t blunted the talent that initially made him a valuable contributor to notable projects of Anthony Braxton and John Zorn.

Consisting of mostly West Coast and academic associates, the ensemble is nearly faultless in performance as well. Its’ make up encompasses established improvisers like clarinetist/saxophonist Marty Ehrlich, flutist Nicole Mitchell and percussionist Jim Black as well as slightly younger stylists such as trombonist Michael Dessen, violinist Keir GoGwilt and pianist Joshua White. Other uncommon features of Ain’t Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You are six brief intermezzos played unaccompanied by Dresser on McLagan Tines, seven graduated steel rods with articulations midway between double bass resonation and metallic whistling. MORE

January 16, 2019

Robert Landfermann

Pirouet Records PIT 3103

Jacob Sacks


Clean Feed CF 497CD

Although populist demagogues may keep insisting on nationalism and exclusivity, in truth the world and its people are more globalist than ever, especially when it comes to Europe and North American. One confirmation in the musical sense arrives with these striking examples of contemporary quintet Jazz. Fishes may be all-American and Brief fourth-fifth German with an American drummer, but the points of demarcation are meager. Except for the number of tracks and that the US disc features a tenor and a tenor/soprano saxophonist, while the German horn section is a tenor and an alto saxophonist, there’s nothing particularly Teutonic or Yank about either/ MORE

May 8, 2017

Jim Black

Intakt CD 283

By Ken Waxman

Like approaching a large tied up canine you’re not certain is friendly or ferocious, Malamute can lead to the same ambivalence. Most of the players in this brand new group – keyboardist Elias Stemeseder, electric bassist Chris Tordini and especially drummer Jim Black – have been involved with some of downtown NYC’s most exploratory musical situations, while Icelandic tenor saxophonist Óskar Guðjónsson is more of a songster, with a Nordic style that’s midway between melody and melancholy. Plus not one of the CD’s 13 tracks is longer than six minutes, with most in the three minute range. MORE

July 11, 2015

Kris Davis

Save Your Breath
Clean Feed CF322 CD

By Ken Waxman

Consolidating her considerable musical gifts, Canadian-born, New York-based Kris Davis organized a uniquely constituted octet here to premiere or bolster her compositions. Confirming her range, the eight tunes are breezy and animated in spots, while looped around a dense, metal-like core. With the ensemble consisting of Ben Goldberg, Oscar Noriega, Joachim Badenhorst and Andrew Bishop playing different sized clarinets; drummer Jim Black and guitarist Nate Radley; plus Gary Versace on organ and Davis’ piano, the engendered textures frequently infer many associations, often during the same tune. MORE

February 1, 2015

Peter Evans Quintet

Destination: Void
More is More MM 141

By Ken Waxman

Unusually constituted with a front line of brass, piano and live electronics,

Destination: Void is another indication of how trumpeter Peter Evans is altering the fabric of improvised music. Seemingly capable of producing every sound on his horn from spindly murmurs to aggressive whinnying, the four extended Evans compositions here feature Sam Pluta’s sound wave mutation, and are given extra impetus by Ron Stabinsky’s mercurial exploration of piano keys and strings. MORE

December 6, 2014

Artist Feature

Thomas Morgan
By Ken Waxman

Thomas Morgan didn’t have much time for an interview when contacted by TNYCJR. Back in New York for a few days after a couple of months touring overseas with pianist Craig Taborn’s trio and Danish guitarist Jakob Bro’s multi-media quintet, within the week he was off across the Atlantic for most of a month to take the bass spot in two different working bands: drummer Jim Black’s trio and Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko’s quartet. Constant touring is just part of life for Morgan, 33, who has been one of the city’s busiest bassist almost since arriving here from his native California 15 years ago. Featured on more than 70 CDs, Morgan honed his skill with as many groups as he can, including those led by veterans such as Japanese pianist Masabumi Kikuchi, drummer Paul Motian and guitarists Bill Frisell. MORE

November 11, 2014

Festival Report

Sibiu Jazz and More
By Ken Waxman

Situated in the dead center of Romania, Sibiu is a fortified medieval city of winding streets, whose hub is the connected Grand (Piața Mare) and Lesser (Piața Mica) squares, where every building appears to be of historical importance. Populated by citizens of German, Transylvanian and Romanian background, it seems appropriate that the Jazz and More (JAM) Festival highlighted high-quality international improvisers annually.

Chicago drummer Tim Daisy was one player whose performance and demeanor reflected Sibiu’s cooperative history during JAM’s 10th edition October 3 to 5. Not only did he turn in a spectacular display of free jazz interaction with long-time partner tenor and alto saxophonist Dave Rempis at JAM’s main venue, the soft-seated Teatrul Gong, but later that same night played a sympathetic duet set with Bucharest-based pianist Mircea Tiberian at the basement Bohemian Flow club in Piața Mica, then participated in a jam session that went on to 5 a.m. With Rempis, an animated Daisy bounced up, down as he clanked and clicked every variety of cymbals, blocks, bells, chains and other paraphernalia. In contrast the reedist stood stock still, reeling out stuttering, slurring or slashing phrases in many registers and intensities which angled perfectly into the drummer’s narratives Adding rhythmic blues riffs and Africanized inflections to tonal deconstruction, the duo ensured that each improvisation flowed logically from thematic roots and swung hard in its own fashion. Feeling his way with Tiberian, who craftily extracted multi-hued rhythm plus Monk-like single-note emphasis from an electric piano, Daisy was initially deferential. Quickly through drum-top dusting gave way to resonating buzzes and echoing strokes. By the time Tiberian was mixing staccato smears with dramatic theme extensions, the drummer uncorked enough rocking clatter to echo off the club’s stained brick walls. MORE

May 14, 2014

Uri Caine Ensemble

Rhapsody in Blue
Winter & Winter 910.905-2

Théo Ceccaldi Trio +1
Can You Smile?

Ayler Records AYLCD 136

Samo Salamon & Slovene Philharmonic String Chamber Orchestra

Free Strings Orchestrology


Nils Wogram & Root 70 with strings


Wog Records 007

Vijay Iyer


ECM CD 2372

Something In The Air: Innovative Writing for Strings and Improvisers

By Ken Waxman

As genres draw closer to one another, the idea of a musician from one area playing and composing a work in another area doesn’t seem so far-fetched. More importantly the sophistication of many contemporary performers means that these inter-genre excursions are triumphant rather than merely passable. One form that is being explored by improvised musicians for instance is composing for the bedrock of the so-called classical music tradition: string groupings. MORE

April 2, 2014

David Krakauer

The Big Picture
Table Pounding TDR 002

Anti-Semitism or approval is behind the oft-repeated canard that “Jews run Hollywood“, but certainly no one can deny the influence producers, directors, writers and composers of Jewish background have had on the history of cinema. Clarinetist David Krakauer pays tribute to Hollywood’s Semitic tinge on The Big Picture performing a dozen song from films whose actors, director, composer or themes reflect Jewish topics. Considering that the movies range from Sophie’s Choice to The Producers it’s fortunate that Krakauer’s equally varied musical affiliations have encompassed John Zorn, the Klezmatics, Itzhak Perlman and symphony orchestras. MORE

March 18, 2014

Trumpets and Drums

Live in Ljubljana
Clean Feed CF 282 CD



Circum Libra Records 202

Taking legendary musical battles like those of King Oliver vs. Freddie Keppard as a starting point, trumpet duals are as old as Jazz itself. Nonetheless unreserved experimentation, which has characterized the best improvised music over the past few decades, has transformed the idea of so-called cutting contests into episodes of cooperation. You can note it in these CDs which both feature two trumpeters with rhythmic accompaniment. Not only is there no attempt by any of the four brass men involved to Roy Eldridge-like blow his partner out of the picture, but despite a congruence of instruments, neither instrument sounds remotely like the other. MORE

March 5, 2013

Label Spotlight:

Libra Records
By Ken Waxman

“All projects have their own stories and I now have more than 60 stories I can tell,” explains pianist/composer/bandleader Satoko Fujii when asked about her recording career. Luckily more than 32 of these stories are available from Tokyo-based Libra records, a label she and her husband, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, founded in 1996. Although the highly praised pianist and trumpeter occasionally record for other imprints, Libra reflects her most personal projects, including duets and trios with Tamura and other Japanese and Western musicians, solo projects, records by her New York and Japanese big bands, her avant-rock-free jazz combo and a quartet in which she plays accordion. MORE

November 10, 2011

Auand Records

Label Spotlight
By Ken Waxman

No matter how many products are in the marketplace quality wins out, and Italian label Auand demonstrates this. Celebrating its 10th Anniversary with a series of New York concerts, the label, located in Bisceglie, on the Adriatic seacoast, was founded by Marco Valente because, he says, with most Italian jazz labels dating from the 1970s, “I felt the Italian scene needed something new to shake up the market.”

Valente, who owns, a successful e-commerce site, admits to a “love of the so-called downtown New York scene. I often found its influence on some Italian musicians I work with”. Consequently Auand has often put out CDs by foreign, as well as Italian improvisers. With players such as Tim Berne, Jim Black and Bobby Previte, it has facilitated Americans recording with Italians. MORE

September 30, 2011

Ellery Eskelin/Andrea Parkins/Jim Black

One Great Night ... Live
hatOLOGY 683

Ellery Eskelin

Trio New York

Prime Source CD 6010

These two sides of Brooklyn-based tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin’s trio sounds aren’t as disparate as they appear on the surface. While Eskelin is identified with the experimental side of improvised music, typified by his trio with keyboardist Andrea Parkins and drummer Jim Black plus sideman gigs with the likes of drummer Gerry Hemingway, the results are only far-out when measured against the most rigidly conservative Jazz. MORE

August 8, 2009

David Liebman/Ellery Eskelin Quartet

hatOLOGY 654

More astringent in their reed interaction then earlier tandem tenor teams such as Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Johnny Griffin or Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, the overwhelming techniques of American saxophonists David Liebman and Ellery Eskelin advantageously boost each other’s strong points.

Seconded by the spontaneous pulses of drummer Jim Black from Eskelin’s working trio, and the steady back-up of bassist Tony Marino from Liebman’s regular band, the quartet ranges through a series of originals written by band members plus two versions of Eric Dolphy’s “Out There”. Although of different generations – Liebman was born in 1946, Eskelin in 1959 – their mutual respect means that the resulting unison or double counterpoint styling harmonically plugs any pre-existing timbral gaps from either soloist. A similar irregular vibrato allows each saxophonist to frequently improvise a half-step apart until one dips into slurred basso growls and the other nervy altissimo shrills. MORE

May 7, 2006


Magic Numbers
Songlines SGL SA1556-2

Hopscotch Records HOP 36

Conventional and unconventional methods of recording with a string quartet are highlighted on these CDs directed by vastly different reed players.

On MAGIC NUMBERS Toronto-based tenor and soprano saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff has taken the traditional route – composing eight pieces that feature him, plus New Yorkers, bassist Mark Helias and drummer Jim Black, improvising in front of a quartet of Montreal string players. In vivid contrast, except for the Duke Ellington-penned title track, all the pieces on SOLITUDE are instant compositions with Brooklyn-based tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist Assif Tsahar giving equal prominence to percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani and members of the KJLA String Quartet. MORE

May 30, 2005


Swell Henry
Squealer SQLR 040

Known for his incisive soloing with prototypical downtown groups lead by the likes of altoist Tim Berne’s and pianist Myra Melford, reedist Chris Speed, seems most concerned with lyricism, Balkan inflections and ambience here.

Not a smooth jazz record, the less than 39-minute session could easily be confused for a soft-rock outing by members of a metal band eager to display their chops in a quieter setting. Cumulatively the 10 tracks offer little more than music that could be played for dancing and background during a semi-hip wedding in Manhattan’s East Village or Brooklyn’s Park Slope. MORE

May 16, 2005


Illusion Suite
Libra 203-009

Sixth chapter of the ongoing saga of Japanese-American pianist/composer Satoko Fujii’s American trio, ILLUSION SUITE shows her confidence in working up from the single tune short story to the novella length (34 minutes) with the title track here.

Along the way it not only shows off the skills and techniques of the pianist and her sidemen – bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black – but suggests this may be the most comfortable setting in which she works. Fujii, whose playing situations range from massive big bands to electric combos featuring a Japanese rhythm section with a strong fusion – heck, rock, orientation – thrives in this acoustic setting. MORE

February 14, 2005

Benoît Delbecq Unit


Sound Plaza

By Ken Waxman
February 14, 2005

Jazz’s universality now means that having Americans record with a European leader is no novelty. In the 21st Century, the match-up isn’t like those LPs of the 1950s and 1960s that featured Bud Powell playing with no name sidemen or Zoot Sims “visiting Paris”.

Today if “foreigners” are on a date, it’s because the leader figures they’ll add something unique to his vision. Which is what happens on these two discs by pianists, that serendipitously both feature tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, putting him in unexpected situations for a California-raised so-called young lion. MORE

June 14, 2004


Ditty Blei
Songlines SJ-1547-SACD

Breeding Resistance
Delmark DG-551

Activists working for social change might give their supporters a break from weepy folk singers and over earnest sloganeers next time they schedule an anti-globalization rally and instead hire Ted Sirota’s Rebel Souls.

Judging from his song titles and booklet notes, Chicago drummer Sirota has as finely honed a commitment to social justice and against institutionalized oppression as any leftist spokesperson. Plus his Rebel Souls quintet is a top-notch aggregation that swings with wild abandon and manages to mix musical intelligence with foot tapping. Wasn’t it anarchist Emma Goldman who said she wouldn’t to be part of any revolution that didn’t include dancing? MORE

May 17, 2004


Hopscotch 21

Junk Magic
Thirsty Ear THI 57144.2

Ever since he first appeared on disc as part of his father, reedist Joe Maneri’s, Boston-based microtonal trio, violist Matt Maneri has been turning heads with his playing. Versatile enough to move effortlessly from the harshest excesses of loud, so-called ecstatic jazz to the supplest examples of understated chamber improv, he’s created a legitimate role for the bloated fiddle in exploratory situations. MORE

March 24, 2004


Gustav Mahler - Dark Flame
Winter & Winter 910-095-2

Newest chapter in pianist Uri Caine’s POMO recasting of the works of the so-called Great Composers, DARK FLAME showcases an almost total vocal program.

Based on lieder composed by Austrian Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), the musicianship and inventiveness here are at the same high standard as Caine’s earlier meditations on the work of J. S. Bach, Richard Wagner and other Mahler projects. But with 14 selections rearranged over 77 minutes, there are times the variations move from novelty to gimmickry. Mahler’s oeuvre heard in gospel, Klezmer, rock or mainstream jazz variations is engaging; but linking it to turntable tricks, Oriental sounds, overwrought poetics or cocktail jazz works less well. MORE

July 28, 2003


Winter & Winter W&W 910 082-2

Palmetto PM 2091

Fans who complain that improvised music is too cerebral and not concerned enough with rhythm should hear these sessions led by drummers usually confined to the avant-garde side of the spectrum.

Although both are literal dance parties -- in the 1950s definition of the term -- each is different as well. ASTEREOTYPICAL shows what happens when you give three American and one Icelandic musicians license to create a sound animated by the traditional music of Eastern Europe, especially the Balkans. Conversely, COUNTERCLOCKWISE, featuring five Americans of a slightly earlier vintage than the dewy-cheeked Pachora crew, plays improv informed by the sort of R&B licks leader Bobby Previte probably heard growing up in Niagara Falls, N.Y. in the 1960s. MORE

January 8, 2002


April Shower
Ewe Records EWCC 0006

Ewe Records EWCD-0034

One of the dangers in analyzing the efforts of any non-North American improviser is expecting to find explicit references to his or her culture in the music.

Sure some creators introduce scraps of so-called native sounds into their creations -- Italians, South Africans and some Latin Americans are particularly good at that -- but that doesn’t mean that every foreign musicians wants to do the same thing. Which gets us to the work of pianist/composer Satoko Fujii. MORE

March 31, 2000


White & Blue
Buzz ZZ 76011

Anyone contemplating an almost 57 minute CD of trumpet-percussion duets is in the position of a diner sitting down to a whole meal of liver and brussels sprouts. In the hands of the right chef, the simple spread can be mouth-watering and satisfying. But thrown together by someone with less skill as a kitchen magician, you end up with a dry and tasteless repast.

The restaurant review on this CD is mixed. Although head chef Tamura and sous chefs Black and Alexander work hard, the end result is only partially palatable. Perhaps a bit more diversity in the added spices and a variety of preparation methods would have helped the meal.