Reviews that mention Taylor Ho Bynum

December 26, 2016

Taylor Ho Bynum

Enter the Plustet
Firehouse 12 FH 12-04-01-025

Illegal Crowns

Illegal Crowns

RogueArt ROG-0066

Quietly and without excessive fanfare, Connecticut-based cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum has become one of this century’s most accomplished composers, improvisers, orchestrators and band leaders. Like a fighter who excels in whatever weight classes he trains for, Bynum has not only been involved in the macro sense, as one assistant conductor of some of Anthony Braxton’s major creations, but also in micro situations, where he manages to convey the breath of his ideas performing solo or in ensembles as small as duos, usually with drummer Tomas Fujiwara. MORE

December 26, 2016

Illegal Crowns

Illegal Crowns
RogueArt ROG-0066

Taylor Ho Bynum

Enter the Plustet

Firehouse 12 FH 12-04-01-025

Quietly and without excessive fanfare, Connecticut-based cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum has become one of this century’s most accomplished composers, improvisers, orchestrators and band leaders. Like a fighter who excels in whatever weight classes he trains for, Bynum has not only been involved in the macro sense, as one assistant conductor of some of Anthony Braxton’s major creations, but also in micro situations, where he manages to convey the breath of his ideas performing solo or in ensembles as small as duos, usually with drummer Tomas Fujiwara. MORE

May 27, 2016

Bathysphere

Bathysphere
Driff Records CD 1502

Spinflex

Maximus

Trytone TT99-062

Translating musical ideas from a small group to a big band involves more than merely writing more parts. Like scientists who evoke new laboratory procedures to properly isolate unique phenomenon, Bathysphere’s two composers and Spinflex’s three approached the seven tracks on each of these CDs with methodologies that take into account the variegated colors available from multiple players as well as the resultant juiced up solo strength. Again like researchers whose breakthroughs are predicated on earlier experiments, the CDs’ stimulating shape(s) are the result of imaginative arrangements that take the individual bands’ identities a few steps forward. MORE

March 22, 2016

Guelph Jazz Festival

Guelph, Ontario
September 16-20, 2015

By Ken Waxman

Story telling of the verbal and instrumental variety was an important feature of this year’s Guelph Jazz Festival. Trying out new venues such as Heritage Hall (HH), Guelph’s first black church; and the soft-seated Guelph Little Theatre (GLT), the festival added a feeling of intimacy to its innovative programming.

Front and centre with tales, tall and otherwise were two Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM) members, multi-reedist Douglas Ewart and alto saxophonist Matana Roberts. Confirming the old adage that actions can speak louder than words were musicians as cerebrally intricate as Evan Parker’s soprano saxophone forays or as raucous as guitarist Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog trio. MORE

December 11, 2014

Taylor Ho Bynum 7-Tett

Navigation (Possibly Abstracts XI & XIII)
Firehouse 12 FH-12-04-01-019

Hans Lüdemann

Die Kunst des Trio 1-5

BMC Records BMC CD 196

Flat Earth Society

FESXLS

Igloo IGL 257

Peter Kowald

Discography

Jazz Werksttatt JW 150

Something In The Air: Outstanding and Unusual Boxed Sets

By Ken Waxman

As the availability of music on different media continues to proliferate, the focus of the durable box set has become equally diverse. No longer does a multi-disc collection have to be definitive or far-ranging. As a matter of fact some of the best, like the ones discussed here, concentrate on certain sequences in an artist’s career. MORE

August 11, 2014

Artist Feature

Jim Hobbs
By Ken Waxman

Boston-based alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs has no problem with having his improvising and compositions celebrated – or fully celebrated – during four nights at Douglas Street Music Collective (DSMC) August 20-23, but he maintains his music is still evolving. “I’ve always believed that the music is supposed to progress and that’s the musician’s responsibility,” says Hobbs, 47. “Music shouldn't be confined to a museum re-enactment.” Known as a member of the trio or quartet called the Fully Celebrated Orchestra (FCO), Hobbs, is one musician who has always followed his own path, although chance and coincidence have also played a part. MORE

April 8, 2014

Anthony Braxton

Quartet (Warsaw) 2012
ForTune 0020

By Ken Waxman

True appreciation of Anthony Braxton’s music must come with the understanding that the only reference points for it are often other Braxton works. That said it’s also important to remember that there is no definitive Braxton style any more than there was an exclusive Duke Ellington or Sun Ra style. A musical omnivore, Braxton’s influences range over jazz, modern notated music, pure improvisation and electronics.

The provocative “Composition 363b+” that takes up all of Quartet (Warsaw) 2012 for instance, appears to be a step away from his recent repetitively tremolo Ghost Trance and Falling River musics. Instead it relates to his sessions from the ‘70s where a stringed instrument would provide the continuum, with the top – not front – line consisting of improvising expressions from Braxton plus another reed or brass player. Featuring violinist Erica Dicker, alto saxophonist James Fei and long-time Braxton aide-de-camp cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, plus the composer on alto and tenor saxophones, this composition approaches that earlier style. However real-time electronic processing generated by SuperCollider supplies the tense, crackling ostinato here. MORE

January 8, 2014

Anthony Braxton

Echo Echo Mirror House
Victo cd 125

Anthony Braxton

Ensemble Montaigne (Bau 4) 2013

Leo Records CD LR 684

By Ken Waxman

Whenever the controversy about what or who is or isn’t jazz is breached there’s likely no more polarizing figure than Anthony Braxton. Braxton has been so prolific in his writing and playing however that ample arguments can be mustered for both points of view. These recent CDs should add more verbiage to the discussion. Although both are well executed and absorbing, Braxton’s protean skills are such that a case can be made either way. MORE

December 23, 2013

8th Annual Jazz Critics Poll – NPR Music

Ken Waxman
(The New York City Jazz Record, Jazz Word)

NEW RELEASES

1. Convergence Quartet, Slow and Steady (NoBusiness)

2. Andrew Cyrille, Duology (Jazzwerkstatt)

3. Black Host, Life in the Sugar Candle Mines (Northern Spy)

4. Scott Neumann, Blessed (Origin)

5. Michel Edelin, Resurgence (RogueArt)

6. Ab Baars-Meinard Kneer-Bill Elgart, Give No Quarter (Evil Rabbit)

7. Maria Faust, Jazz Catastrophe (Barefoot)

8. Barry Altschul, The 3dom Factor (TUM)

9. Mark Dresser, Nourishments (Clean Feed)

10. Alexey Kruglov-Alexey Lapin-Jaak Sooäär-Oleg Yudanov, Military Space (Leo) MORE

November 8, 2013

Label Spotlight:

Relative Pitch Records
By Ken Waxman

We both feel that every release has been a success,” says Kevin Reilly, co-owner with Mike Panico, of the New York area-based Relative Pitch (RP) record label. “I want to stay away from categorizing our releases according to the parameters of late industrial capitalist consumerism.”

Economic methodology aside, in the less than five years since it was founded, Relative Pitch has already put out 14 well-regarded CDs, featuring younger advanced players such as guitarist Mary Halvorson and trumpeter Nate Wooley, plus veteran free musicians including bassist Joëlle Léandre and saxophonist Urs Leimgruber. MORE

November 3, 2013

Anthony Braxton

Echo Echo Mirror House
Victo cd 125

François Houle/Håvard Wiik

Aves

Songlines SGL 1601-2

Roscoe Mitchell Quartet

Live at A Space 1975

Sackville-Demark SK 2080

Evan Tighe

Threadcount

ETC 0001

Something In The Air: Recorded in Canada, Appreciated World-Wide

By Ken Waxman

Without question one of jazz’s most representative records is of a 1954 concert with Bop masters Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus and Max Roach in their only performance together. That the session was recorded in Toronto’s Massey Hall makes it distinctive as well as replaceable. But Jazz at Massey Hall isn’t the only instance of jazz history being made north of the border. Precisely because of gig opportunities for committed international improvisers discs recorded at Canadian gigs or festivals are an important part of the music’s fabric. MORE

September 24, 2013

The Convergence Quartet

Slow and Steady
NoBusiness NBCD 53

Book of Three

Continuum (2012)

Relative Pitch RPR 1012

Gianni Lenoci Hocus Pocus 4 + Taylor Ho Bynum

Empty Chair

Setola di Maiale SM 2440

Along with leading his own band(s) and serving as aide-de-camp for many of Anthony Braxton’s projects, peripatetic cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum somehow manages to find time to regularly gig with players on both sides of the Atlantic. Sympathetic to others’ ideas his presence manages to multiply the number of high quality sessions extant. MORE

September 24, 2013

Gianni Lenoci Hocus Pocus 4 + Taylor Ho Bynum

Empty Chair
Setola di Maiale SM 2440

The Convergence Quartet

Slow and Steady

NoBusiness NBCD 53

Book of Three

Continuum (2012)

Relative Pitch RPR 1012

Along with leading his own band(s) and serving as aide-de-camp for many of Anthony Braxton’s projects, peripatetic cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum somehow manages to find time to regularly gig with players on both sides of the Atlantic. Sympathetic to others’ ideas his presence manages to multiply the number of high quality sessions extant. MORE

September 24, 2013

Book of Three

Continuum (2012)
Relative Pitch RPR 1012

Gianni Lenoci Hocus Pocus 4 + Taylor Ho Bynum

Empty Chair

Setola di Maiale SM 2440

The Convergence Quartet

Slow and Steady

NoBusiness NBCD 53

Along with leading his own band(s) and serving as aide-de-camp for many of Anthony Braxton’s projects, peripatetic cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum somehow manages to find time to regularly gig with players on both sides of the Atlantic. Sympathetic to others’ ideas his presence manages to multiply the number of high quality sessions extant. MORE

April 21, 2013

Jason Kao Hwang

Burning Bridge
Innova 840

Creating a musical program that relates both to multiculturalism and the melting pot, violinist Jason Kao Hwang’s archetype is true to disparate traditions while melding them into a distinctive musical form. Using instruments from the Jazz, notated music and Chinese traditions his ideas are expressed with an octet, giving him both the flexibility of a small combo plus many of the sonic colors available from a larger ensemble.

Someone whose choice of instruments links him to the so-called classical tradition, Hwang’s experience encompasses experiments with a combo whose members all played Oriental instruments, as well as expressive improvisational cooperation with the likes of bassist William Parker, saxophonist Joe McPhee and cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum. MORE

March 15, 2013

Living By Lanterns

New Myth/Old Science
Cuneiform Records Rune 345

Mike Reed’s People Places & Things

Clean on the Corner

482 Music 482-1081

Drummer/bandleader Mike Reed has established himself as, among things, a deft interpreter of Chicago’s progressive music history. Nothing like a neo-con however, rather than imitation or emulation he and his People Places & Things create new variations of the city’s rich 1950s and 1960s Jazz heritage. On these exceptional sessions, he, and sidekicks, alto saxophonist Greg Ward – on both discs– and vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz – on New Myth/Old Science – have taken the next step: integrated their own compositions with earlier ones. MORE

November 6, 2012

François Houle

Genera
Songlines SGL 1595-2

François Houle/Benoît Delbecq

Because She Hoped

Songlines SGL 1592-2

Benoît Delbecq

Crescendo in Duke

Nato 4375

By Ken Waxman

Paris-based, but as likely to turn up on North American as European sessions, pianist Benoît Delbecq is the very model of a cosmopolitan improviser. Often working with prepared piano and/or electronics, Delbecq specializes in cutting-edge interpretations, but his limpid playing also relates to a tradition that takes in Steve Lacy and through him Duke Ellington. MORE

May 16, 2012

Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet

Apparent Distance
Firehouse 12 Records FH12

Jason Kao Hwang/Edge

Crossroads Unseen

Euonymus Records EU 02

Brass man Taylor Ho Bynum and bassist Ken Filiano are the constants in these noteworthy sessions designed to offer glimpses into the improvisational and compositional cores of a clutch of innovating musicians. Anti-establishment without being nihilists, the eight players represented validate the concept of moving forward sonically while preserving parts of the past.

The most obvious tradition linkages are that Bynum’s sextet on Apparent Distance is organized to play his four-part chamber suite. Crossroads Unseen meantime features six compositions by leader Jason Kao Hwang that make ample use of the qualities he can wring out of European music’s most venerable instruments – the violin and the viola. Hwang has worked with experimenters such as bassist William Parker and drummer Vladimir Tarasov. Filiano has become a constant New York presence after an apprenticeship with reedist Vinny Golia. Percussionist Andrew Drury is a composer in his own right, while Bynum has a long association with Anthony Braxton. This CD is the quartet’s third as Edge. MORE

May 16, 2012

Jason Kao Hwang/Edge

Crossroads Unseen
Euonymus Records EU 02

Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet

Apparent Distance

Firehouse 12 Records FH12

Brass man Taylor Ho Bynum and bassist Ken Filiano are the constants in these noteworthy sessions designed to offer glimpses into the improvisational and compositional cores of a clutch of innovating musicians. Anti-establishment without being nihilists, the eight players represented validate the concept of moving forward sonically while preserving parts of the past.

The most obvious tradition linkages are that Bynum’s sextet on Apparent Distance is organized to play his four-part chamber suite. Crossroads Unseen meantime features six compositions by leader Jason Kao Hwang that make ample use of the qualities he can wring out of European music’s most venerable instruments – the violin and the viola. Hwang has worked with experimenters such as bassist William Parker and drummer Vladimir Tarasov. Filiano has become a constant New York presence after an apprenticeship with reedist Vinny Golia. Percussionist Andrew Drury is a composer in his own right, while Bynum has a long association with Anthony Braxton. This CD is the quartet’s third as Edge. MORE

April 26, 2012

Hybrid 10tet

On the Move
BBBCD14

Somehow the newest CD by pianist Michiel Braam’s Hybrid 10tet manages to expose nine tracks of sweetened Dutch Funk with a modern Jazz overlay. All inventive Braam composition and arrangements, the performances bring together a so-called Classical string quartet, a Rock-oriented rhythm section, with an international trio of brass players upfront. Mixing up the elements this way, the pianist has created a continental improv version of Gamble & Huff’s Philly Soul Music. And in doing so, Braam has positioned his Tentet as a successor to the late Willem Breuker’s Kollektief and the aging, while still vibrant, ICP Orchestra. MORE

October 5, 2011

Bill Dixon

Envoi
Victo cd 120

Taylor Ho Bynum/Joe Morris/Sara Schoenbeck

Next

Porter Records PRCD-4058

Pink Saliva

Pink Saliva

& Records &11

Starlicker

Double Demon

Delmark DE 2011

Something In The Air: Trumpeter Bill Dixon’s Lingering Influence

By Ken Waxman

Praised and reviled in equal measure during his 40-year career, Vermont-based trumpeter Bill Dixon was finally recognized as one of improvised music’s most original stylists and theorists before his death at 84 in June 2010. Fittingly his final concert took place a mere three weeks previously at Quebec’s Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, where a hand-picked octet played this composition under his direction. Luckily the performance has been released as Envoi Victo Records Victo cd 120. Not only do the two sections illuminate Dixon’s particular mixture of formalism and freedom, but with a horn section of four playing cornet, bugle and flugelhorn, Envoi also demonstrates Dixon’s influence on a younger generation of brass players. MORE

October 5, 2011

Taylor Ho Bynum/Joe Morris/Sara Schoenbeck

Next
Porter Records PRCD-4058

Bill Dixon

Envoi

Victo cd 120

Pink Saliva

Pink Saliva

& Records &11

Starlicker

Double Demon

Delmark DE 2011

Something In The Air: Trumpeter Bill Dixon’s Lingering Influence

By Ken Waxman

Praised and reviled in equal measure during his 40-year career, Vermont-based trumpeter Bill Dixon was finally recognized as one of improvised music’s most original stylists and theorists before his death at 84 in June 2010. Fittingly his final concert took place a mere three weeks previously at Quebec’s Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, where a hand-picked octet played this composition under his direction. Luckily the performance has been released as Envoi Victo Records Victo cd 120. Not only do the two sections illuminate Dixon’s particular mixture of formalism and freedom, but with a horn section of four playing cornet, bugle and flugelhorn, Envoi also demonstrates Dixon’s influence on a younger generation of brass players. MORE

June 5, 2011

Fred Ho and the Green Monster Big Band

Year of the Tiger
Innova 789

Italian Instabile Orchestra

Totally Gone

Rai Trade RTP J0021

Pierre Labbé +12

Tremblement de fer

Ambiance Magnétique AM202

Pierre Favre

Le Voyage

Intakt CD 186

Something in the Air: Big Band Redux

By Ken Waxman

More than 60 years after the big band era, improvising musicians still organize large ensembles to take advantage of its wider scope and range of colors. Such is the versatility of the arrangements possible with large bands as these sessions demonstrate, that each sounds completely unique while maintaining the same excellence. MORE

May 31, 2011

Taylor Ho Bynum/John Hébert/Gerald Cleaver

Book of Three
RogueArt Rog-0029

Joe Hertenstein/Pascal Niggenkemper/Thomas Heberer

HNH

Clean Feed CF 205 CD

Unusual in composition, an improvising trio made up of double bass, drums and a brass instrument usually has a harder time balancing its sonics than when the third instrument is piano, say, or saxophone. It’s a tribute to each of these formations that the end results are of such high-quality, although the Book of Three CD is low-key and atmospheric, while HNH is bright and lively. MORE

January 13, 2011

Trio BraamDeJoodeVatcher

Quartet
BBBCD 12 & 13

How can a trio be a quartet? That Dadaist query is more serious than is initially evident. For adding another musician to a long-established triangular entity, doesn’t necessarily result in a quartet sound if the thought processes don’t mesh. However Trio BraamDeJoodeVatcher here craftily avoids the phenomenon of merely creating music for three plus one. Using pieces from pianist Michel Braam’s “Q Book” as a basis, the three integrate guests’ sounds into their longstanding connection. MORE

July 8, 2010

Tomas Fujiwara and Taylor Ho Bynum

Stepwise
NotTwo NW 828-2

By Ken Waxman

Revealing an unusually wide variety of pitches, colors and rhythms in this dual interface, Tomas Fujiwara and Taylor Ho Bynum demonstrate everything that can be expressed in improvisations limited instrumentally to what were likely humanity’s first musical tools: a horn and a drum

Boston-based drummer Fujiwara and New York cornetist Ho Bynum are old friends who often work together in ensembles ranging from big bands to combos. These 10 tracks impressively demonstrate that they have the wherewithal plus the technical and creative smarts to pull off this stripped-down session in such a way that you barely notice they’re alone MORE

April 9, 2010

Laura Andel Orchestra

Doble Mano
Rossbin Records RS029

Completely inured to the challenges of contemporary composition, Buenos Aires- born-New Yorker Laura Andel writes pocket-orchestra pieces in which notated sounds blend with improvisation, as staccato and lyrical passages vie for supremacy. Doble Mano, whose title reflects the twinning of different orchestral groupings, raises the ante further by interjecting into the performance characteristic sonic fragments from the South American bandoneon and Indonesian gamelan.

With the slurs and discordance available from a prepared Fender Rhodes often used as an additional rhythmic source, Andel, who conducts here, strives for an appropriate balance between the rhythmic and melodic sections of this eight-part suite. Double bass, viola, piano, cornet and clarinet – plus squeeze-box – are arrayed to produce resolute cabaletta-like pulses, with the rattling and scraping timbral beats arrive from the vibraphone, gamelan instruments and electric piano – with Ursel Schlicht’s acoustic piano meditating between both solitudes. Enharmonic notation may even help balance this mirroring. MORE

November 2, 2009

Michael Bates’ Outside Sources

Live in New York
Greenleaf Paperback Series Vol 4

Andy Milne-Benoît Delbecq

Where is Pannonica?

Songlines SGL SA-1579-2

Harris Eisenstdat

Guewel

Clean Feed CF 123 CD

RIDD Quartet

Fiction Avalanche

Clean Feed CF 121 CD

EXTENDED PLAY: Canadians at Home and Aboard

By Ken Waxman

Ancient but apt, the saying “you can take a boy out of the country, but can’t take the country out of the boy” is more accurate if the country is Canada and the “boys” are male and female musicians in the United States. No matter how busy they are, improvisers are always ready to play north of the border. Last month, for instance, Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based drummer Harris Eisenstadt played two Toronto shows in one day before continuing an American tour. MORE

November 2, 2009

Harris Eisenstdat

Guewel
Clean Feed CF 123 CD

RIDD Quartet

Fiction Avalanche

Clean Feed CF 121 CD

Andy Milne-Benoît Delbecq

Where is Pannonica?

Songlines SGL SA-1579-2

Michael Bates’ Outside Sources

Live in New York

Greenleaf Paperback Series Vol 4

EXTENDED PLAY: Canadians at Home and Aboard

By Ken Waxman

Ancient but apt, the saying “you can take a boy out of the country, but can’t take the country out of the boy” is more accurate if the country is Canada and the “boys” are male and female musicians in the United States. No matter how busy they are, improvisers are always ready to play north of the border. Last month, for instance, Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based drummer Harris Eisenstadt played two Toronto shows in one day before continuing an American tour. MORE

November 2, 2009

Andy Milne-Benoît Delbecq

Where is Pannonica?
Songlines SGL SA-1579-2

Harris Eisenstdat

Guewel

Clean Feed CF 123 CD

RIDD Quartet

Fiction Avalanche

Clean Feed CF 121 CD

Michael Bates’ Outside Sources

Live in New York

Greenleaf Paperback Series Vol 4

EXTENDED PLAY: Canadians at Home and Aboard

By Ken Waxman

Ancient but apt, the saying “you can take a boy out of the country, but can’t take the country out of the boy” is more accurate if the country is Canada and the “boys” are male and female musicians in the United States. No matter how busy they are, improvisers are always ready to play north of the border. Last month, for instance, Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based drummer Harris Eisenstadt played two Toronto shows in one day before continuing an American tour. MORE

November 2, 2009

RIDD Quartet

Fiction Avalanche
Clean Feed CF 121 CD

Harris Eisenstdat

Guewel

Clean Feed CF 123 CD

Andy Milne-Benoît Delbecq

Where is Pannonica?

Songlines SGL SA-1579-2

Michael Bates’ Outside Sources

Live in New York

Greenleaf Paperback Series Vol 4

EXTENDED PLAY: Canadians at Home and Aboard

By Ken Waxman

Ancient but apt, the saying “you can take a boy out of the country, but can’t take the country out of the boy” is more accurate if the country is Canada and the “boys” are male and female musicians in the United States. No matter how busy they are, improvisers are always ready to play north of the border. Last month, for instance, Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based drummer Harris Eisenstadt played two Toronto shows in one day before continuing an American tour. MORE

June 13, 2009

Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet

Asphalt Flowers Forking Paths
hatOLOGY 675

Making the transition from featured sideman to band leader, Brooklyn-based cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum is beginning to preserve the unique sound(s) of his group(s) on record. The (s)s are deliberate, because unlike the fabled jazz combs of the 1950s and 1960s, many of his bands are ad-hoc groupings organized for a specific date or recording project.

Yet as this notable live session indicates, Bynum, who has always been cognizant of career-building, has managed to lure a steady group of up-and-coming players as his first call seconds. The band on Asphalt Flowers Forking Paths is the same one with which he has been gigging since 2005, while he and most of the other members also interact in outside situations, including different Anthony Braxton ensembles. That likely explains the emphatic cooperation among the conetist, his Braxton band pal, guitarist Mary Halvorson, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, with whom Bynum has recorded in a duo formation. The additional players – violist Jessica Pavone, who takes another chair in Braxton groups, reedist Matt Bauder, on call for New York and Chicago gigs, and guitarist Evan O’Reilly – add their talents to the three-part “whYeXpliCitieS”, the CD’s centrepiece. MORE

February 23, 2009

Anthony Braxton

Trio (Victoriaville) 2007
Victo cd 108

Anthony Braxton Quartet

(Moscow) 2008

Leo Records CD LR 518

Taking some time from his Ghost Trance Music and large ensemble work, over the past couple of years, multi-reedman/composer Anthony Braxton has recruited a more intimate touring ensemble, which on the evidence of these CDs, perfectly frames and personalizes his new compositions.

Initially called the Diamond Curtain Wall trio and filled out by guitarist Mary Halvorson and cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum – both of whom studied with Braxton and play in his larger groups – the band recently became a quartet with the addition of bassoonist Katherine Young, a 2003 graduate of Oberlin College and Conservatory. MORE

February 23, 2009

Anthony Braxton Quartet

(Moscow) 2008
Leo Records CD LR 518

Anthony Braxton

Trio (Victoriaville) 2007

Victo cd 108

Taking some time from his Ghost Trance Music and large ensemble work, over the past couple of years, multi-reedman/composer Anthony Braxton has recruited a more intimate touring ensemble, which on the evidence of these CDs, perfectly frames and personalizes his new compositions.

Initially called the Diamond Curtain Wall trio and filled out by guitarist Mary Halvorson and cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum – both of whom studied with Braxton and play in his larger groups – the band recently became a quartet with the addition of bassoonist Katherine Young, a 2003 graduate of Oberlin College and Conservatory. MORE

December 8, 2008

Bill Dixon

17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur
AUM Fidelity AUM 046

Bill Dixon

With Exploding Star Orchestra

Thrill Jockey Thrill 192

More than an elderly lion in winter, 83-year-old trumpeter Bill Dixon seems to have reasserted his place in the jazz firmament during the dozen years since he retired from academe after nearly three decades of teaching at Vermont’s Bennington College.

Both of these big band CDs resulted from a purple patch of creativity in the summer of 2007, when Dixon was able to lead different orchestras in New York and Chicago through some of his extended compositions. Both the 56½-minute “Darfur” suite in New York and the two 18-minute versions of “Entrances” in the mid-West are shaped around a combination of composed work and spontaneously cued solos. The tonal colors emphasized on both are orchestral rather than standard big band arrangements, with woodwinds, strings and miscellaneous percussion prominent. MORE

December 8, 2008

Bill Dixon

With Exploding Star Orchestra
Thrill Jockey Thrill 192

Bill Dixon

17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur

AUM Fidelity AUM 046

More than an elderly lion in winter, 83-year-old trumpeter Bill Dixon seems to have reasserted his place in the jazz firmament during the dozen years since he retired from academe after nearly three decades of teaching at Vermont’s Bennington College.

Both of these big band CDs resulted from a purple patch of creativity in the summer of 2007, when Dixon was able to lead different orchestras in New York and Chicago through some of his extended compositions. Both the 56½-minute “Darfur” suite in New York and the two 18-minute versions of “Entrances” in the mid-West are shaped around a combination of composed work and spontaneously cued solos. The tonal colors emphasized on both are orchestral rather than standard big band arrangements, with woodwinds, strings and miscellaneous percussion prominent. MORE

November 14, 2008

Stephen Haynes-Taylor Ho Bynum

The Double Trio
Engine e026

Mazen Kerbaj/Birgit Ulher/Sharif Sehnaoui

3:1

Creative Sources CS 110 CD

Throughout the history of improvised music and jazz, two-trumpet sessions have never been as popular as duets between saxophonists. Oh there were dates featuring Art Framer and Donald Byrd in the 1950s, for example, and Roy Hargrove and Marlon Jordan in the 1980s, plus a whole collection of Norman Granz-instigated blowing sessions in between. But it seems as if the preferred locus for dual improvising is a commingling of many saxophone keys rather than sets of three valves. MORE

November 14, 2008

Mazen Kerbaj/Birgit Ulher/Sharif Sehnaoui

3:1
Creative Sources CS 110 CD

Stephen Haynes-Taylor Ho Bynum

The Double Trio

Engine e026

Throughout the history of improvised music and jazz, two-trumpet sessions have never been as popular as duets between saxophonists. Oh there were dates featuring Art Framer and Donald Byrd in the 1950s, for example, and Roy Hargrove and Marlon Jordan in the 1980s, plus a whole collection of Norman Granz-instigated blowing sessions in between. But it seems as if the preferred locus for dual improvising is a commingling of many saxophone keys rather than sets of three valves. MORE

October 16, 2006

Jason Kao Hwang

Edge
Asian Improv AIR0067

Coming to terms with sound heritages that are neither European nor African-American is one of improvised music’s newest challenges. Yet violinist Jason Kao Hwang is one player who navigates the contradictions with ease.

Other Hwang projects unambiguously celebrate his Asian-American background. But Edge satisfies by taking his credentials as a given to be melded with other sonic elements. Only one of his four compositions is even vaguely Oriental, and that’s probably more by inference than design. MORE

May 22, 2006

LAURA ANDEL ELECTRIC PERCUSSSION ORCHESTRA

In::tension:.
Rossbin RS 022

As involved with the tonal textures of electronics as her previous project was with the sound variations from brass and reeds, IN::TENSION is another potent demonstration of Laura Andel’s compositional abilities.

The Buenos Aires-born, New York-based, woodwind player and composer extends her parameters on IN::TENSION:. by utilizing the timbres available from electric guitars, percussionists and prepared pianos. Just about the only stand-alone acoustic instruments are Taylor Ho Bynum’s cornet and Harvey Wirht’s drums. MORE

March 13, 2006

ANDRE VIDA

Child Real Eyes
Vidatone 5

ANTHONY BRAXTON
Quintet (London) 2004
Leo Records CD LR 449

Novelist Christopher Isherwood titled one of his autobiographical volumes “My Guru and his Disciple” and it appears that the majority of musicians who have come into the orbit of multi-reedist Anthony Braxton have the same sentiments.

As one of Free Jazz’s most influential players, composers, orchestrators and, for more than two decades, an educator, guru Braxton has affected two or three generations of improvisers, most of whom take something unique from his teaching. Arguably the most important non-mainstream jazz pedagogue since pianist Lennie Tristano, Braxton’s disciples often play in his ensembles. Furthermore, in contrast to Tristanto, Braxton loves to record, to such an extent, that he can usually be called upon to second his former students on disc. So far he’s lent his talents to CDs featuring among others trumpeter Taylor Ho Bynum, accordion player Ted Reichmann, saxophonist Scott Rosenberg and Andre Vida, the reedist who leads CHILD REAL EYES. MORE

August 2, 2004

Carlo Actis Dato

American Tour
Splasc(H)

By Ken Waxman

August 2, 2004

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

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

July 26, 2004

HARRIS EISENSTADT QUINTET

Jalolu
CIMP #300

DEAD CAT BOUNCE
Home Speaks to the Wandering
Innova 593

By looking sideways for inspiration to sounds that encompass the brass band tradition, intricate African rhythms, plus hearty helpings of modern jazz and pure improv, two youngish bands have come up with noteworthy CDs that reconfirm eclecticism.

Stacked up next to one another though, JALOLU may have a slight edge over HOME SPEAKS TO THE WANDERING. That’s only because the Gambian and Ghanaian inspirations of drummer Harris Eisenstadt are less familiar than the outcome of many Dead Cat Bounce (DCB) compositions, whose voicings draw on sources like Charles Mingus and the World Saxophone Quartet (WSQ). MORE

August 25, 2003

LAURA ANDEL ORCHESTRA

SomnambulisT
Red Toucan # RT 9322

Occupying that mid-range between jazz and classical music, Laura Andel is a composer to watch, as much for her audacity as for her conception.

Argentinean-born, she’s a woodwind player who first received a degree in tango performance in Buenos Aires, then studied jazz composition and film music in Boston, and has since written for large and small ensembles in Boston, New York, Germany and Venezuela. Cinematic, with swathes of jazz and South American rhythms and quirky orchestral instrumentation, SOMNAMBULIST is a nine-part, 46-minute suite that tries to compress all her influences and studies into a definitive whole. MORE

May 5, 2003

ASSIF TSHAR and the ZOANTHROPIC ORCHESTRA

Embracing the Void
Hopscotch 9

ASSIF TSHAR and the NEW YORK UNDERGROUND ORCHESTRA
The Labyrinth
Hopscotch 12

Different as free jazz and New music, on show here are two distinct manifestations of the composing and arranging skills for larger groups by tenor saxophonist Assif Tsahar. Both are engrossing, remarkably mature, compositional works for someone best known for his impassioned blowing with the likes of bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake.

EMBRACING THE VOID has a slight edge however. That’s because all 14 members of the Zoanthropic Orchestra appear better able to personalize the emotional cauldron of Tsahar avant jazz pieces than the 19 musicians of the New York Underground Orchestra can contour THE LABYTINTH into a more original form. MORE

April 7, 2003

ANTHONY BRAXTON/TAYLOR HO BYNUM

Duets (Wesleyan) 2002
Innova 576

ANTHONY BRAXTON Four Compositions (GTM) 2000
Delmark 544

Reedist Anthony Braxton is the true theoretician of abstract jazz notation. Throughout his more than 30-year compositional career, he has invented many terms and genre names for his music. Given his unique combinations of numbers and illustrations, some of them could probably unhinge information retrieval specialists familiar with the intricacies of the Dewey Decimal System and many search engines.

Although his present academic position -- Braxton’s now head of the music department at Wesleyan University -- seems to have convinced him to now rely solely on composition number, subsets still exist. For instance, FOUR COMPOSITIONS (GTM) 2000, is a quartet version of the Ghost Trance Music (GTM) he has been writing since the late 1980s; DUETS (WESLEYAN) 2002, is an example of post-Ghost Trance sounds. MORE

November 11, 2002

GREG KELLEY

If I never meet you in this life, let me feel the lack
Rossbin RS 006

PAUL FLAHERTY/GREG KELLEY/CHRIS CORSANO
Sannyasi
Wet Paint 3001

TAYLOR HO BYNUM & ERIC ROSENTHAL
Cenòté
Cadence Jazz Records CJR 1141

Greg Kelley’s solo trumpet CD may remind listeners of the old farcical riddle: “when is a raven like a writing desk?” His could be: “when isn’t a trumpet?” As outlandish and off-putting as all these words may appear in print, that jape is actually an apt description of the disc. MORE

July 13, 2002

FULLY CELEBRATED ORCHESTRA

Marriage of Heaven and Earth
Innova 567

GOLD SPARKLE BAND
Fugues and Flowers
Squealer Music SQLR 035

Gerry Mulligan may get credit for inventing the so-called pianoless quartet in modern jazz but it was Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz band of the early 1960s that really established it as a viable aggregation.

Having ingenious soloists like cornettist Don Cherry, bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Ed Blackwell on board, Coleman on his Atlantic LPs proved that lacking a chordal instrument did nothing to weaken a band’s internal dynamics, as long as the mixture of talent and compositions was maintained. MORE

February 1, 2002

JEFF SONG & LOWBROW

Diasporama
Stellar Sound Productions STL 1012

Boston-area composer/cellist Jeff Song appears to have embarked on a protracted period of creativity.

His recent Trio Ex Nihilo disc showed his mastery of the miniature combo form, and now this excellent CD, recorded around the same time with a slightly larger group, extends his vision still further. Instrumentally he’s seconded by some of the better improvisers in his area, while the disc’s themes of identity and assimilation, are filtered through the consciousness of Song, who founded the Boston version of the Asian American Jazz Festival. Nearly every track here deals at least obliquely with the Asian diasporic experience in North America, without being either strident or preachy. MORE