Reviews that mention Tom Abbs

December 17, 2009

Tom Abbs & Frequency Response

Lost & Found
Engine e031

Multi-instrumentalist Tom Abbs is likewise multi-talented, as he demonstrates on the 18 structured improvisations on this CD. But of course, Seattle-born, Brooklyn-based Abbs – who plays bass, cello and tuba – couldn’t go it alone.

Frequency Response is a well-balanced ensemble, which is able to express Abbs’ and others’ ideas through the skills of saxophonist/flautist Brian Settles, who also works with drummer Tomas Fujiwara; violinist Jean Cook, part of the Gena Rowlands band; and especially drummer Chad Taylor. Not only is Taylor, one-third of Triptych Myth with Abbs and pianist Cooper-Moore, but he has also worked with musicians as different as veteran Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians’ saxophonist Fred Anderson and experimental cornetist Rob Mazurek. With Settles mostly sticking to tenor saxophone, plus Cook’s fiddle fillips, the quartet is still able to express itself in a variety of forms. MORE

September 3, 2008

Bass on Top

Yuganaut and the Andrew Lamb Trio
Buffalo, N.Y. April 8, 2008

With a half-sized violin and a didgeridoo strapped onto his double bass, a tambourine stirrup on one shoe and his tuba ready for action beside him, Tom Abbs negotiated the connection between two variants of improvised music during an early April concert at Buffalo’s Halwalls Contemporary Arts Center.

Wrapping up a tour of the co-op Yuganaut band just before recording with tenor saxophonist Andrew Lamb’s trio, a Hallwalls-associated arts grant allowed the Brooklyn-based Abbs to showcase both groups upstate. Completed by Ann Arbor-based Steve Rush playing slinky electric piano riffs, wiggly analog synthesizer oscillations plus trombone, whistles, ratchets and small percussion and Geoff Mann on drum kit, glockenspiel and trumpet, the tri-city Yuganaut expressed its instrumental bravura in jovial, foot-stomping tunes that recalled Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Roscoe Mitchell in their playful moments. MORE

April 3, 2008

Bruce Eisenbeil Sextet

Inner Constellation Volume One
Nemu 007

By Ken Waxman

Taking up most of the CD with his almost 47½-minute Inner Constellation suite, Manhattan-based guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil structures his composition to take advantage of the cohesive layered textures available from each section of his mini-orchestra. With the strings Jean Cook’s violin, Tom Abbs’s bass, and his own guitars; the horns trumpeter Nate Wooley and saxophonist Aaron Ali Shaikh; plus Nasheet Waits drums, the through-composed work is properly represented, while individual improvisations are showcased as well. MORE

October 27, 2006

Andrew Lamb Trio

New Orleans Suite
Engine Studios e019

That from tragedy comes great art is a hoary cliché which if true means that the flooding of New Orleans engendered by Hurricane Katrina will provide material for concerned artists for years to come. One of the first responses – recorded three weeks after the natural disaster – is this CD featuring saxophonist Andrew Lamb, bassist Tom Abbs and percussionist Warren. A mixture of aggressive soloing and agitprop, it sets a high standard to which others can aspire.

Among the most arresting features of the date is “Dyes and Lyes”, a sardonic blues rap Smith wrote and recites. Although the drummer’s condemnation of the American government’s inaction and disinterest in the impoverished as well as about the birthplace of 20th century improvised music gives the funky rap extra bite and resonance, the powerful musicianship of all three players is as noticeable here as on the fully instrumental tracks. MORE

February 13, 2006

GREGG BENDIAN’S TRIO PIANISSIMO

GREGG BENDIAN’S TRIO PIANISSIMO Change
Aggregate AGCD 004

TRIPTYCH MYTH
The Beautiful
AUM Fidelity AUM 035

Triptych Myth and Trio Pianissimo suggest the parameters of these discs – the classic jazz piano trio – but second glances reveal subtle differences. Innately traditionalist projects, the CDs feature two trios putting a POMO stamp on a configuration which has been an unvarying modern jazz staple for at least 50 years.

With seven of the 10 compositions his and his only instrument the 88s, THE BEAUTIFUL seems designed to prove that pianist Cooper-Moore can function in a semi-conventional environment as an equal part of a three-sided equation. Preceding the band’s name with his own on the other hand, percussionist Gregg Bendian gives notice that although oriented around pianist Steve Hunt, CHANGE reflects Bendian’s ideas. Except for Thelonious Monk’s “Gallop’s Gallop” and a brief Hunt-penned prelude, the drummer also wrote all the material. MORE

May 31, 2004

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

Titration
Delmark DG-547

TOM ABBS & FREQUENCY RESPONSE
Conscription
CIMP #288

Tom Abbs and Chad Taylor: remember those names. One day they may be as familiar as Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones or perhaps Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell. For the two young Western-born musicians, who play on both these CDs and lead one each, are prime examples of ascendant thirty-something players who have rejected the false promises of the neo-cons to create their own sounds. Not strident, their compositions and performances, like those created by Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), swing, but also includes the sort of technical and rhythmic advances that didn’t exist in the neo-con favored 1950-1960 period. MORE

April 5, 2004

COOPER-MOORE/TOM ABBS/CHAD TAYLOR

Triptych Myth
Hopscotch 14

THE NECKS
Drive By
Fish of Milk RER NECKS3

Piano, bass and drums combos have been one of the defining configurations of improvised music for more than five decades. But as these two exceptional trio sessions prove, with the right ideas and techniques, there’s still plenty that can be done with this traditional form.

Microtonalists, Australians The Necks do cheat a little bit on DRIVE BY. Using all the resources of a modern studio, keyboard man Chris Abrahams is able to doubletrack himself on piano, electric piano and organ, while drummer Tony Buck adds different percussion and samples. But seemingly tireless bassist Lloyd Swanton still uses his acoustic model to shape the rhythmic foundation of the one, more than hour-long piece that makes up the CD. MORE

May 26, 2003

URSEL SCHLICHT-STEVE SWELL 4TET

Poets of the Now
CIMP #272

GARCIA/GEBBIA/WOGRAM
Pronto!
Intakt CD 076

Often awkward and unwieldy to manipulate, the slide trombone attracts fewer sonic explorers than, say, the trumpet or the saxophone. But as these two discs show, committed musicians can still produce convincing improvisations within those limitations.

American Steve Swell (b. 1954) and German Nils Wogram (b. 1972) are two ‘bone men establishing a place for themselves in the expanding jazz/improv traditions. Yet each CD offers a different take on that tradition. 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

February 10, 2003

STARK/PAULSON/ABBS/CORIO

Indoor Record
Rent Control RCRCD 007

Bare bones improv has always been the best way to expose and explore the talents of maturing jazz musicians. The four young, New York-based improvisers represented on this disc prove the truth of this statement and confirm that they’re on their way to make important music.

Fully involved with the DIY ethic, they haven’t waited to be discovered by a major label either. Drummer Paul Corio, trumpeter Andrew Paulsen and reedist Jeremy Stark have recorded two other discs as a trio, while bassist and tubaist Tom Abbs is guiding force behind the Jump Arts Coalition and the Jump Arts label. MORE

June 15, 2002

BUTCH MORRIS/JUMP ARTS ORCHESTRA

Conduction 117
Jumps Arts JA002

One of the most discussed, but ultimately unsuccessful, notions of the 1950s and 1960s was the attempted fusion of improvised and orchestral music into the so-called Third Stream. Besides the non-cooperation of most so-called classical types, the main reason this didn’t work was that Third Stream’s most committed composers, like John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet, appeared to be trying to put a jazz face on essentially pre-modern serious music. What ended up was a hybrid somewhat like a jet equipped with tricycle wheels. MORE

June 7, 2002

THE TRANSCENDENTALISTS

Vision
Jump Arts JA001

THE IMPLICATE ORDER
At Seixal
Clean Feed CF 001 CD

With little fanfare -- which probably reflects his playing style -- New York-based Steve Swell has become one of the most accomplished improvising trombonist. Someone whose experience encompasses stints in aggregations as varied as vibist Lionel Hampton’s swing band and drummer Joey Baron’s hard-hitting Barrondown, Swell has achieved what he has through hard work, not some major label publicity machine. MORE