Reviews that mention Mark Sanders

September 2, 2021


Live at Cafe Oto
577 Records 5823

Part of a younger generation of British free improvisers, London-based saxophonist Rachel Musson joins slightly older UK players, drummer Mark Sanders and pianist Pat Thomas as Shifa to not so much extend the free music form as to bolster its parameters. Musson uses capricious tenor techniques in a modal Energy Music mode throughout most of the first extended track, switching to crimped soprano tones on the seven minute coda.

Someone who leads her own band as well as plays in the London Improvisers Orchestra, the saxophonist’s hard-edged bites are well-integrated into the program as is her gentler sonic outlay. Restrained in his contributions, Sanders’ subtle rolls and rumbles only harden to power pumps when strengthening the soaring climax of the first improvisation. Meanwhile Thomas’ slippery staccato slaps define the second improv, but only to the extent that his keyboard jumps intersect with reed tweets and strangled saxophone cries. The changes from peak intensity to relaxed interludes on “Improvisation 1” showcase the paced partnership as mid-range keyboard clips and bubbling reed smears put into bolder relief those interludes in which the saxophonist’s strained flattement and triple tonguing disrupts the exposition’s logical progress. Over slippery piano patterns Musson later mixes ascending screeches and foghorn-like snores into a notable double attack until the drummer’s bell-resonating clangs and resonations from Thomas’ internal piano strings plucks set up a climax where rhythmic echoes overcome altissimo reed squeaks creating a finale featuring descending sax puffs and body shakes. MORE

April 8, 2021

Alexander Hawkins

Togetherness Music
Intakt CD 361

Amplification of concepts that British pianist Alexander Hawkins has exhibited in smaller ensembles with the likes of Louis Moholo-Moholo and Evan Parker, Togetherness Music is a major foray into orchestral compositions and arrangements, Although this suite is through-composed for 16 musicians including a stand-alone string quintet and conductor, the sequences include extended improvisations from Parker, trumpeter Percy Pursglove, percussionist Mark Sanders and others.

Warm harmonies from the concentrated strings echo and swell along with orchestral interludes, as gentling motifs are interspaced among the spikier parts. But there’s never a feeling that the sections expanded with additional instruments are mere accompaniment. There are also instances throughout the tracks that vibrations and sul ponticello stretches from the strings or the more conventional orchestral instruments like flutes contribute broken octave expansions or even juddering near abstract scrapes, shatters or unusual flutters. Besides that though, each soloist’s contribution stands out. On “Leaving the Classroom of a Beloved Teacher” for instance, Hawkins uses energetic clips and rebounds to spin out theme variations as trumpet smears, drum pops and low-pitched strings hunt and peck textures from sharp corners of the tune until, it’s wrapped up with glissandi and more keyboard clinks. Sanders shins throughout, subtly maintaining rhythmic sophistication through a combination of odd sound such as bolo-bat-like pops and gong reverberations plus expressive cymbal clanks and drum rumbles. Sounding as if he’s playing a piccolo trumpet, Pursglove’s brassy smears illuminate a several motifs, squealing against drum pitter patter on “Sea No Shore” and bringing jaunty rural banda-like peeps to a round robin arrangement with piano, soprano saxophone and percussion on the middle section of the concluding “Optimism of the Will”. MORE

February 21, 2021


Unnavigable Tributaries
Multikulti Project SMT 019

Gato Libre


Libra Records 103-60

Trumpet-focused trios which are as dissimilar as Japan is to Europe, what Unnavigable Tributaries and Koneko have in is common how each produces enough timbral and melodic designs for full musical programs in spite of limited instrumentation. Portuguese trumpeter Luís Vicente, who in part of bands with the likes of Onno Govaert works with bassist Ollie Brice and Mark Sanders from the UK, who together have been the rhythmic component of many FreeMusic groups. The connection is even closer on the other disc, since trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and Satoko Fujii, here playing accordion, are husband-and-wife. This iteration of Gato Libre has been together since 2012, with the third member trombonist Yasuko Kaneko, also part of Fuji’s many big bands. MORE

January 21, 2021

NPR 15th Annual Jazz Critics Poll: 2020

American Website
Ken Waxman’s Ballot

Ken Waxman (Jazz Word)


1. Virtual Company, Virtual Company (Confront)

2. Edward "Kidd" Jordan-Joel Futterman-William Parker-Hamid Drake, A Tribute to Alvin Fielder: Live at Vision Festival XXIV (Mahakala Music)

3. Urs Blöchlinger Revisited, Harry Doesn't Mind (Leo)

4. Jason Kao Hwang, Human Rites Trio (True Sound)

5. Liquid Quintet, Bouquet (Sirulita -19)

6. ROPE [Frank Paul Schubert-Uwe Oberg-Paul Rogers-Mark Sanders], Open Ends (Trouble in the East) MORE

November 6, 2020

Frank Paul Schubert/Uwe Oberg/Paul Rogers/Mark Sanders

Open Ends
Trouble in the East Records 016



Leo Records CD LR 883

One of the growing numbers of Berlin-based young veteran improvisers, saxophonist Frank Paul Schubert has forged relationships not only with players of his generation, but with slightly older musicians and even some overseas. These sets, each of which features interpretations of two extended tunes, feature Schubert in quartet or trio ensembles.

Open Ends celebrates a long standing affiliation which links the saxophonist with countryman pianist Uwe Oberg, plus Britons, percussionist Mark Sanders and Paul Rogers who plays 7-string acoustic bass. All have extensive experience playing with the likes of Evan Parker, and Paul Dunmall. Recorded nearly two years later, in mid-2019, Spindrift is Schubert with the respected rhythm team of Germans drummer Martin Blume and bassist Dieter Manderscheid who have similar experience with saxophonist like Toby Delius and Frank Gratkowski. MORE

October 26, 2020

Veryan Weston/Hannah Marshall/Mark Sanders

Hi4Head HHHCD027

More of an evolution than a departure for Veryan Weston, Crossings is an experiment using the keystation alongside tones from cellist Hannah Marshall) and drummer Mark Sanders. Using this MIDI controller designed to sequence music on a computer played by virtual instruments is a change for the pianist known for his acoustic improvising with fellow London-based improvisers like Phil Minton and Trevor Watts,. But it isn’t the first time Weston’s tried out keyboards beyond the standard. He already recorded one CD using a Luthéal piano and another on tracker action organs. However this is his premiere foray into electronic processing. MORE

July 16, 2020


A Songbirds Temple
FMR CD 572-0120

Best-known for leading his own bands as well as long-time membership in the Mujician quartet, saxophonist Paul Dunmal has long been in the forefront of British Free Music. At the same time Dunmall, who years ago spent time in a Divine Light Mission ashram while playing in a big band with Alice Coltrane, believes in spiritual understanding through meditation. Sessions such as this one touch on both of his preoccupations. This is especially obvious in track titles such as the one which gives this CD its name, and the concluding “Bhagavathar”, honoring the 19th century mystic and Carnatic music composer. MORE

November 2, 2019

Orchestra Entropy


Samo Šalamon Freequestra

Free Sessions, Vol. 2

Klopotec IZK CD 092

After a century of innovation, the challenge allied with creating a program for a large ensemble of improvisers is focus. Unlike so-called classical music orchestras with their strict adherence to the score, there’s no right or wrong way to improvise and these bigger European ensembles here follow opposite approaches with equally memorable results.

Known as an adventurous player in small groups featuring everyone from Tim Berne and Gerald Cleaver to Dominique Pifarely and Michel Godard, Slovenian guitarist Samo Šalamon moves into another realm with Free Sessions, Vol. 2, having organized an 11-piece, mostly Slovenian group to play his compositions in an atmosphere offering extensive solo freedom. Although younger British tenor saxophonist Matt London created a analogous framework for 10 improvisers to interpret Rituals, his nine-part, open notated graphical score, his analogous grounding in notated contemporary music makes its presence felt alongside characteristic solos from some of the UK’s most distinctive players. MORE

August 11, 2019

Météo Mulhouse Music Festival

August 27-31, 2019
Mulhouse, France

By Ken Waxman

Photos by Susan O'Connor

Having reached its 37th year without compromising its goal of presenting mature improvisers alongside younger musicians with newer concepts, the Météo Music Festival maintained that tradition throughout this year’s festival in late August. Creating an atmosphere where 21-year-old local drumming phenom Gaspard Beck is as welcomed and treated with the same respect as British saxophonist Evan Parker, 74, one of the pioneers of Free Music, confirms this. High quality sounds of all sorts were presented throughout the Mulhouse, France festival’s five days, with French performers featured along with those from Scandinavia, Asia, central Europe, North America, and pre-Brexit United Kingdom. MORE

December 26, 2017


Last Dream of the Morning
Relative Pitch Records RPR 1056

Dominic Lash Quartet


Iluso Records IRCD 006

Two generations of high-quality British improvisers demonstrate on these CDs that the characteristic inventiveness of players drawn to the gene hasn’t lessened even if the country goes through political-existential crises like Brexit. Although the seven players involved are actually close in age, the British with their mania for classification have, more than improvisers from other countries, insisted on where in a chronology their improvisers fit. Thus Last Dream of the Morning by saxophonist John Butcher, bassist John Edwards and drummer Mark Sanders featured five tracks from designated second generation improvisers. Extremophile recorded a three month earlier in 2016 is deemed to be by a quartet of third-generation improvisers: reedist Ricardo Tejero, bassist Dominic Lash, percussionist Javier Carmona and Alex Ward on guitar and clarinet. Although the Spanish background of two of the quartet’s players may superficially mark a change, the largest difference between the dates is Ward’s instruments. Butcher/Edwards/Sanders specialize in cerebral, close-knit micro interactions. Forthright electric guitar interchanges define Extremophile in a contrasting fashion. MORE

August 4, 2017


City Fall
Fundacja Sluchaj FSR 04 2CD

How do you improve on quality? Very simply by adding another element that is so accomplished in itself that it raises the achievement to a superior level. Although this could be the focus of an epistemological discussion, it’s precisely what happened when Gdańsk-based alto saxophonist/bass clarinetist Mikołaj Trzaska joined tenor saxophonist Evan Parker, bassist John Edwards and drummer Mark Sanders for this two-CD record of a live London gig. Parker who has had more playing partners then the House of Saud has royal descendents has been working on and off with the bassist and drummer since the early 1990s. Meanwhile the Polish multi-reedist has come to the fore in international aggregation alongside Americans such as tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Ken Vandermark and drummer/percussionist Tim Daisy. MORE

July 26, 2016

Oberg/Schubert/de Joode/Sanders

Red Toucan # RT 9351

Uwe Oberg/Silke Eberhard


Leo Records CD LR 749

Quietly and without having to move to Berlin, Germany’s improvised music capital, Wiesbaden-based pianist Uwe Oberg has slowly established a reputation. No dogmatic regionalist, Oberg travels and participates in projects outside his city, including the descriptively named Lacy Pool and bands with the likes of Paul Lovens and Evan Parker Besides that the pianist welcomes challenges from different sized groups. Turns for instance is an 11-track duo with Berlin-based clarinetist and alto saxophonist Silke Eberhard encompassing material by Carla Bley, Annette Peacock, Jimmy Giuffre and some originals. As separate from the other session as the Ruhr valley is from Bavaria, Rope is an out-and-out Free Jazz excursion pairing the pianist with out-of-town peers: Berlin soprano saxophonist Frank Paul Schubert; Amsterdam bassist Wilbert de Joode and London drummer Mark Sanders. MORE

June 16, 2016

Foils Quartet

The Jersey Lily
Creative Sources CS 270 CD

Meinrad Kneer Quintet


Jazzhaus Music JHM 238

Two of Berlin’s most accomplished younger trombonists help pilot these two exemplary sessions. But like participants in a free-for-all race, the polarized strategy each ensemble evolves to reach its goal confirms the elastic adaptability of Free Music. A vehicle for the compositions of veteran German bassist Meinrad Kneer, Oneirology – the scientific study of dreams – showcases nine instances that certify that Kneer’s nocturnal musical imagination is at the same high level as his sentient playing. Dream interpreters here are trombonist Gerhard Gschlößl, who is actually Austrian; Canadian alto saxophonist Peter Van Huffel; and two fellow Germans, trumpeter Sebastian Piskorz and drummer Andreas Pichler. MORE

November 16, 2015

On Screen

Taking The Dog for a Walk: Conversations with British Improvisers
A film by Antoine Prum

By Ken Waxman

Part travelogue, part history, part performance and part philosophy, Taking the Dog for a Walk is the definitive portrait of British Free Improvisation. Yet from the first sequence showing drummer Mark Sanders improvising alongside a bingo caller, the genre’s sardonic humor implicit in isn’t neglected either – note the vintage clip of Lol Coxhill and other improvisers in zoot suit disguise playing at a beach resort.. Even the title references the hoary jape that three men and a dog was BritImprov’s typical audience. MORE

July 21, 2015

Remote Viewers

RV 12

Living up to a promise many CDs make, The Remote Viewers septet have created a 12 track CD that legitimately could be the soundtrack of a movie. However more than being a mere collection of cues, underscoring and scene-setters for a classic Film Noir, David Petts, the band’s tenor saxophonist and chief composer has written music that can stand on its own without visuals.

Although there are points are which the sonic imagery is so strong that imagining a potential dramatic situation is almost overpowering, Pitfall’s chief pleasure is discovering how the sophisticated arrangements and instrumental balance plays out. One of the reasons this session is notable is the return of drummer Mark Sanders, who recorded with the band in 2010. Because of this the rhythm section of bassist John Edwards and Rosa Lynch-Northover on piano and tuned percussion is properly balanced with the variety of reeds played by Petts, Adrian Northover, Caroline Kraabel and Sue Lynch plus Petts. In other words, while a track such as “Hiring Hall” may only concern itself with scene setting piano chording and chomping reed tones, “D.O.A.”, composed by Northover, features a contrapuntal contrast between one saxophonist’s circular breathing and equally continuous firecracker-like sizzles and crackles from a mechanized noise generator. MORE

December 26, 2014


Cherry Pickin’

Putting fads and fashions aside, this seven-track CD could be irrefutably dubbed a perfect example of British Jazz from mainstream players in mid-career, if it wasn’t for the fact that the trumpeter and chief composer was born in Brooklyn. Putting that quirk of history aside, Cherry Pickin’ is an unbeatable vehicle for the talents of Jim Dvorak, who despite being born stateside in 1948 has been a resident part of the British scene for almost 45 years.

Infrequently recorded as leader, Dvorak, has been a member of the Keith Tippett Group, Chris MacGregor's Brotherhood of Breath and the Bardo State Orchestra to merely name three bands. His associates here are tenor saxophonist Paul Dunmall, a close contemporary, who has also been part of many ensembles; plus two younger musicians. Drummer Mark Sanders has partnered everyone from Evan Parker to John Butcher; meanwhile Birmingham-based bassist Chris Mapp is in bands with Sanders as well as everyone from saxophonist Dave Rempis to electronic whiz Leafcutter John. MORE

December 3, 2013

Axel Dörner & Mark Sanders

Fataka 5


Absent Minded

Delmark DE 5003

Tomasz Dabrowski/Tyshawn Sorey Duo


ForTune 0005

By Ken Waxman

Conflicting methodologies are at work on these distinctive trumpet-drums sessions. By limiting interaction to textures from only two instruments, improvisations are stripped down to be as pure as possible. Other impulses taint this purity though, when electronics from both players are added on Absent Minded and from Axel Dörner’s trumpet on Stonecipher. Steps however is completely acoustic, and the disk is better for it. MORE

October 7, 2013

Various Artists

Just Not Cricket: Three Days of Improvised Music in Berlin
Ni-Vu-Ni-Connu nvnc lp001/004

Erik Carlsson & All Stars

Swedish azz Volume 1 & Volume 2

NotTwo MW 901-1A/ NotTwo MW 901-1B

Thomas Lehn, Michel F. Côté, Éric Normand


Tour de Bras DL #1

Malcolm Goldstein/Thomas Lehn


Tour de Bras DL #2

Something In the Air: Good Music Comes In Many Forms and Formats

By Ken Waxman

Standardization is a thing of the past when it comes to recorded music and listeners who get too far ahead of or behind the curve are likely to miss interesting sounds. Just as the production of movies didn’t cease with the acceptance of television, so the manufacture of LPs continued even as the CD became the format of the moment. As artisans continue to craft fine furniture despite the availability of mass-produced items, so too LPs are being created in limited quantities. This situation appears tailor-made for experimental sounds. Similarly since advanced players are often as impecunious as they are inventive, the ubiquity of the Internet means that some music is only sold through the Web. The option of not having to create a physical product is a boon for non-mainstream performers. MORE

May 28, 2013


Pictures of a Quartet
SLAM 539


Mind Games

OutNow Recordings ONR 011

With the saxophone plus rhythm section such a common configuration in Jazz, improvisers must resort to new stratagems to bring some originality to the proceedings. These quartets do so, but in widely different manners. The combo on Pictures of a Quartet for instance, works on melding variants of atonal improvisations with compositional impulses that relate to the background of Italian pianist Sebastiano Meloni. Mind Games on the other hand transforms the quartet symbiosis by building many of the tracks around the unexpected timbres generated by Denman Maroney’s prepared piano and Andrew Drury unusual percussion set. MORE

March 20, 2013

Mikolaj Trzaska/Olie Brice/Mark Sanders

Riverloam Trio
No Business Records NBLP 52/NBLP 53

Joe Hertenstein/Achim Tang/Jon Irabagon

Future Drone

Jazzwerkstatt JW 126

With experimenters such as Sonny Rollins, Peter Brötzmann and Ornette Coleman having pioneered the reed/bass/drum trio as a paramount improvisatory vehicle nearly a half century ago, mercurial efforts like these are almost expected in terms of Free Jazz elaboration. Yet such is the malleability of the process that each of these trans-nationalist efforts defines its strategy differently. MORE

January 5, 2012


Positions and Descriptions
Clean Feed CF 230 CD

By Ken Waxman

For the past 20-odd years as “Butch” Morris has demonstrated conduction: structuring free improvisation using a specific series of hand gestures, many improvising ensembles have been created in his its wake. Whether groups use or not signals developed by Morris to rearrange and sculpt notated and non-notated music, conduction is part of their inventory. As these releases demonstrate however, it depends on individual musicians’ skills for a performance to be fully satisfying. MORE

December 30, 2011

Kris Wanders Outfit

In Remembrance of the Human Race
Not Two MW-856-2

Kris Wanders-Mani Neumeier Quintet

Taken By Surprise

Not Two MW-861-2

Avant Jazz’s history is filled with unacknowledged legends and “what ifs”. Musicians, who didn’t get the right breaks, changed career plans for various reasons or became isolated, are legion both in North America and Europe.

One tantalizing thought is what if Dutch tenor saxophonist Kris Wanders, featured on both these notable CDs, had stayed in Europe instead of immigrating to Australia in the late 1970s? On evidence here, Wanders, an early member of the Globe Unity Orchestra (GUO), who often played with Peter Brötzmann, still has enough inventive grit and power in his playing to hold his own with anyone – including the seminal European Free Jazzers with which he trades licks on In Remembrance of the Human Race. Another question is what may have happened if Swiss drummer, Mani Neumeier, another early GUO member, had stayed with Free Music instead of founding pioneering KrautRock outfit Guru Guru? Judging from his well-paced, unpretentious playing on Taken By Surprise, recorded with Wanders and an Australian trio, his influence on percussionists may have been sizeable. MORE

December 15, 2011


Airam Airun
Inquedanzas Sonores ISD-1039

Tejero/Carmona/Mattos/ Northover/Blunt


No Label No #

Part of what may be called the Iberian Diaspora; Madrid-born reedist Ricardo Tejero has become a presence on the British Free Music scene since the turn of the century, following an apprenticeship in Spain during the 1990s. Now a member of the London Improvisers Orchestra, Tejero is an exploratory improviser who has managed to frame his work in a variety of smaller ensembles. Recorded nearly three years apart, these CDs not only pinpoint his growing audacity as a composer and improviser, but also note how he’s more willing to expose himself as a soloist. MORE

November 5, 2011

Gail Brand & Mark Sanders

Instinct & The Body
Regardless Records R01)

Birgit Ulher/Lucio Capece


Another timbre at41


Halcyon Science 130410

Barnyard Records BR0323

Rent Romus/Vinny Golia

Lords of Outland, Edge of Dark

Edgetone EDT 4112

Something in the Air: Brass-y Women Stand Up and Stand Out

By Ken Waxman

Enhanced freedom in music over the past 60 years has involved more than the addition of new instrumental techniques and compositional strategies. Recasting of gender roles has also taken place. No longer are women instrumentalists expected to play traditionally delicate female instruments such as violins or flutes; or those where they sit demurely such as the piano, harp or cello. This change is most obvious in improvised music, where the number of women who stand up to play has multiplied exponentially. Many have chosen to become brass players, adapting their skills to apparatuses which demands power and stamina. MORE

August 16, 2011


Double Trouble
Reel Recordings RR018/019/020

Unbeknownst to most Jazz fans the musical influence of the South African Blue Notes combo and Brotherhood of Breath (BOB) big band extended much further into Jazz’s lingua franca than evidenced by the groups subsequently led by the original expatriates. Part of the appeal of Dreamtime, for instance, founded in 1981 by three Englishmen and two London-domiciled expatriates – one Italian and one American – is the many of the themes pulse with that mixture of Townships and experimental sounds which characterized the BOB. MORE

June 10, 2011

Festival Report:

Freedom of the City 2011
By Ken Waxman

Electronics, percussion and home-made instruments were prominently featured in many contexts during London’s annual Freedom of the City (FOTC) festival, April 30 to May 2. In spite of this, some outstanding performances involved the hyper-traditional piano or saxophone.

A snapshot of contemporary, mostly European, creative music, FOTC encompassed sounds as different as electronic processing from the likes of Adam Bohman and Lawrence Casserley; rarefied ensemble minimalism; unabashed free jazz from saxophonist Lionel Garcin’s and pianist Christine Wodrascka’s quartet; an entire evening devoted to the massive London Improvisers Orchestra (LIO); and pianist John Tilbury’s and bassist Michael Duch’s interpretations of Cornelius Cardew and Morton Feldman compositions. MORE

April 13, 2011

The Remote Viewers

To The North

Alesandro Sacha Caiani

Effecto Ludico

Silta Records SR0904

Blending a saxophone choir plus a rhythm section has been a popular method of producing multiphonic textures ever since the Swing Era. Extending the interaction to encompass atonality and polyphony resulted when bands such as the World Saxophone Quartet and ROVA worked with rhythm sections. Effecto Ludico and To the North are notable examples of European bands adapting and altering the style. Main mover in both ensembles is a tenor saxophonist, Milan-based Alesandro Sacha Caiani on Effecto Ludico and London’s David Petts on To The North. However the end results contain as many differences as similarities. MORE

June 6, 2010

Festival Report:

Freedom of the City 2010
By Ken Waxman

To Thine Self Be True” is lettered horizontally in careful script above the stage at Conway Hall in London’s Bloomsbury district, where London’s annual Freedom of the City (FOTC) festival took place May 2 and 3. Although related to the philosophy of the Ethical Society which built the edifice in 1929, the slogan can easily also be applied to five dozen or so improvisers featured at FOTC.

Organized about decade ago by saxophonist Evan Parker and AMM percussionist Eddie Prévost to showcase the city’s vibrant improvising scene, FOTC today welcomes as many tyros as veterans – and from the Continent and North America as well as the United Kingdom. Participants ranged from eccentric soprano saxophonist Lol Coxhill, 77 and American trumpeter Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, 67, to young participants in Prévost’s weekly improv workshop and American brassman Peter Evans. MORE

February 11, 2010

Ken Vandermark/Barry Guy/Mark Sanders

Fox Fire
Maya MCD 0901

Testimony to the infinite adaptability of first-class improvisers is this two-CD live set. It captures the first-ever recorded meeting among veteran British Free Music bassist Barry Guy, peripatetic American multi-reedist Kern Vandermark and in-demand English drummer Mark Sanders, who mid-wifed the session.

Throughout the contours of 10 instant compositions from Birmingham and Leeds concerts in the United Kingdom, the three mate extended techniques, split-second timing, pitch and timbre augmentation plus subtle dips into the tradition. The result lodged firmly within the collegial spirit of Free Music, is also a wholly original variant. MORE

September 26, 2009

Augustí Fernández

Un llamp que no s’acaba mai
psi 09.04

Augustí Fernández & Ingar Zach


Plasticstrip pspcd708

Barcelona-based Augustí Fernández is probably the most accomplished and readily identifiable Spanish pianist since Tete Montolieu – although both he and Montolieu would likely prefer to be known as Catalans.

Each of these high-class sessions emphasizes Fernández’ inventive versatility. As a quick rule-of-thumb, Un llamp que no s’acaba mai involves more of his on-the-keyboard skills and Germinal his explorations beneath the lid – bowing and slapping the string mechanism from soundboard to speaking length. MORE

September 26, 2009

Augustí Fernández & Ingar Zach

Plasticstrip pspcd708

Augustí Fernández

Un llamp que no s’acaba mai

psi 09.04

Barcelona-based Augustí Fernández is probably the most accomplished and readily identifiable Spanish pianist since Tete Montolieu – although both he and Montolieu would likely prefer to be known as Catalans.

Each of these high-class sessions emphasizes Fernández’ inventive versatility. As a quick rule-of-thumb, Un llamp que no s’acaba mai involves more of his on-the-keyboard skills and Germinal his explorations beneath the lid – bowing and slapping the string mechanism from soundboard to speaking length. MORE

October 18, 2008

Carlos Zíngaro/Dominique Regef/Wilbert De Joode String Trio

Clean Feed CF 110CD

ZPF Quartet

Ulrichsberg München Musik

Bruce’s Fingers BF 67

T.E.C.K. String Quartet

T.E.C.K. String Quartet

Clean Feed CF 089CD

Three plus one times two or two plus one times one. These may seem like ambiguous mathematical formulae, but they’re actually the personnel make-up of these exceptional string-informed CDs.

The “one” here, is Portuguese violinist Carlos Zingaro. His associates include three different bassists: American Ken Filiano (on T.E.C.K.), Englishman Simon H Fell (on Ulrichsberg) and on Spectrum, Wilbert De Joode from the Netherlands; two different cellists: London-based Marcio Mattos (on Ulrichsberg) and New York’s Tomas Ulrich (on T.E.C.K.); plus odd-ball instruments – for string groups – of drums (London’s Mark Sanders on Ulrichsberg); acoustic guitar (New York’s Elliott Sharp on Spectrum); and hurdy-gurdy (France’s Dominique Regef on Spectrum). MORE

October 18, 2008

ZPF Quartet

Ulrichsberg München Musik
Bruce’s Fingers BF 67

T.E.C.K. String Quartet

T.E.C.K. String Quartet

Clean Feed CF 089CD

Carlos Zíngaro/Dominique Regef/Wilbert De Joode String Trio


Clean Feed CF 110CD

Three plus one times two or two plus one times one. These may seem like ambiguous mathematical formulae, but they’re actually the personnel make-up of these exceptional string-informed CDs.

The “one” here, is Portuguese violinist Carlos Zingaro. His associates include three different bassists: American Ken Filiano (on T.E.C.K.), Englishman Simon H Fell (on Ulrichsberg) and on Spectrum, Wilbert De Joode from the Netherlands; two different cellists: London-based Marcio Mattos (on Ulrichsberg) and New York’s Tomas Ulrich (on T.E.C.K.); plus odd-ball instruments – for string groups – of drums (London’s Mark Sanders on Ulrichsberg); acoustic guitar (New York’s Elliott Sharp on Spectrum); and hurdy-gurdy (France’s Dominique Regef on Spectrum). MORE

October 18, 2008

T.E.C.K. String Quartet

T.E.C.K. String Quartet
Clean Feed CF 089CD

Carlos Zíngaro/Dominique Regef/Wilbert De Joode String Trio


Clean Feed CF 110CD

ZPF Quartet

Ulrichsberg München Musik

Bruce’s Fingers BF 67

Three plus one times two or two plus one times one. These may seem like ambiguous mathematical formulae, but they’re actually the personnel make-up of these exceptional string-informed CDs.

The “one” here, is Portuguese violinist Carlos Zingaro. His associates include three different bassists: American Ken Filiano (on T.E.C.K.), Englishman Simon H Fell (on Ulrichsberg) and on Spectrum, Wilbert De Joode from the Netherlands; two different cellists: London-based Marcio Mattos (on Ulrichsberg) and New York’s Tomas Ulrich (on T.E.C.K.); plus odd-ball instruments – for string groups – of drums (London’s Mark Sanders on Ulrichsberg); acoustic guitar (New York’s Elliott Sharp on Spectrum); and hurdy-gurdy (France’s Dominique Regef on Spectrum). MORE

July 21, 2006


With Derek Bailey
Foghorn Records FOGCD006

Perhaps the most unintentionally shocking part of this 2004 live London gig by the British Bruise band joined by guitarist Derek Bailey is its cost, reprinted on the back CD cover: “₤5/₤3 concessions”.

While a bargain for the audience, it proves once again that no matter how well-known someone like the guitarist was in the improv world, he was still doing local gigs for the equivalent of the price of a beer a little more than a year before his death at 75. Obviously no one ever got rich – or is it comfortable, in both senses – playing improv. MORE

December 5, 2005


Live at the Plough Stockwell
Loose Torque LT007

Antwerp 1988
Loose Torque LT001

Two vibrant snapshots of London Jazz in the late 1980s, early 1990s, these discs show that just before the Limey version of Young Lions appeared, musicians of many different schools had developed a rapport with one another.

By this time jazz-rockers, Free Musicians and boppers had been coexisting for a good many years, while the Brits had the added advantage of having internalized the Kwela and Township Jive rhythms expatriate South Africans players brought with them to the British jazz scene, after they fled Apartheid. MORE

September 26, 2005


Compression: Live at Total Music Meeting 2002
a|l|l 011

Trio with Interludes
Treader trd002

Free Music’s paramount concern is in constantly making it new. Incongruously, though, this freshness as often results from the faith improvisers have in the abilities of longtime collaborators as from musicians experimenting with new players and novel instruments.

COMPRRESSION and TRIO WITH INTERLUDES aptly demonstrate these opposing stratagems in discs featuring veteran BritImproviser Evan Parker. The first is yet another masterful performance by Parker on soprano and tenor saxophones and the two German musicians who have made up this trio since the early1970s: pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach and Paul Lovens on selected drums and cymbals. MORE

September 26, 2005


Responses, Reproduction & Reality

Outgrowth of a Butch Morris-led conduction that took place in London a few years ago, the London Improvisers Orchestra (LIO) has evolved into a once-a-month gig where some of the British capital’s best improvisers get together to try out new ideas.

Involving a revolving cast of 30-plus players as well as different conductors and composers, the LIO has taken on an identity far beyond that of a BritImprov kicks band. However as these seven tracks, recorded at 2003’s and 2004’s Freedom of the City festivals demonstrate, the outcome is still inconsistent. MORE

August 8, 2005

Tony Bevan

Foghorn Records

Floros Floridis
F.L.O.R.O. III (Further Lines Over Rough Options)
j.n.d. re-records

By Ken Waxman
August 8, 2005

Unlike rockers, classical recitalists and even mainstream jazzers, committed improvisers have a compulsion to constantly involve themselves in novel situations with new players or new instruments. For them, repetition is the same as stasis.

Thus these two CDs find accomplished reedists who have recorded noteworthy acoustic duo and trio discs, setting up more of a challenge by welcoming more musicians and electronics. Frankly, the end products aren’t as satisfying as earlier, all-acoustic dates, but the players have to be commended for their audacity and refusal to stand pat. MORE

April 4, 2005


I Wish You Peace
Cuneiform RUNE 203

Unquestionably a 50th birthday present to himself – and his listeners – there’s a tendency to hear I WISH YOU PEACE as an attempt by British saxophonist Paul Dunmall to sum up his musical experiences after a half century of life. Yet it’s a much a reflection of the present and future as the past.

Writing the three-part suite at a time when the war in Iraq was in full battle mode, Dunmall’s spiritual preoccupations seem a bit overcome by bellicose motifs in this recording, initially premiered on BBC Radio 3. Still the title reflects the reedman’s desire for humankind to achieve a non-war-like serenity. MORE

January 31, 2005


Four Compositions
Red Toucan RT 9376

Over the past 20 years, Yorkshire bassist Simon H. Fell has segmented his work between writing large scale compositions for massive orchestras of horns, strings, brass, percussion and electronics and playing bass as part of turbulent improv combos -- usually in trios with a saxophonist and drummer

Four Compositions, a two-CD set, appears to be an almost wholly successful attempt to reconcile the formal and audacious parts of his musically schizophrenic personality. As a matter-of-fact, while the first disc, subtitled “Three Quintets” shows how far he has evolved in creating for his by then-established quintet, “Liverpool Quartet”, for an even smaller group confirms that accomplished creations can result from an even-more-relaxed milieu first time out. MORE

March 8, 2004


Shades of the Muse
CIMP #286


Matching a horn with a chordal instrument, bass and drums has long been an accepted jazz strategy. But as Free Jazz has muted into Free Music, fresh front lines have replaced the horn-and-guitar or horn-and-piano set up. Case in point these two CDs, one British, and one American, both of which feature a cellist upfront.

Firmly in the new tradition that welcomes new sounds, SHADES OF THE MUSE, the Yank disc is the fourth recent session lead by multi-reedist Avram Fefer. Here he’s partnered by cellist Tomas Ulrich plus Ken Filiano on bass and Jay Rosen on drums, all experienced in the karma of exploratory playing. Across the pond, SHAKEN is the debut disc for trumpeter Roland Ramanan, a full-time educator as well as a member of the London Improvisers Orchestra (LIO). His crew of veterans and fellow LIO members is made up of Marcio Mattos on cello and electronics, Simon H. Fell on bass and percussionist Mark Sanders. MORE

November 3, 2003


Four in the afternoon
Emanem 4067


One of the significant British musicians involved in the transition of the sound from jazz to Free Jazz to Free Improv, and all its variations, pianist Howard Riley has a vastly lower profile than many of his compatriots.

The 60-year-old pianist, who has taught at the Guildhall School of Music and London’s Goldsmiths College since the late 1960s, may be in fans’ consciousness for his work in the London Jazz Composers Orchestra (LJCO) or for his early trio with bassist Barry Guy and drummer Tony Oxley. Yet besides that he has led a band with altoist Elton Dean and recorded scads of discs, solo and with partners like American pianist Jaki Byard. MORE

September 22, 2003


The Voice Imitator
Balance Point Acoustics BPA 006

The Welsh Chapel
Cadence Jazz Records CJR 1161

What do you get when you put a German and two Americans together in a small room or unite a Norwegian and two Englishmen? While those situations may sound like the set up for a joke from the Second World War, the correct answer, from the evidence of these CDs, is exemplary improvisation.

The Norwegian-British concord involves veteran Nordic alto saxophonist Frode Gjerstad --who at one point led a band featuring the late British drum pioneer John Stevens -- and two players from a younger British generation. Singly and together Londoners bassist John Edwards and drummer Mark Sanders have played with many of the United Kingdom’s reed heavy hitters: John Butcher, Paul Dunmall and Evan Parker. When they connect with Gjerstad on these five instant compositions the result is superior Free Jazz. MORE

January 13, 2003

Simon H. Fell

Composition No. 30.
Bruce’s Fingers BF 27

The compositions and performance of British bassist Simon H. Fell on this two-CD set may be the long-awaited physical flowering of Gunther Schuller’s and John Lewis’ ideas from the 1960s. Fell may also have taken those theories even further.

In the early 1960s, Schuller, a modern composer, French hornist and head of Boston’s New England Conservatory; and Lewis, pianist and music director of the Modern Jazz Quartet; conceived of Third Stream music that would combine elements of music’s first and second streams of classical music and jazz. They recorded a few albums and even put together a mixed jazz and classical ensemble called Orchestra USA. MORE