Reviews that mention Charles Downs

February 11, 2016

Joe McPhee

Ticonderoga
Clean Feed 345 CD

Ran Blake

Ghost Tones

A side 0001

Bennani/Greene/Silva/Henderson

Free Form Improvisatio Ensemble 2013

Improvising Beings ib 40

Lvio Minafra/Louis Moholo-Moholo

Born Free

Nicipic Records Inc 2013

Irène Schweizer/Han Bennink

Welcome Back

Intakt 254

Something In The Air: Advanced Jazz’s Fountain of Youth

By Ken Waxman

One common shibboleth of mid-20th century creative music was that “jazz was a young man’s art”. Putting aside the sexism implicit in the statement, the idea denied jazz musicians the sort of late career acclaim that notated music masters like Pablo Casals and Vladimir Horowitz enjoyed. Times have more than changed. Expanded from the Baby Boomer cliché that “50 is the new 30”, and its upwards affiliations, career longevity is now taken for granted in all serious music. These CDs recorded by improvised musicians in their seventies attest to that. MORE

April 8, 2014

Sabir Mateen

Jubilee Ensemble
NotTwo MW 862-2

By Ken Waxman

One of the visionary improvisers loosely affiliated with bassist William Parker’s Lower East Side projects, multi-reedist Sabir Mateen is often featured with his own bands or contributing to-the-point solos in other small groups. Recoded at the Stone in 2007, this CD on the other hand is a rare and valuable instance of Mateen’s writing for a crack 15-piece ensemble, which he leads as well as playing saxophones, flutes and clarinets. Consisting of two extended suites and a couple of shorter pieces, these taut yet expansive themes bolster the continued validity of free jazz without slipping into inchoate blowing. MORE

February 11, 2014

The Sabir Mateen

Jubilee Ensemble
NotTwo MW 862-2

Adam Lane Trio

Absolute Horizon

NoBusiness NBCD61

Black Host

Life In the Sugar Candle Mines

Northern Spy NS 039

By Ken Waxman

From the time he relocated to NYC from Virginia about a decade ago, alto saxophonist Darius Jones made a major impact on the local scene, partnering with the likes of pianist Matthew Shipp, plus releasing acclaimed CDs as a leader. But Jones is a collaborative musician and these notable discs find him using his considerable talents to help realize others’ visions. MORE

October 12, 2012

William Parker

Centering: Unreleased Early Recordings 1976–1987
NoBusiness NBCD 42-47

Something In the Air: Discovering Long Hidden Advanced Jazz

By Ken Waxman

When New York’s now justly famous, Vision Festival first took place in 1996 committed jazz fans greeted the event as if they were witnessing a full-fledged musical resurrection. So many advanced players of unbridled free form and experimental sounds were involved that the annual festival soon became a crowded week-long summer happening. Ironically – which was one reason for the Fest’s popularity – these probing sounds and its players were supposed to have vanished after the revolutionary 1960s, superseded first by Jazz-Rock pounders’ simple melodies and then jazz’s Young Lions who aped the sounds and sartorial choices of the 1950s – both of which had major record label support. Still bassist/composer/bandleader William Parker’s Centering: Unreleased Early Recordings 1976–1987 NoBusiness NBCD 42-47 aptly demonstrates, experimental sounds never vanished; they just went underground. As the 24 often lengthy tracks that make up this 6-CD set of hitherto unreleased material substantiates in its breadth of performances, sonically questing players were improvising and composing during those so-called lost years. But it took the founding of the Vision Festival by Parker and his wife, dancer/choreographer Patricia Nicholson, to provide the proper medium for this work. Major stylists such as saxophonists Charles Gayle and David S. Ware, vocalist Ellen Christi and trumpeter Roy Campbell, all of whom are represented in the set, would go on to mentor a multiplying groundswell of younger rule stretchers and future Vision Fest participants. Also, despite being professionally recorded, the conservative climate of the times, plus the cost of producing and distributing LPs, left the tapes used for these CDs stacked in performers’ apartments. Now the belated release of Centering fills in a blank in jazz history, equivalent to what coming across a cache of unreleased John Cage or Morton Feldman recordings would do. Included in the package is an attractively designed 66-page paperback book with vintage photos, posters and sketches along with essays discussing the background of the sessions, the musicians’ experiences and the New York scene. MORE

October 15, 2011

Flow Trio

Set Theory – Live at the Stone
Ayler AYLCD 107

Willi Kellers/Thomas Borgmann/Akira Ando

Boom Box Jazz

Jazzwerkstatt JW 106

Reports of Free Jazz`s death have been greatly exaggerated. Despite the derision, rejection and outright venom that has been directed at it since that musical expression came to the fore in the early 1960s, committed improvisers continue to discover nuances for self-expression unhampered by themes, bar lines or so-called proper instrumental techniques

Consider these discs by the all-American Flow Trio of saxophonist Louie Belogonis, bassist Joe Morris and drummer Charles Downs plus the German/Japanese threesome of saxophonist Thomas Borgmann, bassist Akira Ando and percussionist Willi Kellers. Like the best players in every idiom, each ensemble tackles the challenge of Free Jazz with novel variations on the now venerable sounds. MORE

July 8, 2010

Jameel Moondoc

Muntu Recordings
No Business Records NBCD 7-8-9

By Ken Waxman

Made up of then-young improvisers who would become better known, Muntu could be described as one of the supergroups of New York’s so-called Loft Era; if the self-aggrandizing term wasn’t antithetical to free music. This handsomely packaged set collects three CDs of the band in different configurations plus a 115-page soft-cover book with a Muntu sessionography and essays on the band, the Black Arts Movement and the Loft Era. Of course this would be mere pretty packaging if the sounds didn’t live up to the hype. Careful listening reveals that Muntu began well and only improved. Only its members’ other projects forced it to dissolve. MORE

November 7, 2009

Old Dog

By Any Other Name
Porter Records PRCD-4027

Flow Trio

Rejuvenation

ESP-Disk 4052

John Coltrane dominated the concepts of nearly every young tenor saxophonist between the late 1950s and early 1980s – and his work is still one yardstick against which reedists are measured today. His influence was – and is – so all-pervasive, that even those saxophonists who forged their own identity often referred consciously or subconsciously to Trane’s work.

Oddly enough though the majority of reedists fastened onto Coltrane’s Hard Bop or Modal periods, with very few willing to deal with the timbral and textural achievements the sax man advanced just before his untimely death in 1967. Fearless and individualistic, New York-based Louie Belogenis on the other hand, is someone who has faced that challenge head on. MORE

November 7, 2009

Flow Trio

Rejuvenation
ESP-Disk 4052

Old Dog

By Any Other Name

Porter Records PRCD-4027

John Coltrane dominated the concepts of nearly every young tenor saxophonist between the late 1950s and early 1980s – and his work is still one yardstick against which reedists are measured today. His influence was – and is – so all-pervasive, that even those saxophonists who forged their own identity often referred consciously or subconsciously to Trane’s work.

Oddly enough though the majority of reedists fastened onto Coltrane’s Hard Bop or Modal periods, with very few willing to deal with the timbral and textural achievements the sax man advanced just before his untimely death in 1967. Fearless and individualistic, New York-based Louie Belogenis on the other hand, is someone who has faced that challenge head on. MORE

November 23, 2007

Ras Moshe Quartet

Transcendence
KMB Jazz KMB-007

Saco Yasuma

Another Rain

Leaf Note LNP 0208

Geography is sometimes an extraneous element when it comes to creativity, as two accomplished New York-based saxophonists demonstrate on CDs with their own bands. Part of the fourth – or is it fifth or sixth (?) – generation of non-mainstream players, reedists Ras Moshe and Saco Yasuma sometimes work together in various ensembles – most notably trombonist Steve Swell’s big band – but their backgrounds couldn’t be more dissimilar. MORE

November 23, 2007

Saco Yasuma

Another Rain
Leaf Note LNP 0208

Ras Moshe Quartet

Transcendence

KMB Jazz KMB-007

Geography is sometimes an extraneous element when it comes to creativity, as two accomplished New York-based saxophonists demonstrate on CDs with their own bands. Part of the fourth – or is it fifth or sixth (?) – generation of non-mainstream players, reedists Ras Moshe and Saco Yasuma sometimes work together in various ensembles – most notably trombonist Steve Swell’s big band – but their backgrounds couldn’t be more dissimilar. MORE

October 13, 2003

THOMAS BORGMANN/PETER BRÖTZMANN/WILLIAM PARKER/RASHIED BAKR

The Cooler Suite
GROB 539

Serendipitous accomplishment, this live quartet disc is one of those unplanned sessions that ends up being released when it’s discovered that the night’s work was better than anyone imagined.

Flushed with the go-for-broke excitement that characterizes the best Free Jazz, the CD is a cleaned up version of what was recorded over an a cheap ferro cassette of demos that German saxophonist Thomas Borgmann shoved into the mixing board one night in 1997. A DAT recorder wasn’t working. MORE