Reviews that mention Mary Halvorson

October 11, 2017

Elliott Sharp with Mary Halvorson and Marc Ribot

ERR Guitar
Intakt CD 281

By Ken Waxman

Composer, bandleader, multi-instrumentalist, Elliott Sharp is musician hard to classify with equal proficiency in blues-rock, improvisation and New music. Here he concentrates on his main instrument, the guitar, on a dozen solos, duos and trio with fellow pickers Mary Halvorson and Marc Ribot. Oddly enough, Sharp and Ribot, who specialize in more agitated sounds, both turn almost folksy in duets on “Wobbly”, “Sinistre” and “Oronym”. Although their chess game-like moves are both subtle and spiky on “Sinistre”, it’s the last track which is most distinctive. Here one guitarist’s legato finger-picking tries to surmount the other’s canine yapping-like plucked onslaughts until relaxed string undulations are replaced by a multiplicity of crying buzzes. Blanketing drones dominate the three Halvorson duets, with the strokes on “Shredding Light”so thin they break into electronic flanges. Slurred fingering and guitar neck taps enliven both parts of “Sequola”, although a blanket of buzzes can’t disguise intricate dual connections. MORE

April 6, 2017

Artist Feature

Stephan Crump
By Ken Waxman

Without overemphasizing the experience, bassist Stephan Crump declares that September 11, 2001, when he witnessed the destruction of World Trade Center from his Brooklyn apartment, changed his life. “My music wasn’t the same after 9-11,” he recalls. “After it happened I spent a lot of time improvising on my electric piano. I needed new rules to express my thoughts.” The thoughts have since been expressed in mature compositions, culminating in last year’s highly-praised Rhombal quartet session, dedicated to his brother Patrick, who had recently died. 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

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 11, 2016

Thumbscrew

Convallaria
Cuneiform Records Rune 415

By Ken Waxman

Probably improvised music’s most celebrated guitarist at present, Mary Halvorson has attained the position because of her individuality as well as her ability. Like an actor who moves effortlessly between comedy and drama, Halvorson is equally proficient playing solo or in large ensembles, but her best work is done in intimate circumstances. While her dynamic strokes often define a tune’s parameters, her styling is particularly notable during Convallaria’s 11 selections when her light-fingered invention is complemented by bassist Michael Formanek’s chunky thumps. She’s like a painter preparing a pencil, sketch with the bassist there to add color and depth. Drummer Tomas Fujiwara provides a backbeat when needed, but generally uses his rolls and cymbal clicks as if he was a high class publicist: making the others look good without drawing attention to himself. MORE

June 6, 2016

Michael Formanek Ensemble Kolossus

The Distance
ECM 2484

The Who

Zoo

Auricle Aur 14+15

Carlberg/Morris/Niggenkemper/Gray

Cosmopolitan Greetings

Red Piano RPR 4699-4419-2

Eric Platz

Life After Life

Allos Documents 012

Florian Hoefner

Luminosity

Origin Records 82706

Something In The Air: Those Who Teach Can Also Play

By Ken Waxman

As shibboleths go, the hoary “those who can do, those who can’t teach,” must rank at the very top of the list. Besides libelling the majority of educators who devote themselves to the task of imparting knowledge to students, it negates the activities of those who teach and do. Here are some musicians who maintain a full-time teaching carer along with consistent gigging. MORE

June 6, 2016

Tom Rainey Trio

Hotel Grief
Intakt Records CD 256

By Ken Waxman

Comfortable in settings from big band to solo, guitarist Mary Halvorson joins with soprano and tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock to roughen the edges of the five instant compositions on this CD. Cultivated and self-effacing, leader/drummer Tom Rainey is as far removed from a braggadocious percussion show off like Buddy Rich as Donald Trump is from Martin Luther King. Discretion doesn’t mean withdrawal however, and in context the drummer’s sophisticatedly positioned strokes contribute more to the architectures of the tracks than would any clamorous rhythm display. 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

March 7, 2016

On The Cover

Michael Formanek
Going the Distance

By Ken Waxman

Bassist Michael Formanek admits that until recently he never really ‘loved” big band music, even though he had played his share of it during the quarter century he spent in New York before 2003. In Manhattan, as an in-demand sideman, among his other jobs, he put in time with the Mingus big band plus large groups led by pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi and saxophonist Bob Mintzer. But Formanek, 58, who has gigged almost constantly since at 18, in his native San Francisco, he began working with major innovators including drummer Tony Williams and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, was in NYC closely identified with what he calls “more intense improvisation”. He led his own small acoustic groups and was featured in many so-called downtown bands, most prominently those led by alto saxophonist Tim Berne. MORE

September 6, 2015

Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up

After All Is Said
482 Music 482-1089

Jason Adasiewicz’s Sun Room

From The Region

Delmark DE 5017

Fred Frith/Evan Parker

Hello, I Must Be Going

Victo cd 128

Mary Halvorson Trio

Ghost Loop

ForTune 0010/010

Ingrid Laubrock Anti House

Roulette of the Cradle

Intakt CD 252

Something In The Air: Many musical Interconnections at 2015’s Guelph Jazz Festival

By Ken Waxman

As the Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF) settles into maturity, dependable musical choices and the vagaries of touring means that a few of the performers at this year’s bash, September 16 to 20, are featured at more than one ensemble. The happy end result is that the audience gets to sample some musicians’ skills in more than one challenging setting. MORE

September 6, 2015

Mary Halvorson Trio

Ghost Loop
ForTune 0010/010

Ingrid Laubrock Anti House

Roulette of the Cradle

Intakt CD 252

Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up

After All Is Said

482 Music 482-1089

Jason Adasiewicz’s Sun Room

From The Region

Delmark DE 5017

Fred Frith/Evan Parker

Hello, I Must Be Going

Victo cd 128

Something In The Air: Many musical Interconnections at 2015’s Guelph Jazz Festival

By Ken Waxman
MORE

September 6, 2015

Ingrid Laubrock Anti House

Roulette of the Cradle
Intakt CD 252

Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up

After All Is Said

482 Music 482-1089

Jason Adasiewicz’s Sun Room

From The Region

Delmark DE 5017

Fred Frith/Evan Parker

Hello, I Must Be Going

Victo cd 128

Mary Halvorson Trio

Ghost Loop

ForTune 0010/010

Something In The Air: Many musical Interconnections at 2015’s Guelph Jazz Festival

By Ken Waxman

As the Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF) settles into maturity, dependable musical choices and the vagaries of touring means that a few of the performers at this year’s bash, September 16 to 20, are featured at more than one ensemble. The happy end result is that the audience gets to sample some musicians’ skills in more than one challenging setting. 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

October 11, 2014

Artist Feature

Ches Smith
By Ken Waxman

To exaggerate a bit, it appears that there was never a time in his life that Ches Smith wasn’t playing drums. Even today at 40, the Brooklyn-based percussionist seems to rarely move from behind his kit. Besides leading his own groups, which include the These Arches quintet, a couple of trios and his Good for Cows duo with bassist Devin Hoff, Smith is kept busy as a sideman in bands led by among others Tim Berne, Marc Ribot and Mary Halvorson, plus indie-rock stalwarts such as Xiu Xiu and Secret Chiefs 3. There’s also his Congs for Brums solo percussion project; and he can sometime be found in NYC’s outskirts participating in extended vodou drum ceremonies. MORE

March 8, 2014

Artist Feature

Ingrid Laubrock
By Ken Waxman

One of the many non-American musicians who have set up shop in NYC, German-born saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, 43, has quickly become a presence on the local scene. But the soprano and tenor saxophonist one who was already recognized for her playing and writing elsewhere – London’s highly competitive improv scene – before she crossed the ocean permanently in 2008.

Then again, the Hundewick-raised reedist has always thrived on new situations and challenges. And as someone who didn’t start playing the saxophone until her teens she declares that “I didn't really decide that I wanted to become a musician, it more or less happened … I sort of drifted into it.” 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 13, 2013

Mary Halvorson Septet

Illusionary Sea
Firehouse 12 Records FH12-04-01-017

More enterprising than most of her earlier discs, New York guitarist Mary Halvorson created this series of compositions for an expanded ensemble, most of whose members she works with in other contexts. The results are audacious, proving that the guitarist, who first made her reputation with Anthony Braxton, is a sophisticated composer as well as soloist.

That said many of the tracks have a resemblance to Henry Threadgill’s jaunty writing for similar-sized ensembles. But, as would be expected, while Threadgill emphasizes low brass and rhythm, Halvorson’s weight is more on guitar and saxophones. Dividing the reed duties here are alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon and tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, while the rhythm section consists of bassist John Hébert and drummer Ches Smith. Brass power arrives from trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and trombonist Jacob Garchik. Garchik’s and Laubrock’s contributions were added to the others who usually make up the guitarist’s working quintet, so her challenge was reconceptualising the five-part arrangements for seven. Listening to the sympathetic outcome though, you’d never know that the pieces hadn’t been created for that configuration from the get-go. 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

November 3, 2013

Arrivals/Departures-New Horizons in Jazz

Stuart Broomer, Brain Morton & Bill Shoemaker
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Book shelf: By Ken Waxman

Distinguished as much for its scholarship as the artful, mostly color photos and illustrations which make it an attractive souvenir, this 240-page volume is published by Lisbon’s annual Jazz em Agosto (JeA) Festival to mark its 30th anniversary of innovative programming. It says a lot about the individuals who program JeA that rather than commissioning a vainglorious run-down of the festival’s greatest hits, they turned to three respected jazz critics to profile 50 of the most important musicians, living or dead, who performed at the festival. MORE

October 14, 2013

Sifter

Sifter
Relative Pitch RPR 1014

By Ken Waxman

Good-humored and spirited, Sifter (the band) is a striped-down combo consisting of three of NYC’s busiest players; while Sifter (the CD) sifts out 13 highly entertaining compositions by each of the band members into a well-paced program.

Besides leading his own band(s), drummer Matt Wilson is the go-to percussionist for both mainstream and avant-garde ensembles. Guitarist Mary Halvorson sometimes seems to be working every day, if not with her own groups, than with bands led by Anthony Braxton, among many others. Meanwhile Cornetist Kirk Knuffke plays in both the other members’ groups, and has recorded well-received duet discs with pianist Jesse Stacken. MORE

August 28, 2013

Ingrid Laubrock’s Anti House

Strong Place
Intakt CD 208

Ches Smith and These Arches

Hammered

Clean Feed CF 270 CD

Guitarist Mary Halvorson may be the connection between these two New York-centred quintet sessions, yet their striking individuality results from who’s sitting behind the drum kit. On Hammered, Ches Smith, whose experience encompasses drumming for rock bands such as Secret Chiefs 3, brings a punkish energy to an affiliation with certified New York downtowners. Meanwhile, although Strong Place is under saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock’s leadership – she also composed all the tunes – much of the disc’s definition comes from the laid-back rhythm strategy of drummer Tom Rainey, who usually fronts a trio filled out by the German-born tenor and soprano saxophonist and Halvorson. Other players on Strong Place include pianist Kris Davis, who is Canadian, and bassist John Hébert who isn’t, despite the way he spells his last name. MORE

August 28, 2013

Ches Smith and These Arches

Hammered
Clean Feed CF 270 CD

Ingrid Laubrock’s Anti House

Strong Place

Intakt CD 208

Guitarist Mary Halvorson may be the connection between these two New York-centred quintet sessions, yet their striking individuality results from who’s sitting behind the drum kit. On Hammered, Ches Smith, whose experience encompasses drumming for rock bands such as Secret Chiefs 3, brings a punkish energy to an affiliation with certified New York downtowners. Meanwhile, although Strong Place is under saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock’s leadership – she also composed all the tunes – much of the disc’s definition comes from the laid-back rhythm strategy of drummer Tom Rainey, who usually fronts a trio filled out by the German-born tenor and soprano saxophonist and Halvorson. Other players on Strong Place include pianist Kris Davis, who is Canadian, and bassist John Hébert who isn’t, despite the way he spells his last name. 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 21, 2012

Tom Rainey Trio

Camino Cielo Echo
Intakt CD 198

Ingrid Laubrock/Javier Carmona/Olie Brice

Catatumbo

Babel BDV 12103

Well-travelled, Münster-born saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock is now a Brooklyn resident, but spends time in London, where she was based for two decades, to maintain involvement in bands on both sides of the Atlantic. Recorded six months apart with closely allied personnel, these CDs demonstrate her trans-oceanic skills.

A live date from London’s Vortex club, Catatumbo matches Laubrock with two high-class improvisers with plenty of other axes in the fire. Madrid-born percussionist Javier Carmona spent seven years in London before settling in Barcelona. Besides membership in the London Improvisers Orchestra, he was in a duo with tenor saxophonist Mark Hanslip. UK-native, bassist Olie Brice’s affiliations include a duo with veteran flautist Neil Metcalfe and a band with Hanslip. Meanwhile in a Brooklyn studio, Camino Cielo Echo unites the saxophonist with her husband, drummer Tom Rainey, a Santa Barbara-native now one of New York’s busiest percussionists, who is also part of a Laubrock trio with British pianist Liam Noble. String strength comes from Boston-born guitarist Mary Halvorson, who works with everyone from drummer Weasel Walter to trumpeter Taylor Ho Bynum. 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

March 4, 2011

Weasel Walter-Mary Halvorson-Peter Evans

Electric Fruit
Thirsty Ear THI 57196

By Ken Waxman

Probably one of the few instances in improvised music where a powerful drummer often has to play more assertively to be heard amid the virtuosic and fortissimo sounds from the guitarist and trumpeter, Electric Fruit is a different take on the a jazz trio conception.

For a start the instrumentation is unusual. More distinctively the six tracks here aren’t designed as chops displays but as a way for three talented free-form improvisers to investigate the tonal possibilities of their instruments while aiming for a tripartite blend. Progenitor of aggressive rock-inflected improv with everyone from bassist Damon Smith to saxophonist Marshall Allen, drummer Weasel Walter is more than a backbeat specialist. Guitarist Mary Halvorson flits from folksy duets with violist Jessica Pavone to sophisticated contributions to composer Anthony Braxton’s ensembles. Known for his spectacular work with saxophonist Evan Parker and Mostly Other People do the Killing, trumpeter Peter Evans can apparently play anything and frequently does. MORE

October 12, 2010

Tom Rainey Trio

Pool School
Clean Feed CF 185 CD

Owen Howard

Drum Lore

BJU Records BJUR 017

Harris Eisenstadt

Woodblock Prints

No Business NBLP 18

Heinrich Köbberling

Sonnenschirm

Jazz Werkstatt JW 093

Extended Play: Drummers as leaders and composers

By Ken Waxman

Constantly the brunt of other musicians’ jokes for their supposed fixation on rhythm, over the years drummers have actually proven themselves as organized band leaders and sophisticated tunesmiths. Edmonton-born, Brooklyn-based percussionist Owen Howard strikes a blow for his stick-wielding brethren with Drum Lore BJU Records BJUR 017 as he leads a sextet through compositions by 11 different drummers. including himself. His notable CD, along with others by drummer/leaders, demonstrates these players’ overall improvisational and compositional smarts. MORE

June 6, 2010

Fred Ho and the Green Monster Big Band

Celestial Green Monster
Mutable/Big Red Media 001

A Brooklyn-based revolutionary Socialist and baritone saxophonist, Fred Ho can express himself as well in polemical prose as musical compositions. Dedicated to creating Asian-American improvised music that is both true to the jazz tradition and relevant to those committed to social change, his work incorporates Oriental and African-American vocalists, heavy rock rhythms and unexpected textures of specific ethnic instruments.

By any standards Celestial Green Monster is a major statement from Ho, with his compositions and others interpreted by a crack 17-piece band plus guests. It’s especially notable however, because, unlike some other politically oriented contemporaries, Ho has latterly developed a sense of humor to go along with his values. At least that’s what one can ascertain from the CD cover featuring an unclothed Ho – baritone saxophone placed strategically in front of him – colored a Martian-styled green. As well there’s the inclusion of such non-agitprop material as “Spiderman Theme” and “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” at the beginning of the album. MORE

March 23, 2010

Mary Halvorson/Reuben Radding/Nate Wooley

Crackleknob
hatOLOGY 662

Tetuzi Akiyama/Éden Carrasco/Leonel Kaplan

Moments of Falling Petals

Dromos Records 001

Hautzinger/Okura/Akiyama

Rebuses

MonotypeRec. mono027

Combined, contrasted and contrapuntal guitar and trumpet textures – plus those of another instrument – are what tie together these notable sessions. Yet even though only a trio of instruments is involved on each – and Tokyo-based On-kyo guitarist Tetuzi Akiyama is present on two of the three CDs – the overall performances can readily be distinguished from one another. 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

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

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

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

December 12, 2005

MAP

Six Improvisations for Guitar, Bass and Drums
H&H Productions HH-1

OLAF RUPP/TONY BUCK/JOE WILLIAMSON
Weird Weapons
EMANEM 4119

Put aside the associations you have developed for conventional guitar trios like those lead by Jim Hall or the late Charlie Byrd. Similarly exploratory, the title of MAP’s CD could work for either band. At the same time both sessions –serendipitously recorded two months apart – additionally highlight the global reach of free music.

Both trios are made up of musicians from three different countries. MAP is an American/Australian/Japanese trio; Rupp, Buck and Williamson are respectively from Germany, Australia and Canada. While you can’t ascribe merit to internationalism, it’s possible that different experiences and a communal exhibition of technical dexterity have gone into producing these dazzling CDs. MORE

July 17, 2005

MASASHI HARADA CONDANCTION ENSEMBLE

Enterprising Mass of Cilia (2001)
Emanem 4109

ASSIF TSAHAR & THE NEW YORK UNDERGROUND ORCHESTRA
Fragments
Hopscotch Records HOP27

Utilizing instrumentation more commonly associated with notated chamber music than improvisation, these Boston and New York-based ensembles become individually crafted vehicles upon which the leaders/conductors express themselves.

Although both the 10-piece Conduction Ensemble from Boston and the 19-piece New York Underground Orchestra are top-heavy with string players, the resulting performances bear very little resemblance to one another. Japanese-born, Boston-based Masashi Harada’s version of conduction promulgates a collective creation where each minute gesture or sound is consolidated into a dense whole. He calls his creations music of body. ENTERPRISING MASS OF CILIA’s nearly 66½ minutes may be divided into nine tracks, but the impression is that of a single, dense creation. MORE