Reviews that mention Russ Lossing

May 12, 2019

Kirk Knuffke/Steven Herring

Witness
Steeplechase SCCD 31859

By Ken Waxman

Shredding conventions, jazz cornetist Kirk Knuffke teams up with classically trained baritone Steven Herring for off-the-wall performances that range from operatic classics and spirituals to poetry-set-to-music and standards. Raising the idiosyncratic interpretation stakes still higher other accompaniment is from the patterning of Russ Lossing’s piano and the gruff oom pah pah of Ben Goldberg’s contrabass clarinet. Remarkably most of the transitions work.

Unsurprisingly Herring aces the declarative nuances of “Iago’s Credo” and “Questo Amor” with studied formalism. But his creativity isn’t solipsistic. Goldberg’s stentorian puffs and Kirk’s capillary peeps match operatic chortles on the former. Meanwhile the amorous exposition on the later owes as much to plunger brass notes and seductive piano chords as ebullient vocalizing. “Witness”, “A City Called Heaven” and other traditional religious songs fare as well. However mellow horn parts and a broad melodic sweeps from the pianist on Witness as well as carefully modulated vamps from all the instrumentalists produces subtle swing on both tunes, leaving the emotion to Herring. The baritone’s parlando serves him appropriately when Knuffke’s musical setting of Carl Sandburg’s “Subway” is transformed into song. But the recitation is mated with the cornetist’s passionate grace notes to reach its goal. In fact the only miscue is Sun Ra’s “The Satellites are Spinning”. While clarinet snarls and cornet blats enliven it, the vocalist’s theatrical declarations miss its sardonic and humorous aspects. Witness works wonderfully as long as the musical alterations remain down to earth. MORE

March 23, 2019

Samuel Blaser

Early in the Mornin’
Outthere Records OTN 626

RGG/Pohjola/Blaser

City of Gardens

Fundacja Słuchaj FSR 08/2018

After more than a decade of establishing himself as an individual voice as improviser and composer, Swiss-born, Berlin-based trombonist Samuel Blaser is apt to turn up in an assortment of sympathetic situations as leader or associate. A reimaging of 10 traditional Blues themes, Early in the Mornin’ is a program that unites Blaser’s earthy brass drive with an American-oriented rhythm section and two American guests on a couple of tracks. A festival presentation City of Gardens has the trombonist, Finnish trumpeter Verneri Pohjola and the Polish RGG trio interpret five compositions by the trio’s bassist Maciej Garbowski. MORE

February 11, 2018

Gordon Grdina Quartet

Inroads
Songlines SGL 1624-2

By Ken Waxman

Moving away from his earlier, more hushed and ethnically tinged chamber music, Vancouver guitarist/oudist Gordon Grdina enlists a trio of New Yorkers to toughen his sound while maintaining its fluidity. Inroads’ nine tracks find keyboardist Russ Losing frequently elaborating themes in double counterpoint with Grdina’s pointed strumming; clarinetist/alto saxophonist Oscar Noriega challenging the narratives with penetrating inflections, or spanning them with rumbling bass clarinet undercurrents; while drummer Satoshi Takeishi propels forwards the sometimes idiosyncratic rhythms. Although Losing’s electric piano splashes and Takeishi’s focused rebounds are extensively showcased on “Apocalympics” in speedy unison with near-flamenco guitar picking, their contributions throughout mostly solidify the group sound. MORE

December 11, 2015

Samuel Blaser Quartet

Spring Rain
Whirlwind Recordings WR 4620

By Ken Waxman

Like the bird which is able to replicate others’ songs, trombonist Samuel Blaser is crafty enough to adopt particular musical persona for each project. On Spring Rain for instance the Swiss-born, Berlin-based Samuel Blaser honors Jimmy Giuffre’s early ‘60s trio with Paul Bley and Steve Swallow by recording five of its tunes plus seven originals in that chamber jazz style. On his recent A Mirror to Machaut (Songlines), he performed a similar feat, sophisticatedly re-imagined early Renaissance motifs for the 21st century. But in practice, the trombonist’s results differ convincingly from those of the imitative fowl. With canny arrangements and expressive skills, Spring Rain’s program is cunningly original, even as tunes composed by Giuffre and Carla Bley are interpreted. MORE

December 1, 2015

Samuel Blaser Quartet

Spring Rain
Whirlwind Recordings WR 4620

By Ken Waxman

An original variant on the practice of saluting earlier jazz heroes by recording their tunes, Swiss-born, Berlin-based trombonist Samuel Blaser honors Jimmy Giuffre’s early 1960s trio with pianist Paul Bley and bassist Steve Swallow, by recording five of its tunes plus seven originals in restrained chamber jazz style. But even as Blaser empathizes with the particular sound constructed by compositions Giuffre and Carla Bley wrote for the trio, he’s like a chair designer modernizing the ergonomics concepts of 50 years ago to 2015. MORE

June 6, 2015

Artist Feature

Samuel Blaser
By Ken Waxman

Swiss-born trombonist Samuel Blaser maintains strong North American ties that extend far beyond the musicians on Spring Rain (Whirlwind), his newest CD. While the disc, dedicated to Jimmy Giuffre (1921-2008) feature all-American backing from keyboardist Russ Lossing, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Gerald Cleaver, one of his frequent trans-Atlantic trips bring him to NYC this month for a series of gigs with other long-time associates such as drummer Harris Eisenstadt, bassist Michael Bates and tenor saxophonist Michael Blake – all Canadians. “It’s like a big family” says Blaser, 33. “I like to draw upon the same members in many of my bands.” MORE

April 2, 2015

Jeff Davis

Dragon Father
Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 444

Hopefully Brooklyn-based drummer Jeff Davis doesn’t mind being compared to earlier percussion activists like Chico Hamilton or Art Blakey. Like Hamilton, Davis, who has long-time affiliations with the likes of bassist Michael Bates and pianist Jesse Stacken, is in many ways the perfect accompanist. He gets the job done, but never overwhelms the other players – even if he’s leading the band. That is how Blakey comes into the picture. Like the older drummer/bandleader, Davis has the knack of recruiting the most appropriate players for bands under his direction. MORE

June 9, 2014

Samuel Blaser/Benoît Delbecq/Gerry Hemingway

Fourth Landscape
Nuscope CD 1027

Samuel Blaser Consort in Motion

A Mirror to Machaut

Songlines SGL 1604-2

Making a big noise for himself – literally – is Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser, who in the past half-decade has moved from regularly working with local players to solidifying an international profile. These two fine discs, recorded within a month of one another and both featuring expatriate American drummer Gerry Hemingway, go a long way towards explaining Blaser’s appeal. MORE

August 1, 2013

Bruno Tocanne

In a Suggestive Way
IMR 007

Unhurried and low-key, French drummer Bruno Tocanne has put together a salute to the late American drummer Paul Motian (1931-2011) in the most appropriate fashion possible – he and members of his quartet recorded a collection of their own compositions.

Simultaneously involved with a variety of projects with associates ranging from French pianist Sophie Domancich to Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser, Tocanne assembled an international cast for this session. French trumpeter Rémi Gaudillat and Canadian reedist Quinsin Nachoff have collaborated with the drummer on earlier projects, while American pianist Russ Lossing, who worked with Motian, is on hand for this occasion. It’s the pianist’s presence which allows the quartet to approximate both Motian’s piano-centred dates as well as his sparser projects built around horns. Throughout, Tocanne, whose own tunes here are co-written with others or literal instant compositions, remains very much in the background, spurring on and smoothing down the others’ work, but never demanding undue attention MORE

April 11, 2013

Jeff Davis

Leaf House
Fresh Sound New Talent FSNW407

Michel Lambert

Journal Des Épisodes

Rant 1244

Cojaniz/Maier/Kaučič

Dreiländer Trio

Palomar Records 39

Gabriela Friedli Trio

Started

Intakt CD 214

Something In The Air: New Takes on the Jazz Piano Trio Tradition

By Ken Waxman

Having arguably reached its zenith of popularity in the 1960s, with the legendary Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans combos, the piano, bass and drums trio continues to be the sine qua non for countless improvisers. But with any jazz trio performance weighted with the configuration’s illustrious history, it’s up to contemporary players to create a distinct musical personality. MORE

August 6, 2012

Russ Lossing

Drum Music (Music of Paul Motian)
Sunnyside SSC 1319

Masabumi Kikuchi Trio

Sunrise

ECM 2096

By Ken Waxman

Although inextricably linked to Bill Evans for his sensitive work in the pianist’s trio of the early ‘60s, drummer Paul Motian (1931-2011) developed his minimalist rhythmic sense earlier in clarinetist Tony Scott’s quartet and extended himself as a band leader and composer from 1972 onwards. Helmed by two pianists of widely divergent ages and backgrounds, these fine CDs celebrate Motian’s contributions as a player and writer. MORE

March 11, 2012

Michael Bates

Acrobat: Music For, and By, Dmitri Shostakovich
Sunnyside SSC 1291

Fred Ho and the Green Monster Big Band

The Sweet Science Suite

Mutable/Big Red Media 003

Ariel Shibolet/Nori Jacoby

Scenes from an Ideal Marriage

Kadima Collective KCR 28

Adam Pierończyk

Komeda - The Innocent Sorcerer

JazzWerkstatt JW 104

Something In the Air: Improvisers’ Unexpected Inspirations

By Ken Waxman

Over the past few years as post-modernism has made anything fair game for musical interpretation, sophisticated improviser/composers have taken inspiration from the most unlikely sources, far beyond the motifs, historicism and pastels of earlier times. Canadian bassist in New York Michael Bates for instance, has organized a salute to Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975), using his own music and variants on the modern Russian composer’s oeuvre. Iconoclastic American composer/saxophonist Fred Ho has produced a five-part suite honoring boxer Muhammad Ali (b. 1942) as a militant, outspoken fighter for social justice. The luminous canvases of American visual artist Cy Twombly (1928-2011) stimulate Israeli saxophonist Ariel Shibolet’s creativity, while Polish saxophonist Adam Pierończyk recasts in his own fashion the distinctive film scores of composer Krzysztof Komeda (1931-1969). MORE