|J A Z Z W O R D R E V I E W S
|Reviews that mention Jonathan Vincent
Stone Quarry Records SQR 003
Hopefully this CD wont cause a feud among one of the first families of the Neo- Cons. One of the most prominently featured musicians here is New York-based tenor saxophonist Antoine Roney, exploring the limits of his horn with a group of like-minded improvisers.
But Roneys brother, trumpeter Wallace and his sister-in-law pianist Geri Allen could be the Jen and Ben of the Young Lions. Photogenic and articulate, the two have proven that musicians restrained by the tradition are still capable of heartfelt work, even if the trumpeter, for instance, often sounds too much like Miles Davis circa 1963.
Yet Antoine Roney, who has worked in his brothers band and with older mainstreamers like trumpeter Donald Byrd and pianist Ronnie Matthews, spends nearly 68 minutes on 6000° KELVIN trading links with four microtonalists whose connections are as much with contemporary New music as with jazz/improv.
Conservatory-educated guitarist/violinist Adam James Wilson and Bulgarian-born flautist Arto Artinian only gravitated towards the improvisation after hearing iconoclastic saxophonist Joe Manieri in Boston. Another Bostonian in the same circle is pianist Jonathan Vincent featured here, who recorded with condanctionist Masashi Harada, as did percussionist, Tatsuya Nakatani, also a playing partner of French avant-reedist Michel Doneda.
After hearing Wilson and Artinian though, the Roney reedman decided he could add something to their sound and the nine spontaneously composed pieces here are the result. Not only does the CD reveal the saxmans command of cerebral, group improving, but his presence also frees the reductionists from too rigid application of that form. Nothing swings, but the languidly moving pieces are first-class examples of modern improv.
Throughout, the saxophonists smears, slurs, honks and swirls serve as a counterline to what the others are playing. Most prominently its textures help gather the others pointillism. On Song of Tangra, for instance, Roneys smeary tongue-stopping reaches a vortex with Artinians singular flute notes, piano patterning from Vincent and echoing guitar plucks from Wilson. Soon Nakatani moves from singular bell pealing to constant rhythms. Hectoring guitar voicing and pulsating split tones from the reedist provide rigidity to complement the pianists elastic dynamics and counter harmonies.
Coming of the Kali Yuga and Odessa Tolchok provide contrasting readings of the partnership. The former, all piano key slaps, bird-like flute twitters and pantonal reed accents moves forward glacially, with the pitchsliding from Wilsons string set wavering on top of a tuba-like continuum that could come from an echoed kettle drum or internal piano chording. Roney is barely there.
On the later, both Nakatani and Vincent provide a jazzy overlay with near Swing Era fills from the pianist and some beboppy cymbal smashes from the percussionist; Wilson even contributes a near walking bass line. All this allows the saxman to sound a sweeping, irregularly vibrated solo. Although no one would confuse his microtone trading with fiddler Wilson with John Handys work with Michael White, the double counterpoint is a close cousin to that realm of improv.
Elsewhere sul ponticello fiddling and distorted guitar pedal tones often mix it up with honks and bell-muting punctuation from Roneys sax, again spurring high frequency action from the pianist and, at times, lower pitches from Artinian. Nonetheless, as impressive as the flautists work may be in New music contexts, most of the time here the tone range is from twitters to peeps.
Again, no track comes to a conventional conclusion, but by the time the ecclesial and atmospheric Vespers rolls around at the end, group melding is almost complete. Artinians pitches are deeper and more spacious, Vincent and Wilsons backing is almost smoothly chromatic and Roney flutter tongues, whorls and twists in his solo.
With no sense of either the microtonalists or the Young Lion compromising, 6000° KELVIN could be brought to any family gathering with no hesitation. Maybe that family should be yours as well.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. Klaxon Sunrise 2. Coming of the Kali Yuga 3. Odessa Tolchok 4. Dogfight 5. Tightrope Waltz 6. The Burning Tree 7. Song of Tangra 8. Whirlpool Centrifuge 9. Vespers
Personnel: Arto Artinian (flute); Antoine Roney (tenor saxophone); Adam James Wilson (7-string violin and fretless guitar); Jonathan Vincent (piano); Tatsuya Nakatani (percussion)
July 17, 2005
MASASHI HARADA CONDANCTION ENSEMBLE
Enterprising Mass of Cilia (2001)
ASSIF TSAHAR & THE NEW YORK UNDERGROUND ORCHESTRA
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 Haradas 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 CILIAs nearly 66½ minutes may be divided into nine tracks, but the impression is that of a single, dense creation.
By elimination then, FRAGMENTS must be music of mind. Israeli-born Assif Tsahar, a reedist who now divides his time between New York and Europe, envisions a looser structure. On each of the 16 [!] tracks, that combined take up only slightly more than 50½ minutes, the soloist or soloists are named. Despite its title, the CD doesnt appear to be any more fragmented than CILIA. Like a thought-out jazz composition, these interludes arent an interruption but an individual embellishment of the evolving theme.
That said, with the tracks raging in time from slightly more than six to slightly under one minute, not all players make an impression. The most distinctive are trumpeter Nate Wooley, clarinetist Charles Waters, guitarist Mary Halvorson and violist Lev Zhurbin. Instructively, except for Zhurbin, the others are making their name in the Free Jazz arena, Halvorson with Anthony Braxton, Wooley for his work with trombonist Steve Swell and Waters as a member of Gold Sparkle band. Moscow-born, New York-based Zhurbin splits his skills among jazz, so-called classical and film music. Curiously, as well, the only crossover player on these sessions is percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, who again is more of an individual presence on the Tsahar work.
In fact, Zhurbins output might be the most memorable here. Exhibiting a minor key, Eastern-European melancholy, his extended double-stopping and upper partial exhibitions are effectively complemented by variously metallic percussion pulses, frailing and clawhammer picking from Halvorson or squealing flutes, reeds and lower-pitched strings. Elsewhere theres even a point where the two bassists play a line that almost walks into mainstream jazz.
Chording and/or picking, the guitarist can make common cause with harsh and repetitive counterpoint from each of the four string sections, since unison playing usually confirms their legato, harmonic tendencies. Meanwhile Wooley asserts himself, adding plunger alterations and rippling chromatic work on top of a glissando of riffing, ponticello strings.
Pitch-sliding discord characterizes Waters solos as well. Squealing split tones linked to pummeled percussion from Nakatani almost shove one track into the Free Jazz arena, as he alternates multiphonics with contrapuntal string fills. Rim shot rolls and nerve beats from the sticks, as well as soft plinks from unselected cymbals are Nakatanis response to the finale. All the while Waters vibrates double-tongued squeals from his clarinet, marking the highest range of a soundscape that elsewhere goes ever which way, including tuba burps and alternating vamping and hoe-down fiddle tones.
One earlier piece rotates on top of pedal-point tuba expression, gradually converging string textures and a single resonated cymbal slap. Another seems to ooze fluttering electronic-type hisses although no electronics are present.
That isnt the case on CILIA James Coleman plays theremin and Vic Rawlings manipulates electronics as well as his cello. Almost without exception though, the players featured here are minimalists who before that and since have helped develop techniques to suggest electronic signals from all acoustic tones. Two of the players, saxophonist Bhob Rainey and trumpeter Greg Kelley are particularly adroit. But on the tracks here, when they can be detected, the saxman plays lines or mouth pops and the brassman, exhibits plunger extrusions that he usually reserves for infrequent Free Music sideman gigs.
Overall, the texture is much denser than on FRAGMENTS, with such ordinarily opposite tones as oscillating accordion squeezes, swirling, spiccato string entries and ghostly theremin squawks interlaced so tightly that individualism isnt an option. With many tones piled on top of one another and solidified, group improvisation is most prominent.
Haradas vision is paramount. So if sibilant wind from the squeeze box, thumps from percussion, sputtering reed work or what seems to be a jocular hunt-and-peck arco shuffle from the bass and cellos peeks out, soon, like an animal caught in quicksand, it vanishes beneath the writhing concentrated musical mass. Mostly unison and sometimes polyphonic, solid pulsation doesnt make this CD any less memorable than the other. Except, that is, for those few times when the loops, scratches and sequences appear to draw so closely together that they nearly become immobile and theres a danger that the CD will ground to a halt.
Luckily its at these points that Haradas conduction skills, or physical impulses from the players, translate into motion. Whether it be minute pizzicato from the strings, the screech of an individual fiddler or an extended spew from the horns, it gives all 10 new directions, propelling them into fresh spectral whirls.
Unlike FRAGMENTS, with its solo variations however, this performance is so uniform and viscous that it never develops enough singularity or identity. When its completed as well, it merely ends. Perhaps in the three years since it was recorded, Haradas solid sound blocks have developed more distinguishing characteristics.
-- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: Fragments: 1. First 2. Second 3. Third 4. Fourth 5. Fifth 6. Sixth 7. Seventh 8. Eighth 9. Ninth 10. Tenth 11. Eleventh 12. Twelfth 13. Thirteenth 14. Fourteenth 15. Fifteenth 16. Sixteenth
Personnel: Fragments: Nate Wooley, Sam Hoyt (trumpets); Christopher Meeder (tuba); Charles Waters (clarinet); Natacha Diels, Leah Paul and Jecca Barry (flutes); Mary Halvorson (guitar); Philippa Thompson, Leanne Darling and Jana Andevska (violins); Lev Zhurbin, Jessica Pavone (violas); Loren Dempster, Gil Selinger and Audrey Chen (celli); Terence Murren, Todd Nicholson (basses) Tatsuya Nakatani (percussion); Assif Tsahar (conductor)
Track Listing: Cilia: 1. Spools 2. Enterprising Mass of Cilia 3. Procession of Echo 4. Physio-Mechanical Pulse 5. A Room 6. Sprouting Self-Similarity 7. Element of Resistance 8. Distance Propitiate 9. Fleeting Despot
Personnel: Cilia: Greg Kelley (trumpet); Bhob Rainey (soprano saxophone); Aleta Cole (violin); Frederic Viger (viola); Jonathan Vincent (accordion); Glynis Lomon (cello); Vic Rawlings (cello and electronics); Mike Bullock (bass); James Coleman (theremin)
July 17, 2005
ADAM JAMES WILSON
No label No #
TERRIE EX /AB BAARS
Atavistic ALP 130 CD
Finding something original to say using the most popular instrument in the world -- the guitar -- has become progressively more difficult over the past few years. With the six string utilized by everyone from rock journeymen to folk performers and classical recitalists, improvised musicians have to work out new strategies fore themselves.
Luckily, especially in its electric configuration, the guitar is versatile enough to respond to different touches as the youngish string slingers on these CDs demonstrate. New Yorker Adam James Wilsons disc is a group essay in microtonal dissonance. While Terrie Ex, from Holland, hooks up with reedist Ab Baars to demonstrate how unadorned punk-style guitar can fuse with free jazz woodwinds.
Wilson, until recently a Boston resident, is aiming for pan-tonal, spontaneous group compositions. Thats sort of a convoluted way of saying that the aim of the 12 numbers on this CD is to mix traditional modality with atonality, as is found in much of the work of reedman/New England Conservatory teacher Joe Manner, one of Wilsons acknowledged influences.
Dissonance creates a larger yet quieter sound. Although four other musicians participated in the sessions, only two -- flutist Arto Artinian and violinist Kat Hernandez -- appear to assert themselves on nearly every track. Conservatory-trained pianist Jonathan Vincent hardly makes his presence felt, while percussionist Aaron Trant, who frequently plays solo recitals and premieres so-called serious compositions, never resorts to anything as déclassé as a regular beat.
Bulgarian-born, New York-based Artinian, whose formal studies of composition and computer music lead him to pure improv, often utilizes extended techniques of high-pitched aviary peeps and claxon-like reverberations, often bringing to mind Robert Dick. Taking into account the change from saxophone to flute, he, Hernandez and Wilson sound like the British improvisers John Butcher (soprano saxophone), Phil Durrant (violin) and John Russell (acoustic guitar) on Stark. This too is one of the few times Vincent is really audible, producing some dark, left-handed rumbles.
The Slow Crucible on the other hand, finds the flutist, who at one point studied in Bulgaria, playing very non-Western sounding lines, which appear to be more Carnatic than Balkan. Here the guitarists tuning experiments make it appear as if hes tinkling on a celesta. Meanwhile Two Plus One, which is a flute-guitar duet despite the title, is one of those numbers this side of stasis, where the clunk of individual notes is crystal clear as is the air hiss, creating a piccolo-like sound from Artinian.
Hernandez is a former Detroiter, who has also played with other young experimenters like pianist Dan DeChellis and drummer Jeff Arnal. Here she frequently uses a taut, mewling tone to better mix with Wilsons single-note forays. On Turn Away, however, when the indistinct plinks and clinks of the guitar are succeeded by some muscular fretting, the fiddler rips out some uneven cat scratches as the flute probes atonality. The effect is if the band had suddenly turned to Heavy Metal.
That noise-making side of the group is even more evident on Under Your Thumb, with a title that could, be a tribute to or a dig at the Rolling Stones. Hernandez begins harshly scraping away like an eneverated Billy Bang, Trant bears down on his drum set and Wilson produces a buzz of pure feedback. Only Artinian continues sounding constant flute arpeggios. The best way to find this disc, by the way, is on the guitarists Web site: www.Adamjameswilson.com.
If Wilson treats his electric instrument as a microtonal paintbrush, then Ex wields his axe as a sound source. Part of Hollands best-known anarcho punk band, whose members, à la The Ramones, insist their last names are all Ex, the guitarists jazz connections came about long before he started playing. His jazz-loving father named him after American vibist Terry Gibbs.
Ex (the band) first collaborated with manic Dutch drummer Han Bennink; later (guitarist) Ex recorded a strong duo disc with the drummer. Following that, the plectrumist put together this CD with Baars, best known for his membership in the ICP Orchestra. With all the tunes except for the title track lasting between 35 seconds and four minutes, the result is not unlike what a meeting between saxophonist Evan Parker and guitarist Johnny Ramone could have produced. Its loud, abrasive and riveting.
Accelerator of the ICP engine with his distorted sax overtones and stuttering clarinet lines, Baars usually takes centrestage here. Spewing out trills and multiphonics from his horns, the reedman spurs Ex to match his circular breathing and the guitarist does with bell-ringing tones, rat-like string scratches and amplified power chords.
Not all of this recital finds the two ranging from microtones to maxi tweets however. Sometimes Exs guitar, intentionally or not, threatens to go out-of-tune, and on Yselyk, for example, his echoing tones suggest a steel guitar thats being investigated by a denizen of the Third World. Then on Grameel, Baarss prickly alto cries are met with steady guitar strumming that sounds as if it came from a Western movie soundtrack.
Both M. Ali I and M. Ali II, which seem to be named for heavyweight Muhammad Ali, which offer consistent and intense low-toned vibratos from the reedist on clarinet, may live up to their honoree, as Ex appears to be punching to strings to get a particular sound. Then on Pets -> Knerp the guitarist hammers on his bass strings as Baars plays, framing his solo in ascending and descending single note architecture.
All of this seems to be a preliminary bout for the title track -- shades of Ali -- where the saxist overblows hard enough to produce two separate sounds simultaneously, soon answered by guitar power chords. When Baars squeals away at the top of his instruments range, then dive bombs into the saxs bottom notes, Ex moves between hearty chording and stroking steel strings for a unique timbre. Finally the piece ends as Baars produces a child-like trill backed by what sound like Exs palms hitting the strings.
All the musicians on these CDs may be young, but theres nothing childish about their performances. Both discs offer different solutions to the challenge of creating unique guitar sounds.
- Ken Waxman
Track Listing: Unify: 1. Unify 2. Steam Engine 3. Brooklyn 4. Cry for Me 5. Somnambulus 6. Diminuendo 7. Stark 8. Two Plus one 9. Turn Away 10. The Slow Crucible 11. Under Your Thumb 12. Until The Beginning
Personnel: Arto Artinian (flute); Kat Hernandez (violin); Adam James Wilson (fretless guitar); Jonathan Vincent (piano); Aaron Trant (drums)
Track Listing: Hef: 1. Oud Over 2. De Yzeren Tulp 3. Stokdutter 4. Hamergaar 5. Yselyk 6. Termiet 7. Kryzeltamden I 8. Kryzeltamden II 9. M. Ali I 10. M. Ali II 11. Grameel 12. Grampel 13. Pets -> Knerp 14. Hef
Personnel: Hef: Ab Baars (tenor saxophone and clarinet); Terrie Ex (guitar)
July 27, 2002