Monday, April 12, 2021

The spritied collaborations of Calle Neumann and Christian Reim


From my piece in today's Musikkmagasinet supplement in Klassekampen

Partly because the sparky and fiery altoist Carl Magnus "Calle" Neumann and the soulful pianist Christian Reim never made a studio recording together, their collaborations during the 1970s have become somewhat forgotten parts of the story of the Norwegian jazz explosion of that era. However, theirs were no less vital or vibrant than the music of their contemporaries, as exemplified by the reissue of Live at Molde International  Jazz Festival 1976 and, in particular, the hitherto unissued Mona Lisa Suite, both recently released by Jazzaggession Records.

On the latter, recorded live in Molde in 1973, we hear a sextet lead by Reim, who also composed the suite, with Neumann on alto and soprano, Knut Riisnæs on tenor and flute, Ditlef Eckhoff on trumpet, Terje Venaas on double bass and Epsen Rud on drums. The first part of the suite opens with Reim's gently flowing piano tones over arco bass, and the piece segues via a folk music inspired fanfare into a soul jazz tinged landscape, marked by Eckhoff's expressive trumpet solo. 

The second part opens with another intro by Reim, bluesy yet upbeat, but soon kicks into another gear, propelled by Venaas' two bass ostinatos, the first light-footed and eager, the second a deep and powerful groove, its bustling energy accentuated by Rud's delightful, alternating ride and hi-hat work, and agitating horn riffs, creating a launch pad for a saxophone solo lifts off, soars and rips, and tears at the seams of the tune.

A highly recommended recording in its own right, but especially for anyone interested in what Norwegian jazz had to offer outside of the more famous ECM associated acts of the era. Vinyl copies are limited, but can still be found at stores like Dusty Groove.

Friday, April 02, 2021

A quick 2021 1st quarter round-up: Bandcamp friday is a Good Friday

Three elder statesmen of jazz and improvised music, one resolutely productive "mayor", the continued emergence of a singular talent of the alto saxophone, fascinating takes on solo albums and latin associated musicans takes on Ornette Coleman all feature among my fave recordings of 2021 so far (adding one album released today). Below, a quick and easy list of 20 of those favorite releases, and since it's Bandcamp Friday, I've added links to the relevant Bandcamp pages where such are available. I'll be posting a round-up of my published writing from January through March, many featuring some of the music mentioned below, later this week.

  • Butcher/Weston/Storesund/Knedal Andersen: Mapless Quiet (Motvind Records)
  • Gary Bartz, Ali Shaheed Muhammad & Adrian Younge: Jazz Is Dead 6 (Jazz Is Dead)
  • Calle Neumann / Ketil Gutvik / Ingebrigt Håker Flaten / Paal Nilssen-Love: New Dance (PNL)
  • Sana Nagano: Smashing Humans (577 Records)
  • Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra: Promises (Luaka Bop)
  • Paul Dunmall / Percy Pursglove / Olie Brice / Jeff Williams: Palindromes (West Hill)
  • Archie Shepp & Jason Moran: Let My People Go (Archieball)
  • Johan Lindström Septett: On the Asylum (Moserobie Music Productions)
  • Frode Haltli: Avant Folk II (Hubro)
  • Patricia Brennan: Maquishti (Valley Of Search)

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Peter Brötzmann at 80

 

The sudden screams and splutters from three saxophones is shocking and disturbing, the following rat-at-at-at of the two drums rattling and unsetteling. The sound barrage is almost overwheling, shaking the listener out of their comfort zone. Even now, having listened to Machine Gun countless times since I first encountered it over 20 years ago, I'm never quite prepared for that opening salvo.

That initial outpouring soon gives way to much mellower sounds, though. Out of the smoke pops Fred Van Hove's slighty swinging piano, subtly stumbling bass patterns by Peter Kowald and Buschi Niebergall, and an off-kilter, drunken saxophone forging its way in between. Only to be shaken up by yet another outburst.

Peter Brötzmann's work tends to keep you on your toes and alert. It can also seem like perfect examples of what Robert Wyatt termed "trying to find beauty where others see ugliness" (paraphrasing here, since I can't at the tie of writing find the original quote). Not that there's anything beautiful about a machine gun barrage, mind you. Some of his work is just downright beautiful in its own right, though, such as the solo work 14 Love Poems (reissued last year on vinyl by Cien Fuegos). On the other side of the spectrum is stuff like LAst Exit, music that hits as hard as any you can think of.

Throughout his career Brötzmann has played with some of the greatest bassists. The above mentioned Kowlad, of course, not to forget William Parker in projects like Die Like a Dog. But I mention this specifically to highlight one of my fave Brötzmann recordings, Songlines, where he teamed up with the mercurially brilliant Fred Hopkins (of Air fame) as well as a certain Rashied Ali, arguably the nimbles bass-drum combo Brötzmann ever played with, and he more than holds his own.

 

That's just the tip of an iceberg of recorded output that numbers over 300 recordings and counting, with groups and solo work under his own name, Die Like a Dog and Last Exit, to collaborations with Cecil Taylor, ICP, Globe Unity Orchestra, Frode Gjerstad, and the more recent work with pedal steel guitarist Heather Leigh. I've only had the chance to witness him live in concert once, with the Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet at Molde International Jazz Festival in 2007. It was an experience I won't soon forget. Hopefully, another chance or two will arise once this pandemic blows over.

Happy 80th b'day, maestro!

Friday, December 04, 2020

Jazz Critics Poll ballot short list/early 2020 faves rough draft

With the deadline for submitting my Jazz Critics Poll ballot approaching, I figured I'd do something different and post a short list here, culled from my hand written notes, numbering 30 albums (I had to stop somewhere). It can double as a sort of "faves of the wretched year of 2020" rough draft. The "vaccine efficacy" rating is just a playful way of suggesting the likelihood that the releases will be ending up among the final 10. A star denotes I've covered the album in writing. I'll publish a more thorough "review of the year" (2020 is not over yet) in early January next year.


95% vaccine efficacy

  • Gard Nilssen Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully the Music Is Yours (ODIN) *
  • Aly Keita, Jan Galega Brönnimann, Lucas Niggli: Kalan Teban (Intakt) *
  • Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You? (International Anthem) *
  • I.P.A.: Bashing Mushrooms (Cuneiform) *
  • Eric Revis: Slipknots Through a Looking Glass (Pyroclastic Records) *
  • Skurkar: Skjulte Motiver (Øra Fonogram) *
  • Rob Mazurek Exploding Star Orchestra: Dimensional Stardust (International Anthem)
  • Matthew Shipp: The Piano Equation (Tao Forms) *
94,5% vaccine efficacy
  • Andreas Røysum Ensemble: Andreas Røysum Ensemble (Motvind)
  • Anna Högberg Attack: Lena (Omlott) *
  • James Brandon Lewis Quartet: Molecular (Intakt) *
  • Okkyung Lee: Yeo-Neun (Shelter Press)
  • Camila Nebbia: Aura (ears&eyes Records) *
  • Superposition: Superposition (We Jazz Records) *
  • Shabaka and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History (Impulse!) *
  • Lisa Mezzacappa Six: Cosmicomics (Queen Bee Records) *
  • Sigurd Hole: Lys/Mørke (Elvesang) *
  • Torbjörn Zetterberg & Den Stora Frågan: Are You Happy? (Moserobie Recordings) 
  • Otis Sandsjö: Y-OTIS 2 (We Jazz)
  • Luke Stewart: Luke Stewart Exposure Quartet (Astral Spirits)
  • Ingrid Laubrock: Dreamt Twice, Twice Dreamt (Intakt)
92% vaccine efficacy
  • Moskus: Live på Victoria (Earthly Habits) *
  • Terje Rypdal: Conspiracy (ECM) *
  • Maria Kannegaard Trio: Sand I En Vik (Jazzland)
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio (Whirlwind Records) *
  • Barrage: The Was and Is to Come (Øra Fonogram) *
  • Orientation of We: Emergence (Off)
  • Wako: Wako (Øra Fonogram)
  • Hegge: Feeling (Particular Recordings) *
  • Ambrose Akinmusire: On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment (Blue Note Records/Universal) *

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Published reviews, April through June, and fave music of 2020 so far

When music moves us, it can do so in many different ways. Music can inspire and incite, spark joy, trigger memories, it can console, it can consolidate. Music can be an awakening, it can shake us out of our numbness. It can be a much needed reminder of the many things that are not right in the world, but music can also help us imagine it as a much better place.

These and many others reasons are why people turn to music even when the world is in various stages of turmoil and unrest. It is why music -- and art, literature, film -- remains important for many of us while we also recognize there are larger concerns. Because music is mental and emotional sustenance

I've tried to convey those sentiments, implicitly or explicitly, in my reviews. Although arguably not always successfully so. Speaking of which, below is a list of music I've covered in writing from April through June (Jan. through March can be found here), followed by a list, of sorts, of 50 of my favorite recordings released so far this year. That list could've been longer, but I had to stop somewhere.

PS: Depending on future developments, this may be the last entry on this blog for the foreseeable future. Granted, it hasn't seen a lot of activity at all over the past decade, my focus having been on paid published work. Still, I have debated moving my online presence to a different, more professional platform/site altogether for a while, but seeing as writing in any form has become increasingly emotionally taxing for me over the past few years -- took me three days to finalize and publish this post, and the stakes aren't particularly high, to put it mildly -- I've shelved that plan for the time being. Who knows what the future holds.
  • Fire! Orchestra: Actions (Rune Grammofon) + Krzysztof Penderecki Musikkmagasinet/Klassekapmen, April 6., 2020.
  • Superposition: Superposition (We Jazz Records) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen April 20., 2020
  • Cameron / Carter / Håker Flaten: Tau Ceti (Astral Spirits) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen April 27., 2020.
  • Master Oogway: Earth and Other Worlds
    (Rune Grammofon)
    Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen April 27., 2020
  • Mats Eilertsen Trio + Trio Mediæval: Memorabilia (NXN Recordings) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen May 11., 2020.
  • Anna Högberg Attack: Lena (Omlott) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen May 18., 2020.
  • John Pål Inderberg Trio: Radio Inderberg (AMP Music & Records) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen May 25., 2020
  • Hegge: Feeling (Particular Recordings) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen May 25., 2020.
  • Ambrose Akinmusire: On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment (Blue Note Records/Universal) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen June 8., 2020.
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio (Whirlwind Records) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekmapen, June 22., 2020.
  • Matthew Shipp: The Piano Equation (Tao Forms) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, June 29., 2020.
  • Daniel Carter, Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Gerald Cleaver: Welcome Adventure! Vol. 1 (577 Records) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen June 29., 2020.
  • Albert Ayler: New Grass [vinyl reissue] (Third Man Records) Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, June 29., 2020.
Additional wiritng:
  •  "Uten sikkerhetsnett: Risikoen ved et liv i jazzen" Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen May 11., 2020.
  • "Fritt etter folkemusikk" Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen June 29., 2020.

 50 notable music releases of 2020 so far:


Voyager Golden Record candidates
  • Gard Nilssen Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully the Music Is Yours (ODIN)
  • Aly Keita, Jan Galega Brönnimann, Lucas Niggli: Kalan Teban (Intakt)
  • Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You? (International Anthem)
  • Matthew Shipp: The Paino Equation (Tao Forms) 
  • Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud (Merge)
Heavy rotation
  • Run the Jewels: RJ4 (Jewel Runners)
  • Andreas Røysum Ensemble: Andreas Røysum Ensemble (Motvind Records)
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio (Whirlwind Records)
  • Okkyoung Lee: Yeo-Neun (Shelter Press)
  • Ambrose Akinmusire: On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment (Blue Note Records/Universal) 
  • Shopping: All or Nothing (Fatcat Records) 
  • Anna Högberg Attack: Lena (Omlott)
  • Aksak Maboul: Figures (Crammed Disc) 
  • Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters (Epic)
  • Torbjörn Zetterberg & Den Stora Frågan: Are You Happy? (Moserobie Recordings)
  • Brandon Seabrook with Cooper-Moore and Gerald Cleaver: Exultations (Astral Spirits) 
  • Bob Dylan: Rough and Rowdy Ways (Columbia)
  • Horse Lords: The Common Task (Northen Spy)
  • No Age: Goons Be Gone (Drag City)
  • Wendy Eisienberg: Dehiscence (Wendy Eisienberg)
Thoroughly enjoying
  • Hegge: Feeling (Particular Recordings) 
  • Lisa Mezzacappa Six: Cosmicomics (Queen Bee Records)
  • Sigurd Hole: Lys/Mørke (Elvesang)
  • Shabaka and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History (Impulse!)
  • Wako: Wako (Øra Fonogram)
  • Erlend Apneseth: Fragmentarium (Hubro) 
  • Daniel Carter, Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Gerald Cleaver: Welcome Adventure! Vol. 1 (577 Records)
  • Jim Black Trio: Reckon (Intakt)
  • X: ALPHABETLAND (Fat Possum)
  • John Pål Inderberg Trio: Radio Inderberg (AMP Music & Records)
  • Moses Sumney: Græ (Jagjaguwar)
  • Cameron / Carter / Håker Flaten: Tau Ceti (Astral Spirits)
  • Daniel Romano's Outfit: Daniel Romano's Outfit Do (What Could Have Been) "Infidels" by Bob Dyaln & The Plugz (self-released)
  • Dave Sewelson: More Music For a Free World (self released)
  • Lina Allemano's Ohrenschmaus: Rats and Mice (Lumo Records) 
  • Beauty Pill: Please Advice (Northern Spy)
  • Tim Berne's Snakeoil: The Fantastic Mrs. 10 (Intakt)
  • Hedvig Mollestad: Ekhidna (Rune Grammofon) 
  • Inland Empire: Inland Empire (Clean Feed)
  • Large Unit Fendika: EthioBraz (PNL)
  • McPhee/Rempis/Reid/Lopez/Nilssen-Love: Of Things Beyond Thule volume 1 (Aerophonic)
  • Heroes Are Gang Leaders: Artificial Happiness Button (Ropeadope)
  • James Brandon Lewis & Chad Taylor: Live in Willisau (Intakt)
  • Mark Lomax, II & The Urban Art Ensemble: 400 Year Suite (CFG Multimedia)
  • Roots Magic: Take Root Among the Stars (Clean Feed)
  • James Carney Sextet: Pure Heart (Sunnyside Records)
  • Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Sideways to Italy (Sub Pop)
  • Lopez Trio: Triptych (self-released)
  • Claire Rousay: A Heavenly Touch (Already Dead)
  • Field Music: Making a New World (Memphis Industries)

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Published reviews and notable albums, 1st quarter, 2020


These are strange and worrying times, and even though we cannot go out and experience live music for the time being (that said, I quite enjoyed a fair share of sreamed "quarantine gig"), there is still a lot of great recorded music around. Below is a round-up of the music I've covered from January through March, as well as a list of 15 album favorites of the year so far. Stay safe, all, and wash your hands!


  • Large Unit Fendika: Ethiobraz (PNL Records) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Jan. 13., 2020
  • Keïta – Brönnimann – Niggli: Kalan Teban (Intakt Records) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Jan. 20., 2020
  • JUNO: Young Star (Jazzland Recordings) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Jan. 27., 2020
  • Jeff Parker: Suite For Max Brown (International Anthem) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Feb. 10., 2020
  • Gard Nilssen Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully the Music Is Yours (Odin Records/Grappa) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Feb. 10., 2020
  • Sigurd Hole: Lys / Mørke (Elvesang/Musikkoperatøren) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Feb 24., 2020
  • Lisa Mezzacappa Six: Cosmicomics Queen Bee Records) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekamepn, Feb. 24., 2020
  • Andreas Røysum Ensemble: Andreas Røysum Ensemble (Motvind Records) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klasssekampen, March 9., 2020
  • Shabaka and The Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History (Impulse! Record) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, March 16., 2020
  • Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You? (International Anthem) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, March 23., 2020 (Available online here. In Norwegian only)
  • Stein Urheim: Downhill Uplift (Hubro) Reviewed for Jazznytt #254

15 notable recordings of the year so far:


Heavy rotation
  • Gard Nilssen Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully the Music Is Yours (Odin Records/Grappa)  
  • Aly Keita, Jan Galega Brönnimann, Lucas Niggli: Kalan Teban (Intakt Records)
  • Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You? (International Anthem)
  • Superposition: Superposition (We Jazz Records)
  • Andreas Røysum Ensemble: Andreas Røysum Ensemble (Motvind Records)
Thoroughly enjoying
  • Lisa Mezzacappa Six: Cosmicomics (Queen Bee Records)
  • Sigurd Hole: Lys/Mørke (Elvesang)
  • Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud (Merge)
  • Torbjörn Zetterberg & Den Stora Frågan: Are You Happy? (Moserobie Recordings)
  • Shabaka and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History (Impulse!)
  • Horse Lords: The Common Task (Northen Spy) 
  • Wako: Wako (Øra Fonogram)
  • Jim Black Trio: Reckon (Intakt)
  • Shopping: All or Nothing (Fatcat Records)
  • Stein Urheim: Downhill Uplift (Hubro)
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