2017-10-11 Slag


Slag by Ballister.

Bandcamp Link: Slag

While I was aware of the individual members of this group, (Dave Remis, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and Paal Nilssen-Love,) I didn’t know, until I read about a recent East Coast Tour, that they had a group together. Saxophones, cello, percussion, and electronics.

This is improvised music of the squonk-ey, squeal-ey, and occasionally tender sort. Quite pleasant and invigorating. I was more than a little sad that my commute ended before the album did, but am looking forward to the listening to the remainder on my trip home.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #DaveRempis #FredLonbergHolm #PaalNilssenLove #Slag #Ballister

2017-10-10 Unfold


Unfold by The Necks.

Bandcamp link: Unfold

The Necks are an Australian trio, generally Keyboards, Percussion, and Bass, whose performances and albums are based on ideas of Improvisation. That is, whatever happens at a performance is not planned in advance, it is just what happens. Their technique is more based around the idioms of pop and classical, rather than “Jazz” or “Free Jazz”. If, indeed, they do have precursors in the Jazz world, it is player/composers like Bill Evans and Chick Corea.

A while ago, I went through an impulsive phase, based on information from wire magazine, where I bought pretty much every early The Necks album, and listened through them.

After thus fortifying myself, I came to the conclusion that, while I can appreciate The Necks for their technique and aesthetic, I don’t find them particularly interesting.

I thought I should revisit these conclusions after reading Geoff Dyer’s piece on the band in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, in which he alleges that they are, “The Greatest Trio on Earth”. Nope, as much as I can appreciate them intellectually, their music still doesn’t do much for me.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #TheNecks #Unfold

2017-10-09 Irreversible Entanglements

Irreversible Entanglements

Irreversible Entanglements by Irreversible Entanglements.

Bandcamp link: Irreversible Entanglements
Jazz and poetry about the African American experience in North America.

The poetry is written and performed by Camae Ayewa, who also goes by the name Moor Mother.

Similar messages to her work on Fetish Bones but a different context. Somehow I find it easier to listen to these messages in the context of jazz improvisation than in the context of experimental electronic music.

Can’t tell you if that is good or bad.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #IrreversibleEntanglements #CamaeAyewa #KeirNeuringer #AquilesNavarro #LukeStewart #TcheserHolmes

2017-10-06 Red October

Red October

Red October by Polyorchard.

Bandcamp Link: Red October

A fine group of young men, playing freely and creatively.

Trombone, Saxophone, Percussion, and Double Bass.

Thinking about what language to use and differentiate this from yesterday’s DEK Trio album, other than just different instruments and different people.

Or, maybe that is enough?

Well, they both seem to be mostly improvised music and both are live albums. Red October is a larger group, (and particularly impressively recorded for being recorded live). Burning Below Zero has a piano, but no bass and a single wind instrument, giving it a different feel. Polyorchard’s album contains fewer allusions to popular music. Both have very impressive players. Both are great albums.

Will need to work on this idea of differentiating modern improvised musics. On the “to-do list”.

#JebBishop #LaurentEstoppey #ShawnGalvin #DavidMenestres #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

2017-10-05 Burning Below Zero

Burning Below Zero

Burning Below Zero by Elizabeth Harnik / Didi Kern / Ken Vandermark aka DEK Trio.

Wonderfully diverse playing both in terms of technique and content. Everything from Free Squonk to Classical to African Pentatonics shows up as you pass by. Just waiting for you to dip in and and sample. A cornucopia of thoughts and feelings, bursting at the seams.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #DEKTrio #KenVandermark #ElizabethHarnik #DidiKern

2017-10-04 The Centre Cannot Hold

The Centre Cannot Hold

The Centre Cannot Hold by Ben Frost.

I’ve enjoyed Ben Frost’s albums in the past, so I was intrigued when I heard he was working with Steve Albini on this new one. Albini is known as something of an iconoclast and a fancier of obscure analog recording equipment, so I was curious what would happen when someone as tied to digital sound technology as Ben Frost would collide with Albini’s world view.

My initial reaction was that the album sounded a bit retro, reminding me of some of Tangerine Dream or John Carpenter’s soundtrack work from the 70s. Something about the keyboard washes.

However, digging deeper, I started to hear more interesting sounds. Sonar Pings, Heartbeats, etc.

So, I’m a little on the fence. I do like “Entropy in Blue” quite a lot.

The title refers to William Butler Yeats most famous, and most quoted, apocalyptic poem, “The Second Coming”. The titles of the songs themselves are quite topical. “A Single Hellfire Missile Costs $100,000” and “Healthcare” are actual song titles.

In any case, Yeats’ words “…what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem”, are, unfortunately, sounding far too prophetic. 

#BenFrost #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #TheCentreCannotHold

2017-10-03 No Perfect Wave

No Perfect Wave

No Perfect Wave by C. Diab.

The primary instruments here are bowed stringed instruments, (including electric guitar,) accordion, and occasional trumpet. And, well, tape delay. Actually, it could be argued that tape delay is the primary instrument.

It is, sort of, heavy folk music.

In any case, I really enjoy this album. It is drone-ey and meditative, yet sonically varied enough that it remains interesting through its whole length and after repeated listenings.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #Drone #CDiab

2017-10-02 A Pouting Grimace

A Pouting Grimace

A Pouting Grimace by Matt Mitchell.

Wow. I was familiar with Mr Mitchell from his work with Tim Berne and others, but did not expect this! Crazy ambitious compositions. I guess I’d almost call it “Stravinsky meets Monk in the 21st Century”. Intellectual and driving, yet it swings.

Really cool! And also pretty hilarious song titles like, “bulb terminus”, “squalid ink”, and “gluts”. Though, my favorite track is, “mini alternate”. 

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #MattMichell #APoutingGrimace #KimCass #KateGentile #ChesSmith #DanWeis #PatriciaBrennan #KatieAndrews #AnnaWebber #JohnIrabon #BenKono #SaraSchoenbeck #ScottRobinson #TyshawnSorey

2017-09-26 Sands


Sands by Steve Lacy.

Solo Soprano by Mr Lacy on Tzadik.

This album has more of a feel as if someone turned on a recorder while they were practicing, than if they were intentionally recording a solo album.

A lot of the time he will find a phrase, play it once, then repeat it down a key, then another, then another, to the lowest he can play it on his horn. Or take the same phrase and repeat it several different times with different emphasis or different techniques. There’s are also a lot of pseudo classical themes that pop up and things that sound like circus music, along with some Jazzy improvisation.

Sands is technically interesting, as someone who plays an instrument, and is curious about other musician’s thought processes or how they practice. I feel like I am being given a look behind the curtain. But, I don’t find it compelling listening, as a Jazz listener.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #SteveLacy #Sands

2017-09-25 The Following Mountain

The Following Mountain

The Following Mountain by Sam Amidon.

The most recent album from avant traditionalist Sam Amidon is his most eclectic and ambitious recording to date.

Including collaborators saxophonist Sam Gendel and bassist Milford Graves, (yes, THAT Milford Graves,) allows him to let this album swing freer than anything he has put to record before.

I really enjoy The Following Mountain and feel like Mr Amidon manages to capture something here that wouldn’t happen on his more carefully composed folkish albums. I hope he continues to experiment further in this vein!

Sam Amidon plays Tuesday, Sep 26 at the Swedish American Hall in San Francisco. Hope to see you there!

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #SamAmidon #SamGendel #MilfordGraves