Incidentals by Tim Berne’s Snakeoil aka Tim Berne, Ryan Ferreira, Matt Mitchell, Oscar Noriega, and Ches Smith (with special guest David Torn on a couple tracks). This is the 4th Snakeoil album on ECM and the 5th overall, if you count the Anguis Oleum live CD included with the Berne/Byram Book “Spare”. Also, the 2nd Snakeoil album with guitars.
I’ve been watching Berne for, uh, I don’t know how long. I guess, the first release which really caught my eye was the anxiety inducing, yet hilarious, “Fractured Fairy Tales” from 1989. So, crap, at least 28 years.
I was initially hesitant about the addition of Ferreira’s guitar to the Snakeoil mix, but I think they have really found a place for it to work and add tension and drama to the group’s compositions.
This is a great addition to Snakeoil and Berne’s body of work, and maybe Snakeoil’s best album so far.
If you’re in the Bay Area, or mobile, Snakeoil will be playing SF Jazz’ Henderson Lab on Saturday, September 23rd.
Verisimilitude by Tyshawn Sorey, Corey Smythe, and Chris Tordini.
According to the dictionary, “verisimilitude” means, “the appearance of being true or real”. This is the second album from Sorey’s trio with Smythe on piano and Tordini on bass.
The thing I really enjoy about this release, is their use of space and silence. Makes it a really great album to contemplate. They aren’t filling every second with expression and noise. But it isn’t lacking in expression, either.
I’m not super familiar with Yusef Lateef. I know he was a multi-instrumentalist who was one of the first late-20th Century Jazz artists to embrace Middle Eastern and Asian musical influences.
This album is primarily about embracing the influences of African American folk, work, and popular idioms in Jazz.
In the 40s and 50s, it wasn’t really cool to overtly play the blues if you were a Jazz Artist. A lot of early Jazz and Blues artists were reviled for what was viewed by younger Jazz artists as “Uncle Tom-ing” or pandering to white audiences for commercial gain. Fletcher Henderson and Louis Armstrong come to mind, as artists who were thought of in this manner.
However, when artists in the Folk, Skiffle, and British Invasion rediscovered and revisited African American folk traditions, African American Jazz and popular artists also began to revisit these musics and traditions.
At best, this album sounds like a person joyfully rediscovering his musical roots. At worst, (Moon Cup,) from the remove of the 21st Century, it sounds like a dilettante artist parodying Asian American speech and musical traditions without having the remotest idea about the rules or structures of those traditions.
It’s always interesting to see where a band goes on its second album.
In the case of Downtown Boys, “getting better” seems to mean: more chord changes, a less prominent place for the sax, occasional synths, and more overdubbing.
Not bad, but instead of moving towards more dissonance and chaos, they seem to be moving towards a sort of Midnight Oil-esque fusion of politics and pop music. “Promissory Note” is probably my favorite track.
Unfortunately, I missed seeing this duo from Java the last time they were through San Francisco.
Vocals, Stringed Instruments, and percussion. The vocal strategies are not dissimilar to those Atilla Cshihar uses in SUNN O))), very low frequency. The various long stringed instruments deployed in an eclectic manner, bowed and plucked, droning and dancing. The percussion deep and polyrhythmic.
They’ve gotten a reputation for synthesizing the traditions of Indonesian music with modern experimental music, which is exactly what you find on this release.
Enjoyable and interesting. I hope that I can manage leaving the house the next time they are in town.
Great titles, adventurous writing, interesting instrumentation, and expressive playing. Modern Improvised Music at its best!
The use of long horn tones from Mr Viner over propulsive rhythms occasionally reminds me of some of Chris Speed’s work, but the more scattered pulse of Ms Gentile’s percussion and Mr Mitchell’s keyboards is very distinct from Mr Speed’s usual collaborators.
A unique, compelling, and rewarding recording. (I think this is the first time I can remember ever heard anyone use a Prophet Sampler/Keyboard on a “Jazz” release, kudos to Ms Gentile and Mr Mitchell.)
The Rarity of Experience by The Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band.
The first song on this album, “Anthem I”, really does take you back to the heyday of guitar squall, when dinosaurs like Dire Straits walked the land.
With guitar strategies roughly in the neighborhood of Television, Dire Straits, and Richard Thompson, Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band certainly stand apart from much of contemporary pop music (not to say they’re shy about using modern digital fx to layer their guitar sound even thicker than the aforementioned guitar kaiju ever considered). Deadpan, Meat Puppets-ish vocals on some tracks, add to the retro feel.
Though, not really a “nostalgia” band, I feel like they haven’t quite synthesized their influences into their own voice.
Looking forward to finding out where they go from here on their next album.
Sing Me Some Cry by Eric Revis, Ken Vandermark, Kris Davis, and Chad Taylor.
I was super excited when I read on @ken_vandermark’s most informative, inspirational, and entertaining Instagram feed that he was recording with these talented individuals, all of whom I am a fan of. The result does not disappoint.
Moments of spiky tension and sequences of aching beauty.
Favorite track (at the moment): Solstice… The Girls (For Max & Xixi).
Not really particularly “Out”, this is more like ambitious, noir-ish, post-bop. One of several albums McLean did in partnership with trombonist Moncur. With three of the songs from Moncur, and one from McLean, musically, this album is a little more Moncur than McLean.
The overall strategies for the pieces are pretty traditional, (just “head, solos, head,”) but the heads themselves are pretty complex. “Esoteric”, in particular, is just bonkers. Kudos to Haynes and Ridley for keeping it together on that one!
Actually, everyone is great here, particularly Hutcherson, Moncur, and the aforementioned Haynes.
Just the sort of thing that would have black turtle-necked beatniks snapping their fingers and shouting, “Go, Daddy-O, Go!” between sneaking out to smoke a joint, score, or discuss their etchings with fetching young things from Peoria.
Together, as One by Dinosaur, (Laura Jurd, Elliot Galvin, Conor Chaplin, and Corrie Dick). I was listening to a podcast from WNYC about what they called “Jazz Adjacent Artists” and this recording from Dinosaur stuck out as the most potentially interesting.
Led by Trumpeter Laura Jurd, this group is operating in the vicinity of Post-Miles fusion with a few modern touches. If I had to complain about anything, I’d say it’s a tad overwritten. I wish they’d spend more time improvising and less time reading music.
Pleasant and enjoyable, but not compelling. (I bet my Fusion enthusiast, Millennial co-worker would love it.)