Last Dream of the Morning

Last Dream of the Morning by John Butcher / John Edwards / Mark Sanders.
Label Website: Last Dream of the Morning

John Butcher has come to be one of my favorite saxophonists recently. His ability to utilize musically the full range of sounds from the instrument is truly impressive. From breaths to clicks to squeaks, he does it all and he does it musically. As I’ve mentioned before, I especially enjoy that he seems to employ a bit of humor and whimsey in his playing. I’ve compared his sax playing in the past to The Clangers and I stand by that comparison.

His compatriots on this album, John Edwards on double bass and Mark Sanders on drums, are no slouches either in creative use of their instruments. Often I found myself leaning in and listening closely to identify which instrument was making which sound.

Lovely drone-ey bits punctuated by moments of excitement, and vice versa.

Just an all around enjoyable album for anyone who values creative artists expressing themselves through music.

#LastDreamOfTheMorning #JohnButcher #JohnEdwards #MarkSanders #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack. #RelativePitchRecords

Horizontal

Horizontal by Kevin Drumm.
Bandcamp Link: Horizontal

Horizontal is a longer release from Mr Drumm, about 90 minutes. Getting through it took a couple days.

Also, unfortunately, it is Drumm in a quieter, more delicate mode, so not a particularly good commute soundtrack. The road sounds pretty much destroy it.

So, instead of being a commute soundtrack, it ended up being a System Administration Soundtrack. A waiting for things to happen soundtrack.

Things are happening continually in the music, yet it is fairly static.

I was thinking about it, and it reminded me most of spending time examining a Calder mobile. Speculating what might be influencing its motion. Is it the wind? Gravity? The Earth’s rotation?

Likewise, I wonder what Drumm is doing to create this music. Does he just set up the different samples and let them go, a sort of Rube Goldberg mechanism, and the events he launches interact on their own? Or is he involved with the processing?

You probably have to be in the right frame of mind to just put this on and dig it, but I find it is good music to think to. Think about concepts like leaving space in your music, not just for your ideas, but for your listeners’ ideas as well.

#KevinDrumm #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #Horizontal

Ladilikan

Ladilikan by Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet.
Bandcamp Link: Ladilikan

Trio de Kali is vocalist Hawa Diabaté, balafon player Fodé Lassana Diabaté, and bass n’gobi player Mamadou Kouyaté from Mali, Africa. They were brought together with the American string quartet The Kronos Quartet by Ethnomusicologist Lucy Durán. The arrangements of the songs for the groups were written by American musician Jacob Garchik.

Garchik and the Kronos Quartet make the wise choice of leaving the Trio da Kali in the driver’s seat for most of the tunes, working the quartet into the edges, adding harmony and textures to the pieces. I think, also, Garchik makes a wise move by sourcing his arrangement ideas from American musics whose roots lie in African traditions. Gospel and the blues, with a smattering of 20th Century Classical, primarily Copland.

The musical inspiration for the series of tunes came when a song Hawa Diabaté spontaneously sang to welcome David Harrington to a gathering reminded him of the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson.

Music that is simultaneously uplifting and enjoyable. A wonderful album.

#KronosQuartet #TrioDaKali #Ladilikan #JacobGarchik #todayscommutesoundtrack #Aloepolyphylla

Money Jungle

Money Jungle by Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach.

Recorded in 1962, Duke Ellington was 62 years old; Charles Mingus, 40; and Max Roach, 37. Swing was barely a memory, Bebop fading, and Rock & Roll on the rise.

Three titans of their own musics get together and attempt to reach some sort of consensus.

Ellington, the polite pugilist, dominates the sessions, both in terms of the number of compositions on the album, and dictates most of the idioms and rhythms at play.

Mingus and Roach try to stretch the forms and idioms, but usually end up coming back to the Duke’s terms in the end.

I don’t know if it is a great album, the three never quite gel, but it is fascinating to listen to them try. And also great to hear them play these compositions in such an unadorned setting, without a larger band expanding the ideas.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #DukeEllington #CharlesMingus #MaxRoach #MoneyJungle

Currents, Costellations

Currents, Constellations by Nels Cline 4.

A couple years ago, Cline and Julian Lage made a duo album called Room. This release expands on that by adding bass, Scott Colley, and drums, Tom Rainey, into the mix.

After the extremely ambitious Blue Note album, Lovers, this makes a move inside to a comfortable Jazz-ish, uh, maybe, Foyer.

The interplay between Cline and Lage is a wonder, with them trading off between melody and harmony parts like long lost conjoined twins. The feel, and sound, is, as mentioned, fairly traditionally “Jazzy”. The guitarists sprint up and slide down the necks of their guitars, runs peeling off at a speed that would make a Bebopper blush, but still take time to be pretty, on “River Mouth”, and a little sad on, “For Each, a Flower”. 

#NelsCline #JulianLage #NelsCline4 #ScottColley #TomRainey #CurrentsConstellations #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Songs and Dances

Songs and Dances by André Jaume / Joe McPhee / Raymond Boni.

I feel like this was one of the first “Free” albums I bought. I love what they did with “The Dock of the Bay”, it is a sort of musical ideal for me. It sounds like they build the tune slowly from its most basic elements, working in the harmonic space of the song. Eventually, the melody coalesces, only once, and then their playing collapses back to chaos. Are they playing the changes? Is that portions of the tune being quoted? It’s all magic, as far as I am concerned.

Their take on “Stompin’ at the Savoy” is even more puzzling. I can’t say to this day what their playing has to do with the song, “Stompin’ at the Savoy”, but I try not to think about it too much, as analysis might ruin the magic. I just love how, at the end of 4 and a half minutes of basically free improv, Mr McPhee addresses the audience to say only the name of the tune, “Stompin’ at the Savoy”. Like it is some sort of explanation or totemic incantation which might explain what has gone before.

31 years later, and I still find this album fascinating.

#SongsAndDances #JoeMcPhee #RaymondBoni #AndréJaume #todayscommutesoundtrack

The Emancipation Procrastination

The Emancipation Procrastination by Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah.
Bandcamp Link: The Emancipation Procrastination

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah is a young trumpeter who experiments a bit with electronics and the edges between Jazz and Pop music.

This release caught my eye due to a song called, “Michele with One L”. This is an odd album. The first few tracks sound kind of like demos. Sketches worked out over fairly basic drum machine vamps. The recording and mixing is a bit odd. Initially, I thought maybe they were trying to mimic a sort of LoFi 1970s Funk-Jazz sound. The production on later tracks normalize to a certain extent and add what sounds like live acoustic drums, to their benefit. But, it seems like there are large amounts of compression applied to all the melodic instruments.

The album production is atmospheric, but the solos sound a bit same-ey and are very consonant in their voicings. Technically skilled, but ends up sounding like music that wouldn’t be out of place in an elevator or dentist’s office.

#TheEmancipationProcrastination #ChristianScottaTundeAdjuah #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Final Protracted Spillings(Vol.?)

Final Protracted Spillings(Vol.?) by Kevin Drumm.
Bandcamp Link: Final Protracted Spillings(Vol.?)
Final Protracted Spillings(Vol.?) is two tracks. On the Track A, Drumm is in what I call Sound Field Mode. A very slow build leads to static fields of shimmering sound, which occasionally intersect. There are some pretty cool subsonics, if you’re paying attention, but mostly it is peaceful music.

Track B is a bit more eventful. It almost sounds like it involves a pipe organ, or samples thereof. A bit spooky, with more dissonant interaction between the pitched sounds.

#KevinDrumm #FinalProtractedSpillings #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Kudu

Kudu by Anteloper.
Bandcamp Link: Kudu

Anteloper is a duo of Jaimie Breezy Branch, (Trumpet, electronics,) and Jason Nazary, (Percussion, electronics). Bandcamp named it “Album of the Day” last Wednesday, saying, “…it is an apt soundtrack to our currently crumbling world”. Ms Branch is further quoted, saying, about her more Jazz-ish album Fly or Die, “It may be a stupid fucking world we’re living in right now, but it still needs a soundtrack.” First off, unlike Fly or Die, this album doesn’t traffic much in Jazz idioms. 
I saw Branch in a duo with Ben LaMar-Gay last year in Chicago, a pretty abstract set, nearly industrial. I was prepared for Anteloper to be similarly abstract, but it really isn’t. It has moments of abstraction, but the core of the music and rhythms are fairly accessible. Closer to the Drum, Trumpet, and Effects duo/trio Spaceheads than anything else I can think of. I will say it is apt that this album’s release date was, ahem, April 20th, aka 4/20.

If Ms Branch and Mr Nazary are the soundtrack to our fucked up present, well, at least we have something rocking to listen to, while the world goes down in flames around us.

#JaimieBreezyBranch #JasonNazary #Anteloper #Kudu #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #internationalanthem

Exta

Exta by John Butcher, Thomas Lehn, and John Tilbury.
Bandcamp Link: Exta

I’m not quite sure how to describe this album, nor am I sure how to explain why I like it so much.

John Butcher plays saxophones, Thomas Lehn plays synthesizers, and John Tilbury plays piano.

John Tilbury is probably most well known as part of the influential British Improvising group, AMM. In AMM, Tilbury, and his compatriots Lou Gare, Eddie Prévost, Keith Rowe, and others (including composer Cornelius Cardew), charted a path for improvisation that moved far from the Jazz based fire music of the New York scene and towards something else entirely. 
Like AMM, Butcher, Lehn, and Tilbury use of silence, extended instrumental technique, and musical expressions to create sounds and sonic environments that are not traditionally associated with Jazz.

Exta often sounds more similar to 20th Century music, say Xenakis or Stockhausen, than Jazz. But it is more organic. There can be menace and agitation here, yet it moves from tension to stillness and back.

Often I am not quite sure initially which instrument is making a sound. The Sax and Synthesizer intertwine especially intriguingly, with the piano providing percussive and often bell-like counterpoint.

On Exta, Butcher, Lehn, and Tilbury have created their own sonic world and invited you to get lost in it.

#Exta #JohnButcher #ThomasLehn #JohnTilbury #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack