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


Acceptance by the Mat Maneri Quintet.

Mat Maneri, Viola; John Dirac, Guitar; Randy Peterson, Drums; Ed Schuller, Bass; Gary Valente, Trombone; (and his dad, Joe Maneri, Alto Sax on one track). A mix of standards and originals, this is a fun record. It is more “Jazz” than many of the Maneri family’s records, especially with the contributions of Gary Valente and Randy Peterson.

I especially enjoy the loose limbed drumming of Randy Peterson. Wasn’t familiar with him prior to listening to this release, but his kit drumming reminds me a bit of Hamid Drake, with more emphasis on cymbal work.

We visited Sonoma Valley Regional Park the other weekend. You can still see whole hillsides with trees blackened by fire, but the grasses and the wildflowers are already coming back. Miraculous, in nature’s way.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #MatManeri #MatManeriQuintet #EdSchuller #RandyPeterson #JohnDirac #GaryValente #Amsinckia

Out Right Now

Out Right Now by Joe Maneri, Joe Morris, and Mat Maneri.

The father/son duo of Joe Maneri (woodwinds, voice) and Mat Maneri (violin) is joined by Joe Morris (electric guitar) on this live date of solos, duos, and trios from 1995.

Woodwind player Joe Maneri is a fascinating and idiosyncratic character. Early in his life he played Sax and Clarinet in Greek and Turkish and wedding bands. Later, he grew fascinated by the modern composers of the time, people like Schoenberg and Alban Berg. He is known for attempting to coax the notes between the notes in his clarinet and Saxophone playing.

His son, Mat, also experiments with microtonal playing and usually plays something that sounds between modern classical and jazz musics.

I really enjoy Joe Morris’ guitar. He is a music educator and something of an undersung modern improvising guitarist. On this date he sticks to a very dry tone, no discernible effects going on. He reminds me a bit in his strategies on this release of Derek Bailey. A lot of plucked sounds and more textural playing than melodic.

There is very little of jazz idioms in the playing on this release. It sounds more like improvised modern classical music. I really enjoy how the musicians don’t crowd each other’s ideas and give each other room to work out their ideas. Leave space for the music to breath.

#PacificCoastIris #JackLondonStateHistoricPark #PoisonOak #JoeManeri #MatManeri #JoeMorris #OutRightNow #HatHutRecords #IrisFernaldii


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 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

Angel Dusk

Angel Dusk by Tim Berne and Matt Mitchell.
Bandcamp Link: Angel Dusk

Last year Mitchell released a solo piano recording of Tim Berne pieces, FØRAGE.

This year, Berne and Mitchell have collaborated on a duo album. (They also play together in Berne’s Snakeoil ensemble.) I feel a bit like the FØRAGE album’s sensibilities have melted a bit into this duo album. Berne slows down (a bit) and his playing is less angular. Heck, the songs “Chance” and “Snail’s Pace” could almost be accused of lyricism.

I like pretty much everything Berne and Mitchell do, so it’s tough to recommend one thing over another.

But, to hear two players who are this familiar with each other do pretty much what they want for 40 minutes… Well, just listening to the unadorned interplay between the two of them makes this a “must buy” album for me.

#TimBerne #MattMitchell #AngelDusk #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Your Queen is a Reptile

Your Queen is a Reptile by Sons of Kemet
Label Page: Impulse Records

Sons of Kemet are young Jazz players from London. The core of the group is Shabaka Hutchings on Sax, Theon Cross on Tuba, Tom Skinner on Drums, and Seb Rochford on Drums. This album also incluedes guest players like drummer Moses Boyd and Saxophonist Nubya Garcia. And, it features poetry/rap on 3 of the 9 songs.

While the title of the album is, “Your Queen is a Reptile”, the individual tracks are variously named after strong, influential women of African heritage. For example, “My Queen is Harriet Tubman”, was the lead single, and “My Queen is Angela Davis”, is another song.

The album functions on a lot of levels. First off, it is a pleasure to listen to. The music is occasionally raucous, but never excessively or uncomfortably. The players, first and foremost create a groove and a feel. Then layer on solos and rhythmic embellishment, and, in the case of some of the tracks on the album, poetry.

An album you can put on and just enjoy without thinking too much, or an album you can dig in to and think about, or an album you can dance to. It’s all of those things. Pretty neat trick.

As an aside, this is Sons of Kemet’s first album for the major Jazz label Impulse! And I hope it isn’t the last of this sort of experimentation for Impulse!

#SonsOfKemet #YourQueenIsAReptile #ShabakaHutchings #PeteWareham #NubyaGarcia #TheonCross #TomSkinner #SebRochford #MosesBoyd #EddieHick #MaxwellHallett #JoshIdehan #CongoNatty #todayscommutesoundtrack #ImpulseRecords


Noth by Zs.
Band Website: Zs

Another band who is making a move towards embracing the modern sensibilities of releasing albums is Zs.

They have partnered with a shop and record label to release limited edition albums (unlimited digital, thank goodness!) of music they would probably otherwise not release.

Zs is a long running band currently comprised of Patrick Higgins on Guitar, Greg Fox on Drums, Sam Hillmer on Sax, and Michael Behare on Electronics.

Noth is the album of this configuration of players and it is pretty great.

Their last album, proper, was Xe, which was very critically acclaimed, but while good, but I found the digital effects they were running the guitar through overwhelmed the playing a bit. This new album, with a Sax player and someone taking charge of electronics feels a bit looser and less processed. I think part of it is the sax increasing the sonic palette away from guitar.

In any case, it swings pretty freely.

If you get a chance, check it out and support artists working outside of the normal framework of major label record releases.

#Zs #Noth #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #AniseSwallowtail #PapilioZelicaon