Purple Dark Opal

Purple Dark Opal by Kuzu.
Purple Dark Opal by Kuzu

Purple Dark Opal by Kuzu; Bandcamp Link: Purple Dark Opal.

Kuzu is a trio comprised of Dave Rempis on alto/tenor/baritone saxophone; Tashi Dorji on guitar; and Tyler Damon on drums.

Purple Dark Opal is their new album. It was recorded live on October 14, 2018, at The Sugar Maple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Purple Dark Opal, the album, is a single 55 minute and 31 second track called, “To The Quick”. A bold choice for these attention deficient times.

A lot of improvising percussionists have jettisoned their traditional drum kits for large assortments of small, and large, percussion. Unlike those players, Damon is a capital “D” drummer, who plays a, more or less, traditional kit. He skitters and twitches across the skins and cymbals, seldom allowing what I perceive as the “beat” to drop below 200bpm.

I would describe Dorji’s guitar playing as textural. He doesn’t seem to use a large array of modern digital FX with his playing, it is a fairly dry tone, albeit with some distortion. However, he does often employ the non-traditional areas of sound generated by his guitar. Harmonics from the strings below the bridge, etc.

Of the three, Rempis is probably the most traditionally melodic player, though he, as well, is not afraid to explore the outer limits of his saxes’ sounds and his technique.

Though Purple Dark Opal is, no question, “energy jazz”, the players leave plenty of space in sections for quieter, or more sparse, explorations. Other times, one of another of the players will lay out, leaving the other two, or occasionally one, time to change the direction or velocity of the energy flow.

The fact that there are different moods over the duration of To The Quick, mean that there is always something new to listen to. While a single track doesn’t make it the most accessible album in the world for whatever is left of Jazz radio, I found the album to be very enjoyable on repeat for the entire week, picking up and leaving off wherever it aligned with my daily commute.

#kuzu #PurpleDarkOpal #DaveRempis #TashiDorji #TylerDamon

Purple Dark Opal by Kuzu.
Purple Dark Opal by Kuzu.

Eris 136199

eris 136199

Eris 136199 by Eris 136199; Bandcamp Link: Eris 136199

Eris 136199 is a trio composed of Han-Earl Park, guitar; Catherine Sikora, saxophone; and Nick Didkovsky, guitar.

Han-Earl Park tends to explore the dry percussive side of the guitar, often functioning as the de facto rhythm section in Eris 136199.

Catherine Sikora is all about finding the timbral possibilities explicit in the unvarnished and unapologetic sound of the saxophone while at the same time maintaining a core of melodicism.

Nick Didkovsky, sometimes known by his alias “Doctor Nerve”, expresses digitally warped washes of static-like sound and angry slashes of melody. A radio listener flicking impatiently between stations.

I don’t really know how to talk about the music, other than to say it is 50-plus minutes of riveting music making from three fantastic and fascinating musicians. I’ve been listening avidly to Eris 136199 all week on my commute and have looked forward to it every day. Wondering what new thing I will discover in Sikora’s technique while at the same time trying to pay attention and tease out which guitarist is playing what.

Obviously, Eris 136199 isn’t Lawrence Welk, however, there is something in the players expressiveness and in their interactions which prevents it from being too harsh or overwhelming.

Rough enough to keep it exciting, yet tender enough to keep you coming back.

I’ll be a bit sad when this week we’ve had together is over.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #HanEarlPark #CatherineSikora #NickDidkovsy #eris136199

eris 136199

Sing as the Crow Flies

Sing as the Crow Flies
Sing as the Crow Flies

Sing as the Crow Flies by Laura Cannell and Polly Wright; Bandcamp Link: Sing as the Crow Flies

“Sing As The Crow Flies was created as a site specific sound installation for the 2019 Waveney Valley Sculpture Trail on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, UK. It can be seen and heard between 2nd August and 8th September 2019. The installation sits around the trunk of a 30 year old Walnut Tree in a cherry orchard where five telephone handsets hang from the tree ready to be picked up by passers-by…”

Bandcamp album description

As beautiful as it is haunting, Sing as the Crow Flies takes its inspiration from the natural world and from choral vocal traditions of England and America.

The sound sources are primarily Cannell and Wright’s voices. Only occasional environmental sounds intrude, bird song, branches creaking, footsteps. There are no other instruments.

The two women’s voices entwine and dance through the air, at times echoing in a space echoing like a cathedral, at other times sounding as if they were recorded in a field.

The album cover, evoking a flock of birds spiraling in the sky, is particularly apt for the way their voices twist, double, and interact with each other with a flocking attraction.

#SingAsTheCrowFlies #LauraCannell #PollyWright #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Sing as the Crow Flies
Sing as the Crow Flies

Cycle of Restoration

Cycle Of Restoration
Cycle Of Restoration

Cycle of Restoration by William Hooker; Bandcamp Link: Cycle of Restoration

I’ve listened to William Hooker before, but never too closely. I do know he is a improvising drummer who often works with musicians outside of the Free Jazz/Improvisation scene.

This is a live recording of a trio, (William Hooker, Drums; Mark Kirschenmann, Trumpet; and Joel Peterson, bass,) recorded in Detroit, Michigan, spring 2018.

Initially, I was listening, and beyond Mr Hooker on drums, I was at a loss for what the other instruments were. My first impression was that it was a group that contained at least synthesizer, drums, and bass.

After listening for a couple days, I was actually pretty surprised to look at the bandcamp page and realize Mr Kirschenmann was playing a heavily effect laden trumpet. (If you’re a gear head, at the very least, he is playing with a flanger, delay, and some sort of multi-pitch shifting choir type effect. Probably some sort of distortion, too, and a volume pedal.)

The album starts very spare, with a lot of time between notes and no real interaction between the players.

It picks up a bit briefly around the 20 minute mark, but then returns languidity for the slow fade out.

While the drums and bass are not far from idiomatic free jazz expression, the trumpet is more in the pop/art/ambient realm. When it is recognizable as a trumpet, not far from Jon Hassell.

The whole thing is more like ambient space jazz, than what normally passes for free or energy jazz/improvisation.

In fact, the album that came most to mind while listening was Tangerine Dream’s first album, “Electronic Meditation,” except maybe played at about half speed.

Is that good or bad?

I just don’t know.

It’s not really my bag, I found myself impatient with its slow pace of development a lot of the time, but it might be yours.

#CycleOfRestoration #WilliamHooker #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #MarkKirschenmann #JoelPeterson

Cycle Of Restoration
Cycle Of Restoration

The People I Love

The People I Love

Falling down a bit on concentrated listening and write-ups. Trying to get back on the horse this week by listening to “The People I Love” by Steve Lehman Trio + Craig Taborn.

Mr Lehman is a somewhat nerdy figure. His playing and ambitious compositions are often somewhat abstract. His last album, Sélébéyone, included Raps, Beats, and electronic processing.

The People I Love is not that. While the playing, especially that of Damion Reid, is often influenced by elements of modern music, this album is basically 4 musicians in a studio playing something often close enough to Jazz Music to pass on Jazz Radio, (if there still was such a thing). There’s even a Ballad, “Chance”. If I had to call it anything, I would call it 21st Century Bebop.

Mr Lehman is an impossibly lithe player on alto, sprinting over the changes at breakneck speed, daring his coplayers to keep up. And they are certainly up to the task, especially Mr Reid whose inventiveness shines out among a group of very talented musicians.

For the Sax nerds in the audience, on this album, Mr Lehman is experimenting in particular with what Sam Newsome calls “microtonal sax”. Which is to say, using alternate fingerings to purposely influence the timbre and intonation of notes.

So, if you are interested in the future of music, it behooves you to check out where Mr Lehman and his compatriots are going.

Steve Lehman, alto sax; Matt Brewer, Bass; Damion Reid, Drums; Craig Taborn, Keyboards.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack#SteveLehman#MattBrewer#DamionReid#CraigTaborn#ThePeopleILove#SteveLehmanTrio#SteveLehmanTrioPlusCraigTaborn

The People I Love

Unaccustomed Soil

Sol Sol
Sol Sol

Unaccustomed Soil by Sol Sol; Label Link: Unaccustomed Soil (Not on bancamp, but on most streaming services.)

The first couple times I listened to Unaccustomed Soil I was a little disappointed it was so, uh, Jazz-ey. As in Chord changes, solos, etc.

Among the group, I was only familiar with Swedish Saxophonist Elin Forkelid, (aka @elinforkelid on instagram, check out her Semla reviews,) mostly from her work on the Anna Högberg Attack album Attack, which as it sounds, is kind of an aggressive work, (and has one of the best album covers of all time).

Once I consoled myself that this wasn’t to be another “Attack”, I started to appreciate Unaccustomed Soil on its own terms, which are for the most part fairly quiet and relaxed.

In general, the rhythm section locks into a groove, while the horn and guitar run melodies over the changes. The only real exception, where some skronk and scrape enter the picture, is the tune Gotta Get Out.

My initial response was to compare it to some of the music along the Jim Black/Chris Speed axis, music which hides its power in pleasant melody and rhythmic repetition.

And I still think that comparison holds, but I also wonder if they might be wrestling a bit with the post “Kind of Blue” stylings of some of their Nordic kin on the ECM label.

In any case, it is hard to dislike an album that is as nice, yet at the same time interesting, as Unaccustomed Soil.

#DavidStackenas #MauritzAgnas #AnnaLund #ElinForkelid #SolSol #UnaccustomedSoil

Sol Sol
Sol Sol

Phalanx Ambassadors

Phalanx Ambassadors
Phalanx Ambassadors

Phalanx Ambassadors by Matt Mitchell; Bandcamp Link: Phalanx Ambassadors

I’ve been listening to Phalanx Ambassadors for the better part of 2 weeks and I still feel like I am still uncovering aspects of it with each listen.

Here are my notes:

“Pointillism, Zappa, A-harmonic, Harmelodics”

The ensemble is composed of keyboards, vibraphone, guitar, bass, and drums.

I say Pointillism as the melodic motif (such that there are any) are often divided between instruments, giving a feeling of spray.

It is super rhythmically dense, these players deserve goddamn medals, especially the drummer and bassist, for dividing and subdividing as they do here. Which reminds me a bit of some of Zappa’s work.

A-harmonic, as it feels like the pieces are more multiple melodies snaking through thickets of rhythm than a single melody with related harmonies.

Harmelodics, as Mitchell’s method seems a bit along the lines of some of Ornette Coleman’s ideas.

Which makes it sound a bit difficult.

And it is a lot to take in.

On the other hand, the tunes are not particularly dissonant, in fact the opposite, often quite tonally pleasant.

After a couple days, I started to think about who might enjoy this album most easily.

My conclusion, such as it is, is that probably a person familiar with modern classical music is going to be more likely to easily enjoy this album than a person who is stuck in the classic jazz rut. And maybe even a prog rock fan might be more easily entertained by some of these pieces, than a “Capital J” Jazz fan.

Try and prove me wrong.

#MattMitchell #PhalanxAmbassadors #MilesOkazaki #PatriciaBrennan #KimCass #KateGentile #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Phalanx Ambassadors

Mandatory Reality

Mandatory Reality.

“Mandatory Reality” by Joshua Abrams and Natural Information Society; Bandcamp Link: Mandatory Reality

It’s was a super shitty and stressful week at work. The sort of week where you feel like your job squeezes every last neuron so hard there are no spare thoughts left in your brain.

Listening to this album all week, on the way to and from work, has helped me get through it. It has a calm resolve that is comforting.

Beyond that, I can’t think of anything else particularly interesting or insightful to say about Mandatory Reality.

Coming up dry.

I recommend you listen and decide for yourself.

Maybe you’re having that sort of week, too.
⁣⁣
#JoshuaAbrams#NaturalInformationSociety#MandatoryReality#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

The Wizard of East Dubuque

The Wizard Of East Dubuque
The Wizard Of East Dubuque

“The Wizard of East Dubuque” by Kevin Drumm; Bandcamp Link: The Wizard of East Dubuque

Last month Kevin Drumm discounted his whole bandcamp discography, something like 114 albums and EPs, at the low, low price of $23.10.

With such a cornucopia of albums available for my sampling, I hardly noticed that he hadn’t made a new album available since March.

However, we were getting close to June, and I started thinking to myself, “…wait a gol’ darn minute…”.

Fortunately, Kevin Drumm chose to slake our thirst with this new album, “The Wizard of East Dubuque”.

The first twenty minutes are what I describe as sound field work, I think the sound source is probably feedback. Spherical sound fields which start small, expand, and intersect with other fields. I was settling into my listening, “ah, this is peaceful, some room to think!” However, my reverie is interrupted by something like a shortwave radio blast. Out of the radio blast, guitar sounds appear and distorted voice coagulates to create a slightly sad, mournful segment for a period. Towards the end, what sound like keyboard based synthesizers come in to take us home, or to church, before fading out into silence.

#KevinDrumm #TheWizardOfEastDubuque #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

The Wizard Of East Dubuque

A Gaze Among Them

A Gaze Among Them
A Gaze Among Them

“A Gaze Among Them” by Big | Brave; Bandcamp Link: A Gaze Among Them

I’ve been listening to “A Gaze Among Them” by Big|Brave all this week.

Super distorted supreme heaviness, but none of the bullshit solos or ego driven masturbatory instrumental technicality typical of the metal genre.

Just songs conveying feelings performed with ardor.

I think the amazing guitar and bass distortion in the mid section of “Muted Shifting of Space” may be some sort of record for most overdriven sounds ever recorded.

Outstanding.

#bigbrave#agazeamongthem#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

A Gaze Among Them
A Gaze Among Them