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Gary Hassay and Michael Bisio: My Brother

The red mandala-shaped image on the cover of My Brother suggests the introspective nature of the improvised set recorded by alto sax player Gary Hassay and bassist Michael Bisio. The 11 pieces on the album reflect an Oriental mindset in the improvisations. That Hassay chants in “Sun Dog” what seems to have Tibetan sources tells … Read More “Gary Hassay and Michael Bisio: My Brother”

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Zlatko Kaučič: Emigrants

A 2011 winner of the Prešern Fund Award, the most prestigious cultural achievement award in Slovenia, Zlatko Kaučič is a masterful percussionist. In his recording, Emigrants, he dashes expectations that a solo percussion recording might invite. He shows no trepidations in unconventionally combining conventional media. He borrows from many cultures to create a fulfilling, vibrant … Read More “Zlatko Kaučič: Emigrants”

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Haunted House: Loren Connors, Andrew Burnes, Suzanne Langille, Neel Murgai : Blue Ghost Blues

The band Haunted House has no real history, except in its name, which, according to producer Kurt Gottschalk’s liner notes, originated in blues man’s Lonnie Johnson’s (1899-1970) song title until it was changed to Blue Ghost Blues, the name of Haunted House’s album. The electronics stem from the two guitars played by Loren Connors and … Read More “Haunted House: Loren Connors, Andrew Burnes, Suzanne Langille, Neel Murgai : Blue Ghost Blues”

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The Spanish Donkey: Joe Morris, Jamie Saft, Mike Pride: XYX

Sometimes, it is just easier to let the mind go and be “one” with music rather trying to analyze it. Such is the case with The Spanish Donkey’s XYX. There is so much sound on this recording that finding a resting place is occasional, if simply rare. Jamie Saft wallows in the electronics that render … Read More “The Spanish Donkey: Joe Morris, Jamie Saft, Mike Pride: XYX”

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Harrison Bankhead Sextet: Morning Sun/Harvest Moon

In his Chicago club, the Velvet Lounge, “Baba” (father) Fred Anderson made it a goal to keep the music so close to his heart going. Bassist Harrison Bankhead is one of the musicians who both frequently played at the Velvet and in Anderson’s groups. With a Chicago-based sextet of musicians, Bankhead has made it his … Read More “Harrison Bankhead Sextet: Morning Sun/Harvest Moon”

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Rob Brown Trio: Rob Brown/Craig Taborn/Nasheet Waits: Unknown Skies

Alto sax player Rob Brown collaborated with pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Nasheet Waits in a live performance as part of the 2010 Sons d’Hiver Festival at Saint- Mandé, France. The recording of this performance has been issued under the title, Unknown Skies, which is also the name of one of the five pieces included … Read More “Rob Brown Trio: Rob Brown/Craig Taborn/Nasheet Waits: Unknown Skies”

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Dickie Landry: Fifteen Saxophones

Recorded in 1974 and originally released in 1977 on Northern Lights, Fifteen Saxophones brings to mind the era of minimalism which stretched from the mid-sixties through the mid-seventies. Minimal music, like minimal art, may be executed on a large scale, ideologically direct and invariably subtle in its changing and repeated forms. Even if likened to … Read More “Dickie Landry: Fifteen Saxophones”

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Joe Morris and Agustí Fernández: Ambrosia

Characteristic of Riti Records is its minimalism. A recording’s package is more than likely sleek, visually monochromatic, and carries few words. The inference here is that the music is the reason for the package in the first place. And the music is sound, not a material entity. On Ambrosia, Joe Morris plays guitar and Agustí … Read More “Joe Morris and Agustí Fernández: Ambrosia”

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Survival Unit III: Joe McPhee, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Michael Zerang: Synchronicity

The first for the label Harmonic Convergence to come in an edition of three hundred is Synchronicity by the trio, Survival Unit III. Joe McPhee leads the group on alto saxophone and alto clarinet. Fred Lonberg-Holm plays cello and electronics. Michael Zerang is on drums. The set was recorded at The Hideout in Chicago in … Read More “Survival Unit III: Joe McPhee, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Michael Zerang: Synchronicity”

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Klang: James Falzone, Jason Adasiewicz, Jason Roebke, Tim Daisy: Other Doors

James Falzone’s solo clarinet introduction of “These Foolish Things” to Other Doors invites the music to come. His quartet, Klang, includes vibist Jason Adasiewicz, bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Tim Daisy. Joining the foursome are “special guests” cornetist Josh Berman, trombonist Jeb Bishop, sax and clarinet player Keefe Jackson and cellist Fred Lonberg-holm, who also … Read More “Klang: James Falzone, Jason Adasiewicz, Jason Roebke, Tim Daisy: Other Doors”

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Darius Jones/Matthew Shipp: Cosmic Lieder

Borrowing from the idea of romantic song, otherwise known as classical German “lieder,” in Cosmic Lieder, alto sax player Darius Jones and pianist Matthew Shipp come together for their first duet. Jones is the primary voice and story-teller. In the most obvious sense, Shipp accompanies Jones in this recording. But the two combined share a … Read More “Darius Jones/Matthew Shipp: Cosmic Lieder”

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The Rempis Percussion Quartet: Montreal Parade

Taken from four hours of recording in a studio, the one-hour straight improvisation that is Montreal Parade by The Rempis Percussion Quartet is stunning. Reedman David Rempis has reinvented former band member, Anton Hatwich, with Ingebrigt Håker Flaten in the seven year old group that features high-class drummers, Tim Daisy and Frank Rosaly. This music … Read More “The Rempis Percussion Quartet: Montreal Parade”

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Joe McPhee, Mikolaj Trzaska, Waclaw Zimpel, Paweł Szamburski, Michael Górczyński: Lark Uprising

For any bandleader, it is a challenge to pull together a group whose members work well with each other, especially as an improvising unit. Polish multi-reedman Mikolaj Trzaska achieved success with the musicians he assembled for his clarinet quintet: Waclaw Zimpel, Paweł Szamburski and Michael Górczyński. Trzaska put the icing on the cake by inviting … Read More “Joe McPhee, Mikolaj Trzaska, Waclaw Zimpel, Paweł Szamburski, Michael Górczyński: Lark Uprising”

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Michael Bisio: Travel Music

The success of Jane Ira Bloom as a musician comes through her instrumental voice, which the soprano sax player uses eloquently in Wingwalker. She has surrounded herself with a strong group of colleagues as well: Dawn Clement on piano and Fender Rhodes, Mark Helias on bass and Bobby Previte on drums. Bloom composed all but … Read More “Michael Bisio: Travel Music”

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Michael Bisio: Travel Music

Dedicated to his parents, Paul and Kathleen Bisio, who taught him “the Sound of Love,” bassist Michael Bisio’s first self-released Travel Music communicates the unique sound quality of his playing. Emboldened to vibrate the bass strings for releasing rare resonances, Bisio allows his uninhibited approach to his instrument come through. His pizzicato has no match. … Read More “Michael Bisio: Travel Music”

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Uncle June: Be It As I See It

Dedicated to his be-bopping drummer father and Sun Ra, Gerald Cleaver stretches contemporary musical modes in Be It As I See It with his band Uncle June. Cleaver’s compositions interweave intimate and grand statements with a graceful story-telling beauty. The band is large, including Craig Taborn on piano and keyboards, Andy Taub on banjo (in … Read More “Uncle June: Be It As I See It”

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Locksmith Isidore: Jason Stein/Jason Roebke/Mike Pride: Three Kinds of Happiness

Art Lange’s nearly illegible liner notes for Three Kinds of Happiness promulgate copious speculation on the meaning of the music in the third release from Locksmith Isidore, the trio led by Chicago bass clarinetist Jason Stein. A boppish tempo within the first cut, “Crayons for Sammy,” leads to a simple ride through a number of … Read More “Locksmith Isidore: Jason Stein/Jason Roebke/Mike Pride: Three Kinds of Happiness”

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Joe McPhee and Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten: Blue Chicago Blues

In Blue Chicago Blues, recorded in 2007, the duo of tenor player Joe McPhee and bassist Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten balances out very well, in ethnicity, instrumentation, musical personality, and tonal character. McPhee is relaxed with the openness of his horn and Håker-Flaten, attentively diligent at emphasizing the tautness of his bass strings. “Requiem for An Empty … Read More “Joe McPhee and Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten: Blue Chicago Blues”

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Andrew Lamb Trio: New Orleans Suite

Paying tribute to the population of New Orleans in the wake of hurricane Katrina which struck in August of 2005, the Andrew Lamb Trio recorded New Orleans Suite. Remixed and re-released five years later, Suite allows saxophonist Andrew Lamb, drummer Warren Smith and bassist Tom Abbs to remind everyone that the people who survived the … Read More “Andrew Lamb Trio: New Orleans Suite”

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Mike Pride’s From Bacteria To Boys : Betweenwhile

The debut Betweenwhile from drummer Mike Pride’s quartet, From Bacteria to Boys, is a successful balance of the tuneful and the abstract, avoiding the “little bita dis– little bita dat” musical scenario. This group–made up of Pride, Peter Bitenc on bass, Alexis Marcelo on piano, and Darius Jones on the alto-pulls together the two extremes … Read More “Mike Pride’s From Bacteria To Boys : Betweenwhile”

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Kihnoua: Unauthorized Caprices

Leading the trio, Kihnoua, saxophonist Larry Ochs directs his interest to both literal and musical voices in Unauthorized Caprices. In more than one of the five tracks, trumpeter Liz Allbee, guitarist Fred Frith and cellist Joan Jeanrenaud expand the trio of Ochs, vocalist Dohee Lee and drummer Scott Amendola. The main character of this group … Read More “Kihnoua: Unauthorized Caprices”

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Claire DeBrunner/Ken Silverman/ Daniel Carter/Tom Zlabinger: Macroscopia

The continual intrigue of creative improvisation is the nature of the combination of instruments which the musicians choose. In Macroscopia, the quartet exists without a drummer. Tom Zlabinger plays bass; Daniel Carter, the trumpet and reeds; Ken Silverman, the guitar, oud and hand percussion, and Claire DeBrunner, the bassoon. Out of the instrumentation comes a … Read More “Claire DeBrunner/Ken Silverman/ Daniel Carter/Tom Zlabinger: Macroscopia”

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Vox Arcana: Aerial Age

In his liner notes for Aerial Age, thirty-four year old Chicago percussionist Tim Daisy reveals the sources of his music with indisputable objectivity. His compositions have grown from his assimilation of a scintillating cultural environment that includes not only the music of essential late 20th century classical composers, but also the art of a rather … Read More “Vox Arcana: Aerial Age”

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