Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Lorenzo Feliciati, Koi

The realm of electric jazz as made so vibrant in the late '60s-early '70s by Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi and others was subject to controversy during the ascendance of the Neo-Trad phase of the music in the '80s. Time has moved on of course and we understand that many styles can exist together in the present without the need to dismiss one or another, or claim a monolithic hegemony for just one. We are learning, finally? I don't know what if so, but maybe.

And so I have certainly appreciated the electric jazz renaissance that we have seen in the last decade. Not that the music ever left, of course, but there has been a renewed spirit present today in the music that may have been less present for a time in the past.

So an excellent example of the new electric avant jazz can be heard from Lorenzo Feliciati and his recent album Koi (RareNoise 34849). This is some very cosmic, tall-ceilinged, rock-beated composition-improvisation. Lorenzo excels as electric bassist, guitarist and orchestrator. Alessandro Gwis plays some very nice piano and effects-filtered piano, and Steve Jansen plays some very hip drums and helps out in the programming.

Added to this core trio are guest spots by Pat Mastelotto (drums), Angelo Olivieri (trumpet) and Nicola Alesini (soprano). A three-man horn section of tenor & bass trombone and baritone adds special color at times, quite nicely.

So that is the game plan. The music itself has drive and lots of bottom thanks to Lorenzo's bass and the horn arrangements. The entire sound picture is extraordinarily inventive with electronics and conventional instruments melding together for sonic originality. It's spacey, yes, but not in ways entirely predictable. And the compositional element really rings out and structures everything.

I am thoroughly impressed and enlivened by the sound of this music and the many milestones one passes through in the course of (repeated) listening.

This is beyond music of the highest sort. Bravo!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

White Out w/Nels Cline, Accidental Sky

White Out and guitarist Nels Cline belong together. They fit together like hand-in-glove. Nels comes through with effects-laden avant guitar tone and noise to make a most effective sonance with Lin Culbertson on analogue synths, autoharp, voice and other electric elements, Tom Surgal on drums and other assundries.

There is a series of singular soundscape trips awaiting you on their latest album Accidental Sky (Northern Spy 066).

Nels is these days the lead guitarist with Wilco, but of course he has also been an important guitarist in outside, progressive jazz realms and it is here that he returns to more frankly avant modes. With White Out and the music on this album, it is never a matter of, "Wow, listen to what Nels is doing on guitar!" At least not at first listen. He is part of a virtual orchestral matrix, a blend of noise and tone, a cosmic set of adventures that have the totality of sound in mind much of the time.

What matters is not the mere existence of totality as much as the complexity and musical merits of the seven chapters of sonic poetry that makeup the album. Most of the time where synths (and modified percussion) leave off and guitar begins is never always entirely obvious unless you listen closely at some length. And that is a tribute to both Nel's and White Out's virtuoso mastery of altered sound and the sort of chemistry the three create and sustain throughout.

It is music that goes its way unassumingly, without pretense or showful assertion. It is not for all that slight or casual. It is very earnest and ambitious in its creation of ever-moving sculptures of sound combinations. And in the end it succeeds rather thoroughly in coaxing us out of our habitual listening stance, or protective attitudinal shells, disarming us and sending us propelling outwards into new territories.

It is at times pretty massive for a trio. It is at all times provocative and impactful.

I'd say, "a triumph," because it is in its own way. But aside from all the review type hyperbole you might read these days it takes an important place among today's best instrumental-electronics ensembles. So, yeah, call it a triumph if you like. Call it whatever you want. But more importantly, listen to this music closely!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Izzy Young, Talking Folklore Center, Documentary DVD

Izzy Young, folk enthusiast and promoter of the Greenwich Village folk scene during its height in the early 1960s, is a near legendary character in New York musical history, perhaps best known for his championing of a young Bob Dylan in the first stages of his career, but also for his Folklore Center on MacDougal Street, a place to meet, hear music, buy records or folk music books, sheet music and periodicals, hang out and meet up with central figures on the scene.

We get a kind of retrospective of it all on the 1986 documentary Talking Folklore Center (MVD Visual 52150), a Jim Downing film recently made available on DVD.

The idea is that Izzy, who fled the NY scene in the early seventies to set up shop in Scandinavia, returns to his old haunts in the Village in 1986, discovering the remains of the Bohemian world he was a key part of, meeting up with Art d'Lugoff of Village Gate fame, hosting a live folk show on WBAI, and re-establishing contact with artists like Allen Ginsberg, Pete Seeger, Tuli Kupferberg and Ed Sanders (of the Fugs), talking with them and hearing them recite poetry and sing songs.

What's perhaps most striking about it all is the shift in time from the early '60s, 1986, and the present day. By '86 there is a palpable decline in the Village as a center of creativity and activity; today, we of course realize all-too-readily, there is near extinction.

The changing economy of real estate, the neo-con surgence, the ever-mutating world and the decline in appreciation of folk and activist forms of local art, all are too readily apparent, of course to Izzy then as well as to us all now. A further sense of loss comes our way in touching moments as he returns to the physical locales, the empty site of the Folklore Center and other Village institutions and their spiraling rents that make continuing local scenes all but impossible, and even a visit to the Jewish neighborhoods Izzy grew up in, accompanied by reunions with his mother and his brother, the latter continuing the bakery business his dad had established.

You feel the movement of time, identity and the fragility of any creative scene in the great metropolis. And you appreciate the dedication of people like Izzy to make possible and centralize a landmark cultural movement now for the moment very much no longer with us.

A good absorbing slab of musical-cultural history! Anyone interested in the folk-beat movement in New York will find it a fascinating film.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Garrison Fewell, Invisible Resonance Trio, with Roy Campbell, Luther Gray

Life as you go through it gives you at times a kind of shock, as the cycles of birth and death realize themselves directly to you. I have lost some dear friends and we all have lost some important musical voices in the last year or so. Today's music commemorates the life and music of two of them, Roy Campbell and Garrison Fewell. I did not know Roy but have appreciated for a long time his musical gifts and have experienced the true anguish of his passing in the New York jazz community. Garrison I similarly have embraced as a musical force of importance, and got to know his kindly, saintly self in his last year or so on this earth.

Now they are both gone. But the music lives on in the form of recordings, happily. Garrison Fewell's Invisible Resonance Trio (Creative Nation Music 027) is something Garrison was working to get out in the last months of his illness. We are surely the better for it, though it was with a bitter-sweet sadness that I received this CD in the mail. It is a late 2013 recording of Garrison on electric guitar, Roy on trumpet and flute, and Luther Gray (who remains with us, thankfully) on drums and percussion.

It captured an inspired moment of the three together in excellent form. Free and freewheeling is the set. Free jazz it is if we must attach a name to it. It was the last time the three played together, happily in a studio setting.

There is great creativity and an electricity in the air to be heard palpably on all of this. So much so that I almost feel a certain reluctance to try and put my impressions of it into words. To make words take the place of the music is no doubt something of a violation when the music dwells on such a high plane as this music does. Yet my job as I see it is to describe as best I can with the aim of generating interest and appreciation.

So I will say that each plays a distinct role in the music that results. They listen and proceed, complementing the statements of each without stepping on what each the other is doing. Their high level of interaction is such that each leaves a space for the others so that a fully three-way synchronicity blossoms forth. And that result has, as Garrison would surely affirm, a kind of spiritual dimension, a striving outward from self to create another three-way musical being that is the trio here.

Garrison plays his own kind of guitar on these improvisations, neither predictable nor inevitable. Roy on trumpet and flute does the same in his own special way. And Luther contributes an ideal percussive being that builds a sonic arch to the others, acting not always as a "drummer" in the obvious sense as much as a third, melodic-textural voice.

The results are moving, a testament to deep listening and deep responding, a kind of memorial for those who have left us and a rejoiner for us all, to keep going, to keep on the path as they surely did when they lived.

A sad goodbye to Roy and Garrison, but a reaffirming hello to Luther and to us all. This is music that will ever speak. Hear the voices. Heed the wordless message!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Bruce Forman Trio, The Book of Forman, Formanism Volume II

Well, if I might say, there is a guitarist named Bruce Forman and he should be given your attention. I didn't know him much from Adam until I was sent his trio recording, The Book of Forman, Formanism Volume II (B4Man-Music 104). I am surely glad I was.

Bruce is an extremely schooled, original force in the guitar-bop-jazz-and-beyond mainstream. The trio recording at hand finds him in the context of a game trio of the very celebrated drummer Martin Smitty Smith, who it is great to hear again here, and bassist Alex Frank, a key component in the success of this date.

The music alternates between some choice standards and some hip Forman originals.

Bruce is a player who has ingested all those cool chordal possibilities one can hear from the masters in a solo mode and made something of them, then come up with some great single-line creativity and combined the two for a sound that seems effortless and swings madly, yet is an original product that shows extreme ability and smarts, and reflects the great effort Bruce has no doubt put forward to obtain this level of mastery.

The influence game can be instructive at times. I suppose there's a bit of Wes Montgomery, Johnny Smith, Joe Pass, Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, and others you could point to that have gone into Bruce's modern jazz style. But then he has taken it on so much as his own that calling on the forebears is more of a ritual than something to keep in your head while digging the music. It just blossoms outward as, indeed, "Formanism."

This is an important mainstream cat, a guitar master of today. And the trio puts together a very, very groovy set on this date. If you go for guitar excellence, just get this one and put it on!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Rank Strangers, Somebody Talked! Ringtones

OK, a little alternative DIY garage band vinyl today. The band is Rank Strangers. The LP is called Somebody Talked! Ringtones, or maybe just Ringtones (Five Seven Five Hagadorn Music). It is part of a trilogy, apparently.

Rank Strangers is a nicely worked out trio of Mike Wisti on electric guitar, Davin Odegaard, bass, and Shawn Davis, drums. The singing is a fine example of contemporary alt, slightly raw but right into your head. The songs are genuinely song-like. The lyrics are poetic. And the arrangements are alternately heady, unpolished, and primal yet also show a real sense of unpretentious artsiness.

Mike plays some interesting guitar and somebody dubs in keys nicely. The bass thumps along effectively and the drums throb with a contemporary immediacy.

Garage rock can dwell in realms of the truly dreadful or it can come across as just right, artful within the now of making maximum use of the elements at hand. Rank Strangers occupy the good garage space. That means the music is not especially keen on slick production values, that the rock element is bent on keeping it a bit edgy no matter what sort of tune is on tap. And the band comes through as sincere and able to get catchy in a faux effortless way.

Does that paint a picture for you? I do hope. I found this one energizing, songful but eschewing pop oversheen. And that is very cool with me.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Salad Days, A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC (1980-90), Video Documentary

Just what is, or rather what was the Punk movement all about? I certainly asked myself that in its heyday. At first I was a bit shocked by its primitive qualities, the music that is. Eventually I came to understand and like quite a bit of it. But I was never a part of it. It corresponded to a new youth movement and I was no longer in my youth, as I remain.

There is a very good documentary film now out on DVD that looks at what it was about in an initially insular setting, the local scene in Washington, DC during the period of 1980 to 1990. The DVD is called Salad Days (MVD Visual 5848D).

Interviews by key participants join with a good deal of live clips of the various bands involved. And somehow there emerges a kind of consensus about it all.

Punk was a look, an attitude, a way to express non-conformity in the Washington DC of the '80s. Being first and foremost a town whose business was government, Washington per se essentially shut down and 5 or 6 o'clock every weekday, leaving the city nearly empty but then more or less wide open to the alternative punk culture that situated itself in the cracks of power, so to speak.

From the beginning those who dressed and played the punk role were subject to violent harassment mostly from rednecks who were offended by it all. So punk came out of violence from the beginning. The music was angry, the mosh pit, skinheads and overall atmosphere was latent or overtly violent in DC, you gather. That violence was mostly politically to the right in terms of those who would beat up the punks, but also embodied such things via the skinheads.

But then there was an aspect of punk that was socially activist, too. Also there was the sheer emotional aspect of frustration and rage that came out in the music and the scene. The film zeroes in on these themes nicely.

Musically it made the most out of brash garage crudities and how they could be fashioned into a bad-is-good and bad-turns-out-to-be-good approach, depending on the outfit involved. And of course it did change everything in the rock world, bringing back the immediacy of the original music with varying degrees of artistry, to say the least. But the film gets you into the spectrum as far as the DC scene went.

Perhaps other than the musical legacy of how to fashion an ultra-garage extreme, it was a DIY movement that allowed initially small groups of musicians and their fans to create playing situations, make records and create fanzines on a tiny budget that spread the word about the scene and kept it alive. Nirvana was the ultimate mainstream result but as the film details, there were many high (and low points) on the DC scene especially that in the end made bands like Nirvana possible and widely popular.

The various shades of musical anarchy are well mapped out for DC in this film. As is the the clash between those who lived and/or advocated a drug and alcohol drenched existence versus the "straight edge" group who were militantly opposed to getting high.

In the end you get a well considered look at a diversely blooming creativity of the era, tempered by destructive and counterproductive forces that both resisted and infiltrated the scene.

And that's what seems especially interesting to me about this film--that it reveals the whole period in all its contradictions and confusions. Punk adherents and those outside the fray can learn a good deal from seeing and experiencing the film. Very recommended.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Richard Nelson, Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, Deep River

Forget for a moment about the "great American songbook." There is also the "great American folksong book," classic songs documented especially in the beginnings of the advent of recording equipment by various personages and sometimes record labels, artist-products of rural America mostly, by Afro-Americans especially but of course Caucasians from the sticks, too.

Guitarist-composer-arranger Richard Nelson was so inspired by his son Dan's exploration of the classic archival recordings of the old folk gems that he decided to put together a suite of six big band pieces based on some of the songs and/or otherwise strongly influenced by them. As a longtime member of the now somewhat legendary New England outfit Aardvark Jazz Orchestra with the equally legendary Mark Harvey at the helm, he had a ready and totally appropriate ensemble to perform his music. So he set about it.

The results are at hand, on the recording Deep River (Heliotrope 1012). The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra consists of Nelson and 14 other very together players at this juncture, plus for this music the vocalists Marcia Gallagher and Timothy Johnson, with Mark Harvey conducting.

It is some pretty wildly modern-voiced charts played with excellent spirit by the ensemble. Somehow the modernisms on generous display mesh completely with the rooted folk melodies. You will doubtless recognize "Deep River Blues" and "Make Me A Pallet on Your Floor." You may pick up with some of the other roots references, too. This is all about making fine modern jazz out of it all, with the vocalists referencing the melodies but not attempting to capture the nearly lost vocal styles in great detail. That's not the point.

What does happen is music that shows a fine sense of big-band orchestration and great thrust alternating with deft handling of instrumental groupings in the spotlight and solo-ensemble combinations. This is not meant to showcase Richard Nelson's guitar, though he does turn in some very good playing.

It's the composed-arranged whole and the excellently fine-tuned and moving performances that in the end make a believer out of you. Nelson clearly knows what he is after and the Aardvark Orchestra gives it to him with great strength.

This may be in the unexpected category. A few listens will I hope get you appreciating how it all works together. I am happy to have it to hear again. It is something! Very recommended.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ax. W. (Axel Weiss), Spheres, Solo

You should not get complacent about music. Not right now. The fact of the matter is that there is great music being made, composed, performed, everywhere on the planet, continually, right at this moment, last week, last year, next week, next year. Are the artists working, gigging, selling their music at a fair price, getting their due? It depends on what, or WHO you know, to paraphrase and extend Lester Bowie's trenchant comment on one of his early albums. Who is Lester Bowie? Look him up!

And as anyone who reads this blog is aware, the guitar has been central to lots of music in our current era. If you are of a certain age, or even if you are simply alive at whatever age, you grew up with the sound of the guitar in your ears. Maybe you play or have played it? Either way it is a surrounding factor, a central component of music today.

And so for a few more weeks I am going to post on this blog about guitarists (and bassists), then I will leave the blog up but cease to post here. There is the Gapplegate Music Blog and I aim to keep that going (along with the classical blog) and discuss guitar and bass playing as relevant on that site.

Well, today we have another good one, a solo effort by Axel Weiss (aka Ax. W.), an album entitled Spheres, Solo (Intrinsic Records). Axel comes to the forefront in undiluted fashion, with his acoustic and electric guitars, a little whistling, some keys and digital percussion.

It is music of a thoughtful sort, guitar-centered ruminations that run from acoustic chordal or neo-Brazilian picking and articulating to electric expressions that have both jazz and rock overtones. All of it has an original, Axelian feel to it.

Axel is a true guitar artist and this album gives us a chance to appreciate his way about things, schooled, smart, detailed, driving or place-centered depending, but always interesting and creative.

It is, if I might be so bold, a guitar tour de force in its own way, a great listen and a wide swath of guitar artistry that folks should hear! Thanks for making this music, Axel! Recommended!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Maxwell Gualtieri, For Los Angeles

It's time for a bit of very electric solo guitar from Maxwell Gualtieri, specifically his album For Los Angeles (pfMentum 088). This consists of two long segments that capitalize on extreme distortion, feedback, multiple effects and/or unconventional playing techniques for extended noise-pitch real-time extensions.

It may be a bit abrasive to those not into the extreme avant guitar realm. Some may run out of the room screaming, in fact, sometime shortly after they put it on. For those who dare, however, there is much to hear and experience.

What strikes me with this program is the sense of structure to be had among the chaotic noise walls. There is periodicity to be heard; there are recurring elements; there is a sense of total adventure in the complex sonic structures created.

And there is contrast. Part one, "A Dance," has noisy density; part two, "Possession/Blossom," is much quieter, more introspective, more concerned with delicate extended string manipulations and unconventional techniques, less concerned with effects masses.

I find it quite interesting. If you like a totally out sort of electric guitar, Maxwell Gualtieri has his own vision and adds to the possibilities in differing ways.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Gregg Belisle-Chi, Tenebrae

Is there nothing new under the sun? Ironically that expression was uttered at the very moment when catalclysmic change was about to transform the world. So yes, there is always something new under the sun, especially where music is concerned.

Take Gregg Belisle-Chi, electric guitarist-composer of great imagination. His album Tenebrae (Songlines 1613-2) finds him alone with his guitar, some spacious audio headroom and in three out of seven numbers, the hauntingly appropriate vocals of one Chelsea Crabtree.

Gregg gives us some very memorable ambient, harmonically informed, melodically acute numbers that show him a guitarist and musicsmith of singular originality. Sure, this may remind you at times of some of the ECM guitar classics, but then, no, it goes forward into a special place.

This is music of great finesse, now and again real song form, logic, symmetry and touchingly ruminating spaciousness. There are some very magnetic soundscapes too.

From a technical point of view Gregg has a schooled way of picking through, among other things, but the technique is consistently subordinated to the musical ideas at hand.

This is music that, little by little, grabs you and does not let go. I am entranced by it.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Daniel Fortin, Brinks

Today another brick in the wall of good sounds out there to be heard. Consider contemporary jazz bassist-composer Daniel Fortin and his album Brinks (Fresh Sound New Talent 473). OK, so with all the new releases coming out weekly, why do I think this one deserves you ear? This may be review number four-thousand and something on these blogs, but I as always only pick out the ones I think you might want to hear, that I myself like. Why this one? I'll try and explain.

Start with the instrumentation/players. It's Daniel on acoustic and electric bass, David French on tenor sax, Michael Davidson on vibraphone and Fabio Ragnelli on drums. When you think about it, you may realize that such an instrumentation is not as common as perhaps it might be. More importantly Fortin has chosen his mates wisely and given them music that gives life to who they are. Davidson is a complete vibist harmonically and line-wise; French plays a straightforwardly clear-toned tenor that gives us the compositional impact of the melody and comes up with nicely turned solos that follow the changes but not in any cliched way; Ragnelli plays often enough quietly but busily in a loosely swinging fashion that is filled with good percussive ideas.

This is foremost an expression of Daniel Fortin, his involved and often brilliant complexities, his nicely wrought tunes. If you listen just to the bass once through, you will appreciate the artistry there, because it is very present! He is something.

In the end everybody contributes with good playing. And the whole stands out as slightly cool but never vapid, always full of content.

That all makes this one stand out as a recording of definite merit!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Daniel Barbiero, Cristiano Bocci, Vootos

Today we consider an unusual and interesting offering, a series of eight electroacoustic works born of some accomplished and original acoustic bass solos by Daniel Barbiero and their deft electronic manipulation and transformation by sound artist Cristiano Bocci. Vootos (self-released) (Greek for "returning home") is the result.

The project was accomplished via long-distance, by audio files traveling back and forth via the internet, with Barbiero in the USA creating foundational bass solos that Bocci received in Italy and constructed/deconstructed into soundscapes. One piece involves a bass duet with Barbiero on double bass and Bocci on six-string electric bass.

All that having been said, what matters ultimately of course is that Daniel creates intrinsically interesting arco and pizzicato bass source sounds that Cristiano re-narrates into an ambient flow sequence--a set of open, multi-part, always sonically provocative electroacoustic poems, a contrabass ensemble in space, so to say.

The music works well in creating a contrabass orchestra/chamber ensemble of sounds that have vivid sound-color-timbral singularities.

Those who eschew electronic manipulation may not appreciate such music on principal. But those who open themselves to the possibilities that lie outside real-time reality will find this very well done and musically alive, and increasingly interesting the more one hears it.

Recommended for sure!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Seckou Keita, 22 Strings

There is a West African legend, an oral history about the origins of the kora, a many-stringed harp with a highly developed instrumental practice centered around it. According to the story, back many centuries ago the spirits of the savannah constructed the first kora and gave it to the griot Jali Mady Wuleng, who mastered it and gained renown. The original instrument had 22 strings, so the story goes. When Wuleng died his fellow griots took up the instrument but removed one string in his memory. And so the instrument thenceforth was standardized with its 21 strings. But the 22-stringed kora tradition lived on in its place of origin, southern Senegal and northern Guinea.

Seckou Keita is a living master of this, the 22-string kora. He is a griot in an illustrious line of professional traditional musicians of southern Senegal and the heir to the 22-string kora tradition. The CD 22 Strings (ARC EUCD2585) gives us a full program of his solo playing, at times enhanced by his ornate and very musical vocals.

The kora music tradition of West Africa is highly developed, as anyone familiar with it will attest. The best players rival in technique and artistry some of the finest instrumentalists in the world. Seckou Keita exemplifies that tradition. He is a master among masters. The ten pieces on the album are mostly compositions of his own making; a few are traditional. His playing shows the highly evolved, ornate style to perfection. The tradition often calls for the counterpoint of an ostinato pattern and a ornate solo style in the second line, and when called for a third vocal line added atop all that.

Seckou Keita has fully absorbed that tradition and gives us some of the most involved solo work of any contemporary master. At times there is less of the ostinato and more in an expressive fanfare-like virtuosity. Other times he locks into a strong riffing groove and uses the entire range of the instrument to express all that he feels.

It is an extremely well-recorded album that showcases his mastery in great depth and with a fullness that puts him at the forefront of world virtuosity. But make no mistake, this is African music to the core, with a rhythmic and melodic vitality that has deep roots yet also shoots highly upward with a fully branched trunk of great beauty, so to speak.

It is a very stunning album that must be heard by anyone with ears to hear it. All those who appreciate great string playing will fall under its spell. It is absolutely stunning! Seckou Keita should not be missed!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Modou Toure & Ramon Goose, The West African Blues Project

Senegalese music master Modou Toure and British blues guitarist Ramon Goose create a very hip melding of stylistic universes on their album The West African Blues Project (ARC Music EUCD 2591). It is a very engaging and successful on all levels, combining the West African folk and Afrobeat grooves with traditional percussion plus drums, bass, and the fine blues-rock-Afro guitar work of Goose, in a rootsy blues meets contemporary African style. Toure handles the vocals and percussion throughout and is exceptionally strong, with overdubbed call-and-response segments and impressive lead vocalizing. Each song has much going for it. There are no fillers.

Toure comes out of the legacy of the Toure Kunda band. His father is Ousmane Toure. Goose made an impact on the UK blues scene as a member of NuBlues and went on to produce some acclaimed blues albums in the US.

The music is a cooperative venture, with the compositions showing strong African foundations and the blues element sometimes coming to the forefront, other times an underlying constant via the magnetic Goose guitar style.

It all works in impressive, moving ways. The grooves are irresistible and the blues element is a natural fit with the West African contemporary orientation. The two talents fashion a music that puts a smile on your face and makes you want to move. Very cool, indeed!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Flow, Duos Trios Quintet

Flow is an international collective ensemble devoted to ambient, progressive electric-acoustic jazz. I've covered their music here before on these blogs. Now there is a new one, or a new one to me anyway, Flow: Duos Trios Quintets (Intrinsic).

As before the ensemble appears in various groupings for a free-flowing eclectic program that runs from lyric improvisations to song-like sequences. The lineup for this outing is Cheryl Pyle on flute and poetic mantras, Oddrun Eickli on vocals and song melodies/lyrics (which are sometimes extremely attractive and at any rate always fluent), Axel Weiss on acoustic and electric guitars, compositional structures and a bit of electric piano and bass, Arne Hiorth on trumpet, Stan Zaslavski on piano and organ, and Sean O'Bryan Smith on bass.

They cover much ground, getting into free-tonal playing, sometimes a quasi-Brazilian feel, a bit of rock electricity, and a general anything goes kind of mellowness.

Cheryl's flute and Axel's guitars take on important roles with the stylistic resonance one might come to expect from them, happily. But then Oddrun comes in with a sort of post-Flora-Purim lyricalness, and Stan and Arne have very good moments.

The vocals every now and again might have benefited from one more take, but Oddrun has a most pleasant voice and it is in the end a minor consideration.

This may not be the very best album they have made, but it is musically substantial while being easy on the ears. Axel gives us his vision and some guitar brilliance. And it all most certainly does flow! Hear it!