Saturday, March 4, 2023

Christopher Hale, Ritual Diamonds


Musical things that occupy an original niche in our listening possibilities nowadays are more important to me than some kind of dominance in terms of chops. If you or I can never come close to duplicating some technical  feat, I will no doubt want to hear it, something of that sort, most probably but it will not make the sort of impact an altogether original slant can make today. Of course someone might innovate highly and still have monster chops compared with others in his or her time. Charlie Parker of course comes to mind. Nevertheless today's really new music much of the time is more squarely in the discovery vein, in the realm of a new language of sorts than in a blockbuster explosion of technique, or at least it seems that way to me.

I refer to an EP out by Christopher Hale entitled Ritual Diamonds (Earshift Music EAR064). It brings to bear some six Hale compositions, one cowritten with Woo Minyoung. Germinal to this music is a Classical Korean rhythmic element that continues an infectious pulse but then inserts endlessly variable patterns into it that in ensemble terms that afford the music a kind of composed and sometimes improvised string of endless melodic strains that are lovely to behold, very much so.

So the fundamental element comes out of conventional drum set and Korean percussion with patterns suggested above. And then we have these compositions built up in endless melody, seemingly based on or suggested by the Korean rhythmic patterns. It seems like that and the idea is that it works very well with Hale's bass and baritone guitars as well as his regular six string electric instrument. He plays nicely idiomatic solos when he does and they fit well into the music at large. And so too we have the ensemble and soloists on Korean instruments, tenor and soprano saxes, Fender Rhodes, trumpet, second guitar, etc.

So the music and its long, mesmerizing chordal and melodic sequences seem to me as haunting and appealing as anything out there now!  It is only 35 minutes of music but worth every minute. Bravo and brava!

Listen to some samples on Bandcamp.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Sandy Ewen, Explode, with Damon Smith, Weasel Walter

When in the middle of infernally busy times conjoined for a while with the absolute stasis of lockdown it is perhaps not surprising if several strands of the main threads of endeavors have strayed or become frayed and fell off the main conduit. I will admit that has happened in the case of a fine CD that was recorded in 2018, released in 2020 and found its way into my pile of New Music/Avant Jazz to listen to and consider. It was not that I did not immediately note its existence with great expectations. It was a continual re-sorting situation where the provenance of any given album became a sort of musical chairs situation. Now enough time has passed that I have rescruitenized the new stacks and pulled this for immediate hearing.

And so we have electric guitar-lap guitarist Sandy Ewen and a spectacularly situated trio of Sandy along with bassist Damon Smith and drummer Weasel Walter in an album dubbed aptly Explode (ugExplode CD). 

Now Ms. Ewen, happily, is not new to me. A number of years ago I appreciated her noise-laced post-Punk guitar stylings on a few fine recordings with Damon Smith. They captured her with crack configurations that showed her fresh yet classically Modern in uncompromisingly new and unconventional and boldly fire-charged in manners that remind of early Sonny Sharrock and Derek Bailey,

So this is a very resourceful, distinctive, original trio with no compromising and instead a full-bodied unremitting attack dog on a three-way with noise-melody and free falling presence a constant. Listen to Sandy and the very intuitive but sure timbral spank she initiates and keeps flowing while Damon on bass provides his own counterweight of beautifully advesturesomne sound pyrotechnics.

Those who know the Weasel Walter no-holds barred intensity will not be disappointed. He is ever unafraid to make his drums sound in all manner of intensities and as such he is the perfect countervoice to the string team.

The end result is a classic free rave up that compared favorably with the best of noise virtuoso offering on disk, past and present!

Mario Pavone Dialect Trio, Philosophy


The late bassist Mario Pavone (1940-2021) was a leading light as contrabassist virtuoso on the Avant Garde Jazz scene in his glory years. He was in an important incarnation of the Paul Bley trio,  was on Bobby Naughton's wonderful Understanding (RIP Bobby), a nice Alan Silva album Skillfulness, was a key member of some of Bill Dixon's finest groups, was a key collaborator with Thomas Chapin and Anthony Braxton, and of course made lots of excellent albums in his own name. Type "Pavone" in the index search box for another good one one I covered a while ago.

I bring to you this morning an album recorded in 2018 and released the following year, Mario Pavone Dialect Trio's Philosophy (Clean Feed  CF630CD). If I am late getting to this one it is because that time it was released was quite hectic and I am only now catching up. It is a wonderfully alive lineup of Pavone, Matt Mitchell on piano and Tyshawn Sorey on drums, three masters all, and having a great session too.

The compositions are all nicely wrought with two by Annette Peacock, one group improvisation and the rest by Pavone, The Philosophy in question is Pavone's three-way levelling of purpose, with bass, drums and piano holding forth as equals in leeway and invention. It all fits in with Pavone's roots in the classic avant trios of Paul Bley, and so understandably there is some really first-rate group playing throughout, Listen to each artist closely as they uncover some otherworldly  possibilities for us. Everyone is keenly hewn, sharp as tacks, are boldly jumping into the fray with true spirit and excellent spontaneous girth. Wow. Very strongly recommended!