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We Travel the Spaceways

You say you're beat? You don't know Jack

By Published: November 30, 2012
Recorded in 2010, this tribute to Swedish saxophonist Bengt Nordström by the current saxophone champion Mats Gustafsson
Mats Gustafsson
Mats Gustafsson
b.1964
reeds
is a radical departure from his sound. Or, is it? Gustafsson, who plays that machine gun blasting baritone in the rocked-out jazz band The Thing, the muscle behind the punk band The Ex, or the improvising spark in so many other ensembles with players such as Peter Brotzmann
Peter Brotzmann
Peter Brotzmann
b.1941
reeds
, Ken Vandermark
Ken Vandermark
Ken Vandermark
b.1964
saxophone
and Barry Guy
Barry Guy
Barry Guy
b.1947
bass
, recorded these two lengthy improvisations utilizing a Grafton plastic alto saxophone. The type favored by Bengt, his mentor.

Certainly the plastic saxophone presented limitation (and possibilities) to Gustafsson. He opens "Side A—Bengt A" of this white vinyl LP (with accompanying CD) prodding and testing the horn. He blows shortish notes, casually extending his sound with vocalizations, his flutter tongue, and key manipulations. Gustafsson eschews his signature strongman sound for a breathy improvisation. By the second track, he settles into a minimalist pop-and-tongue approach that unrolls into soft melodies and multi-phonic overblowing. The frailty of the plastic horn favored by Bengt, but also used for a while by both Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
and Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
, is exploited to some very ingenious ends here.

Frank Rosaly

Centering And Displacement

Utech Records

2012

When is a solo drummer's recording not a drum recording? That question is not a zen koan but a hint as to what you can expect from Frank Rosaly
Frank Rosaly
Frank Rosaly
b.1974
drums
's unchaperoned 45rpm LP (with accompanying CD), >Centering And Displacement. Rosaly is a band leader and member of Fast Citizens, Scorch Trio, and multiple new Chicago bands bands that include musicians Jason Adasiewicz
Jason Adasiewicz
Jason Adasiewicz

vibraphone
, Jason Stein
Jason Stein
Jason Stein
b.1976
clarinet, bass
, and Keefe Jackson
Keefe Jackson
Keefe Jackson

saxophone
. Unlike his previous solo drum LP Millwork (Molk Records, 2009), that utilized limited electronics, this baby takes sliced and diced improvised source material collected by Rosaly, organized and arranged into a strict compositional manner before getting processed and divided into six channels and transferred to one master. Phew. Yes, the concept is dense, but the results are actually quite elegant. The LP begins with heavily distorted sounds that give way to scattered drums and electronic belches. This sensation of being inside of a whale, leads to a quite section of exploration before finishing out with multiple bells and a percussion dance. Side 2 is a brooding cauldron of metallic scrapes and electric fuzz that drops out for some introspective percussion and flute played over thrumming electronics. Rosaly who can swing as hard as any modern Chicago drummer gives us a peek into his darker more experimental side here.

Zs

Zs Score The Complete Sextet Works: 2002-2007

Norhtern Spy Records

2012

If you are not familiar with the band known as Zs, then picture Anthony Braxton
Anthony Braxton
Anthony Braxton
b.1945
reeds
as a member of Black Flag, or perhaps better yet the punk band Black Flag if they had been schooled as musicians. The Zs has created a sort of cult following, playing opposite ends of the attention deficit disorder spectrum. The music can agitate with precise mathematics and speed or turn wispy as minimalist improvisation. This 4-CD box collects the bands output from their six early releases (various LPs, EPs, 7"s and CDs) until 2007, plus an hour of unreleased music, live recordings, and remixes.

Songs like "Fall And Climb" and "I Can't Concentrate" are modern takes on the Carl Stalling Warner Brothers cartoon chase scenes where manic climbs are followed with descents and surrealist landscapes. Like Stalling or Raymond Scott
Raymond Scott
b.1908
for that matter the group is concerned with precision playing, yet it maintains the DIY punk attitude throughout. The music can recall Philip Glass' repetitive scores, such as on the vocals on "Nobody Wants To be Had" or the minimalist improvisation of John Butcher. The relentless and seemingly merciless attack is the magnet and marquee here, but get past the signature "in your face" sound, and the genius of the compositions, improvisations and interactions stands out. Sometimes bad kids write great poetry.

Ben Holmes Quartet

Anvil Of The Lord

Skirl Records

2012



Sometimes discovering a new voice in jazz involves word of mouth. Other times a new release falls into your lap. Both instances are true for trumpeter Ben Holmes. He co-leads the Yiddish-influenced Tarras band, the Ben Holmes/Patrick Farrell Duo, Trio Blastphemy, and is a sideman in half a dozen other projects. His first national release as a leader Anvil Of The Lord follows the very well received self-produced Ben Holmes Trio (2009). In any case: Hello Ben, nice to meet you.


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