Before We Say Goodbye To 2012
Like Don Cherry, the trio never hesitates to bring all types of musical language to their instant composing. Vandermark, the ever organizing force, catalogs and coordinates throughout. His knack to bring order from improvisatory chaos is the glue here. Together, the three bring rocked-out sensibility together with ethereal free improvising, some funk, both minimalist and shouting improvisation, moments of gripping music making, and lengthy soloing. If you've got the time, this journey is quite rewarding.
Peeping Tom Boperation Umlaut 2012
What if we could go back in time? Back to an era when bebop was as controversial as hip- hop is now, and jazz musicians were either glorified as trailblazers or denounced as traitors. Surely, we don't want to return to a time when Miles Davis is beaten by the police or Lee Morgan shot, but we do hunger for jazz music to be part of the musical discussion, and maybe just a little argument would be okay.
Enter the French-Swedish-German quartet Peeping Tom whose revival of bebop reignites the music as a cause célèbre. What trumpeter Axel Dorner, saxophonist Pierre- Antoine Badaroux, bassist Joel Grip and drummer Antonin Gerbal accomplish, is the mixing of modernist, sometimes minimalist free improvisation with pure bebop. Their Boperation follows File Under: Bebop (Umlaut, 2009) with the quartet re-imagining classic bop, this time covering tunes by Elmo Hope, Herbie Nichols, Fats Navarro, and George Wallington. Like John Zorn's News For Lulu or Dörner's work with Alexander von Schlippenbach and Die Enttäuschung, the band displays a disdain for the note-for-note recreations of the today's neoconservatives. While they stay true to each song's changes, they inject enough mayhem to make things debatable. Bud Powell's "Fantasy in Blue" is slowed and drawn-out into a lament, but "Mo Is On" by Elmo Hope is played with all speed. That is before it is dissected and reassembled from composed to free jazz, back to composed.
Enten Eller Orkestra E(x)STINZIONE Splasc(H) Records 2012
Expansive and sprawling, this orchestrated multimedia show (sadly, only the soundtrack here) is perhaps the Italian jazz equivalent to Pink Floyd's The Wall (Columbia, 1979). Constructed by the Northern Italian quartet of Alberto Mandarini (trumpet), Maurizio Brunod (guitar), Giovanni Maier (bass) and Massimo Barbiero (drums), known as Enten Eller, this event features the quartet, and augmented version dubbed Orkestra E(x)STINZIONE. Swelling to eight players, plus a string section of another fifteen, the Orkestra tells the story of Italy's declining industrial base and the impoverishment of the blue collar worker.
Part jazz, classical, and part rock opera, this chronicle unfurls with a spoken and sung narrative by Laura Conti that is both poetic and elegiac. She sets up the various parts that can rock out, with bits of funk heard in "Porte Basse" or modern jazz swing "Genetic Deficit," with Marcella Carboni's harp and Brunod's electric guitar. Mandarini's arrangements deftly switch between styles, yet keep the whole intact, weaving the string orchestra into the storytelling.
Guest trombonist Giancarlo Schiaffini and Carlo Actis Dato (saxophone and clarinets) mingle with the score. "Praxis," a heavyweight section, doses electric guitar versus full orchestration and voice. The free section of "Torquemada" allows Dato to go toe-to-toe with the Orkestra, bouncing cries off Maier's bass notes before the piece coalesces into a managed march. This is one ambitious and entertaining effort.
Jeb Bishop/ Jorrit Dijkstra 1000 Words Driff Records 2012
The intersection of certain jazz players is rarely by happenstance. In the case of alto saxophonist Jorrit Dijkstra and trombonist Jeb Bishop, their like-minded approach to music certainly attracted each other to collaborate. Both can be found in Dijkstra's sextet The Flatland Collective, his octet Pillow Circles, and in his Steve Lacy tribute band The Whammies. Both are accomplished solo players.