Before We Say Goodbye To 2012
Vox Arcana Soft Focus Relay Records 2012
Of the 15 or so bands that drummer Timothy Daisy participates, Vox Arcana might be his most personal, and maybe the most immediate. This trio of Daisy, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and clarinetist James Falzone incorporates modern composition, chamber jazz, and plenty of free improvisation into a stripped-down ensemble. Daisy plays a minimal kit, plus marimba, and Lonberg-Holm doubles on tenor guitar here.
Soft Focus is the trio's third release, and even though it clocks in at a mere 37-minutes, each economical piece is priceless. The disc opens with "De Grote Olifant," and the dynamic bowing of Lonberg-Holm, that edges first toward free jazz before opting for a chamber jazz dynamic. Daisy with mallets in hand and Falzone's merciful notes soften the edge. Not that the piece isn't a churning ball of energy. The band doses the clement with the roil. The pacific title track summons the emotional via marimba, pluck cello, and graceful horn. Vox Arcana can draw listeners in for a respite, they can also set one on edge with stop/start compositions, like "The Raft," minimalist improvisation "Minature 2," and drill sergeant maneuvers, "Other Lights."
Leo Svirsky Songs In The Key Of Survival Ehse Records 2012
It is debatable whether pianist Leo Svirsky is a Buddhist. It is conceivable his is, at least the music heard on Songs In the Key Of Survival was conceived in Zen. This solo effort (released as a CD/LP/download) by the Hague-base musician puts music to text found on protest placards from recent demonstrations. Each fragment of words can be taken as a koan, "sell yourself until you can afford to buy yourself back," or "the splinter in your eye is the best magnifying glass," or just as happenstance.
Sure, the hipster might take this music for irony's sake. But delivered with an earnest and unaffected tone the music comes off as sincere. Svirsky, a classically trained pianist, is equally at home with the music of John Cage and Cecil Taylor. He dances on the keys, making a gamboling run of notes that mimic a juggler's routine on "A Storm Blows From Paradise..." and "Engführung (Straitening)." He can extend the dynamics of the keyboard with "Ricercare," working the hammers as pistons firing an internal combustion of energy. He also uses silence mid-track to induce contemplation. His music is both meditative and enlightening.
Markus Pesonen Hendectet Hum Unit Records 2012
Guitarist Markus Pesonen's 11-piece Hendectet opens Hum playing a combination of Rage Against The Machine-meets-Henry Threadgill's Very Very Circus bad. Maybe it's the tuba/trombone/electric guitar combination that fuels this passionate entrance, but Pesonen means to make a statement. This Finnish guitarist/composer based in Copenhagen assembled this Danish and german ensemble to realize these six original tunes, plus two familiar standards, one from jazz the other from pop music). His music is more than noise though. "Hullin Paperit" grows organically from a dreamy sequence of sine wave electronics into a spacey exploration of sound. The appeal here is the flexibility of this large ensemble. The shortish "Sugar Rush" favors an urgent swing and the title track brings to mind Peter Brotzmann's Sonore unit with the intermingling of horns. Pesonen is a fine arranger, this is evident on his adaptation of Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" and The Beatles "A Day In The Life." Both played with loving care, Mingus almost played straight through and the Lennon/McCartney given over to vocalist Elena Setién. The Hendectet maintains the song's eccentric nature, especially the implosion of noise from the final orchestral crescendo. Pesenen certainly loves to turn you on.
Teddy Pantelas Together Again Tatsou Records 2012