Daniel Bennett Group
Clockhead Goes To Camp
Manhattan Daylight Music
Saxophonist Daniel Bennett composes music with a nod to sidelong humor and surreptitious jazz. Like all great jazzmen, he reconfigures rhythms and harmonies to engineer an imaginative and genuine sound.
Clockhead Goes To Camp is the group's fourth release, and it follows the self-released Peace and Stability Among Bears (2011). The band's music has coalesced into a a kind of nursery rhyming-folk-jazz.
To describe the music of the Daniel Bennett Group one might imagine an alternate universe where Paul Desmond and Jim Hall are members of John Lurie's 1990s band Lounge Lizards. Bennett favors catchy melodies played over varying time signatures from African to folk, swirling Steve Reich chamber sounds against pop and near classical riffs.
The handclaps of the opener give way to his flute chamber piece (did they play some surf guitar in there?) and an oddball digitally enhanced poem "Whatever It Might Be" by Rimas Uzgiris. Bennett isn't opposed to borrowing a waltz "John Lizard And Mr. Pug" or delving into the theatre of the absurd for the word-salad piece "Cabin 12 Escapes Into the Night." With guitarist Mark Cocheo he has found his huckleberry, the music is offbeat, nonconformist, and peculiarly attractive.
Fred van Duijnhoven
"Less is more" said Mies van der Rohe. Dutch drummer Fred van Duijnhoven might say, "more or less, less is indeed more." This mostly solo thirteen and a half minute ep contains 5 very brief tracks, that sound like much, much more.
Best known for his work in I Compani, the Dutch jazz band that covers Fellini soundtracks, the music of Nino Rota, and more recently their own music. He has issued two prior solo drum records Bellbird (2005) and Bird's nest (2005). He can also be heard with Ab Baars and Ken Vandermark on Goofy June Bug (Wig, 2008).
His three brief solo pieces utilize a minimal kit and, styled like poetry, the musing seems more important than the sounds. His pulse is tempered by a measured deliberation. Muted are his colors, and without deliberate rumination, their gestures are easily missed.
The two guest tracks are a marimba/drum duet and a marimba/drum plus vocals. Van Duijnhoven with brushes works over a sly blues with Eugène Flören's marimba and the pair cover Burt Bacharach's "Close To You" with vocalist Amber van Nieuwburg. The somewhat saccharine pop song gets a new treatment by stripping it down to bare bones. What once was a tune that annoyingly might have got stuck in your head, can now be welcomed back.
Rich Halley 4
Crossing The Passes
If we had a house band here at AAJ, it would probably be saxophonist Rich Halley's quartet. The Oregon-based musician has devoured the modern saxophone gobbling up Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, Ken Vandermark, Joe McPhee, and Albert Ayler. His compositions speak their language but with a nonpartisan dialect.
Crossing The Passes is his fifteenth releases and follows Back From Beyond (2012) and Requiem for a Pit Viper (2011). All three releases feature Halley's quartet of trombonist Michael Vlatkovich, bassist Clyde Reed, and drummer Carson Halley.
The trombonist has been a favorite side man since the 1980s. At one time or another either he or cornetist Bobby Bradford has enlarged the saxophonist's trio into a quartet. Where Bradford is the Don Cherry to Halley's Ornette Coleman, Vlatkovich is the Roswell Rudd to Halley's Archie Shepp. The pair can stretch out passages into free jazz realms or spin a tight duet. Their versatility is on display throughout this recording, from the funky bottomed "Smooth Curve Of the Bow" to the falling down "Duopoly," the two entangle, twist and lock horns to make sense out of (sometimes) chaos. The latter track is driven by the urgency of Carson Halley's drums and the insistent bass of Storrs. The saxophonist tries on many hats here. From the cinematic heavy to the gentlest touch, he can frame a song so that it hangs oddly crooked but sounds perfectly straight.
Jason Roebke & Tobias Delius