Hailing from Nagoya, Japan, Brooklyn, New York-based Shu Nakamura plays guitars, keyboards and percussion on A Day of Dreams. Shu also displays his ability to compose, arrange and sing. Through learning, working, and teaching a variety of different kinds of music from his youth in Japan, Shu is more of a world musician than one existing in any single genre. A Day of Dreams features an eclectic, aurally expansive mix of music ranging from the celestial ambience of Sigur Rós to the sound patches of Radiohead, dropping back to terra firma, at times, with some heartfelt Japanese folk music, and ...read more
Mahogany Frog's Senna is named after the late Brazilian racing driver Ayrton Senna da Silva, who was also the recent focus of the British 2010 documentary film, Senna. The racing engine on the cover of the CD may be best-reflected in the energy of the music within. On its sixth CD, this four-man group based in Winnipeg, Canada has managed to expand their boundaries even further than their last release DO5 (Moonjune, 2006).Mahogany Frog is not mired by category, although if one had to be made, it might be post-progressive rock." The group is more sophisticated than post-rock ...read more
Wadada Leo SmithTen Freedom SummersCuneiform Records2012Jazz music and the Civil Rights Movement in America have moved on parallel tracks from the 20th century up until the present. Freedom Suite (Riverside, 1958) by saxophonist Sonny Rollins, We Insist! Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite (Candid, 1960) by drummer Max Roach and also Attica Blues (Implulse, 1972) by saxophonist Archie Shepp are all strong statements that still retain their vital relevance and serve as period piece reminders of the way things were and suggested what the possibilities could be. Trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith's ...read more
Moraine is a progressive jazz-rock fusion group led by Seattle-based guitarist/composer Dennis Rea. The group's second CD, Metamorphic Rock: Live at NEARfest, from a live show held at the Bethlehem, PA festival in 2010, finds the band growing its sound to a more competitive level, moving beyond ideas covered on its studio debut, manifest deNsity (Moonjune, 2009). Although the set is very much a composed and focused effort, it contains much of the frenzied energy of Rea's free jazz/rock fusion work with his other group and its eponymous debut, Iron Kim Style (Moonjune, 2010). Rea and company create a sound ...read more
Leader of the band Taylor's Universe, multi- instrumentalist, composer, producer, and record label owner Robin Taylor hails from Denmark. With the title of his 30th release, Kind Of Red, Taylor cleverly tips a hat to the iconic album Kind of Blue (Sony, 1959) by trumpeter Miles Davis, and possibly also to King Crimson's Red (Atlantic, 1974). Taylor has had a number of releases under different banners over the last few decades. For all those needing to catch up, Kind of Red may serve as an appropriate introduction to Taylor and his music.The music is primarily progressive rock and ...read more
Contrabassist Joëlle Léandre and West Coast woodwind player Phillip Greenlief work out 11 different compositions between their two respective instruments and voices on That Overt Desire of Object. The flexibility and space that each provides the other seems to be reflected in the line note comments about the negative effects of greed. The title is a variation of the Luis Buñuel movie That Obscure Object of Desire (1977), with a playing field that appears a bit more level when compared to the bassist's 2009 duo with Anthony Braxton, Duo (Heidelberg Loppem) 2007 (Leo Records, 2009).Each set of variations ...read more
Twenty seven years is a long time for a niche progressive music label such as Cuneiform Records not just to survive, but to remain inventive and, in the best sense, ambitious. Steve Feigenbaum founded Cuneiform back in 1984, and with his wife, Joyce, runs it from Silver Springs, Maryland. Hosting bands such as Universe Zero, digging up and releasing archival material from groups such as Soft Machine, releasing consecutive double CDs from avant-garde jazz heroes such as trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, Cuneiform brags an impressive and eclectic roster of historic and contemporary artists. Cuneiform has expanded its ...read more
On a moon of this past June, appropriately enough, Leonardo Pavkovic, owner of the progressive jazz label MoonJune Records, gave All About Jazz an interview at the label's office in Union Square, New York City. The name MoonJune Records, which Pavkovic started back in 2001, is taken from the title of a song, Moon In June," that appeared on the Canterbury jazz-rock group, Soft Machine's 1970 album, Third (CBS). MoonJune Records aims to provide jazz and progressive rock musicians from different continents and different cultural backgrounds with a very personal, hands-on relationship with a label. At the ...read more
Evolution is the third solo outing from guitarist Jake Hertzog, Guitar Player Magazine contributor and member of the rock band, The Young Presidents. Although the album appears weighted towards jazz fusion, it is the rock-inflected phrases woven into the music that saves it from running into all-too-familiar jazz guitar footprints. The generational sound of this recording is only slightly more youthful than Marc Ribot or Nels Cline, its title referring, perhaps, to the advancement of an unapologetic brand of jazz-rock guitar that does not look back. Hertzog does, however, rely on the traditionally experienced to assist with ...read more
For those new to work of New York City performance poet Copernicus (aka Joseph Smalkowski), Cipher and Decipher, might be an appropriate onramp. This release of improvised music plus poetry appears to be aimed at a wider, more cynical audience than those that pioneered the form in previous decades in the jazz world, such as Gil Scott Heron. Copernicus' dramatic voice, plus the healthy presence of guitars also provide an alternative rock improv dimension that could easily fit alongside prophetic English goth rock bands like Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Copernicus, however, spends no time brooding on race relations, ...read more
Recently from Barcelona, Spain, members of the jazz/rock improv group Planeta Imaginario discussed their new recording Optical Delusions (Cuneiform Records, 2011) and the group's history. Keyboardist and group leader Marc Capel, who speaks Catalan, shared his thoughts through drummer and chief translator Vasco Trilla. Fretless bassist Dimitris Bikos also sat in for the interview. The various influences that can be heard in the music of Planeta Imaginario range from classic progressive rock groups such as Soft Machine, Caravan, and King Crimson to Frank Zappa, Miles Davis and Mahavishnu Orchestra. As revealed in this interview, the rich culture ...read more
The term progressive," when used to describe jazz fusion/rock, suggests a constant forward movement in the music. On Optical Delusions, Planeta Imaginario's third release (and the group's second for international distribution outside of their homeland of Spain), there is a shift towards a sort of larger jazz group sound. The Barcelona-based group delivers thirteen intricate compositions and themes that reckon their Canterbury-flavored music with an overall Gil Evans-type vibe. The omission of guitar on this release contrasts with PI's last CD, Biomasa (Cuneiform, 2008). Keyboardist/leader Marc Capel asserts his tone from the onset of the first song, ...read more
What a contrast Boris Savoldelli's Biocosmopolitan is to the vocalist's predecessor, Protoplasmic (MoonJune Records, 2009), which featured guitarist Elliot Sharp as his chief collaborator. While Protoplasmic was a brave dive into the experimental, Biocosmopolitan is a bright, infectious and singable work. The right balance of passion, delivery, and technology come together for 16 enjoyable tracks with brevity a main device, employed by Savoldelli, that helps maintain a constant sense of movement and flow. The style is a sort of modern sentimental." The lyrics bounce between English and Italian, and the basic mood is an upbeat one. Other ...read more
Guitarist Michel Deville, of the Belgian Wrong Object, and British keyboardist Alex Maguire team up to form a power trio with drummer Tony Bianco as doubt, on its debut, Never Pet a Burning Dog. Deville steps out with a louder, more direct tone, affectionately and more overtly exposing the influence of Terje Rypdal--even including one of his compositions, Over Birkerot," from Odyssey (ECM, 1975). The enhanced gunslinger performance is warranted, to meet the demands thrown up by Maguire and his armory of keyboards, blasting out turbulent Cecil Taylor-like riffs like solar flares. Both Deville and Maguire take an ...read more
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