Published since 1997
Longtime contributor to AAJ and Downbeat, Jazz Review, EjazzNews, Radio DirectX.
This Switzerland-based modern jazz nonet minces garrulous horn charts with rock underpinnings in concert with a few rambunctiously rendered cosmic meltdowns. The title work is dedicated to the late Swiss saxophonist Urs Voerkel, whereas “Part IV – Echoes of R.C.” features American poet Robert Creeley’s text. The four-man horn section packs a mighty punch to coincide with a few zany diversions and hard-hitting ostinato motifs. Overall, the band melds various stylistic elements into an energized approach. A jubilant affair it is.
Martin Archer hails from Great Britain. He’s performed within free jazz circles, primarily as a saxophonist. These days the artist uses a variety of synth-flavored keyboards, fuzz bass, and other instruments. Here, Archer and others execute otherworldly soundscapes. But his music is difficult to classify as he imparts an indelible stamp of authenticity to these asymmetrically devised works. You’ll hear grunge style guitar parts, odd-metered rhythmic interludes, airy EFX, and jazzy horn arrangements. In sum, Archer defies common notions of practicality, which in turn provides the luminous spark to these inventively concocted soundscapes.
Guitar great Kenny Burrell projects warmth as a vocalist here, paralleling his infamous fretwork consisting of meticulously designed voicings and subtle delicacies. Burrell explores a potpourri of swing vamps, featuring multi-reedman Herman Riley and others. As a guitarist, Burrell is a charmer, yet he also kicks it up a notch or two throughout this affable outing. It’s an undeniably tasteful small ensemble-based jazz event.
A Small Madness
David Binney/Jeff Hirshfield
Saxophonist David Binney uses electronics as a backdrop for this series of sprightly duets with drummer Jeff Hirshfield. And while the artists tear down the roof on occasion, this is a structured program. Sure, they improvise through a variety of divergent movements, although Binney’s compositions are primarily constructed upon memorable melodies. Nonetheless, it’s a well-thought out production containing nicely balanced freeform excursions and cohesively actualized frameworks.
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