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5
Album Review

Steve Swell: Dances With Questions

Read "Dances With Questions" reviewed by John Sharpe


American trombonist Steve Swell plays to the strengths of his talented cast of improvisers on the sprawling multifaceted Dances With Questions, a three-CD box set which documents his three day residency at the 2019 Krakow Jazz Autumn. The center piece is the 70-minute title cut for a dozen musicians, but the album also includes two discs of small group encounters captured in the city's legendary Alchemia club during the previous evenings. Swell, a veteran of the New York ...

2
Album Review

Martin Kuchen, Agusti Fernandez, Zlatko Kaucic: The Steps That Resonate

Read "The Steps That Resonate" reviewed by John Sharpe


Once improvisers reach a certain level of experience, it is rare that a meeting between them does not deliver the goods. By this stage they are well versed in the mechanics of collective music making off the map. They have developed a fine sense of when to play and when not, how much they can respond without it becoming predictable, and a host of other similarly arcane split-second decisions which happen faster than thought. But when masters of the art ...

5
Album Review

Joe McPhee / John Edwards / Klaus Kugel: Existential Moments

Read "Existential Moments" reviewed by John Sharpe


Multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee's trio with British bassist John Edwards and German drummer Klaus Kugel has become another of his most potent working bands, following in the footsteps of such esteemed outfits as Trio X and Survival Unit III. On their third album, after Journey To Parazzar (NotTwo, 2018) and A Night In Alchemia (NotTwo, 2019), recorded in front of an audience at the FreeJazzSaar festival in Saarbrucken in 2019, the threesome conduct a masterclass in building and releasing tension, during ...

7
Album Review

Dave Rempis: Chrysopoeia

Read "Chrysopoeia" reviewed by John Sharpe


Recorded at Krakow's legendary Alchemia just two days before Znachki Stilyag (Aerophonic Records, 2020), on the same European tour, the power trio Ballister comprising saxophonist Dave Rempis, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, demonstrates an astonishing level of consistency in terms of both energy and excellence. Chrysopoeia constitutes the triumvirate's tenth release over some dozen years of existence, one which confirms that time and familiarity yield multiple benefits. While two pieces well in excess of the 20-minute ...

4
Album Review

Martin Küchen, Agustí Fernandez, Zlatko Kaučič: The Steps That Resonate

Read "The Steps That Resonate" reviewed by Mark Corroto


Let's test the laws of thermodynamics with free improvisation music. The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. This law is sublimely displayed during the live performance by Martin Küchen, Agustí Fernandez, and Zlatko Kaučič at the BCMF Festival in Slovenia, in 2021. While the Spanish pianist Fernandez and drummer & percussionist Kaučič have toured and recorded together--check out their ...

7
Album Review

Ballister: Chrysopoeia

Read "Chrysopoeia" reviewed by Mark Corroto


It is difficult to imagine a Ballister recording having its origins in any setting other than a live performance. The trio of saxophonist Dave Rempis, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love fuels each performance with the audience's energy on all their recordings, including Chrysopoeia, their tenth. Not that the trio could not produce their music in a studio setting, it is just the intensity of their free jazz performances would not contain the fevered eruptions available to the music ...

10
Album Review

Rodrigo Amado Northern Liberties: We Are Electric

Read "We Are Electric" reviewed by John Sharpe


Portuguese saxophonist Rodrigo Amado hits the jackpot with the debut by his Northern Liberties quartet. He's found gifted collaborators in the Norwegian threesome of trumpeter Thomas Johansson, drummer Gard Nilssen and bassist Jon Rune Strøm. Amado's preferred domain is muscular free jazz. It's territory he's thoroughly explored with his Motion Trio, supplemented by guests like trumpeter Peter Evans and pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, and with his This Is Our Language band with Joe McPhee. While the Scandinavian ...

3
Album Review

The Nu Band: In Memory of Mark Whitecage: The Nu Band Live At The Bopshop

Read "In Memory of Mark Whitecage: The Nu Band Live At The Bopshop" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic


The fearless improvised legacy of veteran, free bop sax man Mark Whitecage may not hold a prominent place in the immediate lexicon of upstarts and legends, but the man could blow his horn. Whitecage could dice and slice a piece of music, solemn or otherwise, to shreds with his sharp metallic, testosterone tone then reassemble it seamlessly with his long, flowing phrases. So it is fitting and more than welcome that he brings it big time on this final recording ...

10
Album Review

Rodrigo Amado Northern Liberties: We Are Electric

Read "We Are Electric" reviewed by Mark Corroto


The predicament with modern albums is that an album is often more than just one album. With the advent of streaming music, and compact discs before it, music expands beyond the unit we traditionally designated as side one or side two of an LP. A perfect example of this concept is We Are Electric by the Portuguese-Norwegian collaboration Rodrigo Amado Northern Liberties. Three of the four tracks here could easily be considered a freestanding LP side and, if that were ...

9
Album Review

Rodrigo Amado Northern Liberties: We Are Electric

Read "We Are Electric" reviewed by Troy Dostert


By all accounts, 2021 was a very good year for Rodrigo Amado. One of the leading lights of the Portuguese avant-garde, the indefatigable tenor saxophonist first released The Field (NoBusiness), featuring his Motion Trio (with cellist Miguel Mira and drummer Gabriel Ferrandini) alongside guest pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, and Let the Free Be Men (Trost), with his now-frequent collaborators saxophonist Joe McPhee, bassist Kent Kessler and drummer Chris Corsano. But if these two albums come to overshadow We Are Electric, ...


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