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Fall 2020

Doug Collette By

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Jazz Journal is a regular column comprised of pithy takes on recent releases of note, spotlighting titles that might otherwise go unnoticed or that deserve special attention.

The Claire Daly Band
RAH! RAH!
Ride Symbol
2020

To credibly conceive and execute homage to the late Rahsaan Roland Kirk would take a solid, bonded unit, but the fivesome that is The Claire Daly Band, as pictured so amiably on the back cover of the album, acquits itself with as much spirit as reverence. The continuity remains intact over the course of the approximately fifty-five minutes playing time and ten tracks, even as material derives from a variety of sources, including Charlie Parker and the subject of this tribute. Meanwhile, two tracks even feature vocals: a couplet of "Volunteered Slavery"and Sly Stone's "Everyday People" plus Bacharach and David's "Alfie." Not surprisingly, saxophonist/flautist/bandleader Daly sets the tone by opening the LP with her original tune "Blue Lady," but she also acts as producer, in which role she insures an audio mix by engineer Jim Czak as broad as it is deep, replete with sufficient warmth and sparkle in order to accurately showcase the skills of her bandmates.

Eric Revis
Slipknots: Through A Looking Glass
Pyroclastic Records
2020

Bassist Eric Revis' eighth album under his own name is simply more evidence of the surfeit of talent he brings to his membership in the Branford Marsalis. As with that ensemble's The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul (Okeh, 2019), Revis and company here explore the nooks and crannies within the melodies and rhythms of eleven idiosyncratic original compositions. Yet the somewhat methodical approach here employed does not preclude a prevailing spirit of discovery in the spontaneity of the moment. On the contrary, as documented on "Baby Renfro," the cycles of tight adherence to structure and the loosening therefrom only heightens the purposeful blurring of the distinction between what is arranged and what is improvised. And yet, all the better to appreciate the chemistry of the combo, during the titlesong among others, as each member anticipates not only the movement of the individuals, but the resulting motion of the ensemble as a collective.

Francois Houle 4
Recoder
Songlines Recordings
2020

The collaboration between clarinetist Francois Houle and multi-instrumentalist Gordon Grdina on Ghost Lights (Songlines, 2017) was quite likely inevitable, but that doesn't make its reappearance here any less dramatic. On the contrary, it resolves the suspense arising from their recent parallel works the former's You Have Options (Songlines Recordings, 2018) and the latter's Ejdeha (Songlines Recordings, 2018). Still, there's a sense of theater here on Recorder because the two principals, as well as the rhythm section of Mark Helias on bass and Gerry Hemingway on drums, manage to maintain their unpredictable ways of playing without lessening their idiosyncratic manner(s) of instrumental motion: the foursome's willingness to surrender to the spontaneity of the moment is courageous but well served. All of which invigorating activity is readily discernible within spacious sound quality, initially recorded by Michael Brorby, then edited, mixed and mastered by Houle himself in assumption of production responsibility.

Axiom
Starburst
Xtrasensory Records
2020

Siblings Peter and Phil Templer pick right up where they left off on this first Axiom album in over a decade. In fact, within compositions like the opening "Vaporama" and this title tune, the guitarist and drummer respectively ratchet up the cerebral intensity of their prog music influences so that it matches the visceral heat of their Latin and funk roots. As a result, the syncopated percussion that highlights the former cut flows as naturally as the extended "California Suite;" unpretentious as is that multi-part interval, it signals how the brothers Templer effectively sidestep another bane of the jazz-rock genre. Likewise, the core quintet doesn't flaunt its technique any more than the ancillary players: all the playing is in service to the songs. The finishing touch lies in how the mix of Gus Wagner and the mastering by Claudio allows the tuneful likes of "Magunda"to fully radiate its inherently balmy air.

Jon Hassell
Seeing Through Sound: Pentimento Volume Two
Ndeya
2020

Intensely cerebral as is Seeing Through Sound, the percussion that;s an indispensable element on Jon Hassell's records almost imperceptibly supplies warmth as interweaves with electronic keyboards, guitars and bass plus the leader's trumpet. Over the course of these eight cuts, longer ("Timeless) and shorter ("Unknown Wish") tracks alternate to create an ebb and flow that makes for an altogether engrossing listening experience. In fact, the logical progression Hassell and company's sound conjures refuses to become merely a background, in part because there's a palpable sensation of (at least the core four) musicians interacting through their instruments and devices. But also because recording engineer Arnaud Mercier's production consulting work—in conjunction with Al Carlson's mastering expertise—reveals the varying layers of texture that, over the approximately thirty-seven minutes duration of the album, morphs into a quiet but sublime drama mirrored in song titles such as "Lunar" and "Moons Of Titan."

Greg Osby/Florian Arbenz
Reflections of the Eternal Line
Inner Circle Music
2020

Two decades of collaborations between saxophonist Greg Osby and percussionist Florian Arbenz may account for the relatively unhurried pace of this duo recording. Yet even if Reflections is not an exercise in abandoned intensity like the John Coltrane / Rashied Ali collaboration Interstellar Space (Impulse, 1974), these two kindred spirits do create an instrumental intricacy of no little density. From the very start of "Wooden Lines," for instance, the pulse is prevalent from start to finish even as a certainly gentility pervades the strongest of beats and blowing. At the same time, the tunefulness air of a track like "Truth" is notable for the space Osby and Arbenz leave between those sounds they extract from the horn and the kit. In that regard, Hannes Kumke was impeccable in his recording, mixing and mastering, allowing the openness within these seven tracks to remain an essential component of the audio, even when it's as punchy as is "Groove Conductor."

Tracks and Personnel

RAH! RAH!

Tracks: Blue Lady; Serenade to a Cuckoo; Volunteered Slavery/Everyday People; Simone; Funk Underneath; Theme for the Eulipions; Alfie; Momentus Brighticus; Blues for Alice; I'll Be Seeing You. Personnel: Claire Daly: saxophone, baritone; Eli Yamin: piano; Dave Hofstra: bass; Peter Grant: drums. Slipknots: Through A Looking Glass

Tracks: Baby Renfro; SpÆ; Earl & The three-fifths Compromise; Slipknots Through A Looking Glass, Part 1; Shutter; ProByte; Slipknots Through A Looking Glass, Part 2; House Of Leaves; When I Become Nothing; Vimen; Slipknots Through A Looking Glass, Part 3.

Personnel: Eric Revis Bass; Kris Davis Piano; Bill McHenry Tenor Saxophone; Darius Jones Alto Saxophone; Chad Taylor Drums, Mbira; Justin Faulkner Drums.

Recoder

Tracks: Prelude; The Black Bird; Interlude 1; Big Time Felter; Interlude 2; Canyamel; Interlude 3; RECODER; Interlude 4; Bowen; Interlude 5; Morning Song (For Ted Byrne); Interlude 6; Baseline; Postlude.

Personnel: François Houle: clarinet; Gordon Grdina: guitar; Mark Helias: double bass, clarinet; Gerry Hemingway: drums

Starburst

Tracks: Vaporware; Indigo Wave; Magunda; Kings Canyon; Mountain Dream; West Coast Encounter; Deserts; Starburst; Cruising Altitude.

Personnel: Pete Templer: electric guitars, guitar synthesizers; Alan Palmer: alto and soprano saxophone, flute; Frank Villafranca: alto, tenor and soprano saxophone; Jared Stewart: keyboards; Bill Owen: bass, keyboard synth; Hussain Jiffry: bass; Brian Mastaski: bass; Keith Hubacher: bass; Phil Templer: acoustic and electric drums, percussion.

Seeing Through Sound: Pentimento Volume Two

Tracks: Fearless; Moons Of Titan; Unknown Wish: Delicado; Reykjavik; Cool Down Coda; Lunar; Timeless.

Personnel: Jon Hassell: trumpet; Rick Cox: guitar; John Von Seggern: bass; Hugh Marsh: violin: Peter Freeman: bass, electronics; Ralph Cumbers: kongo drum programming; Eivind Aarset: electric guitar, sampling; Kheir-Eddine M'Kachiche: violin, sampler; Christoph Harbonnier: bass; Michel Redolfi: electronics.

Reflections of the Eternal Line

Tracks: Wooden Lines; Chant; Truth; Homenaje; Groove Conductor; The Passage of Light; Please Stand By.

Personnel: Greg Osby: saxophones; Florian Arbenz: drums, percussion.

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