January 2005

Glenn Astarita BY

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eRikm & Fennesz

Complementary Contrasts Donaueschingen 2003


Two electronics/computer experimentalists go head on here. It's partly about coalescing for a union of eerie sounds and configurations recorded live and in the studio. Even for trained ears of electronica, you're bound to hear tones and manipulations that might seem novel. The duo uses computers and associated sound shaping software, topped off by an overall, crystalline audio recording. Essentially, these folks help raise this sometimes sedate genre into other abstracts that ultimately provide a energizing outlook. Ultimately, it's what they do what with their tools via a progression of offsetting micro-motifs that provides the knockout blow.

Dafnis Prieto

About The Monks

ZOHO Music

Plain and simple, Cuban-born drummer/percussionist Dafnis Prieto is a young dynamo. Add to that his mature sensibilities as a composer. Together with trumpeter Brian Lynch, who rounds out a base quintet, Prieto emerges as an artist who possesses amazing chops to coincide with a modernist type view of the Afro-Cuban jazz idiom. Extremely fast via blazing polyrhythms, Prieto bounces his sticks off small percussion instruments within his highly creative approach to drumming. He's a one-man percussion machine within these pieces consisting of punchy horn charts and briskly maneuvered time signatures. With this effort, the artist has firmly implanted his craft and mystique within the multinational jazz scene.

Radio Tek San


Dossier Records

Electronics outing by Geoff Serle and guitarist Tim Crowther contains elements of the past, such as drum machine-induced hand claps with spacey synth swashes and ominously engineered rhythms. However, the duo's rendering of ideas and upbeat scope of attack does suggest a contemporary slant. It's highly listenable and bridges that sometimes opaque EFX-drenched arena, where headiness transparently coalesces with simply orchestrated melodies.

Michael Ross Quartet

Year Of The Dog

Michael Ross Quartet

This Tampa, Florida based jazz-fusion quartet's latest is perhaps its most revealing production to date. Michael Ross possesses one of the fattest acoustic bass sounds you'll likely hear. And along with drummer Walt Hubbard, the foundation is firmly set for the lucid and somewhat aggressive guitar-sax attack. Add to that, Ross and guitarist LaRue Nickelson's memorable comps, boasting balanced segments of scathing solos and lyrically rich choruses. Overall, the band mixes it up rather nicely via these hard-driving pieces, thus providing a hearty snapshot of an ensemble that warrants widespread attention.

Arke String Project with Stefano Bollani and Gabriele Mirabassi


EGEA Records

What a beautifully realized project it is! Featuring the five-piece Arke Strings unit along with Stefano Bollani (piano) and Gabriele Mirabassi (clarinet), this set contains lush melodies written for jazzy themes. Here, bittersweet etudes give way to optimistic viewpoints tinged with Mediterranean underpinnings and other pleasantries. The artists finalize this production with a buoyant spin on Joe Zawinul's "Birdland." This Italian record label boasts a wealth of high caliber productions. Hence, another jazz entity in need of duly earned recognition here in the USA.

Dom Minasi

Quick Response

CDM Records

You might not ordinarily associate modern jazz guitarist and consummate improviser Dom Minasi with mainstream jazz tendencies. The same could be said for saxophonist Mark Whitecage, appearing here along with Kyle Koehler (organ) and John Bollinger (drums). The quartet does abide by a quick response slant, although the muse is relatively straightforward and altogether invigorating. They make bop sound easy! And there are some tender moments. But the four-way interactions and fluid soloing escapades are earmarks of what this group is all about. In addition, Minasi's rippling single note runs are counterbalanced by Whitecage's turbo-mode sax lines. The majority of these pieces were composed by Minasi sans a few standards, and what a welcome surprise it is! They make it all seem effortless and unaffected!


Barricade 3

ReR Megacorp

French keyboardist/composer Hector Zazou and musical associates venture into quaint sound-shaping motifs during this delightful outing, featuring woodwind performers, percussion, guitar, and synths. Recorded in 1977 and now reissued, the record involves the use of now ancient Arp keyboards, which do indeed cast a retro slant. And that's part of the charm, especially when we consider the ongoing MIDI revolution. Much of this album is engineered upon brief works, boasting attractive melodies and unpretentious themes amid a few out-of-the-blue diversions.

Sten Sandell - David Stackenas - Evan Parker - Barry Guy - Paul Lytton

Freedom of the City 2004 - Gubbrora

Psi Records

The latest Freedom of the City improvisers festival features pianist Sten Sandell and acoustic guitarist David Stackness performing duets and solo works. For the grand finale, Evan Parker (saxophones) Barry Guy (bass) and Paul Lytton (percussion) join the duo for an extended improvisation. Sandell and Stackenas tiptoe through a series of counterbalancing dialogues where fragments of ideas are wildly sewn together. The union of disparate tones and insightful interactions among these folks generally spawns annexes to previously enacted dialogues. And of course, the ensemble's principal sense of movement is apt to stray off into various symmetries, although the musicians most assuredly reside within the same plane.

Horacio El Negro Hernandez and Robby Ameen

Robby and Negro at the Third World War (La Timba No Ed Como Ayer)

American Clave

Two of the world's finest Afro-Cuban jazz drummers tear the house down throughout this undeniably vivacious program produced by Kip Hanrahan. And once you get through Ruben Blades' passionate rendering of The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil," then the real fun begins. The drummers lead a large ensemble of New York City's finest through pieces featuring melodic organ grooves and spicy hot salsa-based horn arrangements. The added dimension pertains to the drummers' trade offs and counterbalancing rhythmic endeavors. Featured artists include bassist Essiet Essiet, keyboardist John Beasley, and other notable jazz and Latin-jazz artists.

Cecil Taylor

All The Notes

Cadence Jazz Records

There's no substitute for greatness, as they say. And this live recording provides a good indicator of pianist Cecil Taylor's identifiable musical persona. It's a generally hard-hitting trio date built upon three improvisations. Taylor's layered voicings dispel micro motifs and faint melodies, even when he is engaged in massive chord clusters. Dominic Duval (bass) and Jackson Krall (drums) receive ample stretching room while furnishing the rhythmic ammo Taylor demands.

Matthew Garrison


Matthew Garrison

No doubt about it, electric bassist Matthew Garrison possesses the goods to go just about anywhere he so desires. On this self-produced release, the bassist and others intersperse programming, synths, percussion, samples, guitars and horns for a high-tech, yet palatable sequence of events. Garrison often harmonizes unison lines with his bandmates via near effortless speed to complement an abundance of thematically oriented choruses. Bassists beware...

The Yohimbe Brothers

The Tao Of Yo

Thirsty Ear

The Yohimbe Brothers are turntable/FX artist DJ Logic and guitarist Vernon Reid. Along with guest vocalists and featured instrumentalists, this album transmits an electrified view of urban life, honed down by hip-hop, jazz-rock, and electronica. As we might expect, Reid lets loose with legato-tinged and fuzz-toned soloing escapades atop odd-metered funk grooves, vocal effects and Graham Haynes' cornet lines. However, the musicians pronounce an elevated art form that kind of spearheads a newer movement where genrehopping is implanted and then restructured. Thus, the proverbial old (DJ) school is transformed into a blossoming playing field where the sky is the limit.

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