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New Offerings From Clean Feed

Mark Corroto By

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If you have to pick a label to mark an era in jazz, you might suggest Prestige in the 1950s, Blue Note ('60s), CTI ('70s), Columbia ('80s), and Knitting Factory ('90s) as the spokesmen for those particular decades of jazz. With this new century came an evolution in do-it-yourself musicians and the inevitable revolution into the smaller (say "independent") labels as arbiters of fashion.

In this new millennium the label Clean Feed Records from Portugal has presented more new artists (both from the US and Europe) and the widest diversity of styles than any other small label. This sampling of their recent titles is a great indication of what's happening now.

Herb Robertson
Clean Feed

Trumpeter Herb Robertson's is certainly an unrecorded master of the trumpet. His contribution to the Downtown New York scene shows, however that he is not under appreciated. This work with both Tim Berne and Mark Helias was both refreshing and innovative. In this 2004 recording, he brings back this friend Tim Berne for an extended piece of structured music and plenty of free playing. His New York reunion with Berne, Mark Dresser and Tom Rainey also includes the Swiss pianist Sylvie Courvoiser. Thinking she is quite the introspective player from her ECM work, would be incorrect. Robertson inspires all into his open relaxed playing. This suite has either fourteen sections or three! Robertson's writing allows for entrances and exits—tension and climax, all within the logic of his rambling existence.

Michael Blake Trio
Right Before Your Very Ears
Clean Feed

Saxophonist Michael Blake is a veteran of John Lurie's bands and those of bassist Ben Allison's Jazz Composer's Collective. Where his prior solo work mixes and matches sometimes dissimilar styles, this concise session is a straight trio date of almost all first takes done very old-school. Blake, Ben Allison and drummer Jeff Ballard recorded this disc much like the jazzmen of the 1950s, all in one session and live-off-the floor to a two-channel stereo mix. Call it raw or unshaven, the music is quite immediate and unlike any Blake recording to date.

The session opens with a blast, knocking you back on "Run For Cover. The trio announce their will be no easy listening moods tonight. Blake works around Allison's acceleration/decelerations of time on "Flip dancing around Ballard's beat. Thelonious Monk's "San Francisco Holiday finds Blake with two horns in his mouth. One paints with a roller, the other the fine lines. Blake is from the fat tenor school. His blurts and blats have a viscous feel, that express emotion long after they leave the bell of his horn. By the time his solemn march ends the disc, you have already fallen in line and are more than willing to walk into the sunset with him.

Paal Nilssen-Love
Clean Feed

It is easy to forget the "special" nature of an Evan Parker performance. His unique saxophone sound graces hundreds of recordings (and more are coming out every month!). Parker's instantly recognizable sounds, whether in circular breathing or just his slippery slurs of phase are almost essential elements of the modern improvised saxophone language. This live recording from 2002 finds Parker with Norwegian rhythm section of bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, plus Swedish pianist Sten Sandell. Nilssen-Love has received much attention working lately with Ken Vandermark and Mats Gustafsson. The three pieces recorded here, two lengthy and one nearly nine minutes, are improvised. The band flirts with energy bursts and quite nice reflective moments.

We Will Make A Home For You
Clean Feed

Keith Jarrett said he stopped playing the electric piano after his Miles' fusion years because it was only a toy. A toy maybe, but in the hands of Pandelis Karayorgis it makes for a very fresh experience. The mi3 trio plays Fender Rhodes piano against acoustic bass/drums on original compositions, plus four by Thelonious Monk and "Gazzelloni by Eric Dolphy. The deft rhythm section of Curt Newton and Nate McBride (check them out with Ken Vandermark in the band Tripleplay) set up the experiments here. The inside/outside take on music, especially Monk, is served well by Karayorgis' use of distortion and wah pedals. This now seemingly very "old-school sound get a boost with all the effects laid down.

Mark Dresser
Clean Feed

Bassist Mark Dresser has been in the thick of it for quite some time now. From his early West Coast work with David Murray to later interactions with Anthony Braxton, Tim Berne, John Zorn, Gerry Hemingway, and Satoko Fujii to his recent release Time Changes (Cryptogramphone), he has always stood out on the traditionally nondescript instrument. It seems he has always favored the solo performance. On Unveil, he delivers eleven separate compositions over 48 minutes. Not a strict timekeeper, Dresser favors extended techniques, pedals, basically pressure and release of energy systems. Yes, the music (er, sounds) experiments with boundaries. He is able to deliver quire a bit of texture here with some sound engineering (detailed in the liner notes). This powerful experience ends with the very beautiful "Bacachaonne, a reinterpretation of Bach dedicated to Cuban bassist Israel "Cachao Lopez.

Jean-Marc Foltz/Bruno Chevillon
Cette Opacité
Clean Feed

Maybe the most outstanding characteristic of the Clean Feed label is its penchant to present new artists for our consideration. On Cette Opacité the French jazzmen Jean-Marc Foltz and Bruno Chevillon are showcased from a recording at the Jazzdoor Festival in Strasbourg from 2003. Chevillon is a familiar name from ECM recording with Louis Sclavis, but Foltz is an unknown to English speakers. These ten improvisations between double bass and clarinet or bass clarinet are joyful, humorous, contemplative, and thoroughly satisfying music making. The pair favor a quiet approach, utilizing space and pacing.

Tracks and Personnel


Track: Elaboration (48:28).

Personnel: Herb Robertson: trumpet, cornet, mutes, megaphone; Tim Berne: alto saxophone; Sylvie Courvoisier: piano, prepared piano; Mark Dresser: double bass; Tom Rainey: drums.

Right Before Your Very Ears

Tracks: Run For Cover; Funhouse; Mt. Harissa; Right Before Your Very Ears; Flip; Fly With The Wind; San Francisco Holiday; All Of This Is Yours; Carelass Love.

Personnel: Michael Blake: tenor and soprano saxophone; Ben Allison: bass; Jeff Ballard: drums.


Tracks: Town; Orchestra; House.

Personnel: Evan Parker: tenor and soprano saxophone; Sten Sandell: piano; Ingebrigt Håker Flaten: double bass; Paal Nilssen-Love: drums, percussion.

We Will Make A Home For You

Tracks: Gazzelloni; Ugly Beauty; Shuffle Boil; 3/4 vs 6/8 4/4 Time; Monk's Point, Three Plus Three; Centennial; Disambiguation; We See..

Personnel: Pandelis Karayorgis: Fender Rhodes; Nate McBraide: double bass; Curt Newton: drums.


Tracks: Lureal; Unveil; Clavuus; Undula; Kathroom; Cabalaba; Entwined; Pluto; For Scodanibbio; Lomus; Bacahaonne.

Personnel: Mark Dresser: solo bass.

Cette Opacité

Tracks: Le coin du désir soudain; Il est, on l'a vu; Didascalie; Le bruit court...; This imbalance and irs consequences; Le murmure des anges; Le voile est déchiré; Via San Teidoro 8; Entre faire et entendre; Cette Opacité.

Personnel: Jean-Marc Foltz: clarinet, bass clarinet; Bruno Chevillon: double bass.


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