Articles by Glenn Astarita

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Platform: Flux Reflux

Read "Flux Reflux" reviewed by

French clarinetist Xavier Charles along with three inventive Norwegian instrumentalists acutely align their imaginative powers amid a curiously interesting soundstage, steeped in free-form minimalism, ambience, layered tonal shadings and so on. Fractured storylines, along with oddball tunings and Charles' multidimensional phrasings and acoustic effects may fake the listener into thinking the program contains electronics but no such devices are listed on the personnel listings. They occasionally explore the guts of their respective instruments along with subliminal ostinato motifs, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Heath Watts - Blue Armstrong: Bright Yellow with Bass

Read "Bright Yellow with Bass" reviewed by

The musicians underscore the tone of this program by citing a quote from renowned artist Wassily Kandinsky: “The sound of colors is so definite that it would be hard to find anyone who would express bright yellow with bass notes or dark lake with treble." But of course, the interpretations are decided by the listening audience, especially since most of these works are steeped in the free-jazz realm. Heath Watts (soprano sax) and Blue Armstrong (bass) yield a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dave Douglas: Little Giant Still Life

Read "Little Giant Still Life" reviewed by

Dave Douglas has evolved into one of the giants of jazz. He's willing to take chances and expands familiar concepts, while possessing a signature sound and style amid all his technical gifts. On this release he charts a brass and drums course with the New York-based 4-man horn section and recording artists The Westerlies, along with ace drummer Anwar Marshall (Kurt Rosenwinkel, Fresh Cut Orchestra). Due to the all-brass framework I occasionally experienced a bit of listening fatigue, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Vector Families: For Those About To Jazz / Rock We Salute You

Read "For Those About To Jazz / Rock We Salute You" reviewed by

Drummer Dave King (The Bad Plus, Dave King Trucking Company) has been a significant protagonist within the burgeoning Minneapolis / St. Paul progressive jazz scene amid various ensembles' --including Vector Families --stark experimentalism. Here, the drummer along with esteemed veteran bassist Anthony Cox steer the mutable groove-building episodes on an album that places jazz rock inside an avant-garde dynamic. Hence, these compositions are executed with asymmetrical parts improvisation and structure. With the opener “Free Funk!," King ignites the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Black Diamond: Mandala

Read "Mandala" reviewed by

This Chicago-based quartet projects a raw and vibrant soundstage, nicely balanced with breakneck speed unison lines and introspective dialogues, topped off by tenor saxophonists Artie Black and Hunter Diamond's hearty choruses. They dig deep, yet on burners like the swiftly executed bop piece “Rudy's Mood," they dish out briskly executed unison lines, leading to hyper-mode frameworks, shrewdly contrasted by a sense of openness. Hence, the band doesn't clutter things up with tireless soloing escapades. Basically, the saxophonists effectively pick their ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marco von Orelli - Max E. Keller - Sheldon Suter: Blow, Strike & Touch

Read "Blow, Strike & Touch" reviewed by

The members of this experimental Swiss trio have been significant contributors to the avant-garde, or perhaps outside realm of European jazz circles for many years. But this album is bundled with perpetual reconstruction efforts, drifting sequences and mini-themes that are sometimes meditative in scope amid several transient pieces that intersect the full-length works. Nonetheless, the musicians craft an intimate portraiture framed on textural shadings, trumpeter Marco von Orelli's multiphonics and segments where pianist Max E. Keller summons darkness via asymmetrical ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Roscoe Mitchell: Discussions

Read "Discussions" reviewed by

Saxophonist, composer, supreme improviser and a seminal artist for modern times, Roscoe Mitchell's (AACM, Art Ensemble of Chicago) illimitable inventiveness shines forth on this outing that encompasses a 20-piece orchestra, bridging experimentalism and counterbalancing song forms with nouveau classical music applications. The final piece is seemingly derived from a New Orleans slang expression “Who Dat," which is a mind-bending 22-minute opus. Commencing with somber strings and crosscutting percussion patterns, James Fei's synth articulations signal impressions of nature, paralleling ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jonah Parzen-Johnson: I Try To Remember Where I Come From

Read "I Try To Remember Where I Come From" reviewed by

Originally from Chicago, baritone saxophonist Jonah Parzen-Johnson calls Brooklyn, N.Y. home these days but absorbed the creative spirit resident in the Windy City's progressive jazz legacy early on his career, studying and performing with some of the best. For example, he learned a great deal under the tutelage of woodwinds master Mwata Bowden, who is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. With his fourth album as a leader and first for Clean Feed, the artist ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Magda Mayas - Jim Denley: Tempe Jetz

Read "Tempe Jetz" reviewed by

Magda Mayas (Germany) performs on a 1970s manufactured clavinet with reedman Jim Denley (Australia), augmented by their use of field recordings, as they pay homage to a “marginalized corner" of Sydney, Australia on this experimental and irrefutably adventurous improv fest. Yet I wouldn't be so bold to suggest that this is easy listening but for the most part, it's relatively subdued. The duo projects organic minimalism amid the sounds of nature and bizarre tone poems that move forward ...


Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.