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Articles by Glenn Astarita

ALBUM REVIEWS

Zack Clarke: Mesophase

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The album press pitch states that, “Mesophase is a term used in physics describing a state of matter that is neither liquid nor solid, sharing properties of both while defining a state unique unto itself." And for New York-based pianist, electronics ace Zack Clarke's second release as a leader for Clean Feed, the Mesophase correlation may allude to the largely unclassifiable music executed on this distinctive and persuasive effort that adjoins chamber, jazz, free-form and experimental mediums. At ...

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Marc Ducret - Joëlle Léandre: Chez Hélène

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The audience in attendance at the 19PaulFort venue in Paris, France must have been spellbound after witnessing these prolific and highly influential improvisers wield their magic. As leaders and collaborators bassist Joëlle Léandre and guitarist Marc Ducret have pretty much done it all over the years, evidenced by their extensive discographies. Here, the bassist is a galvanized catalyst via her fervent and precise strumming and impossibly fast bowing patterns as Ducret is often the colorist as they counterbalance each other ...

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Procol Harum: Live in Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

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This is an archival release by one of the celebrated prog outfits that is still relatively active, Procol Harum, that is remastered and expanded with bonus tracks, featuring fully restored artwork and liner notes. This 1972 classic stands as a seminal rock meets classical music endeavor, recorded live in Canada. Procol Harum founder, keyboardist/vocalist Gary Brooker wrote the parts for the Edmonton Symphony and Da Camera Singers for these compositions that are among the band's most notable pieces, ...

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Steven Wilson: Home Invasion: In Concert at the Royal Albert Hall

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One component of progressive rock composer/vocalist/guitarist/ Steve Wilson's widespread appeal pertains to his rather boyish charm and heartfelt vocal delivery. A strong composer and supreme melody-maker, the artist seduces the audience with the notions of living and breathing the experiences and implications of a song's lyrics. And he helped pave the way for post progressive rock stylizations as the founder of the hugely successful and influential band, Porcupine Tree. Moreover, he's collaborated with several named artists and ensembles over the ...

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Draksler - Eldh - Lillinger: Punkt.Vrt.Plastic

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Nascent drumming superhero Christian Lillinger and bassist Petter Eldh handle the rhythms in the riotously exciting, balls to the walls quartet Amok Amor, as the fun-factor and thrills a minute impetus morphs into this rapidly-moving trio featuring mega-talented Slovenian pianist, Kaja Draksler. At times the musicians run their course via ample doses of counterpoint and opposing forces that maintain the same tempo amid frolicsome skirmishes, scrappy detours and frenzied outbursts. Moreover, Draksler shows hints of becoming a stylist ...

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Mat Maneri / Matthew Shipp: Conference Of The Mat/ts

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Although their paths have crossed in other ensembles, this release is a follow-up to pianist Matthew Shipp and violist Mat Maneri's initial duet release, Gravitational Systems (Hat Hut, 2000). Here, the immensely talented improvisers perform a set that emphasizes their spontaneous instincts and deep understanding of each other's sense of direction, highlighted by a laser-like focus throughout this sparkling audio production. The duo experiments atop a fundamental jazz base, along with chamber-like overtones. On “Conference #1" Shipp and ...

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Davis - Frith - Greenlief: Lantskap Logic

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Guitarist Fred Frith (Henry Cow, Massacre, Arte Quartett) is one the earth's greatest improvisers. He is joined on Lantskap Logic by a pair of attuned futurists--pipe organist, educator Evelyn Davis (Cheer Accident), and saxophonist/composer Phillip Greenlief (They Might Be Giants)--to record this album at the Mills College chapel, which houses the pipe organ, and seemed to be an ideal venue for this rather utopian electro-acoustic musical event. Soon after this recording, Frith retired from his position as Professor ...

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Galasphere 347: Galasphere 347

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The record label duly notes that the ensemble's lineup is a pedigree from estimable progressive rock-based bands such as White Willow, Henry Fool, Änglagard, The Tim Bowess band, and more. Formed in 2018, Galasphere 347 occasionally draws similarities to prog giants, Porcupine Tree and Riverside amid the electro-symphonic stylings of many outfits from the strikingly advanced 1970s era and beyond, where rock was no longer relegated to 2/4 and 4/4 cadences with more emphasis placed on musicianship and complex song-forms. ...

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Ron Caines - Martin Archer Axis: Les Oiseaux de Matisse

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The founder of this UK-based label, reedman/multi-instrumentalist Martin Archer and many of his longtime or more recent cohorts radiate a seemingly eternal sphere of invention. Other than ongoing projects with specific artists or ensembles, no two albums are distinctly alike. Hence, the element of surprise is a recurring element. Here, Archer and saxophonist Ron Caines co-lead the septet for a multidimensional jazz-tinged bash amid colorific textures, pulsating free-form sprees, quaint oddities and other captivating attributes throughout the 77-minute runtime.

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Gordon Beeferman: Other Life Forms

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New York-based pianist, composer Gordon Beeferman is also a 2016 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow, in addition to his multifarious career spanning several music genres and extensive collaborations with a diverse array of artists and bands. On this outing he leads a quartet, featuring a notable cast of like-minded futurists. Beeferman is armed with a distinct compositional style and is perhaps an under-recognized leader amid the 'new' music vibe, where progressive jazz is fused with classical, ...

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Alister Spence / Satoko Fujii: Intelsat

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This is the ninth of twelve CDs celebrating leading-edge pianist, composer Satoko Fujii's 60th birthday. On this album Fujii and Australian keyboardist Alistir Spence (Barre Phillip, Myra Melford) perform a series of over-the-top duets in front of a live audience in 2017 at the Intelstat jazz venue in Kiracho, Nishio, Japan. The artists first met when Fuji and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura toured Australia in 2007, leading to subsequent collaborations. The duo's charismatic alliance is teeming with unbridled resourcefulness. ...

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Walter Fähndrich - Christy Doran - Remo Schnyder - Samuel Wettstein: Âme Sèche

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The literal translation of the album title from French to English looks to be 'soul dryer,' but in reality it could imply something else. Regardless, this international quartet abides by a surfeit of unorthodoxies. And while guitar hero Christy Doran is perhaps well-known to the global avant-jazz, improvisation and jazz fusion audience, the other artists' musical appetites span noise music, classical, jazz, improvisation and a host of cross-bred musical idioms. Nonetheless, the musicians' biographies are well-beyond the scope of this ...