Articles by John Sharpe

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Barry Guy's Blue Shroud Band at Aghavannagh Barracks

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Barry Guy Blue Shroud Band Aghavannagh Barracks Wicklow, Ireland August 14-15, 2019 Have you ever wondered what goes into a performance? For some it might just be a quick run through of familiar standards, while for free improvisers any prep at all might be anathema. But for a large ensemble rehearsal is pretty much essential. Even more so when it comprises 14 musicians from nine countries who don't get together on a regular basis, as ...

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Nate Wooley/Dave Rempis/Pascal Niggenkemper/Chris Corsano: Strandwal

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Strandwal constitutes the second release by From Wolves To Whales, the all star unit comprising reedman Dave Rempis, trumpeter Nate Wooley, bassist Pascal Niggenkemper and drummer Chris Corsano. It presents two full sets from a 2017 concert in Haarlem in the Netherlands on a double CD, packed with constant dialogue. This is pretty much state of the art free jazz, but they make it sound so easy. There's none of the tentativeness or falling back on easy responses which might ...

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Steve Baczkowski: Old Smoke

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Reedman Steve Baczkowski would surely be better known had he not remained in Buffalo, NY, where he grew up and studied, as he possesses a fearsome sound. In his guise as Music Director of Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in his hometown, he's undoubtedly familiar with the German saxophone titan Peter Brötzmann, who is clearly an inspiration. There's the same huge vibrato and worrying of a prolonged note, like a dog with a bone. He's also inclined to simple extemporized melodies ...

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Somersaults: Numerology Of Birdsong

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Without fanfare, the rhythm section of bassist Olie Brice and drummer Mark Sanders has become one of the UK's premier engine-rooms for free improvisation. That's borne out by association with not only the great reedman Tobias Delius, perhaps best known for his tenure in the ICP Orchestra, but also players as diverse as Polish reedman Mikolaj Trzaska and British saxophonist Rachel Musson. Both Brice and Sanders enjoy an almost telepathic communication, which enables handbrake turns and smooth accelerations, juxtaposed with ...

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Sunny Murray: Homework

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Sunny Murray, who died in December 2017, was one of the pioneers of free-jazz drumming, having established himself on seminal discs with pianist Cecil Taylor and saxophonist Albert Ayler during the 1960s. Homework presents Murray in 1994 in a bare-bones trio format with a pair of young Philadelphia musicians who went on to work in indie rock. Guitarist Robert Andreano, then 22 years old, relates in the liner notes how his friendship with Murray developed and the idea to record ...

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The Fictive Five: Anything Is Possible

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Anything Is Possible constitutes the second release from a quintet first convened by San Francisco-based reedman Larry Ochs for his 2013 residency at The Stone in New York. Following that successful summit, and perhaps not unrelated, the pairing of trumpeter Nate Wooley and bassist Pascal Niggenkemper, players as at home in extemporized form as in adventurous timbral innovation, has also featured on saxophonist Dave Rempis' From Wolves To Whales (Aerophonic, 2014), and on On Parade In Parede (Clean Feed, 2017) ...

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Paula Shocron & Pablo Diaz: Diálogos

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Argentinian pianist Paula Shocron and drummer Pablo Díaz have already reached out to embrace like-minded spirits in New York, including bassist William Parker on Emptying The Self (NendoDango Records, 2017), and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter on Co-operative Sound #2 (NendoDango Records, 2017). They similarly returned to New York to record Diálogos, but this time they sought out their countryman clarinetist Guillermo Gregorio, who relocated to the US many years before. Together they inscribe a series of miniatures where atmosphere and timbral ...

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Sam Rivers: Emanation

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This unissued 1971 live date from the Jazz Workshop in Boston is the first in a projected eight volume series sourced from the personal archive of the multi-instrumentalist Sam Rivers, who died in 2011. It captures Rivers with his trio of the period, completed by bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Norman Connors, over two freewheeling sets. Rivers was one of the most significant voices in the 1960s avant-garde. He recorded classic albums for Blue Note, was a founder member of ...

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Tomeka Reid - Filippo Monico: The Mouser

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Cellist Tomeka Reid reveals another aspect of her artistry on The Mouser, on five unfettered excursions in the company of Italian percussionist Filippo Monico. Rather than the supple propulsion and poised angularity of her eponymous quartet (Thirsty Ear, 2015) or the AACM repertoire of Artifacts (482 Music, 2015), Reid concentrates on exploring the full resources of her instrument to respond in the moment to her fellow protagonist. Indeed, this is one of those albums where the focus is more on ...

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Gabriel Ferrandini: Volúpias

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Portuguese drummer Gabriel Ferrandini seeks out a different path on Volúpias. He puts aside the bustling asymmetric momentum, familiar from his tenure in the celebrated Red Trio and with saxophonist Rodrigo Amado's Motion Trio, to explore compositional realms. In 2016 he started his new approach with an artistic residency in the prestigious ZDB venue, where he was joined by bassist Hernâni Faustino (from the Red Trio) and tenor saxophonist Pedro Sousa (his partner in the punning PeterGabriel duo). The result ...

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Frode Gjerstad: Day Two

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Detail was a band ahead of its time. The co-operative trio formed in 1981 by Norwegian reedman Frode Gjerstad and English drummer John Stevens, was completed in its first incarnation by South African bassist Johnny Dyani. Day Two was recorded in Gjerstad's hometown Stavanger, and as the name suggests, it was the result of the second day in the studio, following on from the session which generated Backwards And Forwards (Impetus, 1982). Originally released by Gjerstad as Okhela in cassette ...

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Spring Roll: Episodes

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French flautist Sylvaine Hélary's Spring Roll follow up their ambitious debut Printemps (Ayler, 2015) with another adventurous outing on Episodes. While the first disc incorporated words and voices, the twist this time is that Hélary commissioned works from three of New York City's finest composer-improvisers, pianists Matt Mitchell and Kris Davis, and saxophonist Dan Blake, to supplement two numbers from the band. In addition to the 2018 studio session responsible for most of the recording, Davis appears as a special ...


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