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Taking stock, a year half over

Mark Corroto By

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Last week, while perusing my local beer shop, I saw a bottle of peanut butter & chocolate ale. I had to buy it. God bless small craft breweries, they are the only ones willing to experiment with new tastes and combinations of flavors. The same can be said for small music labels like Peira Records. A fine example of new flavor combinations is this duo of drummer Tim Daisy and bass clarinetist Jason Stein, both in-demand Chicago musicians. Daisy, a gravitational body himself, can be heard in many bands, including Dave Rempis' Percussion Quartet and The Engines, Ken Vandermark's Made to Break and Resonance Ensembles, as a solo artist and in duo with everyone and his brother. Likewise, Stein is a stunning solo performer, as demonstrated in his release In Exchange For A Process (Leo Records, 2009). He also leads Locksmith Isidore and is a member of Frank Rosaly's Cicada Music and the Boris Hauf Sextet. Daisy and Stein play together in the Russ Johnson Quartet and Kyle Bruckmann's Wrack.

Pairing them for a snug session was pure genius. Stein's woody sounds complement the signature percussive work of Daisy, that can shift from an ethereally free sound to jazz to rock without, as they say, missing a beat. The pair opens with "Calumet," a probing and tentative exploratory piece that layers popping and fluttered clarinet against the rattling of brushes on metal. The piece gains a (sort of) momentum that forecasts the remainder of the session. Switching to sticks on skin, Daisy's locomotive style fuels deeper passages from Stein on "Center Pier," and "Standing West." The bass clarinetist might begin his approach at Eric Dolphy, but he has developed his own voice. Perhaps more nimble than Dolphy, he possesses his instrument by barking out those low notes but also commanding the upper register with ease. The highlight here may be the title track, where the two combine their inside/outside approach, displaying their full arsenal of sound. Daisy and Stein, two great tastes that taste great together.

Thomas Heberer / Achim Kaufmann Knoten Red Toucan 2013

A first time recording from a pair of longtime collaborators, Knoten finds German trumpeter Thomas Heberer and pianist Achim Kaufmann performing a series of stark duets. Confederates since the 1980s, the pair come across as a natural fit. Perhaps the rise of minimalist and free trumpeters like Axel Dorner, Peter Evans, and Franz Hautzinger and pianists Matthew Shipp, Andrea Neumann, and Sten Sandell makes the timing right for this session. Kaufmann, a frequent collaborator with Frank Gratkowski and Wilbert De Joode, also recorded the stellar discs Second Reason (2012) and Grünen (2010) with Christian Lillinger for the Clean Feed label. Heberer, a member of the Instant Composer's Pool (ICP), has also found critical success with his band Clarino, an inventive trio with bassist Pascal Niggenkemper and clarinetists Joachim Badenhorst. The music on Knoten balances its scored chamber music approach with improvisation and extended technique. Leaving one to ponder if the breaths Heberer takes on 'Großer Onkel" (Big Uncle) are scripted or impromptu. The trumpeter displays some fine circular breathing here, while Kaufmann investigates the insides of his piano. Heberer can imitate the sounds of a baby crying or a dog panting, as he does on "Mâchoire." Even though the pair are skilled at extended technique, the freedom displayed is not the main attraction here. Their 'sounds' are made in service of the compositions, both scored prior to this session and instantly composed.

Albert Ayler Live On The Riviera ESP 2013

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