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As Weekertoft approaches its first anniversary, its teething troubles seem over as it is settling down into a pattern of releasing music regularly. Of the label's two latest releases, one is on CD, the other a download, a balanced approach that seems likely to become the norm. The download release is significant for two connected reasons: it is the label's first release not to feature one of its proprietors, guitarist John Russell and pianist Paul G. Smyth; and, with music dating back to 2000 and 2001, it is also the first time that Weekertoft has dipped into the vast archive of recordings from the monthly Mopomoso concerts, in order to issue older music. The prospect of other music that could emerge from the vaults is mouth-watering....
Paul G. Smyth / Chris Corsano Psychic Armour Weekertoft 2016
Following hot on the heels of the download release of Paul G. Smyth's fine solo album The Warning Signs comes this welcome CD release by the duo of Smyth and US improvising drummer extraordinaire Chris Corsano. It was recorded in April 2015, at the National Concert Hall in Smyth's native Dublin, a venue at which he has regularly performed in duos with such high-profile performers as bassist John Edwards, cellists Hannah Marshall and Okkyung Lee, saxophonists Alan Wilkinson, Evan Parker and Peter Brötzmann, trombonist Sarah Gail Brand andmost relevant to this albumdrummers Ståle Liavik Solberg and David Lacey, such encounters having sharpened his skills as an improvising duo player.
Given that Corsano also has an extensive track record in duosnotably with saxophonists Paul Flaherty and Joe McPhee, and guitarist Bill Orcuttwhen he and Smyth met, it seemed that sparks were guaranteed to fly. As the YouTube clip from the performance demonstrates, that was certainly the case, with both of them playing full-on right from the start, and neither hiding from the demands of the encounter.
With the energy and focus on display, it is tempting to compare the meeting to two heavyweights coming toe-to-toe, prepared to slug it out... but that would not do it justice, as it would ignore the co-operation and empathy between the two. A better analogy is of a cordial but heated discussion, with each point made by either player being considered, developed, commented upon and then refuted or accepted by the other, in an ongoing back-and-forth exchange that is rich in detail.
Across the three tracks, totalling over fifty-five minutes, there are occasional periods where one or other is alone in the spotlightbuilding a protracted solo or injecting an individual flourishbut neither player seeks to dominate the other. Instead, the two contribute equally to the music's impressive variety, momentum and musicality. Their music is guaranteed to quickly draw in listeners and keep them engaged throughout. Please may this duo become more than just a one-off encounter.
Chris Burn / Matthew Hutchinson Rev, Cook and Out Weekertoft 2016
The duo of Chris Burn on trumpet and Matthew Hutchinson on synthesisers (the latter should not be confused with the US pianist of exactly the same name) is in stark contrast to the Smyth-Corsano for several reasons. Both Burn and Hutchinson are from an older generation than Smyth and Corsano, and have been actively involved with Mopomoso and Fete Quaqua from the start. The two have played together for decades, dating back at least to 1990, when Hutchinson was a member of Burn's Ensemble that recorded Cultural Baggage (Acta, 1990), alongside John Butcher, Jim Denley, Phil Durrant, Marcio Mattos, John Russell and Stevie Wishartan impressive line-up.
Burn and Hutchinson are a long-established duo, their first released recording being on Freedom of the City 2002: Small Groups (Emanem, 2002); the music here pre-dates that, having been recorded in October 2000 and June 2001 at The Red Rose, the home of Mopomoso for many years. Burn and Hutchinson can be seen together on many YouTube clips, including that below from 2014. With so much shared history, it is hardly surprising that the pair are empathetic to the point of telepathy. The fact that Burn is himself a pianist, albeit a very different one to Hutchinson, doubtless strengthens the bond between them. It may also be the reason that Hutchinson, despite being a formidable pianist, plays synthesiser here rather than piano. Whatever the reason, the combination of synth and trumpet works very well, producing an unusual but appealing soundscape. The two are equal partners, rather than the synth acting as support or accompaniment, each of them constantly searching for sounds to complement those of their partner.
Rather than Smith and Corsano's heated debate, this comes across more as a friendly chat between two old mates who are enjoying each other's company. Across the three tracks whose titles are combined in the album title, just under an hour of music, the two give a master class in sympathetic listening, never losing touch with one another; reacting to each other, they constantly manage to move their music forward without any hint of repetition, deviation or hesitation. The end result is a textbook example of duo improvisation. Out of the many hours of archive recordings at the label's disposal, it is easy to see why this one was chosen for release. Although very different, both these releases auger well for Weekertoft's future.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Taming in the Power Cut; The Through Line; Psychic Armour.
Personnel: Paul G. Smyth: piano; Chris Corsano: drums
Rev, Cook and Out
Tracks: Rev; Cook; Out.
Personnel: Chris Burn: trumpet; Matthew Hutchinson: synthesisers.
I love jazz because when I was a kid pop music was bland, plain, uneventful until one day I heard a tune on a juke box entitled Jump Red Jump By Tenor Saxophonist Red Prysock brother of Arthur Prysock
I love jazz because when I was a kid pop music was bland, plain, uneventful until one day I heard a tune on a juke box entitled Jump Red Jump By Tenor Saxophonist Red Prysock brother of Arthur Prysock. It was love at first sight . This was when Blues, Soul / Gospel Style Music was becoming popular amongst kids as well as hip adults and featured Ray Charles, Big Joe Turner and The Payola era DJ's such as Alan Freed. Not many people remember that Freed's Rock n Roll Band of the 1950's was The Count Basie Orchestra featuring the Guy Singer Tony Bennett (Anthony DiBenedetto) who grew up in Astoria, NYNY right next to my Home Town Jackson Heights NYNY.
I was first exposed to jazz when I heard Red Prysock, Sam The Man Taylor & groups like the Chord Cats recording of Shaboom! It made the Crew Cuts look LAME! Now Jazz, Blues, Soul, Gospel was pretty much joined at the hip back then and I learned that the tasteful Music was featured on The African American Radio Stations which led me to DJ's Like The Bruce, Jocko Henderson, Tommy Dr. Jive Smalls and eventually Symphony Sid Torin, China Valles and Len Pace. This all took place during my high school years and the following years in NYNY and South Florida. I actually flew to Copenhagen Denmark in 1961 to see Stan Getz, (One of my top 3 heroes in the Music Bird, Pres & Getz not necessarily in that order). Sadly Getz had already left town and snuck back into NYNY where he played Birdland (Undoubtedly without a cabaret card due to smack addiction.) No problem for me as I worked for Pan American Airways at the time and enjoyed a 90% Employee Discount.
I met Thelonious Monk, Stan Kenton, Warne Marsh, Lenny Tristano, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Frank Foster, Dr. Lonnie Smith, among many others over the years.
The best show I ever attended was The Randall's Island Jazz Festival NYNY 1960. Monk & Edward Ellington Kennedy AKA Duke, starred among numerous others. I can not recall the entire Line Up but Monk brought along his Hat Collection which at the time contained I believe he told me 33 or 35 international Hats which he periodically changed often during his Solos. I have been unable to find that roster for that particular festival and since it was long ago I remember mostly Monk & Duke. Paul Gonsalvas played his legendary trademark twenty something chorus solo in between Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue which was outstanding.
The first jazz record I bought was Firstly, my Bro George was / is a Marine and he sent home his wax collection of LP's from Camp Pendleton CA before deploying to Okinawa in 1956 I think. Bird, Getz, Mulligan & Baker, Erroll Garner, Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Jazz at Newport 1956 and many more. I fell in love with Bird, Getz and Jeru & Chet for openers. Pres to my mind takes the all time Tenor Award and Budo, Piano etc.! However I digress Getz Long Island Sound and every other Getz record that I could find that was 1957 by then and I snuck in to Birdland for the First of many times before I was 18 ( Legal drinking age back then) It wasn't until just after my 18th Birthday that I was carded much to the bouncers chagrin as he recognized me as having being an established customer by then.
My advice to new listeners: Listen to the Music and keep it in the forefront not the background. A Local Band Leader whose name escapes me once said to me Jerry you can make time for the chicks later the Music is in the now and is more important than chicks ever will be. He was correct!
Next see live performances and introduce yourself to the Players most of whom will be respectful. Some, however, are unapproachable such as when I saw Miles so many times but his obvious disdain for certain fans was evident and he always walked off the stage after soloing. (Eddie Jefferson sang words to So What that so indicated this)!