Thursday, June 30, 2011

SEKSTETT: Gjerstad, Skaset, Grenager. Tatfjord, Molstad, Moe [Conrad Sound]


Frode Gjerstad - clarinets
Havard Skaset - guitars
Lene Grenager - cello
Hild Sofie Tafjord - french horn
Borre Molstad - tuba
Guro Skullsnes More - double bass

Conrad Sound 2010

A very intriguing release, with unusually big line-up playing minimalistic music which poses many questions about the limits of music, nature of sound and group interaction. Through 5 untitled fragments they create a wonderfully shape-shifting amalgam of sounds, timbres, reverbs.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fank Gratkowski & Hamid Drake - S/T [VALID]

Frank Gratkowski - alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
Hamid Drake - drums and percussion

Valid Records 2010

Sax(reeds)-drums duos are among my favourites, this format is a vehicle that allows the musicians the freedom to go any direction they want, while providing the means to play simply just the two elements that are primal to music - rhythm & melody.
Add to that premise the presence of Hamid Drake who brings light and life to the music anytime he plays and is one of the busiest drummers in the field - it's a true joy to see him live on stage whatever the group he's playing  with as he makes the drums set dance and sing and play. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Antonio Quijano Quartet (Paul Dunmall, Philip Gibbs, Marco Anderson) - Songs From Another Blue Planet [SLAM]

Antonio Quijano - 31TET bass guitar, bajo profundo ordinario
Paul Dunmall - soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, clarinet, chanter
Philip Gibbs - Sabre electric guitar, Marble, Donuts
Marco Anderson - tamboros electricos, piano

Jonathan Scott - djembe
Ruby Tuesday Anderson - voice

SLAM Records 2011

This release is an effort of bringing together the world of fusion and free jazz, trying to mesh the power of the groove with the wild improvisation. The background story of the realisation of this music brings more points to this argument - not only the leader of the group could not show to one of the two recording sessions and had to add his line after the improvisation had already happened, but some the order of musical narration has bas been altered and rescheduled in a vein of famous Teo Macero / Miles Davis experiments. Fortunately, apart from some more evident (purposedly so) loops, these manipulations are not so evident or invasive, even if their presence in itself goes against my idea of spontaneous creation.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rafal Mazur / Marek Pospieszalski / Qba Janicki at Alchemia (22.06)

I praised all three members of this trio on numerous occasions. Yesterday's concert is yet another occasion to do that so here it goes:
I never can really tell what makes the free improvised music performance successfull. There's so many variables, so many factors, so many elements to be balanced. If writing about any kind of music is difficult, it is even more so in a case of music performance that comes from willing to escape any kind of musical barriers, stylistic norms and confines.
With fragile textures woven in the air (ostinato walks on the bass, melodic clouds of percussion sounds, circular labirynths of lines on the saxophone) or heavy and slow drones. Hard and edgy or soft and barely audibly. This music escapes any kind of generalisation, any kind of catchy 'one-line' summary. 
I always admired Janicki's killer punk-rock instincts but he shows himself to be not only a very versatile drummer but also a creative geek, using a laptop and some kind of touchpad device to create drones, loops, process the live sound. Sometimes he adds a completely different sound (piano clusters, thumb piano, gongs), sometimes his loops add a rhythmic structure, otherwise they provide meditative background. With Qba Janicki splitting in half his duties between the laptop and the drums set the group shifts swiftly through  the series of close interactions, to the point in which is hard to say that the electronic transformations are just the bridging interludes and they become equally important part of the performance.

Marek Pospieszalski is a very promising saxophone player, his sound indebted to Coltrane, but also influenced by Evan Parker, very keen to use extended techniques (especially agile with the circular breathing technique) creating myriads of sounds, intervowen lines, following the partners closely. I look forward to see him develop more personal attitude towards the instrument, maybe take also more commanding lead on the stage, not only to follow graciously, but to push the others out of their comfort zone. Nonetheless it's a pleasure to see him playing and I expect a lot more coming our way from this young player soon.

Rafal Mazur, due to his busy schedule in Krakow, is probably the most popular musician on this blog. Wise Man among the youngsters, never pushing himself to the front, rather trying to push his partners into the new regions (be it with a heavy walking line, delay effects, or bowing the strings to create a resonating sound that slowly dies in the air).
Focused performance, bringing the listeners into an outer space - not only because of some humorous sci-fi or game-boy sounds coming from the laptop - but rather becuase of the ethereal quality of the music, that bends the space and makes the time go in circles instead of a straight line. In fact a illusive repetition helps this group control the flow in a natural and semless way. The spontaneous creation was being enjoyed to the point that the musicians got lost near the end, not sure how (not wanting?) to end the track - possibly the only moment where they wandered to far and crossed the line between transcendent and monotonous (but it all ends well with a nice drumrolling crescendo).

I'm trying hard here with all this writing above to disprove the initial point of being there no sense in writing about freely improvised music. Not sure which way it went, all I know, and I recommend this solution to you with all the might of my hear and mind - there's all sense in seeing performances like this live. If those guys are playing near you - make sure to be there. If they're not, maybe they're others who do. Improvised music is always best served live.

photos by Krzysztof Penarski

Rafal Mazur - acoustic bass guitar
Marek Pospieszalski - tenor saxophone
Qba Janicki - drums, electronics

Alchemia. Krakow. 22.06.2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fire! with Jim O'Rourke - Unreleased? [Rune Grammofon]

Mats Gustafsson - baritone saxophone, fender saxophone, live electronics
Johan Berthling - electric bass
Andreas Werliin - drums and percussion
Jim O'Rourke - electric guitar, synthesizer, harmonica

Rune Grammofon 2011

A follow-up to the great "You liked me five minutes ago" released late 2009 by the band and one of the many collaborations between Mats Gustafsson and Sonic Youth guitarists (be it Jim O'Rourke or Thurston Moore, or both of them).
Don't expect jazz sound of any kind here, no swinging rhythms, even no furious attacks Mats is known for, it's quite for from any kind of jazz, free-jazz or free-improv music you might look for seeing his name on the list. Instead the group offers you a 40-minutes (way too short) ride into the world of hypnotic groove and psychodelic trans. Music that is patient and focused in a way it slowly evolves, moving through dark and eerie space.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Free Jazz Alchemist Radio archives with popular music

As told last week, no new live program tomorrow (monday) at 8pm CET, but an archives will be opened again and a program from 22.06.2009 will be re-aired. So tune for a joyful selection of jazz takes on songs by Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers and else :) fun and summer time!
the program will be played twice (which means the second turn starts around 10.05pm  CET)

 1. Lynne Arriale Trio - American Woman ( song by Lenny Kravitz who had played 2 days before the program was aired)
2. Atomic - Pyramid Song (song by Radiohead)
3. John Zorn Naked City - James Bond Theme
4. Doctor 3 - You've Got a Friend / Come Together / Georgia on My Mind
5. Yahoos - In a Sentimental Mood
6. Critter's Buggin - InSKI
7. Sex Mob - Not Boweevil
8. Alice Russell - Seven Nation Army (for something completely different)
9. Cibo Matto - Birthday Cake (for something completely different again)
10. Danilo Rea / Roberto Gatto - Road Trippin' (Red Hot Chili Peppers) / Azzurro (Palo Conte)
11. The Tiptons - Powerhouse
12. StraSax - Waiting Funk
13. Ray Anderson (with George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band) - Don't Mow Your Lawn
14. Doctor 3 - Californication (Red Hot Chili Peppers)/ Footprints (W.Shorter) / Forever 1 / Californication'
15. Jack Walrath & The Masters of Suspense - Love Enough For Everybody

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pawel Kaczmarczyk Ethno Sextet at Alchemia (15.06)

Paweł Kaczmarczyk is a representant of a very prolific generation of piano players in Poland (Marcin Wasilewski, Leszek Mozdzer, Slawek Jaskulke come to mind) and a sign of appreciation towards his music is the fact that his latest cd ("Complexity in Simplicity"; 2009) was released by an internationally recognised ACT label. 
Although his piano playing and the compositions are firmly based in hard-bop/post-bop roots, he's actively searching to expand his musical vocabulary, on a hunt for new inspirations (one of only few musicians I know that often can be spotted in the audience, especially when it comes to more mainstream side of jazz) and expanding his Audiofeeling Band (a piano trio) into the ethno - sextet gave him exactly the opportunity to do that - add a new perspective, an extra layer to his pieces as well as engage in more freely improvised dialogues, exploring the reign of world music.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Brian Settles Central Union - Secret Handshake [Engine]

Brian Settles - saxophone
Neil Podgurski - piano
Corcoran Holt - bass
Jeremy Carlstedt - drums
Jean Marie Collatin-Faye - percussion

Engine Studios 2011

I remember already writing about how exciting it is to be introduced to new names in improvised music - no expectations can lead to great and surprising discoveries, while they can't really dissapoint you too much (worst case scenario they leave you vaguely indifferent). Which is very cynical way to look at it I guess, but for me most importantly every new name I meet is a testimony to how rich the world of music really is and how much great music is being made today (no thanks to those propheting everywhere the death of jazz, rock or else).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Free Jazz Alchemist Radio with Paul McCartney :)

The last live radio session before the summer so be sure to tune in. While some material from the three recently reviewed cds (Reed Trio) will find its way into the playlists, mostly we will just relax and have a lot of fun celebrating the birthday of one of the best songwriters of the last century. And while The Beatles didn't play jazz tunes, some jazz artists were inspired enough to pay them a tribute and play a beatles tune or even dedicate them the entire album. So we will travel through the series of jazz covers of songs like "Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hear's Club Band", "Tomorrow Never Knows" and others.

Tune in at 8pm CET to (there might be some problems with the player on the site and the aac stream is off, use the mp3 link to open the stream; winamp or itunes work just fine). I'll be glad to chat on facebook.

For those who will be late - the playlist will be replayed after the program is done.

1. Robin Williams & Bobby McFerrin - Come Together
2. Doctor 3 - Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band
3. Ann Dyer & No Good Time Fairies - Eleanor Rigby
4. Lol Coxhill - I Am The Walrus
5. Reed Trio - Sitting on a Warm Stone (Mikolaj Trzaska solo) (from "The Last Train to the First Station")
6. Danilo Rea & Roberto Gatto - Here Comes The Sun (I know it George Harrison's song but who cares :) )  / With a Little Help From My Friends.
7. Ann Dyer & No Good Time Fairies - Tomorrow Never Knows
8. Kickshaw - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
9. Reed Trio - All The Glasses Were Upside Down
10. Sex Mob - Live And Let Die
11. Doctor 3 - For No One / What A Pill
12. Anny Dyer & No Good Time Faires - And Your Bird Can Sing
13. Danilo Rea & Roberto Gatto - Aguas De Marco / Dear Prudence / Aguas De Marco
14. Steven Bernstein's Millenial Territory Orchestra - All You Need Is Love
15. Mieczyslaw Kosz - Yesterday (paraphrase)

This will be the last live session this season. Next week though there will be a chance to play something from the archives before going on for a definitive summer break.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Peter Van Huffel Quartet - Like the Rusted Key [Fresh Sound Records]

Peter Van Huffel - alto saxophone
Jesse Stacken - piano
Miles Perkin - acoustic bass and toys
Samuel Rohrer - drums and percussion

Fresh Sound Records 2010

Another release that is inspiring in a way it is a testimony to how vital and active young jazz music scene really is. An international project, led by Canada-born Peter Van Huffel (relocated to Berlin) with Jesse Stacken from NYC (a long-time partner of Peter in his quintet group), Miles Perkin (also from Canada, also currently in Berlin) and Samuel Rohrer from Switzerland (always rich with drummer talents in jazz music). Not that I had known anything of it before listening to the music presented here, just a couple of basic informations one can find on Peter's website.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Zero Centigrade - Unknown Distances [AudioTong]

Zero Centigrade :
Tonino Taiuti - acoustic guitar & composition
Vincenzo De Luce - trumpet

AudioTong 2011

While it's great to get to have yet another album by one of my favourites (like Vandermark or Trzaska or Brotzmann just to name some examples) some of the most inspiring listening experiences for me lately came in the form of total surprise, music delivered by artists whom I know nothing about and as I've been introduced to them it's the goal of this blog to introduce them to you.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Reed Trio (Trzaska / Vandermark / Zimpel) - Last Train to the First Station [Kilogram]

Reed Trio
Mikolaj Trzaska - alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, bass clarinet
Ken Vandermark - tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, clarinet
Waclaw Zimpel - bass clarinet, clarinet, tarogato

1kg Kilogram Records 2011

I remember how I've been excited getting news about this trio first recording ever since 2008. Wawrzyn Makinia (known maybe better as Laurenz; owner of Multikulti) was all hyped about the first recording session (I was visiting Poznan for Made in Chicago Festival and could a get a first-hand report). Only to find out (through Ken Vandermark's facebook and occasional meetings in Krakow with Waclaw or Mikolaj) that the session was lost due to the hard disk crash. The trio's set during the second edition of Resonance project (autumn 2009) was so inspiring and in complete sync that It was obvious enough that those three will continue to work together.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Free Jazz Alchemist with Murray, Wolf, Ortega and others

Tomorrow at 8 pm  CET I'll present the three recently reviewed releases (David Murray's box set, Harrison Bankhead's debut as a leader, re-issue of "Aorta" by Paul van Gysegem Sextet). Plus a birthday of Anthony Ortega (a faboulus standard's interpreter), Avram Fefer (so we can get back to his trio's concert), Zbigniew Seifert and Howlin' Wolf! :)
This might be also on of the last programs this season, but of course the blog will remain active throughout the summer.

Waiting for you on the to tune in and on facebook to chat.

1. Howlin' Wolf - Shake For Me (Chester Arthur Burnett aka Howlin' Wolf - born June 10 1910)
2. Avram Fefer, Eric Revis, Chad Taylor - Wishful Thinking (apart from playing the concert last week - Avram's birthday on June 9)
3. David Murray Octet - Ben (for Ben Webster)
4. Harrison Bankhead Sextet - Chicago Senorita
5. Paul van Gysegem Sextet - Frans En Zijn Muze
6. Anthony Ortega & Joe LaBarbera - Night and Day (Anthony's birthday on June 7 ; Cole Porter was born June 9 1891)
7. Howlin' Wolf - The Red Rooster
8. Zbigniew Seifert - Impressions (Seifert born in Krakow, June 6 1946)
9. David Murray Octet - Morning Sun
10. Paul van Gysegem Sextet - Voor Anouk
11. Howlin' Best - I Ain't Superstitious
12. Harrison Bankhead Sextet - East Village
13. David Murray Octet - Flowers for Albert

the playlist will be repeated without any commentary at 10 pm CET

Friday, June 3, 2011

David Murray Octet - The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint & Soul Note

1. Ming (1980)
2. Home (1982)
3. Murray's Steps (1983)
4. New Life (1987)
5. Hope Scope (1991)
(recordings originally issued by Black Saint)

David Murray - tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
alto saxophone - Henry Threadgill (1-3; also flute, bass flute), John Purcell (4), James Spaulding (5)
1. trumpet - Olu Dara (1-2), Bobby Bradford (3), Hugh Ragin (4-5)
2. trumpet -  Lawrence "Butch' Morris (1-3; cornet) Baikida Carroll (4), Rasul Siddik (5)
trombone - Geore Lewis (1-2),  Craig Harris (3-5)
piano - Anthony Davis (1-2), Curtis Clark (3), Adegoke Steve Colson (4), Dave Burrell (5)
bass - Wilber Morris (1-5)
drums - Ste McCall (1-3), Ralph Peterson Junior (4-5)

The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint & Soul Note
CAM London 2011

Hard to review 5 albums at once but it's actually the easiest box of the series to write about* and I just want to draw some attention to this project - fantastic music drawn from the vast archives of Black Saint and Soul Note presenting great chapters of jazz history is being remastered and made available at incredibly likeable price. An incredible opportunity to fill some gaps in any record collection.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Konrade Gęca / DM&P Trio / Fuka Laka at Alchemia (01.06) last concert of this Muzykoterapia season

The last concert of this season of Muzykoterapia series that promotes experimental music of any kind, co-hosted by the AudioTong, a small but active label in the field of undergournd, experimental and uncommon (check out their website for more informations, also much of the catalogue is available for free download)

1. Konrad Gęca 
is not only the instigator and main behind-the-scene making force of the Muzykoterapia concerts but is also an active improviser in the field of electronics, mixing tape field recordings and electronically generated sounds. His performance is very introvertic and thoughtful. Kind of a music where duplicated errors in the transmission become a rule, assimilated mutation, glitch becomes the structure. Endless static noises give the illusion of endless spaces. The latter half incorporates more clearly field recordings - silence that through the imperfection of the recording device and amplification becomes hushed noise. This music is accompanied by the series of pictures of the city, mountains, ocean (or is it the other way?) creating a sort of sonicscape. Really hard for me to give any kind of evaluation as, nonetheless the live presence behind all the devices, I find that any kind of structure, narration, meaning or value is not inner to this kind of performance but comes only from its perception. As such I'd say that in musical terms the concert didn't have enough variety and lacked emotional impact, in terms of a multimedia performance though it was  in fact very poetic - which brings me to the conclusion that sounds were secondary to pictures. And the other conclusion is that any kind of reading and interpretation would be valid in its own rights - which probably makes this performance a success.

You can find more information about Konrad Geca (including some of the video footage used during the concert as well as presentation of musical forms he's interested in - field recordings, electro-improvisation, noise, dub influences ecc) on his website
Konrad Geca - electronics, tapes, visualization

2. DM&P Trio
This Krakow based trio celebrated with this concert the release of their first cd and it does indeed make proud to see that the there's so much happening in Krakow. That being said I never really could get through the invasive electronics use in this project. There's a great and subtle interplay between the two sax players, beginning with focused search for harmony then moving towards balancing between Slawomir (abstract lines yet phrasing clearly influenced by jazz tradition) and Philip (extrovertic madness of free-improv, shouts, screams, overtone blows). Occasional live filtering and processing of the instruments provided Pawel Dziadur (echoe, distortion, loop) give the music an extra dimension, so do the occasional quieter passages of unidentified scratches and drones. But every time Pawel Dziadur pushes it more into the noise regions I have the impression that he overshadows the saxophones instead of complementing them. While I definitely appreciate this trio's passion and dedication, I find it hard to like their music, I've never been a fan of hard electronics and can't really find a key to crack this open.

a selection of videos featuring other performances can be found here :

Paweł Dziadur - electronics
Sławomir Maler - alto saxophone
Philip Palmer - alto saxophone

3. Fuka Lata
A duo from Warsaw wchich also celebrated its first release*. It's a highly hypnotic and dreamingly surreal mixture of electronic landscapes, occasional dance beat, endless guitar delays and vocal that achieves shamanic effects through modern electronic filters (echo, harmonizer, delay). The trans thus achieved is quite tantalizing, with simple yet effective lightning and mysterious dancer-performer accompanying the duo, the effect is quite compelling and as such it was one of the most complete stage performances I've ecently seen (understandable since you don't see too often any lightning or extra-musical elements of concert performance when attending mostly free jazz events).
The line between hypnotic and monotonous or transcendental and tiresome is very thin and I felt that the music was for some passages too close to crossing this one. On the other hand the way they manage to blur the line between dream and reality was quite captivating. But from under all those layers of guitar echoes, vocal delays and electronic landscapes occasionaly a catchy song tries to emerge and I must say (surprised myself to write it) I was waiting the entire concert for this more avant-pop aspect of their playing, something I had been able to see during the rehearsal. Still, it was something visually and audibly intriguing.

* The music was released under the Creative Commons License and is available for free download at (it focuses on electronics and guitar, with very little vocal compared to the live performance)

Fuku Lata duo
-vocal, electronics
-guitar, electronics, vocal

Alchemia. Krakow. 01.06.2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Paul Van Gysegem Sextet - Aorta [Futura Marge]

Patrick De Groote - trumpet, flugelhorn
Nolle Neels - tenor saxophone
Ronald Lecourt - vibes
Jasper Van 't Hof - piano
Paul Van Gysegem - double bass
Pierre Courbois - drums

1971/2011 Futura Records

Peter Brotzmann's landmark recording "Machine Gun" was released in 1968 - somehow a birth certificate of new european music - inspired by 'new thing' in american jazz, but rooted heavily in all the traditions of euroepean avant-garde movements. This cd is a testimony of how rich and active and vital was the improvised music scene in Europe at that time.
Now apart from this Jasper Van Hof (his first contribution to an LP) and Pierre Curbois (a pioneer of free jazz in Holland) the players appearing on this cd are fairly anonymous to me, especially the leader of the group. Which, as I see it, makes this re-release even more welcomed.