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Free Jazz / Avante Garde - CD Reviews (1158)

Mauro Gargano double bass player and composer born in Bari (Italy) studied classical and jazz with Maurizio Quintavalle, Furio di Castri, and Christian Gentet then with Riccardo DelFra at the National Superior Conservatory of Paris where he won a first prize.
Dave Douglas is one of the most innovative and creative musicians in modern jazz. Unlike many other trumpet players he has been trying throughout the years to create his own musical vocabulary. After completing his studies at Berklee School of Music, Douglas moved back to New York where he joined the Horace Silver band in 1987; that introduced him to a larger audience
The band's third album offers a persuasive glimpse into how violinist Jason Kao Hwang fuses the East-West musical contingent into a cohesive pedigree of sound designs and cutting-edge applications that circumvent the norm, even by avant-garde paradigms. The album strikes a captivating balance between structure that is often complex but largely fluid, and free expressionism of numerable shapes and hues. Regardless, Hwang aligns himself with a super-tight ensemble. And they exude a synergistic group dynamic throughout the sum of the briskly moving parts.
Woodwind specialist Ken Vandermark is a prominent voice in modern jazz and improvisation, emanating from the Chicago scene, and currently a major force in the global community. Here, the artist aligns with fellow Chicagoan, drummer Chad Taylor and Scandinavian pianist Havard Wilk for a bass-less trio session, spawning tightly melodic structures within the progressive-jazz schema and the contrasting improvisational domain. Essentially, the trio seeds a distinct sense of well-being into the project to complement a few movements that project angst or turbulence. It's an engagement centered on equality, as Vandermark and Wilk alternate solos and unite for numerous theme-building episodes.
Firmly rooted in the sort of challenging post-bop, pre-free modern jazz epitomized by the pre-electric Miles Davis Quintet of the mid-1960s, and – perhaps – the early 70s ECM sound, the music of Nordic Connect is nonetheless quite un-stodgy and rich in interesting 21st Century influences and flavors. The compositions largely, written by pianist Maggi Olin (though Ingrid Jensen, Christine Jensen and Jon Wikan each chip in some), at times, recall some of the mid-to-late 60s and early 70s Blue Note recordings by Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, as they branched out from Miles' musical orbit. As in Miles' and…
Though both came to prominence in Anthony Braxton's revolutionary groups of the early-to-mid 1970s, the music that trombonist Ray Anderson and clarinetist / saxophonist Marty Ehrlich create on Hear You Say is adventurous, hard-swinging post-bop steeped in the blues and redolent with the organic, bobbing polyrhythms of New Orleans.  
Bassist / composer Chris Dahlgren is one of those guys who has done a lot of different things in his musical career. He holds an MA in composition from Wesleyan University where he worked with an impressive array of avant-garde conceptualists and artists including Alvin Lucier, Anthony Braxton, LaMonte Young, and Christian Wolff. He was also the house bassist at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, OH, a bastion of straight-ahead and big band jazz. He's also recorded and toured with Joe Lovano, Art Lande, Fred Hirsch, Charles Tolliver, Herb Ellis, and Red Rodney to name a few. After…
Three European improvising heavyweights align for an intriguing expansionist endeavor, where space, dainty subtleties, and asymmetrical underpinnings aid the organic and polytonal output of the band's multifarious developments. With orbital and darting exchanges, the trio also delves into minimalism and free-microtonal interludes amid gradually climactic choruses.
Trumpeter, vocalist and composer Sarah Wilson has spent significant time in the jazz and new music scenes on both the East and West coasts of the US. This is reflected in the personnel on "Trapeze Project," which features outstanding players from the Bay Area (Goldberg, Amendola) and NYC (Melford, Harris). "Trapeze Project" is Wilson's second recording as a leader, the first being "Music for an Imaginary Play," which came out in 2006. Wilson has a really interesting resumè that doesn't quite hew to the normal expectations one might have of a jazz musician. The recipient of several high-profile composing commissions,…
"Foxy," Jon Irabagon's fourth recording as a leader is – as the whimsical cover art parody suggests – a tribute to the great Sonny Rollins. Like Rollins' "Way Out West" (compare Rollins' empty-holstered cowboy on the cover of that LP with Irabagon's similar pose on the reverse side of the CD), “Foxy” is a piano-less trio consisting of tenor saxophone, bass and drums. Here's another thing “Foxy” has in common with Rollins' historic recording - it is a genuine tour de force. Known for his abundant technique, unending improvisational resourcefulness, and boundless sense of the absurd through his work with…

Sara Serpa "Mobile"

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Jazz vocalists are, by and large, not an adventurous lot. Most prefer to stick to standards and re-interpretations of contemporary pop songs. While this is a totally valid form of musical expression, I rarely seek out recordings made by vocalists when I want to hear risky, modern, cutting-edge music. With her second recording, "Mobile," the Portugese vocalist Sara Serpa boldly grabs this stereotype by the scruff of the neck and shows it out the door. "Mobile" is a startlingly individualistic collection of beautifully developed and arranged original compositions for voice and a four-piece ensemble. Serpa's clearly not afraid of words…
Guitarist Terrence McManus' plight is to create a "personalized sonic language." He aligned with revered drummer, composer and bandleader Gerry Hemingway for a wide-open sonicscape on the well-received outing, Below the surface of (Auricle, 2010). Amid investigative frameworks with like-minded jazz and improvisation artists, McManus builds and uses his guitar arsenal and is making a name for himself as a stylist who flouts convention.

Spirits Aloft

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Spirits Aloft is a tribute to Rashied Ali who passed away in October 2009. Prior to his passing he worked with Henry Grimes on numerous projects. The two reconnected after many years on different paths and as time has a tendency to do, allowed them the opportunity to play and record together as if time had stood its ground.

Rafale by KAZE

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A live recording culled from the quartet's appearance at a museum in Krakow, Poland., the album is an alignment of visionary musicians from France and Japan. Perhaps the more notable artist is pianist Satoko Fujii, revered for her compositions and laudable technical faculties within small, medium-size and large ensembles. Fuji and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura reengage on this expansive set, where the avant-garde is fused into an organization of captivating and in some instances, mind-bending pieces, sans any limiting factors.  
Each of the two bands highlighted on this 2011 disc feature alto saxophonist Herman Hauge. Previously unissued, these sides were recorded in 1973 and 1984. And per the album notes, Hauge cites the improvisational vehicles with outlying influences and interfaces between [architectural] design and space as pertinent factors.  
Creativity exudes through any musical genre. And in the free or semi-structured realm of jazz, the tried and true can be beaten into submission, often leading to a ho hum listening experience. Aimless cacophony and uninteresting dialogues are first-offender elements within these formats. However, lesser-known artists such as Italian saxophonist Biagio Coppa keenly realize that ingenuity and vigor are recipes for the betterment or perhaps, advancement of music through the artistic looking glass. With an estimable support system, the saxophonist injects a complex, yet personalized series of propositions throughout this first-class release.
In string quartets, it may serve as the "bottom," the baby bass violin. In symphony orchestras, it is presented in multiples and blends in with the entire ensemble. But by itself on a 42-minute album? Well?.. This possibility is explored by Paris-born cellist Vincent Courtois on L'Imprevu, the very first release by re:think-art records. Here, Courtois offers 12 intriguing performances that feature his cello engaging in conversation, singing, snarling, and creating itself.
Swiss drummer Lucas Niggli invites legendary British bassist Barry Guy to lend his monstrous chops on Polisation. Sure enough, this unit seldom fails to impart numerous surprises into multidimensional environs, incited by the leader's fusion of experimental and symmetrically designed architectures. Big Zoom sports a big sound, yet desensitizes its arsenal with soft-to-the-touch dialogues, interspersed throughout various ebbs and flows.