2004 Rundown

Tod Dockstader & David Lee Myers Pond
ReR Megacorp

A cleverly construed, and somewhat distorted electronics based view of nature, by two eminent synthesists. On this outing, the duo purveys abstracts that spark notions of perhaps listening to the sounds of the Amazon jungle at dawn or trickling water that is set upon call and response frameworks. Nonetheless, the artists’ pursue a deterministic state of mind, via these generally quiet but altogether thought-provoking series of ideas set to disc. And while there are no real traces of a manic pace, the sounds do envelope a musical outlook, as strange as it may seem, especially when viewed upon from face value. Yet another absorbing engagement set forth by this well-known independent recording label, spearheaded by ex-Henry Cow drummer Chris Cutler and others.

Darek Oleszkiewicz Like A Dream
Cryptogrammophone Records

Bassist Darek Oles(zkiewicz) performs a series of duets with powerhouse jazz pianist Brad Mehldau, and quartet works featuring saxophonist Bennie Maupin and others on this segmented program. Here, the bassist offers a mottled blend of ballads, swing grooves and other implementations. Beautifully recorded, Oles and associates generate a good deal of interest within assorted frameworks. And he’s a solid bassist who often delves deep into a given composition, especially during his duets with Mehldau where he shades and accents themes while constructing a firm bottom. It’s a solid workmanlike venture, although some of these compositions fail to impart a lasting impression. Nonetheless, the music is tastefully arranged, to complement the soloists’ inspired dialogues and hearty choruses.

Michael Jefry Stevens & Michael Rabinowitz Play
Drimala

The album title suggests a hint of where these two veteran progressive jazz artists are going here. They let the tape roll, so to speak. But considering their respective improvisational skills, the music is alive and of an exploratory mindset. With that, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens renders a polytonal edge to Michael Rabinowitz’ lower register lines throughout this quietly, captivating foray. The duo engages in call and response exercises, including a few bittersweet passages and up-tempo opuses. Of course, the bassoon is a classically rooted instrument and there are some inferences to this genre here. But. Rabinowitz’ jazz inclinations render a contrasting perspective to the norm. With a few tools in hand, the artists’ loom as high-achievers during this delightful encounter.

Joel Ryan Or Air
psi records

It’s a phantasmagorical electronics-based rendering of sax great, Evan Parker’s music. Joel Ryan wields his magic in a studio setting to explore and perhaps to some extent, mimic Parker’s circular breathing techniques and polytonal chord-like voicings with electronics processing. Then again, Parker’s incredibly difficult to decipher phraseology is offered a disparate view. Perhaps it equates to an outsider looking inward type viewpoint, but that isn’t the real truism here, as Ryan seems quite intimate and comfortable with Parker’s recorded legacy. He takes pieces such as "Or air and others and mixes them through various sound processing methodologies. It’s an electronics outing with notable intentions, and not just another meandering, synth type endeavor!

Scott Henderson Live!
Tone Center

Guitar god, Scott Henderson and this trio are captured at a club in Los Angeles, with this blaring, 2-CD set. Besides drummer Kirk Covington’s rather blasé vocal efforts, the trio smokes through various blues-rockers amid some jazz-fusion style jamming and more. To paraphrase the younger generation; Henderson is simply awesome here! As he makes his electric guitar screech and moan, while often transferring matters into a turbulent frenzy. No doubt, the guitarist’s near flawless technique and distinct mode of attack intimates open-ended possibilities, in such a way, that conveys nods to the past, i.e. Jimi and Stevie Ray. Essentially Henderson’s fresh approach to the tried and true casts a contemporary edge to the road well traveled.

Ken Wessel Ken Filiano Lou GrassiJawboning
CIMP

Leave it to the pros! With this release lead soloist, guitarist Ken Wessel slashes and burns through a hot n’ heavy modern jazz trio date featuring bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Lou Grassi. The gents turn up the heat on more than one occasion while the ambient recording quality and sparkling timber provides an extra edge here. Moreover, the artists distinct musical personas shine radiantly throughout, partly due to the ongoing sequences of intuitive dialogues and accentuations dished out by the rhythm section. At times, Wessel steps on the pedal as a means for implying intensity and added momentum. This is top shelf stuff, indeed!

Satoko Fuji TrioIllusion Suite
Libra Records

These days, jazz piano trios seem to crop up faster than weeds growing out of concrete. However, one of the more important modern day trios features the mega-talented pianist Satoko Fuji. The band’s latest installments, featuring bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black, contains four works of various colors and flavors. Fuji is at home pursuing fragmented block chords, and climactic crescendos as the band’s sinuous path is supplanted by odd-metered backbeats, off kilter excursions and more. Think of mini-themes or sub-plots emanating within a constant reengineering process. At times, the trio explodes with pounding intensity, while there are instances of intimate improvisation-based dialogues. Nonetheless, this outfit demands widespread attention!

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