Anticipation was running high and the energy level was palpable, as when the hair on the back of your neck deifies gravity if you stand below a high voltage power line, for drummer Matt Wilson's performance with his Arts & Crafts band at Tri-C's Black Box Theatre.
Veteran Jazz Pianists Gives Another Virtuoso Performance
Many years ago, walking down the hall in a dormitory at Boston University, I heard the most amazing music coming from a turntable. The artist was John Coltrane, and the tune was "My Favorite Things."
A new CD from sonic voyager Matthew Shipp is always a treat. With this new venture, Elastic Aspects on Thirsty Ear, Matt takes us on a sonic journey — one which is reflected by the name of such tracks as Circular Temple and Gamma Ray.
Matt's music is meditative, reflective and lyrical yet also assertive, boisterous, celebratory, exploratory, sometimes cacophonous, often percussive and frequently orchestral.
An homage to the later Impulse! recordings of the late tenor master, John Coltrane, Calling Coltrane pits free improvisation and striking rhythmic instability in a way that challenges the listener to find their own path to understanding Berardi's musical point.
Renowned vibraphonist and improviser Karl Berger often serves as the centralizing entity on this curiously interesting date. A multinational trio, the music is often patterned with sublime textures, ethereal subtleties, and methodical song-forms, occasionally grounded on succinct pulses and steadily moving waves of sound. Here, Berger is the elder statement via his historic alignments with the crème de la crème of modern jazz stylists and cutting-edge improvisers.
The second recording by drummer Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up follows the heralded Actionspeak (2010, 482 Music), and continues upon a course, teeming with unanticipated shifts in strategy, but not executed in shock-therapy mode. With a superfine support system of revered improvisers, including guitarist Mary Halvorson who seems to be showing up everywhere these days, Fujiwara reaps the benefits of a distinctly fresh musical climate. With off-kilter patterns, cunning geometric architectures and sudden paradigm shifts, the band merges a search and conquer tactical component with an acutely balanced mix of structure and free-form dialogues.
Trumpeter Bruce Friedman lays out the rules of engagement for these improvisations by setting a limit for sonic resources "to just two elements, sustained pitches and silences." And for Motoko Honda's synthesizer work, "the rules are similar, with chords and timbre shifts allowable." It's an interesting conceptual approach, yet rather unwavering throughout the horizontal plane of ideas, encountered within the three duet pieces. With an air of minimalism surrounding the moving parts, Friedman cites Christian Wolff as an influence. Wolf was associated with avant-gardist John Cage and considered a pioneer of the 1960's expressionistic 'New York School.' He also penned the liners for this release.
Nuance and breathing room was the order of the day for Enrico Rava's February ending performance at Buffalo's Albright-Knox Art Gallery. This was the last stop on a four-city, American tour and the audience fully understood just how auspicious the afternoon's concert was to be. The quintet hit the stage and with no fanfare, immediately set to work.