AAJ: Bill Dixon’s Tapestries For Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12)

December 28, 2009

In his new review, posted on Christmas Day, AllAboutJazz.com’s John Sharpe calls Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records) “undoubtedly one of the events of the year.”

“It follows hot on the heels of two other important orchestral works in 17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur (AUM Fidelity, 2008) and Exploding Star Orchestra (Thrill Jockey, 2007),” he continues, “but surpasses both through the insight 109 minutes of music and a half hour documentary film affords into Dixon’s universe. Each track is a treasure trove of cohesive detail executed to wonderful effect. While full explication is beyond the scope of this review, this is essential listening for anyone interested in the state of contemporary jazz orchestration.”

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AllAboutJazz.com: Jessica Pavone’s Songs Of Synastry And Solitude

December 11, 2009

In the December edition of his AllAboutJazz.com column, Live in New York, Martin Longley reviews the November 10th CD release party for Songs of Synastry and Solitude (Tzadik), violist/composer Jessica Pavone‘s latest recording, at Roulette.

Songs Of Synastry And Solitude uses a string quartet to realize a set of compositions that surely had the sound of a singer reverberating between Pavone’s lobes whilst she was penning them. The art of the song appears to be precisely what she’s addressing, but using the tools of the chamber recital…pieces make up what feels like a suite, with their sustained mood and growing weight. A beautifully miserable mood was lingeringly woven, a dark air which is in keeping with Pavone’s acknowledged immersion in the wry-humoured poetry of Leonard Cohen.”


AllAboutJazz.com: Darius Jones Trio’s Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity)

December 10, 2009

John Sharpe’s review of alto saxophonist/composer Darius Jones’ debut, Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) on AUM Fidelity, was posted yesterday at AllAboutJazz.com.

The record, which Jones’ calls “a sonic tone poem about me and my life growing up in the South,” also features the eminent master musicians Cooper-Moore (piano and diddley-bo) and Rakalam Bob Moses (drums).

Sharpe called it “one of the strongest offerings of the year” and added, “Jones has a talent for penning intensely emotional themes, which provide a fertile launching pad for his vibrato-laden alto preaching…it is the valedictory, elegiac ‘Forgive Me’ which marks the highlight of the album…it sounds like a newly found spiritual, with some of most beautiful sounds ever committed to disc.”


AAJ-NY: Garrison Fewell + John Hébert

December 2, 2009

The December issue of AllAboutJazz-New York arrived this weekend and with it new reviews of guitarist/composer Garrison Fewell‘s latest, Variable Density Sound Orchestra (Creative Nation Music), and bassist/composer John Hébert‘s debut, Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12 Records).

“For the descriptively-titled Variable Density Sound Orchestra,” writes Lyn Horton, “guitarist Garrison Fewell has assembled a group whose members expertly develop the thematic content central to the pieces on the album. Even when the musical lines tend to go in multiple contrapuntal directions, the group behaves as one coherent unit, highlighting certain instruments.”

Stuart Broomer calls Hébert “a musician whose bass is confident in the foreground and whose compositions consistently merge strong musical ideas with forceful emotions. While he has already distinguished himself as a bassist, this is a striking debut as a bandleader for Hébert, the group’s sound, empathy and collective identity all testifying to his focused originality.”


AAJ: Fay Victor Ensemble’s The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue Music)

November 23, 2009

AllAboutJazz.com’s Managing Editor John Kelman posted his review of vocalist/composer Fay Victor‘s latest release, The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue Music), over the weekend.

“Once again,” he writes, “Victor’s soulful, emotive delivery combines with avant-tinged invention, placing her alongside great vocal innovators like Betty Carter, Jeanne Lee, Sheila Jordan…a truly creative singer with the chops to accomplish whatever she wants, but the good taste to ensure that substance always trumps style.”

He adds, “With an ensemble that twists and turns the music in response to, and as a catalyst for, Victor’s own unbound improvisational acumen, The Freesong Suite is a vocal album that stands well above the pack; a welcome respite from the unwieldy preponderance of unimaginative vocal jazz albums hitting the market.”


Harris Eisenstadt’s Canada Day Out Today

October 6, 2009


Drummer/composer Harris Eisenstadt‘s latest release, Canada Day (Clean Feed), officially hits the streets today.

The record, the Toronto native’s eighth as a bandleader, is the debut of his primary working ensemble, also called Canada Day, featuring Nate Wooley (trumpet), Matt Bauder (tenor saxophone), Chris Dingman (vibraphone) and Eivind Opsvik (bass).

It documents his original book of music for the group, which was written for the specific musical personalities of these musicians and developed in live performances in New York and beyond over the past three years.

“The material on the group’s self-titled album is as exciting as it is diverse,” declares Dusted‘s Marc Medwin, “with any clichés about group telepathy sounding entirely appropriate. Precision and spontaneity make every gesture simultaneously soloistic and supportive as the structures wend their complex but catchy ways forward. He’s the lynchpin of an exciting aggregate.”

“Drawing upon some of the best new talent in the Brooklyn scene,” explains AllAboutJazz.com’s Troy Collins, “Eisenstadt’s formidable quintet is as capable of adventurous timbral explorations as they are of in-the-pocket swing. Blending a mid-’60s Blue Note vibe with elastic post-rock grooves and subtle West African influences, Eisenstadt successfully unites his assorted interests into a cohesive ensemble sound. An accessible blend of inside and outside traditions delivered by an empathetic young ensemble, Canada Day is a welcome addition to the burgeoning discography of one of the new generation’s leading composers.”

AllMusic.com’s Michael G. Nastos adds, “A composer of great depth and diversity, Eisenstadt proves a fine trap drummer for this recording, and a formidable bandleader who deserves more recognition in both areas. The cohesion of the ensemble, glued by the steady, steaming, streaming rhythms of Eisenstadt, keeps the listener focused and compelled to hear more…this is a strong candidate for Top Ten status in the category of best jazz CDs of 2009.”

You can learn more about Eisenstadt, Canada Day, and his many other projects in a new interview by Clifford Allen posted yesterday at AllAboutJazz.com

And, the band will be celebrating its new release with Northeast tour dates in New York, Toronto, Buffalo and Rochester starting October 24th. Details are available here.


The Fonda/Stevens Group’s Memphis Released Today

September 29, 2009

Playscape Recordings officially welcomes The Fonda/Stevens Group to its roster with the September 29th release of Memphis, the eminent ensemble’s 11th recording.

Only the fourth studio release in the band’s two-decade existence, Memphis takes its name from Stevens’ composition, “Memphis Ramble”, one of ten tracks documented here for the first time following the band’s March 2008 U.S. tour.

Co-led by bassist/composer Joe Fonda and pianist/composer Michael Jefry Stevens, who celebrate the 25th anniversary of their first collaboration in 2009, The Fonda/Stevens Group also features trumpeter Herb Robertson and drummer Harvey Sorgen.

“Their quartet is a fine example of how a long established band can gel without becoming predictable, with many of its moves unforeseeable in advance,” explains AllAboutJazz.com’s Nic Jones. “This helps to keep the music fresh, but it’s the level of collective empathy that often takes it to another level…it’s clear on ‘Memphis Ramble’ that the group had reached a level of understanding in excess of even its usual working relationship.”

“The great thing about the band is its human warmth and musical openness,” writes Stef Gijssels on his popular blog, Free Jazz. “They can play AACM-like music (‘In The Whitecage’), post-bop (‘For My Brother’), blues, Stanko-esque melancholy (‘Whole Majesty’), free improvisation (‘Yes This Is It!’) and spontaneous chants (‘Memphis Ramble’)…it is fun, musically entertaining and interesting.”

The Downtown Music Gallery’s Bruce Lee Gallanter adds, “What makes this band great is that they can swing their asses off, go out, come back and stop on a dime. Their jubilant spirit is infectious. This is the one disc that makes me feel so good every time I hear it.”

The Fonda/Stevens Group will celebrate its latest record with a two-week, eight-country European tour in the second half of October. Details can be found here.