AAJ-NY: Best Of 2009

December 29, 2009

AllAboutJazz-New York published its annual Best of 2009 feature in the new January issue and we’re very proud to say our clients are well-represented.

Special congratulations to those recognized as the year’s best in the following categories:

Albums of the Year
Darcy James Argue, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records)
Bill Dixon, Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records)
David S. Ware, Shakti (AUM Fidelity)

Debut Albums
John Hébert, Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12 Records)
Darius Jones Trio, Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) (AUM Fidelity)

Vocal Releases
The Fay Victor Ensemble, The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue Music)

Large Ensemble Releases
Darcy James Argue, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records)

Albums of the Year – Honorable Mention
Cleaver/Parker/Taborn, Farmers By Nature (AUM Fidelity)
Harris Eisenstadt, Canada Day (Clean Feed)
Garrison Fewell, Variable Density Sound Orchestra (Creative Nation Music)
KLANG, Tea Music (Allos Documents)
Michael Musillami Trio + 3, From Seeds (Playscape Recordings)

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Darcy James Argue + John Hébert On Jim Macnie’s Top 10 Jazz CDs Of 2009 List

December 22, 2009

Jim Macnie (DownBeat, Village Voice, et al.) listed his Top 10 Jazz CDs of 2009 yesterday on his blog, Lament for a Straight Line, and we’re proud to report Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam) and John Hébert’s Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12 Records) made the cut.

“The composer-arranger has an artistic GPS system built into his chest,” writes Macnie of Argue. “The way his seven extended pieces flow from one passage to another is deeply inspired, and the methods behind his integration of electric guitar storms and a gaggle of horns are sage. Best part: the big band constantly throws its listeners curve after curve without sounding fractured or episodic.”

In his blurb about Hébert, Macnie writes, “One of the era’s most gripping bassists puts reeds and flutes up front for a freebop session that stretches from ancient Cajun artifacts to abstract ballads lyrical enough to have fallen from Don Cherry’s pen. What the pieces lack in compositional distinction, they make up for in textural richness. And atmosphere—mood means a lot to Hebert.”


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.”


Howard Mandel: Best Jazz CDs Of 2009

December 1, 2009


Author, jazz critic and President of the Jazz Journalists Association Howard Mandel posted a list of his favorite CDs from 2009 on his blog, Jazz Beyond Jazz, this past Friday.

Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam) and The Thirteenth Assembly’s (un)sentimental (Important Records) both earned spots of the 11-title list.

Of the former, Mandel writes, “Recasting the ‘jazz’ orchestra with an ear hip to a spectrum of contemporary composition but most of all sound itself, Argue diplays a nervy ethos by conducting 18 not-very-well-known but gutsy instrumentalists through arresting themes, solid rhythms and energized solos. This is Brooklyn offline, ironic but earnest, and has drawn a following among listeners in their late 20s-early 30s.”

And, he called the debut of Taylor Ho Bynum, Tomas Fujiwara, Mary Halvorson and Jessica Pavone’s collective quartet, The Thirteenth Assembly, “Chamber music for moderns—a cornetist, drummer, guitarist and violaist walk the lines between structure and improv, sensitivity and humor, questions and suggestions, inherent references to the past and unpretentious confidence they’re in the right place for music now.”

The list was compiled from nearly 1000 CDs Mandel received for review since last November, so naturally there were lots of honorable mentions. John Hébert’s highly regarded debut, Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12), was part of the “Also Much Enjoyed” list.

UPDATE: Mandel’s Top 11 of 2009 is now posted at the Jazz Journalists Association’s Web site.


Remembering 2009

November 23, 2009

Image from TheDailyGreen.com
The latest can to be kicked around the jazz blogosphere (and beyond) is what records make the cut as the best of the decade.

As much as we enjoy the opportunity to reminisce about our first seven-plus years in business, and the 135 recordings we promoted for our clients in that span, we’re not quite ready to dip a toe in that nearly bottomless pool just yet.

But, we’re more than happy to shine a light on the recordings we promoted for our clients in 2009 (in order of their release).

Hopefully at least a few of these will end up on your year’s best list or at least your list for Santa.

David S. Ware
Shakti (AUM Fidelity)

Gerald Cleaver/William Parker/Craig Taborn
Farmers By Nature (AUM Fidelity)

The Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra
Muse (Creative Nation Music)

Garrison Fewell
Variable Density Sound Orchestra (Creative Nation Music)

Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society
Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records)

Michael Musillami Trio + 3
From Seeds (Playscape Recordings)

The Fully Celebrated
Drunk On The Blood Of The Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity)

John Hébert
Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12 Records)

Carl Maguire’s Floriculture
Sided Silver Solid (Firehouse 12 Records)

Joe Morris/Petr Cancura/Luther Gray
Wildlife (AUM Fidelity)

KLANG
Tea Music (Allos Documents)

Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings
Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records)

Fay Victor Ensemble
The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue Music)

Fonda/Stevens Group
Memphis (Playscape Recordings)

Harris Eisenstadt
Canada Day (Clean Feed)

Darius Jones Trio
Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity)

Joe Morris Quartet
Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity)

Jessica Pavone
Songs Of Synastry And Solitude (Tzadik)

Bill Dixon
Tapestries For Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records)


John Hébert To Weekend At Cornelia Street Cafe

September 24, 2009
Photo by Scott Friedlander

Photo by Scott Friedlander

Bassist/composer John Hébert will celebrate his long-awaited debut release as a leader, Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12 Records), with a two-night stand at New York’s Cornelia Street Cafe starting tomorrow night.

Hébert’s sextet, also called Byzantine Monkey, will feature saxophonists Michaël Attias and Tony Malaby, multi-instrumentalist Adam Kolker, percussionist Satoshi Takeishi and drummer Michael Sarin (sitting in for Nasheet Waits for these two dates).

Known as “an indispensable presence on the local scene” (Hank Shteamer, Time Out New York) and “a bassist of deep intuition and extensive experience as a sideman” (Nate Chinen, New York Times), Hébert is one of the busiest bassists in New York and a regular in the Rising Star Acoustic Bass category of DownBeat’s annual Critics Poll for the past three years.

“On his first album as a leader he displays a sonic vision that’s all his own,” writes DownBeat‘s Peter Margasak, “even while sticking mostly to a support role. The leader has written nine lovely themes, some ebullient, some sorrowful, some fragile, and he directs his cohorts to elucidate and dance around the melodies with a mix of freedom and communicativeness. In particular, the intertwining lines of Tony Malaby, brawny and fat, and Michaël Attias, lithe and stinging, provide an exuberant dance on contrast.”

The Hartford Courant‘s Richard Kamins adds, “Byzantine Monkey takes the listener out of the everyday world into a landscape of mature melodies, splendid musicianship and highly creative interplay. It’s an aural landscape one can return to time and again, uncovering new paths to follow.”


DownBeat: John Hébert’s Byzantine Monkey

September 14, 2009


Bassist/composer John Hébert continues to gather accolades for his long-awaited debut release, Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12 Records). The latest is a four-star review by Peter Margasak in the October issue of DownBeat.

“On his first album as a leader he displays a sonic vision that’s all his own,” Margasak writes, “even while sticking mostly to a support role. The leader has written nine lovely themes, some ebullient, some sorrowful, some fragile, and he directs his cohorts to elucidate and dance around the melodies with a mix of freedom and communicativeness.”

“In particular,” he adds, “the intertwining lines of Tony Malaby, brawny and fat, and Michaël Attias, lithe and stinging, provide an exuberant dance on contrast.”

Hébert and his sextet, also called Byzantine Monkey, will celebrate this release at New York’s Cornelia Street Cafe on September 25th and 26th.