Signal To Noise: Taylor Ho Bynum, Fonda/Stevens Group, The Fully Celebrated, Darius Jones and Joe Morris

December 14, 2009

The Winter 2010 issue of Signal To Noise arrived this weekend and with it reviews of the latest releases from Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings, the Fonda/Stevens Group, The Fully Celebrated, the Darius Jones Trio and the Joe Morris Quartet.

“Bynum’s compositions consistently engage and amplify the texts [from his sister’s novel, Madeleine is Sleeping],” writes Stuart Broomer in his review of Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records), “and the performances are at a high level. Vocalist Kyoko Kitamura ranges from pensive dramatic readings to jazz-inflected vocals and creative improvisations, performing admirably in the divergent settings. The group’s improvisational skills come to the fore on pieces by three great composers—Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington and Sun Ra—whose works are all subtly complementary…the results are driving, focused, expressive performances that make the most of the jazz tradition.”

“After 20 years of musical partnership, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, bassist Joe Fonda, drummer Harvey Sorgen and trumpeter Herb Robertson have developed a rich chemistry,” declares James Hale. “On Memphis, their 11th recording, the quartet surges with energy—equal parts Stevens’ proclivity for aggresive vamps, Robertson’s slippery slalom runs, and a wrecking crew of a rhythm duo. When the mood turns somber individual members find ways of keeping the tension high, whether its Fonda’s abrasive arco on ‘For My Brother’ or the free segments that alternate with Stevens’ pretty theme on ‘Whale Majesty.'”

“Alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs, bassist Timo Shanko and drummer Django Carranza hammer away at eight slices of groove-based music that is is peppy, incisive and yes, amusing,” explains Jay Collins in his review of Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity). “The Fully Celebrated is a group that doesn’t take themselves too seriously, but the music is of high caliber and a hell of a lot of fun.”

Marc Medwin describes the Darius Jones Trio’s debut, Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity), as “a barn-burner from note one. Jones could not have chosen better musicians to enter into his world, with Cooper-Moore and drummer Rakalam Bob Moses enhancing every moan, cry and shriek emanating from his alto.”

Jay Collins calls the Joe Morris Quartet’s second release, Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity), “Morris at his most accessible. His tremendous single-note flurries come to bear immediately on the boppish ‘Backbone’ and the exuberantly swinging ‘Imaginary Solutions.’ The quartet’s keen melodic sense is eveident on ‘Ashes’ and the ruminative ‘Animal,’ especially in Hobbs’s earthy, gripping saxophone playing. Hobbs and Morris’s unison lines against the rhythm section’s restless activity are part of the record’s pleasures. Like Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones, Today on Earth has it all: smart compositional structures that launch tasty, unpredictable improvisations.”

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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.”


Jason Crane’s Top 10 Jazz CDs Of 2009

December 9, 2009

We’re incredibly pleased to report that The Jazz Session‘s Jason Crane has chosen three of our clients’ releases for his Top 10 list for 2009.

The popular interviewer/podcast host, and columnist for PopDose.com, selected the Fay Victor Ensemble’s The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue Music) as his top pick for the year, followed by the Darius Jones Trio’s Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity) and The Fully Celebrated’s Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity) at numbers 3 and 4, respectively.

Crane, who published his list in the format of his ballot for the Village Voice‘s Jazz Critics Poll, also chose Ms. Victor’s record as Best Vocal Album and Jones’ record as Best Debut CD.


Darius Jones Trio At Firehouse 12 Tonight

November 20, 2009

Tonight, New Haven’s Firehouse 12 presents a two-set celebration of New York-based alto saxophonist/composer Darius Jones‘ long-awaited debut CD, Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) (AUM Fidelity).

Described by Jones as “a sonic tone poem about me and my life growing up in the South,” the record draws on such early influences as his Jamaican father’s love of reggae, the revelatory vocal music of the church and countless hours of listening to everything from classical to rock on the radio.

Heralded as “a new voice poised to receive widespread acclaim” (Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com), Jones brings this diverse and passionate music to life with his mentors, the eminent master musicians Cooper-Moore (piano and diddley-bo) and Rakalam Bob Moses (drums).

“On Man’ish Boy,” writes PointofDeparture.org’s Ed Hazell, “alto saxophonist Darius Jones delivers one of the most impressive debuts in recent memory, displaying a remarkably well-developed concept and individual sound. Jones has a big, fleshy, lived-in tone, with a vibrato that owes as much to Johnny Hodges as it does to Albert Ayler. It’s defiant, vulnerable, proud, and weary; there is laughter and sobbing in it.”

Jason Crane, host of The Jazz Session and columnist at PopDose.com, adds, “For his debut statement, 31-year-old Jones wanted to tell his story. To talk about what it means to be poor and black and struggling and intelligent in this day and age. Jones has fit all that and more into an incredible recording that will make you sing, make you weep and make you marvel.”


JazzTimes: Taylor Ho Bynum, Darius Jones and Jessica Pavone

November 16, 2009


The December issue of JazzTimes arrived this weekend and with it reviews of three of our clients’ most recent releases, Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings’ Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records), the Darius Jones Trio’s Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) (AUM Fidelity) and Jessica Pavone’s Songs of Synastry and Solitude (Tzadik).

Michael J. West called Madeleine Dreams‘ title track “a six-movement suite that intriguingly blends chamber classical, beatnik jazz, indie-rock and free improvisation, dominated by violin (Jason Kao Hwang), viola (Jessica Pavone), cello (Tomas Ulrich) and stately, evocative moods. Vocalist Kyoko Kitamura recited magical-realism vignettes, based on an acclaimed novel by Bynum’s sister, that blur the line between reality and the world of dreams…it’s a fun listen.”

Jones, 31, is a hotshot we should keep our eyes and ears on,” declared Steve Greenlee. “He’s got a raw but disciplined sound, a head full of ideas and a heart full of talent. On his debut album, he plays sweetly, melodically, plaintively, raucously and discordantly. He plays outside and in. He goes from blues to swing to free and back again. He never wastes a note or a breath.”

Jessica Pavone has begun making a name for herself in the world of modern improvised music,” wrote Mike Shanley, “but those words only go so far when trying to describe her work. Performed by members of the Toomai String Quintet (Pavone doesn’t appear on the disc), the music doesn’t reside in the frenetic free zone where the composer sometimes dwells. Each track averages about four minutes in length, with many going through a few different sections, yet the whole work flows together like a complete, compelling composition.”


Paris Transatlantic: Darius Jones Trio + Joe Morris Quartet

November 6, 2009

Clifford Allen reviews the two latest AUM Fidelity releases, the Darius Jones Trio’s Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) and the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth, in the Autumn 2009 edition of Paris Transatlantic.

“Darius Jones’ art has an incredible purity and directness—what Cooper-Moore has called a ‘yes, sir’ quality,” Allen explains. “It’s a quality he shares with Sonny Simmons, Marion Brown and Charles Tyler, but the real connection is the respect instilled through absorbing the tradition and living history of musicianship.”

In his review of Today On Earth, Allen writes, “The Joe Morris Quartet plumbs the depths of postbop, building off the skewed rapport between [Jim] Hobbs and Morris: the guitarist’s flinty plucking and behind-the-beat chords are the left hand to the altoist’s acrid right. By now Morris’s longtime working group has established a language wholly its own, an ideal springboard for spindly inversions and lean fantasias.”


Boston Phoenix: Darius Jones Trio At Outpost 186

November 5, 2009

Photo by Joel Veak

Jon Garelick reviews the Darius Jones Trio’s October 19th CD release concert at Outpost 186 in this week’s issue of the Boston Phoenix. The group, which features alto saxophonist/composer Darius Jones, multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore and drummer Rakalam Bob Moses, was in town celebrating Jones’ recorded debut as a bandleader, Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) on AUM Fidelity.

“To call Darius Jones’s music avant-garde seems almost beside the point,” Garelick writes. “In its way, it’s older than old—it’s ancient. Jones likes churchy old blues, boogie-woogie, and the kind of folkish tunes that Albert Ayler used to write. He also shares Ayler’s moaning, wide-vibrato tone, if not the sainted saxophonist’s taste for single-minded, iron-jawed shrieking. But Jones has his own dignified way of testifying—big, long tones that patiently build to skirling figures and ululating shouts.”