December 23, 2009
Resident jazz critic Devin Leonard includes Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam) on his 10 Best Jazz Albums of 2009 list in today’s New York Observer.
“As the name of his nu big band suggests” Leonard writes, “the composer-bandleader-blogger Darcy James Argue sees himself as an artistic insurgent. He is a former student of trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, celebrated for his work as an arranger who broke new ground as an arranger for the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra in the sixties and seventies. But Infernal Machines also draws on the minimalism of Steve Reich and the apocalyptic rock and roll of Radiohead. This is also music with a message, a decidedly leftist one. What else would you expect from a Canadian jazz man resettled in Carroll Gardens?”
December 23, 2009
The Boston Phoenix‘s resident jazz aficionado Jon Garelick reflects on his 10 favorite moments of the year in this week’s issue.
Two of those moments are related to Garrison Fewell’s Variable Density Sound Orchestra (Creative Nation Music) and the Darius Jones Trio’s Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity).
“Call what Garrison Fewell does composition or simply strategies for improvisation,” Garelick writes. “Whatever, the guitarist formerly known as one of Boston’s most eloquent inside players has become one of its leading experimenters. On this year’s Variable Density Sound Orchestra (Creative Nation Music), Fewell gathered some superb improvisers—among them frequent guitar-duo partner (and CNM honcho) Eric Hofbauer, New York trumpeter Roy Campbell, and Italian bass-clarinettist Achille Succi—and they, following his spare instructions and often graphic scores, created a suite of ‘variable density’ and unforced lyricism, all with compositional integrity.”
“Alto-saxophonist Jones, 31, now lives in Brooklyn (natch),” Garelick continues, “but he hails from rural Virginia, and he likes churchy old blues, boogie-woogie, and the kind of folkish tunes that Albert Ayler used to write. On Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity), his music sounds older than old—ancient, in fact—but also completely up to the minute. Working with Boston drummer Bob Moses and New Yorker Cooper-Moore (who plays piano and his homemade diddley bow), Jones delivers forceful melodies with a just-discovered freshness. The trio’s show at Outpost 186 in October was a standout.”
December 22, 2009
It is our pleasure to report that Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam), Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records), Darius Jones’ Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity) and David S. Ware’s Shakti (AUM Fidelity) account for four of the ten recordings included in Destination:Out’s Fave Jazz Jamz of 2009.
Three other AUM Fidelity releases, Cleaver/Parker/Taborn’s Farmers By Nature, Morris/Cancura/Gray’s Wildlife and the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth, were also mentioned in this post, which features an exclusive download from Jones’ Man’ish Boy.
December 18, 2009
Darcy James Argue‘s highly acclaimed debut, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam), has already turned up on dozens of best-of-the-year lists all around the jazz world, but being named one of eMusic’s 60 Best Albums of 2009 is a testimony to Argue’s ability to not only integrate different styles and genres into his sound, but also to develop an audience for creative big band music well beyond jazz aficionados.
“Critics are raving because the innovations are organic and synthesized rather than slapdash,” writes the uncredited reviewer. “I hear nods to the smooth textural vamps and odd time signatures of Steve Reich, the dynamism and harmonies of Gil Evans, the flowing lyricism of Maria Schneider, the gusty, cavernous blowouts of Christian Scott, the shamble of Tortoise and the jazz-rock of Charlie Hunter. Or not. When there are that many citations (and other reviewers have their own comparisons), it becomes clear that most of Argue’s ideas are homespun. New music—what a concept.”
December 7, 2009
The new Critics’ Choice column in today’s New York Times features a review of Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records) by Ben Ratliff.
“The low notes in Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra loom like great whales,” he writes, “powering through the best of its long, patient, texture-obsessed performances. They’re played by double-bass and contrabass clarinet; above them floats a cloud of brass, directed and defined by Mr. Dixon’s own trumpet-playing. [He] has some deep and original thoughts about abstraction in music, and doesn’t leave beauty behind…a few of these pieces—especially ‘Motorcycle ’66: Reflections & Ruminations,’ ‘Adagio: Slow Mauve Scribblings’ and ‘Allusions I’—have a majesty for which you have to write in your own meaning.”
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.”
November 13, 2009
Photo by C. Neil Scott
Tonight at 8:30 and 10:00 p.m., Firehouse 12‘s fifth annual Fall Jazz Series will present the New Haven debut of The Peter Evans Quartet.
The group, which recorded its highly acclaimed eponymous debut for Firehouse 12 Records in 2007, is led by trumpeter/composer Peter Evans, who critics have called “a new jazz star” (Brian Morton, Jazz Review) with “the kind of mad chops and conceptual smarts that surface just a few times in every lifetime” (Peter Margasak, DownBeat).
The current version of the ensemble, his main outlet as a bandleader, features pianist Ricardo Gallo, bassist Tom Blancarte and drummer Kevin Shea.