Jazzwise: Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity)

December 2, 2009


The new December 2009/January 2010 issue of the UK’s Jazzwise features a review of the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity) by Kevin Le Gendre.

“As with the previous release Wildlife, ” he writes, “there is a distinct ensemble voice, a lithe, supple sound comes through, and looks as if it will continue to grow over time. Morris’ rising stature as a composer-leader and soloist is indisputable.”

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Jazzwise: Morris/Cancura/Gray’s Wildlife

August 6, 2009

Kevin Le Gendre reviews Joe Morris/Petr Cancura/Luther Gray’s Wildlife (AUM Fidelity) in the August issue of Jazzwise.

“The impressive Cancura has a hot sound on tenor and his statements are incisive and pithy,” he writes, before noting that Gray’s “emphasis on a supple cymbal pulse, smattering of tom tom and sparse accenting on the snare enhances the floating quality of the set.”

He adds, “Morris often creates a deep round drone in his lines that contributes to the sense of rhythmic swirl makes excellent use of 6/8 time and to a certain extent evokes an imaginary meeting of [Pharaoh] Sanders and Henri Texler.”

“The result,” he concludes, “is a very articulate jazz post-modernism that draws equally on the lexicon of post-bop, avant-garde and non-Western improvisations to create music whose rich historical roots do not choke its sense of newness or vitality.”

The trio’s next live performance is Monday, August 10th at The Local 269 in New York as part of the RUCMA/Vision Performance Series.


New CD From Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings Coming September 15th

June 17, 2009
Photo by Scott Friedlander

Photo by Scott Friedlander

On September 15th, Firehouse 12 Records will release Madeleine Dreams (FH12-04-01-011), the second recording from cornetist/composer Taylor Ho Bynum‘s improvising chamber ensemble, SpiderMonkey Strings. The seven year-old group features Kyoko Kitamura (voice), Jason Kao Hwang (violin), Jessica Pavone (viola), Tomas Ulrich (cello), Pete Fitzpatrick (guitar), Joseph Daley (tuba) and Luther Gray (drums).

The centerpiece of this release is Bynum’s titular composition, a six-movement secular oratorio inspired by Madeleine is Sleeping (Harcourt), a 2004 novel written by his sister, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, and its theme of the logic of dreams. The piece, which the band has performed on tour since its March 2008 debut at New York’s Roulette, draws text from the book, a magical-realist fable of a girl’s coming of age that moves between dreams and reality in 19th century France. Madeleine Dreams also documents Bynum’s distinctive arrangements of music by Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington and Sun Ra.

“Dreams, and the literature of dreaming, including the work of such authors as Borges, Murakami, Okri, and Calvino, are an ongoing artistic inspiration for me,” writes Bynum in the liner notes. “The logic of dreams shows how radically yet naturally one’s subconscious can transform known elements into the surreal, seamlessly moving between the mundane and the fantastic. The remaining pieces are by three of my musical heroes, each of whom embraced dreams, mythology, and fiction in his own way. I also like the idea of SpiderMonkey Strings as a most unusual kind of repertory band.”

Named after two mythical tricksters, Anansi the Spider of West Africa and the Monkey King of China, Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings has performed a diverse range of extended suites with a genre-defying spirit and an amiable sense of humor since 2002. The band first took shape as a string quartet with cornet and guitar created to perform music Bynum wrote for a short film score. He later added tuba and drums and began writing eclectic long-form works for the group, which he documented on its 2005 debut, Other Stories [Three Suites] (482 Music). The recent addition of Ms. Kitamura furthers the evolution of the group’s sound by bringing the implicit narrative elements of Bynum’s music to the forefront.

Critics have called Bynum “a young brass master and compelling composer” (Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix), “a remarkable writer, improviser and bandleader” (Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com) and “one of the most exciting figures in jazz’s new power generation” (Steve Dollar, Time Out Chicago). “Over the past decade,” wrote Kevin Le Gendre in Jazzwise, “Bynum has shown himself to be a worthy addition to the canon of maverick trumpeters that includes such illustrious names as Wadada Leo Smith, Ron Miles, Cuong Vu and Arve Henrikson.” The Chicago Reader‘s Peter Margasak adds, “Taylor Ho Bynum cemented his reputation as one of the most compelling and progressive trumpeters and bandleaders currently active, at home in every corner of the creative-music map.”

Bynum’s expansive resume includes collaborations with both his contemporaries and legendary figures alike, most notably the iconic saxophonist/composer Anthony Braxton, with whom he has performed and recorded extensively over the past decade. His most recent releases as a leader/co-leader include Positive Catastrophe’s Garabatos Volume One (Cuneiform Records), The Thirteenth Assembly’s (un)sentimental (Important Records), and the Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet’s Asphalt Flowers Forking Paths (hatOLOGY). He is also a member of such groups as The Convergence Quartet, Jason Kao Hwang’s Edge, the Joe Morris Bass Quartet and the large ensembles of Bill Dixon and Cecil Taylor. In addition, he is a curator and board member for the Festival of New Trumpet (FONT) Music and a partner in Firehouse 12 Records.

Learn more at http://www.taylorhobynum.com


Farmers By Nature Reviewed In April Issues Of AAJ-NY And Jazzwise

March 30, 2009


Farmers By Nature
(AUM Fidelity), the debut recording by the collective trio of Gerald Cleaver, William Parker and Craig Taborn, is reviewed in the April issues of AllAboutJazz-New York and Jazzwise.

AAJ-NY’s Sean Fitzell writes, “Parker and Taborn often explore the lower registers, while Cleaver uses his hands and mallets for more resonant, warmer tones, imparting the earthiness suggested by the title. The interaction is not hyper: each idea offered is worked through to resolution before the next is suggested.”

In his review for Jazzwise, Kevin Le Gendre called the disc an “absorbing live performance from three premier improvisers.”

He adds, “Farmers By Nature has occasional passages of creative stasis but it is nonetheless marked by a sense of a constant searching for newness in expression.  It thus stays true to the risk that is a key element of improvisation in the truest sense, reaching moments of electrically charged exchanges which stand proud in a tradition of collective thinking in jazz, one where all players are created equal.”