Spinner: Top 10 Jazz Albums Of 2009

December 31, 2009

Photo by Dylan Morris

Tad Hendrickson’s Top 10 list is now posted at Spinner.com, and we’re pleased to report that the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity) came out on top. Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam) placed sixth.

“Here with his old quartet of saxophonist Jim Hobbs, bassist Timo Shanko and drummer Luther Gray,” Hendrickson writes, “Morris is at his most eloquent. He writes for these guys as gracefully as he does for himself, conjuring heartfelt melodies. The group responds with revelatory musical voyages and strong interplay.”

“Oftentimes, I don’t really dig the mix of indie rock and jazz,” he continues in his review of Infernal Machines, “but the big-band compositions here are stunning, right up there with Maria Schneider. The guy is making his debut here with a seriously hot record.”


AAJ-NY: Joe Morris Quartet + Eri Yamamoto Trio

December 29, 2009

In addition to the results of the annual Best of 2009 feature, the January issue of AllAboutJazz-New York also includes new reviews of AUM Fidelity‘s latest releases, the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth and the Eri Yamamoto Trio’s In Each Day, Something Good (coming January 12th).

“Longtime Morris collaborators Jim Hobbs (saxophone), Timo Shanko (bass) and Luther Gray (drums) all shine throughout this record,” writes reviewer Wilbur MacKenzie of the former. “Hobbs’ solo on ‘Animal’ is nothing short of astounding in its abstract lyricism, replete with throaty vocalizations, dramatic use of negative space and a gradually expanding phrase structure. Morris’ compositions linger in the ear, as the ensemble dynamics in the improvisations always develop and enrich the evocative themes.”

“Yamamoto’s playing, unhurried and unforced, nevertheless demonstrates an active imagination and gift for melody,” declares Robert Iannapollo, “her improvisations avoid sweeping theatrical gestures in favor of focused introspection, in the spirit of someone who stops along the way to pore over the small details of everyday life that often elude those who hurry on. Displaying an intuitive rapport based on umpteen hours of on-the-job repartee, the trio recalls the close commerce and intimate atmosphere of Bill Evans’ classic group, the musical equivalent of an isosceles triangle.”


Destination:Out’s Fave Jazz Jamz Of 2009

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.


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.”


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)


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.”


The Blogosphere Hearts Joe Morris

October 29, 2009

Excerpts from recent blog reviews of the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity):

“The music, performed by Morris (guitar), Jim Hobbs (alto saxophone), Timo Shanko (bass) and Luther Gray (drums), holds up quite impressively under repeated listenings. The tracks are fairly long (4 over 10 minutes and only 1 under 7), but several of them move so gracefully (‘Observer’, ‘Ashes’) it’s easy to get lost in the sonic world the quartet creates. It’s been over 3 decades since Joe Morris first came to critical notice and he continues to grow as a composer and musician, creating challenging music for open minds.”
Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant’s See! Hear!

“Joe Morris is having one of them crazy years. Nothing can seem to stop him, as he is releasing one CD after another. The latest—and best!—one is this studio session with his quartet. One of the best jazz albums of 2009.”
François Couture, Monsieur Delire

“Four of the seven tracks on Today On Earth clock in at 10 or 11 minutes, and all of that time is well spent. Of his recent releases, this album is one of the best place to start (behind the Flow Trio), since its places his adventurous improvisational chops in a setting that makes them stand out even more.”
Mike Shanley, shanleyonmusic

“…the main strength of the album is the truly wonderful compositions, which are refined, carefully structured, compelling and beautifully performed…here [Morris’] playing is much closer to the traditional jazz guitar, and I must say, it suits him well. And the band is absolutely stunning, in its pretenseless, unassuming playing, yet delivering a rare level of combined accuracy of tone and interaction, giving space, dialoguing well, giving the right emphasis at the right time, and adding loads of emotional depth: truly great. But as said, the real treat are the compositions, with themes like ‘Animal’ or ‘Observer’ that will keep ringing in your head long after you’ve stopped listening to the music.”
Stef Gijssels, Free Jazz


JazzTimes: Darcy James Argue + Joe Morris/Petr Cancura/Luther Gray

September 28, 2009

The new October issue of JazzTimes features reviews of Darcy James Argue‘s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam) and Joe Morris/Petr Cancura/Luther Gray’s Wildlife (AUM Fidelity).

Infernal Machines is the future of the big band,” declares Michael J. West, “with leader Darcy James Argue presenting seven fiercely original and exciting compositions and arrangements for his 18-piece ensemble. His music is ambitious, experimental and complex, but in a sense far closer to indie rock with its immediacy and wide-ranging palette. With their haunting compositions and imaginative experiments, Argue’s Secret Society might do for jazz what Radiohead did for rock—and poach some of its audience, too.”

In his review of Wildlife, Mike Shanley writes, “Before too long, Joe Morris’ work as a bassist is going to eclipse his work as a guitarist—not that there’s anything wrong with that. Morris’ approach to the bull fiddle offers a solid focus to free-improvisation sessions, with some solos that take on percussive qualities when he really cuts loose. This album sounds loose but each track has a different mood that keeps things compelling for 56 minutes.”


Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings At Jazz Gallery Tomorrow

September 18, 2009

Photo by Scott Friedlander

Tomorrow night, cornetist/composer Taylor Ho Bynum and his improvising chamber ensemble, SpiderMonkey Strings, will celebrate the release of their second recording, Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records), with a two-set performance at New York’s Jazz Gallery.

The centerpiece of the record is Bynum’s six-movement title suite—what he calls a secular oratorio—based on his sister’s novel, Madeleine is Sleeping (Harcourt). It also features his distinctive arrangements of music by Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington and Sun Ra that corresponds with the recording’s central theme of “the logic of dreams.”

This is the most recent in a string of well-received recordings featuring Bynum as a leader/co-leader that includes 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).

Created seven years ago, Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings currently features Kyoko Kitamura (voice), Jason Kao Hwang (violin), Jessica Pavone (viola), Tomas Ulrich (cello), Pete Fitzpatrick (guitar), Joseph Daley (tuba) and Luther Gray (drums).


New Taylor Ho Bynum CD Released Today

September 15, 2009
Photo by Scott Friedlander

Photo by Scott Friedlander

Cornetist/composer Taylor Ho Bynum‘s latest recording as a leader, Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records), officially hits the streets today.

The second release from his improvising chamber group, SpiderMonkey Strings, the record documents the title suite, a secular oratorio the group has been performing at concerts around the world since early 2008, as well as innovative arrangements of music by Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington and Sun Ra.

This seven year-old ensemble features Kyoko Kitamura (voice), Jason Kao Hwang (violin), Jessica Pavone (viola), Tomas Ulrich (cello), Pete Fitzpatrick (guitar), Joseph Daley (tuba) and Luther Gray (drums).

Bynum and the group will celebrate with two sets at New York’s Jazz Gallery on Saturday, September 19th.

In his listing for the performance in the Village Voice, Jim Macnie writes, “Whether he’s making cinematic soundscapes for snippets of his sister’s surrealistic novel, or bringing a heavenly tone to such earthy fare as Ellington’s ‘The Mooche,’ the cornet player makes music that places nuance on the top of the priority list. The vocals are fetching and flighty; the repertory choices discerning and deft.”