Exclaim: Taylor Ho Bynum + Bill Dixon

December 17, 2009

Nilan Perera’s reviews of Firehouse 12 Records‘ two latest releases, Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings’ Madeleine Dreams and Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra, are now posted at Exclaim.ca

“The music is performed by a wonderful ensemble,” Perera explains in his review of Madeleine Dreams, “with the music providing a strong and compelling counterpoint to the succinct yet supremely poetic text. The mix of composition and improvisation provides a focused yet flexible collaborator to the images evoked by the sometimes sung, sometimes spoken text, and is never contrived or obvious. The remaining three pieces by Ellington, Coleman and Sun Ra are also infused with a sly originality, completing a very satisfying work.”

“[Tapestries for Small Orchestra] marks Bill Dixon‘s 84th year in a life creating and developing one of the most singularly identifiable and personal visions in music,” Perera writes. “While this double CD set of music bristles with the glacial counterpoints, sprays of energy and the throbbing subtexts of tension that define his music, it has in some ways a rawness and presence that sound more restrained than in previous work. This aspect has been ably spelled out in the accompanying documentary on his process, in which his focus on the playing aspect of limited written material (sometimes fragments and sketches) is detailed. This CD/DVD set is not only a great set of music, but an object lesson in process.”

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Jessica Pavone’s Songs Of Synastry And Solitude (Tzadik)

October 27, 2009


Today is the official street date for violist/composer Jessica Pavone‘s latest recording, Songs of Synastry and Solitude (Tzadik). This release is part of the label’s Oracles series, which celebrates “the diversity and creativity of women in experimental music making.”

Inspired by the simple beauty of American folk songs, and singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen‘s Songs of Love and Hate (Columbia), this recording features 11 of Ms. Pavone’s original compositions for string quartet (violin, viola, cello and double bass) performed by members of the Toomai String Quintet.

Ms. Pavone and the group will celebrate the release of the record on Tuesday, November 10th with a live performance at Roulette in New York.

“Violist and composer Jessica Pavone has been a fixture on the New York scene for over a decade. Songs of Synastry and Solitude is Pavone’s highest profile release as a composer to date, demonstrating her flair as a lyrical writer and supple orchestrator. A straightforward contemplation on the power of song, Songs of Synastry and Solitude is a timeless collection of elegant themes from a young composer of significant merit.”
Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com

“…a set of 11 original compositions that are emotionally weighty and dark, yet ultimately uplifting. While there is no direct stylistic or thematic link to Cohen’s songs, Pavone communicates the same sense of inevitability and universal suffering as the singer does, and leaves the listener with the same sense that there is hope in living—if only hope that daily suffering will be alleviated by the joy of song, love, spiritual enlightenment, and other forms of grace. This is measured, deliberate music that might be a love song, a prayer or just an acknowledgment that, as John Lee Hooker and Van Morrison once sang, you’ll never get out of these blues alive.”
James Hale, Jazz Chronicles

“In this release, she has presented compositions that are simple and stately, with a sombre grace that stands in wary contrast to Cohen’s finite pronouncements. The thoroughness and narrative direction of a songwriter inform her work, much as a good folk song would…pieces are performed with sensitivity and rigor by members of the Toomai String Quintet, projecting a sober view softened occasionally by a considered wistfulness. Pavone’s music reflects an austere but tender landscape where watchfulness orders reality.”
Nilan Perera, Exclaim!

“These 11 instrumentals are songs, too, in scale and shape, wordless distillations of feeling and reflection, brief musical narratives of relationship, star-blest or star-crossed…it’s a bittersweet chamber music evoking accord or aloneness that she is after, simply rendered and neatly crafted. The inclusion of double bass heightens both mellowness and melancholy, and it serves as a pivot for elegant dance rhythms that crop up among the wistful melodies.”
Julian Cowley, The Wire


Exclaim! Reviews Farmers By Nature

February 25, 2009

A new review of Gerald Cleaver/William Parker/Craig Taborn’s Farmers By Nature (AUM Fidelity) is now posted here.  

Exclaim! contributor Nilan Perera, who recently reviewed the new David S. Ware release, Shakti, also on AUM Fidelity, writes:

“What sets this CD apart is the degree of dynamism found in the music. Each player seems to be acutely aware of the progression of the music and adheres to the methodology by which one can play well by not playing at all. This is music of diversity, thoughtfulness and commitment, and an object lesson in spontaneous composition.”


The BBC And Exclaim! Review David S. Ware’s Shakti

February 2, 2009

Late last week, saxophonist/composer David S. Ware‘s latest release, Shakti (AUM Fidelity), earned reviews in two prominent international places, the BBC Web site and Exclaim!, a monthly Canadian publication.  

The BBC’s Chris Jones called Shakti “a mighty return for one of the greatest players alive today,” while Exclaim‘s Nilan Perera added, “Clear composition and strong, beautiful, connected improvising make this a most satisfying CD.”