KLANG’s Midwest CD Release Tour Begins November 17th

October 20, 2009
Photo by David Sampson

Photo by David Sampson

On Tuesday, November 17th, clarinetist/composer James Falzone and his Chicago-based quartet KLANG will embark on a six-date Midwest tour in support of their acclaimed debut CD, Tea Music (Allos Documents). The group, which also features vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Tim Daisy, will open the tour in Lexington, Kentucky and work its way back through Ohio and Wisconsin to the tour-ending hometown gig at The Hungry Brain.

Tour Itinerary:

11/17 :: Al’s Bar (Lexington, KY)
11/18 :: Thomas More College (Covington, KY)
11/19 :: Bela Dubby (Cleveland, OH)
11/20 :: Robinwood Concert House (Toledo, OH)
11/21 :: The Sugar Maple (Milwaukee, WI)
11/22 :: The Hungry Brain (Chicago, IL)

Critics have called Tea Music “excellent” (Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader) and “possibly the best jazz CD I’ve heard this year” (François Couture, Monsieur Délire), while also noting the “thoughtful and stylish music” (Ben Ratliff, New York Times) and “bold playing, smart compositions and empathetic group interactions” (Glen Hall, Exclaim!).

“The music, written by different players, is sly and smart, centered on composition and cleverly precise,” writes AllAboutJazz.com’s Mark Corroto. “Their collective approach to improvisation is passionate and sharp; Falzone’s orderly clarinet and Adasiewicz’s crisp vibraphone travel to another plane. It’s an extraordinary recording from an outstanding quartet.”

Dusted‘s Marc Medwin adds, “While it has some of the hip lightness associated with many genre-busting acts hailing from [Chicago], coolness of approach is tempered by deep compositional concerns. The musicianship itself is first-rate, the group able to stop on a dime throughout. The players’ performances blend to give the band a unique voice, one rooted in swing and cool but cognizant of all events transpiring since.”

John Hébert To Weekend At Cornelia Street Cafe

September 24, 2009
Photo by Scott Friedlander

Photo by Scott Friedlander

Bassist/composer John Hébert will celebrate his long-awaited debut release as a leader, Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12 Records), with a two-night stand at New York’s Cornelia Street Cafe starting tomorrow night.

Hébert’s sextet, also called Byzantine Monkey, will feature saxophonists Michaël Attias and Tony Malaby, multi-instrumentalist Adam Kolker, percussionist Satoshi Takeishi and drummer Michael Sarin (sitting in for Nasheet Waits for these two dates).

Known as “an indispensable presence on the local scene” (Hank Shteamer, Time Out New York) and “a bassist of deep intuition and extensive experience as a sideman” (Nate Chinen, New York Times), Hébert is one of the busiest bassists in New York and a regular in the Rising Star Acoustic Bass category of DownBeat’s annual Critics Poll for the past three years.

“On his first album as a leader he displays a sonic vision that’s all his own,” writes DownBeat‘s Peter Margasak, “even while sticking mostly to a support role. The leader has written nine lovely themes, some ebullient, some sorrowful, some fragile, and he directs his cohorts to elucidate and dance around the melodies with a mix of freedom and communicativeness. In particular, the intertwining lines of Tony Malaby, brawny and fat, and Michaël Attias, lithe and stinging, provide an exuberant dance on contrast.”

The Hartford Courant‘s Richard Kamins adds, “Byzantine Monkey takes the listener out of the everyday world into a landscape of mature melodies, splendid musicianship and highly creative interplay. It’s an aural landscape one can return to time and again, uncovering new paths to follow.”

DownBeat: John Hébert’s Byzantine Monkey

September 14, 2009

Bassist/composer John Hébert continues to gather accolades for his long-awaited debut release, Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12 Records). The latest is a four-star review by Peter Margasak in the October issue of DownBeat.

“On his first album as a leader he displays a sonic vision that’s all his own,” Margasak writes, “even while sticking mostly to a support role. The leader has written nine lovely themes, some ebullient, some sorrowful, some fragile, and he directs his cohorts to elucidate and dance around the melodies with a mix of freedom and communicativeness.”

“In particular,” he adds, “the intertwining lines of Tony Malaby, brawny and fat, and Michaël Attias, lithe and stinging, provide an exuberant dance on contrast.”

Hébert and his sextet, also called Byzantine Monkey, will celebrate this release at New York’s Cornelia Street Cafe on September 25th and 26th.

KLANG: The Chicago Jazz Festival Preview

September 4, 2009
Photo by David Sampson

Photo by David Sampson

Clarinetist/composer James Falzone’s quartet KLANG, along with special guest guitarist Dave Miller, will help commemorate the Benny Goodman Centennial at the 31st annual Chicago Jazz Festival on Sunday afternoon.

This customized five-piece edition of the group, dubbed KLANG: The Goodman Project, was created in response to an invitation from the festival and has performed at festival preview concerts around the city this past week.

Falzone was also interviewed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago’s JazzGram and the band is featured on this morning’s episode of Chicago Public Radio’s Eight Forty-Eight. You can also hear a track from the band’s brand new CD, Tea Music (Allos Documents), in the latest “Post No Bills” podcast from the Chicago Reader‘s Peter Margasak.

Following Sunday’s performance, the group will get back to business promoting its new record (check out the early reviews here) with its original lineup featuring vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Tim Daisy.

That includes preparations for the official CD release concert at The Hideout on September 23rd, and a week-long Midwest tour culminating in a hometown performance at The Hungry Brain on November 22nd. Check out the complete itinerary here.

Playscape Recordings To Release The Fonda/Stevens Group’s Memphis September 29th

June 30, 2009
Photo by Lindsay Beyerstein

Photo by Lindsay Beyerstein

Playscape Recordings will officially welcome The Fonda/Stevens Group to its roster with the September 29th release of Memphis (PSR#033108), the eminent ensemble’s 11th recording. Only the fourth studio release in the band’s two-decade existence, Memphis was recorded at the end of a week-long March 2008 U.S. tour. The Fonda/Stevens Group is co-led by bassist/composer Joe Fonda and pianist/composer Michael Jefry Stevens and features trumpeter Herb Robertson and drummer Harvey Sorgen.

Memphis takes its name from Stevens’ composition, “Memphis Ramble,” one of ten tracks documented here for the first time. The subject matter of the piece, which features a spoken word section developed spontaneously during its first performance, deals with his move from Brooklyn to Memphis to be with his wife, who teaches poetry at Rhodes College. Coincidentally, it was the poetry of the city’s name that appealed to Fonda. “When Mike suggested we call the record Memphis,” he recalls, “I just liked the sound of the word —the poetry of it. And, Memphis is a musical melting pot, just like The Fonda/Stevens Group.”

Known as “one of the great and often under-appreciated jazz groups of the modern era” (Steven Loewy, All Music Guide), critics have credited the band with playing “with equal precision and passion” (Peter Margasak, JazzTimes) and “a combination of recognizable creativity and courageous new experimentation” (Christian Carey, Signal to Noise). “The quartet of Fonda, Stevens, Sorgen and Robertson continues to mine territory that defies categorization,” adds AllAboutJazz.com Managing Editor John Kelman. “Everyone demonstrates a fine ability to skirt the edges of convention, while at the same time stretching its boundaries.”

Active collaborators since 1984, when they first worked together as sidemen with saxophonist Mark Whitecage, Fonda and Stevens founded their own band after the 1990 demise of another all-star ensemble, The Mosaic Sextet. The Fonda/Stevens Group began as a quintet, and toured with some transitional personnel following Whitecage’s departure in 1999, but has operated primarily as a quartet with its four remaining original members for the past decade. Although based in America, the band found early success touring abroad and recording for European labels, and has built its longstanding reputation on the world stage. Learn more at http://www.joefonda.digitalspace.net and http://www.michaeljefrystevens.com

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 DownBeat

April 16, 2009

Peter Margasak reviews Farmers By Nature (AUM Fidelity), the debut recording by the trio of Gerald Cleaver, William Parker and Craig Taborn, in the May 2009 issue of DownBeat

“The trio ranges freely between pulse-based lyricism, surging energy and gnomic exchnages, as though they were following an elliptical orbit that takes them far out, only to come close again,” he writes.  “It’s a treat for the process-oriented listener and a promising introduction to a group that has a language all its own.”