The Wire: Darius Jones Trio’s Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity)

December 16, 2009

Philip Clark reviews alto saxophonist/composer Darius Jones‘ acclaimed debut, Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) on AUM Fidelity, featuring Cooper-Moore (piano and diddley-bo) and Rakalam Bob Moses (drums), in the January 2010 issue of The Wire.

“His sound evokes Albert Ayler’s cry-point vibrato,” Clark writes, “but Virginia-born alto saxophonist Darius Jones is no idle clone—with expressive glissandi as opulently sensual as that of Johnny Hodges, and a knack for flipping innocent melodic utterances into lines fraught with chancy harmonic and rhythmic ambiguities, Jones’s concept is proudly his own. This record poses big questions about the relationship between the African-American tradition of spirituals, blues and gospel, and now.” + The Wire Review The Fully Celebrated

August 13, 2009’s Scott Hreha and The Wire‘s Philip Clark both weighed in on The Fully Celebrated’s most recent release, Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity), in reviews published this week.

Overall, the arrangements musically capture the latent humor in Hobbs’ song titles and showcase the trio’s incredible rapport.  Together, they’re able to shift on a dime from groove to freedom and back again, falling in and out of time as if affected by a constantly shifting series of magnetic fields.
Whether experimental or unadorned, the album’s production feels like a natural extension of the trio’s talent—something that forward-thinking jazz groups have been chasing since the 1960s, yet is rarely achieved.  This, together with the solid musical performances by Hobbs and his cohorts, makes Drunk On the Blood of the Holy Ones a potent concoction that will hopefully raise the “fully celebrated” of the band’s name from tongue-in-cheek irony to reality.

“Overall, the arrangements musically capture the latent humor in [Jim] Hobbs’ song titles and showcase the trio’s incredible rapport,” Hreha writes. “Together, they’re able to shift on a dime from groove to freedom and back again, falling in and out of time as if affected by a constantly shifting series of magnetic fields… a potent concoction that will hopefully raise the ‘fully celebrated’ of the band’s name from tongue-in-cheek irony to reality.”

Clark adds, “It’s kind of annoying when someone’s been making great music since 1987 but you’ve only just found out. His sharp intensity and machine gun attack when approaching abstract funk has obvious roots in Ornette’s 1980s Prime Time principles…but Hobbs’ immersion in reggae and dub soon asserts itself. ‘Reptoid Alliance’ is peppered with saxophone multiphonics that hit on the backbeats, as he grinds against bassist Timo Shanko’s and drummer Django Carranza’s funk groove.”

Tzadik To Release Jessica Pavone’s New CD In October

August 12, 2009
Photo by Erica Magrey

Photo by Erica Magrey

On October 27th, Tzadik will release violist/composer Jessica Pavone‘s Songs of Synastry and Solitude (TZ 7719) as part of the 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) being performed by members of the Toomai String Quintet. The group will celebrate the release of the record on Tuesday, November 10th with a live performance at Roulette in New York.

The music on Songs of Synastry and Solitude grew out of the composing process for her 2007 release, Quotidian (Peacock Recordings), which documents a four-part suite that examines the temporal landmarks within each day. “I was most satisfied with the results of ‘Post Meridiem’, the afternoon piece,” Ms. Pavone remembers, “which explored informal music for one’s self in the middle of the day, in contrast to formal evening concerts. I wanted to continue writing string music based on the ideas in that piece, but for a quartet with double bass, which gives the music more flexibility and allows me to more easily draw from my folk music influence—the idea being I am writing ‘songs’ for a ‘classical’ ensemble.”

“I don’t feel like my music has something grandiose to portray,” she continues. “I just want it to sound real. I’m a songwriter that just happens to write instrumental songs—I hear music for small and intimate ensembles—and that was my approach to these string quartets. There is a lot of arpeggiation of chords throughout the ensemble emulating a finger picked guitar as well as a chorus/verse structure and an emphasis on simplicity. As I was composing these songs, I would check out older European composers’ string quartet scores and recordings, and every time said to myself, ‘I would never write music like this.’ Then there’d be times I’d hear a song by the Soul Stirrers or Leonard Cohen and think, ‘Ah, I would write music like this. I am going to borrow forms from this.'”

The influence of Cohen, and his dichotomous 1970 recording, are felt throughout this project, both in name and the underlying intent of the composer. “There’s a deep, unexplainable feeling I get from listening to his music,” says Ms. Pavone. “I feel like he encourages me to live outside this world and to explore what I call ‘the ghosts of all things lost’, reminders of past moments in my life that are still oddly familiar, but no longer part of my present existence. I want my music to have a heaviness—a weight that people feel and not just hear—as I try to recreate the feeling of his music, as well as my experience feeling his music.”

“Jessica Pavone is one of the busiest young performers on the city’s creative music scene,” declared Steve Dollar in a 2008 feature in the New York Sun, “lending her strings and a direct, personal style of playing them to all kinds of settings.” Jazz Review‘s Philip Clark writes, “We learn things from her music that we didn’t already know. [Her] harmonic openness turns the microscope on herself and she responds with lines of honest clarity, an oblique perspective on the familiar.”’s Charlie Wilmouth adds, “Her work possesses an uncommon amount of elegance…each piece is perfectly formed, expiring just as its tiny collection of melodic materials cycles through to its logical conclusion.”

Active in New York for the past decade, Ms. Pavone is best known for her work with the iconic Anthony Braxton, and a cadre of his former students that includes guitarist Mary Halvorson and cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum. In addition to leading her own bands, such as The Pavones, she has also performed in improvising ensembles led by Jeremiah Cymerman, Laurence “Butch” Morris, Matana Roberts and Eliot Sharp, as well as such collective groups as the Mary Halvorson/Jessica Pavone Duo and The Thirteenth Assembly.

As a composer, she has earned grants and commissions from the Aaron Copland Recording Fund, the American Music Center, The Kitchen, MATA and the group, Till By Turning, which recently presented the European premiere of “Quotidian” at Faust’s Klangbad Festival 2009 in Germany. Her discography features more than 30 recordings, including recent releases from the Anthony Braxton 12+1tet, Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings and William Parker.

Learn more at

Mary Halvorson Featured In The Wire

January 21, 2009

wire_feb09Hot on the heels of being profiled earlier this week at Dusted as one of 10 artists to watch in 2009 (and in DownBeat, Jazz Review, JazzTimes, New York Times and Time Out New York in the ’08), guitarist/composer Mary Halvorson is featured in the February 2009 issue of The Wire.

The article, written by Philip Clark, explores Mary’s relationship with the guitar, as well as her musical personality and the differences between her work as a bandleader on 2008’s Dragon’s Head (Firehouse 12 Records) vs. her collaborations with violist Jessica Pavone and drummer Kevin Shea.

You can also find a series of exclusive tidbits from Mary on The Wire‘s Web site.