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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Signal To Noise: Taylor Ho Bynum, Fonda/Stevens Group, The Fully Celebrated, Darius Jones and Joe Morris

December 14, 2009

The Winter 2010 issue of Signal To Noise arrived this weekend and with it reviews of the latest releases from Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings, the Fonda/Stevens Group, The Fully Celebrated, the Darius Jones Trio and the Joe Morris Quartet.

“Bynum’s compositions consistently engage and amplify the texts [from his sister’s novel, Madeleine is Sleeping],” writes Stuart Broomer in his review of Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records), “and the performances are at a high level. Vocalist Kyoko Kitamura ranges from pensive dramatic readings to jazz-inflected vocals and creative improvisations, performing admirably in the divergent settings. The group’s improvisational skills come to the fore on pieces by three great composers—Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington and Sun Ra—whose works are all subtly complementary…the results are driving, focused, expressive performances that make the most of the jazz tradition.”

“After 20 years of musical partnership, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, bassist Joe Fonda, drummer Harvey Sorgen and trumpeter Herb Robertson have developed a rich chemistry,” declares James Hale. “On Memphis, their 11th recording, the quartet surges with energy—equal parts Stevens’ proclivity for aggresive vamps, Robertson’s slippery slalom runs, and a wrecking crew of a rhythm duo. When the mood turns somber individual members find ways of keeping the tension high, whether its Fonda’s abrasive arco on ‘For My Brother’ or the free segments that alternate with Stevens’ pretty theme on ‘Whale Majesty.'”

“Alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs, bassist Timo Shanko and drummer Django Carranza hammer away at eight slices of groove-based music that is is peppy, incisive and yes, amusing,” explains Jay Collins in his review of Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity). “The Fully Celebrated is a group that doesn’t take themselves too seriously, but the music is of high caliber and a hell of a lot of fun.”

Marc Medwin describes the Darius Jones Trio’s debut, Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity), as “a barn-burner from note one. Jones could not have chosen better musicians to enter into his world, with Cooper-Moore and drummer Rakalam Bob Moses enhancing every moan, cry and shriek emanating from his alto.”

Jay Collins calls the Joe Morris Quartet’s second release, Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity), “Morris at his most accessible. His tremendous single-note flurries come to bear immediately on the boppish ‘Backbone’ and the exuberantly swinging ‘Imaginary Solutions.’ The quartet’s keen melodic sense is eveident on ‘Ashes’ and the ruminative ‘Animal,’ especially in Hobbs’s earthy, gripping saxophone playing. Hobbs and Morris’s unison lines against the rhythm section’s restless activity are part of the record’s pleasures. Like Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones, Today on Earth has it all: smart compositional structures that launch tasty, unpredictable improvisations.”


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)


JazzTimes: Taylor Ho Bynum, Darius Jones and Jessica Pavone

November 16, 2009


The December issue of JazzTimes arrived this weekend and with it reviews of three of our clients’ most recent releases, Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings’ Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records), the Darius Jones Trio’s Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) (AUM Fidelity) and Jessica Pavone’s Songs of Synastry and Solitude (Tzadik).

Michael J. West called Madeleine Dreams‘ title track “a six-movement suite that intriguingly blends chamber classical, beatnik jazz, indie-rock and free improvisation, dominated by violin (Jason Kao Hwang), viola (Jessica Pavone), cello (Tomas Ulrich) and stately, evocative moods. Vocalist Kyoko Kitamura recited magical-realism vignettes, based on an acclaimed novel by Bynum’s sister, that blur the line between reality and the world of dreams…it’s a fun listen.”

Jones, 31, is a hotshot we should keep our eyes and ears on,” declared Steve Greenlee. “He’s got a raw but disciplined sound, a head full of ideas and a heart full of talent. On his debut album, he plays sweetly, melodically, plaintively, raucously and discordantly. He plays outside and in. He goes from blues to swing to free and back again. He never wastes a note or a breath.”

Jessica Pavone has begun making a name for herself in the world of modern improvised music,” wrote Mike Shanley, “but those words only go so far when trying to describe her work. Performed by members of the Toomai String Quintet (Pavone doesn’t appear on the disc), the music doesn’t reside in the frenetic free zone where the composer sometimes dwells. Each track averages about four minutes in length, with many going through a few different sections, yet the whole work flows together like a complete, compelling composition.”


Bynum-Hébert-Cleaver Trio In Philly Tonight

November 2, 2009

Bynum-Hébert-Cleaver Trio

Tonight at The Rotunda in Philadelphia, the recently formed Taylor Ho Bynum-John Hébert-Gerald Cleaver Trio will finish its three-city tour before heading into the studio tomorrow to record its debut for the RogueArt label.

“These three are pacesetters in modern improvisation, so the very idea of their convergence as a trio is rich with promise,” writes Philadelphia Weekly‘s David R. Adler. “Cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum has worked alongside Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton and other giants; his own bands include SpiderMonkey Strings and Positive Catastrophe. Bassist John Hébert played with the great Andrew Hill until the pianist’s death in 2007; he’s currently with Fred Hersch and leading his own Byzantine Monkey. Drummer Gerald Cleaver can wail with free-jazz icons like Roscoe Mitchell and Matthew Shipp, then turn around and offer swinging, melodic treasures with his own group Violet Hour. Together, they’ve got six wide-open ears and infinite musical options.”


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.”