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.”

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PopMatters.com + The Wire Review The Fully Celebrated

August 13, 2009

PopMatters.com’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.”


iC Media Poll Results: Part 2

July 20, 2009

Print publications

Today we explore the results from the second of five sections of our recent survey of 50 prominent jazz writers and editors.

This section, called Web and print habits, asked about the jazz-related publications, blogs and Web sites these professionals are reading, how they access them, and if what they read there impacts their own work.

As shown in the chart above, we first asked respondents to indicate which of the eight major jazz magazines they read on a regular basis. The list, which featured English-language publications only, included AllAboutJazz-New York, Cadence, DownBeat, Jazz Improv, Jazziz, JazzTimes, Signal To Noise and The Wire. We also made it possible for people to write-in any other publications as well.

The clear winner was AllAboutJazz-New York with 54.5%. The runner-up was Signal to Noise with 51.5%, followed by DownBeat and JazzTimes, which each scored 48.5%. The Wire (39.4%) and Cadence (18.2%) were next, while Jazziz and Jazz Improv each scored less than 10%.

One write-in vote each was cast for Cuadernos de JazzCoda, Improjazz, Jazz Journal and Ritmos del Mundo.

Print influence

We then asked if the coverage in these publications influenced the respondent’s own work (i.e. discovering new releases, coloring their judgement of artists/releases, etc.).

The results (above) were clear as 85.3% answered in the affirmative.

Web sites

Next we asked which jazz-related Web sites respondents visit on a regular basis, again spotlighting eight popular choices and giving people the chance to write-in any others they prefer.

AllAboutJazz.com was the clear favorite with 77.4%, with AllMusic.com finishing a close second with 61.3%. Next came Bagatellen with 32.3%, followed by Jazz.com and NPR Music, which each earned 29%. Avant Music News (16.1%), Jazz Corner (12.9%) and PopMatters (6.5%) also got multiple votes.

A significant number of write-in votes were cast for blogs, which we tackle in the next question, but Point of Departure was a popular choice (an admitted oversight on our part), as were Pitchfork and Dusted.

Web influence

Again, the majority (82.4%) indicated that the content of these sites influence their own work.

When tackling the subject of blogs, we asked respondents to list five of their favorites. Oddly enough, more than half skipped this question completely, and only 37.5% filled in all five slots. Some even dedicated one or more of the slots to expressing their dislike for reading and/or discussing blogs at all.

The calculations don’t apply to write-ins, but the most popular choices were Destination: Out, Do The Math, Free Jazz, Jazz Beyond Jazz, Lerterland and Secret Society.

Blog influence

But this time, when we asked if what they read on these blogs influenced their own work, only 44.4% said yes.

Blog access

When it comes to accessing the blogs they read, the Web is by far the most popular way with 94.1% giving that answer. Using a built-in blog reader in one’s browser and using a stand-alone RSS feed reader represented the rest of the vote with 8.8% each.

Twitter account

Finally, we asked if any of the respondents have a Twitter account.

Unlike with the blogs, everyone who took the survey answered this question, but only 35.3% said yes.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the third section of our survey, Personal Listening Habits, which features questions about writers’ interaction with jazz radio, their preferences for format (CD, MP3 and vinyl) when purchasing music for personal use, and the amount of music they purchase in a given year.

Please stay tuned!


Morris/Cancura/Gray’s Wildlife Released Today On AUM Fidelity

July 14, 2009

Today is the official street date for Wildlife (AUM056), the debut of the new collective ensemble of the same name featuring Joe Morris, Petr Cancura and Luther Gray.

It is also Morris’ first release as a leader/co-leader for the label since his 2001 solo guitar recording, Singularity (AUM018), and the second of the three 2009 releases on the label to feature him in a prominent role. The others are David S. Ware’s Shakti (AUM052) and the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today on Earth (AUM058), coming in October.

The band will celebrate its release this Friday night at Barbès in Brooklyn and at The Local 269 in Manhattan on Monday, August 10th.

Here’s a sample of this record’s enthusiastic reception thus far:

“This album is a masterful showcase for three brilliant musicians.”
Phil Freeman, AllMusic.com

“The album’s four long tracks were spontaneously conceived and Mr. Morris steers the action with bullish clarity, whether he’s plucking tangled clusters or walking four beats to the bar. His rapport with Mr. Gray, a regular colleague, runs impressively deep. More surprising is his bond with Mr. Cancura, a relative newcomer (to me, at least) whose robust exertions on alto and tenor access free-jazz legacies from both sides of the Atlantic.”
Nate Chinen, New York Times

“…a thoroughly assured outing. Certainly no one takes the back seat, but Cancura’s engagement with various post-bop options is undoubtedly the heart of this group’s vitality. It’s his robust sound and its dynamic presence that galvanises Gray and Morris, who are clearly loving it.”
Julian Cowley, The Wire

“This music is collectively improvised, the result of a spontaneous process made with a deep awareness of decades of free jazz practice…the players are free to be themselves, to draw at will from a continuum of ideas about how to interact, and to perhaps show a side that they don’t elsewhere.”
Bill Meyer, Dusted

“The trio’s congenial interplay is superlative, whether careening through the quicksilver changes of ‘Nettle’ or extrapolating the somber motifs of ‘Crow.’ A compelling document of the saxophone trio tradition as a democratic exchange of ideas, Wildlife presents three masterful improvisers at the top of their game.”
Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com


Friday Links

July 3, 2009


Those savvy Web surfers the Friday Linx are back to bring you some of their favorite stories of the last week or so.

  • AccuJazz.com rolled out a new channel focused on the Chicago jazz scene.
  • AvantMusicNews.com fulfilled a promise to donate three months of advertising revenue to David S. Ware’s recovery fund.
  • Guitarist Evan O’Reilly recounted the Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet’s recent European tour.
  • The Wire published the unedited transcript of Byron Coley’s interview with Ran Blake on its Web site.
  • Founding Editor, and American Music Center Composer Advocate, Frank J. Oteri interviewed Gunther Schuller for NewMusicBox.
  • Phil Freeman released a compilation of his articles called Sound Levels: Profiles in American Music, 2002-2009 that includes interviews with Ornette Coleman, Bill Dixon, Noah Howard, Tom Waits and many others.
  • Delmark Records and Jazz Record Mart founder Bob Koester was featured in the New York Times.
  • Steve Swallow shared formative stories, such as seeing The Beatles at Shea Stadium, in the Boston Phoenix.

Crackleknob Reviewed In The Wire

May 15, 2009

Veteran jazz critic Brian Morton reviews Crackleknob‘s new self-titled debut on hatOLOGY in the June issue of The Wire.

“At first you might think nothing very much is going on,” he writes, “then you realise the most interesting passages are those which have been trimmed down to just a couple of plucked strings, unanchored bass notes and lonely brass breaths and cries. The action’s in the intervals and in the spatial distribution of sound, but there’s a solid architecture to each piece.”

The group, which features trumpeter Nate Wooley, guitarist Mary Halvorson and bassist Reuben Radding, will celebrate its new release with a performance at Brooklyn’s Issue Project Room on May 24th.


(Un)Sentimental And Thin Air Reviewed In The Wire

April 17, 2009
Photo by Hilary McHone

Photo by Hilary McHone

Daniel Spicer’s joint review of The Thirteenth Assembly‘s (un)sentimental (Important Records) and Mary Halvorson and Jessica Pavone‘s Thin Air (Thirsty Ear) appears in the May 2009 issue of The Wire.

Spicer notes The Thirteenth Assembly’s “diverse, often surprising compositions,” “mischievous good humour,” and “moments when the music transcends genre.”

He also highlights the duo’s “compelling musicianship” and Halvorson’s “impressive timbral palette ranging from fierce, taut scribbles to subtle smears of effects.”

“It easily confirms her position as one of the most relentlessly inventive guitarists working in creative music today,” he adds.