Point Of Departure: Bill Dixon x 2

December 9, 2009

The December issue of Point of Departure features a review of Bill Dixon’s new three-disc set, Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records), by Troy Collins, as well as a feature on the eminent trumpeter/composer by Art Lange.

“The minimalist ideal of the ‘single note as a symphony’ finds credence in these epic meditations when long tones are sustained across multiple bar lines,” Collins writes. “Elsewhere, Dixon punctuates dark, introspective atmospheres with rancorous activity, and coils ghostly harmonies into dense thickets of dissonance. Brought to life by these phenomenal players, Dixon’s orchestral approach to improvisation is further detailed in the DVD documentary, which includes interviews with Dixon and the ensemble, as well as footage of three complete performances and an alternate take of the brooding opener, ‘Motorcycle ’66: Reflections & Ruminations’…for Dixon aficionados and those interested in the endless possibilities of sound, there is a surfeit of remarkable music contained in this collection.”

Lange adds, “Tapestries is a powerful achievement. The title is especially appropriate, alluding to the separate instrumental fibers woven together, the almost tactile sense of texture, and an often complicated imagery (in visual terms, either representational or geometric). In these eight pieces there are, again, compositional strategies that trace back as far as the chamber music-like developmental resources in Intents And Purposes and resonate throughout Dixon’s recorded works—the lyrical melodic contours, primarily dark and introspective; fluctuating, intersecting ensemble details and rhythmic confluence; the poised flow balancing thematic focus and spontaneous, responsive incidents of energy—now expanded and intensified.”

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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


Darius Jones Trio And Joe Morris Quartet On AUM Fidelity

October 13, 2009

AUM Fidelity is proud to announce the October 13th release of the Darius Jones Trio’s Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) (AUM057) and the Joe Morris Quartet’s Today On Earth (AUM058).

The first is alto saxophonist/composer Darius Jones‘ debut recording as a leader featuring Cooper-Moore (piano and diddley-bo) and Rakalam Bob Moses (drums).

What the critics say:

“A phenomenal debut, Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) presents the singular artistry of Darius Jones; a new voice poised to receive widespread acclaim from the jazz underground.”
Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com

“…an incredible recording that will make you sing, make you weep and make you marvel. The best music tells you something not only about the musicians, but about yourself. Man’ish Boy is that kind of record. It’s not just good. It’s important. And we are the richer for its existence.”
Jason Crane, PopDose.com

“On Man’ish Boy, alto saxophonist Darius Jones delivers one of the most impressive debuts in recent memory, displaying a remarkably well-developed concept and individual sound. It’s defiant, vulnerable, proud, and weary; there is laughter and sobbing in it. He imbues simple melodies and phrases with huge emotional weight.”
Ed Hazell, PointofDeparture.org

The other is the second release from guitarist/composer Joe Morris‘ quartet featuring Jim Hobbs (alto saxophone), Timo Shanko (bass) and Luther Gray (drums). It’s also the third AUM Fidelity release this year to feature Morris in a prominent role (David S. Ware’s Shakti and Morris/Cancura/Gray’s Wildlife are the others).

What the critics say:

“Morris is clearly an original.”
Andy Hamilton, The Wire

“To my ears, it’s one of his best. There are moments when this band flat-out swings (Gray, again, brings the joy of propulsion to the forefront); yet, the quieter moments are among the most melodic of Morris’s long career (and he does that without the music sounding ‘commercial’). In a year that has already produced many strong CDs, this Joe Morris Quartet release should make a lot of ‘Best of..’ lists and deservedly so.”
Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant

“No one plays the guitar like Joe Morris, with sharply articulated, single-note lines delivered in a dry tone. Besides the clarity of the playing itself, what stands out is the cogency of Morris’s melodies and the tight unison lines of Morris and Hobbs that puts one in mind of the playing of Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. Easily one of my favourite albums of this fast-waning year.”
Mike Chamberlain, HOUR

“Morris is a master of mixing total improvisational freedom with a realization that swing can be just as liberating as skronk, that a clean tone can say as much as, if not more than, a coruscating flood-tide of noise. Indeed, this album is so pretty that its adventurousness may slip right by on the first few listens. In other words, it’s worth spending time with and getting to know.”
Phil Freeman, AllMusic.com

“…Morris maintains a singular approach to the guitar, placing him in the upper echelon of present day improvisers. A brilliant follow-up to Beautiful Existence, and considerably more accessible than some of his more abstract efforts, Today On Earth is a stellar highlight in an exceptional, eclectic discography.”
Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com

Jones and his trio will celebrate their new release with a performance at AUM Fidelity’s artist showcase at Abrons Arts Center on Thursday night. Morris and his quartet will perform tomorrow night at The Local 269.


Just Confirmed: Darius Jones Trio At Outpost 186 October 19th

October 8, 2009
Photo by Carrie Villines

Photo by Carrie Villines

On Monday, October 19th, New York-based alto saxophonist/composer Darius Jones will celebrate his anxiously awaited debut recording, Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) on AUM Fidelity, featuring noted master musicians Cooper-Moore (piano and diddley-bo) and Rakalam Bob Moses (drums), with a performance at Outpost 186 in Cambridge, MA.

The event, which is being presented by the venue’s subconsciouscafe series, will begin at 8:00 p.m. Admission is a $10 suggested donation at the door.

Jones conceived Man’ish Boy, which officially hits the streets October 13th, as “a sonic tone poem about me and my life growing up in the South.” Inspired by his poor, but musically diverse and love-filled childhood on a farm in his native Virginia, Jones wrote eight compositions that draw on a diverse range of concepts, sonic materials and rhythms he encountered during his youth.

This eclectic tapestry of influences includes his uncle’s saxophone playing, his Jamaican father’s love of reggae, the revelatory vocal music of the church and countless hours of listening to everything from classical to rock on the radio.

In his review of the record, AllAboutJazz.com’s Troy Collins calls Jones “a prodigiously talented instrumentalist whose Southern roots shine through on this vivacious debut,” and “a new voice poised to receive widespread acclaim from the jazz underground.”

Jason Crane, PopDose.com reviewer and host of The Jazz Session, describes Man’ish Boy as “an incredible recording that will make you sing, make you weep and make you marvel. It’s not just good. It’s important. And we are the richer for its existence.”

“On Man’ish Boy,” adds Point of Departure‘s Ed Hazell, “alto saxophonist Darius Jones delivers one of the most impressive debuts in recent memory, displaying a remarkably well-developed concept and individual sound. Jones and his trio with pianist Cooper-Moore and drummer Rakalam Bob Moses create a modern music drawn from an exclusively African American tradition…Jones and company reach back to into the pre-jazz African American folk, spiritual, and blues traditions to inform their music. It’s Jones’ ability to make those deep connections to a long tradition and absorb them thoroughly into his own music that helps give the album its heft and beauty.”

Jones’ trio, which last performed together at the 2009 Vision Festival in New York this summer, will also be performing at AUM Fidelity’s label showcase at New York’s Abrons Arts Center on October 15th and at New Haven’s Firehouse 12 on November 20th.

To learn more about Jones and his music, check out this new interview, posted today at rvanews.com, and please check back with us often for more of the media response to Man’ish Boy following its release next week.


Harris Eisenstadt’s Canada Day Out Today

October 6, 2009


Drummer/composer Harris Eisenstadt‘s latest release, Canada Day (Clean Feed), officially hits the streets today.

The record, the Toronto native’s eighth as a bandleader, is the debut of his primary working ensemble, also called Canada Day, featuring Nate Wooley (trumpet), Matt Bauder (tenor saxophone), Chris Dingman (vibraphone) and Eivind Opsvik (bass).

It documents his original book of music for the group, which was written for the specific musical personalities of these musicians and developed in live performances in New York and beyond over the past three years.

“The material on the group’s self-titled album is as exciting as it is diverse,” declares Dusted‘s Marc Medwin, “with any clichés about group telepathy sounding entirely appropriate. Precision and spontaneity make every gesture simultaneously soloistic and supportive as the structures wend their complex but catchy ways forward. He’s the lynchpin of an exciting aggregate.”

“Drawing upon some of the best new talent in the Brooklyn scene,” explains AllAboutJazz.com’s Troy Collins, “Eisenstadt’s formidable quintet is as capable of adventurous timbral explorations as they are of in-the-pocket swing. Blending a mid-’60s Blue Note vibe with elastic post-rock grooves and subtle West African influences, Eisenstadt successfully unites his assorted interests into a cohesive ensemble sound. An accessible blend of inside and outside traditions delivered by an empathetic young ensemble, Canada Day is a welcome addition to the burgeoning discography of one of the new generation’s leading composers.”

AllMusic.com’s Michael G. Nastos adds, “A composer of great depth and diversity, Eisenstadt proves a fine trap drummer for this recording, and a formidable bandleader who deserves more recognition in both areas. The cohesion of the ensemble, glued by the steady, steaming, streaming rhythms of Eisenstadt, keeps the listener focused and compelled to hear more…this is a strong candidate for Top Ten status in the category of best jazz CDs of 2009.”

You can learn more about Eisenstadt, Canada Day, and his many other projects in a new interview by Clifford Allen posted yesterday at AllAboutJazz.com

And, the band will be celebrating its new release with Northeast tour dates in New York, Toronto, Buffalo and Rochester starting October 24th. Details are available here.


Joe Morris’ Wildlife In Boston Tonight

September 11, 2009

Joe Morris‘ improvising trio Wildlife, featuring saxophonist Petr Cancura and drummer Luther Gray, will celebrate its self-titled debut on AUM Fidelity tonight at Outpost 186 in Cambridge, MA.

“The trio’s congenial interplay is superlative,” writes AllAboutJazz.com’s Troy Collins. “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.”

Critics also called the record “deeply satisfying” (Bill Meyer, Dusted), “a thoroughly assured outing” (Julian Cowley, The Wire) and “a masterful showcase for three brilliant musicians” (Phil Freeman, AllMusic.com).


Firehouse 12 To Present Mauger October 2nd

September 2, 2009
Photo by Scott Friedlander

Photo by Scott Friedlander

On Friday, October 2nd, New Haven’s Firehouse 12 will present the third event in its ongoing fifth anniversary Fall Jazz Series, a two-set performance by the all-star trio, Mauger. The group brings together acclaimed saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, a 2007 Guggenheim Fellow and winner of the “Rising Star Jazz Artist” category in this year’s DownBeat Critics’ Poll, with veteran master musicians, and former Anthony Braxton Quartet members, bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Gerry Hemingway. Mauger will be performing music from its 2008 debut, The Beautiful Enabler (Clean Feed).

“Mark Dresser and Gerry Hemingway share a working relationship that dates back to 1975,” writes AllAboutJazz.com’s Troy Collins, “they hone in on the other’s next move with the skill of seasoned chess players. Hearing [Mahanthappa] let loose in this unfettered setting is surprising and poignant; it is easily his most exploratory playing on record. Consisting of two tunes from each member and one collectively composed improvisation, the album’s seven skeletal frameworks inspire selfless interaction from the trio, who demonstrate careful listening skills and a magnanimous approach to soloing.”

Collectively, the members of Mauger have appeared on more than 250 recordings. Mahanthappa, best known for his experiments integrating such diverse elements as mathematics, cryptography and his Indian ancestry into the jazz idiom, is a frequent collaborator with pianist Vijay Iyer and a busy leader in his own right. Dresser’s career spans 35 years and work in all manner of idioms within the jazz and classical worlds with such notable figures as Tim Berne, Dave Douglas, Satoko Fujii, Osvaldo Golijov and John Zorn. Hemingway, a New Haven native, has also been active since the early 1970’s, working with marquee musicians including Ray Anderson, John Butcher, Marilyn Crispell, Mark Helias, Evan Parker and Reggie Workman in a variety of combinations. Learn more at http://maugertrio.com.

2009 Fall Jazz Series Schedule:

09/18 :: Brandon Ross & Blazing Beauty
09/25 :: Matt Wilson Quartet
10/02 :: Mauger: Rudresh Mahanthappa/Mark Dresser/Gerry Hemingway
10/09 :: Steve Lehman Trio
10/16 :: Gretchen Parlato Band
10/23 :: Whirrr! The Music of Jimmy Giuffre
10/30 :: Taylor Eigsti Trio
11/06 :: ODE: Larry Ochs/Trevor Dunn/Lisle Ellis/Michael Sarin
11/13 :: The Peter Evans Quartet
11/20 :: Darius Jones Trio
12/04 :: Mary Halvorson Quintet
12/11 :: Amy Cervini Quartet
12/18 :: Daniel Levin Trio

Tickets and more information available at:
http://firehouse12.com/performance_space_calendar.asp