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Volume 27 Issue 7 | May 20 - July 12, 2022

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In Common III Walter

In Common III Walter Smith III; Kris Davis; Dave Holland; Terri Lyne Carrington Whirlwind Recordings WR4783 ( ! Guitarist Matthew Stevens and saxophonist Walter Smith III have been collaborating for some time now, first documenting themselves on the 2018 release In Common. That recording featured a who’s who rhythm section of New York greats, which became a theme with In Common II and this most recent release In Common III. Approaching a group this way has many benefits. It showcases Smith and Stevens, since they’re the common denominator on all three albums. It also manages to bring together some less-common pairings of musicians, which keeps the music fresh and creative. Pianist Kris Davis sounds quite comfortable providing subtle triadic accompaniment on the album’s first full band track, Loping. A testament to her versatility and deliberate creative wisdom, Davis sounds equally at home showing off chops and avant-garde ideas in an energetic solo on Hornets. The bass and drum positions are occupied by stalwarts Dave Holland and Terri Lyne Carrington. In Common III’s liner notes mention a “formula” of one-page songs, and the way Holland and Carrington are able to approach this music gives the listener no doubts as to why the two are some of the most in-demand accompanists in the improvised music world today. While the sheet music may consist of onepage songs, the music heard on this album is far from simplistic. Stevens and Smith’s musicality provides the glue to bringing each tune together, and their rhythm section orchestrates the entire album brilliantly. What these 15 tracks have “in common” is ample musicality and professionalism. Sam Dickinson At One Time John Oswald; Henry Kaiser; Paul Plimley Independent ( album/at-one-time) ! This recording is an intriguing experiment in free improvisation created under COVID conditions, advancing a radical notion of the score. The music is developed on the work of an absentee guest: Cecil Taylor, the late pianist and composer who did as much as anyone to shape free jazz and improvised music over the past 65 years. Californian guitarist Henry Kaiser, Toronto saxophonist John Oswald and Vancouver vibraphonist (usually pianist) Paul Plimley all worked with Taylor and were closely involved with his methods of building music. Here they have developed the novel idea of each improvising separately with a series of Taylor recordings, heard on headphones, then combining the results. The result is a series of pieces in which we listen to three or four musicians (Scott Amendola plays drums on one track, Tracy Silverman six-string fiddle on another) all responding to the same inflexible duo partner, in effect an insistent composition in which each improviser is impervious to the other “performers” that we are hearing. The music has a special coherence, based in part on the loyalty to the unheard Taylor, creating empathetic and coherent results. The most remarkable track is also the longest, the 27-minute Oceans Felons Salad with Silverman, the group achieving remarkable levels of illusory interaction through their collective fidelity to a missing inspiration. The quality of the music, as well as the imagination of its methodology, makes this one of the year’s most significant events in improvised music. Unusual as it may be, it’s somehow a great band. Stuart Broomer Moves Eucalyptus Independent ( ! There’s a long history of jazz embracing popular culture, another of it pursuing experimentation. Sometimes the impulses converge, creating some very interesting moments. Toronto alto saxophonist/ composer Brodie West embraces both traditions with Eucalyptus, an octet with three percussionists that’s devoted to complex moods, 1950s Martin Denny exoticism and occasional free jazz expressionism, suggesting both Don Cherry’s forays into World Music and, more specifically, Sun Ra’s creation of dream states suggesting mid-century lounges suspended in space. The miracle of Moves, available as LP or download, is that Eucalyptus compresses such dreams into pieces less than six minutes in length. The opening Infinity Bananas has a drum pattern that is at once repeated and internally erratic, holding the angular shards emitted by West and trumpeter Nicole Rampersaud tightly in place. It’s in a Move resembles a film noir nightclub scene, West and Rampersaud weaving wobbly melodic leads through an underbrush of Kurt Newman’s trebly guitar, Ryan Driver’s clavinet and a languid Latin conga drum. Dust in the Wind is very lush, its repeating melodic pattern lapping over itself like waves on a beach. Rose Manor, more languid still and with a burnished brass trumpet solo, ends with a mysterious upward glissando, like an ascending sci-fi spacecraft. The concluding Lookie suggests a band lost in time and space at the end of New Year’s festivities, poised between the lachrymose and the parodic. At times an ironic flirtation with background music, Moves is always more than entertaining, never less than art. Stuart Broomer Zurich Concert Punkt.Vtr.Plastik Intakt CD 380 ( ! Punkt.Vrt.Plastik consists of three of Europe’s most active and creative free jazz musicians in their mid-tolate 30s; Slovenian pianist Kaja Draksler, Swedish bassist Petter Eldh and German drummer Christian Lillinger. Eldh and Lillinger are active in numerous bands together (Amok Amor, Koma Saxo), each one an intense, complex, highly interactive, high-speed musical affair. Punkt.Vrt.Plastik is the traditional piano trio format placed under that same pressure, and Draksler is an ideal partner, similarly precise, technically brilliant, highly inventive and capable of being witty at the same time. Zurich Concert takes compositions from the group’s two previous studio CDs to the stage, opening them up to further elaboration while maintaining a certain taut discipline. The set opens and closes with compositions by Lillinger, several of them brief, mechanistic complexes that can suggest drum solos transcribed for trio or fragmented Thelonious Monk compositions, repeated patterns developing more and more internal detail. Traditional melodic figures are common here, from each musician. Body Decline – Natt Raum combines two of Eldh’s compositions, moving from a rubato, trance-like longing to an insistently repeated traditional dance figure that eventually disintegrates. Similarly, Draksler’s Vrvica II develops tremendous tension through repetition, eventually giving rise to explosive free play. Those repeating patterns arise in each of the members’ compositions, a shared insistence that can assume both manic and comic dimensions, an ongoing examination of the military band, the folk dance, the classical etude. It assures Punkt.Vrt.Plastik’s music a human dimension, making the results more stimulating than exhausting. Stuart Broomer 58 | May 20 - July 12, 2022

Dave Douglas – Secular Psalms Dave Douglas; Berlinde Deman; Marta Warelis; Frederik Leroux; Tomeka Reid; Lander Gyselinck Greenleaf Music ( ! Trumpeter/ composer Dave Douglas’ Secular Psalms is a suite commissioned to commemorate the 600th anniversary of Jan and Hubert van Eyck’s Ghent altarpiece, Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, completed around 1432. Begun in 2018, Douglas’ creation was soon affected by the COVID-19 lockdown, necessitating online recordings including some collective improvising with Douglas, cellist Tomeka Reid and six young European musicians. It’s a multi-faceted work, with composed, improvised and quoted materials, even considering the court of Philip the Good of Burgundy in which the van Eycks worked; other artists present included the composer Guillaume Dufay and the poet Christine de Pisan, and Douglas has gone so far as to echo their works in the suite. Those 15th-century artists aren’t the limits of Douglas’ reach. In one brief lyric, he patches together Marvin Gaye’s phrase “Mercy, Mercy, Me” (twice), “Kyrie Eleison” and Psalm 59’s “but I will sing” with nine words of his own. Leaving aside questions of taste and appropriateness, it’s an ambitious, insistently egalitarian work, with Douglas creating some expressive textures that mix chamber music sonorities with other instrumental voices. The merger includes the Agnus Dei with Douglas’ central, dark-toned trumpet variously counterposed to ruggedly rhythmic cello, percussively dissonant piano and jarring, fuzz-toned electric guitar. The collective improvisation of Instrumental Angels is accomplished, and there are moments of real synergy created under difficult conditions. After repeated listening, the work’s structure and contours may still feel unfocused, but one can salute an artist working under challenging circumstances to connect such diverse impulses. It may be the muffled, mutating cries and penetrating lyricism of Douglas’ trumpet that reverberate longest. Stuart Broomer Tags Joane Hétu Ambiances Magnétiques AM 268 CD ( ! Tags enters with the tranquil, yet perhaps slightly uneasy droning double stops of bassist Nicolas Caloia and the half-whisper, half-growl of Lori Freedman’s sound poetics. The intro is immediately suggestive of a gradual build, while also operating as a self-contained space between intentions, or even different media for soundcreation. This entire project of Joane Hétu’s “orphaned” compositions (as she puts it in the liner notes), often feels like it operates in various gray zones, or lost in the middle of listener preconceptions and musical conventions. For example, Freedman and Hétu at numerous points are either simultaneously vocalizing while playing, or at least constantly threatening to cross over into the other means of communication at will. Members of Hétu’s string section commonly opt for a percussive approach to playing arco, which creates a consistent textural effect that beautifully complements the fragmented phrasing of the soloists. These explorations of instrumental function give the music a more nuanced relationship between melodicism, texture and speech than would be otherwise present, creating greater optionality to the realization of Hétu’s compositions. The most impressive aspect of Tags is perhaps how the four tracks feel cut from the same tapestry, despite not having the same personnel, and all of said compositions being unreleased strays. This unexpected uniformity is aided by the prevalent relationship between instrumentation and silence. More specifically, as more instrumentation is added, silent passages are increasingly used as a key aspect of form. Yoshi Maclear Wall L’Échelle du Temps Yves Léveillé Effendi Records FND165 ( yves-leveille-lechelle-du-temps-cd) ! Yves Léveillé’s L’Échelle du temps is an exploration of form and interactivity; one that makes patient use of its parts while laying down a profound mosaic of musical lineage. As a writer of chamber music, the emphasis Léveillé gives to the lower voices is particularly notable, allowing for a unifying sense of melodicism throughout the ensemble. After the piano ostinato is established in the title track, the first statement of the main theme is given to Étienne Lafrance’s upright bass, which creates a mesmerizing effect aided by the fullness of tone. The piece itself takes Léveillé’s simple rhythmic figure and stretches it across eight engaging minutes, with each instrument responding while the others operate in the margins. Repetition is a tool Léveillé uses to great effect compositionally, getting mileage out of a handful of set ideas largely by never allowing the music to stagnate dynamically. Each restatement functions as a recontextualization, perhaps with slightly different notes to complement a new arrangement of moving parts. The passages have incredible cohesion, and no element of the overall product is given precedence over the others. This is in part due to Léveillé’s arranging choices; as well, the mixing has quite the feeling of intimacy to it, with every aspect constantly at the forefront. While much of L’Échelle du temps sounds hypnotically consonant and interlinked, dissonance is equally embraced. This symmetry finds a perfect equilibrium constantly, but especially on Encodage 2.0. Yoshi Maclear Wall Dual Unity Jay Yoo; Mark Kazakevich Independent ( markkazakevichjayyoo/dual-unity) ! Sometimes, two musicians sharing a space can be more than enough to convey volumes of information. This is certainly the case with the partnership between Toronto-based guitarist Jay Yoo and pianist Mark Kasakevich, for whom the label “natural pairing” would be a tragic undersell. Six out of nine of these tunes are composed by the pair, and they all put the “tune” in tuneful, as well as the “sing” in singable. The set was largely inspired by contemporary/Brazilian jazz forms, and it is a testament to Dual Unity’s writing talents that the works of the likes of Jobim and Tania Maria feel perfectly in place. As for the renditions of Insensatez and Quero Não, they are so deeply interpretive that the context of the actual composers feels nearly superfluous. Dual Unity leaves their own imprint on every song they tackle, and this sonic palette owes itself entirely to Yoo and Kasakevich. There are so many moments of sudden unison, where a melodic or harmonic line is relayed by the strength and precision of their tandem. However, perhaps even more compelling are those of the divergent. Having an arrangement of two comping instruments allows for expressive elasticity during the solo sections, freely flowing between monologue and dialogue. Yoo’s interjections, in particular, blend seamlessly into walking basslines that both punctuate and provide support. It would be a disservice to not highlight More to It, a Sistine Chapel of melody and interactivity. Yoshi Maclear Wall Concert note: Dual Unity has a release show at Jazz Bistro on May 31, with special guests Jon Chapman on bass and Patrick Smith on saxophone. May 20 - July 12, 2022 | 59

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