vrijdag 27 augustus 2010

Steve Coleman is back

Steve Coleman seems to be back at the forefront of the jazzscene, albeit with a new cd that was recorded almost four years ago. Maybe the explanation for his absence is the sad end of the French Label Bleu, for which Coleman recorded extensively the years before.
But the music of Harvesting Semblances and Affinities (on the excellent Pi Recordings) sounds very fresh, even if it had to wait a couple of years to be released. This is a totally acoustic outing, but nevertheless the musical atmosphere is very reminiscent of the funk of the electric version of Five Elements. Very dominant are the wordless vocals of Jen Shyu. Her voice is used as an extra instrument, and I can imagine some people will be irritated by the special flavour of it after a while.
Coleman's alto sax is liquid as ever with his bittersweet sound recognisable as ever. But the real star of the recording may be Tyshawn Sorey. He is beyond doubt the most talked about drummer of the moment, but even four years ago his style was spectacular, as proves this recording.
Bass player is Thomas Morgan (another young talent) and the excellent trombone of Tim Albright is also very prominent in the group sound.
The compositions are inspired by Ramon Lull, a Spanish writer and philosopher of the 13th (!) century,  with a special intrest for mathematic and statistics. Coleman's compositions may be structured according to his principles -  refers to it in the liner notes - and the music sounds indeed tightly structured. But hasn't this been Coleman's signature since many years?


woensdag 25 augustus 2010

Roscoe Mitchell and the Sound Ensemble

Roscoe Mitchell probably would file under the label 'freejazz', provided there are any cdshops left. I guess for many people (even jazzfans) their intrest would end right there. But why don't they listen to this little gem from 1980, Snurdy Mc Gurdy and her Dancin' Shoes, on the Nessa label.
The cover gives a clue: a beautiful young girl (Roscoe's daughter?) dancing or simply jumping around. This is going to bring some joy. Hell it does. The opener Sing/Song starts with the bowed bass of Jaribu Shahid, followed by the most beautiful trumpetsound of Hugh Ragin playing a nice line. What follows then is a frenetic shift of melodies, with a nice solo from guitarist A.Spencer Barefield and culminating in a joyful coda with a highly sensitive solo by Roscoe Mitchel himself on alto saxophone. In short: a brilliant opener.
The rest of the cd is equally brilliant, but quite different in feeling. CYP and Round are sound poems reminiscent of Roscoe's work with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. March is a cover of an early Anthony Braxton-piece (tell me who would cover Braxton today?), hmmm, a march indeed.
But two pieces stand out, since they are unusually melodic for an avantgarde icon like Mitchell. On Stomp and the Far East Blues the band really rocks (Jaribu Shahid shifting to electric bass) and Roscoe plays tenor (exceptional for him), but the very same piece ends as a sonic exploration, a mood piece.
 The title tune is the second surprise of the album: what a joyful melody, with again Hugh Ragin shining on trumpet and Shahid, drummer Tani Tabbal and guitarist Spenser Barefield playing like a teenage rocking combo. But what an emotional altosolo by Roscoe!
This record is 30 years old and I had neglected it for many years now. But upon listening to it again, I can only conclude that it hasn't lost anything of its initial attraction to me. Enjoy it!
Roscoe made other records with the Sound Ensemble, worth checking out, but not as surprising as this one.

zaterdag 21 augustus 2010


Music is the best, Frank Zappa said. Well, it certainly brings profound pleasure, doesn't it? The purpose of this blog is to share thoughts about music. Mainly jazz, but - as you might have guessed - also assorted candy.
Yours Truly