The Lee Konitz Duets (1968)

Categories: 1968 and Music.

Konitz presents a series of duets, plus some brief solo playing a one full band track, that explore a wide variety of jazz styles available in 1968. Konitz is excellent throughout and the guests are all great (even though not all of them are as famous). It works really well as a survey of jazz right at the dawn of fusion – the possibilities of what could be accomplished in the music before electrification (and with only a touch of editing) but with very few instruments. Really great stuff. 9/10 Read More

Electric Fruit (2011) by Weasel Walter, Mary Halvorson and Peter Evans

Categories: 2011 and Music.

Having heard their last one first, I am so tempted to like that one better, but this thing, recorded earlier, is just as impressive, if not more so, as I think they might reach some greater peaks. (Though it’s a little more inaccessible, as there are only six tracks here.) Everyone is just so on, Evans is fantastic and honestly, not knowing enough about the modern state of the trumpet, is there a more radical trumpet player out there? Halvorson is Goddess. (Our language is so funny that you can say ‘Clapton is God’ and it sounds good, but try Read More

Mechanical Malfunction (2012) by Weasel Walter, Mary Halvorson, Peter Evans

Categories: 2012 and Music.

Three world class improvisers just going balls-out. Really fun. Halvorson is, I am ever more convinced, the most interesting guitarist in the world. And more to the point, she’s got a great ear for what the other two guys are doing. I didn’t know Evans but he is incredible. Walter is also pretty great. If you like your jazz free – and I mean really free – this is great stuff. 8/10 Read More

Liberation Music Orchestra (1969) by Charlie Haden, Carla Bley et al.

Categories: 1969 and Music.

This is like Mingus meets Shepp (in spirit, anyway) meets other free of the era (with a Latin tinge). It’s at times radical and at times thoroughly traditional and, if it could maintain that balance, it could be incredible. However, as others have noted, it’s kind of schizophrenic, and sometimes it feels like various solo records and sometimes there’s this orchestra (a very compelling orchestra). Unfortunately, it feels that the politics of the record may have been more important to Haden and Bley than the music. (That’s probably not fair, but that’s what it sounds like at times.) I am Read More

Ancora Da Capo (1980) by The Ganelan Trio

Categories: 1980 and Music.

Free jazz can seem a little directionless even at the best of times. Now, I realize that is indeed a huge part of the point of being “free” but, in the wrong hands, it can just be hours of seemingly purposeless noodling. That being said, sometimes the very anarchy of free jazz is what is so appealing about it. On this recording, the Ganelin Trio achieve the remarkable accomplishment of making their free jazz sound directed. In fact this is one of the few times I have listened to a post-1960s free set (a pure one, not one influenced by Read More

Time and Time Again (2007) by Paul Motian

Categories: 2007 and Music.

I’m not sure I really have words to say how much more I like this second Motian-Frisell-Lovano collaboration than the first time out (this century). That felt to me like a re-hash of some cool cliches (for the first half anyway) and the whole thing just felt like it was dwelling in another decade. This is a lot fresher, a lot freer, a lot more interesting (to my ears). I still find Motian to be an impossibly busy drummer and I suspect that, were it not for Frisell and Lovano, that might drive me crazy. Frisell almost seems to inhabit Read More

Ezz-thetics (1961) by George Russell

Categories: 1961 and Music.

Too avant garde really to be post bop but too obviously bop / modal (too often) and too traditional to be truly considered part of the “new thing” (i.e. free), this one really defies categorization. But that’s okay. The playing is excellent on all accounts and this sort of feels like a direction a lot of modern players are attempting – post bop that is aware of, and inclusive of free – despite the fact it was released in ’61. Pretty wonderful stuff. 10/10 Read More

Four Guitars Live at Luxx by Lee Ranaldo, Carlos Giffoni, Thurston Moore and Nels Cline (Important 2006)

Categories: 2006 and Music.

Pretty directionless. And there are many times where I can’t really distinguish all four players. This is the kind of thing I would gladly waste 45 minutes on if it was live, but as a home listening experience it just doesn’t work. Still better than top 40 though. 5/10 Read More

Dirty Baby by Nels Cline (Cryptogramophone 2010)

Categories: 2010 and Music.

A soundtrack to an art exhibition is certainly an interesting / odd concept. I like the possibilities even though I don’t know anything about the actual installations. The first disc actually stands alone as an album. I don’t really need to know anything about the art to appreciate the music, though it is neat to imagine it being played on continuous repeat as people toured the exhibition. It shows off Cline (and his larger than usual band) as a little more varied than usual. He comes across as a little more of a composer than merely my current favourite guitarist. Read More