Monday, March 31, 2014

Akira Sakata & Giovanni Di Domenico: Iruman

Akria Sakata (clarinet. sax)
Giovanni Di Domenico (piano)
Iruman (Mbari; 2014)

An absolutely brilliant duet session from Giovanni Di Domenico and Akira Sakata! While yes, a good majority of Iruman is improvised, the two musician smoothly create a beautiful soundscape that this lush and romantic. And its stands out more than its improvised parts.

"Yellow Sand Blowing From China" and "Lotus Blossom In A Old Pond," are both deeply involved numbers but the intricately place notes by Di Domenico set a romantic path for listener. This run tangent to Sakata's sprawling lines and once blended together become bold and outrageous statements of adventure.

On the fresh and rampant "Bud I," the duo show a marvelous combination of notes. This piece felt reminiscent of Ornette Coleman with Sakata running up the scales at full-blast. Di Domenico following with great agility. "Papiruma," is more a spiritual outing between Sakata utilizing his improvised vocals along side Di Domenico's arpeggios on the keys. Exciting and challenging movements and worth treasuring.

Throughout Iruman you get a sense of a solid understanding between the two musicians; in addition to a edict to find other spaces for their lyrics to go. This is a daring yet pleasing session that flows nicely in free form as well as in an uplifting and emotional atmosphere. Highly Recommended.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Arni Karlsson: Mold

Arni Karlsson (piano)
Mold (Mold Music; 2014)
Scott McLemore (drums)
Porgrimur Jonsson (bass)

You know, I sometime wonder if artists like Arni Karlsson, Sunna Gunnluags and even American Danny Fox, were on larger labels like ACT or ECM would they receive more acclaim and listenership. I do feel the answer is a resounding yes.

But then again, they could also get also lost is in mountain of similar projects from those labels. So I guess it a good thing that we get to discover these artists on our own and enjoy their continued development. And that is exactly what we see with Arni Karlsson's long awaited third album, Mold.

A bright and richly toned session that marks serious growth in the artists cannon. Opening with emotionally introspective piece "Smell Of Hay," Karlsson shows steady and brave compositional skills that reflect his classical training. But the inclusion of McLemore and Jonsson bring a different level of cohesion to this session immediately with this opening track. It's a fuller and more enveloping sound.

On "Saltstreaks," Karlsson opens the lyrical conversion to both his fellow members for some warmth solo pieces as well as nicely balanced exchanges one on one throughout the piece. "Growing" is a late night midtempo number where Karlsson's playing reminds me of McCoy Tyner. It's bold but with a lot of playfulness. The trios movement as well as on the title track show great depth and emotion. "Mold," while sounding cold and distant, is really more a painting of one's own longing for something more and how to create it.

Mold is a terrific and momentous leap for Arni Karlsson as a composer, leader and performer. And while he and a few others remain independent, their lyrical vision and growth continues to spread. And that's always more important than being on the popular label. Here's to spreading the word. Mold is one of JazzWrap's album of the year for sure. Highly Recommended!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Elliott Sharp's Aggregat

Elliot Sharp's Aggregat
Aggregat (Clean Feed; 2012)
Quintet (Clean Feed; 2013)
Elliott Sharp (sax, guitar)
Brad Jones (bass)
Ches Smith (drums)
Nate Wooley (trumpet)
Terry Green (trombone)
So I really don't own much Elliot Sharp as leader. I have a number of albums featuring him as a member. So when I spent the last few weeks listening to two albums from one of his most recent groups, Aggregat, I was completely blown away. A really well focused, well imaginative ensemble that is more than the sum of its parts.

Complicated and sometimes groovy arrangements sift through the group's debut, simply titled, Aggregat, "The Grip" and "Allelia." Both pieces featuring abstract constructions from Sharp on sax augmented by more soothing and sparse paths laid out by Jones and Smith. Sharp's horn sounding like barge horn alerting the other ships in its path.

Sharp is primarily on sax with this trio but also blends end his brilliant guitar work as well. This is featured on "Positronics," a lovely rolling number that at times reminded me of contemporaries Thurston Moore or Marc Ribot. While the piece may sound free floating, it slow builds into a nice groove that even feels track from Bitches Brew era Miles Davis.

On the Aggregat's follow up, Quintet, the group has expanded in size to its simply stated title. The addition of Nate Wooley and Terry Green provides new variety and depth to the overall sound and vision for Sharps group. "Katabatics" is a collision of horns, Smith's poly-rhythms and the steady nature of Jones, all boiling over into a boisterous but lovely celebration of creativity.

"Blues For Butch" while using the blues as its blueprint, is more than that. It is highly elevated piece with great sections of improvised and explosive work from the horn section. "Lacus Temporis" and "Cherenkov Light" are both more experimental in nature and give a nice glimpse into the individual talents of each musicians.

Both Aggregat and Quintet are solidly composed by the multi-instrumentalist Elliott Sharp and beautiful performed by his bandmates. This was a great starting point for me and hopefully a good moment for you the listener to become fully invested in Elliott Sharp's expanded vision.