Joe Giardullo Open Ensemble | Red Morocco | RogueArt Jazz

Someday someone will write a history of modern music that will free us of the false dichotomies such as high vs. low, improviser vs. composer, classical vs. everything else… …The written materials Joe passed out to the musicians for Red Morocco was minimal, sometimes more visual than musical, but always modest. Everyone was seated in the same room, in a circle. The music heard on this recording occurred late in the day, when Joe felt a certain clarity was occurring… …The results are an elegant, shimmering, ringing music, like colors spiking across the plane of a Monet canvas, or spinning like a piece of Calder’s kinetic art; a constantly evolving, deeply sonic performance, collectively improvised, and decentered; a self-organizing musical system, with minimal input or constraints from outside. Giardullo is willing into existence a music that occurs beyond his control. This means he has to surround himself with musicians who are accomplished, but also open, free to take chances, and willing to be themselves, no matter what. — John Szwed, excerpt from the liner notes. Continue reading

Scott Fields Ensemble | Frail Lumber | Not Two Records

Scott Fields (born September 30, 1956 in Chicago, Illinois), is a guitarist, composer and band leader. He is best known for his attempts to blend music that is composed and music that is written and for his modular pieces (48 Motives and 96 Gestures). He works primarily in avant-garde jazz, experimental music, and New Music. Fields was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He started as a self-taught rock musician but soon was influenced by the musicians of the Association for the Advancement for Creative Musicians, which was active in the Hyde Park neighborhood in which he grew up. Later he studied classical guitar, jazz guitar, music composition and music theory. In 1970 Fields co-founded the power avant-jazz trio Life Rhythms. When the group disbanded two years later he played sporadically, but soon all but quit music until 1989. Since then he has performed and composed actively. His ensembles and partnerships have included such musicians as Marilyn Crispell, Hamid Drake, John Hollenbeck, Joseph Jarman, Myra Melford, Jeff Parker, and Elliott Sharp.
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Pete Robbins’s Unnamed Quartet | Live in Brooklyn | Not Two Records

The experience of playing completely improvised music can completely run the gamut. When the performance isn’t working Ifor reasons that are only somewhat predictable), there are few situations that are more uncomfortable and less enjoyable. But when the music really IS working, ifs a feeling of privilege and of pleasure that can otherwise be hard to come by. Particularly in New York, musical collaborations come and go all the time, and often their longevity or the frequency with which they showcase their work don’t necessarily correspond to how compelling the music might be. The group heard on this recording had only performed a handful of times (and only in front of a handful of people) when this concert was documented. But the fact that I felt moved to have this gig recorded is testament to the special nature of this lineup of musicians. It is truly rare to stumble upon a group where each of us can be so comfortable being both active and re-active, primary and complementary. This is a function of the respect that each of us has for one another as creative agents, sponges for sonic information, and partners in crime. I hope the music is as enjoyable to listen to as it was to create. — Pete Robbins Continue reading

Rob Brown | Daniel Levin | Natural Disorder | Not Two Records

Natural Disorder What a great name for an album of improvised music, especially one like this where the elements of apparent chance and seeming inevitability are in such perfect balance. It might also reflect my own dealings with Rob Brown and Daniel Levin: if I were a believer in any form of fate, then I could well feel that this is an association written in the stars. I first encountered them at a gig in New York, where I’d expected to hear Rob’s quartet with Steve Swell, Joe Morris and Luther Gray, but an unseasonal snowfall trapped Joe and Luther out of town, and Daniel – whose work I hadn’t previously heard – came in as a last minute replacement. Clearly this changed the dynamics of the group, yet the way in which Daniel immediately established a relationship of equality with the two horns made a huge impression on me. But, after an exchange of email addresses all round, I headed back to my home in the North of England, and we had no further contact for almost two years. — Paul Bream Newcastle-upon-Tyne 15th July 2010 Continue reading

The Rob Brown Trio | Live at Firehouse 12 | Not Two Records

Alto saxophonist and composer Rob Brown moved the New York City in the mid 1980’s and slowly began developing an impressive reputation in progressive jazz circles, playing with the likes of Cecil Taylor, Butch Morris and a long stretch in William Parker’s extraordinary quartet. Brown’s music is a very nice modernizing of the progressive alto saxophone tradition of Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy and Jackie McLean, building a deep, original and thoroughly modern view of jazz. On this album (I guess it’s recorded live, but I don’t hear any applause) he is joined by Daniel Levin on cello, Satoshi Takeishi on drums and percussion. Brown’s pinched and citrus saxophone tone and Levin’s sawing cello make for an alluring sound. “Quick Be Nimble” is a medium tempo opener, getting a wide open Ornette-ish feel with the musicians probing and exploring. “Walkabout” has a plucked cello opening around slow percussion with metallic gongs and when the alto enters, it makes for an interesting and mysterious sound. — tim, jazzandblues blogspot Continue reading

Michael Marcus | The Magic Door | Not Two Records

The first album I heard with Michael Marcus was “Ithem” a sax trio with William Parker and Dennis Charles, and I was immediately charmed by this excellent musician. He has a very strong sense of melody and pitch when improvizing, a great sense of swing in his compositions, a clear respect for the traditional form which he recreates in a very open modern format. Whether he plays with Jaki Byard, the Cosmosamatics or in other bands, his core characteristics are always present as they are on this record. He sticks to his clarinet on all songs, with Jay Rosen on drums and François Grillot on bass on most tracks. Daniel Levin plays cello on three pieces and Rahsaan Carter and Eric Revis play bass on one track each, and Newton Taylor Baker drums on one track. Anyone interested in melodic free jazz with a great swing feeling, should look this one up.– Stef’s blog Continue reading