Ton Trio II is Aram Shelton on alto saxophone, Scott Brown on bass and Alex Vittum playing drums, and together they deliver a showcase of musical dexterity and ideas that grabs you the moment the needle finds the groove, or the laser hits the disc, or the data streams to the player. Continue reading “On and On at Free Jazz Collective”
It’s fine to say that a musician has found his or her own language, but what does that really mean? First off, what is language, really?
In essence, it’s a symbolic communication method, one that can be transmitted by voice or in written form. So I suppose music, which is similarly conveyed by sounds that make air molecules wiggle, and which can also be represented on a page, can be characterized as a language. But it’s an esoteric one, well suited to certain purposes, but also limited both in what it says and in the many things that it cannot do. You will never use the language that Kyle Bruckmann speaks with his ensemble Wrack to order a pizza, or to explain how that tree in the backyard grew from a seed you could stick between your teeth into something 40 feet tall. Continue reading “W.A.S.T.E. at Dusted”
Next, what type of music is it?
Ton Trio II, On and On: Plenty to like in the new one by Aram Shelton’s Ton Trio II. The alto saxophonist’s compositions leave the door wide open for lengthy improvisations from himself as well as bassist Scott Brown and drummer Alex Vittum. Most pleasing it the seeming ease of Shelton’s lyricism at high speeds, the way a sailboat glides across the tops of choppy waves. Released a little earlier this year, it’s just now getting offered digitally.
…Awaits Silent Tristero’s Empire is an epic four-part suite based on the fictitious songs found scattered throughout celebrated author Thomas Pynchon’s early novels V., The Crying of Lot 49, and Gravity’s Rainbow. Oboist Kyle Bruckmann conceived this post-modern “musical phantasmagoria” as the first long-form composition written for Wrack, his experimental chamber jazz ensemble, employing an expanded version of the long-standing unit to realize the project’s pan-stylistic scope.
Continue reading “W.A.S.T.E. at All About Jazz”
Cory Wright has conquered musical space. It’s incontrovertable, as the old Castro Convertible ad jingle used to have it (if anybody remembers that). He’s done it especially with his album Apples + Oranges (SingleSpeed Music 012).
What we have on this set is a freely propulsive outing by the Cory Wright Outfit, which has Cory on tenor sax and b-flat clarinet, Evan Francis on alto sax and flute. Rob Ewing on trombone, Lisa Mezzacappa on contrabass and Jordan Glenn, drums.
This is freebop at times, other times free new music that swings brightly, a collective froth well-structured and well-played by all involved. Cory writes some excellent charts here and the band comes through with fire and individual sounds that blend wonderfully well. Continue reading “Apples + Oranges at Gapplegate”
Well here we are again after many months away, surely it’s time to get a few posts up and running again? To start the ball rolling are a couple of new releases from Aram Shelton’s Singlespeed music label.
Aram’s cooperative label has been gradually developing with nine releases to date so far. The latest three albums are all really top level releases deserving wide-scale attention from all those who are interested, especially those interested in creative improvised music but with composition, structure, melody and swinging free-bop as some of the central points.
First up is Aram’s own release, Ton Trio II: On and On (Singlespeed Music, SSM-013). Continue reading “On and On at Cardboard Music (Belgium)”
The unusual front line of Kyle Bruckmann’s Wrack—viola, oboe, and bass clarinet—gives the quintet a narrow timbral range, but it uses wriggling, high-intensity counterpoint to create an exhilaratingly bright, multilayered sound. As Bruckmann says in the liner notes of the group’s forthcoming third album, Cracked Refraction (due from Porter Records on February 21), “I take perverse glee in using the wrong tools for the job.” The onetime Chicagoan started Wrack as a jazz-oriented project, but over time he’s come to focus more and more on jagged themes, unwieldy time signatures, and tricky pinpoint interplay (a la Anthony Braxton), all played with the postpunk energy of his old band Lozenge—on “Exacerbator,” for example, Jen Clare Paulson’s acidic viola slashes against the grain of a charging unison pattern from Bruckmann’s oboe and Jason Stein’s bass clarinet. Drummer Tim Daisy and bassist Anton Hatwich make for a whirlwind rhythm section, and when they buckle down and play hard they sometimes seem to splinter the front line with their momentum as they signal the rapid-fire shifts in Bruckmann’s knotty, episodic compositions. The intensity can be pretty relentless, which makes the occasional quiet passage—like Paulson’s lyrical, almost hushed solo on “Notwithstanding,” accompanied by light percussion and pointillistic bass—hit just as hard emotionally as the wind players’ most furious barrages. —Peter Margasak
Originally posted at Chicago Reader.
In Chicago jazz, you can come home again. Since the music thrives on change, it’s natural for bands to come and go, and for musicians to stay in one place for a while and then move on. But there’s always an open door for you to return and pick up where you left off. Consider the example of Kyle Bruckmann. The multi-instrumentalist had a good run here between 1997 and 2003 by dint of his unusual skill set (there just aren’t that many improvising oboe/English horn players around), which enabled him to appear with jazz, chamber, and rock groups, orchestras, and diverse ad hoc improvisational situations. He first formed Wrack shortly before he left Chicago for San Francisco, where he is currently based, as an outlet for his investigations into the creative friction that occurs when classical music and jazz rub together. Continue reading “W.A.S.T.E. at Chicago Music”
Wright’s group starts out in familiar surroundings but by the end of Apples and Oranges, they’re planted firmly in their own unique territory. The same can be said for several of the compositions and the multiple sections they contain. They get further leverage from the horn-heavy lineup of Wright (tenor saxophone, b-flat clarinet), Evan Francis (alto sax, flute), Rob Ewing (trombone) who are joined by Lisa Mezzacappa (bass) and Jordan Glenn (drums).
“Freddie Awaits the Sleepers” has a stop-time melody that emphasizes the off beats. The band plays changes during Ewing’s solo, while he cuts his own melodic path with plenty of energy. The saxes each take their own solo and keep the mood going. Ewing later gets in a spirited chase with Wright (now on clarinet) and Francis (flute) in “Low Impact Critter,” which begins with both reeds playing rapid eighth notes in unison. The same two reeds add a rich texture to “The Sea and Space.” It begins like a ballad showcase for Ewing but by the end, the group locks into an arty vamp for an alto solo that has a dirty funk tone when Francis starts blowing.
“Whaticism” also packs a lot of ideas into a seven-minute track. In the spirit of mid-’60s post-bop (reminds these ears of the between-free-and-structured work of perhaps Grachan Moncur III and Andrew Hill) everyone gets room for a brief, concise solo, including a twisted line from Francis. “Eyedrop,” the longest track at 11 minutes, slowly evolves from muttering horns to a slow riff in 3/4 where the clarinet whine is answered by the other horns. Wright leaves his mark here both in a solo and in what he’s written. The West Coast players make an impact that can be compared to Shelton’s Fast Citizen comrades in Chicago, so this album will hopefully get into the hands of more eager listeners.