Friday, August 26, 2016

Modular String Trio, Ants, bees and butterflies

New music improv from Eastern Europe? That is what is happening on the Modular String Trio's provocative album Ants, bees and butterflies (Clean Feed 377). This is more the new music than the free jazz side of improv, so you are not going to hear much nodding to jazz roots but rather a good bit of abstract invention that is sound color oriented and only tangentially key-centered. But then again there are moments that have some folk roots as well.

Sergiy Okhrimchuk is on violin, Jacek Mazurkiewicz on acoustic bass and electronics, Robert Jedrzejewski on cello and Lukasz Kacperczyk is on modular synth. So it's actually a string trio plus electronics.

The strings get nice things going and the electronics expand the color envelope.

It is consistently musically contentful and original. It's something different, with a distinct musical personality. I find it keeps my attention and gives the ears lots of exercise. Recommended.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Dom Minasi, Jack DeSalvo, Soldano Dieci Anni

A two-guitar duet album with Dom Minasi and Jack DeSalvo? I was not sure what that would be until I put it on. Soldano Dieci Anni (Unseen Rain) is a hugely beautiful surprise. The both of them brought their acoustic-electrics, archtops, flattops and Jack a nylon string guitar. They let loose with some nicely done free numbers then proceeded to tackle their originals.

Fact is, Dom and Jack hit it off from the beginning. Their ability to swing and come up with great lines is heightened when the two play off against one another. The ravishing harmonies of the originals combine with inspired note choices for some of the nicest acoustic duets since side two of McLaughlin's My Goals Beyond. 

They show deep roots, great subtlety, advanced interactions and the kind of spontaneity that an album like this demands.

Hats off to Dom and Jack! Bravo!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Claudia Quintet, Super Petite

The Claudia Quintet is drummer John Hollenbeck's brainchild. Their latest, Super Petite (Rune 427) features a goodly assortment of miniatures, progressive post-jazz Hollenbeck compositional goodies. It is their 8th album and it is good.

In addition to Hollenback on drums the quintet has key members in Drew Gress on bass, Chris Speed on clarinet/tenor sax, Matt Moran on vibes and accordionist Red Wierenga.

The music is bracing, with no shortage of complexity and group identity as well as soloing of merit.

I found myself getting wrapped up in the album straight-off and I must say Super Petite has confirmed me as a fan. It's jazz-rock of a brainy sort, nothing the least bit jejune. And Drew Gress on bass as always makes a true impact. But then so does everybody.

Huge appreciation, big fat stars, my sincere top rating for this. Get it.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Changui Majadero

Cuban roots phenom Changui Majadero (self-released) may hang their hats in East L.A., but they are filled through-and-through with Eastern Cuban Changui music.Their first, eponymous release gives us many reasons to celebrate. Changui is the grandaddy of salsa and so will certainly sound familiar. Riffing tres guitar, hip bass, a grooving percussion contingent and call-and-respond vocals make this irresistible.

Changui Majadero happen to be excellent exponents of the music, though, so it's especially good to hear this set. These are songs rooted in the tradition and built squarely out of the building blocks of Afro-Cuban heritage.

It's simply outstanding music! I could not recommended it more highly!!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Corey Dennison Band

So if somebody tells you the blues are dead. Shake your head. Chicago and the iconic institution Delmark Records are giving us plenty of the real thing. Today the Corey Dennison Band (Delmark 844) featuring Corey on some blazing vocals and very nice guitar--sharing those latter duties fittingly with Gerry Hundt--a crack band and focused, razor sharp originals by Corey and Gerry.

This is straight-in-your-face Chicago blues with a hard edge and no nonsense. Corey belts it out, everybody hits it and the soulfulness is not lacking, no it isn't.

Hear here for riffing blues rock, shuffle stickitude, and cleanly raw blues from cover-to-cover.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Stirrup, Cut, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Nick Macri, Charles Rumback

Not everything is expected, and sometimes it is a great thing, too. Stirrup is a trio of Fred Lonberg-Holm on electric cello and guitar, Nick Macri on acoustic bass and Charles Rumback on drums. Their album Cut gives us some ten avant jazz-rock jams, ten slabs of open groove and hard-nosed electricity.

It hits me listening how much this sort of thing owes to early Hendrix, his experimental jams, "Third Stone from the Sun" being the landmark beginning. This trio plays out grooves beholden to that in many ways, but as game avant jazzers can do it.

Fred Lonberg-Holm makes his cello into a psychedelic force, an expressive marvel of distortion and space. He plays guitar like that too. Nick Macri lays down deep groove lines. Charles Rumback gives us loose but together groove drums that put the whole thing together.

It's music that fascinates and smartly explores a genre with insight and creativity. This is what ugly-beauty is about and I think Monk if he were here today would agree!

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Frederic Hand, Odyssey

Technique and artistry combine in classical guitarist Frederic Hand to give us a wondrous set on his recent solo guitar album Odyssey (New Focus/Panoramic 1036). It features his own compositions and special arrangements of a wide variety of music.

His beautiful harmonic-melodic arpeggiated and articulated ways are put to very memorable use on his composition "Prayer," which is as much a kind of Bach tribute as it is a modern spiritual wish-hope-prayer.

His arrangement of the 13th century "Canta de Santa Maria" contrasts nicely with "Four Sephardic Songs" and the spiritual "The Water is Wide." Frederic has the knack of getting to the melodic-harmonic essentials and varying everything very musically. So the case with these pieces. And that's only the first four selections in this album.

He continues on in the same eclectic and striking vein, a guitarist who brings out the beauty of his instrument in ways that may at times take your breath away. It is a very stirring set of work played with superb artistry.

Can I just suggest you grab this album now? Do it! Hand is a guitarist of brilliance.