Jim Black: Alasnoaxis. 2000. Winter & Winter: 910061-2.
Jim Black: drums
Hilmar Jensson: electric guitar
Chris Speed: tenor saxophone, clarinet
Skuli Sverrisson: electric bass
When experienced as a live performer, Jim Black is a kinetic, out-of-the-box drummer who rewards one's visual sensibilities with a glimpse at how he gets so many different sounds with his props and drum kit. Much of that same frenetic energy is present on recording with the additional mystery to exactly what techniques he is applying at any given time. With Alasnoaxis that same, barely controlled energy makes its way into the electric guitar and bass parts. As Skuli Sverrisson might simply carve out a groove over the top of Hilmar Jensson's noise beds. All while Jim Black deliberately speeds up or slows down the overall tempo. Given all the creative elements and unexpected turns of this music, Alasnoaxis is a surprisingly structured set. Short pieces with plenty of pre-composed materials and several melodic turns. This is an incredibly rewarding listen on many levels.
Herculaneum: Olives & Orchids. 2010. Herculaneumsound: EF 001 (LP only).
Dylan Ryan: drums, vibraphone
David McDonnell: alto saxophone
Nate LePine: tenor saxophone, fluteNick Broste: trombone
Patrick Newbery: trumpet, flugelhorn
Greg Danek: bass
John Beard: guitar
Every self respecting urban center needs a band like Herculaneum that can throw down the beat and keep things in a groove. With Chicago there is the additional heft of jazz players with deep chops. Bringing on the difficult balance of keeping things fun and keeping things deep at the same time. Cut into a slab of green vinyl, Olives and Orchids is a DIY feast of groove heavy arranging with plenty of variation to keep things fresh. Impressive arrangements abound and this band never loses its forward momentum. The bass line from "Black Cloud" promises to keep running through my mind well after the needle leaves the groove.
Joe Henderson: Page One. 1963 (re-released in 1988). Blue Note Records: CDP 7-84140-2.
Joe Henderson: tenor saxophone
Kenny Dorham: trumpet
McCoy Tyner: piano
Butch Warren: bass
Pete La Roca: drums
Recordings from an era when this music was at its most resonant and alive. Long before this sound became relegated to lounge acts. A sonic glimpse into the compositional originality of Kenny Dorham and Joe Henderson as tune smiths. Page One is strong evidence of why this sound continues to be so resonant over the decades. And "Blue Bossa" makes the case for Dorham as a true original as composer and arranger. It's records like this that make the Blue Note back catalog so intimidating and a sonic joy to wrap the ears within.