Saturday, August 13, 2011

HurdAudio Rotation: The Sybert Commission

Dave Holland: Jumpin' In. 1984. ECM: 817 437-2.
Dave Holland: bass, cello
Steve Coleman: alto saxophone, flute
Kenny Wheeler: trumpet, pocket trumpet, cornet, fluegelhorn
Julian Priester: trombone
Steve Ellington: drums

Dave Holland is a valued presence in the jazz world for so many reasons. As both side man and ensemble leader he has an impressive discography that touches upon an astonishing and expansive range of jazz from the fringes to the mainstream. The fact that he's consistently hit such a high level of quality is nearly taken for granted by now. Jumpin' In from 1984 is no exception. Unbelievably great writing for a quintet of super stars that often sounds larger than the mere five improvisers assembled to fashion this sound. "Sunrise" is a breath taking and beautiful piece that builds a choral sound out of lush harmonies and inspired voice leading. "The Dragon and the Samurai" works an infectious groove that keeps Julian Priester's trombone in the center of its fury. The sophistication of these compositions never overwhelm or crowd out the impressive solos and improvisational chops that each of these players bring to this session. Well worth a listen for the varied journey this set offers up to the ears.

LinkMisha Mengelberg Quartet: Four In One. 2001. Songlines: SA 1535-5.

Misha Mengelberg: piano
Dave Douglas: trumpet
Brad Jones: bass
Han Bennink: percussion

To know the Dutch jazz sound is to develop an addiction to its mix of deep roots and off-kilter humor. And to know Dutch jazz is to know the towering influence and irreverence of pianist Misha Mengelberg. Featured here with an ensemble that straddles the Atlantic and nearly a century of jazz history. With Mengelberg's long time collaborator and counter weight Han Bennink at the drums. An improviser who's sense of physical humor and comedic timing acts as a foil for Mengelberg's dry, understated qualities. Dave Douglas brings a similarly addictive sound as he once again brings his considerable trumpet chops into a improvisational situation along with his long time collaborator Brad Jones on the bass. Douglas' sound nearly dominates this set early on before giving way to an astonishing display of Mengelberg and Monk compositions in the hands of true instrumental masters. Brad Jones' solo interpretation of "Monk's Dream" is unbelievable. This disc is a strong argument for Mengelberg's place in jazz tradition and an irreverent, forcible prod toward investigating more of his creative output.

Cold Reading Trio: Life of Ghost. 2007. Form Function Records: f(F)0701.
John O'Brien: drums, percussion
Evan Mazunik: accordion, melodica, electric piano
Christian Pincock: laptop computer

The live sampling, sample manipulation and processing gives the improvisative dimension a strong sense of interaction. A feeling of energy that is barely harnessed, though focused and never frenetic. The "ghost" presence of Life of Ghost sounding like a reference to the invisible-yet-clearly-audible force of digital manipulation in real time. The fact that the electronic leg of this trio works in full parallel with the creative impulses of accordion and drums is a testament to the musicianship of each member of this trio. The transparency of the final two tracks offering up sonic insight into the compositional forms that inform these improvised textures. "Jennie at the Hippodrome" laying bare the process of adding and blending the processed layer to a set of accordion phrases. And "Auvers-sur-Oise" works with a beautiful texture of electric piano chords. Life of Ghost explores territory that is refreshingly remote and thoroughly other worldly.

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