Terry Riley/Stefano Scodanibbio: Lazy Afternoon Among the Crocodiles. 1997. Pierrot Lunaire: AIAI 008.
Terry Riley: synthesizer Ensoniq TS 12Stefano Scodanibbio: contrabass
There are trace moments when the Ensoniq sounds thin next to the richness of Scodanibbio's contrabass. But more often than not, Terry Riley manages to coax a lot out of the synth textures and turn in an overwhelmingly pleasant duo recording. At under half an hour, this is just an EP. A full set from this pair would be hard pressed to wear out its welcome. I'm perpetually astounded at how Terry Riley makes such amazing music in spite of its multiple "flaws." His improvisational and arrangement abilities would be revered in a perfect world.
Chris Dahlgren & Lexicon: Mystic Maze. 2010. Jazzwerkstatt: 088.
Chris Dahlgren: double bass, voice narration
Antonis Anissegos: piano, wurlitzer, sampler, voice
Eric Schaefer: drums, percussion, voice, glockenspiel, sampler
Gebhard Ullmann: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet
Christian Weidner: alto saxophone
Not since Lee Konitz's superb Peacemeal have the worlds of Bela Bartok and jazz collided so agreeably. A fertile territory for cross-breeding the Hungarian folk materials, twentieth century composition technique and avant garde improvisation when none of the elements are given short shift. Chris Dahlgren sets this music in motion with a balance of reverence and irreverence born out of passionate regard for the music of Bela Bartok. Here he chooses to set the words of Bartok's harshest critics to music. Giving equal weight to the quality of the prose and the ridiculousness of their poor judgement. Dahlgren made the right call by reciting - rather than singing - these long-winded diatribes against a modernism that sounds restrained by contemporary standards. But what makes this set genuinely excellent is the tasteful arrangements of Bartok's own works and the smart musical quotations woven into the overall musical texture. It doesn't hurt that Lexicon brings a high degree of verve and proficiency to their interpretation. Setting a jazz ensemble arrangement of Bartok's 4th or 6th String Quartets is a creative indulgence that makes enormous sense. I hope to hear full arrangements of these pieces that fulfill the tantalizing promise of the single movements included on this disc.
Matt Wilson: Arts and Crafts. 2001. Palmetto Records: PM 2069.
Matt Wilson: drums
Larry Goldings: piano
Dennis Irwin: bass
Terell Stafford: trumpet
Arts and Crafts is a quartet that Matt Wilson drives as a vehicle for realizing jazz tunes. This is straight jazz and it hardly gets played more flawlessly than this. Wilson gives plenty of reason to love the tradition as this group breathes life into the many sounds that remind me why I fell in love with jazz in the first place. Then there is the final track... "All Through The Night" may be the most beautiful piece ever committed to recording. This quartet's take on Ornette Coleman's "Old Gospel" grabbed my attention. Their interpretation of Bud Powell's "Webb City" hits the target. And Matt Wilson's original tunes mine a vein lined with the sounds of Lester Young and George Gershwin. But "All Through The Night" seals the experience, leaving no doubt that this group is something special.