Jazz News - 2021

by Rocco Stilo
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December 2021:
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May 2021:

American trombonist Curtis Fuller, historical member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and Jazztet, died on may 8, at 88.

American bassist Mario Pavone, composer and bandleader, sessionman with many prominent jazzists and credited of more than twenty albums as leader, died on May 15 for cancer, at 80.

The Special Edition Box Procedural Language (SMP, 2021) documents Ivo Perelman (tenor sax) and Matthew Shipp (piano) in twelve performances collected during a studio january 2019 session and a live one-hour piece from a concert held in july 2019.

12 COMP (ZIM) 2017 (Firehouse 12, 2021) collects in a Blu-Ray disc 12 Anthony Braxton’s compositions of his musical system called ZIM Music (derived from language number 11: gradient logics) performed from 2017 to 2018. The reedist led a notable cast: Taylor Ho Bynum (brass), the emergent Dan Peck (tuba), th harp quartet of Jacquline Kerrod, Shelley Burgon, Brandee Younger and Miriam Overlach, Tomeka Reid (cello), Adam Matlock (accordion, aerophones), Jean Cook (violin), Stephanie Richards (trumpet) and Ingrid Laubrock (saxophones).

Warszawa 2019 (Listen! Foundation, 2021) documents the Evan Parker's Electro-Acoustic Ensemble in their first album in nine years. Current lineup sees the leader on soprano sax, Matt Wright (laptop, turntable), Paul Lytton (percussion, analogue electronics), Richard Barrett and Paul Obermayer (both on sampling keyboard), Percy Pursglove (trumpet), Peter Van Bergen (clarinets), Mark Nauseef (percussion), Sten Sandell (piano, synthesiser) and Adam Linson (bass, electronics). The namesake 58-minute suite was performed live in october 2019, featuring a massive use of electronics and a lot of improvisations.

Broken Shadows (Intakt, 2021) features the quartet of Tim Berne (alto sax), Chris Speed (tenor sax), Reid Anderson (bass) and Dave King (drums) in a may 2018 studio session during which they reworked twelve famous jazz covers, eight by Ornette Coleman, two by Julius Hemphill, and one by Charlie Haden and Dewey Redman.

Recorded in december 2019, Marching Music (Greenleaf, 2021) features Dave Douglas on trumpet & compositions, Rafiq Bhatia on guitar, Melvin Gibbs on bass and Sim Cain on drums. Rhythm section Gibbs/Cain, let’s remember, already worked together with the Henry Rollins’ Band. The disc is called Marching Music because it was made to accompany Douglas while he was marching, protest organizing and uniting.

Moon On The Lake (Libra, 2021) documents a new Satoko Fujii trio, led by the pianist along with Takashi Sugawa on bass & cello and Ittetsu Takemura on drums. The five pieces, alla composed by Fujii, notably the 18-minute Aspiration, were recorded live in september 2020.

The 3CD boxset Sacred Ceremonies (TUM, 2021) documents several sessions recorded between december 2015 and may 2016 by Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet), Bill Laswell (bass) and the recently dead Milford Graves (drums), which Leo Smith and Laswell decided to dedicate the disc to. First CD sees Leo Smith and Graves, notably in the 31-minute suite Nyoto; CD two presents music performed by Leo Smith and Laswell; third CD sees all the three together. Still by Leo Smith, The 3CD set of his solo Trumpet (TUM Box, 2021) features 14 compositions, including 4 extended multi-part works, notably the 25-minute Rashomon and the 20-minute The Great Litany. The whole set was recorded in july 2016 at St. Mary´s Church, in Finland.

Archipelago X (Tzadik, 2021) features the namesake project created by Ikue Mori (laptop), Brian Marsella (keyboards) and classical percussion virtuoso Sae Hashimoto during the 2020 pandemic. They recorded the music at their home studios and exchanged tracks back and forth for several months, producing a mixing of electronica, classical, ambient, film soundtrack, pop and jazz.

A Railroad Spike Forms The Voice (ugEXPLODE, 2021) features the namesake 72-minute suite live recorded in april 2014 by Roscoe Mitchell (saxes), Sandy Ewen (guitar), Damon Smith (double bass) and Weasel Walter (drums). Their performance sport an abstracted music mostly in trios and duets, but with many improvisations.

Room Of The Present (Fundacja Sluchaj!, 2021) collects two unreleased studio sessions, performed in 2007 and 2008, by reedist Guillermo Gregorio (here on various clarinets and alto sax), who conducted Damon Smith (double bass) and Jerome Bryerton (percussion, selected cymbals, drums) in eleven tracks, mostly improvised.

The vinyl Transgression!!! (Vin Du Select Qualitite, 2021) documents Borbetomagus’ Donald Miller in a solo performance on his 12 string acoustic guitar studio recorded in spring and summer 2017. The six pieces features a mixing of folk, blues and improvisations.

Unity (577, 2021) was studio recorded in september 2020 by Paul Dunmall (various saxes) and Mark Sanders (drums, percussion), performing five tracks for the first time as a duo (they sports 28 collaborations as sessionsmen together). Mostly improvised.

Birds Meets Wire (Relative Pitch, 2021) features Susan Alcorn on pedal steel, Leila Bordreuil on cello and Ingrid Laubrock on tenor & soprano saxes. Recorded in april 2018, their music features seven pieces, with drones, long tones, duets and trios.

Lifting The Bandstand (Fundacja Sluchaj, 2021) documents the 75-minute suite Desperados, live performed in october 1998 by the Cecil Taylor Quintet, led by the pianist and comprising of Finnish Harri Sjolstrom (soprano sax), Tristan Honsinger (cello), Finnish Teppo Hauta-Aho (bass) and Paul Lovens (percussion).

Joel Harrison launched Alternative Guitar Summit, a record label specializing in cutting-edge guitar music. One of the first releases is Guitar Talk, an album of duet recordings featuring Harrison with guitarists Ben Monder, Pete McCann, Steve Cardenas and David Gilmore, plus bassist Steve Swallow. His eleven compositions (nine duets plus two solos) were penned in 2019, then recorded with two amps in a room, no overdubs. The album bears the same name as Harrison’s new book on Terra Nova Press: Guitar Talk: Interviews with Visionary Player.

Studio recorded in august 2019, Three Dawns And Bush Radio Calling (Cold Blue, 2021 ) features the premiere recordings of two old works for solo piano composed by Peter Garland and performed by pianist Ron Squibbs. Three Dawns (composed in 1982 and studio recorded in august 2019), was inspired by a set of three poems by Jean-Joseph Rabéarivelo. Bush Radio Calling (composed in 1992 and studio recorded in september 2020) is music for a strange work by the experimental theater company Red Mole.

Skirl restores the first two albums in date by Curtis Hasselbring. The New Mellow Edwards (Skirl, 2021), the debut album by the namesake project studio recorded in august 2004 and released in 2006, features the trombonist along with Chris Speed on clarinet, tenor sax & casio, Trevor Dunn on acoustic bass and John Hollenbeck on drums, percussion & melodica. Hasselbring wrote nine pieces, plus two covers: a song by the Pixies, anda Fats Waller's Mamacita. Instead, Big Choantza, the second album, was recorded at a date in 2008 and released in 2009, featuring the same lineup and collected other nine pieces, among which a cover of Sonic Youth’s Youth Against Fascism.

ESP restores the vinyl Lowell Davidson Trio, documenting the only official release by American jazz mainly pianist, but also drummer, bassist, keyboardist and reedist. This rare and forgotten album was recommended to ESP by Ornette Coleman, studio recorded in july 1965 and then released as a very limited edition: 30 copies only. Davidson, on piano, composed five tracks and led Gary Peacock (bass) and Milford Graves (drums). But he never more released as leader, and, after having been a rare sessionman with the New York Quartet, Paul Bley, Paul Motian and Joe Morris, stopped his activity after a solo 1988 session (released in 2014 by Music Artist). He died in 1990 at 49.

Under the title of Trio, Quartet & Composer Revisited, Ezz-thetics restores Trio, a forgotten Columbia album released by English jazz pianist and composer Mike Taylor, who dead, drowned in the Thamses (misadventure or suicide? nobody knows) before his time at 30, in january 1969. Trio (studio recorded in july 1966) features the leader pianist along with the rhythm section of Jack Bruce and Jon Hiseman, sporting eight pieces of contemporary and hard bop jazz. The Ezz-thetics re-release also presents a 14-minute version of Gillespie’s A Night In Tunisia, and the three songs the pianist composed, along with Ginger Baker, for Cream’s Wheels Of Fire. In 2021, three different European labels have stepped forward to memorialise Taylor's music. Pendulum, again released by Columbia, was studio recorded in october 1965 with bassist Tony Reeves (well known for his collaborations with Colossem, Curved Air, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, etc.), Jon Hiseman (drums) and sopranoist Dave Tomlin (member of progressive rock band High Tide). Jazz In Britain released recently Mandala, a previously unissued live studio recording (january 1965), on which the pianist led the same lineup of Pendulum. Instead, Dusk Fire released the posthumous Mike Taylor Remembered, a previously unreleased collection of material composed by Taylor, recorded in 1973 by his friends, among which let’s mention Neil Ardley as director, again Jon Hiseman, Barbara Thompson (sax), Ian Carr (trumpet) and Norma Winstone (vocals).

April 2021: American saxophonist Sonny Simmons, prominent composer and bandleader since `70s, died on april 6, at 88. The family kept utmost discretion about his death, passed almost unnoticed on the Web.

Sun Beans Of Shimmering Light (Astral Spirits, 2021) documents an encounter between Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet, Douglas R. Ewart on flutes, reeds, percussion & thumb piano and Mike Reed on drums, recorded at a date in 2015. Five pieces, notably the 16-minute Constellations And Conjunctional Spaces.

Recorded in july and december 2019, Astral Traveling Sessions (Astral Spirits, 2021) features two different sessions, the former with Thollem McDonas on piano and Alex Cline on drums, the latter with McDonas on synth and Susan Alcorn on pedal steel. The first session, a 39-minute performance, was recorded live at the Santa Monica Library. The second set gathers six tracks.

Rempis Percussion Quartet, created in 2004 by the leader saxophonist and comprising of Ingebrigt Haker Flaten (bass), Tim Daisy and Frank Rosaly (both on drums), returns with Sud Des Alpes (Aerophonic, 2021), their ninth production. Recorded in march 2019, it sports three long pieces, notably the 23-minute Theme De Yoyo/Evacuation, a reworking of Art Ensemble of Chicago's Le Stances a Sophie. Still by Rempis, his project Kuzu returns with the vinyl The Glass Delusion (Astral Spirits, 2021), featuring the same lineup of previous Purple Dark Opal. It collects two live october 2018 sessions, documented in the 31:30-minute Simply Becomes Jammed and in the 12-minute Gnash. Mostly improvised.

Recorded in november 2020 by Satoko Fujii (piano) and husband Natsuki Tamura (trumpet) in their music room and then self-produced, Keshin gathers eight new pieces, presented naturally as a "real DIY recording".

Studio recorded in several sessions between summer 2019 and summer 2020, Promises (Luaka Bop, 2021) documents a 46-minute suite in nine movements composed by Pharoah Sanders, and performed on tenor sax along with Floating Points (aka Sam Shepherd) on piano, harpsichord, celesta and electronics, and the London Symphony Orchestra's strings. The music alternates minimalisms and silences with melodic drones and improvisations.

Industria is a 53-minute performance recorded in concert (october 2015) by John Tilbury (piano) and Eddie Prevost (percussion), released now by Matchless on the namesake CD.

The 2CD set Berlin, Lörrach, Paris & Stockholm. Revisited (Ezz-thetics, 2021) documents several live performances (november 1966) by the Albert Ayler's Quintet, led by the saxtenorist and compring of his brother Donald (trumpet), who died in 2007, Michel Samson (violin), William Folwell (the bassist who died in 2019) and Beaver Harris (the drummer who died in 1991).

The four volumes of Bagatelles (Tzadik, 2021), collected in a CD boxset, document the recording sessions, held from september to november 2019, during which John Zorn made available 48 tunes previously collected into a book of music, published in 2015. Each of these volumes on CD present four different ensembles. Volumes 1 features Mary Halvorson and Miles Okazaki (both on guitar), Drew Gress on bass and Tomas Fujiwara on drums; Vol. 2 sports the cello duo of Michael Nicolas and Erik Friedlander; Vol. 3 was performed by the trio of Will Green (guitar), Simon Hanes (bass) and Aaron Edgcomb (drums); Vol. 4 documents only Ikue Mori on electronics.

Still Zorn. Recorded in september and october 2020, Chaos Magick (Tzadik, 2021) documents his project Simulacrum (Brian Marsella on electric piano, John Medeski on organ, Kenny Grohowski on drums, percussion and congas,

Matt Hollenberg on electric guitar). Credits say that these nine tracks are inspired by "classical, jazz, funk, improvisation, metal and more".

Blue Mistake, Red Mistake (Meenna, 2020) documents the namesake 44-minute suite performed by alto saxophonist Jean-Luc Guionnet along with Yan Jun (voice), Matija Schellander (contrabass) and Seijiro Murayama (snare drum and voice). The music sports a minimalistic mood, with silences and improvisations.

The project Natural Information Society, created by Joshua Abrams in 2010, comes back with the DoLP Descension (Out Of Our Constrictions) (Eremite, 2021), their sixth album in eleven years, and the first to be recorded live (july 2019). The leader on guimbri, along with Evan Parker (soprano sax), Lisa Alvarado (harmonium and effects), Patrick Avery (drums), Jason Stein (bass clarinet), composed four side-long pieces, documenting a "no jazz music", plenty of spiritual afflatus.

Uneasy (ECM, 2021) features the pianist Vijay Iyer's trio, comprising of Linda May Han Oh (double bass) and Tyshawn Sorey (drums). Studio recorded in december 2019, it sports eight Iyer's originals written over 20 years, plus two covers: Gerry Allen's Drummer's Song and a long reworking of the famous Cole Porter's Night and Day. Malaysian bassist Linda May Han Ho is on stage since 2008, when debuted her trio, and also worked with Dave Douglas and Jon Irabagon.

577 lebel restores Onosante, originally released as a rare CDR by the DUNS label, and documenting a studio november 2000 session by the quartet of Paul Dunmall (tenor and soprano saxes, fife, bagpipes), Keith Tippett (piano), Pete Fairclough (drums) and Philip Gibbs (guitar). The project recorded four tracks plenty of improvisations, notably the 35-minute For Lost Souls.

The 2CD set Mutual Aid Music (Pleasure of the Text, 2021) features a studio june 2019 collaboration between Nate Wooley (trumpet), Ingrid Laubrock (saxophone), Joshua Modney (violin), Mariel Roberts (cello), Sylvie Courvoisier and Cory Smythe (both on piano), Matt Moran (vibraphone) and Russell Greenberg (vibraphone and percussion). The eight extended pieces were all composed by Wooley.

Other Worlds (Greenleaf, 2021) documents the third experience by Sound Prints project, founded by Joe Lovano (tenor sax), Dave Douglas (trumpet), Lawrence Fields (piano), Linda May Han Oh (contrabass) and Joey Baron (drums). As their previous recordings (the september 2013 self-titled and the september 2017 Scandal) this work is inspired by the music of Wayne Shorter (but without his reworkings). Their new ten pieces were composed by Douglas and Lovano, and studio recorded in january 2020.

The posthumous Coxhill '85 (Slam, 2021) features Lol Coxhill on soprano & sopranino saxes in an unreleased live solo set recorded in june 1985. 70-minute long, this release also sports a cover of A Night in Tunisia.

CIMP restores CIMPhonia 1998, the first of two CDs released in 1998 and 1999, whose the label presents the first of them. Recorded in may 1998, it features eight tracks collectively composed and performed by Peter Kowald (bass), Joe McPhee and Mark Whitecage (both on reeds), Paul Smoker (trumpet), David Prentice (violin), Dominic Duval (bass) and Jay Rosen (drums). The label eventually will release the second CD by the same lineup, containing other eight tracks recorded in the same session. Whitecage died the last march.

The self-released The Paradox Of Tolerance documents three Weasel Walter's compositions whose title is their lenght (notably the 42:29) studio recorded in january 2021. The drummer was paired on guitar and objects with Houston-based sound and visual artist Sandy Ewen. The music mixes jazz and classical, with many improvisations.

Passage (Origin, 2021) documents a collaboration between bassist David Friesen and pianist Bob Ravenscroft, collecting 25 brief pieces, recorded in two spaced sessions (february 2015 and february 2020), presented here by the label.

Polarity (Burning Ambulance, 2021) features Ivo Perelman on tenor sax and Nate Wooley on trumpet in their first duo collaboration, studio recorded in february 2020. These ten pieces of avantgarde jazz are mostly brief.

Sylvie Courvoisier (piano), Ned Rothenberg (alto sax, clarinets and shakuhachi) and Julian Sartorius (drums) present Lockdown (Clean Feed, 2021), album whose title doesn't need explications. Studio recorded in october 2020, it features eight pieces of an introspective jazz with collective improvisations. Swiss drummer Sartorius is on stage since 2011, and sports a lot of collaborations as sessionman and three credited albums.

March 2021:

British jazz bassist Malcolm Cecil, founding member of Jazz Couriers quintet in late '50s, sessionman in several jazz lineups with Ronnie Scott, Cyriel Davis and Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, even if above all known as Stevie Wonder’s arranger and cofounder, with Robert Margouleff, of electronic rock project Tonto's Expanging Head Band, died on march 28 after a long illness, at 84.

Recorded in february 2019, the vinyl Bangalore (Mikroton, 2021) documents the project MKM, i.e. Günter Müller (iPods, electronics), Jason Kahn (modular synthesizer, mixer, radio) and Norbert Moslang (cracked everyday electronics) in two 18-minute side-long pieces. This is the fourth album produced by this project formed in 2006, after MSA (spring 2007), the live Instants//Paris (june 2012), and Teplo_Dom (september 2017).

ESP restores The Call, a forgotten vinyl the label released in 1966 by Henry Grimes Trio and now restored after 55 years. The trio, led by the bassist desappeared in 2020 for COVID, was comprising of Perry Robinson (dead he too on 2018) on clarinet and Tom Price on drums. The six pieces, four by Grimes and two by Robinson, were studio recorded in december 1965. After this release, Grimes disappeared from the scene, reemerging in early 2000’s.

ESP also restores The Will Come, Is Now, the only credited album produced by Sun Ra’s bassist Ronnie Boykins. Playing also sousaphone, bells and shaker, Boykins took ten years to compose six pieces, finally studio recorded in february 1975 with a lineup comprising of Joe Ferguson (flute, soprano and tenor saxes, shaker), Art Lewis (percussion, drums, bells, shaker), Jimmy Vass (flute, alto and soprano saxes, bells, shaker), Monty Waters (alto and soprano saxes, bells, shaker), George Avaloz (conga, bells, shaker) and Daoud Haroom (trombone, bells, shaker).

Palindromes (West Hill, 2021) features a quartet led by Paul Dunmall (tenor sax), along with Percy Pursglove (trumpet), Olie Brice (double bass) and Jeff Williams (drums). In february 2020 they recorded two long (30 and 32 minutes) compositions plenty of improvisations.

The Vol. 1 of Welcome Adventure! (577 Records, 2021) features Daniel Carter on tenor sax, trumpet & flute, Matthew Shipp on piano, William Parker on contrabass and Gerald Cleaver on drums. Studio recorded in october 2019, it gathers three compositions, notably the 20-minute Ear-regularities, of avantgarde jazz.

Credited to Hafez Modirzadeh, Facets (PI, 2021) reunited the leader saxtenorist and the piano trio of Kris Davis, Tyshawn Sorey and Craig Taborn in 18 duets (among which two Thelonius Monk songs and a Bach composition) on which each piano has been re-tuned. Extensively presented by the label, it has studio recorded in december 2019. Professor of Creative/World Music at San Francisco State University, North Carolina-born (1962) Iranian Hafez Modirzadeh is musically on stage since late ’80s. His first credited album was In Chromodal Discourse, that collects twelve compositions recorded between may 1989 and january 1992. Nava-ye Mardom/The People's Blues is another album multisession, that contains fifteen tracks he composed and recorded between may 1989 and january 1996. The lineup was comprising, among others, of Ken Filiano (bass), Fred Ho’s sessionman Royal Hartigan (drums), James Norton (clarinet, sax and flute), and Timothy Volpicella (guitar). By Any Mode Necessary (recorded between 1993 and 1997) documents twelve pieces mixing folk, world and jazz with four drummers and Murrey Lowe on piano. Dandelion, released by Disques Chromodal in july 2003, features a quartet with Akira Tana (drums), Art Hirahara (piano) and John Wiitala (bass). Radif Suite (october 2009) documents a collaboration with trumpetist Amir ElSaffar, who composed two suites, with Mark Dresser (bass) and Alex Cline (drums). Post-Chromodal Out! was another PI release with Amir ElSaffar, gathering two long suites (48 and 25 minutes), studio recorded in february 2012 along with rhythm section Ken Filiano/Royal Hartigan, plus Timothy Valpolicella (guitar) and Vijay Iyer (piano), mostly free improvised. Still by PI, In Convergence Liberation (july 2011) collects 18 pieces of world, folk and free improvisation, recorded with a string quartet and several Iranian acoustic soloists. Voices Unveiled (LifeForceJazz, 2018) documents thirteen pieces, a compilation of compositions recorded over the years, each of them performed with a differenty lineup.

Entièrement Unanimes (Ambiances Magnétiques, 2021) is the latest album by Klaxon Gueule. The trio of Michel F. Côté (drums, synthesizer), Bernard Falaise (electric guitar, synthesizer) and Alexandre St-Onge (electric bass, computer) composed twelve new brief pieces, featuring an experimental and dark sound. Studio recorded in july 2018.

By the same label, Solo Souffles is the latest Jean Derome’s solo work, totally performed by the composer with an impressive amount of instruments: alto sax, piccolo, flutes, as well as about fifty other instruments, including game calls, Brazilian whistles, ocarinas, toy trumpets, etc. Recorded between august and september 2020, it sports 23 brief compositions.

The 2CD set Contre-Courbes, by new French label Akousis, documents two concerts by John Tilbury on piano and Bertrand Gauguet on alto sax. First CD are 42 minutes live recorded in a church in april 2016, CD2 (44 minutes) was recorded at “Festival Paysages découte at Les Quinconces” in november 2019. Gauguet is known above all as composer for film soundtracks and electronic music. He sports three full credited albums and many collaborations.

The 2CD set Filiseti Mekidesi (Infrequents Seams, 2020) documents an Elliott Sharp’s opera premiered in september 2018 along with the Ensemble Musikfabrik (flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, keyboards, drums, contrabass, viola, violin and cello) and the vocal group Voxnova Italia. Filiseti Mekidesi means shelter and migration in the Amharic language spoken in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Texts by poets Tracie Morris and Edwin Torres. Sharp composed the music & libretto. 19 pieces, for 85 minutes.

Imperfect Measures (Intakt, 2021) is the latest Michael Formanek’s work. He recorded in september 2017 nine solo double bass compositions, basically improvised. The bassist also recorded in december 2019 Dyads, an Out Of Your Head release, with his 18-year-old son Peter on tenor sax and clarinet. thirteen pieces, two of them by the very young reedist.

Intakt also releases Celebration, a collaboration between pianist Irène Schweizer, now at 80, and drummer Hamid Drake. The nine pieces were composed by the pianist and recorded during a july 2019 “Festival for Free and Improvised Music”.

The 2CD set Adventures Of The Wildflower (L&H, 2021) documents 18 pieces perfomed on piano by Yelena Eckemoff along with a Finnish lineup: Jukka Perko (saxophone), Jarmo Saari (electric guitar), Panu Savolainen (vibraphone), Antti Lotjonen (bass) and Olavi Louhivuori (drums). Recorded in august 2019.

Satoko Fujii just released Hazuki (Libra, 2021), a piano solo collecting eight new pieces, recorded in august 2020, in her small piano room.

Neil Ardley’s Kaleidoscope Of Rainbows was studio recorded in march 1976. The label Jazz In Britain releases now Live ’75, the premiered version, presented in october 1975 by the same studio lineup at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. This version is 102-minute long, almost twice the studio version.

Studio recorded in march 2020, the Vol. 1 of The Secret Handshake With Danger (577 Records, 2021) documents two long pieces (23 and 17 minutes) Miles Davis-reminiscent, performed by Eddie Prévost (drums and percussion) along with emergent UK Binker Golding (sax), Henry Kaiser and N.O. Moore (both on guitar) and London-based Olie Brice (double bass).

The Weight Of Light (Pyroclastic, 2021) features nine pieces by Benoît Delbecq on solo piano, recorded in march 2020, at pandemia debuting. This is his first work in ten years.

Defeat (Rune Grammofon, 2021) documents the new album by Mats Gustafsson’s project Fire. Recorded in two studio sessions (october 2019 and february 2020), it features five extended pieces by the current lineup: the leader on flute, saxes and electronics; Johan Berthling on electric bass; Andreas Werliin on drums; Goran Kajfes on quarter-tone trumpet; Mats Aleklint on trombone, sousaphone, horn arrangements.

Winter Garden (ESP, 2021) documents the Flow Trio, led by Joe McPhee (tenor sax), and comprising of Louie Belogenis (tenor and soprano saxes), Joe Morris (bass) and Charles Downs (drums). Studio recorded in january 2020, it features seven extended tracks, collectively performed.

Evan Parker’s Electro-Acoustic Ensemble releases Fixing The Fluctuating Ideas (Victo, 2021), featuring the leader on tenor & soprano saxes, Sainko Namchylak on vocals, Phil Wachsmann on violin & electronics, Barry Guy on contrabass, Paul Lytton on drums & electronics, Walter Pratti and Marco Vecchi both on live electronics. From their performance at 13th “Festival International de Musique Actuelle” (may 1996), were extracted two long pieces: the 40-minute Fixing and the 32-minute Fluctuating, presented by credits as “not folkloric, but folklore, not shamanic, but shamanism”.

February 2021:

Jazz legend pianist Chick Corea died on february 9 for a rare cancer, at 80, as stated on his Facebook page, where he posted his last message: “I want to thank all of those along my journey who have helped keep the music fires burning bright. It is my hope that those who have an inkling to play, write, perform or otherwise, do so. If not for yourself then for the rest of us. It’s not only that the world needs more artists, it’s also just a lot of fun. And to my amazing musician friends who have been like family to me as long as I’ve known you: It has been a blessing and an honor learning from and playing with all of you. My mission has always been to bring the joy of creating anywhere I could, and to have done so with all the artists that I admire so dearly - this has been the richness of my life.”

Another serious loss: American drummer Milford Graves, cofounder of New York Art Quartet, pioneer of free jazz, sessionman in several jazz lineups and performer of solo albums, died on february 12 at 79, for a congestive heart failure.

Two news by Not Two. Long Tall Sunshine, by Barry Altschul's 3Dom Factor features the leader drummer along with Jon Irabagon (tenor & sopranillo saxes and alto clarinet) and Joe Fonda (bass). The five pieces were premiered in january 2019. This is their fourth album, after the december 2016 Live In Krakow, still released by Not Two. Instead, Streams documents six pieces recorded in november 2018 by Marilyn Crispell (piano) and emergent New York-based Yuma Uesaka (sax and clarinet).

The vinyl Irvin's Comet (NoBusiness, 2020) documents six solo bass pieces recorded in october 2019 by Barry Guy. From the liner notes: “Dynamic structures and intense sound colour are at the centre of his solo output; his use of the double bass's physical potential includes several extended methods like rattling bows, sticks, and brushes”. The same label also released NOX, another vinyl with Barry Guy, accompanied by Nate Wooley (trumpet), Lithuanian Liudas Mockunas (contrabass clarinet, soprano and tenor saxes) and another Lithuanian, Arkadijus Gotesmanas (drums, percussion). Recorded again in october 2019, this album gathers three pieces (16, 14 and 6 minutes) collectively improvised.

Lifting The Bandstand (Listen! Foundation, 2021) documents the Cecil Taylor’s Quintet, led by the pianist along with Finnish Harri Sjostrom (soprano sax), Tristan Honsinger (cello), veteran Finnish Teppo Hauta-aho (double bass) and Paul Lovens (drumset, cymbals, gongs) in their october 1998 concert, when they performed the 75-minute suite Desperados, composed by Taylor. Still by Taylor, live recorded in may 2002, Being Astral And All Registers - Power Of Two (Discus, 2021) documents two long (33 and 26 minutes) performances along with Tony Oxley (drums).

Trio Tapestry project, i.e. Joe Lovano (saxes and gong), Marilyn Crispell (piano) and Carmen Castaldi (drums) returns with Garden Of Expression (ECM, 2021), their second experience after the march 2018 self-titled. Studio recorded in november 2019, it gathers eight tracks, all composed by the reedist.

Fred Frith (home-made instruments, various toys and objects, electric guitar) and Ikue Mori (laptop electronics) studio recorded in january 2015 A Mountain Doesn't Know It's Tall, released only now by Intakt after its august 2020 mixing. The fifteen pieces they composed feature an elegiac collection of sounds.

Live recorded in september 2020 at “Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room” during the Covid-19 lockdown, The Democracy! Suite features Wynton Marsalis' septet, led by the trumpetist and comprising of Walter Blanding and Ted Nash (saxes), Carlos Henriquez (bass), Obed Calvaire (drums), Dan Nimmer (piano) and Elliot Mason (trombone). The eight-movement suite, until now, is available only digitally.

The 2CD set Improvisations 5 (Magaibutsu, 2020) documents twenty-one improvisations recorded in several sessions (december 2012, february 2014, june 2014 and august 2017) by Uchihashi Kazuhisa (guitar and effects) and Tatsuya Yoshida (drums, voice and sample). The music features an experimental avantgarde rock plenty of improvisations.

Vario 34-3 documents Guenter Christmann's brainchild Vario 34, one of the some fifty versions of the legendary lineup Vario he created in 1979. Vario 34, thet also featured Mats Gustafsson (sax), Alexander Frangenheim (double bass), Thomas Lehn (electronics), Christian Munthe (guitar) and Paul Lovens (percussion) recorded in october 1993 a live self-titled, that collected pieces extracted from two concerts and released by the Sweden label Blue Tower; and the Concept Of Doing’s Water Writes Always In Plural, from another concert held in july 1998 by the same lineup. More recently, Corbett vs Dempsey released Vario 34-3, another live performance (august 2018) still with the same lineup. The nine pieces here collected are all free improvised.

The 4CD boxset The Great Tone Has No Sound (FRS, 2020) collects several performances studio recorded in november 2016. CD1 features Beyond The Five Notes, i.e. two 21-minute improvisations by bassist and guitarist Rafal Mazur; CD2 gathers six duets between Mazur and clarinetist Guillermo Gregorio; CD3 collects four pieces performed by Mazur and trumpetist Artur Majewski, CD4 features six tracks performed by a quintet comprising of Mazur, Gregorio, pianist Satoko Fujii and her husband trumpetist Natsuki Tamura and Spanish drummer Ramon Lopez.

Studio recorded in july 2020, Togetherness Music (Intakt, 2021) documents a session organized by pianist Alexander Hawkins, who composed a six-part suite for a sixteen musician ensemble, also featuring Mark Sanders (drums), Matthew Wright (electronics), Evan Parker and Rachel Musson (saxes), Percy Pursglove (trumpet), plus Hannah Marshall Louise McMonagle, Marianne Schofield and Neil Charles (double bass), James Arben (flute, bass clarinet), Benedict Taylor and Stephen Upshaw (viola), Mandhira de Saram and Marie Schreer (violin), all conducted by Aaron Holloway-Nahum.

World-premiered in december 2019, Heaven And Earth Magick (Tzadik, 2021) collects six John Zorn’s compositions performed by American Steve Gosling (piano), Sae Hashimoto (vibes), Jorge Roeder (bass) and Ches Smith (drums).

The Underflow, the project created by Mats Gustafsson, guitarist David Grubbs and Rob Mazurek, after their may 2019 self-titled, returns with the DoLP Instant Opaque Evening (Blue Chopstick, 2021), another experimental performance live recorded in january 2020, when the trio held a concert from which were extracted ten tracks, notably the 17-minute title-track.

Studio recorded in september 2019, Never Is Enough (Cuneiform, 2021) documents the latest work by Thumbscrew, the project created by Tomas Fujiwara (drums), Mary Halvorson (guitar) and Michael Formanek (bass), each of them having composed three of these new nine pieces.

Studio recorded in june 2019, Glass Triangle (Relative Pitch, 2021) features Zeena Parkins on electric harp & objects, Danish Mette Rasmussen on alto sax & objects and Ryan Sawyer on drums & percussion. Six new pieces.

Laugh And Lie Down (Chant, 2021) features a november 2019 concert by Robert Dick on glissando & bass flutes & piccolo and Dan Blake on soprano saxin three improvosed compositions, notably the 27-minute title-track. Extnsively presented here.

Credited to American trumpeter and cornetist Ron Miles (a member of New York Composers Orchestra, created by Robin Holcomb and Wayne Horvitz), the DoLP Rainbow Sign (Blue Note, 2021) documents nine pieces composed and recorded during the summer of 2018 along with Bill Frisell (guitar), Jason Moran (piano), Thomas Morgan (bass) and Brian Blade (drums). Among the pieces, the 16-minute Like Those Who Dream.

Island Of Lost Souls (Grapefruit, 2021) documents the latest Roy Montgomery’s work, but de facto the first of four new albums he shall release in 2021 to commemorate his forty years in music. Four are the pieces here collected, notably the 22:30-minute The Electric Children Of Hildegard Von Bingen he dedicated to Popol Vuh’s founder Florian Fricke. The other three releases will be: That Best Forgotten Work (may); Rhymes of Chance (august); Audiotherapy (november).

January 2021:

American celloist David Darling, who was eclectic collaborator with several jazzists before he started his career as classical and new age musician, died at his home on january 8, at 70.

Testimony (Origin, 2020) documents David Friesen with orchestra and quartet. The bassist recorded in december 2018 ten pieces accompanied by National Academic Symphonic Band of Ukraine, plus six pieces recorded in october 2019 on which he led his quartet, comprising of Eugene Dobrovolskyi (vibraphone), Alex Fantaev (drums, percussion) and Mykola Ryshkov (tenor sax), whereas he played bass, piano and percussion. All pieces were composed by Friesen. Previously, let’s remember, the same label released other two Friesen’s works: Structures, a 2CD set on which, on bass and piano, he led Joe Manis (sax) and Larry Koonse (guitar), who recorded (CD1) a march 2017 concert, from which were extracted ten tracks, and (CD2) nine studio pieces (february 2017); and another 2CD set, My Faith My Life, that collects (CD1) thirteen solo bass pieces, studio recorded in february 2017, and (CD2) sixteen solo gran piano pieces (july and august 2018).

Ivo Perelman’s Trio, led by the saxtenorist with Matthew Shipp on piano and Whit Dickey on drums, delivered for label Tao Forms the eight tracks of Garden Of Jewels. Studio recorded in june 2020, this is the third experience by this trio, after the two Leo releases The Clairvoyant (june 2012) and Butterfly Whispers (july 2015).

Concertoto (Matchless, 2021) documents the trio of Marilyn Crispell (piano), Eddie Prévost (drums) and Harrison Smith (saxes and bass clarinet) in five pieces recorded in a november 2012 concert. Notable the 55-minute two-part suite Main. As for Harrison Smith (England-born in 1946), he sports several collaborations with Chris McGregor, Paul Rutherford and London Improvisers Orchestra, and also created his own quartet, releasing two CDs.

Improvisers (Kontrans, 2020) collects six extended tracks taken from a november 2019 concert held by Ken Vandermark (clarinets and saxes) along with Jaap Blonk (voice, electronics) and Lou Mallozzi (turntables, cds, mixer, microphone, organ pipes).

Credited to the pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn quintet, Pedernal (Relative Pitch, 2020) features also Mark Feldman (violin), Michael Formanek (double bass), Mary Halvorson (guitar) and Ryan Sawyer (drums) in five pieces studio recorded in november 2019 composed by the leader, a veteran (more than 40 years) performer on her instrument. The music sports an avantgarde jazz with moments of collective improvisations, a bit of melodic folk and ethereal interludes.

The 2CD set Incipient ICP, 1966-71 (CorbettVsDempsey, 2020) documents the unreleased early story of ICP. The collective founded by Misha Mengelberg, Han Bennink and Willem Breuker began their collaboration recording several sessions through 1966 and 1967, eight of them collected in the first CD. Second CD presents nine unreleaased tracks studio recorded in april 1969 and july 1971.

Beyond (Libra, 2020) is the debuting album by Futari, new project created after 15 years in the making by pianist Satoko Fujii along with vibraphonist Taiko Saito. The two studio recorded in june 2019 nine new tracks.

Tonotopic Organizations (Listen! Foundation, 2020) reunited Steve Swell (trombone) and Austrian pianist Elisabeth Harnik (member of London Improvisers Orchestra) in a studio november 2019 session, during which they recorded an eight-movement suite (almost one hour), basically improvised.

Paul Dunmall sextet, led by the reedist on saxes and flute, and comprising of Percy Pursglove on trumpet, Richard Foote on trombone, Steven Saunders on guitar, James Owston on bass and Jim Bashford on drums, studio recorded in september 2020 Cosmic Dream Projection, released now by FMR. Dunmall wrote all six pieces, starting from melodic themes.

Still by the same label and still by Dunmall, Unmasked features the leader on alto flute, along with Neil Metcalfe on flute, James Owston on bass and Tymek Jozwiak on drums, in another studio session (august 2020). The four pieces are more improvised, notably the 17-minute Dads Olympic Brushes.

Solo A La Decollation (Tour de Bras, 2020) documents a solo pipe organ performance by Jean-Luc Guionnet, recorded in a Canadian church in april 2019. The four part recording (71 minutes) features a minimalistic and ethereal approach.

The DoLP Tone Poem (Blue Note, 2021) is the third production by Charles Lloyd and the Marvels, the lineup created by the saxophonist in 2015, still unchanged for this release. Indeed, the session is the same of the previous Vanished Gardens (september 2017), and the nine pieces collected are all instrumental, with several jazz covers.

The vinyl The Truth (Otoruku, 2020) gathered saxophonist Matana Roberts and pianist Pat Thomas in an improvised performance, from which were extracted four pieces, live recorded in december 2018. London-based Pat Thomas is on stage since early ‘90s, and was sessionman in many projects and collaborations, among which London Improvisers Orchestra, Tony Oxley, Lol Coxhill, Derek Bailey, etc.

Composed and recorded between november 2018 and february 2020, the monumental 10 CD boxset Migration Of Silence/Into And Out Of The Tone World (Centering, 2021) documents the most ambitious project by William Parker. Each CD features a different lineup. Among the musicians led by the bassist, let’s mention Jason Hwang (violin), Mara Rosenbloom and Eri Yamamoto (piano), Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez, Kyoko Kitamura and Ellen Christie (vocals), Eri Yamamoto, Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson (trumpet), Matt Moran (vibes), Ben Stapp (tuba), Kayla Milmine-Abbott (soprano sax), Rachel Housle and Hamid Drake (drums), etc. Music, text and arrangements are all by Parker. The set collects 91 tracks, for quite 10 hours of music.

New World just released the 7CD boxset The Boyé Multi-National Crusade For Harmony, that collects music composed by Julius Hemphill (dead in 1995). The boxset contains 35 pieces (25 of them never released). The one exception is Disc 4, that collects pieces he composed but reinterpreted by others. Marty Ehrlich wrote the liner notes. The titles: Disc 1: The Boyé Multi-National Crusade For Harmony I [74:20]; Disc 2: The Julius Hemphill/Abdul Wadud Duo [60:51]; Disc 3: The Janus Company [73:47]; Disc 4: Chamber Music [63:32]; Disc 5: Roi Boyé Solo And Text [75:01]; Disc 6: The Boyé Multi-National Crusade For Harmony II [65:07]; Disc 7: Live At Joyous Lake [66:44]. Among the sessionmen, let’s mention Abdul Wadud, John Carter, Nels Cline, Dave Holland, Alex Cline, Jack DeJohnette, Marty Ehrlich, etc.

Studio recorded in april 2015, Flow States (ScienSonic, 2020) features Marshall Allen on alto sax & EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument), Roscoe Mitchell on soprano, sopranino, bass & alto saxes, Scott Robinson on tenor, bass, contrabass & alto saxes and Milford Graves on drums. This is the first music Mitchell ever played with either Marshall Allen or Milford Graves, a session organized by Scott Robinson. Among the eight tracks, notable the 15-minute Vortex State. Mitchell also performed for the third time along with drummer Mike Reed in The Ritual And The Dance (Astral Spirits, 2021), in an october 2015 concert from which were extracted two pieces (21 and 16 minutes) he played on reeds and electronics. Still by Mitchell, Soundscape 1979 (ScienSonic, 2020) documents unreleased historical recordings he composed along with Gerald Oshita (contrabass sarrusophone & Conn-o-sax) and Thomas Buckner (vocals). Recorded in august 1979, this work collects five pieces, among which the 14-minute Texture For Trio and the final three-part 15-minute Prelude, with the leader on soprano. If Buckner is a well known veteran musician, Oshita, who dead in 1992, is poorly known for his very rare recordings as reedist, even if he, again with Buckner and Mitchell, recorded in january 1981 New Music For Woodwinds And Voice and a date in 1984, still in the same lineup, An Interesting Breakfast Conversation.

Gnosis: The Inner Light (Tzadik, 2021) documents nine John Zorn compositions as a tribute to Ennio Morricone. Recorded in september 2020, as usual he doesn’t play. The performers are Bill Frisell (guitar), John Medeski (organ, piano, Fender Rhodes), Kenny Wollesen (vibraphone) and American harpist Carol Emanuel, who, along with Frisell and Wollesen, formed recently The Gnostic Trio, debuting for Tzadik with Netzach, for the serie of Masada Book 3, recorded in december 2017. Still by Zorn, Tzadik released Songs For Petra, a limited vinyl edition that collects 13 pieces he composed, and were performed by singer Petra Haden (the daughter of Charlie), Jesse Harris (acoustic guitar and keyboards), Jorge Roeder (bass), Kenny Wollesen (drums) and Julian Lage (guitar). Original lyrics by Jesse Harris. The work was premiered in march 2019, and studio recorded in 2020.

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