Sunday, March 02, 2014

1 Sem 2014 - Part Six

Ramberto Ciammarughi
New Music For Trio

By  Francesco Peluso Fedeltà del Suono - La Bacchetta Magica
Il pianista di origine umbra Ramberto Ciammarughi offre, in questo primo lavoro a proprio nome per la romana CAM JAZZ, un viaggio compositivo ed espressivo dalle tenui, sfumate ed eleganti coloriture musicali, registrato dal vivo nella sua terra natale nel 2006 presso il “Teatro dei Riuniti” di Umbertide (PG). In compagnia di due icone del jazz internazionale del calibro di Miroslav Vitous al contrabbasso e Gerald Cleaver alla batteria, Ramberto Ciammarughi mostra la propria cifra stilistica in un susseguirsi di performances in trio che alternano momenti di pura estasi riflessiva ad altri d’intensa esuberanza formale. In apertura, subito un sognante omaggio al vasto mondo degli standard con la evergreen “Bye Bye Blackbird” di Ray Henderson e pietra miliare di “Miles”, incalzata dall’irrefrenabile flusso ritmico di “Anabasys” a firma del band leader, in cui il binomio fra il corposo groove del contrabbasso e il dinamico esternarsi del pianoforte la fanno da padrone. Poi, “New Music For Trio” si dipana fra le malinconiche accezioni di “Johannes B” e “Come sempre”, che lasciano il passo alle tensioni ritmico-espressive di “B-Loose” e “In D”, in un imprevedibile e ammiccante saliscendi di atmosfere che, vedi l’intrigante “Impro Trio” di Vitous e la conclusiva “W On W” di Ciammarughi, mettono in gran spolvero il gusto estetico del bravo pianista di Assisi e il perfetto interplay raggiunto con i suoi talentuosi partner. Pertanto, la “nuova musica per trio” di Ramberto Ciammarughi rappresenta una poetica narrazione della sua personalità artistica, che regala circa cinquanta minuti di musica in cui è racchiusa una condivisa visione di jazz e laddove il navigato e granitico incedere del contrabbasso di Miroslav Vitous, il frenetico drummin’ di Gerald Cleaver e il sicuro pianismo di Ramberto Ciammarughi spaziano dalla musica dotta al modern mainstream, senza inciampare mai in alcun passaggio a vuoto o produrre soluzioni melodico-armoniche di maniera.
La ripresa audio di questo lavoro, mixata da Miroslav Vitous presso l’Universal Syncopations Studios di Mondovì, mostra un’ottima riproduzione timbrica e una strabiliante ricostruzione dell’originale spazialità live.

By CamJazz
For the first time on CAM JAZZ, Ramberto Ciammarughi, a pianist from Assisi, makes his debut on the Roman label with his "new music for a trio". A top-class trio, with the well-known Miroslav Vitous on double bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums. These two musicians are in perfect harmony with the leader, thanks also to the numerous collaborations during the course of their training.
Ciammarughi wrote almost all of the tracks. He leaves Vitous the honor and task of starting up an excellent “ImproTrio”, which follows an outstanding version of Miles Davis’ “Bye Bye Blackbird” (opening the album), which represent the only exceptions in a musical discourse where the pianist’s style is always easily recognized, rich in touch and in the articulation of the musical architecture. In the overwhelming, intense piece “Anabasys”, we hear Ciammarughi and Vitous out in front, sustaining an obsessive, burning rhythm. The calmness of “
Come Sempre”, some passages of which are almost movie-like, contrasts like chiaroscuro with “B-Loose”, an excellent example, and extremely energetic, of the feeling created by the leader with his valuable travel companions.
This journey confirms Ciammarughi as one of the most polished, original, curious interpreters of his instrument. The musician, who has accustomed us to phases of creativity alternating with moments of silence and thought, is captured here, live, in 2006, recorded during some gigs at the “Teatro dei Riuniti” in Umbertide, not far from his native city of Assisi, and mixed by Miroslav Vitous in Mondovì, at Universal Syncopations Studios.
“New Music for Trio” is a CD to be listened to without a break, like those concerts, in which Ciammarughi asks the audience not to applaud between pieces, so as to keep each listener constantly poised on the edge of emotion.
Recorded live at Teatro dei Riuniti - Umbertide
Live recording engineer Marco Cocchieri

Ralph Alessi & Fred Hersch
Only Many

By George Kanzler at The New York City Jazz Record
Trumpeter Ralph Alessi and pianist Fred Hersch are not strangers, having worked together in Hersch’s quintet. That they are familiar and compatible with each other is evident in the rapport achieved on this duo album, made up largely of originals and improvised collaborations. The 14 tracks here range from pointillist abstractions like “Ride”, a fast, jabbing creation, and “Peering”, a slower, more deliberate meditation, to more lyrical, melodic pieces like the gravely solemn “Campbell” and Paul Motian’s sensuous “Blue Midnight”. Thelonious Monk’s “San Francisco Holiday” is puckishly animated by Harmonmuted trumpet and Hersch referencing Monk pianisms as well as the composer’s fondness for repeating his theme in solos and comping.
Alessi commands an arsenal of trumpet techniques, equally at home playing darting, crisp runs and smeared, smudged notes as long, mellifluous tones and sumptuous lines like those on his own hymnlike “Humdrum” or the ringing, clarion “Hands”. Aside from the seven largely improvised collaborations, the trumpeter provides four compositions. Hersch’s only work is the gleaming “Calder”, a piece with bright, spiraling lines and geometric intersections between the two instruments that recall the namesake’s mobiles. At times, Hersch’s piano is spare, almost skeletal, interacting with Alessi as well as with himself, his two hands utterly distinct. There’s a fountain-like tinkling on the collaboration “Floating Head Syndrome”, Hersch in a high range contrasting with Alessi’s lower, breathy tone. Yet his playing is romantically fullbodied on Alessi’s “1st Dog”, one of the few originals with a catchy tune, reinforced by snappy trumpet phrases.
But the often cerebral and compelling force of this collaboration rests on the interaction and interplay between the two, especially as evinced in the longest track: “Someone Digging in the Ground”, a tour de force of both musical technique and dual invention sustained for over ten glorious minutes.

By CamJazz
The second work by Ralph Alessi on CAM Jazz, after the successful debut of “Cognitive Dissonance”. This time the trumpet player shares the honor of appearing on the cover with Fred Hersch, a pianist of great class, who is in perfect accord with his partner in adventure. “Only Many” is prevalently a CD for four hands, proof of the great complicity created in the studio at the time of the recording.
The brief, intense introduction, “Ride”, seems to be almost a warning to the listener, a call to concentrate on what will happen during the 60 minutes of the album. The velvety “Hands”, composed by Alessi alone, is the prelude to one of the two “cover” pieces on the CD, the wonderful “San Francisco Holiday” by a Thelonious Monk, who can never be mentioned and reinterpreted enough. We have to wait until almost the end of “Only Many” to hear the other virtual guest, Paul Motian, with “Blue Midnight”.
Hypnotic, expanded themes, from Monk to Motian, in which improvisation and interplay reign supreme. Hersch and Alessi pursue each other, chase each other, overlap each other and slowly find increasingly different languages and expressive forms, resulting in an utterly fascinating, magnetic CD. Short, essential themes, almost always lasting between two and four minutes, except for the two interpretations of other composers and the long suite, “Someone Digging in the Ground”, which is the prelude to “Snap”, the grand finale.
A new, interesting development of the artistic dialogue between the pianist and the trumpet player that began a few years ago in Pocket Orchestra by Hersch and destined to further, surprising developments.
Recorded at Dolan Recording Studios/NYU Steinhardt School
Recording engineer Paul Geluso

Kit Downes
Light From Old Stars

By Bruce Lindsay
Given pianist/composer Kit Downes' standing in the UK jazz scene it's rather surprising that Light From Old Stars is only the third album he's released under his own name. It's less surprising when his relative youth—he was still in his mid-20s when he recorded this album—and active membership in bands such as Troyka and Stan Sulzmann's Neon are added to the mix. All this musical activity might seem to leave little time for other considerations, but at least one non-musical interest is key to the development of Light From Old Stars.
As the album's title suggests, the key is Downes' fascination with science generally and astronomy in particular. The cover design, by Lesley Barnes, takes this astronomical inspiration and adds a touch of mysticism. The sleeve notes, by NASA astrobiologist Danielle Scalice, take a more scientific perspective yet still serve to emphasize the mystery of the stars. "Wander And Colossus" reflects this mystery and fascination most clearly, driven by Downes and drummerJames Maddren's rolling, seemingly eternal, rhythm.
Not all of the old stars which inspire Downes are distant entities. He readily acknowledges the influence of pianists Paul Bley and Jan Johansson and both get tunes in their honor—Downes is particularly impressive on the jagged and darting "Bleydays." Downes also admires legendary blues musicians like Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Skip James—whose impact Downes acknowledged with "Skip James" on his second album, Quiet Tiger (Basho Records, 2011). Their influence is also at the heart of Light From Old Stars, especially on "Outlawed," a loose-limbed tune redolent of laidback country blues which features Calum Gourlay's rootsy bass solo.
Two tunes with ornithological titles inject some engaging eccentricity into the mix. "Owls" findsJames Allsopp's bass clarinet twitting and twooing on the cheerfully upbeat opening and closing passages, while Lucy Railton's scary cello creates a much darker mood in the middle section. "The Mad Wren"—which may or may not refer to this album's drummer—jumps and bounces just like the tiny bird as it switches between moods and tempos.
The old stars of the cosmos and the old stars of the blues may seem to have little in common—but both of them have inspired the creation of a lovely, rewarding, album. Light From Old Stars is Downes' most accessible and imaginative album to date, a worthy addition to an already impressive body of work.
Track Listing: 
Wander And Colossus; Bleydays; Outlawed; What's The Rumpus; Two Ones; Falling Dancing; Owls; The Mad Wren; Jan Johansson.
Kit Downes: piano, organ (3, 5, 8); James Allsopp: tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet); Lucy Railton: cello; Calum Gourlay: bass; James Maddren: drums.

John Abercrombie Quartet
39 Steps

By John Kelman
John Abercrombie has rarely played with pianists, at least in his own groups and throughout his extensive discography as a leader for ECM Records that began with the immediate classic, 1975'sTimeless. Other than a brief reunion with that record's group for 1984's Night, the veteran guitarist has, in fact, only recorded with one other piano-based group, the quartet responsible for Arcade(1979), Abercrombie Quartet (1980) and M (1981)—all featuring another intrepid improviser, Richie Beirach, and slated for released in 2014 as an Old & New Masters Edition box that will finally see all three in print on CD (two for the first time). Meanwhile, 39 Steps is, then, Abercrombie's first recording as a leader with a pianist since Night, though it's far from a first encounter.
39 Steps may be pianist Marc Copland's long overdue ECM debut—a post-Bill Evans pianist whose attention to touch and space have long made him a worthy candidate for the label's pristine sonic approach—but this group, with the exception of drummer Joey Baron, who replaces original drummer Billy Hart, has been working together, on occasion, since Second Look (Savoy Jazz, 1996), reuniting in 2007 for Another Place (Pirouet, 2008). But if both dates featured Copland as ostensible leader, they were all rather egalitarian when it came to compositional contributions, split fairly evenly between the pianist and Abercrombie.
39 Steps represents a couple of significant differences, beyond Baron's recruitment. First, the lion's share of the compositions belong to Abercrombie, who rightfully assumes leader credit here, with Copland contributing only two of the set's ten pieces, along with one group-credited free improv and an indirect closing nod to tradition with a reading of "Melancholy Baby" that still fits within the quartet's overall sphere of approach; freely interpreted, in this case with no time and no discernible changes, its melody remains recognizable amidst the freewheeling yet carefully controlled freedom and interaction within which this group operates.
The other important change is, for the first time, having an external producer—in this case, ECM label head Manfred Eicher. As good as Copland's two previous recordings sound, there's a notable and tremendous difference in how this date sounds: more delicate, more rarefied, with every note discernible right down to its final decay and even the most delicate touch of a cymbal occupying its rightful place in the overall soundscape. From the first notes of Abercrombie's opening "Vertigo," with Copland's repeated single-note motif supported by both his left hand and Abercrombie's careful voicing—one of the guitarist's strengths always being his intrinsic ability to work with other chordal instruments without either ever getting in the way of them—it's clear just how transparent everything is, allowing the music to breathe in ways that previous collaborations with Abercrombie, Copland and Gress have not.
Copland's delicate touch—at times, seeming to barely brush the keys, as on Abercrombie's balladic "As It Stands"—is definitive, as is the relentlessly reliable support coming from Gress and Baron, whether swinging elegantly on the pianist's brighter, appealingly lyrical "LST" or the guitarist's slower-tempo'd "Bacharach," the pair shifting feels so seamlessly as to be almost unnoticeable ... almost.
The interaction, in particular between Abercrombie and Copland, is as deep as decades playing together would suggest, and if this program of largely new composition feels both fresh and familiar to fans of both players, there's one tune that is particularly so: "Another Ralph's," an update—or, perhaps, sequel—to Abercrombie's "Ralph's Piano Waltz," originally written for guitarist/pianist and duo mate Ralph Towner, first heard on Timeless but which has become, along with that album's title tracks, one of Abercrombie's most often-played tunes, having been recorded by everyone from Towner himself on Solo Concert (ECM, 1980) to Abercrombie, who revisited the tune on Current Events (1986), with his then-trio of Marc Johnson and Peter Erskine.
Eicher often encourages artists to engage in free improvisation at his sessions, and while neither Abercrombie nor Copland are strangers to such unfettered contexts, "Shadow of a Doubt" is the first recorded instance of the two engaging in such completely unplanned spontaneity. Between Gress' soft arco, Copland's harp-like, sustain pedal-driven sweeps and Baron's textural cymbal work, it slowly coalesces into form as Abercrombie joins in with volume pedal-swelled lines, angular in nature but somehow soft and rounded in timbre, even as the quartet gradually turns to more oblique territory as the three-minute improvisation nears its end.
As good as their previous recordings together have been, 39 Steps represents a major leap forward for Abercrombie and Copland's relationship, even as the guitarist returns to the piano-based configuration that was his first touring context, back in the late '70s. With Copland a welcome addition to the ECM roster and Eicher paying so much attention to music coming out of the New York City area these last couple of years—notable (and diverse) examples beingTim Berne's Shadow Man, Craig Taborn's Chants and Chris Potter's The Sirens, all 2013 releases—here's hoping that this quartet will continue, and that Copland will ultimately be afforded the opportunity to record more for the label...perhaps, even, a solo piano session, whose potential would be most intriguing with Eicher in the producer's chair, and with the lucent sonics of the label that Abercrombie has called home for nearly forty years.
Track Listing: 
Vertigo; LST; Bacharach; Greenstreet; As It Stands; Spellbound; Another Ralph's; Shadow of a Doubt; 39 Steps; Melancholy Baby.
John Abercrombie: guitar; Marc Copland: piano; Drew Gress: double bass; Joey Baron: drums.

Graham Dechter
Takin´ It There

By Dan Bilawsky 
A quartet is usually a self-contained collection of four, but sometimes these groupings serve as part of a greater whole; guitarist Graham Dechter's foursome does both. Dechter, drummer Jeff Hamilton, bassist John Clayton and pianistTamir Hendelman serve as the rhythmic power source for theClayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra but they can also stand on their own in fine, grooving fashion.
Dechter, in his mid-twenties at the time of this recording, has been keeping company with Clayton and Hamilton since he joined the rhythm section of their illustrious orchestra when he was only nineteen. He played the hell out the guitar back then and he's continued to mature at a rapid pace ever since. Right On Time (Capri, 2009) gave him an opportunity to spread his wings and fly as a leader for the first time, fronting the very same rhythm unit that gave him his first big break, and Takin' It There is round two from this team.
These guys have all made their individual and collective reputations on the fact that they keep better time than a Rolex, so this fact isn't really worth an at-length discussion. The leader's style, direction and vision, however, deserve comment. Dechter may be operating in the present, but it doesn't seem to be his favorite time. The young guitarist is a '50s and '60s jazz devotee and it comes through in every way. His song choices, which reference guitar greats likeWes Montgomery ("Road Song") and Barney Kessel ("Be Deedle Dee Do"), bossa nova kingpin Antonio Carlos Jobim ("Chega De Saudade") and trumpeter Lee Morgan ("Hocus Pocus") are the first indication. His playing, which is rooted in the Montgomery, Kessel andHerb Ellis schools, is the second signpost. Smoking single note lines, blues-based rejoinders and clean-toned melodies, which nod to those three guitar greats at different times, sing forth from Dechter's axe.
Familiar material is around every corner on this disc, but that doesn't mean it's run of the mill in execution. "Chega De Saudade" carries a certain degree of intensity in its being that's rarely encountered in other takes on this classic and "Come Rain Or Come Shine" is given a winning makeover. When Dechter and company put the classics aside, they prove equally capable of creating down-home feels and/or musical finery. "Together & Apart" is a mellow original from the leader which opens on some beautiful, cello-like arco work from Clayton, Josh Nelson's title track takes a little while to catch fire, but Dechter and Hendelman eventually fan the flames with some fine soloing, and Clayton's "Grease For Graham," powered by Hamilton's shuffling stick work, is a gas.
While some of the positive feedback for this recording will likely be focused on the established veterans, Dechter deserves his due. He may have the luxury of playing with the cream of the crop, but they don't carry him. Graham Dechter's playing is capable, confident and charismatic in every way.
Track Listing: 
Road Song; Be Deedle Dee Do; Chega De Saudade (No More Blues); Together & Apart; Takin' It There; Father; Grease For Graham; Hocus Pocus; Come Rain Or Come Shine; Amanda/Everytime We Say Goodbye.
Graham Dechter: guitar; Tamir Hendelman: piano; John Clayton: bass; Jeff Hamilton: drums.

No comments: