Sunday, March 27, 2011

Free Jazz Alchemist Radio with Little, Scott and Frank

Tomorrow we will remember Scott LaFaro and Little Booker - two incredible musicians that died at a very young age. Also birthday of Frank Gratkowski. at 8pm CET. see you :)

1. Bill Evans Trio - Gloria's Step (take 2) (Scott LaFaro's birthday on 03.04)
2. Booker Little - We Speak (Booker's birthday on 02.04)
3. Frank Gratkowski Quartet - Annaherungen III (Frank's birthday on 30.03)
4. Max Roach - Freedom Day
5. Bill Evans Trio - Jade's Vision
6. Eric Dolphy - Fire Waltz
7. Frank Gratkowski Trio - Senga
8. Ornette Coleman - The Alchemy of Scott LaFaro
9. Frank Gratkowski Trio - Three Vegetables for Double Happiness
10. Bill Evans Trio - Some Other Time
11. Booker Little - Man of Words
12. Bill Evans Trio - My Romance (take 1)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Rob Brown & Daniel Levin Duo - Jazz @ Alchemia (23.03)

After the concert by Mihaly Dresch Quartet was cancelled, this one started the series of interesting concert events that have to take place in next 2 months at Alchemia. Rob Brown & Daniel Levin played together a series of improvised duos which is only a simply and easy to put description of a creative act that is far from simply and easy.
No sense in trying to descript the particular phrases, parts or pieces as this was music of constant change, where one keeps the other alert and ready, constantly on the toes. Music could go from hushed to ecstatic, from beautifully fluent lines (Rob Brown's agility and mastery of the instrument's language is impressive) to dotted pizzicato sounds (so is Daniel Levin's). They could go low and high, moving forward, far outside, deep inside but never back. Constant interaction and fearless creation.
I must say that I was most impressed by Levin's playing (first time I saw him on stage) who becomes completely united with the cello, whether he's shredding the strings with the bow or plaing gently, whether he's taking the bass role, or singing like a violin (espiecially once he goes completely acoustic in the 2nd set), or just tapping the body of the instrument with his fingers. While he's assuming the more accompanying role quite often, he plays also a few unaccompanied solos that are really mindblowing. Raw, passionate, rich and immaginative. He's the fire in this mixture, he has this mad look, completely gone inside the world of sound, while Rob face is more focused, his playing is more intellectual maybe. Obviously all simplyfications as there are no easy rules nor possible ways to put words around it.
Together they create music that is intense and passionate, that, following all the possibilites given and created is incredibly demanding, almost exhausting, but also very satisfying.
The concert was/is also a part of small tour that promotes their duo released late last year by Not Two - "Natural Disorder" and this title fits great their music, there's natural flow to their playing that is so energetic and limitless that it is very much like lookig for an order in the nature's caos or disordering the nature's order.

some photos from the concert available here.

The duo has still to play in Poznan and Wuppertal in the next days so if you live nearby - don't miss it.

Rob Brown - alto sax
Daniel Levin - cello

Alchemia. Krakow; 23.03

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Free Jazz Alchemist with Fred, Daniel, Ken, Andrzej and others

Tomorrow's program will include samples from two recently reviewed cds (Premier Roeles and Vandermark's Predella Group). Add to that some birthdays to celebrate - Fred Anderson, Andrzej Trzaskowski, Dave Douglas, Gerry Hemingway. And a piece from Daniel Levin & Rob Brown duo to serve as a reminder of their short tour in Poland in this week (Krakow, Sanok and Poznan are included, if you can, be there). Should make for a varied set of music.

Appointment at the usual 8pm CET at and the facebook chat. around CET the playlist will be repeated.

1. Andrzej Trzaskowski - Ballad with a Silver-esque cadence (birthday on 23.03)
2. Dave Douglas Sextet - Blue Heaven (birthday on 22.03)
3. Fred Anderson & Hamid Drake - SaktiShiva (Fred's birthday on 22.03)
4. Gerry Hemingway Quartet - Rallier (birthday on 22.03)
5. Rob Brown & Daniel Levin - Dot-Dash (concert on wednesday in Krakow)
6. Ken Vandermark Predella Group - Austral Cartography
7. Premier Roeles - Waltzing Joe
8. Premier Roeles - Chicken B
9. Fred Anderson - Ladies in Love
10. Sarah Vaughan - Willow Weep for Me (birthday on 27.03)
11. Andrzej Trzaskowski - Wariacje na temat 'Chmiela"
12. Dave Douglas Sextet - Play It Momma (atually it's just a trio song)
13. Ken Vandermark Predella Group - Sieve of the Soul
14. Andrzej Trzaskowski Sextet with Ted Curson - The Quibble
15. Sarah Vaughan & Biily Eckstine - Cheek to Cheek

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ken Vandermark Predella Group - Strade d'Acqua / Roads of Water [Multikulti]

Jeb Bishop - trombone
Jaimie Branch - trumpet
Tim Daisy - percussion
Fred Lonberg-Holm - cello
Nate McBride - bass
Jeff Parker - guitar
Ken Vandermark - reeds

Multikulti 2011

This is a first soundtrack in vast discography of Ken Vandermark and it's something special.
Enough to look at the names to see that Ken chose a stellar group, all players that he knows profoundly having a lot of experience playing together previously (one exception to that rule is Jaimie Branch - I don't know about any other Ken's project including him). 
This is a collection of compositions that support the video, but the music tells the story as well as the picture itself. These are mostly slow-tempo pieces, very melodic, somehow pensive. The film tells the story of people and places that are pure and simple. And while there are no easy cliche' etno clues in there (although the wonderful sound of marimba in "Sieve of the Soul" and percussion beats by Tim Daisy throughout have this 'world' music charm) the feeling of naturality pervades throughout the album, music is somehow relaxed, never forced, without any sense of urgence, going slowly with the stream of river, even during the more dramatic, more abstract, darker passages. 
All musicians are given a lot of space to shine. "Blue Over Green" with light funk etno-groove features extended guitar solo by Parker in two versions - gently and jazzy one in the first half, rocking in the latter. My favourite moment could be when Jaimie Branch enters with light trumpet solo after the introducing theme of "Austral Cartography". In fact Ken hardly takes any solo space until the explosive (in a Powerhouse way) end of "Dust Town" which is only the fourth track of the album (out of total seven). Yet it's absolutely clear it's his album, the way he leads the band, the ways the heads are composed (wonderfully arranged themes, the brass octave unisono in the middle of "Sieve of the Soul" is something of otherwordly beauty, the doubled cello and bass lines are something already known from recent Vandermark 5 albums).

Since it's possible to watch the movie on-line and thus listen to most of the music from this album I can only recommend that you get to know these sounds and pictures personally. An experience which I hope will be
as gratifying as it was in my case.

two tracks from the album are available in the radio playlist played on 02.20.2012
watch the movie here

Friday, March 18, 2011

Jacek Kochan & Dominik Wania - One Eyed Horse at Piec'ART (17.03)

Piec'ART is a mostly mainstream jazz venue but I wander there from time to time quite happily. This time it was Jacek Kochan's project which caught my eye. A very active composer and agile drummer, working mainly within a formula that he called AJIEE - Acoustic Jazz in Electronic Enviroment - his compositions use extensively post-bop language while he adds layers of electronic noises, loops and rhythm patterns beneath (around? over?) created on the laptop. I'm not a big fan of electronics in jazz music but I always appreciated his drums skills - keep that in mind as these preexistent oppinions clearly conditioned a lot my feelings about the concert.
With Dominik Wania, a very capable keyobard player, they start off hard and that is how both the sets will go on. Kochan plays drums like the Lord commands - loud and fast, he's playing precise patterns with ankle-breaking speed, keeping it all clean and tight. I really like it especially when he lays this phat funky groove. Wania adds a lot of brewing on the keys (moving beetwen piano, fender piano or moog sounds) and he adds very nice bass touches with the left hand. Make it a drum'n'bass era version of "Bitches Brew".
While the compositions aren't bad, there's too much similarity between them, cohesity of the material and closed formula become quite monotonous. The electronic enviroment feels quite redundant in this case, limiting musicians instead of expanding the possibilites. I quite miss the horn section or at least one other instrument to fly over the dense and thick structures produced by the keyboard-drums duo (hope I don't hurt the laptop's feeling by omitting it). 
Fortunately what lacks in variety is made up, at least partially, with the energy level. Wania contributes some strong, searching solo statements in the 2nd set and things are really cookin' when they both hit the high gear - making for a nice headbanging and foot-tapping invitation. And the last track is possibly the strongest of the night, making the appreciative, if small audience call for 'one more' (which they get).
Enjoyable if not exactly stellar performance. I have seen better by these musicians (in slightly larger groups) and I hope to do so in the future. On the other hand, it wasn't that bad at all. 

ps. What is surprising (given the fact that it's just a duo and one led by a drummer) there were no drum solos (not one), positive sign (as in: it shows Kochan's egoless conception of the music) and actually bit dissapointing (as in: I'd like to hear at least one).

Dominik Wania - el. piano
Jacek Kochan - drums, laptop

Piec'ART; Krakow. 17.03.2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Premier Roeles - KA DA VER [Vindu Records]

Fred van Duijnhoven - drums
Nico Hixijbregts - piano
Gerard van der Kamp - alto & soprano saxophone
Harmjan Roeles - bass

Vindu Records 2011
(Toondist Distribution)

I already wrote that I'm always greedy  for new names and this cd gives me that in abbundance. Improvised music has come a long way since John Coltrane's Quartet, the birth of the "New Thing", and this band plays a music that comes directly from this tradition of sax quartet playing and the tradition of more european ways of improvisation.
"Frederic" puts you straight into the right mood, it starts wild and invasive. Piano strings are being hurt, air is being pierced. It does mellow a little in the middle, to engage in subter forms of exploration, twisting the melody lines into complicated shapes, but get back in the saddle towards the end.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Free Jazz Alchemist Radio with Nature Boy, Charles, Mike, Daniel and others

While the new reviews on the blog present pretty much what kind of music I'm usually listening to, especially when it comes to jazz department, the historic attiture towards the calendar in the radio program reminds me quite often about musicians and music I haven't been in touch for a while. Making for a great opportuninty to get back to those sounds and melodies that maybe are not as exciting as they used to be, but still represent big part of my musical self-education. That will be pretty much the case of tomorrow's playlist with (on the occasion of their birthdays) some Bill Frisell, Charles Lloyd, Lennie Tristano, couple versions of "Nature Boy" in tribute to Nat King Cole. 
On the more contemporary side there's birthday of Daniel Levin (he'll be playing a duo with Rob Brown late this month in Krakow plus I just got the new cd on Not Two where he's playing but won't be able to choose anything new for the playlist, propably next week). 
Plus a song a-piece from Billie Holliday and Nina Simone based on a birthday wish from a friend of mine (happy birthday Agata!) which I could not decline.

Hope you'll join me. Appointment is tomorrow (monday) 8.00 pm CET on and the facebook chat. Playlist will be published here during the program and, as is the habbit lately, it will be re-played again (so, around 10 pm CET) to those who were late or would like to listen again :)

1. Lennie Tristano - East Thrity Seconds
2. Nina Simone - Where Can I Go Without You
3. Doctor 3 - Nature Boy / Falls
4. Mike Westbrook - Wilhelm Tell Ouverture III
5. Mike Westbrook - Wilhelm Tell Ouverture V
6. Bill Frisell - Outlaws
7. Daniel Levin Trio - Hangman
8. Juhani Aaltonen Trio - Nature Boy
9. Charles Llody & Billy Higgins - Desire : Chomolungma
10. Daniel Levin Quartet - Cannery Row
11. Bill Frisell - Things Will Never Be The Same
12. John Coltrane Quartet - Nature Boy (first version)
13. Charles Lloyd & Billy Higgins - Devotion : Sally sunflower Whitecloud
14. Bill Frisell - Gone, Just Like a Train
15. Billie Holliday - I'm a Fool To Want You
16. Bill Frisell - Tales From the Far Side

Mikolaj Trzaska - Rafal Mazur Duo at Klub Bomba (12.03)

by K. Penarski
I've been long waiting for a serious free-jazz concert and here it was. Two amongst my favourite musicians, intimate do setting, what else to desire? The problem is that Bomba is a very specific place, not exactly fit for live music venue, with just a small improvised stage, no real audience space. While listeners filled the floor around the musicians and stairway, there were also many people around not really interested in the music, chattering, laughing, drinking, disturbing those who came specifically to see the concert.

by K. Penarski
I had a hard time focusing on music, taking notes and trying to nevermind the chattering noise,  but the musicians delved right into the world of sound and managed to create somehow of a parallel reality, coexisting, completely autonomic. Only when I stopped taking notes I managed to separate myself from the casual sounds around and focus on the music delievered from the stage.

Mikolaj has long been one of my favourite sax players, tremendously agile, adventorous, completely free at his playing. And with thise sense of melody that is really quite unique. His playing is now completely mature, a sign of a true master, whether screaming, whispering, playing with this emotional delicacy, gentle cry, raw power and jazzy swagger. Rafal is an extremely gifted musician, fabulous cohort, closely listening, he underscores the lineage of sax melodies, he can play dense and blurry lines, powerfull riffs, as much as distinct and selective bass lines. He's almost telepathic when it comes to reacting to the musicians around him.

Together they create music that is intense, focused, free yet with a strong sense of cohesity, of direction. That travels effortlessly within a dynamic range of scream and whisper, and within the musical traditions of a jazz standard, jewish song, hushed lullaby, raging war song, free jazz and free improv.

This duo has developed a clear chemistry. I had seen their first concert (summer last year if I recall correctly), the trio concert with Tim Daisy (written about it here). And I'm hoping to see them again soon, possibly with a new cd in hand.

Rafal Mazur - electro-acoustic bass guitar
Mikolaj Trzaska - alto sax, tarogato

Klub Bomba; Krakow. 12.03

the video comes from the very first concert of Rafal Mazur and Mikola Trzaska together.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ken Vandermark Resonance - Kafka in Flight [Not Two]

Resonance :

Magnus Broo - trumpet
Michael Zerang - drums
Ken Vandermark - tenor saxophone, Bb clarinet
Mikolaj Trzaska - alto saxophone, bass clarinet
Mark Tokar - double bass
Dave Rempis - alto & tenor saxophone
Steve Swell - trombone
Per-Ake Holmlander - tuba
Tim Daisy - drums
Waclaw Zimpel - Bb & bass clarinet, tarogato

Not Two 2011

This one I've been long waiting for. I had the privilege to witness the process of coming together of the first edition of this project. In 2007 Marek Winiarski and Ken Vandermark invited musicians from all over the world to Krakow, they would practice for an entire week every morning, play improvised sets of music every evening and finally perform as an orchestra on the last evening of the week (all of this material has been released - saturday concert in Lviv on LP, evening concerts and final concert in Krakow in a fantastic 10-cds "Resonance" box).
Two years later Resonance happens again, with the same musicians (one exception - Waclaw Zimpel takes over the place of Yuriy Yaremchuk), the same time of the year (main project of the Autumn Jazz Festival), the same place ("Alchemia" club which hosts the festival). But with only two days to practice (with first one being almost entirely lost because of flight delays). Because of that Ken has to change to concepiton behind this band. It is still big ensemble, so it draws on his experience of playing in and writing for Chicago Tentet and Territory Band, but, what is a clear difference, this is a jazz band and it relies on scored material. Only the organization of this material has to be different.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Jazz Alchemist radio with Peter, Ornette and Thomas

After a long break I'm glad to be back. Tonight we'll celebrate birthdays of two giants of free-jazz - Ornette Coleman and Peter Brotzmann - representing the American and European ways of improvisation. Also birthdays of Michael Jeffry Stevens, Roy Haynes, Alexander von Schlippenbach (although not sure so far if I'll manage to fit them all into the playlist). And a special feature - piece from freshly released "Kafka in Flight' by the Vandermark-led Resonance, the review will appear in the very next days.
(edit - forgot to enlist Thomas Chapin)

So at 8 pm CET stay tuned to and log on to facebook chat.

playlist will be posted below during the program:

1. Ornette Coleman Quartet - Tomorrow is the Question
2. Thomas Chapin Trio - Bypass
3. Peter Brotzmann / Joe McPhee - Stone Poem No. 1
4. Ornette Coleman Quartet - Eventually
5. Thomas Chapin Trio - Lift Off
6. Die Like a Dog Quartet - track 4 (from Ayoama Crows)
7. Ornette Coleman Quartet - Blues Connotation
8. Thomas Chapin Trio - Foxwoods Stomp
9. Peter Brotzmann / William Parker / Hamid Drake - Halfhearted Beant
10. Ornette Coleman - Turnaround (from "Sound Grammar")
11. Thomas Chapin Trio + Brass - Insomnia
12. Sonore (Peter Brotzmann / Mats Gustafsson / Ken Vandermark) - Two Birds in a Feather
13. Peter Brotzmann / Fred Hopkins / Rashied Ali - Two Birds in a Feather1
14. Ken Vandermark Resonance - The Pier (for Yutaka Takanashi)