Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ochion Jewell - First Suite for Quartet, Album Review

Album Review: Ochion Jewell’s First Suite for Quartet

Yet again, kind of a stream of consciousness review, like both of my review’s of the Dawn of Midi’s albums. I am simply listening through and writing what I’m hearing.

Track 1: From Dust

The album starts off with some dark meets light saxophone and piano duet with great contrasts of sound. It’s a slow build as bass and drums punctuate the space. So far really enjoying how the tune is building up, and reminds me of the bad plus (part of this is the drum sound, and the bass interaction) with saxophone. It is definitely it’s own beast, and going into sonic territories that are now more similar to Giacinto Scelsi’s music, and then Erik Satie. This track is going through a journey, and I can’t wait to see where the album takes me next. This is some beautiful music! I would love to know how this piece is written out, really great use of the different combinations of instrumentation, so that not all quartet members are playing all the time, from the start and finish of the track. There are flourishes of piano, with heavy Pharaoh-esque melodic weight, driving towards a triumphant end to the tune. The rhythm section closes this out with a quiet coda that leads into the next cut.

Track 2: A Snakeride Through The Fog

This is a great sounding band, and really original music. Moments here and there remind of different things, but this is a totally unique sound. Powerful rocking bass, unison lines, deep pocket, jarring but not jarring rhythms. Yeah, starting to hear more saxophone colors and timbres. I don’t know if we’re on the ride, or riding through the fog right now, but we are in some solid terrain of a crazy piano solo. It’s out, but in, there seems to be a constant focus of playing the written music, and playing freely, but the connection between the two is incredibly strong. Now going onto hear the sax stretch a little more without piano accompaniment. It’s amazing how something as simply as that changes the sound so much (and the way the drums/bass react to that change). I wonder if this was recorded as one large unit (the suite) with how seemless the transitions are from track to track.

Track 3: “…but there goes the baddest, lone-ass wolf I ever did know.”

This is what I’m talking about, free vs. composed, back and forth very quickly, and making a lot of composition sense. The balance that is struck is perfect. Finally hearing some more of the bass coming out of the texture to solo. You can really hear the wood and really hear the full instrument, as there are some chords, open strings, harmonics ringing. This bass player is killing, some of the lines reminiscent of Dave Holland at one step, or Reid Anderson, or Charlie Haden (regardless this guy is unique and a great bassist). The trio is starting to build up around the bass in support, and both piano and drums are comping in their own creative ways. This track has a lot of continuity while going into a lot of different directions through out, sonically very open and coloristic. Accelerating now into maybe a send off soon into the next part of the suite. We’re swinging now, four to the floor, playing the jazz, and keep on speeding up. Here it goes quickening into free sound, while staying quiet and not equally accelerating with crescendo. DRUM SOLO!! I don’t know what kind of kit this guy has, but it sounds like a world of drum sounds. This reminds me a lot of Elvin Jones on a Love Supreme, transitioning from one movement to the next.

Track 4: []Zero-1[]

Rockin, wild clusters, high energy, thuds and crashes, this is incredible!! Deceptively taking the feel down and melodically quiet, and back to the crashes. The sax starts improvising more in the quieter space, and then suddenly builds into the hardcore section (This now is starting to sound like a weird blues all of a sudden; one to the four chord). I really dig the contrast between the short quiet section (like a reverse tension and release) and the longer aggressive section. Band synergy, as everyone is feeling everything together, from the dynamics, to rhythmic play, just taking the sonic trip with ears wide open. Sax solo alone, maybe a foreshadowing of what’s next to come! It’s great to hear this stretch out, what a great command of timbre, facility, ideas, KILLER! This reminds me a lot of Ellery Eskelin in a way, but totally himself.

Track 5: Nectar

Now we are on to more of a Charles Lloyd ballad-esque tune, with a beautiful transition from one to another. This also sounds like Late Coltrane’s more melodic ballad material. Wow what a beautiful tune, and perfectly organized within the suite, to go from the noisier rocking tune, to sax solo, to ballad, well thought out conception. The bass player is opening up more on this and is featured and supported in a clear and inspiring way. This track really shows the depth of the group, and the range of what they are capable of. The torch is passed to the piano now, I can almost picture this piece breaking open and played even freer, maybe that’s the direction we’re going into.

Track 6: Atonement

Maybe this is the freer direction I was hearing after the end of the last piece. There is some really great interaction between the bass and sax and piano sticking out to my ears here. The blend between the bass and sax is incredible here; it’d be fun to hear them play in a duo setting at some point, with the bass playing arco. It is building, rising, sound filling the space, heavy but light, and dying back down into a new section. Sounds like a similar concept of the last piece Nectar, but darker, and more sobering. Unison, repetition, with space, the drums are playing a little freer on it. I’m not sure where it’s heading, but this last idea sounds like it could be ripe for some kind of a drum solo, with everything the rest of the band is doing staying the same.

Track 7: You are my sunshine

I can’t help but think of Ben Monder’s version of this tune on his album Excavation. This is a dark version of it, then simple and elegant with the piano playing it straight, and gives the listener a feeling of almost gospel, but not quite getting there all the way (nor does that intention seem there). I wonder what the story/idea behind this specific piece, and it’s arrangement…

Man, what a great record! Please pick this album up; it’s a great sounding conceptual work that really is in the tradition of the jazz suite, while maintaining a new fresh modern sound. Grab this record!! Check him out at myspace, or his website here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More websites, and TREATISE ONLINE!

Alright, I've been doing a lot of interneting/computing in the last few days and here's the results:

My friend Thad told me about a site called piano files, which can be found here. You essentially set up a profile, list what pdfs of scores you have, and trade scores with other people online. Before I would go on scridb and look for scores/jazz transcriptions/books in pdf file format. That site is great, but it seems like there is a lot of junk on it, and hard to search for specific items. Pianofiles been incredibly helpful so far, to find scores that would cost a lot of money to try and rent from Europe (only can be found in Europe), and/or don't circulate on interlibrary loan, and/or out of print. I am very interested in curious about how different 20th/21st century composers notate music/ideas, and it seems like going to the score is the only way to find out the method of their madnesses (listening to it helps, but sometimes the process/notation doesn't come out too clear in the writing, especially with open form pieces like Christian Wolff's Edges, or Earle Brown's December 1952).

The other internet of note is that I am in the middle of re-bouncing Treatise to large WAV files and uploading it online to the same bandcamp site that has the Ornette Free Jazz show. So by the time you read this the entire recording of TREATISE by Cornelius Cardew that I made will be online to stream/download. So now there are two albums of music available, live Ornette and multi-tracked recorded Treatise.

I will be updating blog soon with my Free Improv/Free Jazz part two album list, showing my list of Free Improv recordings.