Category Archives: Jazz

John Hollenbeck – Eternal Interlude

The Jazz Session featured drummer and composer John Hollenbeck in a recent podcast. I was really struck by his music so I got his “Eternal Interlude” CD. It is a work for a large ensemble, too long crew to list here but available from Hollenbeck’s website. The CD is sonically poweful with incredible textures, beautiful lines and cadenzas. One of the many hidden jewels that I discover through Jason Crane and his terrific podcast.

Featured here is the 19:21 minute long title track. An amazing piece.

Myra Melford Be Bread Trio

Myra-MelfordPianist and composer Myra Melford appeared with her Be Bread Trio at Jazzklubb Fasching, Stockholm on March 4, 2010. The Trio is a scaled-down version of Myra Melford’s Be Bread Ensemble whose most recent release “The Whole Tree Gone” appeared in the Firehouse label this past Janurary. Along with Myra Melford in piano and harmonium, the Trio fetaured Stomu Takeishi in bass and Brandon Ross in acoustic guitar. The Trio sounds definitely more intimate than the full ensemble with an even stornger improvisational compononent. Main highlights were the delicate tones from the harmonium, dramatic solos by Stomu Takeishi, and tempered guitar harmonise by Ross. Listen to Jason Crane’s interview with Myra Melford at the Jazz Session website. View the photo gallery of the Fasching concert.

The Days of Wine And Roses

I just have to log in this one. Recorded January 27, 2010, at House of Peranakan, Pan Pacific Orchard, Singapore, with the Canon EOS 7D and the 24L II prime lens. We could just not believe what our ears where hearing. We had a great time, mostly due to the company, since the food was so so and the music was … well, this video tells the whole truth. Saying that it was “out of tune” would be a total understatement. Here it is in all its glory for the record of generations to come. Sit down on your favorite chair, and enjoy!

Luis Salinas w/Hermeto Pascoal

Argentinian guitarrist Luis Salinas and his band gave a concert at the Gran Rex theater in Buenos Aires on November 26, 2009, followed by Brazilian multi-instrumentalist and composer Hermeto Pascoal. Having taken distance from the Buenos Aires scene, Salinas was not in my radar. But I must say that I was very impressed about his musicianship, honesty and freshness. Technique does not get in the way for Salinas to convey the melodies and rhythms from his home country in an inspired jazz-folk fusion with solid support from a 5 men strong band of accomplished musicians. Not at easy with words, Salinas explained to the audience his affinities and admiration for the master Hermeto Pascoal, who appeared later in the evening with his own band including young wife Aline Morena in voice and percusssion.

Technical problems and other unknown powers conspired to make Pascoal’s appearance a disappointment to fans and newcomers to his music. Pascoal band sounded like three different groups playing different music simultaneously. At one point early in the concert, Pascoal’s keyboard broke and band kept playing while support personnel tried (in vain) to repair the defective equipment in a lengthy process that took over half hour of the concert. As the broken keyboard was carried out of the scene, Pascoal used his hoe to hit it hard as a late revenge.

Pascoal’s group did not sound coherent, despite their virtuosity. High pitched screams emanating from Morena’s throat did not help to convey the subtleties and complex polyphonic nature of Pascoal’s music. An impromptu between Salinas and Pascoal sounded like me and my high school mates getting together to jam on a late Sunday afternoon. Much of the material –drawn from Pascoal’s “Mundo Verde Esperança” (2003)– was almost unrecognizable. Having seen Pascoal live previously, I must say that this was definietly not one of his strongest performances.

Photographically speaking, I think the date was more profitable for me. We had good sits and the EOS 7D shined alongside EF 100mm 2.8 L Macro doubling as telephoto lens on this occassion. Thanks to the changing lighting, I got a very nice collection of images with different textures and colors capturing the entire conert. Some of these can be viewed under the photo gallery from the left side bar.

ECM 40 Years

The Munich-based record label ECM (Edition of Contemporary Music) celebrated its 40 years of existence with a star-loaded festival in Mannheim, Germany, on October 22-25, 2009. I arrived a day later, and so missed John Abercrombie’s Quartet. Nevertheless, what followed was a series of truly outstanding concerts with many of the label icons that I have worshiped for many years. Brazilian composer and multi-instrumentalist Egberto Gismonti appeared in 14-string guitar and piano in duo with his son, Alexandre, in classical guitar. A loaded evening in which the Gismonti’s touched upon most of the standards from several decades of Egeberto’s repertoire, from “Dansa das Cabecas” (1977) to “Saudacoes” (2008).

Norwegian electric guitarist Terje Rypdal appeared with Miroslav Vitous in bass and Gerald Cleaver in drums recalling material from the legendary Rypdal-Vitous-DeJohnette ECM trio from 1978-1982. As it is customary, furious riffs and quiet passages alternated from Rypdal’s Stratocaster alongside the ethereal arch sounds from Vitous mini-bass and the solid drumming from Cleaver, an apt substitute of the legendary DeJohnette, of incredible skills. Telepathic communication, as if the three musicians were connected to a “central cortex”.

Bandoneonist Dino Saluzzi (Argentina) appeared in the third day of the festival alongside cellist Anja Lechner in the second venue of the festival, a high ceiling classical salon in Mannheim’s old University building, adorned with white sculptures and chandeliers. They played much of the repertoire from the “Ojos Negros” disk (2007) plus some new pieces. It was evocative music of intense beauty with Saluzzi and Lechner in top form. Classically trained Lechner appeared to feel at ease with the improvisational character of the music, her deep admiration of the bandoneon master was obvious during the concert. Saluzzi referred to his friendhip with producer Manfred Eicher, who was sitting at the back of the room.

Virtuoso bass-clarinetist and composer Louis Sclavis presented his new quintet from the “Lost In The Way” CD (2009) with Matthias Metzger in saxophones, Maxime Delpierre in guitar, Olivier Lete in bass and François Merville in drums. Sclavis compositions are difficult to perform live, with many overlayed sound layers and polyphonic counterpoint. But the band was fierce and impecable, all very strong musicians and improvisers, particulalry Metzger, who felt very comfortable alongside the clarinet master. The quintet poured out an incredible energy in a very strong performance.

Back in the classical building, guitarrist and composer Ralph Towner appeared alongside Italian trumpeter Paolo Fresu in a duo of great intimacy evoking material from their 2009 release “Chiaroscuro). Elegant and sophisticated interpretations of new and old material from Towner plus an occasional standard, such as the beautiful Blue in Green from Miles Davis. Towner played classical and baritone guitars demonstrating once more his superb technique and exquisite expressive abilities. His characteristic voicings, arpeggios and plucking sound always unmistakable, no matter the context. A guitar giant that I have admired for decades from the early beginnings of Oregon.

On the last day of the festival, we heard the new quartet led by Tunisian oud master Anouar Brahem, with Klaus Gesing in bass clarinet,Björn Meyer in electric bass and Khaled Yassine in percussion. They played material from Brahem’s latest disk “The Astounding Eyes Of Rita” (2009). A highly evocative, meditative music, a little notch up in intensity from previous material, with a characteristic cinematographic atmosphere that has been the trade mark of Brahem’s compositional work during the past years. Very strong performance by a quartet that enjoys tremendously playing together. Outstanding playing from German clarinetist Gesing.

RavaOn the closing evening, we heard Italian trumpetist Enrico Rava‘s most poweful quintet featuring long time partner Italian pianist Stefano Bollani and the members of the Fly Trio: Larry Grenadier in bass, Mark Turner in saxophone and Jeff Ballard in drums. A very strong performance and a clear contender to the absolute highest point in the festival. We were literally blown away by this band, their energy, virtuosism and level of communication. The material, mainly from Rava’s “The New York Days” (2009), was transformed and elevated. Impecable performances by everyone member, with the now customary lively appearance of the restless Bollani and his uncanny sense of humor. A true “plato forte” to end the 40 year anniversary of one of the most prominent record labels of this time.

The festival also included some classical performances during the afternoon, featuring several of the labels most prominent interepreters, including The Keller Quartet and Alexei Lubimov‘s piano trio.

A selection of the “keepers” of the photogrpahs from this trip can be accessed from the photo gallery menu on the right sidebar. This was the maiden voyage for my EOS 7D which I used alongside the EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS telezoom for all the concerts. Clearly a very powerful combo. (I look forward to the MarkII version of this amazing lens.) The camera was on manual at 1/100 2.8 auto ISO, which has now become my standard setting for indoor concerts and events.

Paolo Fresu @ Jazz Baltica 2007

P_FresuHere are two unreleased live recordings from trumpet player Paolo Fresu. D’Estate was recorded on July 1, 2007 during the Jazz Baltica Festival at Salzau, Germany, with Fresu in trumpet and Don Friedman in piano.

La Sicilia is a composition by pianist Steffano Bollani who appeared along with Fresu and Paolo Russo in bandoneon at Club Nefertiti, Gothenburg, Sweden, on December 12, 2007.

I was blown away by this trio when I saw them on the previous day at Jazzklubb Fasching in Stockholm. Both recordings come from the Swedish radio. The image (taken with the EF 70-200 L II lens on the EOS 7D) comes from Fresu’s concert along Ralp Towner at the ECM 40 Years Festival anniversary in Mannheim 2010.

Geri Allen Band live @ Iridium, NYC

IMG_3568Geri Allen played with her quartet at the Iridium club on Time Square, New York City on the 20th of June 2009. In addition to Geri Allen on piano, her band included Ravi Coltrane on saxophone, Joe Sanders on bass and the amazing Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums.

Majestic playing from Allen, who once again demonstrated her command over harmony, melody and rhythm. Incredible energy form Watts, a veteran drummer that keeps going unabated with top players all around. Introspective playing from Sanders, not one note in excess. Ravi Coltrane raved on the sax, swinging as needed and with soaring solos that filled the club from the first note.

Virgin voyage for my brand new EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS which I bought a few days earlier.The lens rocked at a venue like this. Iridium’s policy (at least as of June 2009) allowed non-flash photography, a blessing for me who was eager to test the white beast. More photographs taken during this concert cna be seen in the Photo Gallery.

Bobo Stenson with Oriental Wind & Karnataka College of Percussion

Bobo_StensonIn December 2008, the Swedish Radio showed up at the home of Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson to record an interview and a series of solo piano improvisations at Stenson’s private studio. In the absence of available solo recordings of the acclaimed pianist, this was a very special event. The interview covered several aspects of Stenson’s musical life. Inevitably, he was asked about Keith Jarrett, and the Swedish pianist took distance -without being overt critical- from his colleague’s use (or abuse?) of ostinato techniques. Featured here, from the over 70 minutes piano recording, is the beautiful “Alfonsina y El Mar” from Argentinian composer Ariel Ramirez -now a standard piece of the Stensonian repertoire.

On April 16, 2009, Bobo Stenson played at Jazzclub Fasching, Stockholm, alongside Christian Spering in bass, Lennart Öberg in tenor saxophone and Turkish percussionist Okay Temiz (a group otherwise known as Oriental Wind) in a tandem concert with the Karnataka College of Percussion (KCP) from Bangalore, India. The KCP has a long tradition of interaction with musicians from the European jazz scene and Oriental Wind in particular. For this concert, founders Ramamani (voice) and husband Mr. Mani in mridangam were seconded by their common son -Krthik- in ghattam. The concert included several of Temiz compositions for Oriental Wind alongside KCP as well as traditional KCP’s percussion and solo voice sections. In the theme featured here, Stenon’s intro leads to the group theme with Ramamani’s leading voice, followed by piano and percussion solos in an interesting Orient/Occident mix.

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Featured photographs from the 2009 Fasching concert (Canon EOS 40D with 100mm 2.8 macro and 24-205mm L zoom). Additional photographs from this concert can be accessed from the link under the photo gallery on the right side bar.

Adam Nussbaum & BANN

SeamusBlake

Adam Nussbaum & Bann performed at Jazzklubb Fasching in Stockholm on March 5, 2009, with Seamus Blake on saxophone, Oz Noy on guitar, Jay Anderson on bass and Nussbaum at the drum kit. Amazing concert, specially Seamus. He is a formidable player. With Noy imparting some rock-inspired guitar influences. Picture was taken with the Canon EOS 40D and the 24-105L zoom lens wide open at 24mm. More photographs from this concert can be seen at the Photo Gallery on the left side bar or else HERE.