Catch them in Derry on Tues 5 Feb with a lunchtime appearance in Magee, Ulster University and also that evening at Bennigans Bar; Wed 6 Feb in the Bello bar, Dublin; Thu 7 Feb at Billy Byrnes in Kilkenny; Fri 8 Feb in the Black Gate Cultural Centre, Galway; and Sun 10 Feb at the Bobo Cafe restaurant of The Glucksman, Cork (for a 2pm gig).
Our favourite tracks right now. From Chris Potter, Rosie Turton, Snarky Puppy, The Comet is Coming, Julian Lage, Branford Marsalis, Joachim Kühn and Yaron Herman.
In the desert at an obscure monument this is as much performance art as a concert. A tour de force by two veteran saxophonists who each have a track record of pushing ever onwards to explore the extremes of their instruments, there is a stark Ayler-esque beauty here and plenty of soul searching. Gone are conceptions of conventional melody, rhythm, timbre. Instead there is a stillness in the face of the epic spaces of the desert and the mystery of James Magee and his art. I do not think that this is difficult music but nor is it easy music. It, however, rewards patience and a certain surrendering to the undertaking itself and for both McPhee and Butcher it becomes a kind of self-portrait given the level of exposure to the nakedness of their craft. That self-portrait is all about the act of daring and seeking. As epic a piece of avant free improv to have come along for a very long while.
Snarky Puppy are back soon... their twelfth album to date. Listen to the Lalo Schifrin-esque shimmer of ‘Xavi’ drawn from Immigrance which will be released in March.
A two-piano summit tour unites two giants of UK free improvised music generations apart, with the coming together on the same stage of Keith Tippett, pictured, and Matthew Bourne.
Touring begins in mid-March and progresses through to late-May opening in Leeds, and moves on to Bristol, Cork, London, and Manchester.
For full details of venues and dates see the Sound UK site.
Now signed to Impulse The Comet Is Coming have a new record called Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery to be released in March, ‘Summon the Fire’ is the first track made available from it. As previously reported on marlbank the trio, reedist Shabaka Hutchings with Danalogue on keys and Betamax, drums, play the Black Box, Belfast on 2 March.
Quite funky in a way, taken from the upcoming album Songs of the Degrees by the Israeli pianist Yaron Herman back with his trio again (Sam Minaie is on bass and Ziv Ravitz is on drums) after what seems an inordinately long time.
To be released by Universal in February, Herman in an evocative phrase talks of each track being a “self-addressed letter.” Certainly good to find Herman back in such fine form with such a strong lead-off track landing in a Mehldau vein to introduce us to his new sounds.
Anna Webber? Simple back in 2014 was our introduction to the avant saxophonist/flautist and her fractured, interlocking Anthony Braxton-like saxophone lines impressed at the time.
It was certainly music infused with a strong uncompromisingly rugged improvising ethic that was the complete opposite of “simple.”
That positive characteristic remains the same and is enhanced if anything on Clockwise which gets a release next month on the Pi label.
A couple of tracks have been made available ahead of release.
With Webber are reedist Jeremy Viner; trombonist Jacob Garchik; cellist Christopher Hoffman; pianist Matt Mitchell; bassist Chris Tordini; and drummer/vibist Ches Smith. If you are into the Claudia Quintet you will probably like this a good deal. Lots of sinuous interplay, great sense of syncopation, and a collision between freer forms of abstract jazz and the discipline of contemporary classical music, provide the canvas the ensemble spreads itself liberally over.
Look out for Motian Music from long time Paul Motian pianist Russ Lossing to be released next month by the US indie Sunnyside. ‘Fiasco’ from the studio album recorded in New Jersey is available ahead of the release. Covered by a range of artists this appealingly jagged Motian composition was on a fairly hard to get Soul Note record that he co-led with Charlie Haden and which featured Geri Allen released in 1988 called Études. Lossing on the upcoming record is in a trio setting with bassist Masa Kamaguchi and drummer Billy Mintz.
A very so-so affair from pianist Yonathan Avishai, Yoni Zelnik on bass and Donald Kontomanou, drums. Joys and Solitudes opens with a glacial version of ‘Mood Indigo’ followed by seven fairly bland originals of Avishai’s. A studio affair recorded in Lugano last year this is as neat and tidy as it possibly gets. Tasteful, well played and professionally presented for sure but there is nothing however that really screams passion or adventure here. Archetypal chamber jazz instead, there is a discreet and polite playbook at work but too much so and this teeters over the line into over-compliance with too many assumed norms. A record that could certainly do with a lot more heat and risk-taking to properly engage. SG.
Released on 25 January.