Tuesday, June 08, 2021

CD Review: Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp - Special Edition Box / Ivo Perelman Trio - Garden of Jewels

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp
Special Edition Box

Ivo Perelman Trio
Garden of Jewels

Ivo Perelman is not a tenor saxophonist who can be heard blowing overtones from the bottom range of his horn. In fact, Perelman spends very little time on these new releases in the low end of his horn, preferring the middle register and upper, altissimo range of it. Once again, his mastery of high harmonics extends ideas he begins in a lower register, taking them way up the octave into a range that might seem impossible or a challenge at best for most tenor players. For Perelman it seems completely natural.

Both of these releases find the saxophonist in the company of his longtime collaborator Matthew Shipp (piano). Garden of Jewels brings drummer Whit Dickey into the fold. Like everything Perelman does, both sets of music are completely improvised, although the deep connection between the players often makes things sound like they could be working from a structure.

For the listener new to the Perelman oeuvre and uncertain where to begin in to dive into his massive catalog, Special Edition Box can be a valuable entry point. The SMP release features a 51-minute studio session, Procedural Language, along with a live Blue-Ray disc of a 2019 performance in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Finally, Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg's 47-page book Embrace of the Souls provides a lot of insight into the music.

The 12 tracks are simply numbered without titles. From the beginning, Perelman and Shipp play with symmetry, one anticipating the other. In Track 5, the saxophonist really straddles a deep smoky romantic tone with a tension that has wails and whines lurking just beneath the surface. Shipp does walking minor underneath. I like when he holds a note on tenor to see how Shipp will respond. The way the track ends doesn't resolve but stops, as if to say, "There's more coming."

On Track 9, Shipp hits single chords and lets them ring while Perelman plays in the upper register. not sounding icy or rough all the time, sometimes delicate and pensive. When Shipp settles on one chord and keeps it coming, the drama builds and the final octave leap by Perelman feels especially effective.

While it can be valuable to have the duo's performances in tracks ranging from two to seven minutes a piece, there's something compelling about hearing them playing continuously for an hour. (A previous SMP release, Live at Nuremberg, really sold me with a 55-minute performance followed by a four-minute encore.) The Blue-Ray Live at Sao-Paulo at SESC finds the duo in a spirited conversation, exploring all manner of ideas, perhaps expanding on things they did in the studio session (which was recorded earlier that year) but also taking it new places. At times, Perelman's mid-range and softer playing gets overpowered a bit in the swell of the piano, but his ideas can still be felt. Seeing the two players in action - especially Shipp, whose hands seem to simply flow over the keys - is a rare treat for those who don't get to hear them live.

Schouwburg's book Embrace of the Souls complements the music, offering insight into this recording and earlier releases. While free jazz writing can sometimes border on overly esoteric imagery or heavy metaphors, he avoids that. A blogger in his own right, Schouwburg writes personally about the music, offering plenty of examples of how the music has impacted him, which can go a long way in making this often-labelled "noisy" music seem beautiful.

The box is available in a limited edition of 360 copies.



Perelman is skilled at the upper register melodic inventions, but when he gets into the middle range of his horn, or goes a little lower, he reveals a side that owes more to the smoky sound of Ben Webster or Coleman Hawkins. It might be fleeting moments here and there but it lasts long enough to impress the listener with the idea that this music has lyrical qualities to it as well. His breathy entrance on the opening title track says a great deal about him. Perelman enters like he's calling a meeting to order, soft but firm, before hitting some wide vibrato. There's something powerful about the opening wail of "Amethyst." His whole horn seems to reverberate with the high notes that cue the trio. 

On Garden of Jewels, the addition of Dickey to the Perelman/Shipp axis does not change the sonic qualities all that much. Dickey is not a raucous player, instead coming across as more thoughtful, listening first and reacting second, rather than simply crashing into the party. His approach incorporate the lessons he learned from the late Milford Graves. Some of it feels extremely subtle - cymbal crashes here, cymbal rolls there, followed by a roll on the kit - to the point where you have to focus closely on him to figure out where he is. But therein lies the power of a good session, which compels you to listen closely.

With Ivo Perelman, it's tempting to say that his albums could be considered like journal entries - documents of what he was doing on a particular date with a particular group of friends. But that might sell it short because these are live documents (whether or not they are made in front of an audience) where he creates in the moment. To compare it to the written word doesn't do it justice. It's better to listen. And read. 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

CD Review: James Brandon Lewis/Red Lily Quintet - Jesup Wagon


James Brandon Lewis/Red Lily Quintet
Jesup Wagon

While exploring Jesup Wagon - both the music and the concept behind it - one idea rises to the surface: A good education can introduce young students to new ideas and historical figures in stimulating way,  help them tap into things about themselves that they didn't know were there. 

While typing the paragraph above, it seems like an obvious idea. But too often, these opportunities don't reveal themselves. (Read the section of William Parker's biography about what he was told in high school and you'll see what I mean.) This could also be a personal reaction, having had a mediocre elementary school science teacher who totally soured me on that subject, making me feel like it was over my head. 

But saxophonist James Brandon Lewis was fascinated by George Washington Carver once he read about him. Carver, who is best known as a scientist, was also a musician and he saw art and science as inseparable. He died in 1943 at the age of 79, and probably never got to hear bebop or the music that followed it. But much like John Coltrane or William Parker, the good doctor knew that artists, like scientists, were both on a quest for truth.

Lewis might have a made a good scientist had he not pursued music as his main vocation. Luckily for everyone listening, he stuck with the saxophone. His interest in Carver's life serves as the underlying concept to Jesup Wagon. The connection between the music and the inspiration of all seven tracks might not always be apparent to the listener, but Robin D. G. Kelley (author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original) penned the liner notes to offer context. Coupled with a band that includes the aforementioned Parker (bass, gimbri), Kirk Knuffke (cornet), Chris Hoffman (cello) and Chad Taylor (drums, mbira), Lewis has created a high caliber concept album.

The quintet creates a sound that acknowledges adventurous jazz from the past and uses these lessons to create something that's very much of the moment - accessible while it possibly stretching the size of your comfort zone. Lewis sometimes plays with the gritty tone of vintage Archie Shepp but his ideas have a longer flow to them. Rather than emitting some shorter bursts of energy, he develops extended ideas that seem to keep unfolding. After the subdued opening of "Arachis" he plays freely but spins some detailed lines of thought. 

Several tracks feature some swirling grooves that are built on layers of counterpoint. In "Lowlands of Sorrow," Parker plucks the gimbri behind Hoffman's cello, while Taylor sounds like two or three players going at once, trap kit and percussion. Taylor switches to mbira (finger piano) in "Seer" that makes this groove feel like the trance-inducing work that Sun Ra could create with the Arkestra (with pieces like "Exotic Forest"). The closing "Chemurgy" begins with a yearning melody that nods towards Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" but gets into another groove, which this time feels a little looser. Knuffke, who plays dynamically throughout, inspires Lewis to add some aggressive riffing behind the cornet solo. The saxophonist does this type of riffing, or looping, earlier in the album, and it serves the music well, building the intensity and indicating that things are about to move up a notch.

"Fallen Flowers" and "Chemurgy" conclude with Lewis reciting some original poetry, which brings the focus back to Carver. His voice avoids any clich├ęs of "jazz poetry," reading with an honest tone that leaves the listener with more ideas about the music and its inspiration. It serves as a reminder that further exploration of this music (and Kelley's vibrant notes) will be explored in greater detail on future listens.

Jesup Wagon is available on CD and vinyl (though earlier this week, it seemed that copies being touted on social media were being snatched up quickly). The album should be explored in tactile form, much like the way Dr. Carver got to know his plants by reaching into the soil and experiencing them up close and personal. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

DL Reviews: Dead Cat Bounce - Lucky & Live in STL / Matty Stecks & Persiflage - Night Cravings

Matthew Steckler - or Matty Stecks as he has also known these days - has been a productive saxophonist, composer and bandleader for quite a while. But the past couple years have seen him on a creative streak with albums. In 2019, he released Long Time Ago Rumble, a double-CD that he recorded during a residency in Manitoba. Among other things, it included a new musical score for Charlie Chaplin's 1914 short Musical Tramps, as well as more straight jazz and more contemporary sounds.

This year, Steckler has release a live 2003 set by Dead Cat Bounce, his four-saxophone/bass/drums group, which follows several other albums that more people should still be talking about now. He has also released a new studio sess by his post-DCB group Persiflage. Both are available as downloads through Bandcamp. 


Dead Cat Bounce
Lucky & Live in STL
(Matty Stecks Music) deadcatbounce.bandcamp.com

The "STL" in Lucky and Live in STL refers to St. Louis, specifically Washington University in that Missouri city. In February 2003, Dead Cat Bounce performed the eight tracks from their debut Lucky By Association on campus, in the order which the music first appeared on the album. The lineup had changed a bit since they had recorded the album in 1998. Saxophonists Charlie Kohlhase (a veteran of the Boston jazz scene) and Jared Sims joined Steckler and Felipe Salles in the saxophone section. Drummer Bill Carbone carries over from the album but bassist Gary Wicks was new to the fold. In '03, this lineup was having a great night. 

Dead Cat Bounce always had a habit of bridging the gap between fun and gravity, free wailing and rich section work. This happens frequently during Lucky and Live. In "Mentes Flexivies" some of the most rabid soprano saxophone lines to come down the pike in ages (courtesy of Salles) lead to a rich tenor solo from Sims before the four saxes dive into a harmonized section that sounds like a post-modern Four Brothers from Some Other Mother. "Pendulum Switch" features a similar quick cut section, with a tempo change on top of that. On this track, Salles plays baritone sax, going off the rails as his solo climaxes before the other saxes catch him.

Taking liberties with Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" can be a slippery slope. The group's heavily syncopated 6/4 groove works though, adding to it without sounding precocious and maintaining the melody's sense of loss. A re-arrangement of their studio version (which is well worth revisiting too), it climaxes with a canon-like arrangement for the horns. "Hot Peas and Butter" closes things in a manner that channels Mingus, with shouted vocals that sound pretty electrifying and seasoned for a bunch of (at the time) young fellers. Having seen them do this piece live, Steckler, a thin red-haired guy, suddenly became possessed with the spirit of Mingus or a church deacon. 

On a side note, I made Steckler late for that show, which took place in Pittsburgh. Interviewing him for a JazzTimes article, we ducked into the tour van and the band, not being to find him, started the set without him. 



Matty Stecks & Persiflage
Night Cravings
(Matty Stecks Music) persiflage.bandcamp.com

Steckler (I'm not ready to jettison the last syllable of his name) released the first album under the Persiflage banner in 2006, with a quintet that included trombonist Curtis Fowlkes and drummer Pheeroan akLaff. The band on Night Cravings features an entirely different lineup with a slight alteration to the rhythm section. 

The leader (on alto, soprano and flute) is joined on the frontline by trombonist Curtis Hasselbring. Satoshi Takeishi (drums) and Dave Ambrosio (bass) helm the rhythm section along with Todd Neufeld who plays both electric and acoustic guitars. The latter axe adding an alluring sonority to several tracks, like the reflective "What Seems Eternity In Salem." Persiflage feels a little more grounded that Dead Cat Bounce's zaniness but the music is never lacking in the surprises that it might be hiding around the corner.

Titles like "Do the Betty Rubble" indicate that Steckler hasn't completely left the subtle humor behind, though this noirish structure with close horn harmonies isn't not what the title might indicate. "Agiturismo" could be described as a march that moves sideways before collapsing into break where the acoustic guitar thinks out loud over ticking percussion, leading to a 'bone and bowed bass duet before a lone soprano starts to rage. On the subject of rage, the leader's alto has a downright searing tone on the title track. 

Considering these recordings came out of Steckler's "Windsor Terrace" (Brooklyn) period which dates back at least six years, there's no telling where his musical head might be now. Regardless, the compositions alone on Night Cravings indicate that it's best to keep a close eye on him. 



Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Extra Curricular Blog Links

Playing right now: Matty Stecks & Persiflage - Night Cravings
(Soon to be reviewed here....)

One of the reasons my number of posts here has dwindled relates to writing I'm ... doing for another blog I'm not abandoning this one, though. There will be more musings about the jazz and things soon.This other writing is done sort of on spec. My dear friend Will Simmons has created a blog called The Gullible Ear, in which a pool of writers take turns doing a post about a song. That's right - a full post devoted to one song. Well, sort of. Some of the writers have taken liberties with that concept, but it's all in the interest of celebrating music, and musical memories, so dig in. 

My posts, so far, have come straight from my youth, literally. My earliest musical memories, when I memorized records (and tapes) not because of the words on them, but the pictures and shapes and colors. I don't think I've written about anything yet that I heard after I could read. Maybe it's the age I'm getting to be. 

In reverse chronological order, here they are. Most recently, I talked about Little Richard's "Lucille." Not just the song, but a very specific version of it and the quest to find it. 

Back in early April, the song of choice was Herbie Mann's "Comin' Home Baby," which was the second installment (though it wasn't touted that way) of "Tales from Pop Shanley's Tape Box." 

My maiden voyage for the Gullible Ear was one that still hits me right there: The Fifth Dimension's great medley of "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In," a tune that touched young Mike before he could read and it still takes me back to those carefree days 

I think I owe Will another piece within a week or two, so check back. It won't be "Baby Elephant Walk," though that song ranks high in my world. I've expressed the wish to have it played at my funeral, to ensure that the event won't be a total downer. (I don't plan on dying anytime soon, lest you wonder. I know people jump to conclusions and I felt the need to say that.) 

If anyone does read this post and you check out any of the links, please let me know. Sometimes it gets quiet over here. 

Thursday, May 06, 2021

CD Review: Steve Tintweiss & the Purple Why - MarksTown


Steve Tintweiss and the Purple Why
MarksTown

Bassist Steve Tintweiss was involved with many of the free jazz artists of the '60s whose albums are now considered canonical. He appeared on Patty Waters' radical, cathartic version of "Black Is the Color Of My True Love's Hair" (on Sings) and the equally loose "Wild Is the Wind (College Tour). He also worked with pianist Burton Green and saxophonists Marzette Watts and Frank Wright. When Albert Ayler toured Europe in 1970, Tintweiss was the man behind the bass.

Considering his regular appearances with artists on the ESP label, it's surprising that Bernard Stollman didn't release an album by the Purple Why, the group that Tintweiss helmed. The group had the outspoken politics of bands like the Fugs and the free jazz vision of their other labelmates. As these recordings attest, they played some pretty solid compositions too.

Along with Tintweiss (who also blows some melodica and sings), the group features tenor saxophonist Mark Whitecage (who played and recorded with a number of bands in New York before passing away in March 2021), trumpeter James DuBoise, drummer Laurence Cook and vocalists Judy Stuart and Amy Sheffer. Baritone saxophonist Trevor Koehler (who played on Erica Pomerance's ESP album and also played in the Insect Trust) appears briefly as well. 

MarksTown features two live sets from 1968. While the fidelity leaves a little something to be desired, the instruments cut through clearly enough that most ESP fans will enjoy it. The first half of finds the band at St. Marks Church at a rally for Operation Biafra Airlift, a weeklong set of concerts that raised funds for that African nation. The group was limited to a 20-minute set so they played a medley of five compositions as a suite. 

The Purple Why combined free meter with composed themes rather than going for all-out free blowing. This blend of structure and looseness sounds like few of their peers from that era, save perhaps the New York Contemporary Five. When Whitecage and DuBoise play counterpoint in the somber "Ramona I Love You," they predict what groups like the Art Ensemble of Chicago would do in coming years. "Contrapuntal" begins with some bowed bass, but moves into a theme that almost sounds through-composed and doesn't lose any edge when Tintweiss picks up a slide whistle. 

Less than a month later, the group showed up at New York's Town Hall for an even more impassioned set. While vocalists in free jazz groups often attempt to emulate their instrumental bandmates (with disastrous results) or sing bad poetry, Sheffer and Stuart almost function like a Greek chorus here, adding some angelic whoops in the background which suit the music and make the space of the room come through the tape. Tintweiss, on the other hand, wails away in the foreground on a few tracks, like the 10-minute "Monogamy Is Out." The lyrics consist of little more than the title repeated between solos and he sounds closer to a punk poet than a jazz singer. But his enthusiasm is infectious, a gateway to the mindframe of wilder era, so don't fight the feeling. 

"Space Rocks" ends the second performance majestically, with a thunderous drum intro leading to counterpoint horn lines and a dramatic bass solo (bowed and plucked) that cues an intense climax of wails.

The Purple Why stayed together until the mid 1970s but this is the first release of any material by the band. Tintweiss, who is now 74, continues to play in a variety of projects. Why the world has never heard anything by this group remains a head scratcher. But the liner to MarksTown lists upcoming Inky Dot releases, which includes a performance by the band at Tompkins Square Park, so there is more to come.


Sunday, April 25, 2021

CD & DL Review: New Works from the Out Of Your Head Label

In a fairly short time - I'm talking two years and change - the Out of Your Head label has managed to release a handful of strong physical albums as well as a batch of digital-only live releases, all of which document some exploratory jazz musicians. The name originated from a series of concerts that bassist Adam Hopkins first staged in Baltimore, and the releases have focused on up-and-coming players and peers that he and co-curator Scott Clark have know. But OOYH has also released works by Tim Berne & Matt Mitchell, as well as bassist Michael Formanek, as seen here. Sometimes it's hard keeping up with them, but then again, that's a good challenge to have. 

Below are two recent physical releases and two more digital works from the Untamed series. All can be found on the label's website (www.outofyourheadrecords.com) or their Bandcamp page


Michael & Peter Formanek 
Dyads

Michael Formanek has been pretty prolific on his own lately, what with a new album by the trio Thumbscrew, a new solo bass album and this series of duets with his son, tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Peter. Father and son both compose for this session (four tunes by Pops, two by Sonny Boy) with the remaining seven tracks attributed to both of them. Those tracks sound like spontaneous works where family ties help the musical conversations take on a deeper meaning, such as when they both take a slow descending line on "How Was the Drive." 

Of Peter's compositions, "Two, Not One" begins with a rubato melody and goes into a strong groove. "After You" is a bit like a call-and-response where the rhythmic center seems to volley between the tenor and the bass.  He possesses a strong, inventive voice on tenor, able to make a line ebb and flow with drama. But his clarinet playing offers some of his best moments on the disc. Thick and brawny, he imbues it with the same weight as his saxophone. Considering the clarinet isn't heard enough with this type of music, he could really find his niche if he continues to devote proper album space to it. 

The intimate setting gives Michael a chance to reveal his vast technique moreso that he might in some of his other groups. The recording feels relaxed and emphasizes the clear, driving attack on the bass. His "Ballad of the Weak" is full of emotion and in "Wavy Lines," his bowing beautifully mimics feedback or altissimo horn sounds.

As a side note, the Formaneks performed in Pittsburgh just a few weeks before recording Dyads. They played in a quartet that also featured saxophonist/clarinetist Patrick Breiner (a Pittsburgh resident who has played in groups like Battle Trance) and drummer Carter Freije. Tragically, Freije, who sounded excellent that night, took his life not long after the performance. Below is a photo of the group from that evening. 




Christopher Hoffman
Asp Nimbus

On one hand, the instrumentation on Christopher Hoffman's Asp Nimbus feels unusual - the leader's cello together with vibes (Bryan Carrott), bass (Rahsaan Carter) and drums (Craig Weinrib). (Pianist David Virelles appears on "Dylan George" where his own inventive lines push Hoffman in a frenetic, exciting direction.) Hoffman frequently stays in the background, plucking a bit while Carrott takes center stage. At other times, the group sounds like the Out to Lunch rhythm section if a cello took the place of the horns - and the music had a bit more of a conventional groove to it.

But this is a cellist who has spent a great deal of time in Henry Threadgill's various ensembles, understanding and bringing life to the composer's intensive material. For Asp Nimbus, Hoffman took inspiration from Bobby Hutcherson's Oblique and Threadgill's Every Mouth's a Book, which results in eight relatively brief compositions that take melodically dense ideas and blend them with infectious sense of swing. The introductory vibes part that opens "Discretionary" sounds downright conventional, until Hoffman makes his entrance, plucking a counterpoint to the vibes, before he bows a rapid melody. Later, "Angles of Influence" finds him producing a lovely melody brought to life with some slow bowing.

Like a Threadgill album, the layers to the music become clearer with close, repeated listens. But unlike the work of his musical boss, the character of Hoffman's own writing leaps forward enthusiastically. And, with very little in the way of breaks between tracks, it keeps coming for a solid 32 minutes. This album will likely be on a lot of year end lists.

Goldberger/ Jermyn/ Maneri/Cleaver
Live at Scholes

Live at Scholes consists of a 36-minute performance by Jonathan Goldberger (guitar), Simon Jermyn (electric bass), Mat Maneri (viola) and Gerald Cleaver (drums) at the Scholes Street Studio. (An additional four-minute excerpt also came in the download.) In general, the group is just as likely to improvise for an extended period as they are to throw short composed ideas into the mix. Whether they're combining the two here isn't exactly clear, but that's part of their appeal and it speaks a great deal about how cohesively they play.

A groove gradually takes shape in the first third of the performance, which feels like it a borrows a bit from the randomness of harmolodics and the focus of prog rock. Goldberger (who has played with Adam Hopkins' projects and lead several of his own, one of the best being the Visitors album with JP Schlegelmilch and Jim Black) again proves himself to be a guitarist that more people need to hear, getting noisy and aggressive in an exciting manner. 

Eventually the groove gets a little self-conscious and slowly melts into some knob twiddling, or maybe it's just viola scraping or guitar scratch. Maneri uses effects but he also plays clean and crisp lines early on that present a candid glimpse to his technique. The only sonic setbacks come in the latter section of the track, where one of the electric instruments sound like it's playing through a broken speaker, adding an unsettling amount of buzz to certain blasts of the music. The rhythm section could have benefited from a little more body in the mix.Cleaver in particular can be heard but he isn't felt as much as he should be. Regardless, the piece keeps progressing. Just as it seems like they're winding down in a long coda, the quartet builds things back up again.


Nick Mazzarealla/ Quin Kirchner
See or Seem: Live at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival

Last September, most of us were still sitting at home, wondering if the quarantine was going to wind down any time soon. In Chicago, saxophonist Nick Mazzarella and drummer Quin Kirchner set up safely at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival and played to a small but seemingly enthusiastic crowd. The results now exist for the everyone to hear. 

If the desire for things to get back to normal and the wish to interact with a group of people could both be translated into a musical performance, it would sound like what these two played on September 27 last year. Mazzarella blows some tight melodies, partially in a spirit that recalls Ornette Coleman's early work, though he gets into something more complex on a tune like "Axiom." Kirchner drives the music, reinforcing the saxophonist's ideas and adding sparks to it, which in turns elevates Mazzarella's playing to higher levels. The recording sounds a tad lo-fi, but no matter, the power of the performance comes through clearly. Thinking in terms of tension and release that fuels music like this, the pandemic had already presented plenty of tension. Mazzarella and Kirchner deliver the release.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Jon Irabagon Quartet Live in Pittsburgh: A Recap


The Jon Irabagon Quartet breezed into Alphabet City/City of Asylum last night for a livestream performance. Booked a year ago, the quartet's tour dwindled from a two-week jaunt down to six nights of performances. Of course, any live performances anywhere are a treat these days so we should salute the band for doing what they're doing this week. And thanks to the good folks at Alphabet City for allowing this member of the press to check out the show from a safe distance in the same room.

Irabagon, who has played saxophones ranging from alto to sopranino and the rare mezzo-soprano, stuck to tenor last night. Chris Lightcap, who is also skilled on upright bass, played bass guitar (and even used a pick on a couple songs!). The group was rounded out by pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer Dan Weiss. Overall - four players who are strong leaders in their own rights, as well as top notch support players. 

The quartet played a batch of new material, which they will be recording once this tour is over. The opening "Sun Dance" (assuming it's two words) could have been a suite of a few tunes segued together but it was actually one extended work several different parts. The opening rhythm was taut and staccato, as Irabagon sailed rapidly over the rhythm section. What originally sounded a little tense eventually became a little more slinky, as Lightcap held down the groove. Irabagon always likes to keep listeners' attention, and Weiss' delayed accents on the ride cymbal, later in the piece, helped with that. The drummer really heated things up as Irabagon started to pull things towards a conclusion.

Weiss, whose own group Starebaby reveals that he's one of the most exploratory drummers in improvised music, threw some more off-kilter fills into "Rising Sun" as if he was trying to throw Irabagon off. Naturally it didn't work but it was fun hearing the interaction. In person, Lightcap's bass overpowered the piano a bit, but it didn't seem to deter Mitchell, who got a little eerie in the freer section towards the start of the piece. There were moments when Lightcap's finger work brought to mind Hugh Hopper's work in Soft Machine, with a dexterity that make those knotty ostinatos seem easy. 


When Irabagon played in the group Mostly Other People Do the Killing, they often thumbed their noses at jazz stodginess even while embracing the music's history. So it wasn't a complete surprise to hear Irabagon play Dizzy Gillespie's "Bebop." As the saxophonist tore into that tune's rapid theme and kept the velocity at a high level, it served as a reminder of how varied and consistent his career has been so far, encompassing both noisy sopranino recitals and solid straightahead sessions.

"Mammoth" started off with another slinky bass groove that eventually morphed into a 5/4 vamp at the end. In between, Weiss played with the snares on his drum turned off, so things never got too heavy. The group wrapped up the evening with "Alliance," another knotty tune that reached a peak when Mitchell cleverly wedged a couple quotes from Thelonious Monk's "Crepuscule With Nellie" in sideways during his solo.

Hopefully it sounded just as good on computer speakers as it did in person. Looking forward to the new album. (If I heard Lightcap correctly, the group has a few more tunes they didn't get to play last night.)