Elements of Style, Exercises in Surprise
The Vandermark 5
"Seven releases down the road from 1997's Single Piece Flow, Vandermark's flagship quintet continues to serve as a vehicle for his original compositions, which span the range from hard-swinging bop to funk to energy music and the great uncategorizable beyond. The dedicatees on Elements of Style include John Gilmore, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Glenn Gould, and Max Beckmann, to name a few. As might be expected, the connections are not necessarily all that obvious, but not much about what Vandermark does is obvious, anyway."
Rafael Toral / Mars Williams / Tim Daisy
"Chattering, textural free jazz brings to mind a forest of animals slowly coming to life. - J.R. Nelson, Chicago Reader"
"Sensual reflection challenges us to transcend the usual patterns of experience and penetrate into new sound realms. With subtle humor, the borders of genre are evoked associatively and expanded. -Susanne Kogler "
Elm City Duets
Joe Morris & Barre Phillips
""Guitarist (and sometimes bassist) Joe Morris has in “Elm City Duets” a new chapter of his ongoing objective to play with his lifetime heroes: after the meeting with the renowned multi-instrumentalist Anthony Braxton, resulting in a box with 4 CDs released by the label Clean Feed, here is another duo with a veteran of improvisation: Barre Phillips. And what a wonderful encounter this turned to be! What we have here is a vivacious dialogue between two equals, with precious and incisive arguments by both parts. Your record colection will be incomplete without this!" -Clean Feed"
"The music was recorded in a 12,000-square foot abandoned munitions bunker situated in the northeast corner of San Francisco Bay. The unique space created a natural (and unalterable) reverb which the players had to factor into their performance. -Mark Corroto, All About Jazz"
Ken Vandermark & Paul Lytton
"Vandermark alternates between the more groove based playing that he has made a name for and slightly more abstract and in a "freer" fashion. Lytton runs with these moods through busy work that is attuned to what Vandermark, heard mostly on saxophone, is playing. "
The Ex & Brass Unbound
""33 years into their career, Dutch punks the Ex are more interested in expanding the horizons of their music than in repeating their past. Enormous Door is an acrobatic, ferocious record, a welcome burst of electric noise and squealing horns from a group whose power and flexibility keep growing with time." –Pitchfork"
Large Unit Fendika
"It could be argued that this is the most accessible recording in the Large Unit catalogue, and there is no doubt that this is the first one you can dance to all the way through."
"In the late 1990s, three young musicians in the Oslo jazz scene – Paal Nilssen-Love, Ketil Gutvik and Eivind Opsvik – hooked up with two legends – Carl Magnus “Calle” Neumann and Bjørnar Andresen. The project was named The Quintet and it was the meeting of two generations, with Neumann and Andresen passing the spirit of the 60s on to three musicians who would make their mark in the 2000s."
Experiments With a Leaf
John Butcher & Andy Moor
"The two meet in the middle of the road, so to speak, for this quick half-hour session of maxed-out microtones. It's an excitingly subdued and intense listen, and while it's laudable not to follow the compulsion to load the disc to its 80-minute capacity, the one track that stretches past 10 minutes suggests there's much more ground left for them to cover. -Kurt Gottschalk"
Made to Break
"F4 Fake combines fiery free jazz with raw noises and abstract electronics, all accumulating into an interplay, sensual and extreme in its own way, ... that highlights Made to Break in its best."
Face of Tokyo
Sten Sandell Trio
"Released on drummer Paal Nilssen-Love's own PNL label, the trio further consists of Sten Sandell on piano and Johan Berthling on bass. Recorded live in Japan in 2008, the album consists of two tracks: "Face Up", and "Face Down", for twice more than half an hour of quite intense musical explorations. The first track is a high energy work-out, the second starts with counter-rhythmic percussion, full of explosive power and creativity, Berthling joins on bass, first plucked, and when Sandell joins he moves to arco, while the pianist plays some eery chords, gradually driving up the tempo and energy level for again a dense improvisation, that suddenly collapses for some minimalist interaction, with all three musicians exploring the more uncommon aspects of their instruments. In stark contrast to some of the other albums below, the album demonstrates that technical mastery and musical vision make it possible to bring depth and emotional drive even with the most common of all jazz line-ups."
"This is a very exciting and much welcome blast of old school free jazz energy from a collective group featuring Mars Williams on saxophones, Kent Kessler on bass and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums. Each has deep experience on the outer fringes of the jazz scene and they make for a very cohesive and potent unit. "
Chalachew Ashenati & Ililta Band
"Chalachew Ashenafi, the legendary Gondar azmari (1966-2012) did some tours with The Ex in recent years. A traditional player, but also forward, funny and stubborn. These are his last recordings ever. Astonishing strong music. -Terp Records"
Rozemarie Heggen & Terrie Ex
"Openness, intuition, intensity, joy are a few of the basic elements which made the special connection that have taken them both to a different level of music-making. Exploring new territory can definitely be heard in their playing. The eleven improvisations on "Fiets" are little stories, experiences you might have while doing a very Dutch thing; making a ride on your bicycle (fiets). Have a good listen!... -Terrie Hessels"
Morris / Cancura / Nazary
"Just listening to the absolute basic notion of what a sax trio should sound like, is a true joy. — Stef, The Free Jazz Collective"
Joe McPhee Trio
"One of the most amazing discoveries is how the band's sound was already well-established from this very first recorded performance, not that they haven't evolved, but the core elements of total freedom, authentic feeling and reverence for tradition are already present. Quiet moments with lots of open space and room for interpretation and excursion by the individual soloists alternate by great moments of energetic explosivity."