No One Ever Works Alone
"Sonore is an example of how "free jazz", music that has no repertoire, no standards, relies on the head-on collision of different musical perspectives. Their album, removed as it is from the live performance and hyperbolic description, is less visceral, more cerebral but still a successful entry into the trepiditous realm of the all-saxophone group. Texturally, multi-instrumentalists help the cause— No One Ever Works Alone has 24 possible saxophone combinations multiplied by Peter Brötzmann's indefatigability, Mats Gustafsson's percussive brilliance and Ken Vandermark's synthesis of the entire saxophone tradition."
No Queen Rises
""Dew lies on the instruments of straw that you were playing, / The ruts in your empty road are red" Fish-Scale sunrise signals for Baars a broadening spectrum of possibilities for compositions and improvisations. Baars wanted to explore new timbre, dynamics and sounds. He employs for the first time in his ensembles a pianist - Slovenian, Amsterdam-based pianist Kaja Draksler, who collaborated before with Baars in her Octet - introducing a new weight of nuances of timbre and dynamics as well as new harmonic horizons. Canadian, Stockholm-based double bass player Joe Williamson completes this drummer-less format and positions the bass with a unique role. Baars wrote seven compositions and the other two are free-improvisations. -Eyal Hareuveni, All About Jazz"
Ken Vandermark / Klaus Kugel / Mark Tokar
"Can there be such a thing as straight-ahead free? If so, this disk’s five as-it-happens improvisations would be it. Each achieves something remarkable, a seldom-realized free jazz ideal: the more these players achieve something remarkable, the more these players sacrifice themselves in support of one another, the more our attention is drawn to each’s individual merits. Teasing his solos to climax on the album’s two longest performances, Vandermark shows he knows the difference between repetition and repetitiveness. This might be some of his best playing on records; it’s definitely among his lustiest. Tokar’s “extended” bass technique is astonishing, and worthy of special notice is the way he matches tones with Vandermark when the latter explores the lower reaches of his horn. Kugel is a model drummer, supplying both motion and combustion without so much as implying a steady beat. Only one modifier will do in further categorizing this free jazz: classic. - Francis Davis"
"Fully in command of all elements of its instruments, the trio elaborates its thoughts over the course of three long selections of about 19, 13, and 26 minutes each."
Nothing Is Forever
Frode Gjerstad Trio
"The trio freely accumulates sonic materials until a pattern emerges and the music then takes off from there, always holding the listener's attention in the process; the music very rarely becomes rises to all-out blowing, keeping the energy flowing through control and careful listening instead. Gjerstad’s phrasing employs wide intervals and a chirping, bird-like sound, and makes a very convincing case for an original and highly original combination of Eric Dolphy's and Albert Ayler's lineages. The different strategies devised by drums and bass in reaction to the unexpected breaks, jumps and timbral microvariations in the reeds' lines make for this listener the most exciting moments in a very successful CD."
Nothing to Read
Mats Gustafsson / Paul Lovens
"This is a masterpiece of free improvisation, but good luck finding a copy. It confirms Mats's status as a master musician even at this relatively early stage of his career."
Ingebrigt Håker Flaten New York Quartet
"Together, this drummer-less quartet floats differing pulses, favoring interactions such as the conversation between Morris and Flaten on "Pent," and Wooley's fluttering notes against bowed bass on "Knicks." The startling speed of "Giants" represents a heart-pounding four minutes of spontaneous felicity, while Wooley and Flaten open "As If" by setting the table for the quartet's harmonies. McPhee and Morris slide inside this and other pieces, working each track and maintaining the originator's framework. Each brief improvisation—the longest running 9:34 and the shortest a brief 2:13—is a well-woven tapestry of sound."
Nuclear Assembly Hall
Atomic / School Days
"The 3rd release by Ken Vandermark's School Days is a double CD of studio material recorded with the Oslo quintet Atomic. Both bands have the same rhythm section of Paal Nilssen-Love on drums and Ingebrigt HÂker Flaten on bass. The group includes Magnus Broo: trumpet, Jeb Bishop: trombone, Fredrik Liungkvist: reeds, Ken Vandermark: reeds, Hevard Wiik: piano & Kjell Nordeson: vibraphone. 9 new compositions 1 each by all the members (2 by Mr. Liungkvist)."
Ken Vandermark & Barry Guy
"For British bassist Barry Guy the concert that produced this fine double disc package occurred at the end of a four day intensive residency in Krakow culminating in the premier of an ambitious new work by his Blue Shroud Band. While for Chicago reedman Ken Vandermark, the event was the final episode in two months on the road. But whether relief or exhaustion were the dominant feelings, neither resulted in any lowering of standards or resting on laurels. Occasional Poems captures in unvarnished fidelity both sets in their entirety from the storied Alchemia club before a packed and enthusiastic audience."
October Music (Vol 1) 7 Compositions For Duet
"The length of these pieces is just right. No solo overstays its welcome. No theme becomes cumbersome. In fact, they're downright lovely; perfectly suited for each duet. The track sequencing is brilliant, encouraging many repeated listening sessions. And for you audiophiles, Alex Inglizian not only captured some amazing sessions; he also managed to record and mix acoustic piano and drums perfectly. Perfectly, I say! —Tom Burris, Free Jazz Blog"
October Music (Volume 3) 7 Compositions For Duet
"One suspects that Daisy sees the composer’s task as very close that that of a good drummer — to set up opportunities for other people to sound good and to keep the music moving. He hands the other two guests, alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella and guitarist Steve Marquette, material that brings out their respective bests. Taking the point a bit further, Daisy seems to be spending this phase of his career listening closely to what Chicago has to offer and reflecting the best parts for others to hear. —Bill Meyer, Dusted Magazine"
Of Things Beyond Thule volume 2
McPhee / Rempis / Reid / Lopez / Nilssen-Love
"A must-own for fans of these musicians – a telling insight into the give and take of five individuals asserting themselves as forces to be reckoned with, while never losing sight of their collective mission. A genuine understanding of how to be responsible to and for one another."
David Grubbs / Mats Gustafsson
"Their second duo recording, the follow-up to 1999's Apertura. Off-Road finds the two of them forsaking their earlier, glacially meditative m.o. for a shower of digitally recomposed slivers, the metal-on-metal timbre of a saxophone equipped with contact mics, Grubbs's chiming electric guitar, and Gustafsson's pro rhythm analog synthesizer clipped to the bell of his horn."
Jeb Bishop & Tim Daisy
"Daisy and Bishop eschew the groove-oriented nature of some of their larger groups, namely The Engines and Vandermark 5. Old Shoulders is heavy on smart and playful extended investigations of textures and tones, of atmosphere and mood more than rhythm, aggression or melody. —Patrick Wall, freeTimes"
On Tour ... Toronto / Rochester
"With the caliber of musicians comprising the trio, it is not surprising that there is a consistently high quality to these unusual interpretations, which, for the most part, merely hint at recognizable melodies. For example, "Monkin' Around" skirts around "Blue Monk" without totally absorbing it, while "My Funny Valentine" just touches on the melody. - Steve Loewy, AllMusic"
One To (Two)
Günter Christmann / Mats Gustafsson
"this is music that challenges as it subverts, its highly esoteric, yet disarmingly attractive lines an attractive hook. Highly ambitious, subtly exciting, and always formidable, Christmann and Gustafsson make a delightfully revolutionary pair. Not easy listening, but rewarding listening, and continuously challenging listening, these guys shake the heavens with heartfelt cries of mercy. There are no liner notes but what could be said? Powerful stuff, but you have to look below the surface."
Vandermark / Drake / Trovalusci / Ceccarelli
""Open Border is a beautiful, truly collaborative project between Ken Vandermark on reed instruments, Luigi Ceccarelli on electronics, Hamid Drake on drums and Gianni Trovalusci on flutes... Interplay between Drake and Vandermark stellar as always, as is the light and fluid section for flute and electronic sound, and graceful spoken vocalization leading everyone to come together for a elegant and memorable conclusion. This was a unique and very enjoyable album, taking three stellar instrumentalists and adding Ceccarelli to create electronic sound and process the other band members playing in real time to create a vibrant and rich performance that continuously moves in dynamic and spontaneous ways." -Tim Niland, Music and More, April 4, 2020"
Anders Jormin / Christian Jormin / Mats Gustafsson
"Recorded at Bohus Sound Recording May 1996 and mixed at Orca Musicproduktion June 1996 it follows the encounter of Mats Gustafsson with Anders and Christian Jormin."
Oslo / Chicago Breaks
"Vandermark conceived Powerhouse Sound in the summer of 2005 to explore composition focusing on the bass, rather than writing from the proverbial "top down." Inspired by the rhythms of James Brown, the dub experiments of Lee Perry, and the textural collages of Public Enemy, Vandermark arrived at a concept more funky, electronic and rockin' than anything he's done before."