Early Bird Gets
"The Early Bird Gets is the debut album by this working trio, comprised of journeyman Chicago saxophonist Dave Rempis alongside two of the brightest talents in a younger generation of improvising musicians. Bassist Brandon Lopez is a musician whose virtuosity knows no bounds, currently one of the most in-demand bassists on the New York jazz and improvised music scene. Percussionist Ryan Packard counters that depth with his own breadth of interests, working in contemporary classical ensembles, indie rock bands, and jazz groups alike around Chicago, not to mention his doubling abilities on electronics. These two together provide a formidable rhythm section that can veer from hard-driving grooves to luscious soundscapes with total ease. As a trio, these three have put forth a work that may be the “jazziest” project any of them are involved with; a result that even the band members found surprising. But after honing their sound through live gigs in 2017 and early 2018, it became apparent that their free-improvised conversation kept returning to a similar destination: a three-way exploration of rhythm and tempo that left them working solidly within the jazz tradition. Not the one fixed into predictable sylistic corners, but the one defined by a spirit of boundless curiosity and exploration. A tradition they stretched back and forth like so much taffy. "
East by Northwest
Ken Vandermark & Nate Wooley
"What struck me immediately about the show was just how full and vibrant of a sound they were able to create with just the two horns. No doubt a great deal of this had to do with their compositional approach - melodies and counter melodies stretching out the musical fabric between them, creating an atmosphere as much as actual notes and tones - but then toss in the sheer virtuosity of their playing and it is quite an ear opening experience. I picked up the CD at the show and am pleased to report that what I heard from the stage is captured wonderfully on this album (Paul Acquaro, The Free Jazz Collective)"
Een Rondje Holland
The Ex Orkest
"Rock bands and orchestras -- here's a worrisome cliché usually signaling the beginning of the end for a group of musicians getting too full of themselves or already on the nostalgia bandwagon. Of course, none of that applies here, for two main reasons. The first one is the Ex -- not your run-of-the-mill punk band, this Dutch institution has always been keen on collaborating with wide-ranging artists. The second reason is the orchestra convened here: 20 of Amsterdam's finest and most daring experimental musicians, from Palinckx's singer Han Buhrs to members of the ICP Orchestra (and of course all then-current members of the Ex, including Luc Ex). Obviously, Een Rondje Holland is not for every Ex fan, but those fond of the group's previous collaborations with Buhrs, Han Bennink, or Tom Cora will probably find it at least interesting. On the other hand, followers of the Dutch avant-garde scene who are usually put off by the Ex's punk rock but enjoy the ICP Orchestra, Splinks, or even Palinckx should definitely give this album a try."
Joe McPhee & Daunik Lazro
"This duo digs deep into the spirit of a particular night in France and calls out of it the entire improvisational tradition from Duke Ellington (whose “Come Sunday” is featured here) to Steve Lacy (whose “Pearl Street” is played movingly) and the host of time periods in between… This is an astonishing record. Period"
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"
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"
Emancipation Proclamation: A Real Statement Of Freedom
Hamid Drake & Joe McPhee
"The exchange shows both the communication between these two musicians and that they were continuously pushing the music to create something new and more powerful than they had ever done before. This drive for excellence permeates Emancipation Proclamation and the wise listener will imbibe every drop of sound."
"There was nowhere to hide during this recording session, every note staring back at its creators with fearless eyes. And the resulting musical tension is palpable, as the band tosses ideas up into the air between them, and sets them spinning off into the ether, each one on their own unique path. "
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
"Experiments with a Leaf is a live recording from October 2013 in Berne, Switzerland, where the duo was playing in a cathedral. The large natural echo in the great space somehow glued the sounds together without the music resorting to a wash of reverberated noise... As a duo, they have no agenda or pre-planned aesthetic: both musicians simply work with their wide and contrasting knowledge of sound and music, and their fine responsiveness to each other and to their surrounding"
Ken Vandermark & Paal Nilssen-Love
"With their duo performance in Moscow on the first two discs Vandermark and Nilssen-Love present why they have always been one of the greatest reeds/drums duos on the scene, it is a marvelous state of the art, an exhibition of their excellent interplay, a summary of their art – in a nutshell: a reference to their own past. The last CD, another duo performance, points to the future. Compared to the Moscow concert, the duo seems changed and willing to go somewhere else. In between, with the literally extended and augmented duos, they present something different, something which shows them on new territory, where they have never been before – and especially here they show that they are willing to take that risk and explore that territory (Martin Schray, The Free Jazz Collective)"