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Vertical Invaders

Tiziano Tononi

Jazz - Released June 15, 2010 | Black Saint

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The Sound Power

The Eastern Seaboard

Jazz - Released March 2, 2010 | Black Saint

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In Order To Survive

William Parker

Jazz - Released January 1, 2008 | Black Saint

Bassist William Parker's survival techniques demand liberty and solos for all. The members of this sextet feed off one another's energy, filling their collective plate with counterpoint, and expressing music in colors and feelings spontaneously derived from thematic motifs. Parker, a phenomenal theoretical and technical improviser, has pianist Cooper Moore, drummer Denis Charles, trumpeter Lewis Barnes, trombonist Grachan Moncur III, and alto saxophonist Rob Brown in tow. Three of these pieces were recorded live at Club Roulette in N.Y.C., the fourth at the Knitting Factory. Clocking in at nearly 40 minutes, "Testimony of No Future" develops from the piano-bass-drums trio's bop swing rhythms that set up a three-note pattern that the horns then state and extrapolate on with counterpoint. This leads into extended solo fare from everyone -- simple and direct, easy to follow, yet dense and saturated. The beautiful "Anast in Crisis, Mouth Full of Fresh Cut Flowers" has Moore's spiritual lines influencing Brown's alto greatly, with Moncur chiming in for a lucid, free association for seven minutes, again based on three notes. "Testimony of the Stir Pot" has thematic nuances that grow subtler over 20 minutes while horn lines flow parallel to Moore's lightning-quick runs. "The Square Sun," from the Knitting Factory session, features Barnes' rubato-style trumpet (which shows his unique blend of jazz past and present); Moore's haunting, dancing figures; percussionist Jackson Krall's wisp-of-smoke accents; and Parker's mouse-squeak bowed bass. Some tour de force music is found here, which makes one wonder if these performances wouldn't have yielded another CD or three from this band of extraordinary avant-gardists. Highly recommended for those who take their freedoms seriously. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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Change Of Mood

Carla Marciano Quartet

Jazz - Released December 31, 2007 | Black Saint

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Quicksand

Joe Rosenberg Quartet

Jazz - Released December 31, 2007 | Black Saint

Peace Warriors - Vol. 2 (2 Cd's)

Tiziano Tononi

Jazz - Released December 31, 2007 | Black Saint

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Totally Spinning

Rova Saxophone Quartet

Jazz - Released December 28, 2006 | Black Saint

Although Totally Spinning came out in 2006, it was recorded back in 1996. Rova, famous as being an avant-garde saxophone quartet, performs eight originals (all but Fred Frith's "Kick It" came from the band) and plays with surprising lyricism, often emphasizing strong melodies and catchy ensemble work. The improvising is advanced, emotional, and sophisticated with baritonist Jon Raskin generally taking honors. This is one of Rova's more accessible projects, although the music certainly has its adventurous and passionate moments. Recommended. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Peace Warriors Vol. 1

Tiziano Tononi|The Ornettians

Jazz - Released December 31, 2005 | Black Saint

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A Strange Day

Carla Marciano

Jazz - Released December 31, 2005 | Black Saint

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Chronotomy

Heinz Geisser|Guerino Mazzola Quartet

Jazz - Released December 31, 2004 | Black Saint

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Nonfiction

The Eastern Seaboard

Jazz - Released December 31, 2004 | Black Saint

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Danse De La Fureur

Joe Rosenberg

Jazz - Released December 31, 2003 | Black Saint

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The Long And Short Of It

Joe Rosenberg

Jazz - Released December 31, 2003 | Black Saint

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The Neon Truth

Larry Ochs Sax|Drumming Core

Jazz - Released December 28, 2002 | Black Saint

Inspired by Asian and African forms, Larry Ochs calls his sax and double-drum trio "Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core," and the minimal and unusual instrumentation is an effective vehicle for his intense improvisations. Known for his riveting work as a member of the avant-garde jazz group What We Live and the saxophone quartet Rova, Ochs' thick tone, overblowing, and forceful delivery evidence a relentless search for a sort of transcendental ecstasy fueled by the powerful strains of the drums. The saxophonist effortlessly navigates not-so-familiar terrain for the full length of The Neon Truth with varied emotions, and while most of the pieces evidence the sort of incendiary fire that usually characterizes his playing, there are exceptions, such as the introspective and equally compelling "Xanic Rides Again." The two drummers are virtually indistinguishable, never tripping on one another, and the limited palette is surprisingly turned on its face so that the group sounds like a bigger unit, in part the result of the saxophonist's endless stream of creative thrusts. While each composition might appear totally improvised, Ochs stresses in his liners that the trio is, at least in part, following a script, with "simple but not-usual rules and processes." While fans of Ochs may not find his playing here much different than elsewhere, the new instrumentation gives it a new perspective that succeeds in carving a small but exciting niche. © Steven Loewy /TiVo
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Blue

Marilyn Crispell|Stefano Maltese|Gioconda Cilio

Jazz - Released December 28, 2001 | Black Saint

Blue is easily the most mysterious and beguiling of pianist Marilyn Crispell's many releases. Recorded in duet with Italian reed and woodwind wizard Stefano Maltese, Crispell recorded 11 spontaneous improvisations, all centered around the notion of color as sound, and placed that supposition in various settings reflected by the individual pieces titles: "Breath of Sun," "Ring Around Circle," "Roof of Sky," "So Glad to Be Sad," etc. There is also a very loose cover of "You Don't Know What Love Is" that fits here perfectly with the way its harmonic and chromatic terrains have been raided for tonal and dynamic nuances. Blue is the opposite of Crispell's fiery, hundred-notes-a-second approach to improvisation and is far closer to the temperament displayed on Amaryllis -- although there are moments of sublime and intense dissonance such as on "Behind the Wings," which feels like a blue jay in mid-morning ramble and confrontation with everything around him. Maltese's interactions with Crispell are articulated on any number of instruments, including but not limited to soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet, and flute. His breathing seems to pace the pianist, who moves up and down the middle register looking for sync energy and, once that is found, a kind of melodic frame for certain ideas that have come up during that process. On the final two cuts, the great Italian vocalist Gioconda Cilio joins the duo for worded and wordless improvising that contributes deep, breathy atmospherics that has as much to do with elongating the breath of all the players as it does with tonal inquiries. Through it all, Crispell uses a Zen-like detachment, engaging each player and the music itself openly, but without exuberance, preferring to remain outside its ever widening circle of hues, textures, tempos, whispers, and screams. This is a jazz record that moves the definition of jazz to a margin; which one isn't exactly clear, except to say that it is new and welcome and warm and heartbreakingly, poetically beautiful © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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The Catbird Sings

John Lindberg Ensemble

Jazz - Released December 31, 2000 | Black Saint

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Back To Saturn

Hugh Ragin

Jazz - Released December 28, 2000 | Black Saint

Although this CD is dedicated to Sun Ra, only the closing "Back to Saturn" is reminiscent of Ra's outer-space music. However, trumpeter Hugh Ragin's CD does progress logically from the boppish "Blue Honda a la Truck," the grooving "Fanfare and Fiesta," and "Bud-Like" to increasingly freer music before the spacy closer. Ragin, an underrated trumpeter with a wide range, is usually the lead voice on this set, being joined by vibraphonist Greg Carroll, pianist Marc Sabatella, bassist Erik Turkman, and drummer Scott Gordan. Virtually every Hugh Ragin recording is well-worth exploring, and this one is no exception. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Red

Marilyn Crispell|Stefano Maltese

Jazz - Released December 28, 2000 | Black Saint

Piano genius Marilyn Crispell teams for a set of duets with the relatively unknown -- though outrageously talented -- Sicilian saxophonist and clarinetist Stefano Maltese. This is an interesting mirror in and of itself. Way back in 1989, Anthony Braxton, one of Crispell's contemporary mentors, recorded an album of duets with the pianist, who, at that time, was relatively unknown -- though she was the steady rhythmic force propelling the longest last quartet, or any other band, of Braxton's career. This set is approached from the position of opposites attracting. Maltese has been deeply influenced by the phrasing and lyrical construction -- no matter which horn he plays -- by Steve Lacy. On the soprano, it is almost impossible to tell them apart, with the exception of Lacy's slightly longer line. Crispell, who plays percussively, was at the disadvantage here, or so it seemed. These duets are such a departure for her, her playing moves into a range of colors and emotions not usually associated with her. Her approach to counterpoint and harmonic invention here are both lyrical, favoring dynamic, to be experienced by persistence and caution rather than by forcing the music to bend to her will. Here, she is clearly its servant, which coaxes Maltese to look toward overtones as a way to engage the improvisation from within. The compositions are divided equally among them. Maltese provides a reasonable foil for Crispell. She, on the other hand, must have viewed him musically in a much different light because this is her most restrained, graceful, elegant improvising on record. There isn't a moment here that is not, while musically very sophisticated, emotionally very moving. Highly recommended. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Free Worlds

Glenn Spearman

Jazz - Released March 14, 2000 | Black Saint

Glenn Spearman's premature death from cancer in 1998 was a tragic loss for avant-garde jazz. Although not a huge name in the jazz world, Spearman was an expressive tenor saxman who played with a lot of passion. The Californian's integrity shines through on Free Worlds, a posthumous release that focuses on some sessions he led in the Bay Area in 1994 and 1995. Sometimes reflective, sometimes forceful, and always uncompromising, this CD reminds us how honest a player Spearman was. Spearman played what he felt, and on Free Worlds what he feels is very abstract, angular, and left-of-center. The least outside pieces on Free Worlds are "Pipes, Spirit & Bronze" and the traditional "Raga Shamwati," which employs Indian singers and tabla drums and puts an eccentric spin on raga playing. But as appealing as Spearman's explorations are, Free Worlds isn't for everyone. While those who believe that hard bop is the only form of jazz that has a right to exist would do well to look elsewhere, Free Worlds is recommended to those with a taste for free jazz and the avant-garde. © Alex Henderson /TiVo