Relative Pitch

“Gardener starts with a track that is just over a minute long. "Song of the pylon", had me more intrigued than riveted and was followed up with a 15 minute brain teaser "The changes wrought by the recurring use of tools" where harmonium, harpsichord, and piano are used to create an almost jack hammering effect where both musicians, who are credited with all three instruments, throw themes, fragments of ideas, and phrases at earth other at a dizzying pace.
There is some greatness on Gardener like...

“This album celebrates the 1977 band TWINS, that consisted of Bruce Ackley, Eugene Chadbourne, Henry Kaiser, and John Zorn. Featuring the usual instrumentation of two reeds and two guitars, it pre-dated they New York Downtown scene that was to follow. Ackley and Kaiser wanted to re-visit the original repertoire and approach of this quartet, but found it unlikely that the original members could be reunited for such a project. Grabbing their pals Fred Frith and Aram Shelton, they entered the studio to...

I love this album; do you love pedal steel guitar and/or Astor Piazolla? If so, you will love it too!

“It’s wholly fitting that this questing US pedal steel guitarist has chosen to interpret the nuevo tango of Astor Piazzolla on her latest longplayer. The late Argentinean composer presided over a revolution in traditional music by emphasising elements of improvisation, dissonance and counterpoint, while Alcorn seeks the total liberation of her instrument, away from the stifling confines of...

“A trio of adventurous Spanish improvisers, pianist Irene Aranda, bassist Johannes NÄstesjö and percussionist Nuria Andorra channel forces of exploration, energy and elemental mystery on Inner Core, six inventive tracks that plumb their astonishing creative depths with a fervid curiosity.
Fans of free improvisation may recognize these musicians through their mutual connections with pianist Agustφ Fernßndez, currently one of the most highly-regarded performers in this genre. And like Fernßndez...

“AYCH features three of the finest improvisers working today: saxophonist Jim Hobbs; guitarist Mary Halvorson; and cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum. All three come with stellar pedigrees and experience in guitarist/bassist Joe Morris' ensembles, plus Halvorson and Bynum were schooled at the knee of Anthony Braxton. Their previous recording together was last year's Bynum Sextet session, Apparent Distance (Firehouse 12, 2011).
Seven of the twelve tracks presented here are group improvisations, the remaining ...

“The image on the cover says it all, a blast furnace exploding with elemental energy and heat. And it doesn't take long for the music on Old Smoke, a live release that represents the first recorded collaboration between saxophonist Steve Baczkowski, bassist Brandon Lopez and drummer Chris Corsano, to reach astonishing peaks of fiery intensity. This is a trio not to be trifled with, on a single-minded pursuit of powerful free improvisation in its most uncompromising form.
Of the three musicians...

“Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ is right in Frisell’s wheelhouse as a soulful blend of country, blues and gospel, and he delivers jagged electric phrases that, like fireworks, sometimes end abruptly with a starburst and sometimes zigzag before fading. John McLaughlin’s ‘Follow Your Heart’ is likewise refried and slowly wrung out after sizzling. Baron comes to the fore on fleet but gentler tracks such as Benny Goodman’s ‘Benny’s Bugle,’ Charlie Parker’s ‘My Little Suede Shoes’ and a nifty soft-shoe...

“The title track starts with a written structure that eventually leads to an unaccompanied bass solo which reminds these ears that, as much as I enjoy Bisio with pianist Matthew Shipp, a greater appreciation of his technique and writing comes across when he steps away from the individualistic pianist. The music is grounded, not free and wild, but that nevertheless generates close listening. Sometimes Knuffke and Bisio play in an in-between place which doesn't feel like the bass is echoing the cornet...

Kirk Knuffke-cornet
Art Bailey-accordion
Michael Bisio-bass
Michael Wimberly-drums

“There's much to listen for on "Accortet" - the sound quality is excellent (kudos to Jim Clouse of Park West Studio in Brooklyn, NY), the compositions are thoughtful, and the musicianship unbeatable.
Kurt Knuffke continues to impress in every setting he plays in and Art Bailey's musical palette shows how he continues to expand the vocabulary of the accordion. And the rhythm section keeps the...

“In seven tracks, all credited to both of them, the players keep their ears on each other, exploring the sonic possibilities of their instruments and how they can interact. Those familiar with either musician might expect some untamed frenzy, and Bisio and Shipp definitely deliver dark and stormy textures. Bisio utilizes his bow for intense scraping and howling in ‘Decay,’ where Shipp begins by plucking his piano strings and ends with heavy handwork in the lower register. But the bassist also reveals...

"“Bogan Ghost is Liz Allbee on trumpet and Anthea Caddy on cello and 'Zerfall' is one pleasant, totally absorbing surprise. "Surprise" if only because of my limited prior exposure to their music.
I happened to have heard them both as part of the Splitter Orchestra (and a subset or two thereof) last year at St. Merri in Paris but still, I wasn't quite prepared for the music encountered here.
I guess the main unexpected (and very welcome) aspect is the degree of concision in play and the fact that.

“On the surface, the album title might be an oxymoron. None of these free-form works resemble traditional ballads, but the young Brooklyn-based duo's ideology and vision is clearly distinct and personalized via these jaunts that to some extent, parallel the British free jazz scene with acidic, creaky and scorching elaborations. There is a consortium of zany nouveau classical music breakouts with bizarre episodic transgressions that tend to hold your attention. At times, the acoustic instrumental...

“Eugene and Henry have been playing together of nearly 43 years. Back in 1977 they recorded a guitar duet that Wadada Leo Smith had presented to them: WIND CRYSTALS. This piece was released on Henry’s first album on Eugene’s Parachute label: ICE DEATH. On the 40 year anniversary of the original WIND CRYSTALS, Henry and Eugene recorded an entire album of guitar duets composed by Wadada, including a re-recording of WIND CRYSTALS. This album contains pieces from several different phases of Wadada’s work...

“Salt Task opens with the revolutionary title track, a 20-minute-piece that erupts with dense contrapuntal cogitations simultaneously driven by the trio. After the opening section, the musicians usually interact two by two, exploring different sonic possibilities and moods until reaching the final section, where the trio strikes again. Depending on the setting, one may float serenely over idyllic landscapes, march at the sound of a military trumpet, startle with ominous low-pitched piano vibes, revolve...

“Don’t be fooled by the name; Dead Neanderthals are neither dead nor Neanderthal. What they are is a tight, energy driven cohort of musicians who know how to lay down a good vibe. Worship the Sun, sees Rene Aquarius on drums and Otto Kokke on sax get together for a lesson in genial, improvisational mayhem.
There are just two tracks, the first over 15 minutes and the second just a tad over 17. ‘Worship,’ the first track, is a percussive delight, interspersed with some screaming, devilish sax from...

“This year French soprano saxophone player Michel Doneda will turn 60 and US label Relative Pitch celebrates the occasion by releasing this forty five minute disc of a recording from last year at La Chapelle De Las Planques in Tanus, France.
No doubt picked up with multiple microphones, and later on edited into the seven pieces we find on this disc. Doneda is a master of deception. In this chapel his saxophone sound like saxophone - very occasionally, such as in 'Skeleton Key', but most of the...

“A sound of a decidedly different kind. With the release of their CD Lily (Relative Pitch Records), ISABELLE DUTHOIT and FRANZ HAUTZINGER have proven they know how to consistently create a different kind of musical harmony and escape musical conventionality.
Those familiar with the artistic creations and various projects of these artistic free-spirits can probably imagine where Lily will take them. And that is most definitely not to any of the usual musical landscapes. That which Isabelle Duthoit...

“Estamos Trio, on the album - appropriately titled - People's History, offers an avant-garde and multicultural reflection with an epicenter in the history of the border that separates Mexico from the United States....led by the North American pianist and composer Thollem McDonas they create music that tries to encourage communication and collaboration between musicians and artists born on both sides of the Mexican-American border to, in this way, develop a better understanding and appreciation among...

“These experienced musicians know how to weave a complex, captivating stories with few strokes of imaginative sounds, austere yet elegant, subtle but full of nuances. ‘Endless’ visits Far-Eastern, terrains, flows in a balladic narrative and matures in a touching, playful dance of court and spark between Baars, playing the clarinet, and Draksler. ‘For Toby’ suggests a complete different dialog between Baars and Draksler. He sings gently with his tenor sax while she pounds the piano keys in a hyper...

“Flamingo explores sound, texture and dynamics. Sometimes verging on the threshold of hearing and at other times engaging in dense layers and waves of sound, the music of Flamingo creates a poetic space in which pure sound phenomena step forth on the eternal backdrop of silence.
Flamingo is Chris Heenan on contrabass clarinet, Adam Pultz Melbye on double bass, and Christian Windfeld on snare drum, percussion & objects. On LOUD they expand the trio with sound artist and engineer Roy Carroll. In LOUD...

“The Out Louds is a new formation of three accomplished improvisers: clarinetist Ben Goldberg, guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Tomas Fujiwara. While improvising ensembles usually work within a style, The Out Louds seem to be living up to their name, literally ‘thinking out loud’, seeking different ways to meld their musical thoughts.
Distinct approaches arise everywhere here, whether it’s a lead voice establishing a distinctly odd tack or supportive bits that wander far afield, sometimes...

“Having been recorded live the compositions are free flowing and continuous in sound throughout, with one piece blending into another either through the pieces being merged together through performance, and the possible use of sympathetic editing with Fujiwara’s drums often providing the link. Fujiwara’s drums generate a scattering of sound and the skittering rhythms create great interplay between the guitar and the trumpet. Brandon Seabrook is very deft at carefully using effects to colour the...

“The disc begins with, "That Was For Albert 10," Golia's tenor wrapping around Bradford's smearing trumpet for a repeating fanfare over the free range drums of Cline and the rambling pulsations of Filiano. Suddenly, the band contracts into "straight" time playing, just ahead of a dual solo by the two horns. Bradford finally breaks loose for a few laps around the field before Golia erupts with a massive tenor solo full of long lines broken up by well-timed screams.
"Otolith" has a vaguely...

“The veteran Guillermo Gregorio is back and this is the debut of a duo with the young double bass player Brandon Lopez. The clarinetist after having lived in the sixties in Buenos Aires and later moved to Chicago where for years he was an integral part of the local scene, now lives in New York and among the many and more recent collaborations, the meeting with Lopez is actually worth note. The listening between the two is superlative and the sound produced by clarinet and double bass is warm and...

“Out and unusual compositions from drummer Ben Hall and his sextet with Mick Dobday on electric piano & organ, Anthony Levin DEcanini on electronics, Ronnie Zawadi on percussion, John Dierker on reeds, Mike Khoury on viola & violin, and joined by Joe Morris on guitar, for 6 "Spines", free compositions using odd compositional structures leading to superb solo and group playing. Each Spine presents a unique sonic world, from aggressive playing to abstract and sonically fascinating interludes, with...

“Google is a useful tool in the topical unpacking of Uncompahgre, an improvised conclave between cornetist Kirk Knuffke and clarinetist Ben Goldberg that makes the absence of other instruments inconsequential and even preferred. The album title derives from the Ute phrase for ‘muddied water’ and references a plateaued peak in the San Juan Mountains that is also the most elevated section of the Colorado River drainage basin. Geography and language aside, the instrumentation also directly recalls earlier...

“This is a very intimate record; the recording makes it so. Recorded and mixed by Andy Taub, mastered by Weasel Walter, no less. Closely miked sax, Laubrock’s slightly hollow, dry tone, even austere, on the way to haunting. What you hear is breath, space, muted tonguing, a hint of the room echo, a squawk here, a gently laid tone there, a very personal saxophone. Rainey’s brushes are sweet, just enough, not too much. His cymbal touches and rim hits are measured, chasing after Laubrock, occasionally...

“Bass and flute represent significant tonal contrasts and here, flutist Jerome Bourdellon and world-renowned bassist, composer and improviser Joelle LEandre divulge innumerable perspectives and quite a bit of food for thought on these duets. However, Bourdellon employs bass clarinet and bass flute on two tracks, as no other instruments are nestled into the mid-sections of the program and the artists follow similar modalities to complement and support each other.
Each piece presents a different ...

“Contrabassist Joélle Leandre and West Coast woodwind player Phillip Greenlief work out 11 different compositions between their two respective instruments and voices on That Overt Desire of Object. The flexibility and space that each provides the other seems to be reflected in the line note comments about the negative effects of greed. The title is a variation of the Luis Bu±uel movie That Obscure Object of Desire (1977), with a playing field that appears a bit more level when compared to the bassist's...

“The best free improvisation ensembles generally carry three characteristics: tremendous mastery by the individual instrumentalists, sympathetic listening, and instinctual timing. This quartet displays all three on this fantastic recording released by Relative Pitch. The group is comprised of Brandon Lopez (Brandon Lopez Trio, Xivaros, The Mess, Nate Wooley Quartet) on Contrabass, Matt Nelson (Battle Trance, GRID, tUnE-yArDs) on Tenor Saxophone, Andria Nicodemou (Leap of Faith, London Improvisers...

“This offering could be depicted as a pulsating mist of near static incandescent vapor. Spiral Reflector starts things off with Lubelskis briskly bowed violin drone taking the fore, backed by Naces subtle volume swells and amplifier manipulation. Mazed finds the duo further probing at the veil. The modulated drones interweave in an unsteady interplay of dipping intonation that is both fascinating and disorienting. In Re/Fract/Ed Nace provides a subtle underpinning of persistent tremolo to Lubelskis gruff...

“The duo kicks off with 'all Jazz is free' ... we first hear Mahall's bass clarinet with a loopimg mid-register melody shadowed by rhythmic and, mostly consonant, comping by Schlippenbach. Soon, it isn't Mahall leading but Schlippenbach's jazz inflected streams of consciousness darting about. The duo proceeds in a good natured pursuit - handing off leads and supporting roles, intensifying as they go. Schlippenbach's rhythms get punchy, giving Mahall something to run into and bounce off in a new...

“Magda Mayas (Germany) performs on a 1970s manufactured clavinet with reedman Jim Denley (Australia), augmented by their use of field recordings, as they pay homage to a "marginalized corner" of Sydney, Australia on this experimental and irrefutably adventurous improv fest. Yet I wouldn't be so bold to suggest that this is easy listening but for the most part, it's relatively subdued.
The duo projects organic minimalism amid the sounds of nature and bizarre tone poems that move forward in....

“All things considered, this album is a fine specimen of no-frills, tendentially harsh improvisation revolving around a pair of fundamental axes. Cline and McDonas’ frequently altered tones ; at times one hardly distinguishes who is who, until the different techniques on keyboard and fretboard become evident ; match Wimberly’s percussive drive, which contributes to a further scattering of ‘centres’, either tonal or rhythmic. The level of musicianship is obviously high, integrating correlative schools...

“I must confess this is my first exposure to Crothers' music. What is most attractive to me is the obscurity of her antecedents. With words, Crother's makes sure you know of her debt to Tristano. Sonically, there is additional debt to Cecil Taylor, Thelonious Monk and Andrew Hill. Certainly you'll hear others, though probably not any one clamouring atop the other. Whoever you hear, you will hear them assimilated by a consummate musician and wonderfully able operator of the instrument....

“Using a multitude of extended picking techniques, moods, atmospheres, hell, even fully fleshed out novels were seemingly created in an instant. Some that he showed us early on were revisited, only twisted and turned inside out creating yet further ideas. My experience to all this was one of surrender, letting go and finally full engulfment into the sonic maelstrom. Spanish themes occasionally popped their heads up only to be quickly supplanted by what sounded like a vicious bowing technique of a...

“Automatos’ offers a parabolic curve structure where you can focus, starting from the opening, on very discrete elements of the ensemble - each instrument could be perfectly self-sufficient and this is not always true for every single part of a score if it has not been conceived as a solo piece - merging in a really dense and involving continuous. Fernandez is immediately terse, stinging with short phrases contrasted in the first half by the hoarse voice of Wooley and the initial far grating of Morris...

“Pavone composed four distinct pieces for In the Action, all employing extended bowing techniques, and focusing on in repetition, song form, and sympathetic vibration, with clever usage of effects. The first one "Oscillatory Salt Transport" suggests a series of gentle, resonating waves that somehow bridge between the strict, highly disciplined minimalism of New York and sensual, folk melodies of the British isles. This piece actually refers to the waves of the ocean and how they are essentially pushing...

“Sometimes I forget to be grateful. When I’m feeling distracted or impatient, my ears start to blur sounds just as tired eyes soften shapes; I hear the overall shape but start to reject the nuances within them, casually allowing the nourishment of total experience to pass me by. Sometimes I need a record like Silent Spills in order to reset myself; a release that takes each gesture one at a time, lingering on the circumstances that bring each moment to be, and depriving me of certain musical devices so...

“It's a rare and wonderful thing where you are so challenged as a listener that you are not sure of what's happening, but you know you need more. This happened to me during the 2011 Vision Festival when on one of the nights when the power trio of Peter Evans (trumpet), Mike Pride (drums) and Tim Dahl (extremely electric bass) shredded the atmosphere of the sweaty auditorium.
Now several years later, with the squishy gift of memory and time, I am listening to Pulverize the Sound's debut album with...

“The Norway-based alto sax player Mette Rasmussen and American drummer have been performing as a duo continuously for the last two years. The duo's free-improvised music benefits from these gifted musicians accumulated experiences.
Corsano's resume stretches from free jazz legends as sax players Joe McPhee, Paul Flaherty & Akira Sakata, noise masters as Bill Nace and C Spencer Yeh to avant-pop vocalist Bjork. He represents the hyperactive, ecstatic pole in this duo. Rasmussen, now part of Mats....

“The Mouser, an intimate session between Chicagoan- now-New-York-based cellist Tomeka Reid and Italian drummer Filippo Monico (who has worked with Giorgio Gaslini, Mario Schiano and others since the early ‘70s) recorded in Milan, Italy, is unstructured play at its best. Imaginative and daring, the two dive into the margins and depths of the cello and drums to uncover a much richer instrumentation and aural palette than one would expect from a duo.
“Let’s play,” Monico says earnestly on the first...

“Searching for leadership in a singular sense on Geometry of Caves immediately becomes an exercise in needless futility. The foursome behind the fifty-minutes of freely improvised music is resolute in its acceptance of communal responsibility and creation. Vocalist Kyoko Kitamura sings and speaks in wordless flurries, matching and Taylor Ho Bynum’s brassy exhortations on cornet and either bass or piccolo trumpets. Cellist Tomeka Reid and guitarist Joe Morris worry and pluck their respective strings...

“It’s not a novelty that Canadian-born, New York-based trumpeter Stephanie Richards is a risk-taking artist, considering she has worked with giants of the improvised new music such as Anthony Braxton and Henry Threadgill as well as Kanye West and The Pixies, references in the contemporary rap and indie-rock genres, respectively.
In collaboration with the electronics wizard Dino J.A. Deane, whom she met through the late 'conduction' pioneer Butch Morris, Richards releases her first solo record...

“Long, simple, clear notes, they seem to trail off in the distance. Almost shyly played, as if the saxophonist wanted to approach what she wants to say very tenderly.
After her solo album Coin Coin Chapter 3: River Run Thee Matana Roberts presents herself with an entirely different approach of playing alone. While River Run Thee also included electronics, spoken word poetry, singing and all kind of samples, Always is stripped down to the single voice of her alto. And what a great saxophonist she is!..

“They combine on three long-form improvs, the shortest of which clocks in at just over 17 minutes, giving ample scope for the freewheeling exploration at which all three excel. They take such an egalitarian approach that it's a noticeable event when one drops out. In a favored gambit, Rupp's scratchy staccato guitar textures jostle against extended legato lines from Schubert and Rogers, but that just provides a launching point for further goings-on in which they match dynamics, hit peaks of intensity and...

“Schindler is playing a brass instrument (trumpet or trombone) when this disc begins which works well with Mr. Blonk’s unique voice. Blonk returns Schindler's squealing and mawing trumpet lute with impossible tongue beats, farting or hissing tongue and hilarious announcements, including ducklike sounds. To capricious humor he tells jokes without words, he tries to make intelligible with comic sounds and with xenophonic singing. To do this, he computerized dirty tones and chirping Klingklang to continue...

“A crucial aspect of the Chamber Ensemble and the String Trio is the harmonic slipperiness that the string players focus on, contra the piano. Mat Maneri is the son of saxophonist and composer Joe Maneri (1927-2009), whose own chamber work focused on microtonal improvisation, and while the violist has certainly forged his own path, his grand swoops and deft ponticello technique tend to blur - if not obliterate - the demarcations of Western tonality. That’s not to say he doesn’t employ romantic late...

“‘Cheerful’ starts out with Lindsjö’s clean guitar tones riding on Strid’s rhythmically probing structures. Küchen’s sax starts out inquiringly with clean tones which increase in intensity, reaching full skronk by the 2 minute mark and blazing through to the end of the piece. ‘Grinning’ finds the group dynamics more active early in the track, with the trio quickly establishing their relationships and direction. Lindsjö hits the overdrive pedal shortly after the initial passages, while Strid provides a....

“Leonel Kaplan plays the trumpet exclusively by focusing his approach on the rustling of the air column, the metaphysics of the tubes in a way (to paraphrase Amelie Nothomb): by playing with multiple pressure levels of the lips and the meticulous closure of the orifices with the pistons, he obtains a range of nuances, dynamics, noise, stamps rather leaded than copper, as they evoke piping.
Birgit Uhler, replies by adding to his remarkable work on the trumpet, the use of a radio, a speaker and...