Relative Pitch

“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...

James Brandon Lewis - Tenor Saxophone
Jaimie Branch - Trumpet
Luke Stewart - Bass
Anthony Pirog - Guitar
Warren Trae Crudup III - Drums

Being lucky enough to live in the surprisingly active cauldron of great music that is currently happening in DC, I have also been lucky enough to see James’ regular trio [James, Luke and Warren] several times because Luke is a DC’er and he makes it happen!
They are a very fine free jazz trio built on heads-style trio who have knocked m

Christian Lillinger-drums
Tobias Delius-tenor sax & clarinet

“In conversations Delius often mumbles, he sometimes gets lost in anacoluthons, just to use very elaborate and eloquent constructions in the next sentences. Lillinger, on the other hand, is someone who talks very rapidly, his sentences ricochet through the air. He throws in ideas, interrupts his thoughts, turns in another direction, just to be absolutely precise within a second. As a drummer his style is incredibly inventive and...

“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...

Ramon Lopez – drums
Mark Feldman – violin

“One of the most prominent violin players, Mark Feldman, meets one of the most creative and innovative drummers, Ramon Lopez. The results of this magic encounter consists of seven tunes. Seven pearls of contemporary improvisation, where the synergy and energy, abstraction and melodic concept, lyricism and powerful expression unite forming a gigantic superposition.”-Maciej Lewenstein.

“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....

Keir Neuringer-sax
Rafal Mazur-bass guitar

“The aptly named release Diachronic Paths by the free improvising duo of Keir Neuringer and Rafal Mazur continues the transformation discourses of their evolving musical language. One that is based on their dialogue of discovery.
Keir Neuringer, a Philadelphia-based saxophonist lived in Krak≤w and The Hague for a time and established a strong relationship with the Polish bassist Rafal Mazur.
Each piece presented here is an enervating...

“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....

“The Zookeeper’s House, is Moondoc's first studio album in over a decade. It features a fantastic collection of players: trombonist Steve Swell, trumpeter Roy Campbell (in his final recorded appearance), pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist Hilliard Greene, and drummer Newman Taylor Baker.
They’re not all heard together. Shipp appears on the disc-opening title track and the nearly 13-minute ‘One for Monk and Trane’; the horns are on ‘Little Blue Elvira,’ ‘For the Love of Cindy,’ and a version of Alice...

“'Blues for Katie' opens with Greene's simple figures and simpler variations allowing Moondoc space to breathe. No pyrotechnics in his blues, this is straight soul, almost dipping into a sound like southern gospel. It's a lovely opener and one that Moondoc lends to Greene for a quick solo with a few snapped strings before he closes the spiritual.
'Spiritual Melody (Swing Low, Deep River, Wade In the Water)' carries the gospel sound a bit further - no surprise, given the title. This is a more isolated..

“From the opener, "Hurricane Point," you're reminded of the Betty Davis quote from the 1950s movie All About Eve, "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night." Morris' guitar shreds notes against the wall of rumbling bass and crush of battered drums. This opening salvo signals a take-no-prisoners session, or what Myles Boisen of Splatter Trio used to call, "club clearing music."
As intense as it is, the inner workings retain the undiluted Joe Morris guitar sound. His unique "language"...

“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...

The album, recorded in 2001 in Cologne, Germany, is a tremendous soundscape that focuses on the micro: dings of the glockenspiel, muted thud of prepared piano, hiss of electronics, and scrapes of percussion, played in service to the macro musical arch.
The cast is an eye-catcher: Sylvie Courvoisier on piano, prepared piano, Tony Oxley providing percussion, Bill Laswell on bass, field recordings, electronics, Miroslav Tadic on guitars, Pat Thomas on cassette player, electronics, electric keyboard....

“There are obvious factors that set these two free improvisers apart. Courvoisier's approach is more steeped in contemporary classical music. But this does not prevent them from overcoming their differences and finding common ground. In fact, thry don't even need any time to size each other up. The pianist's blunt attack is immediately on display, and the saxophonist is quick yo put his screechy warbled tenor lines against her heavy and potent clusters and runs.
Patker's generous sound on the tenor...

“'Triplicates' is a series of improvisations between Zeena, playing her singular electric harp, and Jon Leideker, aka Wobbly, performing on mobile phones, tablets, booper, and mixer. Their outputs are routed to a series of simple listening devices, machines designed to sing along with the melodies they believe themselves to hearing, although they are often fascinatingly wrong.
It quickly becomes difficult to determine the boundaries of each participant’s contribution: acoustic source, electronic....

“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...

Ab Baars-tenor saxophone, clarinet, shakuhachi
Ig Henneman-viola
Ingrid Laubrock-tenor and soprano saxophones
Tom Rainey-drums

“Dutch theatricality meets American resourcefulness on this conclave from four like-minded musicians whose collective tastes veer to the freer end of the improvisational spectrum. As it turns out, shorthand sobriquets for the participants on the CD spine also work as a solid, semi-ambiguous band name. Live @ the Jazz Happening Tampere provides the...

“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!..

“A debut solo album from saxophonist Erin Rogers, Breaking Waves explores sonic multiplicity -- growth of a singular sound or idea, “breaking” a single note into two or more parts. Through multiphonics, vocalization, and inciting of outer resonance, Rogers elaborates on the single-note instrument, adding layers of complexity to the solo saxophone in a purely acoustic setting.”

“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...

Masahiko Satoh – piano
Otomo Yoshihide – electric guitar, whistle
Roger Turner – drums and percussion

“The Sea Trio, comprised of legendary pianist Masahiko Satoh, influential guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Otomo Yoshihide and master percussionist Roger Turner, first met and played at the legendary Egg Farm just outside Tokyo. The chemistry was immediate and though it was recorded they wanted to play again and booked at another legendary spot in Tokyo, Pit-Inn, in Shinjuku. The place was

“‘Root Of Things’ is a good example of how an unconventional arrangement can make very natural sounding music. Bisio’s bass lines syncs up with Shipp’s piano lines then diverge onto its own parallel path only to reunite with Shipp again. Dickey acts not as a timekeeper but a third timbre zone, serving dashes of cymbals and tom-toms in measured portions. Together, the symmetry produces something that doesn’t seem ordered but makes sense.
For ‘Solid Circut,’ it’s Shipp’s turn to begin the performance...

“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...

“Saxophonist Catherine Sikora makes a bold and singular statement with her solo album Jersey. Each of the 13 tracks is both a fully realized and poignant stand-alone monologue as well as an essential link in an intimate and deeply personal artistic expression.
A serene, logical progression of notes transforms the calm "The Knowing of Sums" into a passionate and blue-tinged improvisation. Energetic and crisp lines weave a graceful melody that returns to the opening quietude. The ardent and...

“‘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....

Rob Mazurek-cornet, voice, bells, modular synth, sampler
Thollem Electric-modified electric paino, analog effects

“Only briefly acquainted, McDonas and Mazurek show remarkable responsiveness to each other in these complex improvisations. The nineteen minute opener "Shouts" begins in a haze of electric piano and synth before Mazurek slips into a disembodied wordless chant adding to the otherworldliness of the piece. About fourteen minutes in, the cornet becomes identifiable, the piano's notes..

“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...

“Often compared to the late Kaoru Abe, Masayoshi Urabe's solo performances begin and end with silence. Out of the silence the harmonica slowly emerges, erupting into stabs of harmonica and gutteral cries which then give way to punctuated bursts of alto eventually retreating back into the equilibrium of silence.”

“Turner's supportive playing is well matched with Van Hove's probing and voluminous drive, and is perfectly in tune during the introspective moments. Both of which occur amply during the 26 minute opener 'Life Dealers'.
The duo's repartee is in fine order from the get-go. For example, about ten minutes in, moments of light pianistic whimsy meets Turner's crisp percussion and the two instruments begin pushing each other to extremes. 'Shopped', the second track, is a concise seven minutes and begins...

“When I first listened to The Hallowed Plant, I was immediately captivated. It’s a work that grabbed my attention and made immediate, intuitive sense. It seems that that the artists had a similar experience; after all, the band recorded it after having only played together twice previously. Chilean trumpeter Benjamin Vergara (trumpet) traveled to Chicago a few years ago and met Chicago-based musicians Keefe Jackson (reeds), Jim Baker (piano/synthesizer), and Phil Sudderberg (drums). It seems the...

“Every time experimental British saxophonist John Butcher plays in the northwestern part of this continent his trio is made up of two Vancouver-based players: bassist Torsten Muller and drummer Dylan van der Schyff. Listening to the nine pitch-perfect improvisations on this disc demonstrates why this configuration has been maintained since 2007.
The veteran bassist, who is perfectly capable of atonal string-stretching and scrubbed pulsations, is careful to maintain a connective pumping throughout...

“This latest project Battle Pieces combines Wooley's deft touch at extended technique with his composing skills for like players. Recorded live at Anthony Braxton's Tricentric Foundation in 2014, Wooley brings together saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock (Anti-House, Paradoxical Frog, Mary Halvorson Septet), vibraphonist Matt Moran (Claudia Quintet, Slavic Soul Party, Dan Levin), and pianist Sylvie Courvoisier (Erik Friedlander Trio, Herb Robertson Quintet, and duo with Mark Feldman).
The written music and...

“Commissioned by Anthony Braxton's Tri-Centric Foundation, trumpeter Nate Wooley developed a modular compositional structure of small melodic, rhythmic, harmonic, conceptual, textural, and timbral fragments, allowing Ingrid Laubrock (sax), Sylvie Courvoisier (piano), and Matt Moran (Vibes) exceptional freedom in improvisation.
Wooley starts of with a fine little melody in the first piece, then Moran comes along, and a few moments later Courvoisier adds some tones to it. It all starts very calm and...

Nate Wooley – trumpet
Ingrid Laubrock – saxophones
Sylvie Courvoisior – piano
Matt Moran – vibraphone
“Battle Pieces 4, recorded live at Brooklyn’s Roulette Intermedium in 2018 is the culmination of Wooley’s set of compositions for quartet. The group, after four years of twisting and torturing Wooley’s ever-expanding set of micro-compositions into new and ever-interesting forms, perform an evening length set that moves through the breadth of their collective history as an ensemble.”

“Far too often, the skill and detail informing music such as this is neglected by writers attempting description, no matter how sympathetic, in favor of emotive exposition, essentially stripping the discourse of any freedom the music might offer. There’s no denying that Jack and Ben Wright plumb those psychosocial depths, but they accomplish it in a way that foregrounds something akin to linguistic expression, shoving historical precedent to a hot but distant back burner.
Take, for example, the...