Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Uncertainty Soars, Accortet Plays Bisio & KV Continues to Make His Mark

The Uncertainty Music Series presents the duo of Jaimie Branch (trumpet) and Tomeka Reid (cello) this coming Saturday night (1/09) at 8 p.m. in the performance space of Never Ending Books, 810 State Street in New Haven.

Ms. Branch (pictured left) is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, has worked with Ken Vandermark (see below), bassist Jason Ajemian, guitarist Joe Morris, and a slew of others.  Her website has no biographical info but does show she's a busy musician in the Chicago-Brooklyn-New York City axis.

Chicago Tribune
Ms. Reid, along with Fred Lonborg-Holm and Daniel Levin, has become one of the most important voices on the cello in the 21st Century. She's worked alongside and recorded with flutist Nicole Mitchell, multi-reed masters Roscoe Mitchell and Anthony Braxton, and drummer Mike Reed.  In fact, Ms. Reid, Ms. Mitchell, and Mr. Reed released the delightful "Artifacts" (482 Music) in 2015, a tribute to the AACM (my review here), followed several weeks later by her debut CD, "The Tomeka Reid Quartet" (Thirsty Ear), an ensemble featuring guitarist Mary Halvorson, drummer Tomas Fujiwara and bassist Jason Roebke.

The Branch-Reid Duo will play the first set and will be joined on the second set by bassist (and series curator) Carl Testa plus a special guest.  For more information and directions, go to uncertaintymusic.com.

To learn more about Ms. Branch, go to jaimiebranch.wordpress.com.  To find out more about Ms. Reid, her website is www.tomekareid.net.  Also, here are 2 excellent articles about the cellist, one from Chicago Magazine (here) and from Nate Chinen in Sunday's New York Times (here).

Bassist-composer Michael Bisio, perhaps best known for his work with pianist Matthew Shipp, saxophonist Joe McPhee, and a slew of fine recordings for the CIMP label, has always been a musician who loves to explore, making music that goes beyond cliche and genre.  His latest group and its new album, "Accortet" (Relative Pitch Records), is built around the accordion of Art Bailey (who has worked with the Klezmer Conservatory Band, with Darrell Katz's Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra, and trumpeter Frank London) and the cornet of Kirk Knuffke (who seems to have played on every other recording released in the last 18 months) - add to the mix the complementary work of drummer Michael Wimberly (Steve Coleman, as a composer/performer with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater) plus the wide-ranging compositions of the leader and this disk is quite a treat.

Photo by Peter Gannushkin
Opening with the loping "AM", the program ranges from the feisty interactions on "Giant Chase" to the gentle ballad "I Want to Do to You What Spring Does to Cherry Trees" to the rubato fire of "Charles Too". There are 2 tracks with the title "Livin' Large"; the first, subtitled "A & D", is duet for accordion and drums that starts slowly then takes off on the power of Wimberly's drums while Bailey moves in and around the beat.  The second take, subtitled "C & B", closes the album with a fascinating musical conversation for the bassist and Knuffke that leads to a splendid bass solo before a melodic sendoff. There's a playful undertone to the four musicians explorations on "Times That Bond" (with a sly reference to "A Love Supreme" for good measure) as well as throughout the sonic interactions of "Sun Mystery Ra History" - when the melody is finally revealed on the latter track, it's one of the prettiest on the album.

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 music moving while being melodic and adding so many colors.  Michael Bisio's music continues to evolve while continuing to challenge and reward the avid listener.

For more information, go to michaelbisio.com.

Here's "Henry Theme":

I was doing research on Henry Threadgill early one morning, following links on Google and in articles, and came across "Audio One: The Midwest School."  This impressive dectet, organized in Chicago for concerts in 2014 by saxophonist Ken Vandermark, played for 2 nights at the Green Mill in the Windy City, one set featuring music composed by Julius Hemphill, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Anthony Braxton, and Mr. Threadgill and another set of Vandermark originals dedicated to those musicians (plus a song for the post-punk "screamo" band Anna Karina) - that set is featured on "Audio One: An International Report" and released on Vandermark's Audiographic Records. It's fascinating to hear how the saxophonist arranges this music for a large ensemble, how it both honors the originals and builds upon the ideas in the forward-looking music.  That's how KV has approached his music since first emerging on the scene in the 1980s; listen, learn, find your way through the music and keep moving forward.

I am still trying to absorb the music but, if you are a fan of any of the musicians honored by "Audio One", go to audioone.bandcamp.com/album/the-midwest-school and check out this music.

Here's the group's take on the AEC's funky "Theme De Yoyo":

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