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From Cuneiform Records in January 2012

Cuneiform Records

If Not Inertia

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Ergo If not Inertia
Cuneiform Rune 339

Brett Sroka,trombone and computer
Carl Maguire, Rhodes electric piano and analog synth,
Shawn Baltazor, drums

Ergo is a trio made up of Carl Maguire on Rhodes electric piano and analog synth, Shawn Baltazor on drums and lead by Brett Sroka on trombone and laptop. Their music is one of stark melodic beauty, enveloping electro-acoustic texture and empathic imagination. They have been playing together since 2003, combining the modern sound of electronica and beyond with jazz and ambient music. The basic building blocks of their sound are beats and electronics, trombone, the Fender Rhodes and drums. The music here generally develops slowly but it’s also very accessible while remaining something that holds active interest.

In the early 2000s, Brett Sroka began exploring beyond his Jazz background and became fascinated with electronic music, surrounding himself with synthesizers and software. As he sought to reconcile the six hundred years of technology between trombone and computer he also found musicians of similarly elastic and adventurous temperaments. As they continued to play together, an idiosyncratic dynamic began to cohere and Ergo was born. With their debut cd, the band put forth a statement of purpose and were lauded by AllAboutJazz-NY for “Best Debut CD” of 2006. Ergo’s sophomore cd, “multitude, solitude” brings the band further into it’s own. They have refined a unique style of unadorned melody and intrepid improvisation with a sensual approach to the post-modern techniques of sampling, synthesis and signal processing.

If Not Inertia is a release of quietly building and subtly stunning music; music based on loops, improvisation, small composed motifs and the interplay of the musicians. For the first time, on this release, they have worked with two guest musicians, both of them guitarists. Acclaimed new-music/new-jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson appears on nearly half of the album and acoustic guitarist Sebastian Kruger appears on the final track. The guitarists add a new texture to Ergo’s sound; a sound unique in jazz today!

In addition to the music, also included on the CD is a .mov file of a five minute, high quality promotional making of film entitled The Making of If Not Inertia, which has some interview insights from the musicians, as well as some insight from the studio sessions on how this album was created.”

ACTE V

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FORGAS BAND PHENOMENA, ACTE V
Cuneiform RUNE 332/333 CD and DVD

Dimitri Alexaline, trumpet and flugelhorn
Igor Brover, piano and keyboards
Sylvain Ducloux, guitar
Patrick Forgas, drums
Sylvain Gontard, guitar
Denis Guivar’ch, saxophone
Karolina Mlodecka,violin
Kengo Mochizuki,bass
Frederic Norel, violin
Sébastien Trognon, saxes and flute
Benjamin Violet, guitar

“For over 35 years, composer/drummer/bandleader Patrick Forgas has been making progressive jazz/rock music in his native Paris. He has led various incarnations of his Forgas Band Phenomena for nearly 15 years and four previous and excellent albums, all of which have featured shifting personnel, but the group featured on Acte V, the group’s fifth album, has been stable for five years and is the same group that performed on their last release. So, happily, the band still consists of Patrick, Sebastien Trognon on saxes and flute, Dimitri Alexaline on trumpet and flugelhorn, Benjamin Violet on guitar, Karolina Mlodecka on violin, Igor Brover on piano and keyboards, Kengo Mochizuki on bass. These musicians enliven his compositions with an energy and verve that gives his compositions the performances they deserve!

Fusing new jazz directions with the electric crackle of rock with inspired solos, the music will appeal to fans of Frank Zappa’s instrumental works, Jean-Luc Ponty, Morglbl, Return To Forever and Mats/Morgan Band. The quality of the music and performances is obvious from the first note and we’re not the only ones who have noticed, as the group has been invited to play some very high profiles concerts: in 2008 they were invited to Seoul, South Korea to perform and – more relevant to this release – in June 2010, the group were invited to perform at pentultimate edition of NEARFest, performing to a packed audience of over 1,000.

The concert was recorded and filmed and is included here as a 75 minute DVD alongside a completely new studio CD. The CD album features six new songs, ranging in length from 6:30 to 13:30, while the DVD is not only the group’s first-ever concert DVD, but it’s a wonderful summation of their work almost from the beginning, featuring a composition from their 2nd album, Extra-Lucide, two songs from their 3rd album, Soleil 12, two songs from their 4th, Axis of Madness, and two songs from Acte V!

BACK IN THE DAYS

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Michael Gibbs, BACK IN THE DAYS
Cuneiform RUNE 322

Brit-jazz composer and arranger Michael Gibbs was born in 1937 in Zimbabwe. Starting in 1959, he studied in Boston at the Berklee College of Music, the Boston Conservatory , Tanglewood and the Lenox School of Music, where he studied with a who’s who of contemporary jazz and modern composition: George Russell, Gunther Schuller, Iannis Xenakis, Aaron Copland, Lukas Foss and others. In 1964 he moved to the UK, where he engaged himself in the rapidly emerging contemporary UK jazz scene. Starting in the late 60s and continuing into the mid 70s, he recorded a number of highly acclaimed and influential albums featuring many of the most prominent British-based jazz players who, like Michael, were beginning to flirt with jazz/rock. Since the mid 70s he has worked as a educator as well as a free-lance arranger, doing arrangements and orchestrations for major names such as Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheny, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Peter Gabriel among many others, while too infrequently recording his own music.

Back In The Days is an audiophile recording of this great, too infrequently heard jazz composer and arranger fronting a well-honed 18-piece big band in a program of original modern jazz plus three specially arranged classics. The band is chock-full of great soloists and ensemble players and the legendary vibes player Gary Burton is a featured soloist.

After too many years of lack of consideration strictly because they were not Americans, the profile and interest in the 60s/70s wave of British jazz talents has never been higher and Gibbs is one of the major names in the field. From beginning to end, Back In The Days is a delight for fans of Brit-jazz, contemporary jazz and modern big band music!”

HOLY ABYSS

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HARRISON / FELICIATI / VU / POWELL / WEISS, Holy Abyss
Cuneiform RUNE 334

Joel Harrison, guitarist/composer
Lorenzo Feliciati, bassist/composer
Cuong Vu, trumpet
Roy Powell, Hammond B-3 organ and piano, and
Dan Weiss, drums

Holy Abyss is a collaborative effort between guitarist/composer Joel Harrison and bassist/composer Lorenzo Feliciati. Joining them are trumpeter Cuong Vu, Roy Powell on Hammond B-3 organ and piano, and Dan Weiss on drums.

A masterful electric jazz outing from five great players, this group personifies the worldwide nature of jazz today. Joel Harrison grew up in D.C., moved to the west coast in the late 80s and moved to New York City in the mid 90s where he still resides. Lorenzo Feliciati lives in Rome, Italy but travels the world and has collaborated with Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson), Bob Mitzer and Donovan and many others. Cuong Vu was born in Vietnam, lived for a number of years in New York City and made his name as a member of the Pat Metheny Group in the 2000s. He is currently a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. Roy Powell is from England and resides in Norway, where he works in a wide range of music, including mainstream, jazz piano, avant-garde and electric, funky jazz. Dan Weiss lives in New York City where he has recorded with many of the brightest, upcoming names there.

Harrison and Weiss have played together for many years while Feliciati and Powell also are longtime allies. Vu has recorded and toured with Feliciati and Powell, so even though this is the first recording by these five musicians together, there is a lot of built in chemistry. All share a love of modern jazz that is devoid of stylistic limitations, inclusive of sounds from around the world, infused with electronics, odd meters, and deeply hued, uncommon timbres and tonal palettes.

There is a wonderful symbiosis between Harrison’s and Vu’s sounds. Both favor piercing, gorgeous tones mixed with raw, nasty electronics, and that sound, mixed with Powell’s piano and Hammond B-3, is at once jubilant and hallucinogenic, crackling with energy, and then gently subdued. Weiss delivers his signature mix of driving groove punctuated by pithy, unpredictable asides, and the ever-solid accompaniment on upright bass keeps everything grounded.

This is a marvelous program of modern, tasty, tuneful and occasionally haunting electric jazz, reminiscent of some aspects of classic electric ECM work of the 70s and 80s.”

DECLINE AND FALL

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THINKING PLAGUE, Decline and Fall
Cuneifrom RUNE 320

Sharon Bradford, vocals
Robin Chestnut, drums
Elaine Di Falco, vocals
Bob Drake, bass guitar and other strings, percussion, keyboards
Harry Fleishman, keyboards
Mark Fuller, drums
Mark Harris, saxes and clarinet
Shane Hotle, keyboards
Mike Johnson, guitar
Dave Kerman, drums and percussion
Suzanne Lewis, vocals
Matt Mitchell, piano, harmonium, synths
Eric Moon, keyboards
Deborah Perry, vocals
Kimara Sajn, keyboardist/drummer
David Shamrock, drums
Dave Willey, bass & accordion

Decline and Fall is the long awaited sixth album from a group who personifies the term beloved underground favorites. From the group’s beginnings as a duo doing basement recording experiments nearly 30 years ago until now, Thinking Plague has always had a strong vision of their unique take on progressive rock music. Despite the very long lifespan of the band and the many years between records, the basic sound of the group and instrumentation was set early and the years since have seen interesting variations on their sound, from the stripped down approach of the earliest work to the deep layering of electronic sounds and samples of their last album.

Decline and Fall strips back a lot of the studio-isms and more than ever, sounds like the work of a really powerful band. The album adds a few other new surprises, most notably the addition of wonderful vocalist Elaine Di Falco who fits right into what may be the band’s most demanding job. She sings with great poise and control the band’s hallmark melodic lines – passages that would trip up a lesser vocalist. Also new is keyboardist/drummer Kimara Sajn who plays with tremendous authority on both instruments (although just before finishing up the album, the group added drummer Robin Chestnut who appears on one track). Returning are long-term members Mark Harris on saxes and clarinets, Dave Willey on bass and Mike Johnson, the band’s guitarist, leader and composer.

A new album by Thinking Plague is always an event; working slowly and unwaveringly, the group has released a handful of brilliant, art-rock classics. Decline and Fall is the latest of them.”

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One response

  1. 441544 320974Hey man, .This was an excellent page for such a hard subject to talk about. I look forward to reading many more great posts like these. Thanks 664616

    July 24, 2013 at 6:24 AM

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