New In January From Cuneiform: Four Albums
CUNEIFORM RECORDS is one of the finest labels anywhere in the world today. Here are four new offerings for January 2011.
Flock Rune 321
Ty Citerman • Adam D. Gold • Eric Rockwin • Ken Thompson
“What happens when you take four highly opinionated, strong-willed and creative composer/musicians and put them in a band together? You might have a volatile problem on your hand…or else you have Gutbucket. From the beginning Gutbucket has had no single bandleader; the result has been an expansive yet unified and recognizable group sound. With Flock, the group’s fifth release, the twelve year-old Brooklyn-based quartet push their composer-driven, art-rock-tainted chamber jazz into new terrain. The group attacks their jazz with the ferocity usually reserved for punk. Their music is filled with layers of mature arrangements and a full-throttle blend of energy, chops, melody, intricacy and noise. From the beginning, Gutbucket’s music challenged New York’s downtown norm – “a no-holds-barred approach to the jazz-rock paradigm” (The New York Times, 2010) – bringing a completely unique road-tested performance and a sound that tilted much further towards rock than many of its jazz contemporaries. Gutbucket’s brand of jazz continues to have its signature biting edge, cunning sense of humor and appreciation for the loud and theatrical. Improvisations are woven seamlessly and sometimes unexpectedly into the band’s growing repertoire, and each composer in the group has developed an individual voice that simultaneously supports the collective. Flock cements Gutbucket’s sound – still wearing the indie rock influences on its sleeve, but delving deeply into all four members’ work as individual composers, assimilating contemporary classical, free jazz, mathy art rock, and more. Audibly, Gutbucket learned from its decade of record-making and has produced its most ambitious disc yet. The band has produced a CD that is hard-hitting yet nuanced, with a new sonic and compositional breadth. Gutbucket’s imagination is in full bloom on Flock; the band sounds exactly like itself: immediate, ferocious, ambitious and inviting. During their dozen year ride, Gutbucket has brought its “impressive balance of passionate lyricism and pummeling angularity” (Time Out New York) to festivals, clubs and concert halls in 33 US states and 19 countries. All of this work and energy and power has been harnessed on Flock, the latest in their series of impressive works!
BRING YOUR OWN RUNE 314
Mark Holub • Liran Donin • Toby McLaren • Pete Grogan • Chris Williams
OPTICAL DELUSIONS RUNE 318
Marc Capel • Dimitris Bikos • Natsuko Sugao • The-Hien Trinh • Alfonso Muõz • Vasco Miguel Trilla Gomes dos santos
As long-time fans of the ‘Canterbury School’ style of jazz/rock, a very appealing, very English, sometimes slightly whimsical blend of electric jazz with complex rock have sadly learned, this style and sound is rarely invoked nowadays. Planeta Imaginario are a creative and extraordinary six piece Spanish jazz/rock band that take some of the best influences from Canterbury style music and blend it with an original, very Mediterranean feel for a end result that is strongly their own but that is also redolent of 40 years of creative work in bringing jazz and rock together. To get an idea of what Optical Delusions has to offer, think of a great rhythm section of keyboards (Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes piano, acoustic piano, synths), electric bass and drums, influenced by creative rock bands like The Muffins, Hatfield, Caravan, National Health. Be sure to make note of the fact that the keyboardist is a excellent writer and arranger. Now add three jazz musicians on trombone, trumpet and alto, soprano and baritone saxophones, as well as guests on additional saxes, flute and French horn. Give all the musicians great compositions and arrangements to play and don’t forget to throw in a little dollop of weirdness to keep everything just a little bit off the (well) beaten track. This scenario is what you have here. I would not have expected that the best current exponents of that great Canterbury sound would be a group of musicians from Barcelona, the heart of Spain’s Catalan region, but expectations are made to be destroyed and Optical Delusions will utterly destroy you!
FLASHPOINT: NDR JAZZ WORKSHOP – APRIL ’69 RUNE 315/316
For nearly 45 years, John Surman has been one of England’s best known modern jazz musicians. His career began in the late 60s as both a sideman and a leader with such notable greats as John McLaughlin, Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath, Terje Rypdal, Mike Westbrook, Barre Phillips, Albert Mangelsdorff, Chick Corea and many others. He began working with the ECM label in the late 1970s where he has released a string of fine work that continues to this day. Every period of his career is filled with highlights, which is why Cuneiform is exceedingly proud to release for the first time ever this amazing document of the late 60s ‘Brit-jazz’ scene.
The NDR Jazz Workshop was a weekly show featuring all manner of jazzmen of the day. The taping of this NDR show was around the same time as Surman was recording his second album as a leader, How Many Clouds Can You See, so this is a unique chance to get an expanded view of his formative work as a leader and also at the early work of his musical compatriots who appear with him here. For this occasion, Surman led a ten-piece ensemble featuring the cream of modern British jazz players: John Surman – soprano and baritone sax, Kenny Wheeler – trumpet and flugelhorn, Alan Skidmore – tenor sax and flute, Ronnie Scott – tenor sax, Mike Osborne – alto sax, Malcolm Griffiths – trombone, Harry Miller – bass and Alan Jackson – drums, as well as two Austrian musicians, Fritz Pauer – piano and Erich Kleinschuster – trombone. Released on Flashpoint for the first time are five great peformance, including two excellent Surman compositions that he never recorded elsewhere. High quality audio recordings from these musicians from this period are quite rare and video footage is basically non-existent. Captured in crisp, clear black and white footage and in excellent mono sound, this release is a rare and hugely important document that will blow the minds of Brit-jazz fans and will open the ears, eyes and minds of those who don’t know the great and distinctive work of these fine musicians!
(CD + DVD)