Nate Dorward

BFT 51 - Discussion

75 posts in this topic

A few introductory remarks. There's no connecting theme here, aside from the fact that these 11 tracks are drawn from fairly recent releases. Feel free to guess at the identity of the musicians, but keep in mind that there are no big-name players here. Some will be familiar names but many won't be.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but: don't feel hesitant about saying if (& why) you don't like something. These are all tracks that, for different reasons, I like a lot, but I have no expectations they'll all appeal equally to anyone else.

If any participants still haven't received their discs (I just heard from one today that his packet arrived, so obviously some are still floating around in the mail), or the disc is flawed, then they should drop me a line & I'll work on a replacement.

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OK: dig in!

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Not really a guessing-game/test, given that few of these are easily recognizable artists, but thought I'd keep track of the i.d.'d tracks:

1 (couw, if obliquely!)

2 (Red)

3 (Red)

7 (relyles)

11 (Red)

Edited by Nate Dorward

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Track 1: Lost interest very quickly. Not a fan of vocalese at all.

Track 2: Oh, now this is nice! The guitar reminds me of Peter Leitch. I like how the bass is playing the vamp over and over.

Track 3: My kinda groove, baby!!! Sounds like one of those jam bands that were recently popular, but nothing springs to mind. Sounds like someone wanted to their own tribute to Eddie Harris’ THE IN SOUND. Works for me! Ooh, I like that rhythm guitar under the tenor sax solo. Sweet!

Track 4: This sounds like me picking up someone else’s guitar and noodling around on it for awhile. No, I take it back: it sounds like someone attempting to repair his guitar and forgetting to unplug the amp and turn the durn thing off! NEXT!!!

Track 5: Alright, back to a nice groove again. Gets a little too far out for me, but otherwise not bad. I like it that it’s a pianoless group. The drummer shows an obvious debt to Elvin here. Is that Haden on bass? Sounds like they’re paying tribute to an Ornette group.

Track 6: This sounds like me picking up Sangrey’s saxophone and noodling around on it for awhile. No, I take it back: it sounds like someone attempting to repair his Varitone saxophone in a roomful of Scottish Hari Krishnas and forgetting to unplug the amp and turn the durn thing off! NEXT!!!

Y’know, I was about to skip to the next track and then I noticed that this thing goes on for fifteen minutes. So I thought, “Surely this noise can’t go on for fifteen minutes” to which I replied “Why don’t you find out? And stop calling me Shirley.” Well, I’m glad I did. About the 6:30 minute, that wicked groove kicks in and is dragging me along for a viciously stomping ride! ‘course, there’s still seven minutes to go. Let’s find out what’s gonna happen! Nope, that great groove stayed all the way through!

Track 7: Standard bop group, I guess. Kinda went by unnoticed.

Track 8: This must be an outtake from the upcoming Mosaic box, “The Complete Eddie Anderson Recordings of Jack Benny’s Violin Solos.” Ouch!

Track 9: I’m going to guess this is something from Grachan Moncur’s latest, only because I think he has a new album out, and this sounds like his kind of tune. I mean, really, this reminds me of some of the more introspective moments on Evolution, when one instrument would play the vamp while another instrument soloed.

Track 10: Pretty cool. Nothing that I could even describe, but certainly not bad.

Track 11: Goodnight sweetheart, well it’s time to go...... hic!!!!

Very enjoyable, Nate! Can't wait to see the other guesses.

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Nate caught me with some time on my otherwise empty mind this evening, so I'll give it a spin and see where we land.

een. The beat-box mouth sounds are not necessarily the best in their field, but probably that wasn't the aim as they serve well to conjure an ironic athmosphere as if we're listening to the latest of some crappy boy band. The lyrics (or rather poem) don't fit with with that image at all of course. The jubilant sax solo continues to estrange from the seriousness of the text. In the end the message escapes me, it must be something post-modern. A quick google search of course reveals the artist and the album.

twee. Bass vamp (reminiscent of the previous tune) with noodley guitar dude getting his rocks off at times in some zappayesk interbreed of jazz and something else. At other times it's just noodling really without much interplay between the instruments: "What are you looking at?" "My navel." End verdict is in the open.

drie. Very familiar tune in unfamiliar clang-a-lang-a-clang-clang instrumentation. Them clang-a-lang-clangs are great! But why start with a bass solo and loose momentum from the git-go? This is whack. The piano has to work hard to get them legs moving again, helped of course by the friendly drummer's china crash. The tenor enters a bit too hesitantly and in too sad notes to honour the exuberance of the clang-a-langs. Must have been listening to Wayne too much, heheh. MORE COWBELL! The trumpet section at least knows how to rock this thing on its way to an early death.

vier. LOL!!!! This is funneee! makes you think some big ass spanish maestro is going to flamenco the hell out of you after that dark and mysterious bass intro and then you get this plate of chopped guitar liver to deal with. This reminds me a lot of Joe Sachse playing his guitar in all kinds of ways the above mentioned Spanish maestro would chop up his own liver over. There seems to be no goal here, but there is plenty of internal and sudden impetus and loads of fun. Not breakfast kind of fun, but it's evening here now anyhoo.

vijf. Another vamp-y bit with some squeeky bike tooters sounding off. Here the continued bass vamp really pulls it off to enlarge tension until the horn comes in. This is good! It has it all, vamp, whack trumpeteer, silly Lurie-like bits, lots of room as the piano is lacking -- and we all know how those pianistos need to fill every bit of space with their territorial marks that it can be very refreshing to leave them out at times. Hell, I did an entire BFT comp without them; I would have included this track had I known it.

zes. Albert Ayler rises from his grave in fade-in mode to possess pharaoh and with an accordeon in the background too (?). Oddly mesmerising. Nagnag goes the brain, telling me I have heard this before. And the damn thing suddenly opens up like whatever it is that opens up like this and kapow there we are in the midst of it all. If these aren't the masters themselves at work, there's an awful lot of "borrowing" going on that might even make one feel uneasy. On the other hand they get off something that merits plenty in and of itself, so carpe diem!

zeven. Obligatory angular theme with unisono piano/horns that doesn't leave one whistling it afterwards and that doesn't convey much either other than that we're dealing with some "heavy dudes" who know life can be a bitch. Yeah well, tell me something new. And when I was fearing a piano solo that tries to make me feel sorry for the player, myself, or whomever, the guy somehow got the curve and it turned out okay. Trumpet does some Morganite slurrs that are quite okay too. I hate this kind of Hill-like piano comping, though, tearing it all down around the soloists instead of following the lead and lifting the trumpeteer even higher. Seems the bassist doesn't elicit these sentiments and the pianist seems to take another leaf from monk's book: to shut up every now and then. The schizophrenic nature of the pianist upsets me: nice and friendly in his own parts and a party killer when the other guy is in the limelight. In the end, the music doesn't do much for me.

acht. squeaky-squeek and then what? Joe Sachse takes to the violin and wrecks it too. He should have stuck to the guitar. This got more interesting as it evolved and so I hit play again and really have to ask myself and the guy playing this what all the -- well yes -- cheap effects were about and why he didn't settle into his contemplative gypsy mood from the start. However jarring I find this and however much I will never run out to buy the disc, this has its moments and it's nice to have been exposed at least the one time.

negen. and so it goes. Nice and filmic this one. Probably with some people on the move dressed in gray and black looking sad and trekking somewhere through large open areas with snow and lots of other hardships like dead kids and stuff like that. Very nice, but very filmic, i.e. I know it's only make-believe and not for real, so that's not good if you think about it.

tien. Ferante & Teicher on acid! and then some lame and way too loud bunch of whatever falls over and into it. Sheesh, what kind of sound is this then? FULL? yeah, but it sucks you know... After that dust has settled, there's another vamp here, but there is not much for it to sustain. The tenor solo is weak without much of a story or direction and so the vamp has enough exposure to get on my nerves and then they get into this noisy unisono thing again to lead into some pointillistic emptiness that's not very telling either (I seem to have missed the first part of the story so I cannot place this one however much I try). The sax feep feep cannot save it either and the noise block blocks any view I might have developed. In the end, this -- as they say -- wasn't quite it.

elf. The violin has been drinking and so has the trombone. Excellent; santé!

so, that was fun; thankyou Nate!

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Thanks, Nate, for a very absorbing BFT. I didn't like all of it, but that's par for the course. I have no idea who any of it is, although there are things that sound familiar. I'm eager to read the answers! But without further ado, and before reading any other posts in the discussion thread, here are my own comments:

1. I'll take a wild guess that this is entitled "Five Cents a Page." Lots of fun! Fresh, despite the slightly joky mouth percussion. I was glad when the horns kicked in towards the end, too, to add some more flavor. I'm intrigued. But damn, Nate, what are you, some sort of poetry buff or something?

2. I got impatient with the bass vamp, and the generally static feel, but nice playing.

3. A Monk tune, can't think of the title, but seemingly stripped of its rests to give it something original. The jangling rhythm guitar, vaguely reminiscent of 70's funk, is a cool idea for Monk, but personally I feel he built enough funk into his theme that it would have been stronger if the original phrasing had been retained, with or without the guitar. I didn't get much nourishment from the soloing, either. To me this seems to try too hard to be hip. For funky Monk, I prefer the album Jamaaladeen Tacuma made with Wolfgang Puschnig, which favored danceable rhythm. Monk used to dance to his stuff and I guess I still feel everyone else should too (despite what they might want to do).

4. I like this a lot. Absorbing development, engaged playing with real ideas and beautiful sounds. Don't know who it is but will be pleased to learn.

5. I like the trumpeter's feisty tone but IMHO the whole thing suffers from predictability, a lack of memorable melody, and boring bass-and-drums. Similar in that way to number 2.

6. Ah, 60's style free jazz! Don't know when it dates from. I love the looseness and urgency, all that generous and assertive percussion. To me this has that edge that numbers 2 and 5 lack--that vividness. It has heart.

7. Well, how very mainstream. ;-) I love it! Very familiar sounding, I wonder if I don't actually have it. But I don't know what it is, only that everything about it fills me with ease.

8. Usually I'm not much taken with bowed string instruments in jazz, unless you're talking Grappelli or Stuff Smith (also I have a soft spot for Paul Chambers' determined sawing). But this is very cool, full of wit and feeling and a certain cocky swagger. Love those chirping double-stops at around 3:15, disintegrating into noisy scrapes. Another one I looking forward to learning the identity of.

9. Lovely atmospheres and textures. It drags in places, however.

10. I like the tenor player and, especially, the bassist. The punchy, repetitive rhythm figures by bass and drums are wearisome, however, IMHO. Quite a nice group, though.

11. Excellent end to the proceedings! Graceful and stately in a pleasingly old-timey way. The violin and trombone sound beautiful together.

Edited by Tom Storer

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I guess I don’t have much to say except what appeals to me and what doesn’t.

I most enjoyed the following tracks:

4. I haven’t heard anything new from Egberto Gismonti for a long time but this sounded like him to me. Whoever it is sure can play.

5. This sounded better ever time I played it. At first I thought it was something from the 1960s.

9. Both the ensemble playing and solos sounded pretty good to me.

11. This one and 9 are the ones I am most interested in finding out who done it. It seems like it is being played with good humor.

The rest of the tracks were ok, just nothing that made me think, I’ve got to find out who that is. I have to admit that I thought track 1 was a little silly and the solo violin track did kind of grate on my last nerve.

Thanks again for including me Nate. My virgin BFT was great fun.

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Thanks for the replies, folks: very interesting, & sometimes entertaining, reading! I'll hold off a little longer on specific comments on responses, in part because so far they've been so various (with 4 commentaries now in, I think every track has already had at least one positive & one negative reaction!) that I'm still waiting to see if any patterns of response emerge....

I will say that I picked these tracks because I thought they all, in their various ways, invite a response more than "pretty nice" or "ehh....". (Which isn't to blame anyone who has those responses, of course.... god knows, there's a lot of music I hear that just leaves me with little to say....) None of the tracks is exactly background listening, & they all are idiosyncratic enough that they will please some listeners, & turn others off.

Edited by Nate Dorward

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All's I know is I was groovin' heavily to the last nine minutes of track 6. WHOA!!! :excited:

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Glad you found it worth the trouble :) !..... I know that picking a 15-minute track risked testing some listeners' patience...

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I've really been enjoying listening to this disc. Each track was at least interesting, if not something I would reach for repeatedly.

1. Bobby McFerrin meets the Four Freshmen? This is really not my cup of tea. I don't really feel that all of the random parts: the vocals / poem / beatbox / instruments ever came together into a coherent whole. More cutesy and "oddball" than effective. I was shocked when I did a search and saw which label this is on.

2. If you told me that this was a rehearsal outtake from the In A Silent Way sessions I would believe you. This one doesn't really go anywhere, although I like everything that they play. It's almost frustrating, as they have the beginnings of a good groove and could, I believe, have taken this piece to more interesting places.

3. Speaking of groove....this one is fairly loosely played, apart from the clattering, clanking mechanical-workshop percussion and the piano. I'm guessing this is the pianist's date, as he seems to dominate the proceedings. The guitar and sax aren't doing all that much for me. Too laid-back, as if they were coming from an entirely different place / groove than the percussionist. The trumpet works, however. I'm guessing this is a more recent track than it sounds like.

4. Derek Bailey covering Michael Hedges? No clue who this is, but I'm enjoying it quite a bit. A very pretty performance, even as the guitarist chops and deconstructs the tune.

5. There is a lot to like about this track, but I kept wishing they would let loose a bit more and play with some more fire. This one becomes too rigid and predictable at times, which is a shame. This has a very late-'60's vibe to it, but it sounds like a more recent recording. Definitely a thumbs-up from me, with reservations.

6. Someone has been listening to Pharoah's early albums on Impulse!, and then they bring in some Ayler, too. I was enjoying this track, if a little surprised by how restrained / under-recorded the rhythm section was, until 6:35 hit. Damn, this just got taken up another few notches. This one is either taken from the early 1970's or someone is doing a fantastic job paying homage to that era and players. Very nice.

more comments to follow.

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1. Bobby McFerrin meets the Four Freshmen? This is really not my cup of tea. I don't really feel that all of the random parts: the vocals / poem / beatbox / instruments ever came together into a coherent whole. More cutesy and "oddball" than effective. I was shocked when I did a search and saw which label this is on.

Yes, though it's less surprising if you look at their site & note one of the other labels that they also distribute....

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6. Someone has been listening to Pharoah's early albums on Impulse!, and then they bring in some Ayler, too. I was enjoying this track, if a little surprised by how restrained / under-recorded the rhythm section was, until 6:35 hit. Damn, this just got taken up another few notches.

HELLYEAH!!! I need to take this one down the highway someday!

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A few comments. I'll add a few more later.

Track 5: Alright, back to a nice groove again. Gets a little too far out for me, but otherwise not bad. I like it that it’s a pianoless group. The drummer shows an obvious debt to Elvin here. Is that Haden on bass? Sounds like they’re paying tribute to an Ornette group.

No, not Haden, though of course Ornette is an influence on this group.

Track 9: I’m going to guess this is something from Grachan Moncur’s latest, only because I think he has a new album out, and this sounds like his kind of tune. I mean, really, this reminds me of some of the more introspective moments on Evolution, when one instrument would play the vamp while another instrument soloed.

No, not Moncur, though I know what you mean about the structure of the tune. You're getting a little warm, definitely...

een. The beat-box mouth sounds are not necessarily the best in their field, but probably that wasn't the aim as they serve well to conjure an ironic athmosphere as if we're listening to the latest of some crappy boy band. The lyrics (or rather poem) don't fit with with that image at all of course. The jubilant sax solo continues to estrange from the seriousness of the text. In the end the message escapes me, it must be something post-modern. A quick google search of course reveals the artist and the album.

Yes, I knew this track would be easy to Google because of the lyrics! I do find it a little surprising that some listeners found irony here, or that the music undercut the spoken word. I think the album as a whole (music + words) does a good job of telling some interesting stories that at once seem nostalgic & yet kinda bleak.

drie. .... But why start with a bass solo and loose momentum from the git-go? This is whack.

Well, sometimes there are good reasons for these things...... :) -- Surprised you didn't spot any of the players here, this is one of the more easily i.d.able tracks on the BFT!

vier. LOL!!!! This is funneee! makes you think some big ass spanish maestro is going to flamenco the hell out of you after that dark and mysterious bass intro and then you get this plate of chopped guitar liver to deal with. This reminds me a lot of Joe Sachse playing his guitar in all kinds of ways the above mentioned Spanish maestro would chop up his own liver over. There seems to be no goal here, but there is plenty of internal and sudden impetus and loads of fun. Not breakfast kind of fun, but it's evening here now anyhoo.

Not Sachse, though that's a good parallel. The guitarist did spend time in Spain & has some serious classical-guitar chops.

zes. Albert Ayler rises from his grave in fade-in mode to possess pharaoh and with an accordeon in the background too (?). Oddly mesmerising. Nagnag goes the brain, telling me I have heard this before. And the damn thing suddenly opens up like whatever it is that opens up like this and kapow there we are in the midst of it all. If these aren't the masters themselves at work, there's an awful lot of "borrowing" going on that might even make one feel uneasy. On the other hand they get off something that merits plenty in and of itself, so carpe diem!

Ayler & Sanders are certainly reference-points, though there are other sources too (listen closely to the tune the sax plays near the end..... hint hint), & in fact if you can place the tune that's nagging at your brain you'll have another hint. (It's one of only two "covers" on this BFT.)

acht. squeaky-squeek and then what? Joe Sachse takes to the violin and wrecks it too. He should have stuck to the guitar. This got more interesting as it evolved and so I hit play again and really have to ask myself and the guy playing this what all the -- well yes -- cheap effects were about and why he didn't settle into his contemplative gypsy mood from the start. However jarring I find this and however much I will never run out to buy the disc, this has its moments and it's nice to have been exposed at least the one time.

The jittery nature of this track is in part related to the overriding theme/mood of the CD I took it from.

negen. and so it goes. Nice and filmic this one. Probably with some people on the move dressed in gray and black looking sad and trekking somewhere through large open areas with snow and lots of other hardships like dead kids and stuff like that. Very nice, but very filmic, i.e. I know it's only make-believe and not for real, so that's not good if you think about it.

Once you see the title of the piece you'll know both how wrong & how right your imagined narrative is.... :)

Edited by Nate Dorward

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Some thoughts on the first few tracks.

1) I have to say, I had no idea who this was, but of course a quick search for the lyrics revealed the answer. Interesting! The harmonies in the arrangement made me think of some of the Real Group’s arrangements, although the execution is light years from theirs (I don’t mean any value judgement by this!). Interesting approach…is the album some autobiographical concept-piece? I like the cello line. I’m not sure I enjoy this too much, although the more I listen to it, the more curious I am…I like the altoist’s tone a lot!

2) My initial thoughts here were anticipation…when will Fred Anderson enter? This is the modal groove of ‘From the River to the Source’ etc…I fancy the guitarist may be Jeff Parker? Nice inventive playing, whilst staying firmly inside the tune…The panning of the drum sound is really odd, to the extent that I’m doubting myself – I take it there’s only the one drummer, but I can’t swear to it. It’s not Hamid Drake I don’t think (a little too much going on, and I don’t think the drums sound like his, especially that dark cymbal); perhaps someone like Michael Zerang? It IS a nice kit sound though; toms sounding almost like frame drums. Could that be Josh Abrams on bass? Or Harrison Bankhead? I like this track a lot.

3) Bright Mississippi. I think a number of Monk tunes can work very well over more contemporary grooves (this one is a slightly interesting one – afro-cuban funk…) – although the concept has to be deployed sparingly IMHO: the compositions have so many rhythmic implications of their own that too much messing can lose the point. An album I love is Arthur Blythe’s ‘Light Blue’, where there’s a bit of this going on.

I think we’re listening to this here. I really like the rhythm section – it’s definitely in the pocket, and staying there. Horn soloists I can take or leave, I have to say. Pianist isn’t too bad, but not doing much for me. But nice rhythm playing, and a killing tune.

4) Are we listening to an acoustic bass guitar at the start? Hang on, no – probably actually one guitar with some extra strings at the bottom. My first thoughts – very post-Threadgill, compositionally. Brings to mind things from ‘Song Out My Trees’ (‘Over the River Club’ or ‘Crea’, for instance). Could it be someone like Brandon Ross or Liberty Ellman in an ‘out’ mood?

5) Not too keen…just lacks a bit of fire…I think predictability can be a virtue (that’s how vamps work, after all!), but only where there’s some counterpoint from somewhere. Trumpet player has a big sound; in fact, could it be a cornet? I like the tone. Just not sure who this might be. Tune sounds like it could be an Osby or Steve Coleman…Jury’s out for me. I get the impression the players could really take off, but it’s not happening here.

6) I like this a great deal! An excerpt from a larger piece. Wonderfully subtle electronics/accordion/harmonium/something-or-other going on at the start. In fact, that first few minutes is not so dissimilar from moment’s in Bruise’s stuff, with Ashley’s soundscapes...I can’t place the tune…sounds like an Ayler one, but don’t think it is. Damn, it’s incredibly familiar.

This also brings to mind (particularly in the opening) Harris Eisenstadt’s wonderful Ahimsa Orchestra, as well as the Exploding Star Orchestra. It’s neither of these (in passing – Nicole Mitchell is IMHO an amazing addition to large groups – the colour she lends ESO and Braxton’s 12+1 tet, to name but two, is awesome). I also have in mind Steve Swell’s large group, maybe even a William Parker large group.

Part of me wants to say, albeit timidly, Brotzmann’s Chicago 10-tet, but I just don’t know. Nice track – great variety of feels from the fantastic drummers/percussionists.

Edited by Red

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and the rest...

7) I really really like the piano player. Great angular, rhythmic comping…nice dark voicings, and refreshingly unpredictable in his solos. Out of an Elmo Hope-Herbie Nichols-Andrew Hill lineage. Not, I think, Frank Hewitt, but of that ilk. Really nice drumming, and an absolutely gorgeous set of cymbals. I enjoy the horn player – nice fat tone, and a pleasingly straight (although still inventive) foil for the piano. Can piano playing be vocal? If so – this is vocal piano playing – e.g. that hiccough/laugh at 7’40”. Beautiful! FWIW – my least favourite aspect of this is the head.

8) I should know who this is. But I just can’t place it. Too much going on, I think, for it to be Phil Wachsmann (and too brash?), although similarly subtle use of electronics (e.g. 0’28”). Some extreme technique on display, and few have the mastery of the instrument that Phil does…Nope, I dunno. I would think it’s a European ;) – Zingaro?

9) Not too convinced compositionally by this at first…seems a bit disjointed. It’s growing on me, however. Some lovely voicing and sonorities though. Sounds a little bit like a tamed Nels Cline group. It’s not that, and I don’t know why I think that, but anyway…trombonist at first risks drowning in his own reverb…There’s a certain elegance to the group sound I love, and the trumpet’s vibrato at 7’50” is wonderful. Great at 8’40’ ish how sax and ‘bone both land on the multiphonic. Beautiful Ellingtoninan voicings at 9’40”. The more I hear this, the more intrigued I am. I’d love to check out the band in other moods, too! I can’t help but feel the band isn’t entirely North American. Feels like there might be a Dutchman or 8 in there.

10) Sounds like bowdlerised Anthony Davis. Pheeroan on drums having been told to behave. I don’t know…a fairly extraordinary piano introduction though! Totally rubbery limbs (assuming it’s one player? Might there actually be two?). This somehow doesn’t do it for me, but it is fairly interesting. Probably need a few more listens here…Hang on, surely that’s two pianos? Still don’t know who it is though.

11) Sounds like pesky Europeans to me. Probably Dutch. Wierbos, Oliver (we’ll count her as Dutch), and someone…Not Misha, obviously. No, I just don’t know. It’s fun though!

Great disc, Nate, thank you so much. And I’m really interested to see how this thread develops. I’m sure I shall learn and kick myself in equal measure.

Edited by Red

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2. I got impatient with the bass vamp, and the generally static feel, but nice playing.

This is actually one of the more groove-based tracks on the source album, in its use of a repeated bass figure, even if it's never 1/2/3/4 in pulse. I know the bassist & he tells me that he was extremely sick the day this was recorded, so much so that he feared he'd wrecked the session! -- Anyway, I have great respect for musicians who seem to balance "inside" and "outside" approaches, which is one reason I picked this session (that, plus the fact it reminded me of the great Alarms & Excursions by Bern Nix).

6. Ah, 60's style free jazz! Don't know when it dates from. I love the looseness and urgency, all that generous and assertive percussion. To me this has that edge that numbers 2 and 5 lack--that vividness. It has heart.

It's a recent recording (like all the tracks on this BFT) but it's a cover of a 1960s tune. & yes, these guys have heart--I saw them in a club a year or so ago & I was blown away; even better, they made converts of a skeptical club-owner (who was NOT a fan of free jazz) & a sparse crowd who were obviously just expecting an evening of rote bebop.

4. I haven’t heard anything new from Egberto Gismonti for a long time but this sounded like him to me. Whoever it is sure can play.

Nope, not Gismonti! I find the range of response to this track particularly interesting -- I think the guitarist (whom I know) would appreciate this, especially the evident uncertainty about whether this is composed or purely improvised & what style/genre/tradition it's coming out of.

5. There is a lot to like about this track, but I kept wishing they would let loose a bit more and play with some more fire. This one becomes too rigid and predictable at times, which is a shame. This has a very late-'60's vibe to it, but it sounds like a more recent recording. Definitely a thumbs-up from me, with reservations.

This is the band's only studio album, & their live shows are very different, maybe more in line with your preferences: the compositions are malleable resources rather than being treated in head-solos-head format, & often there's a lot of wide-open improvisational space.

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1) I have to say, I had no idea who this was, but of course a quick search for the lyrics revealed the answer. Interesting! The harmonies in the arrangement made me think of some of the Real Group’s arrangements, although the execution is light years from theirs (I don’t mean any value judgement by this!). Interesting approach…is the album some autobiographical concept-piece? I like the cello line. I’m not sure I enjoy this too much, although the more I listen to it, the more curious I am…I like the altoist’s tone a lot!

I don't know the Real Group! -- The spoken word on the album has a strong autobiographical element, though not in any straightforward way. It's less surreal than some of the projects these players have been involved in, though, some of which are more like Escalator over the Hill Gertrude-Stein jazz-cabaret....

3) I think we’re listening to this here. I really like the rhythm section – it’s definitely in the pocket, and staying there. Horn soloists I can take or leave, I have to say. Pianist isn’t too bad, but not doing much for me. But nice rhythm playing, and a killing tune.

Yes, that's the one (well, how many 7/4 "Green Chimneys" are there out there?). I'd agree about the soloists--if I'd had more space I'd have gone with the title-track from the album, which has hotter solos all round & a guest appearance by a favourite player on the Fender Rhodes. But I put this on for the general "feel" (rhythmic & emotional).

6) I like this a great deal! An excerpt from a larger piece. Wonderfully subtle electronics/accordion/harmonium/something-or-other going on at the start. In fact, that first few minutes is not so dissimilar from moment’s in Bruise’s stuff, with Ashley’s soundscapes...I can’t place the tune…sounds like an Ayler one, but don’t think it is. Damn, it’s incredibly familiar. .... Nice track – great variety of feels from the fantastic drummers/percussionists.

There's one "main" drummer but I think virtually all the band members play percussion, "little instruments", radio & whatnot. Yes, I think the comparison to Bruise, especially the slammin' middle track on their latest album, is apt. I had actually considered doing a 2-CD BFT with the 2nd CD simply a "bonus" of that 37-minute track from Bruise's We Packed Are Bags.

7) I really really like the piano player. Great angular, rhythmic comping…nice dark voicings, and refreshingly unpredictable in his solos. Out of an Elmo Hope-Herbie Nichols-Andrew Hill lineage. Not, I think, Frank Hewitt, but of that ilk. Really nice drumming, and an absolutely gorgeous set of cymbals. I enjoy the horn player – nice fat tone, and a pleasingly straight (although still inventive) foil for the piano. Can piano playing be vocal? If so – this is vocal piano playing – e.g. that hiccough/laugh at 7’40”. Beautiful! FWIW – my least favourite aspect of this is the head.

Oh, what bugs you about the head? -- I picked this track in part because it's the one that's least "typical" of the particular stylistic school this pianist (idiosyncratically!) belongs to. I like his tunes, though!

8) I should know who this is. But I just can’t place it. Too much going on, I think, for it to be Phil Wachsmann (and too brash?), although similarly subtle use of electronics (e.g. 0’28”). Some extreme technique on display, and few have the mastery of the instrument that Phil does…Nope, I dunno. I would think it’s a European ;) – Zingaro?

Not European, nope! I'm not sure if electronics are involved or not; it may be an acoustic performance with a little postproduction e.g. for that glitchy effect (the rest of the album does have a few overdubs). Actually, one thing I really like about this player is the avoidance of FX even in contexts where fiddlers tend to go wild with electronics (e.g. fusion/jazzrock projects). But the effect of the "natural" sound of the instrument can be even more wild & deranged than anything electronic effects can add....

9) Not too convinced compositionally by this at first…seems a bit disjointed. It’s growing on me, however. Some lovely voicing and sonorities though. Sounds a little bit like a tamed Nels Cline group. It’s not that, and I don’t know why I think that, but anyway…trombonist at first risks drowning in his own reverb…There’s a certain elegance to the group sound I love, and the trumpet’s vibrato at 7’50” is wonderful. Great at 8’40’ ish how sax and ‘bone both land on the multiphonic. Beautiful Ellingtoninan voicings at 9’40”. The more I hear this, the more intrigued I am. I’d love to check out the band in other moods, too! I can’t help but feel the band isn’t entirely North American. Feels like there might be a Dutchman or 8 in there.

Like all but one of the tracks this is a North American band. The mention of Nels Cline isn't as off-base as you might suppose, despite the absence of guitar..... -- The leader/arranger tells me it originally was a piece for two horns + drummer. I could have picked a more conventional piece off the album--the next piece is devious jazz-rock in a Carla Bley vein for instance, & the ballads have a Wheelerian beauty of texture--but I thought this would be more challenging. What I admire is the way the arrangement sounds as improvised as a solo; though I imagine some listeners will find that it takes its sweet time (the variations of texture & intensity are well worth listening to behind the soloist!).

11) Sounds like pesky Europeans to me. Probably Dutch. Wierbos, Oliver (we’ll count her as Dutch), and someone…Not Misha, obviously. No, I just don’t know. It’s fun though!

Getting there: yep, it's Wierbos, but not Mary Oliver or Misha. But I'm pretty sure you know these players. (& now you know which is the one non-North American track....)

*

One more hint: there is a link between three of these albums, as they were released simultaneously by the same record label.

Edited by Nate Dorward

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7) I really really like the piano player. Great angular, rhythmic comping…nice dark voicings, and refreshingly unpredictable in his solos. Out of an Elmo Hope-Herbie Nichols-Andrew Hill lineage. Not, I think, Frank Hewitt, but of that ilk. Really nice drumming, and an absolutely gorgeous set of cymbals. I enjoy the horn player – nice fat tone, and a pleasingly straight (although still inventive) foil for the piano. Can piano playing be vocal? If so – this is vocal piano playing – e.g. that hiccough/laugh at 7’40”. Beautiful! FWIW – my least favourite aspect of this is the head.

Oh, what bugs you about the head? -- I picked this track in part because it's the one that's least "typical" of the particular stylistic school this pianist (idiosyncratically!) belongs to. I like his tunes, though!

First couple of times through, it felt like it wasn't a stylistic match for the blowing: as angular ideas go (which I love), a bit more downtown-y than Hill-y, which didn't feel right in the context. Have just put it on again though, and perhaps my comments were hasty - liked it much more this time around.

As for the last track...Could it be Steve Beresford on piano? Or maestro Weston? Tricky...when people get their humorous thing on, sometimes all that gives them away on piano is touch, and I can't place this...

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Scrub that, actually...could it be this project?

apparantly yes!

click on the cd/mp3 link on that site and find the track among the samples

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Yes, that's right. I actually have to write a review of this for STN by Oct 20th....! (It was recorded some time ago but I think it was only a limited edition; the disc I have is the first widely-available issue.)

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I'm secretly impressed with myself that I managed to pick Wierbos by virtue of his doing something other than taking his horn apart :)

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Yes, that's right. I actually have to write a review of this for STN by Oct 20th....! (It was recorded some time ago but I think it was only a limited edition; the disc I have is the first widely-available issue.)

Please pardon my lack of knowledge, but what is STN?

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A few more thoughts:

7. This track didn’t really grab me at first, but it has grown on me with repeated listens. The piano player reminds me of Andrew Hill, but with a “lighter” touch. The bass and drums are excellent, too. This track came across as fairly straightforward and uneventful on first listen, but repeated listens have revealed how quirky and unpredictable it really is.

8. I have no idea who this is, as my exposure to solo violin recordings is very limited. Off the top of my head I believe I only have the solo Malcolm Goldstein disc on Eremite. This might be the track I have listened to the most on this BFT. Not easy listening at all, and fairly abrasive and grating in spots, but very interesting. This piece is very impressive, technically, and shows a sly sense of humor. I’m really looking forward to finding out who this is.

9. Ellington writing for ICP? This is another tune that is quirkier than it seems at first. Very interesting writing and some nice soloing and ensemble playing from all involved. This did seem to drag a bit at times, and I’m not sure the group needed to take twelve and a half minutes to say what they had to say. On the whole I give this one an enthusiastic thumbs up and am looking forward to finding out who this is so I can check out the entire album.

10. This one sounds very familiar, but I’m not able to put my finger on who this is. I’m guessing this is just one pianist, although it really sounds like two at times. At first I was reminded of Vijay Iyer / Rudresh Mahanthappa, but the groove of the tune has more in common with some of the David S. Ware / Matthew Shipp discs on Aum or Thirsty Ear This is really going to bug me until I figure it out. I really like this track. It is very repetitive, but I’m a sucker for a good groove.

11. Very nice. The trombonist sounds familiar. My guess is that he is Dutch. Weirbos, perhaps? A very nice way to end the test.

I really enjoyed listening to this disc. Some very enjoyable tracks and all were interesting. I’ll either be kicking myself for not guessing a few discs I own or running out to make a few purchases once the answers are posted.

Thanks again!

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10. This one sounds very familiar, but I’m not able to put my finger on who this is. I’m guessing this is just one pianist, although it really sounds like two at times. At first I was reminded of Vijay Iyer / Rudresh Mahanthappa, but the groove of the tune has more in common with some of the David S. Ware / Matthew Shipp discs on Aum or Thirsty Ear This is really going to bug me until I figure it out. I really like this track. It is very repetitive, but I’m a sucker for a good groove.

Just one pianist, though I note that a number of participants have wondered if it was two! -- The drummer has worked with Iyer & Mahanthappa in the past.

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