Wednesday, 27 October 2010

YOLK Records .... don't miss it #2.

Qüntêt : Vents Dominants (Box Set Yolk 2023)

Here's the next in the great series from Yolk Records special offer series. As I mentioned in my last Yolk post #1 the Yolk record label occasionally does promotions on their CDs which are well worthwhile following up. If you read this post before the end of December 2010 you still have a chance to pick up on the great offers at Yolk's site here. They offer one CD a week - from a list of 11 discs chosen from their catalogue - at 5€. That disc then moves into a new category and will be available at 8€ until the end of the year/offer, not bad considering the quality of the music on offer, and if your interesting in investigating the music from this catalogue. YOLK Records tells me that the offer is good for everyone, which seems to mean worldwide, so no excuses for not checking out the CDs on offer. Anyhow, the last post was on Matthieu Donarier's excellent trio CD Optic Topic, today a short note about the above box set ..... 2 CDs and a DVD from Qüntêt.

As I already mentioned above this is a box set, so what do you get in here? I'll give a short run down of the three items (see) below, but first a quick explanation of what this project seems to have been about. The liner notes explain that the group was asked to participate in Europajazz, which is probably one of these funded projects that we get over here in Europe to promote composers, young groups, amateur music etc. Anyhow, the group wrote music for two brass bands from the area known as Sarthe and if you buy the CDs you can see the whole list of musicians (totaling 80 odd player, it's two brass bands). The compositions were rehearsed and then performed at the Europajazz in Mans 2007, or is it 2005 .... it's not very clear in the liner notes. Consequently all of this has been recorded and placed in a box set along with an album from Qüntêt making up this little package.

CD #1 - Faux Semblant 

Qüntêt is Jean-Louis Pommier : trombone, Christophe Lavergne : drums etc, Patrick Charnois : baritone sax, Alban Darche : alto sax, Médéric Collignon : pocket trumpet, voice, bugle. 

This is the main disc in this package and is an album (as titled above) from the brass quintet Qüntêt. You can immediately understand why these guys were asked to participate in a brass band project as they are of course a small brass band! The music here written either by Jean-Louis Pommier or Alban Darche (*) is very varied in style, the quality of the writing excellent, and the arrangements really make the music hang together, never missing the sound of a traditional electric/acoustic bass. The compositions are in general quite funky, but with modern harmonies, and there are also other styles that appear  throughout such as Polkas and Tangos - Polka and Un Poco Tango, un Poco Paso, mucho Loco. What I enjoy in particular is the way that the compositions are really developed so that when a soloist comes to the fore it's really an extension of the piece, and not the often used ... theme, solo (250 choruses), and then a little theme again. Here we are taken on voyages through various atmospheres, such as in the title piece Faux Semblant and the second track Isasong, both with excellent soloing from Alban Darche (often featured, and deservedly so). There's some excellent 'almost dissonant' writing with simultaneous soloing on an interesting on De Noël A Pâques. It's also nice to hear how they have used the drum/soloist combination to great effect in several pieces Total Schwarz, a lovely gentle ballad featuring trombone, which uses sax/voice to great effect on the theme. And on Prolongement Bulgar the sax or trumpet (Médéric Collignon) battle with the drums to great effect, in the solo section. This is an excellent album with plenty of detail and will surely keep it's interest for many listens. You can hear some of the compositions here on their MySpace which will give you a better idea of the music.

CD #2 - Vents Dominants

On this CD we get the recordings from the Europajazz project featuring the group with the brass bands - as I mentioned above. The CD has six tracks on it, 1 to 3 - feature the Harmonie de Ballon and tracks 4 to 6 - Harmonie du Bailleul Villaines. The music is well written and certainly must of been much fun to play. The brass band doesn't solo that's left, when needed, to the group Qüntêt, but there isn't that much and when it does happen they're short solos (often together). To best appreciate the music you have a DVD of the brass band rehearsing and gradually getting ready for the main performance, which you see a few extracts of. What's nice about the compositions/arrangements is that the composers Pommier, Darche and Collignon, have combined interesting melodies and arrangements that are not too complicated, yet don't sound simplistic, giving the brass band(s) a really quite modern and light sound, which for the number of instruments is quite extraordinary. If you understand french then you'll already get a gist of the music from the titles such as - Suite Arabe, Oh la Villaines, Chemn faisant, etc. I can say that the quality means that there is plenty here to enjoy, even if not quite on the level of the first CD.

The DVD - #3 Harmonies (28 mins).

There is not much to explain here as everything just has to be seen! What you have here is a documentary of the rehearsals, preparation and concert from the Europajazz. There are a few interviews with some of the local musicians and of course with the group Qüntêt. It's nice to see how the brass band reacts to the first contact that they have with the quintets music and to see how they progress with time and rehearsal. You also get a true feeling of achievement when the group/brass band(s) get to play at the final big concert at Europajazz in Nant, as all the preparation comes to fruition and the excitement of playing before a real audience (and a paying one, which is rare for them - the local brass band) is a high point of there musical journey. I thoroughly watching this DVD, and although I don't think I'll be getting out of the box every week, it surely makes an interesting and fun addition to this box set, which I'm sure to watch from time to time.

Here's the first track from Faux Semblant (title track also), hope you enjoy it.

The next (and last) post from this YOLK series, will feature the CD Trickster from the Alban Darche Trio.

(*) = see next posting on YOLK for more on Alban Darche.  

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Triangulation II - Bert Turetzky, Vinny Golia & George Lewis

Triangulation II (Kadima Collective #30 - 2010)
Musicians : Bert Turetsky : Double Bass - George Lewis : Trombone - Vinny Golia : Woodwinds. 

1. Reconaissance 
2. Plenipotentairy Penache 
3. Ballade 
4. You Don't Say 
5. A Low Frequency Colloquy 
6. Diversion Ta Tre 
7. Another Heated Conversation 
8. Up Is Down

This is what my children are calling 'Ghost Music', which is in fact a great description for such a music as this. And when I say that my children gave it this title it's a big compliment, after all I notice that children (mine at least) often hear music in another way, giving names to sounds or melodies, with no prejudices about what they mean or might infer. So here we have it Triangulation II (#30) in the catalogue of Kadima Collective, a label run by Jean - Claude Jones.

The music here suits the ghost images very well as these improvisations are all based on atmosphere that could be described as cinematic - i.e. they would not be out of place on a film soundtrack. The reason for this, to my ears at least, is the interesting use of bass flute, bass saxophone and a few other 'extreme' register instruments by Vinny Golia. Due to imaginative use of wind instruments - clarinet, bass sax, flute, bass flute and others probably, the (un)usual trombone sounds of George Lewis which combines with the bass playing of Bert Turetzky, much of the music builds on atmosphere and rarely melodies, except for the last piece. Commenting on individual pieces is difficult and rarely do the titles of the tracks define the music - which is where Anthony Braxton's number system for titles springs to mind as a useful way of categorizing tunes/tracks without influencing the listener as to what they might hear.

However, if one had to describe the music at all I would say that almost all the pieces are ballads in feeling. Never is there any aggressive screeching and it's almost as if the musicians hoped to keep a calm reflective sound in the music, almost serene. Of course there are aggressive moments such as Diversion Ta Tre which use Lewis's singing harmonics combining with the bass later in the piece. The end section of A Low Frequency Colloquy also uses the bass saxophone to great effect. But the general direction of the music is towards a calm contemplative sound and much of that is due to the unusual choice and use of such instruments as the bass flute and bass sax. As already mentioned the last piece 'Up Is Down' has a quite amazing opening with flute, trombone and bowed bass creating an oriental atmosphere. The music gradually moves into much darker sounds only to return to the original motive at the end .... planned maybe?

All in all this is an album that reveals many details with listening. Whilst writing this review I would constantly hear sections passing which were beyond description when using words. George Lewis' unusual use of trombone sounds often become unidentifiable as such, and when combining with either the double bass of Turetzky and the wind instruments of Golia, create textures of real delicacy.  A real success, and one that grows with listening. What more can one ask?

YOLK Records .... don't miss it #1.

What is happening at YOLK Records is worth mentioning on this blog, and especially if you enjoy discovering new things and of course jazz. I hope that for those who read this blog they will be in time to catch the wonderful 'sale - special offer' that YOLK is doing at the moment (*).  I've already come across YOLK before, although I can't remember how, and have so already bought music from this label. But, just to highlight a couple of the CDs that they are selling off at 5€!, I thought to quickly write a short review of three of the titles that I've bought ... so far. I should also add that the offer is based on a 'featured' CD each week for 5€, all other CDs (in the promotion) are 8€ for the duration of the promotion YOLK POUSUIT SON OPA, whatever that means.

The three CDs that I've taken this time are as follows, and I can highly recommend each release.

 Matthieu Donarier Trio : Optic Topic (Yolk J2020).

The trio is :  Matthieu Donarier : saxophones & clarinets, Manu Codjia : guitar electric, Joe Quitzke : drums.

Quite a lovely album and one I've been waiting for for quite a few months. When I first looked at this album it was out of print, and so I put it on my mental waiting list. Luckily this came up on the special offer and so now I get to hear the whole thing. The music is beautifully textured and well composed, in fact there isn't really a bad composition on this CD, different atmospheres and driving beats, coupled with great dynamics make for constant exciting listening. I've heard quite a few bass-less trios in my time - Paul Motian being the example for all - I've even played in that format myself, and it's certainly hard to keep up the quality of playing when you have no bass to fill the bottom register. Here you get it all, great playing (from all) coupled with strong compositions.

La Chute - 2nd track from the CD.

Starting with Choses Révées (le Jour) which is an atmospheric beginning leads directly into an excellent groove piece called 'La Chute' featuring soprano sax. What's great is the mixture of intensive grooves and delicate melodies ex : Jamais Contente an almost dissonant angular melody, followed by a hard hitting guitar burn out, finally becoming a very 'ppp' rhythm that has a lovely breathy clarinet improvisation (worthy of Jimmy Giuffre) that unfolds over the guitar/drum ostinato.

In fact I can't recommend this album highly enough and is easily a good buy for anyone who enjoys the likes of Paul Motian or Trio AAB.

You can check out some of his (Donarier's) music on MySpace here.  

Tomorrow I'm writing about the Qüntêt box set ...... 2CDs and a DVD all for 5€? And lastly will be the CD Trickster from the Alban Darche Trio.

(*) = Not the first time they've done an interesting promotion, and surely not the last.
(**) = The offer finishes at the end of December 2010 .... so hurry!
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