The creative spirit provides energy and a sense of forward motion in a time of perceived stasis. During the last eighteen months, these sonic innovators have been locked in their labs like Tony Stark in Iron Man. What better time than lockdown to play with new sounds? Musicians exchanged files online, multi-tracked home recordings and occasionally escaped to jam in the great outdoors. This fall, they will present their findings: new ideas, approaches and sounds.
By design, the improvisational arena is packed with more live and single-take recordings than any other. Live opportunities have been sorely missed. But wherever the recordings were made, the fall slate proves you can’t keep a good musician down.
Rich’s Pick: Patrick Shiroishi, Hidemi (American Dreams, October 29)
Saxophonist Patrick Shiroishi dedicates Hidemi to his grandfather, who was incarcerated in an American camp during WWII. The limited edition deluxe package also contains Tangled, an 82-page chapbook which investigates the rise of hate crimes against Asian Americans. The subject matter could not be more relevant, and the music is sublime (American Dreams, October 29).
As always, Brooklyn’s 577 Records is on top of its game, with a full slate of fall releases announced well in advance. The fun starts with Daniel Carter, Tobias Wilner, Djibril Toure, Federico Ughi on the tightly rocking New York United, Volume 2, which reflects the nervous, pent-up energy of the city that never sleeps (September 3). Jessica Ackerley and Daniel Carter‘s collaborative Friendship: Lucid Shared Dreams and Time Travel highlights the comfort level of shared improvisation (September 10), as does Music Frees Our Souls, Vol. 1 from the trio of Francisco Mela feat. Matthew Shipp and William Parker (September 17). Luis Vicente & Vasco Trilla offer jazz abstractions on trumpet and percussion, playing like their music is Made of Mist (September 24); Sean Conly‘s The Buzz may be billed under a solo name, but Francisco Mela reappears, along with Leo Genovese (October 8). No secrets hide in the billing of quintet Roy Campbell, John Dikeman, Raoul van der Weide, Peter Jacquemyn, Klaus Kugel, whose hour-long improv session will be released When the Time is Right (which happens to be October 16); after that, a 2013 concert tribute to Roy Campell, performing with John Dikeman, Raoul van der Weide, Peter Jacquemyn, Klaus Kugel and being released When the Time Is Right (October 22). Meanwhile on the sister label Orbit577, Takatsuki Trio Quartett with Tobias Delius and Axel Dörner was one of the few groups able to perform in that brief window when we thought the pandemic was ending; highlights of weekly concerts appear on Berliner Quartette (October 16), which will be followed by Vladimir Luuchanski‘s alto sax set Transitions on October 30 and a collaboration with Silke Eberhard on November 5.
Jazz and Improvisation
Astral Editions keeps up its busy release schedule with Mako Sica‘s Garden of Heads, featuring Tatsu Aoki, Thymme Jones and Jacob Fawcett. The music seems ready to spring forth at any moment, curling into unexpected shapes (September 17). A week later, the label will release “everyone is rolling down a hill” or “the journey to the center of some arcane mystery and the entanglements of the vines and veins of the cosmic and unwieldy millieu encountered in the midst of that endeavor” by Crazy Doberman, an ensemble whose members are nearly as numerous as the words in the album title. The release arrives concurrently with a reissue of the band’s Illusory Expansion.
Will Guthrie‘s sequel to 2017’s People Pleaser (on Black Truffle) is the obviously titled People Pleaser Pt. II, a raucous, percussive affair on Kythibong (September 17). Percussionist Abe Rounds has The Confidence to Make Mistakes, but from the sound of his debut EP, he doesn’t make many; save for the fact that the preview is only 33 seconds long! (Colorfield, September 17). When people think of Flaming Pines, they normally think of field recording; but Oblique is a set for percussion and sax improv. Corder & Yantis‘ album is out September 17. Bassist Max Johnk debuts his Division of Masters moniker, which features friends on drums and guitar. Laid Across Your Path takes blues as its starting point and expands from there (September 3).
A series of wide-ranging duets helps bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck to showcase the diversity of her instrument. Her self-titled album is released October 22 on Pyroclastic, followed one week later by pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and guitarist Mary Halvorson‘s avant exploration Searching For The Disappeared Hour. The following month, the label’s attention will turn to Tony Malaby and Sabino‘s The Cave of Winds (November 26). Free jazz and a bit of prog populate GoBruCcio from Bob Gorri, Pete Brunelli, Peter Riccio, due September 9 on New Haven Improvisers Collective.
The Nelson Patton duo calls its sound “ambient jazz,” although we can detect a bit of post-rock in there as well. Laden with trombone, percussion and electronics, Universal Process shifts from drifting to darting and back again. We’ll let readers decide for themselves below (September 10). Trumpeter and flugelhorn player Steph Richards joins forces with Joshua White (on piano and percussion) on Zephyr, an ode to water and its various permutations (Relative Pitch, October 15). Mark Kirshenmann uses electronic techniques to twist his trumpet into a variety of timbres; the futuristic-minded Cybersonic Outreach is out September 17 on New Focus Recordings. Classical guitarist and oud player Gordon Grdina launches his Attaboy label on October 22 with a pair of releases. Pendulum is recorded in the artist’s signature style, while Klotski adds viola, bass, Moog and drums, and is recorded as Gordon Grdina’s Square Peg. Thinking way ahead, the artist has also announced new albums for next January and May! Chuck Owens and the Jazz Surge‘s self-explanatory Within Us: Celebrating 25 Years of the Jazz Surge invites veteran members, along with a 19-piece ensemble, to the festivities (Summit, September 17). And 10 10 10 captures a just-unearthed concert set from Mujician (Paul Dunmall, Tony Levin, Paul Rogers, and Keith Tippett), finally appearing a decade after it was recorded (Cuneiform, September 24).
Jazz trio Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette soars high above the cityscape with Skyline, the first of a planned trilogy on 5Passion Records (September 17). Norwegian jazz quartet Flukten formed during lockdown and debuts on Hubro Records with Velkommen. We’re not sure about that cover, though; too much time in quarantine? (September 3). Sax, drums and friendship (the latter a common theme) are the basis of Tunnel to Light, an instinctive new set from Laplante / Nazary (Tripticks Tapes, September 3). Jazz guitarist Juanna Trujillo dedicates Ímpetu to his late grandfathers, assembling a quartet for the occasion (Falcon Gumba, October 1). Assembling six drummers for six tracks, bassist Petter Eldh creates a joyous sound somewhere between disco and jazz. Projekt Drums Vol. 1 is out September 3 on Edition Records.
Jon Gordon‘s Stranger Than Fiction shares a name with a Bad Religion album, but sounds nothing like it. The nonet ( ! ) is led by the alto saxophonist and is meant as a “call to action” in response to rampant global authoritarianism (ArtistShare, September 17). Seventeen players congregate on Gabriel Zucker & the Delegation‘s Leftover Beats from the Edge of Time, a suite that unfolds like a theatre production, with narrative snippets and sudden turns of tone (ESP-Disc, September 24). Jazz, improv and opera collide on Premonitions of the Unbuilt City, an ambitious adaptation from Matt Rogers & Kit Downes (Nonclassical, September 3). Free jazz saxophonist Evan Parker dedicates Winns Winn to his friend John Russell, although the album itself is inspired by the activism of William Morris (Byrd Out, October 1). Shiver‘s Night School is a single album-length track, “a deconstruction of the song followed by the song itself” (New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings, September 30).
On a Lawn of Its Own
We needed to include a separate category for Noisephony of Lawnmowers, which seems like a soundscape, but was scored for suburban machines. Taavi Suisalu‘s work was recorded in 2013, and this fall has finally found its way to wax. Credit Staalplaat for recognizing its unique appeal and releasing on the criminally underused 10″ format (September 5).
One of the world’s most colorful and unknown tribes is celebrated on Kamana, as Carlos Casas received permission to record the Aeta of the Philippines. Field recordings and musical impressions form a hunting and gathering of sound (Discrepant, September 10). Serrisme is an ambitious excursion that travels from field recordings to modern composition and arrives accompanied by a 32-page booklet of photographs, poetry and prose. The project is brought to life by Christina Vantzou, Jan Matthé, Christophe Piette, and Lieven Martens and celebrates the dying art of greenhouse grape cultivation, still hanging on after all these years. Both grapes and workers get their time in the sun (Edições CN, September 1). A field recording from an Istanbul demonstration lies at the center of Nick Zanca‘s Cacerolazo. He surrounds these sounds of protest with “righteous noise” of his own, culled from cutlery and other household objects (Full Spectrum, October 8, pictured at the top of this article).
The Yarn / Wire piano and percussion quartet has two albums coming out this fall. Becoming Air / Into the Vanishing Point features the music of Annea Lockwood and guest trumpeter Nate Wooley (Black Truffle, September 10), while Tonband includes pieces by Enno Poppe and Wolfgang Heiniger (WERGO, September 10). The two are vastly different, the first more abstract and airy, the second more composed and earthy; together, they demonstrate the ensemble’s wide tonal range. Also on Black Truffle: Richard Youngs presents two side-long tracks on CCXI, toying with sine waves, generative music and “tape-echoed trombone” (September 24). Jessica Pavone‘s Lull is a work for string octet and soloists: Yeah Yeah Yeahs percussionist Brian Chase and (for the second time in this paragraph alone) trumpeter Nate Wooley. Such expansion of timbres adds an even greater breadth to her work (Chaikin, October 22). Collecting works from various installations and choreographies, Tomasso Rolando presents Music for a Different Room, which is dedicated to the artist’s grandmother (Torto Editions, September 15). Simon Balestrazzi – Paolo Sanni‘s Disrupted Songs begins with the sound of children at play; then the instrumentalists rush in. So which is the disruption, the children or the music? (Dissipatio, September 10).
Satoko Fujii‘s Piano Music may look like a piano album and be described as a piano album, but it’s an experimental album. The composer improvised segments of sound from inside and outside of the instrument and rescored them to produce sidelong treatises (Libra, September 17). Stein Urheim & Jørgen Træen join forces on Krympende klode, a playful collection that folds in strings, synth and a special barnyard animal. To misquote Judy Collins, “send in the cows. There have to be cows. Don’t bother – they’re here” (Hubro, September 24). With 21 musicians, 12 composers, 3 discs and 211 minutes of music, Quebec collective GGRIL is pulling out all the stops. Sommes is a no-holds barred celebration of their 15th anniversary (Tour de Bras, September 10).
We’ve already noted that Room40 is responsible for a wide array of music this fall, none more out there than candlesnuffer‘s apsomeophone, which chops, rearranges and mangles classic compositions until they are virtually unrecognizable (September 17). Rhythm and voice perform odd linguistic maneuvers on Hiro Kone‘s Silvercoat the Throng, conjuring an otherworldly appeal (Dais, September 24). Scene veteran Phew twists and garbles her voice on New Decade, a declaration of relevance and longevity (October 22). Also on Mute’s vocal / experimental roster, hackedpicciotto approaches The Silver Threshold in a manner that will thrill fans of off-kilter 80s ethereal music (November 12). Nina Dante + Bethany Younge engage in “eco-experimentalism” on Lizard Tongue, an album packed to the gills with whistles, growls, trills, and found and homemade instruments in dialogue with the natural world (TAK Editions, September 1).
Moving Furniture will release three albums on September 17. Jos Smolders & Jim O’Rourke‘s Additive Inverse highlights reel-to-reel and guitar; Philipp Bückle & Martijn Pieck combine field recordings and modular synthesis on Field Reports; and Gagi Petrovic goes “beyond abstraction” on Choosing Freedom. Two albums are forthcoming on Neither/Nor Records. Diaphane‘s lineup of viola, piano, tuba and percussion may look like chamber music on paper, but the album-length track Paris lands far left of center. Flin van Hammen‘s You Can Know Where the Bombs Fell uses recorded sound as raw material for new compositions, folding in foghorns, choirs and whatever else he can find. Both are released September 16.
David Grubbs & Ryley Walker join forces on the unusual A Tap on the Shoulder, which is far more than just a dialogue between guitars (Husky Pants, September 3). The album title of Roland White‘s 7 Consolations seems perfectly chosen for our time; the 7-part suite breezes through various styles, bordering on the dissonant yet returning time and time to the accessible (Paravision, September 7). The music of audio-visual artist Andrew Brooks is described as “abstract yet melodic,” which is hard to believe until one has heard it. The album East is rife with sax, flute and percussive loops, and is preceded by the pulsating vocabulary video One Hundred and Six Words (September 9). Ingnico‘s Vanished World may have an ambient coating, but its center is experimental. The album delves into darkness with off-kilter melodies and rhythms (September 5). And finally, the fall’s fastest, hardest release is likely Fire-Toolz‘ 25-track Eternal Home, which amusingly is offered with options of herb grinder, t-shirt and fanny pack (Hausu Mountain, October 15).