Album Reviews

Album Review: BRAHJA by Devin Brahja Waldman

The more I listen to BRAHJA, the harder I find it to describe.  Its musical atmosphere is dark, mystical, and intricate, like a visionary ritual crossed with film noir. The band’s forces combine to form a tempered maximalism, recalling other masterpieces of jazz composition, ensemble playing, and production, such as Charles Mingus’ Black Saint and

Lon Moshe & The Southern Freedom Arkestra – Love is Where the Spirit Lies

On my first encounter with Lon Moshe & The Southern Freedom Arkestra, I was immediately drawn to the group’s 1977 album title, Love Is Where the Spirit Lies. The difficult task of dealing with a fringe, complex, and sought-after album feels like encountering a big tree with old roots and wanting to explain how the

Review: The Underflow – Instant Opaque Evening

The Underflow is a relatively new trio formed by veteran improvisers Mats Gustafsson, David Grubbs, and Rob Mazurek in 2019. Their self-titled debut, recorded live in Athens at their first performance as a trio, has been followed up by Instant Opaque Evening, also recorded live during a string of European shows in early 2020. Instant

All Writing Decides a Galaxy: On Anne Waldman’s Sciamachy

Ah sciamachy! My knot of mental shadows![1] “That which the dream shows is the shadow of such wisdom as it exists in every human, even if during waking state they may know nothing about it,” said the prophet and alchemist Paracelsus in 1531. We carry the shadow and with it, its possibility of alchemical transmutation.

Marion Brown’s Ezz-thetic Revolution

The late 1960s was a white hot crucible of creativity in jazz. And much of the best was caught by Bernard Stollman’s ESP label. In addition to fairly well known work by Sun Ra and Albert Ayler the label was a treasure trove of the “second generation” of free jazz. And none was more deserving

Album Review: Brisk Distortions – Kuba Cichocki and Brandon Seabrook

In improvised music, the smallest moments can make or break an entire piece. Whether a satisfying payoff that legitimizes a meandering, ponderous development or a slight misstep that shatters an immaculately constructed soundscape, a few seconds of music is often all it takes to define the listening experience as a whole. On the newly released Brisk

Album Review – Roscoe Mitchell and Mike Reed – The Ritual and the Dance

As it opens with supple interplay between swirling soprano saxophone, droning bells and subtle percussion, the newest release by Saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell and drummer Mike Reed, The Ritual and the Dance, is a testament to Mitchell’s rich musical language which has been slowly built through collaborations like this one for over 50 years. Roscoe Mitchell has always

Review: Tim Berne and Matt Mitchell – Spiders

One of the things I’ve always admired about alto saxophonist Tim Berne is his ability to always seem ahead of the curve. I remember first checking out his early discography, hearing compositions that resembled things I may have heard from a group at I-Beam the night before, then checking the liner notes and realizing that

Review: Andrew Smiley – Looming as Light Torn

Guitarist Andrew Smiley’s new solo album, Looming as Light Torn, was recorded in 2019, but don’t let that stop you from hearing it as a quarantine record. Like a guitarist working on tunes alone in his practice space while waiting for his bandmates to arrive, the album’s two long tracks sound lonely but also excited

Review: Soojin Suh’s Colorist Trio – Colorist

Colorist is the newest project from Korean drummer Soojin Suh, one of the most prominent faces on the jazz scene in Seoul, Korea. The album feels like an early zenith in the arc of Soojin’s career, until one realizes that this is only her third album with decades of music ahead of her. As one