Album Reviews

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

Review: Patricia Brennan – Maquishti

It gives me great pleasure listening to any vibraphonist and marimbist, and though I’ve written about them a few times in my career, I feel that the quality of what I am learning in this new digital age is only getting stronger in terms of searching out new and rarely spoken about musicians. As someone

Year in Review: 2020 Unplug

More than likely it’ll be January of 2021 by the time you read this. And while all of us have struggled to find ways to cope with the virus, loss of work, countless deaths, being stuck at home, breathing through masks, continued racial and gender-based violence, and the general feeling of impending doom, it must