First up, we have Cicada Music from drummer/composer Frank Rosaly. The liner notes describe this band's music as having taken shape as the soundtrack for a film about scrap metal scavengers. Jazz always works well for soundtracks, in celluloid and other mediums (I'm thinking of Duke Ellington's work for Anatomy of a Murder), and Cicada Music's sounds, so reflective and expressive of the Jazz spirit and aesthetics, certainly seems as if it would work as such. Most of the tunes here are driven by Rosaly's fat rhythmic playing, which is always grooving. His drumming features the kind of simultaneously tight and loose interplay with the group that brings to mind Tony Williams in the 1960's and Gerry Hemingway in the 1980's. Frank's performance here is always slamming, always crisp, and lively as hell. The group's sound, with vibes from Jason Adasiewicz, tons of bass clarinet (and tenor sax) from Jason Stein and Keefe Jackson, clarinet from James Fazone, and bass and electronics from Jason Roebke, reminds Disaster Amnesiac of the heightened abstractions achieved on Eric Dolphy's essential Out to Lunch band, in that said abstractions are always grounded in really earthy Blues coloration. The winds growl and gurgle, the vibes chime and shimmer, the rhythm section pushes, pulls, funks and rocks; the whole affair is graced with a Chicago sense of space, and a AACM sense of playfulness. Rosaly's writing is deeply swinging, too. Cicada Music is just a fine example of professional, composition-based improvisational Jazz.The cover art is beautiful, to boot, almost looking like an update of Ornette's Science Fiction's art.
Mikrokolektyw-Absent Minded; Delmark, 2013
Next, let Disaster Amnesiac describe and enthuse about the third Delmark release from this Polish Duo. Comprised of drummer Kuba Suchar and trumpeter Artur Majewski, Mikrokolektyw seems to get its "collective" sound from the addition of tons of electronics, played/programmed by both musicians. The electronics definitely factor in wide additions to the sound, especially as far as rhythmic patterns are concerned. The physical duo here sound as if they have played together for a long time: phrases are spun, together, back and forth, up and down, all the time in big sound matrix that brings European approaches to the form as much as those perfected in the U.S. Suchar's feel is rolling, free, and yet very funky and big. Majewski's sound seems to owe much to greats like Miles and Cherry, in fact, Disaster Amnesiac swears that Artur quotes Miles Runs the Voodoo Down pretty openly on his intro to Thistle Soup. Absent Minded provides an intimate listen into these twos' obviously finely honed musical chemistry.
Disaster Amnesiac still feels as though Jazz is a bottomless well for investigating to any and all inclined to do so. Thirty years or so ago, a movement was initiated that had as one of its prime directives the marketplace eradication of many approaches to the music not in line with its aesthetic vision. The fact that small, independent Jazz labels, such as Delmark, continue to take chances on the disparaged ugly cousins to Official Jazz Orthodoxy, thereby adding to that well, warms my heart. And delights my ears. How about yours?