Listening Notes, Ultra-Brief (Pt. 133)


Riverside, Riverside     (Greenleaf)

One can admire how the Jimmy Giuffre 3 expanded jazz discourse (post-cool chamber music on a freedom tip) without quite swooning for the actual realization thereof: no matter how brilliant and sparse their clarinet/bass/piano interplay, Giuffre’s insistence on an implicit rather than explicit beat (“acknowledged but unsounded,” in his famous words) leaves drum kit fans out in the cold. So it’s nice to stumble across a Giuffre tribute project where the backbeat assumes prominence. Although bassist Steve Swallow offers a direct lineage to Giuffre’s famed 1961 trio, trumpeter Dave Douglas and tenor saxist Chet Doxas seem more immediately smitten with the bluesy folk-jazz dry run of the master’s late-50’s Jim Hall/Ralph Pena assemblage - spirituals, I-IV-V vamps, woodsy counterpoint. All but two cuts are group originals, and only one bears Giuffre’s name, so approach this as you might any document of loose inspiration, paying special attention to Doxas, who I hesitate to call a revelation because that would slight his considerable (Canadian) career. Dave Douglas I assume you already know.


Brahja Waldman’s Quintet, Sir Real Live At Resonance     (self-released)    Bandcamp

Montreal/New York altoist with a heavy Bandcamp presence wrestles with a series of elemental phrases and somber tones via this live quintet session cut in Quebec last summer. Composition's the thing, mostly - “Happy Water” and “Boundless” utilize most of their running time cautiously exploring exquisite melody. But Waldman and tenor sax teammate Adam Kinner also exude thoughtful wiseguy charm, whether tripping over the fractured slow-bop of “Pleistocene Pt. II” or riding the KC red hot hambone riffs of “Doula Doula” for a mere 3 minutes 18 seconds. And there’s always a premium placed on straightforward swing, starting with the opening strut of (say it aloud fast) “Sir Real” itself, cut from the same rhythmic pattern as Eric Dolphy’s “Hat And Beard,” with Damon Shadrach Hankoff’s slinky piano guiding the ensemble forward.



Stephen Christopher Stamper, Echoic     (Runningonair Music)

The creator describes these six slices of ambient hum as exercises in extreme short-term memory morphing out of old cassettes. The record label talks up microtonal possibilities and music aligned with the promise of mathematics. Neither gloss makes much immediate sense to me, so here goes: drone-fuzz, magnetic pulsation, vocal snippets, waking dreams, the surf’s steady pound and the hum of utility poles, all mainlining into the concluding and somewhat terrifying cosmic resonance that is “Out”. The wisest words ever uttered by Julian Cope came in Krautrocksampler, when he described Tangerine Dream’s Zeit thusly: “unchanging unfolding near-static barely-shifting vegetable organic-ness takes over the room and permeates the whole house”. This isn’t Zeit. But it travels the same space ways.