Listening Notes, Ultra-Brief (Pt. 99)


Dawn Of Midi, Dysnomia(Thirsty Ear)

From the way enthusiasts are crowing over this forty-six minute single chunk of acoustic metronome, you’d think jazz (or “jazz”) has never swung or gotten funky before. So ignore the hyperbole, and instead get your kicks off a Pakistan/Morocco/India-claiming, Brooklyn-based, CalArts-honed trio that answers the age old question of what Basic Channel might have sounded like on piano/bass/drums. Conservatory geeks will swoon over the backstory - trio cuts improvisatory excursion, spends months perfecting it on the road, re-cuts finalized piece as fully-composed non-improvisation. Rhythm geeks will flip over percussionist Qasim Naqui and double-bassist Aakaash Israni leading subtly from behind, the better to cycle through any number of shifting opposable grooves. And geeks of all stripes will love the way pianist Amino Belyamani uses his inside-the-piano left hand to mute every note his outside-the-piano right hand is tapping out. You’ll hear Terry Riley, Charanjit Singh, Can. You’ll think funk, techno, jazz. You’ll understand exactly why they named every track division after a distant moon (hint: elliptic patterns of orbit).

Trio 3 + Jason Moran, Refraction - Breakin’ Glass     (Intakt Records)

Trio 3 ain’t half of it - when Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman, and Andrew Cyrille congregate, it’s preaching time. Plus, Jason Moran (swapped for the previously utilized Geri Allen) proves a more-than-worthy addition, his dark chords and skittering melody lines helping power through a defiantly swinging old-school date often reminiscent of Impulse!-era Marion Brown. It’s hardly perfect: “Summit Conference” is the eleven-minute ensemble workout suggested by the name, “Vamp” the plodding number you wish took its own damn advice. But from the recycling ode as tribute to mother to the well-dressed jazzman as high priest, the poetry isn’t bad. The rhythm section cooks. And Lake’s periodic screeches/screams remain wonders to behold.


Derrick Hodge, Live Today     (Blue Note)

Noted bassist moves towards neo-soul ground zero after stints with Robert Glasper, Terence Blanchard, Jill Scott, and Common, the latter providing several minutes of aimless commentary. The beats and bass lines are quite often all right (“Gritty Folk” offers up a rare confluence of beat/bass/horns goodness), but Alan Hampton drops some folkie shit that will have you rummaging around for the mouthwash, “Boro March” conjures bad memories of fusion-era Miroslav Vitouš, and congrats I guess to Hodge for concocting a track entitled “Still The One” that massively out-gunks the one by Orleans.


Iasos, Celestial Soul Portrait     (Numero Group)

1970s whizz fuzz humm from Bay Area New Age pioneer, lovingly compiled and preserved because that’s what Numero Group do, uh, does. As to why this shimmering glop is better than Tangerine Dream’s Phaedra, let’s just consult Wikipedia. “His [Iasos’] music has been used by NASA and the Laserium laser light show.” Wow! And? “Guitarist Lee Underwood [dude played with Tim Buckley, so RESPECT] has said Angelic Music…perhaps exemplif(ies) the best this genre has to offer.’” Cool! Is there more? “The psychology department at Plymouth State College rated his Angelic Music album as being closest to the music heard by people who have had near-death experiences.” Pretty impressive, no? What say you, Mr. Iasos? “Imagine creating symphonies by tuning up planets [to] create beautiful chords that echo through the galaxy”. I’m trying I’m trying I’m trying!