Jason Robinson — The Two Faces of Janus
(Cuneiform Rune 311, 2010, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2013-08-22Over the last few decades, the main stream jazz has stagnated, become so codified that real creativity is virtually ruled out. It's hard to imagine Charles Mingus or Miles Davis fitting in with what passes for jazz these days, and rebels like Ornette Coleman or George Russell are right out — though to be sure, much of the more rebellious jazz was always a fringe proposition. Saxophonist Jason Robinson steers more towards that fringe than the mainstream — the average Wynton Marsalis fan would probably run fearfully from the room if this band took the stage. Some of the standard elements of jazz are present (swinging grooves, heads and solos, and so on), but they're mixed up with some elements from free jazz and avant-garde that don't fit comfortably in a cocktail lounge. Guitarist Liberty Ellman is one source of interest here, with his straddling between classic jazz sounds and more adventurous explorations. The sax players also venture outside the smoother reaches of their instruments. This is music that can kick your butt even without a wall of amplified instruments. The players walk the line between free expression and coordinating with each other in an inspiring way. Energy levels range from sparse and moody to wild and thrashing. It's really a testament to the players' skill and taste that you can have three saxes improvising at the same time, and it doesn't sound like total chaos — just partial chaos of an enjoyable kind. It's an outstanding effort all around. Kudos to all involved: sax players Jason Robinson, Rudresh Mahanthappa, and Marty Ellman; and the rhythm section of guitarist Liberty Ellman, bassist Drew Gress, and drummer George Schuller.
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more