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.
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more