Red Hill — Red Hill
(RareNoise RNR044, 2014, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2014-10-13
Free jazz has been around for decades, and has taken so many forms as to defy analysis, which is of course completely appropriate given the music's nature. If there is a definition of free jazz, it must surely include the statement that it cannot be defined. It also comes as given that no two recordings of free jazz will sound alike other than in terms so broad as to be meaningless. Red Hill features trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, pianist Jamie Saft, bassist Joe Morris, and drummer Balász Pándi, who went into the studio with no preconceived ideas (at least none that were shared with the others) and recorded a set of adventurous improvisations. Saft's playing here is acrobatic and often quite busy, along the lines of Cecil Taylor or Satoko Fujii (to name a couple I'm familiar with); he uses a Fender Rhodes on one track for a little tonal variety. There are also some bits that sound like either preparations on the piano or reaching in to strike the strings in alternate ways. Smith handles his trumpet with his characteristic flair, blasting out quick bursts of notes, backing off to sneak out subtle, airy tones, squeezing out high points of sound like fireworks popping in the sky, or slipping in a mute to give us a different perspective. Morris uses both fingers and bow on his double bass, setting moods and providing additional tone colors, getting some very interesting overtones by unconventional bowing techniques (I'm guessing). Pándi has the knack of providing propulsive drum parts even when not playing a consistent beat, using his kit fully and not overwhelming the others. Red Hill may not play music you'd want to listen to every day, but as free improvisation goes, they make a joyful noise rather than an angst-ridden racket. I'll take this over Wynton Marsalis any day.
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more