KZSU playlist for Tuesday, Nov. 24, 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. Click here for the full playlist.
Harris Eisentstadt — “Keep Casting Rods” — Canada Day (Clean Feed, 2009) ….. As opposed to the trumpet-heavy, African-influenced music on many of his albums, Canada Day is closer to a straight free-jazz group, with a sound defined by vibraphone. He’s also got a sax and a trumpet in there, of course.
Hailey Niswanger — “Four in One” — Confeddie (self-released, 2009) ….. Straight-up contemporary jazz that includes a fast, fluid, and quick-jumping saxophone in the lead. Turns out it’s played by a 19-year old woman, Niswanger, who put together this quartet from her Berklee associates. It’s good, inventive stuff; she shows great sax chops on “Four in One” and a complex compositional sense on “Confeddie.”
Shibolet, Josephson, Baker, Looney, Smith — “Number 12” — Untitled (1959) (Kadima Collective, 2007) ….. Acoustic free improv with local folks and Israeli guest Ariel Shibolet. The titles all come from Mark Rothko paintings, but they’re not all still and silent; this one quickly builds into active, jagged sound work. I followed up this track with Jacam Manricks’ “Rothko” (mentioned back on Oct. 27), and it was tempting to continue with an all-Rothko set. But the next Rothko-inspired track I found was a string orchestra piece that, while only a couple of minutes long, was soooo still and static. Wasn’t in the mood for it, so I went with Jen Baker’s trombone album instead (Blue Dreams, mentioned here), which is also rather static but has a colorful tone to it.
Herb Robertson — “Hallucinations” — Shades of Bud Powell (JMT, 1988) ….. Another vinyl gem tucked away in the KZSU library, this is an album of Powell songs performed by a nearly all-horns band (Joey Baron on drums). Naturally, Robertson leaves plenty of space for improvising, often with the whole group at once (two trumpets, french horn, trombone, and tuba). The track I picked, “Hallucinations,” has long segments of that group work, the result being a little like the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. When you listen carefully to PHJB, you realize that yes, they’re doing old-timey jazz, but the “solo” consists of every band member except the drummer going off in a random direction. Robertson is like that but more distinctly modern/avant-jazz in his sound, of course.
Phil Kline — “Grand Etude for the Elevation” — Around the World in a Daze (Starkland, 2009) ….. This is actually a 65-minute electroacoustic work intended for surroundsound DVD; they’ve provided a CD version for radio. It’s ambitious. There are enormous “boombox choirs,” a string quartet (Ethel!), lots of bells, and, for the final track, 15,000 African gray parrots. The whole project goes for bigness; when I say lots of bells, I mean LOTS. I went for one of the less bombastic tracks, featuring a thumpy “world” drum rhythm and Todd Reynolds on sweet-but-loud violin.