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September 23 , 2011

Reviews of the Week

JazzTimes devotes six pages for an interview with the Charles Lloyd Quartet about "Athens Concert". Ashley Kahn writes:

"Athens Concert, a double-disc package recorded live a the outdoor Herodion amphitheater at the base of the Acropolis, is a stunning set of 18 starkly rendered songs. Simple, melodic lines morph into full, sweeping gestures of emotion with an economic balance of light, shadow and space. Odd time signatures subtly blend with, rather than dominate, the overall swing-flavoured pulse. Some of the tunes are traditional, some are Lloyd´s melodies and a number are by famed composer Mikis Theodorakis, to whom Farantouri has been a career-long muse. Moody and minor-keyed for the most part, the performances vary in texture and mode: instrumental and vocal, with English, Greek and Byzantine lyrics. Some include additional Greek personnel: Takis Farazis on piano or Socratis Sinopoulos on the lyre, a stringed instrument popularized in the classical Mediterranean. Lloyd himself stretches out on tenor saxophone, flute and tarogato, the nasally sonorous cousin of the clarinet. In an e-mail, Farantouri confessed that though “I have always listened to and enjoyed jazz music and songs, it´s the first time I work with a jazz group. Two different sources of music met, fused and created a new proposition…The melodies, which are part of the Greek suite, are age-old and have a primal sound. Charles´ sensitivity and inquisitive spirit, as well as that of the excellent musicians, transformed the material into a new contemporary sound" Athens Concert, produced by Eicher, fits well into Lloyd´s recorded legacy: another concert album – like Live in the Soviet Union and Forest Flower: Live at Monterey in the ´60s; Montreux and A Night in Copenhagen in the ´80s – that captures timeless music performed in a special time and place. Yet it stands out as well, a remarkable set of music that comes across as such an organic endeavour when in fact the necessary preparation was “pretty rigorous”, according to Moran."

Nate Chinen reviews "Orvieto" in the New York Times:

"Jazz pianists spend a lot of time alone with their craft, and often just as much in the context of a rhythm section. It´s less common for them to sit down and make music with each other, though it does happen every now and then. The scarcity is enough to make you notice a good piano-duo album when it arrives… ”Orvieto” is a concert recording starring Chick Corea, the eminent American post-bop pianist who turned 70 this year, and Stefano Bollani, a quick-thinking Italian of similar effervescence, now 38. Recorded at last year´s Umbria Jazz Winter festival, it involved the barest preparation – loose set list, no rehearsals – but some favourable odds. For one thing, Mr. Corea has an unusually productive track record in two-piano settings, going back to “An Evening With Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea: In Concert”. And he has a few years of history with Mr. Bollani on European stages. Their buoyant, bustling take on a standard like “If I Should Lose You” (or, for that matter, Dorival Caymmi´s “Doralice”) feels brisk, companionable and practically seamless. Mr. Bollani has compared their output to the work of one pianist with four hands, which sounds fanciful and self-serving until you absorb the results."

Ray Comiskey about "Navidad de los Andes" in the Irish Times:

"Argentinian Saluzzi brothers, Dino and Felix and the German cellist Anja Lechner, boundaries aren´t stretched, just ignored. The result, stubbornly resisiting categorisation, combines the formality of chamber music with folk elements and jazz improvisation to produce something uniquely beautiful. Though these measured, impressionistic pieces are rooted in Dino´s culture, they evoke the universal: nostalgia, playfulness, solitude and celebration, sentiment and sentimentality. And, thanks to a rapport so intimate that it´s difficult at times to separate the improvised and the written, they do it with the simplest of melodic means, making the most subtle use of dynamics and the contrasting colours afforded by the grave eloquence of cello, classical clarinet, soft-toned tenor and bandoneon."

The Guardian about Sinikka Langeland´s "The Land That Is Not":

"From Norwegian folk singer and harpist Sinikka Langeland comes a seductively subtle contemporary jazz album. The lyrics are all Norwegian or Swedish (the sleeve notes have translations), and celebrate the poetry of Edith Södergran and Olav Håkonson Hauge… Langeland´s band brings together trumpet-player Arve Henriksen and saxophonist/composer Trygve Seim, and it´s a magical combination. Despite a predominant feeling of tranquility, the singer sometimes adds an almost Nina Simone-like bite, for which Seim´s smoky sound, Henriksen´s ghostly multiphonics and Anders Jormin´s bass are ideal foils. The mood is often broken by grooves that suggest some strange fjord-village cabaret music, or episodes that are like Nordic Miles Davis. It´s a real one-off."

In Jazzwise, Selwyn Harris highly recommends the documentary "Sounds And Silence":

"Manfred Eicher has been the elusive guiding spirit behind the ECM label for longer than 40 years. We can hear the impact of his vision on over 1.000 recordings and we can see it in the near-fetishism that´s grown up around the label´s sleeve artwork. But what happens behind the scenes of the iconic Munich recording label remains a mystery to even its most devoted disciples. A new documentary Sounds And Silence: Travels With Manfred Eicher produced by Swiss filmmakers Peter Guyer and Norbert Wiedmer and just released on both DVD and Blu-ray manages to shed a good deal of light on the way in which Eicher (and by extension ECM) operates. Shot over a period of five years, Sounds And Silence is an intelligent and elegant looking film that has already won awards in film festivals from San Francisco to Vienna since its big screen premiere at Locarno´s Piazza Grande in August 2009. With an unobtrusive mix of “on the road” photography, studio/live performance, talking heads and fly-on-the-wall documentary, it´s also the kind of film that might lead those who have already formed some general opinion about the label to greater understanding and appreciation of it."

In The Australian, Michael Rofe says about "Arco Iris":

"The best recordings are those that attract instantly and continue to reveal further brilliance over time and repeated listening. Such is the case with this sumptuous and extraordinary delight from Moroccan musician, scholar and singer Amina Alaoui… Four arragements by guitarist Jose Luis Monton shine, including the tender instrumental Moradia and the 15th century Las Morillas de Jaen set to a fiery flamenco rhythm; all essential elements of a transcendent recording of the year."