News and Views - (when I have the time)

Unfortunaletly it seems as though time has passed by and I haven't really had time to update this page recently. So, to remedy this problem I shall be writing some small articles concerning 'what I'm listening to'. I hope that some of these will give people some ideas and inspiration to follow up and of course .... discover some new sounds.

May 2008

Bill McHenry : Roses

Bill McHenry (ten sax), Reid Anderson (bass), Ben Monder (gtr), Paul Motian (drms).

Bill McHenry, if you don't already know him, is a law unto himself as far as jazz goes. He often plays (although not always) in a deceptively simple style which always places melody at the front. His compositions are always beautifully crafted melodies unfolding to reveal many different colours and atmospheres. Although the music is 'free-ish' (read : rubato style playing) it is never harsh and the music is at moments almost hypnotic due to the delicate playing of the all the musicians which kind of shimmers like a mirage in a desert - strange image, but true.

This CD is one of his more open sessions which go along with his earlier set with Paul Motian and the 'Sonic Pressure' set also. Paul Motian, Reid Anderson and Ben Monder play Bills music with the usual finesse bringing out the best from all the compositions.

If you don't know Bill McHenry's playing I should suggest that you maybe start with one of his earlier CDs which are delightful, and then move onto the later ones such as this.

For more info why not check out :

TRIO AAB (3 CDs - as at this moment)

Tom Bancroft (drms, bodhran), Phil Bancroft (tenor sax), Kevin MacKenzie (gtr).

I've been meaning to write something about this GREAT trio for a long time. One of the most overlooked items in the world of jazz and music in general, their CDs - 'Cold Fusion', 'Wherever I lay my home that's my hat' & 'Stranger Things Happen at C' are real gems waiting to be (re)discovered for all those who love their music to be challenging, with groove/rhythm, plenty of very serious imrovisation, and most important, humour = Paul Motian Trio meets the Clusone Trio!

Trio AAB combines the various musical worlds of Scottish folk (maybe all folk musics!), Jazz, Rock/Punk/Jungle/Free-ish Funky - just check out 'Pay Some F**king Attention' from "Wherever I Lay My Hat......" to hear their hard hitting sound, or the great bodhran groove of 'Yet' from 'Stranger Things .....'. to name (sadly) just two examples out of the many on these CDs.

Finally one could write for pages about the playing of the musicians on these CDs (and the other CDs they're involved in). The sax playing of Phil Bancroft is a superb mixture of styles, seemingly able to approach music from all directions, improvising melodically or with a more open approach when needed. His sound and concept being a beautiful blend somewhere between Stan Getz and Joe Lovano but actually his OWN sound. Tom Bancroft supplies the 'beats' using either the standard drum kit or bodhran (his style). He really plays with dynamics on each tune, making something musical at every moment and always keeping the music moving forward rhythmically (i.e. GROOVING). Kevin MacKenzie has the hard job of holding the whole thing together harmonically and rhythmically. He plays in a very understaded way, which could be a lesson to many other guitarists. It would be tempting in a trio like this to play in the same area as Bill Frisell, Ben Monder etc, but not so. MacKenzie really has his own style with effects when needed (more rocky, more out, echoooooos, ballsy ...), but often opts for the real sound of eclectric guitar. He makes great lines improvising either alone or around the other two members whilst they blow the shit out of one of the tunes. Listen also to his beautiful compositions (ex : 'Two' from 'Stranger Things ....' ).

Anyone interested in just great music (with improvisation) will find a lot to revel in, even if it sounds a rather strange mixture they really pull the whole thing off ... very nicely!

For more info why not check out :

More to come, when I have time ........... Phil Bancroft (who, you don't know him!!), Porpoise Corpus (UK Jazz Rock), Stephane Chausse (French clarinetist, wow), etc.