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. 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.

July 2008

Ben Monder - Oceana (2005)

Ben Monder (gtr), Theo Bleckmann (voice), Ted Poor (drms) and Kermit Driscoll or Skuli Sverrisson (bass).

Ben Monder's 'Oceana' is certainly difficult to categorize when it comes to jazz. Many people on the site have already sung the praises of his various CDs, although it has to be said that the music is not always easy to listen to. It would seem that the 'jazz' tag is not really the best way of categorizing Monder's music/compositions. At times it would be more comfortable to take the likes of King Crimson, Robert Fripp, Pat Metheny, Living Color, Bill Frisell etc as comparisons as the music is often very composed and quite complex. Some of the melodies take a long time to develop - 'Oceana' at 17 mins, or 'Rooms of Light' at 16 mins, but this means that there's plenty to listen to and of course much to discover. Ben Monder uses the voice of Theo Bleckmann as a counterfoil in most of the written melody lines which gives the music an almost ethereal touch at moments - check out the heavy 'Rooms Of Light' with it's high energy guitar distortion melody doubled with the voice (as an example)!

One should not forget to mention the playing of Kermit Driscoll or Skuli Sverrisson (bass) and Ted Poor (drms) who keep this highly complex music 'up and running'. Without them the music would/could get very bogged down in complexity, but luckily the great rhythm section make you forget (not notice) the difficult structures which hold this music together.

Since Ben Monder is known for his work with such diverse groups as Paul Motian, Bill McHenry, Maria Schneider, Donny McCaslin or even Rebecca Martin (& thousands of others!!), one starts to understand when hearing this CD why this guitarist is in heavy demand as a sideman.

Great music and certainly worth listening to if you want to discover something new in terms of the guitar trio format.

For more info why not check out :

Tim Berne/Science Friction - The Sublime and (Live) Double CD (2003)

Tim Berne (sax), Marc Ducret (gtr), Craig Taborn (kybds/electronics), Tom Rainey (drums).

Tim Berne is almost a law unto himself when it comes to composing and playing. His many different formations that he's composed for starting from the early days represented in the 'Empire Box' (5 CDs), to the more recent Bloodcount, Big Satan, Hard Cell and of course Science Friction. His music seems to cut across various styles and eras - he's been composing and recording on the scene since '79 - without any problem and yet still remains contemporary at all times. What makes Tim Berne so interesting is that even if his music is what most people call avant-garde, it always remains very accessible due to his use of very punchy riff like line melodies which hark back to his early interest in soul music.

Tim Berne's interest in Stax and 60s rhythm and blues music is ever present in his compositions, which even if not easy listening are always 'funky' and strongly rhythmic. A good example of this is the first tune on the CD Van Grundy's Retreat. An angular kind of looping line (in 15/4?) with a melody that comes in after the first beat giving an illusion of a kind of non stop cycle. The bridge section is lighter and gives the tune a chance to breath before re-plunging back into the relentless non stop cycle of the initial melody. Then comes the solos ........ !

Science Friction is a bassless quartet playing a high energy music built from complex polyrhythmic angular lines (often in two voices) which somehow resemble, although not melodically, a Bach 'm-base' two part invention. Tim Berne's use of a band without bass is nothing new in the world of jazz (or not anymore at least) and certainly nothing different for Tim Berne who has been using 'bassless' line-ups for many years, either in his trios with Marc Ducret/Tom Rainey (Big Satan), Craig Taborn/Tom Rainey (Hard Cell).

For more info why not check out :

More to come, when I have time ...........Craig Taborn, Porpoise Corpus (UK Jazz Rock), Stephane Chausse (French clarinetist, wow), etc.