- Thumbscrew “Camp Easy” from Never Is Enough (Cuneiform) 00:00
- Mike Freedman “Day of Change” from Into The Daybreak (Self Released) 07:32
- Jonathan Kane and Dave Soldier “Requiem For Hulis Pulis” from February meets Soldier String Quartet (EEG Records) 12:43
- Justin Rothberg Group “Hotel, Show, Repeat” from Hurricane Mouse (Self Released) 29:24
- Reza Khan “Broken River” from Imaginary Road (Painted Music) 35:48
- Mike Freedman “Into The Daybreak” from Into The Daybreak (Self Released) 41:38
- Thumbscrew “Heartdrop” from Never Is Enough (Cuneiform) 46:56
- Charlie Apicella “Four” from Classic Guitar (Zoho) 50:54
- Reza Khan “La Liaison” from Imaginary Road (Painted Music) 55:13
- Ben Monder, Tony Malaby, Tom Rainey “Suite 3320 Part 1” from Live at 55 Bar (Sunnyside Records) 1:00:50
- Jonathan Kane and Dave Soldier “Vienna Over The Hills” from February meets Soldier String Quartet (EEG Records) 1:18:02
- Justin Rothberg Group “Hurricane Mouse” from Hurricane Mouse (Self Released) 1:29:01
- Charlie Apicella “Tenderly” from Classic Guitar (Zoho) 1:36:06
- Mike Freedman “Journey Beyond Seven” from Into The Daybreak (Self Released) 1:40:18
- Thumbscrew “Scam Likely” from Never Is Enough (Cuneiform) 1:46:27
- Reza Khan “Midnight Runner” from Imaginary Road (Painted Music) 1:55:21
It’s all about guitars on this show with fantastic new albums featuring six strings. Thumbscrew return with their sixth album and Mary Halvorson is continually inventive with her approach to the instrument in a jazz context. There’s also a debut from Mike Freedman, ground breaking sounds from Johnathan Kane and Dave Soldier, and the New York sounds of Justin Rothberg. Reza Khan, also with a sixth album, delivers a great new set of tunes, while Charlie Apicella interprets classic jazz standards. In the centre of it all breath-taking live music from Ben Monder, Tony Malaby and Tom Rainey.
Currently one of the most exciting and active groups in boundary-pushing jazz, is the collective trio Thumbscrew, who release their sixth album in seven years with Never Is Enough. Constantly taking the simple, ‘guitar trio’ line-up into new territories, their music is a masterclass of musical interplay and focused forward momentum.
Late in the summer of 2019 Thumbscrew hunkered down at City of Asylum, the Pittsburgh arts organization that has served as a creative hotbed for the trio via a series of residencies. The immediate plan was for them to rehearse and record a disparate program of Anthony Braxton compositions they’d gleaned from his Tri-Centric Foundation archives, pieces released last year on The Anthony Braxton Project, an album celebrating his 75th birthday. At the same time, the triumvirate brought in a batch of original compositions that they also spent time refining and recording, resulting in Never Is Enough
While not intentional, The Anthony Braxton Project and Never Is Enough do seem to speak eloquently (if cryptically) to each other. “Braxton’s presence was very strong in this period, spending time with his music, reading some of the composition notes” Formanek says. “I think and hope the influence was there. It was definitely in our minds. I don’t know if there’s a direct influence, but definitely inspiration.”
released February 26, 2021
Tomas Fujiwara – Drums
Mary Halvorson – Guitar
Michael Formanek – Double Bass and Electric Bass
Recorded September 8–11, 2019 by Nate Campisi at Mr. Smalls Studio, Pittsburgh, PA.
Mixed March through June 2020 by Jake K. Leckie, Los Angeles, CA.
Mastered July 2020 by Nick Lloyd at Firehouse 12, New Haven, CT.
Into The Daybreak is Mike Freedman’s debut album as a jazz instrumentalist.
Inspired by 30 years of performing and writing in the Toronto music scene, as well as touring extensively in the US and Europe with other artists, Mike took to the studio to record some of his original songs and channel his creative energies.
The CD features 9 of Mike’s tunes which blend his love of many different styles of music, ranging from jazz, latin, to blues and ambient music. These 9 contrasting and colorful tunes glimmer with inspired performances and vibrancy. The thread that runs through these contrasting tunes is the strong melodic content. The tunes have a depth and feel that is both natural and familiar but also unique and memorable.
Using a traditional jazz quartet lineup of piano (Jeremy Ledbetter), drums (Max Senitt), bass (Kobi Hass) and Mike on guitar, Mike and his band recorded the bed tracks over two days, live off the floor at the world class Canterbury Studios in Toronto. By recording live off the floor, the band was able to keep the performances interactive and inspired. Additional instrumentation of Saxophone (Chris Gale), trumpet (Alexis Baros) and melodica (Jeremy Ledbetter) helped to add depth to the tunes and solos.
With the assistance of Jeremy Darby’s masterful mixing and recording capabilities, Mike was able to capture a clear yet natural snapshot of these inspired tunes, filled with memorable melodies, beautiful solos, and heartfelt playing. Into The Daybreak is a very listenable CD, with a radio friendly sound, stellar performances and a polished production. Mike manages to walk the balance between accessibility and originality with this gem of an album, which shines brightly into the year 2021
Johnathan Kane and Dave Soldier
Legendary NYC composers, band leaders, multi-instrumentalists and long time collaborators Jonathan Kane and Dave Soldier join forces with two of their most enduring projects—the trance-blues ecstatic minimalism of Jonathan Kane’s February, and the groundbreaking experimental string quartet innovations of Soldier String Quartet.
With collective experience that include Swans, La Monte Young and Rhys Chatham for Kane, and John Cale, Bo Diddley and Kurt Vonnegut for Soldier, this pair has got stories. February Meets Soldier String Quartet weds overtone-drenched drones with Delta and Chicago blues, trance, minimalism, jazz, no-wave, Haydn, and the great American songbook. It’s music that reconciles hypnosis with the physicality of a sweat-drenched juke joint. These are sounds for dancing, meditating, having sex, or banging your head against the wall.
Jonathan Kane is a downtown NYC legend, as co-founder of the no-wave behemoth Swans, and the rhythmic thunder behind the massed-guitar armies of Rhys Chatham and the three-hour blues excursions of minimalist godfather La Monte Young—and as one of the hardest-hitting drummers on the planet. His critically-acclaimed trance-blues releases February, I Looked At The Sun and Jet Ear Party, power guitar-driven minimalism into the blues, and the blues into guitar-driven harmonic maximalism. His live band Jonathan Kane’s February has performed internationally to kinetically charged audiences. Kane has also worked with The Kropotkins, Transmission, Circus Mort, John Zorn, Gary Lucas, The Kane Bros. Blues Band and Jean-Francois Pauvros. He appears on over 75 records.
Dave Soldier’s many projects include the Thai Elephant Orchestra consisting of 14 elephants in northern Thailand, the cult Delta punk band the Kropotkins, The People’s Choice (The World’s Most Unwanted Music), the Soldier String Quartet, the Brainwave Music Project, and coaching children to compose their own music in Harlem, Brooklyn, and Guatemala. He has performed as violinist, guitarist, and composer/arranger with Bo Diddley, John Cale, Kurt Vonnegut, David Byrne and others, appearing on over 100 records, including 20 featuring his compositions for classical and jazz musicians. Soldier, as Dr. David Sulzer is also a professor at Columbia University Medical Center in the Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Pharmacology. His book Music, Math and Mind on the physics and neuroscience of music was published in February by Columbia Press.
Justin Rothberg -guitar
Todd Groves-saxophones, flute and melodica
Hiroyuki Matsuura -drums
John Price -bass
Andy O’Niell-percussion and drums
In his career, Reza Khan has created his own musical world, performing music that is often easy-listening but never predictable. His guitar solos, while inspired at times by Pat Metheny, Lee Ritenour and Wes Montgomery, have their own musical personality.
On Imaginary Road, his sixth album as a leader, Khan is joined by his longtime band (pianist Matt King, bassist Mark Egan, drummer Maurizio Zottarelli and, on two selections, rhythm and Brazilian guitarist Sergio Pereira) along with welcome guest appearances from David Mann (on soprano, flute and other wind instruments), electric guitarist Miles Gilderdale (best-known for his work with Acoustic Alchemy), and Philippe Saisse on keyboards.
Imaginary Road begins with “Waiting For The Sky,” a melodic piece that has a happy optimistic feel (as if to say that anything is possible) with some heat
generated by Mann on soprano and guitarist Gilderdale. “Neo Funk” sounds like the start of a road trip. It features contrasting but complementary guitar solos from Khan and Gilderdale, and inventive statements from pianist King and Saisse on synth. “I See Stars” is a warm ballad with Khan’s guitar in the lead of the core group which is joined at times by Mann on flute and a melodic signature bass solo by Mark Egan. “La Liason,” while musically depicting the end of a love affair, is a thoughtful original that expresses hope for the future featuring Phillippe Saisse on Melodion.
One of the most memorable selections on this collection is “Midnight Runner,” an atmospheric performance which could easily serve as a soundtrack.
“Broken River” has a strong forward momentum and gets funkier as it progresses. “Seven Miles Road” is a colorful journey that includes a guitar-flute tradeoff while the energetic “It’s Happening” is most notable for a fine statement from Mark Egan and arguably Matt King’s most rewarding piano solo of the project. The spiritual piece “Somewhere East” looks towards Khan’s Eastern roots while still keeping his feet planted in contemporary jazz; Mann’s soprano playing adds plenty of passion. This enjoyable set concludes with “Imaginary Road,” a happy closer that gives each of the musicians an opportunity to groove joyfully to its conclusion.
Born in Bangladesh, Reza Khan grew up as part of a musical family and was trained on Indian percussion from the age of eight. But after hearing the album Frampton Comes Alive, he permanently switched to the guitar. His early influences included Pat Metheny, the Rippingtons, and Acoustic Alchemy. Khan’s first band, Yours Sincerely, had a best-selling album but the guitarist soon switched gears to pursue a career in international relations. Moving to the U.S., he graduated from Queens College with a degree in computer science. Khan worked for the United Nations and spent a period living and playing music in South Africa. Since returning to New York, Reza Khan has developed his own fresh style and recorded a series of popular albums: 2009’s Painted Diaries, A Simple Plan, The Dreamwalker, Wind Dance, and Next Train Home.
Reza Khan and his group have performed throughout New York and Europe during the last few years, building up an audience that will clearly be pleased by the highly enjoyable music of Imaginary Road
Classic Guitar is NYC based guitarist Charlie Apicella’s seventh record, available on 180 gram audiophile vinyl and CD.
It celebrates 1950s guitarists Johnny Smith, Freddie Green, and Barney Kessel, in solo guitar, duo, and trio settings.
Charlie Apicella Guitar, Stephen Riley Tenor, Roy Cumming – Bass ; Alan Korzin
On his first record of standards, Charlie, inspired by his love of collecting jazz LPs, plays Delia, his 1963 Guild Artist Award guitar.
Ben Monder, Tony Malaby, Tom Rainey
If anything good has come from the past year, it has been an enhanced appreciation of friendship and communal interaction. In jazz and improvised music, the former is always a blessing, but the latter is a necessity. Guitarist Ben Monder set out with the intent of recording a studio album with longtime collaborators, saxophonist Tony Malaby and drummer Tom Rainey, but circumstances led to a more informal situation, providing a visceral glimpse of these stellar musicians’ rapport.
The performance world was on the brink of shutting down in early March 2020 due to the appearance of COVID-19. Monder decided to take the opportunity provided by his monthly Tuesday residency at New York City’s stalwart jazz club, The 55 Bar, to present a recurring project with Malaby, a bass-less trio with drums. Rainey commanded the revolving drum chair on March 3rd and the two sets were recorded as a remarkable live document of fully improvised music making from three masters, released now as Live at The 55 Bar.
Monder has made a mark on the contemporary jazz world as a brilliant technician, virtuosic soloist and meticulous composer. The concept for his nearly 25-year partnership with Malaby was to focus on improvisation, as the saxophonist’s energy and creativity have always provided a perfect foil for the guitarist. Monder’s relationship with the versatile Rainey goes back even farther to the guitarist’s first demo recordings in the early 1990s; their familiarity is obvious in the ease of communication between them.
There are many active elements in this type of musical approach. Monder considers performing with this amalgamation particularly rewarding because of his bandmates’ abundance of ideas and penchant for improvising compositionally. These traits allow the music to evolve naturally, in a long-form manner, granting the musicians the ability to venture into different places without repeating themselves.
Three long improvisations were recorded that night, each piece unfolding organically. The ebb and flow and the building of tension to release demonstrate just how confident these musicians are in their craft of composing on the fly, in full control of their musical choices. The recording was made by the brilliant producer Joseph Branciforte, who was able to provide gorgeous studio quality sound and help with the narrative arc for the completed recording.
The trio took the suite approach to heart, naming the three pieces as such with the date of performance. The beginning segment, “Suite 3320 – Part I,” begins quietly with guitar arpeggiations, searching tenor moans and skittering drums. The brooding feel blossoms as Malaby pokes and prods at melodic ideas and the ambient guitar harmonics begin to unfurl more and more. Rainey’s tempo and volume build the intensity, and the guitar distortion adds to the density of sound.
“Suite 3320 – Part II” was actually almost the entire second set played on the evening of March 3rd. Malaby’s playful soprano jousts with Rainey’s lightly played snare as Monder patiently builds. The percussion focuses the group in its ascendancy. The saxophone and guitar push against one another, the dissonance electrifying the proceedings. The intensity breaks with waves of controlled reverbed guitar feedback and ghostly plucked tones over pounding drums. The thirty-minute performance rolls through echoing, ambient valleys and rocky, percussive slopes.
The concluding “Suite 3320 – Part III” initially finds the trio in a hazily disjointed space. Malaby’s sputtering tenor vocalizes and bleats over Monder’s dark, densely-packed and reverb-drenched guitar manipulations. Rainey’s drums are relentless as the trio’s level of intensity remains full tilt. A sudden break finds the musicians in an icy realm of false calm, Monder’s cold ominous waves of sound only broken by Malaby’s entreating sax.
Monder, Malaby and Rainey’s Live at The 55 Bar is a rare document of the guitarist convening an impressively supportive and expansive unit in a purely improvisational setting. The recording should reinforce the importance of, and will surely whet the appetite for, live improvised music made in the moment.
released February 26, 2021
Ben Monder – guitar
Tony Malaby – saxophone
Tom Rainey – drums