April 1, 2018

Mary Halvorson - Code Girl [2018]

This review was published on NextBop

If there is one word that cannot be used to describe Mary Halvorson, it's stagnant. In the past decade, the unconventional guitarist has been consistently expanding the range of her creativity, appearing on a staggering amount of recordings while developing a strikingly singular compositional approach. Code Girl, the name of Halvorson's latest record and band, stands adjacent from the progression that began in 2008 on Dragon's Head. Instead of adding another musician to the original trio with Ches Smith (drums) and John Hébert (bass), which has slowly grown into an extraordinary Octet, Halvorson looks to Thumbscrew, a collaborative band with Tomas Fujiwara (drums) and Michael Formanek (bass), and makes two exciting additions, Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet) and Amirtha Kidambi (vocals).

March 11, 2018

Andrew Drury's Content Provider - Try [2018]

This review was published on Free Jazz Blog

In the sophomore album by Andrew Drury's Content provider, Try, the drummer continues his habit of being involved in quality experimental jazz. Drury, who handles all of the compositions, is joined by musicians who are also mainstays in the New York avant-garde music scene: Ingrid Laubrock (tenor and soprano saxophones, autoharp), Briggan Krauss (alto saxophone, guitar) and Brandon Seabrook (guitar). Though Content Provider can be quite abrasive, and thrives in that energy, the record also has very well played atmospheric moments. This is notable on "Cassandra", the sole track that features Krauss on guitar.

February 25, 2018

Black Milk - FEVER [2018]


Black Milk has been lyrically silent for some time, with his last raps being on 2014's If There's a Hell Below. The hip-hop artist's 2016 release, The Rebellion Sessions, was a collaboration with the band Nat Turner that only had a tangential relation to hip-hop. With its tight rhythms, The Rebellion Sessions is not completely divorced from Milk's hip-hop roots, however the fact that it was a jazz record which featured improvisation made it stand out as a notable left turn in Milk's discography. On FEVER, Black Milk is rapping again, and it sounds like a lot of the production ideas that go into making the record such a success can be traced back to what the Detroit native was experimenting with in his years without the mic.

February 11, 2018

Quin Kirchner - The Other Side of Time [2018]

This review was published on NextBop

When speaking of jazz cities, New York and New Orleans are the ones that immediately come to mind, however, Chicago also deserves a shout. The city is no stranger to jazz creativity, being the home of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and having a scene which honed the chops of talented modern jazz names such as Tomeka Reid, Jaimie Branch and Matana Roberts. Drummer Quin Kirchner, a Chi-Town native, proves to be another quality example of the Chicago scene in his debut record, The Other Side of Time. The bandleader is an integral part of his skillful quintet made up of Nick Broste (trombone), Nate Lepine (tenor saxophone, flute), Jason Stein (bass clarinet) and Matt Ulery (bass).

January 29, 2018

Jason Kao Hwang - Sing House [2017]

This review was published on Free Jazz Blog

The opening track of Sing House, "No Such Thing", begins with an angular melody which quickly breaks out into an entertaining chaos of rapid, seemingly free improvisation. This is a fitting introduction to the structure, though that word feels very limiting to describe much of the music here, of Sing House, Jason Kao Hwang's adventurous four-track album. Hwang has assembled a formidable quintet of past collaborators: Andrew Drury (drum set), Ken Filiano (bass), Chris Forbes (piano) and Steve Swell (trombone). Hwang is democratic in his band-leading, with each member given a moment in the limelight to showcase their talents throughout the record.