Wednesday 6th May

May 6, 2009

First of all, if you are an International reader you can skip this first paragraph… If you are in the UK or Ireland though, take a look at the Events Calendar. Lots of new entries there today. Thanks Phil for the hard work. Some really interesting gigs forthcoming, the second Sotto Voce gig on the 23rd of May is probably a must-see if you are close to London. Seijiro Muruyama makes a (I think) first appearance on these shores too at Oto on the 20th in two duos with Eddie Prevost and Seymour Wright. On the same day over in Ireland David Lacey plays with Rob Casey at the Goethe Institute, definitely one to catch if you are one of the several regular Irish readers here. More to come soon. I have heard one or two really promising rumours about some exciting visitors to London this summer as well, watch this space.

I returned to the Magee/Noyes 2CD download All Angles tonight then as promised. First of all I listened to Part.2 of the three part release, which takes the form of a single collaborative work by the pair called Patchwork Piece. I am assuming this track was put together via an email exchange, though I am not certain. It opens again with a degree of hiss and hum, and for the first minute or two this is indeed all we hear until a series of sounds appear, separate to each other initially, but gradually converging. A sine tone of some kind is placed into the background and little bursts of piano and percussion come and go. A few more minutes in and the piece flows out into a full blown piano piece with some percussion interjecting here and there. The online liner notes do not list a piano as such though, only a keyboard, so one assumes the instrument is an artificial one. Nine minutes in and the “piano” starts to warp and eventually distorts completely as the recording is messed with and merged with more pure tone, looping guitar, and the sound of rapidly winding tape. And so it goes… a kind of constantly changing collage of mainly acoustic put together with a low-fi edge to it. Its a nice piece, much more interesting to me than the material in Part.1 of the release, though one two or three second loop of deranged guitar that reappears often through the middle section really began to grate on me at one point, and the frantic sax that wanders all over the last ten minutes is a little overpowering.

Part 3 of the release is made up of two live recordings, the first of which (confusingly called Live 2) is a massive sixty-five minutes in length. Here the recording quality is much better, though the usual live-gig-roomtone is present and the music still sounds compressed by the download. This is much more spacious, far more restrained music, and perhaps therefore naturally more interesting to me. Feedback tones come and go, little bits of scraping percussion, tiny blurts of sax and here and there small pieces of radio interludes appear. At twenty minutes the sax breaks loose for a bit, hanging about for ten minutes or so, joined by snippets of percussion before the next ten minutes are made up of mainly electronic, Nakamura-esque sounds. Through to the end Magee’s sax keeps reappearing, sometimes low and broody, sometimes brash and insistent. Noyes sticks mainly to guitar or percussion throughout, though different elements come and go frequently. This is a curious recording. It seems to bridge the gap between different styles of improvised music in a somewhat direct, collage style, similar to the emailed piece, but this time live. At one minute the music is restful, full of brooding tones and layered feedback, the next a free-jazz blow-out takes hold of you and shakes you hard. The combination of such different styles makes this one a difficult album to settle with, and perhaps inevitably a recording that I like in places, but dislike in others. Intriguing and daring stuff though, making the album’s title All Angles a good fit. There then follows a nine minute piece named Live 1 on which (I think) Magee switches to trumpet alongside Noyes’ oddly percussive guitar thrumming. Sadly this was once again not really my cup of tea, but it is a free download so I urge anyone to go and listen and let us know your own thoughts on the album, which of course may well be different to mine.

The album then ends with a Postlude version of Duke Ellington’s In a sentimental mood which I find an easier and more enjoyable listen, perhaps because the playing is slightly more restrained and less aggressive than the sax had been on the improv pieces, but it still seems a little fast to me, less sentimental, more vaguely impatient, but again I don’t know the original composition so who am I to talk? Go download the album here.

On a related note, when I arrived at Monday’s Freedom of the City gig Seymour Wright handed me a CDr. It turned out that he had read my previous blog post on the All Angles album, and my comment that I had not ever heard the Thelonius Monk piece ‘Round Midnight and so surprised me by very kindly recording several versions of it onto a disc for me to listen to. I am off to bed shortly and as it is three minutes to midnight as I type these last words tonight it seems a fitting time to listen to it. I will write something (though I have no idea what!) on the experience tomorrow.

Comments (3)

  • Massimo Magee

    May 7, 2009 at 2:59 am

    Richard, I’m glad you enjoyed All Angles (or parts of it anyway!), and thank you very much for the very perceptive review!

    It sounds like Seymour Wright is giving you a crash course in Jazz, I’m very curious to hear of your experiences with the different versions of ‘Round Midnight

    all the best,

  • Jacques Oger

    May 7, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    There are so many versions of RM !!

    One of them, not so much known, by Eric Dolphy on an album of George Russell called Ezz-thetics.

    The Watchful Ear : le dernier salon où l’on parle de jazz !

  • Jacques Oger

    May 7, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Sorry I didn’t skip this 1st paragraph…

    “… Seijiro Muruyama makes a (I think) first appearance on these shores too at Oto on the 20th in two duos with Eddie Prevost and Seymour Wright. …”

    Don’t miss Seiji. He is an amazing percussionist !

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