Zevious (USA) – “After the Air Aid”
Beat Circus – “Boy from the Mountain”
The Boston-based band Beat Circus is the brainchild of mavrick multi-instrumentalist / singer-songwriter Brian Carpenter. The band's music bridges disparate genres and divers strains of Americana, encompassing cabaret, circus music, Appalachian string music, bluegrass, old-time music, Southern Gospel, funereal traditionals, experimental music, and more. Boy from the Black Mountain is the second installation in Beat Circus' “Weird American Gothic" trilogy. (Cuneiform released the trilogy's first CD, Dreamland, in 2008). Born and raised in Florida, Carpenter – a Southern native transplanted to the urban North – conceived the album as a tale of family and roots, interweaving past, present and future. Many of the songs were written during and inspired by his son's diagnosis of and treatment for autism in late 2006. Other songs, titled after classic Southern Gothic literature, were inspired by Carpenter's father and grandparents, who were watermelon farmers in the South's rural Bible Belt. The album was produced by Brian Carpenter and Bryce Goggin (Akron/Family, Antony and the Johnsons, Bishop Allen). Carpenter assembled a new Beat Circus lineup for this CD, that includes violinist Paran Amirinazari and violist Jordan Voelker (both also on vocals), trombonist Doug LaRosa, and a rockabilly-style rhythm section featuring bassist Paul Dilley (Reverend Glasseye), guitarist/banjoist Andrew Stern, and drummer Gavin McCarthy (Karate). Singer Larkin Grimm (Young God Records) and cellist Julia Kent (Antony and the Johnsons) guest throughout the album. The CD features cover art and booklet illustrations by Carson Ellis, a children's book illustrator best known for her work on The Decemberists' albums. An artful-yet-accessible album with great lyrics, memorable songs and rich orchestrations, Boy from Black Mountain would appeal to those who like: Nick Cave, Ennio Morricone, Warren Ellis, Wovenhand, Johnny Cash, and Sixteen Horsepower.
Wadada Leo Smith – “Spiritual Dimensions”
Lauded as “one of the most vital musicians on the planet” by Coda, Wadada Leo Smith is one of the most visionary, boldly original and artistically important figures in contemporary American jazz and free music, and one of the great trumpet players of our time. As a composer, improviser, performer, music theorist/writer and educator, Smith has devoted a lifetime to navigating the emotional heart, spiritual soul, social significance and physical structure of jazz - both free and composed – and world music to create new music of infinite possibility and nuance. Since the 1960s, when Smith became a founding member of AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Music) and debuted as a composer with “The Bell” on Anthony Braxton ’s 1968 Three Compositions of New Jazz, he has released nearly 30 albums under either his own name or his bands’ on ECM, Moers, Black Saint and other labels, including numerous releases on his own Kabell label in the ‘70s-‘80s and on Tzadik, Pi Recordings, Leo, Intakt and Cuneiform in the ‘90s and 2000s. In recent years, a galaxy of new releases and reissues in a wide variety of projects has brought Smith wider attention and world-wide critical acclaim. Smith has begun to receive the recognition long due him; in recent years he’s been interviewed and featured in (and on the cover of) jazz and experimental music magazines worldwide, and has frequently appeared in the Trumpet category of the DownBeat International Critics Poll. Most recently, Smith was awarded a 2009 Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation for his compositional work and was nominated in the 2009 Trumpet category in the 57 th DownBeat International Critics Poll; and in 2008 he received the FONT (Festival of New Trumpet Music) Award of Recognition. Spiritual Dimensions , Smith’s new release on Cuneiform, is a double album that features two groups that have been among the key focal points for Smith’s prolific creativity and compositional and performance activities in recent years. Both groups – Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quintet and Wadada Leo Smith's Organic – are composed of superb musicians whom Smith carefully selected to interpret and perform his unique compositions, and both were recorded live to capture the energy and spirit of their live performances. Together, this double CD set documents the activities Wadada Leo Smith, one of America’s greatest living jazz musicians, as an ensemble leader, composer, improvisor, and trumpet player during the mature apex of his creative years. Featuring some of Smith’s most accessible, jazz oriented music, Spiritual Dimensions opens the door to Smith’s creative universe in specific and the boundless dimensions of American creative music, inviting listeners to further explore. The Golden Quintet straddles the line between modern/avant jazz and jazz with some electric touches. Organic is fully electric and a different beast; a four guitar, creative, bad-ass beast with slinky grooves. On disc one there is Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quintet: Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet, Vijay Iyer: piano, synthesizer, John Lindberg: bass, Pheeroan AkLaff: drums, Don Moye: drums. On disc two there is the recorded debut of Wadada Leo Smith's Organic: Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet, Michael Gregory: electric guitar, Brandon Ross: electric guitar, Nels Cline: 6- and 12-string electric guitar, Lamar Smith: electric guitar, Okkyung Lee: cello, Skuli Sverrisson: electric bass, John Lindberg: acoustic bass, Pheeroan AkLaff: drums.
Jason Adasiewich’s Rolldown – “Variant”
Jason Adasiewicz’s Rolldown is one of the brightest, hottest, and most coherent and cohesive new constellations to emerge in recent years from Chicago’s ever-expanding jazz galaxy. This jazz quintet is composed of some of the most prolific and talented young players on the scene, including Jason Adasiewicz [a-dah-shev-its] on vibraphone, Josh Berman on cornet, Aram Shelton on alto saxophone and clarinet, Jason Roebke on bass and Frank Rosaly on drums. Under Adasiewicz’s leadership, Rolldown’s sound combines Blue Note's classic, avant-leaning '60s albums with contemporary drive, swing, energy, and attack. Adasiewicz interweaves colors and threads from several generations of Chicago’s avant jazz heritage into new, 21 century compositions that are brought alive by his players’s remarkably tight ensemble work. Nowhere are Adsiewicz’s compositional skills and Rolldown’s breathtaking ensemble work more evident than on Varmint, Rolldown’s second album and first release on Cuneiform. A key member of Chicago's jazz and improvised music scene, Jason Adasiewicz is quickly gaining widespread recognition through his extensive work as a sideman and strong showing in DownBeat 's 2007, 2008 and 2009 "Critics' Poll – Rising Star" Vibes category. He is a member of more than 20 working bands, including Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star Orchestra, the Nicole Mitchell Quartet, Mike Reed's Loose Assembly, the Guillermo Gregorio Trio, and Ken Vandermark's Index Orkest. Adasiewicz formed his Chicago-based jazz quintet, Rolldown, in 2004. Cuneiform's release of Rolldown’s second recording, called Varmint , features six new compositions by Adasiewicz and a tune written by jazz legend Andrew Hill , and features liner notes written by Chicago-based jazz critic Peter Margasak .The music on Varmint is swinging and accessible but also very modern and forward-looking, and would appeal to those who are fans of such jazz legends as Jackie McLean, Bobby Hutcherson, Andrew Hill, Grachan Moncur III, Eric Dolphy, as well as other, newer, post-bop influenced artists in jazz today. Sonically superb, Varmint was recorded in August 2008 by engineer Mark Haines at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studios in Chicago.
Ergo (USA) – “Multitude Solitude”
An electro-acoustic sonic arts/jazz trio, Ergo seamlessly interweaves jazz and electronica to create music of stark melodic beauty, enveloping texture, and sonic spaciousness. The New York City based group consists of musicians who have played together in various forms since 2003: composer/leader Brett Sroka on trombone and laptop, Carl Maguire on Rhodes electric piano and analog synth, and Shawn Baltazor on drums. Time Out-NY noted that the three “are all part of a generation for which Autechre and Sigur Ros are as pressing concerns as Armstrong and Sun Ra. That's certainly evident in the band's timbral sophistication, spacey contours and slinky grooves." Drawing from Post-Rock as well as post-Coltrane, remaining oblivious to boundaries of genre or form, and assembling trombones, electronic circuits, drumskins and synths as sonically components on an infinitively textured instrumental palette, Ergo resculpts and edits a widely diverse and musical heritage into a starkly beautiful, and truly ‘cool’ 21 st Century sonic jazz form. Brett Sroka began his music career as a jazz trombonist, composer and band leader. His first CD, called Hearsay, came out on the label Fresh Sound – New Talent in 2002. Shortly after Hearsay’ s release, Sroka became fascinated with electronic music and surrounded himself with synthesizers and software, seeking, “to reconcile the six hundred years of technology between trombone and computer.” He formed Ergo, and in 2006 the group self-released its first CD, Quality Anatomechanical Music. Multitude, Solitude is Ergo's second release and features Ergo coming further into its own. Throughout the CD’s 6 tracks, the band refines its unique style of unadorned melody and intrepid free improvisation, incorporating a sensual approach to such post-modern sonic techniques as sampling, synthesis and signal processing. Ergo has performed at both jazz and electronic music/post-rock festivals including the Williamsburg Jazz Festival (Brooklyn, NY), the Sonic Circuits Festival (Washington D.C.), and the Risonanze festival (Venice, Italy
Zevious (USA) – “After the Air Aid”
Zevious is a genre-bursting, out/electric/punk-jazz trio based in New York City. It consists of cousins Mike Eber on guitar and Jeff Eber on drums, and Johnny DeBlase on bass. Zevious’ sound is equally influenced by the improvisational approach of contemporary jazz artists Vijay Iyer and Ben Monder, polymetric metal of bands like Meshuggah, and vintage jazz and rock by such jazz fusion groups as Mahavishnu Orchestra and avant-progressive/Rock in Opposition bands like Magma. Songs wind through odd-metered, groove-laden landscapes that morph into brooding, reflective passages. Interspersed with edgy, hard-riffing contrapuntal guitar and stop-on-a-dime breaks, such tunes tread treacherous sonic grounds and reveal Zevious’ ability to shred. Zevious is one of the most distinctive and aggressive genre-defiant/fusion bands in the burgeoning punk-jazz movement, a 21 century update on the compositional ferocity of bands like Fred Frith’s Massacre, Ronald Shannon Jackson’s Decoding Society, and James Blood Ulmer’s Music Revelation Ensemble. After the Air Raid is Zevious’ second album and its first release on Cuneiform. The culmination of nearly two years of composing and performing, the CD features music that is carefully crafted and exquisitely, yet aggressively played. The music winds through peaks and valleys of odd-metered bass and drum grooves, contrapuntal guitar vamps, poly-metric riffing and hard hitting drum workouts. Coupled with more subtle, introspective, and often brooding segments, After the Air Raid is a record with lasting depth. Beautifully and clearly recorded by Colin Marston (of Behold the Arctopus ), After the Air Raid is masterfully presents Zevious’ powerful live sound.