***PRESS 2022***


eNR106: s/t by Ocean Eddie
Jean-Claude Vantroyen, Le Soir (28/12/2022) ***
Les tourbillons d’un océan musical.
Andreas Bral au piano et à l’harmonium, Viktor Perdieus au saxophone et Stan Maris à l’accordéon. Sous la belle po-chette de Soetkin Bral s’ouvre un album, Ocean Eddie, mystérieux et fascinant. Un Ocean Eddie, c’est un tourbillon au sein de flux océaniques. Une interaction qui s’applique à la musique. « N’importe quel instrument peut occuper n’importe quelle fonction », dit Andreas Bral, « ce qui donne lieu à des improvisations axées sur l’orchestration. On redistribue en continu des courants, des sons et des silences. » Et pour cela, chacun des musi-ciens utilise son instrument de toutes les façons : percussions, bruitages, souffles, mélodies, harmonies. Il faut un temps avant de rentrer dans cet univers, mais une fois qu’on s’y sent bien, on n’a guère envie d’en sortir. Le trio est au Nona, à Malines, le 10 décembre.

eNR106: s/t by Ocean Eddie
Eric Therer, Jazz Mania (28/12/2022)
It's a low-key-looking disc, shy of its early notes. However, it doesn't take much time before it reveals itself, reveals itself. It is through circular, airy compositions that he lets himself be caught. While some appear as abstract miniatures, others emerge as real melodies that find their ramifications in the legacy of old folk music of ancient Europe. Spherical pieces built around Stan Maris' accordion, Andreas Bral's keyboards (piano and harmonium) and Viktor Perdieus' saxophones. The three musicians are hard at work in writing. Their complicity is also felt in the way they talk to each other, and more singularly in the way they allow themselves to breathe, playing and playing small suspensions, intervals of silence, as to better turnaround er their grades in the air.

eNR106: s/t by Ocean Eddie
Bruce Lee Gallanter, the Downtown Music Gallery NY (26/12/2022)
Ocean Eddie is a Belgian trio whose members look young and are part of a number of bands that I’ve never heard of: The Milk Factory, Bambi Pang Pang and Kreis. If you’ve never heard of any of the musicians or bands, you are not alone. I, myself am a big fan of the accordion, which has emerged as one of the most diverse instruments in a wide variety of experimental and ethnic bands, thanks to pioneers like Guy Klucesvek, Andrea Parkins, Ted Reichman or Will Holshouser. There is an all-accordion quintet called Accordion Tribe which brings together 5 virtuosos from different scenes and all three of their discs are marvelous.

The instrumentation here is certainly unique: accordion, harmonium (or piano) and saxes. The accordion and harmonium are both played by squeezing something and their sound/texture is similar. There sounds like there is some percussion going on here but mostly it is some of the players banging on their respective instruments. “Ochre” features a hypnotic minimalist (Glass or Reich-like) repeating pattern. Rather laid back and charming. On “I Sme”, the bari sax and accordion play a line together while the piano plays some quick free-flowing counterpoint lines, the undertow and interplay are both quite stimulating. Ocean Eddie like to stretch out their pieces giving them a more ethereal of spacious vibe sometimes recalling the brevity or conciseness of an Erik Satie piece. What is interesting about these pieces is this: often the pieces will start with fragments which will be assembled, taken apart and reassembled with differing combinations changing from track to track. At times, it take some time before we hear or notice that a theme has been stated or at least presented in part. Some of these pieces are quite short yet each one evokes a different mood or sonic scene in our collective minds. I am also reminded of the ever-charming music of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, certainly this is a good thing to savor.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
FREE JAZZ BLOG'S TOP 10s of 2022 (25/12/2022)

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
John Sharpe, All about Jazz (23/12/2022) ***1/2
Works by Anthony Braxton appear occasionally in the repertoire of others, but it is exceptional for entire albums to be devoted to them. That is especially true for some of his later works. But Belgian guitarist Kobe Van Cauwenberghe looks to rectify that. He already has one such outing under his belt—Ghost Trance Solos (ATD, 2020)—but his ambition propels him even further on Ghost Trance Septet Plays Anthony Braxton, where his assembled crew gets to grips with four of Braxton's knotty later pieces. The team comprises musicians accustomed to both contemporary new music and free improvisation, the perfect grounding to tackle Braxton's oeuvre.

Braxton's "Ghost Trance Music," which he performed from 1995 to 2012, evolved over that time from a non-repeating stream of regular notes to encompass ever greater complexity, but from the off it functioned as a framework within which any other pieces from his bountiful catalogue of works might be selected for inclusion by the participants. Several books have been written about Braxton's musical philosophy. Suffice it to say that his Ghost Trance system offers ample opportunities for individual expression. It might seem academic, but the effect is intoxicating.

While the Ghost Trance Septet may not be as accomplished as some of the Braxton outfits which first presented this material (and included such future luminaries as Steve Lehman, Mary Halvorson and Taylor Ho Bynum), they still make captivating, relentlessly interactive, music. All four pieces inhabit an emotionally and texturally kaleidoscopic soundworld, one which is restlessly changing and group-focused, without solos as such. It's rare for everyone to play at once after they depart from the initial minimalist unison themes. However the leader's guitar, along with the euphonium and trumpet of Niels Van Heertum, the violin of Anna Jalving, and percussion of Teun Verbruggen, are some of the most prominent performers, but everyone comes to the fore at some point during the 95-minute duration.

Each cut runs just shy of the 25-minute mark, during which time moods range from bristling polyphony to dreamy interweaving and much more. In their interpretations, the Septet brings out some unexpected facets from the charts, such as the playful melodic dimension of the hop, skip and jump of "Composition 255." One of the most arresting sequences here comes when the ensemble locks into the insistent riff of one of Braxton's classic post-bebop lines, "Composition 40f, in which" Cauwenberghe's guitar rages and thrashes. The curious listener can compare this and two of the other three renditions (although not "Composition 264" which is otherwise undocumented) with Braxton's own recorded versions, for further immersion in this singular universe. Unsurprisingly what they will find is that once they leave the unison themes, the trajectories are completely different.

In particular Cauwenberghe's Septet raids Braxton's back pages with abandon to insert some of his most distinctive pieces into the overall flow, not least the gloriously bravura march of "Composition 58" from Creative Music Orchestra 1976 (Arista, 1976), which is enthusiastically adopted during this reading of "Composition 358." Braxton's instructions for approaching his music, included in the illuminating liners by Timo Hoyer, contain such injunctions as "have fun," "take risks," "make mistakes and keep a sense of humor." The band embraces these exhortations wholeheartedly, such that what might become an exercise in over-reverential hands becomes a festival of creativity, joy and surprise.

eNR101: The Monkey and The Monk – Concerto for Jazz Septet in 3 Movements by Augusto Pirodda Septet
Jacques Prouvost, Jazz Mania (20/12/2022)
Trois ou quatre mesures swinguantes de big band jazz et puis, comme on sort d’un club new-yorkais, on se retrouve dans la rue, la tête qui tourne, la musique qui se mélange, les dialogues qui fusionnent, l’excitation qui monte encore d’un cran. Le chaos, presque. C’est l’entrée en matière dans le monde imaginaire du pianiste Augusto Pirodda. C’est un voyage en trois mouvements (inspiré par l’épopée de Xuanzang ?) qui mène l’auditeur à se poser des questions, à se révolter, à entrevoir des réponses. Entouré de souffleurs aventuriers (Laurent Blondiau, Ben Sluijs, Sam Comerford) d’une rythmique mordante (Manolo Cabras, Marek Patrman) et de l’insaisissable vocaliste – et créatrice d’ambiances hallucinées – (Lynn Cassiers), Pirodda déroule ses compositions tantôt énigmatiques tantôt ultra libérées avec une intensité de tous les instants. On passe de la frénésie (« The Irrelevance of Wanting ») à l’apaisement total (« Sneeuwvolkje »), de moments délicats à l’improvisation la plus débridée, de compositions fines et introspectives aux plus abstraites. Le groupe est ultra solide et ultra soudé, ce qui permet à chacun des musiciens de s’exprimer sans contrainte et de nous offrir un album captivant du début à la fin.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Raul Da Gama, Jazzdagama (20/12/2022)
Although Mr Braxton’s may artistic conception may be accessible for the musically adept to wrap his or her advanced mind around – a melodic line sets up the approximate musical geography for the work before the interpreting musicians begin to embellish the storyline – yet Mr Braxton’s work is among the most technically demanding in the past one hundred years [at least]. This means that artists embarking on his repertoire have to aim to speak and sing in the composer’s radicalized musical language. Here too Mr Van Cauwenberghe’s septet – comprising musicians similarly attuned to Mr Braxton’s radical-speak particularly the prodigiously gifted brass player Niels Van Heertum – excel in their interpretations of the four works involved.

Disc One begins with the hushed sonorities of Composition No. 255 perched at the edge of audibility. Guitarist and the rest of the septet generate music in structural arcs that – as the composer probably envisioned – extend instrumental techniques and simultaneously shatter melodicism, harmonics and rhythmic patterns pf musical convention. Here one marvels at the musicianship of p9ianist Elisa Medinilla, bassist Frederik Sakham, and saxophonist and bass clarinetist Steven Delannoye.

A long sustained passage is ripped apart with abrupt instrumental scrapings before manic pizzacatos send melodic cells scattering into the outer limits of our ability to hear them. Instruments entwine, one embracing the other. A mystical phrase by the violin of Anna Jalving soars heavenward, creating a new ceiling for the melody to soar into and shatter once more. This is done as the musicians indulge in a final earth-shattering climax of the melody.

Mr Braxton’s supple philosophical distinction between music ans noise can take some acclimatization, but the layered music of this performance [other than ones Mr Braxton is himself involved in, that is] of his Ghost Trance Music articulates the arguments in its favour with outstanding clarity. Guitar, brass, the other strings [bass and violin] players and the percussion colourist in the sublime form of Teun Verbruggen bend their technique to Mr Braxton’s characteristically exacting specifications.

Musicians blow, hit and scrape their instruments to harvest mint-fresh timbres. In the unfolding of a septet musical discourse [especially on] Composition No. 193 a more highly evolved piece ensues. Mr Verbruggen’s mallets on skins combine together with the nerve-endings of the fingers and lips of other musicians to produce marvellous musical architecture.

Jagged sounds overlap and blend with super-pizzicato-fluido – while actual orchestral instrumentation transforms Composition No. 264. Instruments metamorphose into resonating sound objects as they are resolutely turned away from their usual orchestral function. Inside this dramatically expressive music is an altogether other kind of beauty exclusive to the music of Mr Braxton.

eNR104: As We Thought by Wisdom Trio
Bruce Lee Gallanter, the Downtown Music Gallery NY (02/12/2022)
The Wisdom Trio is Riccardo Luppi on soprano & tenor saxes & two flutes, Joe Fonda on contrabass and Filippo Monico drums. All of the tracks here were recorded in Milan, Italy in November of 2019. Italian reeds player, Riccardo Luppi, has collaborated with Giorgio Gaslini, Daniele Cavallanti and Nexus. Drummer Filippo Monico has worked a handful of lesser known Italian jazz players like Dimitri Grechi Espinoza, Massimo Falascone and the Gaetano Liguori Collective. More recently Mr. Filippo had a duo disc out with Tomeka Reid for the Relative Pitch label. Downtown contrabass master, Joe Fonda, needs no introduction here since he can be found on so many great discs: with Anthony Braxton, the Nu Band, Conference Call and for Michael Musillami.

A great contrabassist like Mr. Fonda can make a trio like this sound even better by holding down the center with the cosmic, organic throb. Mr. Luppi starts off on tenor sax, playing coyly, carefully, slowly at first. The first piece is called “Take the Journey” and Mr. Fonda’s bass is featured playing a long robust, not bending solo which is extraordinary. Mr. Luppi also takes a strong, spirited, circular solo without any screaming or theatrics. The trio calm down for “Leave It on the Left Side” with Luppi on soft flute and Mr. Fonda’s delicate, exquisite bass. I am not so sure how if these musicians played together before this date but they do sound like they have been playing together for a long while. The main vibe here is one that is calm at the center, free yet focused as the trio play together as one force of nature. The trio often sound like they are on the verge of flying apart yet always remain connected on an organic, natural level. Mr. Luppi switches to flute on “Wisdom”, his tone mystical and haunting, sounding more like a bass flute. There times when Mr. Fonda speeds up and starts to spin these astonishing note-popping line which are at the center of his unique approach/sound. This is a near perfect, free trio date in which each element of the collective spirit is just right.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Bruce Lee Gallanter, the Downtown Music Gallery NY (02/12/2022)
The Ghost Rance Septet consists of Kobe Van Cauwenberghe on electric & nylon string guitars, bass guitar, synths & voice, Frederik Sakham on double & electric basses & voice, Elisa Medinilla on piano, Niels Van Heertum on euphonium & trumpet, Anna Jalving on violin, Steven Delannoye on tenor sax and Teun Verbruggen on drums & percussion. At first glance I thought that drummer Teun Verbruggen was the only name I knew well here (from Bureau of Atomic Tourism & Flat Earth Society). Turns out that a few of these musicians are listed in the DMG database like: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe who has performed the music of Larry Polansky and Georg Friedrich Haas & odd comps like ‘The $100 Guitar Project’ & ‘ZWERM’. Niels Van Heertum has worked with Lynn Cassiers (great disc on CleanFeed for 2018). A couple of members can be found on the Neos & New World Records labels.

Anthony Braxton often composes in cycles. For around a decade, between 1995 and 2006, Mr. Braxton composed 138 pieces known as Ghost Trance Music (a/k/a GTM). Even for some serious Braxton fans (a/k/a Braxtonians), this cycle was pretty controversial: fans either loved it, tolerated it or disliked it immensely. No in between. I caught around a dozen or so of this series, including a full weeks worth at the 2nd Knitting Factory. Considering that each set was around an hour long and the varied sized ensembles played the same riff or line over and over, which would slowly change over time, some folks got bored and either walked out or fell asleep. Since I am a longtime Braxton fan-addict, I chose to adjust my expectations, turn off my internal clock and open up to the slowly evolving beast/composition. It took a bit of searching but I finally started to enjoy GTM more and more over time. Mr. Braxton did a meet & greet at DMG when the Ghost Trance Festival 10 CD box set was released in 1997 and afterwards we went out to eat at an Asian restaurant across the street from the store. During our meal, Braxton was interviewed by Ted Pankin for Downbeat. It was then that Mr. Braxton explained at length about the many ways of understanding what Ghost Trance Music is all about. He said that the GTM structure/essence was similar to a subway map, where many things are connected but we have to find a way to make these connections and bring them to life.

It is pretty rare for other ensembles to perform their own versions of Mr. Braxton’s compositions and even rare for anyone to do Ghost Trance Music. In the liner notes Braxton explains that the musicians are supposed to have fun playing his music and not get hung up on playing the correct way. This ensemble is a Belgian/Danish Septet and this performance was recorded at festival in Luxembourg in November of 2021. Mr. Braxton also played at this festival with a trio and was in the audience for this set. Mr. Braxton was excited by this performance of his music. Each of the two CD’s here contain two pieces, each piece around 25 minutes long. Similar to a strategy that Mr. Braxton has long employed, each piece contains between 3-5 different compositions which have been sequenced or layered. The instrumentation is much different from the original recorded versions which were often included several reed players. The Ghost Trance Septet instead includes: guitar, piano, bass, euphonium or trumpet, violin, tenor sax or bass clarinet and drums. It sounds to me like this ensemble has sped up the way things develop which is a bit more subtle and easier to enjoy. Two of the members use their voices to repeat certain numbers which adds some unexpected humor to the proceedings. Although the overall structure does have that repeating pattern at the center, certain musicians add their own counterpoint or lines. Since the music changes more rapidly, it becomes more exciting/compelling rather quickly. Since the rhythm team moves in waves, solos, duos or trios are often short and keep shifting through different currents. After listening to the first disc, I will admit that this is some of the best versions of Ghost Trance Music that I’ve heard. Absolutely superb on all levels.

eNR116-118: Playing with standards by Seppe Gebruers
Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg, Orynx-improvandsounds blogspot (02/12/2022)
Rassurez – vous ! Vous avez bien lu: Playing with Standards ! Mais ce n’est pas ce que vous pourriez penser ou imaginer. Une explication s’impose. Pianiste improvisateur pointu et engagé dans « l’avant-garde », le belge Seppe Gebruers a enregistré ce projet de longue haleine avec DEUX pianos accordés au quart de ton. Cela veut dire que l’ensemble des cordes de chacun des deux pianos est accordé à un quart de ton l’un de l’autre, créant ainsi une curieuse dissonance. On l’a entendu récemment à Gand lors d’un concert en duo avec le pianiste Charlemagne Palestine, tous deux aux prises avec quatre pianos accordés en quart de ton, une occasion unique de rentrer dans cet univers de claviers microtonaux. Se dit microtonale, une échelle de notes utilisant des intervalles plus courts que le demi-ton. Il se fait que j’invite personnellement le guitariste Pascal Marzan et sa guitare microtonale dix cordes accordée au tiers de ton (et sixième de ton, bien sûr) à Bruxelles pour un concert le 6 décembre prochain !. Donc je me sens un peu concerné. Si j’ai beaucoup aimé le concert en duo de Gand, rien ne me préparait à ce magnifique ouvrage en trois albums compacts. C’est tout simplement, un des événements discographiques les plus convaincants de l’histoire des musiques improvisées concernant le piano lui-même. J’ai beaucoup écouté live et en disque Fred Van Hove, un phénomène extraordinaire et quand j’entends d’autres pianistes qui ont une démarche voisine je me dis que j’ai eu la chance peu commune de l’avoir rencontré et écouté au fil des décennies.

Et ce que j’apprécie dans la démarche radicale de Seppe Gebruers, un homme modeste et un peu introverti, c’est son indépendance d’esprit par rapport aux "-ismes" et que sa trajectoire qui s’annonce dans ce projet, ne ressemble à aucune autre. D'ailleurs, il existe un Playing with Standards Trio avec Paul Lytton himself à la batterie, c'est tout dire. Dans ces trois albums, Seppe « ne joue pas les standards », mais il joue « avec ». Commençant à enfoncer les touches une à une ou deux à deux avec précaution, il entend un enchaînement de notes et, soudainement, les intervalles de la mélodie ou des fragments des harmonies d’un Standard du répertoire jazz lui viennent à l’esprit. Sous ses doigts, on en perçoit le « fantôme », une partie de la trame, un zeste de mélodie suggérée au milieu des dissonances, des clusters, en travers du phrasé et des interactions entre ces notes microtonales qui font coïncider fugacement des intervalles tempérés. Parfois, il faut faire un effort d’imagination ou de perceptions, ou alors, comme dans la « version » de Just A Gigolo, c’est Monk lui-même qui apparaît, et là, c’est digne de, ou même plus fort que, notre cher Misha Mengelberg disparu il y a quelques temps. En ce qui me concerne, c’est contagieux. Avec When You wish Upon a Star, et In The Wee Small Hours qui inaugurent le CD 1, c’est le répertoire de la période swing, l’époque de Billie et Lester. Après Just a Gigolo , on a droit à trois « versions » de You and the Night and The Music à la suite l’une de l’autre. Il joue aussi (Playing With) avec des intermezzos, Just Friends et, curieusement, La Vie En Rose chantée autrefois par Satchmo. Le CD 2 contient 8 fois une évocation de Never Let Me Go dont la première est enmanchée avec l’idée de What Is This Thing Called Love, mais il la ratrappe à chaque fois et encore 7 fois de suite en se posant encore la question What is This Thing Called Love ? Sous son dehors de bon élève rangé, Seppe a une forme d’humour à froid qui se décèle comme il se doit chez un Gantois pur jus. Distingué, le gentleman. Bye Bye Blackbyrd et The Folks Who Live On The Hill pour (en) finir. Chaque "version" ludique d'un de ces Standards est souvent très différente des précédentes. Au fil des plages, la sauce prend de mieux en mieux et la musique épaissit son mystère, enfume ses arcanes, délivre son message empoisonné. Never Entered My Mind: c’est bien ce qui se passe ici littéralement, on est médusé et … Born To Be Blue après The Days of Wine and Roses, car Everything Happens To Me. Un hymne de Bird coup sur coup en tryptique maudit : Donna Lee et soudainement des fantômes ressurgissent: Everything Happens To Me et Never Let Me Go à nouveau au milieu des touches et des résonnances. Car, c’est bien un des points importants de son travail: Seppe laisse résonner les cordes des deux pianos créant des empathies de sonorités décoiffantes, surréelles, vibrantes au bord du grincement métallique ou d'un brouillard polytonal. Il y a bien sûr des moments plus grisants que d’autres, mais pour arriver à ces résultats incontournables et irrévocables, l’artiste a dû se mettre en péril, solliciter toutes ses ressources, écouter les deux instruments simultanément et leurs vibrations parfois imprévisibles, tergiverser, communier avec elles, découvrir l’étendue de potentialités qui s’échappent, s’en souvenir, tâcher de les recontextualiser, laisser venir à lui les souvenirs de ces chansons d’un autre temps, celui de son apprentissage du jazz et de sa pratique journalière, celui des disques entendus, parfois entrevus en ouvrant une porte… Un cheminement improbable, obsessionnel, exhaustif comme s’il ne voulait rien en perdre. Le Petit Poucet et ses nombreux petits galets usés par le ressac et serrés au fond de ses poches.

Je conseille à tous les fadas de musique contemporaine ou improvisée, les fanas des pianistes hors-cadre tels Paul Bley, Misha Mengelberg, Ran Blake, Fred Van Hove, Jacques Demierre, les expérimentateurs de tout poil, d’essayer d’acquérir ce triple CD Playing with Standards et surtout d’en écouter ne fut ce que quelques morceaux un instant et puis un des CD’s à la file (et le 2ème , enfin le 3ème) et y revenir de temps à autre jusqu’à ce que l’ensemble de l’oeuvre s’insinue définitivement dans votre perception et transforme votre imagination, votre jeu de références. Parce que l’aspect le plus authentiquement « free-music » radicale, c’est le son ! Une sonorité fluide (cfr I Wish Upon a Star en ligne ici plus haut)mais qui peut souvent se révéler brute, terrienne, magmatique, assonnante - dissonnante... Et une technique qui évacue le virtuosisme pour laisser vibrer les sons dans toutes leurs occurrences, leurs interférences troubles,sauvages comme si les deux carcasses métalliques de cordes tendues à craquer faisaient partie d’un environnement où l’industrie pianistique est revenue à l’état de nature. On peut découvrir un esprit voisin dans les recherches du pianiste Suisse Jacques Demierre. J’imagine encore Paul Lovens (avec qui Seppe a enregistré) déjeunant très à son aise et, quatre heures durant, passant et repassant vingt-trois fois Just a Gigolo et douze fois Everything Happens To Me en comptant les mesures avec ses doigts refermés percutant la surface de la table.

Un triple album indispensable à toute discothèque de « free-music » qui ne tolère que l’essentiel, le magique et l’imprévu. Une somme ! Il faut absolument que Seppe Gebruers puisse jouer un peu partout et ailleurs car son travail apporte de l'eau au grand moulin de la créativité la plus pointue pour qu'il puisse bonifier au fil des performances.

eNR101: The Monkey and The Monk – Concerto for Jazz Septet in 3 Movements by Augusto Pirodda Septet
Jos Demol, Europe Jazz Media Chart - December 2022 (28/11/2022)
A "concerto for jazz septet in three movements" by pianist and composer Augusto Pirodda, also starring Lynn Cassiers, Laurent Blondiau, Ben Sluijs, Sam Comerford, Manolo Cabras and Marek Patrman. For the composer, it was mainly a balancing act between youthful innocence and fantasy on the one hand and already processed life experiences on the other. Here, he applies the principle of "less is less and more is more". Hence also the CD title 'The Monkey and The Monk' or the eternal dichotomy in Pirodda's mind between imagination and reason, beautifully depicted in the cover illustration by Claudio Ignoto.

eNR101: The Monkey and The Monk – Concerto for Jazz Septet in 3 Movements by Augusto Pirodda Septet
Jean-Claude Vantroyen, Le Soir (21/11/2022)
Cet album s’appelle The Monkey and the Monk, le singe et le moine. Et ce n’est rien d’autre qu’un portrait du monde intérieur de Pirodda et de la bataille permanente entre l’enfant qu’est le singe et l’adulte sage qu’est le moine. En fait, c’est le thème de ce Concerto pour Jazz Septet composé par le pianiste sarde de Bruxelles Augusto Pirodda, 51 ans. Une lutte pour la liberté, une tentative de s’abandonner complètement à la vie, d’être qui on est. On peut analyser ce thème et décrypter les paroles des parties chantées. On peut tout aussi bien se contenter de la musique, parce qu’elle est très réussie. Le concerto est en trois mouvements, avec des séquences lentes et d’autres rythmées et saccadées et comprend des parties écrites et des parties improvisées, en solo, en duo, en trio. Ce qui signifie qu’outre l’écriture de Pirodda lui-même, la musique est influencée par le talent des six autres musiciens : Lynn Cassiers à la voix et à l’électronique, toujours aussi fraîche et inattendue, Laurent Blondiau à la trompette, Ben Sluijs au sax alto et à la flûte, Sam Comerford au sax ténor et à la clarinette, Manolo Cabras à la contrebasse et Marek Patrman à la batterie. Et à la fin du concerto, on se dit que la musique est si belle que le singe et le moine sont parvenus à arrêter de se battre et à travailler ensemble pour un magnifique résultat.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Dietrich Heißenbüttel, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 4/2022 , Seite 82 (09/2022)
Anthony Braxton ist viel zu lange als Jazzmusiker abgeheftet worden. Das ist vielleicht nicht völlig falsch, kommt er doch aus der Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) aus Chicago – die freilich lieber von Great Black Music spricht. Für Braxton hat jedoch Karlheinz Stockhausen von Anfang an eine ebenso wichtige Rolle gespielt. Er hat hunderte von Kompositionen für unterschiedlichste Besetzungen geschrieben. Hier beginnt jedoch das Problem: Braxton schreibt nicht «Werke», die werkgetreu zu interpretieren sind, auch wenn sie ein hohes Maß an Disziplin erfordern. Braxton schreibt, damit improvisierende Musiker: innen, die immer kreativ mit dem Material umgehen sollen, nicht in Routinen verfallen. Alle, die in seinen Ensembles gespielt haben, durch seine Schule gegangen sind, gleich welche Richtung sie dann einschlagen, sind erstrangige Musiker: innen, darin den Interpret:innen Helmut Lachenmanns vergleichbar.

Dass Braxton jedoch nicht selbst dabei sein muss, um die Musik richtig zu spielen, zeigt das Ghost Trance Septet des belgischen Gitarristen Kobe van Cauwenberghe auf der vorliegenden Doppel-CD. «How to Play Anthony Braxton?», fragt in der Tat Timo Hoyer, Autor eines 700-Seiten- Buchs über Braxton (s. die Rezension auf Seite 86), in den exzellenten englischen Liner Notes und filtert sogleich aus dem umfangreichen, nicht ganz einfachen musiktheoretischen Werk Braxtons die essenziellen Leitsätze heraus.

Braxtons Mitte der 1990er Jahre begonnene, 2006 abgeschlossene Serie Ghost Trance Music besteht aus 138 Kompositionen und steht an einem Wendepunkt seiner Entwicklung, von häufig vom Anlass bestimmten Einzelstücken hin zu einem zusammenhängenden musikalischen Kosmos. Der Titel bezieht sich auf den Geistertanz der nordamerikanischen Erstbewohner im Moment ihrer Niederlage. Den hämmernden Puls übersetzt Braxton in einen atonalen, monotonen Viertelrhythmus, der irgendwann aufgebrochen oder ergänzt werden kann durch sekundäres thematisches Material, Passagen aus anderen Kompositionen oder Improvisation, die freilich nicht der Selbstdarstellung dienen, sondern den Ensembleklang bereichern soll. Dabei tritt mal ein Sprechgesang, mal ein Marsch, Braxtons Komposition 58, hervor, getreu den Anweisungen die mit «Have fun with this material» beginnen und mit «… and be sure to keep your sense of humor» enden.

Dies ist nur das Grundschema; das Ensemble präsentiert auf den CDs vier Varianten des Typus, und tatsächlich entfaltet sich das Material im Lauf jeder der rund 24-minütigen Aufnahmen immer wieder anders auf unvorhersehbare Weise. Mal klingt es lyrisch, schwebend, dann wieder wirbelnd, frei oder rhythmisch vorantreibend, oft genug nicht nur das eine oder das andere, sondern mehreres nebeneinander. Der Komponist selbst konnte sich bei einer Aufführung in Luxemburg kaum halten vor Begeisterung, wie das Booklet in Wort und Bild festhält. Wie spielt man Braxton?, resümiert Hoyer zu Recht: Auf diese Frage biete die CD eine überzeugende Antwort.

eNR101: The Monkey and The Monk – Concerto for Jazz Septet in 3 Movements by Augusto Pirodda Septet
Georges Tonla Briquet, Jazz Halo (20/11/2022)
Een “concerto for jazz septet in three movements” van pianist en componist Augusto Pirodda met verder in de hoofdrollen Lynn Cassiers, Laurent Blondiau, Ben Sluijs, Sam Comerford, Manolo Cabras en Marek Patrman.

Het kostte in totaal zowat vijf jaar effectieve voorbereiding om ‘The Monkey and The Monk’ uit te brengen. Het idee had Pirodda al veel langer maar dan onder een andere vorm. Zijn aanvankelijke bedoeling was namelijk om muziek te componeren voor een groep van elf muzikanten. Dat plan verzeilde op de achtergrond. Tot hij een tijd nadien solostukken begon te schrijven en daar stap voor stap andere instrumenten bij betrok. “De muziek koos mij en niet omgekeerd,” dixit de pianist. Wat uiteindelijk een concerto in drie bewegingen opleverde verbonden door onderliggende links en kruisbestuivingen.

Hierbij worden niet alleen diverse vormstructuren ingelast maar muteren continu de samenstellingen van de muzikantencellen. Voeg daar nog aan toe dat er geput wordt uit jazz, avant-garde en hedendaags klassiek en het is duidelijk dat dit alles het vooropgezette spectrum op spectaculaire wijze verbreedt.

De bruuske intro met drums en blazers eist meteen alle aandacht op. Vanaf hier wisselt geordende chaos af met uiterst intimistische passages. Door het opbreken van het septet in duo’s, trio’s en nog meer combinaties fluctueert de stemming voortdurend. Solostukken ontbreken evenmin. Deze dienen om de onderscheiden cellen onderling te koppelen. Het tempo vertraagt daarbij om vervolgens weer opgedreven te worden door nieuwe ontbrandingspunten.

Op die manier ontstaat tevens een gestaag spel van reduceren en extrapoleren zonder dat er sprake is van totale overwoekering. De focus blijft scherp, alleen varieert de invalshoek alsmaar. Elke muzikant krijgt de kans om zijn stempel te drukken op het geheel, nu eens subversief dan weer als eenvoudige geleider.

De interventies van Blondiau op flugelhorn en trompet (met of zonder sourdine) behoren tot het beste wat we sinds jaren van hem hoorden. Cassiers zingt de teksten op haar persoonlijke manier. Drummer Patrman is haast non-stop aanwezig zonder dat het opvalt. Ben Sluijs zijn solo op fluit bij de intro van het derde deel alleen al is om stil van te worden terwijl hij samen met Comerford enkele keren een gedroomde combinatie vormt. En dan is er nog bassist Cabras die als een onzichtbare kracht het geheel telkens de juiste richting instuwt. En Pirodda bij dit alles? Die heeft het grootste vertrouwen in zijn ploeg en duikt slechts af en toe op. Dit is dan ook duidelijk geen pianoplaat maar het werk van een hecht spelend septet dat elkaar blindelings aanvoelt. Verschillende beluisteringen zijn weliswaar nodig om een eerste greep te krijgen op wat hier allemaal omgaat.

Voor de componist was het vooral een evenwichtsoefening tussen jeugdige onschuld en fantasie enerzijds en reeds verwerkte levenservaringen anderzijds. Hij hanteert hierbij het principe van “minder is minder en meer is meer”. Vandaar ook de cd-titel ‘The Monkey and The Monk’ oftewel de eeuwige tweestrijd in Pirodda zijn hoofd tussen verbeelding en rede, prachtig weergegeven in de hoesillustratie van Claudia Ignoto.

Cd en download zijn reeds verkrijgbaar. Begin volgend jaar verschijnt de dubbele vinyl met als extra een aantal piano-improvisaties van Pirodda. Deze staan niet op de cd maar zijn wel bij de download inbegrepen. Maak uw keuze maar schaf u zeker dit meesterwerkje aan.

eNR106: s/t by Ocean Eddie
Georges Tonla Briquet, Jazzhalo (14/11/2022)
Ocean Eddie is het trio van accordeonist Stan Maris (Kreis, Suura, Giovanni Di Domenico) samen met Andreas Bral (piano, harmonium) en Viktor Perdieus (saxofoons). In een tijdspanne van drie kwartier brengen ze elf luistermozaïekjes waarbij ze het meest voor de hand liggend gebruik van hun instrumenten vermijden.

Op inventieve wijze slagen ze er niettemin in een samenhangende assemblage te creëren. Ze vermenigvuldigen spielereien naar hartenlust. Soms doen ze dat heel subtiel en broos om even later dan toch een meer complexe blauwdruk van hun ontwerpen voor te stellen. De modulaire basispatronen worden telkens overhoop gehaald om vervolgens te dienen als links en zo onderliggende dwarsverbanden te creëren.

Drie improviserende poëten die rond schuifelen in een decor ontworpen door Paul van Ostaijen. Uitgebracht in digisleeve met artwork van Soetkin Bral. Past evenzeer in de catalogus van een label als INTAKT. Ook voor fans van Gavin Bryars zijn werelden.

eNR101: The Monkey and The Monk – Concerto for Jazz Septet in 3 Movements by Augusto Pirodda Septet
Herman te Loo, Jazzflits nummer 385 Nederland (31/10/2022)
In de klassieke muziek is een concerto een muziek- vorm waarin alle facetten van muzikale expressie gebruikt worden. De ondertitel van dit nieuwe album van de Belgische pianist/componist Augusto Pirodda maakt daarmee een statement. ‘The Monkey and the Monk’ heet namelijk een ‘Concerto for Jazz Septet in Three Movements’. Voor de uitvoering van zijn compositie stelde hij een ensemble samen dat een aantal prominente vertegenwoordigers van de Belgische jazzscene in zich draagt. Behalve de jonge Ierse rietblazer Sam Comerford hebben de dame en heren hun sporen al flink verdiend. Pirodda stelt hun sterke punten tentoon in krachtige ensembles, maar ook in (soms onbegeleide) solopassages en geïmproviseerde passages. Met een instrumentarium met klarinet, bassax en altfluit heeft hij daarnaast een klankpalet dat uitnodigt tot sfeertekeningen en klankschilderingen. Elk deel van het concerto is anders van opbouw, van de energieke freejazz in de opening van het ‘First movement’ en de geïmproviseerde klanken waarmee deel twee start, tot de mysterieuze a capella altfluit die het derde deel inluidt. Zangeres Lynn Cassiers leent haar stem voor instrumentale bijdragen, maar zingt ook teksten en zet haar elektronica smaakvol in voor extra avontuur. De drie blazers zorgen voor een smeuïg amalgaam en pakken solis- tisch flink uit waar dat kan, zoals de knorrende bassax van Comerford tijdens een opzwepend up-tempo in het ‘Second movement’. Het concerto van Pirodda is voortdurend in beweging en we krijgen nooit het gevoel dat de muziek gekunsteld is of dat hij de muzikaliteit opoffert voor virtuositeit, al is dat laatste zeker een kwaliteit van zijn bandleden. Kopers die het album op vinyl aanschaffen, krijgen op kant vier nog een bonus in de vorm van ‘The Unbearable lightness of freedom’ voor solopiano.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Jean - Michel Van Schouwburg, orynx-improvandsounds blogspot(13/10/2022)
Anthony Braxton est sans nul doute un improvisateur et un compositeur peu commun, un éclaireur incontournable dans les musiques qui se situent au carrefour des innovations embrassant le jazz et son évolution, la composition contemporaine ouverte, la démarche improvisée sans concession et la musique sérieuse dans une dimension interactive et organique. Et quel saxophoniste ! Un de mes tout préférés (aux côtés de John Coltrane, Steve Lacy, Evan Parker, Eric Dolphy ou Sonny Rollins) que je me suis délecté à écouter des nuits entières. Mais je dois avouer ne plus parvenir à suivre ses enregistrements de ces vingt dernières années en raison de leur longueur (coffrets CD’s), d’une documentation exhaustive, de la durée des œuvres enregistrées proprement dites et le sentiment de récurrence systématique dans ses créations. Parvenir à pénétrer l’univers de la Ghost Trance Music demande à l’auditeur un travail intense, une grande disponibilité face à l’exégèse inévitable des exigences hyper-complexes du compositeur et sa science inouïe du collage. J’ai un excellent souvenir de m’être plongé dans un recueil de 4CD paru en 2001 chez Rastascan, le label du percussionniste Gino Robair : https://www.rastascan.com/catalog/brd050.html . La concentration et l’excitation de l’équipe rassemblée par Braxton et Robair à San Francisco avaient débouché sur des moments à couper le souffle, tirant parti des possibilités internes des structures braxtoniennes pour dérailler insidieusement vers des métamorphoses métriques et sonores à me faire dresser les cheveux sur la tête sans qu’il semblât que les musiciens chamboulent tout le processus installé depuis les premières mesures. Une impression de folie naturelle, une fantasmagorie structurée sur des beats audacieux où l’assise rythmique de la marche croise les ricochets de la musique dolphyenne et les soubresauts du tristanisme. Le livret des notes de pochette contient les explications du compositeur lui-même sur son travail, le sens de sa musique liée aux autres musiques et cultures de notre planète et sa conception des formes musicales (Tri-Centrique). En écoutant attentivement les deux CD’s superbement présentés avec les « images – titres » graphiques colorés des compositions d’AB, cet orchestre belge rassemblé par le guitariste Kobe Van Cauwenberge et drivé par l’excellent batteur Teun Verbruggen apporte tout aussi insidieusement la conviction que les œuvres de ce Chicagoan universel contiennent les semences d’une habile forme de subversion, de dérangement systématique des conventions et de surprises inattendues. Il faut dire que cela commence sagement comme si la baguette du maître coordonnait les efforts avec une discipline orchestrale où l’énergie semble un peu éteinte, tant cette musique est difficile à jouer collectivement et demande une telle concentration que celle-ci devrait bien brider l’élan et l’émotion. Il y a bien sur le fourmillement de de détails de tous les traits instrumentaux qui coïncident étroitement avec cette rythmique éminemment complexe voire fourmillante. Une performance en soi !! Mais au fur et à mesure que l’on avance au travers des quatre compositions, la fascination, l’enchantement grandit et l’expérience d’écoute devient largement positive, intrigante, … l’orchestre vivifiant l’état d’esprit compositionnel requis. Son exécution légèrement décalée nous livre des secrets parfois peu perceptibles mais agissant sur notre perception quasi-inconsciente jusqu’à provoquer un tournis intériorisé. Cet album remarquable a été produit en hommage à notre ami Hugo De Craen, braxtonophile en chef dont des extraits d’interview d’Anthony figurent en exergue sur la pochette en tryptique. Félicitations à tous les intervenants, musiciens, label, institutions et … le Conservatoire Royal d’Anvers!

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
TS Hoeg, Jazz Special Denmark 182, side 61 (09/2022)
Den toporiginale tænker, komponist og multi-instrumentalist, mestendels altsaxofonist Anthony Braxton har om nogen måtte finde sig i hovedrystende eller ligefrem latterliggørende opfattelser af sit flittige virke, men han har for længst taget højhastighedstoget videre og efterladt disse "small brain"-skeptikere tilbage på et trinbræt.

Et led i Braxtons senere oeuvre er begrebet Ghost Trance Music, som dette europæiske ensemble, ledet af belgiske Kobe Van Cauwenberghe, har sat sig for at dykke ned i til ovenikøbet ophavsmandens begejstring. Og det er ikke så underligt, thi dette omfattende materiale, der kræver både nodelæsning, gra-fisk forståelse, improvisations-kendskab, omstillings-parathed og en ordentlig portion abstraktionsevne, løser denne gruppe så fint som vel muligt.

Det er krævende musik, men for den nysgerrige lytter er der meget at hente, hvad angår tematikker, klange, dynamikker o i de konstante afvekslinger, der her rummer tire kompositioner med titlerne No. 255, 358, 193 og 264, hvori det også er muligt at inddrage andre af Braxton ligeledes nummererede titler, dr under alle omstændigheder udfolder sig over 20 minutter hver, Så tillige varmt at anbefale: It's alive.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Herman te Loo, Jazzflits nummer 382 (12/09/2022)
Gezien de omvang van zijn oeuvre is het best vreemd dat er relatief weinig werk van Anthony Braxton wordt uitgevoerd door anderen dan hemzelf. Het komt vermoedelijk door het stempel van ‘moeilijk’, ‘ingewikkeld’ en ‘cerebraal’ dat vaak onterecht op zijn muziek wordt gezet. De jonge Belgische gitarist Kobe Van Cauwenberghe is er al lang achter dat het werk van de Ameri- kaan helemaal niet zo ontoegankelijk is als het misschien bij oppervlakkige beschouwing lijkt. Twee jaar geleden speelde hij al een soloalbum vol met zijn visie op composities van Braxton en nu ligt er een dubbelalbum (op cd of lp) van een zevenmans- formatie, het Ghost Trance Septet. De naam verwijst naar een serie composities (Ghost Trance Music) die de rituelen van Native Americans als oorspronkelijk uitgangspunt hadden. Van Cauwenberghe en zijn muzikanten nemen de aanwijzingen van Braxton ter harte, en gaan hun eigen weg met het materiaal. ‘Have fun with the material,’ zegt de componist namelijk expli- ciet, en hij waarschuwt voor het ‘misbruiken’ van het materiaal voor ‘correcte’, ongeïnspireerde en risicoloze uitvoeringen.
Wat het Ghost Trance Septet wél doet, zoals Braxton zelf in zijn eigen groepen, is het inzetten van andere composities binnen de hoofdcompositie die wordt gespeeld. De routekaart van het stuk wordt daarmee telkens verlegd om het avontuur nog meer op te zoeken. In het eerste stuk, ‘Composition No. 255’, bijvoorbeeld, dat opent met de typerende staccatofiguren, zet euphoniumspe- ler Niels Van Heertum na verloop van tijd een grappige melodie- lijn in. Dat blijkt ‘Composition No. 40f’ te zijn. Voorzien van noise-erupties door de gitaar van Van Cauwenberghe klinkt de muziek als een soort avant-rock – niet iets wat je met Braxton associeert, maar wat uiterst boeiende muziek oplevert. En daar is het toch allemaal om begonnen. Wat deze melodie van ‘Com- position No. 40f’ ook duidelijk maakt, is de humor die in de composities van Braxton zit. De hoempa van het euphonium in de mars ‘Composition No. 58’ die we als invoeging in ‘Composi- tion No. 358’ horen, getuigt daar ook van. Alle ingrediënten, plus het indrukwekkende improvisatievermo- gen van de vier Belgen en drie Denen, zorgen voor bijzonder rijke muziek die Braxtons muziek zeker naar de geest uitvoert (een mooie referentie naar de Ghost Trance Music). Het is een vurig pleidooi voor een oeuvre dat veel vaker het podium zou moeten bereiken. Eind 2021 speelde de groep in Luxemburg in aanwezigheid van de Amerikaanse maestro, die het gebodene ontroerd aanhoorde. Voor in het cd-boekje zien we hem het ensemble zijn lof toezwaaien.

eNR099: L’occurrence (concert takes) by Les Chroniques de l’Inutile
Ben Taffijn, Nieuwe Noten Nederland (29/08/2022)
In mei 2017 besprak ik het eerste album van Les Chroniques De l’Inutile, het eveneens bij El Negocito verschenen ‘Virgule’. Bijna vijf jaar later, eind vorig jaar, verscheen de opvolger, ‘L’Occurence (Concert Takes)’. De bezetting is nagenoeg hetzelfde gebleven, alleen tenorsaxofonist Gregor Siedl is niet langer van de partij. Nu is deze band onder leiding van gitarist Benjamin Sauzereau dus een sextet. Erik Bogaerts en Pierre Bernard nemen de rieten voor hun rekening en verder horen we pianist Eric Bribosia, ook actief op de fender rhodes, bassist Lennart Heyndels en drummer Jens Maurits Bouttery. We kennen Sauzereau inmiddels wel en weten dus zo ongeveer wel wat we kunnen verwachten: beeldende klanken, hecht doortimmerde harmonische structuren, muziek kortom die vaak meer wegheeft van hedendaags gecomponeerd of van filmmuziek dan van jazz. Neem dat prachtige ‘L’autee malentendu’, met die voorzichtige noten van Bribosia, terwijl de blazers op de achtergrond subtiele lijnen trekken. Gaandeweg wordt de muziek ruiger en zetten met name de blazers het geheel op scherp. Want ook dat is Sauzereau, uitstapjes naar de free-jazz en de rock zijn hem zeker niet vreemd. Sauzereau zelf horen we uitgebreid in het krachtig swingende ‘Une question impertinente est une question pertinente’, heerlijke titel overigens. Zo lekker stomend klinkt bij vlagen ook ‘La Subterfuge’, met al even boeiend gitaarspel, al lees je dat aan het dromerige begin niet direct af. De fender rhodes komt prachtig van pas in ‘Presque convive’, duistere klanknevels ontsnappen aan mijn luidsprekers en worden versterkt door Sauzereau’s gruizige gitaarspel. Prachtig is ook dat verhalende ‘Les Aventures d’Ignace Dabrowski’, met onder andere een knetterende solo van Bogaerts en een boeiende partij van Maurits.

eNR101: The Monkey and The Monk – Concerto for Jazz Septet in 3 Movements by Augusto Pirodda Septet
Ben Taffijn, Nieuwe Noten Nederland (29/08/2022)
Met ‘The Monkey and The Monk – Concerto for Jazz Septet in 3 Movements’ maakt Pirodda eveneens een debuut en wel met dit nieuwe septet, waarin we verder aantreffen: Ben Sluijs op altsax en -fluit, Sam Comerford op tenor-, bassax en klarinet, Laurent Blondiau op trompet en bugel, Manolo Cabras op bas, Marek Patrman op drums en tot slot neemt Lynn Cassiers vocalen en elektronica voor haar rekening. Voorwaar een bijzondere line-up met een aantal van de belangrijkste jazzmusici van dit moment. In ‘The Monkey and The Monk’ gaat Pirodda naar eigen zeggen op zoek naar de scheidslijn tussen het volwassen ik en het kind dat altijd aanwezig blijft en het voor ons allen aanwezige spanningsveld daartussen, mooi verwoord in de titel. Dat krijgt prachtig muzikaal vorm, met als mooiere momenten die solo’s van Sluijs – weinigen kunnen zo mooi fragiel een solo neerzetten – van Blondiau en van Pirodda zelf in het derde deel. Een belangrijke rol ligt er ook voor de teksten – gelukkig afgedrukt op het inlegvel bij de Cd – treffend vertolkt door Cassiers. En natuurlijk is het niet altijd verstilde muziek die er klinkt, die twee kanten in ons zijn immers ook regelmatig met elkaar in gevecht, iets dat mooi verklankt wordt in het tweede deel. De LP bevat als aanvulling het bijna een kwartier durende ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Freedom’, ongetwijfeld verwijzend naar Milan Kundera’s beroemde roman ‘De ondragelijke lichtheid van het bestaan’. We horen hier Pirodda solo.

eNR106: s/t by Ocean Eddie
Ben Taffijn, Nieuwe Noten Nederland (29/08/2022)
Accordeonist Stan Maris, pianist Andreas Bral en saxofonist Viktor Perdieus vormen samen Ocean Eddie, daarmee verwijzend naar een maalstroom of draaikolk die kan ontstaan op zee. Vreemd is die benaming niet, want zoals ook reeds bleek tijdens het concert, is dit trio sterk in het creëren van meeslepende ritmische patronen. Opener ‘Ochre’ vormt daar direct een mooi voorbeeld van, maar ook als hier wat minder sprake van is, zoals bijvoorbeeld bij ‘Isme’, of het zeer ingetogen ‘Spirit Plumbing’ heeft de muziek toch een dwingend en meeslepend karakter. En het is prachtig hoe mooi de klanken van deze drie instrumenten in dit laatste stuk met elkaar samenvallen. De spanning komt ook goed tot uiting in ‘Gioite’, waarin Perdieus’ sopraansax een voorname rol speelt. In ‘Ask’ en het vrij lange ‘Molanopedie 3’ is het Bral die de kar trekt, in het eerste stuk met vederlichte patronen op de piano, in het tweede middels donkere klankwolken ontlokt aan het harmonium, waar Maris prachtig bij aansluit. Eén van de mooiste stukken van dit boeiende album.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Mark Corroto, All about Jazz (28/07/2022) ****
Why is it that we remember the past but not the future? That is a question which theoretical physicists are continually fascinated by. Think about it for a moment, we rely on our flawed individual observations to make judgements about the world. A few hundred years ago, Earth was definitely flat and, by further inspection, the sun most certainly revolved around said Earth. It required some distance, say a spaceship, to get a clear perspective. The same can be said of Anthony Braxton's Ghost Trance Music. For the casual observer, his graphic scores are merely squiggly drawings with geometric shapes and colors; think an Albert Einstein equation. But to Kobe Van Cauwenberghe, the musician equivalent of a theoretical physicist, his scores are decipherable and an abundant wellspring of information. Van Cauwenberghe has previously released his solo guitar interpretations Ghost Trance Solos (all that dust, 2020), a remarkable recording of maestro Braxton's music.

With Plays Anthony Braxton Van Cauwenberghe has assembled a septet to record four GTM compositions, including "Composition 255" which he recorded on his solo outing. That composition opens the two discs and draws the listener into a literal hypnotic state that the music symbolizes. The sound, which is made up of repeated music cells, does not require the listener to understand Braxton's cryptographs to enjoy the event. One is only required to suspend classifications of music, be they jazz, classical, new, chamber etc., to be swept away by the GTM. Per Braxton's notations, his GTM should include mistakes, and "If the music is played too correctly, it was probably played wrong." Braxton's music is deconstructed utilizing Van Cauwenberghe's guitar, bass, synthesizers, voice, piano, euphonium, trumpet, saxophone, bass clarinet, violin, drums, and percussion, yet it never enters the state of entropy. Braxton's equations, although dense and indecipherable to most mortals, turn out to be readily accessible sounds if you leave your preconceptions about music and the nature of time at the door. Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet remembers both a Braxton future and a Ghost Trance past.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Slava Gliožeris, Music Archives (16/07/2022)
Anthony Braxton (born June 4, 1945) is one of the most respectable of creative contemporary music composer and musician, still active today (just a few months ago he played live in my hometown with his Saxophone Quartet). His early works(coming from 60s and 70s) are mostly from avant-garde jazz field, some are accepted as genre standards. Later Braxton moved towards cross-genre compositional forms, usually related with jazz, but containing elements of contemporary music hall music, some ancient folk, etc.

Braxton's one remarkable experimental work is a Ghost Trance Music series, inspired by 19th century Native American Ghost Dances and written between 1995 and 2006. The concept of GTM composition is based on idea, that there exists a "primary melody", which Braxton describes as "a melody that never ends". This line of music is written to be played in unison by any performer who wishes to participate in the "ritual circle dance". There are more information on Braxton musical legacy presented in nicely designed "organic" CD package's booklet, but generally one doesn't need to learn much before listening. Music itself is complex, but quite accessible.

Belgian guitarist Kobe Van Cauwenberghe, who created the project 'No [more] Pussyfooting', with music by Brian Eno and Robert Fripp, and is a member of electric guitar quartet Zwerm, is currently affiliated with the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp for an artistic research project on the music of Anthony Braxton. In 2020 he released "Ghost Trance Solos" - an solo guitar album with three Braxton compositions from Ghost Trance Music series recorded. "Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton" is a logical continuation of Kobe's work - four Braxton Ghost Trance Music series compositions, recorded by skilled Belgium-Danish septet.

More current Braxton music is rarely played by other musicians and it's a shame. Differently from dominating composers, who often combine elements of different genres in one, Braxton returns back in a past trying to find the roots and the rules and codes of them, and uses what he found in his new written music, on an genetic level, not like inspiration or imitation. As a result, his music sounds as an engineered work, mechanically, but not formal, or dry since each brick has its own lively soul.

Van Cauwenberghe septet of guitarist (who in moments demonstrates that he is familiar with shredding guitar techniques playing in rock band), bassist, drummer, pianist, sax player and trumpeter plays selected Braxton compositions with respect and their own touch at the same time. For me, all program sounds as if six skilled professionals build a modern building - an unique one, with style and respect to the past, but without nostalgia, bravely looking ahead. Four compositions, 95-minutes of music, recorded on two CDs, happen to be an intriguing listening, which surprisingly lasted less then it was expected. Nicely realized great idea - hope we will hear more Braxton compositions, recorded by younger generation artists more often.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Guy Peters, Gonzo Circus 170 (09/07/2022)
Het even omvangrijke als intimiderende oeuvre van Anthony Braxton kent relatief weinig uitvoeringen waar hij zelf niet bij betrokken is. Een opvallende uitzondering is het recente werk van de Belgische gitarist Kobe Van Cauwenberghe, die een fascinatie ontwikkelde voor het transidiomatische werk van de componist, en dan vooral zijn 'Ghost Trance Music', een boek composities waarmee hij van start ging midden jaren 1990. Dat leidde in 2020 al tot een soloalbum, dat nu gevolgd wordt door een dubbelalbum met en Belgisch-Deens septet dat vier composities van Braxton onder handen neemt. Zo'n compositie kan tot tachtig pagina's tellen en bestaat vaak uit een primaire melodie en secundair materiaal, met daarbovenop nog een reeks symbolen die voor instructies staan. Dat suggereert een rigide klankenwereld, maar eigenlijk is niets minder waar. De muzikanten kunnen afwijken van een koers, intertekstuele referenties invoegen en vrij improviseren. Het is veelzeggend dat Braxtons eerste regel "have fun with the material' luidt. Een uitvoering die klopt' is een uitvoering zonder fouten, om nog maar te zwijgen over vrijheid en zelfexpressie. En dat krijg je volop in deze gulle release, die de luisteraar anderhalf uur lang onderdompelt in onvoorspelbaar hedendaagse en toch ok herkenbare muziek, die woelig geharrewar afwisselt met uitgedunde passages, soms komisch door de huiskamer lijkt te marcheren en intense pieken op de een of andere manier koppelt aan dartelende passages vol zwier en humor. Het is op en top ensemblemuziek, die soms stevig aanleunt bij de kamermuziektraditie, maar ook doordrongen is van de jazz als voortdurende transformatiekunst, ok al kleurt de instrumentatie - met euphonium, viool, basklarinet en zang - buiten de lijntjes. Het is bovendien een bonus om vertrouwde muzikale stemmen als Teun Verbruggen, Niels Van Heertum en Steven Delannoye binnen deze context aan het werk te horen. Braxton was naar verluidt erg opgetogen toen hij de band in 2021 live aan het werk zag. Snel wordt duideli)k waarom: de muzikanten grepen deze uitdaging aan met beide handen, want het potentieel is schier eindeloos. Voor de luisteraar geldt eigenlijk hetzelfde.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Tom Hull - on the Web (04/07/2022)
Guitarist, also credited with synths and voice, from Belgium (Antwerp), has a couple albums, including Ghost Trance Solos on this same music. Septet here covers a nice range with trumpet/euphonium, tenor sax/bass clarinet, piano, violin, bass, and drums (no names I recall running into). Four pieces, each 22-25 minutes. I've somehow managed to miss all of Braxton's Ghost Trance Music (GTM) recordings, so entered this with no particular expectations. But for tarters, most pieces are pretty bouncy, in that stilted way of old classical music (Bach?), but much less predictable, and much more interesting. B+(***)

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Peter Margasak, The Best Contemporary Classical on Bandcamp: June 2022 (30/06/2022)
Despite his prodigious, mind-expanding compositional output, the music of Anthony Braxton remains largely the property of his own ensembles. His pieces can be notoriously difficult and require real immersion in his systems, but it does seem like more musicians are finally beginning to confront his massive body of work on his terms—well beyond the realm of “jazz”—and often with a rigor and focus sometimes missing within the breakneck prolificacy of his groups. Braxton often seems more interested in pushing through to his next project than in refining past work. Thankfully the Dutch guitarist Kobe Van Cauwenberghe, who leads the six-string quartet Zwerm, seems eager to bring out the nuances and complexity of Braxton’s writing. In November of 202o, he dropped a knotty collection of solo Braxton music and now he’s back leading a terrific septet fluent in both improvised and contemporary approaches through four Braxton pieces. Scholar Timo Hoyer wrote detailed liner notes that analyze that pieces and detail the older works enfolded into these performances, which reveal a genuine sharpness and depth. There’s a clear mastery of this often unwieldy material that’s almost giddy in its energy. Each of the four pieces, spread out over two CDs, is packed with detail and quick-blink episodes, delivering such densely crafted journeys that I hope others will follow suit and give Braxton’s pieces the treatment they deserve.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Peter De Backer, het Nieuwsblad (22/06/2022) ***
Lekker foute avant-garde.
Kobe Van Cauwenberghe, lid van gitaarkwartet Zwerm, is gefascineerd door Anthony Braxton. Die Amerikaanse avant-gardist wordt tot de jazz gerekend, maar is eigenlijk een hedendaagse componist die intussen meer dan 700 stukken schreef voor de meest uiteenlopende bezettingen.
Kobe Van Cauwenberghe, lid van gitaarkwartet Zwerm, is gefascineerd door Anthony Braxton. Die Amerikaanse avant-gardist wordt tot de jazz gerekend, maar is eigenlijk een hedendaagse componist die intussen meer dan 700 stukken schreef voor de meest uiteenlopende bezettingen. Van Cauwenberghe is vooral geboeid door Ghost Trance Music, een eigenzinnig concept van Braxton met specifieke richtlijnen voor de muzikanten die het willen toepassen. In vier lange Braxton-composities van meer dan 23 minuten gaat de band (met onder anderen Teun Verbruggen op drums, Steven Delannoye op sax en Niels Van Heertum op eufonium) ermee aan de slag, inclusief citaten uit vroegere Braxton-stukken. Met af en toe een rake solo, zoals die jankende gitaar van Van Cauwenberghe in het eerste stuk. Maar ze kleuren ook lekker buiten de lijntjes, want, zo luidt het advies van Braxton: ‘Als de muziek te correct is uitgevoerd, speelde de band allicht verkeerd.’ Deze band maakt kennelijk boeiende foutjes.

eNR054: Virgule by Les Chroniques de l'Inutile
eNR099: L’ Occurence by Les Chroniques de l'Inutile
Erik Van Der Westen, JazzNu Nederland (12/06/2022)
Benjamin Sauzereau levert twee verbluffende juwelen af.

De Franse maar in België woonachtige gitarist Benjamin Sauzereau heeft twee juweeltjes van albums afgeleverd. Onder de naam ‘Les Chroniques de l’Inutile’ (de kronieken van het nutteloze) zagen ‘Virgule’ (2015) en ‘L’Occurence’ (2021) het licht. Het samenspel op beide albums is verbluffend, vol inspiratie en dedicatie. Dit is jazz van het allerhoogste niveau.

Alle stukken op twee na zijn door Sauzereau geschreven en hinten soms een klein beetje naar het oudere en wat meer experimentele ensemblewerk van Bill Frisell, de Amerikaanse gitarist die jazz en country op zo’n innovatieve manier samenbracht. In zijn composities laat Sauzereau veel ruimte voor zijn medemusici die zich op hun beurt geweldig van hun taak kwijten. Het ensemble ontwikkelt daardoor zijn volledig eigen klank en zet zijn stempel als representant van een klankkleur die je écht Europees kunt noemen. Weliswaar gelinkt aan de genoemde Afro-Amerikaanse muziektraditie, maar geëvolueerd naar een nieuw soort idioom dat bij ons in Europa erg goed gedijt.

Virgule is opgenomen in de studio en L’ Occurence is een live-opname, maar op beide albums is de geluidskwaliteit fenomenaal. Geweldig in balans en helder met weinig galm. Het is een lust voor het oor: je hoort de aandacht die aan de mix en mastering gegeven is. Op het studioalbum is de plaatsing van de instrumenten mooi, met de tenorsaxofoon en gitaar aan de linkerkant en de fluit en piano meer rechts; drums over de volle breedte en de contrabas ietsjes aan de linkerkant uit het midden. Alles is met zorg en aandacht gedaan en gekozen.

Het klankbereik en de dynamiek van het ensemble is groot en gaat van enigszins folkachtig naar free jazz en hectische grote-stadsimpro via verschillende stappen er tussenin. De musici weten de juiste toon telkens weer te raken. De veelzijdigheid in instrumentatie levert een breed spectrum op aan klankbeeld en dat werkt perfect met de composities die Sauzereau schreef. Hij is een goede schrijver want weet telkens weer een specifieke draai aan het materiaal te geven, waardoor je soms van de ene in de andere improvisatie valt zodat de improvisatie een integraal onderdeel van de compositie is.

Met het muzikale touché van pianist Eric Bribosia, het geweldig krachtige, met lef gelardeerde contrabasspel van Lennart Heyndels en de inventieve maar functionele drummer Jens Bouttery overheerst er nergens een stijlcomponent of een doorgaande beweging. Alles is los en vrij, maar volkomen binnen de lijnen van de composities en regelmatig adembenemend goed en mooi. Het thema van het laatste stuk Robert Mikulandric van L’Occurrence is dramatisch indrukwekkend en dreigend. Ensemblespel in optima forma.

In William (Harrison Bonney), het swingende derde stuk op Virgule is aanvankelijk de rimshot (een slag met de drumstick op de zijkant van de snaredrum) een soort centraal metrum waaromheen de instrumenten uiterst fraai dansend hun eigen verhaal vertellen. Tenorsaxofonist Gregor Siedlspeelt alleen op Virgule mee, terwijl Erik Bogaerts op altsaxofoon en klarinet en Pierre Bernard op fluitenook op het live-album te horen zijn. Ze zijn zonder twijfel allen aan elkaar gewaagd en mengen op prachtige wijze hun melodielijnen tot een solide geheel. De Belgische muziekwereld heeft al veel geweldige jazzmusici de wereld in geslingerd. Op een of andere manier lukt het onze zuiderburen om een constante stroom aan heel hoge kwaliteit musici te produceren met een sterke eigen persoonlijkheid. Ook Benjamin Sauzereau hoort in het rijtje te komen van Aka Moon, Toots Thielemans, Michel Herr, Jef Neve, Philip Catherine etc. Beter een goede buur dan een verre neef is hier helemaal van toepassing. Mogen we nog maar veel van deze Franse Belg horen!

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Tor Hammerø, Nettavisen Nyheter. Norway (20/06/2022)
Totalt unikt og veldig spennende
Anthony Braxtons musikk er ikke for pyser. Det bekrefter det flotte belgisk-danske kollektivet Ghost Trance Septet leda av gitaristen Kobe Van Cauwenberghe

Jeg har få problemer med å innrømme at jeg har brukt lang tid på å komme innafor dørstokken til Anthony Braxton sitt univers. Jeg har enkelt og greit ikke helt skjønt hvor han ville med musikken sin. Om jeg har skjønt det nå? Ikke helt sikker, men jeg lar meg uansett fascinere.

På denne dobbelt cd-en spiller septetten fire Braxton-komposisjoner med navn mellom "Composition No. 193" til "Composition No. 358". Siden Braxton har godt over 700 låter i banken, så er det altså nok å velge mellom.

Som alltid er Braxtons musikk et sted mellom de "fleste" grenseland. Er det jazz, er det impro, er det samtidsmusikk? Svaret er som alltid både ja og nei - jeg sliter med og har eller ikke noe behov for å båssette Braxtons unike musikalske visjoner.

Tekstheftet til denne utgivelsen gir oss en god og lang innføring i Braxtons filosofi og måten han ønsker at at andre musikere skal "angripe" hans musikk på. Noe forteller meg at Van Cauwenberghe & Co har kommet godt på innsida av denne tankegangen og at de har makta å sette sitt eget bumerke på musikken.

Van Cauwenberghe spiller ymse gitarer, bassgitar, synther og gir også stemmelyd fra seg og ellers bidrar Frederik Sakham på bass, elbass og stemme, Elisa Medinilla på piano, Niels Van Heertum på eufonium og trompet, Teun Verbruggen på trommer og perkusjon, Anna Jalving på fiolin og Steven Delannoye på tenorsaksofon og bassklarinett til å lage noen lydlandskap få om noen har stifta bekjentskap med tidligere.

Det kommer sjølsagt ikke som noen overraskelse at Braxtons musikk er utfordrende. Det er akkurat det som gjør den så spennende og Kobe Van Cauwenberghe skal ha all ære for å ta dette universet til nye og egne steder.

Om knappe to måneder står sjefen sjøl, Anthony Braxton, på scena under Oslo Jazzfestival. Ganske mye forteller meg at der bør man være.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Eyal Hareuveni, salt peanuts (20/06/2022)
Belgian guitarist Kobe Van Cauwenberghe is fascinated with Anthony Braxton’s music. In 2020 he recorded three compositions of Braxton’s system for a solo guitar album «Ghost Trance Solos» (all that dust, 2020). A year later he performed another of Braxton’s elaborate sonic systems, Echo Echo Mirror House Music. On his new double album with the ghost Trance Septet, he performs one of the compositions from «Ghost Trance Solos», No. 255, plus three others, now arranged for a Belgian-Danish septet, featuring Van Cauwenberghe on guitars, bassist Frederik Sakham, pianist Elisa Medinilla, euphonium and trumpet player Niels Van Heertum, reeds player Steven Delannoye, violinist Anna Jalving and drummer-percussionist Teun Verbruggen. The release of «Plays Anthony Braxton Compositions No. 255, 358, 193 and 264» coincides with Braxton’s 77th birthday and Braxton’s European tour where he would share a stage with Van Cauwenberghe performing the master’s compositions.

German writer and Braxton’s scholar Timo Hoyer, who wrote the book «Anthony Braxton – Creative Music» (Wolke Verlag, 2021), added insightful liner notes that decipher some of the extremely idiosyncratic, uncompromisingly advancing compositional ideas of Braxton. His composition offers an infinitely inventive collage or synthesis of notated, partially fixed, intuitive and improvised components. First of all, Hoyer mentions that Braxton advises all potential performers and interpreters of his compositions, to have fun, to take risks and forget about playing it correctly, and to be creative, make mistakes and be sure to keep their sense of humor.

Braxton’s Ghost Trance Music (GTM) system marks a creative period that began in the mid-nineties and continues to this day. He composed 138 compositions in this system between 1995 to 2006. The eclectic GTM encompasses rituals of the Native Americans, the repetitive continuums of Minimal Music, the rhythmic diversity and trans-tonality of African music, the parallel sound events of street parades, and the intensity and improvisational passion of jazz, and much more. The scores consist of two parts – primary melody with all instruments playing it in unison, and secondary material where Braxton expects a creative, quite liberal handling of the material. Braxton allows the performers to include passages from any of his compositions.

Van Cauwenberghe’s Ghost Trance Septet is well-versed with Braxton’s immense material, follows Braxton’s advice and shines with spirited creativity, an imaginative energy, and an open, daring mind. Braxton has seen Van Cauwenberghe’s Ghost Trance Septet perform his composition No. 255 at the Rainy Days Festival in November 2021 and could hardly contain himself with emotion and excitement. This composition also opens the double album of the Ghost Trance Septet, and the septet performs it with a cerebral but quite sensual and uplifting spirit and references Braxton’s compositions No. 40f and No. 168, once written for a duo session with guitarist James Emery, in such brilliant manner that you can immediately identify with Braxton’s excitement. The following composition No. 358 highlights the emotionality and the rhythmic playfulness of this clever composition. The septet clearly enjoys creating the dissolving forms, mixing melodic veins into atonal chaos, and suddenly introducing quotes of Braxton’s a march-like Composition No. 58 with more references to compositions No. 168 and No. 108d.

The second album begins with Composition No. 193, one of the early GTM compositions. The septet slowly detaches itself from the primary melody and then slows down even further and lets the sonic substance become fleeting and transparent like a fascinating mirage. But then the septet charges with new energy and new nuances of the primary melody, while incorporating elements from compositions No. 48, No. 108c and No. 6f. The last composition No. 264 was not documented before, and the septet performance offers many contrasting timbres (and the choice of instruments is almost always left to the musicians in the GTM) and brilliant rhythmic changes. The septet incorporates elements from compositions No. 108a, Mo. 101, No. 204, No. 40b and No. 40o, and enriches its intricate dynamics with «post-be-bop thematic structure».

Great, inspiring performance.

eNR102: Black Sea Songs by Sanem Kalfa, George Dumitriu, Joachim Badenhorst
Sound of Art to Come, Feeder.ro, Romania (16/06/2022)
Sedimente muzicale de peste ape

Sanem Kalfa și George Dumitriu sunt un duo bine sudat, care au la activ un album (Dance, 2018) și care, de-a lungul timpului, a putut fi ascultat și pe scenele românești. Pentru acest ultim disc, Black Sea Songs (el Negocito Records, 2021), au decis să completeze vocea, viola și chitările cu clarinetul lui Joachim Badenhorst. Black Sea Songs mi-a amintit, încă o dată, cât de puține lucruri știu despre vecinii noștri de la est și despre muzicile lor. Tătari, turci, greci, georgieni, lazi, români sunt doar câteva dintre popoarele și grupurile etnice care alcătuiesc un peisaj cultural divers, derutant chiar, plasat expeditiv sub titulatura de Orient. Un Orient de care noi, românii, ne tot străduim să ne debarasăm de ceva vreme, dar a cărui muzică e redescoperită și reinterpretată de fiecare generație de artiști de cele mai diverse facturi.

Tocmai această ignorață face ca un album precum Black Sea Songs să fie greu de descris fără a recurge la clișee orientaliste. Asta cu atât mai mult cu cât cele 9 din 10 melodii de pe acest album au la bază o interpretare (probabil destul de fidelă) a unor cântece tradiționale ale populațiilor amplasate de-a lungul țărmului Mării Negre. Aceste cântece sunt elementul central al albumului, în funcție de ele desfășurându-se și compartimentul instrumental. Preeminența vocii este justificată de interpretarea remarcabilă a lui Kalfa, stăpână peste toate detaliile emisiei vocale, de la intensitate și vibrato, până la utilizarea microintervalelor specifice muzicii din aceste zone. Uneori răvășitoare (Dereler), uneori plutitoare și aerată (Vertskhlis Tasadamts Maktsia), vocea este cea care decide direcția traseului sonor. Instrumentele (acustice, electrice sau electronice) creează în jurul acesteia o țesătură melodică și timbrală densă și variată cu care o însoțesc atent și o completează discret, într-un mod oarecum asemănător cu practicile muzicale tradiționale din culturile răsăritene. Acest lucru nu împiedică apariția unor scurte momente de evadare experimentală, atât a vocii, cât și a instrumentelor, binevenite pentru echilibrul general al albumului.

Melodiile sunt dispuse astfel încât să ofere o alternanță între (pentru a folosi, până la urmă, și niște clișee orientaliste) exuberanță/dionisiac și melancolie/visare. Pentru latura dionisiacă sunt responsabile, în principal, ritmurile asimetrice care îți captează atenția instantaneu, executate incisiv de violă și/sau chitară (Nani Nani Oy, Pipilomatina). Pe partea de visare, tonul cald al clarinetului are, alături de voce, un rol determinant (Ay Dolayım, Heyana). Trebuie amintit neapărat și slalomul abil printre efecte și sonorități electronice executat de Badenhorst. De la drone ambientale, la pasaje glitch sau beaturi instabile (amintind uneori de opera mai experimentală a unui Nicholas Jaar), materialul generat digital este cel care, datorită prefacerilor pe care le poate suporta, contribuie decisiv la diversificarea paletei expresive. Deși concentrată pe sublinierea calităților estetice ale cântecelor, muzica albumului evită cu succes estetizarea. Asta deoarece reușește să integreze în planul îndepărtat, dincolo de frumusețea învăluitoare a melodiilor, un rest, o asimetrie sau o stridență trecătoare care previne alunecarea spre previzibil, spre neproblematic.

În încheiere, aș vrea să mai amintesc că Black Sea Songs nu este primul disc care pornește de la tradițiile muzicale ale acestei zone. În anii ’90 a activat The Black Sea Orchestra, un fel de all star band cu muzicieni precum Harry Tavitian (România), Anatol Ștefăneț (Republica Moldova), Ivo Papasov (Bulgaria), Floros Floridis (Grecia) ș.a. Împreună au scos două albume: The Black Sea Project (1998, dar înregistrat live în 1996) și Black Sea Art Project (2001, sub conducerea lui Okay Temiz). Este interesant de observat modurile diferite în care resursele culturale ale acestei regiuni au fost întrebuințate atunci și acum. În anii ’90 este ușor reperabilă o anumită efervescență, o disponibilitate pentru experiment și apropieri mai puțin convenționale precum cea dintre folclor, fusion și free jazz, genuri practicate intens și în blocul estic.

După 25 de ani, discul semnat de Kalfa, Badenhorst și Dumitriu propune o abordare diferită ce marchează renunțarea la colajele stilistice postmoderne (fusion-ul și-a încheiat de ceva vreme evoluția) în favoarea unor sonorități camerale cu accente intimiste, preocupat mai puțin de evidențierea calităților individuale ale instrumentiștilor și mai mult de omogenitatea exprimării, de subtilitatea și impactul mesajului.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Peter De Backer, de Standaard (15/06/2022)
Kobe Van Cauwenberghe, lid van gitaarkwartet Zwerm, is gefascineerd door Anthony Braxton. Die Amerikaanse avant-gardist wordt tot de jazz gerekend, maar is eigenlijk een hedendaagse componist die intussen meer dan 700 stukken schreef voor de meest uiteenlopende bezettingen. Van Cauwenberghe is vooral geboeid door Ghost Trance Music, een eigenzinnig concept van Braxton met specifieke richtlijnen voor de muzikanten die het willen toepassen. In vier lange Braxton-composities van meer dan 23 minuten gaat de band (met onder anderen Teun Verbruggen op drums, Steven Delannoye op sax en Niels Van Heertum op eufonium) ermee aan de slag, inclusief citaten uit vroegere Braxton-stukken. Met af en toe een rake solo, zoals die jankende gitaar van Van Cauwenberghe in het eerste stuk. Maar ze kleuren ook lekker buiten de lijntjes, want, zo luidt het advies van Braxton: ‘Als de muziek te correct is uitgevoerd, speelde de band allicht verkeerd.’ Deze band maakt kennelijk boeiende foutjes.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Tim Rutherford-Johnson, The Rambler (06/06/2022)
Beginning with this playlist, compiled deep in locked-down 2020, it has been something of a side project of mine to get to grips with the music of Anthony Braxton. Exactly two years on, I feel like I’m still only scratching the surface. For someone whose education and writing are so steeped in the author-work orthodoxy of Western art music, as mine are, Braxton’s music presents a number of challenges. (Those challenges are part of the reason for my interest, of course.) Among them is Braxton’s central role as performer and director of his own music. Braxton’s reputation is founded first on his saxophone and clarinet playing (he is still – as on the cover of Timo Hoyer’s recently published comprehensive overview – often pictured with one instrument or another to hand), and much of his discography features him as a performer. Often this has been forced by necessity: Braxton’s marginalisation by the art music establishment for much of his life required him to act as his own champion and impresario. For years, if he didn’t play his music, few others would. Nevertheless, the line between his different roles as composer and bandleader is a blurred one. This distinction is, to be sure, founded in a racially coded division between jazz and classical music, and in the different values the two respective genres (and the wider culture industry around them) place on writing and performing. But it does still heighten interest in recordings of Braxton’s music on which the composer himself is not present.

The Belgian guitarist Kobe Van Cauwenberghe has also been on a mission to explore Braxton’s music, although far more comprehensively and to much greater effect than I. In November 2020 he released an acclaimed solo album of three compositions in Braxton’s Ghost Trance Music (GTM) style (numbers 255, 284 and 358) on All That Dust. And a year later he brought a septet to Luxembourg’s Rainy Days festival to play Composition 255. A studio recording of this work, plus three other recordings with the same septet (Compositions 193, 264 and 358) make up this superb double LP. Braxton was in the audience in Luxembourg and, according to Hoyer’s somewhat effusive sleevenotes, ‘could hardly contain himself with emotion and excitement. Understandably so. I dare say he had never experienced his GTM concept from the listener’s perspective as varied, elaborate and fluid as on that day.’ My own view is that Van Cauwenberghe and his septet have redefined the landscape of Braxton recordings.

Ghost Trance Music is one of numerous compositional methods or styles Braxton has developed over the years, each of which adds new possibilities to his music while still accommodating those that have gone before (for a primer, see Seth Colter Walls’ introduction to Braxton’s compositional systems; for a deeper dive, see this article by Erica Dicker). Rather than moving episodically from one stylistic phase to another, Braxton’s career can be viewed as a tree or, better, as mycelium – a continually branching-converging network of threads that equally pushes forward and feeds back. Each compositional system is both spore, vessel and boring machine, offering ways of generating patches of this network, transiting through it, or cutting new paths across it. The GTM system – grounded in the Ghost Dance rituals by which the surviving fragments of decimated Native American populations pooled their knowledge and culture in the late nineteenth century in the face of colonial destruction – is one of the richest of these, and is the main focus of Van Cauwenberghe’s research. It is based around a form of endless melody, initially imagined in a steady, walking bass-type rhythm but later ornamented with complex rhythmic ‘breaks’ (irrational subdivisions of the beat). In Dicker’s analysis, this melody serves as a kind of musical highway, or ‘meta-road’, off which various diversions, off-ramps or intersections may be indicated, which the performer(s) may choose to follow (or not) according to Braxton’s suggestions. The system is designed, says Dricker, ‘to put the player in the driver’s seat, drawing his or her intentions into the navigation of the performance, determining the structure of the performance itself’.

Some of the diversions off the meta-road involve reference to secondary materials written on loose-leaf pages of score (a model of strict core and looser supplements somewhat like Ferneyhough’s Cassandra’s Dream Song, for example, although with a much wider range of freedoms and possibilities). Others involve the ‘language music’ that is one of Braxton’s first compositional systems – a set of twelve performance directives (trill every note, play legato melodies, play accented sustained notes, etc) indicated by graphic symbols. Still others involve tertiary or ‘outside’ materials, selected (prior to performance) from anywhere else in Braxton’s oeuvre. This may include primary melodies or secondary materials from any other GTM composition, or it might include material from any part of Braxton’s hundreds of other compositions. (The last section of Braxton’s tentet recording of Composition 286, from 2001, for example, features material from Composition 23A, first recorded on the seminal New York, Fall 1974 album.) As Dricker explains, over the eleven years that Braxton employed his GTM approach (between 1995 and 2006), he developed it in several ways, emphasising or de-emphasising different aspects, adding or substracting elements but always, in Braxton’s characteristic manner, with a view to increasing the music’s plurality and heterogeneity.

The collage approach – fundamental, I would say, to Braxton’s aesthetic – was developed in Braxton’s work with small ensembles, most notably his legendary quartet of the 80s and early 90s with Marilyn Crispell, Mark Dresser and Gerry Hemingway. It is documented in Graham Lock’s essential book, and on ferocious albums such as this. The fluidity of this music can be utterly thrilling, but if you are not familiar with at least some of Braxton’s other music, it can be hard to identify where the different collaged elements begin and end, and thus perceive the musical space in all its dimensions. In the meta-road approach of GTM, however, Braxton finds a sweet spot between freedom and control, between an easily identifiable foundation and easily identifiable diversion, without limiting the range or variety of those diversions (some of which are identified in Hoyer’s sleevenotes).

The four compositions on this album cover all four variations of the GTM style, from the simpler first phase of Composition 193, with its greater emphasis on the primary melody, no subdivisions of its regular pulse, and an emphasis on specified pitches in its secondary material (leading to a greater control of pitch overall); to the fourth, ‘accelerator class’, in which the primary melody beats are almost all subdivided or obscured (although still present on an intermediate level), and in which the melody moves through accelerating and decelerating waves; there are also fewer deviations from the primary melody indicated, although the melody itself is provided with numerous layers of colour, articulation and graphical elements that ensure that it is always different. Three, numbers 193, 255 and 358, have been recorded before – numbers 255 and 358 by Van Cauwenberghe himself on his solo recording. Number 264 appears to be given its first recording here.

In general, the septet’s playing is smoother than that of Braxton’s own groups: the staccato punch of the primary melody is less pronounced (it thus appears more as a continuous stream, albeit one whose contours are thoroughly unpredictable); the instrumental timbres are more blended (even though, paradoxically, they are often more diverse – compare Braxton’s sax duo version of 255 with Chris Jonas on GTM (Outpost) 2003). The septet’s renditions are also much more compact than Braxton’s, which can often – for my money – shade into indulgence. Whereas Braxton and his groups will often extend a composition to an hour or more, Van Cauwenberghe’s renditions (both in the septet and solo) all hover around the 20-minute mark.

None of this to say that these are compromised or limited performances. The septet’s playing – particularly its flexibility of idiom, from avant-garde to blues to hillbilly – equals or even exceeds anything I’ve heard in Braxton’s recordings (I’ve hardly heard them all, but for me Braxton ploughs more consistently a free jazz/modern compositional idiom than his music necessarily demands). A lot of that emerges simply from instrumental combinations within the group: more violin is going to sound more country, more drums and bass is going to sound more blues/funk. But Van Cauwenberghe’s players lean into those identities with a range of idiomatic rhythmic and articulatory nuances. Van Cauwenberghe repeats one of the tricks from his solo record by bringing in the funkily slinky Composition 40f in the last third of 255, but in the group setting it grooves that much harder; it has a counterpart in the post-bop central section of 264, in which Verbruggen, Medinilla and Sakham most clearly coalesce as a distinct rhythm section (only to tease themselves apart again within a minute or two).

The polystylism of some of the secondary and tertiary breakdowns – when the individual identities of the players come to the fore – are more Ives than Ives: melting and melding more than clashing. They are deliciously fluid, rippled through with energies of seven players continuously listening and adjusting to each other. There is the same unstoppable magmatic flow that is captured on the classic quartet recordings (Verbruggen’s skittering drums and Medinilla’s fistfuls of keys do a lot of work in capturing that mood), but there is also introspection, stillness, melancholy even, as in the slow breakdown into the central section of 193 or the Sciarrino-like glitter of 358. Newcomers to Braxton’s work may still wish to start with those quartet recordings, but for the sound of Braxton without himself at the helm, they will want to come here very soon after.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Mike Borella, Avant Music News (04/06/2022)
Anthony Braxton’s Ghost Trance Music (GTM) is a framework for composition, improvisation, and collaboration. It is based around repeating pulse-like melodies that can be of any duration. Inspired by Native American dance, Braxton evolved the framework over the course of a decade in over 100 numbered pieces. Like his other musical systems, GTM pieces are meta-compositions, in that they can be adapted to virtually any instrumentation, ensemble size, or tempo. Further, there are four distinct GTM species of increasing complexity in terms of notation and musical output.

The above is just a layperson’s attempt at describing GTM. A more comprehensive description can be found in Erica Dicker’s excellent GTM article from Sound American 16.

In any event, guitarist Kobe Van Cauwenberghe has been fascinated by GTM for the better part of two decades. Last year, he put together an ensemble of like-minded musicians to record and then perform GTM pieces. The result is this double album with four tracks, each around 24 minutes, and exploring each of Braxton’s GTM species. Instrumentation includes electric and acoustic guitar, electric and acoustic bass, synths, voices, piano, euphonium, trumpet, tenor sax, bass clarinet, violin, drums, and percussion.

Composition 255 begins with the “classic” GTM sound – a jagged circling melody with structured tempo changes performed by the entire ensemble. Over time, instruments fade in and out while occasional solos and accentuations are layered in. Certain passages downplay the melodic structure, with foreground instruments providing improvised lines, some employing extended techniques. At the midway point, Van Cauwenberghe breaks out on the electric guitar for a wailing “solo” with accompaniment by the horns. The sheer complexity of the piece is highlighted at this point, with multiple instruments heading in different directions while remaining loyal to the guiding foundation. Drones, quieter movements, and then a vocally-oriented burst round out the piece.

Composition 358 is of the fourth species and hides the melodic pulses under a more chaotic but structured set of interlocking themes. Not unlike some of Braxton’s more recent efforts, the overall sound resembles two or three pieces of music being played independently and yet somehow fitting together. The looseness of this track, at least when compared to its predecessor, is notable in how it varies between labyrinthine intricacy and relative sparseness. Indeed, some passages appear almost freely improvised at certain moments.

Composition 193 is one of the earliest GTM pieces, and thus employs a prominent pulse melody supported by at least two instruments at most points. The melody dances about playfully and at a rapid tempo while the performers take turns layering their own brief melodies, motifs, and bursts atop the structure. Sax, violin, and piano, in particular, add colors to the piece. The baton-passing of the pulse melody is relatively easy to follow, for example from guitar to sax and bass, to guitar and bass, and so on. Nonetheless, a few sections relinquish this structure for a more complex variation thereof or extemporaneous playing.

Composition 264 rounds things out with a lengthy pulse pattern. It is probably the most involved of the four, exhibiting multiple tempo changes throughout its cycle. After a few minutes, it morphs into an interlude with spiky blasts from various instruments. Van Cauwenberghe provides a notably compelling solo with plenty of bent notes that fit the strange forms underlying the track. A reprise of the pulse then emerges with the instruments jumping in and out of the pattern. An open-ended passage serves as a finale to the album.

When recordings of GTM first became available, I found them to be somewhat less interesting than Braxton’s earlier works. As a result, I did not pay as much attention to the evolution of this system as I should have. Thankfully, Van Cauwenberghe and crew have provided a truly inspired reading of GTM material that has rekindled my awareness of this phase of Braxton’s works. Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton is one of the best interpretations of Braxton’s music yet by an ensemble not including Braxton himself. Very well done.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Ben Taffijn, Nieuwe Noten (02/06/2022)
Anthony Braxton wordt gelukkig steeds vaker ook als componist van hedendaagse muziek gezien en niet louter als saxofonist, actief binnen de vrije improvisatie en de avant-garde jazz. Iets dat hij vanzelfsprekend ook is. Een musicus die deze composities een warm hard toedraagt is gitarist Kobe Van Cauwenberghe. Eerder bracht hij bij All That Dust reeds ‘Ghost Trance Solos’ uit en nu ligt er het bij El Negocito verschenen dubbel album ‘Kobe Van Cauwenberghe’s Ghost Trance Septet Plays Anthony Braxton’, waarop we de composities nr. 193, 255, 264 en 358 horen, slechts vier van de ruim zevenhonderd die Braxton tot nu toe schreef.

Honderdachtendertig daarvan vallen onder de Ghost Trance Music, composities die Braxton schreef tussen 1995 en 2006 en waar ook deze vier onder vallen. Koos Van Cauwenberghe op zijn vorige album voor solostukken, op dit album werkt hij met een septet, met naast Van Cauwenberghe zelf, die we horen op diverse gitaren, basgitaar, synthesizer en vocalen, Frederik Sakham op contrabas en vocalen, Elisa Medinilla op piano, Niels Van Heertum op euphonium en trompet, Teun Verbruggen op drums en percussie, Anna Jalving op viool en Steven Delannoye op tenorsax en basklarinet. Braxton spelen, Van Cauwenberghe haalt in het Cd boekje de instructies van Braxton nog maar eens aan: “a. Have fun with this material and don’t get hung up with any one area. b. Don’t misuse this material to have only ‘correct’ performances without spirit or risk. […] If the music is played too correctly it was probably played wrong. c. Each performance must have something unique. […] If the instrumentalist doesn’t make a mistake with my materials, I say ‘Why!?’ NO mistake — NO work!’ If a given structure concept has been understood (on whatever level) then connect it to something else. Try something different — be creative (that’s all I’m writing). […] and be sure to keep your sense of humor”.

De composities kennen allemaal een zelfde soort structuur. Het eerste deel bestaat uit een nagenoeg unisono gespeelde melodie. Die kan urenlang aangehouden worden, maar ook esnige minuten, dat is aan het ensemble. Wat volgt zijn een soort van afgeleide melodieën van die hoofd melodie. In het wat en hoe geeft Braxton de uitvoerders bijzonder veel ruimte, geen twee uitvoeringen van een compositie klinken dan ook hetzelfde. Het tweede deel van een compositie, bijvoorbeeld nr. 255, waar het album mee opent, klinkt dan ook regelmatig veel vrijer dan het eerste deel, hier horen we duidelijk de improvisatie achtergrond van Braxton in terug, al zijn er ook zeker sterk ritmische en melodieuze fragmenten te bespeuren. Mooi gitaarspel ook, zo ongeveer halverwege dit stuk. In het aanvankelijk veel rustiger nr. 358, tegen het einde loopt de spanning behoorlijk op, is het hierboven genoemde onderscheid minder goed te maken, hier wisselen melodie en abstractie elkaar continu af. Aan het ritmische patroon aan het begin van nr. 193 is goed te horen dat Braxton zijn inspiratie voor deze muziek voor een deel haalt uit de straatparades, een belangrijke oervorm van de jazz. En mooi zoals dit motief iets verderop letterlijk uitdooft in de abstractie. Maar er blijft ruimte voor het ritme in dit stuk, steeds in boeiende afwisseling met die abstractie. In nr. 264 valt het slepende ritme op en als verderop het tempo nog verder naar beneden gaat, heeft de muziek veel weg van een klanksculptuur.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Sammy Stein, The Free Jazz Collective (23/05/2022)
Ghent-based el Negocito records will release Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton on June 2, combined with a performance at the Contemporary Arts Museum of S.M.A.K. In Ghent, showcasing the results of Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's research on Anthony Braxton and his spectacular Ghost Trance Music.

Anthony Braxton is one of the most innovative composers, musicians, and music theorists. His work has been featured on around 60 albums by other musicians, and his number of compositions is over 700. Belgian guitarist Kobe Van Cauwenberghe (Zwerm, Ictus Ensemble, Nadar Ensemble) recognised the uniqueness of Braxton's Ghost Trance Music systems and made it a mission to come to a deeper understanding of it and its implications for the interpreter. After his acclaimed solo album (Ghost Trance Solos), Van Cauwenberghe invited a group of musicians to take a collective deep dive into Braxton's musical wonderland of the Ghost Trance Musics and explore its unique communal aspects. In the summer of 2021, this Ghost Trance Septet recorded four GTM-compositions, covering the entire spectrum of the four different' species' of the G.T.M. system. The result is this present double CD, which will be followed by a double vinyl issue later in the year.

Anthony Braxton reacted to the Ghost Trance Septet's performance at the Rainy Days Festival in Luxemburg in November 2021 with emotion, and this ensemble comes with the full approval of the grandmaster himself

On June 5, Braxton's Birthday, there will be a 2nd concert at the Singel in Antwerp, followed by a performance by Braxton himself. Other activities are planned, including an expo and lectures.

With Braxton playing fewer concerts these days, this is a rare opportunity to see the grandmaster perform. Braxton has over 500 compositions to his name and has been a visionary pioneer of music, regularly reinventing himself. During the 1970s, Braxton considered creating streamed (or beamed) live performances alongside 100 orchestras in 4 different cities and wanted to mark the year 2000 by completing the music for multiple orchestras. The programme in the performances will feature his compositions from the 'Creative Orchestra' albums, where, in an 'Ellington meets Stockhuasen' manner, Braxton blends big band with contemporary classical ensemble. There will also be some pieces from the more recent 'Ghost Trance Music,' which balances music that is both notated and allows for improvisation. Braxton will perform himself with his new Saxophone Quartet, featuring James Fei (Roscoe Mitchell, Alvin Lucier), Chris Jonas ( Cecil Taylor, William Parker, Del Sol String Quartet), Ingrid Laubrock(F-IRE Collective, Siouxsie and The Banshees, Polar Bear) and Andre Vida (Brandon Evans, Sonny Simmons)

The opening track, 'Composition 255,' is a mesmerizing stream of music that begins with the ensemble delivering a punctuated stream of chords in union before, gradually, the percussion first; then the other instruments begin to shear off from the central theme, creating diverse and intricate side roads of improvised sounds. Follow any of these, and you end up eventually at a crossroads where the ensemble comes together, crosses, and then veers away on different pathways. Eerie vocalisation, underpinned by piano, then brass blats and percussive rhythms thundered out underneath. The subtle blueseyness of the central section of the number with the unsettling bass clarinet just audible beneath the intricate top lines reflects jazz roots, while the explosive, dissonant guitar reminds the listener that this is improvised jazz music in essence. The trance element comes from the palpitation of the rhythms and the endless stream of musical consciousness, which creates a link between the musicians, balancing the directed with the free. The piano rises to the fore playing chordal sequences, over which the rest add their responses - again, that link between the set and the unsettling—an incredibly diverse and creative opening sequence of music.

The following track,'Composition 358,' opens with the ensemble playing separate yet connected lines, each different yet creating a link to the rest, before snatches of melody rise like a nest of entwined cobras, entwining around the centrality of the number while maintaining their individuality. The glissandos, the responses, the interaction, the brief solos, the quiet moments, and the explosive end section before the fading all work to create another mesmeric number.

The next track, 'Composition 193,' continues the theme of collective creativity, the ensemble demonstrating how aggregation can be coupled with fractions of dissonance and subtle connectivity.

After the three-minute mark, the lines set by the piano are reflected and developed by the ensemble with the percussion adding rhythmic patterns that both fill space and create interesting modulations of the tempo. A violin rises in solo before playing spiccato, reflecting the percussive patterns. The bass weaves complex lines underneath. The ensemble then works together to create many hues, painting a colourful ribbon of sound that the listener can follow, leading to a tricky, intricate rhythmic middle section into which they are immersed. The sound curve becomes more complex before it simplifies, allowing individual instruments to be heard. The finish feels orchestral and fulsome.

The final track, 'Composition 264,' brings more of the same - a seemingly bottomless pool of sounds, from which individual instruments rise to the surface before diving back to the depths of sound created by the ensemble. This music exemplifies the ensemble style of blended notated and improvised sound and is a delight to both those with an ear for classical and those preferring a freer form of playing.

Braxton proves that comparisons to other composers are pointless, and Braxton is a rare thing nowadays - a composer whose work is unique. The recording feels like an immersion; the music washes over the listener in waves, cleansing and pure. It is a stream of consciousness that emanates from the musicians, serving as a guide between that which is known and the unknown. Clear guidance to form is tempered beautifully with an allowance for freedom that this kind of music gives. There is a sense of connection to the past, a sense of being very much in the present and with the future. Listening to this music is an experience, not an act, and Braxton creates a sense of endless potential.

eNR105: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet plays Anthony Braxton
Lynn René Bayley, The Art Music Lounge, an Online Journal of Jazz and Classical Music (07/05/2022)
It has taken me more than 40 years to “get” Anthony Braxton’s music. When I first heard it in the 1970s, I found it t be texturally thick and repetitive, complex but unswinging. Those adjectives still apply, but over the years I have learned to be more patient when listening to and assessing music that lies outside of both the classical and jazz spectrums, and now I get it.

Braxton’s music is a complex blueprint of sound using small but very complex musical cells in a repeated fashion, over which the performers are supposed to slowly deconstruct it, find the cell or cells that appeal to them, and then put it back together using improvisation—and I mean full improvisation, which in turn means recomposing the music however they wish to. It’s very cerebral music, then, and isn’t mean to swing, but it is meant to played with in an amusing way despite its very serious complexity.

Braxton himself has written these instructions for musicians who wish to play his material (taken from the liner notes of this CD):
“a. Have fun with this material and don’t get hung up with any one area/
b. Don’t misuse this material to have only ‘correct’ performances without spirit or risk. […] If the music is played too correctly, it was probably played wrong.
c. Each performance must have something unique. […] If the instrumentalist doesn’t make a mistake with my materials, I say, ‘Why!?’ NO mistake — NO work!’ If a given structure concept has been understood (on whatever level) then connect it to something else. Try something different — be creative (that’s all I’m writing).
[…] and be sure to keep your sense of humor.”

So, with all that in mind, I decided to review this CD, even though the music occupies a no-man’s-land between classical and jazz. This two-CD set includes four later, very complex pieces by Braxton, played by Belgian guitarist Kobe Van Cauwenherghe and his Ghost Trance Septet.

One thing you will notice about Braxton’s music is that it is, for the most part, very quiet. His pieces do not encourage loud, violent performances; nor are his own performances of his music loud or disruptive. Within his complex musical cells, he uses a great deal of polyphony as well as dissonance; even if a group had decided to play his works in a tight, linear fashion—which clearly wouldn’t work very well—it would be extremely difficult to do so, and if you think that what you hear in this recording sounds sloppy and disorganized, such as the opening sections of Composition 358, I can assure you that there isn’t a classical group in the world who could even play it. It’s simply beyond their realm of musical education or experience.

Thus giving a technical description of what one hears is not only difficult but irrelevant. Suffice it to say that, even with humor and a lot of imagination, his music sounds chaotic because it is meant to sound chaotic. It is a Zen koan, meant to disrupt one’s normal way of thinking about music to produce something entirely different.

Once past the opening statements in each piece (the one in the opening work, Composition 255, lasts the longest, about three minutes), the Ghost Trance Quintet meanders—purposely—to create musical patterns that are slower and less complex than the original, but still related to it. What impressed and intrigued me most about this recording was the fact that the Septet managed to maintain some sort of forward momentum even while playing the must complex pieces, and at the same time never devolved into chaotic note-splattering. I’ve said many times that free jazz musicians who just splatter notes up against the wall to see what sticks are not complete musicians, because all music, no matter how complex and far-out, has to have some sort of form. The Ghost Trance Septet manages to give a certain amount of coherence to what they’re playing, and I respect that. Even in those moments that sound like free-for-alls, i.e. at the 11-minute mark on Composition 358, the rhythmically and harmonically apposite figures they are all playing somehow, mysteriously, come together.

But clearly this is not music for the masses; in fact, I’m sure that only one out of a thousand listeners (at best) will “get” these pieces. Aside from the fact that this music is intended as a basis for improvisation, they cannot be called “jazz” at all. They are closer related to the music of Harry Partch than to anyone in the jazz field, and that even includes Ivo Perelman, Simon Nabatov or Henry Threadgill, whose music is equally complex but contains more basic jazz feeling. The only other jazz group whose work comes close to what Braxton has done is the Art Ensemble of Chicago, another highly misunderstood group of musicians. In a way, Braxton’s works also have overtones in them related to the artwork of Wassily Kandinsky, the synethesiast who “saw” music as colors and shapes and tried to capture that feeling in paintings…yet the music itself, in my opinion, is closer in form to the paintings of Paul Klee. This is particularly evident in Composition 193, which uses (for Braxton) an unusually rhythmic figure to propel the surprisingly simple cells used as a theme, but this is not a jazz rhythm. It is much closer to the kind of rhythms used by Stravinsky in Le Sacre du Printemps.

Once past the repetitive (sometimes overly-repetitive) opening sections of each work, one hears little elements of improvised “comments,” you might call them, being introduced either against the grain of the theme statement or as an adjunct to it, an overlay on it, and this, in turn, leads to the loosening of the initial rhythm/tempo as well as a complete deconstruction of the theme until nothing is left but—and this seems particularly apt considering the group’s name—“ghostly” traces of the original music. Composition 193 has the greatest contrast, as the septet completely dissolves not only the strong ostinato beat of the opening theme but also its high-pressured tempo. The improvised section, dominated by Anna Jalving’s violin and Niels Van Heertum on the euphonium, is almost an entirely different work.

I also give a lot of credit to Van Cauwenherghe for resisting the temptation to use his electric guitar in a rock-music fashion. This is a bad lapse in taste that too many jazz guitarists fall into, probably because they all grew up with rock music and thus think it fits into everything…but as I’ve said many times, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. If your “rock” guitar style is closely related to R&B, that’s fine, because R&B was one of the outgrowths of swing in the 1940s, but if it sounds like heavy metal guitar, you’re on the wrong track for jazz. Van Cauwenherghe comes a bit close to the latter style in one brief solo here, but for the most part he stays away from it, which was the right decision. Even more surprisingly, towards the end of this track the septet actually swings!

The opening theme of Composition 264 is the most complex rhythmically of the four presented here, with both meter and tempo that keeps shifting underneath the musicians’ feet, but the Ghost Trance Septet has the full measure of this complicated music. Van Cauwenherghe’s playing on this track is some of his most rhythmic, and for the most part the group swings more consistently than on the others.

In addition to the selections on this double-CD issue, I should also like to mention that the Ghost Trance Septet has a video on YouTube of Braxton’s Composition 348 (Accelerator), with Braxton himself playing the reed instruments, that lasts over an hour. This is clearly a talented and very adventurous group, and their interpretations of Braxton’s material are something special.

eNR102: Black Sea Songs by Sanem Kalfa, George Dumitriu, Joachim Badenhorst
Georges Tonla Briquet, Jazzenzo Magazine Nederland (27/04/2022)
Met een repertoire dat hoofdzakelijk samengesteld is uit traditionals afkomstig van de regio rond de Zwarte Zee, laten Sanem Kalfa, Joachim Badenhorst en George Dumitriu op 'Black Sea Songs' akoestische instrumenten en electronics op naadloze wijze samenvloeien rond de zang van Kalfa. Wie de diverse talen niet machtig is, verliest allerminst de dieptegang van de muziek. De vocalen worden namelijk ook als instrument aangewend en integreren volledig met de rest, aangevuld met spaarzame elektronische effecten.

Opener ‘Babamin Atmalari’ bevat het allemaal, deze haast geruisloze symbiose. In totaal tien nummers die zwevend voorbijglijden als schimmen in een mistgordijn. Luister maar eens naar de zacht strelende zang met sensuele ondertoon in ‘Vertskhlis Tasadamts Maktsia’ waarin basklarinet en lichtere ruiseffecten een beschermend cocon vormen. Met het meer dansbare ‘Nani Nani Oy’ zetten ze onmiskenbaar een stap richting de volksmuziek van Thracië en Epidaurus. We horen echter vooral een overwegend etherische soundtrack met uiterst ingetogen momenten zoals ‘Cântec de la Marea Neagr?’, waarin het lijkt of Badalamenti zich waagt aan een bewerking van een lied uit het erfgoed van Hildegard van Bingen.

Uitgebracht als digipack met een kunstwerk van Johanna Overmeir. Een release uit een enigszins onverwachte hoek voor het Gentse label el NEGOCITO dat met dit nummer 102 intussen een indrukwekkende catalogus kan voorleggen.

eNR069: in memoriam global village by Gunda Gottschalk, Xu Feng Xia & Peter Jacquemyn
Bruce Lee Gallanter, the Downtown Music Gallery NY (15/04/2022)
I recall fondly when Gunda Gottschalk contacted me in the mid 1990’s to play a solo set at DMG. She was already a part of Peter Kowald’s workshop ensemble and came to play the gig with her mother in tow. Her set was great and I caught her again at the Victo in a group with Peter Kowald, as well as in duos with Xu Feng Xia & Peter Jacquemyn, as well as in a trio with Mr. Kowald or Joe Fonda on bass. I’ve also seen & heard German bassist, Peter Jacquemyn, who also once played at DMG in a duo with vocalist Anna Homler. This disc is dedicated to the late great bassist & free/spirit traveler Peter Kowald who passed away suddenly in NYC in 2002. Mr. Kowald called his workshop/ensemble Global Village and all three members of this trio were involved in it.
The music here is most extraordinary, high-end ethnic string trio improv at its best. Ms. Feng Xia’s guzheng (Chinese plucked zither) has a rich sound, not unlike plucking the strings inside a piano or an acoustic harp. While the violin and contrabass are somewhat similar in sound and the way the strings are played (plucked, rubbed or bowed), the guzeng adds another dimension which is rich in timbre and tone. All three musicians here also vocalize at times adding other colors to the evolving rainbow of sounds, at times adding some exciting exclamations. There are moments when all three musicians play together, push each other, exchanging ideas and erupt into a joyous organic chaos. I recall several solo contrabass sets by Peter Kowald (once at DMG) in which he chanted those throat-singing sounds into his bass, the affect was quite hypnotic. This trio also moved into similar dark waters at times with some eerie sounds from all three players. There are moments here when thing erupt and the excitement grows more intense. Considering that this is an all acoustic trio of strings with sparse voices, one might think that this is closer to modern chamber music, which it is at times. Since these three musicians enjoying going further out, it is a wonderful to go along for the inner roller coaster ride.

eNR093: s/t by Rorschach
Bruce Lee Gallanter, the Downtown Music Gallery NY (15/04/2022)
These sessions were recorded in July & August of 2017, at Linster Studios in Luxemberg. The is certainly a unique combinations of instruments: 2 pianists and 2 drummers. each member of this quartet has traveled in similar circles: Mr. Vermeulen & Mr. Thielemans have both worked with Lynn Cassiers & Hugo Antunes (CDs on Clean Feed), Mr. Gebruers in a trio with Paul Lovens & Hugo Antunes and Mr. Thielmans with Jozef Dumoulin & Billy Hart). The el Negocito label recently released a disc featured two prepared pianos, hence they seem to be the perfect label for this equally unique quartet. I don’t think that this particular quartet had worked together before but they do sound superb together on this disc. There are several layers and/or waves coalescing together here, one piano playing at the high end & speeding up while the other piano slows down to some more quirky interaction. Sometimes one of the drummers plays tightly with one of the pianists, while the other pianist & drummer also play together. Other times all four players criss-cross, with varied interaction which keeps changing throughout. There are also times when things are stripped down and more sparse, the interplay still exciting and evolving. On the back of this disc, there are spaces left for the listener to add their own titles to each of the 7 pieces. An interesting idea worth considering.

eNR085: Yo Anpil by Désir & Fiorini
Bruce Lee Gallanter, the Downtown Music Gallery NY (15/04/2022)
Belgian jazz and classical pianist, Fabian Fiorini, has several recordings with different collaborators like Frederic Rzewski, MikMaak, the Baba Sissoko Ensemble and Octurn, all pretty obscure except for Mr. Rzewski (member of MEV & great composer/pianist in his own right). I hadn’t heard of vocalist Renette Desir before now. The songs on this disc include covers of Duke Ellington & Max Roach/Oscar Brown, some traditional songs and some originals. Since the liner notes are in Belgium, I can’t tell what they say. The music, however, is superb. The songs remind me of Kurt Weill & Bertolt Brecht. Mr. Fiorini plays muted piano underneath Ms. Desir’s spirited vocals. The piano sounds like there is a ping pong ball occasionally bouncing inside, or is that some digital distortion?!? Ms. Desir has dark skin and is wearing an African dress on the back of the CD. She reminds me of Lotte Lenya but with more soul, less show-tune sound-wise. Ms. Desir has a wonderfully expressive voice and sounds a bit crazed at times, with several odd voices or characters at her disposal. Before I put this disc in my CD player, I wasn’t so sure that I would dig a duo of voice and piano. I was wrong and I find this disc to be oddly enchanting. Mr. Fiorini’s muted piano playing is also well utilized throughout and never used for odd effects. We never know when that next unexpected gem will show up. Here it is!

eNR102: Black Sea Songs by Sanem Kalfa, George Dumitriu, Joachim Badenhorst
Jean-Claude Vantroyen, Le Soir Mad p.24 (13/04/2022) **
A 40 ans, l’Anversois Joachim Badenhorst est un des souffleurs les plus éclectiques et les plus demandés en Europe : clarinette, clarinette basse, saxophones. Il s’intéresse plutôt au jazz d’avant-garde et à l’improvisation, mais tout le passionne. Le folk de la mer Noire avec la chanteuse turque Sanem Kalfa et le guitariste roumain George Dumitriu, très agréable album coloré, modulé, émouvant.

eNR097: LOI by Raf Vertessen Quartet
Bruce Lee Gallanter, the Downtown Music Gallery NY (08/04/2022)
I'm not so sure when Belgian drummer Raf Vertessen moved to NY, but he has played here at DMG on several occasions. This is Mr. Vertessen's first release as a leader and he has picked a strong quartet: Anna Webber (multi-bandleader, composer & collaborator with Dave Douglas, Harris Eisenstadt & others) on tenor sax, Adam O'Farrill (grandson of Latin/jazz legend Chico O'Farrill & member of several bands: Mary Halvorson, Gabriel Zucker) and young bass wiz Nick Dunston (with Dave Douglas, Amirtha Kidambi & Zack Clarke).

So far, Mr. Vertessen has done mostly improvised sets here at DMG but he did compose and direct this quartet. The title track, "LO1", begins with a sprawling theme for the tenor and trumpet to play with dream-like harmonies while Mr. Vertessen plays somber mallets in slow waves as the quartet comes together, rising and falling as one. Vertessen is a master mallets player and sounds great at creating an organic pulse or throb with Dunston's bass to ground the great tenor sax/trumpet frontline. The quartet expand freely on "#1", building to an intense yet tightly wound conclusion. On each piece, Vertessen gets the two horns to switch positions or directions, thus keeping the band and listeners on their toes to figure out which strategies are being utilized. Both Ms. Webber's tenor and Mr. O'Farrill's trumpet play warm one moment and then twist their notes in odd ways in the next section. When I listened to this disc at the store earlier this week, I liked what I heard but couldn't pay too much attention. Now that I am listening to it at home without distractions, it sounds even better with several layers of songs or ideas moving around one another in a more connected way. And more is revealed each time I listen.

eNR047: Lomahongva by Warped Dreamer
Bruce Lee Gallanter, the Downtown Music Gallery NY (08/04/2022)
Warped Dreamer features Arve Henriksen on trumpet, flute & voice, Stian Westerhus on guitar, Jozef Dumoulin on Fender Rhodes and Teun Verbruggen on drums with all four also playing some electronics. This is a half Belgian, half Norwegian quartet with each member coming from very different collaborations. I recall all of their name from different places: Arve Henriksen (various bands on Rune Grammofon), Stian Westerus (Bushman's Revenge & w/ Sidsel Endresen), Jozef Dumoulin (w/ Haino Keiji & Bureau of Atomic Tourism) and Teun Verbruggen (BoAT & Flat Earth Society). An odd mix to be sure. This is a live recording from January of 2015 done in Antwerp, Belgium. This disc starts off with some brooding, spacious, swirling sounds, suspense-filled Jon Hassell-like trumpet, dark, rumbling electric piano, swirling drums and ghost-like electronics all interwoven and moving in cosmic waves. There are several layers of electronic sounds which keep shifting like organic winds. Since all four members play electronics, there are a variety of odd, strange electronic sounds & soundscapes which are also woven together and shift through different moods or scenes. I dig the multi-layered electronic sections here since they are well put together and are not too difficult to listen to, mostly fascinating to behold. Mr. Henriksen takes a couple of splendid dreamy solos which seem to float out of the ether. The balance between all of the disparate elements here are especially effective throughout our trip.

eNR041: Live at La Resistenza by Dikeman Parker Drake
Bruce Lee Gallanter, the Downtown Music Gallery NY (08/04/2022)
American-born saxist, John Dikeman, has been living in the Netherlands for a decade or so, recording with various Dutch, other European & American musicians. Mr. Dikeman has led a few of his own bands like Cactus Truck and the Universal Indians. Since the beginning of this year (2022), Mr. Dikeman has toured & recorded with two top rhythm teams: Pat Thomas, John Edwards & Steve Noble (for 577 Records) and with William Parker & Hamid Drake. This disc was recorded live on tour at La Resistenza ib Ghent, Belgium in May of 2014. William Parker and Hamid Drake are considered to be the best free/avant/jazz rhythm team, longtime working together in numerous bands with Peter Brotzmann, David S Ware, Fred Anderson, Paul Dunmall and Charles Gayle. Right from the opening salvo, the trio takes off. Mr. Dikeman has a strong, dark, blustery tone on tenor, digging deeply into the Trane-like world of flurries, bent notes and occasional sax screams. William Parker and Hamid Drake often sound like they are joined at the hip in the way they work together as one spiritual force, building up as the intensity increases and calming down as well. Mr. Dikeman has a unique way of bending & twisting certain notes out, reaching for the stars at times while he also keeps tone warm yet probing. for those who you who still favor Free/Sprit Music at its best, this is another treasure to warm to.

eNR102: Black Sea Songs by Sanem Kalfa, George Dumitriu, Joachim Badenhorst
Ben Taffijn, Nieuwe Noten Nederland (07/04/2022)
De Vlaming Joachim Badenhorst slaat zijn vleugels steeds verder uit. Met klarinet, basklarinet, tenor saxofoon en sinds enige jaren ook elektronica zoekt hij zijn weg in het brede veld van jazz en aanverwante muzieksoorten ver buiten zijn landsgrenzen.

Toen Badenhorst in 2020, samen met de Turkse vocaliste Sanem Kalfa en de Roemeense gitarist en altviolist George Dumitriu ‘Black Sea Songs’ opnam, kon hij natuurlijk niet bevroeden hoe actueel dit album, een ode aan de Zwarte Zee, waar niet alleen Turkije en Roemenië aan grenzen, maar ook Oekraïne en Rusland, nu zou zijn. Een zee op het kruispunt tussen culturen, tussen noord en zuid en tussen Europa en Azië, het komt terug op dit veelzijdige album, waarop we ook direct een geheel andere Badenhorst horen. Een prachtige, soms wat melancholieke klankwereld creëren de drie hier, met hun instrumenten, de elektronica die ze alle drie beheersen en die prachtige stem van Kalfa, waarin de Turkse traditie volop in doorklinkt. Op twee stukken na kozen de drie voor bestaande, traditionele liederen, die echter een compleet nieuwe en eigentijdse invulling krijgen, luister bijvoorbeeld naar het bijzonder verfijnde ‘Vertskhlis Tasadamts Maktsia’, het spannend gebrachte ‘Ayna Ayna Ellere’, het heerlijk felle ‘Pipilomatina’ of het ietwat abstracte ‘Dereler’. Een groots album.

eNR084: The Room: Time & Space by Seppe Gebruers, Hugo Antunes & Paul Lovens
Bruce Lee Gallanter, the Downtown Music Gallery NY (25/02/2022)
German Free/Jazz drum legend, Paul Lovens, has played with many of the elders of this music: Cecil Taylor, Alex Von Schlippenbach & Evan Parker, as well as with a long list of gifted improvisers from all over: Dr. Chadbourne, John Russell and Mats Gustafsson. Mr. Lovens also works with a number of lesser known, up & coming players, two of which are heard here. Bassist, Hugo Antunes, can be found on several discs on the Clean Feed label, working with Nate Wooley, Rafael Toral & Chris Corsano. I hadn’t heard of pianist Seppe Gebruers before now. In the liner notes by Paul Lovens, Lovens mentions how certain “rooms” have their spirit or vibe, helping us humans to capture what we do in those spaces and making certain events more special. This session was recorded in February of 2016 at “ke nona” in Mechelen in Belgium. Mr. Gebruers plays two grand pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart, hence dealing with microtonal explorations. This sounds like a live recording and it has superb, warm, clean sound. Each piece is named with the word “Room” with a number attached. “Room 1” is subtle and sparse, well-balanced and sonically stunning. Mr. Gebruers is playing the keyboard of one piano while plucking the strings inside the other piano for a section. Eventually, the pace quickens and the sounds become more intense, more brittle for a period of time. I like the way these pieces unfold and evolve. I’ve caught Paul Lovens live many occasions playing with Doc Chad, the Schlippenbach/Evan Parker Trio and with Cecil Taylor. Mr. Lovens has a most distinctive sound/approach. He is at the center of this wonderful, mesmerizing trio. Wee worth exploring.

eNR079: Square Talks by Paul Van Gysegem Quintet
Bruce Lee Gallanter, the Downtown Music Gallery NY (25/02/2022)
It turns out that bassist Paul Van Gysegem, the leader here, once had a sextet whose only (?) other album was recorded in early 1971, which is fifty years ago this year. Now, Mr. Van Gysegem has a new quintet release which includes one member of his previous band from 1/2 century ago, percussionist Marek Patrman. I know very little about saxist Cel Overberghe or trumpeter Patrick de Groote. Pianist Erik Vermeulen has played with the Hugo Antunes Group as well as with Lynn Cassiers (all for the Clean Feed label). From reading the liner notes I found that all of these musicians have been around a long while, although not consistently within the new music scene.
This session was recorded live at JazzCase in Pelt, Belgium, in September of 2019. The music here does sound mature, thoughtful, crafty and filled with surprising twists and turns. Although the music is mainly improvised, everything sounds connected. Mr. Van Gysegem’s bass is often at the center of the action, no matter when it is sparse or (rarely) busy. The piece is called “Brisk” and it does sound like the tempo is brisk when it begins. There is quite a bit of heated and oft intense interaction going on here with the sax, trumpet and piano all swirling tightly around one another. Episodes like this are often followed by careful, spare, eerie piano, bass & drums sections. Trumpeter De Groote sounds particularly fine, using sly bits of reverb for his unique sound. One of the main things I like about this disc is that although it is free improv, the music is rarely very out or too free, there are more melodic or easier to follow lines in the way things unfold. This sounds like a sign of maturity since many musicians start off playing freely with a need to make some Fire Music or intense free soaring. There is a certain warmth and sublime balance of the elements on this disc. If you’ve never or rarely heard “free” music, this would be a great place to start.

eNR098: live at Padova by lauroshilau
Darren Bergstein, the Downtown Music Gallery NY (25/02/2022)
Live At Padova (el Negocito ERN098; Belgium) Lauroshilau is a fairly new collective on the free improv scene, but on evidence of the sounds erupting from this recording, further notoriety will be quickly forthcoming. Comprised of Audrey Lauro (alto sax and preparations), Pak Yan Lau (toy pianos, synth, and electronics), and Yuko Oshima (drums), theirs is a deceptively calculating music that creeps up on you slowly before it devours you, like lava quietly devastating an unsuspecting mountainside. Great drama seems to build with a careful, scary methodology, as Lauro’s squeaks and spittle look for glimpses of light in between Lau's horrorshow digitalics. Yes, there is that much portentousness in this music, the kind of atmospheric dread so little seen in improv, and this record, made the more startling that it was recorded live, must have left its audience not only rapt but gripped by fear. When Oshima strikes gongs and assorted other drums and surfaces, it provides something of a psychic bridge between the listener’s ears and their vivid, frenzied imaginations. As galvanizing as the wayward landscape of the initial twenty-five-minute-plus first part is, Lovecraftian in form and fleet in execution, the trio taking us across blasted earth reeking with the acrid smell of particle decay, it’s the second part which is ultimately the more gripping of the two. Lauro’s sax occasionally sounds ’normalized’ but the errant noises conjured still feel like alien probes poking at the skin. Lau's electronics, all metallic hushes and burnt chrome, make for some of the more chilling sci-fi modulations to be seen in the genre in many a moon. And Oshima’s well-chosen trills, strikes, and reverberations sound like they’re literally captured from deep within the bowels of the Nostromo, taking baby steps in anticipation of what might suddenly descend from the chain forest. Startling, provocative, ever-surprising, keep a sharp eye on this freeform triumvirate of terror, for a brave, confrontational noise is what they surely make.

eNR102: Black Sea Songs by Sanem Kalfa, George Dumitriu, Joachim Badenhorst
Rinus Van Der Heijden, Jazz Nu (23/02/2022)
In één woord; adembenemend. Dat is de conclusie na het beluisteren van ‘Black Sea Songs', waarop tien oude liederen uit een omvangrijk gebied rond de Zwarte Zee worden vertolkt door een zangeres, een gitarist/violist en een klarinettist.

De zangeres is Sanem Kalfa, de gitarist/altviolist George Dumitriu en de klarinettist Joachim Badenhorst. Zij komt uit Turkije, de anderen uit respectievelijk Roemenië en België. Die afkomsten zijn belangrijk, want het gaat hier om bewerkte volksmuziek, geplukt uit de landen rond de Zwarte Zee, zoals in het westen ervan Bulgarije, Roemenië en Oekraïne, Rusland en Georgië in het oosten en Turkije in het zuiden.

Dat impliceert dat de drie uitvoerenden muziek hebben gekozen van Turkse, Georgische, Laziose (Italiaanse), Roemeense, Pontus Griekse en Tataarse oorsprong. Een op papier onwaarschijnlijke opgave, maar door de volstrekt eigentijdse aanpak van het trio, een uiterst geslaagde. Want de oervorm van de liederen blijft onaangetast, door de instrumentatie en gespecificeerder nog, de toevoeging van delicate elektronica wordt een hedendaagse muziekvorm ontwikkeld die je keihard bij je lurven grijpt.

Keihard in de zin van bevrijdend en vreugdevol. Sanem Kalfa schept een intimiteit die haar gelijke niet kent, ze voert je op een zachte bries eeuwen terug naar een primitieve vorm van communiceren die echter na al die honderden jaren nog niets aan muzikale betekenis heeft ingeboet. Sanem Kalfa’s breekbare inzet van haar stem wordt afgewisseld met een uitbundig gebruik ervan, waarin ze jodelt, de bovengrens ervan aftast, lange uithalen over de muziek van de andere twee uitsmeert en ze tegelijk dirigeert en dwingt.

Die ‘andere’ twee zijn beslist haar gelijken. George Dumitriu is meer dan een bespeler van akoestische en elektrische gitaren en altviool, je mag hem met recht een multi-instrumentalist noemen. Ook al beperkt hij zich hier tot de drie eerder vermelde instrumenten. De effecten die hij toevoegt zijn ijzersterk en zeker gebouwd op de ervaring die hij opdeed door meer muziekgereedschap ter hand te nemen. De klarinet van Joachim Badenhorst maakt de muziek áf. Een klarinet is natuurlijk geen vreemde eend in de bijt als het om Oost-Europese volksmuziek gaat. Hier past hij niet alleen naadloos binnen het concept, de klarinet vlecht smaakvolle en soms zinsbegoochelende frases toe aan de verrichtingen van de andere twee. Badenhorsts inbreng van live-elektronica trekt de tien liederen steeds maar weer over ondenkbare grenzen.

Badenhorst en Dumitriu schromen niet om vrijelijk uit hun schulp te barsten. De compositie Pipilomatina is er een fraai voorbeeld van: het intro met een jankende altviool en een ploppende basklarinet is bijna een hommage aan het Revolutionary Ensemble van violist Leroy Jenkins, zij het – helaas – een korte.

Maar niet getreurd, de cd Black Sea Songs is een tijdbom van uiterst accurate, eigentijdse vertaling van eeuwenoud erfgoed. Dat in de handen van deze drie improviserende musici nieuwe eeuwigheidswaarde meekrijgt. Laat hem in hemelsnaam talloze malen exploderen, en telkenmale zul je er geen spijt van krijgen.

eNR091: Hōryū-ji by Sakata / Yermenoglou / Di Domenico / Damianidis
Bruce Lee Gallanter, the Downtown Music Gallery NY (18/02/2022)
I am a longtime fan of Japanese saxist (& marine microbiologist) Akira Sakata, who has collaborated with many other giants: Pete Cosey, Bill Laswell, Peter Brotzmann, Andrea Centazzo & Jim O’Rourke. The only other member of this quartet that I know of previously is pianist Giovanni Di Domenico, who has recorded with Mr. Sakata on (at least) 2 previous discs. The only other member of this quartet to be found in the DMG database is Christos Yermenoglou who is a member of the Greek ensemble Musica Lonatana, who have a CD out on the Leo label.
This disc was recorded May of 2018 at the Duende Jazz Club in Thessaloniki, Greece. From the opening salvo, the quartet is playing freely, intense, focused, powerful with all four members fully engaged. Mr. Sakata has a unique, stunning, somewhat brittle tone on his sax, reaching deeper & deeper as the quartet erupt intensely together. When Sakata eventually finishes hi solo, the piano & guitar take off for some strong, spirited interplay, both exchanging furious lines with the drummer navigating from the center of the storm. Guitarist Damiandis takes the next solo and shows that he is also a force to be reckoned with as his solo is striking, jazz/rock frenzied lines with select sustain for his own distinctive tone. The quartet calm down midway for a more restrained section which features Sakata’s more controlled note-bending sax and Di Domenico’s superb near-majestic piano. I was thinking that: is there something in this music which would have us think that there is some Greek music influence, but decided that this not really the case. “Free Music” has its own unique language which goes beyond words, lyrics and obvious references. Still, this is Free Music at its best.

eNR102: Black Sea Songs by Sanem Kalfa, George Dumitriu, Joachim Badenhorst
Bruce Lee Gallanter, the Downtown Music Gallery NY (18/02/2022)
This trio is similar in instrumentation to another trio the Mr. Badenhorst worked with a few years back called Equilibrium, which also featured a vocalist, a guitarist and Mr. Badenhorst on reeds. Although I hadn’t heard of Sanem Kalfa or George Dumitriu, it turns out that Ms. Kalfa has worked with Kaja Draksler & has a solo effort out while Mr. Dumitriu has worked with the Dutch couple Ig Henneman & Ab Baars as well as also with Kaja Draksler. All songs on this disc are traditional excpet for one by Ms. Sanem and one by another female composer called Elena Chirica-Tesa. This disc was recorded in a studio in Istanbul, Turkey (where Ms. Kalfa hails) and mixed in Amsterdam, Netherlands (where the trio lives I believe). Although I am not so certain but most of these songs are traditional Turkish ones. Right from the first piece, “Babamin Atmalari”, Ms. Kalfa’s voice is most enchanting as is/are the delightful melodies she sings. Ms. Kalfa is backed by subtle clarinet, plucked strings and hushed yet eerie electronics or effects. When Ms. Kalfa stops singing midway, the rest of the trio take off into some etherial space. Each of the traditional songs feature Ms. Kalfa’s enchanting (sensuous, solemn, sublime) voice at the center with often subtle yet quirky & inventive playing from her two collaborators. “Nani Nani Oy” reminds me of those wonderful Klez/middle eastern sounding songs which were popular in the Downtown Scene circa mid-nineties (like the Tiny Bell Trio or Pachora). One of the main highlights here is the way Ms. Kalfa’s voice is captured and at times, slightly manipulated with some subtle effects. Mr. Kalfa’s voice is warm, sad at times and especially mesmerizing. This entire discs is a pure delight, one of the most enchanting discs I’ve heard in a long while.

el NEGOCITO Records labelel NEGOCITO Records
Bruce Lee Gallanter, the Downtown Music Gallery NY (18/02/2022)
I really admire this label

eNR102: Black Sea Songs by Sanem Kalfa, George Dumitriu, Joachim Badenhorst
Ken Vos, Jazzism Nederland (17/02/2022)
Vocaliste Kalfa en gitarist/altviolist zijn vaste waarden in de Nederlandse improscene en hebben hier als rode draad verschillende volksliederen rond de Zwarte Zee genomen. Zo zingt Kalfa in tenminste vier talen (voor zover ik herken Georgisch, Lazi, Turks en Roemeens) waarin niet zo zeer de diversiteit van een deel van de verschillende culturen in dat gebied aan bod komt, als wel dat de emotionele overeenkomsten gezien vanuit de zangeres hier een leidende rol spelen. Dumitriu is vooral vindingrijk schepper van sferen, achtergrondkleuren en extra muzikale lagen. De rol van klarinettist Joachim Badenhorst is die van een vrije agent die heel goed de Oost-Europese en turkse klankconventies verweeft met jazzvocabulaire. ook al versta je niets van de teksten, de levensvreugde spat er van af.

eNR102: Black Sea Songs by Sanem Kalfa, George Dumitriu, Joachim Badenhorst
Yves tassin, JazzMania (13/01/2022)
Ces trois musiciens-là ont déjà pas mal voyagé. Prenez George Dumitriu… Reconnu en qualité d’altiste au service de la musique classique, il troque régulièrement son instrument au profit d’une six cordes et de quelques effets qui en font un musicien de jazz apprécié. D’origine roumaine, il a fini par atterrir à Amsterdam où il vit à l’heure actuelle. Tout comme sa complice, Sanem Kalfa, avec laquelle il a enregistré l’album « Dance », en duo, il y a quelques années. Pour sa part, Sanem Kalfa est une musicienne d’origine turque dont le chant, chargé d’émotion, ne vous laissera pas indifférent. Enfin, l’Anversois Joachim Badenhorst (clarinette, saxophone et quelques effets électroniques) complète le trio entre deux voyages (il a vécu quelques temps à New York). Le projet « Black Sea Songs » est né d’une envie commune : démontrer que la Mer Noire n’est pas l’étendue d’eau sombre que l’on se représente… D’ailleurs, une mer, c’est bleu, vert, parfois gris… Jamais noir ! La Mer Noire connecte culturellement entre eux des pays comme la Russie, la Turquie, l’Ukraine, la Roumanie ou encore la Bulgarie. C’est dans cette région qu’est née Sanem Kalfa, plus précisément dans la ville portuaire de Trabzon. Une région à laquelle le trio rend hommage en relisant avec humilité et à leur façon de vieilles chansons traditionnelles locales. A deux exceptions près, le répertoire de l’album se compose en effet de ces rengaines nées « quelque part à l’Est », entre les vagues et les côtes. Une interprétation chargée d’émotion, de justesse, qui illumine ce folklore comme un phare réconfortant qui balaie une mer agitée. Magnifique !

eNR102: Black Sea Songs by Sanem Kalfa, George Dumitriu, Joachim Badenhorst
Jacques Prouvost, Jazzques (13/01/2022)
Tout autour de la Mer Noire, il y a Varna, Istanbul, Sotchi, Odessa... Quand on est face à la mer, on n’a qu’une envie, c’est de la traverser. C’est ainsi que des musiques d’une rive se retrouvent parfois sur l’autre. La chanteuse turque Sanem Kalfa, le guitariste et violoniste roumain George Dumitriu et le clarinettiste belge Joachim Badenhorst font un melting-pot de chansons traditionnelles, pleines d’histoires, de rêves et de douleurs, et les réinventent. Effets électroniques éthérés se mélangent aux sons des instruments acoustiques et aux vocalises envoûtantes. Étonnant, touchant, dépaysant… Frissons garantis.

Around the Black Sea, there is Varna, Istanbul, Sochi, Odessa... When facing the sea, all you want is to cross it. That's how music from one river is sometimes on the other. Turkish singer Sanem Kalfa, Romanian guitarist and violinist George Dumitriu and Belgian clarinetist Joachim Badenhorst make a melting pot of traditional songs, full of stories, dreams and pains, and they reinvent them. Ethereal electronic effects blend with acoustic instruments and enchanting vocalists. Amazing, touching, heart breaking... Cold drinks guaranteed.

eNR102: Black Sea Songs by Sanem Kalfa, George Dumitriu, Joachim Badenhorst
Gerrit Valckenaers, de Keuze van Klara (10/01/2022)
Black Sea Songs is een selectie traditionele muziek uit de landen rond de Zwarte zee

Waarom moet u dit horen?
Sanem Kalfa, Joachim Badenhorst & George Dumitriu bewerkten hun materiaal met liefde voor de traditie, maar met evenveel avontuur. Deze briljante muzikanten mixen organisch Balkanklarinetten met jazz en electronica. Een van de mooiste platen van 2021.