Posted in Album Reviews, Jazz Standard, tagged avant-garde, Book of Mae'bul, Chad Taylor, Ches Smith, Darius, Darius Jones, experimental, free jazz, Jazz Standard, Jones, Man''sh Boy, Matt Mitchell, Quartet, Trevor Dunn on April 26, 2012 |
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It’s guaranteed to happen at least once during a Darius Jones performance: the moment you think, “What’s going on?”, the moment you think, “Yes, I get it!”, and the moment you think, “Now what’s going on?” But this elusive motive is what makes the Darius Jones mystique so engrossing. On Book of Mae’bul (Another Kind of Sunrise) – the final piece of Jones’ Man’ish Boy trilogy – the alto saxist unites with bassist Trevor Dunn, pianist Matt Mitchell, and drummer Ches Smith (Chad Taylor played live) to spearhead a new brand of otherworldly momentum.
Darius Jones channels intense passion through the alto sax.
Photo credits: mandatoryattendance.wordpress.com
“My Baby” epitomizes the quartet’s avant-crescendo arc, first unraveling as a lullaby of coaxing slurs and stirs. But twenty-two seconds in, Jones raises hairs with a jarring expulsion in the deepest registers, conjuring the hardiness of a tenor and the bellow of a baritone sax. His pitchy uprisings, controlled yet anarchic around the edges, coax in their own dark way. Mitchell, Dunn and Smith extend Jones’ precedent with voices of their own, spiraling into a distressed and chaotic vortex. The restless climate eases to a sultrier vibe on “You Have Me Seeing Red”, though still grounded in uncanny spirit.
What is most captivating about this quartet, however, lies on the subtler side of the spectrum – in the moments that don’t always come alive on the tangible disc. Cheek-to-cheek with his bass, Dunn seized the air at the Jazz Standard, his penetrating plucks recalling Jones’ sound in organic form. While Mitchell stripped his gregarious style down to rawer parts, Taylor picked up the florid pace in cinematic cymbal swoops.
But when Jones interjected, caught in a body-rippling, closed-eye trance – Dunn, Taylor, and Mitchell equally as immersed – his mystique gave way to a resonant truth: that this group doesn’t simply revel in dissonance or blind ferocity. These four musicians live and breathe each soaring pitch and breathy dip, far exceeding the bounds of experimentalism. Their soulful innovation is a universal language that transcends understanding.
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Posted in The Stone, tagged avant-garde, Bonnie, Bonnie Jones, Chavez, DJ, electronic, experimental, jazz, Jones, Maria, Maria Chavez, New Age, records, Stone, The Stone on September 2, 2011 |
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Maria Chavez, ready with a diverse scatter of records.
Photo credits: Dossier Journal
Rarely does a passing ambulance siren complement perfectly the music it interrupts, but such was the case during Maria Chavez and Bonnie Jones’s gizmo-driven night at The Stone. Chavez, perched at a wire-laden turntable, jams alongside Jones—attached to a similarly complicated set of switches and laptop devices—though “jam” may be a slight stretch of interpretation. The two are more precisely improvising sound engineers, scraping out static fizz and thumps with fixed-eye concentration. Hovering in limbo between long-term structure and immediate melodic harmony, neither of the two twenty minute tracks unfolds with a discernible pattern of musical climax or rhythmic cohesion. Chavez and Jones instead develop aural landscapes that wear hats of many puzzling sorts, all of which poignantly evade straightforward categorization.
Bonnie Jones, intently producing an array of avant-garde vibes.
A thick stack of whole and broken records provides backing sound material for both pieces; Chavez switches between records often, methodically placing and replacing bits of odd dialogue, distant and distorted rock music, and brewing metallic grinds. From Jones’ computer software and circuit board-type devices comes a necessary percussive element, propelling the pieces forward with an appealing rusty edginess. Though industrial and abrasive at times, the duo’s sound avoids heavy metal territory. Each piece instead progresses abstractly, renewing without reaching a steady rhythm or intuitive flow.
Chavez and Jones intermittently whittle down to lower volumes and let the city’s hustle seep through the small space’s walls, adding a fresh textural element to their recorded and computer-generated soundtrack. The play on “negative sound space” cleanses the aural palate in simultaneous keeping with the New Age, grungy feel.
Even during explosive, high-frequency cascades, the duo skillfully employs a hearty dose of balance to tame their easily overpowering, electronic craft. Though laden with multi-directional, often counteracting sound tangents, each piece unfolds with an inherent assuredness, firmly grounded in Chavez and Jones’ tactful approach.
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