Knoel Scott feat. Marshall Allen, Celestial, Night Dreamer ***1/2

Beautifully cleanly recorded, you don't get any of that soupy underwater Internet sound quality which has become the trend in recent years - issuing label Night Dreamer provide some of the clearest, punchiest, sonics of any new indie jazz label …

Published: 31 Jul 2023. Updated: 8 months.

Beautifully cleanly recorded, you don't get any of that soupy underwater Internet sound quality which has become the trend in recent years - issuing label Night Dreamer provide some of the clearest, punchiest, sonics of any new indie jazz label certainly up there with what Gearbox can achieve - this latest on the Dutch label zones in on scrabbling intensity in some of its best bits. Sun Ra Arkestra alto saxophonist Knoel Scott shows just what he can do as a leader and brings with him the Arkestra's remarkable leader Marshall Allen for company on Celestial. Scott also plays flute on the album which figures a little too tentatively on title track 'Celestial' perhaps - the flute stuff is the least compelling element of all. But 'Conversation with the Cosmos' is nothing less than fully engrossing and stands head and shoulders above everything else.

Not all full-on out there by any means, Celestial is not a difficult listen, although the direction of travel is often pointing towards a freak-out given half a chance. But the sweet tuneful melody of 'Makanda,' a tribute to Ken ‘Makanda’ McIntyre, is like the quiet cousin to the rest of the tracks and exhibits a certain amount of grace. English pianist Charlie Stacey is an excellent accompanist here, taking his best solo on 'Les Funambules' where there are passages that modern mainstreamers not only avantists certainly can enjoy. Stacey navigates the passionate lines that Scott revels in with skill and taste - do check out Stacey's excellent Music is Healing issued last year. On 'Blu Blues' when bassist Mikele Montolli pads along and the drummer Chris Henderson finds a tramping beat Celestial moves to a more than satisfying close.

Tags: reviews

Carlos Bica, Playing With Beethoven, Clean Feed ****

'Cause the dreams ain't broken down here now, they're walking with a limp – Tom Waits. We keep returning to this mind blowing quartet album where bassist Carlos Bica, saxist Daniel Erdmann, accordionist João Barrados and turntablist DJ Illvibe - …

Published: 31 Jul 2023. Updated: 8 months.

Next post

'Cause the dreams ain't broken down here now, they're walking with a limp – Tom Waits.

We keep returning to this mind blowing quartet album where bassist Carlos Bica, saxist Daniel Erdmann, accordionist João Barrados and turntablist DJ Illvibe - the son of titanic German improviser Alexander von Schlippenbach - bounce off one another like never-say-die cartoon characters in a duel against time and the edifice of a gigantic canon of Western music. Not meant to be a strict overview of Beethoven and yet in the space of a single CD they pack in everything whether a lift-off from the launch pad of the Leonore Overture, the second movement of the 3rd cello sonata or the Moonlight Sonata among a whole lot else.

A good deal more here on this Portugal derived recording than Bica music inspired by Beethoven jostles for your attention too. Illvibe adds a zany quality and accordionist Barrados isn't po-faced either as he pumps in a few jaunty diversions. But the seriousness comes over well too. Saxist Erdmann on 'Ein Tanz' is marvellously florid improvising over a droney doom laden forest of sound. Given the near ubiquity of most of Beethoven's work chances are you will be hearing shards of melody you didn't even know you knew and then stay with that familiarity to embrace the new twists and turns these improvisers feed in. Take our word for it there are plenty of scenic diversions and the album also includes originals by band members and the maverick blend works. Best bit, which may even steal the show, is the fed-in Tom Waits 'Small Change (Got Rained On With His Own .38)' spoken word element on 'Tiny Change' that Illvibe mucks around with for a sleazy love-in of a sound dressed in some essential Erdmannisms. Certainly among the most imaginative Euro jazz of 2023. Cue it up for your next listening binge.