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Live On Tour 2008Trio X (Primary), Joe McPhee (Primary), Jay Rosen (Primary), Dominic Duval (Primary)CIMPOL 5015 live at COLGATE UNIVERSITY Hamilton, NY Our arrival on campus was timed to accommodate an 11 a.m. interview with Trio X conducted by Brendan Young on WRCU (Colgate University radio). The interview was perhaps most impressive for its thoughtful and well-prepared questions offered by Mr. Young and went far beyond the usual perfunctory surface chat that passes for the norm in the media. Immediately following the interview the trio was treated to a lunch, hosted by The Heretics Club. The subsequent informal Q&A session moderated by Mark Shiner (Office of the Chaplain) again demonstrated thoughtful inquiry and response, in this case in regard to the nature of being a creative person and the subjectivity of the spiritual rewards of both the giver and receiver. Particularly encouraging was the number and quality of follow-up questions from individuals who lingered, talking with the trio and Crew long after the formal reception ended. We then had about 80 minutes of downtime; most of us relaxed and traded jocularities, insults, and obscenities with one another while Dominic slept. Then it was over to Donovan’s Pub to set up for the 4 p.m. concert. The trio opened with Colgate Afternoon, a lengthy improvisation involving multiple references and moods and appreciated by an audience of some one hundred plus. Besides the music itself, this performance is notable because it was the opening for as well as the longest piece of the whole tour. Colgate Afternoon also contains the first reference of Brown Skin Girl, one of the most referenced (in variations) pieces throughout this tour. After a break, Jay came back with a three and a half minute percussion intro. Meanwhile, outside under darkening overcast skies, a sizable group of geese, on its way south to warmer climes, descended and engaged in a good deal of gawking and honking during its stay. Jay’s intro seemingly inspired Joe to reference “Secret Love,” at first rather tentatively but then with increasing boldness over the next 10 minutes. Take a Walk Through the Woods I think reflects the rainy twilighted ambiance, clearly visible through the windows, that had settled upon and engulfed the pub. Here is a fine example of how the trio, both individually and as a group, takes and develops a thread. The reflective mood continued and the trio closed the concert with Motherless Child, a continual favorite of the group, as evidenced by its many variations. Thanks in particular to WRCU, Mark Shiner and The Heretics Club, the divisions of University Studies and the Humanities, The Institute for the Creative and Performing Arts, Michael Coyle and the Department of English—all part of Colgate University. CIMPOL 5016 live in ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN After the Colgate University concert we drove on to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to participate in Edgefest. The rain and cold followed us but it mattered little, what with the warmth and welcome of Deanna Relyea and her Edgefest crew. The Kerrytown Concert House is an “L” shaped space and serves as both concert hall and art gallery. At the time of our stay this space was nicely appointed with canvas and prints (by artists Charlie & Paul Hickman), and filled with a near-capacity audience, many seemingly familiar with and long-time supporters of Edgefest and its efforts. After a familiar and festive set of introductions by Deanna, Piotr Michalowski, me, and Joe McPhee, the trio opened in a very reserved and almost dour manner with The Ebb of Sorrow. Unresolved? Unrequited? Whatever. The trio then moves in another direction with Brownskin Funk, approaching it for the second time (Colgate University being the first) in as many days. But this time the reference comes from a completely different direction. Jay opened with a funky brush stomp and Dominic then picked it up with hand bass percussion. This produced a couple of reflexive claps, shouts of encouragement, and tenor cheers from Joe, and new heights for the music. They immediately launched into Motherless Child, which brought yet another change in mood. This reading of a Trio X favorite is both deep and different. The trio seemed to be all over the place emotionally, and they took off in the opposite direction with Brass Blast, a completely improvised structure of some excellence and possessing an abrupt conclusion. Joe continued on the flugelhorn (which, as well as his trumpet, was rarely used on the rest of the tour) for a Rainy Reference—quite reflective of the weather by this time raging outside. Note the different emotional colorings when he switches over to soprano. Joe may be leading on this piece, but it seems to me that Dominic, as is often the case, is directing. And then it was over. The trio, unlike the audience, seemed completely drained. After an extended ovation the trio returned to the stage, made some comments pertaining to their energy and music, and Jay then engineered the foundation to what became Secret Love The Sequel. Secret, perhaps, but not unrealized. Another night of X surprises. This is the second time that Trio X has been documented at Edgefest. The earlier session, from 1999, can be found on Cadence Jazz Records 1144. CIMPOL 5017 live in CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS The Krannert Art Museum offered up a wonderful setting: a large room filled with an exhibition of the dimensional paper art of Kyoko Ibe. Its presence and use of three-dimensional space and light served as an inspiring backdrop, sidedrop, and frontdrop for the Trio’s sound art. The audience, which exceeded the seating capacity, was a good mix of ages and included a number of young children, perched expectantly on the front row seats. Kids don’t usually prejudge and an open essence radiated from the younger segment of this audience. The informal pre-concert gathering afforded our group a chance to exchange comments and something more than superficial pleasantries with many of the audience members. Trio X possesses uncanny empathy: not only do they listen and share an intuitive or, at the very least, cooperative direction, but they are also sensitive to their surroundings. If an audience is friends of the court, so to speak, all is good. But if this is not the case or the audience is indifferent, then the group sets to the challenge of converting it. The ambiance of this art space was obvious, almost sacred, as was the unspoken interaction of the audience. And there is the room itself. Trio X plays the room, be it The Spirit Room or the Krannert art gallery. The latter is a very large and live room with a hardwood floor, high ceiling, and little (other than the audience) to absorb sound. From the start you can hear how all three members play with sound, its reflection, and the space. Jason Finkelman, curator of the concert series, in his introductory remarks talked of how these events engage the artwork in different ways and how the music may respond to the artwork. Here is the Trio X response. Judge for yourself if the giving and receiving was successful, and if the consensus, held by a growing number, that Trio X is arguably the most dynamic combo in Jazz/creative improvised music is justified. Different strokes for different folks. For me these are strokes of brilliance. The trio seemed very formal during this concert—insistent yet pensive. Due to the time restrictions of the museum concerts, this recording presents the concert in its entirety. Quite a nice package, wouldn’t you say? Special credits and thanks to our sponsors: The Krannert Art Museum, Kathleen Harleman, Anne Sautman, The Edwards Foundation Arts Fund, WEFT-FM, and Jason Finkelman, who coordinated the event. His efforts, along with those of Kyoko Ibe and the audience, helped make this happen. CIMPOL 5018 live in WAUKEE and DAVENPORT, IOWA This was our second trip to Waukee, Iowa. The familial warmth and welcome was refreshing the first time and fondly received the second. Earlier in the day the trio took part in an informal gathering of area music students, answering questions, giving demonstrations, and engaging in a very informal jamette. After the students left the theater we gathered in a dining space in the Caspe Terrace and ate a supper especially prepared for us by Jackie Garnett, wife of Abe Goldstien—he being the force responsible for hosting Trio X. The concert began after almost 20 minutes of introductions and on-stage schtick between our host and me and the trio, and opened on high spirits with Waukee Hello Naima. The upbeat mood, along with some political discussion, continued during the intermission. This in turn inspired a notion to song and People Get Ready. The trio uncharacteristically chose to predetermine a piece and decided they would open with People Get Ready in the second half of the concert. They followed that with a lengthy improv, Joe on pocket trumpet and referencing the obvious on Old River Man. This is music to lose oneself in. . . . . . . . . . The music from the second half of this disc comes from Davenport, Iowa, about 250 miles east of Waukee. An easy drive, we arrived in good spirits and with an abundance of energy. Prior to the evening’s concert the trio hosted a clinic-type discussion and we all then ate supper. They hit at 6 p.m. with PolyRhythm Valentine, one of the few occasions on this tour that the trio referenced material from their previous 10 years. PolyRhythms is an outreach program established around 2005 and spearheaded by Nate Lawrence. Its mandate is to reach out to the community—to the youth in particular—and expose and nurture an appreciation of Jazz/improvised music in all its forms. The concerts take place in the Redstone Room and are part of the larger River Music Experience. So far it’s all an uphill grassroots effort; more impressive in its housing and accomplishments than commercial success—a familiar story in the artrepreneurial world. Thankfully the exceptional persist despite the lack of present rewards; any acknowledgement sometimes comes only decades later. I think it was this understanding, set in these rather pleasant surroundings (where are housed/displayed some wonderful archival artifacts of the area’s cultural involvement and contributions to the Jazz heritage), that inspired the group on this particular evening. This understanding may have also influenced, by association, a program with greater direct referencing of the tradition throughout the concert. The trio ended their contributions to the land of Beiderbecke and riverboats with Going Home. Our thanks to Nate Lawrence and PolyRhythms. CIMPOL 5019 live at BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY and HAMILTON COLLEGE After a night’s rest in Davenport, Iowa, we got up and drove east. We pulled into Bowling Green, Ohio, around 3 p.m. and checked in. With the exception of Dominic (who was feeling a bit under the weather and elected to stay and rest at the motel) we all went over to David and Linda Dupont’s house for some much needed relaxing downtime, conversation, and food. After the meal it was universally agreed that we all had eaten too much. We eventually pulled ourselves away from the food and conversation to go set up at the Wooster Street Center, a large octagonal teepee-like building on the Bowling Green State University campus. The concert contains yet another Old Man River reference. The piece, along with “People Get Ready” and “Brownskin Girl,” was turning out to be a trio tour favorite. This reference was perhaps the most circuitous and indirect of the whole tour. As with many of the musical references explored, it was the result of many hours of conversation while traveling in the big red van. As this was an historic—perhaps pivotal—election year, the politics of the time helped bring some topical color to music not always viewed as political. This concert also contains Pig Knuckles & Rice (unreferenced previously), bass and drum solo spots, and a new variation on “Secret Love” (which ended the concert). Traffic, the penultimate piece, is a wandering, free-associative creation, quite cathartic, and prompted a letting-go of emotions. One can almost hear the release of the mood in the following near jaunty reading of Secret Love Secret. Displaying a lightness uncharacteristic of much of Trio X’s work, this piece is most delightful. . . . . . . . . . As with the 2006 Trio X tour, we ended our trip with a concert at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Same site, same venue: the Café Opus. This time however our host, Doc Woods, had arranged to have the espresso machines and other electric noise-making devices at the adjacent coffee bar shut down during the sets. We had driven in from Bowling Green, Ohio—about an eight hour trip—and had enough time to get some food and rest before the 9 p.m. start. Of all the venues on this tour this one was the most nightclub-like. The audience was made up of hardcore listeners, who for the most part congregated up front, while in the rear were yappers, snackers, and transients either oblivious to the efforts of—or perhaps trying to compete with—the musicians for the soundstage. In spite of this, and perhaps playing to the focused attention the majority engaged, the trio opened strong. This set differed from the others in that Joe did not play either the flugelhorn or pocket trumpet as he felt the brisk coldness of the rainy fall night had had its effect on everyone. Perhaps so, but, as evidenced by this concert, his saxes lacked neither warmth nor power. Nor did Jay or Dominic. This is the essence of Trio X. After the break the trio stretched out on what is now called Joe’s Song for the Child, a wonderful example of the trio’s ability to make whole cloth out of threads of sound. -Robert D. Rusch - October 2008 Live at the Dirty DogErnie Krivda (Saxophone), Claude Black (Piano), Dan Kolton (Bass), Renell Gonsalves (Drums)The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe is located in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Basically a highly rated restaurant with a Jazz policy, it was established in 2008 and presents a pleasant setting, either at the bar or the tables, for Jazz listening. And from my observations the Cafe also treats the musicians with respect, offering food, a reasonable playing area, and a pleasant and comfortable room for between-sets relaxation. Something musicians have learned to never take for granted and which should be the norm not the exception. Having issued recordings by Ernie Krivda (b.1945, Cleveland, OH) in a number of settings, I felt this was a good chance to record Ernie in a new setting in some different but familiar company. Claude Black (b.1932, Detroit, MI) is a veteran of the Midwest Jazz scene, one of those locals with whom all the circuit players choose to play. Claude was a contemporary of most of the Boppers who emerged from the Detroit area in the ‘50s and who eventually migrated to New York and became Bop headliners. Claude, originally a capable trombonist, chose to stay in the Detroit area for reasons of family. His earliest work included a brief stint with Billie Holiday and, in 1948 made his first recording with fellow Detroiter, Don Byrd. Later he toured for two years with Aretha Franklin before settling in as house pianist at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. Since the mid ‘80s he has been playing at Murphy’s Place (Toledo, OH). Little of Claude’s work has been issued on recordings and so his discography is slight (even slighter as he is misidentified as Claude Blake on Oliver Jackson’s Paris recording [February 28, 1984] for the Black & Blue label —discographers note). Claude and Renell Gonsalves (b.1948, Detroit, MI) often play with Ernie at Murphy’s. Renell also is little documented on record (Keith Vreeland trio, Sheila Landis-Rich Matle group) and, as the son of Paul, he is of a Jazz royal lineage. Dan Kolton (b.1958, Detroit, MI) also has an Ellington connection as he played bass in that band (under Mercer) for about a year and a half. Aside from that, he has based himself in various locales and has also been represented on few releases (sometimes misidentified as Don). The music on this CD comes near the end of the quartet’s residency at The Dirty Dog. The material is presented in the order it was played and comes from the first and third sets. I’ll Remember April was the last performance from the first set and the remainder of the recording documents the entire third set. The music speaks for itself: what you hear is what was played. What cannot be seen by the listener is Claude’s energized and enthusiastic clapping of time on A Blues By Any Other Name, spontaneously inspired during the part when Ernie and Renell are going head to head as Claude and Dan sat out. Good times. -Robert D. Rusch - March 27, 2009 Live in MontrealGebhard Ullmann (Clarinet), Steve Swell (Trombone), Hilliard Greene (Bass), Barry Altschul (Drums)This quartet came together in 2004 and we first recorded it in June 2004 (CIMP 315). At the time I wrote “This is a tough group,” speaking about the group’s musical character but the fact that four years later they are still functioning as a group speaks to another toughness or resilience. Between these dates each member of the group has been active with a number of other projects, both as members and leaders. As for Casa del Popolo, it is one of the most continuously supportive outlets for creative improvised music in Canada and a venue where, in 2005, CIMPoL made its first recordings (CIMPoL 5001 and 5003). The venue is small—about 16’ by 60’ with a 10’ by 10’ bandstand at its end, a bar, and tables at the other (street) end. A relaxed and respectful environment is both encouraging of the artist, and, in this case the CIMPoL crew as well. The first set opened around 10 p.m. In his opening announcement, Steve Swell (b.1954, Newark, NJ) noted it was hockey night in Canada, May Day the next day, but tonight would be mayhem and with that they were off and running with Box Set. Earlier, in discussing the calculated risks of recording on location, Barry Altschul (b.1943, NYC, NY) modestly told me that if we didn’t get (the material) for a great recording it was our fault as “this band has been amazingly strong” for the whole tour. In a phone conversation a few days earlier, Steve had suggested to me basically the same thing. All this I think was confirmed right from the opening on Box Set, which if the opening mayhem doesn’t give you pause, surely Gebhard Ullmann’s (b.1957, Bad Godesberg, Germany) driving tenor solo will. The second piece, Don’t Touch My Music, is interesting in that the heart of the piece is made up of two duos, stop time with Steve and Gebhard and in time with Barry and Hill Greene (b.1958, Logansport, IN) giving further evidence of the robustness of this group. On Improv/ For Grachan, it’s not duologues but monologues that distinguish this composition. Both Hill and Barry have distinguishing solo conversations in the performance, a piece seemingly made up of many pieces, many conversations, and many wonderful moments and movements. Slammin’ Textures/ Kleine Figuren and Composite #1 both come from the second set. Again, the former displaying a structural development built along a series of solos and duos and rhythmic variances covering everything from madrigal-like Third Stream sounds to backbeat Blues. The final performance of the night, Composite #1, develops off a typical Swell stomp riff and eventually deconstructs into a minimalist dialogue then gathers its passionate conversation for some improvisatory fellowship and finish. Hockey night in Canada rarely sounded so good. Robert D. Rusch - April 30, 2008 Honeymood on SaturnAndrew Lamb (Saxophone), Tom Abbs (Bass), Warren Smith (Drums)His limited discography as a leader may well be explained by the deliberateness exhibited in both his playing and composition. Such careful consideration obviously carries over into his recording choices and are well worth the wait. Emotive. Thinking. This is music worthy of your attention.