• FRANTISEK UHLIR - Story Of My Life - Music For Septet

    When one reaches the respectable age of 70, one has the right to tell his life story. Czech bass player Frantisek Uhlir has an impressive legacy to look back on and has written his musical auto-biography as 'Story Of My Life'. The prologue 'Born To Future' is followed by a suite in seven parts with titles that condense Frantisek's life into the key parts of his existence, from 'Home' to 'From My Heart To All Of You' he's telling about his youth, his scholarship, his life as a musician, getting children and the highs and lows of this earhly journey. The music is very neatly composed and performed by a septet that can be intimate, but most of the time there's a swinging bigband type vibe that wades through this mainstream jazz album. It's a delight to hear an album with such a natural and straight flow, well composed with a lot of swing. The four piece horn section is taking care of a big sound that is driven by a tasteful rhythm section and colored by Frantisek's double bass. Due to corona , this music didn't find a stage to be performed on yet, but hopefully this will change soon! The cd is released in a nice threefold digipack with lots of information on the project.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Frantisek Uhlir (bass)
    Frantisek Tomsicek (trumpet, flugelhorn)
    Andy Scofield (altsax)
    Premek Tomsicek (trombone)
    Suzanne Higgins (tenor sax)
    Standa Macha (piano)
    Marek Urbanek (drums)


  • The KUH Trio - Old Souls (ATS Records)

    The album may be titled "Old Souls" but doesn't sound like that at all. KUH stands for three top musicians, one from Austria and two from Czechia. Guitarist Edi Köhldorfer is a very versalite musician with a classical and jazz background. His musical activities include also folkrock with Global Krymer (Austria's Eurovision entry of 2005). Bass player Frantisek Uhlif is a verteran of the European jazz scene with an impressive resume of big names he recorded and played with. Jaromir Helesic is an icon in the Prague music scene with big credentials. They found each other at an Austrian festival and were a perfect match from the very first collaboration. This album proves it totally! This is a fantastic straight jazz album, played by a trio that gels from start to finish. The music is written by Uhlir and Köhldorfer and every track is a delight. It swings, it's tasteful, well performed, it's relaxing and engaging at the same time. The perfect record to bring in the sun on a rainy day!.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Edi Köhldorfer (guitar)
    Frantisek Uhlir (bass)
    Jaromir Helesic (drums)


    This review was moved to the Jazz & Impro 2021 page - please read it there.


    Barbara Thompson is one of the main icons of British jazz. She turned 75 this year and that's the perfect alibi to release a box-set of 14 (!) cd's with her BBC radio recordings. It's a great idea to release these as a comprehensive collection. It illustrates the carreer of this wonderful musician between 1969 and 1990 and lets her shine in all kinds of combinations. Barbara is a briljant musician on sax, clarinet and flute and on top of that a great composer. She plays a wide musical spectrum that goes from contemporary classical to extensive and composed jazz pieces to jazzrock/fusion and Latin-influenced music. We can hear her perform live with the New Jazz Orchestra, Art Themen Quintet, The Dave Gelly Sextet, Jubiaba, her own quartet, the Don Rendell Quintet and with her most profilic band Paraphernalia where she is often supported on drums by her beloved and late husband Jon Hiseman (with whom she played also in Colosseum). This is a wonderful, versatile collection and the recordings are of a high quality standard. This is the ultimate introduction to Barbara Thompson (if that was still necessary). This is a reasonably priced box with an interesting booklet to learn about the different recordings and phases of Barbara's career. Top release and highly recommended! (Repertoire Records)

    (Geert Ryssen)

  • BARBARA THOMPSON - Journey To A Destination Unknown

    Along with the 14 cd box 'Live At The BBC' comes this book in which Barbara tells the story of her musical life. It's a well written and well illustrated work, a labour of love that is a very fluent read is full of interesting stories. It gives also an insight in the psychology of this strong woman that stood up for herself and her art in a time when a woman in jazz, let alone a woman on saxophone, was a rarity and for some a target for indecent behaviour. She tells how she managed to get recognition as a musician in the first place, without ever losing her dignity. Her relationship and marriage to drummer Jon Hiseman is also crucial to understand her carreer. This is a most interesting biography not just about Barbara, but also about the British jazz scene and it's encounter with rock. In 1996 she received an MBE (Member Of The British Empire), which tells us something of her importance to British culture! (Book released by JAZZ IN BRITAIN, 2020, ISBN: 978-1-9163206-2-8)

    (Geert Ryssen)

  • KALEIDOSCOPES - Kaléïdoscopes

    Kaléïdoscopes is a cross-over quintet that gets its inspiration from classical, jazz and lots of contemporary styles. The keywords here are harmony and beauty. Most compositions are written by soprano saxophone player Daniel Stokart and double bass player Alexandre Furnelle. The band is completed by Nicolas Draps (violin), Laurence Genevois (viola) and Thomas Engelen (cello). Besides seven own compositions there's Charlie Haden's 'Silence' and Frederic Chopin's 'Prélude n°20 en Do min'. The choice of these two pieces illustrates perfectly what these musicians stand for: deep and well written compositions with room for improvisation, but never out of line. Music for a quiet morning or a night in need of an atmospheric artistic chill. The way these five musicians blend their instruments is amazing and the recording quality (Peter Hertmans) is nothing less than perfect for this music. (Red Box Trib)

    (Geert Ryssen)

  • ROB CLUTTON TRIO - 'Counsel Of Primaries'

    Let the cover art be the symbol of this trio: 3 colours seeking for a one picture, whilst keeping their tone. The first piece gives way to sax player Karen Ng to expose herself with her fascinating, dry and economic playing. 'Festival' follows with a band interaction where each instrument has an equal place. This is not Canadian bass player Rob Clutton with a couple of sidemen, but a true interplay of three instruments talking to and with each other. It sets the tone for the album. Ng has a very individual way of playing that invites Clutton and drummer Nick Fraser to be complimentary whilst leaving enough space. This combination makes the ten Clutton compositions breathe. Meanwhile the three musicians create a beautiful tension that makes one listen. I suppose that the line between composition and improvisation is thin here and that makes this album a real piece of modern, contemporary art. There's no pollution of the colours, but a fresh spectrum of red, yellow and blue against a uniting background. the cd is packe in a trifold cover with extensive liner notes by Nick Storing.(Snailbongbong records) (Geert Ryssen)

  • SEE THROUGH 4 - 'False ghosts, Minor Fears'

    Almost instantly I had to think of Ornette Coleman when I heard the first notes of this album. See Through 4 combines the modernism of Coleman with passages of swing. See Through 4 is a Canadian quartet consisting of bass player and composer Pete Johnston, Karen Ng, a female sax player making waves on the Toronto scene and the much praised Marylin Lerner on piano and Nick Fraser on drums. How many quartets do you know with complete gender equality in the line-up? 'False Ghosts, Minor Fears' is a very enjoyable contemporary jazz/music album with fascinating compositons. Every piece gives a challenging insight in the interaction of four musicians whilst serving the compostion, creating tension and heading in a direction. In all that, all four musicians get space for individual expression. The album consists of seven compositons, clocking in between five and nine minutes. (All Set/Canadian Council For The Arts) (Geert Ryssen)

  • WAYS + TOLDAM - 'Fortunes'

    Ways is a Canadian duo with a Dutch connection. Alto saxophonist Brodie West (Eucalyptus, The Brodie West Quintet, The Ex and Getatchew Mekuria, The Lina Allemano 4 and The Ryan Driver Sextet) studied composition in Amsterdam with Misha Mengelberg. In Ways he teams up with drummer Evan Cartwright. For 'Fortunes' both improvisers went in the studio with Danish piano player Simon Toldam, winner of many prestigious prizes in Denmark and accasional sideman to Han Bennink. 'Fortunes' reveals a collaboration that sounds like a completely free excersize. Altough there doesn't seem to be a distinct plan for the nine pieces, there's no urge for mayhem either. The three musicians explore, listen, respond and create a kind of ambient mood where lots of things happen if you listen closely. There's no dominance of one of the three instruments which gives the overall impression a feeling of integregration and respect. Music to dream to, to listen to, to take a journey with in company of three instruments in dialogue. (Lorna records) (Geert Ryssen)

  • NEW HERMITAGE - Unearth

    This is the fouth release by this Canadian quartet led by sax and clarinet player Andrew MacKelvie. The quartet is completed by India Gallery (cello), Ellen Gibling (harp) and Ross Burns (guitar/effects). 'Unearth' is the imaginairy soundtrack for a world that has become uninhabitable because of pollution and exploitation of nature. Most of the eleven pieces are pure improvisation but with a clear message. The world has become a desolate and abandonned place with small groups of people struggling to survive or trying to restore the balance between human activity and nature. Musically this an ambient affair that calls for attentive listening. Not a chaotic noisy bunch of sounds, but a collection of pieces that tell a story with a lot of expression, but also with serenity and beauty. (Geert Ryssen)

  • WORLD SERVICE PROJECT - Hiding In Plain Sight

    British punk-jazz quartet World Service Project released its fifth album last september. The album starts with 'Deeper', a sax-lead piece with a sound that from the very first notes reminds of the well known sound of Colosseum's Dick Heckstall Smith (RIP). Ben Powling is definitely a creation of the British jazz-school that crossed over to rock with the late Graham Bond. The music written by keyboard player Dave Morecroft is a different piece of cake. He writes in a totally contemporary style that fits into the wave created by bands like Sons Of Kemet. If you like this kind of bands or if you are a fan of Gorilla Mask, you will also adore Worldservice Project. Modern production methods create an impressive 'in your face' sound. The name of the band reflects its message: the world can live in harmony if it manages to show compassion and solidarity. Morecroft is currently a Brexit exile and went to live in Italy which is reflected in some spoken word. Fans of avant-garde fusion, rock timbre injected jazz, high energy playing and lots of fantasy and switches will be delighted about this piece of art. (Geert Ryssen) (RareNoiseRecords) (2lp, cd or DL)

  • STEFAN THELEN - "World Dialoque"

    Stefan Thelen is the man behind Sonar. On 'World Dialogue' he shows a different side with four compositions for string quartet. One of the pieces is performed by Kronos Quartet and fullfils a dream of the composer: having one of his compositions performed by this iconic group. 'Circular Lines' is a piece influenced by minimalistic music but nevertheless it is very dynamic and uses the potential of a string quartet to the full. The pulsing rhythm makes one think of French avant-garde jazz/rock collective Magma, although the sound is completely different. The next three pieces are performed by the Polish all female Al Pari Quartet. The musical line of minimalism is taken further on in 'Chaconne', 'World Dialogue' and 'Silesia'. This final piece is specially written for Al Pari Quartet and brings hommage to their homeland. The music of Thelen brings a wonderful combination of pulsing rhythm performed in different layers and beautiful melodic figures, sounding complex, natural and flowing all at once. (Geert Ryssen)

    Available on cd, vinyl or download.(RareNoiseRecords)

GUSTAFSSON / MERZBOW / PANDI - "Cuts Open" (RareNoiseRecords)

Drummer Balazs Pandi has worked with Merzbow (Masami Akita) on many occasions. Sax player Mats Gustafsson belongs to the 'Brötzmann school' of players. They hardly use their instruments in a conventional way and are always looking for harsh sounds and cutting intensity. Mixing the artitistic vision of Gustafsson with the experimental avant-garde noise of Merbow and the inventive playing of Pandi delivers a thundering explosion of sound. None of the traditonal musical rules are used here. The four long pieces are spread over two cd's or two lp's and take you on a aural journey that is very fascinating and overwhelming. Close your eyes and let the music take you away in a world of chaos, alienation, desperation, climaxes full of tension and sometimes hope or a dash of serenity. The interaction between the sonor actors is great and creates an astonishing soundpalette that has hardly any structure, but nevertheless makes sense, builds up with a purpose and makes a fantastic blend. Gustafsson is a enthousiastic reader and took the titles of four novels by Swedish writer Karin Smirnoff to give the sound explorations a name. 85 Minutes, never boring, always challenging and engaging. (Geert Ryssen)

  • JERRY GRANELLI TRIO - Plays Vince Guaraldi & Mose Allison

    American/Canadian drummer Jerry Granelli is getting near his ninth decade of life and has made a name for himself as sideman to Vince Guaraldi ('Christmas Time Is Here') and to Mose Allison in the seventies. On this album he gives his own interpretation of two Guaraldi and five Allison pieces. Two of his own compositions and the traditional 'Baby Please Don't Go' complete the album. With a trio of drums, piano and bass he manages to create a set of pieces with an astonishing unity and flow. Pianist Jerry Saft plays with a beautiful touch and creativity, Granelli and Bradley Christopher Jones on bass deliver equally creative rhythm parts that make the album swing in a very modern way without losing direction or disturbing the fantastic atmosphere of the album. This is far from straight stride, but nevertheless very accessible because of the natural way the melodies are build around the prominent rhythms that never get in the way of the harmonic movement. Beautiful album! (Geert Ryssen)

    Released on June 26 on RareNoiseRecords - www.rarenoiserecords.com

  • SONAR - Tranceportation Vol.2

    This Swiss quartet celebrates its ten year existence with the second part of 'Tranceportation' on which they are joined again by experimental guitarist David Torn who has been associated with many different big names (Bowie, Madonna, Jeff Beck, King Crimson, etc.). That makes three guitars, one bass and one drums. Four long instrumental tracks create different rhythmic soundscapes that have a subtle trance character and atmospheric passages. The music has a texture that is more complex than it seems at first sight and all five musicians play an essential part in creating these beautiful pieces of modern cross-over music that is based on improvisation and live recording. When listening without too much notice there's a perception of minimalism, but that's a false impression. The playing is full of subtle variation and tension. Dispite its modernism, the album spreads warm vibes and a feeling of harmony in space. (Geert Ryssen)

    Released on RareNoiseRecords on June 26 - www.rarenoiserecords.com

    David Thorn (e-guitar, looping)
    Stephan Thelen & Bernard Wagner (tritone guitar)
    Christian Kuntner (tritone bass)
    Manual Pasquinelli (drums, percussion)

  • ANDREAS WILLERS 7 OF 8 - The Goldman Variations

    The discography and list of international musicians with which the German guitarist Andreas Willers has recorded testify to a rich musical career. 'The Goldman Variations', which is divided into twelve pieces, is part of his quest to broaden and renew the language of European jazz. The album is a fascinating and exciting palette of sounds, rhythms and compositional delights full of variation and challenging, exciting twists with which he pays tribute to the title of this work. Willers doesn't look for the spotlight himself, but offers space to every musician. Thus the pieces sound like nicely consolidated compositions. As a guitarist he searches for a broad and innovative spectrum of sounds which puts him in line with the great contemporary jazz and impro guitarists. Brilliant work!
    (Geert Ryssen)

    Released on Jazzwerkstatt

    Matthias Schubert (tenor sax), Florian Bergmann (clarinet, bass-clarinet), Nicolas Neuser (trumpet), Andreas Willers (guitar), Meinrad Kneer (double bass), Christian Marien (drums, percussion), Jan Lukas RossMüller (syntheziser)

  • SONORIA - Live In Pisa

    The Italian quartet Sonoria was recorded live at Pisa Jazz on April 28, 2019. Their set consists of two long improvised pieces that create a flow of sounds that evoque transformation. There's no real structure or melody, but it's a wonderful development of sound art with four instruments that create a consistent flow even in the percussive passages. Some parts refer to industrial sounds that are wonderfuly transformed into music with a sense of direction.That way an ambient feel is created but it's far from wallpaper! The interplay really matters and creates intriguing atmospheres and controled tension. Wonderful! Released on Evil Rabbit Records (Geert Ryssen)


    Cosimo Fiaschi - soprano sax

    Alessandro Giachero - piano, prepared piano

    Emanuele Guadagno - electric guitar

    Nicholas Remondino - drums, live electronics

  • MEINRAD KNEER - Vocabularies

    Go to interview page to read review: http://www.fullcirclemisicblog.be/446491724

  • MIA ZABELDA - Myasmo

    Go to interview page to read review: http://www.fullcirclemisicblog.be/446462363

SOPHIE TASSIGNON - Mysteries Unfold

The first solo album by Sophie Tassignon is literally what it says: a real solo work crafted with her magnificent voice and electronic devices to create loops and harmonies as an enrichment of her vocal performance. This exceptional singer has a real multi-cultural mindset, speaks several languages and uses those qualities and competences in her artistic expression. The album consists of four own compositions and four totally individual interpretations of songs and pieces by Dolly Parton, Russian bard Yuliy Chersanovich Kim, Antonio Vivaldi and Cowboy Junkies. I’ve never heard a version of Parton’s ‘Jolene’ with such a depth and beauty! Some of the songs hold references to what she does with Azolia and other passages remind of the sound performance she did for ‘Licht – Raum – Erkundungen’, the light installation of Margareta Hesse. The variation between the pieces brings the listener in all kinds of moods, from lightness and playfulness to dreamy and spacey soundscapes. Throughout this variation there’s a consistency that makes the album sound as one whole with a natural flow. All one hears is voice(s) aided by some electronics and one doesn’t get bored for a second. This is an exceptional work of beautiful esthetics, performance and expression of an authentic artist. Give it a listen. True art. So pure. So individual and yet so universal. (Geert Ryssen)

Available on cd, vinyl and digital

Read interview: http://www.fullcirclemisicblog.be/445975819