• NOAM BIERSTONE - Mountains Move Like Clouds' (No Hay Discos)

    Noam Bierstone is part of Scapegoat, No Hay Banda and Architek. He's dedicated to the creation, development and interpretation of music by living composers. He's also a very seasoned and highly trained percussionist. On 'Mountains Move Like Clouds' Bierstone interprets three long pieces by different composers, being Hanna Hatman's 'Message From The Lighthouse', Pierluigi Billone's 'Mani' and Zeynep Toraman's 'Mountains Move Like Clouds'. Bierstone's open mind allows him to use the possibilities of all things percussive without boundaries, materialwise or play-technicalwise. Attacking, scratching, touching, caressing, beating, ... Combined with a controled use of elektronics, sound possibilities are endless. These pieces are made to go with the flow. Listen and take the trip, let it all come in, let your imagination go free. All kinds of sounds put in a listeable order with subtle passages and climaxes as well. At times you may be in the jungle with all kinds of organic sounds and at times you are at an industrial site with harsch sounds and dynamics. Sometimes it's touching soundscapes. If music is organised sound, if music is art, then sound can be art. Sound art, organised chaos put in a sensible order. My god, what is this all about? (My writing I mean). Yes it makes sense. Fascinating record!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Noam Bierstone - percussion

  • SAMAN SHAHI - Microlocking (People Places Records)

    Saman Shahi is an award-winning Iranian-Canadian composer with a very wide musical scope. The four pieces on 'Microlocking' have one constant factor which I would define as 'dynamics'. The first piece is a composition for 6 digital pianos, followed by one for electric guitar and one for accordion & electronics. The disc concludes with a remix of the first piece by Tehran based electronic music producer Behrooz Zandi. Shahi's music may be defined as minimalistic, but that may cause the wrong expectations, as the pieces are also full of dynamics and textures. The electric guitar on 'Microlocking II' even has a sound related to alternative and experimental rock. Shahi uses a lot of micro- and halftones but that is matter for musicologists, which I'm not. The music of Shahi is most of all a beautiful trip in progressive composition and sounds. The Iranian roots of the master are well blended with contemporary composition. A beautiful record!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    junctQin Keyboard Collective (Eliane Lau, Joseph Ferretti, Stephanie Chua)- keyboards
    Andres Nosewrthy - guitar
    Matti Pulki - electronics
    Saman Shahi - electronics

  • THROTTLE ELEVATOR MUSIC - Final Floor (Wide Hive Records)

    Throttle Elevator Music is a project lead by producer, guitarist, keyboardplayer and composer Gregory Howe (not to be confused with metalfusion guitarist Greg Howe). His cast is impressive with tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington as the ultimate eye- and earcatcher. The band claims to play a cross-over between jazz and punk but that may give the uninitiated the wrong impression. The music is very accessible with a state of the art sound and of course some reference to punk rhythms and energy, but not just that. 'Final Floor' is the seventh album by TEM and simply its best so far. With every album the sound and concept of the band gets more sophisticated and subtle in its textures. The music may be very rhythmic at times, but also atmospheric, melodic and somewhat ambient. Never banal! It's elevator music for listeners, not wallpaper music at all. The impressive sound of Kamasi Washington and the impeccable support from the other musicians is just great. Love it!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Kamasi Washington - tenor saxophone
    Matt Montgomery - bass, piano
    Gregory Howe - guitar, organ, synthesizer
    Kasey Knutsen - alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
    Ross Howe - guitar
    Mike Blankenship ) Farfisa organ, synthesizer
    Erik Jekabson - trumpet, flugelhorn, arranging
    Mike Hughes - drums
    Lumpy - drums

  • MIA ZABELKA & GLEN HALL - The Quantum Violin (FMR)

    The music and soundart of Mia Zabelka is based on a deep and fundamental knowledge about music. Mia is a highly trained musician exploring the boundaries of sound and her instrument. What we hear on 'The Quantum Violin' is pure sound art/music that is totally free of melody, harmonics and rhythm. Her mission is to connect music and science and making chemical, physical and mechanical processes audible. Together with Canadian elektroacoustic artist Glen Hall she creates a sonic impression of a quantum sound galaxy. Once one knows the concept and vision behind this album, it is a lot easier to understand what these sounds and fourteen different variations are about. It makes one enter into the world of unearthed territory, the world of the ultra small particles of matter, the movement between particles, the interaction between the most tiny building blocks of matter. The mystery of matter, the basic energy of matter! By translating this into sound, both artists reveal an unknown universe to the listener. This is also connecting two different instrumental tools. The ultimate 'classical' instrument meets electronics. This is high level sound art, created by two musicians with a tremendous background. Take your time and get into the world of quantum physics, guided by two artists with a vision. True avant-garde.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Mia Zabelka - violin, e-violin, voice, electronic devices, alien objects, ableton live compositions

    Glen Hall - quantum oscillator, catart, catoracle, omax, spat, superVP, compositions

    Kenji Siratori - voice

  • MIA ZABELKA & ICOSTECH - Aftershock (Subcontinental Records)

    Can you imagine a combination of a contemporary Austrian avant-garde musician with an Indian extreme metal bass-player? Yes we can! 'Aftershock' is a collaboration between violinist Mia Zabelka and bass-player Arun Natarajan (Moral Collapse, Eccentric Pendulum). The outcome of this collaboration is a mix of modern electronic music with a stunning intensity. Conventional instruments add color to the impressive schapes that are created by two inventive musicians. Some of it sounds spacey or dark or threatening or pulsating or scary or ... Every track is an abstract soundsculpture triggering a lot of moods and feelings. The reason for that effect is the depth in sounds, layers and texture of the compositions. To add some human touch there's the occasional addition of trumpet, natural violin, but most of the time the instruments are modified by electronic effects. These complex soundscapes are just phenomenal when listenend to in the right mindset. Abstract and touching at once. Wonderful and compulsive!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Mia Zabelka - violin, voice, electronics
    Icostech (Arun Natarajan) - bass, guitar, percussion
    Joshua Trinidad - trumpet
    Asferico - electronics, syntheziser

  • JULIE SASSOON QUARTET - Voyages (Jazzwerkstatt)

    I will be bold about this: I love this kind of contemporary jazz to death! I'm a big fan of Carla Bley and what Julie Sassoon creates with her quartet puts her in that league! The album starts with a rhythmic ostinato-like piece, but evolves into different moods and paces. Just like many artists, Julie Sassoon created this album during the - what seems like never ending - corona era and one can hear that in the melancholic tone of some pieces. But this never gets in the way of the astonishing beauty. This quartet is a real group with a steady line-up and lots of live experience. The musicians have great empathy towards each other and create a wonderful adventurous soundscape. The centre of the record is not Julie Sassoon, but the whole quartet in which every musician plays a complementary role to create a complete 'Gestalt' in sound, melody and rhythm. This is a wonderful journey painted with music that feeds the heart with harmony and intense sonic beauty without ever getting cheesy for one second. Do yourself a favor and get this music in your collection. It's a work of art.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Julie Sassoon - piano
    Lothar Ohlmeier - tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
    Meinrad Kneer - double bass
    Rudi Fischerlehner - drums

  • HATTLER - Sundae (36Music/Bass Ball)

    Hellmut Hattler is best known as the bass player of Kraan, a German band that flourished in the seventies as part of the so-called Krautrock scene. Kraan is essentially a crossover/fusion band that is still active with Hellmut Hattler in the lead role. In his solo project 'Hattler', Hellmut explores different paths that go from dance to vocal pieces with a jazzy feel. 'Sundae' is no different. It is partly a collection of songs with a warm atmosphere, influenced by contemporary pop but rising above blunt commerciality. Electronics and ethnic influences are part of Hattler's unique sound, but the music is played by musicians of flesh and blood! The CD sounds relaxed but with a sense of content and appeal to really listen to the melodies and the grooves. The balance between vocal and instrumental tracks is fifty-fifty. The fourteen songs bring a lot of variation without disrupting the flow of the album. Beautiful, warm record!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Hellmut Hattler - basses, backing vocal
    Fola Dada: vocals
    Uli Rubow: drums
    Torsten de Winkel: guitar, e-sitar

    Additional musicians on selected tracks:
    Juergen Schlachter, Moritz Müller - drums
    Ali Neander - guitar
    Martin Kasper - keyboards, programming, grand piano
    Sebastian Lilja - vocals
    Jo Kraus - trumpet, horns
    Peter Musebrink - e-beats, sounds
    Martin Meixner - organ
    String section on 'Lieblingslied (string version): Andrea Staton, Consuelo Valdes, Anne Schuhmacher, Maria Braun

  • ARBENZ X VISTEL / MOUTIN (selfreleased)

    Vulcanized is the third CD and the fourth part of Florian Arbenz's project to enter into musical conversations with like-minded colleagues in twelve different combinations. On Vulcanized he meets the Cuban saxophonist Maikel Vistel and the French bassist François Moutin. It yields a pearl in which, in addition to two compositions by Vistel, songs by Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Joe Zawinul and Eddie Harris form the basis for fascinating improvisations between equal attendees. Vestel is a particularly inspired saxophonist with a powerful tone and a stunning sense of melodic figures that keep his improvisations easily digestible. Together with Moutin, Arbenz forms an empathetic counter-playing tandem that perfectly realizes the idea of a conversation. The choice of a number of compositions by pianists, performed by a piano-less trio, is remarkable, but strong.
    (Geert Ryssen)

    Florian Arbenz - drums Maikel Vistel - tenor saxophone, sopranao saxophone
    François Moutin - double bass


  • NICK FRASER QUARTET - If There Were No Opportunities (HatHut/ezz-thetics)

    Nick Frazer is best known as the drummer of The Lina Allemano Four. The Canadian drumwizard leads also his own quartet and 'If There Were No Opportunities' is its fourth offering. The line-up is something special as besides the drums, double bass and saxophone, there's also a cellist, which makes this foursome special. The album starts and ends with a free improvisation and in between there's five pieces that are partly written and partly improvised. This asks for a careful listen as the four instruments are weaven into a kind of abstract carpet. The melodies and lines played by Tony Malaby on sax sound abstract and strange, but that makes them the more interesting. Nothing sounds familiar on this record, but there's definitely a destination lead by the drums and the saxophone on a bed of the two string instruments. Malaby has a very own vocabulary that leans towards the work of Anthony Braxton. Frazer plays his drums as a solo instrument whilst heavily interacting with the others. This must be one hell of a job to play as it takes so much listening and concentration to keep the four of them on the same path. This is music that needs to be listened to with a lot of attention and will come totally to life in an intimate live situation. Fascinating!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Nick Frazer - Drums
    Tony Malaby - Saxophones
    Rob Clutton - Double Bass
    Andrew Downing - Cello

  • ALEX LOULOUDIS - Words (All)

    Words is the third studio album by drummer Alex Louloudis, a graduate of The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, New York. In addition to New York, he already managed to spread his wings to Switzerland and the Netherlands. 'Words' appears on a Belgian label (All) and is full of and inspired and energetic jazz with many similarities to the period in which John Coltrane or Archie Shepp made the weather, although he's not just a copycat. This connotation is evoked in the first place by the expressive playing of saxophonist Rafale Statin and the driving rhythm section that is fired up by Louloudis himself. The declamation of Rosdeli Marte has a Frank Zappa touch. The style developed by the grandmasters of the sixties and seventies is revived here in an infectious way.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Alex Louloudis (drums), Rafael Statin (tenor sax), Dean Torrey (bass), On two tracks: Rosdeli Marte (vocals), Kealen Ghandhi (tenor rax), Aaron Rubinstein (guitar)

  • MIKE PRIDE - I Hate Work (RareNoiseRecords)

    Drummer Mike Pride played with punk band MDC (Millions of Dead Cops) until 2004 but kept a relation with singer Dave Dictor. He took the music of MDC as a base to compose a collection of ten jazz pieces that go from relaxing, soft swinging piano jazz to harsh but controlled guitar outbursts. Combining the harmonic and civilised sound of a classic jazz trio of piano, bass and drums with disturbing sounds of punk explosions is challenging at least. Making sense with this combination is not an evidence. The music on 'I Hate Work' (punk you know ...) is quiet contradictional but that makes it interesting and adventurous. Personally, I love this kind of schizophrenic moves in music. That is what makes Frank Zappa also interesting. Pianist Jamie Shaft is doing a fantastic job and creates ashtonishing contrasts. The use of vocals on three tracks is an extra way of making variations that take the listener to every corner of the room (LOL).
    Fascinating but essentially still a real jazz record! Available as digital, cd or double coloured vinyl.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Mike Pride - drums, perecussion, keyboards
    Jamie Shaft - piano, mellotron
    Brad Jones - double bass

    JG Thirwell, Sam Mickens, Dave Dictor - voices (tracks 3, 6 and 10)
    Mick Barr - guitar on track 2 and electric banjo and 12-string guitar on track 6.


Giorgos Tabakis is a Greek musician with a broad background that goes from classical to jazz. He's a trained pianist, but his focus nowadays is at the guitar and more specific the seven- and eight string instruments that offer extra possibilities to create a broader soundspectrum. The ten compositions on 'hEre nOw theN' take the listener on a trip in the musical universe of the sole guitarplayer - a man and his 8-string guitar! The compositions show musical elements that go from classical to avantgarde. Nevertheless everything is highly digestable. In a composition like 'Touch' Tabakis develops a very beautiful piece of music that makes one dream of better days. The first two pieces of the album sound more like an introduction to his technique and approach. Once beyond that, it's a joy to go along with the flow of the compositions and the wonderfull sound of that complicated eight string instrument. It's music that fills the heart with harmony, beauty and peace and quiet without becoming too soft or easy. Every track evoques feelings and images, that is what music is all about! The playing is nothing less than masterly. Tabakis likes to paint with sound and silence and manages to do that in a beautiful way with contemporary compostions.

Giorgos Tabakis: eight string guitar

(Geert Ryssen)

This is wat Giogos says about this unique record:

Giogos Tabakis: 'My interest while I was composing and recording this cd, was to perceive the 8 string guitar as a "larger" instrument (like a piano, a string quartet etc), something like an "orchestral guitar". That "view" gave me the freedom to experiment with several approaches in order to produce something that is kind of "more than a guitar" as far as the spectrum of frequencies, sound, parallel voices, music concept, music ideas, new techniques.
I always wanted to express a personally united contemporary music universe, somewhere between contemporary classical/modern jazz/progressive/avantgarde/folk oriented music and 'hEre nOw theN' features these elements.'

Giorgos Tabakis: eight string guitar


PAKT (MoonJune Records)

Percy Jones   Alex Skolnick   Kenny Grohowski   Tim Motzer are playing together in the studio in most awkward covid-19 circomstances. Still they manage to make one of the most intriguing records I heard during the last weeks. Their improvised music with two guitars (one electric and one semi-acoustic), a bass guitar and drums, takes you away on a trip of beautiful sounds, complex rhythm paterns and great instrumental playing. These musicians are all seasoned and versatile with backgrounds that go from heavy metal to avant-garde with one common crossroad: jazz, fusion and improvisation. They build soundscapes and create climaxes full of tension. Skolnick has a beautiful tone that is miles away from the thrashy riffs he plays with Testament. Percy Jones has a lot more freedom than he has in Brand X and develops a stunning interaction with drummer Kenny Grohowski. Tim Mortzer completes the sound image with his semi-acoustic guitar and electronics. This album was recorded live in the studio and is devided in two chapters. 'The Unsilence' on cd1 has five long pieces which make a great listen, showing its greatness more and more with every spin. 'The Sacred Ladder' is a collection of seven pieces with a lot of sparkle and inventiveness. Some passages remind of the glissando guitar sounds of Steve Hillage. This release is available as a 2cd or in digital format (top quality!). Along this double album come two live recordings that are only available in digital form: 'Live In Pawling, July 22, 2021' (7 tracks) and 'Live In Kennett Square' (8 trakcs). Highly recommended!

(Geert Ryssen)

PERCY JONES: fretless bass guitar 
TIM MOTZER: guitars,  electronics

Excerpt of the liner notes by Mark Sullivan (contributor to All About Jazz):

'PAKT is made up of fretless bass guitarist Percy Jones, guitarists Alex Skolnick and Tim Motzer, and drummer Kenny Grohowski. They are all very experienced players. Skolnick is best known as the lead guitarist in the thrash metal band Testament; he went on to freelance work, playing jazz with his Alex Skolnick Trio, and experimenting with World Music. Motzer has a long background in free improvisation as well, including the bands Bandit65 (with fellow guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel) and Orion Tango, plus many other recorded collaborations for his 1k Recordings label. Welsh bassist Jones (long time a New York resident) is known for his tenure in the jazz fusion group Brand X, collaborations with Suzanne Vega, as well as extensive studio work (especially with Brian Eno). Grohowski's recent associations include Imperial Triumphant, John Zorn, Brand X, Felix Pastorius & the Hipster Assassins.' 

  • ANDREA MASSARIA - New Needs Need New Techniques

    Andrea Massaria is an Italian guitarist with a very diverse musical universe. His works go form classical to jazz, from avant-garde to full improvisation. His first solo album belongs in the latter category and one wouldn't even guess that this is a guitar album at all. The music/sounds/collage-like scapes are inspired by the paintings of three American abstract/impressionist artists named Pollock, Rauschenberg and Rothko. Massaria translates their art into sounds and is using his guitar with in a very unconventional way. Sometimes the approach is a little bit reminiscent of the sound explorings of Sun Ra. I started listening to this music without any information and I would never have guessed that there's a guitar at work here. Massaria explores the sonic possibilities of his electric guitar to the full and creates a wonderfull world of sounds, moods, images and scapes. I think this is a very fascinating work. No chords, arpeggio's, scales or melodies here, but a lot of sonic tension with definitely a story behind it. Sounds evoking colours, lines, textures, shapes and impressions. Great record!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Andrea Massaria: guitar & effects
    Francesco Forges: vocal on track 2

  • AB BAARS / MEINRAD KNEER / BILL ELGART - Thrīe Thrēo Drī (Jazzwerkstatt JW 215)

    This trio is a treasured line-up for fully improvised music. The journey of these three seasoned improvisers starts with the long track 'Verticality'. From the start it sounds like something vertical. The sharp tones of Baars' sax cuts through the air interacting with Kneers bass and Elgarts drums. The mission of this trio is total equality, which means that every instrument is as important as the other. This is risky, as pure cacophony lurks around the corner. Not with this guys. Their equality is present in the way they listen to each other and respond to each others phrases and ideas. This is really food and drink for the connoisseur of improvised jazz. It's a very satisfying excersise to go with the flow of these musicians and their instrumental conversations and statements. It may be a strange thing to say, but although there are no easy tunes and the structures are loose, there is a surprising accessibility in this music. 'Boulder Clay Movement No.1' sounds like contemporary classical music with the beautiful tones of the clarinet, the double bass played with the bow and the intriguing percussion. Do they never lose sense? Well, listen to 'The Duck Stays Between The Teeth'. It's a complete search for each other. Once you get that, the piece makes sense. Poor duck! In days of vinyl-only 'Thrīe Thrēo Drī' would have been a double album as it clocks in at over seventy minutes. With just eight tracks, there are some really long pieces, but they never bore. If this album had been made in the seventies/eighties - it reminds me of the great British improvisational scene of that era - it would be an expensive collectors item by now, not just for its rarity, but also for its music!. This is pure and honest music played by three musicians who totally understand each other. On top of that they have a great feel for musicallity which makes their unconvential music a true adventure. Listening to this makes you part of the creative process. As an active listener one becomes part of the interaction. Intensity, doubt, lyricism, storytelling, search, liberation, understanding, harmony, misunderstanding, ... it's all there. Just listen!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Ab Baars: tenor saxophone, clarinet, Shakuhatchi
    Meinrad Kneer: double bass
    Bill Elgart : drums

  • ARBENZ x HART / KÄNZIG - Conversation #2 #3

    A couple of months ago Swiss drummer and percussionist Florian Arbenz started his project '12 Conversations' with #1. This follow-up bundles #2 and #3 where Florian goes in conversation with tuned percussion played by Jim Hart. Hart is a respected British contemporary jazz musician with lots of credentials to his name. 'Conversation #2 - subtitled 'Oracle'- is a wonderful set of six pieces with only percussion and vibes or marimba. Besides three own compositions, there's one by Jim Hart, one by Thelonious Monk and one by Eddie Harris. On #3 - subtitled 'Neologism' - Arbenz and Hart are joined by bass player Heiri Känzig which makes the sound different with new dynamics. Känzig becomes an equal part of the conversations written by Arbenz (2), Hart (2), Känzig (1) and Monk (1). Känzig is - just like Hart - a respected musician with an impressive carreer and list of names he played with. #2 and #3 is a collection of wonderful music with the heavenly sounds of Hart in interaction with the creative playing of Florian Arbenz and eventually with Känzig. They are a very enjoyable beautiful and listenable sequel to #1 with three top musicians in a harmony! It makes us curious already about what will be next. The cd can be ordered on https://florianarbenz.bandcamp.com/

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Florian Arbenz - drums, percussion
    Jim Hart - vibes, marimba
    Heiri Känzig - bass (on #3)

  • WITH ORBIT - Platz Goldman Carniaux (WithOrbit Music)

    With Orbit is the Covid trio project of guitar player Jeff Platz, drummer Max Goldman and sax player Brendan Carniaux, three American creative spirits with a true love of free improvisation. Platz has build a firm reputation in The States and Europe as well and has played in many combinations. His unconventional sound draws instant attention. Goldman puts down a heavy percussive base on which Carniaux can improvise with power and dedication. That's what the first piece 'Lost In History' makes clear. That the trio is capable of light and shade becomes evident in the second track 'Schirm' which is subtle and lyrical. Again the collective improvisation shows three musicians that understand each other perfectly. They create a wonderful piece of music with an astonishing texture. 'Vanish Mode' continues this mood and athmosphere, building towards a climax. Everyone of the eight tracks confirms what I said about the first three. These musicians know how to explode, but also how to create beautiful meditative scapes that take you away with every listen. This is improvised music that tells a story without losing sense. There's always direction, always a purpose, always a path. This is free, modern, deep and accessible along the way. Great stuff!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Jeff Platz - Guitar
    Max Goldman - Drums, percussion
    Brendan Carniaux - saxophone, clarinet


  • SCOTCH NO SODA - Swingin' After Hours

    Scotch No Soda is a Belgian blues and roots band with an American soul. With mainly own songs and some traditionals, the quartet creates a musical atmosphere dating back to the 1920s. Traditional New Orleans, boogie and Delta blues are the main ingredients poured into a smooth sequence. The record opens with an interpretation of 'St; James Infirmary' which is succeeded by a swinging 'Jazzin' With John D'. In 'Dressed Up Locked Down', current events are captured in a blues that blends traditionalism with modernism; British blues meets the Mississippi Delta. Add a contemporary shoegaze touch to all that with a cutting and dragging guitar solo and you've got a surprising cocktail. Ilja De Neve imagines himself as Rhoda Scott in 'Organ Swing No 1' where even the drum part is plucked from the Scott book, but that once again allows and provides a fresh change on a record that, despite a great diversity of styles and sounds, betrays a vision, namely that of an immense love for everything we call roots music nowadays. Add a good portion of your own interpretation and you have an engaging record. Variety and growth in the listener's experience are guaranteed by the rich instrumentation that is realized by a variety of guest musicians.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Ilja De Neve (vocals, piano, organ, accordeon)
    Koen Van Peteghem (drums, percussion, guitar, washboard, vocals, Kurt De Bruyn (guitar, banjo, vocals), Kurt Lens (double bass, bass, banjo, percussion) + guests

    Album available: digital, cd and later on vinyl.

  • J. PETER SCHWALM / MARKUS REUTER - Aufbruch (RareNoiseRecords)

    J. Peter Schwalm and Marcus Reuter are seasoned musicians with both an impressive discography. On 'Aufbruch' they blend their creativity into a masterful piece of sound art that is deeply musical at the same time. The combination of electronics, keyboards and touch guitar creates a rather dark soundscape evoking the re-creation of a world that fell into shambles. The massive consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and the immense ecological issues of these times, fit perfectly into the concept of 'Aufbruch' which literally means 'Departure'. The music is build on the idea of creating a new world on the ashes of what's left. In that way the darkness of 'Aufbruch' transforms into an evokation of hope and future. The beautiful vocals of Sophie Tassignon on 'Lebewohl' and 'Losgelöst' bring light into a world that can breathe and look forward again. A positive human touch. The final track 'Abschied' sounds like liberation. Yes there's still hope! This music is very cinematic and would make the perfect soundtrack for a sequel to '2001: A Space Odyssey'. A masterpiece of sound art!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    J. Peter Schwalm (synth, piano, percussion, programming, electronics, live treatments)
    Markus Reuter (touch guitar, electronics)
    Guest: Sophie Tassignon (vocals on two tracks)

    Released on July 16 on cd, vinyl and digital.

  • JESSICA ACKERLEY - Morning/Mourning (Cacaphonus Revival)

    Jessica Ackerley is a Canadian guitar player who belongs to the school of contemporary musicians with an individual way to construct their pieces. Gone are the instant 'tunes'. They are replaced by a way of sonic storytelling that forces the listener to renounce the obvious ways of 'standard' playing. Like many records these days, the recording of these nine solo pieces is related to the Covid-19 era were artists create in retreat. She lost one of her mentors to Covid-19, which explains the second part of the title of this album. Before reviewing, I listened two times in totally different circumstances. First I put it on while reading my newspaper and it sounded almost like ambient, taking attention now and them but never disturbing or distracting. The second time I listened very closely and attenive which revealed a totally different experience. The pieces are full of interesting turns and twists whilst keeping its flow and sense of direction. Jessica Ackderley literally talks through her guitar playing, with a lot of focus on the storytelling. What more can a musican do? A truly impressive set of composed/improvised pieces.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Jessica Ackerly - guitar

  • LINA ALLEMANO FOUR - Vegetables (Lumo Records)

    This is the sixth album by Canadian trumpeter Lina Allemano with Four. Bass, drums, alto and trumpet are the instruments; composition and improvisation the ingredients. Lina writes strong pieces that are interpreted by a well seasoned quartet with freedom and flexibility, but also with discipline. This generates an excellent synergy between the players and an exceptional depth in the performances. The six pieces were each assigned the name of a vegetable and thus we find out how onions, beans, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, avocados and leafy greens sound like in the universe of Lina. 'Vegetabes' brings intriguing contemporary acoustic chamber jazz with a twist, but also with smooth lines and delicious flavors.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Lina Allemano (trumpet), Brodie West (alto sax), Andrew Downing (double bass), Nick Fraser (drums)

  • BLOOP - Proof (Lumo Records)

    Trumpeter Lina Allemano moves between Toronto and Berlin. Her Canadian recordings appear on the Lumo Records label. In Bloop, Lina plays live trumpet and percussion, sometimes at the same time. That's being processed live by Mike Smith; the electronics are part of the interaction. Yet, this remains essentially an acoustic album in which electronic manipulations create a sound expansion that evokes various spheres. Allemano has also mastered the technique of muting in which she naturally creates effects without effectpedals. It is in a way the instrumental equivalent of Sophie Tassignon's Mysteries Unfold in which the combination of voice and electronics creates a broad, layered and spatial sound, albeit here with more experimental sounds. Proof is an intriguing and instant creative record that navigates between music and sound art. Lina's control of her instruments is phenomenal!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Lina Allemano (trumpet, percussion, mutes, whistling), Mike Smith (live-processing, effects)

  • THREE-LAYER CAKE - "Stove Top" (RareNoiseRecords)

    If you're looking for adventure and originality in contemporary music, this is the one. Three-Layer Cakes functions with a combination of drums/organ/percussion, guitar/banjo and bass. If one wants to qualify the music, "punk jazz" will do, but that's only a hint. The three musicians don't think in terms of genres or styles, but make a natural cross-over of sounds, timbres and textures. Sometimes they sound like an updated version of the most adventurous version of Tony Williams Lifetime and then they wade in illuminating soundscapes. The use of banjo in some pieces is nothing less then phenomenal. I bet you've never heard a banjo doing what it does here. There's a lot of improvisation but there's never a sense of chaos or the absurd, it keeps on moving.The use of tuned percussion is reminiscent of some of Frank Zappa's work. The trio holds no veto's against any musical style, their tastes go from from Black Sabbath to John Coltrane. Listening to "Stove Top" is a musical journey with a wealth of sounds, rhythms and spheres: three versalite musicians who know what they are doing, without taking boundaries. (available as digital, cd or vinyl)

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Brandon Seabrook (guitar, banjo, tapes)
    Mike Pride (drums, glockenspiel, bells, organ)
    Mike Watt (bass)

  • MAGNET ANIMALS - Fake Dudes (RareNoiseRecords)

    Magnet Animals is a foursome under the leadership of Mexican guitarist, vocalist and composer Todd Clouser. Clouser is a very versalite musician who doesn't want to be associated with any scene. His music incorporaties jazz, rock, funk, blues and improvisation. Doing that, he creates the ultimate crossover between genres without losing any authenticity. 'Fake Dudes' is his Covid-19 record and it's nothing less than brilliant. It consists of twelve 'songs' that go in all directions while keeping a phenomenal sense of consolidation and body. Every track is a musical adventure by itself. His music is complex and accessible at the same time, it makes even the body move. Most of all it surprises all the time. Throughout the whole album there's an immense intensity and creativity that takes one away every time. This is the perfect example of how genres can be woven into each other. I started loving music in an age were pop was considered as throwaway music, rock was dirty, dangerous and to avoid, jazz was alright if it had enough "decent" elements and a dash of "white" in it and classical was the only "real" and lasting music. Fifty years later there's an openminded generation that doesn't let itself limit by a genre. Magnet Animals is the perfect exemple of that, while making the most powerfull crossover I've ever heard. Yes, brilliant! Available as digital, cd and vinyl.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Todd Clouser (guitar, voice)
    Eyal Maoz (guitar)
    Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz (bass)
    Jorge Servin (drums)

  • ARBENZ x MEHARI/VERAS Conversation #1 - Condensed

    Covid-19 may be a disaster for musicians, but it also triggers ideas or accelerates the start of projects. Drummer Florian Arbenz starts a cycle of twelve conversations with other musicians. #1's an instant hit. The combination of the inventive, driven, imaginative and energetic drum parts with the equally surprising trumpet by Hermon Mehari and the warm but pointed guitar of Nelson Veras culminates in ten engaging conversations, of which eight own compositions and two by Ornette Coleman and Eddie Harris respectively.

    Arbenz has played with these musicians before, so empathy does its job. The starting point is always a noted composition, but the free interpretation of the trio gives each piece a spontaneous flexibility that we rarely hear. Arbenz sets a high standard for the follow-up cd's. This applies to both the music and the impressive recording quality. We are already curious about the sequel.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Florian Arbenz (drums), Hermon Mehari (trumpet), Nelson Veras (guitar)

  • BERNARD WÖSTHEINRICH & CHRISTINA RUF - Ptolemaic Model (Iapetus)

    The ptolemaic system is a mathematical model of the universe formulated by the Alexandrian astronomer and mathematician Ptolemy about 150 CE. The Ptolemaic system is a geocentric cosmology that assumes Earth is stationary and at the centre of the universe. This model by ancient astronomers is the basic idea behind this fascinating soundsculpture created by Austrian experimental cellist and composer Christina Ruf and German electronic music and graphic artist Bernard Wöstheinrich. This music was performed during an extensive recording session in Berlin in 2019. 'Ptolemaic Model' consists of two long pieces each approaching the half-hour and taking the listener into space. Close your eyes and you really feel the immense infinity of the universe in the first piece 'Deferent'. The second piece 'Epicycle' is more noise-oriented and evokes like incoming sounds from the universe. Towards the end it sounds like one is vanishing into an harmonious eternity. One is immersed in an aural trip with an astonishing texture. Bernard and Christina have found each other melting their parts in a perfect way. A true piece of art that goes way further than the cosmic sounds that were created in the seventies by the likes of Klaus Schulze or Tangerine Dream or the sound creations of Brian Eno. Great stuff!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Christina Ruf: 6-string cello, effects, acoustic piano samples, iPad

    Berhard Wöstheinrich: synthesizer, keyboards, sequencer.

  • JULIE SASSOON SOLO PIANO - If You Can't Go Outside ... Go Inside (Jazzwerkstatt)

    Although the music on this cd was recorded four years ago, it is now released as British pianist Julie Sassoon's lockdown record. In July 2016 she recorded two long solo acoustic piano pieces live in the rbb Kulturradio Studios in Berlin. It was a moment of pure magic where she gave free way to her instant creativity. The first piece 'At The Water Tower' lasts for 19 minutes and sounds like an explosion of energy but not without a cause. When you listen to it, you have to do the same as Julie did when she performed it: let go, don't think, allow the avalanche of notes to take over and go with the flow. Listening to this piece, I had a strange image in my head of a small bunch of bike racers going to the finishline and looking at each other, going faster and faster and then slow down, hesitating, having a break, sniffing and then again giving all the power they have to finish first. The second piece 'Murmuration' lasts for 12 minutes and is more like contemplating but also builds up towards the end creating a wonderful bow of tension. On both pieces Sassoon shows her tremendous skills on the piano whilst playng two astonishing pieces of music. In the liner notes she explains in a perfect way what this music is about: 'Whilst playing At The Water Tower I managed to reach a space where no thoughts are present, only sound and energy. (...) towards the end of this piece my fingers spontaneously began to move at double speed, leading me somewhere I've never been before.' That's also the mindset in which this record has te be listened to. And finally she explains the connection with the Covid-19 lockdown situation: 'The time of lockdown (...) self-refection seems to me like the right moment to share this music. A music that moves inwards to access an inner world, away from twitter, likes and clicks.'

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Julie Sassoon - piano

  • ROBERTO MAGRIS & ERIC HOCHBERG - Shuffling Ivories

    Together with bassist Eric Hochberg, pianist Roberto Magris pays tribute to his heroes of African-American music who made him love jazzmusic. His first idols were Oscar Peterson and Bud Powell and later he discovered Timmons, Tyner, Monk and Hill, as well as Elmo Hope and Randy Weston. Throughout the eleven pieces he lets his keyboard speak in a way that also reveals his Italian classical training. Hochberg's contribution is an enrichment of the sound in which an engaging interaction and the necessary swing are developed. Magris is an excellent pianist who is comfortable with many styles. On 'Shuffling Ivories' we hear him in an intimate setting with entertaining and smooth chamber jazz. A bulk of finessy features provide his renditions with the necessary spice. For musicologists there is a lot to pick up, which is explained in detail by Downbeat collaborator Bill Milkowski in the liner notes of the album.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Roberto Magris (piano), Eric Hochberg (double bass)
    On JMood records

  • AZOLIA - Not About Heroes (Jazzwerkstadt)

    The third album by the Belgian/American/German/Swiss quartet Azolia is a thematic record about the English poet Wilfred Owen whose poetry belongs to the artistic heritage of the Great War (14-18). Ten of Owen's lyrics were set to music by Sophie Tassignon and Susanne Folk and they are pearls of beautiful serenity.

    The voice of Tassignon, the voice of Folk who also plays the wind instruments together with Lothar Ohlmeier and the tasteful double bass work of Andreas Waelti merge into an harmonious and rich sound palette. You can choose music to support a certain atmosphere or state of mind, but conversely, music can also just determine atmosphere and mood. That's what 'Not About Heroes' does.

    With her solo album 'Mysteries Unfold', Sophie Tassignon has opened up a new dimension in her singing performance and she pulls that through in a stunning way as the fourth instrument in an intimate quartet set-up in which every musician forms an essential part of the whole. That makes 'Not About Heroes' a work of penetrating beauty.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Sophie Tassiginon (vocals), Susanne Folk (alt sax, clarinet, vocals), Lothar Ohlmeier (soprano sax, bass clarinet) Andreas Waelti (double bass)

  • COLIN FISHER - Reflections Of The Invisible World (Halocline Trance)

    Colin Fisher is a Canadian multi-instrumentalist with a substantial musical output going from solo-albums, the psych-improvistion duo Not The Wind, Not The Flag, the Colin Fisher Quartet, Monas, a collaboration with math-metal trio Many Arms to many guest appearances. 'Reflections Of The Invisible World' is a pure solo effort with Fisher playing guitar, sax and electronics. The seven pieces on the album are mainly ambient and create a dreamy, reflective atmosphere. If you like the ambient albums by John Zorn, you will also enjoy the work of Colin Fisher. Dispite the atmospheric character of the music there's also a tension in every piece that lifts it way above a sonic wallpaper function. There's always something interesting happening with a rich kaleidoscope of sounds.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Colin Fisher (guitar, saxophone, electronics)
    Produced by Jeremy Greenspan

    (Will be released on vinyl and in digital form on Marsh 26th 2021)

  • SEE TROUGH 4 - Permanent Moving Parts (All-Set!)

    Like many contemporary musicians, bass player Pete Johnston has a very eclectic approach to music and has projects going from improvised- to chamber- and folk inpired music. On 'Permanent Moving Parts' he teams up with his long time collaborator Jake Oelrichs (drums) and two not so obvious choices with Lina Allemano (trumpet) and Michael Davidson (vibraphone). This turns out to be a wonderful combination. Lina Allemano plays fascinating lines and shows an unique phrasing. The sonic contrast with the vibraphone works wonderful. The rhythm section is totally part of the interaction between the four musicans who find a common goal in everyone of Johnstons pieces. Music with a free spirit, a distinct direction and nevertheless full of suprising twists. They go from counterpoint to swing and everything comes out in a natural flow. Contemporary 'jazz' at its best!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Lina Allemano (trumpet)
    Michael Davidson (vibraphone)
    Pete Johnston (bass)
    Jake Oelrichs (drums)
    All compositions by Pete Johnston
    Produced by Mike Smith. Engineered and mastered by Fedge
    Recorded at Union Sound in February 2020

    (Will be released on March 12th 2021)

  • ANDREAS WILLERS - Haerae (Evil Rabbit Records)

    German guitarist Andreas Willers performs eight pieces solo on acoustic guitar. As with many musicians, the corona era is the trigger to be creative on a small scale. On 'Haerae', Willers improvises with complete abandon, sometimes for ten minutes, sometimes only a minute and a half. The sounds he produces are not always what is conventionally expected of his instrument. The sonorous possibilities are explored from all angles, but this is not a mere study work. Each piece does have a direction and a certain atmosphere and sounds like a set of thoughts that include associations, inferences and jumps.

    The musician in Willers blooms again in beautifully constructed gems that do not violate silence.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Andreas Willers (Guitar))

  • Baars/Dumitriu /Henneman/Sola Aphorisms Aphorism Aphorisms (Evil Rabbit Records)

    In eleven improvised pieces, two Dutchmen, a Romanian and a Spaniard create a meeting place between different groundings, literally. The earth of their respective birthplace is the inspiration for pieces such as 'Paarse Hei', 'Estepa', 'Laagveen' or 'Brun Roscate'. Initiator George Dumitriu wanted to know more about the viola and formed a quartet there in which Ab Baars forms the sonorous cornerstone on shakuhachi. Although the music is anything but conventional, the record still evokes peace, even in the most whimsical pieces. After all, the sound image is not made up by competing instruments, on the contrary, there is room for silence and breath. Evocation and serenity make these eleven imaginative miniatures an engaging ambient listening adventure.

    (Geert Ryssen)

    Ab Baars (Shakuhacki, clarinet), George Dumitriu (flute, viola), Ig Henneman (viola), Pau Sola Masafrets (cello)

  • ANN PIERLé - Wiga Waga (W.E.R.F)

    There is a parallel between the An Pierlé Quartet and Taxi Wars, even though they make different music. In both cases, it is a story of two worlds that meet and where the improvisation/jazz element is fused with contemporary pop and (post)rock. This creates a form of innovative crossover that gives the blurring of genres a big boost. Singer-songwriter Pierlé and her partner/producer/musician Koen Gisen make a team with the duo SCHNTZL and the input is equal on both sides. This results in pearls such like 'Fingerspitz', 'Unreal', 'Imaginary Summer', 'Slow Down', 'Go On' or the elastic 'Slippery Fish'.

    Inspiration, variation, improvisation and flow are the ingredients of a natural fusion of musical backgrounds while An Pierlé perfectly retains her artistic identity. Brilliant record!

    (Geert Ryssen)

    An Pierlé (vocals, piano), Koen Gisen (sax, guitar), Hendrik Lasure (piano, electronics), Casper Van De Velde (drums, electronics)