JOVM (belatedly) celebrates Marshall Allen’s 97th birthday.
Óregla is a rising, Reykjavik, Iceland-based jazz/progressive funk octet led by composer and trumpeter Daníel Sigurðsson that derives its name from the Icelandic word for chaos or irregularity. Featuring some of the country’s rising jazz musicians, the act is inspired by a diverse and eclectic array of influences including Igor Stravinsky, Miles Davis and Frank Zappa.
While Sigurðsson crafts compositions featuring arrangements centered around a brass section consisting of two tenor saxophones and a trumpet, guitar, bass, keys, drums and some bursts of orchestral percussion, the members of the act aim to push the boundaries of their music and sound with a funky and lively atmospheric and a sense of humor.
The act released their latest album Þröskuldur Góðra Vona (The Threshold of Good Hopes) earlier this year, and the album’s latest single “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” is a expansive track, centered around rapidly changing and very odd time signature changes as the song progresses — and some deft playing, that alternates between mischievous playfulness, contemplation and a breakneck swing.
The live footage features the band performing “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” at Tónkvísl for Reykjavik Sessions back in 2014.
Individually Norwegian-born and-based trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær and French-born, Brooklyn-based percussionist Mino Cinelu have had accomplished careers: Cinelu first gained attention playing on Miles Davis‘ We Want Miles and Amandla, which has landed him gigs playing with Weather Report, Gong, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Sting, Santana, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson and a eclectic and lengthy list of internationally acclaimed artists. The French percussionist has also released three solo albums and has collaborated with Dave Holland and Kevin Eubanks on World Trio. With 1997’s Khmer released through ECM Records, Nils Petter Molvær quickly established his unique sound and aesthetic — one which combines the Nordic feeling of nature with Southeast Asian sound philosophies. But since then, Molvær’s work has found him pushing his sound deeper into uncharted areas, while exploring various combinations of acoustic and electronic sounds. His work has allowed him to collaborate with German electronic producer Moritz von Oswald in 2013 with reggae artists Sly and Robbie in 2018 and with Bill Laswell on several occasions.
Slated for a September 4, 2020 release through BMG’s Modern Recordings, Cinelu and Molvær’s collaboration together SulaMadiana can trace its origins back to 2015 when the duo first met at a solo Molvær played in Turkey. Quickly agreeing to embark on a joint project together, it took several more meetings in different parts of the world and a handful of years before they were able to get together for a studio session in Oslo. Early this year, the recordings were rounded off in Cinelu’s Brooklyn studio with post-production completed as a remote, Transatlantic endeavor as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns. Speaking about the process, Cinelu says “The best way to start something is to start it. So I said: ‘let’s get started’. Nils brought a groove along which I liked, we enriched it with sounds and other grooves, wanted to find a melody, and it just made ‘Bang’. It was a real trip. A lot of blood, sweat and tears, but even more love.”
Sonically speaking both artists’ work represents two completely different worlds — Molvær’s work evokes the boreal cold of his homeland while Cinelu’s work evokes the rhythms and heat of Latin America and Africa. The album, which derives its name as a tribute to both artists’ heritage — Sula is the Norwegian island where Molvær grew up and Madiana is a loving nickname for the island of Martinique, where Cinleu’s father was born. The album’s material finds the duo finding a common sonic playground initially inspired by their previous work — but while pushing each other and their sound together into completely new territories: the album’s material finds Cinelu taking up vocal duties while Molvær plays acoustic, electric guitar and various other electronics. Of course for this to work, the interplay between the musicians is key. “We are different, but what we have in common is that we like to give some space to things,” Molvær says. Cinelu adds: “It doesn’t matter who has what share in music. We both know each other’s cultures, we find bridges and crossings, and often we walk these paths that lead in the same direction. We wrote everything together and followed our feelings. There are no limits or barriers.”
The album’s first single, album title track “SulaMadiana (For Manu Dibango)” is an ethereal yet funky tribute to Cinelu’s mentor Manu Dibango, centered around a propulsive acoustic guitar line, pedal effected trumpet, shimmering electric guitar soloing, atmospheric electronics, Afro-Latin percussion and Cinelu’s dreamy vocals. The end result is an adventurous and loving Vulcan mind-meld in which a wintry breeze blows through the propulsive funk in a way that evokes late summer.
Dani Lòpez is a rising, Olot, Spain-born and-based composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and producer, who picked up music at a very young age. Learning several different instruments, Lòpez quickly began writing original music for bands across an eclectic variety of genres and styles, including folk, jazz, classical and contemporary chamber music. Lòpez attended the Liceu Conservatory, where he studied classical saxophone under Albert Julià and David Sallers, graduating in 2016 — and composition under renowned composers Benet Casablancas and Benjamin Davies, graduating in 2018, Towards the end of his studies, the rising Spanish multi-instrumentalist earned the Ferrer-Salat Scholarship and a special prize for the composition degree.
Over the past couple of years, Lòpez has written several chamber music pieces, including two scores for ensemble-based adaptations of Prudenci Betrana’s “Una agonia” and “En Busqueta” centered around flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and soprano vocal. He’s also written “Mirall Trencat,” a piece for saxophone quartet that has been performed in venues across Catalonia and Zurich, as well as a small concert for saxophone that has been performed in Spain, Portugal and Mexico. As a saxophonist, the Spanish multi-instrumentalist has won several contests for solo composition and chamber music, including 2013’s Arjau Catalanmusic and 2014’s Ecoparque de Trasmiera.
Currently, Lòpez works as a freelance musician, who has played with several different projects including Magalí Sare, El Pot Petit, Holoquè, and Hop al Metro among others. 2020 has been a rather busy year for the rising Spanish artist: he recently produced, co-produce, crafted arrangements and/or cowrote material for three applauded albums: El Pot Petit’s 10 Anys, which won the 2020 Premis Enderrock Award for the Best Recording of Music for Families; Criatures’ Praxinoscopi, which won the 2020 Premis Enderrock Award for Best Folk Recording; and Aires del Montseny’s Lilure Albir.
Adding to a busy year, the Spanish multi-instrumentalist’s forthcoming album El que fan les cases quan no les mires is slated for release this year through Segell Microscopi. Featuring a backing band of Andreu Moreno (drums, SPD), Vic Moliner (double bass, bass synthesizer), Alejandro Esperanza (piano, Rhodes, synths) and of course, Lopez (sax, flute, piano, synths, vocals), the album was recorded during a three day recording session at Ground Recording Studios in Cornelià de Terri. The album’s compositions finds the Lòpez-led quartet crafting a sound that meshes elements and blurry the lines of jazz, contemporary chamber music, folk and pop with a forward-thinking experimentalism, inspired by the Spanish multi-instrumentalist and composer’s fascinating with observing reality from up close. Instead of immediately taking the material to be mixed, there was a month of patient and painstaking post-production of the album’s material with Lòpez hand-picking the best tracks to be included on the album, as well as the album’s overarching theme.
El que fan les cases quan no les mires’ latest single “Cafetera Stuff” can trace its origins to a previous composition Lòpez had written for a chamber orchestra “Star Stuff.” As the story goes, in an inspired bout, he had started experimenting by playing the composition in a different chord. Centered around an expansive arrangement of shimmering piano arpeggios, atmospheric synths, rapid-fire rhythms, a propulsive bass line and samples of a coffee machine, the song shifts between tempos and modes with a mischievous and whimsical air.
The recently released live footage features the quartet performing the song at Olot’s Sala El Torin — and it’s shot in a gorgeous black and white, while capturing the quartet’s energy and connection as a live unit.
Founded by Crammed Discs label head Marc Hollander, the Belgian experimental act Akask Maboul can trace its origins to when Hollander was commissioned by producer Marc Moulin to write and and record an album for Moulin’s short-lived label Kamikaze Records. Hollander (keys. reeds, percussion) recruited his friend Vincent Kenis (guitar. bass, keys) to join the project, and the duo went on to write and record their full-length debut, 1977’s Onze Danses Pour Combattre la Migraine, which featured guest spots by Chris Joris (percussion, keys) Catherine Jauniaux (vocals) and a list of others. The band’s sophomore album Un peu de l’âme des bandits was released in 1980. Both albums firmly established the act’s sound — a genre-defying primarily instrumental-based sound that playfully shuffled between experimental jazz, pop, electronic music, and contemporary classical music.
Shortly after the release of 1980’s Un peu de l’âme des bandits, Hollander devoted himself to his label Crammed Discs. And since the label’s formation, the label has released over 350 albums from an eclectic array of forward-thinking artists including Tuxedomoon, Acid Arab, Konono Nº1, Carl Craig, Yasmine Hamdan and JOVM mainstay Juana Molina among others. Interestingly, in 2014 Hollander returned to writing and performing when his label released the lost, third Akask Maboul album Ex-Futur Album, which was written and recorded with Véronique Vincent between 1980-1983 and left unfinished.
Encouraged by the response to Ex-Futur Album, Hollander revived the band with a new lineup that featured Véronique Vincent (vocals), Faustine Hollander (guitar, bass, vocals), and Amatorski’s Sebastiaan Van den Branden (guitar, bass, synth) and Christophe Claeys (drums percussion) — and in early 2015, the band began playing their first live shows in over 30 years. Adding to the growing interest in the band, an album full of re-interpretations, covers and reworks of the Ex-Futur Album, 16 Visions of Ex-Futur was released the following year with contributions by Jaakko Eino Kalevi, Aquaserge, Laetitia Sadier, Forever Pavot, Flavien Berger, Nite Jewel, Bullion, Burnt Friedman, Hello Skinny, Marc Collin, Bérangère Maximin, Lena Willikens and others, as well as two “self-covers” recorded by that year’s Akask Maboul lineup. They also created a live up show, Akask Maboul Revue in which they were joined by Jaakko Eino Kalevi, Laetitia Sadier and members of Aquaserge. Additionally, vinyl re-issues of the band’s first two albums helped to confirm that they were avant-garde classics.
At the end of 2018, the Belgian avant-garde act announced that they were working on a new album. Late last year, they announced that the new album, Figures would be a double album. Slated for a May 22, 2020 release through Crammed Discs, the album will feature the band’s current lineup — Hollander (keys), Vincent (vocals), Faustine Hollander (bass, production), Lucien Fraipont (guitar) and Erik Heestermans (drums) and guest spots by Fred Frith and Aquaserge’s Julien Gascon, Audrey Ginestet and Benjamin Gilbert, former Akask Maboul members Michel Berckmans and Sebastiaan Van den Branden, and a list of others.
Written by the band’s writing duo of Hollander and Vincent, the album consists of 22 tracks and interludes, which results from the flow of creative ideas after a lengthy hiatus, and the material sees the band drawing from the same influences that inspired their earliest releases — electronic music, pop, experimental jazz, minimalism and contemporary classical among others — while continuing their long-held reputation for an indefinable, genre-mashing sound. As a whole, the album’s material finds the band seamlessly weaving electronic and acoustic instrumentation, programming, beats, found sounds and sound collages to create a labyrinthine sound, full of twists, turns, secret passages and interconnections that requires deep and attentive listening.
Figures‘ second and latest single “Silent Silhouettes” is a mostly-instrumental track with a tango-like tempo, centered around shimmering keys, atmospheric electronics, a sinuous and strutting bass line and brief vocal passages spoken in a sultry and smoky French before a wobbling fade out. The end result is a track that’s mischievously anachronistic yet cinematic.