From-To-From BPA 015
CD in jewel case + download, cover by Randy Twaddle, Liner notes by William Parker:
Alvin Fielder/David Dove/Jason Jackson/Damon Smith
Alvin Fielder – drums, percussion
David Dove – trombone
Jason Jackson – alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones
Damon Smith – double bass
From-To-From presents a one-of-a-kind meeting of generations and geography. On the face of things, it might seem like a Southern free music super-group and that would be enough to whet the appetite – septuagenarian drummer Alvin Fielder hails from Jackson, Mississippi and trombonist Dave Dove, saxophonist Jason Jackson and bassist Damon Smith from Houston, a recognized hotbed of art and creative music in a state whose political and cultural struggles are by now all too familiar. Fielder (b. 1935) is an institution in and of himself; a student and historian of modern jazz drumming, he was a member of the AACM in Chicago in the late 1960s before returning to his home state in 1969. Since that time he’s co-led the Improvisational Arts Quartet (with saxophonist Kidd Jordan, trumpeter Clyde Kerr, Jr. and bassist London Branch), the Creative Collective (with Jordan, pianist/saxophonist Joel Futterman and bassist William Parker), and worked extensively with Dallas trumpeter Dennis González, Memphis pianist Chris Parker, saxophonists Ike Levin, Andrew Lamb and Mats Gustafsson, and many others.
Max Roach, Kenny Clarke, Ed Blackwell, Billy Higgins, Sunny Murray and Beaver Harris all factor into Fielder’s approach – markedly different, one might assume, from his rhythm section partner Damon Smith. Smith (b. 1972) came up on the West Coast before relocating to Houston in 2010; he studied with Lisle Ellis as well as Bertram Turetzky and Peter Kowald. A student of contemporary classical repertoire and European free improvisation, Smith might seem like the antithesis of modern jazz rhythm, but it is the broad-mindedness of both players and the tension between divergent approaches that creates a pulsing sense of swing underneath the horns. Adding Dave Dove on trombone and Jason Jackson on saxophones might bring to mind such lofty 1960s units as the New York Art Quartet or the Archie Shepp-Roswell Rudd Quartet – the latter group Fielder saw at Chicago’s Plugged Nickel in 1966, and their drummer Beaver Harris was a crucial influence on allowing him to open up his concept.
Dove has certainly done his fair share of listening to Rudd and European brass exponents, but it is in education and community that Dove’s mark is felt in Houston as director of Nameless Sound, which not only presents concerts of improvised music, but also workshops to young Houstonians of varying means. It’s a treat to hear him play in such a loose, swinging and free context as this quartet; his compadre Jason Jackson is a young firebrand (alto, tenor and baritone) who came up in the Nameless Sound Youth Ensemble and now works as part of Norwegian bassist-composer Ingebrigt Hĺker Flaten’s group The Young Mothers. Across these six pieces, which range from employing bells and little instruments to raging fracases, one gets a distinctness within this ensemble – clearly drawn from ancestral bebop and free streams, their tempestuousness and feeling are utterly contemporary.
Burns Longer BPA -2
Fully distributed digital download
Cover by Peter Jacquemyn
Fred Van Hove - piano, accordion
Damon Smith & Peter Jaquemyn - double basses
Belgian pianist Fred Van Hove (b. 1937) is one of the architects of European free music, though his profile Stateside is unfortunately rather minimal. An early associate of German reedman Peter Brötzmann and bassist Peter Kowald, Belgian reedman Cel Overberghe and Dutch drummer Han Bennink, their collective performances in art galleries and pubs following the May ’68 riots is (or should be) the stuff of legend. Following the dissolution of the trio Brötzmann/Van Hove/Bennink, the pianist and sometime organist/accordionist founded Musica Libera Belgicae (MLB) and Musica Libera Antverpiae (MLA), as well as performing frequently solo and with a variety of duo partners. Most of his recordings have been released on European labels like FMP, Saravah, BVHaast Nato, and the Belgian imprints Vogel, Kamikaze and WIMprotwee – other than Atavistic’s reissues, his previous US appearance on disc are a pair of recordings (solo and trio) for the Dallas label Nuscope. Van Hove doesn’t often play with American improvisers, either, but on Burns Longer, his piano and accordion are heard in a whorl of a trio with bassists Damon Smith and Belgian Peter Jacquemyn on three massive free improvisations.
One is reminded of the shattering duets that Béb Guerin and Earl Freeman wove around Clifford Thornton’s cornet on “Speak With Your Echo (And Call This Dialogue)” (Ketchaoua, BYG, 1969) although Kowald and Buschi Niebergall similarly girded Van Hove’s flights in the context of Herr Brötzmann’s larger groups. For the sake of differentiation, Smith is on the right and Jacquemyn is on the left, the latter’s chunkiness and vocal growls a powerful contrast to Smith’s fleet minefields. Van Hove brings a churchy resonance to his instrument as well as splintering stabs and Jaki Byard-like runs. The oft-reviled accordion in tandem with a blistering bull fiddle duo is a heaving generator of madcap energy.
Burns Longer is the second digital release on Balance Point Acoustics and thus grants a bit of fuzzy geography to the proceedings – this music can be taken nearly anywhere and heard in any country where computers and purchasing downloaded music are a possibility. As full as the music is here, it is without an object and thus clouds the notion that digital releases are totally ephemeral. One wouldn’t expect the live punch of wood, strings, horsehair and plastic to translate across an iPhone and ear buds, but the mastering flair of Ryan Edwards has brought this trio, both hulking and spry, to an amazing and portable life. The music itself is nearly relentless, steaming ahead when Van Hove’s accordion heaves and whines while Smith and Jacquemyn saw and kick up surrounding dust. If you’re looking for a fine entry point into Van Hove’s world or are a rabid fan of his work, Burns Longer will not disappoint, especially taking into account the fine and rare company he’s in.