CD What Is Jazz? 1996 (CD 174688),
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What Is Jazz? 1996
1. Ashby Man - Charlie Hunter
2. The Pimps Next Door/Pipistrello: The Pimps Next Door / Pipistrello - Clusone Trio
3. Ladino Passacaglia - Anthony Coleman's Sephardic Tinge
4. Double Diamond - Mario Pavone
5. Chien Andalou, Un - Matt Darriau
6. Caravan - Horace Tapscott
7. Instinct - Matthew Shipp
8. Changes I - Twice Same River/Myra Melford
9. Drunken Monkey, A - Thomas Chapin Trio
10. In This Love - David S. Ware Quartet
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 195
Compilation producers: Brett Heinz, Mark Perlson.
Recorded live in 1996. Includes liner notes by Michael Dorf.
Personnel: Brad Schoeppach (guitar); Erik Friedlander, Rufus Cappadocia (cello); Marty Ehrlich, Matt Darriau (clarinet, saxophone); Thomas Chapin, Chris Speed (saxophone); David S. Ware, Kenny Brooks (tenor saxophone); Dave Douglas (trumpet); Peter McEachern (trombone); Horace Tapscott, Matthew Shipp, Peter Madsen, Anthony Coleman , Myra Melford (piano); Michael Sarin, Scott Amendola, Susie Ibarra, Billy Hart (drums); Han Bennink, Seido Salifoski (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Brett Heinz.
Liner Note Author: Michael Dorf.
Recording information: Heineken What Is Jazz? Festival (06/1996).
Well, one answer you should get for this eternal question is whether Michael Sarin's drumming is jazz, since he's on four tracks here. Seriously, What Is Jazz? 1996 is a compilation of more progressive or experimental jazz artists who performed at the Knitting Factory-hosted festival that year. It's sporadic, but kudos to producers Brett Heinz and Mark Perlson for taking the time to sequence the performances so there's some sense of cohesive flow to some very varied music.
Charlie Hunter's groove-oriented "Ashby Man" is okay, but probably sounded much fresher in the moment with two saxes taking most of the solo time. Clusone Trio is only valuable for Han Bennink's mad percussion bursts and Matt Darriau's Paradox Trio is a disjointed slice of surrealistic soundtrack to Un Chien Andalou that needs the movie. It also brings the first rush of momentum generated by Anthony Coleman's stabbing piano permutations and Mario Pavone's stop-start sextet melody with a strong Thomas Chapin solo to a halt. David S. Ware's "In This Love" features the Susie Ibarra edition and, while this gig may have been a key catalyst in his rise to cause celebre status, it also suggests he doesn't anthologize well. Pulling out an eight-minute concert segment can't capture the cumulative effect of his quartet's intensity, and the same deal applies on a lesser level to Chapin's meandering nine-minute blast o' sax blowing. Horace Tapscott sounds horribly old guard in this context -- who on Earth selected something as done-to-death hackneyed as "Caravan?"
Matthew Shipp's solo "Instinct" begins the climb back, an immediate attention grabber with fragmented left-hand riffs and bass register rumbles. It transitions pretty seamlessly into the very intricate melody of Myra Melford's "The Same River, Twice," which delivers the best performance on the disc. The music is alive, the quintet includes Dave Douglas and Chris Speed, and the arrangement is so cannily constructed it survives the dreaded round robin solo breakdowns with no problem. Melford comes out the winner in the artist-you-really-should-check-out sweepstakes here, with Pavone, Shipp, and Coleman as names to note, with Ware in that anthology netherzone. What Is Jazz? 1996 is all about individual tracks because there really aren't any innovative new schools or conceptual developments to spot here. Except that Sarin plays drums with three of the artists cited above, so maybe that means he is jazz, 1996. And with that and a couple of bucks, he can probably get an espresso just about anywhere in the U.S. ~ Don Snowden
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Allegro Corporation (Distributor US 195
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