Filtering by Category: Wildcard

Wildcard - Emily Intersimone

Roomful of Teeth - Caroline Shaw

This piece was the winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Music, and at 30 years old, Caroline Shaw was the youngest person to ever win a Pulitzer for music. It has four movements based around a classical partita form. The piece is a really disarming combination of musical extremes; monophony and polyphony, consonance and dissonance. It contains a few lyrics from wall drawing directions by Sol Lewitt (the whole piece was inspired by his work, as Shaw stated in an interview with NPR), but for the most part it is wordless vocal. Even with all of these disparate elements, though, the piece moves very fluidly from one moment to the next.

“4 Pieces” was written particularly for Roomful of Teeth, an 8-voice a cappella group specializing in contemporary music, and their performance is extraordinary. The piece utilizes a lot of extended vocal techniques, especially folk techniques like throat singing, but they are never used in a way that feels gratuitous; they always feel appropriate to the moment. Shaw has some excerpts of the score on her website which demonstrate the various ways that they notated these techniques, if you're curious.

This is the kind of music where you'll want to set aside 30 minutes to just sit and listen.

Fire & Grace - Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas

These two folk musicians have been playing together as a duo for 16 years now; Fire and Grace was their first album together and is my favorite of theirs. Despite having a pretty limited instrumentation – just Fraser on fiddle and Haas on cello – this album contains a diverse selection of tunes. “Calliope Meets Frank” is uplifting and invigorating; “Josefin's Waltz” is sweet and gentle; and “Rob Roy Crosses the Minch” is suspenseful. While their repertoire on this album is mostly traditional or contemporary Scottish tunes with a couple originals and contemporary tunes, they do play music from other folk traditions, particularly from Scandinavia.

Having studied the cello for a handful of years, I am in particular awe of Haas's playing. She can go from playing beautifully phrased melodies to creating awesomely funky grooves to accompany Fraser's fiddle lines. I saw them in concert last week and they were great; I certainly recommend seeing them live if you have the chance.

Is This Desire - PJ Harvey

I've never really listened to PJ Harvey before, but I recently heard her song “Catherine” for the first time and was so intrigued that I had to seek out more of her stuff. This album has more edge in its sound and songwriting sensibility than is usually my taste, but I'm really enjoying that. It's mostly very spare, with songs that sometimes only contain a couple different verses and a chorus and moments where it's just vocals, guitar, and soft percussion, as on “Catherine” and “Is This Desire”. At some times, though, the songs can sound quite lush; “The Garden”, with its organ pads and piano stabs, reminds me of some parts of Brad Mehldau's Largo. Some of the harder-rocking tracks, like “My Beautiful Leah” are a little too fuzzed-out for me right now. Who knows though, I might listen to them again in a few months and love it.

“The River” is my current favorite on the album with a chant-like melody and the chorus, “throw your pain in the river, leave your pain in the river, to be washed away slow”.

Emily Intersimone is a pianist and composer currently based in Santa Cruz, CA. She creates music for theatre, having composed or music-directed projects for the University of California at Santa Cruz, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and San Jose Repertory Theater's Emerging Artists Lab. She also currently plays with various local jazz groups.

Wildcard - Karl Lyden

The Hilliard Ensemble / Christoph Poppen - Morimur

This album lends a fresh spin on J.S. Bach’s solo violin music. The Hilliard Ensemble backsviolinist Christoph Poppen by fashioning vocal chorales out of the solo lines. The production is exquisite (as to be expected from ECM) but it is Poppen’s interpretation that makes the record. My teacher and colleague, trombonist Alan Ferber, once told me that “the best classical music sounds improvised” and cited this album. Poppen performs each piece with clear intent but also spontaneity, as if he conjured it out of thin air. He plays entirely in the moment, something I think musicians should strive for whether improvising or not.

Sonny Rollins – Live in Stockholm 1959

I find Sonny Rollins’ live performances to be more inspired and uninhibited than in the studio. This lesser-known album is no exception. The first thing that strikes me is the sound quality. Henry Grimes’ bass and Sonny’s tenor have well-defined, full-bodied tones throughout. Sonny’s transitions between melody and solo are stunning. On “How High the Moon” he plays around with the head for several choruses while gradually inserting more of his own ideas. This approach sounds fresh even today amidst the clichés associated with standards.

Sonny Rollins – tenor saxophone

Henry Grimes – bass

Pete La Roca – drums

Peter Epstein - Polarities

This recent offering from Peter Epstein exemplifies how a cohesive band should sound. Some modern jazz groups give the impression of individual players being glued to their parts. This album is a breath of fresh air. The musicians are attuned to each other and let moments happen at their own pace. Part of this is a testament to Epstein’s open-ended compositions. Oftentimes, I couldn’t distinguish between written and improvised sections as in “Old Yarn.” The frontline duo of Epstein and Ralph Alessi really captures the spirit of Ornette Coleman’s early bands.

Ralph Alessi – trumpet

Peter Epstein – alto saxophone

Sam Minaie – bass

Mark Ferber – drums

Karl Lyden is a trombonist and composer in New York City. He performs with big bands, small jazz groups, and soul bands, and leads an 8-piece Mixtet that combines minimalism with post-bop to produce a unique blend of chamber jazz.  His first big band chart “Downside Up” was the 2011 Winner for Undergraduate Orchestrated Work in Downbeat Magazine.

Wildcard - Ethan Helm

Nickel Creek: A Dotted Line

Nickel Creek is often categorized as “progressive bluegrass,” I can't say I know any other artists in the category. But Chris Thile is incredible in everything he does, and the two other members of the group are fantastic. What I love about this album is the virtuosity the musicians aren't afraid to show: harmonic complexity, stylistic range (Hayloft, with the sweet hi-hat on the snare drum is somewhere between a 2014 pop tune and a Ricky Martin hit. so good.), and a heavy reliance on their own acoustic instruments to fill up the ensemble sound. Without naming specific names, the current wave of poppy “folk-revival” seems insincere and pandering to me, with the votive candles in mason jars and the suspenders and beards, which usually all adds up to 3 open-chord strumming and banal rhythm. As if “folk music” in and of itself holds some kind of fantastical ideal simplicity that we can only access by dressing up and really caring. Conversely, Nickel Creek's deep exploration of the genre's limits and possibilities seems so natural; they are loving and owning the history of bluegrass by stretching it. But really, you only need to listen to the last track, “Where is Love Now?” to be convinced of this album's excellence. I listened to it like 10 times in a row.

Michel van der Aa: Here Trilogy

I've been surprised to see just how little popularity van der Aa has in America, because his aesthetic is very close to many well-known American composers, and he does a lot of cool work with opera and film.  The Here Trilogy has a sort of Andriessen-ian rhythmic drive as it spins into obsessive repetition, and the piece's lack of ornamentation feels so cold, stark, and terrifying.  Many of his works, including this one, have psychological themes, and the solo soprano + orchestra instrumentation alludes to the psychological dramas of Schoenberg, Berg, and Strauss.  The piece also has a similar free atonality as the early modernists.  Basically it's badass, relentless, and alienating.  Also: a very cool idea where a section of the piece is “rewound” with a tape recorder held by the soprano soloist, after which the section is repeated exactly.  That wasn’t a great explanation of just how effective the concept is when it is executed in the piece, but I love the use of common music technology’s ability to distort linear time as a symbol for mental instability.

Charlie Parker: Complete Live At Birdland

This album came out a few years ago but I've only been listening for a few months, but it has had a huge impact on the music I make.  Some of the tracks are just little snippets of tunes, many with horrible sound quality.  But the performances captured here are unbelievable.  Parker's wild abandonment is so far from the lifeless, self-referential standard language his expressions are often distilled down into, the language we all learned in college.  This album is a reminder that jazz was the most extreme music in America at one point, and can be again if we embrace it with the uncompromising passion of Parker and his contemporaries.  Layers upon layers of rhythm propel the music forward, quotes are stated out of key or abandoned halfway through, and songs occasionally succumb to total messiness.  But the result is otherworldly, beautiful sound, too full of aesthetic daring to be “conservative”, and too referential of jazz history and canon to be “progressive”.  This album is a humbling reminder of the artistic standards to which we should hold ourselves, and the transcendent results when those standards are met.

Ethan Helm is a composer and saxophonist living in New York City.  Originally from Yorba Linda, California, he attended Eastman School of Music as a Rogers Scholar and graduated with a bachelors degree with High Honors in jazz saxophone in 2012, after which he relocated to Manhattan. He is the winner of the Baltimore Jazz Showcase Award in composition and currently is a sideman and leader of multiple interesting projects.

Wildcard - Devin Gray

Farmers By Nature - Love and Ghosts (Gerald Cleaver/Craig Taborn/William Parker)

I could listen to these guys improvise all day, all day.


St. Vincent (St. Vincent 2014)


Love the studio recording for its composition and production, but the Live In Paris videos rock even more...

Chris Speed -Really OK

Great trio playing, love the interaction and melodies.


Devin is a drummer and composer living in Brooklyn, NY.  His fresh approach to modern drumming has enabled him to play with many of America’s great jazz musicians. He has performed and recorded with innovative musicians of contrasting styles and backgrounds such as: Tony Malaby, Gary Thomas, Ingrid Jensen, Dave Burrell,  and more.  Current projects include a quartet recording (Dirigo Rataplan) and tour of compositions written for Ellery Eskelin, Dave Ballou, and Michael Formanek.

Wildcard - Juanma Trujillo

Keith Jarret - Fort Yawuh (Impulse! - 1973)

Keith Jarrett - piano, soprano saxophone, tambourine, Dewey Redman - tenor saxophone, musette, maracas, Charlie Haden - bass, Paul Motian - drums, percussion, Danny Johnson - percussion

As I was thinking about music that I could write about for this segment, it seemed fitting with Charlie Haden’s recent passing to bring attention again to this phenomenal record. I remember the time when I first became acquainted with this band, Keith Jarret is such a established figure in music that it’s actually kind of easy to take him for granted. But it was through records like this one that I was reminded at the time how heavy he is. And this band! The adjective that I would categorize them with is mercurial. On sound alone these guys can give any music an immediate character, it seems (at least to me) that it’s coming from something bigger than just human beings, everything here sparks and it’s filled with such optimism, it’s beautiful and ugly at the same time, it has all the things that most people love about jazz and also the things that most people hate too! I love the profound simplicity of Keith’s writing and his downright absurd piano playing, Dewey Redman’s ability to play a melody and make it sound like nothing else matters in the universe and Charlie and Paul just being one of the most perfect teams ever, playing the most amazing time or completely letting go of it. I even love the fact that Danny Johnson was presumably just a guy who they let sit in on triangle, at the Village Vanguard!! What?? Crazy. Always recommend this record blindly to anyone who asks.


Muhal Richard Abrams - Levels and Degrees of Light (Delmark - 1968)

Muhal Richard Abrams - piano, clarinet, Anthony Braxton - alto saxophone, Maurice McIntyre - tenor saxophone, Leroy Jenkins - violin, Gordon Emmanuel - vibraphone, Charles Clark - bass, Leonard Jones - bass, Thurman Barker - drums, Penelope Taylor - vocals, David Moore - poet

I just got this record, I’m working my way through the AACM discography with the aid of George Lewis' astounding book “A Power Stronger Than Itself”, an extremely informative document for anyone interested in learning more about the avant-garde in the US but also a profound look at the social and racial issues that creative black american musicians faced and continue to face in this culture, definitely giving me a lot of perspective on a number of things I hadn’t considered before.

“My thoughts are my future - now and forever”  It is pretty clear, these guys, more than just making music were defining themselves and pushing forward to create an environment in which they could be so much more than what it was expected from them during that time in history. This music reflects that, the compositions are about the arc of what happens in the music. PACING!! Huge factor here, there are very unsettling moments when there’s almost nothing happening and then when the s^$% finally hits the fan you find yourself at the center of a black hole of density. This is just a spectacular document, an excellent entry point for the AACM as it is THE entry point, right at the beginning when Muhal founded and lead the association.

Lewis Taylor - Lewis Taylor (Island Records - 1996)

I decided to write about this because I was playing it today for a friend. There’s this thing this guy has that I find hard to describe, obviously he is an insanely talented singer/songwriter and musician (he sings and plays everything here). But it is this absolute hipness that’s perfectly in balance with elements in the music/lyrics that you can find almost dull (or cheesy if you will). Like, every single song on this record is a love song (the word “baby” is used excessively here), or certain aesthetic choices remind me of things that you could hear more mainstream 90’s R&B groups like Boyz II Men or Take 6 do, but then he kind of filters it through this stranger use of sounds, odd forms, melody, counterpoint and harmony that in a way is not mainstream at all. I love this record from top to bottom, have a listen!



Domingo En Llamas - Harto Tropical (Independent - 2010)

This record is by my dear friend José Ignacio Benitez from Venezuela. José (or Jonacho as most of us call him back home) is one of the hidden treasures of the underground music scene in Caracas. As with the Lewis Taylor case here's a guy who makes records by himself, I've been there, he does it at his home with an old PC (yes, a PC) using the most archaic resources at times, he is an artist who doesn't have any lofty ambitions, his only goal is to continue making music in any way he can. A diligent researcher who knows about an enormous amount of music of all kinds, reflected in his clever arrangements that reference any number of things and go to many unexpected places, I always love to listen to his records because when I played in his band we played some of this music but with dramatically different arrangements. And as much respect I have for him as a musician his abilities as a lyricist are the thing that just completely blow me away! a truly virtuosic use of the spanish language, his songs are poems that with profound abstraction and flair talk about many universal realities while keeping true to many of the characteristic elements of Venezuelan idiosyncrasy (He has an encyclopedic knowledge of poetry and literature). Just really beautiful stuff from someone who’s also a beautiful human being. This record is only one of 11 he’s mande! and he already has 4 more that he’s about to release any time soon, so if you like it stay tuned!

Juanma Trujillo is a guitarist, composer, and improvisor and is a relative newcomer to New York City.  Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Juanma studied music intently with Maria Eugenia Atilano and Gonzalo Mico.  He moved to Los Angeles, CA after becoming well established in Caracas, and has since toured throughout the United States and Europe.  His music is ever encompassing, diverse, yet wholly original and engrossing. 

Wildcard - Joe Goehle

Rubblebucket – Omega La La

This album is the first to ever make me get up and dance at my computer as I listened to it from front to back. As I continue listening, I admire the hypnotizing vocal harmonies that seem to float over infectious ostinatos and “poppy” guitar riffs. Listening further, notice the many layers that this band creates, through varying textures, dynamics, and timbres. The music just feels good. The whole album feels like a party or a live show -something incredibly difficult to do in a studio session. Despite overdubs of electronic sounds and effects, the music sounds raw and spontaneous. I find myself asking these questions: Can I create improvised music that feels this good? Can I improvise music that makes me want to dance like this? Where is the line between arrangement and improvisation and how to I blur it?

John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman 

If I could play my bass like Johnny sings these songs, I would die a happy man. I’m currently transcribing his singing on this record purely for tone quality. Working on pulling a beautiful sound out of my instrument with the bow and fingers is something that I have never focused on in so much detail. It is a truly eye-opening experience. Check out the vocal slide at 4:34 on the track “My One and Only Love.” Like Butta’

Blood Sugar Sex Magik – The Red Hot Chili Peppers

I keep returning to this album all the time. I have been listening it since I was 13 years old and it is one that I continue to check out almost daily. To me, this is the peak of the RHCP and sets the standard for all genres that incorporate multiple musical styles. You can tell that they draw from a multitude of musical inspirations and create something that is unique, something that is their own. At first I was really digging the bass lines of the album, but the more that I listen the more I identify with the variety of formal structures that are fused with seemingly non-sensical musical ideas and lyrics. It seems so random, yet is planned in a way that brings order to the chaos. When I improvise, I think about this album frequently. I have tried to compose songs that capture the spirit of the band and I am still searching. There is a certain energy that I think is lacking in modern “improvised music” – whatever that term may mean. I think it may be more about letting go of the music and letting it breath.

November – John Abercrombie

There are an amazing amount of melodies on this album. The band interacts with one another and creates music that is always subservient to the entire group sound. Each line flows through one another, making logical sense with what was played before and anticipating what comes next. An ebb and flow is created through keen listening and awareness of where the music is headed. All of the compositions are beautiful and even a tune like Marc Johnson’s “Right Brain Patrol,” though technical in nature, has a feeling of simplicity and lyricism that I think is the key to all great music. Something that I have been working on lately is trying to hear the band’s sound as one sound while playing. It is extremely challenging. I feel a certain musical “schizophrenia” as I jump around listening to certain sounds and trying to fit my part in. I find that I can relax if I let my hands just “do” what they need to do. Again, the theme of letting the music breath returns in this recording. Listening to this album has helped me take a step back and listen to a model of what I would like to achieve in my own playing. 

Joe Goehle is a NY based bassist and composer who is currently performing with a number of ensembles in both New York City and upstate New York. His music combines freely improvised music with traditional structures from many styles of music. He is an avid supporter of music education and strives to incorporate relevant musical experiences into the lives of his students.

Wildcard - Ben Russell

Ben Russell, violinist, vocalist and songwriter, can be seen performing with several NYC ensembles, hiking unfamiliar trails in upstate NY, and drinking unique tequilas in numerous Northeast watering holes. In coming up with this list, I found that I kept thinking of musicians in pairs or groups. Like the old timey, scratchy, rough around the edges music of both Mississippi John Hurt and Doc Watson. Man, I love how they tell a good story. Or the  meditative and/or cerebral music of Mitsuko Uchida's Mozart, Henry Cowell playing his own music, or Keith Jarrett's improv concerts in Japan (Sun Bear). I like those in a quiet space. I'm fascinated by how Bruce Molsky and Tim Eriksen meld their voice with their violin, but each with his own style. I wouldn't be writing music if it wasn't for those guys. And lastly, I'm often listening to songwriters over and over again. Randy Newman, Leonard Cohen, and the Beach Boys are on the top of my list right now...



Mississippi John Hurt, Doc Watson


Mitsuko Uchida's Mozart

Henry Cowell

Keith Jarret - Sun Bear Concerts

Bruce Molsky

Tim Eriksen

Randy Newman

Leonard Cohen

Beach Boys - Wild Honey

Wildcard - Elsa Nilsson

Critters Buggin - Guest

Ah the joys of instrumental grunge! Its loud, there're effects on everything, crazy spoken loops and unison ethnic percussion sections, but technically its jazz. Well, there are saxophone solos. Joyful, raucous and unpredictable ones, but still. Critters Buggin's records are full of grooves that feel like walking through swamps because there is just so much tension on the time. Sonically it goes from the very organic to the very affected and electronic without being gimmicky. Its very hard for me to pick a favorite recording of theirs, but "Guest" was the first one I heard and it opened my eyes to the idea that the only confines placed on any instrument are in our minds. Just because an instrument is traditionally considered to be one thing doesn't mean you can't break that mold. Critters broke many concepts I thought of as molds, and every time I hear it I fall deeper in love with improvised music. I have listened to this record at least twice a month for the last 6 years. Comfort food for my ears!

Ron Miles - Woman’s Day

Sometimes you come across a record that is just sincere. When you feel like you are having a deep personal conversation with the musicians, and occasionally hearing things you weren't supposed to. It's intimate, and it’s a record you listen to alone. This is that record for me. I only listen to it when I'm alone, and I love everything about it. I kind of don't want to write specifics because I feel I would deprive you of the joy of discovering it on your own. I will tell you that I love the sounds, the amazingly strong but delicate compositions (like its a salt crystal that will break if I touch it but then punches me in the face with a hidden arm), the fluid and thoughtful improvisation and the seamless group dynamic and communication. That's vague enough right? Now you really want to hear it. Go listen to it. Or "Laughing Barrel". Both amazing records. I can wait.

Masada - The Circle Maker - Issachar

More comfort food records. I listen to this almost weekly as well. More instruments doing things I didn't necessarily attribute to them until I heard this. This always makes me happy. I like to be sonically surprised. One thing I love about these records is that even when they go out (and they do) the ground and the groove remains. This free playing within the framework of a groove is one of my favorite things. I love the edgy quality to the tone and the general "don't give a damn" attitude it conveys to me, even on the softer songs. Somehow, these records always make me want to dance. And like the crazy agro arms spinning kind of dance (before you ask, no you can't see it). But sometimes that's what you need to stay sane.

Some more records I listen to OFTEN:

Jimi Hendrix - Band of Gypsies Soundgarden - Live on I5 Tom Waits - Rain Dogs Freddy Hubbard, Curtis Fuller, Yusef Lateef - Gettin it together Jamie Baum - Solace Den Fule - Lugomleik

Elsa Nilsson's band is a tour de force, mixing personality and tradition to take the listener on a journey through sounds from Brazil, Cuba, Turkey, and the Baltic countries, all through the lens of Jazz and Swedish Traditional music. Nilsson has built a solid career and reputation upon her belief that all folk music (including jazz) has a common thread, and that by weaving those threads together, a deeper, more layered understanding among varying cultures can be reached.

Wildcard - Michaël Attias

Jimmy Lyons - The Box Set

"As if a magic lantern had thrown the nerves in patterns on a screen"... (Eliot)

Every performance here is evidence of a direct physiological connection between nerve thought tongue fingers air – of a heart big enough to appear heartless – of a mind-spirit-body cluster alive, fierce, generous – pure alto – but also tough merciless dialectical, one becoming two dividing and disassociating like a motherfucker, tongue-scalpel articulating bone muscle and ligament of line. True trance-music, to be actually effective (not decorative, not a postcard of a journey nobody has actually made) is achieved through such specificities...

Haïm Botbol

Haïm Botbol

I had two early childhoods before coming to America: one, episodic, among the Moroccan diaspora of my mother's family in the north of Israel; and the other in Paris, as exiled secret Jews, the May 68 revolution still in the air of the streets ten years later before the lid we live under came down.

These were among the first sounds to cradle me, voices in my grandmother's living room, Nahariya, mint tea, coffee and the early morning laughter of my six aunts. The pervasive languages were Judeo-Moroccan Arabic, Hebrew, French, and through the marriages of two of my aunts, Italian and American (Chicago) English. Haïm Botbol was born into a family of musicians in Fez. L'Orchestre Botbol was big in the cabarets of Casablanca and Marrakech that my father frequented in the 50's and is now a symbol of the once-possible intertwining of Arabic, Jewish, and Andalousian tradition. There's even some Gnawa thrown in there (hear the clapping in the end). A gone world. He was a rock star.

Robert Johnson - King of the Delta Blues Singers

Rimbaud of the blues, he cultivated schizophrenia as a high form of polyphony, I becoming Other, the self poised and grooving at the border of its own disintegration: each musical strand, guitar string, attack, level of speech, is its own entity, a separate voice – other solo guitarist/singers have mastered the technical challenge of sounding like three or four people playing at once, but this is something else  in the order of Being, he went much further, too far, to where the extreme individuation of each part makes it sound as if it were produced by a different person, psyche, body. It's symptomatic of these mysteries that people argue about the correct speed of the recordings, claiming his voice was higher or lower (mostly), wanting him to be One when he was so Many. 

Robert Johnson, Casals playing Bach, Schnabel the Beethoven sonatas, Charlie Parker, Coltrane …  explorers of the multiple voices inhabiting a voice, tearing down its walls, opening big holes of anti-matter (another name for the devil in Robert Johnson's songs?) in the middle of a phrase, of a thought, driving a stake through its heart, genius at the peril of madness. In our day of careerist self-promoting human networking machines no thicker than a profile, it's time to bring some of these old notions back, I call for a new Romanticism to explode the gridworld. Hear the gestures his voice makes, the ghosts in the guitar. Pure genius.

Bird at Nick's

Charlie Parker - "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" from Bird at St. Nick's

Here's Bird tearing other holes in the fabric, offering another idea of polyphony as a single line folding in on itself, splitting into two, three registers, then reconnecting at the speed of genius, sweet and brutal and lyrical beyond belief. Each motive generates architecture in time but also serves as a wedge to deconstruct the barline, topple it over the abyss. Hear that first bridge of the first chorus! Danger: is he stuck? Abyssal negation forthwith negated by the heartwrenching leap into the top of the last A, alto splayed across registers, crucified by a chord. You have to be willing to die right Now to play a solo like this. Anything else is the mediocrity of resignation, obedience, or just the jive of sham knowing … and at the end that amazing clusterfuck cadence of Miles and Bird finishing the chorus in amazing compression leaving a big hole of time before the insolence of another Country Garden tag.

DJ Rashad - Only One from Double Cup

“Girl you know there's nothing is real”. Gridworld warped by the tugging of two's and three's in opposite directions of time.  Under every sound is a kernel of word and in a every word a rhythmic energy pullings its syllables apart, splitting atomic sense. This is the music of initiates to the same mysteries of rhythm which yield Bata, Gnawa music, Andrew Hill. A multidirectional multimorph of time, all feel, nothing at a metric right angle to the other. Exquisite layerings of THROB against PROD, JAB against JAM, tiny metal biting teeth of the accelerated hihat, dark bass of the Mouth Hole swallowing every sound in its path.

There's a torque in the machine, proliferating inflections in the meter, twist the neck of a robot long enough it might begin to speak a hybrid of human language, dream a human dream, yield sounds of motor, engine, pixel - but also gristle, rain, volcano, wind. Time and timbre in the hands of DJ Rashad were infinitely malleable. Such a deep and impeccable understanding of the properties and powers of his materials, mixes tested directly on the bodies of dancers in the fire of Footwork battles, himself once a soldier-dancer of Chicago visionary warfare trance music. In the last few albums, the emotional coloring deepened with a more insistent note of loss, guilt, desire dissolved in currents of electronic sound, human-ness shed of its burden of too heavy solid flesh. DJ Rashad died April 26 of this year, laid to rest. Let It Go.

 A magnetic presence on the New York scene since the mid-nineties, saxophonist/composer/improvisor Michaël Attias was born in Israel, spent his childhood in Paris and his adolescence in the American Midwest. Exposing himself to a wide range of life and musical situations, he has crafted a supple, passionate and uncompromising language in which to render the diversity of his imagination and commitments.

Wildcard - Danny Gouker

F$F F$F! - Five Dollar Ferrari

I think I have to include this one, because last week I found myself, once again, telling someone I just met about this record. Track 1 is one of my favorite pieces of recorded music and I found this music because I was Facebook friends with Brad (even though I didn't know him that well yet) and he posted the Bandcamp link to his wall. I sort of idly clicked on it while trying to stop procrastinating, but got sucked in for the whole record. When I first heard it, I think what really drew me in and impressed me about it was how patient and slow moving it was while still drawing me in emotionally and pulling me along. It's a feeling and aesthetic that I generally feel completely incapable of creating myself and I really admire it. This record also got me interested in the whole body of work presented by Prom Night Records and is representative of the way other young musicians, especially trumpet players, in Brooklyn are continuing to inspire and surprise me.


I got into this while checking out some of Kenny Warren's music (oh hey another young trumpet player in Brooklyn) and he said one of his songs was influenced by Phil Elverum, who's the main person behind the Microphones. That was maybe a month ago and now I've got four of these records that I've had on repeat. I think a few critics say that "The Glow pt. 2" is the best record by the Microphones, but I really like to listen to records straight through and get a good feel for the whole record, and I think Mt. Eerie rewards listeners who do that. The whole record works as one integrated suite, segueing throughout and referencing previous material, even though each song could stand alone. There's also a really interesting paradox throughout, where there is a rich, expansive, almost opulent soundscape, but Phil sings softly and simply, often low in the mix. For me it has this feeling of seeing yourself in relation to something large, frightening, and mysterious. It seems like Phil also reuses and gives new context to some of his material, and there's a nice moment at the beginning of the record, during the extended intro on "The Sun" where you can hear some of the instrumental parts from "The Glow pt. 2" if you're listening really closely with headphones. Another one of my favorite parts is when he says something about "scary trumpets" in the lyrics and a bunch of weird scary trumpets come in and it's the only time there are trumpets on the record.


It seems like I go through cycles where I get really stuck on one artist or record for 3-6 months and just keep listening over and over, poring over all kinds of little details and just generally obsessing. I'm coming to a point where I've just gotten over playing all of Joanna Newsom's records on repeat, but it's worth mentioning here, because there was a good six months where I listened to barely anything else. It's hard to pick between her three records, Milk-eyed Mender, Ys, and Have One on Me, because they're all different and together have a really interesting progression as Joanna's music has developed. Ys is really special, though, because of the way some of these very long songs with intricate arrangements come together (and there's evidence she does it live, too, which is also impressive). My favorite two tracks are probably Emily and Only Skin. They're both similar in that they're long (12 and 16 minutes) with dense, nuanced lyrics throughout that hardly repeat, if at all. Both songs are propelled forward by the way Joanna manipulates her voice throughout, giving a feeling of urgency to every word, even if the whole song feels like a book.

Danny Gouker is a Brooklyn based trumpeter and composer whose band Signal Problems recently released their debut album on pfMENTUM.