Jazzword reviews

Canadian Ken Waxman wrote down some lovely words on two of our recent releases. Just published on Jazzword.

“A standout session of uncompromising improvisations by three experts in the field, this Brussels concert has inexplicably waited 10 years before being on disc. On Sunday offers two masterful performances by British guitarist John Russell (1954-2021), German alto saxophonist Stefan Keune and Belgian percussionist Kris Vanderstraeten. Russell who played with the likes of Evan Parker, Keune, who recorded with innovators such as Steve Noble, also played as a duo since 2000, while lesser-known veteran Vanderstraeten worked with Martina Verhoeven among many others. On Sunday reflects that slight separation. Contributing the odd Mylar slap, cymbal shakes and wooden pops, the percussionist stays very much in the background, sporadically accenting the expositions, as Russell and Keune offer up string rubs and slurred fingering melded with reed squeals, squeaks and split tones. Distinctively constructing a strategy from below-the- bridge string scrapes, the guitarist expresses his part in dual counterpoint with the saxophonist’s extended techniques encompassing aviary trills, doits, flattement and sound detours. While the mouse-like peeps and unforced finger picking evolve in a relaxed fashion with circular sound affirmation that concludes first track, a penultimate sequence of tongue slaps and percussive string strums confirm the sonic steel that underlies this deadpan improvising. Much lengthier, “On Sunday 2” evolves speedily from barely there string scrubs and insect-like reed squeaks as the exposition becomes quicker and louder. Keune’s altissimo split tones are matched with Russell’s ferocious strums and Vanderstraeten rim clatters. Before intensifying still further during the set’s last third, the guitarist’s single string clanks suggest a separate complementary melody backed by maracas-like shakes and conga drum-like slaps from the percussionist. An emphasis on abstract multiphonics from all three confirms Free Music acumen. Yet at the same time concentrated paradiddles and rolls from the percussionist, slashing fingering from the guitarists and patterning squeaks affirm the trio’s creative bonding. It may have taken a decade to appear, but On Sunday still adds luster to each player’s career, especially the under-recorded Vanderstraeten. Sadly it’s now also a memorial to Russell’s imaginative skills.”

““Webster, who has also recorded with Dirk Serries and Lisle who plays with Alex Ward are part of other groups together. But this stripped-down duo gives them more freedom to stretch musically and they do so over seven tracks. Surprisingly, one “Kuggar” is as muted as the other are clamorous with single tones vibrating from within the saxophone’s body tube and these echoes affiliated with drum top spills. Otherwise the improvisations are ferocious with Lisle working his way through pops, claps and pats as Webster’s strategies vary from razzing reed buzzes to eviscerated note and tones. His vibrating snarls approach New Thing energy and often are pushed with spreading nephritic vigor. Staccato bites from the saxophone are often met with frenetic ruffs and paradiddles from the drummer. Besides breaking up his rhythmic thrust, Lisle emphasizes different parts of his kit, so before tuning shrill, the exposition of “Knill” is introduced by what sound like tambourine bumps. Everything comes to a head on “Yardro”, the longest track, as a renal mid-range introduction from Webster moves higher until it reaches altissimo power and is doubled by positioned smacks from Lisle. Tellingly, before the two reconvene their dialogue, there’s an a capella reed section where Webster seems to be spearing timbres from the horn’s innards. Followed by a set of doubled rebounds from the drummer, the reed coda wraps together nasal snarls and whinnying extensions. If unbridled, stripped down sonic exploration is your cup of tea or glass of wine – depending on your nationalist perspective – then you’ll be able to quench your thirst with this disc”