Jordan Rudess - Rhythm Of Time Magna Carta “Dream Theater,” keyboardist Jordan Rudess and a slew of progressive-rock guitar gods navigate tricky time signatures on this high-flying production. At times, it’s difficult to discern whether it’s Rudess performing his synth lines or guitarists such as Greg Howe and Joe Satriani’s, high-tech – into the ozone – type leads. Essentially, Rudess is a speed demon on the keys. Occasionally, he interjects slick jazz grooves into the mix, but the thrust of this generally, soaring affair is rooted within his polytonal chord progressions, and layered orchestrations. And as we might expect, drummer Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs) handles the difficult pulses with chutzpah along with a whiz-bang approach to dynamics.
Über-lunged German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann teamed up with American vanguard legend Joe McPhee (who plays alto, tenor, trumpet, and pocket cornet here), bassist Kent Kessler, and drummer Michael Zerang (four-tenths of the Tentet Brötzmann toured and recorded with in the late '90s) for a single day of exchanging tunes and improvising in June 2002. McPhee and Brötzmann are perfect foils for one another on the front line. They both have requisite force, but McPhee is also a chameleon's player; he understands what lies in the spaces and knows how to make the most of it. His own compositions here, which account for over half the album, stress the kind of joint front-line melodies and close harmonics that create inner space in a tune – just check his two-part "Stone Poem" and his "Anticipation of the Next," dedicated to departed bassists Peter Kowald and Wilbur Morris, for evidence. Brötzmann offers some surprises here in his pieces as well, not the least of which is his reformulation of a hymn Thelonious Monk recorded shortly before his death, originally entitled "This Is My Story, This Is My Song." Titled "Blessed Assurance" here, it takes the hymn, moves through its changes twice, and extrapolates them through his solo and the band's collective improvisation. McPhee's trumpet is the perfect complement and the pair sound like Albert and Don Ayler swinging their chariots toward the heavenly gates. Likewise, the beautiful art-damaged composition "Pieces of Red, Green, and Blue" (supposedly written about a museum experience he and Brötzmann shared) offers killer honking saxophone phrases that are repeated, striated, warped, turned inside out and back on themselves, and finally exploded into intense and inspired group interplay. This is a fiery and yet accessible date that showcases many aspects of the two men not only as players, but as composers as well.
Before migrating across the ECM continent, Stephan Micus outfitted some of his most formative expeditions in the territories of the JAPO sub-label. On these albums one hears Micus at his most elemental, turning every gesture into inter-spatial awareness. The album’s duration of 36 minutes only serves to deepen its intimacy as a space in which the listener might catch a cushion of meditation in a world of splinters. Micus’s practice has always been to render the stem before the flower, and in the album’s title track a table harp provides that very illustrative function. Its dulcimer-like heart beats a rhythm at once ancient and fresh, curling as the scriptural page, its edges darkened from constant contact with the hands. Those same hands cradle a method of speech so musical that its melody is discernible only in the freedom of solitude.
This is the first duet album released by drummer Ferenc Nmeth and Valancian saxophonist Javier Vercher. They both share a musical vision which abounds in wide open possibilities of spontaneous improvisation with beautifull melodies and songs. Vercher is a young, prodigiously gifted saxophonist with powerful free playing that amazingly flows in this recording. Nemeth, a player of consummate subtlety and tasted, is a product of the jazz hotbed of Keszthely, Hungary.
Persistence of Time rivals Among the Living as Anthrax's best album and might even be a clear-cut favorite if some of the songs had been trimmed a bit. The more cartoonish side of the band is missing here, trimmed in favor of a dark, uncompromising examination of society's dirty underbelly – nearly every song rails against hatred and prejudice, but without an excess of optimism…