Monday, 8 May 2017

ADHD6, ADHD, May 2017

Missing their jazzahead performance back in 2015 - among most-liked ones of my jazz professional friends in there at that time - I know I would not make the same mistake when I first saw two months ago that Icelandic jazz band ADHD is visiting Cloud Nine of Tivoli Vredenburg in Utrecht for a live performance on March. A single seamless set of almost 90 minutes, which is full of tensional swinging between too many different textures both in electronic and acoustic world and improvisational patterns sourcing both from jazz and rock genres, pushed me directly to the sales corner after the performance and I could not help myself buying as much as I can from their rare -pressed and released in Iceland previously- albums. Luckily, I had also the last album ADHD6, which includes most of the tunes played in the performance and is being released now in May. So, here is what I have to say after listening to the ADHD6 several times following that night.

Even though it is presented in eight individual tracks, this album can be described as a single (or two set at most) performance of around 45 minutes, where certain differences in rhythms and main themes create the boundaries of separate pieces. Even just with this organic structure, one can easily notice that the roots of the musical and social relationship between band members is a long established one.

The album starts with a track called MAGNÚS TRYGVASON ELIASSEN, which is also the name of the drummer of the band. The main line seems to be constructed on the keyboarder DAVÍÐ ÞÓR JÓNSSON's dark bass lines and carried by the modest theme delivered by the saxophonist ÓSKAR GUÐJÓNSSON. The rise and fall of the tension is successfully controlled by the drummer throughout the piece and the soft guitar touches by ÓMAR GUÐJÓNSSON seems like the last ingredient in this minimal, yet very sophisticated, sonar stew. The last distortions of this first piece sounds like turning into the first random sparks of the creation in the second number, LEVON. The cool bass line from Omar's bass guitar brings the scattered pieces together down to the ground and is accompanied by the shuffles of the keyboards. The sax is kind of a free format poem over this top notch rhythm line. Some high pitch feedback tones carried from this piece turns into the third track SPESSI, which sounds like carrying two very separated themes using stage one by one. The first one feels as if we are in a cool-lounge performance while the other one plays like a Nordic ballad with some naïve melodies from the saxophone. The bass line getting mushy and the drum-line turns into psychedelic patterns with the keyboard through the end of this third track. REBROFF is born as an amazingly touchy ballad-like sax partition connected to this crowded end. All the accompaniment made by the other instruments are consistent with this ambience. The solo part from the guitar and its tone in general are two very impressive highlights not only for this piece but for the whole album.

ALLI KRILLI looks like the first piece of the second set and carry some very catchy lines especially performed by saxophone. The band somehow manages to decrease the bpm of the whole performance gradually and keeps on playing the same tune - for me it is like zooming into a great landscape from Iceland. The electrical content from the keyboard and guitar, which almost sounds like a natural sound from underneath the earth, is really impressive in this piece. FYRIR RÚNA is the pure Nordic number in the album especially with its melancholic keyboard lines and spacious saxophone performance carrying lots of air inside - very successfully recorded indeed. TVÖFALDUR VİKINGUR increases the energy a little bit and moves us back into an interesting psychedelic-lounge genre based on continuous drum and deep bass riffs surrounded by an electric ambient and propelled by a naïve saxophone, which I am sure sounds strange as a genre description. MED İVARI closes the album with a gradually slowed-down and dignified tempo. It somehow sounds like a conclusion for the whole album carrying familiar textures from some of the other pieces.

The recording, mixing and mastering of the album seem like to be achieved well - although the complex sound palette is distributed over several layers and the dynamic range is very high, the instruments can be easily located in individual places within a wide stage. Plus, being able to hear the saxophone this much detailed and natural in an album, which is heavily allocated with electronic-based rhythms, is giving a certain feeling of reliance about the quality in general to the listener .

Even though there are now 6 albums from ADHD, I strongly recommend you listen them live because these guys were really born to play live. What you can get from the album is at most half of what's really going on with the concerts. Here is their tour program from their own website:

...and here is a sample from one of their latest live performances:

Thursday, 4 May 2017

The Blog Turns Back to Its Roots, Chris Potter Quartet in Bimhuis May 3rd 2017

Bimhuis has always been in my must-see-list. To be honest, I found it strange and a little bit pity for myself that I had not been there since last night - although I have been in Amsterdam several times before and I started to live in Netherlands two months ago... We can all blame the incredible North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam for this since it had basically been the main reason for my travels before, saturating my appetite for jazz and preventing me from asking for more during my one-day-sightseeing-visits around the Dam. Well, it seems that the Jazz God was waiting for the right time in order to make a memorial night for me.

It was more than 5 years ago when I decided to start to write a jazz blog and even I am not good at designing catchy blog lay-outs, I was aware of the fact that I needed a meaningful photo that carry some memories for me within itself. My long time followers were expecting to see a snapshot from my all time favourite trio E.S.T at that time, but I chose a concert from London Jazz Festival 2011 instead. It was a concert dedicated to 50 years of Impulse! records and the legendary McCoy Tyner was on piano. Chris Potter was the special selection of that night on the saxophone, carrying this well-deserved honor at the spacious performance hall in the amazing Barbican Center. I should confess that I had not heard a lot on him till that night but I was lucky enough to join the interview of BBC Radio 3 with him just before the concert. One thing I will never forget about that concert is the long standing-ovation for McCoy Tyner, which started right after his entrance to the stage and lasted for minutes. I think that was the time that I am impressed a lot by the enthusiasm within the idea of jazz and its not-so-many supporters both from performers and listeners side. That was the time – as far as I remember – that I decided to share what I feel about the music I love listening to. It was without any purpose and I wasn’t expecting anything in return. It was the first artistic feeling I get – a deep and priceless satisfaction with no pragmatic prejudgments.
Thus, it started like that and with so many peaks and deeps I kept on writing within this blog. I feel so lucky and humble that I have been able to join so many performances and listened to so many jazz albums – all around the world. Now, while writing these lines on the last train from Amsterdam to my home in Eindhoven, I feel the same satisfaction. Once again, thanks to the great performance of Chris Potter Quartet in Bimhuis, Amsterdam last night, I feel complete and full enough to keep on sharing. It is hard to give a single reason why I am so impressed and got emotional. The elegant and modest tone of Chris Potter both from tenor and soprano sax, his great compositions in the last album from ECM, Dreamer is the Dream, the amazing Nasheet Waits on drums, the great solo performances of pianist David Virelles and bassist Joe Martin, heavenly acoustic conditions of Bimhuis right next to the Amsterdam Port and -last but not least- the unique view of wide glass background of the stage letting you see the busy Dutch trains landing on and off to the Central Station... They, all together, pushed me to write these lines which can be defined as the ones connecting the blog back to the roots that I have been feeding from for a long time. It is this connection and idea indeed what make me to keep on writing – who knows, maybe for forever.

Stay connected for following posts which will be on some very good jazz albums that I have listened to lately.