Reviews that mention Noël Akchoté

January 11, 2013


Acid Rain
Ayler Records AYLCD -128



Creative Sources CS 206 CD

Events often move so quickly in 21st Century music that the electronic manipulators featured on these fine European sessions can be considered throw-backs because both insist on using analog devices, many of them DIY. Yet the key to exultant Free Music is its adaptability. The ET duo for instance pairs these primitive electronics with primordial percussion consisting of cast off junk, tools and found objects. Meanwhile the electronics on Acid Rain are paired with the 20th Century’s two most popular instruments – the electric guitar and the drum kit. In both cases the result is as mesmerizing as it is unique. MORE

August 17, 2010

Max Nagl

Big Four/Sortileges
Rude Noises 017 CD



Rude Noises 016 CD

One of those Viennese musical polymaths who seem to exist in profusion inside the ring roads of the ancient capital of the Astro-Hungarian Empire, saxophonist Max Nagl is best-known abroad for the avant-Swing Big Four combo completed by French guitarist Noël Akchoté, and Americans, trumpeter Steven Bernstein and bassist Brad Jones.

But, as these CDs demonstrate, Nagl – like other advanced musicians from the Austrian capital such as trumpeters Franz Hautzinger and Franz Koglmann plus keyboardist Hannes Löschel – isn’t satisfied with one distinct style. His preference has been to investigate theatre and film scoring, folklore and electronica as well as Jazz improv. Plus he manages to work all these genres into unique collages. While there are only two CDs here for instance, three different formations are involved, the Big Four and solo and trio efforts, which are as quirky as the quartet is faux-mainstream. MORE

July 2, 2008

Sonic Geography: Mulhouse, France

For MusicWorks Issue #101

During late August when some streets in Mulhouse, France take on a decidedly other-directed character associated with the Jazz à Mulhouse (JAM) festival, it’s likely neither visitors nor locals realize the symbolic roots of the celebration, an integral part of the city since 1983.

Known as France’s Manchester, industry in this city of about 112,000 people in the Haut-Rhin region has been involved with the textile industry since 1746, when four locals founded the city’s first textile printing works. Annexed by France in 1798, Mulhouse was formerly a free republic associated with the Swiss Confederation. In the late 19th and early 20th century Mulhouse’s factories remained world leaders in the manufacture and marketing of printed cloth for both home and apparel, while students from around the world studied at the École nationale superieure des industries textiles. MORE

April 3, 2008

Nagel, Bernstein, Akchoté, Jones

Big Four Live
hatOLOGY 637

By Ken Waxman

A unique recasting of the timbres created by a classic Swing Era combo, this mixed American-European quartet proves that profundity can result from post-modern transference. Mostly performed portamento, with just enough growls, echoes and spikes to be distinctive, the nine tracks here add intellectual rigor to andante swing.

Never to be confused with Dixielander Muggsy Spanier, American trumpeter Steven Bernstein still works old-style references into such slangily titled compositions as “New Viper Dance” and “Muggles 2000”, while making full use of plunger digressions, braying rubato tones and showy triplets. In the Sidney Bechet role, Austrian alto saxophonist Max Nagel replaces wide vibrato with sudden intervallic jumps and rasping obbligatos, while his solos range from velvety to – on his aptly titled “Monx”, of “Epistrophy” not ecclesiastical reference – irregular chirping and sibilance. MORE

January 9, 2008

Jazz à Mulhouse gives a loving French kiss to Improvised music

By Ken Waxman
For CODA Issue 337

Impressive saxophone and reed displays were the focus of the 24th Edition of Jazz à Mulhouse in France in late August. Overall however, most of the 19 performances maintained a constant high quality. This may have something to do with the fact that unlike larger, flashier and more commercial festivals, Jazz à Mulhouse (JAM) is an almost folksy showcase for improvisation.

Located less than 20 minutes away by train from Basel, Switzerland, Mulhouse is a mid-sized city of 150,000 in eastern France long known as an industrial textile centre. Low-key, JAM is rather like the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV), with better restaurants. MORE

May 17, 2004


Blue Chopsticks BC12

Pax PR 90264

Eventually, it seems that when a musician truly wants to express himself most freely, he must get involved with improvisation. Take these two CDs as evidence.

Englishman Dave Tucker gained his greatest fame as guitarist for the rock group The Fall in the early 1980s. Since then he’s turned to improv, playing with saxist Evan Parker and drummer Roger Turner at home and matching wits with this Bay area crew on a visit stateside. MORE

July 7, 2003


Rossbin RS 009

Perpetual Joseph
Rectangle REC AL 2

More entries in the quest to find something fresh to play with the electric guitar finds two European musicians pursuing far different strategies. Portuguese guitarist Manuel Mota propels his solid body electric guitar through different variations of quietude, while Frenchman Noël Akchoté manipulates his amplifier as much as his strings.

Lisbon-based Mota, born in 1970, plays regularly with locals bassist Margarida Garcia and trumpeter Sei Miguel; while Paris resident Akchoté, two years older, has recorded with fellow guitarist Derek Bailey, played in the band The Recyclers and with a variety of other musicians including saxophonists Evan Parker and Sam Rivers. MORE

September 24, 2001


Close to the Kitchen
Blue Chopsticks 06

An outstanding example of pure guitar extemporization, this European dust up is a cross-generational, cross-cultural tryst as well.

On one side there's British improv elder statesman, Derek Bailey (born 1930), who practically invented the U.K. variant of free music and who continues to work with nearly every player with whom he crosses paths. In the other corner is young French guitarist Noël Akchoté (born 1968), influenced by noise bands and rockers as well a free music and who has honed his improv chops with musicians as different as Americans, saxophonist Tim Berne and trombonist George Lewis and fellow Gauls drummer Daniel Humair, reedist Louis Sclavis and bassist Joëlle Léandre. Known for his POMO band The Recyclers, Akchoté also writes for film and run the Rectangle record label, on which this session first appeared on LP in 1996. MORE