Reviews that mention Michael Sarin

December 13, 2021

Joe Fiedler Open Sesame

Fuzzy and Blue
Multiphonics Music MM 006

Michael Vlatkovich

With You Jazz Cat

pfMentum PFMCD 142

They both may have toy-like fuzzy creatures pictured on their CD covers and be small bands led by American trombonists, but that’s where the resemblance between Fuzzy and Blue and With You Jazz Cat ends. Music director/staff arranger for Sesame Street at the same time as he works with his own Jazz bands, this is New Yorker Joe Fiedler’s second Open Sesame disc where he transforms kids’ show tunes into improvised music. Adding funk, Blues, Latin and other textures to the 13 selections his sophisticated arrangements resemble the beyond category feeling of some Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn projects for the Ellington band. Part of the West Coast contingent of advanced players, Michael Vlatkovich’s octet compositions suggest a contemporary take on the fluid creations produced by a California big band leader whose concepts were a large part of 1940s and 1950s Jazz, but whose name is more unfamiliar to anyone younger than 60 than Oscar the Grouch or the Cookie Minster: Stan Kenton. MORE

December 11, 2017

Joe Fiedler

Like, Strange
Multiphonics Music MM003

Dan Phillips Chicago Edge Ensemble

Decaying Orbit

No label No #

Organized with identical instrumentation and recorded within a month of one another, these CDs are instances of two approaches to contemporary Jazz, New York and Chicago versions. Like eccentric mirror images of one another as well, each disc’s most notable players are a guitarist and a trombonist, with one player of either instrument taking the leadership role. Somehow though the compositions of a returning Chicagoan, guitarist Dan Phillips, matched with top-flight Windy City associates come across with more flight and individuality that the nine tunes composed by Manhattan trombonist Joe Fiedler. MORE

November 16, 2017

Mario Pavone

Clean Feed CF 423 CD

Mario Pavone Dialect Trio


Playscape Recordings PSR #060316

Moving into his eighth decade, bassist Mario Pavone still maintains the organizational and compositional smarts that have characterized his career as a musical partner with players as different as reedists Anthony Braxton and Thomas Chapin as well as pianist Paul Bley and guitarist Michael Musillami. Like writers such as Vladimir Nabokov and John O’Hara, whose later fiction was at least as eminent as their work as younger scribblers, one could say Pavone has improved with age. MORE

August 21, 2016

Krakauer’s Ancestral Groove

Table Pounding Records TPR -003

Dobrek Bistro

Featuring David Krakauer

Dobrecords 006

Forty-odd years after enthusiasm for pre-Holocaust Eastern European Jewish music led to the so-called Klezmer Revival, its characteristics have seeped into other genres, while the traditional sound itself has mutated. Like folk songs, country Blues and reggae, Klezmer tropes have insinuated themselves into many non-Klez, non-Jewish musical projects. At the same time, like speculative researchers unsatisfied with the status quo in any field, some of the more sophisticated Klezmer practitioners have moved beyond emulation and re-creation to bring alien sonic strains onto the body of Klezmer works. MORE

November 21, 2015

Erik Friedlander

Skipstone SSR 22

Arrigo Cappelleti/Furio Di Castri/Bruce Ditmas

Homage to Paul Bley

Leo Records CD LR 732

Barry Harris

Plays Tadd Dameron

Xanadu Master Edition 906071

Roscoe Mitchell

Celebrating Fred Anderson

Nessa ncd-37

Rob Reddy

Bechet: Our Contemporary

Reddy Music RED 003

Something In The Air: Honoring More Than The Few Famous Jazz Greats

By Ken Waxman

With music like the other arts increasingly focused on known quantities, recorded salutes to jazz greats have almost become a subcategory of their own. If the world needs another record of Beethoven, Mozart, Elvis or Sinatra, then saluting Ellington, Trane or Miles one more time shouldn’t be a dilemma. But more erudite improvisers realize the music’s wider reach, and if they opt to honor innovators, as on the CDs here, choose lesser-known but equally important stylists. MORE

April 7, 2015

Joe Fielder Trio

I’m in
Mutiphonics Music/MM02

By Ken Waxman

Trombonist Joe Fielder’s day job is as arranger, orchestrator and trombonist for Sesame Street. In the most complimentary manner possible, I’m in; the fourth CD by his own trio is a bit like that kids’ TV show: it’s educational plus a whole lot of fun. Fielder, who besides crafting cues and arrangements for the likes of Elmo, Big Bird and Kermit the Frog, not only leads his own groups but is also first call for bands like Eddie Palmieri’s and the Mingus Big Band. That versatility is part of the educational element of this CD, since each track succinctly expresses a different mood or emotion. I’m in is also educational since Fielder concentrates on the plunger mute, demonstrating the versatility of the classic jazz standby in contemporary music. Like Sesame Street though, the CD can be enjoyed for the raunchy excitement Fielder, bassist Rob Jost and drummer Michael Sarin bring to the nine original compositions, without knowing which trope or technique is being exhibited. MORE

September 9, 2013

Mark Dresser Quintet

Clean Feed CF 279 CD

By Ken Waxman

Double bass master and educator Mark Dresser is known for his ability to stunningly interpret the most advanced notated and improvised music – often in a solo context. However on this, his first quintet date in decades, he shows he can compose and play sounds that are affecting and swinging without neglecting his matchless technique.

While the line-up of trombone, alto saxophone, piano, bass and drums may read like that of a standard bop combo, each of the sidemen is so accomplished instrumentally that the results are out-of-the-ordinary. The most obvious departure from the norm is that Denman Maroney plays so-called hyperpiano throughout, allowing him to expose in-and-outside the frame multiphonics along with expected patterns. Alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, who co-wrote “Not Withstanding” with Dresser, is in the Mauger band with the bassist, and his knowledge of Carnatic music helps negotiate the shimmering changes of Dresser’s “Rasaman” honoring a sitar-playing colleague. Trombonist Michael Dessen is established in mainstream and avant contexts; while Tom Rainey and Michael Sarin, who split drum duties, are both sympathetic, un-showy accompanists. MORE

October 25, 2011

Joe Fiedler Trio

Sacred Chrome Orb
Yellow Sound Music YSL 566653

Michael Dessen Trio

Forget the Pixel

Clean Feed CF 222 CD

Perhaps there’s more than a kernel of truth in those clichés about energetic New Yorkers and laid-back Californians. How else could one explain the massive variance between performances on these discs, each featuring a bassist, a drummer and a trombonist-leader playing original compositions by the brass man? In a way it’s a difference between lively and listless.

It’s not that Forget the Pixel is that enervated. It’s just that a certain sameness seems to permeate the seven compositions by trombonist Michael Dessen. Dessen, an academic with an interest in new technologies as well as telematic performances in multiple locations, adds computer wave forms to this disc in order to enhance the low-key proceedings. The results curve and undulate nicely, but not enough to alter the air of lethargic moderation that permeates the disc. Besides some rapid capillary movements from Dessen in the JJ Johnson lineage however, the most affecting overall performance is the title track. Here at least brushes-directed ruffs and bounces, spelled with an occasional martial beat, from drummer Dan Weiss, coupled with speedy stops as well as sul ponticello slides from bassist Christopher Tordini provide back-up for the trombonist’s slurs, puffs and squeezes. MORE

July 2, 2011

Erik Friedlander

Fifty Miniatures for Improvising Quintet
Skipstone Records SR006

Daniel Levin Quartet

Organic Modernism

Clean Feed CF 212 CD

No longer an anomaly, the cello as part of an improvising ensemble is now as common as the presence of other so-called orchestral instruments in that context. Furthermore since modern cellists involved in Free Music are schooled in its unique history, rather than being doubling bassists, the breadth of the instrument’s colors, both pizzicato and arco, are more meaningfully adapted to these situations. MORE

August 11, 2008

Joe Fielder Trio

The Crab
Clean Feed CF 092 CD

Slippery and slurpy, the nine tracks on this CD show that trombonist Joe Fielder has the chops to carry off a session backed by only bass and drums. The Crab is so memorable because it’s also no show-off’s technical exercise. The New York-based bone man invests each one of his bustling original compositions with emotion, humor and excitement.

A veteran of Latin as well as straight jazz bands, Fielder even brings Hispanic tinges to lines such as the title track and “A Frankfurter in Caracas”, which also pays homage to his mentor, German trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff. At the same time, like the older brass man, his solos on these and the other tunes while lyrical, encompass bitten-off notes, double tonguing, low-pitched growls and snorts. Using a collection of mutes and multiphonics his solo on “The Crab” is particularly outstanding, since he doubles entire passages with both mouthpiece and his own mouth, while elsewhere articulating staccato runs as effortlessly as J J. Johnson. MORE

May 12, 2006

Mario Pavone Sextet

Deez To Blues
Playscape PSR#J050505

Super-sizing his usual combo to a six-pack, veteran bassist Mario Pavone celebrates his 40th year in music with this hard-swinging CD of original compositions, mostly arranged by sideman, trumpeter Steven Bernstein of Sex Mob fame.

New to the Pavone orbit are Howard Johnson, a triple threat on tuba, baritone saxophone and bass clarinet, who provides a welcome low-pitched anchor, and violinist Charles Burnham, known for his work with the Odyssey trio, adding string quivers that range from classic Swing lines to near Old Timey country hoedowns. Returning are subtle drummer Michael Sarin and pianist Peter Madsen, whose flashing runs wring nuances from the music without hogging the spotlight. MORE

October 31, 2005


Time Changes
Cryptogramophone CG 124

Digression on a theme, TIME CHANGES finds bassist Mark Dresser and Denman Maroney amending the voicing they’ve developed over the years to encompass other sounds.

Utilizing the unique textures available from Dresser’s mastery of extended techniques and the timbres from Maroney’s hyperpiano – a regular piano’s strings and soundboard “prepared” with all sorts of gizmos – they make space for understated percussionist Michael Sarin and mezzo soprano Alexandra Montano. Involved with performing contemporary works by Philip Glass and Meredith Monk among others, the New York-based mezzo, functions here as another instrumentalist. Experienced in musicals and operas, she adopts her tessitura to the demands of wordless vocalizing. MORE

April 18, 2005


Eight Shorts in Search of David Lynch
ToneScience TS 7002

Sort of a modern day Thomas Alva Edison, Los Angeles-based guitarist Johnnie Valentino takes a practical approach to the somewhat esoteric concept of sound design. True to the functional philosophy of the Wizard of Menlo Park, Valentino mostly uses manipulated sounds in his day job, scoring and providing sonic textures for animated TV shows and feature films.

This CD is another matter, however. It’s a high art application of his collection of found sounds far removed from the tone designs he provides for sci-fi and children’s products such as Alvin & The Chipmunks, The New Archies or Wonder Boys. It proves that a musician with ingenuity can compartmentalize his creations, using some for art and others for commerce. MORE

October 11, 2004


Palmetto Records PM 2100

Palmetto Records PM 2101

Affiliated neither with the backwards-gazing Young Lions nor with the try- anything experimenters, New York’s Jazz Composers Collective (JCC) gathers together a rotating cast of musicians and bands to perform and write distinctive contemporary pieces to advance jazz without imitating or rupturing its historic fabric.

Bassist Ben Allison and pianist Frank Kimbrough -- who co-founded the JCC in 1992 and remain two of its composers-in-residence -- refine that concept on these CDs. Problem is, sometimes when you stay in the middle of the road -- even a musical one -- you’re apt to be run over from different directions. MORE

April 9, 2004


Live In Krakow
Label Bleu LBLC 6667

Giving traditional music a facelift is a much more delicate task than ever attempted on ExtremeMakeover. Unlike the surgeons who cater to the desperate folks on that exploitative TV show, committed musicians want to preserve the basic contours of the sound while adding inventive flourishes.

That’s why clarinetist David Krakauer’s new CD is so impressive. Although original sounds such as Western Swing style accordion lines, beat-box samples and funky bass guitar licks are added to the mix, he doesn’t sever Klezmer from its history as Ashkanazi music of celebration and commentary. MORE

February 23, 2004


Mirror Me
OmniTone 12203

Songlines SGL SA 1545-2

Commentators often ascribe a certain innate togetherness to the playing of married couples who record together, which in reality is no more than the sort of sympatico feelings band members can express for one another. More critically, husband and wife musicians can and should develop separate musical personalities.

That’s the fascination and interest in MIRROR ME and APPARITIONS. For while Jersey City, N.J. saxophonist Tony Malaby and pianist Angelica Sanchez have been married since 1998 and together for years before that, their albums aren’t that much similar than any two others by a pianist and saxophonist. The tenor and soprano man may play on his better half’s CD, in fact, but the outcome is different. MORE

August 5, 2002


Window Silver Bright
New World Records 80589-2

Almost 50 years ago, in 1953, New York vibist Teddy Charles got together with some advanced musicians in Los Angeles to produce COLLABORATION: WEST, an LP which molded chamber jazz, classical touches and swinging blues into a unique confection of shifting tonal centres.

Baritone saxophonist Andy Laster may never have heard that album. But the recipe he’s applied to this disc makes it a perfect successor to it and one that’s just as impressive. Like Charles, who used drummer Shelly Manne, bassist Curtis Counce, trumpeter Shorty Rogers and Jimmy Giuffre on baritone saxophone, his line up is eerily similar. Like the Californians, who worked in each other’s bands, Laster’s sidemen also often play together in other aggregations. MORE

July 13, 2002


Playscape PSR#J111401

Veteran bassist Mario Pavone better watch out. His writing and playing could breathe new life to the standard jazz piano trio format, which in other hands is mired in predictability. Of course, as this eye-opening CD, split between trio and quintet tracks shows, he may also be able to do the same for the traditional two-horns-and-rhythm jazz quintet.

What does Pavone have that others lack? Well, for a start, it’s experience. At 62, he’s been involved in modern genres that encompassed screaming energy music, calm modern composition and creative freebop, finally settling on his mixture of sound and silence. Influenced by the approach of intellectual playing partners like multi-reedist Anthony Braxton and pianist Paul Bley, Pavone was heavily involved in the group sound created in the 1970s and 1980s by his contemporaries such as drummer Gerry Hemingway, brassman Wadada Leo Smith and multi-woodwind player Thomas Chapin. MORE