Reviews that mention Oscar Noriega

November 1, 2020

Tim Berne’s Snakeoil

The Fantastic Mrs. 10
Intakt CD 340

Tim Berne/Nasheet Waits

The Coandă

Relative Pitch RPR 1103

Far along enough in his career that he doesn’t have to prove anything, two recent CDs by alto saxophonist Tim Berne show that he hasn’t lost his mojo when it comes to composing or playing. A bulletin from his Snakeoil quintet, The Fantastic Mrs. 10 consists of six new Berne compositions and a brief one by his mentor Julius Hemphill. Shared with drummer Nasheet Waits, The Coandă is a live out-and-out blowing session of mutual exploration by two players who have cultivated the evolving codes of Jazz improvisation. MORE

September 1, 2018

Jason Robinson’s Janus Ensemble:

Resonant Geographies
pfMentum PFMCD 115

Using all the sonic colors available from an 11-piece ensemble, San Diego-based tenor saxophonist Jason Robinson has composed a seven-part suite that articulates straightforward swing without sacrificing exploratory touches. While recruiting some exceptional talent, Robinson’s writing emphases its uniqueness with a non-expected orchestration that includes three low-brass players, four reeds divided between saxophone and clarinets, two percussionists. plus double bass and guitar. While the expansive arrangements are sometimes enlarged enough to reflect Stan Kenton orchestra at its most restrained, the bedrock riffs and rhythms relate back to more subtle organization of the pre-war Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington bands. MORE

February 11, 2018

Gordon Grdina Quartet

Songlines SGL 1624-2

By Ken Waxman

Moving away from his earlier, more hushed and ethnically tinged chamber music, Vancouver guitarist/oudist Gordon Grdina enlists a trio of New Yorkers to toughen his sound while maintaining its fluidity. Inroads’ nine tracks find keyboardist Russ Losing frequently elaborating themes in double counterpoint with Grdina’s pointed strumming; clarinetist/alto saxophonist Oscar Noriega challenging the narratives with penetrating inflections, or spanning them with rumbling bass clarinet undercurrents; while drummer Satoshi Takeishi propels forwards the sometimes idiosyncratic rhythms. Although Losing’s electric piano splashes and Takeishi’s focused rebounds are extensively showcased on “Apocalympics” in speedy unison with near-flamenco guitar picking, their contributions throughout mostly solidify the group sound. 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

June 6, 2016

Michael Formanek Ensemble Kolossus

The Distance
ECM 2484

The Who


Auricle Aur 14+15


Cosmopolitan Greetings

Red Piano RPR 4699-4419-2

Eric Platz

Life After Life

Allos Documents 012

Florian Hoefner


Origin Records 82706

Something In The Air: Those Who Teach Can Also Play

By Ken Waxman

As shibboleths go, the hoary “those who can do, those who can’t teach,” must rank at the very top of the list. Besides libelling the majority of educators who devote themselves to the task of imparting knowledge to students, it negates the activities of those who teach and do. Here are some musicians who maintain a full-time teaching carer along with consistent gigging. MORE

July 11, 2015

Kris Davis

Save Your Breath
Clean Feed CF322 CD

By Ken Waxman

Consolidating her considerable musical gifts, Canadian-born, New York-based Kris Davis organized a uniquely constituted octet here to premiere or bolster her compositions. Confirming her range, the eight tunes are breezy and animated in spots, while looped around a dense, metal-like core. With the ensemble consisting of Ben Goldberg, Oscar Noriega, Joachim Badenhorst and Andrew Bishop playing different sized clarinets; drummer Jim Black and guitarist Nate Radley; plus Gary Versace on organ and Davis’ piano, the engendered textures frequently infer many associations, often during the same tune. MORE

June 11, 2015

Tim Berne’s Snakeoil

You’ve Been Watching Me
ECM 2443

By Ken Waxman

Augmenting the already well-balanced sound of his Snakeoil quartet, alto saxophonist Tim Berne introduces guitarist Ryan Ferreira’s chord-shredding distortions to the seven Berne originals here, creating a fuller but no less memorable program than the quartet offered at April’s SRO appearance in Toronto. Added to the alternately luminously fluidity or strained grunting from Oscar Noriega’s clarinet or bass clarinet; Matt Mitchell’s poised linear piano style; plus discriminating accents from Ches Smith’s drums, vibes, tympani and percussion; the re-imagined ensemble easily negotiates the compositions’ intricacies. MORE

April 12, 2015

Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York

Libra Records 215-036

Ananda Gari


Auand Records AU 9041

Tineke Postma

Sonic Halo

Challenge Records CR 73370

Ben Goldberg

Orphic Machine

BAG Productions BAG 007

SITA: Cutting-Edge Free Improvisation at The Music Gallery

By Ken Waxman

Major improvisers from elsewhere frequently play Toronto, but not as often do they appear with an all-star line-up. That’s what happens on April 29 when alto saxophonist Tim Berne’s Snakeoil is in concert at The Music Gallery. Berne, who has been on the cutting edge of advanced jazz for 30-odd years, arrives with three younger players who have distinguished themselves on the New York scene: fellow reedist Oscar Noriega, pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer Ches Smith. This being the 21th Century and past the age of consistently working groups, each – including Berne – is involved in many other projects. MORE

April 2, 2015

Jeff Davis

Dragon Father
Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 444

Hopefully Brooklyn-based drummer Jeff Davis doesn’t mind being compared to earlier percussion activists like Chico Hamilton or Art Blakey. Like Hamilton, Davis, who has long-time affiliations with the likes of bassist Michael Bates and pianist Jesse Stacken, is in many ways the perfect accompanist. He gets the job done, but never overwhelms the other players – even if he’s leading the band. That is how Blakey comes into the picture. Like the older drummer/bandleader, Davis has the knack of recruiting the most appropriate players for bands under his direction. MORE

August 1, 2012

Tim Berne

ECM 2234

Bruno Chevillon/Tim Berne

Old and Unwise

Clean Feed CF 221 CD

After keeping a low profile of late, working mostly as sax-for hire in co-op bands, New York alto saxophonist Tim Berne asserts himself more conspicuously with these revealing projects. Old and Unwise is a set of unvarnished improvisations between Berne and French bassist Bruno Chevillon. Recorded seven months later, and his first studio date in eight years, Snakeoil introduces a new Berne combo, which tellingly doesn’t include a bass player. Instead Berne’s alto forays are harmonized with Oscar Noriega’s clarinet and bass clarinet, Matt Mitchell’s piano and Ches Smith’s drums. MORE

July 11, 2012

Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York

Libra Records 215-029

Le GGRIL avec Evan Parker


Tour de Bras TDB9006 CD

The Royal Improvisers Orchestra

Live at the Bimhuis

Riot Impro 01

London Improvisers Orchestra

Lio Leo Leon

psi 11.04

Something in the Air: New Soloists for Improvising Ensembles

By Ken Waxman

Adding another voice to an established improvising ensemble is more precarious than it seems. With a group having worked out strategies allowing for individual expression within a larger context – and without notated cues – the visitor(s) must be original without unbalancing the interface. Luckily the sessions here demonstrate successful applications. MORE

November 21, 2006

Reuben Radding

Pine Ear Music PEM 001

By Ken Waxman

Firmly in the genre of jazz chamber music, Intersections shows off another facet of the prodigious skills of Seattle-born, New York-based bassist Reuben Radding. Someone whose past recordings usually find him involved in no-holds-barred improv with the likes of Seattle alto saxophonist Wally Shoup or Manhattan multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter, this CD exposes a less frenetic, but no less memorable side of his playing and composing skills.

Featuring six Radding originals, two group improvisations and the bassist’s arrangement of Olivier Messiaen’s “Dance of Fury – which hardly sounds wrathful – most pieces move at a pace between adagio and andante and are replete with enough silences to cast the circumspect textures in bolder relief. MORE

May 7, 2006


Pine Ear Music PEM 001

…Actually: It's Better Like This...
Not Two MW 756-2

Jazz chamber music, both INTERSECTIONS and … ACTUALLY IT’S BETTER LIKE THIS … show what can be done with three instruments – especially if one of them is part-front-line/part rhythm-section like the vibraphone.

A mixed German-American bands, 3D is the more conventional of the two combos, which may not be surprising since its lead voice, Cologne-based vibist Christopher Dell, has worked with everyone from French avant-tubaist Michel Godard to American boppers trumpeter Art Farmer and saxophonist, Benny Golson. The band also packs 12 low-key tunes onto its CD, compared to the nine on the other disc. Still, American bassist Chris Dahlgren plays often with multi-reedist Anthony Braxton and Berlin-based drummer Maurice de Martin is part of the band of New Thing bassist Sirone. MORE

August 25, 2003


Red Toucan # RT 9322

Occupying that mid-range between jazz and classical music, Laura Andel is a composer to watch, as much for her audacity as for her conception.

Argentinean-born, she’s a woodwind player who first received a degree in tango performance in Buenos Aires, then studied jazz composition and film music in Boston, and has since written for large and small ensembles in Boston, New York, Germany and Venezuela. Cinematic, with swathes of jazz and South American rhythms and quirky orchestral instrumentation, SOMNAMBULIST is a nine-part, 46-minute suite that tries to compress all her influences and studies into a definitive whole. MORE

May 5, 2003


Embracing the Void
Hopscotch 9

The Labyrinth
Hopscotch 12

Different as free jazz and New music, on show here are two distinct manifestations of the composing and arranging skills for larger groups by tenor saxophonist Assif Tsahar. Both are engrossing, remarkably mature, compositional works for someone best known for his impassioned blowing with the likes of bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake.

EMBRACING THE VOID has a slight edge however. That’s because all 14 members of the Zoanthropic Orchestra appear better able to personalize the emotional cauldron of Tsahar avant jazz pieces than the 19 musicians of the New York Underground Orchestra can contour THE LABYTINTH into a more original form. MORE