New music: Jazz round-up – October 2015
Featuring The Turbine! and Animation
The Turbine! – Entropy/Enthalpy (Rogue Art) ●●●●
To call The Turbine! a double rhythm section would be an injustice: Chicagoans Harrison Bankhead and Hamid Drake, and Paris-based Benjamin Duboc and Ramon Lopez are a complete quartet, exploring an astonishing range of melodies, textures, rhythms and moods over the two discs here. Recorded on tour in France last year, Entropy/Enthalpy eases us in with the bowed bass pedal note of 'Rotor/Stator', before Bankhead's pizzicato lines open up a summer storm of hissing cymbals and fluid tom rolls from Drake, with Lopez laying subtle touches of tabla under it all.
Elswhere, the rhythm section's buoyancy has the bassists moving from abyssal gloom to Ornette-like folk dances. They're joined by third bassist, the great William Parker, on two tracks. What might seem like the free jazz equivalent of Spinal Tap's 'Big Bottom' is in fact a deep and compelling listen, with Lopez's tabla spitting electricity over Parker's tempestuous bowing. Trumpeter Jean-Luc Cappozzo contributes vivid melodies and extended techniques to 'Electrical Coil', while alto saxophonist Lionel Garcin leads the group into uncharted waters on the remarkable 'Free Power'.
Animation – Machine Language (Rare Noise) ●●●
Bob Belden's untimely death at 58 means that Animation's Machine Language will stand as his final statement. Idiosyncratic and forward-looking, the album mixes the electric fusion of 70s Miles Davis with drum’n’bass and contemporary electronica. Belden's young group is augmented by bassist Bill Laswell, while crooner Kurt Elling performs the role of narrator, ruminating on the theme of man v machine. Laswell's oleaginous bass can be a bit nasty, but Belden's concepts and compositions are strong, indebted to his hero, but not bound by him. Pete Clagett's trumpet is very Miles - languid with a steely edge – while Belden's soprano saxophone flights are a joy to hear.