WWW.FREEJAZZBLOG.ORG, December 25, 2017; Free Jazz Blog's 2017 Top 10 Lists

Today we present our reviewers top 10 albums of the year, and we also invite you to vote in the annual New Ears Awards.

The nominations for the award were made from compiling the lists below. This year, the blog writers are voting on the same choices, but in a separate poll. The award winner for both polls will be announced on January 1st.

Here, by the way, is a little known fact: it is not a simple act to come up with a top 10 list. There is teeth gnashing, tears of frustration, and sleepless nights over the difficult decisions that must be made, and then there is the haunting thought that these decisions will never be perfect. Choices are made with fairness in mind, with deference to a balance of labels, musicians, the new and the old, and all the other things that we can think will help as we craft our lists. This of course is stacked up against all of the albums we didn't get to write about, let alone listen to, throughout the year. Our list of albums for review topped 1600 this year - a new record, of course.

Regardless, thank you all for being a part of the Free Jazz Collective and supporting improvised music in general. The creative music community is a small and everyone plays a part whether it as a musician, promoter, writer/critic, listener, concert-goes, consumer, or a bit of each.


Stef Gjissels

1. The Dorf - Lux (Umland, 2017)
    overwhelming and massive
2. Chamber 4 - City Of Light (Clean Feed, 2017)
    musical flock of starlings
3. LAMA + Joachim Badenhorst - Metamorphosis (Clean Feed, 2017)
    dark lyricism
4. Lina Allemano's Titanium Riot - Squish It! (Lumo Records, 2017)
    wonderful, destabilising and creative quartet
5. Sirius - Acoustic Main Suite Plus the Inner One (Clean Feed, 2017)
    lyrical trumpet and percussion from Portugal
6. Lotte Anker - Plodi (Klopotec, 2017)
    only she can find this emotional depth in an alto
7. Anemone - A Wing Dissolved In Light (No Business, 2017)
    super star band delivers new vision
8. Alexandra Grimal, Benjamin Duboc, Valentin Ceccaldi - Bambu (Ayler, 2017)
    poetic, light of touch, sensitive
9. Deniz Peeters & Simon Rose - Edith's Problem (Leo, 2017)
    intimate, scintillating and dark piano and baritone sax duo
10. Microtub - Bite Of The Orange (Sofa, 2017)
    slight ripples of deep sounds from the north



SALT-PEANUTS.EU, 21. desember 2017; LOTTE ANKER

Danish sax player-free-improviser-educator Lotte Anker needs no introduction. Still, the discography of this master musician is, unfortunately, not as rich and extensive as the ones of other male, European free-improvisers in her calibre. Therefore an album as «Plodi» gives many reason for celebration. This album features the refined art of Anker at its best, in different halls and settings.

«Plodi» was recorded at the Slovenian Brda Contemporary Music Festival in the village Šmartno on September 2016. The first three pieces feature Anker playing solo at the local 19th century Saint Martin’s church, designed by notable Viennese architect Otto Wagner. Anker uses wisely the reverberating qualities of the church’s hall to sketch loose narratives comprised with fragmented phrases, patiently weaving these echoing, vibrating phrases into coherent textures. Each of these free-improvised pieces has a distinct character. The first one is more dense and expressive. The second one has an almost reverent tone. Anker employs different extended breath techniques to create a quiet and minimalist piece. The third piece distills Anker experience from the previous improvisations to suggest a beautiful, surprisingly melodic piece that makes full usage of the resonating hall of the church.

The next four improvisations are duets with local Slovenian, idiosyncratic drummer-percussionist Zlatko Kaučič, recorded at local house of culture. Kaučič is known from his collaborations with master European improvisers as double bass players Barry Guy and Joëlle Léandre, reeds player Ab Baars and pianist Agustí Fernández. Anker and Kaučič connect organically, enjoying the intuitive, immediate adventure of simply following and sharing sounds, in the most generous manner possible. On the first improvisation both experiment with different dynamic before bursting with an energetic, fiery duet. The second improvisation has an enigmatic tone. Anker and Kaučič sound as sonic shamans preparing some mysterious, potent ritual. The third improvisation shifts the ritualistic dimensions, dictated now by Kaučič thunderous pulse, to a fast string of dense, uncompromising sonic collisions. The fourth and last duo improvisation with Kaučič resumes the experimental mode of the first one, but now both Anker and Kaučič enjoy the playful, highly inventive interplay that they have been solidifying throughout this meeting.

The last improvisations, still in the same location, brings together the duo of Anker and Kaučič with Polish acoustic bass guitarist Rafal Mazur and trumpeter Artur Majewski. Mazur and Majewski collaborated before on many recordings, including a recent one with Agustí Fernández. This piece begins with minimalist, loose sonic searches. Slowly the four musicians settle on a faster, energetic dynamics and conclude this piece with an ecstatic storm.

(Av Jan Granlie)