Brian profiled in the March
2010 issue of
Downbeat Magazine. |
Brian's interview with Jason Crane about making Torque with
BRIAN GRODER and TONINO MIANO - FluiDENSITY
buy it here|
two like-minded musicians draw inspiration
from diverse and influential composers, Duke
Ellington, Cecil Taylor, Arnold Schoenberg,
Béla Bartók and Frederic Rzewski and
transcend their influence into a set of
lyrical, carefully nuanced spontaneous
improvisations. The emphatic interplay
and the rich vocabulary of both musicians
enable them to turn the nine improvisations
into an organic and quick-thinking exchange
of ideas and gestures, patiently
accumulating them into, provocative and
engaging compositions. The fragile, airy
"Depth of Field" exemplifies the duo method
of communication. It is structured from
spare, colorful, often muted blows of
Groder, framed gently by Miano who
anticipates his moves, till it blossoms as
an expressive ballad, that is concluded on
the following "Brushmarks," that adopts
similar, fragile mood.|
Profound and beautiful music.
"Inclination" and "Opposite Geometry"
suggest different approaches. Groder and
Miano move in colliding attacks, creating
complex, labyrinthine structures that mature
in the following, "Phase Shift." On this
improvisation a reserved and subtle exchange
of ideas develops into an intense
exploration of shifting rhythms,
harmonizations and melodic motifs.
"Pinion" refers to the piano suite Squares
by American avant-grade composer Rzweski and
combines beautifully elements from this
suite with improvisational commentary. This
set is closed with a playful game of
variations on "Wiser Counter Clock" and a
gentle and thoughtful ballad "Pas de Deux." —
Eyal Hareuveni, All About Jazz
is music of fascinating texture and
structure. Groder is a trumpeter with a
full, rich tone and excellent technical
command. Miano tends to play in a linear
style, not too busy, somewhat related to
late-’50s Lennie Tristano. Together, the
music they create has a more angular form,
almost (one might say) baroque in rhythm if
decidedly late-modern in harmony. Several of
Groder’s licks have the sound and feel of
bop, at least melodically, but as soon as
Miano enters the music seems to be in two
different keys much (but not all) of the
time, which essentially draws the listener
in. Much of the time, Miano’s piano part has
the quality of counterpoint to Groder’s
trumpet; at other times, it sounds as if
both musicians are improvising
simultaneously but differently on the same
motif; at yet other moments, it sounds as if
the pianist was “leading” the trumpeter
rather than vice-versa. FluiDensity inhabits
a certain Zen-like space in the musical
cosmos, that it ignores and negates any
semblance of Fusion (which I normally detest
anyway), and that it makes a conscious
attempt to be artistic without consciously
trying to sound over-studied or pretentious.
In short, it was a fascinating musical
journey well worth taking with these two
thoughtful and talented musicians, and I
recommend it to your listening experience as
well." — Lynn René Bayley, Fanfare
"Listening to the stimulating FluiDensity is akin to eavesdropping on an intelligent, ad-lib conversation between two friends. Trumpeter Brian Groder and pianist Tonino Miano, both master improvisers, mine the modernist western musical canon for the majority of their ideas and spice it up with a bit of jazz and various ethnic motifs.
The energetic "Optika," with its intricately woven spontaneous dialogue, is perhaps the jazziest track on the record. Blues-tinged lines characterize both Groder's bright undulating horn and Miano's contemplative and resonant keys.
Vaguely Asian sensibilities endow the intriguing "Depth of Field." Miano's warm and edgy piano constructs sharp, crystalline rhythmic and harmonic flourishes, over which Groder's clear and open trumpet blows a wistful chant like wind through a Zen garden.
The deep camaraderie that the two share makes for a gratifying listening experience, as Groder's hypnotic and lilting horn and Miano's clever, glissando-filled pianism produce imaginative and penetrating poetry on "Opposite Geometry."
Groder and Miano have politely but firmly
torn down artificial boundaries between
"A consummate musician, Groder is known for his progressive and unorthodox approach to composing. On "Phase Shift," he brings this unique touch to extemporizing as well. His burnished tones engage in a delightfully dissonant duet with Miano's breakneck arpeggios and percussive notes. No stranger to working with unconventional and edgy pianists (Burton Greene) for instance), Groder deftly matches his fast staccato lines to Miano's inventive acrobatics, bringing the tune to an intriguing climax.
The Bologna-native/New York-based Miano is conservatory trained and holds dual degrees in musicology and classical piano performance. The influence of groundbreaking 20th century composers is clear in his improvisations. He combines a sophisticated atonality and dark passion in his heady and mordant sound on the cinematic "Wiser Counter Clock," which ends in a thought-provoking sonic explosion, and also features Groder's angst-laden, meandering melody. Although it may be not for purists, this provocative yet accessible album enthralls and fascinates through several spins." —
Hrayr Attarian, All About Jazz
"Brian Groder plays a singular trumpet. He
can be dense, soulful, technically diverse
and melodically pristine, all in one gulp,
and that he is on these recordings. Tonio
Miano makes the perfect foil for Brian on
piano. He has some of the forward momentum
of a Cecil Taylor but his cascades are
musically distinct. He is all over the place
on the instrument but at the same time has
ideas in his phrasings that sound as if they
could be composed, in that they have a
logical, speaking component, so to say.|
a mastery of a tumbling, widely harmonic,
melodically rich tonal invention.
There are parts that do indicate either
extraordinary telepathic synchronicities or
pre-planned motifs. They could be either and
that says much of the flow of the music
here. On "Pinion" they do specifically
reference musical quotations from a Frederic
Rzewski piano composition. Otherwise it's a
music of free thought, or so it sounds.
If you are looking for free but very meaty
content in a trumpet-piano duet set, look no
further. This one is a model of what two
fine players can come up with in the course
of a recording session." —
"FluiDensity is an elegant dance between jazz and classical, rendered by a couple of veteran hands experienced in the nuances of both. Pianist Tonino Miano started out in classical piano before he moved from his native Italy to New York twenty years ago and immersed himself in improvisational music. Brian Groder started from jazz, mastering both the trumpet and flugelhorn. He made a name for himself starting in the 90′s with the Brian Groder Ensemble, developing his own style of modern progressive jazz and improvised music. More recently, his collaborations with the late, great Sam Rivers (Torque, 2007) and Burton Greene (Groder And Greene, 2009) revealed just how esteemed Groder’s peer group really is, and both releases garnered wide acclaim.
Groder is again pairing up with a like-minded pianist, but unlike Groder And Greene, it’s him and the pianist and no one else. Such a bare setup enables so much more freedom and pure expression, and that’s just what is delivered on FluiDensity. These nine compositions were nothing more than informal discussions between takes before they were performed for the record. Thus, it’s a very instinctual set of recordings, and while there are some classical and jazz, it evokes those styles seemingly more by coincidence than some conscious effort to make an album that blends certain kinds of music."
'Inclination' moves along like a stage play, with some moments of
peacefulness, hope, tension and release, sometimes at once.
"Miano’s piano has too much classical grace in his approach to draw close comparisons to Cecil Taylor, but does share Taylor’s intensity and adventurous streak. Together, the pair plays with one mind, like a solo performance involving two instruments. On “Optika,” Miano seems to be stalking Groder’s every gesture, almost anticipating his next moves, then seizing the lead down a path that Groder fully exploits (showing off some fleckless chops along the way around the three minute mark). “Opposite Geometry” goes as the title suggests, with Groder playing long-held notes while Miano’s sweeping piano creates an undercurrent moving in the other direction. “Inclination” (captured in video above) moves along like a stage play, with some moments of peacefulness, hope, tension and release, sometimes at once. The pensive “Pinion” is derived from a 1978 composition, “Noctamble #3,” by kindred soul pianist/composer Frederic Rzewski.
FluiDensity presents music that’s both unencumbered and generally placid. Brian Groder and Tonino Miano send out a clear message that spontaneity doesn’t have to be chaotic."
S. Victor Aaron, Something Else!
musicians sound like they have classical
training and a wealth of ideas at their
disposal. For "Depth of Field", the playing
is sparse at times, making each note count.
The musicians appear to finish each other's
lines, weaving delicately around one another
in a tight communion. There is an elegant
quality to this music, inventive without
ever dealing with too many high or fast
notes. The pace is more moderate and
thoughtfully displayed. Even when they they
to go a bit further out, it is never too
far. The duo remain connected to a similar
calm sensibility with occasional flashes of
brilliance or fireworks. Eventually the duo
erupt in short flashes which are impressive
yet don't last too long before they are
transformed into something else. You can
tell that Mr. Groder has worked long and
hard on his tone and playing since every
note fits just right on the open canvas that
the duo paint upon. This disc is more like a
classical recital than a jazz duo recording.
It is still quite dazzling any way you look
or listen to it. — Bruce Lee
Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery |
virtuosity is all over the piano. He is most
often the “dense” to Groder’s “fluid” in
this equation. He never lacks for textural
and gestural ideas that contribute a sense
of designed space to the improvisations, his
harmonies ranging from modal to atonal.
Groder’s sound is the more deeply “jazz,”
especially in the way a jazz wind player
accesses quasi-vocal lyricism. His phrasing,
articulation, pitch modulations and Miles
Davis-like staccato identify him as the
American in this European-American pairing.
The lonely, elegiac solo trumpet is an
iconic 20th century American sound that here
avoids cliché by virtue of its sincerity." —
Nic Gotham, The Whole Note|
"FluiDensity finds Italian-born pianist Tonino Miano in the congenial company of New York trumpeter Brian Groder. This isn’t Miano’s first piano/trumpet duet; 2009’s Curvature of Pace found him collaborating with trumpeter Mirio Cosottini. While the earlier release explored textural improvisation and extended technique, FluiDensity remains more within the realm of conventional sound creation, with a focus on complex phrasing and an expansive tonality. Its harmonic vocabulary is drawn equally from recent art music and advanced jazz.
The CD opens energetically with Optika, a contrapuntal improvisation in which Groder introduces a descending semitone motif that provides the backbone of the piece. Depth of Field takes a different tack, with cascading piano contrasting with slow, long notes from the trumpet, and ensemble passages broken up by solo intervals for both Groder and Miano. The complex Phase Shift opens with a subdued and subtle call-and-response before Miano’s ever-mutating support shifts the frame around Groder’s trumpet, allowing it to be heard from different harmonic, and hence emotional, perspectives. Wiser Counter Clock is a minor key waltz that changes to a two-beat pulse in sometimes radically different tempi, while the set closes with the lovely Pas de Deux, a reflective piece in which Miano seems to allude indirectly to Debussy.
Throughout the disc Groder’s trumpet is fluid and lyrical, with a rounded, singing tone. Miano’s sound can be finely splintered as it explores the outer edges of atonal clusters. But it can also verge on a Monkish bop at times, especially on a piece like Inclination, with its half-step movement and exuberantly fractured swing.
Overall, this is a fine and cohesive collection of duets." —
Avant Music News
"This Italian-American duo presents itself as one of the most interesting projects of 2013. Trumpeter Brian Groder and pianist Tonino Miano release Fluidensity in “grand style”, the result of their most complete allegiance to jazz improvisation.
After many years as a sideman, in 2004 Groder decides to put his solo career in order by launching his own record label, Latham Records, and re-issuing a project from 1994 “Ancestral Tongue”, a work dedicated to post-bop; then “Torque” in quartet with the participation of Sam Rivers, where the field of vision moves onto free-jazz." |
The beauty of Groder’s trumpet playing is in the character of his “dialogue”, that way of being in improvisation that was a quality of the masters of the instrument, "... especially those at the edge between hard bop and free; his path however is not a forced one, but simply the expression of a tenacious musician that knows he’s operating in a sector where as far as the trumpet is concerned there is some difficulty in finding new ideas ( it seems that Wanada Leo Smith might be considered an exception) and the new generation’s focus is on technology. The “effectiveness” of his trumpet will later characterize his quintet “Groder and Greene”, which turns towards avant guard.
As for Miano, he deserved to be appreciated already in some ensembles that only the specialized press had pointed out: Cardinal and EASilence walk along the paths of contemporary classical comp-improvisation. Stylistically close to Cecil Tayolr, Miano’s influences exceed the American contour: the ruminating style deeply blends with the classic pianism of the post-Schoenberg European avant-guard, hence there isn’t a clear dominance of a particular idiom. Moreover, the duo form with the trumpet seems to be one of this Italian artist’s favorite, for years now living in New York, a territory not too crowded with (foreign?) jazz players (I lately remember among the notable ones Kirk Knuffke and Jesse Stacken).
Fluidensity, therefore, descends into the discourse of musical dynamics that not only point out the musician’s proficiency, but also a will to describe a world of thoughts and indirect emotions that are a part of our reality: Inclination seems to be a metaphor on the struggle to forge forward, the push up an inclined plane of something in a struggle for equilibrium; Depth of Field recalls that depth of field typical of trumpet players like Chet Baker, that opening of the trumpet into space that made us love it revealing at the same time the hidden difficulties; in Phase Shift, while Miano weaves traps of clusters in the background, Groder whips solos with a vast range of meanings where the tone becomes at times vocal or lyric, lazy or impertinent. Wiser Counter Clock it’s the episode where the two reach a climatic interplay, where piano and trumpet investigate diverse ideas with many variations, and probably where the apex of their expressiveness resides, confirming that of works without prejudice and that transcend time we still feel the need."
Ettore Garzia, Percorsi Musicali
BRIAN GRODER and BURTON GREENE - Groder & Greene
buy it here|
"Trumpeter Brian Groder has a talent for creating combinations of players to achieve certain
musical outcomes. This instinct is especially important when the
territory traversed is free jazz , where the mixtures of players are
indispensable if the music is to be coherent. On Groder & Greene,
the free jazz is indeed cogent and compelling. It is pure magic. With eight group improvisation and just one composition, Greene's
'Can You Thropt The Erectus?,' the
expectations might be for chaotic, shambolic
music. But this music is nothing of the sort.
The group interplay tends toward coherent
statements and organized, at least for free
improvisation, tracks. This band's music
crystallizes into fully formed conceptions." —
Mark Corroto, AllAboutJazz read the rest here
"Trumpeter Brian Groder, over a small handful of recordings, is established as an improviser creating his own pathway apart from his influences, and his main mentor Sam Rivers. Decades of dedication to creative music have given pianist Burton Greene a mighty reputation in his field, with a unique perspective that crosses over into 20th and 21st century contemporary classical music. With ex-Cecil Taylor sideman, alto saxophonist Rob Brown, the fantastic bassist Adam Lane, and drummer Ray Sage,
this thoroughly special collective makes music in the moment with a certain grit, spirit, and depth. The liner notes of the CD obsess about so-called free jazz as if it is a regularly maligned and misunderstood subgenre, but one thing is certain:
this talented ensemble plays music unique unto itself, liberated of any barriers save the occasional pulse or beat rooted in the tradition. What
Groder and Greene accomplish is an integration with their band members, sounding unified while retaining their individuality in a cohesion that not so much defines a sound as it consistently triggers their best assets.
Cool and groovy yet elusive and ethereal, the opening number
"Landfall" establishes a rambling swing as Brown fans the flames while Greene walks up and down a spiral staircase. Tip-toeing through time, Greene's delicate musings during
"Separate Being" shape Groder's muted trumpet into a dream sequence, not nightmarish but rather pleasant, while
"Amulet" goes into the underground abyss, more spacious yet shredded. The funky "Nigh" recalls a Julius Hemphill blues, as Groder's outspoken horn and Brown's honking alto tumble on and on. A few segments feature two instruments paired before the rest of the group joins in, like the alto/drums workout starting up
"Only the Now" followed by the loose rhythms of Lane and Sage, or a solo Groder followed by Greene on
"Cryptic Means," which identifies the intent of the group as much as any title, with a considerable amount of playful counterpoint in varied tempi. At times, other gruff tones or late-night elements enter, but in general, there's grounded improvisation with a firm background and experience playing with masters of the idiom.
Groder & Greene is an excellent example of new, modern-day music lined with the wisdom of the pioneers of free jazz, creative improvised, or spontaneous composition, whatever you wish to term it."
– Michael G. Nastos,
Boom 997, Ottawa, Canada|
"Free or modern progressive jazz can take many forms but for seasoned artists like trumpet /flugel horn player Brian Groder and pianist Burton Greene the outcome is always definitive and enduring.
On their first collaboration for Latham Records the duo’s album Groder & Greene hit the shelves on October 1, 2009 after nearly two years prior to the original recording date. Good things come with time and jazz listeners will be rewarded with their patience by receiving a classic rendering of the free form style of jazz popularized in the 1950′s by such icons as John Coltrane, Sun Ra and others.
The inspirational improvisations of pianist Burton Greene, alto saxophonist Rob Brown, bassist Alan Lane and drummer Ray Sage help Brian Groder to take the music to another level.
Equally fluent on trumpet and flugelhorn, Brian Groder is a venerated composer, trumpeter, and ensemble leader that has been cited as one of the most original jazz voices of his generation.
Groder’s penchant for working with other composers gives his brand of modern progressive jazz distinctive richness and depth when the collaborations reach their fruition during a performance. Fortunately this particular group of songs was captured during the heat of spontaneity created by the artists in the studio.
The experience of Greene as a leader in the free jazz movement of the 60′s is immeasurable and his influence resides in the color and overall flow of each composition. Groder and Greene complement each other beautifully on the release and allow the rest of the musicians to contribute in equal measures making
Groder & Greene a true partnership of musicians allowing the voice of jazz improvisation to be heard loud and clear throughout the recording."
- Keith Hannaleck,
All That Jazz|
"This disc, which gives top billing to the trumpeter Brian Groder and the seminal free-jazz pianist Burton Greene, is perhaps my favourite disc of this batch. It has the greatest range of expression and timbre, as well as the strongest sense of momentum, and
— pardon my bias is showing — the greatest connection to jazz of the unfree kind."
Ottawa Citizen, Canada|
"A sense of form and cohesion makes
Groder & Greene a success. Veteran “free” pianist Burton Greene cogitates at
the center of all this. Even when he engages in atonal keyboard cascades he exhibits clarity of intent and certainty of direction; when
he shifts gears, even subtly, he carries the rest of the musicians with
him. Let’s consider the opener. Bassist Adam Lane offers a folk-like
tune that trumpeter Groder picks up and gives a Blues tinge. Joined by drummer
Ray Sage’s ride pattern and Greene’s jabs, the band strides forward
in a manner that would warm a bopper’s heart. Then Greene interjects
a single note line that’s harmonically askew, and the steady sense
of swings grows looser, slowly coming undone. This leads to alto
saxophonist Rob Brown entering, offering a jagged commentary on the piano figure Greene now lines the middle
of the soundscape with. All comes undone as the group reaches a
free form rubato with Groder rejoining the fray that resolves seven
minutes in to a soft, quick ride pattern. Groder and Brown whisper
as the tune closes with the trumpeter echoing some of the blues
phrasing of the opening minutes. Such shifts of temperament are
witnessed throughout the session. Not that all are the same. The
two horn players flex their Free bop chops over bass and drums
on the opening of 'Nigh' and most of 'Surmised Wink,' hinting at
the excitement a more straightforward blowing session might have
yielded. 'Amulet' is a piano, bass, and drums trio that has Greene
plucking at the piano inside and out and Lane and Sage responding
appropriately. Greene’s 'Hey Pithy, Can You Thropt the Erectus?'
is a raucous outing marked by growling, gagging, and Borscht Belt
exclamations, by, I assume, Greene. And the ensemble closes with
the aptly titled and rendered with suitable delicacy 'Sleepwalker'.” —
David Dupont, Cadence Magazine
your musician friend would say upon listening to this
marvelous free jazz CD, 'That's some serious heavy ---- !' Fill in
the blanks." — Dick Crockett, "The Voice", 88.7FM, Sacramento|
"After taking octogenarian saxophonist Sam Rivers on one of the most exciting rides of recent years on 2006's Torque, trumpeter Brian Groder has teamed up with another iconic figure of free jazz, pianist Burton Greene, for
nine magnificent musical adventures recorded, appropriately enough, in Greene Street Studios NYC in October 2007. Without wanting in any way to downplay the importance of
Groder's limpid and remarkably inventive trumpet and fluegelhorn playing, or alto saxophonist Rob Brown's technically and musically outstanding contributions (there's no point in even saying that, as everything Brown has committed to record in his lifetime has been technically and musically outstanding), the date belongs to Greene, not because he deliberately pushes everyone else to the sidelines, but because his contributions as both soloist and especially accompanist are so startlingly original that they command attention, from the inspired octatonic riffery of "Landfall" to the inside-piano investigations of "Amulet", from the virtuosity of "Cryptic Means" to the spiky comping of "Nigh". Sometimes it's all a bit over the top ("Hey, Pithy, Can You Thropt the Erectus?" owes much more to Greene than its punning title), but, hey, I'd rather it was like that instead of some earnest MOR Clean Feed outing where everyone is so afraid of walking on anyone else's toes that nobody moves at all. Greene has worked before with bassist Adam Lane – notably on 2004's Isms Out (CIMP) with Roy Campbell and Lou Grassi – and it shows: Lane is acutely aware of the pianist's left hand, and its tendency to provide the low and mid-register harmonic information, and concentrates accordingly on the more melodic upper octaves of his instrument. Which is not to say the pianist rides roughshod over Lane when the latter takes a solo – far from it: Greene's ear and sense of space is as acute as ever. In such ebullient company, a flamboyant drummer (like Han Bennink) would probably sink the ship altogether, so it's just as well Ray Sage is on hand to keep the beats tight and the music on course to its final destination.
This is a truly splendid album, easily the best thing Burton's released in years, and one of the freshest and most enjoyable releases of the year."
— Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic Magazine|
"A marvelously free interplay of five strong musical personalities in
the "Instant Composing" process, to be experienced and enjoyed." —
Jazz Dimensions Magazine, Germany |
"A brisk session of free jazz from some terrific modern players. I first heard of trumpeter Brian Groder on the album Torque, where his backing band with Sam Rivers‘ trio (with Sam Rivers included). Here, he’s got another crackerjack band, with pianist Burton Greene up front. Very nice work, overall. Groder
surrounds himself with good company, and as on his previous CD, it
pays off." — Memory Select blog read the rest here|
"It’s somewhat surprising, on the heels of Greene’s
Klezmer projects and the uniquely boppish dates he’s
recently produced for CIMP, that his collaboration
with trumpeter Brian Groder harks back to the
blowouts of yore. In a quintet with altoist Rob Brown,
bassist Adam Lane and drummer Ray Sage, the
emphasis is on collective improvisation. However,
playing free in this decade is something decidedly
different than it was 40-odd years ago, for musicians’
technique and knowledge is generally at a much
higher level. Groder has a precise, steely tone and his
statements are economical - cool, yet full, like a less-
brash Ted Curson. It’s hard not to reach back in time
when hearing Brown boil over as blocky piano motifs
and turbulent gut and horsehair pool and shove
underneath, but even within those choppy waves,
there’s a sense of composure directing the ensemble’s
bombs towards a plotted explosion. Greene mirrors
and recombines phrases into dense dialogues in a mutable, cubistic approach to comping."
— Clifford Allen, AllAboutJazz NY |
"This is one smokin' hot little (9-track) CD that features trumpet and flugelhorn from Brian, with keyboards from Burton Greene, along with alto sax by Rob Brown, double bass from Adam Lane and drums by Ray Sage. It's an October 2009 release
jammed full of very interesting spontaneous improvisation, and I dug it in many different ways. Sage has played with some other underground folks we've reviewed here, most notably Bonnie Kane, reviewed in issue # 81, so I expected something different... something "off the path"... and I got it in spades! The keyword for the playing these guys do is "different", in fact... not so strange that a reg'lar jazzer couldn't dig down into the soul of what they do, but certainly off-kilter enough that no self-respecting "middle-of-the-roader" would be caught with a copy of their CD. Of course, this kind of music is more suited to the readership of this fine 'zine, where the unexpected IS the norm... because that's what keeps life moving in new directions... one of the best examples is "Only The Now", one of my favorites... just listen to Lane's double bass on this one - truly moving (every second of every measure). My absolute favorite, though, had the sounds of hobgoblins from the netherworlds... that would be "Hey Pithy, Can You Thropt the Erectus"... definitely something along the lines of an improvised exorcism... ha! ha! These guys clearly know how to have fun with their music, and easily pass it along to the receptive listener.
They get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me,
with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.98." —
Dick Metcalf, IMPROVIJAZZATION Nation|
"Appearing on numerous top-ten lists for 2009, Groder & Greene brings together NYC free jazz trumpeter/flugelhorn player Brian Groder with Chicago-born/Amsterdam-based free jazz piano legend Burton Greene - veteran of the NYC Avanat Garde scene and contemporary of such folks as Archie Shepp,Henry Grimes and Bill Dixon. They are joined by alto saxophonist Rob Brown, double-bassist Adam Lane and drummer Ray Sage in creating eight efficacious improvised pieces that range from ferocious (the excellent opener "Landfall") to quiet and strange ("Amulet") with every variation between. The strength of the players and exceptional rapport they bring the sessions takes what should by any means be chaos and instead weaves spontaneous compositions out of the cacophony.
All of the players exhibit exceptional abilities within this genre, with Greene attracting the ear with piano work that at times tinkles odd notes, or canters across the keys and at others pounds out furious fistfuls of block chords. He truly seems a perfect foil for
Groder's strong melodic touch, and the other musicians also seem especially well chosen for this project. Superb tracks like "Only the Now," "Separate Being," "Nigh," and 'Surmised Wink" are remarkable examples of free jazz music at its finest - full of unexpected surprises mad intriguing directions, while the cover of Greene's "Hey Pithy, Can You Thropt
the Erectus" is an engaging treat. "Cryptic Means" features the duo
without the rest of the bend in a rewarding turn, and the haunting
"Sleepwalker" ends this dreamlike experience (complete with
nightmares) in delicious fashion." — JazzChicago.net |
"We are dealing with a work of high caliber, where the quintet follows a compact and with a group identity. In their performances they appear to have a mysterious bond, because everything works perfectly without there being a single moment of routine. The beautiful voices of the soloists are on display within well-designed tracks, which show how, after all, even
within a genre defined as 'free' there's room for an organization of
sounds, an internal evolution different from what has been recorded decades
ago. It is worth mentioning Groder's previous recordings: here we
have a worthy sequel and a confirmation that we're in front of a musician of
international stature." —
Cosimo Parisi, Musicboom, Italy|
"In addition to the leaders, Groder
on trumpets and Greene on piano, Rob Brown and Adam Lane join the
forces to put this one over the edge. Great playing all the way
around." — Jazz Corner "Top Ten of 2009"
is poetic and unique, with a sound all his own." —
Vittorio Lo Conte, AllAboutJazz Italy|
"That spontaneous improvisation proceeds flawlessly is a tribute to the musicians who play the music. In Groder & Greene, a recording which brings together trumpeter and flugelhorn player Brian Groder with pianist Burton Greene, altoist
Rob Brown, bassist Adam Lane and drummer Ray Sage, open-mindedness, musicianship
and a salient responsiveness generates the stunning quality of the intuitive
interaction among the group’s members. The direct improvisatory messages
delivered in Groder & Greene are not easily forgotten. Groder speaks with his brass instruments in untwisted lines, forever communicating their tremolodic brightness as well as their muted softness.
Lane’s opening bass pizzicato in “Landfall” regales his extraordinary bent pitch sensitivity. Brown distinguishes himself
with an essential vertical relationship to his alto. And Sage never fails, through a lightness of touch, to develop primary background
textures." — Lyn Horton, JazzTimes
read the rest here
"Groder & Greene is a decisive case that proves 20th century free jazz
continues to be vital and expertly accomplished in the 21st century.
Pianist Burton Greene and trumpeter/flugelhorn player Brian Groder -
along with alto saxophonist Rob Brown, bassist Adam Lane and drummer
Ray Sage - are experienced pros of the progressive jazz scene and
together the five artists have forged one of this year's finest
works of fully improvised material. The 75-minute outing shows music unfolding in real time, true
spontaneity occurring when the microphones went live at The Studio
on Greene Street in New York City in October, 2007. While the
quintet may have discussed forms to follow or the order of
instruments, or perhaps some expectations regarding tempo or mood,
its obvious there were no pre-existing melodies, lines, explicit
chords or other structural elements written down beforehand. There
is much autonomy at play on the nine tracks, each piece swirls,
bursts with energy and the responses to each moment are plainly
unanticipated. Even so, there is also a perception of objectives
being met and a keen impression of order. There is, above all, a
high degree of focus and communication. The album commences with the approachable
'Landfall,' which starts
with Lane's easygoing bass groove, Groder's standard bebop trumpet
and Greene's bustling single-note piano runs. Gradually the tune
expands into a provocative nexus of auditory impacts: Sage's leaping
drums, Brown's tense saxophone and Greene's knotty and rhythmic
keyboard lines that evoke Cecil Taylor's percussive patterns. The
piece works as a striking strategy to introduce the players'
authority of their instruments as well as the particular
improvisational methodology that is shaped throughout the session."
— Doug Simpson, Audiophile Audition Magazine
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"A few years back, Brian Groder wandered into DMG
and left us with his own self-produced disc. Although I hadn't heard
about him before this, Brian was backed by free/jazz legend Sam
Rivers and Sam's current trio. Turns out that Brian is an excellent
trumpeter and that disc was one of the highlights of the year. For
this disc, Brian works with another legend, ESP pianist Burton Greene
plus an equally impressive crew with Rob Brown on alto sax, Adam Lane
on bass and Ray Sage on drums.
It's been about a month since Brian
laid this disc on me and I am still amazed by what I hear. Although
this disc is freely organized, it often sounds as if many of the
pieces were pre-planned or partially written. The ever-wonderful
bassist, Adam Lane kicks off "Landfall" with an infectious pumping
bass-line, which remains at the center of the entire piece. The
incredible piano, bass & drums rhythm team plays tightly and loosely
at the same time, speeding up and slowing down together while the
trumpet and alto sax sail around one another in interconnected
spirals. On 'Only the Now', the drums and alto sax play an intricate
duet at first, with the other instruments slowly coming one at a
time, each one adding another line to the ever-flowing waves within
waves. The closer you concentrate, the more you hear the way this
intense listening session reveals different connections amongst the
members. This is magical (free) music that is never cluttered, busy
or indulgent. There is often a relaxing sense of calm at the center
of the well measured storm. Each member of the quintet contributes to
the direction and inspired interaction. Brian plays some sublime
muted trumpet on 'Separate Being'
while Burton carefully places soft flurries of
notes and Rob spins a few notes of his alto into
cerebral tapestry. There are those moments when
it sounds as if there are a couple of songs or
ideas happening simultaneously, but as soon as
you feel as if you about to fall in, the
direction changes, a clearing opens up and you
land safely back on the ground. Groder & Greene
have again left us with one of this year's
best." — Bruce Lee Gallanter,
Downtown Music Gallery
"More than two years ago trumpet-player Brian Groder released "Torque", a
stellar CD with Sam Rivers on sax. Ever since, I've been scanning the usual
information sources, eager to find new material by him, wondering what
happened because I couldn't find any, but here it is: finally. The band is
co-led by pianist Burton Greene, with Rob Brown on sax, Adam Lane on bass,
and Ray Sage on drums. Quite a band! And so is the music. Which is as free
as it gets, and quite disciplined at the same time. Brian Groder explains
"We would discuss the possible form, order of instruments entering and
exciting, moods, dynamics and tempos ... but there weren't any
melodies/lines, chord or special structure we were reading down". And even if
that is the case, very often that is not how it sounds.
Again, a great album; 4-1/2 stars - FreeJazz
"I will not review every track, but you get the gist of it: lots of
variation, lots of musical ideas, lots of fun too, and emotional
moments, ... what more do you want? So, in sum, again a great album.
Some jazz musicians publish more than is possible to keep track of,
other artists remain shamefully under-recorded. Groder clearly fits
in the latter category. Not only for his technical skills on the
trumpet, but also for his musical ideas." — Free Jazz blog, Netherlands read the rest here
"Brian Groder and pianist Burton Greene are veterans of New York’s
progressive, free jazz scene, so it’s no surprise that the duo’s latest
work, Groder & Greene, is a masterful example of the 20th century
avant-garde jazz in which they were bred. As with many totally improvised,
“out” recordings, it’s often best to sit back, turn off your brain, let the
cacophony come to you, and absorb the constructive and destructive
interference of sounds. Album-opener “Landfall” is the most accessible track
on the Groder & Greene. It begins with a silky bass groove played over
fairly staid bebop drum and piano parts and gradually morphs (some might say
“devolves”) into a maddening, improvised confluence of sonic textures:
screeching trumpet and saxophone, chaotic keyboard lines, and spastic
drumming. The song exemplifies the considerable talents of Groder, Greene,
and their excellent accompanists: bassist Adam Lane, drummer Ray Sage, and
saxophonist Rob Brown. Their command of their instruments plus the language
of music and the jazz idiom in particular allows them to take a (semi)
traditional jazz progression and deconstruct it in real time, using only
their ears as guides. The remaining tracks on Groder & Greene,
while somewhat more challenging, are just as intriguing. With atonal
mayhem that would sound at home on a horror-movie soundtrack,
spontaneous melodies that ooze emotion, and exhilarating bursts of
rhythm that drive the release, it’s a work that could only result
from giving world-class musicians the total freedom to communicate
with one another musically. Greene and Groder should be commended
for fostering such uninhibited communication." —
"This recent outing finds Groder surrounded by some heavy company. Burton Greene, for starters, is one of the foundation pianist of free music, beginning in a very interesting group with Alan Silva in the early sixties, continuing to thrive with a number of seminal recordings for ESP and BYG, and on from there. He has from the very start forged his own path and he sounds today as good as he ever has, which is very good by any index.
"Rob Brown plays extraordinarily loquacious alto sax. He never seems at a loss for lines nor does his inspiration flag. Adam Lane is one of the premier bassists of the new music and a composer and leader in his own right. If I were only allowed to name a handful of bassists that were most actively innovative today, he would be on it. Ray Sage I don't know much about, but his drumming on
Groder & Greene achieves exactly what is needed: a loose freetime player who can carry a pulse well if called upon, and consistently invents within the group setting. Well, then there is Brian Groder himself.
The evidence of this disk suggests he is a trumpeter anyone would welcome on a free date.
He's limber and filled with good musical ideas. That's the lineup individually. Collectively they come up with a program that updates the classic free date with plenty of permutations, landmarks, signposts and traffic signals, always showing green (or is it Greene?). Seriously this is excellent music and some of the best Burton Greene in a long time. But it's everybody shining. I don't give out stars, that always reminds me of second grade penmanship, but if I did, this would get the highest rating. Grab a copy and give it a spin."
"Groder & Greene is a new project bringing together trumpeter Brian Groder
and pianist Burton Greene to create the kind of artistic jazz that borders
between absolute freedom and brilliance. Along with Rob Brown, Ray Sage and Adam Lane,
Groder and Greene play this music as if they were born to do it. This is an album you’ll want to
recommend for anyone who asks about quality jazz albums of 2009. There are
many, but this is one of the best."
This Is Book's Music blog|
"After his first one, "Torque", with legend Sam Rivers and his trio, it is now with veteran Burton Greene with whom Brian Groder joins forces for another tour de force. To begin with,
it is a long time ago since I enjoyed so intensely a jazz recording as this one. Great vibrant and spirited music. Free jazz by musicians who can handle freedom and demonstrate a strongly
focused operation, creating some fantastic and gorgeous moments. For me the fun already starts with the opening track "Landfall": the comical, seemingly a bit clumsy playing by Greene, with a delicious solo by saxplayer Rob Brown. Yes, Groder contracted an impressive crew for this date. Rob Brown played with Cecil Taylor. Burton Greene is one of the godfathers of freejazz. He lived (or lives?) in Amsterdam. In recent years he had his band Klezmokum, playing klezmer in a jazz jacket. The names of Adam Lane (bass) and Ray Sage (drums) didn't ring a bell, but fine musicians they are. The improvisations are much of a collective exercise, but Greene is often somehow in the center of where it is happens. Greene is also the writer of the only composition on this disc: "Hey Pithy, Can You Thropt The Erectus?" All pieces make the impression of being chaotic and
cacophonic from the outward, but if you dive into them, all is dazzlingly intertwined and connected. Very communicative ensemble work. "Nigh" circles around a simple melodic theme that sounds very familiar but I'm unable to identify it. Also it is driven by a straight beat, which is not what you expect in free jazz. Greene puts a lot of humor and fun in the music, like in "Amulet" where he distorts the sound of the piano by putting objects on the strings. It is the contrast between Greene's 'primitive' playing and the playing by the others that make this one a very enjoyable record. Must have been two blessed days when these recordings were done in october
2007." — Vital Weekly webcast, Netherlands|
"High quality, under the radar trumpet man
Groder is not only making a name for himself as an original jazz voice, he’s
creating his own niche of doing duets with civil rights jazz-era free jazz
players and making interesting collaborations that cross generations and sonics. Teaming this time around with one of the era’s piano men, this
sounds like some post 'Bitches Brew' Miles that’s stripped down to the
elephant funk basics but still delivers a full sound. Wild stuff for ears
looking for a thrill, this seems to be sitting down jazz that gets you
squirming in your seat. A delightfully wild ride."
— Chris Spector, Midwest
BRIAN GRODER and the SAM RIVERS TRIO - Torque
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"Brian Groder brings impressive focus and impeccable chops to this encounter with Sam Rivers. The trumpeter holds his own as
a player opposite a true giant of jazz, bringing poised, muted trumpet figures that fit perfectly with Rivers' elaborate flute filigrees on the freely improvised
'Behind the Shadows Part 1'. He also asserts his presence confidently
into a tight band that's been going for more than a decade, finding firm footing in
'Oculus''s relaxed, swinging groove and joining into the collective tumult of
'Betwixt'. The other two players get a couple duets apiece with
Groder, and each offers a strong example of unflagging engagement. The opener,
'Spellcast', features drummer Anthony Cole's masterful management of tension with fluid shifts from cymbals to toms. Bassist Doug Mathews' adroit shifts between unison and
'Jingo' are impressive.
While it's Groder's date, Torque is an excellent opportunity to hear Rivers in a two-horns-and-rhythm-section setting that he hasn't
employed for a while. His adroit tenor turn on
sounds individual yet completely integrated into Groder's free-bop framework; the energy and attunement of his playing belies the fact that he was 81 years old when this disc was
recorded. Somehow that makes this recording seem even more special.
- Bill Meyer,
"Kevés olyan produkció van, amelyet a közönség és a szakma is egyaránt elismert, ugyanis az esetek többségében vagy az egyik, vagy a másik oldal fanyalog. A „kiemeltek” közé tartozik a trombitás Brian Groder Torque című albuma is, amelyet mind a két oldal osztatlan sikerrel fogadott. A korong a nagy presztízsű Downbeat magazintól a Best Of 2007 címet is elnyerte." Papiruszportal (Hungary)
read the rest here|
"Subtle yet powerful, wrenching at the listener and weaving an intricate web of Jazz as Jazz should be, stunning compositions matched with great playing."
- PBS 106.7-FM. Melbourne, Australia
"Groder converses very beautifully with the trio. Without exaggeration, this is one of the better recent samples of avant-garde jazz."
- Radiophone Greece
"Brian Groder is imaginative and highly achievable
with the daring tenacity of an avant jazz artist. The counterpoint between Groder and Sam
Rivers is careful as explosive nitroglycerin."
- Dick Crocket, "Still Another Jazz Show" 88.7FM
Brian Groder and his perfect partners, the Sam
Rivers Trio." - WJCT FM, Jacksonville FL
speaks jazz as if it were his mother tongue, but
that also means that he does not leave it as he
found it." - ImproJazz, France
"In these notes is the entire history of jazz." - Vittorio LoConte, Musicboom.it
"It's remarkable that so much of this is improv, the
rapport being copasetic at all levels." - Mark S. Turner, Signal To Noise
"Brian Groder plays his trumpet and flugelhorn with a fresh and authoritative sound. His presence is known after only a
few seconds into the first track,
things get better from there. A great listen." - Marco Watercrest, Landmark Magazine
|"Whether it is a gorgeous duet, tight ensemble playing or Rivers and Groder spitting fire,
Torque twists and turns easily to move through its free and structured spaces." - Elliot Simon
"Trumpeter Brian Groder's Torque is one of those rare releases in which everything clicks. This is easily one of the best and most exciting releases of 2006 and may prove to be an
enduring classic." - Ken Kase All About Jazz
"A varied, frequently absorbing
program of fourteen musical vignettes that course through just about every
melodic possibility, tonal inflection, dynamic level, rhythmic path, and
instrumental texture available to four instruments. Music of ceaselessly fascinating possibilities."
- Samuel Chell
"Torque is marked by four brilliant musicians listening closely to one another and playing
extremely well together. An enjoyable listen in parts, or taken in the lovely playing all at once. Rivers' technique is just as powerful as ever,
after almost 50 years of playing."
- Ollie Bivens, All About Jazz-LA
"Groder is a musician
with spotless technique and a nicely open sound, harmoniously well grounded with a feeling for melody. For lovers of Sam Rivers, or of music of the afore-mentioned Ornette Coleman, this CD is certainly a welcome addition." Jazz Podium
"The result is a subtle, creative CD in which the unprecedented suppleness of the rhythm section allows these two smoldering
volcanoes to produce a splendid palette of sounds." - Mischa Andriessen, Jazzmozaiek Magazine
"Groder manages to create a common language which holds the middle between free, avant-garde and
bop. Everything on this album is a success. A real must!" - Free Jazz blog
"Not only has Groder penned excellent material for the whole album, he is also an excellent executive musician who leaves enough space to allow the other members
to shine." Jo Vanderwegen, - Gonzo Magazine
"Torque is a fine recording that deserves to be heard by as many fans of improvised music as possible."
- Ronald Lyles, Jazz Improv NY
"The magic here is that even when these men are
playing in the free mode, they seem to sail together
and anticipate each other's moves, always flowing
together in one stream." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
cooperation between the younger Groder and old hand
Rivers is perfect, sounding as if they have played
together for years. Essential? Yes!"
- Jan van Leersum, MazzMusikaS
"Between them they produce an absorbing set of
free-bop that yields up new riches with every listen. Recommended ."
- Ken Mathieson, JazzWise
"This is stimulating, fresh jazz with an eye to the
future but a strong awareness of the past and as such, recommended." - Derek Ansell, Jazz Journal International
"Here's a superior set of contemporary jazz, blazing straight out of the long and unruly heritage of left-field explorations."
- Daniel Spicer, Popmatters.com
"The impact of hearing the strong and incisive lines created by the "front-line" of Groder and saxophone veteran Sam Rivers was great, freeing
shock waves that will be felt for a long time." - Publico (Portugal's National Daily Newspaper)
"Rivers is not diminished by his age, intense as always and sometimes playing with the force of a tornado."
- Trem Azul Jazz Store, Lisbon
"A new vision for modern jazz that has a lot
on the ball." Midwest Records|
"There's never a dull moment throughout this recommended CD."
- Ken Dryden, All Music
"The best of Groder's last three CDs." - Swing Journal, Japan
"On Torque, his fourth as a leader, the trumpeter/flugelhorn
player's music hearkens back to the '60s avant-garde where arrangements were wide open but the rhythm section usually swung and had a strong linear quality to it. The Sam Rivers Trio here backs Groder, including the saxophonist himself, so there is a solid chemistry that anchors each
track." - Tad Hendrickson, JazzWeek
"These four musicians sculpt new life into this paradigm through total presence and superb musicianship."
Johan Scherwin, Lira Magazine|
"You'll play the disc so many times, trying to find your favorite part, that the batteries in your remote
will die. It's that kind of thing." - Jazz
'Fulcrum' bristle with improvisatory richness.
'Tragic Magic' is an extended duet between trumpet and saxophone, and
'Diverging Orbits' is the perfect platform for Groder's
explorations." - Nate Guidry, Scripps Howard News Service||
"This CD is right at the cutting edge of contemporary
improvised music. Strikingly uncompromising in his approach. Music not only for today but also for tomorrow."
- Bruce Crowther, swing2bop.com
"Groder shines during the full quartet meetings,
and easily holds his own during the smaller settings. This is the kind of record you can
listen to repeatedly without fatigue." - Jay Collins, Cadence (Cadence Magazine 2007)
"It is music that can reach both
fans of the avant-garde and those who rarely venture beyond modal hard-bop, which is actually quite something to say."
- Joseph Bendel, J.B. Spins
"The musicians are generally restrained as
far as tempo and tenor goes, and the spacious recording atmosphere allows each man's instrument to ring out in the mix, giving the listener a chance to fully engage in the
process." - Jason Ferguson, Orlando Weekly
is clearly a formidable talent. If you like your jazz brisk and tonally adventurous without losing melody or a sense of restraint, Torque has everything you could want."
- Sid Smith, Postcards From the Yellow Room
BRIAN GRODER Ancestral Tongues
buy it here|
"Trumpeter Brian Groder leads a capable ensemble through [performances] which are interesting, tender, and
well-delivered. Kevin Kuhn's guitar work shades the procession with subtle, brief strums, adding some unexpectedly rhythmic responses to the horns soloists. Amidst the slower
ballads, the uptempo swing of
'Lee's Label' stands out as the finest piece, with some heated tenor from Michael Mee which frays at the edges of his quick triplets and trills and
some high spirited trumpeting from Groder. With all eight pieces contributed by the session's leader, this is a nice inside jazz
disc with much to offer those who yearn for more ballads, nicely crafted heads, and compelling solo work from all."
- Andy Bartlett, Cadence Magazine