iiii label

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The Bad Plus, Prog (Do the Math/Universal)

The Bad Plus, Prog (Do the Math/Universal)

This US jazz trio comes with formidable advance notices: Rolling Stone (not exactly a jazz journal) described their music as "action packed and totally schizophrenic -- in a good way". I don't hear it quite that way. They certainly pound up a storm sometimes (the thundering repeated piano chords and percussion in the nine minute...

Portico Quartet: Isla (Real World/Southbound)

Portico Quartet: Isla (Real World/Southbound)

This second album by the British quartet confirms why they are one of the most interesting things on the British improv/jazz scene: and not because they are fiery adrenalin-infused post-bop players. Quite the opposite in fact. This London-based outfit (who were nominated for the 2008 Mercury Prize for their debut album Knee Deep in the North...

Orchestra of Spheres: Nonagonic Now (Sound Explorers)

Orchestra of Spheres: Nonagonic Now (Sound Explorers)

This rhythm-driven four-piece from Wellington is one part early Talking Heads (or the Feelies as a jazz ensemble), a slug of Sun Ra if he'd come from South East Asia and not Saturn, some seriously brain-bending guitar work (with one ear on mad Afro-juju as much as bent country jiggery and scattergun free playing), theremin, tape machines, chanty...

Neil Cowley Trio: Radio Silence (HideInside/Southbound)

Neil Cowley Trio: Radio Silence (HideInside/Southbound)

British jazz pianist Cowley and his trio seem to blow hot and cold: their '06 album Displaced was terrific (see here), but on their Loud Louder Stop of last year (here) they resorted to repetitive rock-like riffery as if to distance themselves from the "jazz" world. There is more hard hammering riffery on parts of this new album but...

NEW ZEALAND'S iiii LABEL: 20/20 vision into the past (2007)

NEW ZEALAND'S iiii LABEL: 20/20 vision into the past (2007)

In a remarkably short period in the mid 80s, maybe 18 months, Wellington’s Braille label released a swag of albums -- I have eight, there may have been more -- which were nominally “left-field improv”. There was a bit of free jazz, some faux-Dixieland and assaults on jazz standards, and too many unmemorable originals which...

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