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Olie Brice Quintet - Day After Day Rating: 4 out of 5 The balance between the composed and the improvised is as assured as ever and with this ‘new’ quintet Brice has top quality musicians capable of bringing his ideas to vibrant life.

Olie Brice Quintet

“Day After Day”

(Babel Records BDV17148)

Released late in 2017 this is yet another album that has been lurking in the ‘to do’ file for far too long. My apologies to Olie for only getting round to writing about it nearly six months after he handed it over to me at a gig.

Olie Brice is a double bass player, composer and improviser based in London who is a busy and popular presence on the capital’s jazz and improv scene. He has recorded with many leading musicians including trumpeters Nick Malcolm, Loz Speyer and Alex Bonney, saxophonists Dee Byrne, Ingrid Laubrock, Rachel Musson, Paul Dunmall, James Allsopp and Mike Fletcher, pianist Achim Kaufmann and drummer Javier Carmona. Others with whom he has worked include vocalist Fumi Okiji and the Chicagoan sax titan Ken Vandermark.

However the above barely scratches the surface and only represents collaborations that have previously come to the attention of the Jazzmann. For further details of Brice’s diverse musical activities please visit his excellent and highly informative website http://www.oliebrice.com

As a leader Brice’s current projects are this quintet plus the Somersaults Trio, an improvising three piece featuring saxophonist Tobias Delius and drummer/percussionist Mark Sanders.

The quintet operates in the area where I enjoy Brice’s playing best, the interface between composed and improvised music. It’s a zone in which he has excelled and includes superb recordings from groups led by Byrne (Entropi), Speyer (Inner Space), Malcolm and Fletcher.

“Day After Day” represents a follow up to Brice’s brilliant 2014 quintet offering “Immune To Clockwork” which appeared on the Polish Multikulti record label and featured Brice alongside the Polish alto saxophonist Waclaw Zimpel plus the London based musicians Mark Hanslip (tenor sax), Alex Bonney (trumpet) and Jeff Williams (drums).

“Day After Day” introduces a fresh version of the quintet with the brand new sax pairing of Mike Fletcher (alto) and George Crowley (tenor) joining Brice, Bonney and Williams. Brice has worked with both saxophonists previously and the pair have slotted in seamlessly. The overall group sound remains similar and the music continues to explore the hinterland between the composed and the improvised with Brice’s liner notes providing a degree of explanation behind both the overall concept and the individual tunes.

He states;
“While writing the compositions on this album, especially ‘Aunt Nancy’s Balloons’, ‘Day After Day’ and ‘Red Honey, Yellow Honey’, I was intensely affected by reading Nathaniel Mackey’s astonishing series of novels collectively titled ‘From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate’. At the same time I was thinking about how the experience of the Jewish community I grew up in is essentially a diasporic experience, and about the relationship between a synagogue of people singing and the ecstatic joy of my favourite free jazz.”

The opening piece, “Aunt Nancy’s Balloons” is dedicated to Mackey and commences with the gentle fan-faring of Bonney’s cornet, an instrument he plays throughout the album, in conjunction with Brice’s double bass. It’s an absorbing dialogue that eventually leads to a passage of collective group improvisation that shows something of the influence of both Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler, two major sources of inspiration for Brice. In turn Brice has spoken of the influence of Jewish cantorial music on Coleman, neatly bringing things almost full circle. This opening piece also includes further solos from Crowley on tenor and finally the leader on unaccompanied double bass. Bonney then returns with a reprise of the opening fanfare, this time with Williams in tow.

“Red Honey, Yellow Honey” is cut from the same cloth with Charles Mingus also a recognisable influence. It’s a busy free-wheeling piece, powered by Brice’s bass and Williams’ fiery polyrhythmic drumming, the propulsive rhythms fuelling powerful solos from Crowley and Fletcher who both attack their saxophones with gusto. Bonney provides an extra instrumental voice as the music becomes even more frenetic, Coleman and Ayler still two obvious touchstones. There’s a volcanic drum feature from Williams followed by a further dialogue between Bonney and Brice, edgier than that on the first piece but still thoroughly compelling and immersive.

“Interruptions # 1” was inspired by the trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith, to whom the piece is dedicated. Brice states that further “Interruptions” i.e. # 2 and # 3 appear elsewhere on the album concealed within other compositions. This first “Interruption” features the sound of Brice flourishing the bow and deploying extended techniques in an opening dialogue with Williams that sounds as if it may have been entirely improvised. Later the horns provide additional instrumental voices but their role is to provide colour and texture within the improvisational framework as opposed to featuring as solo instruments.

Of the piece “Another Mad Yak” Brice explains that the composition had previously been recorded, but subsequently rejected, by two previous bands before the current quintet finally nailed it. The title comes from the Gregory Corso poem “The Mad Yak”, the word “Another” being added after Brice learned that the saxophonist Steve Lacy had already recorded a tune using Corso’s title. Musically the piece is more obviously through composed and features some rousing horn choruses in addition to individual solos from Fletcher, Bonney and Crowley, all powerful, incisive and highly fluent affairs with the surging rhythms of Brice and Williams propelling the horn men to fresh heights. Williams also excels with a dynamic but expertly constructed drum feature.

The tune “If You Were The Only Girl In The World”, written by Nat Dyer and Clifford Grey, was first published in 1916 and is a song that Brice’s grandmother used to sing all the time. Brice’s adaptation was partially inspired by a Sonny Rollins version featuring Henry Grimes, one of Olie’s bass heroes. Appropriately this arrangement begins with the sound of Brice’s double bass in dialogue with Crowley’s tenor. The source material is heavily disguised, the tune only emerging, albeit in slightly skewed fashion, when the rest of the quintet comes in. Bonney takes the first solo, his imaginative phrasing underscored by the fluid rhythms of Brice and Williams in an arrangement that doffs its hat to the past yet feels thoroughly contemporary. Crowley follows, probing deeply while making occasional allusions to the original melody.

The album concludes with Brice’s title track which commences with the deep gravitas of the leader’s unaccompanied pizzicato double bass. There’s a short passage of collective musical punctuation before we hear Brice solo again, this time with the bow, the prelude to an ensemble passage that draws on Ashkenazi liturgical music and features the thrilling sounds of the three horns intertwining against the rhythmic patterns laid down by Brice and Williams. The music of Brice’s Jewish heritage is merged with that of his jazz heroes, Coleman, Ayler, Mingus, Coltrane and others, including Brits such as Evan Parker, Derek Bailey and Paul Dunmall.

In an interview with Nick Hasted for the September 2017 edition of Jazzwise Magazine Brice said of this album;
“I wanted to draw on Jewish melodic stuff that I felt happy with. I didn’t want to play klezmer jazz. And there’s an element I miss in completely free music, of dealing seriously with swing, melody and somg. I wanted to have the intensity of free playing available as well as song based mainstream jazz. It’s the first time as a band-leader and composer that I’ve got close to being comfortable saying ‘this is my music, this is what I’m trying to do’”.

On the evidence of “Day After Day” Brice has wholly succeeded in his intentions and the album is a very worthy follow up to the excellent “Immune To Clockwork”. The balance between the composed and the improvised, in conjunction with the Jewish elements, is as assured as ever and with this ‘new’ quintet Brice has top quality musicians capable of bringing his ideas to vibrant life.

It’s particularly good to hear Bonney soloing with such fluency and inventiveness on the cornet. These days he is arguably best known as an electronic sound artist and producer so to hear him in such good form on an acoustic instrument is a welcome reminder of the breadth of his talent.

 

Day After Day

Olie Brice Quintet

Friday, April 27, 2018

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

4 out of 5

Day After Day

The balance between the composed and the improvised is as assured as ever and with this ‘new’ quintet Brice has top quality musicians capable of bringing his ideas to vibrant life.

Olie Brice Quintet

“Day After Day”

(Babel Records BDV17148)

Released late in 2017 this is yet another album that has been lurking in the ‘to do’ file for far too long. My apologies to Olie for only getting round to writing about it nearly six months after he handed it over to me at a gig.

Olie Brice is a double bass player, composer and improviser based in London who is a busy and popular presence on the capital’s jazz and improv scene. He has recorded with many leading musicians including trumpeters Nick Malcolm, Loz Speyer and Alex Bonney, saxophonists Dee Byrne, Ingrid Laubrock, Rachel Musson, Paul Dunmall, James Allsopp and Mike Fletcher, pianist Achim Kaufmann and drummer Javier Carmona. Others with whom he has worked include vocalist Fumi Okiji and the Chicagoan sax titan Ken Vandermark.

However the above barely scratches the surface and only represents collaborations that have previously come to the attention of the Jazzmann. For further details of Brice’s diverse musical activities please visit his excellent and highly informative website http://www.oliebrice.com

As a leader Brice’s current projects are this quintet plus the Somersaults Trio, an improvising three piece featuring saxophonist Tobias Delius and drummer/percussionist Mark Sanders.

The quintet operates in the area where I enjoy Brice’s playing best, the interface between composed and improvised music. It’s a zone in which he has excelled and includes superb recordings from groups led by Byrne (Entropi), Speyer (Inner Space), Malcolm and Fletcher.

“Day After Day” represents a follow up to Brice’s brilliant 2014 quintet offering “Immune To Clockwork” which appeared on the Polish Multikulti record label and featured Brice alongside the Polish alto saxophonist Waclaw Zimpel plus the London based musicians Mark Hanslip (tenor sax), Alex Bonney (trumpet) and Jeff Williams (drums).

“Day After Day” introduces a fresh version of the quintet with the brand new sax pairing of Mike Fletcher (alto) and George Crowley (tenor) joining Brice, Bonney and Williams. Brice has worked with both saxophonists previously and the pair have slotted in seamlessly. The overall group sound remains similar and the music continues to explore the hinterland between the composed and the improvised with Brice’s liner notes providing a degree of explanation behind both the overall concept and the individual tunes.

He states;
“While writing the compositions on this album, especially ‘Aunt Nancy’s Balloons’, ‘Day After Day’ and ‘Red Honey, Yellow Honey’, I was intensely affected by reading Nathaniel Mackey’s astonishing series of novels collectively titled ‘From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate’. At the same time I was thinking about how the experience of the Jewish community I grew up in is essentially a diasporic experience, and about the relationship between a synagogue of people singing and the ecstatic joy of my favourite free jazz.”

The opening piece, “Aunt Nancy’s Balloons” is dedicated to Mackey and commences with the gentle fan-faring of Bonney’s cornet, an instrument he plays throughout the album, in conjunction with Brice’s double bass. It’s an absorbing dialogue that eventually leads to a passage of collective group improvisation that shows something of the influence of both Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler, two major sources of inspiration for Brice. In turn Brice has spoken of the influence of Jewish cantorial music on Coleman, neatly bringing things almost full circle. This opening piece also includes further solos from Crowley on tenor and finally the leader on unaccompanied double bass. Bonney then returns with a reprise of the opening fanfare, this time with Williams in tow.

“Red Honey, Yellow Honey” is cut from the same cloth with Charles Mingus also a recognisable influence. It’s a busy free-wheeling piece, powered by Brice’s bass and Williams’ fiery polyrhythmic drumming, the propulsive rhythms fuelling powerful solos from Crowley and Fletcher who both attack their saxophones with gusto. Bonney provides an extra instrumental voice as the music becomes even more frenetic, Coleman and Ayler still two obvious touchstones. There’s a volcanic drum feature from Williams followed by a further dialogue between Bonney and Brice, edgier than that on the first piece but still thoroughly compelling and immersive.

“Interruptions # 1” was inspired by the trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith, to whom the piece is dedicated. Brice states that further “Interruptions” i.e. # 2 and # 3 appear elsewhere on the album concealed within other compositions. This first “Interruption” features the sound of Brice flourishing the bow and deploying extended techniques in an opening dialogue with Williams that sounds as if it may have been entirely improvised. Later the horns provide additional instrumental voices but their role is to provide colour and texture within the improvisational framework as opposed to featuring as solo instruments.

Of the piece “Another Mad Yak” Brice explains that the composition had previously been recorded, but subsequently rejected, by two previous bands before the current quintet finally nailed it. The title comes from the Gregory Corso poem “The Mad Yak”, the word “Another” being added after Brice learned that the saxophonist Steve Lacy had already recorded a tune using Corso’s title. Musically the piece is more obviously through composed and features some rousing horn choruses in addition to individual solos from Fletcher, Bonney and Crowley, all powerful, incisive and highly fluent affairs with the surging rhythms of Brice and Williams propelling the horn men to fresh heights. Williams also excels with a dynamic but expertly constructed drum feature.

The tune “If You Were The Only Girl In The World”, written by Nat Dyer and Clifford Grey, was first published in 1916 and is a song that Brice’s grandmother used to sing all the time. Brice’s adaptation was partially inspired by a Sonny Rollins version featuring Henry Grimes, one of Olie’s bass heroes. Appropriately this arrangement begins with the sound of Brice’s double bass in dialogue with Crowley’s tenor. The source material is heavily disguised, the tune only emerging, albeit in slightly skewed fashion, when the rest of the quintet comes in. Bonney takes the first solo, his imaginative phrasing underscored by the fluid rhythms of Brice and Williams in an arrangement that doffs its hat to the past yet feels thoroughly contemporary. Crowley follows, probing deeply while making occasional allusions to the original melody.

The album concludes with Brice’s title track which commences with the deep gravitas of the leader’s unaccompanied pizzicato double bass. There’s a short passage of collective musical punctuation before we hear Brice solo again, this time with the bow, the prelude to an ensemble passage that draws on Ashkenazi liturgical music and features the thrilling sounds of the three horns intertwining against the rhythmic patterns laid down by Brice and Williams. The music of Brice’s Jewish heritage is merged with that of his jazz heroes, Coleman, Ayler, Mingus, Coltrane and others, including Brits such as Evan Parker, Derek Bailey and Paul Dunmall.

In an interview with Nick Hasted for the September 2017 edition of Jazzwise Magazine Brice said of this album;
“I wanted to draw on Jewish melodic stuff that I felt happy with. I didn’t want to play klezmer jazz. And there’s an element I miss in completely free music, of dealing seriously with swing, melody and somg. I wanted to have the intensity of free playing available as well as song based mainstream jazz. It’s the first time as a band-leader and composer that I’ve got close to being comfortable saying ‘this is my music, this is what I’m trying to do’”.

On the evidence of “Day After Day” Brice has wholly succeeded in his intentions and the album is a very worthy follow up to the excellent “Immune To Clockwork”. The balance between the composed and the improvised, in conjunction with the Jewish elements, is as assured as ever and with this ‘new’ quintet Brice has top quality musicians capable of bringing his ideas to vibrant life.

It’s particularly good to hear Bonney soloing with such fluency and inventiveness on the cornet. These days he is arguably best known as an electronic sound artist and producer so to hear him in such good form on an acoustic instrument is a welcome reminder of the breadth of his talent.

 


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