The Jazz Mann | Michael Janisch - Worlds Collide | Review | The Jazz Mann

Accessibility Menu

REVIEW

Michael Janisch - Worlds Collide Rating: 0 out of 5 A worthy edition to the Janisch solo canon, a recording that demonstrates his increasing skill and maturity as a musician and composer. The playing, by an all star cast, is excellent throughout.

Michael Janisch

“Worlds Collide”

(Whirlwind Recordings WR4742)

Michael Janisch – Acoustic & Electric Bass, Post Production, Percussion,
Jason Palmer – Trumpet,
John O’Gallagher – Alto Sax,
Rez Abbasi – Guitar,
Clarence Penn – Drums

Guests;
Jon Escreet – Keyboards,
George Crowley – Tenor Sax,
Andrew Bain – Drums & Percussion


I’ve long considered “Purpose Built”, the 2009 leadership début by bassist and composer Michael Janisch to be one of the most significant jazz albums to be released in the UK in the 21st century. As well as being a fine artistic statement in its own right it is also the album that launched Janisch’s Whirlwind Recordings record label, now one of the country’s leading jazz independents with a catalogue of over one hundred titles and an increasingly identifiable label sound. It’s probably fair to say that any album released on Whirlwind is going to have something interesting to say to the discerning jazz listener.

The perpetually busy Janisch’s role as an entrepreneur has forced him to put his own musical career on hold to a degree, although of course he has never stopped performing and his bass playing has graced many ensembles in recent years, particularly those led by musicians associated with the Whirlwind label.

Janisch, an American who has lived in London since 2005, has always encouraged collaborations between British, American and European musicians and is also the guy with the ambition, drive and energy to make these things happen, hence the ‘Whirlwind’ nickname that gives his label its moniker. “Purpose Built”, with its Anglo-American line up, was a perfect illustration of this and this spirit of international co-operation is something that has manifested itself on numerous other Whirlwind releases.

I first heard Janisch’s music in 2009 around the time of the release of “Purpose Built”. In August of that year, encouraged by the presence behind the drum kit of the great Clarence Penn,  I covered Janisch’s show at that year’s Aber Jazz and Blues Festival in Fishguard. For me it was a seminal moment,  I became an instant fan and I’ve been covering the music of Janisch and of the Whirlwind label ever since, incredibly for more than a decade now.
Live review here;
http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/michael-janisch-live-theatr-gwaun-fishguard-31-08-2009/
“Purpose Built” album review here;
http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/michael-janisch-purpose-built/

Janisch’s releases under his own name include the live recordings “Banned In London” (2012), featuring a quintet co-led by Janisch and Cuban pianist Aruan Ortiz, and “First Meeting” (2014) documented by an all star quartet featuring the veteran alto saxophonist Lee Konitz. Janisch was also part of the Trans-Atlantic Collective, a gathering of American, British and European musicians that featured the original compositions of its five members on the 2008 release “Traveling Song”.

As impressive as the two live recordings were there was still something of an ‘extended jam session’ feel about them. Janisch’s next album to fully concentrate on his own compositions was 2015’s “Paradigm Shift”, an ambitious double set that combined elements of jazz, rock and electronics with Janisch involving himself in a series of post production processes. Janisch toured the project extensively and my review of a live performance at Leamington Spa Jazz Club, combined with a look at the album itself, can be read here;
http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/michael-janischs-paradigm-shift-leam-jazz-leamington-spa-rugby-club-leaming/

“Worlds Collide” is very much the ‘follow up’ to this and features a cast of musicians associated with the ‘Whirlwind family’ and drawn from both sides of the Atlantic. The bulk of the album was recorded in London at the famous Abbey Road Studios by the core band of Janisch, Abbasi, O’Gallagher, Palmer and Penn with Tyler MacDiarmid engineering. Escreet’s parts were subsequently recorded in New York and those of Crowley and Bain at a second session in the UK.

The programme consists of seven previously unrecorded Janisch originals. The album title is a reflection of the turbulent times we live in. Like every other American jazz musician that I’ve ever spoken to Janisch has no time for the divisive politics of Donald Trump, but the words “Worlds Collide” also reference the toxic online discourses that have helped to poison the internet. Indeed Janisch and Whirlwind, with their spirit of inter-connectivity and international co-operation stand for the very opposite of these things. “That’s the whole philosophy of Whirlwind”,  Janisch has said, “all these different cultures and communities coming together to make music”.

A further subtext to the evocative title is the apparent clash between the acoustic and electric elements in Janisch’s music, particularly the post production and electro improvising techniques that were introduced to him by trumpeter and sound artist Alex Bonney on the “Paradigm Shift” tour.  Janisch sees no division between the two, preferring to refer to his band as an “electro-acoustic” ensemble. Similarly he’s receptive to musical influences from all quarters, from the intellectual to the populist,  moving between acoustic and electric bass and being able to groove in a propulsive manner in a variety of musical styles and time signatures.

It’s the leader’s double bass that introduces album opener “Another London”, a tune whose energy and urgency seems to encapsulate modern life in the English capital. The piece features the whole cast with the twin drum attack of Penn and Bain combining with Janisch’s bass to really drive the music. Escreet’s retro style keyboard washes add colour and texture, particularly during the gentler, more reflective episodes that punctuate the track. Janisch has said that the piece represents his positive view of walking through London, away from social media platforms, and witnessing “people from different cultures and backgrounds actually getting on in their lives, generally living in harmony with each other”. The buoyant rhythms help to fuel an incisive alto solo from the fluent and inventive O’Gallagher, who really surfs the groove. He also combines effectively with Palmer and Crowley during the ensemble passages as Abbasi’s nimble guitar snakes in and out of the music.

The guitarist comes into his own on “Ode To A Norwegian Strobe”, a piece that pays homage to Janisch’s love of contemporary electronic music acts such as Aphex Twin and the UK’s own Strobes, the latter the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist and sound artist Dan Nicholls. Janisch’s piece combines elements of jazz, rock, minimalism and electronica to excellent effect, creating a vibrant, rhythmic music that is rich in terms of energy, colour and inventiveness. Abbasi’s hypnotic introductory guitar motif helps to shape the direction of a track that again features all eight musicians. The leader concentrates on electric bass here, while also adding effects and percussion. The bright, dynamic ensemble playing is complemented by some fiery soloing as O’Gallagher and Palmer exchange ideas in thrilling fashion and Escreet periodically comes to the fore on keyboards. The overall effect is splendidly uplifting.

“The JJ I Knew” revisits a piece that was originally recorded for the “Paradigm Shift” album. The work is Janisch’s dedication to his late elder brother, Joseph, and attempts to express something of his personality. The original version featured electric bass and electronics only but its composer has since re-arranged the piece for performance by a full band and the tune was to feature in this form at Leamington. Here it features the core quintet, plus some additional percussion from Bain. Janisch specialises on electric bass and the piece is a fitting elegy, interspersing moments of melancholic introspection with more lively, upbeat passages. Palmer’s pure toned trumpet ruminations combine beauty with an exploratory zeal, with similar qualities informing Abbasi’s eloquent guitar solo. Penn’s drums come to the fore during the closing stages as he trades ideas with the staccato stabs of the horns.

The same sextet appears on the curiously titled “Frocklebot”, the name apparently coming from “an imaginary toy looking like a giraffe with mechanical wings”, a creature dreamt up by Janisch’s young daughter. It’s a suitably playful piece that combines darting unison horn phrases with heavy, rock influenced guitar in a spirited opening salvo before breaking down into more freely structured two way conversations, firstly between Abbasi and Palmer and later Janisch and O’Gallagher. Eventually the full ensemble coalesces once more around a joyous theme that seems to celebrate the innocence and imagination of childhood. The piece has evoked favourable comparisons with the works of Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry.

“Intro To Pop” is a minute long solo alto sax excursion from the consistently impressive O’Gallagher, although the composition credit still goes to Janisch. It’s a cogent presage to “Pop” itself, the lengthiest and most ambitious track on the album. The piece is dedicated to Janisch’s English wife, Sarah, the title “Pop” being an abbreviation of the word ‘poppet’, rather than a musical identifier. Although performed as a single entity the piece is essentially a four part suite, but despite its complexities it is tackled by the core quintet. It’s a surprisingly reflective and atmospheric piece, written in a minor key but without being melancholic. The aim, says Janisch, was to reflect his wife’s “peaceful powerfulness”. Indeed there’s an almost Zen like sense of calm about the opening section with its measured ensemble playing, paced by the leader’s double bass. Instruments swim in and out of focus, briefly assuming the lead, although there’s no conventional soloing as such. The next section features a further dialogue between O’Gallagher’s alto sax, here soft and conversational, and the leader’s double bass. With the addition of Abbasi and Penn the saxophonist stretches out in more exploratory fashion, eventually handing over to the coolly elegant Abassi. The overall mood of the piece remains reflective, the tempo unhurried. There’s a gentle increase of pace in the next section as Palmer returns to the fold, temporarily assuming the lead before combining with O’Gallagher as the energy levels continue to rise, before eventually subsiding once more. This is a richly textured work that owes something to minimalism with the use of recurring motifs helping to shape the ebb and flow of the piece.

Janisch moves back to electric bass for the closing “Freak Out”. As its title suggests this is an altogether more energetic and dynamic piece of work that is kick started by Penn’s drums.
Janisch describes the piece as “a good old fashioned shred for Rez” and the guitarist is the main soloist here, his fiery playing inviting comparisons with John McLaughlin and the late Allan Holdsworth. That said Abassi is a distinctive stylist in his own right with a musical identity that is very much his own. This final piece also boasts some inspired soloing from Palmer with a fiery but fluent outing on trumpet, plus some crunching ensemble playing.

“Worlds Collide” is a worthy edition to the Janisch solo canon, a recording that demonstrates his increasing skill and maturity as a musician and composer. The playing, by an all star cast, is excellent throughout with the leader’s contribution at the heart of the ensemble.

Janisch has put a UK touring band together to perform the music which will feature George Crowley on tenor sax, Nathaniel Facey on alto, Rick Simpson on keyboards and Shaney Forbes at the drums. This quintet is currently on the road with forthcoming dates at;

2019;
Blue Arrow, Glasgow (24 Sep)
The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh (25 Sep)
East Side Jazz Club, Birmingham (26 Sep)
Kings Place, London (album launch, 27 Sep)

Catch them if you can. You won’t be disappointed.

Worlds Collide

Michael Janisch

Monday, September 23, 2019

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

0 out of 5

Worlds Collide

A worthy edition to the Janisch solo canon, a recording that demonstrates his increasing skill and maturity as a musician and composer. The playing, by an all star cast, is excellent throughout.

Michael Janisch

“Worlds Collide”

(Whirlwind Recordings WR4742)

Michael Janisch – Acoustic & Electric Bass, Post Production, Percussion,
Jason Palmer – Trumpet,
John O’Gallagher – Alto Sax,
Rez Abbasi – Guitar,
Clarence Penn – Drums

Guests;
Jon Escreet – Keyboards,
George Crowley – Tenor Sax,
Andrew Bain – Drums & Percussion


I’ve long considered “Purpose Built”, the 2009 leadership début by bassist and composer Michael Janisch to be one of the most significant jazz albums to be released in the UK in the 21st century. As well as being a fine artistic statement in its own right it is also the album that launched Janisch’s Whirlwind Recordings record label, now one of the country’s leading jazz independents with a catalogue of over one hundred titles and an increasingly identifiable label sound. It’s probably fair to say that any album released on Whirlwind is going to have something interesting to say to the discerning jazz listener.

The perpetually busy Janisch’s role as an entrepreneur has forced him to put his own musical career on hold to a degree, although of course he has never stopped performing and his bass playing has graced many ensembles in recent years, particularly those led by musicians associated with the Whirlwind label.

Janisch, an American who has lived in London since 2005, has always encouraged collaborations between British, American and European musicians and is also the guy with the ambition, drive and energy to make these things happen, hence the ‘Whirlwind’ nickname that gives his label its moniker. “Purpose Built”, with its Anglo-American line up, was a perfect illustration of this and this spirit of international co-operation is something that has manifested itself on numerous other Whirlwind releases.

I first heard Janisch’s music in 2009 around the time of the release of “Purpose Built”. In August of that year, encouraged by the presence behind the drum kit of the great Clarence Penn,  I covered Janisch’s show at that year’s Aber Jazz and Blues Festival in Fishguard. For me it was a seminal moment,  I became an instant fan and I’ve been covering the music of Janisch and of the Whirlwind label ever since, incredibly for more than a decade now.
Live review here;
http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/michael-janisch-live-theatr-gwaun-fishguard-31-08-2009/
“Purpose Built” album review here;
http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/michael-janisch-purpose-built/

Janisch’s releases under his own name include the live recordings “Banned In London” (2012), featuring a quintet co-led by Janisch and Cuban pianist Aruan Ortiz, and “First Meeting” (2014) documented by an all star quartet featuring the veteran alto saxophonist Lee Konitz. Janisch was also part of the Trans-Atlantic Collective, a gathering of American, British and European musicians that featured the original compositions of its five members on the 2008 release “Traveling Song”.

As impressive as the two live recordings were there was still something of an ‘extended jam session’ feel about them. Janisch’s next album to fully concentrate on his own compositions was 2015’s “Paradigm Shift”, an ambitious double set that combined elements of jazz, rock and electronics with Janisch involving himself in a series of post production processes. Janisch toured the project extensively and my review of a live performance at Leamington Spa Jazz Club, combined with a look at the album itself, can be read here;
http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/michael-janischs-paradigm-shift-leam-jazz-leamington-spa-rugby-club-leaming/

“Worlds Collide” is very much the ‘follow up’ to this and features a cast of musicians associated with the ‘Whirlwind family’ and drawn from both sides of the Atlantic. The bulk of the album was recorded in London at the famous Abbey Road Studios by the core band of Janisch, Abbasi, O’Gallagher, Palmer and Penn with Tyler MacDiarmid engineering. Escreet’s parts were subsequently recorded in New York and those of Crowley and Bain at a second session in the UK.

The programme consists of seven previously unrecorded Janisch originals. The album title is a reflection of the turbulent times we live in. Like every other American jazz musician that I’ve ever spoken to Janisch has no time for the divisive politics of Donald Trump, but the words “Worlds Collide” also reference the toxic online discourses that have helped to poison the internet. Indeed Janisch and Whirlwind, with their spirit of inter-connectivity and international co-operation stand for the very opposite of these things. “That’s the whole philosophy of Whirlwind”,  Janisch has said, “all these different cultures and communities coming together to make music”.

A further subtext to the evocative title is the apparent clash between the acoustic and electric elements in Janisch’s music, particularly the post production and electro improvising techniques that were introduced to him by trumpeter and sound artist Alex Bonney on the “Paradigm Shift” tour.  Janisch sees no division between the two, preferring to refer to his band as an “electro-acoustic” ensemble. Similarly he’s receptive to musical influences from all quarters, from the intellectual to the populist,  moving between acoustic and electric bass and being able to groove in a propulsive manner in a variety of musical styles and time signatures.

It’s the leader’s double bass that introduces album opener “Another London”, a tune whose energy and urgency seems to encapsulate modern life in the English capital. The piece features the whole cast with the twin drum attack of Penn and Bain combining with Janisch’s bass to really drive the music. Escreet’s retro style keyboard washes add colour and texture, particularly during the gentler, more reflective episodes that punctuate the track. Janisch has said that the piece represents his positive view of walking through London, away from social media platforms, and witnessing “people from different cultures and backgrounds actually getting on in their lives, generally living in harmony with each other”. The buoyant rhythms help to fuel an incisive alto solo from the fluent and inventive O’Gallagher, who really surfs the groove. He also combines effectively with Palmer and Crowley during the ensemble passages as Abbasi’s nimble guitar snakes in and out of the music.

The guitarist comes into his own on “Ode To A Norwegian Strobe”, a piece that pays homage to Janisch’s love of contemporary electronic music acts such as Aphex Twin and the UK’s own Strobes, the latter the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist and sound artist Dan Nicholls. Janisch’s piece combines elements of jazz, rock, minimalism and electronica to excellent effect, creating a vibrant, rhythmic music that is rich in terms of energy, colour and inventiveness. Abbasi’s hypnotic introductory guitar motif helps to shape the direction of a track that again features all eight musicians. The leader concentrates on electric bass here, while also adding effects and percussion. The bright, dynamic ensemble playing is complemented by some fiery soloing as O’Gallagher and Palmer exchange ideas in thrilling fashion and Escreet periodically comes to the fore on keyboards. The overall effect is splendidly uplifting.

“The JJ I Knew” revisits a piece that was originally recorded for the “Paradigm Shift” album. The work is Janisch’s dedication to his late elder brother, Joseph, and attempts to express something of his personality. The original version featured electric bass and electronics only but its composer has since re-arranged the piece for performance by a full band and the tune was to feature in this form at Leamington. Here it features the core quintet, plus some additional percussion from Bain. Janisch specialises on electric bass and the piece is a fitting elegy, interspersing moments of melancholic introspection with more lively, upbeat passages. Palmer’s pure toned trumpet ruminations combine beauty with an exploratory zeal, with similar qualities informing Abbasi’s eloquent guitar solo. Penn’s drums come to the fore during the closing stages as he trades ideas with the staccato stabs of the horns.

The same sextet appears on the curiously titled “Frocklebot”, the name apparently coming from “an imaginary toy looking like a giraffe with mechanical wings”, a creature dreamt up by Janisch’s young daughter. It’s a suitably playful piece that combines darting unison horn phrases with heavy, rock influenced guitar in a spirited opening salvo before breaking down into more freely structured two way conversations, firstly between Abbasi and Palmer and later Janisch and O’Gallagher. Eventually the full ensemble coalesces once more around a joyous theme that seems to celebrate the innocence and imagination of childhood. The piece has evoked favourable comparisons with the works of Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry.

“Intro To Pop” is a minute long solo alto sax excursion from the consistently impressive O’Gallagher, although the composition credit still goes to Janisch. It’s a cogent presage to “Pop” itself, the lengthiest and most ambitious track on the album. The piece is dedicated to Janisch’s English wife, Sarah, the title “Pop” being an abbreviation of the word ‘poppet’, rather than a musical identifier. Although performed as a single entity the piece is essentially a four part suite, but despite its complexities it is tackled by the core quintet. It’s a surprisingly reflective and atmospheric piece, written in a minor key but without being melancholic. The aim, says Janisch, was to reflect his wife’s “peaceful powerfulness”. Indeed there’s an almost Zen like sense of calm about the opening section with its measured ensemble playing, paced by the leader’s double bass. Instruments swim in and out of focus, briefly assuming the lead, although there’s no conventional soloing as such. The next section features a further dialogue between O’Gallagher’s alto sax, here soft and conversational, and the leader’s double bass. With the addition of Abbasi and Penn the saxophonist stretches out in more exploratory fashion, eventually handing over to the coolly elegant Abassi. The overall mood of the piece remains reflective, the tempo unhurried. There’s a gentle increase of pace in the next section as Palmer returns to the fold, temporarily assuming the lead before combining with O’Gallagher as the energy levels continue to rise, before eventually subsiding once more. This is a richly textured work that owes something to minimalism with the use of recurring motifs helping to shape the ebb and flow of the piece.

Janisch moves back to electric bass for the closing “Freak Out”. As its title suggests this is an altogether more energetic and dynamic piece of work that is kick started by Penn’s drums.
Janisch describes the piece as “a good old fashioned shred for Rez” and the guitarist is the main soloist here, his fiery playing inviting comparisons with John McLaughlin and the late Allan Holdsworth. That said Abassi is a distinctive stylist in his own right with a musical identity that is very much his own. This final piece also boasts some inspired soloing from Palmer with a fiery but fluent outing on trumpet, plus some crunching ensemble playing.

“Worlds Collide” is a worthy edition to the Janisch solo canon, a recording that demonstrates his increasing skill and maturity as a musician and composer. The playing, by an all star cast, is excellent throughout with the leader’s contribution at the heart of the ensemble.

Janisch has put a UK touring band together to perform the music which will feature George Crowley on tenor sax, Nathaniel Facey on alto, Rick Simpson on keyboards and Shaney Forbes at the drums. This quintet is currently on the road with forthcoming dates at;

2019;
Blue Arrow, Glasgow (24 Sep)
The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh (25 Sep)
East Side Jazz Club, Birmingham (26 Sep)
Kings Place, London (album launch, 27 Sep)

Catch them if you can. You won’t be disappointed.


blog comments powered by Disqus

JAZZ MANN FEATURES

Sunday at Wall2Wall Jazz Festival, Abergavenny, September 1st 2019.

Sunday at Wall2Wall Jazz Festival, Abergavenny, September 1st 2019.

The final day of the Festival and performances from Tango Jazz Quartet, Renewal Choir and Claire Victoria Duo.


Saturday at  Wall2Wall Jazz Festival 2019, Melville Centre, Abergavenny, 31/08/2019.

Saturday at Wall2Wall Jazz Festival 2019, Melville Centre, Abergavenny, 31/08/2019.

Ian Mann on live performances by the Alex Goodyear Bop Septet, Chube with Dennis Rollins, and the Sarah Gillespie Sextet, plus a screening of the Chet Baker biopic "Born To Be Blue".


JAZZ MANN RECOMMENDS