108CD - Archer / Keeffe / Pyne - Hi Res Heart - CD plus download

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Description

Martin Archer

sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor & baritone saxophones, Bb & bass clarinet, bass harmonica, flute, electronics.

 

Charlotte Keeffe

trumpet & fluegelhorn 

 

Martin Pyne

vibraphone, drum set, percussion, toy piano

 

When I proposed this trio it was very deliberately to create an instrumentation which closely matched that of the classic Leo Smith Trio of the 1970s – a line up which allows space and fire to co-exist.  Of course, the fact that Martin Pyne doubles on both vibraphone and drums gives us a few extra sonic possibilities, and these have all been exploited by the suite of 12 compositions which the 3 of us have created together.  While my own music output veers off into a wide range of bands and territories, it is when I play this music – which for convenience I will call AACM Music, as it is directly inspired by the masters of the black 70s American avant-garde – that I feel like I’m writing and playing my very best.  Of course, both Charlotte and Martin have their own different histories and perspectives to bring to the trio.  Nevertheless, that feeling that even at its most abstract , the blues is never too far away from this music, pervades the current work. – Martin Archer

Reviews

This one’s a horn-player’s cornucopia of celebratory delights. Recorded during the Covid lockdown from August 2020 to March 2021, the three participants herein managed to twist isolationism’s self-defeating tendencies on its head, resulting in a gleeful slice of artfully bent nu-bop that is nothing but an effervescent delight. According to the inside liners, each member would initiate an idea for four individual pieces (the album contains twelve tracks), recording their own parts then sending those around for the other players to arrange and record in kind. Despite this seemingly ‘ramshackle’ working ethos (though born out of necessity), even the most discerning ear could swear Mssrs. Archer, Keeffe, and Pyne were simultaneously cohabiting the same studio space, such is the seamless nature of these buoyant tracks. To wit, Archer, as usual, is in fine form; when his foghorn sonorities interlock with Keeffe’s silken flugelhorn on the lengthy “Song for Bobby Naughton”, augmented by Pyne’s crystalline vibes and poised traps, the ghosts of everyone from the titular performer to Bobby Hutcherson and Walt Dickerson are resurrected in a breathless seance of ravishing Blue Notes. But there’s a streak of rebellion coursing through the veins of this music, strands of freer British improv that play across a wider canvas upon which the trio operate. “Jean” reveals these notions in splendid fashion, it’s marching band rhythms as much a part of the AACM historical record as such homegrown units as the Spontaneous Music Ensemble and even John Surman’s early flights of fancy. But what is most telling about this trio’s music is the love of life emanating from its members instruments, a reaction to the circumstances surrounding the album’s creation that somehow feels both introspective and joyful, even though there are many moments when Archer’s intense squalls erupt in a pristine gush, emboldened by his occasionally painterly electronics and Pyne’s strident pulsations. Cherish these sounds, for their creators indeed make them sing. - Darren Bergstein, DMG New York

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Back in 1978 Bobby Naughton’s vibraphone hung notes over Leo Smith’s first album for ECM, the great Divine Love.  If music could be translucent, this was. The central line-up consisted of Leo Smith, trumpet, Dwight Andrews, reeds and Mr Naughton. It was a ground breaker.  This new album from Discus carries a similar instrumental triad.  Track 4, Song For Bobby Naughton features some Martin Pyne vibraphone but in a very different way to Naughton, building a Martin Archer melody into an improvisation.  It takes the trio on a journey almost twice the length of any of the other 13 tracks on Hi Res Heart. The ‘stretch’ is worth it, Charlotte Keeffe produces a trumpet excursion with just about every ‘out’ brass technique available.  Literally a ‘real time’ bender.  Though Mr Archer dedicates the session to the 1970’s heyday of Chicago’s AACM collective, the new album is a mid-lockdown 20/21 UK production.  Each musician contributes four pieces as initial templates for the other two players to add their own parts in response.  Isolation improv… but you’d never know it by ear.  There’s an ‘of the moment’ feel to the session.  Jean is a Ms Keeffe brainwave, squeezed brass taken over by saxophone playing a repeated Art Ensemble vamp.  It sounds perfectly aligned as if all the action comes from a direct real time encounter.  The playing is exemplary, so are the ears picking up on each pre-recorded nuance; a spine teaser (Martin Pyne’s got some bright gongs in his percussion bag).  Two of his contributions Earth Memory/Sleep Uneasy are listed back to back.  Although both have double tracked vibes over-and-under traps, each example has a different facet of approach.  Earth is a brass/reeds written-through refrain.  It switches on Martin Archer’s soprano inflexions and Charlotte Keeffe’s trumpet.  Beautifully loose limbed lead lines, tightly drawn in under 5 minutes set up the ears for Sleep Uneasy. Here almost every instrument the trio has at their disposal (to my knowledge 16 and counting) works out.  Deep drone baritone, Ms Keeffe’s brass pressed into a squeegee ball with vibes and flute emerging like a Tony Scott mantra.  It’s just short of six minutes; in truth it could have gone on purposefully for another six.  Joseph Jarman would recognise his own influence on this approach.  As would his Art Ensemble partner Lester Bowie on Charlotte Keeffe’s playful tipping-a-hat trick to the Great Pretender’s playful ‘duck calls’ on her composition Tommy. A fitting abstraction memorising 1969’s A Jackson In Your House – a circus of sounds where even ‘the riot’ is riotous fun.  What impresses with this recording is over fourteen tracks, these three protagonists get the opportunity to explore the spaces between them.  A minus turns to plus.  The enforced separation of the lockdown could have worked against them instead it’s accentuated their individuality.  These days Martin Archer is often heard in relatively large ensembles.  Hi Res Heart is stripped down creating a platform where he’s easily distinctive.  He’s able to maximise the unpacking of his range of horns.  We all know how good the guy is.  In this setting there’s an opportunity to spot-sound his personal ‘hornweb’.  Archer does as Archer is, target practicing those multi-reeds together, letting sparseness fill the space.  Just one of the attributes of the original Association of Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) was their ability to borrow ideas from one another.  It’s what happens here too.  Charlotte Keeffe retains her own thing.  She’s not faking either Wadada Leo Smith or Lester Bowie, but she doesn’t ignore them either.  This is a musician who continues to work in a lot of different contexts yet keeps the essential ‘Keeffe’. Given the context Martin Pyne could have played safe and stayed close to Naughton’s role.  He does a bit of borrowing but this ain’t 1978, Mr Pyne is now.  High resolution, many pixels at play, this is truly a 2020’s album, music of its own time.  - Steve Day: 2021 

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THE RESOURCEFULNESS and technical achievement in this trio recording, alone, tell an impressive tale. But, much more than that, the lockdown-enforced concept of collaborating at distance (due to the global pandemic) to shape a seamless melting pot of musical creativity has produced an enthralling home-studio performance of composed/free jazz.  Hi Res Heart is the collective work of saxophonist/woodwind player Martin Archer, trumpeter/flugelhornist Charlotte Keeffe and vibraphonist/percussionist Martin Pyne; and both the ingenuity of their experimental process and the resultant dialogue is quite remarkable. All twelve tracks are listed with a three-character code (e.g. a – p – k) which identifies their remote order of construction (in this case, Archer – Pyne – Keeffe), with each trio member writing and recording the foundations of four pieces. These are then elaborated on and completed by the remaining two players, in different sequences. The breadth of the soundscapes is fascinating, not least because each instrumentalist brings to the project their own experiences and interests – for instance, Martin Archer specifically draws inspiration from the masters of the black 1970s American avant-garde scene (an area in which he says he feels like he is writing and playing his very best).  These 65 minutes feel very much a personal expedition for musicians and listener alike, their multifaceted evolution sure to elicit a multitude of responses. To the uninitiated, the oblique freedom at the heart of this album may initially seem bewildering, perhaps even cacophonous – and, at times, they wouldn’t be far wrong! But to listen closely and emotionally interact with it is experientially satisfying, only in a quite different sense to more straight-ahead jazz. From the rambunctious clamour of Silena’s Fire, through the almost New Orleansian stomp of Keeffe’s G.E.M. and sassy, percussive resonance of big-band-style Seduction Dance, to inebriated, comedic Jean, the trio build compelling, unpredictable mélanges of timbres and rhythms.  Raw, bluesy riffs and japes in Looking for Gene bring to mind Blakey Ridge’s famed Back Door, though threaded with fidgety vibraphone improvisations; and the ‘noir’ mood of June is disconcertingly peppered with abstract trumpet (often forced through the mouthpiece), toy piano and reedy, melodramatic phrases. Pyne’s Earth Memory takes on an eastern flavour, its descending and chromatic melodies hypnotically buoyed by his perpetual undercurrent of strong, weltering rhythms, while Sleep Uneasy’s didgeridoo-style drones, sputtering ‘duck calls’ and misterioso flute certainly wouldn’t provide the ideal background to slumber!  Over eleven minutes, Archer’s Song for Bobby Naughton interlaces tenor sax, bass clarinet and muted trumpet in a markedly free and pensive progression, the saxophonist’s rich extemporisations partnering well with Pyne’s sustained, chiming vibraphone. The brief, brash plod of The Story in the Mirror and cartoonish squeal of Tommy (both of which momentarily try their hand at swing) are irresistibly fun, while closing Dolly Grip disjointedly sallies back and forth with jocular high trumpet utterances, reedy interjections and erratic percussion towards a frenzied B movie conclusion.  Martin Archer references US trumpeter Leo Smith’s trio of the late 1970s (with Dwight Andrews and Bobby Naughton) in terms of matching its instrumentation. But considering music’s development in the forty-plus years since, and the unique, combined influences on Archer / Keeffe / Pyne, it doesn’t feel outrageous to suggest Hi Res Heart offers an even greater attraction. That they produced it all ‘down the wire‘ seals it. - Adrian Pallant, AP Reviews

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You are with great fortune to hear this. A masterful trio of deeply rooted, dedicated with all their soul and minds, to make musical art that transcends the academic library of avant-garde jazz improv, and scales the walls of all that is called holy grail.  If I ever knew an artist and label owner, who both ran a selfless music company, and contributed vast amounts of his own skills on many winds, brass, and various percussives (tuned and not, BUT certainly In Tune) etc, who was deserving of the title Keeper of the Flame, Musician for AACM Music, and person in pursuit of spreading the high talents of other mates, it is Mr. Martin Archer, who is 1/3 of this magnificent trio.  Creators are Martin Archer (sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone saxophones, Bb and bass clarinets, flute, bass harmonica, electronics), Charlotte Keeffe (trumpet, flugelhorn, electronics),  & Martin Pyne (drums, percussion, vibraphone, toy piano). One would assume they spent years holed in an intimate studio, carefully putting this intricate puzzle of perfection together. And one would be totally incorrect. Unlike the satirical introduction I spilled out,  Archer / Keeffe / Pyne have decades of experience, supernatural abilities to communicate in the all so tricky art of instant telepathic transference to arrange anything without former preparation (apart from a quote from Martin himself -as I spoke to him about this recording). From every multi-dimensional corner, with each mood, all bends and morphs, piece by piece, a pronounced wizardry of such. What sets this apart from the ordinary, even the parallel, are the many aural doses of visual and fertile scenery the band offers the listener. Ripe with many atmospheres, a trio rarely delivers this generous of a cultivated feast for the ears. You may think you have all you can handle with 'Sleep Uneasy' (track #9) arrives, but this partly dreamtime, otherworldly, and sometimes dark corner piece, rakes in even more points for outright over the top inventive inception. When I asked Martin about the preparation and any rendering of this release, he replied the following : "No we had no discussion about the music in advance and we didn't physically meet.  Each trio member put down 4 solo parts, then passed the file to the next trio member, and then on to the final member to complete.  We did this in every possible order within the trio.  My own Song For Bobby Naughton is pretty close to the Leo Smith tune (same instrumentation), but I didn't ask for anyone else to do make parts in this style.  Everyone did their own thing.  I don't consider this to be an improvised record.  Clearly there are tunes and arrangements present in most of the tracks.  But these were arrived at without anything being written down. It was just a case of picking up on what one of the other players had already done.  So, I guess it is improvised but with the benefit of studio time to plan each part". I say, sagacity in motion.  While no one except the ones who still exist and were part of that 70's scene of black music provenance in the avant-jazz world can know what elements made their works what they were (although blues is a definitive component), Archer / Keeffe / Pyne certainly respect and give great tribute to the era with this zenith titled "Hi Res Heart" (abbreviated "High Resolution" and translated to 'big hearted' in this instance). . And it might very well surprise those who think stereotypes, bathe in xenophobia, and/or just never did dip your ears into the beauty of this music, to take a chance and spend some time absorbing this showpiece. Three musicians sound like five or six more times than not, yet the pieces are never crowded, overdone, or filled with waste. This is a pure example of seasoned artists who create something special, although each member comes from a different background, based in diverse musical styles, the beauty of it as a whole, is just that. The chemistry is magical, the musicianship is second to none, and the interchange between all seeps in like fast blood as spectacular. HUGE RECOMMENDATION. - Lee Henderson, BIG BEAUTIFUL NOISE https://www.bigbeautifulnoise.com 

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It will captivate and hypnotize your brain for hours, as even the abstruse can be comfortable.  “Nevertheless, that feeling that even at its most abstract, the blues is never too far away from this music, pervades the current work.” – Best Of Jazz https://bestofjazz.org/

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Archer has a wide range of musical interests that are reflected in many of his projects. His interest in the AACM-music scene of Chicago is a very important one for him. No wonder several of his releases focus on this scene of black avant-garde jazz music. For his latest project ‘Hi Res Heart’ he had the trio of trumpeter Leo Smith in mind. A trio that operated in the 70s was completed by Dwight Andrews (reeds) and Bobby Naughton (vibraphone, percussion). Charlotte Keeffe (trumpet, flugelhorn) and Martin Pyne (vibraphone, drums, percussion, toy piano) who were invited by Archer for this project, introduced their own inspirations for this collective enterprise that has Archer playing sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, clarinet, bass clarinet, bass harmonica, flute and electronics. The result is a very remarkable album in more than one sense. First because of how it came into being under the Covid-conditions. Secondly because of the musical quality. And one may feel triggered to ask if it is despite or thanks to the procedure they followed. “Each member of the trio wrote an initial idea for four pieces, recording their own part first. Sometimes multitracked. The other two players arranged and recorded their own parts in response” in a subsequent order that is indicated in the booklet. The sequence is indicated in the booklet for each track. Implying that the full intensity of reciprocal movements was not possible due to the circumstances it is surprising and wondering how tight and together this recording sounds. So corona was no obstacle in the end. In twelve compositions they offer us a varied journey with loose and entertaining works like ‘Looking for Gene’. While others like the most extensive work from this release, ‘Song for Bobby Naughton’ are of a more abstract and free atmosphere. ‘Earth Memory’ has an eastern flavour. ‘The story in the Mirror is a fun miniature that almost swings. ‘Sleep Uneasy’ is a very open and free excursion. Each composition has its own differing characteristics. The playing by all three is very dedicated and concentrated, and I especially liked the trumpet playing by Keeffe. Also, I prefer Archer in small jazz-oriented lineups like this one instead of his larger ensembles of prog-oriented music. - Dolf Mulder VITAL WEEKLY http://www.vitalweekly.net/1289.html

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[Archer's trio] with drummer Martin Pyne and trumpeter Charlotte Keeffe, is a classic trio setup, but with the twist that each player brought four ideas to the table which the three then fleshed out according to their whims and the mood of the moment. Pyne’s doubling on vibes and Keeffe’s sweet flugelhorn, along with Archer’s array of instruments, means that this suite of twelve pieces is a constantly evolving series, each starting off from a different perspective but each rooted   in that unique intensity that seems to exist in the trio relationship.  it is kind of fun trying to work out who set each ball rolling, but it is not as straightforward as you might imagine. Hi Res Heart opens with Archer’s “Silena’s Fire”, but it is the loping, funky beat from Pyne that was added second that holds the piece together, with the horns and their simple staccato notes sitting slightly at odds, bickering and picking at each other, one like a lullaby, the other less soothing.  It is an interesting idea, the tracks being passed like parcels that are being wrapped as they go. Keeffe’s “G.E.M” is more lugubrious, with dreamy washes of synth and the sleepy tones of the horns joined by the delicious echoing vibes. You can hear the breath moving through the reeds, such is the attention to the recording, and it really adds to the intimacy.  Pyne’s drums skip in a warm, jazzy style with plenty of cymbal action, though his ‘”Looking For Gene”, and those opening three set the bar. Pyne’s “Seduction Dance” has a sweet little refrain to which the horns keep returning after meandering around his almost tribal bells and clicks; Keeffe’s “June” is more abstract, working around the stretches of space. There is a slow and sultry swing to the muted 1930s feel of her “Jean”, with spacey synth additions to bring it up to date, and Pyne’s “Earth Memory” has a rolling Eastern feel, with a snowy flurry of horns, the vibes lending a magical air, with hypnotic and repetitive horn motifs drifting over the top.

There is something of the woodland in the scampering horns of Pyne’s “Sleep Uneasy”, while Archer’s “The Story In The Mirror” has a New Orleans march feel to it. The mice sound as though they have escaped on Keeffe’s abstract “Tommy”, and the stop-go flurry of horns in Archer’s “Dolly Grip”, all muted and anxious, revel in the gaps between Pyne’s carefully placed beats. It jumps and twists and stops and starts, with the ecstatic release of the horns dragging a response from the drums, which are always carefully placed.  It is a great end to another successful experiment in lockdown music production. Hi Res Heart sounds great, and you find yourself wondering whether similar results would have been discovered if they were in the room together. For some reason, I think not; and that is what makes this so interesting an album. - Mr Olivetti, FREQ http://freq.org.uk/

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In the press release for this one Martin Archer makes it known that he regards the music as a kind of approximation of the AACM school of Chicago. There is something in this in the sense of how the musicians seem unusually attuned to the virtues of silence and space, but there any similarity ends, not least because the combination of tensile fragility and weight of history that’s a mark of that school is not easily replicated.  Besides which, the manner in which this music was put together, while of necessity a denial of the spontaneous processes that emerge out of musicians interacting in the same space at the same time, is still marked by a measure of uncontrived spontaneity.  Thus the work of all three musicians on Silena’s Fire leavens the presence of overdubbing and other processes likely to offend the purists; this is nothing but a good thing because the stimulation of the overall result far outscores such concerns.  If I was the sort of jazz hack who relies on such turns of phrase I might define Keefe’s contribution to Jean as being representative of her channelling her inner Lester Bowie, but I’m not, so I won’t. Instead I’ll offer a description that cites some of Wadada Leo Smith’s work, combined perhaps with Hugh Hopper’s experiments with tape loops. As it turns out proceedings have such character that name-checking merely throws a spotlight on approximate and unhelpful comparisons.  The spatial awareness I referred to in the opening paragraph is evident on Dolly Grip, where the process of how the music was put together is subverted by the impression of the three musicians together in the same room at the same time, working out between themselves, and in the moment, how to accommodate and come to terms with the silence. - Nic Jones, JAZZ JOURNAL

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Hi Res Heart’s first impression is clear and strong; it is captivating and hypnotizes your brain for hours, proving that even the abstruse can be comfortable. Yet, the more you come back to it, the more you feel there is something different about it, but it’s hard to put your finger on it.  This may be due to the album being recorded during the COVID-19 lockdown. Each track was recorded layer by layer. Each member in turn laid down their solo part, then passed it to another member, who added their part on top, and then passed it to the last member, who finalized the track.  One might imagine someone recording themselves asking questions and leaving spaces between each one. A second person listening to it can fake an interaction by answering the questions in the spaces provided, but at no point does this action affect the original recording. Even if a third person starts reacting to the recorded outcome, it adds complexity and even more realism to it, but it will not result in an interaction. To the listener, it may sound like a discussion, but it is just a simulation of one.  This is precisely why this music is so bewitching; we are so used to synergies in jazz, wherein musicians adapt, interact, and co-create spontaneously and simultaneously. However, on Hi Res Heart, every track has an initial voice that is not affected by the other inputs, triggers, or developments; a second voice, reacting to the first while unaware of the third; and the third and final voice, reacting to and provoking the previous two, even while it is completely isolated and ignored.  Although the track’s foundation is sometimes hard to spot without the liner notes, it creates an effect of constant surprise, and, strangely enough, it also creates a comforting sensation, as the development is somehow disconnected from the surrounding triggers. It’s not that the tracks are not progressing; it’s more like if you find the right thread, then you can follow it, as the two other musicians revolve around it.  This is an asynchronous conversation that should make no sense at all, but it makes perfect sense. Amazing album thereby confirming its first impression: it is highly captivating and hypnotic. – Paul Medrano, BEST OF JAZZ

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Overcoming pandemic lockdown restrictions with electronics and multi-instrumental acumen, three British improvisers create trio music that’s more than the sum of its parts. Each player recorded his or her part separately and these textures were then melded with the recorded responses of the others. Considering Charlotte Keeffe plays trumpet and flugelhorn; Martin Pyne vibraphone, drums, percussion and toy piano; and Martin Archer sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor and, baritone saxophones, Bb and bass clarinets, bass harmonica, flute and electronics the resulting textures are layered in a variety of paradigms. It’s a tribute to the three, who are involved with multiple UK bands, that they make the idiosyncratic program sound as natural as any conventional trio set – or perhaps a 16-piece band jam session.  Although each player provides the initial concept on four tracks apiece, he or she doesn’t dominate them. Paramountly group music, the results depend on cooperation and careful listening. The stretched dialogue from Keeffe’s capillary bites and dribbles with Archer’s sour-tone saxophone sways on “G.E.M” for instance are given narrative shape by vibraphone pings. Meanwhile Pyne’s use of drum patterning, guiro-like scratches and pseudo maracas shakes help move “Dolly Grip” from its trumpet fanfare and reed growling introduction to a finale of stacked brass bugling, baritone sax snarls and regularized drum pummels.  Comparable multi-tasking takes place elsewhere by Archer. Chalumeau clarinet echoes project solemnity as do his basso flute tones, while his saxophone split tones reference Free Jazz extensions. Instructively on “Song for Bobby Naughton” his horizontal clarinet sighs not only intersect with Keefe’s bluesy licks, but later turn orotund to temper Pyne’s strident vibe whaps.  Still the trio’s ability to extend classic AACM/BAG concepts is most obvious on “Seduction Dance” and “Jean”. The former dissolves into snarls and peeps from both horns after beginning with march-like drumming then revealing a sequence of emotional Blues playing from Keefe, underlined by subtle electronics. Following introductory press rolls “Jean” emphasizes harmony and rhythm as clarion clarinet and brass yelps snake to the conclusion along with glockenspiel-like drum patterning. Hi Res Heart shows that limitations imposed by a global pandemic can be amended by sophisticated improvisers.  — Ken Waxman. http://www.jazzword.com/one-review/?id=130749

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