Alex Ward Item 10 – “Volition (Live At Cafe Oto)” (Copepod, 2018)

“Volition (Live At Cafe Oto)” was released by “Copepod” label on October. Album was recorded by “Alex Ward Item 10” – it’s formed by Alex Ward (electric guitar (tracks 1 & 3), clarinet (tracks 1, 2 & 3, with amplifier on 3)), Yoni Silver (alto sax (track 1), bass clarinet (tracks 2 & 3, with amplifier on 3)), Cath Roberts (baritone sax), Sarag Gail Brand (trombone), Otto Wilberg (double bass), Andrew Lisle (drums), Charlotte Keeffe (trumpet (tracks 1, 2 & 3), flugelhorn (track 3)), Benedict Taylor (viola), Mandhira De Saram (violin) and Joe Smith Sands (electric guitar). The ensemble is central figure in New York and Chicago avant-garde jazz scene, it’s also famous in international scene. The music is improvised cordially, with passion and expression. Musicians are real masters of their art – each of them has its own conception of fresh, innovative and interesting sound. Special effects, search of outrageous timbres and new ways of playing, wide and expressive musical language, multi-layed facture, open form and sharp harmony – that’s main base of ensemble’s compositions. Sound experiments, exotic instrumental combos and production of fresh, new and noisy sounds is the main priority of each musician. Musicians manage to create enchanting, interesting and vivid sound by using all wide range of musical language elements and spontaneous ways of improvising.

“Volition (Live At Cafe Oto)” compositions are real bursts of energy and mixed with gorgeous sparkles, franky and wild thrills and passionate solos. All album compositions mostly are based on turbulent and bright energy explosions. It’s heared in collective improvisations the most. All compositions are improvised and arranged by using typical elements of “Alex Ward Item 10” – this is the place, where meets hot passion, dramatic expression, incresible and precise playing techniques, innovative and effective musical decisions and touching sound. All musicians are improvising interesting and differently from the others. The music is full of passionate and dynamic turns, moods are passing from the one to another. Each piece is highly contrasting with the others – it has its own language, facture, style and mood. Musicians have huge arsenal of musical language elements: expressions, all wide scale of dynamics, illustrative and effective coloristics elements, specific ways of playing, numerous of rhythms, forms, scales and etc. By using this huge and rich variety of musical language’s elements, musicians manage to collectively create gorgeous mosaic of small little pieces. Music is in change all the time – it’s moving from the one turn to the other. Gorgeous, light, claire and bright pieces are combined with peaceful excerpts, dramatic, ruling and touching culminations, turbulent, franky and just crazy free improvisations – these and even more pieces are mixed together. It forms wide, multi-layed and polyphonic musical pattern with difficult facture. Open form is used in every composition. The instrumentation is incredible, passionate and innovative – it’s based on new and fresh ideas, inventive and specific ways of playing and traditional musical language’s elements. Compositions are based on free improvisation and various streams of avant-garde and modern jazz. Free, creative, experimental, modal, bebop, post bop, progressive… – that’s just a part of intonations of modern and avant-garde jazz styles, which are used here. Musicians fuse all material in one pattern – that’s how gorgeous, colorful and innovative sound is created. Melodic section is solid and bright. There are many individual melodies, who are produced by different instrument. Various kinds of saxophones and clarinets form vivid and playful reeds section. Vivacious, spontaneous, vital and expressive melodies, vibrant and roaring blow outs, splendid and impressive riffs, wild fast solos bring more energy and live to the compositions. Trombone trumpet and flugelhorn contain the base of brasses. It’s extremely loud, passionate, but solid, slow and monotonic in other pieces. Heavy, subtle and slow solos have huge contrast with light and vivid reeds and reveal the other side of the compositions. Vibrant energy, turbulent and free improvisation, repetitive tunes and unusual sounds form the rhythmic base and illustrate the melodic section. Exceptional sound is brought by firm strings section. Violin, double bass gently go along with two electric guitars. Harsh, sharp and dramatic sounds of violin gives soft intonation of contemporary academical music. Dramatic culminations, subtle and silent pieces, outrageous timbres and unusual sounds fit with free and passionate improvisations and remarkable melodies. Electric guitars are based on free improvisation, brave and adventurous musical decisions, spontaneous improvising and energetic sound. The improvisations are somewhere between free improvisation, roots of avant-garde jazz, hard core and some elements of rock styles. These elements are used very subtly and organically mixed with other styles intonations. Drums section is simply wild and frantic – numerous of rhythms, colorful and unpredictable turns, bright and luminous culminations, terrific and just impressive solos, roaring beats and special effects make energetic, wonderful and passionate sound. Drummer fuses together all wide range of musical language’s elements, but does that in his own and special way. Breaks of usual rules, unpredictable turns, eclectic and effective combos, exotic instruments, gorgeous timbres, new conception of fresh and evocative improvising certainly helps musician to create passionate, energetic, framtic and turbulent rhythmic section. This album has gorgeous, innovative and interesting sound – it’s nice record of spontaneous, impressive and original collective improvisation, lively recorded some time ago.


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