Listening Group – Listening Group

listening groupBrooklyn’s 577 Records grew out of a series of living room concerts, the first of which took place at 577 Fifth Ave. in 2001. There is a long tradition of home-made gigs in jazz music. The more remarkable thing about 577 though – which runs very much contrary to jazz tradition – is that 100% of the profits earned from most of the discs in its catalogue go straight to the musicians.

At last count, that catalogue boats of stable of some 77 musicians. The list includes Elliott Sharp, Bill Laswell and founders Daniel Carter and Federico Ughi. The label also presents the annual Forward Festival. Mark Dec. 6 and 7 in your calendar if you’re going to be anywhere near Brooklyn.

This rousing new self-titled album from Listening Group was recorded live at Forward Festival 2016. It features Carter on alto, tenor and soprano saxophones as well as trumpet, Claire de Brunner on bassoon, Patrick Holmes on clarinet, Nick Lyons on alto saxophone, Jeff Snyder on electronics, Stelios Mihas on guitar, Jonah Rosenberg on piano, Zach Swanson on bass and Ughi on drums.

If that lineup strikes you as perhaps equal parts jazz and new classical, you’re not far wrong. This is high-brow music in all the right ways. Serious, inventive and demanding of skilled performers. Hip not stuffy.

There is a lengthy quote from Carter in the album’s notes that bears reprinting here: “In some ways 20th and 21st century chamber music, free improvisation/free jazz/avant-garde jazz (for want of better terms) and other musical genres, perhaps even unconsciously perceived, multiversal, both inner and outer, musical influences, might be thought of as models or precedents for the Listening Group, but one would have to ask each person in the group what she or he thinks might have inspired the Listening Group into being born.

“Each of us has her/his musical view, philosophy, way of playing, personality and thus, makes her/his unique contribution to the overall alloy/alchemy/sound of the Listening Group, but we all most probably would agree that the Listening Group is majorly about listening, playing in such a way that each and every player can be clearly heard by each and every other player, notwithstanding the fact that some instruments in the ensemble are capable of playing much louder than others. The Listening Group mind, heart, body, soul, spirit, character, is brought into being by the mind, heart, body, soul, spirit, character, of each of its players.”

Beautiful, inspiring stuff.

Kevin Press

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