Goat's Notes: Fuzzy Wonder
From the first notes you know that you are with the avant-garde and the Russian avant garde at that. This is music with a smile. It is also, in their description, ‘ethno-jazz-rock-folk-avant- garde’. Their aim?
To surprise themselves.
Difficult with music from this area of the world to play spot the innfluence. This Moscow collective is playing music from a culture that we don’t know enough about. The rhythms are many and varied. In ‘Preface and Gentle Chimeras’ you could be at a dance in a Balkan village: Piotr Talalay on drums and Kudryavtsev are adept at varying the rhythms throughout the whole album.
‘Party Flowers’ is based on a kind of russo-dixieland with Andrey Bessonov’s clarinet sounding improbably like Tricky Sam Nanton. Throughout the album Bessonov produces notes that Benny Goodman could
not have envisaged even in a dream. Vladimir Kudryavtsev’s bass dominates the opening sequence and underpins most of the pieces with an assured sound.
One feature of the album is that none of the fourteen pieces on the album goes over more than seven minutes and most of them are well under that. They ensure that each piece has a definite structure and mood. There is a feeling that the musicians are playing for an audience with self indulgence almost absent. There are minds at work here making sure that there is shape: a beginning, a middle and an end. They are playing engagingly and inventively with all the sounds they can extract from the instruments. Their wide knowledge of music influences their improvising so that it has a European feel. If you are curious about what is happening in Russia at the moment, the Goats will give you some notes.
I can promise you, you will not be bored.
Reviewed by Jack Kenny
Goat’s Notes were formed in 2008 and in these last 5 years became one of the most known newjazz ensembles of Moscow. “Fuzzy Wonder” is their debut album edited by english Leo Records and at the same time by russian Fancy Music label. You can buy or listen to this release on their bandcamp.
On this album we’ve got 14 not that long improvisations, that are belonging to a range of styles in between Tzadik’s klezmer and “Auktsion” or “Polite Refusal” improvised pieces, along with some folk music intrusions that could make you think of Arkady Shilkloper & Segey Starostin’s discs for example. So if you try to label or define each of the ingredients of sextet’s music - it’s quite easy to get lost. Even though their music has to be called new-jazz, it is not actually a jazz or modern-jazz issue. So if some jazz-like feature appears, it is still just an element in a general flow as in Party Flowers for example. And here it is also simply freaking out with tradition, but kind and smily. In the music of Goat’s Notes you could possibly feel the influence of New York jam-bands, and sometimes it looks like progressive-rock appearing. There’s some space for pseudo-academic passages that remind us of american minimalists and Vladimir Martynov at the same time, as in “Landscape Architecture” for instance. Working with small forms is another special feature of this collective. You wouldn’t find here a
long improve-session, tracks don’t last longer than 7.31 with numerous events that are stacked one over the other but not giving a junk heap impression. All this is nicely displayed in the cover image combining some tiny details that you would go for focusing on them, but at the same time keeping your attention on the whole.
- Ilya Belorukov
This group of improvisers of Moscow shows that the scenario of Russian jazz has never eclipsed:
Goat's Notes is a group fascinated by the taste to combine poly-harmonies of Mingus' free jazz
("Blues and Roots"), Zappa's bizarre improvisation ("The grand wazoo") with the exclusion of that part of the music linked with the rock and some ethnic accent of their land.
"Fuzzy Wonder" contains many pleasant musical surprises, highlighting the artistic value of the two founders and the fundamental contribution of the two players of wind instruments, the excellent trombonist Ilya Vilkov and the talented clarinetist Andrew Bessonov. In a project lived in a kind of intelligent collective irony, that smells of free jazz of the sixties, with encouraging results "Fuzzy Wonder" recalls the style and moods contained in Mingus's compositions and those of the bands of the first American free jazz (Charlie Haden and the Liberation Orchestra especially), with brief forays into free improvisations furthest from the typical model of the first American free jazz and with the desire to maintain even their own ethnic roots.
Diritti Riservati - Pubblicato da Ettore Garzia
Apart from some information found in the liner notes, we have no biographical or artistic information on the members of this iconoclast sextet that has appeared on Moscow’s ethno-folk-rock-jazz-avant-garde
contemporary scene. In a sort of modern homage to "music without borders," as taught by the masters Frank Zappa and Charlie Mingus, the Goat's Notes are having fun. Moreover, they're having fun under the fatherly guidance of the producer Leo Fegin whom we will never stop thanking for all that he has been publishing on a regular basis on his immense record label.
On the initiative of the pianist Grigory Sandomirsky and the bassist Vladimir Kudryavtsev, the combo was born in 2008 after the two founders met at a concert by Anthony Braxton Quartet in Moscow. The trigger (it can also be heard in the fourteen tracks by the enigmatic Fuzzy Wonder) may have been the classical violinist Maria Logofet who is capable of shifting perspectives and measures in rhythmically unusual and innovative areas. Of course, at this point, the rock heritage of the "scholarly" Andrey Bessonov (clarinet), combined with the theories of rhythm by Piotr Talalay (drummer founder of the Ensemble Priot, quite well known within
Moscow's jazz scene) and the virtuosity of the trombonist Ilya Vilkov (playing in the line-up of all the major Russian big bands of the decade) did the rest.
Fuzzy Notes is a treasure chest of surprises and promotes the artistic value of Goat's Notes protagonists.
If, with a little imagination, you try to think of a possible output of a band with such characteristics that
presents itself to the "new music scene" with the idea of total creative improvisation, you may be able to imagine the result. A sort of "new Fellinian hypothesis" that doesn't give in to being circus-like and frivolous. Instead, we are dealing with a balanced mix of positive sound folly in the hands of excellent musicians who are able to give to the interplay an outline of intelligent irony in some ways similar to the underground Chicago scene of the midsixties (think Mingus and Haden's Liberation Orchestra) as well as the forms of the free collective closer to us. But the ethnic helm firmly directs the boat through the territories of the old Europe which, at the end of the day, turns out to be the trump card of this successful record. Listening to it is not likely to change the way you think or to affect the appearance of your neurons but it will enable you to newly grasp the famous saying - recently "distorted" for other purposes - "ladies and gentlemen: no music no party."
Have fun. There is good reason for it.
by Vittorio Albani