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Free Jazz Played with TVs Turned to Dead Channels (MP3s)

The murky and atmospheric noise-jazz of Leandro Ramirez‘s album jaja sh represents the dark side of fusion. His loosely strung instruments play rough, sour chords and single-note riffs in a manner that traces its mode back to that of Ornette Coleman, the great jazz saxophonist. Even though there’s no saxophone heard here, there’s something in the way Ramirez’s melodies seem to move backwards, as if feeling their way up a creaky staircase, that brings to mind Coleman’s more outward-bound experimentation.

At times, especially on the album’s fourth and final track, this sounds like free jazz being played with televisions turned to dead channels (MP3). It’s a crab-walk approach, in which notes seem at cross purposes: the tonalities are familiar, even song-like, but they’re heard as if broken up and presented as a puzzle, a puzzle in which the pieces are mildewed, and expected to be put together in dim light.

There’s also the way casual gestures result in unusual textures, which in turn come to serve a rhythmic role in the music — this aspect is less Coleman’s manner than that of guitarist Bern Nix, sideman on Coleman’s superb Body Meta album. It’s especially apparent on jaja sh‘s first track (MP3).

All of this is filtered through a sensibility that is occasionally languorous, as on the second track (MP3), and often deeply chaotic, if blunted and charismatically meandering, as on the third (MP3).

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By Marc Weidenbaum

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