Reviews for ALDRIC's Anvils & Broken Bells
Check out the great review that Dave (the AllAboutJazz Download of the Day editor) gave my band ALDRIC's Anvils & Broken Bells. He's been kind enough to include us in his Best of 2011 section. A bit from the lengthy writeup:
...they’ve fused the post-rock of today with the 80s NYC downtown jazz scene skronk & sizzle of Zorn’s Naked City... I keep finding more and better things to appreciate about it, and enthusiastically include it as one of my top recommended albums of 2011. -www.birdistheworm.com
Chicago has had an experimental streak in its jazz for some time, with classic free jazz masters (like the Art Ensemble of Chicago) built from the electric blues that hailed from the city. A.J. Kluth's second outing for OA2 shows a new combination of Chicago influences. With a focus on space, pacing, and timbre more than melody, Anvils and Broken Bells manages to become a sonically interesting set. The horns may honk their way through a piece's opening in tandem, but eventually a melodica, with its almost backmasked sound, comes into the scene. A thrashing drum fill changes the pace, and an electric guitar takes over for the rest of a piece. Then, the whole system is reset, wound up, and put back into motion for a new round. The bandmembers work together solidly on the set, all following the composition leads, and all contributing to the controlled chaos that each piece demands. Kluth himself makes headway on the sax, often in tandem with James Davis' trumpet, but the real star of the proceedings is guitarist Toby Summerfield, who evokes bits of John McLaughlin in his electric flights, powering the pieces into and through massive crescendos of sound and leading them into quiet dissipations. It's experimental, it's brash, and it's excellent modern jazz.
What would be the result of a meeting between jazz, rock, country, and improvisational music? Find out on Anvils and Broken Bells, the second release from saxophonist AJ Kluth. Kluth's musical odyssey explores new ground with a new ensemble, Aldric, a collective comprised of some of the most in demand musicians on the Chicago scene. Led by AJ Kluth, saxophone and melodica, the band also includes guitarist Toby Summerfield, trumpeter James Davis, drummer Quin Kirchner and bassist Dan Thatcher. Eight original numbers are featured on the disc including the riveting "Saskatoon" which is a moody gem informed by Kluth's melodica and Summerfield's guitar. A solid, riveting session.
Reviews for the AJ Kluth Quintet's Twice Now:
A polished saxophone tone over gritty distorted guitar and heavily metered grooves is the formula, if there is one, for Chris Potter's Underground. Saxophonist AJ Kluth's newest release shows, at times, many similarities to his elder in jazz. At Kluth's age, it's difficult to escape the influence of Potter, one of today's main tenor saxophone heroes. But at 29 years old, he has assembled a formidable ensemble capable of both being inspired by and setting itself apart from such trend-setting groups. Kluth only contributes three original compositions to the record, but they stand out as the most cohesive, best executed, and most attractive tunes of the lot, even over their arrangements of Chick Corea's uptempo "Litha" and Thom Yorke's "Atoms For Peace." Unison melody with guitar and saxophone is a trend in almost every piece. The melody of Ascher's composition "Sleeping" contains this technique, and although its melodic arch is beautiful and the repetition is entrancing, by track 8 the technique is dangerously close to becoming old hat.
Dean Christesen - Richmond Jazz
Chicago-native AJ Kluth was educated at that city's DePaul University before freelancing around the Midwest and transcribing and self-publishing a book of Chris Potter solos. On Twice Now he leads a guitar anchored quintet through nine lengthy and provocative pieces, seven of which were composed by Kluth or guitarist Nick Ascher.
The simpatico between Kluth and Ascher extends from the pair's compositions to their respective performances. Although under Kluth's name, Twice Now is effectively a collaborative effort by the saxophonist and guitarist.
The relationship between the two, as well as with pianist Sean McCluskey, is defined on the Ascher composition "Red" that opens the disc. Over McCluskey's spare piano chording, Kluth and Ascher double on a devilishly complex melody line. While Kluth is more Michael Brecker than Wayne Shorter (or Sonny Rollins), Ascher is more John Abercrombie than John Scofield. These comparisons are loose at best as both artists have very characteristic sounds. Kluth sports a full-throated muscular tenor and sinewy soprano, while Ascher is distorted at the edges, giving his guitar a slight rock tone.
Kluth and Ascher achieve a delicate dance of counterpoint throughout the disc, easily heard on "A Time, Times, And Half Time" and "Wi Fi," the latter containing a lyrical solo by McCluskey on acoustic piano. "Quiet, Then Go" is a breezy Kluth ballad accentuating the stronger points of Kluth and Ascher's slower soloing. Chick Corea's "Litha" fits perfectly with the originals as a smart and edgy piece not fully smooth at the edges, providing just enough bite for pleasure.
Ascher's airy ballad "Sleeping" dovetails well into one of the more inspired covers in recent memory, Thom York's "Atoms For Peace."
C. Michael Bailey - All About Jazz
Saxophonist A.J. Kluth was originally based in the Chicago area but recently moved to New York City. But his group Aldric is a quintet comprised of players based around the Chicago area. It’s a strong band with a frontline of sax, trumpet and guitar, all of whom dabble in electronic s. The music straddles the line between post-Coltrane, free (mostly on the intros) with a dose of fusion thrown in. With an electric bass and certain rhythms employed, there’s a noticeable rock base to several of the tracks. Aldric has a nice sense of drama and how to create it but they do so subtly without hitting the listener over the head with it. The compositions are mostly by Kluth except for “Jerzy” (by trumpeter Davis) and “Twilight” (by bassist Thatcher). A frequent strategy is starting out with formlessness with thematic material coalescing gradually. Tempos change frequently within the compositions. But rather than coming off as clever or contrived, the changes seem natural. They’re easily negotiated by the rhythm section. The frontline is well-matched. Kluth sports a big, meaty sound on tenor and it matches well with Davis’ nimble trumpet. Kluth occasionally picks up the melodica and when he does, it gives the music a unique ambience. Summerfield is a versatile guitarist occasionally prone to rock star moments but thankfully they are brief and infrequent. All in all, a good group well-matched by their material. The one disappointment is that the titular instruments don’t appear anywhere on the disc.
Hailing from the Chicago scene, saxophone player Aj Kluth and his band here take a turn through rounds of both composition and improvisation. The bulk of the pieces here (with the exception of a Chick Corea piece and a Thom Yorke number that's been converted to jazz) come from Kluth and/or his guitarist Nick Ascher. With a basic structure coming from the composed sets, the band then proceeds regularly to improvise heavily over the themes. The interesting note of the album is how thoroughly some of the improvisations go. Coliseum starts out as a basic nightclub riff but ends up in Weather Report territory. Yorke's "Atoms for Peace" starts out in a spacy form, but gets pulled further, into a Sun Ra mode. All the while, the band moves carefully around the numbers. Seán McCluskey's keys anchor many a composition, while Ascher's guitar alternately sits quietly as part of the rhythm section or wails like a John McLaughlin piece. There's a lot of groove here, a lot of fusion, a lot of surprising angles. Throughout though, there's an extremely solid core of fundamental musical skills on the part of the full quintet. They individually contribute worthwhile pieces, but when they work together it becomes more extraordinary.
Adam Greenberg - All Music Guide
The debut of another fine Chicago jazz artist, Kluth explores music which seamlessly blends jazz, folk, rock and classical into an accessible disc which is easy to like. With Nick Ascher, electric guitar; Seán McCluskey, piano and fender rhodes; Cory Biggerstaff, double bass and Stefan Czestochowski drums and cymbals; bandleader/tenor and soprano saxophonist AJ Kluth presents a set of compositions by his own pen and the band's guitarist Nick Ascher as well as Chick Corea's "Litha" and Thom Yorke's "Atoms for Peace."
Christopher Cooke - KIOS
"In recent years I've had the pleasure of witnessing A.J. Kluth as his overall musicianship and improvisations have matured. His saxophone playing exhibits a fresh voice, yet reflects an understanding of the jazz tradition. A.J. Kluth is a saxophonist with a song to sing."
Bob Lark - Chair of Jazz Studies, DePaul University
"AJ's instincts hit me on first listen. His classic tone is reminiscent of some of the greats." (Regarding AJ's playing on a remix of Gavin's song "In the Way" from the album "Deep Freeze")
Gavin Bradley (Recording Artist, Producer, Dj - Tori Amos, Beck, Dido) Toronto Canada