REVIEWS

RECENT REVIEWS / ARTICLES

CITIZEN JAZZ (French language) CD Reviews by Matthieu Jouan: Lina Allemano's OHRENSCHMAUS, Rats and Mice + Lina Allemano solo trumpet, Glimmer Glammer (May 2020)

BANDCAMP DAILY "The Best of Toronto’s Experimental Jazz Scene" feature article & CD Review by Jesse Locke: Lina Allemano solo trumpet, Glimmer Glammer (May 2020)

DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE Editors' Pick / CD Review by J.D. Considine: Lina Allemano solo trumpet, Glimmer Glammer (Apr 2020)

SOMETHING ELSE! REVIEWS CD Review by S. Victor Aaron: Lina Allemano's OHRENSCHMAUS, Rats and Mice (Apr 2020)

MUSICWORKS MAGAZINE CD Reviews by Stuart Broomer: Lina Allemano's OHRENSCHMAUS, Rats and Mice + Lina Allemano solo trumpet, Glimmer Glammer (Spring 2020)

EUROPE JAZZ NETWORK Best New Albums / CD Review by Matthieu Jouan, Citizen Jazz France: Lina Allemano's OHRENSCHMAUS, Rats and Mice (Apr 2020)

FREEFORM, FREEJAZZ (Portuguese language) "Made In Canadá" article & CD Reviews by Fabricio Vieira: Lina Allemano's OHRENSCHMAUS, Rats and Mice + Lina Allemano solo trumpet, Glimmer Glammer (May 2020)

SHANLEYONMUSIC CD Reviews by Mike Shanley: Lina Allemano's OHRENSCHMAUS, Rats and Mice + Lina Allemano solo trumpet, Glimmer Glammer (May 2020)

PAN M 360 CD Review by Steve Naud: Lina Allemano solo trumpet, Glimmer Glammer (Apr 2020)

PAN M 360 CD Review by Réjean Beaucage: Lina Allemano's OHRENSCHMAUS, Rats and Mice (Apr 2020)

ALL ABOUT JAZZ CD Reviews by John Eyles: Lina Allemano's OHRENSCHMAUS, Rats and Mice + Lina Allemano solo trumpet, Glimmer Glammer (Mar 2020)

THE FREE JAZZ COLLECTIVE CD Review by Stef Gijssels: Lina Allemano, Glimmer Glammer solo trumpet (Mar 2020)

SOUNDSTAGE! XPERIENCE CD Reviews by James Hale: Lina Allemano solo trumpet, Glimmer Glammer + Lina Allemano’s OHRENSCHMAUS, Rats and Mice (Mar 2020)

VITAL WEEKLY CD Reviews by Dolf Mulder: Lina Allemano solo trumpet, Glimmer Glammer + Lina Allemano's OHRENSCHMAUS, Rats and Mice (Apr 2020)

AVANT MUSIC NEWS CD Review by Mike Borella: Lina Allemano’s OHRENSCHMAUS, Rats and Mice (Feb 2020)

DZIKIE NUTY 2.0 (Polish language) CD Review by Rafał Zbrzeski: Lina Allemano's OHRENSCHMAUS, Rats and Mice (May 2020)

JAZZ&MO' (Dutch language) CD Review by Geert Ryssen: Lina Allemano's OHRENSCHMAUS, Rats and Mice (Apr 2020)

JAZZ&MO' (Dutch language) CD Review by Geert Ryssen: Lina Allemano solo trumpet, Glimmer Glammer (Apr 2020)

JAZZ'HALO (Dutch language) CD Reviews by Georges Tonla Briquet: Lina Allemano solo trumpet, Glimmer Glammer + Lina Allemano's OHRENSCHMAUS, Rats and Mice (Mar 2020)

JAZZMA (Hungarian language) CD Review by Dr. Nagy Sándor: Lina Allemano solo trumpet, Glimmer Glammer (Apr 2020)

IVANROD.DK (Danish language) CD Review by Ivan Rod: Lina Allemano's OHRENSCHMAUS, Rats and Mice (Mar 2020)

IVANROD.DK (Danish language) CD Review by Ivan Rod: Lina Allemano solo trumpet, Glimmer Glammer (Mar 2020)

MUSICWORKS MAGAZINE "Lina Allemano is Splitting Time" feature profile of Lina Allemano by Stuart Broomer (Winter 2018)

INTERNATIONAL REVIEWS / ARTICLES - 2018, 2017
* Archived international reviews & articles from 2003 - 2016 available upon request.


>> CADENCE MAGAZINE, July Aug Sept 2018
Lina Allemano Four, Sometimes Y
Trumpeter Lina Allemano seems to have been one of Canada’s best-kept secrets for the past fifteen years. At least this listener hasn’t heard of her until this recording. Her first recording was released in 2003. Her quartet has had a stable personnel since 2006 (with exceptional alto saxophonist Brodie West, drummer Nick Fraser... both of whom I have heard previously, and bassist Andrew Downing). Based on their most recent recording, Sometimes Y, both Allemano and the group should have a lot higher profile. Perhaps that is changing. She was recently on Satoko Fujii’s Orchestra Berlin recording, (she spends part of the year in Germany) so she’s clearly getting around. Sometimes Y is as good as any recent recording I’ve heard of contemporary composition and free interplay. All compositions are by Allemano and they’re interesting, complex and give the group plenty of material to explore. The group interplay is the most obvious feature of this disc. It sounds like a band that’s been playing together for over ten years. But it also sounds like they’re still finding exciting and new things to say within the music. It’s a band that knows dynamics and knows when to employ intensity and when to rise barely above the whisper. This is particularly evident on the disc’s closing track “O”. It starts with a lengthy bass solo by Downing that is initially barely audible. The band eventually enters creating a dense but quiet web of sound. The piece builds in volume gradually never going over the top before gradually receding back to the whisper. It’s not the most show stopping way to end an album but it’s highly effective. Sometimes Y is a remarkable disc and should be heard by anyone with an interest in the cutting edge side of jazz. Listening to this, it looks like I’m going to have to play catch up with Allemano’s discography. I’m looking forward to it. - Robert Iannapollo

>> POINT OF DEPARTURE, March 2018
Lina Allemano Four, Sometimes Y / Titanium Riot, Squish It!
Creative-music scenes don’t naturally draw a worldwide crowd. Tiny artist-run spaces are often home. Recordings are easy to produce, and not so easy to promote. In a Canadian context, where I’ve lived for most of my life, this is especially daunting: geography, culture, and economics all conspire against you. But creative-music festivals here have been scene shifters – beginning in the mid-1980s in British Columbia (Vancouver) and Quebec (Victoriaville), then a decade later in Ontario (Guelph). Canadian improvisers had long gone out into the world. But these annual events tugged the international community toward us. Ken Pickering’s Vancouver model – mixing and matching U.S. and European-based musicians with Canadian (mostly Vancouver-area) artists – gradually gave real cachet to a generation of West Coast players, from pianist Paul Plimley to clarinetist François Houle. In Victoriaville, Michel Levasseur’s devotion to musique actuelle, a French-Canadian catchall for new, adventurous (and often improvised) music, provided an international platform to musicians such as saxophonist Jean Derome and guitarist René Lussier, among many others, largely Montreal-based and associated with the Ambiances Magnétiques label.
It’s been a long time since Toronto was at the heart of a Canadian avant-garde. You might need to go back to the 1970s and ‘80s – to the early days of the Canadian Creative Music Collective, the CCMC, whose most prominent members included Michael Snow, John Oswald, and Paul Dutton, and its once vibrant downtown space (Music Gallery); or to Bill Smith’s powerful (and irrepressible) role as a record producer (Sackville, Onari), publisher-editor (Coda Magazine), musician (Bill Smith Ensemble), and filmmaker (Imagine the Sound). In those days, the Toronto jazz scene had a genuine infrastructure (clubs, record stores, newspaper coverage, radio shows, and a devoted, not insubstantial audience); more progressive endeavors certainly benefited from its presence. Over the past decade, however, a Toronto scene has begun to re-emerge – coalescing around a network of venues, events, and newer, increasingly estimable voices. Last year’s appointment of Scott Thomson (trombonist-composer-producer-curator) as artistic director at the Guelph Jazz Festival was widely applauded. Toronto’s long struggle to sustain, and attract, more creative voices has gradually diminished. Things are changing.
That’s why three recent recordings – two from trumpeter Lina Allemano, one from drummer Nick Fraser – feel so notable. When you live a long way away, as I do, records really count. North American tours have perhaps never been more difficult to arrange. Albums are by nature outward looking; ideally, they are also magnets. When a festival isn’t the world’s road map to you, a recording carries immense weight.

Fraser and Allemano have been at the center of this scene since the turn of the century. Each of their new albums – Sometimes Y (by the Lina Allemano 4), Squish It! (Allemano’s Titanium Riot), and Is Life Long? (Nick Fraser Quartet) – embodies the very best in a mid-career document; these are artists at the height of their powers. These are also long-running groups (more than a decade in the case of the Allemano 4), a fact that underlines how much these records tell us – about a community that seems to know who it is, and who it wants to be.
Start with Allemano. The trumpeter grew up out West (in Edmonton, Alberta), but she’s been based in the Ontario capital since 1993. She now splits her time between Toronto and Berlin and, despite the hurdles, has made touring a priority. European improvisers have had a palpable influence; it’s something she’s spoken of – honing extended technique, making pure open music central to her practice. She is also an accomplished jazz musician (in a more conventional sense), something with great currency in her hometown.
Sometimes Y, her quartet’s fifth album, all on her own Lumo imprint, is just this kind of work. Regrettably, some still can’t see past its configuration, or its roots; the Lina Allemano 4 is routinely described as somewhere between Ornette Coleman’s early quartets and a Dave Douglas operation. Sure, she’s deployed two horns (Allemano, alto saxophonist Brodie West), bass (Andrew Downing), and drums (Fraser). But this is far too pat. On Sometimes Y Allemano has composed six pieces; these brief scripts inform, fuel, and frame the improvisations. The entire 42-minute performance isn’t just made up of discrete moments; it’s all of a piece, unified and labyrinthine. This is something it shares with the Titanium Riot and Nick Fraser recordings: coherence, hard-won (you suspect) after many years working in groups that favor collective improvisation. Fraser, it should be noted, is present on all of these sessions. Downing and Rob Clutton, Titanium Riot’s bassist, are in the drummer’s quartet as well. Sometimes Y often offers these short, stop-start lines, motifs that become more elaborate stop-start improvs and soon morph into winding, driving, or microscopic (insert any number of other adjectives) interplay. The initial line is often planted in the quartet’s inner ear. These players know each other so well that basic counterpoint (West and Allemano on “Tweeter”) or seemingly disparate bass-drum accompaniment (Downing and Fraser on “Ö”) become another instance of telepathy. These aren’t long pieces – half of them are just four minutes – and this only makes the improvisation that much more impressive: the control, and ease, as they move back and forth between the impromptu and the predetermined. There’s an intense energy at the record’s core – which, again to be pat, might be said to come from Downing and Fraser. It does. But deep into “Marina and Lou,” the closest Sometimes Y has to an epic, you see how the group’s underlying power, the ebb and flow of energy, is ultimately produced as a unit.
After Sometimes Y, just follow the thread to Squish It! The stop-start aesthetic is still here: Allemano’s dark tone, breaking into shards, flittering in and out of extended techniques, muted, open horn, electronics, a conventional flourish, or more avant mayhem. But this is open music, full-stop; it’s also a classic experimental group (if that oxymoronic adjective makes sense). Electric bass is added (Clutton). So, too, is analog synthesizer (Ryan Driver), to give the record an oddly antiquated texture. Time goes by and you can’t figure out why it feels like the early 1970s again. That’s inevitably Driver’s doing: dropping some strange gothic splash or dated sci-fi flourish, or just building layer upon layer of fuzz into an already anachronistic mix. Fraser is remarkably comfortable with the electronic clamor – a tight snare march here, a mad dash around the kit there. Somehow, he’s able to pull in, collect, and assimilate the sounds around him to create balance and new kinds of disorder. Taken together, it’s all quite wonderful. Titanium Riot has mastered a weird aural space: deep, low-volume chatter, ambient sounds, video-game effects, tumult and discord, fragility and consonance. They’re the twists and turns of a free improvising ensemble bound to a particular palette, both an ode and a rewiring – of the past and, by extension, the future.
For years, Toronto’s mainstream jazz community was characterized by its know-how. These were pros. They weren’t all artists, but, yes, they could play. The jazz police found an outpost on the northern shore of Lake Ontario. The city’s newer, progressive players share one element of this fading stereotype: these cats can play, too. North American improv scenes can sometimes have a ragtag quality to them; dilettantes exist. To me, the experimental is often deeply compromised when basic musicianship is thrown into doubt. In true Toronto tradition, this under-the-radar creative community is also terrifically accomplished. These are artists, and they are real pros. Sometimes Y, Squish It!, and Is Life Long? are lasting evidence of that. They capture a scene moving into its own powerful, signature moment – where players aren’t just plugged into what’s going on in Chicago and New York, Berlin and Amsterdam, but they’re also in sync with the multitude of international musicians coming through Vancouver, Victoriaville, and Guelph. Once again, Toronto is beginning to feel like a creative-music hub. - Greg Buium

>> THE FREE JAZZ COLLECTIVE, Feb 2018
Lina Allemano Four, Sometimes Y
If you’ve kept up with trumpet player Lina Allemano’s career, you’ve likely read or heard about her two main groups, Lina Allemano Four and Titanium Riot. And you’ve probably seen the two tagged with something like “more traditional” and “more experimental” labels, but you should absolutely resist this dichotomy. It’s a short-sighted view of Allemano, ascribing traditional to a pianoless acoustic quartet and experimental to an improvising electro-acoustic quartet. In both, elements of tradition and experimentation collide, fascinatingly. Start with the second track, “Kanada,” for a look at how brilliantly the quartet interacts. Nick Fraser provides staccato, percussive fills, as bassed Andrew Downing first teases the melody. Allemano and alto saxophonist Brodie West quickly snap to, hitting the succinct melody before coming to a quick halt. An extended, sprightly improvisation leads to another statement of the theme, before the group pivots to an spacious middle section. It’s a propulsive and dynamic tune, constantly evolving and circling back on itself. It’s worth noting Allemano and West are a superb front line, but I don’t want to dismiss Downing and Fraser in any way. Reflecting the name of the group, the four are truly interacting in concert, with solo and duo statements spinning off in all directions. All four musicians display an openness and sensitivity to the other members. “Cowlick” opens with bright, symphonic blasts from Allemano and West that recede just as Downing and Fraser step forward. During a slightly deconstructed call-and-response section in the middle, Fraser’s percussion accents underline his skill at both directing and augmenting group improvisation. On “Marina and Lou,” the group takes a ballad theme and extends it into some moving improvised territory.

Titanium Riot, Squish It!
(5 stars) It’s been two years since trumpeter Lina Allemano’s last record with her electro-acoustic Titanium Riot (Kiss the Brain). Personally, I consider this quartet is a cousin to Peter Evans Quintet, with Ryan Driver on analog synth, Rob Clutton on bass, and Nick Fraser on drums. At first glance, and listen, the album has a distinct variation-on-a-theme aspect. Squish It! begins with Allemano unaccompanied, setting the mood, as it were, before Allemano, Clutton, and Fraser’s punchy thematic opening to “Squish It” proper. On “Squish It Now,” Fraser plays foil to Allemano early on, with crisp snare and trumpet describing arcs along the melodic path. Meanwhile, Clutton moves laterally through the music, calmly urging the group forward, then suddenly dropping octaves to layer in a deep, almost loamy richness to music. “Squish It Nicely” highlights Driver’s fascinating synth with Allemano’s more experimental playing. Having spent time abroad studying with Axel Dörner, Allemano’s techniques are amplified (or, more accurately, dampened) by her homemade mutes. Most of the track reads as an negative exposure of “Squish It Now,”with Clutton and Fraser hanging back for most of its runtime. Allemano and Driver play a fantastic duet, augmented by Fraser’s spacious interpolations, on “Squish It Forever.” As a group, Titanium Riot plays with space and dynamics in fascinating ways, reminding me at points of some John Stevens’s Spontaneous Music Ensemble. Allemano is in peak form here, with a remarkably piercing yet languid melodic line. One last time, on “Squish It Again,” the thematic explorations are flipped on their head. This closing statement also serves to close the loop of the album, with Titanium Riot recapitulating some of the ideas surfaced in “Squish It” and “Squish It Now.” My 2017 favorites list did not include this album, only because I had not fully caught up with it. It’s a remarkable set, and very highly recommended. - Lee Rice Epstein

>> THE FREE JAZZ COLLECTIVE, Feb 2018
Titanium Riot, Squish It!
(Free Jazz Blog 2017 Top 10 List) Two years ago, trumpeter Lina Allemano’s first album with Titanium Riot ended on my end-of-year list with a five-star ranking. On this album she continues the experiment with Ryan Driver on analog synth, Rob Clutton on electric bass, and Nick Fraser on drums. It’s hard to categorize the band’s music. The album’s five tracks all move in the same sonic universe, one that is both familiar and unfamiliar. Allemano’s trumpet-playing is very warm and voiced, while Driver’s synth playing is disruptive and bizarre. There are no apparent melodic lines or harmonics structures or fixed rhythms, and the music moves as in a dreamlike state. You recognize the approach, the tone, the approach, the phrases, as if you try to understand and know what is going on, but then it is that little out of wack that makes it interesting and fascinating, like a good dream. It’s a little bit like a Murakami novel. All the ingredients are present for the familiar, but then something happens that you can’t really put your finger on that makes it beyond recognition, beyond the familiar. In that sonic world between two worlds, many things happen, but always with an element of surprise and wonder. The music hesitates sometimes, as if not daring to go where it is going, or phrases end with question marks, increasing the pitch ever so slightly, in strange anticipation of what might happen now. And it is only after having listened to this album many times, and wondering about the question marks, that I saw that they were on the cover of the album. There is no sense of urgency in the music. There is no urge to prove anything. The music flows. It flows full of contradiction and contrast, but warmly, gently, despite the atmosphere that something strange is going on. Strange and pleasant. - Stef Gijssels

>> AVANT MUSIC NEWS, USA, Jan 2018
Best of 2017, Albums of the Year: Lina Allemano Four, Sometimes Y / Titanium Riot, Squish It!

>> JAZZENZO JAZZ MAGAZINE, Netherlands, Jan 2018
Lina Allemano Four, Sometimes Y

De Canadese trompettiste Lina Allemano pendelt al een aantal jaren tussen Toronto en Berlijn. Het leverde haar genoeg inspiratie op voor nieuwe opnamen die ze via haar eigen label Lumo Records uitbrengt. ‘Sometimes Y’ is de vijfde uitgave van haar kwartet Lina Allemano Four, opgericht twaalf jaar geleden. De formule blijft ongeveer dezelfde als in het verleden. Aftasten en dialogen opzetten tussen de verschillende protagonisten maar nu met extra veel ruimte en tijd om de geopperde ideeën te laten doordringen en er verder op voort te borduren. Het moduleren van klanken en noten staat daarbij centraal. Alles gebeurt rond composities aangereikt door Allemano. Zelf omschrijft de groep het als een parcours tussen free en avant-garde. Bijwijlen claustrofobisch door de precieze opbouw die in scherp contrast staat met het fragmentarisch karakter van verschillende stukken.
Titanium Riot, Squish It!
Samen met ‘Sometimes Y’ wordt een nieuwe opname van Allemano’s andere kwartet Titanium Riot uitgebracht onder de titel ‘Squish it!’. Het betreft een zuivere improvisatiesessie van Allemano in gezelschap van Ryan Driver (analoge synthesizer), Rob Clutton (bas) en Nick Fraser (drums). De vier gingen de studio in op 4 en 5 februari 2017 met deze cd als eindresultaat. Een organisch gebeuren van een kwartet dat al puzzelend een experimentele geluidsconstructie cre‘ert. Ook hier vormen stilte en spaarzaamheid de voornaamste ankerpunten. Een perfecte aanvulling op ‘Sometimes Y’. Twee aanraders voor liefhebbers van het Intakt-label. - Georges Tonla Briquet

>> JAZZWORD, Jan 2018
Lina Allemano Four, Sometimes Y

(excerpt) ...On the Canadian side, a certain maturity is evident from players who have played with international figures ranging from Han Bennink to Tony Malaby. But experience doesn’t inhibit ambulatory adventurousness. Some of this can be ascribed to Downing, who distinctively tunes his bass in fifths an octave lower than a cello. What that means is that pieces such as “Kanada” and “Ö” are shaped by double bass contribution. On the former for instance Allemano’s thematic obbligato which is then fractured by West’s reed bites, emerges in a new tempo after the bassist’s sweeping exploration turns to sizzling string swipes. Maintaining equilibrium with Arco twists and pizzicato thumps, and helped by Fraser’s pitter-patters, Downing constructs a logical background on which the horns’ alternately growling and peeping vibrate into a connective sequence featuring trumpet chirps layered on top. Keeping “Ö” low-pitched and buzzing following the double bass introduction, Downing also preserves the tune’s foundation as slurs from the trumpeter and peeping asides from the saxophonist evolve into a deeper toned lullaby-like ending that’s smooth without losing its decidedly rhythmic root. Confident in each other’s skills and support, the band members can transform the restrained “Cowlick” with door-knocking drumming and jagged reed vibrations to culminate in blustery grace notes from Allemano, since the Downing’s bass line preserves the tune’s parameters. And this notable balance between the smooth and the spiky is maintained on “Marina and Lou”, the CD’s longest and most descriptive track. Still mellow by the finale, mercurial interaction is constantly maintained even as harmonized horn parts are fragmented into low-pitched burbles from the trumpeter and altissimo screeches from the saxophonist. - Ken Waxman

>> JAZZPRESS, Poland, Jan 2018
Lina Allemano Four, Sometimes Y

Świat jest duży, ale wszędzie jest blisko. Jak odnalazła mnie wytwórnia Lumo - nie mam pojęcia. Jednak już pierwsza przesyłka zawierająca dwa albumy Lina Allemano, artystki, o której istnieniu jeszcze kilka tygodni temu nie miałem pojęcia okazała się niezwykle interesująca. Album “Squish It!” z pewnością znajdzie się na naszej radiowej antenie już wkrótce, jednak zachowując chronologiczną kolejność, postanowiłem jako pierwszą zaprezentować nagraną nieco wcześniej płytę “Sometimes Y”. Nie pytajcie o znaczenie tytułu, bowiem zwyczajnie nie mam żadnego racjonalnego pomysłu. Wiem jednak, że Lina Allemano jest niezwykle kreatywną trębaczką (to rodzaj żeński od trębacza, choć brzmi dziwnie - jak każde nie używane często słowo). Zespół Lina Allemano Four działa w niezmiennym składzie już prawie dekadę, jeśli wierzyć źródłom internetowym, bowiem ich pierwszy album ukazał się już w 2006 roku (”Pinkeye”). Od czasu debiutu powstało kilka albumów, a zespół sporo koncertuje, choć o jego koncertach ani tych zagranych, ani planowanych w okolicach Warszawy nic mi nie wiadomo. Jeśli chcecie posłuchać zespołu na żywo, zaglądajcie za naszą zachodnią granicę, bowiem oprócz rodzimego Toronto, to Berlin jest miejscem, gdzie grajá najczęściej. Zespół Four to jeden z dwu muzycznych projektów prowadzonych przez Lina Allemano. Drugim jest równie ciekawy, ale istotnie różny brzmieniowo skład nazywany Titanium Riot z udziałem Ryan Driver - muzyka grającego na analogowych syntezatorach. Ten skład nagrał niedawno album “Squish It!”, do którego z pewnością niedługo wrócę. Istotą funkcjonowania zespołu Lina Allemano Four jest doskonała współpraca liderki z grającym na saksofonie altowym Brodie West. To właśnie ta para tworzy siłę i rozpoznawalne brzmienie formacji. Kontrapunkty, kolektywna improwizacja, eksperymenty z rytmem, to coś, co pół wieku temu było muzycznym eksperymentem zwiastującym nadejście jazzu free, dziś wydaje się być opatrzonym muzycznym mainstreamem. To oznacza brak kontrowersji, ale jednocześnie utrudnia zadanie. Stworzenie interesującego, łatwego do rozpoznania i atrakcyjnego dla słuchacza brzmienia nie jest zadaniem łatwym - nie wystarczy już bowiem szok wywołany nieoczekiwanymi zmianami dynamiki muzycznej akcji, ani łamanie kolejnych reguł. One już bowiem wszystkie zostały wyeleminowane przez poprzedników. Nie wystarczy zagrać inaczej niż wszyscy - bo to w zasadzie niewykonalne. Trzeba to zrobić dobrze i z sensem. Wolna i nieskrępowana żadnymi muzycznymi teoriami grupowa improwizacja, to nie jest mój ulubiony rodzaj muzykowania. Dlatego, jeśli jakaś płyta takiego rodzaju zwraca moją uwagę, musi być w niej naprawdę coś nadzwyczajnego. Tak właśnie jest z najnowszym albumem Lina Allemano i jej formacji Four. Doskonała realizacja w jedynym sensownym w przypadku takiej spontanicznej muzyki formacie nagrania studyjnego na żywo pozwoliła uchwycić wiele z przypuszczalnie jeszcze bardziej spontanicznych występów na żywo zespołu. Album zachęcil mnie do jeszcze częstszego zaglądania na strony internetowe licznym berlińskich klubów w poszukiwaniu najbliższych koncertów zespołu. Grupowa improwizacja wymaga doskonałego porozumienia pomiędzy uczestnikami nagrania. Muzycy zespołu Lina Allemano grają ze sobą niezmiennie już ponad 10 lat i to z pewnością pomaga im w kreowaniu niezwykłych dźwięków w jednej z najbardziej ogranych jazzowych formuł – składzie z trąbką i saksofonem uzupełnionym sekcją rytmiczną. Lubię czuc się zaskakiwany nowościami w świecie muzyki, w którym często wydaje mi się, że wszystko już było. - Rafał Garszczyński

>> SOMETHING ELSE! REVIEWS, Dec 2017
Lina Allemano Four, Sometimes Y

In 2015 we highlighted a stylish electro-acoustic experimental jazz record from trumpeter, composer and bandleader, Lina Allemano. Kiss The Brain was the first record by her Titanium Riot quartet, and recently they put forth their second album Squish It!. But for a longer time, she’s led an all-acoustic quartet plainly called the Lina Allemano Four, and that combo also has a new set of recordings available for sale. Sometimes Y (Lumo Records) offers a chance to examine this other side of Toronto and Berlin-based Lina Allemano with the fifth album by the Four and their first one in five years. This outfit also features Brodie West on alto saxophone, Andrew Downing on double bass and Nick Fraser on drums. One thing that’s immediately clear about Sometimes Y is that there is no less zest here for taking chances and playing in the moment. That’s helped by recording these performances ‘live’ in the studio with the band members clustered closely together as they play. But this is also a reflection on the leader, who composes pieces that has identifiable harmonic characteristics with ample capacity for spontaneity from everybody. It’s similar to Chicago, AACM styled avant-garde as well as European free form jazz, with some musical DNA shared with Eric Dolphy. Such as the Dolphy-esque “Sometimes Y,” kept loose enough to allow the interactions and harmonizing between Allemano and West become the focal point. “Cowlick” is dispersed but well into it, the quartet suddenly takes off running and then slows down again. Here again, Allemano and West are listening and reacting to each other almost telepathically. The close reciprocity is the main attraction of these and each of the other tracks, as well as tempo modulation. On “Kanada,” West plays up-and-down cycle with Downing and Fraser in tow as Allemano picks her spots between and around it at a slower tempo before the two unite and then disperse again. A four-way conversation erupts that starts quietly and gradually increases in density. “O” begins via Downing’s dusty sawing of his bass just above a whisper for nearly ninety seconds before anyone else is heard, and as the rest of the ensemble ease their way in, Allemano and West can be heard barely blowing into their horns, resembling a dry run for the full tones they would soon introduce. Another escalation in intensity is done fully together by all four, landing softly together as well. Capturing the stage feel in the studio more often than not falls short, but that’s not the case with Sometimes Y. The concurrent improvising between Allemano and West on “Tweeter” as they also sketch out the broadly defined melody succeeds on record just as it does during the live performance captured in the video above. For Lina Allemano, the idea of playing group-centered jazz without any shackles and little premeditation transfers well across her projects. - S. Victor Aaron

>> TORONTO MUSIC REPORT, Nov 2017
(excerpt) ...Allemano is an extraordinary composer, musician and improvising trumpeter. Repudiating all the compromises with tradition which seem to have marred the work of even some of the more daring innovators in music, Lina Allemano has long since set about creating a brave new musical world, untouched by sentiment or retrospection - with music that is fearlessly complex and while it is known for its daring do it is almost bereft of nerve-jangling dissonance, expressing exuberance bordering on blinding ecstasy, making it clear Allemano’s determination, not so much to wipe the slate clean as to smash it to bits.
Lina Allemano Four, Sometimes Y
Lina Allemano’s trumpet has been a beacon for her quartet, always finding a new way of thinking about contemporary music and improvisation. This is the intriguing concept behind Sometimes Y, which remarkably rather than sending many listeners of popular music running for the hills is likely to draw them into the music of this album. However, far from abandoning her penchant for worshipping at the altar of creative iconoclasm Allemano together with three daring other young musicians - alto saxophonist Brodie West, contrabassist (and cellist) Andrew Downing and drummer Nick Fraser - genuinely seek to create a modern aesthetic with as little tampering of the naked acoustic of their instruments. The result is a series of songs played by the Lina Allemano Four punctuated with their own (individual) improvisatory responses to Allemano’s music. With the creation of emotional and stylistic directions their responses have invariably carried us off to surprisingly new musical waters between “Kanada” and the classic, monosyllabic “Ö”.
Titanium Riot, Squish It!
This group, unlike the ‘acoustic’ quartet, plays music that delves deeper into a more ‘electronic’ sound palette. A natural extension of that aesthetic, although it is far from being exclusive to this group-sound, the music is (nevertheless) starker; even lugubrious, with melody and harmony (between Allemano’s trumpet and the analogue synthesizer of Ryan Driver) just that little bit more achingly entwined. Naturally this has made for a less straightforward approach to songwriting and so, here, it’s more a case of mind over emotion, which is still fairly characteristic of Lina Allemano’s intelligent approach to music as a whole. In the agitated, muted and open-bell scenario of Allemano’s trumpet there is also a markedly more dramatic dynamic between herself and the rest of the band. Explorations are intense, with a lot of breathing space added into the mix. Unison ideas rule. This does not mean that Lina Allemano disappears into the music but on the contrary the trumpeter is still heard, clear as a bell. Driver’s added breathing spaces compound the music’s eerie effect. But the jagged rumbling on of bass and drums admit a good deal of tonal warmth. This maintains the ‘squishiness’ of the music throughout, even in “Squish It Forever” in which the musicians are given to a more combative mood. - Raul da Gama

>> CULTUREJAZZ, France, Nov 2017
Lina Allemano Four, Sometimes Y
La trompettiste canadienne Lina Allemano présente les deux volets de son travail avec deux albums qui paraissent simultanément sur le label Lumo Records (Toronto). Cette musicienne très impliquée dans une certaine avant-garde chercheuse et structurée a choisi de poser un pied aussi à Berlin. Un grand écart qu’elle semble gérer positivement en tirant profit de ses rencontres, expériences et projets de part et d’autre de l’Atlantique. Ces deux disques présentent ses formations canadiennes. Avec “Sometimes Y”, elle approfondit douze années de travail avec son quartet acoustique Four. La musique est écrite dans un langage contemporain qui pourrait sembler proche de l’univers d’un Anthony Braxton et des recherches de la musique créative aux USA. La mise en place est assez aérée pour permettre un discours à quatre voix complémentaires mais distinctes qui met en évidence la complicité de l’ensemble et les qualités de chacun de ses membres. Une formule peut-être pas profondément novatrice mais qui se positionne tout de même hors des courants conventionnels. Voilà ce qui retient notre attention.
Titanium Riot, Squish It!
Avec “Squish It!”, second album du groupe Titanium Riot aprs “Kiss The Brain” en 2014 (Lumo Records), Lina Allemano explore les ramifications en réseaux créatifs des courants (électriques) alternatifs. On retrouve le batteur de “Four”, Nick Fraser entouré de deux instruments électr(on)iques, la basse de Rob Clutton et le synthétiseur analogique “à l’ancienne” de Ryan Driver. Cette fois la musique est totalement improvisée et signée équitablement des quatre membres réunis. La trompette (acoustique) de Lina Allemano est à la proue de l’ensemble, sondant l’air qu’elle module avec beaucoup d’imagination pour créer des lignes mélodiques anguleuses dans un environnement mouvant. On écoutera donc avec attention les cinq déclinaisons de Squish It! comme un patchwork assemblant des singularités sonores en un ensemble soudé qui ne manque ni de fantaisie ni d’humour apparemment. Encore un disque à découvrir attentivement, l’esprit ouvert. Lina Allemano: un nom et une trompettiste à retenir! - Thierry Giard

>> IVANROD.DK, Denmark, Nov 2017
Lina Allemano Four, Sometimes Y
Den canadiske jazztrompetist, Lina Allemano, står med det ene ben på den eksperimenterende undergrundsjazzscene i Toronto, med det andet på den vildtvoksende avantgardejazzscene i Berlin. Hun har hjemme i begge byer og tager det bedste med fra den ene scene til den anden. Derfor er Lina Allemano Four’s Sometimes Y - som udsendes samme dag, som Lina Allemano’s Titanium Riot’s Squish It! - også bemærkelsesværdig. Sammen med saxofonisten Brodie West, bassisten Andrew Downing og trommeslageren Nick Fraser kradser hun så seriøst på overfladen, at melodilinjer splintres og andre tapetlag åbenbarer sig. Sometimes Y stiller så at sige spørgsmål ved alt (næsten alt). Albummet udfordrer, udfritter, udforsker. Og tilbage står man, som lytter, afklædt, rundtosset, forandret. Lina Allemano lefler ikke, søger ikke forsoning, går ikke efter lethed, men folder materie ud i al konkret ækelhed, og dét er både bemærkelses- og beundringsværdigt. For hendes æstetiske ambition udmønter sig ikke i introvert, men ekspressiv kunst med stort K.
Titanium Riot, Squish It!
Den canadiske jazztrompetist, Lina Allemano, står med det ene ben på den eksperimenterende undergrundsjazzscene i Toronto, med det andet på den vildtvoksende avantgardejazzscene i Berlin. Hun har hjemme i begge byer og tager det bedste med fra den ene scene til den anden. Alene derfor er Titanium Riot’s Squish It! - som udsendes samme dag, som Lina Allemano Four’s Sometimes Y - bemærkelsesværdig. Musikken på Squish It! er klart i slægt med musikken på Sometimes Y - om end elektrificeret og mere introvert. Sammen med Ryan Driver på synth, Rob Clutton på el-bas og Nick Fraser på trommer flår Lina Allemano så at sige gardiner til side for at opdage nye soniske muligheder. Og netop dét giver lytteren et gedigent, elektrisk stød. Albummet er optaget live i studiet og er nok baseret på melodilinjer / kompositioner, men man fornemmer som lytter alligevel, at musikken bliver til på stedet, og at de fire musikere føler sig ubundne i den æstetiske skabelsesproces. Musikken udfordrer, udfritter, udforsker og efterlader - som Sometimes Y - lytteren afklædt, rundtosset, forandret. Måske: forvirret.- Ivan Rod

>> HET PAROOL, Netherlands, Nov 2017
Titanium Riot, Squish It!
Avant-garde bestaat alleen in het hier en nu. Het is onmogelijk dat muziek die begin jaren zestig vooruitstrevend was, dat nu nog is. De avant-garde van toen is nu een gevestigde stijl.
Twintigers ontdekken de muziek van hun ouders, raken daardoor geïnspireerd en denken dan dat ze het wiel hebben uitgevonden. De Canadese trompettist Lina Allemano is 38 en heeft goed geluisterd naar muziek van vroeger: klassiek, jazz én muziek die voorheen avant-garde was. Zij heeft een grote vernieuwingsdrang, maar niet de neiging de traditie van zich af te werpen. De trompet vormt voor haar een onuitputtelijke bron van klankexercities, waarbij ze niet eens altijd effectapparatuur nodig heeft.
Dat is goed hoorbaar op het album Squish it! waarop zij er met haar kwartet Titanium Riot op los improviseert. Allemano kan een uitgesproken trompetklank produceren, maar soms vraag je je af naar welk exotisch instrument je luistert. In combinatie met analoge synthesizers en een schijnbaar onbestendige ritmesectie ontstaat een opwindend spektakel, waarbij onvoorspelbaarheid de spanning nog eens vergroot.
Het is vergeefs zoeken naar een liedstructuur of een herkenbaar thema, maar hoeveel prikkelender is dit niet? Knap dat Allemano misschien niet veel houvast biedt in conventionele zin, maar wel alles overzichtelijk en helder houdt. - Jan Jasper Tamboer

>> AVANT MUSIC NEWS, USA, Oct 2017
Lina Allemano Four, Sometimes Y
The trumpet is making a comeback as a lead instrument of choice in left-of-center music. Wadada Leo Smith, Nate Wooley, Daniel Rosenboom, Jaimie Branch, Stephen Haynes, and many others have released excellent material over the last decade, if not in the last several months. Canadian Lina Allemano is no newcomer - she has quietly put out a cadre of recordings going back 15 years. With Sometimes Y coming out next month as one half of a two-CD release respectively featuring each of Allemano’s bands, you can expect her profile to increase. Simply put, the music is just that good. The Lina Allemano Four has its origins in the early 2000’s and has had a static lineup for over 10 years. Joining Allemano is Brodie West on alto sax, Andrew Downing on bass, and Nick Fraser on drums. Sometimes Y is a cohesive and well-organized romp through disjointed timings, shifting rhythms, and scattershot themes. They come together and pull apart, generating an unpredictable tension. Still, the group manages to pull off flurries of free improvisation without sounding overtly outside. Of particular note is the interplay between Allemano and West, consisting of staccato pulses, atmospheric harmonies, and distorted but airy phrasings. Their elastic cohesion stretches between tightly-played leads to disparate individual warblings. Downing provides a bed of sound rather than rhythm per se, employing both bowed and picked playing. Fraser’s work is similarly understated and frequently devoid of a traditional beat. Perhaps because they have been together so long, this quartet has an exquisite feel for space and timing. They don’t need to play loudly or rapidly to grab the listener’s attention. The downtempo pieces are overflowing with ideas, flourishes, and unusual directions. Sometimes Y is a stellar effort - there is much to like here no matter where one falls on the jazz / creative music spectrum.
Titanium Riot, Squish It!
Toronto-based trumpeter Lina Allemano can be so understated at times that it takes multiple listens to unwind just what she is doing in both a compositional and a performance sense. And perhaps that is the appeal of this album, a companion her other band’s recent effort Sometimes Y (review). The overlap between the groups only consists of Allemano herself and drummer Nick Fraser. Accompanying them is Rob Clutton on bass and Ryan Driver’s analog synth. Thus, on Squish It!, her Titanium Riot features a degree of non-traditional instrumentation (the synth) for what is ostensibly a modern jazz recording. And let’s be clear that “modern” means, outside, creative jazz, not unlike what is coming out of the corresponding New York, Chicago, and Southern California scenes. Allemano’s subtlety is in play on Squish It Now, a 10-minute piece with a long, unstructured interlude that waivers on the edge of perception. Similarly, Squish It Nicely delivers an atmospheric, free-improv in a busy, but low-volume manner that eventually builds to a punctuated crescendo. Squish It Forever covers corresponding ground but adds a degree of tension as well. In sharp contrast, the album also features its share of aggressive rhythms with Allemano and Driver not so much providing melodies as textures. In particular, Allemano’s breathy playing combined with Driver’s unusual synth-work (think non-stop effects rather than discernable patterns) make Squish It! a compelling release. This is a group that has a lot to say but doesn’t have to raise their voices to make a statement. The result is a thoughtful and introspective album - a thinking person’s counterpoint to the demands of a busy world. - Mike Borella

>> THE WHOLENOTE, Oct 2017
Lina Allemano Four, Sometimes Y
Lina Allemano Four first recorded in 2003 and the current lineup has been in place since 2006, with alto saxophonist Brodie West, bassist Andrew Downing and drummer Nick Fraser. The group has apparent roots in classic free jazz ensembles like the Ornette Coleman Quartet, with similar emphasis on the leader’s compositions and an almost stark principle of dialogue consistently informing the music. There’s a frequent emphasis on speech patterns in Allemano’s compositions, sometimes consisting of short, emphatic truncated phrases, and their realizations here are just as conversational, with West consistently adding supportive counterlines to Allemano’s solos and the trumpeter returning the favour. Kanada, a high point, ends with an extended group dialogue that grows naturally from Downing’s arco lead.

Titanium Riot, Squish It!
Allemano first assembled Titanium Riot in 2013 and released the group’s debut Kiss the Brain a year later. Including Ryan Driver on analogue synthesizer, Rob Clutton on electric bass and Nick Fraser on drums, the group, devoted to free collective improvisation, undoubtedly benefits from the years working together in different contexts. The 2017 recording Squish It! is a dramatic continuation of the process. In this context, Allemano combines a distilled and pointed lyricism with striking timbral explorations to provide the music with an essential focus. It’s evident in the opening moments of the title track as she concentrates on long tones and a sound that’s a striking combination of subtle muting and the light buzz of air through the horn, the effect suggesting more than one trumpet. The quartet’s close listening and attention to texture consistently create an almost orchestral feel. Allemano’s focused concentration on sonority dovetails with Clutton’s rich sustained bass tones and mobile lines, Fraser’s shifting, energizing patterns and Driver’s creative mix of environmental, vintage cartoon and sci-fi sounds. The results range from the playful to the genuinely mysterious.
While the methodologies of Allemano’s two quartets differ, the groups share a collective passion for creative interaction as well as admirable results. - Stuart Broomer

>> THE WHOLENOTE, Jan 2017
Glamour Nails, Glamour Nails

Between the arc-lit symbolisms of Glamour Nails (as evinced by a lurid cover image) is music of great subterfuge. It is based on the fountainhead of the electrifying trumpeter Lina Allemano, who seems determined to create a fresh sound for the 21st century in the manner of Graham Haynes and Toshinori Kondo as well as to establish a new approach to what might be the renaissance of art music. Allemano’s music quickly finds itself in the eye of a swirling tornado created by the guitarist Justin Haynes who echoes the singing of Fred Frith. Haynes is also a canny electro-technician who adds FM synth, prepared piano, cassette player and tin cans into this delightfully weird modern mistura fina.
The album is a short one. But it is provocative, adventurous and broadly atmospheric. It is appealing and colourful, combining the cultural topography of Frith and Kondo in music with portents of a rapidly advancing future. Allemano teams her trumpet with Haynes’ myriad electronic instruments and a lonely electric guitar, which blends gleaming sonorities with soaring gestures and dramatically free and volatile improvisation.
There are a total of ten tracks on this disc. Two gems stand out; Tawny Owl, which puts a haunting spin on the poetic imagism of the bold brass of the trumpet. And then there is Crumb, made up of wild, impressionistic figures that combine seamlessly with the impassioned lines of the trumpet. Bolder and more brazen creativity will be hard to find. - Raul da Gama