Acclaimed Performers at the Montreal Jazz Festival 2006, Canada, and the EDGEFEST 2007, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
from left to right:
- Klaus Kugel drums, percussions
- Hilliard Greene - double bass
- Bruce Eisenbeil - acoustic and electric guitars
- Peter Evans - trumpet, piccolo trumpet
- Perry Robinson - clarinet
CD "CARNIVAL SKIN" (nemu 003)
"They push the material right up to the line, allowing a smoothly flowing centrifugal force to do its thing without compromising the integrity of the material." - From the liner notes by Bill Shoemaker
Many thanks to Chicago station WNUR for your amazing support by making Carnival Skin #2 in their Jazz Top 10, 2 weeks in a row !
What The Critics Say:
"... I'm wondering whether or not I wouldn't have chosen this one as album of the year had I received it in time ... – it's that good. Carnival Skin is a killer quintet formed by guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil and drummer Klaus Kugel, who recruited bassist Hilliard Greene, trumpeter Peter Evans and clarinettist Perry Robinson to make one of the hottest line-ups in free jazz of the past ten years. Maybe twenty. Perry Robinson needs no introduction to aficionados of free music – he's been a driving force in free jazz for over half a century, while never quite achieving the top billing he so richly deserves. If you thought the clarinet couldn't hold its own in a fire music outfit, think again: Robinson burns. And when he's not burning he's swinging, and when he's not swinging he's singing. In Peter Evans, whose solo trumpet debut More Is More on psi raised many eyebrows last year, he has the perfect foil. Evans was impressive enough all alone, but you should really hear him get down here. The six tracks are driven effortlessly forward by the Greene / Kugel rhythm team, with meticulous and expert punctuation from Eisenbeil, who's never sounded so good. His solos spit fire and sweat (somewhere Sonny Sharrock is looking down approvingly) and his accompaniment counterpoints the work of the horn players to perfection. There's an urgency to this music that's all too often lacking in today's so-called free jazz, much of which has settled into the kind of comfortable orthodoxy it originally set out to challenge, but also a tough, unsentimental lyricism not always on offer in the work of other firebreathers. It's a truly outstanding disc and if you don't get hold of a copy at the earliest available opportunity you're a damn fool."
- Dan Warburton, PARIS TRANSATLANTIC, January 2007
"This remarkable quintet have created a stunning debut with an eponymous full-length that consistently sounds like it’s on the brink of collapse before miraculously cohering."
- Vish Khanna, EXCLAIM!, Canada, 2006
" ... their horse-sure sense of how to move together as an ensemble is remarkable to witness."
" ... the group's ability to twist and turn with a unified sense of direction seems most honed."
" ... a compelling, incessantly surprising album"
- Philip Clark, THE WIRE , UK, March 2007
"One can only discover where the journey will lead us if we dare to follow with exploring curiosity into other worlds. With relentless self expression, courage and hard forged craftsmanship, the members of Carnival Skin have created more than an impression of contemporary modernism but an indelible imprint that marks our conscious and subliminal minds. Rife with content and images that go beyond the multi-dimensional experience, it is laden with aural interpretations that engage the listener in its total expression of absolute terms.
Carnival Skin is a newly formed quintet of composers, innovators, and improvisers - musicians whose collective experiences span several genres of music, five generations, and two continents and embodies the history and represents a new direction in the creative and free music art forms - one that abundantly employs the elements of surprise and spontaneity combined with a fearless surrendering to the unknown.
Having worked together in various combinations in the past, the five naturally come together for the first time on Carnival Skin as individual abstract aspects of a whole.
The group simultaneously maneuvers their way through a series of rhythmic experiences that coexist and ultimately become one in the same - movement and momentum - life and the experience of life. Carnival Skin is one of the best and most encouraging new works I've heard to date and one I highly recommend enjoying while viewing a Jackson Pollack painting and sipping a fine cognac."
- Margot Elizabeth Meyers, JAZZIMPROV, USA, December 2006
"Some records are best heard without any hype, without all unnecessary shouting and raving. Such is the case with the latest eponymous offering from Carnival Skin. Guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil, percussionist Klaus Kugel, clarinettist Perry Robinson, trumpeter Peter Evans and bassist Hilliard Greene are the faces behind the name. Discovery for me is the fierce guitar playing of Bruce Eisenbeil [one of the initiators of this group]. While it's too easy to throw a Sonny Sharrock comparison his way, there is a certain truth to it. His barrelling, rough lines full of melodic chaos are evident throughout much of the album. Klaus Kugel's percussion skills shine through and through as he pounds his skins into submission [what's great is he's right up-front in the mix, and not relegated to the role of a "supporting" member]. Biggest surprise is the way Perry Robinson adjusts himself into the role. Clarinet lines flow out of him not so much with a sense of grace or any sort of wonder, but with sheer force. The duelling, full-frontal attack of Robinson on clarinet and trumpeter Peter Evans is stunning in execution. Waves of heavy blowing mutilation are heard, which are accompanied by a further hailstorm from Eisenbeil on that lovely, crunchy guitar. Bassist Hilliard Greene acts as the pulse as his fast picking provides good ballast. Above all else, this is a fascinating listen and a top-rate session through and through. Let's just hope this isn't a one-off deal."
-Tom Sekowski, GAZ-ETA, august 2006
"Their energy is devastatingly positive."
- Massimo Ricci, TOUCHING EXTREMES, 2007, Italy
"The group’s aesthetic ranges from pan-tempo interdependence a la the New York Art Quartet to tumultuous free improvisation, sometimes channeling opposite poles within what feels like a heartbeat."
- BAGATELLEN.COM, March 2007, USA
"Recent modern jazz startup, NEMU Records is fronted by German drummer Klaus Kugel and others. With classy packaging and audiophile sound engineering in place, recordings such as this newly issued studio set communicate new directions in jazz. It’s partly about freedom of thought segueing into structure, and craftsmanship. Throughout the preponderance of this session, trumpeter Peter Evans and clarinetist Perry Robinson engage in concise and sonorous unison choruses atop the rhythm section’s buoyant grooves.
Guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil’s flickering and frenetic single note licks provide an intersection for the quartet’s disparate twists and turns. With staggered flows and zealous soloing, the musicians venture into various musical planes via boisterous evolvement and an upbeat gait. And it’s all spiced-up with elements of wit and whimsy, as they contrast the musical climate by occasionally tempering the flows. However, the band is apt to render a series of gingerly climactic passages leading to a full-fledged sonic assault, abetted by expansion and contraction style techniques. In sum, the music offers a refreshing perspective on the current state of modern jazz amid the improvisational aspects that provide the prerequisites for success."
- Glenn Astarita, EJAZZNEWS.COM, July 2006, USA
"American and European jazz influences merge in this avant-garde quintet intent on bringing the intellectual complexity of contemporary composition to the world of free jazz using chord colors rarely heard in public places. Riding a rhythm section of guitar, acoustic bass and drums, solo clarinet and trumpet players go exploring where no jazz band has gone before. They are curious to find out what happens after they leap into the abyss."
- TUCSON CITIZEN, USA, 2006
"This is a tremendously varied session of five improvised pieces credited to each quintet member and the eponymous collective creation - where sculpted sounds from guitar, drums, clarinet, trumpet and bass combine and collide in unique ways, not always easy to absorb."
- Irwin Block, MONTRÉAL GAZETTE, Canada, July 2006
"The most creative music that I have recently heard."
- Dr. Ana Isabel Ordonez, JAZZREVIEW.COM, USA, 2006
"Everyone contributes a piece, but the improvising language is collective and the closing title track shows how scrupulously brokered the group democracy is."
- Brian Morton, THE WIRE, UK, July 2006
“passionately concocted free jazz played with a strong, but never stolid, consensus of purpose.”
“This is definitely a group were variance of experience and style work as core virtues.”
“sharp-toothed collective improvisation”
“dynamic shifts that stretch from passages of somber quiet to flareups of explosive jangling catharsis.”
- Derek Taylor, ALLABOUTJAZZ.COM, USA, 2006
“extraordinary downtown all-star quintet”
- Bruce Gallanter, DOWNTOWN MUSIC GALLERY, USA, 2006
“Carnival Skin blurs the lines between free jazz, improvisation, and modern composition.”
- BALTIMORE CITY PAPER, USA, 2006
“Huge sounds in close quarters.”
- NY PRESS, USA, 2006
“music of rare quality”
“The feeling of doing something fresh creates a special atmosphere in this session.”
- MUSIC BOOM, Italy, 2006