The Chicago Citizen reviewer L.A.Emenari III writes: Progressively agile, while being nothing short of hard free-bop, is an accurate description of trumpeter Jim Knodle's band, Anasi. Taking it's name from the trickster of many African fables, Knodle's new disc, 'Wending,' (on the Nine Winds label), is a great debut. Knodle puts together a fine program that lasts less than 50 minutes - - which is quite short, considering most compact discs clock in at least around 65 minutes. Nonetheless, the music is well thought out. It is executed in such a fashion as to give rise to the notion of being wholly improvised. While improvisation is the key, Knodle's writing proves fresh and innovative. Beginning with the title composition, an intense and swinging number, we also get an earthy feel. Anasi is comprised of the solid trombonist Michael Vlatkovich, guitarist Paul Sawyer, pianist Lynette Westendorf, bassist Dan O'Brien and drummer Don Berman. The track 'M.D.D. - Four 4' is dedicated to Miles Davis. A pithy and intriguing hard bop melody finds Knodle and crew sounding as if they are right on stage. The disc has a neighborhood tavern feel without sounding too greasy or bluesy. The group rocks back and forth through several modes and meters in a navigational suite. Nothing slick. Just as it has been said, this is 'meat and potatoes' jazz. Recorded in 1999, 'Wending' is just now seeing the light of day. And while it is not an earth-shattering recording, the jazz world should take notice. Knodle & Anasi are class acts with plenty to share. All About Jazz reviewer Mark Corroto writes: 'Trumpeter Jim Knodle takes a very long view of the recorded history of jazz. The music he wrote for this quintet/sextet known as Anansi never truly centers itself on one period or style of sound. Wending takes equally from Ellington, Early and Late-Miles, and a very open form music. Because the three tracks heard here are lengthy, nine minutes the shortest and twenty-five the longest, there are no jump cuts or split allegiances. Knodle composes and arranges the music into very digestible, although heaping, portions of sound. Backed by West Coast modern players, Knodle's vision never lags. His 'M.D.D. - Four 4,' a Miles Davis tribute, starts at Miles with one foot in Charlie Parker's band, the other jamming with Gil Evans. Knodle's instructions to his quintet were to play each theme only once. There they go, moving from Bird to Gil to electric Miles (mostly unplugged) through to the essence of Davis as a mighty ballad interpreter. The 25-minute track ends into a post-bop open-ended music favored by the creative music of today. Elsewhere Knodle starts the title track with Ellington, packing the thrust of a big band into a small space before breaking the music into smaller less connected statements. He works off trombonist Michael Vlatkovich and guitarist Paul Sawyer to expand on threads of sound. Their journey is steep and at times difficult. The shortest piece, 'No Before Like More,' is about falling asleep in Iowa with train whistles in the distance. With that image in mind, one can visualize the possibilities of the mind at the edge of the frontier. Highly recommended.' Jim Knodle was a member of the free jazz group Holus Bolus, and a founding member of Circular Cowboys and Inside Out. He has recorded and performed with Wayne Horvitz, Robin Holcomb, Vinnie Golia, Lynette Westendorf, Perry Robinson, Michael Vlatkovich, Andrew Hill, Dave Storrs, Rob Blakeslee, Sue Ann Harkey and others. His compositions have been performed in concerts presented by the Earshot World Jazz Festival, Marzena Arts' Spring Festival of Contemporary Music, the Creative Music Guild's Series in Portland, the Dumaurier Jazz Festival in Vancouver, BC., and the Composers and Improvisers Workshop. He has just returned from New York, where he played for Greg Lachow's performed film 'Silence'.
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