|Naked Truth — Avian Thug (January 22, 2016)
Naked Truth — Avian Thug (January 22, 2016)♠ “Virtuosity subsumed under a vibe on conviviality and a need to get it out of their system, Naked Truth is a band that’s profoundly connected to jazz’s roots but also one that has a craving for everything that’s emerged in the wake of Louis Armstrong’s Chicago explosion of the 1920s. It’s rare to hear a collective that reeks of influences yet somehow manages to be original, having their own sound and identity” (JEDB)
Location: Rome, Italy / Hollis, Queens, U.S.
Album release: January 22, 2016
Record Label: RareNoiseRecords
01 Rapid Fire 3:46
02 Lazy Elephant 4:56
03 Trap Door 4:14
04 Tense Shaman 9:22
05 Avian Thug 6:16
06 Day Two At Bedlam 6:29
07 Moon At Noon 13:04
♠ Graham Haynes: trumpet and electronics;
♠ Lorenzo Feliciati: basses, guitars, keyboards;
♠ Roy Powell: electronic keyboards, analog synths, organ, prepared piano;
♠ Pat Mastelotto: acoustic, electric drums and percussion.
By GLENN ASTARITA, Published: February 6, 2016 / Score: ****
♠ Avian Thug is this multinational quartet’s third release and was recorded in England after the completion of a 2013 tour and offers more of the band’s explorative powers, intimating similes of treks into mysterious galactic corridors. Comparisons to the electric Miles Davis era and so on are in order, but this unit gels to heavyweight cadences amid electric trumpeter Graham Haynes’ stark pronouncements; brisk modern jazz flurries and succinctly stated melodic choruses. No doubt, they straddle a contemporary electronics–induced jazz rock domain, abetted by keyboard wiz Roy Powell’s resourceful bag of tricks, steeped within his use of analog synths, organ and prepared piano implementations. It’s a multihued presentation, featuring the highly respected rhythm section of drummer Pat Mastelotto and Naked Truth founder, bassist Lorenzo Feliciati.
♠ The band paints a foreboding but thoroughly happening musical vista. On “Trap Door” Haynes’ flickering notes and echoing EFX–based treatments augment a mid–tempo bustling groove with a touch of frantic momentum, as the musicians sound like troops aligning for battle. “Avian Thug,” commences with Powell’s synth lines that seemingly mimic a bunch of laughing gremlins. Moreover, the keyboardist and Haynes dish out blitzing unison choruses with fluid developments, tinted with bizarre regions of sound and jazzy escapades. The final and lengthiest track “Moon at Noon,” transitions the listener to a blissful ambient–electronica vibe, formed with minimalism and the trumpeter’s reverberating parts, followed by the bassist’s supple underpinnings and the drummer’s potent backbeats. Nonetheless, Naked Truth’s multidimensional mosaics combine power, grace, and yet another visit into an indescribable netherworld. ♠ http://www.allaboutjazz.com/
BY S. VICTOR AARON, JANUARY 25, 2016
♠ The just–released Avian Thug is Act III of this progressive fusion supergroup Naked Truth, assembled by the sage electric bassist Lorenzo Feliciati, an act that isn’t in any danger of wearing thin. Still comprised also of co–founding members Pat Mastelotto on drums and percussion and Roy Powell on keys as well as Graham Haynes on cornet for his second go’round with the band, Naked Truth continues its evolution through increased symmetry. Avian Thug, available through Rare Noise Records, also benefits from having Bill Laswell sharing in the production duties with Feliciati and overseeing the album’s final mix.
♠ While Feliciati is the leader, there’s a lot a democracy happening on Avian Thug, and the record is better for it. The group composed all seven compositions together, and no one member dominates: it’s an ego–less undertaking among a collection of very strong musical personalities, a rare feat that makes possible a rare treat.
♠ The sub–five minutes shorter songs are front–loaded. I would even assert that “Rapid Fire” is too short, because Rapid Fire is so damned smokin’ only to be extinguished before it reached the four minute mark. Powell’s opening fractured organ lines get increasingly agitated over Mastelotto’s swing–to–rock bash. Haynes enters just as things get funky to conjure up visions of Miles at the Fillmore.
♠ As Feliciati’s electric bass is usually found at the core of each performance, his less–is–more approach ends up making his contribution more impactful because of the wide intervals he often allows between his figures; you tend to notice him more because he’s not present at every beat. That’s lent an diffused air to grooves like the one he creates with Mastelotto for “Lazy Elephant,” a lumbering beat and sticky bass working in a perfect communion for this groove construction. Powell occupies the other end of this sonic spectrum with his prepared piano and otherworldly sonorities, and Haynes’ cornet makes lonely stabs into the dark ambiance.
♠ A blast kicks off a multi–rhythmic motion on “Trap Door,” which seems to pull in cultures from all corners of the world. Haynes’ overdubbed cornet evokes Decoy–era Miles and behind him things open up when Feliciati pulls out and Mastelotto attacks his cymbals. A distorted extreme bottom bass line crawls on the floor of “Tense Shaman” while Haynes floats way up high above it. Powell’s fragile electric piano dissolves into a void as the band collects itself and reboots the beat but with a different chord pattern. “Avian Thug” announces itself with a muscular rock beat, and Powell’s alien analog synth solo leads a ghoulish noise until Haynes’ subdued cornet arrives to keep the wickedness at bay.
♠ Grooves get overtaken by arid sonic contours for the final two tracks, for the most part. An unsettled ambient mood pervades “Day Two At Bedlam,” set by sampled strings, a flowing prepared piano and murmuring bass over sometimes dissonant chords. Haynes’ electro–assisted horn harmonics over a spare piano on “Moon At Noon” is a nod to Jon Hassell and Nils Petter Molvær. A start–stop thump enters around 5:45, Mastelotto closely following and accenting Feliciati’s shuffling bass line long after Feliciati bows out. Eventually, the groove dies out only to be resuscitated as the performance winds down.
♠ I don’t know if it’s Bill Laswell’s involvement in this, or this is just a band of members getting more confident and more comfortable with each other, but Avian Thug sounds like the best thing they’ve made so far, and Naked Truth had already gotten off to a nice start with their first two projects. Now, they have reached cruising altitude. ♠ http://somethingelsereviews.com/
started playing in Rome clubs around the age of
twenty, privileging Rock–blues bands for his first “official” steps. This choice
has indissolubly marked his formation, creating a strong” background that has
contributed to the definition of his sound and style, with an approach that
never forgets the role of ” harmonic and rhythmic support ” the Bass always
has to give the band.
Together with a constant Live activity he continues to study, paying particular
attention to the evolution of the role of Bass, especially in more extreme
music styles, considered as less noble by many musicians.
In 2003 Schoots Records released his first CD as a leader, “Upon my Head”
followed in 2006 by “Live at European Bass Day & more” recorded live at the
4th European Bass Day in Viersen(Germany), both received worldwide
In the last two years he has started a live activity all over Europe with gigs and
his participation to all the four European Bass Day festival as the only one
Italian artist and to the Euro Bass Day in Verona (Italy) and the first English
Bass Day in Manchester, sharing the stage with Richard Bona, Linley Marthe,
Dominique Di Piazza, Norm Stockton and others.
He has been spotlighted as “Bass Face of the Month”in February 2005 by
the International Institute of Bassists.
Since 2005 he is a steady clinician at the Conservatory of Amsterdam,
Rotterdam, Tilburg and the Academy of Contemporary Music of London
He is a steady demo/clinician of Mark Bass amplifiers in the Disma Music
show in Italy and the Frankfurt Musik Messe in Germany.
Regarded as an innovator on cornet and flugelhorn, an extraordinary
composer, and an emerging force in contemporary electronic music and
world music, Graham Haynes has redefined and deconstructed that genre
we still call jazz. While his main instrument is the cornet, he is by no means
making jazz music these days. Haynes uses technology to create
imaginative, subtle sonic environments. Even amidst electronic processing,
his horn stands out, providing a level of expression that humanizes and
elevates the synthetic sounds.
The son of legendary jazz drummer Roy Haynes, Graham was born in 1960
and raised in Hollis, Queens, where he was surrounded by innovators (his
neighbors included Roy Eldridge, Milt Jackson, and Jaki Byard). While
studying composition, harmony and theory at Queens College, Graham
developed an interest in classical and electronic music (Robert Moog was
professor of electronic music at that time). In 1979, he met alto saxophonist
Steve Coleman. They formed a band called Five Elements, which launched
the M–Base collective, an influential group of New York improvisers. Haynes
spent much of the 1980s collaborating with Coleman and Cassandra Wilson.
In the late 1980s he formed his own ensemble, Graham Haynes and No
Image, and recorded his first album as a leader, “What Time it Be?”
During the late 1980..s, Haynes immersed himself in a wide range of African,
Arabic, and South Asian music which prompted his move to Paris in 1990.
There he recorded Nocturne Parisian and “The Griots Footsteps”, for French
PolyGram Records. Haynes spent the next three years studying and
performing with masters of African and Asian music, occasionally returning to
the U.S. to work with artists such as Ed Blackwell, George Russell, Uri Caine,
David Murray and many others. In 1993, Haynes moved back to New York
City, where he began investigating sampling and hip hop music. The album
“Transition” came out of this investigation. His next project, “Tones for the
Twenty–First Century”, combined sound effects, textures, drones, and
samples, layered over Haynes’ electronically manipulated horn.
Graham was extensively working with DJs within drum–n–bass scene in NYC,
UK and Europe throughout the 90’s. In 2000, he recorded the critically
acclaimed “BPM” (Knitting Factory Records), a fusion of drum–n–bass
programming and operatic music, specifically the late music of Richard
Wagner. Haynes uses technology to create imaginative and even subtle
sonic environments, and, of course, he is an evocative player on his primary
instrument, the good old–fashioned cornet. “Even amidst all the electronic
processing, his horn stands out, providing a level of expression that
humanizes and elevates BPM’s synthetic sounds.” (Dave Lynch, All Music
Since 2000, Haynes has collaborated as music director and composer on
the following multimedia projects:
– Electric Church, a multimedia event series at Walker Stage, NYC (2000;
Haynes served as producer and curator of the event).
– Sights and Sounds, multimedia collaboration with visual artists at Bronx
River Arts Center–Artist Space Program (2000).
– Afrofuturistic, with writer Tracie Morris, presented at The Kitchen, NYC
– A Cruel New World, a dance work by choreographer Donald Byrd,
performed by Spectrum Dance Company in Seattle, WA (2003).
– Improvizions, with choreographer Roxane Butterfly (2005).
– 51st Dream State, multimedia project by Sekou Sundiata (2006 international
In 2003 Haynes composed the score for Flag Wars, a film funded by PBS.
And during 2004–2005, he composed and produced the original soundtrack
for the film The Promise by Maria Norman.
Graham Haynes has received the following grants:
– National Endowment for the Arts Study Fellowship (1979).
– Meet the Composer Grant to to compose and perform original music with
No Image group at Jam88 (1988).
– Meet the Composer Grant to to compose and perform original music with
No Image group at Morningside Park, NYC (1989).
– Meet the Composer Grant to compose music for Afrofuturistic (2001).
Haynes has been twice nominated for the prestigious Alpert Award for the
Arts (in 2000 and 2003).
Graham Haynes has recorded eight critically acclaimed CDs as a leader and
has worked with Steve Coleman, Roy Haynes, Ed Blackwell, Abbey Lincoln,
Pharoah Sanders, Vernon Reid, Cassandra Wilson, Butch Morris, David
Murray, Karl Berger, Brice Wassy, Cheick Tidiane Seck, George Russell,
George Adams, Jaki Byard, Bill Laswell, Uri Caine, Sting, Rodney Kendrick,
Sekou Sundiata, Tracie Morris, Talvin Singh, Marque Gilmore, DJ Logic, DJ
Spooky, Will Calhoun, Don Byron, Greg Osby, Geri Allen and many more top
Throughout his musical career, Graham Haynes has brought together
different musical traditions from African, Asian, and Arabic countries. He has
lectured at New York University on the subject of Music and Trance and is a
perennial guest at the Gnawa Trance Music Festival in Morocco. Graham
Haynes tours annually in Europe, Asia and Africa and has appeared several
times on national TV. He is in high professional demand as musical director
and composer by film, theater, dance, performance and multimedia artists.
started playing the drums at the age of 10. By the
time he was 16 he was playing in popular local bands, and while still in high
school commuted several hours to Lake Tahoe for gigs. Moving to Los
Angeles in the mid 1970s, Mastelotto worked for many bands and as a
studio session drummer. In this capacity he worked for Martin Briley, Holly
Knight, Scandal, Al Jarreau, The Pointer Sisters, Patti LaBelle, Kenny Loggins,
Martika, Danny Wilde as well as playing drums on the double platinum album
Rockland by Canadian rock musician Kim Mitchell.
In 1983, Mastelotto was a founding member of Mr. Mister. The band had a
number one album, Welcome to the Real World, and two number one
singles, “Broken Wings” and “Kyrie”. They recorded four albums, with the
fourth remaining unreleased.
His tenure with Mr. Mister was followed by more session work for bands such
as XTC, The Sugarcubes, Hall & Oates, Cock Robin, The Rembrandts, Jude
Cole, Eddie Money, Tina Arena, Matthew Sweet, Julia Fordham, Robyn
Hitchcock and David Sylvian. In 1991 Mastelotto co–produced Peter
Kingsbery’s first solo album before being asked to join King Crimson.
Mastelotto has been a member of King Crimson since 1994, and appears on
over twenty King Crimson albums and several music videos. He also
produced, edited mixed or played on several King Crimson ProjeKcts
He has continued to guest on other projects, working with Jay Terrien, Cock
Robin, drummer Terry Bozzio, Mecca, Tony Levin and the California Guitar
Trio, as well as working on solo work. He is also a member of the
progressive/experimental bands TU (with fellow King Crimson alumnus Trey
Gunn) and KTU (with Trey, Kimmo Pohjonen and Samuli Kosminen), and
Tuner; a duo with centrozoon’s Markus Reuter that has released four
albums and toured periodically. On stage Tuner have been known to
reinterpret King Crimson material such as the 1984 track ‘Industry’, as
evidenced on their 2009 live album ZWAR.
Since moving to Austin, Texas, he has worked with Austinites Storyville, Abra
Moore, … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and theremin player
Pamelia Kurstin. Personal projects include, Mastica, BPMM and M.P.TU with
guitarist Phil Brown (Little Feat), singer Malford Milligan and bassist Mark
Andes (Spirit, Firefall, Heart).
In 2007 Mastelotto went on tour with The Flower Kings in Europe supporting
their album The Sum Of No Evil. In 2008 a new King Crimson lineup formed,
including a drumming team of Pat and Gavin Harrison, which played eleven
shows in August. Then the enormous Creation of Peace festival in Kazan,
Russia, with Adrian Belew, Tony Levin and Eddie Jobson. This was followed
by another new project, HoBoLeMa, with Levin, Bozzio and Allan Holdsworth.
first came to wider recognition when his first CD A Big Sky was released in
1994, the Gramophone Jazz Good CD Guide 1997 calling it “extraordinarily
accomplished”. In addition to performing and recording with his own groups
in Scandinavia, Germany, France and the UK (including many appearances at
London’s legendary Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club), he has worked with many
well–known musicians, including Anthony Braxton, Terje Rypdal, Art Farmer,
Eddie Daniels, Arild Andersen, and Vince Mendoza. As of January 2009
Powell has become active as an organist in the trio Blue Sonic Fuel 
lfeaturing Staffan William–Olsson and Andreas Bye
His recordings have appeared in the Gramophone Jazz Good CD Guide,
Gramophone Classical Good CD Guide, the Lord Discography, and The New
Grove Dictionary of Jazz, as well as jazz magazines in Europe, Japan and the
US. His composition “Bow Out” was adapted with a piece by David Bedford
by the American choreographer Val Caniparoli to create the ballet piece “Bow
Out”, performed by ballet companies in Oakland, Richmond, Cincinnati and
|Naked Truth — Avian Thug (January 22, 2016)