“Argentine percussionist and composer Juan Pablo Carletti has been working in New York since 2006, playing in numerous combinations, including saxophonist Rob Brown’s quartet and in duo with cellist Daniel Levin. Niño/Brujo (Child/Warlock), a limited edition LP, is both the debut of Carletti as bandleader of a trio with saxophonist Tony Malaby and cellist Christopher Hoffman and Carletti’s first sustained statement as a composer. It’s an auspicious launch on both counts, not only because of Carletti’s strong identity as a writer, but because the band’s approach is a singular extension of his composing.Carletti’s pieces are both strongly melodic and near minimalist, their short figures repeated and incrementally varied, with his spare drumming functioning almost as counter-melody to Malaby’s leads. The saxophonist generally curtails his more exploratory impulses, applying himself to Carletti’s kernel melodies and their gradual development on pieces like “Miranda” and Western-tinged “El Brujo”. On “Ballerina” and “Orange” he creates passages of sustained multiphonics, developing a tenuous beauty suspended between air and abrasion. Each member of the group is alive to sonic suggestion, exploring the possibilities with special empathy, as in the blend of bowed cello and multiphonic tenor on the elegiac “José”. Hoffman is as adept at pizzicato as he is with a bow while his guitar-like plucking on “Folkus” adds another dimension to the piece. While many of the tracks have the concentrated feel of études, the relatively extended 13-minute “Lateral Thinking (for Edward de Bono)” moves from segment to segment with relative freedom, Carletti employing glockenspiel and melodica in a series of encounters and dialogues that retain the precision and knotting attention developed on the shorter pieces while giving Malaby more expansive ground to explore.” Stuart Broomer NewYorkJazzCityRecords March 2015 , link
“The range of Carletti’s talents is in good showing. Niño/Brujo uses Carletti’s songwriting as a springboard, while Illusion of Truth works in a freer context. Though superficially different in sound, both are albums of balance—across these records are scales hanging in careful equilibrium between composition and improvisation, melody and texture, rhythm and freedom, sound and silence.Carletti’s songs on Niño/Brujo are open, subtle tunes with tight melodies. Still, plenty of room is left for the performers, and the group seamlessly transitions from written material to improvisation and back. This is best exemplified by the long centerpiece “Lateral Thinking,” which morphs between loose, free playing and sturdy rhythms (with Carletti simultaneously laying out the beat on the drums and playing the closing melodic theme on glockenspiel). Other tracks, such as opener “Miranda,” have a jaunty, film-music quality, a warm air of chamber music with just a pinch of Latin spice. Malaby is on full display in all his rough-edged glory, at times souring or splintering his tone to inject a little tension into the proceedings. On “Ballerina,” Carletti skillfully matches Hoffman’s line—a beautiful suggestion of melodic contours through expert maneuvering on the drum kit. In many ways, the music turns on Hoffman, whose cello is a compelling addition, at times carrying the bass line, then the melody, moving deftly between swinging jazz and a more classical sound.But if Hoffman adds some straight-backed classicism to Niño/Brujo, Levin is all frayed horsehair on Illusion of Truth. Levin has always been an energizing player—his influence on playing partners is that of a jolt of electricity. Illusion of Truth is an hour-long performance from 2014, and even in its quietest moments there is an incredible focus conveyed through Levin’s playing, a focus that accounts for every tiny sound and micro-event without ever being mistaken for “lowercase” music. Carletti keeps pace, often quiet but always busy, rattling along with Lyttonesque abandon. It would be hard to imagine this music ever transcribed onto a staff—both players bring an intuitive technique that eschews the idea of music as arrangements of notes, suggesting instead a direct, synaptic expression of ideas and passion, an effortless extension of body and mind more like speaking or dancing.With these two releases, it’s clear that Carletti is a versatile musician who surrounds himself with talent. Or—maybe a better way to look at it—talented musicians seem eager to seek Carletti out, and for good reason. Niño/Brujo and Illusion of Truth are both strong statements from a relatively new voice, one we’ll hopefully be hearing more of in the months and years to come.” Dan Sorrells FreeJazzCollective, link
“A funny thing happened on the way to a free jazz trio session. What’s funny is that leader Juan Pablo Carletti brought seven unique compositions for his trio to perform. The Argentinian-born, New York-based drummer recruited tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby and cellist Christopher Hoffman for this recording. An inconspicuous drummer-led session.Carletti’s last decade in New York has found him in ensembles led by Malaby, Rob Brown, Andrew Lamb, and cellist Daniel Levin (with whom he will release a duo recording). His approach is understated and euphonic. Like a great food recipe, his drum kit set up is minimal, keeping his music making to just the essentials. He flavors each piece with piquant gestures and peppers his partners with a sympathetic sound.The limited edition of 300 LPs (also available as a download) opens with “Miranda,” a gentle melody with Malaby’s sweet-tempered horn playing over the plucked cello and tick-tick of Carletti’s drums. The piece picks up momentum, and, at it’s pinnacle, finds over-blown horn and muscular drums that have no desire to disintegrate into the chaos of noise. Perhaps that is why Carletti favors Malaby, who has that organizing genus. One that can be heard in his trio Tamarindo (with William Parker and Nasheet Waits), Paloma Recio, his octet Novela, and TubaCello with Christopher Hoffman. Hoffman can be heard in Henry Threadgill‘s Zooid.Carletti’s compositions give his partners plenty of space. After Malaby’s vocalizing on “Ballerina,” Hoffman plucks, then bows a graceful terminus to the piece. Cello and whispered saxophone open “Folkus,” an exploratory investigation into a sort of controlled detonation. “Orange,” the freest piece here, plays with a constant return to theme even within its outwardness. “Lateral Thinking,” the longest composition here at 13-minutes, opens with roiling drums, then fragments written passages that feature Carletti on glockenspiel and melodica (influenced by John Hollenbeck?) and an almost punk-rock ending. A brilliant recording.” Mark Corroto– All About Jazz link
“…Nino / Brujo contains seven compositions melancholic and mysterious contours, all of Carletti and can not place themselves under any label… and the leader is careful not to show us the extent of his talent behind the drums, choosing a different path … The album finally confirms that Tony Malaby is one of today’s best explorers new forms , providing assistance to often exciting works in addition to the albums he published under his name.” David Cristol, French Jazz Magazine IMPROJAZZ
“Sometimes it amazes me no little how much good music comes out lately. Other times I have a pile of dogs to contend with. But with a little care in selection there is much to be heard. Today’s example is as good as any, a limited edition 300 copy LP pressing of the trio of Juan Pablo Carletti (drums and composition), Tony Malaby (tenor) and Christopher Hoffman (cello) on Nino/Brujo (New Business LP 79).The compositions are good platforms for the blowing, the trio is in great form and everything happens as if the stars were aligned properly. Tony is of course a tenor man of consequence, someone who you know will put in a good showing for himself, and he does. Cellist Christopher Hoffman takes an active role and brings bowing, double stops and pizzicato work that ordinarily a contrabass would handle, yet of course you get that upper range here. Juan Pablo Carletti does some compositional doubling with Tony on Glockenspiel and plays some excellent group-oriented drums.It is the kind of free but themed improvisation that grows on you. This is new music firmly in the jazz camp, free and carefully wrought. Between the three there are always interest event-inventions and after a few hearings you start to appreciate what sort of inspiration is happening.Contemporary free jazz has good health today. It isn’t gasping for air. There is a marvelous flourishing of the music all over the planet. This is a good example of its primacy! 300 copies seems too little, but it’s all the more reason to grab one. The artistic merit is not at all in proportion to the maximum sales figures. No Business knows its business though, so get one of these while you can! A very good date! Recommended.” – Greg Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Music Review link
“For this his debut album he put together Tony Malaby and Christopher Hoffman. Malaby is one of the most exciting saxophonists of the past few decades, with a large discography and a long list of collaborations, where it will be fair to highlight his trio “Tamarindo” with William Parker and Nasheet Waits (who has edited several albums by Clean Feed). The group is complemented by the cello Christopher Hoffman – musician who has collaborated with the likes of Henry Threadgill, Marc Ribot and Ingrid Laubrock, among many others.
The group explores a number of Carletti compositions, serving as a basis for improvisation. The Malaby saxophone easily steals the spotlight, with his dizzying imagination and flexibility. But the trio’s music goes further: Hoffman is essential to support and link the trio, playing the role of bass (as usual is Miguel Mira). Carletti has an effective , unique and exuberant delivery that denotes his presence, without abusing the exuberance, punctuating each time intelligently. In addition to the kit, he occasionally uses other instruments.
By the interpretation and the improvisation of the trio , Carletti’s compositions transform and gain form. The disc, based mostly on slow pace,and themes like “Ballerina” or “José”, gives also high intensity signals (hear the theme that closes the album, “El Brujo”). Already “Lateral Thinking (for Edward DeBono)” is a centerpiece: start with a solo by Carletti, followed by a moment of collective containment and then explodes with energy at the end.
Edited by the Lithuanian label “NoBusiness Records” (which in recent years has led the international jazz scene and has edited RED Trio, Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio and the trio Nate Wooley / Chris Corsano / Hugo Antunes), this disc reveals a percussionist with good ideas, at the head of a strong group. Here’s a nice surprise right at the start of the year.” Nino Catarino, Bodyspace.net link
” Over the past few years, Argentinan drummer JP Carletti has an important part of the Downtown scene, working with Daniel Levin (cellist) and Tony Malaby in different projects. Mr. Carletti has played here at DMG on occasion and would probably go under-recognized except that we have some mutual friends who introduced us. This is Mr. Carletti’s first record as a leader and he has put together a strong trio: the ubiquitous Tony Malaby on tenor and another newer part of the scene, Chris Hoffman on cello. Mr. Hoffman’s name should be familiar to you since he is a member of Henry Threadgill’s Zooid, Malaby’s new TubaCello band and a couple of projects with Jeremiah Cymerman. This is not just another free/jazz session as Mr. Carletti actually wrote seven quirky, charming songs. “Miranda” kicks things off with a delightful, laid-back melody. What is interesting is hearing Mr. Malaby play with such sublime grace, something he rarely get a chance to do. The fact this is an acoustic trio and that I am reviewing it on vinyl, the sound is warm and inviting. “Orange” reminds me of the way Henry Threadgill writes these compelling circular themes although it is much shorter and concise than Threadgill’s more epic length workouts. Side two starts with “Folkus”, a piece which features Mr. Malaby using an Ayler-like tone yet still slow-burning on a low flame. “Lateral Thinking” is the one long piece here and it features some fine, expressive drumming from Mr. Carletti and lush harmonies for the tenor and cello. It is rare to hear a glockenspiel solo on a current LP but this is what is in the middle of this piece and it is a quaint one at that. Considering that JP Carletti is a drummer and the composer of this music, it is surprising how somber, mysterious and lacking in assertive propulsion. At least until the last section of the long piece when things finally start to erupt. He has chosen just the right ingredients for this superb, enchanting trio. A tasty dessert from JP’s great trio!” – Bruce Gallanter, Dowtown Music Gallery link
“Tenorist Malaby makes some really wonderful noises here but the album’s actually the brainchild of percussionist Juan Pablo Carletti – who composed all the tracks on the set! Malaby continues his wonderful sense of tone and texture here – blowing slow notes sometimes, which unfold like dark sonic flowers – mixed with lighter, tuneful passages that almost have a classic modern tenor quality – a space that seems to range from Rollins to Brotzmann, depending on the needs of the moment. Carletti plays drums, glockenspiel, and melodica – and Christopher Hoffman adds some especially great cello – which is often played at the lower, darker range of its spectrum, as a key component of the trio.” M-etropolis.com link
“Percussionist Juan Pablo Carletti leads a trio with Tony Malaby on sax and Christopher Hoffman on cello, beautifully unfolding jazz that balances light and dark, melodic and free approaches with textural percussive work”. Squidco link
"Another trio , we get on the disc Niño / Brujo , with the Americans Tony Malaby tenor saxophone and Christopher Hoffman cello and the Argentinian Juan Pablo Carletti who not only plays the drums , glockenspiel and melodica , but also has composed all the music . Here we sail more in the modern jazz waters , melodies, grooves and clear shapes intermingled with a controlled burst and looser forms . The compositions and thus the entire disc is somehow a bit pensive , there are no flashy movements but more reclusive , verging on shyly . It 's really nice.The soundstage is thanks to the instrumentation airy and soft, the cello is a beautiful instrument! On the whole it Niño / Brujo a very beautiful and really good modern jazz record that should appeal to many."Sound of Music link