Bar code: 8427328435567
**** Down Beat
"A wonderfully wild, moody, collaborative and improvisational set by Spanish composer Eva Novoa’s Ditmas Quartet was recorded live during the summer of 2016 at Brooklyn’s IBeam, home to experimental and innovative new works. Opening with the pensive “Déjà Vu,” its escalating intensity lent by Novoa’s piano and drummer Jeff Davis, there’s something familiar about the quartet’s approach to free-jazz, at once feeling its 20th-century origins and free of them. Contrasting with Novoa’s striking and inventive playing, saxophonist Michaël Attias lends his arresting style to the set’s stand-out performances: the haunted and dramatic “Enough,” the angular study of “Why You Here” and the pleasantly quirky “Yela.” Bassist Max Johnson stands out on “Walk On The Moon,” as he keeps it floating on the solos until Davis finally tips in and the quartet brings home the set’s penultimate and climactic number.
For the final mood piece, “Lines And Dots,” Novoa’s gong contributes to the dark and somber effect—an unusual way to end a show and an album, but then, Novoa’s Ditmas Quartet is anything but usual, and that’s exactly what makes it so compelling."
Denise Sullivan (November, 2018)
"One of the few modern pianists that combines originality with accessibility, Eva Novoa brings six new pieces to stage for a gig at Brooklyn’s iBeam theatre. Her team of Michael Attias/as-bs, Max Johnson/b and Jeff Davis/dr work both intuitively and dynamically, while Novoa’s compositions and arranging skills sound like she’s imbibed from the Thelonious Monk well, but added her own juices into the glass.
Her subtle use of introducing gongs, and leading into piano lurks on the opening of “Déjà vu” before shifting the band into a soft and whimsical melody that is like a celestial form of Monk’s moods, with Attias’ alto soft and genial. On baritone sax, he and the team get brash and punchy on “Enough” before Novoa flicks her wrist and has the team walk in an intuitive 3 legged race. The team is playful with Attias’ alto veers over Novoa’s splashing and fluttering piano on the kinetic “Why You Here” and the leader slithers over Davis’ deft brushwork while Johnson bows with aplomb on the oozing “Yela.” Davis snaps everyone to attention on the sizzling “Walk on the Moon” as Novoa’s fingers bop like a rock skipping on a lake before the band closes with the free, loose and frisky “Lines and Dots” that has Johnson and Attias in a subtoned mood before finally fading away to the close of the evening set.
Fresh, clever, original and yet still with a foot and some digits in the tradition, Eva Novoa shows she’s hearing something in her head that she wants to share. It’s worth our listening!"
George W. Harris (August 6, 2018)
"Pianist Eva Novoa is from Spain, studied in NYC and the Netherlands before settling back in New York and playing with Sara Serpa, Billy Mintz and Tom Rainey. The Ditmas Quartet is a steady vehicle for her compositions, six slices of freebop, redolent of the early works of Cecil Taylor and Paul Bley.
It would seem (almost) all roads lead to and/or from Thelonious Monk—“Why You Here” has a wry, angular theme, then alto saxophonist Michaël Attias engages in high-register free playing in a pinched tone against the backdrop of the clattering combo. Novoa lays down off-kilter lyrical passages, maintaining a Monk-ish ambiance while getting more free and percussive. Introduced by Jeff Davis’ crackling drum solo, “Walk On the Moon” is a stirring, hard-swinging romp, Novoa essaying percussively yet with unassuming grace, impressive speed and moderate joy. Bassist Max Johnson peels out a nimble, driving solo, followed by Max Roach-like soloing from Davis. “Lines and Dots” is freeish, flickering like a mirage and sighing like a wind going through an old building—it projects mournful contemplation with a delicately rising sense of tension and apprehension.
Alas, not everything is up to the level of the aforementioned tracks. While the individual performances themselves throughout are excellent— each musician draws vivid nuances from their respective instruments—as a whole, “Enough” feels meandering and ponderous, mitigated by the attention- grabbing thunderclaps of Davis and cathartic roar of Attias’ baritone, then the band evolves into a woozy, ostinato-like groove before fading out.
Live at IBeam is a good representation (the recording quality is superb) of an avant garde band on the rise."
Mark Keresman (September, 2018)
The New York City Jazz Record