Ben Ratliff, New York Times, concert review
"Nearly all jazz balances improvisation against composition, but a band like Floriculture makes you realize how many degrees there are of striking that balance. That's because it takes each side to extremes, and pulls together some far-apart traditions...."
David Kane, Cadence Magazine, Sided Silver Solid review
..."it's not often I do a single review but in the case of Carl Maguire's new CD, I felt it really needed its own space. True to the group name, Maguire has cultivated a fascinating garden full of beautifully strange musical flora and fauna. With his dedicated and virtuosic group consisting of reeds, viola, keyboards, bass and percussion he has broken new ground in improvisational music- something these days that is very difficult to do. His idiom defies categorization- always a good sign- but while there are recognizable elements of AACM style improv, classical music of the post- Webernian variety and minimalism amongst more conventional jazz modes, Maguire has taken these elements and crafted something genuinely new with them. This is one of the few records I've heard where it is virtually impossible to differentiate the composed sections from the improvised sections. That in of itself in not necessary a great accomplishment but in fact, Maguire, as he himself notes, has created distinct musical environments with each track. Each environment is a self-contained world with its own peculiar features and its own rules. Seemingly random events and textures suddenly coalesce into unexpected musical epiphanies. Abstract ostinati gradually reveal unexpected aspects that evolve subtly over time, sometimes through ingenious metrical modulation and sometimes through more mysterious means, that then give seamless rise to improvisation that again organically moves into more (seemingly) composed sections. Virtually every track reveals a compelling musical vision crafted by a confident hand and stunningly played by these great musicians. I consider this CD to be a major artistic statement, impressive in both conception and execution. It's been a long time since I've heard something that truly excited me as a listener, despite my work here at Cadence where I am exposed to prodigious quantities of good (and bad) music. Sided Silver Solid stands out as an important musical achievement and represents the best of what's possible in the Avant-garde. My highest recommendation. "
Michale G. Nastos, AllMusic , Sided Silver Solid review
..."you can be absorbed by this music, surrounded by its opulence, but at others there's a sense that you are saturated with these innovative tones to the point where it can be either utterly fascinating, or somewhat disturbing... Floriculture certainly play provocative, groundbreaking music, something unlike any thing else that preceded them, and deserve attention in that they refuse to stand still or be static. Maguire's futuristic concept is one highly recommended to all creative music fans, with great promise for more to come. "
Nic Jones, All About Jazz, Sided Silver Solid review
..."it's clear that the aims and intentions of this music and these musicians are radically different. The same is true of the music's logic, which is something highly personal. The ebb and flow of the piece is as close to unique as anything out there. It sets the seal on the idea that Maguire and whatever band he heads, is likely to produce music that passes the repeated listening test with flying colors."
Stef Gijssels, Free Jazz, Sided Silver Solid review
..."The most astonishing aspect of the music is its great musical vision and coherence, with many changes in orchestration, rhythms, moods, even within one piece, yet it all fits in the overall sound. It is nothing you've heard before, a wonderful mix of many known things, but then just not. It is different, and no matter how much you listen to it, you will discover new things."
Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, Sided Silver Solid review
..."For me, this is the future of progressive music: music which we continue to marvel at with each close listen since there are so many layers of ideas buried beneath the surface. Another wonderful thing about this disc is that it is long (over an hour) and some of the best pieces are towards the end, so you should take the time to listen to the entire disc more than once and file it away. Be patient & pay attention and the treasures will be revealed."
The Penguin Guide to Jazz, Floriculture review
**** "it's clear from the opening 'Egocentric' that these men know each other and work together well. Maguire's writing is too complex to allow anything else. His exchanges with bassist Dunn on that track are breathtaking... As exciting a debut release as any in the last few years."
The New Yorker
"A promising quartet that's sidestepped the mainstream, Floriculture pulls off its new-jazz improvisation and lyrical abstraction with panache."
Time Out New York, Critics Pick
"We'd heard plenty talk about how Carl Maguire was a name worth following among rising young jazzers; still, that didn't quite prepare us for the way he basically recontextualized a Fender Rhodes... digging under its hood to pluck out shimmering, spacey chords and the like. Floriculture is where his pen comes into play as well."
Glenn Astarita, eJazzNews
"Pianist Carl Maguire's debut solo release for the German 'Between the Lines' record titled 'Floriculture' was one of the true modern jazz surprises of 2006."
Budd Kopman, All about Jazz
"The first delicate notes of Carl Maguire's piano in 'Egocentric' repeat odd phrases that move in and out of phase with each other, but when the rest of the band enters, powerfully amplifying and filling out the theme, you know that you are in for a trip. The piece sounds like Fieldwork's Simulated Progress in its density and power (but with a bass, of course) until Chris Mannigan enters on alto saxophone. Although it is hard to say whether the music is through-composed or improvised (or a mix of both), 'Egocentric' is a wonderful introduction to the talents of Maguire and his band, and its main theme infuses the rest of the album, creating a unified whole. After the first 'straight' track, 'Denizen Green' begins with various sax sounds, plucked and scraped piano internals, and bowed bass notes and harmonics, all accompanied by the rising and falling densities of Dan Weiss' percussion, eventually evolving into a noticeable pulse. The mists lift, and what earlier seemed chaotic now comes together as a long-limbed theme played in unison by piano and sax, which rises into the sun.
"It is now clear that Maguire's music really is 'between the lines,' but from the other side, the composed sections appear, then blend into the improvisations, which then mutate back into composition. No sharp lines demarcate anything, and 'Denizen Green' is a major statement of compositional technique and improvisational ability. The band shows itself to be an organic unit that evolves with the music.
"Each piece gives no hint where it is going to go, creating a palpable tension as the record proceeds, since the sense of compositional unity created by the theme keeps building, while at that same time that same feeling is being pulled apart by the improvisation of the players.
"Floriculture most definitely exudes the mark of an extremely confident composer in Carl Maguire, who has a deep feel for the freedom that jazz allows. His bandmates obviously enjoy bringing his music to life, and I thoroughly enjoyed taking the trip with them."
Brian Olewnick, JazzCorner.com
"...one helluva impressive performance. Carl Maguire's compositions... sounded highly original and were all viscerally involving. No head-solos-head here, but pieces that interspersed written and improvised passages in unexpected sequences, the themes bubbling to the surface at surprising intervals. Underneath it all, the writing had a strong melodic sense even at its most abstract, occasionally even settling into (brief) powerful grooves. Each of the group's members was outstanding... One of the most enjoyable jazz performances I've seen in quite a while. Check these guys out the next time they're around, dammit. Even you more mainstream folk; they're not really all that difficult."
Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
"Carl Maguire is one of the best pianists and composers to emerge from the downtown network over the past few years... Another rising star is alto saxist Chris Mannigan... 'Egocentric' opens with an impressive sort-of M-Base like gnarly repeating groove. Carl repeats the line with his left hand as he and Chris interweave their lines with Carl's right hand. What is special about this is the way Carl often splits his hands into different lines, so he can interact with one player as he establishes other intricate subtexts. This often keeps the other musicians on their toes as there are always a few different intersecting lines happening simultaneously. On 'Denizen Green,' they begin with free and spacious suspense, as Carl works inside the piano, Chris quietly twists his notes inside out, Trevor bows ominously and Dan creates some mysterious tension. They slowly ascend into a mesmerizing groove with some fine mallet work from Dan, as a sublime and immensely dreamy piece unfolds. 'Jilly' is an exquisite and haunting piece with Chris playing at his most Jimmy Giuffre-like and Carl playing equally restrained. I dig the way 'Chamber Social' has a few different themes happening at the same time, different tempos stacked upon one another. 'Subsurface' is superbly laid out piece with some impressive hands-on-drums work, magically harmonic note-popping from Trevor's contrabass, oddly angular, hand-muted piano from Carl and hushed sax from Chris. Carl's strong writing and playing make the most from this entire quartet, who sound spirited and consistently creative throughout. Excellent work from some of my favorite local heroes."
Nic Jones, All About Jazz
"The fact that this quartet is apparently a working band is abundantly obvious. The programme of music they perform comes entirely from the pen of Maguire, and such is the organic nature of the band that the impression is of music written with these particular musicians in mind... Thus, Chris Mannigan's alto sax work is entirely his own, for all of the faint echoes of Anthony Braxton, whilst bassist Trevor Dunn makes his presence felt in places where a musician less attuned to Maguire's music might simply miss opportunities.
"For a group of this size and makeup, the music they make is no little distance from what might be imagined. 'Egocentric,' for example, breaks down at one point into an extended duet for piano and bass before Dan Weiss adds further colours on cymbals and Mannigan takes a solo which defies all the rules in terms of what might be called correct virtuosity.
"...this music is profoundly a group music and not just yet another showcase for virtuoso soloing over accompaniment that ticks all the right boxes whilst delivering little else. Simultaneously the complexity of this music is entirely free of self-consciousness, and experience suggests that this is an achievement in itself; it makes demands at the same time as it rewards close attention... this is music that possesses an overwhelming percentage of the attributes that make for stimulating listening."
Brian Olewnick, Bagatellen
"Although the instrumental prowess on display was impressive, I was most taken with the leader's compositions, finding them (rightly or otherwise) to have tinges of Braxton, Bley (Paul) and Lacy while at the same time, perhaps partly due to Maguire's distinctive piano style, sounding refreshingly unique. More, there was a kind of rigorous enthusiasm in play that was seriously exciting... One of the salient features of Floriculture's music that I enjoy very much is its low, thick sound. Maguire's piano has great resonance, always rich and burbling, Mannigan's alto is never shrill, skipping over the rhythm section like a flat stone on a lake, while Dunn's and Weiss' playing is always anchored, never skittish... A fine recording, a most impressive band. Check it out.
Dr. Ana Isabel Ordonez, JazzReview.com
"A heterogeneous composition on Maguire's piano opens up the tempo on 'Egocentric,' the first track of Floriculture. Then, a tandem between the piano and Trevor Dunn's bass installs a complex virtuosity between both artists, scintillated by Dan Weiss's cymbals to leave some space for Chris Mannigan's nimbleness. You get caught immediately by the complicatedness of Maguire's amazing compositions... In a way, Maguire's virtuosity is a good example of temperance and it guarantees a purer and fuller pleasure. Floriculture is such a free pleasure, which makes enjoying it only better: because it also enjoys its own freedom!"
Donald Elfman, All About Jazz
"Here's a downtown jazz quartet that knows the patterns and traditions of the mainstream but has used it to create something quite different. Maguire's compositions are complicated and dense, but not inaccessible. Reflecting grooves, minimalism and a strong sense of melody, this music demands repeated listenings...
"These are exceptional players, but each man's every note is at the service of making brilliant, involving music."