Jazz Consumer Guide (27):
These are the prospecting notes from working on Jazz CG #27. The
idea here was to pick an unrated record from the incoming queue,
play it, jot down a note, and a grade. Any grade in brackets is
tentative, with the record going back for further play. Brackets
are also used for qualifying notes: "advance" refers to a record
that was reviewed on the basis of an advance of special promo
copy, without viewing the final packaging; "Rhapsody" refers to
a record that was reviewed based on streaming the record from
the Rhapsody music service; in this case I've seen no packaging
material or promotional material, except what I've scrounged up
on the web. In some of these cases there is a second note, written
once I've settled on the grade. Rarely there may be an additional
note written after grading.
These were written from April 11, 2011 to August 1, 2011, with
non-finalized entries duplicated from previous prospecting. The notes
have been sorted by artist. The chronological order can be obtained
from the notebook or blog.
The number of records noted below is 249 (plus 84 carryovers). The
count from the previous file was 227 (+96).
(before that: 248+113, 218+96, 207+125, 219, 225, 226, 230, 293, 291, 240, 259).
Muhal Richard Abrams: SoundDance (2009-10 , Pi,
2CD): Chicago pianist, b. 1930, AACM founder and eminence grise,
gets more respect in polls than I'd expect although arguably should
get more. Looking back over my database, I find I'm all over the place
with him -- admiring early albums like Things to Come From Those
Now Gone (1972) and the recently reissued Afrisong (1975),
being a bit overwhelmed by his big orchestras like The Hearinga
Suite (1989), winding up pretty cautious on his recent works for
Pi. I could hedge here on these two disc-long improv duos -- they're
not compelling and I find myself phasing in and out -- but something
tells me this is the time to show some respect. The Fred Anderson set
is the easy one: he mellowed noticeably over his post-retirement
decade-plus, and has rarely sounded sweeter than here -- I'm not
the sort of person who gets all weepy over losing someone, but this
could do the trick. The set with George Lewis is more demanding,
more intellectual, as one would expect. But I do love his trombone,
and the piano goes beyond abstraction to teasing him along. Bought
a copy of Lewis's massive AACM history a while back, and hope to
find time to read it some day. Maybe then this will come clear;
until we'll just let the mystery be.
Agogic (2010 , Tables and Chairs): I filed
this eponymous group album under trumpeter Cuong Vu, but on second
thought Andrew D'Angelo (alto sax, bass clarinet) is, as I should
have expected, the more forceful leader. Squaring off the quartet
are Luke Bergman on electric bass and Evan Woodle on drums. The
two-horn jousts are pretty exciting although they sometimes come
unfrayed under the heat of battle. The two-horn unison dirge makes
a powerful sound as well.
Ambrose Akinmusire: When the Heart Emerges Glistening
(2010 , Blue Note): Trumpet player, b. 1982 in Oakland, CA; second
album after one on Fresh Sound New Talent. Mostly postbop quintet, with
Walter Smith III shagging him on tenor sax, Gerald Clayton on piano,
Harish Raghavan on bass, and Justin Brown on drums, although Jason Moran
takes two shots on Fender Rhodes. Hits quality notes over staggered
Eric Alexander: Don't Follow the Crowd (2010 ,
High Note): Prolific tenor saxophonist, big mainstream sound, capable
on ballads, even better at speed. Quartet with Harold Mabern on piano,
Nat Reeves on bass, Joe Farnsworth on drums. Pretty much his typical
album, although Mabern is a slight shift from his usual pianists.
Ralph Alessi and This Against That: Wiry Strong (2008
, Clean Feed): Trumpet player, eighth album since 2002, which
moves him beyond the usual temptation to treat him as a superb sideman.
Group names after his 2002 album, although the only constants are
saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and bassist Drew Gress -- Andy Milne plays
piano, and Mark Ferber drums.
J.D. Allen Trio: Victory! (2010 , Sunnyside):
Tenor saxophonist, b. 1972 in Detroit, fifth album since 1999. Started
mainstream but has his own sound and a powerful presence, especially
in sax trios like this one. With Gregg August on bass and Rudy Royston
Ben Allison: Action-Refraction (2011, Palmetto):
Another one I expected to show up but didn't. Pretty good bassist,
even better composer: last three records on Palmetto scored A- here.
Only one original here. The covers start with Monk but into rock
and elsewhere: PJ Harvey, Donnie Hathaway, Neal Young, Samuel Barber,
Paul Williams. Guitarists Steve Cardenas and Brandon Seabrook are
central, with Jason Lindner on synth as well as piano, and Michael
Blake on bass clarinet and tenor sax. Sort of an instrumental prog
rock feel, but tighter, more determined.
The Ambush Party (2008 , De Platenbakkerij):
Eponymous first album, group a quartet: Natalio Sued (tenor sax),
Oscar Jan Hoogland (piano), Harald Austbø (cello), Marcos Baggiani
(drums). Recorded in Amsterdam, no background on any of them. Free
improv, what they call instant composition. Rugged not rough, with
a little of that circus undertow the Dutch are so fond of.
Scott Amendola Trio: Lift (2010, Sazi): Drummer, best
known in the Nels Cline Singers; fourth album since 1999, a trio with
Jeff Parker on guitar and John Shifflett on bass. Mostly hews to rock
grooves, but much more to it. Especially good showcase for Parker.
Bill Anschell: Figments (2010 , Origin):
Seattle pianist, AMG counts seven albums since 1997. Solo piano
this time, all covers, majority folk/rock from the 1960s (two
Lennon/McCartneys, "Alice's Restaurant," "Spinning Wheel") into
the early 1970s ("Big Yellow Taxi," "Desperado"). Nice as far
as it goes.
E.J. Antonio: Rituals in the Marrow: Recipe for a Jam
Session (2010, Blue Zygo): Poet, grew up in Harlem, got
a MBA from NYIT, she doesn't dislose any timeline other than that
she first published in 2003. First album; I've seen mention of a
book but Amazon doesn't have it. Words don't strike me with the
clarity of Dan Raphael's record, but she scratches raw and her
praise song gospel whoop on "Pullman Porter" registers strongly.
Backed with bass pulse, Michael T.A. Thompson soundrhythium, and
best of all Joe Giardullo's reeds -- mostly soprano sax to my
ear. Gets better along the way, which may mean I need to give
it more time, but it already makes a terrific contrast to the
Arrive: "There Was . . ." (2008 , Clean Feed):
Chicago group: Aram Shelton (alto sax), Jason Adasiewicz (vibes),
Jason Roebke (bass), Tim Daisy (drums). Same group under Shelton's
name released Arrive in 2005 (recorded 2001, so they go
back quite a ways). Good saxophonist, fast, inventive, would have
been a slick bebopper in the day; adds a little more now. Vibes add
a little fluff.
Clint Ashlock Big Band: New Jazz Order (2008 ,
self-released): Trumpet player, from Kansas City, leading a standard
big band (although so many musicians come and go I didn't check to
see if all the sections always add up). Bobby Watson joins on two
cuts, which scarcely matters except for the imprimatur he lends to
musicians I've never heard of. The guitar keeps things going, the
section work is snappy, they have a great time -- much like the
territory bands of yore.
Omer Avital: Free Forever (2007 , Smalls):
Bassist, from Israel, has been in New York at least since 1994, with
nine albums since 2001. Quintet, with Avishai Cohen (trumpet), Joel
Frahm (tenor and soprano sax), Jason Lindner (piano), and Ferenc
Nemeth (drums). Group pieces have a sophisticated swing and a bit
of Latin tinge. Three "interludes" spotlight the trumpet, piano,
and bass. Never thought of Frahm as a soprano player before -- maybe
he's just never had such rich, expressive material to play.
Harrison Bankhead Sextet: Morning Sun Harvest Moon
(2010 , Engine): Bassist, from Chicago, first album as leader
but has side-credits since 1991, mostly with Malachi Thompson, Fred
Anderson, Roscoe Mitchell, and Nicole Mitchell. Starts with a pair
of wood flutes. Picks up the bass and a beat and even dabbles in
what sounds a little like South Africa, eventually moving into more
treacherous regions, although idiosyncratic, underkeyed rhythm
pieces predominate. Two reed players, Edward Wilkerson Jr. and Mars
Williams; James Sanders on violin (all the more useful for a Leroy
Jenkins tribute); Avreayl Ra on drums and Ernie Adams on percussion.
Nothing here blows you over. It keeps returning to the center, which
is the bass.
Banquet of the Spirits: Caym: The Book of Angels Volume 17
(2010 , Tzadik): More John Zorn compositions, or maybe the same
old ones cut up, tossed up, and redressed with a different bunch of
musicians. Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista seems to be leader
here -- everything is given remarkable rhythmic twists, something that
drummer Tim Keiper helps with. The others flesh out those twists: Brian
Marsella (piano, harpsichord, pump organ) and Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz
(oud, bass, gimbri). All four add vocals. Not necessarily a good idea,
but infectious here.
Chris Barber: Memories of My Trip (1958-2010 ,
Proper, 2CD): English trombonist, one of the major figures in Britain's
trad jazz movement in the 1950s, looking back from age 80 on a career
that did more than preserve past music: Barber was especially important
in building British interest in American bluesmen, which led to all
sorts of things, not least the Rolling Stones. I don't have good dates
on everything here, but some of the earliest tracks come from a 1958
tour with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee; later tracks feature bluesmen
from Muddy Waters to Jeff Healey, but also Lonnie Donegan, Van Morrison,
and Andy Fairweather Low. The guest star framework slights Barber's
own play and his wry vocals, making room for old jazz hands like Edmond
Hall, Albert Nicholas, and Trummy Young. But at least he leaves some
space for Ottilie Patterson, his long-time singer and wife. Could use
more of her, and more jazz instrumentals: Hall's "St. Louis Blues" is
definitely a high point.
Diego Barber: The Choice (2010 , Sunnyside):
Guitarist, b. 1978 in Lanzarote, Canary Islands; studied in Lanzarote,
Madrid, and Salzburg, before moving to New York in 2007. Second album.
Cover has small print: Featuring: Seamus Blake, Larry Grenadier, Ari
Hoenig, Mark Turner, Johannes Weidenmueller. No per track credits,
but their contribution is small too, and vanishes completely for the
final three-track "Sonata Banc D'Arguin."
BassDrumBone: The Other Parade (2009 , Clean
Feed): Longtime collaborators, Ray Anderson (trombone), Mark Helias
(bass), and Gerry Hemingway (drums) first hooked up in 1977, cutting
Oahpse in 1978. First used the group name on Wooferlo
in 1987, but their reference album for me is 1997's (Hence the
Reason) (Enja). Not sure how many BassDrumBone records there
are -- Hemingway's website refers to Cooked to Perfection
as the group's "sixth and latest," but doesn't have all of its
predecessors, and there are at least two since. This is the latest:
can't say Anderson is at his peak, but he's an able and inventive
frontman, and Helias and Hemingway are marvelous, as usual.
Bebop Trio (2011, Creative Nation Music): Former NEC
students: Lefteris Kordis (piano, from Greece), Thor Thorvaldsson (drums,
from Iceland), and Alec Spiegelman (clarinet, from Brooklyn). Drummer
has mostly played in rock bands. Clarinetist also belongs to Klezwoods.
Group/album name is a misnomer: their covers stake out various pianists,
some bebop, some harder to pin down: Bud Powell, Duke Ellington, George
Shearing, Elmo Hope, Herbie Nichols, Lennie Tristano. Still, Spiegelman's
model isn't Buddy DeFranco or Jimmy Giuffre; it's Steve Lacy, who was
famous for bypassing bebop when he jumped from trad jazz to avant-garde.
Lacy taught some at NEC during his last years, and Irène Aëbi passed
some Lacy charts to Spiegelman, and one thing led to another.
The Louie Belogenis Trio: Tiresias (2008 ,
Porter): Tenor saxophonist, don't have any biographical info but has
recorded since 1993, can't say how many albums or how important he
was to each since he's often worked behind group names -- Prima
Materia, God Is My Co-Pilot, Exuberance, Flow Trio, Old Dog. Always
struck me as a journeyman free player, but his workmanship here is
exceptionally formidable on five group improve plus a few minutes
of John Coltrane's "Alabama" -- of course the group helps, Michael
Bisio on bass and Sunny Murray on drums.
Cheryl Bentyne: The Gershwin Songbook (2010, ArtistShare):
Singer, b. 1954, best known as part of Manhattan Transfer since 1979,
but has ten solo albums, most since 2002. This one is a lock, mostly
top drawer songs, given light, delectable treatments with piano (Corey
Allen or Ted Howe), Peter Gordon's flutes, and Ken Peplowski's bubbly
clarinet. Mark Winkler joins for "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off."
Only disappointment is "Summertime," which has yielded so many great
versions I've long wanted to dump them all into a mixtape. Here she
goes falsetto, with a lot of warble to the backup, which just seems
Tim Berne/Jim Black/Nels Cline: The Veil (2009 ,
Cryptogramophone): Front cover just has initials: "bb&c"; spine
has last names: "Berne/Black/Cline"; back cover spells it all out, and
adds "recorded live at the stone NYC." Alto sax-drums-guitar, if you
still need to know. Starts off with a repetitive thing then slides into
deep thrash, which is something Cline is prone to and that the others
can play with, but it settles out into something more interesting.
Still mostly a guitar album -- Berne's sax rarely breaks out.
Big Neighborhood: 11:11 (2006, Origin, 2CD):
Group: Chris Fagan (alto sax), David White (guitar, guitar synth),
Doug Miller (bass), Phil Parisot (drums). Second album. Been on
my shelf a long time. Partly I've avoided it because I rarely feel
up to tackling multi-disc sets by unknowns, although it turns out
that all this could have been squeezed onto a single CD. White and
Miller split most of the writing, with one piece by Parisot. Flows
along nicely on the guitar, the sax mostly window dressing.
Ketil Bjørnstad/Svante Henryson: Night Song (2009
, ECM): Piano-cello duet. Bjørnstad was b. 1952 in Oslo, Norway;
has 30-some albums since 1989, 7 on ECM; classical training, touches
on folk-jazz and avant-classical and plays with the moderated intensity
you expect from Manfred Eicher's pianists. Henryson was b. 1963 in
Stockholm, Sweden; also moved through classical music to jazz, although
he also pops up on the occasional Yngwie Malmsteen heavy metal album.
Nice, relaxing, not too pretty.
Jim Black/Trevor Dunn/Oscar Noriega/Chris Speed: Endangered
Blood (2010 , Skirl): Oversized packaging, roughly the
size of a DVD box, which makes it inconvenient for filing. Not clear
if Endangered Blood is deemed a group title, but the four artists are
more usefully listed on the front cover. Drums, bass, alto sax/bass
clarinet, and tenor sax respectively. One cover, Monk's "Epistrophy";
everything else is credited to Speed, so it must be alphabetical order
governing the credits. The faster the rhythm propels them, the more
interesting this gets -- "Tacos and Oscars" is the standout track.
Ran Blake: Grey December: Live in Rome (2010 ,
Tompkins Square): Pianist, b. 1935, thirty-some albums since 1961,
many of them solo, especially recently. Difficult player for me to
get a handle on, even when he plays something as familiar as "Nature
Boy." This doesn't move much, and while the melodic motifs are not
without interest, I can't really tell you why.
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers: The Sesjun Radio Shows
(1978-83 , T2 Entertainment, 2CD): The second in a series of radio
shots from Tros Sesjun in the Netherlands -- Chet Baker came out first,
last year. Blakey was in the midst of a comeback in the late 1970s: his
most famous lineup introduced Wynton and Branford Marsalis, but they're
not in any of the three sets here. Instead, Bobby Watson and Donald
Harrison play alto; David Schnitter, Billy Pierce, and Jean Toussaint
tenor; Valery Ponomarev and Terence Blanchard trumpet. The May 1980
group bops hardest (Pierce, Watson, and Ponomarev, with James Williams
on piano and Charles Fambrough on bass), their set split across the
two discs. Blakey responds as usual, playing even harder.
T.K. Blue: Latin Bird (2010 , Motéma): Also
known as Talib Kibwe; plays alto sax and flute; b. in New York, mother
from Trinidad, father from Jamaica; studied at NYU and Columbia; joined
Abdullah Ibrahim 1977-80, moved to Paris for early 1980s, hooked up
with Randy Weston for a long stretch. Released three albums as Talib
Kibwe 1986-96; five now as T.K. Blue, starting in 1999. This one is
simple enough: Charlie Parker songs with Latin percussion -- Roland
Guerrero on congas, Willie Martinez on traps -- with Theo Hill on
piano and Essiet Okon Essiet on bass, plus a couple guests: Lewis
Nash takes over the drums on two cuts, and Steve Turre plays shells
and 'bone on three. Not the overpowering player Bird was, but that's
fine by me. The two originals are OK, but the one non-Parker cover
is a dead spot: "Round Midnight," which subtracts rather than adds
to the theme.
Bones & Tones (2009 , Freedom Art):
Eponymous quartet album, everyone credited with percussion as well
as: vocals/kora (Abdou Mboup), vibes (Warren Smith), marimba/bells
(Lloyd Haber), and bass (Jaribu Shahid). The marimba-vibes stands
out in an endless African groove, not much differentiated but very
listenable as is.
Brazilian Groove Band: Anatomy of Groove (2009, Far Out):
Leo Gandelman project. He plays sax, flute, keyboards (here at least),
has 15-20 records under his own name, the majority with obvious Brazilian
themes (Brazilian Soul, Bossa Rara, Perolas Negras,
Ao Vivo, like that). The horns are massed up like salsa, but the
guitars work Brazilian themes, and the beats feel electronic: all seems
a bit off, but not enough to be odd. Packaging at least is truthful,
including the absence of definite articles.
Jaki Byard: A Matter of Black and White: Live at the Keystone
Korner, Vol. 2 (1978-79 , High Note): Pianist, 1922-99,
released his first record in 1960, was an important figure in the 1960s,
not avant-garde but not in any mainstream either -- Out Front!
(1961) is a prime example, and I also like The Last From Lennie's
(1965, came out in 2003) although I missed the two volumes that preceded
it. Solo piano, well-worn standards -- "God Bless the Child," "Alexander's
Ragtime Band," "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans," "I Know
a Place," "'Round Midnight," "Day Dream," among others. Bright, touching.
The Chris Byars Octet: Lucky Strikes Again (2010
, SteepleChase): Tenor saxophonist, plays some soprano as way
too many do, but actually started on alto; AMG hasn't bothered to
provide a biography yet, but for those who have paid attention he
is one of the major arrivals of the past decade (e.g., his Photos
in Black, White and Gray was one of my pick hits). What you might
call a hard-core bebopper (not same as hard bopper). Focused on Gigi
Gryce last time out, moved back a bit back to Lucky Thompson this
time, who hit the cusp between swing and bebop almost perfectly --
aside from his own superb records he played in the septet on some
of Charlie Parker's most famous singles, and for my money he was
the star. Byars gets a lot of help here, adding Zaid Nasser's alto,
Mark Lopeman's baritone, Scott Wondholt's trumpet and John Mosca's
trombone, which saves him from a more direct comparison. Eloquent
arrangements, rich and flowing, with a touch of swing.
[PS: First thing I did when I got this was to ask the publicist to
fill in the gap left by two recent Byars albums on SteepleChase I
didn't get. Still waiting.]
Taylor Ho Bynum/Joe Morris/Sara Schoenbeck: Next
(2009 , Porter): Maybe one of those records you're supposed
to play extra loud, because at my normal volume I'm not hearing much
of anything here -- scattered squiggles of Schoenbeck's bassoon,
scratch guitar, isolated bits of cornet. Doesn't jive with reviews
I've read, and doesn't seem likely to come together even if I were
inclined to give it extra effort.
Uri Caine/Arditti String Quartet: Twelve Caprices
(2010 , Winter & Winter): Jazz pianist who has taken quite
a bit of classical music as his starting point, some of which I've
begrudgingly found interesting (e.g., Plays Mozart) and some
appalling (e.g., Robert Schumann: Love Fugue), faces off for
a set of improvs with Irvine Arditti's well established classical
string quartet. The strings are abstractly modernistic, the piano
cutting against the grain.
Fredrik Carlquist: Playing Cool (2010 ,
FCJazz): Tenor saxophonist, b. 1969 in Jönköping, Sweden; based
in Barcelona; fourth album since 1999. Two originals, ten covers
intended to explore "his influences from players llike Paul Desmond,
Stan Getz and Lars Gullin." Helping with the latter is "special
guest" baritone saxophonist Joan Chamorro on three tracks; rest
is sax-guitar-bass-drums quartet. That adds up to a pretty mild
mannered sax album. One song is even called "Sweet and Lovely,"
but really they all are.
Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra: Hothouse Stomp:
The Music of 1920s Chicago and Harlem (2009 , Accurate):
Trumpet player, from Florida, moved to Boston in 2000, starting a
band called Beat Circus, which has three albums of "Weird American
Gothic" (on Cuneiform; haven't heard them). Band here includes some
well known players: Andy Laster and Matt Bauder on saxes, Curtis
Hasselbring on trombone, Brandon Seabrook on guitar; also Dennis
Lichtman on clarinet, violin, viola, tuba, and drums. Focuses on
four bands: Charlie Johnson's Paradise Orchestra, McKinney's Cotton
Pickers, Tiny Parham and His Musicians, and Fess Williams' Royal
Flush Orchestra. Gets many of the pre-swing quirks right, but I'm
not sure that's a plus.
François Carrier/Alexey Lapin/Michel Lambert: Inner Spire
(2010 , Leo): Alto saxophonist, from Canada (Quebec actually),
b. 1961, has been on a tear since 1998. I've recommended a bunch of
his albums. Trio, with his longstanding drummer Michel Lambert, plus
pianist Alexey Lapin -- picked him up when they cut this in Moscow.
He works his usual free jazz charms; piano doesn't quite come out,
but has promising moments.
François Carrier: Entrance 3 (2002 , Ayler): Alto
saxophonist with his longtime trio -- Pierre Côté on bass, Michel Lambert
on drums, always an excellent freebop group -- recorded at the Vancouver
Jazz Festival with Bobo Stenson sitting in on piano. Stenson is excellent
here, but spreads the group out.
James Carter: Caribbean Rhapsody (2009-10 ,
Emarcy): Starts with "Concerto for Saxophones and Orchestra," composed
by Roberto Sierra (from Puerto Rico), played by Sinfonia Varsovia
Orchestra (from Warsaw, Poland), conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero,
with Carter handling the saxophones. Then we get a "Tenor Interlude"
showcasing Carter; another Sierra composition, "Caribbean Rhapsody,"
with the Akua Dixon String Quartet, Regina Carter for a violin solo,
bass, and soprano and tenor sax; finally a "Soprano Interlude." So
this is basically a sax with strings thing, except that for the bulk
of the record the strings are in charge. Ever since Charlie Parker
saxophonists have been eager to play in front of strings, and they
haven't all been atrocious -- Stan Getz's Focus and Art Pepper's
Winter Moon are two resounding exceptions, but I can't think
of any others offhand. The "interludes," by the way, are solo; they
do help to clear out the ears.
Rondi Charleston: Who Knows Where The Time Goes
(2009 , Motéma Music): Singer, from Chicago, father taught
English and played jazz piano, mother taught voice; studied at
Juilliard. Third album since 2004; starts mostly covers (Sandy
Denny, Stevie Wonder, Jobim of course), but winds down with four
songs co-written with pianist Lynne Arriale and the annoying
"Freedom Is a Voice" ("freedom is a man"; no lyric sheet but
that's what it sounds like). Best thing here is "Please Send Me
Someone to Love" -- but even there she'd rather come on strong.
Bruno Chevillon/Tim Berne: Old and Unwise (2010 ,
Clean Feed): Bassist, b. 1959 in France, one previous album under his
own name, side-credits with Louis Sclavis, André Jaume, Daniel Humair,
Marc Ducret, Stefano Battaglia, Tony Malaby. Berne has a lot of records
going back to 1979. He sticks to alto sax here, his main instrument.
Chevillon wrote all of the pieces. Pays to focus on the bass here --
a more diversified source of noise than the sax, which just moves from
note to note, however inventively.
Steve Coleman and Five Elements: The Mancy of Sound
(2007 , Pi): A sequel to last year's Harvesting Semblances
and Affinities, cut around the same time with the same band. I
didn't care much for the previous album, and was surprised to find
it polling well in year-end lists. My problem is vocalist Jen Shyu:
I find her distracting and unnecessary even when I can't understand
her (most of the time, especially on the 5-part Yoruba-derived "Odú
Ifá Suite"). The horns -- Coleman's alto sax, Jonathan Finlayson's
trumpet, Tim Albright's trombone -- weave around interestingly, and
the rhythm section is superb, again.
Francis Coletta/Jonas Tauber: Port Saïd Street
(2010 , Origin): Coletta plays "Godin electroacoustic guitar";
b. 1957 in Marseilles, France, also the source of the title where it
seems to have a Beale Street resonance; has at least three previous
records, not counting countless collaborations. Tauber plays cello
here, bass elsewhere; is from Switzerland, has a couple previous
albums. Intimate, chamberish, flows gently, nothing fancy.
Marc Copland: Crosstalk (2010 , Pirouet):
Real good postbop pianist, has a couple dozen record since 1988,
paired in a quartet with real good alto saxophonist Greg Osby.
Wonder why it didn't work. (Thumbing through my database, I see
they've done it before, only slightly more successfully, on
Night Call in 2003.
Laurence Cook/Eric Zinman: Double Action (2009 ,
Ayler): Zinman is a pianist; Cook is credited with drums, percussion,
and Casio wk1630. Blips and bangs, broken up and swirled around, chaos
Alexis Cuadrado: Noneto Ibérico (2009 ,
Bju'ecords): Bassist, from Spain, based on Brooklyn; fourth album
since 2001. Brooklyn nonet, Marc Miralta's cajon and percussion
adding to the Spanish flavor, as do a trio of "special guests" on
four tracks -- not explained on the album but the website credits
them with "Flamenco Handclaps and 'Jaleos'." The rest of the group
are names I recognize: Perico Sambeat (alto/soprano sax, flute),
Loren Stillman (alto/tenor sax), Avishai Cohen (trumpet/flugelhorn),
Alan Ferber (trombone), Brad Shepik (guitar), Dan Tepfer (piano),
and Mark Ferber (drums). Groups that size often get cluttered or
break into pieces but this one is cohesive throughout, the horns
weaving and bobbing, the flow inexorable. Don't have a recording
date, just that the piece debuted in October 2009.
Claire Daly Quintet: Mary Joyce Project: Nothing to Lose
(2011, Daly Bread): Baritone saxophonist, fifth album since 1999, first
I've heard although I've noted her winning Downbeat's poll several
times. Also plays alto sax and flute here, credibly in both cases, but
the big horn is the treat. Quintet includes piano (Steve Hudson, who
wrote or co-wrote about half of this), bass, drums, and Napoleon Maddox
("human beat box"). Mary Joyce was a relative ("father's first cousin")
who among other things drove a dogsled from Juneau to Fairbanks in 1935-36
(1,000 miles) -- a story capped off in the closer ("Epilogue").
Henry Darragh: Tell Her for Me (2010, self-released):
Pianist, singer-songwriter from Texas; studied at San Jacinto College
and University of Houston. First album, with six originals and five
standards. Has a soft spot for Chet Baker, especially on "Everything
Happens to Me" -- even adds some soft trumpet, by Carol Morgan.
Mon David: Coming True (2009, Free Ham): Singer,
from somewhere in the Philippines, based somewhere in US. Second
album. Mostly standards, some (like "Footprints") jazz pieces run
through the vocalese mill. Technically impressive, and in some
ways rather likable, but I have little taste for his mannerisms --
comparisons to Mark Murphy are lavishly earned -- so in the end
I find this more annoying than not. Includes a duet with Charmaine
Clamor, another talented Filipino.
Jenny Davis: Inside You (2009 , self-released):
Singer, from Seattle, third album. Wrote one of ten songs, the others
scattered standards with Charlie Parker's "Confirmation" and Lennon
& McCartney's "Blackbird" on the far edges. Barely backed by Chuck
Easton (guitar, flute) and Ted Enderle (bass), with Louis Aissen's
tenor sax on one cut. The boppish stuff has a touch of Sheila Jordan,
not pushed so far, but she doesn't need a lot of support. Ambivalent
about "Blackbird" -- almost invariably a disaster -- not to mention
the obligatory Jobim.
Miles Davis: Bitches Brew Live (1969-70 ,
Columbia/Legacy): Something of a misnomer, combining three previously
unreleased cuts from a pre-Bitches Brew July 1969 performance
at Newport with six from an Isle of Wight set the following August.
Neither group matches the album band -- Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin,
and Joe Zawinul are among the missing -- nor do the songs line up.
The former group was stripped down with Chick Corea, Dave Holland,
and Jack DeJohnette; the latter was buffed up, adding Gary Bartz,
Keith Jarrett (on organ), and Airto Moreira. So this is basically
yet another live set from the period when Davis made his transition
from hard bop to fusion, and from dingy jazz clubs to stadia. Pretty
hot one, too; all the more confusing since I mostly recall Bitches
Brew as our favorite chill-out album of the early 1970s.
Matija Dedic Trio: MD in NYC (2009 , Origin):
Pianist, b. 1973 in Zagreb, Croatia; studied in Austria, is based in
Zagreb, but recorded this in New York, with Vicente Archer on bass
and Kendrick Scott on drums. Second album, both trios. Rather quiet,
inside stuff. Don't have much more to say.
Papa John DeFrancesco: A Philadelphia Story (2010
, Savant): Organ player, Joey's father, seventh album since
1992, which is to say he didn't really get his career going until
after Joey started recording. Mostly trio, with John DeFrancesco Jr.
on guitar and Glenn Ferracone on cover. Despite the cheesesteaks on
the front cover and the girth on the back, Papa John has a light
touch on the Hammond, and this skips along pleasantly. Three cuts
add horns: Joe Fortunato's tenor sax on "Blues in the Closet," plus
two tracks with Joey playing trumpet: doesn't stretch much but he's
actually pretty good.
Michael Dessen Trio: Forget the Pixel (2010 ,
Clean Feed): Trombonist, also credited with electronics. Second album;
also appears in a pianoless two-horn quartet, Cosmologic, which I file
under saxophonist Jason Robinson. Here, in a trio with Christopher
Tordini (bass) and Dan Weiss (drums), just the trombone is out front,
which slows things down a bit, but the focus is useful.
Lars Dietrich: Stand Alone (2010 , self-released):
Dutch alto saxophonist, based in New York, not to be confused with Bürger
Lars Dietrich, a German "comedy rapper and entertainer," author of albums
like Dicke Dinger. Second album. No credits given; title suggests
Dietrich plays everything, which mostly sounds to me like keyboards and
synth drums. Don't know about his previous album, but I'd file this one
under electronica: the beats are a little less mechanical than the norm,
but even when the rhythm gets slippery it's just transformed into another
species of plastic.
Al Di Meola: Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody (2010 ,
Telarc): Guitarist, b. 1954, studied at Berklee, joined Chick Corea's
Return to Forever 1974-76 as they slipped into the 1970s fusion muddle;
has 30-some albums since 1976, of which I've heard two (one with John
McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia) so I'm way behind the curve here -- never
quite convinced it's one worth learning. Pretty fancy here, with a wide
range of Latin effects from flamenco to tango to salsa, accordion and
slinky percussion (including Mino Cinelu on four cuts), bits of Gonzalo
Rubalcaba piano, three songs with dripping string arrangements, two
covers ("Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Over the Rainbow") with
Charlie Haden on bass. Like I said, fancy.
B+(*) [advance: 2011-03-15]
Eldar Djangirov: Three Stories (2009 , Masterworks
Jazz): Pianist, b. 1987 in Kyrgyzstan, then still part of the Evil Empire.
A proverbial child prodigy, "discovered" at age 9 playing in a festival
somewhere in Siberia, moved to Kansas City (supposedly to soak up its jazz
legacy, although I assure you no one will ever detect a trace of Bennie
Moten or Pete Johnson here), cut his first record in his teens, going by
first name only. First record using his last name, a welcome sign of
maturity. Solo piano. He's never tried to shake his good classical
education, featuring pieces by Bach and Scriabin alongside standards
like "Darn That Dream" and "Embraceable You" and three originals --
only "In Walked Bud" and "Donna Lee" offer the slight whiff of jazz.
Chris Donnelly: Solo (2008 , ALMA): This
has been sitting around awhile: package says 2008, artist's website
says released in September 2008; AMG says 2009 and also says 2010;
my records say 2010; can't find the hype sheet. Pianist, from
somewhere in Canada, studied and currently teaches in Toronto.
Debut record -- looks like there is a later one but I didn't get
it. Solo, like the title says. Donnelly wrote 7 of 11 tracks;
the others are Bill Evans, Bud Powell, a set of variations on
Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee," and a "Cinderella Medley." Pretty
decent as these things go, the originals well-conceived exercises,
the covers have their intrigues. Bet he'd sound even better with
bass and drums, even at the expense of some clarity.
Dave Douglas: United Front: Brass Ecstasy at Newport
(2010 , Greenleaf Music): Same four brass plus drums lineup as
on Douglas's Spirit Moves (2009): trumpet (Douglas), trombone
(Luis Bonilla), French horn (Vinent Chancey), tuba (Marcus Rojas),
and drums (Nasheet Waits). Repeats four songs, plus "Spirit Moves"
(which somehow missed the album it was title of) and "United Front" --
three Douglas tunes and Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."
Redundant if you don't care, but seems like more is more to me. Too
bad I got to nag them every time out.
Benjamin Drazen: Inner Lights (2010 , Posi-Tone):
Saxophonist, alto and soprano, from Roslyn, NY, b. 1972; studied at New
England Conservatory with George Garzone (who else?); moved back to NYC
in 1995. Debut album, quartet with piano (Jon Davis), bass (Carlo de
Rosa), and drums (Eric McPherson); seven originals plus "This Is New"
and "Polka Dots and Moonbeams." Fat pitch right down the middle.
Kermit Driscoll: Reveille (2010 , Nineteen-Eight):
Bassist, b. 1956 in Nebraska, plays acoustic and electric; studied with
Jaco Pastorius, graduated from Berklee. First album on his own, although
he has about 60 side-credits since 1987, many with Bill Frisell (who
returns the favor here), some in groups like New and Used. With Kris
Davis on piano (sometimes prepared) and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums. Wrote
8 of 10 songs, with Trad's "Chicken Reel" offering the best Frisell
effect. (The other cover is from Joe Zawinul, also exceptional in its
power riffing.) In effect, a slightly less distinctive Frisell album.
Lajos Dudas: 50 Years of Jazz Clarinet: The Best of Lajos
Dudas (1976-2007 , Jazz Sick, 2CD): Clarinet player,
also some alto sax, b. 1941 in Budapest, Hungary; not sure when he
moved to Germany, evidently by 1973 when he started teaching in Neuss,
North Rhine-Westphalia. Reportedly has "over 50 Singles/LPs/CDs";
liner notes cite 17 here, plus seven cuts identified as radio shots.
Fifty years goes back to his first performances, back when he was
studying at the Bela Bartok Conservatory and the Franz Liszt Academy
of Music. His recording career is shorter, starting around 1976 with
his first Reflections on Bach -- a subject he returns to
several times later. Still, this is very much jazz, even though
he hardly fits into the trad, bop, or avant niches. Discs aren't
strictly chronolgical, but the first one leans early (1978-94)
with its Bach, Liszt, and HR Big Band (also a cut with guitarist
Atilla Zoller). Second leads off with a vigorous "Summertime,"
then more Bach before he moves into a 1995-2007 stretch and it
gets more interesting.
Eco D'Alberi (2008-09 , Porter): First album
from Italian group: Edoardo Marraffa (tenor and sopranino sax),
Alberto Braida (piano), Antonio Borghini (double bass), Fabrizio
Spera (drums). Four pieces, two cut at Vision Festival in New York,
the others in Pisa and Zurich a year-plus later. Free jazz, improv
pieces, the longest at 32:00, with scratchy sax and crashing piano
and lots of ancillary noise from the back, much like it's been done
ever since Ayler.
Mathias Eick: Skala (2009-10 , ECM): Trumpeter,
also plays guitar, vibes, bass; b. 1979 in Norway; second album; about
30 side credits since 2002, including groups Jaga Jazzist (relatively
good acid jazz) and Motorpsycho (some kind of metal?). This breaks
through the Nordic chill which ECM more often intensifies. Trumpet
is warm and bright, Andreas Ulvo's piano moving shiftly through the
undergrowth. Band varies from cut to cut, often doubling up on drums
(Torstein Lofthus and Gard Nilssen), with tenor sax on one cut, harp
on another, here then gone.
Harris Eisenstadt: Woodblock Prints (2010, NoBusiness):
This album got a lot of year-end attention last year -- I think it even
won a poll in Spain for best album of the year, so I figured I should
check it out. The drummer is barely audible, but his compositions for
nonet offer intriguing, albeit mostly plodding, moves. The group is
divided into a "brass trio" (French horn, trombone, and tuba) and a
"wind trio" (clarinet, alto sax, bassoon). Final piece ("Andrew Hill")
picks up the pace and begins to live up to the billing.
Harris Eisenstadt: Canada Day II (2010 ,
Songlines): Drummer, b. 1975 in Toronto; has been around -- New
York, Los Angeles, Gambia -- winding up in Brooklyn, where he has
close to ten records since 2002 and a growing reputation as a
composer. Same group did Canada Day in 2008: Matt Bauder
(tenor sax), Nate Wooley (trumpet), Chris Dingman (vibes), Eivind
Opsvik (bass). The horns can spin free or play postbop harmony,
but in either case the vibraphone offers both a soft sell and a
lot of open space. Full of surprises which may or may not work;
hard to tell in a single pass.
Peter Eldridge: Mad Heaven (2011, Palmetto): Vocalist,
plays piano, best known as a founding member of New York Voices, also
a member of the group Moss. Third album since 2000 under his own name.
Writes a little (7 of 12, with help), leaning Brazilian on most of the
rest. Makes ample use of his background singers, or excessive may be
more what I meant. Mostly backed with guitar-bass-drums-percussion,
but a few cuts add horns, most importantly Joel Frahm (tenor sax).
I've found his tics annoying in the past, but this nearly slipped by
me, until his uncommonly warbly "The Very Thought of You."
Shane Endsley and the Music Band: Then the Other
(2010 , Low Electrical): Trumpet player, from Denver, studied
at Eastman, based in Brooklyn, second album, looks like 30-40 side
credits since 1998 (with Steve Coleman). Quartet with Craig Taborn
(piano), Matt Brewer (bass), and Ted Poor (drums). Good group, was
feeling kind of ambivalent about the trumpet until the sharp finale,
Peter Erskine/Bob Mintzer/Darek Oles/Alan Pasqua: Standards
2: Movie Music (2009 , Fuzzy Music): Prerogatives of
alphabetical order, although the label seems to be Erskine's property,
and he's probably the most famous among near-equals -- you know, the
drummer back in Weather Report. At least I assume that ranks him above
Mintzer's long run with the Yellowjackets -- a group I've never been
fond of, but the tenor saxophonist was always the best thing they had
going. Pasqua and Oles are established pros with no tainted baggage.
They make a nice, mild-mannered group here, easing their way through
juicy themes like "Cinema Paradiso" and "Rosemary's Baby" and snagging
a couple of Cole Porter songs that have far outlived their movies.
Ellery Eskelin Trio: New York (2011, Prime Source):
Tenor saxophonist, b. 1959 in Wichita, KS; grew up in Baltimore; mother
played organ, and this record, an organ trio, is dedicated to her; moved
to New York in 1983 and has twenty-some albums since 1988, mostly on
the Swiss Hat label(s). With Gary Versace on organ, Gerald Cleaver on
drums. Five songs, played loose -- only one I initially IDed was "How
Deep Is the Ocean." No grease to the organ: Versace patiently fills in
rather than reiterate the usual grind, leaving Eskelin free to plot out
his own path.
Orrin Evans: Captain Black Big Band (2010 ,
Posi-Tone): Judging from the credits, seems to be a very big band,
with 10 trumpets, 5 trombones, 14 saxes and a bass clarinet, 3
pianos, but I also note that it was recorded in three chunks, the
first day and track in Philadelphia, two more days (4 and 2 tracks
respectively) later in New York, so I wonder if everyone was really
everywhere all the time. (Some of the bass and drums players are
linked to specific tracks.) Pianist Evans wrote 4 of 7 pieces,
the last four. The band is crackling hot, but I'm not getting
much out of it, just a lot of drive and energy.
Peter Evans Quintet: Ghosts (2010 , More Is More):
Trumpet player, best known for his work in Mostly Other People Do the
Killing, but has 7 albums under his own name since 2006. Most of those
have been solo or small group, nothing as big as this, literally let
alone figuratively. With Carlos Homs (piano), Tom Blancarte (bass), Jim
Black (drums), and Sam Pluta (live processing) -- the latter hard to
figure, or easy to blame. Aside from the processing, this rumbles and
roars more like MOPDTK than anything Evans had done on his own. I'm
torn here, duly impressed but not sure I really like this sort of
Farmers by Nature [Gerald Cleaver, William Parker, Craig Taborn]:
Out of This World's Distortions (2010 , AUM Fidelity):
Yet another instance of a group's previous album, entered into by a set
of individuals, has assumed group stature, as if the previous album was
especially notable (which, by the way, this one wasn't). Still, the
individual names ride the masthead, as they indeed still have marketing
value. Group is reportedly "a fully-improvising unit, a complete musical
collective." Cleaver plays drums, Parker bass, Taborn piano; Parker's
done numerous piano trios -- with Matthew Shipp, of course, even more
with Cecil Taylor. Taborn actually manages some Taylor moments here --
far more exciting than the slow start or the melodic end.
Avram Fefer/Eric Revis/Chad Taylor: Eliyahu (2010 ,
Not Two): Sax-bass-drums trio, with Fefer (b. 1965) playing alto and
tenor here -- a change of pace from recent albums where he's focused
more on clarinet, bass clarinet, and soprano sax. Tenth album since
1999. More tuneful and grooveful than you expect free jazz to be, but
that's largely because the rhythm section is so together.
Michael Feinberg: With Many Hands (2010 ,
self-released): Bassist, b. 1987 in Atlanta, "raised on hip hop,
international grooves, resurgent singer/songwriters and indie rock";
based in New York. Bio says this is his second album (looks like
first was Evil Genius in 2009). Lists a sextet's worth of
musicians on cover but no instrument credits: as best I can figure,
Godwin Louis (alto sax), Noah Preminger (tenor sax), Alex Wintz
(guitar), Julian Shore (piano), Daniel Platzman (drums). Postbop
verging on freebop: jumps around a lot, shifting times, the sax(es)
up front pushing limits.
Fernandez & Wright: Unsung (2009 , New
Market Music): Singer Vanessa Fernandez, guitarist Steve Wright,
home base Melbourne, Australia. First album, backed with piano,
organ, bass, drums, percussion. Wrote their own material. Has a
dark, dank sound, a resonant voice with occasional jazz fillips.
FivePlay Jazz Quintet: Five of Hearts (2008-10 ,
Auraline): Guitarist Tony Corman and pianist Laura Klein produced and
split the eleven songs 6-5 in favor of Corman. The others are Dave
Tidball (saxes, clarinet), Alan Hall (drums), and Paul Smith (bass),
listed in that order for no reason I can fathom. Second album, the
first out in 2010. Corman has previous albums as Triceratops and as
Crotty, Corman and Phipps. Klein has a previous duo with vibraphonist
Ted Wolff. Looks like they intercepted in Boston -- lots of Berklee
resumes -- although I also see a note that Tony and Laura got married
in 1984 and moved to the Bay Area. They bill what they do as "melodic
modern jazz," and that's about right. The leaders' instruments tend
to hold things together and keep them flowing, and Tidball's reeds
ride the waves instead of cutting against the grain. Not to be
confused with Sherrie Maricle's quintet, Five Play.
Flow Trio: Set Theory: Live at the Stone (2009 ,
Ayler): Louie Belogenis (tenor/soprano sax), Joe Morris (bass), Charles
Downs (drums). Pretty basic avant sax trio. Belogenis has appeared on
a couple dozen records since 1993, mostly in groups like this one. He
makes playing tenor sax a study in struggle, wrenching each note in
turn from the device. Title track runs 29:31. Other two 17:23 and 6:56,
the latter turning to soprano where he is pleasantly asured.
Danny Frankel: The Interplanetary Note/Beat Conference
(2010, self-released): Drummer, has a couple records under his own
name, quite a few side credits since 1980 (very few jazz). Trio with
Nels Cline on guitar, Larry Goldings on organ. Guitar is distinctive,
especially for an organ trio, and the rhythm is relatively slinky,
which reduces the organ to filler.
Bill Frisell: Sign of Life (2010 , Savoy Jazz):
Effectively a string quarter only with Frisell's guitar in place of
one of the violins -- the other is Jenny Scheinman's, with Eyvind
Kang on viola and Hank Roberts on cello, a group he calls his 858
Quartet. He used this lineup before on Richter 858 (2005,
Songlines), which I thought took the chamber jazz concept way too
far toward classical. This rarely does so, roughly splitting the
difference with his Americana-ish trio. All original pieces, unlike
recent albums where there's usually a couple covers to refer to.
Jake Fryer/Bud Shank Quintet: In Good Company (2009
, Capri): Fryer is a young British alto saxophonist with a trad
bent, which nowadays is as likely to embrace 1950s mainstreamers --
Shank, of course, also Phil Woods -- as the pre-boppers. Shank died
shortly after this: a West Coast alto saxophonist, b. 1926, came up
in progressive big bands and recorded some sweet cool jazz records in
the 1950s, although by my reckoning his best records came out in the
early 1990s (cf. Lost in the Stars and I Told You So!).
I haven't managed to untangle the two saxes here, which makes it
possible to view the whole thing as a sharp revival for Shank, and
a fine memento. With Mike Wofford (piano), Bob Magnusson (bass), and
Joe La Barbera (drums). Fryer wrote 6 of 9 pieces -- titles like
"Bopping With Bud," "Tip Top and Tickety Boo," "Breaking Loose,"
and "In Good Company."
Chantale Gagné: Wisdom of the Water (2010 ,
self-released): Pianist, from Quebec, studied in Montreal, and later
with Kenny Barron. Second album, the first a trio with Peter Washington
and Lewis Nash. This adds Joe Locke on vibes. One cover ("My Wild Irish
Rose"), the rest Gagné originals (one co-credited with Locke).
Roy Gaines and His Orchestra: Tuxedo Blues (2009
, Black Gold): Blues shouter, an appellation commonly used for
blues-based KC big band singers like Walter Brown, Jimmy Rushing, and
Big Joe Turner. B. 1937 in Texas, started on piano but switched to
guitar on hearing T-Bone Walker. Played in the Duke-Peacock house
band (Big Mama Thornton, Bobby Bland); worked with Rushing, Coleman
Hawkins, Ray Charles, Chuck Willis, Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin,
Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, and T-Bone Walker. Has a dozen albums
since 1982. Not a top notch singer, but he gives a strong showing
here, an anachronism in front of a big band, but true to his calling.
Alekos Galas: Mediterranean Breeze (2010, Ehos):
Bouzouki player. No biography, but was recorded in Laguna Beach, CA;
also in Glendale, Chicago, and Las Vegas. Debut record. Most (or all)
originals. Backed by band: usually guitar, keyb, bass, drums, some
extra percussion. Uses the word "fusion" a lot, also "smooth jazz"
and "pop"; does manage to keep it breezy.
Laszlo Gardony: Signature Time (2011, Sunnyside):
Pianist, b. 1956 in Hungary, studied at Béla Bartók Conservatory in
Budapest, then got a scholarship to Berklee and never looked back --
teachers there now. Tenth album since 1986, a quartet with Stan
Strickland on tenor sax (and voice on one song, sort of scatting
along), John Lockwood on bass, and Yoron Israel on drums and vibes.
Wrote six of ten songs, covering "Lullaby of Birdland," Strayhorn
("Johnny Come Lately"), and two Beatles songs ("Lady Madonna" and
"Eleanor Rigby"). Straightforward, develops the melodies, puts a
little kick into the rhythm. The sax comes and goes, not essential,
but adds some depth and variety when it's there.
David Gibson: End of the Tunnel (2010 , Posi-Tone):
Trombone player, fifth album since 2002, the first three on retro-leaning
Nagel-Heyer. Quartet, with Julius Tolentino on alto sax, Jared Gold on
organ, and Quincy Davis on drums. Strong showing for Gold, who contributes
two tunes (vs. five for Gibson, plus covers of Herbie Hancock and Jackie
McLean), and the horn pairing works out nicely, with Tolentino aggressive
and the trombone adding some much needed bottom funk.
Tania Gill: Bolger Station (2009 , Barnyard):
Pianist, lives in Toronto; first album, also credited with organ and
voice. Group includes Lina Allemano (trumpet), Clinton Ryder (bass),
and Jean Martin (drums). I don't get a strong sense of direction
here; interesting little piano bits, some trumpet twists, two Gill
vocals, so plain that's probably her limit, but not without charm.
Pedro Giraudo Jazz Orchestra: Córdoba (2010 ,
Zoho): Argentine bassist, plays electric and acoustic, moved to New
York in 1996; fourth album since 2002. Orchestra has 11 pieces, many
New Yorkers I recognize from elsewhere but no big names: four reeds,
three brass, an extra cajón in the rhythm section. Flows elegantly,
the sort of thing that shows how jazz has supplanted classical forms
as a composing medium.
Jared Gold: All Wrapped Up (2010 , Posi-Tone):
Organ player, fourth album since 2008, coming out fast. I was most
impressed by him on Oliver Lake's Organ Quartet album Plan.
This, like the Lake record, is a quartet with sax, trumpet, and drums,
but mainstreamers Ralph Bowen and Jim Rotondi can't cut the grease
like Lake and Freddie Hendrix. Leaves a lot of slick spots.
Larry Goldings: In My Room (2010-11 , BFM Jazz):
Organ player, b. 1968, fourteen albums since 1991 and many more side
credits. This is a change of pace: solo piano, rather delicate and
measured. The title cut, from Brian Wilson as the Beach Boys turned
introspective, is a find, although the Lennon-McCartney that closes
the set drifts off into indeterminate space. About half originals,
half covers (mostly from the same period, with the Stephen Foster
and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" even more venerable).
GRASS on Fire: Gowanus Reggae and Ska Society Plays Catch
a Fire (2010, Mighty Gowanus): "GRASS" is an acronym for
Gowanus Reggae and Ska Society. Album is "produced by Sumo &
Natecha," which as best I can translate are bassist J.A. Granelli
and keyboardist Nate Shaw. Catch a Fire is the 1973 Wailers
album, with "Kinky Reggae" and "Midnight Ravers" turned into "Kinky
Midnight" and "High Tide or Low Tide" added from the bonus tracks
that surfaced on several of the numerous reissues. The others I
recognize are notable jazz musicians, like saxophonists Paul Carlon
and Ohad Talmor -- indeed, the saxes and Mark Miller's trombone are
the main things that distinguish this edition. No vocal credits,
but someone can't help but sing along to "Slave Driver."
Iro Haarla Quintet: Vespers (2010 , ECM):
Plays piano and harp, b. 1956 in Finland, 5th album since 2001,
two on the Finiish label TUM, two on ECM. Quintet gives her two
horns -- Mathias Eick (trumpet), Trygve Seim (tenor/soprano sax) --
bass (Ulf Krokfors) and drums (Jon Christensen). Seems soft at
first, then chilly, then you finally notice the hidden strength
of the horns -- not surprising given that Eick and Seim regularly
produce strong albums under their own names.
Noah Haidu: Slipstream (2009 , Posi-Tone):
Pianist, from Charlottesville, VA. First record, although he's in
a group called Native Soul which has two records, one unplayed in
my queue somewhere. Post-hardbop quintet, has a front line that
should be able to generate some heat: Jeremy Pelt on trumpet, Jon
Irabagon on alto sax. They do break out on occasion, but not so
often, with the piano thickly entangled.
Rich Halley Quartet: Requiem for a Pit Viper (2010 ,
Pine Eagle): Consistenty superb tenor saxophonist, based in Portland, OR,
has a background as a natural scientist which may make him more sympathetic
to rattlesnakes than most of us. Quartet pairs him with trombonist Michael
Vlatkovich. While the contrast and interplay is interesting, most of the
time the two play in unison, which aside from some not especially pleasing
harmonics wastes the opportunity the second horn opens up -- how much so
is clear from when it happens.
Tom Harrell: The Time of the Sun (2010 , High Note):
Plays trumpet, flugelhorn; has close to 30 albums since 1976, a postbop
player with tricky compositions and (occasionally) brilliant runs. Best
moments here are on the simple side, squaring off against Danny Grissett's
piano. Adding Wayne Escoffery's tenor sax seems like too much trouble,
although he can impress, as always.
Harriet Tubman: Ascension (2010 , Sunnyside):
The Harriet Tubman you've probably (but not necessarily, especially
if you've been "educated" in Texas) heard of was born in 1822, in
Maryland, into slavery. She escaped, then returned to help others
escape through the underground railroad, and helped guide fugitive
slaves to freedom in Canada. She helped John Brown organize his
ill-fated insurrection at Harper's Ferry. During the Civil War she
was an armed scout and spy for the Union. After the war she worked
for women's suffrage. She died in 1913, but was well remembered in
the civil rights and women's liberation movements more than a half
century later. A couple years ago Marcus Shelby cut a gospel-tinged
jazz album called Harriet Tubman, in her honor. But this
ain't that; this Harriet Tubman is a fusion band formed by Brandon
Ross (guitar), Melvin Gibbs (bass), and J.T. Lewis (drums). They
cut a record in 1998, another in 2000, and now a third. The new
group is billed as Harriet Tubman Double Trio, the additions Ron
Miles (trumpet), DJ Logic (turntables), and DJ Singe (turntables).
The spiritual clash they are looking for comes with the title cut,
which starts the album off with 8:09 from John Coltrane's rafter
raiser, then returns periodically for more inspiration. Coltrane's
piece is either one that moves you or not -- it doesn't bother
trying to reason with you. Tubman more than anything else was a
force for action, and that's what the band aims for -- they do
Atsuko Hashimoto: . . . Until the Sun Comes Up (2010
, Capri): Organ player, from Osaka, Japan. Career dates from
early 1990s; recorded half an album in 1999 (5 cuts, the other 5 by
Midori Ono Trio), and five more since 2003. This one is a trio with
Graham Dechter on guitar and Jeff Hamilton on drums. That's an old
soul jazz formula, and this fits the bill nicely. Still, I wonder
how much it matters.
Pablo Held: Glow (2010 , Pirouet): Pianist,
b. 1986 in Germany; third album since 2008, after two piano trios.
This one adds trumpet, two saxes, harp, celesta/harmonium, cello,
and extra bass, but doesn't sound like a large band, a nonet or
even a septet. The extra instruments color and shade, sometimes
to interesting effect but more often they just dissolve into the
ether. Can't even complain it sounds cluttered.
Fred Hersch: Alone at the Vanguard (2010 ,
Palmetto): Pianist, of course, has close to 30 album since 1984,
cultivated his Bill Evans comparisons with 1990's Evanessence.
I thought last year's Whirl was a triumph -- best thing he's
ever done, although I'm not much of an expert. Guess that's all it
took to get him to do another solo album -- don't know how many he
has, but must be a handful (still way short of Jarrett). You know
better than I whether you're up for this. Personally, I don't buy
all of Art Tatum's solo piano albums, and he's a helluva lot sexier
than this. But there's nothing lame or disingenous here, and I'm
as happy as anyone that's he's still kicking.
Lisa Hilton: Underground (2010 , Ruby Slippers):
Pianist, from San Luis Obispo, CA, has 15 album since 1997, most of the
early ones with titles suggesting chintzy cocktail piano and romance:
Cocktails at Eight, In the Mood for Jazz, Jazz After
Hours, Midnight in Manhattan, After Dark, all with
alluring cover photography -- My Favorite Things may be the most
alluring in that respect. I've only heard one previous album, didn't
think much of it, but this one is something else. For starters, she's
got a first rate group: Larry Grenadier on bass, Nasheet Waits on drums,
and J.D. Allen on tenor sax. Wrote all but one Bill Evans piece. Pretty
respectable outing, the piano authoritatively centered. Allen doesn't
break out, as he can, but he's an asset.
Art Hirahara: Noble Path (2010 , Posi-Tone):
Pianist, from San Francisco Bay Area, based in Brooklyn. AMG lists
four previous records, but only one appears on his website discography.
Piano trio, with Yoshi Waki (bass) and Dan Aran (drums). Wrote 8 of
12 songs. Puts a nice spin on covers ranging from Porter to Ellington.
William Hooker: Crossing Points (1992 , NoBusiness):
Drummer, b. 1946, has a couple dozen albums since 1982; seems like a lot
of them are ad hoc improv duos and trios, but he usually winds up with his
name on top or first -- not many side credits, although AMG lists a couple
with Lee Ranaldo. This is a duo with alto saxophonist Thomas Chapin --
Hooker's name is out front of the title, with "featuring Thomas Chapin"
following -- cut just as Chapin was hitting his stride (cf. Insomnia)
before his early death in 1998. First piece starts out tentative and ugly,
but soon enough rights itself, in large part because the drummer gets out
front and dares the saxophonist to keep up.
The Essential Lena Horne (1941-75 , Masterworks/Legacy,
2CD): Black-white singer-dancer-actress, a tough ten years older than
Eartha Kitt, but Horne knocked down many of the doors that Kitt walked
through. "Stormy Weather" was her big hit in 1941, and that got her
into Hollywood. Still, she was a terrific big band singer, taking firm
command on the many show tunes and standards here -- most of the cuts
date from 1957-62, with a few from 1941-44 and a couple later.
Ron Horton: It's a Gadget World . . . (2009, Abeat):
This shows up under Ben Allison's name both in AMG and Rhapsody --
gave me a bit of a pause as it would have broke the string of A-
records mentioned in reviewing Allison's new record. Cover lists
trumpet/flugelhorn player Horton up top in caps, then "featuring
Antonio Zambrini" (piano, also wrote 4 of 9 tracks plus the liner
notes), then way down at the bottom Allison (bass) and Tony Moreno
(drums). Brisk postbop, a couple of nice piano spots, a lot of
Marika Hughes: Afterlife Music Radio: 11 New Pieces for Solo
Cello (2010 , DD): Cellist, debuts with two records, has
a couple dozen side credits since 1997, including Tin Hat, Ani DiFranco,
and various Tzadik projects. Solo cello. Eleven pieces written by other
musicians, evidently just for this project. Names I recognize (mostly
string players): Charlie Burnham, Nasheet Waits, Trevor Dunn, Jenny
Scheinman, Carla Kihlstedt, Abraham Burton, Todd Sickafoose, Eyvind
Kang. Well, you know the problem with solo anything, and this can run
thin or ragged, but she loves the sound -- story goes that she switched
from violin instantly first time she plucked the low C string. Tiny
bit of vocal on the mysterious twelfth track.
Marika Hughes: The Simplest Thing (2010 , DD):
Plays cello, wrote most of the songs (sometimes with band help), and
sings them. Not jazz, although she draws on some jazz musicians, and
vocal jazz isn't a very useful genre these days. CDBaby is even less
helpful: they list genre as "Pop: Chamber Pop" and recommend "if you
like: Eva Cassidy, Roberta Flack." I suppose there are people who
like Cassidy and/or Flack, but that's shooting pretty low. On many
superficial points, the obvious comparison would be to Grammy-winning
bassist-singer Esperanza Spalding, but Hughes is a stronger writer,
a much better arranger, has good taste in friends (cf. "Back Home,"
with Jenny Scheinman's violin and Charles Burnham's gravelly duet
vocal), and has a lot more voice.
Julia Hülsmann Trio: Imprint (2010 , ECM):
Pianist, b. 1968 in Bonn, Germany; sixth album since 2003, three
on ACT, two on ECM. AMG reports that she also sings, but not here.
Piano trio, very typical of Manfred Eicher's productions: clean,
poised, articulate, not too fast or too free but not predictable
I Compani: Mangiare! (2010 , Icdisc): Dutch
group, led by saxophonist Bo van der Graaf, but they've been around
a long time, with more than a dozen albums since 1985. Early albums
were focused on the films of Federico Fellini and the film music of
Nino Rota (who resurfaces here in the first piece). Last album was
based on circus music (Circusism), and you get more than a
mere taste of that here as well, but the food theme eventually takes
over. Band mixes the leader's soprano and tenor sax, trumpet and
trombone, violin and cello, bandoneon, piano, bass, and drums --
with some diversion on synth and "cheap organ." Less avant and even
more amusing than the similar bands of Breuker and Mengelberg.
Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya: Sotho Blue (2010 ,
Sunnyside): South African pianist, b. 1934, cut his first record in
1963, titled Duke Ellington Presents the Dollar Brand Trio;
throughout his long career his trick card has always been to slip in
South African melodies, especially bits of township jive -- there are
many fine examples of this, like the 1983 album Ekaya that he
later took for his band name. Spent much of his career in exile, but
since the Apartheid regime fell he's been a national hero. This new
album lacks any trademark South African touches even though South
Africa creeps into his song titles. But it's about as Ellingtonian
as anythng he's done: with three saxes plus trombone, the horns lead,
the piano connects multilayered movements, with searching patches
and gorgeous sweeps.
Inzinzac: Inzinzac (2010 , High Two): Every
now and then when I get to a record I find that I had mistyped it
when I listed it in "unpacking" and stuffed it into the appropriate
nooks and crannies of my filing system. Happened here, then I made
yet another mistake trying to fix it, and floundered fruther until
I got the hang of it -- was reminded of Ike Quebec trying to play
Monk. Philadelphia trio: guitarist Alban Bailly writes the songs
(took several tries to get his name typed right, too); Dan Scofield
plays soprano and tenor sax (I know him from Sonic Liberation Front);
Eli Litwin drums. Scofield's line on the group: "an improvising jazz
trio playing rock music in odd time signatures." By "rock" he means
loud and harsh, and fast; by "odd" he means odd. I get quite some
charge from the thrash. Just not sure how long it will hold up. By
the way, group name comes from a town in France (Inzinzac-Lochrist),
where Bailly is from.
Inzinzac (2010 , High Two): Guitar-sax-drums
trio: says they're "an improvising jazz trio playing rock music in
odd time signatures" which is about right if by rock you mostly mean
loud. Whereas guitar displaced sax in rock and roll, in what we might
call hardcore fusion the two instruments are often side-by-side, the
guitar tuned sax-like, sometimes louder but never quite as clear as
the horn. Dan Scofield mostly plays soprano here, so he consistently
come out higher and clearer, providing a sharp metallic edge to Alban
Bailly's guitar backbone. The "odd" time signatures include free.
Whitney James: The Nature of Love (2009 ,
Stir Stick Music): Standards singer, first album, no bio; has a
fairly well known band with Joshua Wolff (piano), Matt Clohesy
(bass), Jon Wikan (drums), and paired almost duet-like, Ingrid
Jensen (trumpet/flugelhorn). Attractive singer, but not distinctive
enough to retain my focus when the song isn't as ingrained for me
as "Tenderly" or "How Deep Is the Ocean."
Billy Jenkins: Jazz Gives Me the Blues (2011, VOTP):
English jazz guitarist, b. 1954, has some very interesting records
scattered about his discography -- 1998's True Love Collection,
with its bent '60s pop retroviruses is a favorite -- but lately he's
reinvented himself as a gravel-mouthed blues slinger, which is mostly
what you get here, but now and then you sense the guitar wants to
sneak out and play something fancy.
Clarence "Jelly" Johnson: Low Down Papa (1920s
, Delmark): Enhanced piano rolls, second volume in Delmark's
series after Jimmy Blythe's Messin' Around Blues. Johnson
is more obscure: was in the army 1917-19, started recording piano
rolls after he got out -- no specific dates but liner notes imply
1920-23; Johnson recorded for Paramount 1923-25, but I don't know
how much. Liner notes say he moved to Detroit in late 1920s, and
died there on August 9, but don't say which year. Sounds pretty
up-to-date if these were recorded that early -- no residual traces
of ragtime which still marked most 1910's pianists. Does sound a
Darren Johnston/Aram Shelton/Lisa Mezzacappa/Kjell Nordeson:
Cylinder (2011, Clean Feed): No recording date given --
unusual for this label -- but songs are all copyright 2011, so this
may be the first recorded-in-2011 album I've gotten to. Familiar
names: trumpet, alto sax/clarinet/bass clarinet, bass, drums. Each
writes two songs, or three for Shelton. Free jazz, struggles a bit
here and there but has lots of fine moments, especially the trumpet.
Etta Jones & Houston Person: The Way We Were: Live in
Concert (2000 , High Note): Blues-based jazz singer,
aspired to Billie Holiday but reminds me more of Bessie Smith, b.
1928, cut quite a few records for Prestige 1960-65, got a second
shot with Muse in 1975 and High Note in 1997, which is to say she
owed her career to Joe Fields, an exec at Prestige and owner of
Muse and High Note, and to Houston Person, his A&R man and her
regular saxophonist. This starts with just the band for four cuts --
Stan Hope (piano), George Kaye (bass), Chip White (drums), and
Person -- starting with "Do Nothin' 'Till You Hear From Me" and
culminating in a gorgeous "Please Send Me Someone to Love." Jones
enters with "Fine and Mellow," "Lady Be Good," but doesn't really
take charge until the end, with "Ma, He's Makin' Eyes at Me" and
a "I'll Be Seeing You" that can only be described as swinging.
She died a year later, so some credit for the souvenir.
Dave Juarez: Round Red Light (2010 , Posi-Tone):
Guitarist, from Barcelona, Spain; cut this in Brooklyn, but current base
is Amsterdam. First album, with Seamus Blake (tenor sax), John Escreet
(piano), Lauren Falls (bass), and Bastian Weinhold (drums). Juarez wrote
all of the songs, and plays a key role but Blake does his best to blow
him away, in a remarkable performance I can't quite get into.
Stan Killian: Unified (2010 , Sunnyside): Tenor
saxophonist, from Texas, based in New York, debut album, mostly quartet
with Benito Gonzalez on piano, bass and drums split, and guest horns
featured on the cover: Roy Hargrove, Jeremy Pelt, David Binney. Postbop
to open, although when he picks up the pace he sounds more like retro
The Essential Eartha Kitt (1952-57 , RCA/Legacy,
2CD): Black-white-Cherokee singer-dancer-actress with a penchant for
mambos en français, mixes show tunes, standards, novelties -- her big
hit was "Santa Baby," not that it was that big -- and W.C. Handy's
blues. This six-year slice covers her commercial prime, the basis of
her future iconic status, but she reinvented herself so many times
and so effectively you're barely getting a glimpse. Still, the one
you're least likely to know, unless you're a hell of a lot older
than I am.
Landon Knoblock/Jason Furman: Gasoline Rainbow (2008
, Fractamodi): Piano-drums duo, based in New York but originally
got together in Miami. Second album together. Knoblock, b. 1982, has
two other albums since 2007. Strong performance, a lot of rumble in
Adam Kolker: Reflections (2010 , Sunnyside):
Tenor saxophonist, also credited with alto flute, bass clarinet, flute,
and clarinet here. Fifth album since 1999. Mostly a very reflective
trio with John Hébert on bass and Billy Mintz on drumss. Adds several
scattered guests: Judi Silvano and Kay Matsukawa (voice, one track
each), John Abercrombie (guitar, 2), and Russ Lossing (piano, 3), but
he guests never manage to perturb the mood much. Very seductive at
Kathleen Kolman: Dream On (2010 , Walkin' Foot
Productions): Singer, from Montana, based in New England somewhere;
second album, after one in 1999 called The Dreamer. Band mates
come and go, although saxophonist Rick DiMuzio is gone after a promising
opener. Title song is from Aerosmith; one original, three from Brazil
(two Jobims, one Lins). She sings with poise and depth.
Lee Konitz/Brad Mehldau/Charlie Haden/Paul Motian: Live at
Birdland (2009 , ECM): New York Times advance, quoted
in hype sheet, promises "soft anarchy, a gig without preparation or
rehearsal," and that's pretty much it. Six standards, counting Miles
Davis and Sonny Rollins, given 10-15 minutes each. Mehldau is the
best prepared, but Konitz is the person of interest, and he's a bit
out of it, though it's hard to say why, or to dismiss what he plays,
when he plays.
Ben Kono: Crossing (2010 , 19/8): B. 1967, grew
up in Vermont, studied at Eastman and UNT, did a stretch with the Army's
Jazz Ambassadors, settled in New York in 1998. Plays reeds; credited here
with: oboe, english horn, flute, alto flute, clarinet, bass clarinet,
tenor saxophone, shakuhachi. Has mostly appeared in big bands: John
Hollenbeck, Chris Jentsch, Ed Palermo, Jamie Begian. First album, with
Hollenbeck (drums), John Hébert (bass), Pete McCann (guitar), Henry Hey
(keybs), and Heather Laws (voice and french horn). One thing this shows
is that not all horns are created equal: the sax sections are terrific,
the flutes and oboe superfluous (all the more so when Laws weighs in).
Annie Kozuch: Here With You(2009 , self-released):
Standards singer, raised in Mexico City, got a Dramatic Arts degree
from Mills College in Oakland, CA; based in New York. First album.
Leads off with Jobim, but rather than getting him out of the way she
returns three songs later with one of the nicest strolls through
"Corcovado" I've heard, and later on returns with a third Brazilian
piece, this one by Pixinguinha. Spanish songs from Pedro Junco and
Armando Manzanera are less successful, but she nails English-language
songs (what she calls "jazz tracks") like "I Love Being Here With You"
and "You're Getting to Be a Habit With Me."
Jonathan Kreisberg: Shadowless (2010 , New
for Now Music): Guitarist, b. NYC, grew up in Florida, came back
in 1997. AMG lists eight records since 1997. Probably too simple
to take this as a fusion play, but that's easy to do with guitarists.
With Will Vinson on sax, Henry Hey on piano, Matt Penman on bass,
Mark Ferber on drums. Sax and piano don't add much.
Ernie Krivda: Blues for Pekar (2011, Capri): Tenor
saxophonist, b. 1945 in Cleveland; AMG credits him with 24 records
since 1977, starting on Inner City with a lot on Cadence/CIMP --
labels I don't get and have trouble finding, so this is the first
I've heard by him. Given the labels, I pictured him as more avant,
but he has album titles like Tough Tenor, Red Hot and Focus
on Stan Getz and Perdido, so clearly I need to do some
research and get my bearings. "Pekar" is late cartoon auteur Harvey
Pekar, who's quoted in the booklet: "Ernie Krivda is one of the best
jazz tenor sax men in the world." Five covers (including tunes by
Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon) followed by two originals, each
running 8-12 minutes. Four cuts are spiced up with trumpet (Sean
Jones on two, Dominick Farinacci on the others), and all of them
are barnburners with a powerful swing undertow. Not sure if that's
how Krivda usually plays, or just how Pekar liked it.
Femi Kuti: Africa for Africa (2010 , Knitting
Factory): Fela's eldest son, also plays alto sax, grew up in his
father's band and continues the Afrobeat groove, with 15 albums now
since 1989. This is close to formula: the beats, the sax, the chant
vocals, the politics (but the pidgin English remains far short of
eloquent). Fourteen moderate-length songs adds up to a long album
(total 62:56), but nothing stretches out like the old Fela albums
La Cherga: Revolve (2011, Asphalt Tango): Not jazz,
more like trans-Yugoslav dubstep, with its Balkan brass run through
a Jamaican sound system. Their previous, even better album (Fake
No More) featured a striking vocalist, replaced here with Adisa
Zvekic (from Bosnia) and occasional guest MCs; evolution turned
around -- maybe that's how they translate it.
Alexey Lapin/Yury Yaremchuk: Anatomy of Sound (2010,
SoLyd): Russian pianist, appears with François Carrier on Inner
Spire so I thought I should check him out further. (Also has a
new solo piano album on Leo, Parallels.) Yaremchuk is from
the Ukraine; plays soprano sax (first three cuts) and bass clarinet
(two more). Last two cuts offer a solo each, with Lapin engulfed in
roiling chordal density where Yaremchuk spaces out the sounds of his
bass clarinet. The improv together is on the ugly side of free, but
picks up interest whenever they get faster and louder.
Matt Lavelle: Goodbye New York, Hello World (2009
, Music Now!): Plays trumpet and bass clarinet, a unique combo,
although here he substitutes cornet and flugelhorn for the trumpet,
and adds alto clarinet to the bass clarinet, playing each of his four
instruments on two songs each (7 total, so one shares flugelhorn and
alto clarinet). Three cuts are done with just bass (plus one more
with gongs), spread out with pieces that add drums and Ras Moshe on
tenor sax. The larger group pieces are exceptionally strong, but the
solo horns are clear and commanding as well.
Nguyên Lê: Songs of Freedom (2010 , ACT):
Guitarist, b. 1959 in Paris, France, draws on the Vietnamese music
of his ancestors, also on Jimi Hendrix. Has 17 albums since 1990.
Describes this record as "a tribute to those musicians who established
pop culture in the '70s with their mythic songs," and proclaims them
to "have truly become World Music i.e. 'music the world listens to.'"
Aside from a couple short connecting pieces, the songs come from the
Beatles ("Eleanor Rigby," "Come Together"), Stevie Wonder ("I Wish,"
"Pastime Paradise"), Bob Marley ("Redemption Song"), Led Zeppelin
("Black Dog," "Whole Lotta Love"), Janis Joplin ("Mercedes Benz"),
Cream ("Sunshine of Your Love"), and Iron Butterfly ("In a Gadda Da
Vida"). All feature guest singers I've never heard of (and don't
expect to ever again): Youn Sun Nah, David Linx, Dhafer Youssaf,
Ousman Danedjo, Julia Saar, Himiki Paganotti. (Their names strike
me as selected to illustrate Lê's world music concept.) I'd have
preferred more of the instrumental breaks, where Lê's electric
guitar powers over tinkly vibes and percussion.
Jerry Leake & Randy Roos: Cubist Live (2010 ,
Rhombus Publishing): Leake is a percussionist, collects instruments and
techniques from all around the world, records them, writes books about
them, teaches them -- Indian, Persian, Latin American, all over Africa.
Record company has "publishing" in the title because his books outnumber
his records (currently 7 to 6). First record I heard by him, The
Turning (2006), played like an encyclopedia, which I thought a neat
idea at the time. But so did his last, Cubist, which I backed a
bit down on, only to receive a letter from him chiding me for failing
to recognize his "masterpiece." Well, this isn't a masterpiece either,
but the nine long songs (total 76:41) fit and flow. Thanks to guitarist
Roos -- promoted from producer last time to a byline -- he's got a band
here. The flute-phobic should be warned, but actually this picks up a
head of steam when the flute comes out, and gets even better when Stan
Strickland reverts to sax. Better still when the extra drummers (Ben
Paulding and Marty Wirt, plus Lisa Leake on percussion and Mike Doud
on tabla) quicken the pace. Back cover says "file under world &
rock" but the mix makes most sense as jazz.
Gordon Lee: This Path (2010, OA2): Pianist, b.
1953 in New York City; studied at Syracuse and Indiana; moved to
Portland, OR in 1977, worked 1980-85 in New York, then returned
to Portland. Seventh album since 1982. Works with two trios here,
plus a couple of solo cuts, one with Miguel Bernal on cajon.
Okkyung Lee: Noisy Love Songs (2011, Tzadik): Cellist,
from Korea, moved to New York 2000; second album on Tzadik; looks like
three or four others. With no lyrics one can argue whether these even
are love songs. That some are noisy is beyond doubt, but not many, and
not very: the cello-violin-bass can turn squelchy, but mostly plot out
sweet melodies, with piano (Craig Taborn) and/or trumpet (Peter Evans)
for occasional elaboration, and percussion (John Hollenbeck and Satoshi
Takeishi) -- lots of tinkly tones.
Les Doigts de l'Homme: 1910 (2011, ALMA): French quartet,
three guitars (Olivier Kikteff, Yannick Alcocer, Benoit "Binouche" Convert)
and acoustic bass (Tanguy Blum), dedicated to Django Reinhardt -- album
title takes the year of Reinhardt's birth. Fourth album. Two cuts add
clarinet for some welcome variation; otherwise very inside its thing.
Daniel Levin: Inner Landscape (2009 , Clean
Feed): Cellist, sixth album since 2003, a solo, tough to do. Gets
some extra sound out early using the body for percussion, which
provides some useful variety.
Vesa-Matti Loiri: 4+20 (1971 , Porter):
Finnish flautist, vocalist, actor; b. 1945. AMG lists 33 records,
starting in 1968, but this is the only one they've evidently heard.
It's a weird one, mostly flute and percussion, a guitar, sometimes
adding piccolo and/or soprano sax (no less than Eero Koivistoinen).
Six songs in "Mummon Kaappikello" is a change of pace, with tenor
sax and cartoonish vocals. Title cut is from Stephen Stills, not
that he'd recognize it.
Amy London: Let's Fly (2009-10 , Motéma):
Standards singer, b. 1957, grew up in Cincinnati, studied opera
at Syracuse, moved to New York in 1980, worked on stage, taught
voice. Third album, including one with longtime guitarist Roni
Ben-Hur. Fancy technique, easily slips around the notes, and
gets fine support from Ben-Hur and a tag team of pianists.
Includes a tribute to Annie Ross.
Tom Luer: Project Popular (2009 , Origin):
Saxophonist (tenor and soprano), originally from Wisconsin, studied
and taught at UNT, based in Los Angeles. First album, quintet with
piano (mostly Fender Rhodes), guitar, bass, drums. The "popular" in
the project is to mix five 1980s-vintage rock covers in with three
originals, drawing on Pearl Jam, Coldplay, Soundgarden, Audioslave,
and Prince. Only one that really registered with me was "Black Hole
Sun" -- nice to hear, holds up well.
Steven Lugerner: These Are the Words/Narratives (2010
, self-released, 2CD): Reed player -- alto and soprano sax, clarinet
and bass clarinet, flute, oboe, English horn -- from California, based in
New York. First album, actually two in symmetrical packaging joined at
the spine. These Are the Words is an edgy near-all-star quartet
with Darren Johnston on trumpet, Myra Melford on piano, and Matt Wilson
on drums. Needless to say, the sharpest edge there is the pianist, who
slices and dices a set of pieces with Hebraic titles. Narratives
is something else, a septet with no one I'm familiar with (produced by
flautist Jamie Baum, who doesn't play), with neatly layered horns over
effortlessly flowing guitar and piano. Quite a lot to sort through, and
I'm not sure I am there yet.
Steven Lugerner: These Are the Words/Narratives
(2010 , self-released, 2CD): Reed player -- clarinet, bass
clarinet, soprano sax, alto sax, oboe, English horn -- leads a
sharp quartet (Darren Johnston, Myra Melford, Matt Wilson) on one
disc and a more sprawling mostly-European septet on the second.
Melford is sharp as ever, but doesn't get to do much as the softer
reeds tend to coalesce into fog.
Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord: Quavers! Quavers! Quavers!
Quavers! (2011, Hot Cup): Guitarist, originally from Chicago,
now in Brooklyn. Looks like Big Five Chord was a self-released
2003 album, ancient history but for its group name reverberations.
Second album with Moppa Elliott's Hot Cup crew: Jon Irabagon and Bryan
Murray on saxes, Elliott on bass, Matt Kanelos on keybs, and Danny
Fischer on drums. Guitar is tantallizingly jagged throughout but
doesn't really explode until the closer, a ditty called "Faith-Based
Initiative," after which the saxes follow suit.
Maïkotron Unit: Ex-Voto (2011, Jazz From Rant):
Quebec-based trio: Pierre Côté (bass, cello), Michel Côté (bass
clarinet, saxophones), and Michel Lambert (drums), where the latter
two also play something called a maïkotron. Invented by Michel Côté
in 1983, the only description I've found: "a woodwind instrument,
played with a reed and a tenor saxophone mouthpiece, but made up
of many instruments at once: trumpet valves, the bell of a cornet,
parts of a euphonium and a clarinet." The instrument has evolved
over time, and evidently there are various prototypes, some capable
of ranging below the bass saxophone. This is reportedly the Unit's
seventh album, but the first available on CD -- suggesting it's
been a while. (I can't find any other reference to the missing
records.) Compositions here are based on paintings (numbered
tableaux), most (or perhaps all) named in Latin. I can't say as
I understand any of it, but find it all strangely fascinating --
not the puzzle of mapping the stray sounds to the mysterious
instrument but how the sonic abstractions cohere into quaint
and inimitable grooves.
Curtis Macdonald: Community Immunity (2009 ,
Greenleaf Music): Alto saxophonist, based in New York, studied at
New School, where he now teaches. First album, or as he puts it on
his website, "latest record." Quintet with a second sax (Jeremy
Viner on tenor), piano (David Virelles or Michael Vanoucek), bass
(Chris Tordini), Greg Ritchie (drums), one-shot guests on guitar,
violin, and voice (none of which I recall). The sort of tightly
orchestrated postbop that makes me worry about academia.
Thomas Marriott: Constraints & Liberations (2009
, Origin): Trumpet player, from Seattle, b. 1975, fifth album
since 2005 (with a sixth one out since then). Quintet with Hans Teuber
on tenor sax, Gary Versace on piano, Jeff Johnson on bass, and John
Bishop on drums. Six originals, plus one piece by Johnson. Postbop,
probably his strongest record to date, both for the clarity of his
trumpet and an impressive performance by Versace.
Thomas Marriott: Human Spirit (2009 , Origin):
Plays trumpet/flugelhorn. Sixth album since 2005. A variation on the
organ trio, with Gary Versace on the B-3 and Matt Jorgensen on drums.
Marriott shares the front line with alto saxophonist Mark Taylor --
by far the most aggressive player in this group, where the organ seems
an afterthought and the trumpet dressing.
Chad McCullough & Bram Weijters: Imaginary Sketches
(2010 , Origin): Trumpet and piano, respectively, leading a
quartet with Chuck Deardorf on bass and John Bishop on drums. Third
album for McCullough, not counting his work in the Kora Band; based
in Seattle. The pianist was b. 1980 in Belgium; looks like he has one
previous trio album, several group efforts. Pairing does a nice job
of bringing out the rich lustre of the instruments.
Terrence McManus/Mark Helias/Gerry Hemingway: Transcendental
Numbers (2009 , NoBusiness): Guitar/bass/drums trio.
McManus and Hemingway have a slightly earlier duo called Below
the Surface Of that I have rated a tad above this, probably
because the jagged metal guitar was more striking, although I should
double check because it's unlikely the bassist doesn't add something
valuable. He is interesting in his own right, and the drummer is
Terrence McManus/Mark Helias/Gerry Hemingway: Transcendental
Numbers (2009 ,
NoBusiness): With Gerry Hemingway and Mark Helias, more scattered than
his duo with Hemingway alone, more because he favors scratchy abstraction
here over the electrified chords there. That seems like a strategic
choice, not something to pin on the bassist, who is fine as always.
John Medeski & Lee Shaw: Together Again: Live at the
Egg (2009 , ARC): Before Shaw started recording in
her 70s, she taught pianos, and Medeski was one of her more famous
students. With Shaw's trio, Medeski doubles up on piano or plays
organ (or melodica). The piano is nice and crisp, and the organ
kicks up quite a groove.
Brad Mehldau: Live in Marciac (2006 , 2CD+DVD):
Trifold package, with a plastic tray in the middle for the DVD, the two
CDs just slipped into the outer panels. Indeed, they plug this as DVD+2CD
rather than the other way around, so I suppose I'm remiss in not watching
the DVD, but I hardly ever bother with the things. Solo piano. My first
thought was that he's aiming for his Köln Concert, and I doubt
that he's ever rollicked more like Jarrett than on the first disc here.
But whereas Jarrett worked one long improv, this is a program -- mostly
originals on the first disc, all covers on the second (Nick Drake, Kurt
Cobain, James Alan Shelton, Lennon/McCartney, Rodgers/Hammerstein, Bobby
Timmons). Impressive, as usual.
Eddie Mendenhall: Cosine Meets Tangent (2010 ,
Miles High): Pianist, bio mangled, but "directs the jazz department"
at Monterey Peninsula College, seems to be from those parts, studied
at Berklee, spent seven years in Japan. First album. Wrote 8 of 10
pieces, with one from vibraphonist Mark Sherman, one from Rodgers
and Hart. Quartet with John Schifflett on bass, Akira Tana on drums.
The vibes dominate early on in one of Sherman's finest performances.
By coincidence I was writing something about MJQ while listening to
this. These guys are much faster, not that that was necessarily the
Sei Miguel/Pedro Gomes: Turbina Anthem (2008 ,
NoBusiness): Pocket trumpet/guitar duets. I've run across Miguel
before: b. 1961 in Paris, lived in Brazil before settling down in
Portugal in the 1980s. Released a record in 1988, more since 2002
including two on Clean Feed: one under his own name and another as
part of Afterfall (which I filed under guitarist Luis Lopes). Not
much on Gomes; probably his first record. Cranks up lots of guitar
distortion, playing it for rhythm and harmonic backdrop for the
trumpet. Too harsh to recommend highly, but too visceral to ignore.
Stef, who has fewer compunctions about what other people think,
gave this all five stars.
Antoinette Montague: Behind the Smile (2009 ,
In the Groove): Singer. Wrote the title cut, but the rest are more
or less standards -- Bill Broonzy, Dave Brubeck, and Marvin Gaye
are outliers. Second album. Don't see where the band is credited --
just a picture and some thank yous, but if I could line up Mulgrew
Miller, Peter Washington, Kenny Washington, and a big-toned sax
player like Bill Easley I'd brag about it. Everything here impresses
me as well done, except for the CD packaging -- very polyethelene.
Wolfgang Muthspiel: Drumfree (2010 , Material):
German guitarist, b. 1965, frequently (in Europe, that is) compared
to Metheny and Scofield, although I like him much more -- Bright
Side was a pick hit a while back, and Black and Blue is
also on my full-A list. As the title announces, no drums this time.
Andy Scherrer shadows the guitar on various saxophones, and Larry
Grenadier plays bass, so this works within a narrow bandwidth, its
surface shimmering with little hint of depth.
Native Soul: Soul Step (2008 , Talking Drum):
Filed this under pop jazz, a mistake I blame on the packaging --
they sure try to look like another variant of Four Play. Actually,
a mainstream postbop sax-piano-bass-drums quartet; even when they
try to go with electric bass and keyb they stay firmly rooted on
the jazz side. All four members contribute 2-3 songs -- bassist
Marcus McLaurine is the overachiever. Two covers: one from Jimi
Hendrix, the other "End of a Love Affair."
Marius Neset: Golden Xplosion (2010 , Edition):
Saxophonist (soprano and tenor), from Norway, 25 (1985?), did a semester
at Berklee, studied more in Copenhagen, latched onto Django Bates, who
plays keyboards here. Second album. The fast stuttery sax runs are fun.
The ballads aren't. And Bates indulges in some keyboard overkill early
on, intended to crank up the energy level, which works to a point. Some
folks are blown away, but some of us are old enough to recall Bates' old
sax chum, Iain Ballamy.
New Tricks: Alternate Side (2010 , New Tricks):
I've started referring to records by artists who can't go to the trouble
to think up a label name "self-released," but the back cover here says
"New Tricks Records" so credit where credit is due. Quartet: Mike Lee
(tenor sax), Ted Chubb (trumpet), Kellen Harrison (bass), Shawn Baltazor
(drums). Lee wrote 6 of 9 songs; Chubb the other 3. Was blogging about
Miles Davis when I put this on, so I was immediately struck by the '50s
vibe, bop only hotter and harder, with no piano to underwrite the chords
and gum things up. Second group album -- Lee also has two under his own
name; don't think any of the others do, although the bassist has some
side credits. This sort of clash is bracing, but on occasion they slow
down, yoke the horns together, and act like modern postboppers.
New York Electric Piano: Keys to the City: Volumes 1 & 2
(2011, Buffalo Puppy, 2CD): Pat Daugherty-led group, sixth album since
2004. He plays keyboards and sings. Split this release into two discs,
one with vocals, one instrumental. On the vocal volume he trades off with
Deanna Kirk and Ava Farber. Erik Lawrence is notable in the band, playing
various saxes and alto flute. Some nice stuff on both discs, but not
Nordic Connect: Spirals (2008 , ArtistShare):
Trumpet player Ingrid Jensen, b. 1967 in Vancouver, BC, Canada;
studied at Berklee; AMG counts six albums since 1994, coutning her
previous Nordic Connect album but not this one. Group includes
sister Christine Jensen (alto/soprano sax), Maggi Olin (piano,
often Fender Rhodes), Mattias Walin (bass), and Jon Wikan (drums) --
Olin and Welin are Swedish, Wikan from Alaska with Norwegian roots
(married to the trumpeter). Olin wrote 5 of 9 pieces, and her
electric piano is the center point of the action, vs. just one
piece for Ingrid Jensen (two for Christine, one for Wikan), so
AMG may be justified in treating this as a group effort. Still,
the trumpet is what shines brightest here.
Vince Norman/Joe McCarthy Big Band: Bright Future
(2009 , OA2): Norman plays various saxophones, tenor probably
his first choice; his father, Ray Norman, played in the big bands
of Claude Thornhill and Charlie Barnet, and he played in the Army's
Jazz Ambassadors. McCarthy, a drummer, played in the Navy's Jazz
Ensemble. Second album together, both big bands, the only thing
unconventional is that they rely on guitarist Gary Malvaso for
more than rhythm.
Hubert Nuss: The Book of Colours (2008 , Pirouet):
Pianist, b. 1964 in Germany (Neckarsulm, near Stuttgart -- interesting
to compare the bare bones English and extraordinary German Wikipedia
pages on Neckarsulm). Fourth trio album since 1998, with John Goldsby
(bass) and John Riley (drums). Rather quiet and contained.
The NYFA Collection: 25 Years of New York New Music
(1988-2010 , Innova, 5CD): I've been avoiding this, if for no
more reason than sheer length. NYFA is the New York Foundation for
the Arts, set up in 1983. Since then they've provided fellowships
for over 200 new music composers, and they're showing off 52 of them
in this set. They run the gamut, but have been programmed to flow
somewhat: the third disc is the most jazz-centric, with Iconoclast,
Rudresh Mahanthappa, Fred Ho, John Lindberg (sometimes d/b/a BLOB),
Newman Taylor Baker. The fourth and fifth shade more classical. The
first is more avant, mostly primitivist rhythm pieces. Packaged in
a double-width jewel case with a loose booklet for each disc packed
with lots of information in small type, and priced like a sampler.
Bill O'Connell: Rhapsody in Blue (2009 ,
Challenge): Pianist, b. 1953 in New York, got a rep for Latin jazz
working for Mongo Santamaria. AMG lists 7 records since 1978. Mostly
originals, the title bit from Gershwin, "Bye Bye Blackbird"; has
a few Latin flourishes, especially Richie Flores percussion on two
tracks, but is mostly straightforward, ebullient mainstream jazz,
with Steve Slagle on alto and soprano sax.
Mark O'Connor Quintet: Suspended Reality (2007 ,
OA2): Saxophonist, lists alto first but all the pics I see show him
with a tenor. Originally from Austin, TX; studied at UNT; now based in
Chicago, writing a doctoral dissertation on Joe Farrell. Second album.
Quintet includes trumpet (Victor Garcia), piano (Ben Lewis, or Mark
Maegdlin on one track), bass (Jonathan Paul), and drums (Tom Hipskind).
Wrote 8 of 10 tracks, all but "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square"
and a Johnny Griffin tune ("A Monk's Dream"). A mixed bag. At first I
was impressed by the sax tone and presence, but the trumpet detracts
from that. Then I noted the complex Afro-Cuban rhythms of "Cady's
Groove," but those too were a passing fancy. Some real talent at play
here; just not sure for what.
Mark O'Leary/Peter Friis-Nielsen/Stefan Pasborg: Støj
(2008 , Ayler): Guitar-bass-drums, respectively. O'Leary is a
guitarist from Ireland, has over a dozen albums since 2005 (although
recording dates go back to 2000). I've heard very few of these, and
don't have a good sense of what he's up to. The sound of the guitar
seems unnaturally constrained, muffled even on stretches where the
moves are dense and muscular; in comparison, Pasborg's drums are
always sharp and clear.
Lutalo "Sweet Lu" Olutosin: Tribute to Greatness
(2010, Sweet Lu Music): Singer, from Gary, IN, based in DC after
passing through Atlanta and the military. He grew up on gospel,
but found his calling in vocalese, drawing on King Pleasure and
Jon Hendricks and writing a little himself. Don't recognize the
band, but Winfield Gaylor's sax helps.
Open Graves with Stuart Dempster: Flightpatterns
(2010 , Prefecture): Sometimes I think it might be interesting
to expand my niche a bit and try to cover anything that shows up in
the post-classical contemporary composition whatever-you-call-it
grabbag -- something that the Voice covered extensively for
many years under Tom Johnson and Kyle Gann -- but then I remember
that I don't know very much about the subject and I haven't followed
it at all closely for a good twenty years. Still, I do recognize
Dempster: trombonist, b. 1936, specializes in long, slow drone
pieces done in huge, echo-laden chambers. Open Graves is Jesse
Olsen ("multi-instrumentalist") and Paul Kikuchi (percussionist),
from Seattle. This is typical of Dempster, but unless you listen
to it in your own sensory-deprivation chamber you're unlikely to
get much more than tinkles and faint echoes out of it.
Operation ID: Legs (2011, Table & Chairs): Seattle
group, or as they put it, "Seattle's (the world's?) only minimalistic,
avant-garde, electro-pop, noise-cluster, synth-rock, free-jazz, experimental,
dance-prog band": Ivan Arteaga (sax), Jared borkowski (guitar), Rob Hanlon
(synthesizers), David Balatero (bass), Evan Woodle (drums). Hard to keep
all those genre-fucks coexisting, so they tend to rotate from one to the
other. Would be eclectic if they could space them out a bit and make at
least some seem unexpected.
Orchestre National de Jazz: Around Robert Wyatt (2009
, Bee Jazz, 2CD): This looks to have been one of Daniel Yvinec's
first projects on becoming artistic director of ONJ. The songs are all
by Robert Wyatt, arranged by Vincent Artaud. The eleven songs on the
first disc all have vocals, rotating between seven guests, including
Wyatt himself on four cuts; only other guest I recognize is Rokia
Traore. The band does a nice job of straddling jazz and prog idioms.
Second disc adds four Bonus Tracks, totalling 21:37, only one repeat
from the first disc: two more Wyatt vocals, one by Traore, and a
particularly luscious one by Yael Naim.
Orchestre National de Jazz: Shut Up and Dance (2010
, Bee Jazz, 2CD): ONJ was founded in 1986, a legacy of Miterrand's
socialism, or more specifically Culture Minister Jack Lang. AMG lists
seven records since 1996, including a Led Zeppelin tribute called Close
to Heaven. Various artistic directors came and went, currently Daniel
Yvinec, managing the current ten-piece band: most notable trait here is
the large number of people with at least some use of electronics. Program
here was written by percussionist John Hollenbeck. Not my idea of dance
music, but rich in percussion and electronics, scaled between his big
band and his Claudia Quintet.
Other Dimensions in Music featuring Fay Victor: Kaiso
Stories (2010 , Silkheart): Group was originally
formed in 1989 with Roy Campbell (trumpet), Daniel Carter (alto
sax), William Parker (bass), and Rashid Bakr (drums). They cut
a group improv album for Silkhear then, then reappeared in 1997
with two albums for AUM Fidelity, one with Matthew Shipp added.
This is their fourth, with Charles Downs taking over the drums
for Bakr, but the more important change is adding vocalist Fay
Victor. As Lars-Olof Gustavsson explains in the liner notes, he
was looking to do a vocal album, found Victor, then matched the
band. Victor is a very strong, distinctive vocalist -- when I
reviewed her Cartwheels Through the Cosmos all I could
do was compare her to Betty Carter -- and she takes yet another
twist here, exploiting her Trinidadian roots with eight lyrics
from classic calypso tunes (Roaring Lion, Lord Executor, Lord
Kitchener, Mighty Sparrow) and 1939 field recordings. The free
jazz improv doesn't make this easy, introducing a tension as
Victor is torn between tying the rhymes down and surrendering
to the chaotic rhythm.
Matt Panayides: Tapestries of Song (2010 , Pacific
Coast Jazz): Guitarist, b. in Cincinnati, raised in Indianapolis; been
in New York "for more than 10 years." First album, all originals; in a
quartet with Rich Perry (tenor sax), Steve LaSpina (bass), and Dan Weiss
(drums). Liquid tone with a slight metallic sheen, remains clear even
with the sax running over it.
Evan Parker & Konstrukt: Live at Akbank Jazz Festival
(2010 , Re:konstrukt): Two solo shots on soprano sax (14:07 and 8:50),
done as only Parker can do them, the first with a lot of circular breathing,
the second less tricked up. Followed by two "collective improvisations"
with Parker sparring with a Turkish group, including a second soprano sax
(Korhan Futaci), guitar, drums, percussion. These average 22 minutes of
engaging noise, the sort of contretemps that Parker can conjure up any
time he has the inkling.
Rich Pellegrin Quintet: Three-Part Odyssey (2010
, OA2): Pianist, first album, wrote three of eight pieces,
drawing on band members R. Scott Morning (trumpet, flugelhorn),
Neil Welch (tenor sax), and Evan Flory Barnes (bass) for all but
one of the rest -- the odd piece out is "Piano Phase" by Steven
Reich. The other quintet member is drummer Chris Icasiano -- odd
enough, the one name I'm most familiar with. The eight pieces are
organized into three parts, hence the title. Postbop, but the
horns can get pretty aggressive, and the piano blocks well.
Rather like the Reich intermission too.
Ken Peplowski: In Search of . . . (2007-10 ,
Capri): Plays clarinet and tenor sax; b. 1959, AMG lists 33 albums
since 1987, plus numerous side credits, a very steady, unspectacular
retro swing player. This pads a quartet session -- Shelly Berg on
piano, Tom Kennedy on bass, Jeff Hamilton on drums -- with three
cuts from 2007 with Greg Cohen (bass) and/or Joe Ascione (drums)
and Chuck Redd (vibes) on one cut. Best when it gets lively, as in
"Peps"; otherwise this shades into prettiness, which isn't so bad
Ivo Perelman Quartet: The Hour of the Star (2010 ,
Leo): Brazilian tenor saxophonist, has been on a hot run lately and keeps
it going here. Actually just 4 of 6 cuts are quartet, with Matthew Shipp
on piano; the others just Joe Morris on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums.
Shipp pushed Ware harder, but the rhythmic density he brings here is a
plus. Perelman was never as heavy as Ware, Brötzmann, et al., but he
skits agilely around the corners.
Alex Pinto Quartet: Inner State (2010 ,
self-released): Guitarist, b. 1985 in Silver Spring, MD (near DC);
father from Mangalore, Karnataka, India, worked for World Bank
which moved the family around, including a stint in Russia; mother
from Wisconsin. Studied at McGill (in Montreal), wound up in San
Francisco. First album. Quartet includes Jon Armstrong (tenor sax),
Dave Tranchina (bass), Jaz Sawyer (drums). Pinto wrote all the
pieces, working in some Indian tunings and breaking out on his
solos, although Armstrong comes off even more muscular.
Pitom: Blasphemy and Other Serious Crimes (2010
, Tzadik): Guitarist Yoshie Fruchter's group, adopting the
name of their possibly eponymous first album, as seems to happen
over and over and again. With Jeremy Brown (violin, viola), Shanir
Ezra Blumenkranz (bass), Kevin Zubek (drums). Evidently has to do
with Yom Kippur, attonement, and "punkassjewjazz." Heavy guitar
riffs with dense metallic filler over Jewish riddims. No vocals,
so they neither make nor break it.
B+(**) [advance: Feb: 22]
Debbie Poryes/Bruce Williamson: Two & Fro (2010
, OA2): Piano-sax duets. Poryes, based in San Francisco area,
cut an album in 1982, only a couple since. Williamson plays alto sax,
soprano sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, and flute. Also infrequently
recorded, his debut in 1992, one more since, plus a couple dozen side
credits. Wrote one song each, plus do seven covers, jazz (Shorter,
Coltrane, Davis), standards, Beatles, closing with a long, slow "Ol'
Man River" that is particularly nice.
Tobias Preisig: Flowing Mood (2009 , ObliqSound):
Violinist, b. 1981 in Zurich, Switzerland; studied in Paris and at the
New School in NYC. Looks like his second album; also has a couple with
pianist George Gruntz and a few group records. Quartet with piano, bass,
and drums. Title is appropriate, especially the sense of flow. Especially
striking when the violin is clear and sharp.
B+(**) [advance: 2010-06-01]
Premier Roeles: Ka Da Ver (2009 , Vindu Music):
Sure muddled this when I listed it for unpacking, but the cover was
far from clear and I didn't recognize Dutch bassist Harmjan Roeles.
The other credits, which are even more illegible on the card insert:
Gerard van der Kamp (alto sax, soprano sax), Nico Hixijbregts (piano),
and Fred van Duijnhoven (drums). Free jazz, nearly as muddled as the
typography and as unorthodox as the packaging, but there's something
to it -- like the early 1970s discs that John Corbett uncovered as
"lost masterpieces" for Atavistic's Unheard Music Series.
Q.E.D. [Ben Thomas/Chris Stover/Alex Chadsey]: Yet What Is
Any Ocean . . . (2010 , Origin): Seattle trio; all three
write songs (Thomas 4, Chadsey 3, Stover 2). Thomas plays vibes, cajon,
bandoneon, percussion; has three previous albums. Stover plays trombone;
Chadsey piano. Makes for a nice combination of sounds, especially when
they work up a groove.
Dan Raphael/Rich Halley/Carson Halley: Children of the Blue
Supermarket (2008-09 , Pine Eagle): Raphael is a poet,
b. 1951 in Pittsburgh, changed his name from Daniel Raymond Dlugonski
(says his driver's license reads Dan Raphael Dlugonski); influenced
by the beats, studied at Cornell; moved to Portland, OR in 1977. Has
six books. I've never read him -- haven't read poetry since the late
1960s, when I read everyone he was reading, Yevtushenko included. Not
sure if he's ever been recorded before, but he's terrific here: the
phrases just shoot out, nearly every one hitting an unexpected target
somewhere beyond you. Too fast for me to scribble down -- the two I
got near the end were "because night is when we get to talk back" and
the last line, "my brain is the largest city in the world." Wish I
had a lyric sheet. Behind him is Rich Halley, a gray-haired tenor
saxophonist who spent most of his adult life as a field biologist,
and a drummer with the same last name, presumably his son. Striking
as the poetry might be on its own, the sax shadowing it heightens
every line. He has a distinctive sound and style, comparable (not
to say similar) to Von Freeman. He can't stretch out much here,
but is terrific nonetheless. My only quibble is the line equating
Kansas and Iowa: not the same at all (except in the middle of a corn
field, of course). Suggest he read Richard Manning: Grassland
and do some exploring. Not that he's wrong about Malta's low level
of coronary heart disease.
Joshua Redman/Aaron Parks/Matt Penman/Eric Harland: James
Farm (2010 , Nonesuch): Can't call this a supergroup --
only saxophonist Redman comes close, although drummer Harland's the
sort of guy who gets into such groups. But it's not Redman's backup
group either. Both Parks (piano) and Penman (bass) are on the rise,
and each writes three songs here (same as Redman, leaving one for
Harland). Parks has one previous album, a good one, on Blue Note
(which had a good run of breaking piano stars, notably Jason Moran
and Bill Charlap). Penman has two, on Fresh Sound New Talent, which
I've missed (tough to get them these days; something I miss, perhaps
a casualty of the weak dollar). Solid work all around, tuneful and
R|E|D|S: Sign of Four (2009 , Origin): Quartet,
first group record, an anagram of initials, although the order given
on the back cover and inside is: Ed Epstein (baritone sax), Bjarne
Roupé (guitar), Göran Schelin (bass), Dennis Drud (drums). Epstein
was born in El Paso, TX; studied at University of Oregon, and played
around the west coast before relocating to Sweden in early 1970s. Has
one album, a couple dozen side credits, most notably with Johnny Dyani.
Rest of the group is Danish, lightly recorded as far as I can tell --
Schelin has one album, Roupé some credits with Michael Mantler. Only
birth date I could find is Drud in 1967, and he seems to have the
least gray hair. Understated but moves smartly, the baritone a nice
contrast to the guitar.
The Essential Django Reinhardt (1949-50 ,
RCA/Legacy, 2CD): A thin slice from Reinhardt's underappreciated
postwar period, sets by two quintets with local rhythm sections
recorded in Rome. The former returns to the Hot Club formula with
old hand Stéphanne Grappelli on violin; the latter ditches the
violin in favor of clarinet and alto sax played by André Eryan.
Both work nicely, especially given a familiar tune that responds
to a little gypsy swing.
Michel Reis: Point of No Return (2009 ,
Armored): Pianist, b. 1982 in Luxembourg, studied at Berklee and
New England Conservatory -- about the two-thousandth musician I've
seen to mention George Garzone on his resume. Based in New York.
Third album, with flugelhorn (Vivek Patel) and soprano sax (Aaron
Kruziki) adorning what's at heart a piano trio album. (The horns
appear on 3 of 9 cuts, together on the first, just flugelhorn on
the other two.)
Júlio Resende Trio: You Taste Like a Song (2010
, Clean Feed): Portuguese pianist. Two previous albums were
HMs, lifted by bravura saxophone performances. This one is just
piano trio, which also does the trick. Two covers: one I don't
recognize from Radiohead, one I do from Monk.
Claire Ritter: The Stream of Pearls Project (2009-10
, Zoning): Pianist; b. 1952 in Charlotte, NC; studied with Ziggy
Hurwitz and (later) Mary Lou Williams and Ran Blake. Tenth album since
1988. Eighteen original pieces ranging from 1:41 to 4:30, each referring
to some instance of water in nature: the Charles River, Franconia Notch,
1000 Islands, Horshoe-Niagara Falls, Carolina Ponds, Ocracoke Island,
Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Currituck Beach, Pamlico Sound. Some of
the pieces are solo piano, translating her sharp eye into sure-footed
sound; others add percussion (Takashi Masuko), banjo, cello, accordion,
vibes. I like it best when the pace picks up and the accordions -- yes,
there are two -- kick in, but every piece finds its place.
Matana Roberts: Live in London (2009 , Central
Control): Alto saxophonist from Chicago, always identifies herself as
a member of AACM even though the Association was founded forty years
before she came up -- kind of like growing up in a union family. With
Robert Mitchell (piano), Tom Mason (bass), and Chris Vatalaro (drums).
First song runs 27 minutes, everything skewed at odd angles, just like
in the good old days.
Matana Roberts: Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de Couleur Libre
(2010 , Constellation): Young alto saxophonist from Chicago, has
the AACM thing going, a couple of good records under her belt. This is
an ambitious dive into black history, a large band with three saxes,
trumpet, piano, guitar, some strings, two bassists, drums, various odds
and ends, many pieces with vocals. A lot of rage, understandable enough,
but hard to follow. "I Am," for instance, starts with screams, which out
of context are faintly ridiculous, then segues into a singsong rap odd
but not untouching or uninteresting. There's something here, probably
more than just catharsis.
Roswell Rudd: The Incredible Honk (2011, Sunnyside):
The great trombonist of our era, entitled to this title even though
he doesn't do much to earn it here. Most of the record is given over
to a wide range of world music -- Cuban, Cajun, Chinese, Malian --
each with their special guests -- Michel Doucet's take on Rudd's own
"C'etait dans la nuit" is the most successful. Even better is when
Rudd strips down to basics, as on his "Waltzin' with My Baby" or an
amazingly poignant "Danny Boy."
Jochen Rueckert: Somewhere Meeting Somebody (2010
, Pirouet): Drummer, b. 1975 near Köln, Germany; moved to New
York in 1995. Second album, the first dating from 1998; AMG lists
30 side credits. Wrote 9 of 11 pieces here, adding one each from
Herbie Hancock and Martin Gore (Depeche Mode). Group looks superb
on paper -- Mark Turner (tenor sax), Brad Shepik (guitar), Matt
Penman (bass) -- but the guitar doesn't pop out, and the sax just
glides along, making few waves.
Bobby Sanabria: Tito Puente Masterworks Live!!!
(2008 , Jazzheads): Drummer, b. in New York, grew up in South
Bronx, studied at Berklee. Sixth album since 1993, the last few big
band affairs: the band here is billed as Manhattan School of Music
Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, conducted by Sanabria. This program of
Tito Puente standards blows out all the gaskets, which is to say
it sounds an awful lot like a vintage Puente disc. Looks like one
too: I imagine some customers will be fooled, not that they'll mind
Sanda: Gypsy in a Tree (2010 , Barbes):
Vocalist, Sanda Weigl, evidently her first album. Don't know how old
she is, but she's been around: born in Romania, fled for political
asylum in East Germany, then after 1968 decided that wasn't so great
either. Wound up in New York, singing traditional gypsy songs in
front of a band of Japanese expat jazz musicians: Shoko Nagai (piano,
accordion, farfisa), Stomu Takeishi (electric bass), and Satoshi
Takeishi (percussion). Also picked up some help from Doug Weiselman
(guitar, clarinet) and Ben Stapp (tuba). Picked up some Brecht-Weill
influence, but that only seems to have made the album even darker.
Scanner with the Post Modern Jazz Quartet: Blink of an Eye
(2010, Thirsty Ear): Scanner is Robin Rimbaud, b. 1964 in London, producer,
AMG credits him with 38 albums since 1992. The PMJQ advances on the classic
Modern Jazz Quartet lineup: Khan Jamal on vibes, Matthew Shipp on piano,
Michael Bisio on bass, Michael Thompson on drums. It's been several years
since Shipp worked with a DJ, so it's nice to get some of the mechanistic
beats back in play -- best part is the tail end where that's about the only
thing going. Harder to read Jamal here. He's an innovative player, even
further removed from Milt Jackson than Shipp is from John Lewis, but I'm
having trouble picking him out. If I get a real copy I'll give this another
Avery Sharpe: Running Man (2010 , JKNM):
Bassist, plays electric 6-string as well as acoustic, had a long
association with Yusef Lateef and McCoy Tyner, has 10 records
on his own since 1988, picking up the pace around 2005. Pianist
Onaje Allan Gumbs is a credible Tyner clone. Craig Handy plays
a lot of soprano sax and some tenor sax, does a nice job with
the former. Maya Sharpe sings a couple songs. Gumbs, Handy, and
drummer Yoron Israel write one each, leaving Sharpe eight.
The Lee Shaw Trio: Live at Art Gallery Reutlingen
(2009 , ARC): Pianist, b. 1926 in Oklahoma, switched from
classical to jazz after meeting Count Basie, married drummer Stan
Shaw and moved to Albany, NY, a good place to remain obscure.
First record was 1996 on avant-garde label CIMP; second came after
Stan Shaw died in 2001, and now she has eight. Not really a trio
record: first four cuts add baritone saxophonist Michael Lutzeier,
three of the last four tenor saxophinist Johannes Enders, both
impressively out front on covers like "Falling in Love Again,"
"Body and Soul," and "Stella by Starlight."
Matthew Shipp: Art of the Improviser (2010 ,
Thirsty Ear, 2CD): Pianist, one of the few I've spent enough time
with to be able to follow. A decade-plus ago he was talking like
he'd played everything he wanted to play and intended to stop, then
he got a job with an avant-rock label and started a remarkable series
of mash-ups and mergers between DJs and avant-jazzists -- his own
Nu Bop and Equilibrium and Harmony and Abyss
were highlights there. At his peak, Rolling Stone asked me
to write up a survey of his work for their CD guide -- one of the
very few jazz pianists to make a cut that excluded Ellington, Tatum,
Monk, Powell, Pullen, and loads more. Even though he's hardly ever
touched an electronic keyb, he started polling higher on electric
than on acoustic. Since then it's as if he's backed down, seeking
to regain his self-respect: he's mostly limited himself to trios
and solo outings, strictly acoustic, not as avant as in his early
days (although even then he was more indebted to Bud Powell than
to Cecil Taylor). This time, with a title befitting Brad Mehldau,
he gives you two live sets, one of each. The trio with Michael
Bisio on bass and Whit Dickey on drums flows swiftly, the bass
and drums heightening his own rhythmic conception, with a cover
of "Take the A Train" to help secure your bearings. The solo
takes more effort to chew, but plenty of food for thought there,
Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Beans/Hprizm: Knives From Heaven
(2011, Thirsty Ear): Basically, an Antipop Consortium joint, with Beans
(Robert Stewart) rapping over High Priest (Kyle Austin, here dba Hprizm)
electronics, with Shipp's piano and Parker's bass keeping it real. (Also
seem to have cornered the publishing.) Would go further with better rhymes,
although most of the parts without lyrics are intriguing synth fragments,
the piano a plus, the bass hard to sort out.
Liam Sillery: Priorité (2009 , OA2): Trumpet
player, from New Jersey, studied at Manhattan School of Music. Fifth
album since 2004, mostly quintets with sax-piano-bass-drums (one with
organ-guitar instead of piano-bass). With Matt Blostein (alto sax)
and Vinnie Sperrazza (drums), who have their own band, plus Jesse
Stacken (piano) and Thomas Morgan (bass). Postbop sophistication,
everyone fitting in nicely, doing the things well schooled groups
do these days.
Blaise Siwula/Nobu Stowe/Ray Sage: Brooklyn Moments
(2005, Konnex): More background. Siwula plays alto and tenor sax, bass
clarinet, bamboo flute; Stowe piano; Sage drums. Siwula was b. 1950 in
Detroit; has a couple dozen albums (AMG's discography starts in 1994,
which strikes me as late). All improv, rough to start although they
mix it up, and the bass clarinet part softens the blows. First record
by Siwula I've heard, so I'm way behind here.
Blaise Siwula/Dom Minasi/Nobu Stowe/Ray Sage: New York
Moments (2006, Konnex): Siwula plays soprano, alto, and
tenor sax here -- no bass clarinet; Minasi guitar; Stowe piano;
Sage drums. More spontaneous composition, group improvs, twice
dropping down to trio strength. At times it all works, but often
it feels a bit crowded, or cramped.
Tommy Smith: Karma (2010 , Spartacus): Tenor
saxophonist, b. 1967 in Scotland, studied at Berklee, had a run on
Blue Note that is long out of print, more records on Linn where his
amazing facility often outran his ideas -- for me his breakthrough
was Blue Smith in 2000, where he finally slowed down and let
his rich tones develop. Returned to Scotland after that, releasing
little publicized records on his own label, cultivating local talent,
directing a group called Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. One of
the few records I managed to get hold of was a duo with pianist
Brian Kellock, Symbiosis (2005) -- an early Jazz CG Pick
Hit, one of the best records of the decade. So I was surprised to
get this one, replete with a full color promo booklet no less: a
quartet with three of his young Scottish protégés -- Steve Hamilton
on piano, Kevin Glasgow on electric bass, Alyn Cosker on drums.
Fine group, but it all turns on the saxophonist, who seems a bit
subdued at first, until he realizes he's got to finish the job
himself, and closes with a dazzling finish.
Wadada Leo Smith: Lake Biwa (2002-04 , Tzadik):
Well-regarded album featuring Smith's Silver Orchestra. Can't find
any track credits, so presumably the whole group plays everywhere,
but I have my doubts about the three pianists, two bassists, and/or
three drummers. The other slots include alto sax (John Zorn), tuba
(Marcus Rojas), violin (Jennifer Choi), and cello (Erik Friedlander),
as well as Smith's trumpet. Four long pieces (11:14 to 23:50), dense,
cluttered, sometimes gets under your skin, then something amazing
Wadada Leo Smith's Organic: Heart's Reflections
(2011, Cuneiform, 2CD): Smith's idea of organic is plugged in: his
credit is for "electric trumpet" as well as trumpet; he uses four
electric guitarists, two electric bassists; Angelica Sanchez plays
Wurlitzer as well as acoustic piano; and he has two laptop credits.
Trumpet-led fusion inevitably recalls Miles Davis, but Smith has
been there and done that in his Yo! Miles group with Henry Kaiser.
But this is definitely post-Yo!: the mix is far more complex, as is
the groove. The opener (dedicated to Don Cherry) and the multipart
"Heart's Reflections: Splendors of Light and Purification" (which
finishes the first disc and sprawls over onto the second) pack quite
some charge. Not so sure about the last two tracks, dedicated to
Toni Morrison and Leroy Jenkins respectively. Maybe they stall a
bit, or just test my endurance.
Wadada Leo Smith's Organic: Heart's Reflections (2011,
Cuneiform, 2CD): Mostly electric, including the trumpet as well as lots
of guitars and bass, plus some keyb and laptop, which wouldn't have
been my first expectation for a band named Organic, but the AACM vet
who a decade ago took a wild turn through electric Miles (Yo! Miles)
has his own sense of history. First disc, with its Don Cherry tribute
opening and a big chunk of the title thing, is uproarious. Second
winds down the title thing and ends with tirbutes to Toni Morrison
and Leroy Jenkins, which are more halting, erratic, difficult.
Jim Snidero: Interface (2010 , Savant): Alto
saxophonist, b. 1958, eighteen records since 1987. I missed his early
stuff on Criss Cross, RED, and Double-Time; finally caught up with
Savant -- thought Crossfire was exceptional. Quartet with
bass, drums, and Paul Bollenback on guitar (always a nice touch).
Often sounds terrific, but this seems a bit cryptic.
The Rossano Sportiello Trio: Lucky to Be Me [Arbors Piano
Series, Volume 22] (2010, Arbors): Pianist, b. 1974 in
Vigevano, Italy. Plays old fashioned stride with a light touch.
Joined Dan Barrett at a festival in Switzerland in 2002, and has
increasingly worked himself into the Arbors swing network: second
album on his own, two more charming duos with bassist-singer Nicki
Parrott, side credits especially with Harry Allen. This is a trio
with Frank Tate (bass) and Dennis Mackrel (drums), old standards
which increasingly includes the 1950s (Thad Jones, J.J. Johnson,
Bill Evans, Tommy Flanagan), light and mostly delightful. Closes
with something by Bach, no doubt part of his education, just not
something I ever learned to care for.
Terrell Stafford: This Side of Strayhorn (2010 ,
MaxJazz): Nine Billy Strayhorn songs, a couple co-credited to Duke
Ellington. Saxophonist Tim Warfield also plays (soprano listed ahead
of tenor), but Stafford's trumpet and flugelhorn are nearly always up
front, well oiled and brightly polished. Bruce Barth plays piano,
Peter Washington bass, Dana Hall drums. Stafford's seventh album
since 1995. First I've heard, although I must have bumped into him
ten times on others' records. Could go higher on this.
Starlicker: Double Demon (2011, Delmark): Rob Mazurek
(cornet), Jason Adasiewicz (vibes), John Herndon (drums). Mazurek is a
guy with lots of ideas, which you can trace through the various Chicago
Underground Duo/Trio/Quartet configurations on up to his Exploding Star
Orchestra. Where the latter typically engages a dozen musicians, this
trio manages to cover the same space much more compactly. Does put more
pressure on the cornet to lead, and for once he does.
Nick Stefanacci Band: 26 Years (2010, NS): Saxophonist
(alto, tenor, soprano), also plays flute and keybs; based in New York;
first album, not much of a bio but he could be doing one of those Adele
things with his title. What throws you at first are the vocals: Kenny
Simmons, reminds me of Blood Sweat & Tears, which I don't regard as
damning although you might. (Still, what they mostly remind me of is a
relative who confided in me that she didn't like them at first until
she saw them on TV and realized they were white). Stefanacci sings some
too. I find it all rather corny, and a bit sweet, but don't expect
anyone else to.
Storms/Nocturnes [Geoffrey Keezer/Joe Locke/Tim Garland]:
Via (2010 , Origin): Second album for the trio --
previous one recorded in 2002, released with Garland's name first
and Keezer's last (UK label then, US label now). Respectively:
piano, vibes, saxophones/bass clarinet. Garland, as I said, is
British, b. 1966, has about ten albums, plays a lot of soprano
as well as tenor, was prominent enough he got "featuring" credits
while he was with Bill Bruford. Keezer, b. 1970, was Art Blakey's
last pianist. Has a dozen-plus albums since 1989 including major
labels Blue Note and Columbia. Locke you know. Aside from the
previous group album they've played around with each other. Still,
I'm surprised at how little chemistry there is. The pieces don't
mesh, and Garland and Locke are pretty unassertive.
Subtle Lip Can (2010, Drip Audio): Canadian trio:
Isaiah Ceccarelli (percussion, piano), Bernard Falaise (guitar),
Joshua Zubot (violin, low octave violin). Falaise is the best known:
b. 1965, has three records under his own name since 2000, plays in
various borderline rock/jazz groups, notably Miriodor. Zubot is
presumably related to violinist and label head Jesse Zubot (who
is credited here with mastering the disc). He also plays in a
bluegrass group called The Murder Ballads. Ceccarelli also seems
like a familiar surname, but the only jazz Ceccarellis I've been
able to find (two of them) are firmly rooted in Europe. First
group record. Fractured, somewhat random noise, quasi-industrial
with the strings and percussion. Striking at first, but doesn't
grow into something you want to spend much time with.
Helen Sung: (re)Conception (2009 , SteepleChase):
Pianist, from Houston, TX; fifth album since 2004. Piano trio, with the
stellar mainstream rhythm section of Peter Washington and Lewis Nash.
She doesn't write much -- one song here, not unusual although her debut
was about half originals; picks two Ellingtons, Shearing's title cut,
Monk, Bacherach, Loesser, others more obscure.
Sunny Voices (1981-2008 , Sunnyside): Label
sampler, from a perennial contender for best jazz label of whatever
year. Founded in 1982 by François Zalacain and Christine Berthet,
the label's taste has always been eclectic, sometimes influenced by
its ability to pick up records stranded in France. However, this
sampler is limited to vocal tracks, where eclectic tastes turn into
pretty idiosyncratic ones. Meredith D'Ambrosio has been on board
from the beginning, and they picked up Jay Clayton in the mid-'90s;
Jeanne Lee and Linda Sharrock appear via opportune reissues; most
of the later tracks come from Europe or Latin America, and two (Ana
Moura and Milton Nascimento) are picked up from Tim Ries' Stones
World. I've heard slightly more than half of the albums (10 of
17) and don't especially recommend any. They flow rather painlessly
here, but this isn't very useful.
Jacqui Sutton: Dolly & Billie (2010, Toy Blue
Typewriter): Singer, from Orlando, FL; fifty-something, first album.
The Dolly Parton-Billie Holiday concept is only explicit on the
first ("God Bless the Child") and last ("Endless Stream of Tears")
songs. In between there's a piece from Porgy and Bess, two
from BeTwixt, BeTween, & BeTwain, some more show tunes
I don't quite get. Band is called the Frontier Jazz Orchestra, led
by pianist-trombonist Henry Darragh, with Paul Chester on bango,
Max Dyer on cello, Aralee Dorough on flute, Alan Hoff on accordion,
some others. It's meant to be a little corny, and Sutton's voice
careens recklessly through the maze, scattering hay bales hither
The Sway Machinery: The House of Friendly Ghosts Vol. 1
(2010 , JDub): Brooklyn collective centered around Balkan Beat Box
guitarist-vocalist Jeremiah Lockwood, "inspired by ancient Jewish Cantorial
music, blues, afro-beat and rock," goes to Mali's Festival in the Desert
and comes back with featured singer Khaira Arby and such guests as Djilmady
Tounkara and Vieux Farka Touré, mixing it up with horns from Antibalas.
Sounds interesting, and is, but the parts clash more than mesh, and much
of the interest comes from the wreckage.
Craig Taborn: Avenging Angel (2010 , ECM):
Pianist, from Detroit, made his first impression in James Carter's
quartet. Has a half dozen records under his own name, starting with
a trio in 1994 and picking up the pace after 2001, and has done a
lot of session work lately. In particular, he's played a lot of
Fender Rhodes and is one of the few pianists who seem to improve
on it. This, however, is acoustic piano, solo: figure it as a move
to establish his bona fides as a real jazz pianist, and it mostly
does just that.
Taeko: Voice (2009-10 , Flat Nine): Singer,
full name Taeko Fukao, born and raised near Kyoto, Japan; based in
New York, not sure how long. Second album. Wrote one song, picks
two more from Japanese sources, picks others from Ellington to Monk
to Hancock and Shorter to Marvin Gaye and Sly Stone. Scats quite a
bit early on.
Trio Richochet: February 2006 (2006, self-released):
Nobu Stowe (piano), Tyler Goodman (bass), Alan Munshower (drums). First
of a bunch of background music Stowe sent me. Aims at "post-fusion,"
where "post" is something new and "fusion" is a bit of everything. One
cover ("Nardis"), the rest Stowe originals. Bright, upbeat, dynamic;
some ballad-type things to mix it up.
Jeremy Udden's Plainville: If the Past Seems So Bright
(2011, Sunnyside): Saxophonist, from Plainville, MA, the town name he
took for his second album and kept for his group on this his third.
Studied in Boston, played in Either/Orchestra, now based in Brooklyn.
Credit here read alto sax, soprano sax, and clarinet. Group includes
Brandon Seabrook on guitar, Pete Rende on keyboards (Fender Rhodes,
pump organ, Wurlitzer), Eivind Opsvik on bass, R.J. Miller on drums.
He seems to be seeking out plainness, hiding behind nearly transparent
electronic chimes, a strategy that turns out to be rather winning in
spite of itself. Two songs have vocals, as understated as everything
Diego Urcola Quartet: Appreciation (2010 ,
CAM Jazz): Trumpet player, b. 1965 in Argentina, fourth album
since 2003. Fronts a very capable group with Luis Perdomo on
piano, Hans Gawischnig on bass, and Eric McPherson on drums --
those name "featuring" on the front cover, plus Yosvany Terry
is credited with chekere. All originals, each dedicated to
Nicholas Urie: My Garden (2010 , Red Piano):
Composer, b. 1985, listed as conductor here. Second album. Music for
poems by Charles Bukowski, the lyrics sung by Christine Correa, who
always strikes me as a tad operatic. Attractive packaging, but the
light blue type on off white is too subtle, downright unreadable.
The music itself has numerous interesting passages, the group only
slightly below big band weight (4 reeds, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones,
piano-bass-drums), mostly names I recognize including John Hébert,
who usually lifts everything he touches. Problem here is a common
one: the curse of trying to wrap music around words meant to stand
on their own.
Colin Vallon Trio: Rruga (2010 , ECM): Pianist,
b. 1980 in Lausanne, Switzerland; based and teaches in Bern; third album
since 2004. Piano trio with Patrice Moret on bass and Samuel Rohrer on
drums, both contributing songs. Played it three times. Not much snap,
mostly quiet majesty.
John Vanore & Abstract Truth: Contagious Words
(2010 , Acoustical Concepts): Trumpet player, composer, arranger,
leader of the big band he calls Abstract Truth. About the only bio I
have on Vanore is that he played for Woody Herman in the 1970s, and put
the first edition of his band together in 1981. Last year he reissued
a 1991 album called Curiosity. This one is new, cut in June and
December of 2010. Not very well defined in the early going, but sneaks
up on your and closes very strong, getting a lot out the guitar and
slipping a French horn into the brass.
Johnny Varro: Speak Low (2011, Arbors): Pianist, b. 1930,
cites Jess Stacy and Teddy Wilson as influences, came up with Buddy Hackett,
played for Eddie Condon; not much discography as a leader until he hooked
up with Arbors in 1992, but this is his 11th album with them (side credits
go back to 1954 with Phil Napoleon). Standards, with Warren Vaché (cornet)
and Harry Allen (tenor sax) vying to see who can be the most debonair,
with Nicki Parrott (bass) and Chuck Riggs (drums). Maybe a little too
Roseanna Vitro: The Music of Randy Newman (2009-10
, Motéma): Standards singer, b. 1951 on the Texas side of
Texarkana. Eleventh album since 1982. Leans too hard on Newman's
movie music, not trusting his biting wit or irony -- you'd hardly
recognize what "Sail Away" is about. Also leans too hard on Sara
Caswell's violin. The extra sincerity does offer some returns on
"In Germany Before the War."
Cuong Vu 4-tet: Leaps of Faith (2010 , Origin):
Trumpet player, b. 1969 in what was then called Saigon, in Vietnam.
Came to US in 1975, grew up in Bellevue, WA; studied at New England
Conservatory; spent some time in New York, then moved back to Seattle,
teaching at UW and having a pretty significant impact on the area. He's
long had a fusion focus, and I haven't been much impressed by what he's
come up with, but this is an advance: adding a second electric bassist
(Luke Bergman) to his trio (Stomu Takeishi on electric bass and Ted Poor
on drums) adds a lot to what I reckon you can call the grunge factor --
all the more amusing when burying standards like "Body and Soul" and
"My Funny Valentine" but it neatly sets off the trumpet.
Giancarlo Vulcano: My Funny Detective (2008 ,
Distant Second): Guitarist, grew up and is based in New York, second
album, the soundtrack for a movie that doesn't exist (a film noir,
no less). Credits include working as music director for the TV show
30 Rock. This has some of the usual traits of soundtracks:
short vignettes (6 of 12 finish in less than two minutes), fill up
space, don't leave much aftertaste. Most distinctive thing is the
use of two trombones (Brian Drye and Ryan Keberle) as the only horns.
Weasel Walter/Mary Halvorson/Peter Evans: Electric Fruit
(2009 , Thirsty Ear): Drums, guitar, trumpet, respectively -- no
credits on cover or insert, but someone plays drums. Evans and Halvorson
are famous names by now -- Halvorson more like infamous, since I keep
missing out on what are supposed to be her best records. Took some more
effort to dig up the dirt on Walter: b. 1972 in Rockford, IL; given name
Christopher Todd Walter; Hal Russell protege, although he couldn't have
been more than 20 when Russell died, but that left him in the company of
Mars Williams and Ken Vandermark. Formed the Flying Luttenbachers by
1994: AMG lists them as Jazz, but under Styles they're Math Rock and
Grindcore and Black Metal as well as Avant-Garde Jazz, so you tell me.
AMG list 7 albums under Walter's name, plus he has various other groups
and projects, including Lake of Dracula, Burmese, XBXRX, Hatewave, and
Zs (albeit more recently than the one impressive record I've heard).
Abstract and gravelly, with Halvorson's note-bending guitar tricks and
the trumpet blasts shooting past each other, the drums off enough to
give it all some coherence.
Cedar Walton: The Bouncer (2011, High Note): Pianist,
b. 1934, has a ton of records since 1967, this one being typical, both
in his lyrical runs and in the way he handles horns -- Vincent Herring
(alto sax, tenor sax, flute) on 5 cuts, Steve Turre (trombone) on two.
Wrote six of eight cuts, adding one from bassist David Williams, recalling
one from J.J. Johnson.
David S. Ware/Cooper-Moore/William Parker/Muhammad Ali:
Planetary Unknown (2010 , AUM Fidelity): The new quartet,
but it doesn't quite seem settled yet. The change at piano is intriguing,
but Cooper-Moore has far less impact than Matthew Shipp did, especially in
the old quartet's maturity. As for the new drummer, Rashied Ali's younger
brother can hang with this crowd, but he's the senior citizen here. What's
harder to gauge is Ware: his first three cuts on tenor strike me as routine
(not a word that often occurs to me with Ware), the next three on soprano
more intriguing, as is the finale on stritch. It's gotten to where I expect
Ware to blow me away every time -- well, maybe not solo -- so I'm confused
here, or maybe just slow.
Davis S. Ware/Cooper-Moore/William Parker/Muhammad Ali:
Planetary Unknown (2010 , AUM Fidelity): Continuing
rehab, testing out a new quartet with two subs older than the old
quartet -- no point in even thinking about replacing Parker -- with
the old fire coming back, colored a bit by switching to soprano three
tracks in, then winding up the seventh on stritch. Ware's soprano is
distinctive but wears a bit thin. Had my doubts at first about
Cooper-Moore's piano, but focusing in I hear sharp angled comping,
not as fluid as Shipp but suits the leader fine.
Marcin Wasilewski Trio: Faithful (2010 , ECM):
Piano trio, with Slawomir Kurkiewicz on bass and Michal Miskiewicz on
drums, first came to our attention as Tomas Stanko's "young Polish band"
a few years back. Third album together, growing ever more refined, and
perhaps as a result less interesting.
Christian Weidner: The Inward Song (2010, Pirouet):
Alto saxophonist, b. 1976 in Kassel, Germany; studied in Hamburg,
Stockholm, and Berlin, where he is currently based. Second album.
Quartet with Colin Vallon on piano (Vallon has a new ECM album in
my queue), Henning Sieverts on bass, and Samuel Rohrer on drums.
All originals. Light, delicate sound, almost lurks behind the
piano, giving it all an ECM-lite feel.
Bastian Weinhold: River Styx (2010 , self-released):
Drummer, b. 1986 in Germany; studied at Conservatory of Amsterdam, New
School, and Manhattan School of Music; based in New York. First album,
quintet with tenor sax (Adam Larson), piano (Pascal Le Boeuf), guitar
(Nils Weinhold), bass (Linda Oh), and drums. Very postbop, lots of time
shifts and slippery harmony, all quite fancy.
Mark Weinstein: Jazz Brasil (2010 , Jazzheads):
Flautist, plays an alto flute on the cover pic, credits also specify
concert and bass flutes. Has about 15 records going back to 1996,
mostly Latin-themed although one early title is Shifra Tanzt,
and a more recent one leaned on Monk for Straight No Chaser.
The Brazilian twist here comes from the rhythm section -- Nilson
Matta on bass and Marceito Pellitteri on percussion -- and they
come alive on the few Brazilian tunes, especially Ary Barrosa's
"Brazil." Their treatment is more cautious on two Monks, "Nefertiti,"
pieces by Herbie Mann and Joe Henderson. Kenny Barron plays piano.
Walt Weiskopf Quartet: Recorded Live April 8, 2008 Koger
Hall University of South Carolina (2008 , Capri):
Presented as a memoir of late drummer Tony Reedus, who died Nov.
16, 2008; the most upfront and personable outing I've heard by
the mainstream tenor saxophonist, plus a strong assist from
pianist Renee Rosnes -- haven't heard much from her since her
Blue Note contract lapsed nearly a decade ago. Paul Gill plays
David Weiss & Point of Departure: Snuck Out (2008
, Sunnyside): Trumpet player, b. 1964 in New York City but studied
at NTU. Fourth album, first two on Fresh Sound New Talent 2001-04, third
last year called Snuck In. State of the art postbop quintet, with
Nir Felder's guitar in the middle, J.D. Allen's tenor sax the contrasting
horn, and the rhythm (Matt Clohesy on bass and Jamire Williams on drums)
slipping and sliding every which way.
Ezra Weiss: The Shirley Horn Suite (2010 ,
Roark): Pianist, b. 1979, grew up in Arizona, studied in Oregon,
wound up in New York. Fifth album since 2002. (I still have an
earlier one, Alice in Wonderland: A Jazz Musical, wedged
in my queue; something I should do something about.) A tribute
to Shirley Horn, focusing more to her underrated piano than on
her voice -- although the very similar sounding Shirley Nanette
sings four songs (all Weiss originals). Weiss wrote five of
nine pieces, taking the four covers as instrumentals for a
tasteful piano trio.
Mort Weiss: Mort Weiss Meets Bill Cunliffe (2010
, SMS Jazz): Or to continue the title further: With Special
Guest the Undisputed Father of the Jazz Flute Sam Most. I can't
argue, although it looks like James Moody played a little jazz flute
before Most's 1953 debut, and while I can't find any credits for
Frank Wess before 1954, he's a few years older than Moody, nearly
a decade older than Most. Most cut ten records 1953-59, then a few
more for Xanadu 1976-79. The better known flautist is Herbie Mann,
a few months older than Most but with no records until 1954. Most
always struck me as someone trying to translate Charlie Parker to
flute as literally as possible. Not a great or even very notable
innovation, but he's much more listenable than nearly all of the
jazz flute that followed. Still, he adds little more than color
and background here. Pianist Cunliffe is superb at establishing
the swing rhythm, guitarist Ron Eschete' (no idea why he prefers
the apostrophe to an acute accent) swings too, and the leader's
clarinet is bright and cheery. A nice diversion is Peter Marx's
spoken word "Readings of Kerouac 1" which is really about Slim
Gaillard. Out of character is the cut Weiss turned over to his
grandson. Weiss, you should recall, started to leave his mark
after retirement age. Fifth album I've heard since 2006, and
very nearly his best. [By the way, my copy has a manufacturing
defect which renders the last cut interminable.]
Neil Welch: Boxwork (2009 , Table & Chairs):
Tenor saxophonist, b. 1985, from Seattle, studied at University of
Washington, has a couple of albums. This one is solo, something that
often has the air of practice exercises. He takes this slow and soft,
with gentle sonic modulation, more atmospheric than anything else.
Still, the low pitch keeps you from getting too comfortable.
Kenny Werner: Balloons (2010 , Half Note):
Pianist, b. 1951 in Brooklyn, has 25-30 albums since 1977, considered
a postbop player -- I've heard very few of his records, and flagged
his Guggenheim-winning orchestral No Beginning No End as a
dud. Still, he bounces back impressively here, using the oldest trick
in the book: a really first-rate band, recorded live: David Sanchez
(tenor sax), Randy Brecker (trumpet), John Pattitucci (bass), and
Antonio Sanchez (drums). Four pieces stretch out, the horns taking
especially strong solos, the piano holding the fort together. Ends
with a drum flourish.
Max Wild: Tamba (2008 , ObliqSound): Alto
saxophonist, from Zimbabwe; second album. "Tamba" means dance in
Shona, probably the language of most of the lyrics here -- sung
by various people, primarily Sam Mtukudzi. Has a joyous township
vibe to it.
B+(**) [advance: 2010]
Jessica Williams Trio: Freedom Trane (2007 ,
Origin): Pianist, b. 1948, has close to 40 records since 1976, a
lot of solos, many more trios. Four Coltrane songs here, plus four
originals. Impeccable, as usual.
Anthony Wilson: Campo Belo (2010 , Goat Hill):
Guitarist, b. 1968, son of big band arranger Gerald Wilson, has ten
or so albums since 1997. This is a quartet with a Brazilian rhythm
section: André Mehmari (piano, accordion), Guto Wirtti (bass), and
Edu Ribeiro (drums). Not stereotypically Brazilian, but light and
Curtis Woodbury (2010, Jazz Hang): Plays violin
and tenor sax, impressive on both but plays much more violin here.
Eponymous debut album. Don't have any bio, but album was recorded
in Utah, seems to be where he's from. Group includes another
Woodbury, Brian, on trombone, plus piano, bass, and drums. Two
originals, six covers -- Scott Joplin, Astor Piazzolla, Sonny
Stitt, Michel Camilo, Dave Holland, "You Are My Sunshine." Nice
Nate Wooley Quintet: (Put Your) Hands Together (2010
, Clean Feed): Trumpet player, not a lot under his own name but
a couple dozen side credits since 2002. Group spread out with Josh
Sinton on bass clarinet, Matt Moran on vibes, Eivind Opsvik bass, and
Harris Eisenstadt drums. Not much chemistry between the horns, and
the vibes seem like an afterthought. "Elsa" has an appealing Monkish
jerikness to it.
John Zorn: Nova Express (2010 , Tzadik): Ten
Zorn compositions, played by a piano-bass-vibes-drums quartet: John
Medeski, Trevor Dunn, Kenny Wollesen, Joey Baron. Takes a book title
from William S. Burroughs -- song titles include "Dead Fingers Talk"
and "The Ticket That Exploded." Nothing MJQ-ish. The vibes add an
electric ring to the piano, but compete in the same space, and both
can clash fiercely. Does tail off into a nice groove-laden thing at
The following records, carried over from the
done and print
files at the start of this cycle, were also under consideration for
- Afterfall (2008 , Clean Feed) B+(***)
- Aida Severo (2007 , Slam) B+(***)
- Rodrigo Amado: Searching for Adam (2010, Not Two) A-
- Lynne Arriale: Convergence (2010 , Motéma) B+(***)
- David Ashkenazy: Out With It (2009, Posi-Tone) B+(***)
- Michaël Attias: Twines of Colesion (2008 , Clean Feed) B+(***)
- Jerry Bergonzi: Convergence (2008 , Savant) A-
- Tim Berne: Insomnia (1997 , Clean Feed) B+(***)
- Carlos Bica + Matéria-Prima (2008 , Clean Feed) B+(***)
- Ketil Bjørnstad: Remembrance (2009 , ECM) B+(***)
- BLOB: Earphonious Swamphony (2010, Innova) B+(***)
- Dan Block: Plays the Music of Duke Ellington: From His World to Mine (2009 , Miles High) B+(***)
- Jane Ira Bloom: Wingwalker (2010 , Outline) B+(***)
- Hadley Caliman & Pete Christlieb: Reunion (2009 , Origin) B+(**)
- Chaise Lounge: Symphony Lounge (2010, Big Round) B+(***)
- Conference Call: What About . . . ? (2007-08 , Not Two, 2CD) A-
- The Convergence Quartet: Song/Dance (2009 , Clean Feed) B+(***)
- Contact: Five on One (2010, Pirouet) B+(***)
- The Cookers: Cast the First Stone (2010 , Plus Loin Music) B+(***)
- Correction: Two Nights in April (2009 , Ayler) B+(***)
- Mirio Cosottini/Andrea Melani/Tonino Miano/Alessio Pisani: Cardinal (2009, Grimedia Impressus) B+(***)
- Ernest Dawkins' New Horizons Ensemble: The Prairie Prophet (2010 , Delmark) A-
- Decoy & Joe McPhee: Oto (2009 , Bo Weavil) B+(***)
- Todd DelGiudice: Pencil Sketches (2010 , OA2) B+(***)
- The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band: Gypsy Rendezvous, Vol. One (2008 , Origin) B+(***)
- De Nazaten & James Carter: For Now (2009 , Strotbrocck) A-
- Carlo De Rosa's Cross-Fade: Brain Dance (2009 , Cuneiform) A-
- Ismael Dueñas Trio: Jazz Ateu (2009 , Quadrant) A-
- Hilario Duran Trio: Motion (2010, Alma) B+(***)
- Peter Epstein & Idée Fixe: Abstract Realism (2008 , Origin) B+(***)
- Ellery Eskelin/Gerry Hemingway: Inbetween Spaces (2010, Auricle) A-
- John Fedchock NY Sextet: Live at the Red Sea Jazz Festival (2008 , Capri) B+(***)
- Oscar Feldman: Oscar e Familia (2009, Sunnyside) B+(***)
- Ken Filiano & Quantum Entanglements: Dreams From a Clown Car (2008 , Clean Feed) B+(***)
- Free Fall: Gray Scale (2008 , Smalltown Superjazz) A-
- Stephen Gauci/Kris Davis/Michael Bisio: Three (2008 , Clean Feed) B+(***)
- Dave Glasser: Evolution (2010, Here Tiz) B+(***)
- Gord Grdina Trio with Mats Gustafsson: Barrel Fire (2009 , Drip Audio) A-
- Bob Greene: St. Peter Street Strutters (1964 , Delmark) B+(***)
- Matt Herskowitz: Jerusalem Trilogy (2009-10 , Justin Time) B+(***)
- Ben Holmes Trio (2009, self-released) B+(***)
- Honey Ear Trio: Steampunk Serenade (2010 , Foxhaven) A-
- Humanization 4tet: Electricity (2009 , Ayler) A-
- Jon Irabagon: Foxy (2010, Hot Cup) A-
- Jaruzelski's Dream: Jazz Gawronski (2008 , Clean Feed) B+(***)
- The Jazz Passengers: Reunited (1995-2010 , Justin Time) B+(***)
- Joan Jeanrenaud/PC Muñoz: Pop-Pop (2010, Deconet) B+(***)
- Barb Jungr: The Men I Love: The New American Songbook (2009 , Naim) B+(***)
- Eero Koivistoinen & Co.: 3rd Version (1973 , Porter) A-
- Andrew Lamb Trio: New Orleans Suite (2005 , Engine) B+(***)
- Brian Landrus: Foward (2007 , Cadence Jazz) B+(***)
- Gianni Lenoci: Ephemeral Rhizome (2008 , Evil Rabbit) B+(***)
- The David Liebman Trio: Lieb Plays the Blues à la Trane (2008 , Challenge) B+(***)
- The Giuseppi Logan Quintet (2009 , Tompkins Square) B+(***)
- Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord: Accomplish Jazz (2009, Hot Cup) B+(***)
- Brian Lynch: Unsung Heroes (2008-09 , Hollistic Music Works) B+(***)
- Rebecca Martin: When I Was Long Ago (2010, Sunnyside) B+(***)
- Alexander McCabe: Quiz (2009-10 , CAP) A-
- Terrence McManus/Gerry Hemingway: Below the Surface Of (2008 , Auricle) A-
- Sebastiano Meloni/Adriano Orrù/Tony Oxley: Improvised Pieces for Trio (2008 , Big Round) B+(***)
- Moon Hotel Lounge Project: Into the Ojalá (2010 , Frosty Cordial) A-
- Rakalam Bob Moses/Greg Burk: Ecstatic Weanderings (2002 , Jazzwerkstatt) B+(***)
- Mostly Other People Do the Killing: The Coimbra Concert (2010 , Clean Feed, 2CD) B+(***)
- William Parker & the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra: For Percy Heath (2005 , Victo) A-
- Adam Pieronczyk: Komeda: The Innocent Sorcerer (2009 , Jazzwerkstatt) A-
- Mike Reed's People, Places & Things: Stories and Negotiations (2008 , 482 Music) B+(***)
- Júlio Resende: Assim Falava Jazzatustra (2009, Clean Feed) B+(***)
- Scenes [John Stowell/Jeff Johnson/John Bishop]: Rinnova (2009 , Origin) B+(***)
- Adam Schroeder: A Handful of Stars (2010, Capri) B+(***)
- Trygve Seim/Andreas Utnem: Purcor (2008 , ECM) B+(***)
- Serafin: Love's Worst Crime (2010, Serafin) B+(***)
- Sean Smith Quartet: Trust (2011, Smithereen) B+(***)
- Sonic Liberation Front: Meets Sunny Murray (2002-08 , High Two) B+(***)
- Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore: Three Kinds of Happiness (2009 , Not Two) B+(***)
- Steve Swell's Slammin' the Infinite: 5000 Poems (2007 , Not Two) A-
- Jamaaladeen Tacuma: For the Love of Ornette (2010 , Jazzwerkstatt) B+(***)
- Tarbaby: The End of Fear (2010, Posi-Tone) B+(***)
- Tide Tables [Paul Kikuchi/Alexander Vittum]: Lost Birdsongs (2005 , Prefecture) B+(**)
- The Ullmann/Swell 4: News? No News! (2010, Jazzwerkstatt) B+(***)
- Matt Vashlishan: No Such Thing (2008 , Origin) B+(***)
- David S. Ware: Onecept (2009 , AUM Fidelity) A-
- Doug Webb: Renovations (2009 , Posi-Tone) B+(***)
- Howard Wiley and the Angola Project: 12 Gates to the City (2008 , HNIC Music) B+(***)
- Zed Trio: Lost Transitions (2009 , Ayler) B+(***)