Jazz Prospecting: September 2013

Adventure Music: 10 Years (2003-2012 [2012], Adventure Music, 3CD): Mike Marshall, a mandolin player who started in bluegrass then developed an affection for choro, founded this label in 2003, initially to document his own collaborations with Brazilian musicians, then to give the latter a US outlet, and over time has expanded to include other musicians from South America, their allies and fellow travelers. I've been fortunate enough to follow this label from shortly after its inception, and have 66 of their records in my ratings database -- my favorites are the Moacir Santos compilation, Ouro Negro, and the 2006 record Renewed Impressions, by Brazilian trombonist Vittor Santos. This expansive label compilation was selected by vocalist Monday Michiru, and arguably favors singers a bit too much, but does a nice job of plotting out the label's breadth. B+(*)

Howard Alden/Andy Brown Quartet: Heavy Artillery (2012 [2013], Delmark): Two guitarists, retro-swing guys with special fondness for George Van Eps, backed with bass and drums. Alden, based in New York, is well established with close to 30 albums since 1985, most on Concord or Arbors. Brown is much younger, based in Chicago, has an album under his own name and a nice duo backing his wife, singer Petra van Nuis (Far Away Places). Nothing heavy here, let alone artillery-like: title song actually comes from Django Reinhardt, another shared hero. B+(***)

Geri Allen: Grand River Crossings: Motown & Motor City Inspirations (2012 [2013], Motéma Music): Solo piano, except for four duos: three with trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, one with alto saxophonist David McMurray. Three Allen originals, the rest Detroit themed, mostly Motown -- "Tears of a Clown" benefits from the subtle pianistic twists, but "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" is short on thrust. The horns jump out at you, while the piano sneaks slyly around. B+(**)

Lucian Ban: Elevation/Mystery (2010 [2013], Sunnyside): Pianist, b. 1969 in Romania, based in New York. Seventh or so album since 2002, most with baritone saxophonist Alex Harding, and second one this year, following Transylvanian Concert with Mat Maneri on ECM. That stretched out his folkloric/classical side, but this one -- a quartet with Abraham Burton (tenor sax), John Hébert (bass), and Eric McPherson (drums) -- recorded live at Cornelia Street Cafe in NYC sets him in an avant context, especially when the saxophonist works up a full head of steam. Nor is a quiet spot with just the bassist any less interesting. By the way, the "Mystery" part of the title is obscured -- how clever some graphic designers are! I missed it on unpacking, and most likely others will too. A-

Cheryl Bentyne and Mark Winkler: West Coast Cool (2013, Summit): Standards singers, both have long careers; Bentyne principally with Manhattan Transfer since 1979 but also 13 albums under her own name; Winkler with a dozen albums since 1985. The "West Coast Cool" songs start with Dave Brubeck and Chet Baker, include a Neal Hefti piece by that title, and inevitably end up with Nat Cole and Bobby Troup medleys -- the warmer and more personable Winkler makes "Hungry Man" a highlight. B+(**)

Brandon Bernstein Trio: But Beautiful (2012 [2013], Jazz Collective): Guitarist, based in Los Angeles, teaches at Pasadena City College, co-authored a book of Kurt Rosenwinkel transcriptions for Mel Bay; website refers to his "CDs" (plural), but I've only found one previous one, a collection of Tom Waits songs. This trio, with bass and drums, is all standards (two by Jimmy Van Heusen). Has a light tough, with a bit of Django. B+(**)

Ted Brancato: The Next Step (2012 [2013], Origin): Pianist, grew up in Seattle, "has worked in and around NYC" almost 30 years. This looks to be his first album: all original pieces, with one co-credit to percussionist Mayra Casales. Best known band member is bassist Ron Carter, probably the most recorded musician of all time. Credits list runs long, including guitarists with names like Carri Coltrane and Woody Allen, but the record is most attractive when he keeps it uncluttered. B+(*)

Brasslands [A Motion Picture Soundtrack] (2013, Evergreene): As usual, I have no idea about the film, but the soundtrack features two sets of Balkan brass bands, one from the old country (Serbia) and the other from Brooklyn -- Slavic Soul Party, with its jazz luminaries, I've run across before, but Veveritse Brass Band, Raya Brass Band, and Ziatine Uste are new to me. Same for the Serbian groups -- orchestras led by Dejan Advic, Demiran Cerimovic, and Dejan Petrovic. Not sure if any of them aim for the dance beats popular with Balkan bands in Berlin and Wien, but the rhythm is as central as the brass here and it isn't folkloric -- it flows. B+(**)

Brussels Jazz Orchestra/Joe Lovano: Wild Beauty (2012 [2013], Half Note): Lovano is listed on cover and spine as "featuring" but he's more than just the guest draw here; he's the main point. Title could be, or subtitle probably is -- parsing album covers is such a wretched business -- Sonata Suite for the Brussels Jazz Orchestra, but I'll stick to the big type. The other name phrase on the cover is "arranged by Gil Goldstein." The compositions belong to Lovano, so it would make most sense to credit the whole thing to Lovano and combine title: subtitle. The big band -- no strings here other than guitar and bass -- has a huge sound and gallops hard, its occasional lurches and lapses annoying, but the leader towers above it all, a talent that goes back to his days with Woody Herman. B+(***)

Marnix Busstra: Sync Dreams (2013, Buzz Music): Dutch guitarist, b. 1965, no idea how extensive his discography is, since at least some of it is buried in groups like Buzz Bros Band or credited to vibraphonist Mike Mainieri (co-leader of a quartet). This is a quartet with a pianist named Rembrandt and a bassist (acoustic) named Dooyeweerd. Brings out his inner John Scofield in particularly appealing ways. B+(**)

Cacaw: Stellar Power (2012 [2013], Skirl): Trio -- Oscar Noriega (sax), Landon Knoblock (keyboards), Jeff Davis (drums) -- but Knoblock wrote all the pieces. The electric keybs give this a flair that is alternately cheesy and rocky, at odds with the more avant inclinations of the others. Sometimes that even works for them. Favorite title: "Neutron Star, Eating Its Binary Neighbor." B+(**)

Lou Caimano/Eric Olsen: Dyad: Plays Puccini (2012 [2013], self-released): Alto sax and piano, respectively. Second album together. Olsen has a previous album under his own name, two as Urban Survival. Tunes from the opera writer, done straightforwardly with instrumentation that plays up the melodies -- this was, after all, the pop music of the 19th century -- without those horrible voices. B

Chicago Jazz Orchestra: Burstin' Out! (2012 [2013], Origin): Originally founded in 1978, currently directed by Jeff Lindberg, don't have a good sense of their recording history (only album in their web store is this one). Also don't recognize hardy any of the big band musicians, let alone the phalanx of strings that become noticeable whenever this hits a dull patch. However, that rarely happens: the standards repertoire is stellar, and "guest vocalist" Cyrille Aimée is a real sparkplug -- best big band singer I've heard in years. B+(***)

Claudia Quintet: September (2013, Cuneiform): John Hollenbeck's soft-toned group -- Matt Moran's vibraphone is more than ever the focal center, with accordion (Red Wienenge) and clarinet/tenor sax (Chris Speed) for color, and bass to round out the bottom. All pieces composed in various Septembers since 2001, a pivot point in Hollenbeck's career. One samples a speech -- sounds like Franklin Roosevelt, and is titled "1936 We Warn You," but I don't follow why he should be complaining about "the present administration" which would have been his -- chopping it up and replaying it for its musical tones. The rest are percussion jams, as inspired as ever. A-

Stephan Crump's Rosetta Trio: Thwirl (2012 [2013], Sunnyside): Bassist, eighth album since 1997, a turning point being 2006's Rosetta, where he introduced this trio with Liberty Ellman on acoustic guitar and Jamie Fox on electric guitar, with 2010's Rosetta Trio album Reclamation the breakthrough. The group's sound has always been meticulously balanced so no single instrument dominates, but the risk is that none will stand out, which is the problem here. B+(**)

Joey DeFrancesco: One for Rudy (2013, High Note): Organ trio, with Steve Cotter on guitar and Ramon Banda on drums. Rudy is Van Gelder, possibly the most famous jazz producer and recording engineer of the last 50-60 years, and that concept sets up a vintage songbook -- Davis/Powell, Rollins, Monk, Hubbard, "Stardust," finished off with an original for the title track. No pumping or grinding, just a pleasing light touch on everything. B+(***)

Tom Dempsey: Saucy (2013, Planet Arts): Guitarist, five albums since 1998, backed by organ (Ron Oswanski) and drums (Alvin Atkinson) here, a soul jazz move when he's playing Buddy Montgomery or Lee Morgan or his own originals, less soulful with Paul Simon. B+(*)

Anne Drummond: Revolving (2012 [2013], Origin): Flute player, from Seattle, studied at Manhattan School of Music and is based in New York; third album, also plays piano on three cuts, yielding to Benny Green on six, David Chesky on the other; the tracks without Green have Vic Juris on guitar and/or Dave Eggar on cello. Two Green pieces, one Pixinguinha, the rest by Drummond. Aims for a chamber feel, but also comes off a bit corny, which is probably a plus. B

Charles Evans: Subliminal Leaps (2013, More Is More): Baritone saxophonist, two previous albums including his solo debut, has a chamberish quartet here with David Liebman's soprano sax for contrast, Ron Stabinsky on piano, and Tony Marino on bass. No drummer to rush things along. B+(**)

The Matthew Finck Jonathan Ball Project: It's Not That Far (2012 [2013], self-released): Finck plays guitar, Ball sax (tenor in the photo). Band includes Jay Anderson (bass), Adam Nussbaum (drums), and on three tracks Randy Brecker (trumpet/flugelhorn). Neither leader, unlike the others, has much prior discography, but the sax is striking, and as mainstream jazz this is entertaining and substantial -- e.g., "The Way You Look Tonight." B+(**)

FivePlay Jazz Quintet: Five & More (2012 [2013], Auraline): Quintet, principally Tony Corman (guitar) and Laura Klein (guitar), who split the writing 5-4, plus Dave Tidball (sax, clarinet, wrote one song), Paul Smith (acoustic bass), Alan Hall (drums). They have two previous albums, this one adding guests -- four clarinets on two cuts, four trombones on two other, some vibes. B

Erik Friedlander: Claws and Wings (2013, Skipstone): Cellist, composed this in the months after his wife of 22 years died, at once somber, affectionate, and lovely. With Sylvie Courvoisier on piano and Ikue Mori on laptop. B+(***)

John Funkhouser: Still (2013, Jazsyzygy): Pianist, has at least one previous album under his own name, plus the 1998 eponymous group album Funkhouse suggesting that his name overdetermines his style. Mostly trio, plus guitar on 3 (of 8) cuts and Aubrey Johnson vocalizing on two cuts. Three covers: "House of the Rising Sun," "My Romance," "Little Rootie Tootie." Does get the funk idea. B+(*)

Kenny Garrett: Pushing the World Away (2013, Mack Avenue): Alto saxophonist, eighteen albums since 1984, graduated to a major label in 1989 and has been one of the most prominent mainstream players ever since. Wrote all original material except for Bacharach-David's "I Say a Little Prayer," but "Chucho's Mambo" (for Valdes) and the calypso "J'ouvert (Homage to Sonny Rollins)" don't fall far from the tree. Switches between two core bands (with common bassist Corcoran Holt), swaps in guests including strings, and fills up 72:06. Troubles me that the above-listed pro forma pieces are the most appealing -- the others don't stand out even when they push hard. B [advance]

Tom Goehring: A Reflected Journey (2013, Mengli Music): Trumpet player, based in New York, plays in big bands led by Jamie Begian and Darcy James Argue; first album on his own, a hard bop/post-bop quintet, with Roger Rosenberg on saxes/bass clarinet and Dave Leonhardt on piano. Starts with four originals, followed by five covers -- Thad Jones and Dizzy Gillespie the obvious sources. B+(**)

Marsha Heydt and the Project of Love: Diggin' the Day (2013, Blujazz): Alto saxophonist, second album, also plays soprano and flute here. Good natured but unadventurous pop jazz, helped out by Daniel Sadownick on percussion and, especially, James Zollar on trumpet and flugelhorn. One vocal by Carla Cook, three cuts with strings plus a fourth featuring violinist Sam Bardfield. B

Griffith Hiltz Trio: This Is What You Get . . . (2013, self-released): Canadian trio: Johnny Griffith (saxes, bass clarinet), Nathan Hiltz (guitar, bass pedals), Sly Juhas (drums). Regular beat, guitar more important than the sax, doesn't quite slide into either the fusion or smooth jazz ruts, too scrawny for the former, not slick enough for the latter. B

Craig Hartley: Books on Tape Vol. 1 (2011 [2013], self-released): Pianist, studied at Manhattan School of Music; first album, a trio with Carlo De Rosa (bass) and Henry Cole (drums), plus trumpet (Fabio Morgera) on two tracks. Originals, including one with lyrics sung by Dida Pelled, and one cover, "My Foolish Heart." B+(**)

Florian Hoefner Group: Falling Up (2013, OA2): Pianist, from Germany but based in New York, second album (as far as I can tell), reprising the group from his debut Songs Without Words: Mike Ruby (tenor/soprano sax), Sam Anning (bass), Peter Konreif (drums). Postbop with some edge and quick moves. All by Hoefner except for "Eleanor Rigby" -- usually unjazzable but he keeps it neatly cloaked until the punch line. B+(***)

Dave Holland: Prism (2012 [2013], Dare2): This is being touted as a return to Holland's early days with Miles Davis at the birth of fusion. If he has to step back, I'd rather recall his work with Sam Rivers or Anthony Braxton -- Conference of the Birds, from 1972, remains his greatest record -- but you have to take what you can get. Quartet, with Kevin Eubanks on guitar, Craig Taborn on keyboards, and Eric Harland on drums. Jumps off with impressive flow, with Eubanks reminding one of another Davis alumni (Scofield, not McLaughlin), and Taborn showing why he's the most effective Fender Rhodes player of his generation. Still, lacks that extra point of reference Davis added, and trails off into ballad territory by the end. B+(**) [advance]

Tim Horner: The Head of the Circle (2012 [2013], Origin): Drummer, studied at Berklee, moved to New York in 1980; third album under his own name, several dozen side credits going back to 1982. All original material. Band includes Ted Nash (tenor and soprano saxes, bass clarinet, flute), Jim Ridl (piano), Steve Allee (accordion, keyboards), Joe Locke (vibes), and Dean Johnson (bass). Horner adds a scat vocal I don't care for, and the flute leaves something to be desired, unlike Nash's tenor sax leads. B

Vijay Iyer & Mike Ladd: Holding It Down: The Veterans' Dreams Project (2012 [2013], Pi): Ladd does spoken word projects, eleven since 1997, including two memorable discs with pianist Iyer providing the music: In What Language? (2003), and Still Life With Commentator (2007). This new project pulls texts from Iraq and/or Afghanistan veterans describing their dreams, the texts read by Ladd, Maurice Decaul, Lynn Hill, and Pamela Z. The words are vivid and often disturbing, a fair reminder of the hell our politicians have put these people through. Less sure what the make of the music, with Liberty Ellman (guitar), Okkyung Lee (cello), and Kassa Overall (drums), dreamy or just put together by chance, nor am I sure how much hell I care to listen to, just to reconfirm what a horrible idea that whole "war on terror" was. B+(**)

Keefe Jackson's Likely So: A Round Goal (2013, Delmark): Tenor saxophonist, b. in Fayetteville, AR; based in Chicago where he rotates several band projects -- notably Fast Citizens, which cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm borrowed for a superb album last year (Gather). This group is all saxes and clarinets, seven strong, a mix of Chicagoans (Mars Williams, Dave Rempis, Jackson) and Europeans (Waclaw Zimpel, Marc Stucki, Peter A. Schmid, Thomas K.I. Mejer) recorded live in Switzerland. A mixed bag, remarkable for stretches, annoying in spots, variously thin and shrill and thick and sumptuous. B+(**)

Ahmad Jamal: Saturday Morning (2013, Jazz Village): Pianist, has been recording steadily since Chamber Music of the New Jazz in 1955, mostly trios or, like here, quarters with extra percussion (Manolo Badrena) added to the bass-drums (Reginald Veal, Herlin Riley). At 82 he still runs the keyboard, lots of fleet arpeggios especially when Badrena has that Latin tinge moving, not that he doesn't also handle ballads authoritatively. B+(**)

Jessica Jones/Connie Crothers: Live at the Freight (2011 [2013], New Artists): Tenor sax and piano respectively, duets, live, three improvs, one piece by Jones, three standards: "All the Things You Are," "In a Sentimental Mood," "There Will Never Be Another You." Crothers has nearly 20 albums since 1974. Jones has been much less prolific, but both are adventurous players, even if this is a little dicey. B+(*)

Oliver Jones: Just for My Lady (2012 [2013], Justin Time): Pianist, b. 1934 in Montreal, studied briefly with Oscar Peterson's sister but didn't start recording until 1984, now up around 22 albums. The lady on the cover is violinist Josée Aidans, and they're backed with bass (Éric Lagacé) and drums (Jim Doxas), mostly Jones originals but the Gershwin tune at the end, "Lady Be Good," is the one that sticks in your mind. B+(***)

Tom Kennedy: Just Play! (2012 [2013], Capri): Bassist, b. 1960 in St. Louis, moved to New York in 1984, fourth album since 1996's Basses Loaded, plus one as the Kennedy Brothers with pianist Ray Kennedy, and side credits back to 1985. Star-laden nonet, two tenor saxes (George Garzone, Steve Wirts), Tim Hagans (trumpet), John Allred (trombone), Renee Rosnes (piano), two guitars (Mike Stern, Lee Ritenour), Dave Weckl (drums). One piece by Stern, most of the rest jazz standards (Ellington, Rollins, Timmons, Hubbard, Walton, Brubeck), two songbook chestnuts (Young, Porter). Rich, expansive, somehow works in a nice bass solo. B+(**)

Dave King Trucking Company: Adopted Highway (2013, Sunnyside): Drummer with the Bad Plus and Happy Apple; second album under this group name, with two tenor saxes (Chris Speed, Brandon Wozniak), electric guitar (Erik Fratzke), and acoustic bass (Adam Linz). The guitar is central here, not that King intends anything fusion-like but he has that rock beat he can fall back on, and he likes layering even when it gets a bit thick and sludgy. B+(**)

M1, Brian Jackson & the New Midnight Band: Evolutionary Minded (2013, Motema): The late Gil Scott-Heron's one-time partner raises the banner again, recycling a list of songs for the revolution still to come, with help from various MCs -- M1 up front, Chuck D, Stic Man, Killah Priest, and Wise Intelligent get "feat." slots, as well as singers named Martin Luther and Gregory Porter, and spoken words from gun rights advocate Bobby Seale. B+(***)

Jonathan Moritz Trio: Secret Tempo (2012 [2013], Hot Cup): Tenor saxophonist (soprano too), b. 1977 in Tehran, Iran; moved to Southern California quite young, then to Belgium to study, then back for more study at California Institute for the Arts. Website offers nine records for sale: this is the first under his own name, but the others are mostly sax trios or quartets -- Trio Caveat, The Up, Evil Eye; The E.R.A. is a larger group -- that I would file under his name (at least once I recognized it). This one has Shayna Dulberger on bass and Mike Pride on drums. First impression was that this is the sort of sax record I fall easiest for. After several replays the soprano had me wavering, but the bassist sold the deal. A-

Michael Moss/Billy Stein: Intervals (2013, 4th Stream): Stein is a guitarist, based in New York; has a previous album that was a high HM back in 2005 (Hybrids). Moss plays clarinet, sax, and flute. He arrived in New York in the mid-1960s, played in a group called Free Life Communication, later Free Energy and Four Rivers. He recorded three albums 1978-80, then got a Ph.D. in psychology. Songs are credited to either or both but feel improvised, surprising even if they wander a bit. And for once I don't advise the saxophonist to tear the flute down and shelve it, although I suspect Stein deserves as much credit there as Moss. B+(***)

Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Red Hot (2012 [2013], Hot Cup): Moppa Elliott's Pennsylvania hick group takes its terror act to Dixieland, expanding from a quartet to septet along the way -- additions are at piano (Ron Stabinsky), bass trombone (David Taylor), banjo (Brandon Seabrook), while Jon Irabagon picks up the C melody sax, soprano too. The harmony is reminiscent of old times, but the group knows too many new tricks to go authentic -- free rhythm, abstract piano solos, some electronic drone. As usual, they're just out to mess with you. A- [advance]

Tsuyoshi Niwa: At the End of the Day (2013, self-released): Soprano saxophonist, plays flute on one cut, b. 1972 in Tokyo, Japan; programmed computers, graduated with a degree in chemistry, moved to NY and studied with George Garzone, bounced around returning to NY in 2011. Has a couple previous albums. Starts this quintet off with "My Favorite Things," which thanks to John Coltrane has probably sold more soprano saxophones than any other song or artist, Sidney Bechet and Steve Lacy included. Other five cuts are originals. Randy Brecker's trumpet provides a strong contrasting horn. B+(*)

Bill O'Connell + The Latin Jazz All-Stars: Zócalo (2013, Savant): Seems like I mess up a lot of credits/titles when I rush through the unpacking, but the actual title here is in very small and broken type, much harder to read than the label logo or the enlisted All-Stars: Conrad Herwig, Steve Slagle, Richie Flores, Luques Curtis, Adam Cruz. O'Connell is a pianist with nine (or so) albums since 1978 (unless my sources have him confused with the drummer with the same name). Moved into Latin jazz with his 2004 album Latin Jazz Fantasy, and shows real affinity for it, much like his trombonist. B+(**) [September 24]

Meg Okura and the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble: Music of Ryuichi Sakamoto (2013, self-released): Plays violin and erhu, b. 1973 in Tokyo, Japan; studied at Juilliard and is based in New York. Third album with this group: Anne Drummond (flute), Helen Sung (piano), Dezron Douglas (bass), and E.J. Strickland (drums). I find the CD to be totally impossible to read, so excuse the lack of info. Presumably the dozen pieces are from the very prolific Japanese composer/keyboardist, who started in Yellow Magic Orchestra and now has many dozens of albums (at least 80, half soundtracks, including his Oscar-winning score to The Last Emperor). The "chamber" rubric may be a cliché for violin-flute-piano but they cut against each other's excesses. Not sure Sakamoto isn't a hack, but he provides plenty to chew on. B+(**)

Michael Pedicin: Why Stop Now/Ubuntu (2013, Groundblue): Tenor saxophonist from Philadelphia, mainstream guy although his quintet included both guitar and piano (Johnnie Valentino and Rick Germanson) instead of a second horn. Title matches the first and last songs. Has a big, bold tone. B+(**) [September 24]

Ken Peplowski: Maybe September (2012 [2013], Capri): Plays clarinet and tenor sax, has close to forty albums since 1987, several with Benny Goodman in the title, others with Ellington or Strayhorn, a mild-mannered retro-swing guy who rarely exceeds expectations, but I wound up playing this repeatedly during an afternoon of cooking and never felt the need for anything else. Basic quartet with Ted Rosenthal on piano; one original, standards by Berlin and Warren; nods to Ellington, Poulenc, and Artie Shaw; a Lennon-McCartney I can live with, a "Caroline, No" I relish. B+(***)

Ivo Perelman/Joe Morris/Balazs Pandi: One (2013, Rare Noise): Tenor sax trio, with Morris playing electric bass for the first time on record -- he established himself on guitar, but has also played acoustic bass more frequently of late -- and Pandi on drums. Perelman's been knocking out a half-dozen records per year recently, with two good ones already this year -- The Art of the Duet, Volume One with Matthew Shipp, and Serendipity with Shipp, William Parker, and Gerald Cleaver -- and this, with its choppy intro and an inspired torrent near the end, is another inspired performance. A- [advance]

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp/Whit Dickey/Gerald Cleaver: Enigma (2013, Leo): Tenor sax, piano, two drummers -- the doubling up isn't conspicuous or necessary even to balance out leaders who run on the loud side, but in an art where "the drummer plays with the band" their separate takes add subtle points -- not that you need them when the Brazilian saxophonist is on such a roll. A-

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp/Mat Maneri: A Violent Dose of Anything (2013, Leo): Tenor sax, piano, viola. Brazil's leading avant-saxophonist has been releasing six albums a year for a good while now, most with Shipp (their relationship goes back to 1996's Bendito of Santa Cruz duet), so one can wonder whether they wind up being too much of the same thing, or whether, having graded A- no less than ten of his releases since 2000 (13 since 1989) I've lost my objectivity. Perelman's forte is the sax trio: he's basically a free blower and nothing suits him more than a strong rhythm section pushing him on -- Shipp has nearly that same effect in a duo, even more so in a quartet. Perelman usually has more trouble with strings, but those records are just easier to dismiss. But this one is harder. Shipp and Maneri go back at least to a 1998 duo (I don't particularly recommend). The viola is particularly prickly here, often engaging like a second horn although sketching out a more treacherous terrain, which Perelman is eager to explore -- the first few minutes offer some of his most flightful work ever. Title comes from a film for which this is the soundtrack, but the seven pieces are long and coherent with none of the pastiche or cliché that marr filmwork. Played this more than the others and it's barely on the cusp, but in some ways the handicaps make it all the more remarkable. Bump those numbers up one more. A-

The Road to Jajouka: A Benefit Album (2013, Howe): Known nowadays as the Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar, the Moroccan institution first came to worldwide attention when Brian Jones (Rolling Stones, you might recall) released a 1968 album of theirs called The Pipes of Pan at Jajouka. Attar would have been four at the time, the son of then-leader Hadj Abdesalam Attar. They have scattered albums of their own -- AMG lists eight starting with the Jones affair (which, by the way, was certainly the first album from Africa or the Middle East I ever heard) -- but this one they owe to western intermediaries: above all, Billy Martin (of Medeski & Wood fame), whose illybeats lay the techno-fusion foundation for a parade of guests, including Marc Ribot, DJ Logic, Lee Ranaldo, John Zorn, Bill Laswell, and Ornette Coleman. A-

Bryn Roberts: Fables (2012 [2013], Nineteen-Eight): Pianist, originally from Winnipeg, based in New York, two previous albums. Quartet, with Seamus Blake (tenor/soprano sax), Orlando LeFleming (bass), Jonathan Blake (drums). Six originals, two standards ("In the Still of the Night," "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry"). B+(**)

Sachal Studios Orchestra: Jazz and All That: In Memory of Dave Brubeck (2013, Imagine Music): Large orchestral group, at least as configured here, based in Lahore, Pakistan: 24 violins, 3 cellos, sitar, tabla, dholoks/percussion, a chorus, 9 more listed as "UK Musicians" including trumpet, piano, guitar, and bass, but also harp, sarod, ghatam and moorsing. They play 13 songs arranged by Izzat Majeed, only one ("Blue Rondo a la Turk") I in any way associate with Dave Brubeck. Less jazz than exotica, or orchestral kitsch, especially on tunes like "Eleanor Rigby" and "The Pink Panther" that are infectious even when they're awful (which is most of the time). B-

Samo Salamon Quartets: Stretching Out (2008-12 [2013], Samo, 2CD): Guitarist, b. 1978 in the future Slovenia, has spent some time in New York but is still based in Slovenia; 13 records since 2003, this one a double, one disc each with an American quartet in 2008 and a European one in 2012. The latter, with Dominique Pifarely on violin, Bruno Chevillon on bass, and Roberto Dani on drums, is dense, scratchy, and ultimately rewarding although it took me a lot of time to pan out. The former, with Donny McCaslin on tenor sax, John Hébert on bass, and Gerald Cleaver on drums, is no trouble at all -- the guitarist brings back his John Scofield roots, and McCaslin follows seamlessly, never tripping himself up. A-

Salsa de la Bahia: A Collection of SF Bay Area Salsa and Latin Jazz (2003-10 [2013], Patois, 2CD): I don't have the eyes to sort through all the small print here -- the year range, for instance, only covers the first disc, so it's possible there are outliers on the second. The San Francisco area has become home to a huge range of world music, but I've rarely been impressed by what I've heard. This, however, holds up surprisingly well. Only name I recognize is John Santos, although there are doubtless more in the fine print. B+(**)

Matthew Shipp: Piano Sutras (2013, Thirsty Ear): Pianist, a major one since c. 1990, plays solo here, something he's been doing more frequently lately as if he's trying to shake the taint of his early Blue Series albums' veer into jazztronica. The focus here is in dense chord patterns, lots of muscle rather than melodic lines. Two covers ("Giant Steps," "Nefertiti"), short ones for just a whiff of recognition. B+(**)

Dave Slonaker Big Band: Intrada (2012 [2013], Origin): Los Angeles-based outfit, first record, Slonaker arranges and conducts but doesn't play. He grew up in Pittsburgh, studied trombone and piano, got degrees at Indiana and Eastman School of Music, and headed west to work in film and TV. Standard big band lineup (five reeds, four trumpets, four trombones, piano, bass, drums -- many names I recognize but few real stars (Bob Sheppard, Wayne Bergeron, Peter Erskine are probably the best known). All Slonaker originals except for "It's Only a Paper Moon." B-

Clark Sommers: Clark Sommers' Ba(SH) (2012 [2013], Origin): Bassist, b. 1977 in Lake Forest, IL; claims 40 side credits over last 15 years, but this is first album under his own name. Trio, with Geof Bradfield (tenor/soprano sax, bass clarinet) and Dana Hall (drums). Moderately paced postbop, much depending on the saxophonist to shape and articulate the tone on top of the base lines, and pretty successful at that. B+(**)

Ira Sullivan Presents the Jim Holman Trio: Blue Skies (2011-12 [2013], Delmark): Sullivan, b. 1931, came up in Chicago during the bebop era, playing trumpet and tenor sax; his discography is widely scattered, with an Introduces in 1956, a Bird Lives! in 1962, a prolific stretch from 1978-83, and roughly a record per decade since. Holman is a pianist, and there's some confusion here over who's in his trio, but drummer Roger Humphries is listed as "special guest." Holman does a fine job of framing these songs. Sullivan may have seemed like a minor figure way back when, but in his eighties if he isn't the real thing he's one of the last links to it. B+(**)

Manuel Valera & New Cuban Express: Expectativas (2013, Mavo): Pianist, from Cuba, moved to US to study at New School around 1994, has a half-dozen albums since 2004. Band includes Yosvany Terry (sax), Tom Guarna (guitar), John Benitez (electric bass), and various percussionists. Lots of sophisticated stop-start rhythmic breaks, seems to be the Afro-Cuban signature. B+(*)

Matt White: The Super Villain Jazz Band (2012 [2013], Artists Recording Collective): Trumpet player, studied in Miami, based in Nashville, has played in big bands at both stops but this is his own first album. Postbop, gets help from two saxophonists (Evan Cobb and Don Aliquo) plus piano-bass-drums, but his trumpet makes the deepest impression; wrote all but the Tom Waits cover. B+(**)

Zansa: Djansa (2013, self-released): Afropop group based in Asheville, North Carolina; led by Adama Dembele, who figures himself a 33rd generation musician, tracing his ancestry back through his native Cöte d'Ivoire. The rest of the band look like they crawled out of the Appalachian hollers, with Matt Williams' fiddle especially prominent. Ends with a striking fish-out-of-water story. B+(***)

James Zollar: It's All Good People (2012 [2013], JZAZ): Trumpet player, originally from Kansas City, only three albums under his own name since 1997 (the excellent Soaring With Bird), but his side credits include David Murray, Billy Bang, Sam Rivers, Don Byron, Bob Stewart, and quite a bit with Marty Ehrlich. Surprisingly goes for down home funk grooves here, with a bit of rap, vocals by Sheryl Rene and Erika Matsuo, a bit of Gregoire Maret harmonica, and a closer looking back at his elders, called "For Cootie & Clark." I'd be tempted to say he's wasting his talent here, but the trumpet is stellar, and I can't begrudge a guy for having a good time. B+(***)

From Rhapsody Streamnotes

Trombone Shorty: Say That to Say This (2013, Verve): Troy Andrews, New Orleans trombone player (trumpet also), career took off after he changed his handle and got occasional spots on HBO's Treme. He's big enough here he managed to arrange a reunion of the 1978 lineup of the Meters. Not sure how much they play here, but at best this sounds like a run-of-the-mill Meters album, and they surely can't be blamed for it all (cf. "Dream On"). B-

 August, 2013 October, 2013