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CD/LP/Track Review

April 23, 2014

Surya Namaskar

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By IAN PATTERSON

Guitarist Dewa Budjana's two releases on MoonJune Records in 2013, Dawai in Paradise and Joged Kahyangan introduced a talented musician whose Indonesian roots dovetailed with prog rock, jazz fusion and a melodic pop sensibility; Budjana showed tremendous chops but, as he demonstrates once again, he's perhaps primarily a tunesmith. Budjana draws from a similar well of influences on this recording but in contrast to Joged Kahyangan's charts Surya Namaskar boasts a freer, less constructed vibe with Budjana's solos coarser in tone. Mostly recorded in single-takes with some additional overdubbing, everything that Budjana touches--whether composed or improvised--is fundamentally melodic.

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April 23, 2014

Radio Timbuktu

By JAKOB BAEKGAARD

Imagine a radio in the middle of a desert playing music that is a mixture of tribal rituals, dusty blues and rock, Afrobeat and New Orleans jazz. This radio exists and it is located on Danish guitarist Niclas Knudsen's album Radio Timbuktu. Many people will know Knudsen from his involvement with the funk group Ibrahim Electric, but Knudsen is a restless musical explorer and this is reflected on an album where he enlists many of his favorite musicians. He builds his group around guitar, drums and a powerful brass section with trumpet, trombone and tuba.

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April 23, 2014

Mass Production

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By ROGER FARBEY

Despite the raucous opening rocky bluesy riff of “Weekend Blues" which seems to portend a set dominated by an electric guitar trio with the volume firmly fixed at eleven, beginnings can be deceptive. The second track “Snowball" starts to display some subtleties in composition and execution, especially in the quieter sections. By track three the listener expecting a session of Stratocaster blasters is confounded by Rajani's excellent take on Miles Davis' all-too rarely recorded “Nardis," here re-titled “Sidran" in 7/8 and in which the guitarist's mettle is displayed with full force and where lesser guitarists might fear to ...

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April 23, 2014

East End Sojourn

By EDWARD BLANCO

In April of 2013, the Verve Jazz Ensemble released their first album It's About Time (CD Baby, 2012) to rave reviews from critics and jazz lovers everywhere. Exactly one year later, the group follows up on their amazing debut by unveiling East End Sojourn, an exciting second effort featuring new creative arrangements, more reimagined standards, a couple of original statements and the inclusion of guitarist luminary Peter Bernstein as special guest. The bop and post-bop grooves of the first recording are very much in play here with Jon Blanck's sizzling tenor, Tatum Greenblatt's soaring trumpet, and a tight rhythm section--all ...

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April 23, 2014

Unrecorded Beam

By GLENN ASTARITA

Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist Billy Bottle is the pianist for renowned big band leader Mike Westbrook and has performed with British progressive rock luminaries. His octet and guest artists incorporate jazz rock and folk with a splash of Indie pop on this beguiling set. It's outlined on eminent American author and transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau's poems, also providing the lyrical content for these vigorous and unequivocally hip compositions. The band spins an inspiring outlook with solid backbeats, wistful horns and odes to the beloved British Canterbury prog rock scene. As some of the tender moments summon notions of whispering pines ...

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April 22, 2014

Get Me Joe Beck

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By JACK BOWERS

The jazz world, it seems, has always been awash in talented guitarists, from Reinhardt and Christian through Montgomery, Pass, Farlow, Hall and their like to the present day. This is both a blessing and a curse, as only a handful of such splendid musicians are able to rise above the throng and become household names or even widely known. Joe Beck, who was one week shy of his sixty-third birthday when he died in July 2008, was one of those “fringe" players, an astute and versatile artist who was familiar to and respected by his fellow musicians but produced no ...

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April 22, 2014

Lament

By JAKOB BAEKGAARD

Jazz listeners familiar with the characteristic sound and aesthetic of Argentinian label Rivorecords will know the deep, swinging sound of bassist Jerónimo Carmona, who has been a strong presence on many releases on the label, including albums by pianists Ernesto Jodos and Paula Shocron. With Lament, Carmona gets the chance to step into the spotlight himself. Lament is conceived as a duo album, but it isn't a duo album in the traditional sense. Instead, the album consists of a series of duets between the bassist and the musical voices of saxophonist Sebastián Loiacono, flugelhorn-player Mariano Loiacono, pianist ...

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April 22, 2014

Løft mig op, så jeg kan nå

By JAKOB BAEKGAARD

For a long time, the jazz scene in Denmark has been centred around Copenhagen and the city is still the jazz capital of the country with its many jazz venues and labels like ILK and Stunt, but there is also a fertile jazz environment in the city of Aarhus where exciting things are happening and new talents emerge. One of them is bassist Jens Mikkel, who has actually moved to Sweden recently, but he still has ties to the city and the talented musicians on the local jazz scene and many of them appear on his album ...

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April 22, 2014

Building Instrument

By EYAL HAREUVENI

The Norwegian trio Building Instrument has taken its time to record its debut album. The Bergen-based trio--featuring vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mari Kvien Brunvoll, known for her duo with guitarist Stein Urheim, who previously produced two acclaimed albums, Daydream Community and Daydream Twin (both on Jazzland, 2011 and 2013) and her self-titled solo album (also on Jazzland, 2012). These recordings inspired a surprising remix of the song “Everywhere You Go" by DJ Ricardo Villalobos; underrated percussionist Øyvind Hegg-Lunde, member of the Swedish-Norwegian free-improv trio The Big Almost, and The Sweetest Thrill duo with guitarist Stephan Meidell, and keyboard player Åsmund Weltzien ...

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April 22, 2014

Spectral

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By GLENN ASTARITA

For this nascent record label's sixth offering, Chicago-based saxophonist Dave Rempis unites with West Coast modernists, saxophonist Larry Ochs (The Rova Saxophone Quartet) and trumpeter Darren Johnston who has been all over the jazz map these days. Here, the trio hunkers down and prepares for battle via cyclonic three-way flurries, dappled with polytonal hues and expansive horizons, occasionally throttled with subversive dialogues and a few tetchy conversations. Moreover, the press notes intimate the group's initial comfort zone, but their ensuing developments occurred in unexpected ways, which is a proposition that spawned innate compositional awareness, abstractly framed by the improvisational quotient. ...

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April 21, 2014

Acme Jazz Company

By JACK BOWERS

There are moments on its debut recording when the Twin Cities-based Acme Jazz Company rises well above its generic name to present an exciting brand of big-band jazz, others when its run-of-the-mill label seems to suit the ensemble like a proverbial glove. Lance Strickland's genial “One Eyed Jacks," for example, hustles merrily along behind cogent statements from tenor Tom Schmitt, trombonist Ben Link, guitarist Geoff LeCrone and drummer / percussionist Andy Artz, whereas alto Doug Rasmussen's syrupy “Balm for the World" wouldn't be at all out of place on a smooth-jazz radio station. As for Arne Fogel's five vocals, they ...

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April 21, 2014

The Summary Of 4

By MARK CORROTO

It is refreshing to hear a free jazz improvising group that doesn't abandon meter and melody for the goal of spontaneous music making. For percussionist Heinz Geisser, performing improvised music doesn't require he throw the figurative baby out with the bath water. The dude abides.Like the Collective 4tet he established in the 1990s with bassist William Parker, Ensemble 5 is both a free jazz vehicle and a quartet, yes, a quartet. Geisser, a conservatory trained classical guitarist turned self-taught drummer is the fomenter of this outfit that includes bassist Fridolin Blumer, Reto Staub (piano), and Robert Morgenthaler (trombone). ...

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April 21, 2014

Back in Town

By JAKOB BAEKGAARD

Playing in a duo exposes the communication between two musicians. Like a good conversation, there's a chance to get a special level of depth and intimacy. A good conversation with a stranger can make us feel like we have known the person for years, but if the conversation grows stale then the reaction might become estrangement. Keeping a good conversation alive is all about flow and the ability to listen. To know when to pause and when to react. These are qualities that the Argentinian musicians, pianist Francisco Lo Vuolo and saxophonist Gustavo Musso, possess in abundance. ...

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April 21, 2014

Fosfor

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By EYAL HAREUVENI

Norwegian guitarist Håkon Storm's sixth album Fosfor features his artistic mastery of the solo guitar. Storm is a gifted storyteller. His evocative, melodious lines intensify the expressive, poetic playing style that is often exploratory, suggesting exotic soundscapes. Storm uses a variety of guitars that allow him to stress distinctive originality as a composer and improviser. The album's warm, crystalline sound was captured beautifully by sound guru Jan Erik Kongshaug at the legendary Rainbow studio in Oslo, home-base of many ECM recordings. The eleven listed pieces, plus a hidden and untitled bonus track, unfold as continuous chapters ...

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