Not only is Italian pianist / composer Roberto Magris conversant with jazz history and tradition, he honors it, as he has done in a series of albums devoted to the music of pianist Elmo Hope, alto saxophonist Julian “Cannonball" Adderley and trumpeter Lee Morgan who is saluted here in a second two-disc volume. Whereas young lion Brandon Lee sat in on Volume 1, released in 2010 (JMood 002), Morgan's surrogate this time around is Hermon Mehari. While neither one, of course, is Lee Morgan, they immersed themselves in the task at hand and carried out the arduous assignment with dexterity ...read more
When did the ultimate compliment for a jazz performance switch from you swing, cat" to you rock, dude"? Perhaps it happened after a generation of jazz artists raised on rock-n-roll found their way into improvisation and the latitudes of expression that jazz enable. Case in point is Tongue And Groove by guitarist Tom Chang. Raised on the music of Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, and Jimmy Page, his soul was imprinted with their spirit as he applied his guitar sound to the jazz world. Together with saxophonists Greg Ward (Living By Lanterns, Mike Reed) and Jason Rigby (Kris Davis ...read more
It's been nearly two decades since Karen Mantler last released an album under her own name on the XtraWATT label belonging to her similarly coifed mother, pianist/composer Carla Bley, but she's been anything but idle. Work on Bley albums like Appearing Nightly (Watt, 2008), recordings by father Michael Mantler like Folly Seeing All This (ECM, 1993), and sessions with fellow singer/songwriter Robert Wyatt have dovetailed with the singer/pianist/harmonicist's collaborations with the Golden Palominos and Hal Wilner, as well as her own Pet Projects (Virgin, 2000), the final instalment in a series of albums about her cat, that began with My ...read more
The musical bond between Japanese guitarist and sound sculptor Otomo Yoshihide and Norwegian powerhouse drummer Paal Nilssen-Love was solidified through previous successful collaborations. First with Nilssen-Love Scandinavian power trio The Thing's Shinjuku Crawl, (Smalltown Superjazz, 2009), then with Peter Brotzmann's Chicago Tentet Concert for Fukushima Wels 2011 DVD, (PanRec, 2013) and finally with an ad-hoc trio with fellow Norwegian noise master Lasse Marhaug Explosion Course, (PNL, 2013). The new recording of these expressive musicians was recorded at the Jazzhouse Club in jny: Copenhagen, but, as can be expected, there is no attempt to form an intimate ...read more
One trio. One guest. A single, forty-two minute, freely improvised piece. That's what you basically have here, but such a bare description doesn't do it justice. The Core Trio--a group that has yet to actually record as a stand-alone trio--has an interesting history that seems to always revolve around personnel twists. The group came to exist as a three-piece when the members of an avant-garde quartet called Rosta decided to disband, but that was just the first of several changes. The Core Trio's first recording brought the core membership--saxophonist Seth Paynter, drummer Richard Cholakian and bassist/leader Thomas ...read more
Los Angeles-based pianist/composer Greg Reitan's Some Other Time (Sunnyside Records) vied for the honors of Debut of the Year" in 2009. Using his same trio--with bassist Jack Daro and drummer Dean Koba--Reitan followed up that auspicious start with two more outstanding sets, Antibes (2010) and Daybreak (2011), both for the Sunnyside label. With this same trio--they have been together since 1996--he has honed an elegant and polished sound, drawing on a Bill Evans influence--the light touch, subtle dynamics, translucent harmonic beauty. Post No Bills builds on that approach, with a bit more of an edge this time around, ...read more
The uncommonly talented Mike LeDonne continues his transition from piano to Hammond B3, if that is what one may call it, with yet another superb album, the suitably named I Love Music. And while using the organ throughout is a good idea, it is but the first of two, as whenever LeDonne schedules a recording session he's almost sure to invite his friend and colleague, the stellar tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, a decision that is bound to please almost any listener. As a matter of record, Alexander has been a member of LeDonne's Groover Quartet" for more than fourteen years, ...read more
Saxophone and drum duos aren't as rare as some might believe, but a good percentage of such encounters are challenging, left-leaning affairs. John Coltrane's edgy encounters with Rashied Ali on Interstellar Space (Impulse!, 1974) emboldened many in the so-called avant-garde to marry these instruments time and again over the ensuing decades, yet few centrists seem as interested or willing to explore that territory. That's why a recording such as this, featuring man-for-all-seasons saxophonist Steve Wilson and paragon-of-class drummer Lewis Nash, is so special. Nash, an occasional leader and first-call side man who's worked with everybody from vocalist ...read more
It's the facts. Many inquisitive people spend their lives in pursuit of the facts. For the questing jazz musician, by contrast, the contrafacts take precedence. That's certainly the case for the UK's Gascoyne O'Higgins Quartet. The band's second collection of such tunes based on the chord changes from Songbook standards, The Real Note Vol. 2, features nine of them. Bassist Geoff Gascoyne and saxophonist Dave O'Higgins co-lead the group, which is completed by pianist Graham Harvey and drummer Sebastian De Krom. It would be hard to find a more experienced or intuitive quartet on the UK jazz scene. ...read more
Alternating Current is a completely entrancing recording that captures three master players listening and responding in real time. Both Matthew Shipp and William Parker thrive in the completely improvised arena, which is why drummer Jeff Cosgrove wanted them for this project. A second reason might have been that neither musician had ever played a composition by Paul Motian, who is one of Cosgrove's idols, along with Andrew Cyrille, who has connections with all three musicians and who helped bring them together for this project. Completely improvised music has to find its own internal way of carrying ...read more
The borough of Kings (County)--a.k.a. Brooklyn, NY--has been saxophonist Eric Wyatt's home base from birth. It was there that he was exposed to jazz, met some of the legends of the music, and began to forge his own voice on saxophone. Here, on his fifth album to date, he delivers an intense brew that speaks volumes about what he's learned during his time in Brooklyn. Wyatt is a no holds barred player with an edge to his work. Thankfully, he found some simpatico quartet mates that are willing and able to match his energy level on this ...read more
It's been a good year for Jeremy Lyons. In March, the Belfast tenor saxophonist's dectet opened the Brilliant Corners 2014 jazz festival with a resounding set before an enthusiastic home audience. Here, stripped back to the more intimate surroundings of a quartet, Lyons' debut as leader brings together seasoned pros from the UK jazz scene on a set of his original compositions that are straight ahead in conception. The rhythm section of bassist Vicky Tilson and drummer Buster Birch is both empathetic and energizing, buoying and cajoling the lead lines pursued by Lyons and guitarist Ben McDonnell. Lyons ...read more
Guitarist Ross Hammond is building upon his conspicuous artistic persona as a new wave jazz and improvisational guitarist, composer who aligns with fellow West Coast denizens, including seminal Southern California based woodwind ace Vinny Golia and others. With a dozen albums under his belt, the guitarist has exponentially pushed the envelope, largely with great success. He also possesses an idiosyncratic style, where unanticipated curveballs, off-center phrasings and variable use of distortion techniques have become a primary component of his rangy articulations. Humanity Suite--reviewed on LP format--is one continuous, extended work that translates Hammond's emotive sensibilities into a long-form musical statement, ...read more
Swedish pianist and composer Klas Nevrin, known for his ongoing collaborations with reed player Fredrik Ljungkvist in Ljungkvist's bands Yun Kan 5 and Yun Kan 10 and in the Norwegian- Swedish quartet Honeyleap, suggests a new arresting sonic aesthetic in his new solo album. His compositions forge a middle path between the rock-inspired lineage of free jazz and the ultra- minimalist school of contemporary improvisation, without settling for any of these contrasting aesthetics. Furthermore, Nevrin applied alternative, non-Western micro-tonal intonation systems to his compositions, such as the Indian Raga or the Balinese Gamelan, following innovative composers and improvisers who were ...read more
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