Recommended: Max Andrzejewski – “Hütte und Chor”

September 23, 2014


Max Andrzejewski - "Hutte und Chor"There was already something gloriously hyperactive about the music of Max Andrzejewski.  His quartet, Hütte, creates music that is varying degrees of modern post-bop, indie-rock and theatrical soundtrack.  On his new release Hütte und Chor, Andrzejewski goes a step further and adds a vocal quintet, each a soloist in their own right and each proving it in their own way… individuals doing their own thing that just so happens to amount to a cohesive expression.

Adding gospel and operatic elements to music already in possession of an abounding personality, Andrzejewski takes advantage of the new sonic ingredients without materially changing the heart of the music that led to his successful previous release, 2012’s Hütte.  Songs with a serious geometry are provided a healthy sense of humor, and melodies that refuse to sit still are corralled by rhythms that move just a little bit quicker.

For instance, “Countrygirl” offers up some twang and rockabilly rhythms.  Of especial appeal is how the choir matches the cadence, slipping in a little harmonization, erupting with some wild shouts.  It leads in nicely to the gentle sway of “Gospel,” a slow dance saxophone tune interspersed with soft waves of vocal cooing.  It’s a different kind of scene with the stumbling, tumbling, flailing of “Austria Nervös.”

Arguably, the diamond amongst this album of little gems is “Presque Isle,” in which the quartet and vocal choir achieve an ambling tunefulness that is equal parts charm and challenge.  There is nothing straight-forward about the song’s odd melodic angles and shifting tempos, and yet it presents itself with the disarming presence of a friendly smile.

“Bändigung” scoots along with a rock ‘n roll demeanor, whereas “Ziegenproblem” is a post-bop by free association.  “Auf dieser Ebene” is all about the vocal aeronautics, and an interesting counterpart to the interludes of vocal theater that mark this unconventional recording.  Like bits of German opera as flash fiction in the midst of a modern jazz recording, the quintet of soloists deliver their lines with the same whimsy and fearless abandon as do the instrumentalists on the other album tracks.

Bringing the album to a close is “Memo!” with its untamed enthusiasm of a free jazz song performed at a pep rally, whereas album finale “Für Ali A.” is the solemn, but comforting tones of the descending night, a fond farewell and a curtain drop.

There is something admirably courageous about this unconventional, daringly creative project.

Your album personnel:  Max Andrzejewski (drums), Johannes Schleiermacher (tenor sax), Tobias Hoffmann (guitar), Andreas Lang (bass), and Friederike Merz, Sarah Whitteron, Zola Mennenöh, Laura Winkler, Tobias Christl (voices).

Released on Traumton Records.

Jazz from the Berlin scene.

Available at:  eMusic | Amazon MP3


Recommended: Emilio Solla y La Inestable De Brooklyn – “Second Half”

September 22, 2014


Emilio Solla - "Second Half"It’s pretty damn impressive how Emilio Solla brings together the quaint and the epic within the span of any one particular song.  Joined by his La Inestable de Brooklyn on the new release Second Half, Solla crafts each song so that it captures moments of calm reserve and breathless euphoria.  It’s not easy to shift the tone and tenor from one extreme to the other and still do it in a way that doesn’t come off as contrived or clumsy, while allowing the development to sound as natural as breathing.  That he accomplishes this feat in a context where jazz, Argentinean folk, tango, and chamber are all in play and a major factor in each and every song is as astonishing as the music itself.

The gentle piano introduction on opening song “Llegara, Llegara, Llegara” and the way it leads into bigger and bigger statements from wind instruments, violin and accordion is the kind of dramatic build common to this excellent recording.  And the way in which a sound so massive as to originate from a jazz orchestra seamlessly shifts into a charming Argentinean folk interlude before building back up to a dramatic finish speaks to the heart of this recording.

So, too, does songs like “Chakafrik” and “Raro,” which filter tango through a jazz net, creating gorgeous strata of melody sealed in place by thick folds of harmony.  It’s symbolic of many of the album’s songs in the way chipper, energetic rhythms slide into and out of harmonic digressions without a hitch.  “Suite Piazzollana, Pt. 1″ proves that the changes of pace and influence that mark this album are just as effective at the speed of a ballad as they are in up-tempo mode.  The shift between Argentine folk and NYC swing on “American Patrol” brings even further definition to the craftsmanship at work on this recording.

Solla’s ensemble is a ridiculous wealth of talent, with individual musicians garnering plenty of mentions on this site and the eMusic/Wondering Sound Jazz Picks column.  It’s yet one more reason to scoop up this marvelous recording.  With its abundance of warmth, liveliness and strong musicianship, Second Half should be on listeners’ radars in 2014.

Your album personnel:  Emilio Solla (piano), Tim Armacost (tenor & soprano saxes, alto flute), John Ellis (tenor sax, flute & bass clarinet), Alex Norris (trumpet, flugelhorn), Ryan Keberle (trombone), Meg Okura (violin), Victor Prieto (accordion), Jorge Roeder (double bass), and Eric Doob (drums).

The album is Self-Produced.

Jazz from the Brooklyn scene.

Available at:  eMusic | CDBaby | Amazon CD


Tiny Reviews: Allegretti Friedlander Malaby, Melanie de Biasio, & Piero Bittolo Bon Jump the Shark

September 21, 2014

Your Sunday edition of Tiny Reviews!

Featuring: Allegretti Friedlander Malaby Stoddard Place, Melanie de Biasio No Deal, and Piero Bittolo Bon Jump the Shark Iuvenes Doom Sumus.



Allegretti Friedlander Malaby – Stoddard Place

Arresting trio session from drummer Damian Allegretti, cellist Erik Friedlander, and tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby.  A languorous recording that sometimes displays a controlled fury, this is proof that a free jazz recording need not be an experience that forces the listener to the outer bounds of the conversation.  The way an alluring track like “Namasté” flows naturally from the slight heat of “Actora I” or how the sharp flurries of “I (#2)” take on a greater melodicism over the course of several tracks, culminating in the beautiful “I (#3)” illustrates the way this album possesses a small-moment and big-picture perspective simultaneously.  Some terribly beautiful moments interspersed amongst the scattered sounds.

The album is Self-Published.

Available at: eMusic | CDBaby CD/MP3 | Amazon CD/MP3



Melanie de Biasio – No Deal

Melanie de Biasio keeps it simple with her delivery, which is pleasantly unfussy, as is the accompaniment of drums, piano and keyboards, which match her minimal delivery with a fuzzy succinctness of their own.  It’s more pop than jazz, more Portishead than Lady Day, and from de Biasio’s own words and music, that appears to have been the intention.  There’s an enchanting quality to some of these songs, but it would’ve been nice had the music possessed a bit more of an edge, which we get a hint of on stronger tracks like “Sweet Darling Pain” and “With Love.”

There isn’t any one track that blows me away, but the surreptitious accumulation of a wispy ambiance, revealed slowly over the course of the album, is pretty damn cool in itself.  Great music when you’ve got a quiet room handy and plenty of time to just sit back, listen, and drift away.

Your album personnel: Melanie de Biasio (vocals, flute), Pascal Mohy (piano), Dre Pallemaerts (drums), and Pascal Paulus (analog synth, clavinet).

Released on PIAS America.

Available at: eMusic | Amazon CD/MP3/Vinyl



Piero Bittolo Bon Jump the Shark – Iuvenes Doom Sumus

Strange, yet riveting session led by saxophonist Piero Bittolo Bon, whose sextet finds a way to mix in some interesting instruments like sousaphone and 12-string acoustic guitar on this modern jazz that often veers into rock territory with an avant-garde flair.  Quirky doesn’t go nearly far enough to explain this music, nor does whimsical do any justice to the sharp teeth this music bares from time to time.  Similar in sound to Lucien Dubuis’ Spacetet, another top eMusic Jazz Pick from not long ago.  The upbeat moments are more frequent, but when the ensemble slows things down and lets trombone and vibes get out front, the music is pretty evocative.

Your album personnel: Piero Bittolo Bon (alto sax, composition), Gerhard Gschlössl (trombone, sousaphone), Pasquale Mirra (vibes), Domenico Caliri (acoustic 12 string guitar), Danilo Gallo (bass), and Federico Scettri (drums).

Released on El Gallo Rojo Records.

Available at: eMusic | Amazon MP3



Some of this material was used originally in the weekly new jazz releases column I write for eMusic’s Wondering Sound, so here’s some language protecting their rights to the reprinted material as the one to hire me to write about new jazz arrivals to their site…

New Arrivals Jazz Picks,” “New Arrivals Jazz Picks,” & “New Arrivals Jazz Picks,“ reprints courtesy of, Inc.
© 2014, Inc.

As always, my sincere thanks to eMusic for the gig.

Recommended: Cyrille Aimée – “It’s a Good Day”

September 20, 2014


Cyrille Aimee - "It's a Good Day"An enjoyable album that floats my boat every time I put it on is It’s a Good Day, the new one by vocalist Cyrille Aimée. Encompassing her varied background, Aimée’s sextet is comprised of three guitarists, each bringing their specialties in Gypsy swing, Brazilian and NYC Jazz to the mix.  The bevy of guitars, each with their different sound, adds some seriously inviting texture to the affair.  This, in addition to the music’s cheerful disposition and the way its off-the-cuff delivery provides a pleasantly casual feel to energetic tunes is why this album stays in the listening rotation.

Tracks like “Where or When,” “Bamboo Shoots” and “Young at Heart,” with their easy cadence, a bit of twang, guitar notes that waver alluringly atop brisk rhythms is this album at its best.

That said, the Gypsy swing of “It’s a Good Day,” “Pourtant,” “Love Me or Leave Me,” and a rendition of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” are not only strong tunes, but their up-tempo presentation enhance the easy-going nature of other album tracks.

Bassist Sam Anning contributes a composition to the session, and his “Bamboo Shoots” provides a nice bit of pop song simplicity to the affair.  It’s also seriously pretty.  And speaking of pop songs, the only speed bump encountered on this recording is a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall,” which is just awkward enough that it doesn’t sit quite plumb with the album’s prevailing flow.

The whimsical “Nuit Blanche” is one of two tracks that has Aimée switching to French.  The shift in language provides some nice differentiation and adds some extra personality to a recording with plenty to spare.

Your album personnel:  Cyrille Aimée (vocals, Tibetan bowl), Michael Valeanu, Adrien Moignard, Guilherme Monteiro (electric, steel-string, nylon-string guitars), Sam Anning (bass), and Rajiv Jayaweera (drums).

Released on Mack Avenue Records.

Jazz from the Brooklyn scene.

Available at:  eMusic | Amazon CD | Amazon MP3


Other things you should probably know:

Chicago Jazz Orchestra - "Burstin' Out"For an alternate view of Aimée, go give a listen to her sing with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra on their 2013 release, Burstin’ Out.  A good album that was one of my eMusic Jazz Picks back when it was released.


These are videos that I like: Whirlpool & Ron Miles – “The Ocean Knows”

September 19, 2014


Today’s featured video is from the Whirlpool trio, with guest Ron Miles, performing the song “The Ocean Knows” from a September 2013 performance at Denver’s Dazzle Jazz Club.

A version of the song “The Ocean Knows” will be included on an upcoming Whirlpool release with Ron Miles.  No details yet on release date, etc.

It wasn’t that long I recommended Whirlpool’s 2013 release, This World and One More.  Go check it out.  But first, their video…

Your video personnel:  Caroline Davis (alto sax), Charles Rumback (drums), Jeff Swanson (guitar), and Ron Miles (cornet).


Have a great start to your weekend!