Lo-Res – “La Sortie”

July 22, 2014


Lo-Res - "La Sortie"A recent eMusic/Wondering Sound Jazz Pick that has really grown on me the more time I spend with it is La Sortie, the new album by the sextet Lo-Res.  Dreamy, with occasional outbursts… qualities directly attributable to how wind instruments comprise three of the six slots, which gives the music an airy touch, as well as the ability to jack up the power on command.  It’s those shifting tides of tempo and intensity that characterize the best traits of La Sortie.

Most notable is the deft way in which the compositions of flautist Belinda Woods establish that airy presence right from the start, weaving it indelibly into the melody so that even when the ensemble shifts from a floating motion to one with choppier waves, like it does on opening track “There’s a Tiger On the Run,” that initial infusion of tranquility colors the whole of the song… even when tranquility no longer suits as an effective descriptor of a particular passage.

“The Sisters of Mercy” and “The Elevator” also follow that pattern of serenity-outburst-serenity, with the latter’s intertwined melodic lines making it the standout album track.  The way in which Woods, saxophonist Timothy Pledger and trumpeter Gemma Horbury entangle one another in their individual flight patterns, then suddenly break into a tight harmonic formation is as addictive as a song is likely to get.

A few of the compositions stray from the fold just far enough to lend the album some necessary differentiation.  “The Goodnight Pharmaceutical Company” gives guitarist Diego Villalta the room to kick out some heat, and “Synthetic Strings” tethers itself to the catchy groove set down by bassist Ali Watts and drummer Daniel Brates.

But the album ends the way in which it began.  Title-track “La Sortie” enters with a quiet grace and a pretty melody, and then just drifts across the dance floor until the final note is played.

Some seriously beautiful moments on this very enjoyable album.

Your album personnel:  Belinda Woods (C & alto flutes, C-melody sax), Timothy Pledger (alto & tenor saxes, bass clarinet), Gemma Horbury (trumpet), Diego Villalta (guitar), Ali Watts (bass), and Daniel Brates (drums).

The album is Self-Produced.

Jazz from the Melbourne, Australia scene.

Available at:  eMusic | Bandcamp | CDBaby | Amazon MP3

Jazz in Kentucky: Upcoming shows from Brad Linde’s Team Players, Pat Metheny, and Chris Schlarb

July 21, 2014

In local news, there’s some solid music coming up on the calendar.

I’ve got three shows to tell you about.


Brad Linde’s Team Players in Lexington on Tuesday, July 22nd at Natasha’s Bistro & Bar and in Louisville on Wednesday, July 23rd at Dreamland.

Brad LindeThe quartet of saxophonists Brad Linde and Billy Wolfe, guitarist Aaron Quinn, and drummer Deric Dickens have their feet planted dead center of the modern jazz scene.  That perfect mix of post-bop structure and free improv activity means it’ll be show where a typical Jazz sound will undergo sudden changes in tempo and direction, either taking sharp turns at unusual angles or simply shedding its form in a mass sonic dispersal.  Or, said differently, it’s music that will switch between the familiar and the strange, challenging and fun, both.  The quartet is currently touring in support of their new album, Draft.

They’ll be playing at Natasha’s Bistro & Bar in Lexington on Tuesday, 7/22/14, and then the following night, Wednesday, they’ll be at Dreamland on 7/23/14.  Natasha’s has a solid history of hosting jazz shows, and Dreamland appears to be a re-purposed venue, expanding out from more than just movies.   Colin Stetson performed there recently, and definitely seems like a viable option for touring jazz artists to make a Louisville stop.

The Natasha’s Lexington show starts at 8pm.  Tickets are $6.

The Dreamland Louisville opens the doors at 7pm.  Tickets are $7.

Find out more about the artists and venues by following the links attached to their names above.


Pat Metheny Unity Group in Louisville on Sunday, July 27th at Kentucky Country Day School Theater

Pat MethenyWidely considered one of the all-time great guitarists, Pat Metheny & his Unity Group bring their jazz-pop fusion to Louisville in support of their new album, Kin.  While generally known for his sometimes too-syrupy brand of jazz fusion in the eighties, Metheny has, in fact, expanded the breadth of his creative range far outside that too-small characterization.  A memorable recording with Ornette Coleman, also one on the John Zorn Book of Angels project, his solo mechanized Rube-Goldberg project, Orchestration, as well as his collaboration with modern great, Brad Melhdau all serve of evidence that Metheny’s creative development didn’t end decades ago.

His new album, Kin, is a pretty strong effort, and while it expresses itself different from recordings of the past, it still has many of the trademark Metheny characteristics.  You’re going to get your thick melodies, there’s going to be plenty of dramatic surges of intensity, and there will be a pop music lightness to all of it.  These are good things, and live, it’s going to translate even better than on the recorded medium.

As one might expect of a musician of Metheny’s caliber, his Unity Group is comprised of Jazz all-stars, with Chris Potter on woodwinds, Antonio Sanchez on drums, Ben Williams on bass, and multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi.  They’re touring in support of their new album, Kin.

The show is being held in Louisville on 7.27.14 at the Kentucky Country Day School Theater. which has also hosted jazz shows featuring Laurence Hobgood and Ernie Watts.

Doors open at 7pm, show starts at 8pm.  Tickets range between $55 – $65.


Chris Schlarb in Owensboro on Tuesday, July 29th at Daviess County Public Library

Chris Schlarb tour photoGuitarist Chris Schlarb is touring in support of his new album Making the Saint. Half of the I Heart Lung free improv duo, Schlarb made his mark on the scene with the increasingly complex Psychic Temple project, which incorporated live and pre-recorded music in a majestic pastiche of artists, instruments, and genres, and included collaborations with an all-star cast from jazz, rock, metal, and classical fields. Now he’s stepping back. While secluding himself in middle-of-nowhere California, locked in a century-old cabin with just his guitars, some electronic effects and recording equipment, Schlarb laid down an EP of new music. This guitar-centered ambient recording doesn’t do anything to harm his reputation as an artist who transcends genre classification. Music that should appeal to fans of Brian Eno’s ambient work or the guitar-dreaminess of Roy Montgomery, Schlarb offers up much of the odd serenity and warped imagery that informed previous recordings, but where before they were elements of a larger whole, on his current project, he immerses himself into the heart of it all.

Expect to be taken along for that same ride.

Schlarb will be stopping in Kentucky at the Daviess County Public Library (Owensboro, KY) on Tuesday, 7/29/14, with the show scheduled to start at 6:30.

Here’s a LINK to the library site, where you can find more details.

For those of you unable to make the Owensboro gig, he’s playing the night previous in Cincinnati and the subsequent night he’s got a show up in Indianapolis. Here’s a LINK to Chris Schlarb’s site, for additional information.

And here’s a LINK to Schlarb’s Bandcamp page, where you listen to & purchase his new album, released on the Asthmatic Kitty label. And not for nothing, also check out both of his Psychic Temple recordings… it’s some of the most amazing music that’s come out over the last handful of years.


And, yes, I’m still attempting to keep my Notes From The Holler site relevant.  Subscribe so you don’t miss out on the infrequent times I post show announcements and reviews there.  Eventually I’ll move all of my Jazz in Kentucky posts off Bird is the Worm and keep it separate on Notes From The Holler.  Eventually.

New music from the Jeremy Siskind Trio – “Kneel”

July 20, 2014


One of my favorite recordings of 2012 was Finger-Songwriter, by the Jeremy Siskind Trio.  An album influenced by the chamber music of Norma Winstone and the writings of favorite authors, whether moody or upbeat, the beauty expressed by this trio was staggering at times, heartbreaking at others.

Based on the videos that have been appearing, it appears that they’re putting something new together.  Here’s one such video, for the song “Kneel.”  If the new album is going to sound like what I’m hearing on these videos, I’m ready for it right now.

Your video personnel:  Jeremy Siskind (piano), Nancy Harms (vocals), and Lucas Pino (clarinet).


Here’s a link to the review of their last album, Finger-Songwriter. which received the #5 slot on my Best of 2012 list.

Have a great Sunday!


Something Different: Tunto – “Huvi”

July 19, 2014


Tunto - "Huvi"It seems there have been a handful of new albums that hit the sweet spot between jazz, folk, and pop, and immersed so deep in the traits of all that when the music rises back above the surface, it sounds quite unlike any of those influences… or anything else for that matter.  Recent recordings by Stein Urheim, Cliff Hines, and the I Think You’re Awesome ensemble create an intoxicating mix of oddball music that is undeniably absorbing and exceedingly tuneful.

Huvi, the newest album by the Tunto ensemble doesn’t range far from that group.  Led by Matti Wallenius, they incorporate a ridiculous array of instruments to pull off their unorthodox sound.  The catchiness of the songs is highly indebted to an intricate rhythmic approach, one that allows melodies to bounce and jostle and groove and stretch out within the environs of the bustling activity.

Tunto translates from the Finnish as “sense of feel” or the sensation of touch.  That squares with the music, which is something of a tactile sonic experience.  It’s also just plain fun.

Your album personnel:  Matti Wallenius (baglama, balalaika, charango, clay whistle, electric bass, guitars & baritone guitar, keyboards, mandolin, percussion, programming, ukulele & baritone ukulele), Petri Heimonen (clarinet, bass clarinet, contra-alto clarinet, concert & bass flutes, tenor sax), Petri Reinikka (snare drum, rimshots, brushes, cymbal), Henrik Duncker (snare drum, brushes, percussion), Tero Siitonen (double bass), Rudi Nerz (Swiss yodeling), Ahmed Abou Elseoud (voice), and Satu Lankinen (voice).

Released on Aani Records.

Music from the Helsinki, Finland scene.

Available at:  eMusic | CDBaby | Amazon MP3

The Something Different review series highlights albums that are unlike anything else, and which embrace the best qualities of creative vision.

Beyond Jazz: Ola Kvernberg Trio – “Northern Tapes”

July 18, 2014


Ola Kvernberg - "Northern Tapes"One of the more captivating albums I’ve encountered lately is Northern Tapes, by the Ola Kvernberg Trio.  Possessing a strong folk sound and presented in cinematic washes, this is music with an aggressive personality that is as alluring as it is positively arresting.  Lithe, fluid, but with a serious gravity.

On strings, Kvernberg howls with a majestic sonority.  Percussion is a consensual aggregation of many conversations rising into a single, multifaceted din.  This is active music that makes it simple to sit back and simply drift away.

The rhythm trio of bassist Steinar Raknes and drummer/percussionists Erik Nylander and Børge Fjordheim lock in together to create some seriously dynamic rhythmic patterns for Kvernberg to float across.  A track like “North” has bass bubbling up to the surface and popping with a satisfying regularity while drums and percussion mimic the ripples caused by the tiny eruptions.  Its effect is hypnotic.  It’s a different kind of effect on the focused rhythmic propulsion of “Leaving Lotte,” a song that has Kvernberg soloing over the top like riding drafts in a stormy sky.

Kvernberg switches between a variety of stringed instruments, sometimes within the span of a single song.  The most powerful of these options is his use of bass violin, which emits a resonant soulfulness and gripping lyricism similar to how bass clarinet, when wielded deftly, can capture the moment with a tumult of rhythmic activity.  And then there’s the way it enters with a haunting beauty on “Best Intentions,” a song that twitters with life but keeps to an inside voice until it can no longer contain itself.

The use of electronics and effects is done with a certain modesty and tastefulness.  It isn’t something kept to the back of the room; on the other hand, it doesn’t stick its beak into every moment of every song.  Some loops, like with mandolin on the opening track “Wood Village” add some texture to an already rich vein of percussion.

Other tracks mimic a slow, cool breeze drifting through mountaintop forests.  The haunting beauty of “Poweryard” shimmers briefly then disappears, gone too soon, but there’s great value in leaving the ear with a want for more.  “Cooper’s Joe” is a peaceful stroll, eschewing burgeoning intensity for some casual dips in sunlight.

The album ends with more peacefulness.  “Lillesara” drifts languidly, strings and percussion both exuding a calm patience, even when volume and pace get kicked up a notch.  The song doesn’t end so much as simply fade away, growing ever softer until it goes silent.

Just an absolutely gorgeous recording.

Your album personnel:  Ola Kvernberg (viola, violin, bass violin, cello, mandolin, ukulele, autoharp, percussion, Hammond B3, drums, electronics), Erik Nylander (drums, percussion), Børge Fjordheim (drums, percussion, autoharp), Steinar Raknes (double bass).

Released on Jazzland Recordings.

Music from the Trondheim, Norway scene.

Man, I hate linking to iTunes, but it appears to be one of the only places for U.S.-centric retail sites selling this fine recording… iTunes Link.  It looks like the Italian and German Amazon stores have it available, too.  The label, Jazzland Recordings, suggests purchasing from Gube Music.  They seem to have some nice file formats available.  If he begins retailing it at U.S. Amazon or eMusic or Bandcamp, etc, I’ll add the links later and send out a notice via Twitter and Facebook.

Also worth noting that Kvernberg is a member of Liarbird, along with Mattias Eick and others.  I’ll be reviewing their 2011 release in the near future.  Stay in touch.