Anders Jormin & Christian Jormin – “Provenance”

April 17, 2014


Anders Jormin & Christian Jormin - "Provenance"Bassist Anders Jormin is, perhaps, best known for his collaborations with Bobo Stenson and Charles Lloyd, though he’s also put out a decent set of music under his own name.  If you browse through the ECM catalog at any length, chances are, you’re gonna see Anders’ name listed amongst the credits of many good albums.  His brother Christian Jormin is also part of the Scandinavian scene, working that same peaceful quasi-jazz sound.  Of course, both brothers joined Mats Gustafsson on the Ornette Coleman tribute album Opus Apus, so it’s not like they can’t jack up the voltage on their music.

But that’s not what their new release Provenance is about.  This duo collaboration between the brothers Jormin is about quiet music for quiet rooms.  Tracks like “And Yet, I Wish You Well,” with its murmurs of bass arco, the rustle of percussion, and the solace of thoughtful, comforting words from piano, and “Laid on Straw,” with its bubbly cheerfulness expressed with a modicum of restraint or “Herding Song,” which takes a melancholy turn, these are the tones that represent the heart of this album.

A few tracks like “Bismillah” and “Villages and Rivers” dig into some upbeat material, but for the most part, this is an album of music that pairs well with sunrises on lazy Sunday mornings… solemn music that respects the silence sacrificed in order to give it a listen.

Your album personnel:  Anders Jormin (acoustic bass) and Christian Jormin (piano, percussion)

Released on Footprint Records & Naxos Sweden.

Available at:  eMusic | Amazon MP3

My new eMusic Jazz Picks are up at Wondering Sound

April 16, 2014


As most of you are aware, I have been writing a weekly column for that gives a rundown of the best of the new Jazz releases each week (my Jazz Picks).  Well, eMusic has spun off their editorial function to a completely separate site, called Wondering Sound.  It’s still an eMusic thing, but my Jazz Picks will now be posted over on the Wondering Sound site.

So don’t freak out when the link takes you to an unfamiliar site.  I’ll be reprinting this introduction for the next handful of weeks, just so that everyone becomes familiar with the changes.

Now, that said, my new recommendations have just been posted up on the Wondering Music site HERE.

Notable albums from this week’s article are:

Rebecca Trescher - "Nucleus" Estafest - "Eno Supo" Kekko Fornarelli - "Outrush" The North - "Slow Down (This Isn't the Mainland)"





… and a whole bunch of other great options.  Huge week this time around.  I think about twenty recs in all.  And, really, there’s more, but I have to shove some off to next week, just because I didn’t have time to get them all in before the deadline.


If Trio – “Imaginary Folklores”

April 15, 2014


If Trio - "Imaginary Folklores"The If Trio does not provide a map.  You are expected to follow along, with little advance notice given on a song’s destination or the path it will take to get there.  The ingredients of chamber music and jazz come through clearly on Imaginary Folklores, but it’s the mix of folk musics represented primarily by the French, Finnish, and Argentinean origins of the trio members that strikes the lasting impression.

Your album personnel: Otso Lähdeoja (guitar), Florian Guibert (flute), and Mauro Sarachian (cello).

The melodies behave less as statements of intent as they do seeds for growth and improvisation.  Within moments, the opening stanza of “Dans le Decor” is out the door and gone without a trace, sending only a brief postcard near the song’s end as a reminder of its existence, and “Stratometriques” is only a shadow of its former self by the time the song reaches its conclusion.

Tempos are about motion, not timekeeping, of shifts from the frenetically churning of rhythms into gentle swooning passages with a predisposition to take off and soar.  The burst of hyperactivity from “Nijdgu,” with its variable motion and slippery melody contrast nicely with the ambling cadence and rustic charm of “La Bataille.”

The flute of Florian Guibert darts about furtively, then breaks suddenly into a soothing melodic drift.  “Capricorne” is a tango caught in a wind gust, and Guibert matches the speedy drafts note for note, whereas on the moody “Sirius B,” he orbit the melody with a simple ease.

The cello of Mauro Sarachian broods and growls, but no matter how ornery it becomes, the instrument’s resonant beauty eclipses its darker tones with brightly lit displays of elegance.  When out front, as on “Dans le Decor,” its sonic fullness has the presence of a roar, whereas on “Ombras,” it swells with intensity, then recoils back to a state of melodic grace.

On guitar, Otso Lähdeoja personifies the album’s mannerisms, those cues that put everything else in the proper context… the chatty accompaniment on “Stratometriques” casts in a cheerful light what might otherwise be viewed as a gloomy tune, and his indie-folk approach on “Sirius B” provides an ear-to-the-soil circumspection to the song’s modern classical leanings.

An enchanting album that grows more beguiling the more one spends time listening.

Released on Home Records (Belgium).

Available at:  Bandcamp | Amazon MP3

Masaa – “Afkar”

April 14, 2014


Masaa - "Afkar"Showing the kind of development one hopes for in the wake of a promising debut, the quartet Masaa came out strong on their sophomore effort Afkar, and created one of the more intriguing albums, thus far, in 2014.  Forging a bond between modern European jazz and Lebanese vocals, Afkar is in the enviable position of pairing traits not so easily combined… of being both engagingly cerebral and possessing a beauty that is just plain heartbreaking.

Their 2013 debut album Freedom Dance is certainly a nice enough work.  But the joints holding it together were a bit loose, the edges murky, and the concepts a bit untamed and wild… as if the ensemble knew they had something special and knew what they wanted to accomplish, but just weren’t sure how to wield it.  The downside to this scenario is that the album feels a bit incomplete and unformed.  On the other hand, the upside is that it often leads to the kind of risk-taking creativity that provides all kinds of rewards.  It also builds suspense for the next release.

For Masaa, “next” is Afkar, and on it, Masaa sound like they’ve discovered the answers they were searching for in their debut.  Afkar is a confident recording, evidenced by the continuance of their creative trajectory and their ability to bring it all together cohesively into a singular, multifaceted expression.

Your album personnel:  Rabih Lahoud (vocals), Marcus Rust (trumpet), Clemens Pötzsch (piano), and Demian Kappenstein (drums).

This is an album of sudden and thrilling changes in pace and emotion.  The album gets right to it on “Aruz,” as Lahoud’s soulful vocals join hands with silence and the murmur of piano… and then, quite unexpectedly, the song takes flight, with Pötzsch leading the charge on piano, and Rust stepping in soon after to help with propulsion on trumpet.

Second track “Afkar” also has some delightful surprises up its sleeve.  The rapid fire spoken word of Lahoud’s delivery forms a crosshatch of lines with drums and trumpet… and then Louhoud shortens up his delivery and lets the notes hang until suddenly erupting in a shout to the skies, with the rest of the quartet following right along beside him.  It then cuts back to the rapid spoken word percussion games, before starting the pattern all over again.  The tuneful “Hiwar” adopts a similar pattern, beginning as a whisper, and ending as a roar.

Some tracks are as they seem.  The smoky ballad “Mira” is a flickering candlelight, accentuated by Rust’s use of mute.  The love song “Hlam,” wears its heart on its sleeve, unabashedly fragile.  The spoken word “Revolution” toys with some interplay between the Lebanese and German languages, laying the groundwork for a display of rhythmic eccentricities.

Those rhythmic eccentricities are put to the test on other album tracks, too.  The tide of “Layali” surges forward, battering the shore.  Lahoud’s voice twists in tight circles as the quartet develops an insistent cadence.  “Beiruti” follows a similar path, but with a tempo that’s more persistent and a little less dance-like.  For all their dynamic layers of sound, both tracks are remarkably catchy.

On “Baladi,” Lahoud gives way for Pötzsch to get in a nice piano solo, remaining in the background with some sporadic, though effective accompaniment via wordless harmonization.  And on “Hyper Edita,” Lohoud steps out entirely, with Rust filling the vacuum with an evocative solo, Kappenstein’s cymbals adding brightness to the edges of trumpet’s song.

Possessing the most song-like form of all the album tracks, “Reflexion” emanates intensity simmering just below the surface, of emotions that imply the totality of their strength rather than through a blunt display of fireworks.  Lahoud switches into the French language for this moody song, offering up yet another facet to the quartet’s atypical sound.

The album begins its wind-down with “Nissjan,” a tune that smolders with passion, as the contrast of Lahoud’s quavering voice and the calming tones radiating from the rest of the quartet pull the song in both directions.  The quartet says farewell with the jubilant “Dabke,” a song that dances and stomps and bounces around, and leaves nothing in the tank for its grand finale.

Just a thrilling album, and one of the brighter spots of 2014.

Released on Traumton Records.

Jazz from the Dresden, Germany scene.

Available at:  eMusic | Amazon CD | Amazon MP3


Other things you should probably know:

Masaa - "Freedom Dance"In the opening paragraphs, I refer to Masaa’s debut album Freedom Dance.  I remember when it came out.  It made one of my various follow-up reference lists.  It wasn’t an eMusic Jazz Pick, but only just barely.  Armed with more time, I might’ve gotten it included in my eMusic column before the filing deadline.  It’s a good album, and if you like Afkar, you should think about giving it a shot.  You can stream three album tracks on Masaa’s Soundcloud page (LINK).

Markus Stockhausen - "Eternal Voyage"Also, Lahoud was a member of the Markus Stockhausen project “Eternal Voyage,” a sextet whose members came from different backgrounds to create a contemporary world fusion that delivered some interesting results.  You can stream an album track on Youtube (LINK).

Laurent Coq & Jerome Sabbagh – “New York Jazzed Out: Eye of the Storme”

April 13, 2014


Today’s video features pianist Laurent Coq and saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh performing for students in a school hallway for something called New York Jazzed Out.  Honestly, I don’t know much of anything about the project, and I’m honoring this lazy Sunday by, in fact, being lazy and doing absolutely no research on it.  That said, it’s a pretty song on a nifty video, and I really enjoy the work of both musicians involved, so here you go, today’s featured video…



For future listening of both musicians:

coq_zenon_rayuelaI reviewed the Laurent Coq – Miguel Zenon recording Rayuela, and apparently I liked the album so much, I somehow wrote two separate reviews for Bird is the Worm, which is an inexplicable accomplishment considering how drowned I’m am in music.  Anyways, here’s A LINK to one of those reviews.  It was slotted at #27 on the Best of 2012 list.

jeromesabbagh_pluggedinI also reviewed Jerome Sabbagh’s 2012 release Plugged In, another nice recording that has him in a different format than this performance with Coq.  Here’s a LINK to that review.  Go check it out.

Have a great Sunday!