Today’s featured video is a live performance from Matt Owens, with the song “Mouse Song,” from his debut album The Aviators’ Ball. Owens’ large ensemble is a mix of modern jazz and classical, vocal and instrumental pieces, and includes a string quartet and wind quintet. It was my Album of the Week for the most recent This Is Jazz Today recommendations column.
Pretty much any video that takes place in a cavernous room full of stained glass windows is gonna get featured on this site. Obviously it doesn’t hurt if it features a beautiful song from a beautiful album. Read more about The Aviators’ Ball–> LINK
Here’s that video…
Matt Owens also put together a promotional video for the album featuring an album track accompanied by black & white film footage. It’s pretty cool. Go check it out on Matt’s YouTube page (LINK).
Can’t express just how happy I am with this week’s batch of new jazz releases. Many of these albums have very distinct personalities, which is the kind of strength you want from the albums sitting in your music library. You might not like all of these personalities, but it’s unlikely any of them will bore you. If it were solely up to me, I’d just direct each of your checking accounts to purchase the first six albums listed in this column, and leave only the remaining albums for you to purchase at your own discretion. To my dismay, however, none of you have wisely seen fit to put me in control of your checkbooks to make unilateral music purchases on your behalf. (Think it over; it’s a great idea).
Well, on that note…
*** Album of the Week ***
Matt Owens – The Aviator’s Ball
Good god, what a beautiful album. The debut of Matt Owens is a captivating mix of modern jazz and classical, with a large ensemble bolstered by a wind quintet and string quartet and a variety of vocalists. Those supremely enchanting vocal contributions not only slip perfectly into the flow of the album, but create ripples that add to the dynamic array of instrumental tracks. This’ll be an album I’ll be writing more about in the near future, but I wouldn’t bother waiting for me to put an extended recommendation together… just go buy this gorgeous album right now.
Mario Rom’s Interzone – Everything Is Permitted (Traumton)
The trio of trumpeter Rom, bassist Lukas Kranzelbinder and drummer Herbert Pirker burn through plenty of fuel as they paint songs with quick bursts of imagery. Up-tempo pieces kick out all kinds of energy while tunes that slow things down still emanate with an impending combustion. Lively, lyrical and fun.
The newest from guitarist Costa possesses a serious vibrancy and gets served up with an appealing easy-going delivery. Strong melodies take on a dreamy presence while given plenty definition from the piano-bass-drums rhythm section. Trumpet and alto sax round out the sextet on this excellent session.
Nice to see a new recording from trumpeter Bergeron, whose arrangements typically adopt a proactive approach to engaging the listener. A lyricism that skirts the boundaries of a stately elegance, thus allowing eccentric flourishes and a sense of humor to add color to a rigid beauty. Bassist Michael Bates was a solid choice for this kind of project, as he’s thrived in similar environs on his own projects.
Mads Vinding, Jean-Michel Pilc, Marilyn Mazur – Composing (Storyville)
The title is a nod to a Schoenberg quote, but the music is fully improvised. An excellent session from pro’s-pros, bassist Vinding, pianist Pilc and percussionist Mazur. Too often fully-improvised music is associated with chaos & volatility… this album shows that improvising can be based on a foundation of beauty, cohesion and embraceable dialog. Some genuinely gripping music on this album, whether in a contemplative tone or in the midst of frenetic chatter.
All Included – Satan In Plain Clothes (Clean Feed)
Another excellent and exciting project featuring saxophonist Martin Küchen, with trumpeter Thomas Johansson, trombonist Mats Aleklint, bassist Jon Rune Power and drummer Tollef Østvang. Absolutely bursting with life, no direction is off-limits nor any elevation too high to climb. The tight harmonics bind songs together and provides an essential sense of controlled chaos.
Nice straight-ahead modern set from vibraphonist Gillece. Even with tenor saxophonist Ken Fowser applying plenty of heat to spur on tempos that aren’t shy with the gas pedal, Gillece deftly adds contemplative tones and a bit of a lag on the up-tempo pieces as a nice counterweight and sense of tension. Plenty enjoyable.
From a composition standpoint, the new one from bassist Cohen is sort of a middle-of-the-road approach, situating itself in the contemporary scene. But augmenting the sound with the use of steel pan and harmonica adds some texture that really help things along. Having vibraphonist Joe Locke, drummer Donald Edwards and pianist Ryan Cohan as part of the sextet sure ain’t gonna hurt none, either.
Kind of a punchy attitude to this quintet session led by vibraphonist Kanzler. Trombone & sax brush with broad strokes, bass and drums shoot more for accuracy, and the vibraphone parts tend to bind the two together. The ambient interludes dispersed throughout the album are a nice touch.
A seriously appealing warmth and intimacy from this straight-ahead modern set of pianist Perdomo. Joined in trio formation by bassist Mimi Jones and drummer Rudy Royston, they take their time working through the various angles on any given melody, while rolling out rhythms to see how they skitter across the song. Just a real personable recording.
Download a free album track, courtesy of the artist (LINK).
Pianist Giannouli’s dedication to sharp imagery gives the impression that she’s always got a film in mind when creating a new composition. Modern classical, modern jazz, folk and Greek musics all inform her newest. Soft ambient passages alternate places in the spotlight with those much freer and of a sharper edge.
Likable trio set from saxophonist Bjorn Cedergren, bassist Kjell Jansson and drummer Anders Kjelberg. Nice balance of sweet lyricism and harsh edge. The trio isn’t afraid to launch themselves into some wild swings, but also show the ability to tidy up and get focused for some tunes that bop right along.
Curious release from the trio of pianist Christoph Cech, saxophonist Werner Zangerle and Raimund Vogtenhuber on electronic devices. The sense of pretty melodies being ripped apart at the seams by unfettered chaotic forces, sometimes intense, sometimes strangely at peace. Riveting music, absolutely.
Phil Maturano – At Home Everywhere (Self-Produced)
Lively straight-ahead set from drummer Maturano. With a rotating cast of bassists and pianists, they run through a set of originals (bookended by two Wayne Shorter comps & “Groovin’ High”) that crackle with life. Music that greets the listener with a sincere smile and a firm handshake.
So, I was on the radio last Tuesday night, May 12th. Let me begin my recap by again thanking show host Kevin Coultas and the ARTxFM station for having me on as a guest on his show Mingle. It was as much fun on my sophomore appearance as it was the inaugural guest-spot.
Sorry I forgot to give my readers a heads-up. Totally blanked on that post. However, you can hear the entire show in the embedded audio further down in this post.
And here’s the show playlist. Kevin always begins with show with a Mingus tune (this episode it was “Bird Calls”), but aside from that, all of these songs come from 2015 releases, except for the RJ Miller tune, which dates back a few years. Following each line is a link where you can read more on this site about that album or, in some instances where the album hasn’t yet been released, more about the artist for a different album. Those links, by the way, will open a new window so that you can read about the album as you hear a song from it on the current page:
Kevin has been featuring a lot of the music that you read about on my site, however, you should check out his show archive on the Mixcloud site (LINK) to hear more of the music you read about here as well as other great music that you probably should be listening to. And if you’re an artist, label or rep who is interested in getting your music featured on Kevin’s weekly show, you should think about contacting him through his show’s Facebook page or via his Twitter account. He’s a nice guy, so don’t be afraid to shoot him a message and say hi.
The trio of Ernst Reijseger, Harmen Fraanje and Mola Sylla have released a riveting follow-up to their equally stunning 2013 release Down Deep (which was named the Bird is the Worm Best of 2013#7 album of the year). With Count Till Zen, the trio of cello, piano and percussion concoct a magnetic serenity that stands apart from anything else on the scene. Some parallels could be drawn with the work of the trio Codona, whose three equally compelling 1970’s recordings were a potent mix of jazz and folk musics. The two recordings of Reijseger/Fraanje/Sylla synthesize their own distillation of jazz and folk musics, and like their predecessors, this trio speaks from the heart and tells songs from the soil.
“Perhaps” opens the album with the happy chatter of strings and percussion, the contemplative warmth of piano, and vocals that split the difference between the two. “Bakou” continues the opener’s trajectory, following an arc that’s a bit melancholy and supremely tuneful, and marrying a bubbling cadence with a melody that sweeps the song off its feet. In both instances, the music has the solemn, almost hymnal presence of a Sunday morning, as well as its world-at-peace tranquility.
As far as tone goes, “Badola” takes a sharp right turn by working up from the funereal into some frenzied and erratic yet still tuneful, as if the melody were tossed into a wind tunnel. And title-track “Count Till Zen” adopts a pleasant bounce and an up-tempo brisk pace, occasionally inserting interludes that glide at a more casual pace. Both of these tracks help frame the soulfulness of the two songs that preceded it.
“Headstream,” on the other hand, goes with thick colors for substance and depth. Its guttural chant provides some edge to the serenity without shattering its surface. This effect is further accentuated by “Debenti,” a crosshatch of a flowing melody and a choppy motion. It simultaneously incites a blissful tranquility and a lively call to action.
“Out of the Wilderness” is the album’s showcase example of how this trio is able to subtly build a song’s intensity from a dreamy sonority into surging crests of shout-to-the-heavens pronouncements. This occurs, too, on “Falémé,” but takes a more direct route to the same destination.
“E Konkon” is all about the swirling motion approximating dance and the assimilation of a melody into the act of propulsion. There is an enchantment set by Count Till Zen, and its predecessor Down Deep, and its a song like this that illustrates how the trio goes about setting it in place.
The album ends on a quiet note with the contemplative “Friuli,” a song that winds down all that came before while still nurturing the music’s life, like a flickering candlelight at the end of a long, beautiful night.
This music is something special. Don’t let it get away from you.
Your album personnel: Ernst Reijseger (5-string cello, voice), Harmen Fraanje (piano, voice) and Mola Sylla (xalam, kongoma, percussion, voice).
While readers of this site (and my old columns for eMusic & Wondering Sound) will recognize Hammond’s name for his unique blend of rock & jazz for small ensembles, his current project has Hammond as a solo act, sticking to blues & folk tunes far more than jazz, and utilizing 12-string and slide guitars rather than his typical electric slash & burn.
Hammond’s latest release is the highly embraceable Flight, and is far more likely to appeal to fans of Leo Kottke than Grant Green. His use of the 12-string brings the greatest rewards, and his range of original tunes provides all kinds of room for nuance and grand pronouncements, both. And the album’s down-home tranquility is likely to instill some lazy Sunday morning atmosphere into any time or day you hit the play button.
Here’s the song “Womuts!” from Hammond’s album, Flight…
Morris Book Shop 882 E. High Street Lexington, KY 40502 (859) 276-0494 http://www.morrisbookshop.com/
The show starts at 6:30pm sharp. There’s a $5 suggested donation in lieu of an actual ticket charge, but I don’t believe they’ll be turning anyone away at the door if money is tight and five bucks is too steep for you at this time. Go out and enjoy some good music.
Though Lexington was once his home turf, Hammond is now well-entrenched in the California music scene, so take advantage of the opportunity to hear him when he swings through town.
And if you want a different view of Hammond’s music, check out his 2013 release, Cathedrals. You can read more about it (and listen to an album track) here, on this site (LINK).