Damir Out Loud – “Graduation Day”

July 23, 2013


Damir Out Loud - "Graduation Day"Wonderful debut album by Damir Out Loud, led by trumpeter Damir Bacikin, and featuring some outstanding soloing both by Bacikin and vibraphonist Julius Heise.  And while these are definitively modern compositions, the melodic development and harmonic expressiveness also speak to the days of Jazz past.

A native of Serbia, and now a long-time resident of Berlin, Bacikin studied primarily in the classical music arena, while also performing with a local orchestra.  But he’s not the first to be trained in Classical and then drawn to Jazz, and like many of those who preceded him in that particular transition, Bacikin’s music possesses a craftsmanship that highlights the structure of compositions, and offers solos that elicit a satisfying feeling that everything is in its right place.

Your album personnel:  Damir Bacikin (trumpet), Miguel Pérez Iñesta (bass clarinet), Ferdinand “Fred” Hendrich (trombone), David Hagen (double bass), Barbara Venetikido (clarinet), Lukas Fichtner (French horn), Julius Heise (acoustic & electric vibraphones), and Miklós Szilveszter (drums).

There is an abiding warmth to this music.  The harmonies generated by the brass instruments on “Use Mine” bring a fireplace heat to balance the icy beauty of the vibraphone accompaniment.  And on “Boys Food,” vibes and trumpet provide some contrasting temperatures that come together marvelously as one.

The album has some fight to it.  Melodies are often delivered in rapid combinations of blows.  And on album opener “Face Full Of Hair,” Bacikin funnels his trumpet blasts through some electronic processing, amping up the song’s boisterousness to where each note shouts fun fun fun.

From the musicians’ backgrounds (both in terms of geographical bios and training) and the variations between album songs, there’s some indication of mixed influences, but overall, the album maintains a pretty consistent sound…  “Foreign Office Voyage” stays into free jazz territory and “Miles Smiles” touches upon the sounds of the song’s musical reference, but that’s about as close as any particular song gets to shattering cohesion.

And speaking of album cohesion, compositions return to previous themes repeatedly throughout this album.  The metallic whine and scattered rhythms that open “Introducing D’n'b” are a mirror image of the sounds accompanied by Bacikin’s breathy trumpet notes on the free improv interlude of “Foreign Office Voyage.”  The trio of songs that bring the album to its conclusion reference similarly punchy melodic lines, giving a sense of one long medley of tunes.  It conjures up the sensation of a sonic game of deja vu.

Just a real nice album, and definitely one that could slip under the radar.  Hopefully this review will help prevent that.

Released on the Unit Records label.

Jazz from the Berlin scene.

Available at eMusic.  Available at Amazon: MP3

Tiny Reviews: Greg Foat, Jurgen Friedrich, Duo Hatti, Charlie Hunter & Scott Amendola, & Insolit Trio

March 1, 2013

Tiny Reviews edition!

Featured album: Greg Foat Group Girl and Robot with Flowers.

Plus:  Jurgen Friedrich Monosuite, Insolit Trio Insolit Trio, Duo Hatti Beaute Ma Toute Droite, and Charlie Hunter & Scott Amendola Not Getting Behind Is the New Getting Ahead.



Greg Foat Group – Girl and Robot with Flowers

Greg Foat - "Girl & Robot with Flowers"Interesting fusion of ambient textures, jazz allusions, electronic submersion, and folky attitudes.  The Greg Foat Group walks the border of where modern jazz and the trippy ambient post-rock of Cinematic Orchestra touch.  The album wastes no time illustrating its odd mix of influences, beginning with album opener, the “Part 1″ of the six-part title suite… folk harmonica drifts over electronic waves, post-rock rhythms, and a whisper of jazz.  “Have Spacesuit Will Travel” fits more snugly in with the previously mentioned Cinematic Orchestra sound… a tune that would be right at place on a playlist along with Stuart McCallum.  But then on tracks like “For a Breath I Tarry,” the strong presence of trumpeter Matthew Halsall gets things squarely back in Jazz territory.  “Part 4″ is a lively mix of jazz funk and space groove, whereas tracks like “Part 5″ are bright as rays of sun and light as the breeze that carries their warmth.

An album where there’s lots going on and isn’t afraid to get things all muddied up.  That’s part of its charm and a reason why it’s a fun listen.

Your album personnel:  Greg Foat (Hammond organ, synthesizers, keys, piano, vibes, effects), Rob Mach (clarinet & soprano, tenor, baritone saxes), Phillip Achille (harmonica, tambourine), Tony Coote (drums, percussion), Jacob Ohvrall (double bass, electric bass), Henric Strahl (12-string, acoustic, & electric guitars), and guests:  Jonathan Gustavsson (flugelhorn), Trevor Walker (flugelhorn), Nils Boren (tenor sax), David Bystrom (trombone), Matthew Halsall (trumpet), Karin Krantz Duraffourd (tuba).

Released on the Jazzman Records label.

Jazz from the UK.

Download a free album track at the artist Bandcamp page, courtesy of the artist and label.  Note:  This track was included on the Label Love Jazz Edition free download, so if you already downloaded that, then you have this track already.

Available at eMusic.  Available at Amazon: CD | MP3 | Vinyl


Other Albums of Note:


Jurgen Friedrich – Monosuite

Jurgen Friedrich - "Monosuite"Pianist Jurgen Friedrich takes on the roles of composer and conductor, and leads a talented jazz quartet, along with an army of strings, for a chamber jazz album that sometimes isn’t much jazz at all and at other times nails that beauteous third-stream synergy of Ornette Coleman’s collaboration with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.  An album that alternates between expansive sounds and those that wouldn’t disturb a flickering candlelight.  Challenging music that doesn’t sacrifice any beauty in the process.  Plus, some stunning moments.

Your album personnel:  Jurgen Friedrich (composer, conductor), Hayden Chisholm (alto sax), Achim Kaufmann (piano), John Hebert (bass), John Hollenbeck (drums), plus:  Gerdur Gunnarsdottir, Constanze Sannemuller, Elias Schodel, Adrian Bleyer, Kira Kohlmann, Christine Rox, Irmgard Zavelberg, Mirjam Steymans, Alwin Moser, Naomi Binder, Adi Czeiger (violins), Marla Hansen, Pauline Moser, Yodfat Miron, Andrea Sanz-Vela, Valentin Alexandru (violas), Ulrike Zavelberg, Teemu Myohanen, Nil Kocamangil, Marnix Mohring (cellos), and Axel Ruge, Matan Gurevitz (bass).

As best as I can tell, you can stream three album songs, HERE, on the artist’s site.

Released on the Pirouet Records label.

Available at eMusic.


Insolit Trio – Insolit Trio

Insolit Trio - "Insolit Trio"Insolit Trio throws in synths, kitchenware, and a bombo legüero like cooks experimenting with wild ingredients. The thing of it is, the album remains a jazz piano trio recording, and all those extra textures simply enhances the music, not define it. A very nifty recording.

Your album personnel: Marco Mezquida (piano), Marti Hosta (drums), and Miguel Serna (bass).

Released on the Temps Record label.

Available at eMusic.


Duo Hatti – Beaute Ma Toute Droite

Interesting duo album that has Matteo Mengoni doubling up on melodica and piano, and teaming up with Gerard Premand’s clarinets.  The album is best reflected through the clashes of jazz composition versus free improvisation, as well as jazz vs. tango and Latin music vs. classical. Can’t say the album has a lot of cohesion, nor would I say it’s an obstacle to enjoying it.  I love finding albums like this.

Released on the Unit Records label.

Available at eMusic.


Charlie Hunter & Scott Amendola – Not Getting Behind Is the New Getting Ahead

Charlie Hunter-Scott Amendola - "Not Getting Behind"Interesting duo recording of unconventional guitarist Charlie Hunter and drummer Scott Amendola, who has an impressive history working with unconventional guitarists (ie, Bill Frisell and Nels Cline to name just a few).  This pared-down recording is rooted in blues as much as jazz, and it gives the album an earthy feel, keeping it heartfelt without ever becoming over-burdensome or melodramatic.  Two artists comfortable speaking in their own voice, no matter what music they set out to make.  Good stuff.

The album is Self-Produced.

Available at eMusic.



The Greg Foat Group review is original to Bird is the Worm, but portions of the other reviews were originally used in my Jazz Picks weekly article for eMusic, so here’s some language protecting their rights to that reprinted material as the one to hire me to write about new jazz arrivals to their site…

New Arrivals Jazz Picks,“ and “New Arrivals Jazz Picks“ and “New Arrivals Jazz Picks” reprints courtesy of eMusic.com, Inc.
© 2012  eMusic.com, Inc.

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

Tiny Reviews: Joe Fiedler, Sonic Drei, Alex Riel, Brothers Two Others, and Emmanuel Cremer

November 29, 2012

Tiny Reviews, featuring:  Joe Fiedler Joe Fiedler’s Big Sackbut, Sonic Drei Paralelepipedo, Alex Riel Full House, Brothers Two Others Brothers Two OthersEmmanuel Cremer Coma.



Joe Fiedler – Joe Fiedler’s Big Sackbut

I love when seasoned musicians who have typically staked out careers as sidemen get the opportunity to take the steering wheel and record something with their own name in the big print for a change.  No matter what the album sounds like, there’s two album qualities you can pretty much bank on: 1.) It will be a professional affair, and, 2.) They won’t be afraid to take chances.

Joe Fiedler‘s newest recording, Joe Fieldler’s Big Sackbut, a quartet of three trombones and a tuba, achieves both of those markers.  This isn’t your typical recording session, but it has an affable everyday-kind-of-music demeanor.  That Fiedler is able to guide unusual music to an easy access point is just one admirable aspect of this fun album.

Your album personnel:  Joe Fiedler (trombone), Josh Roseman (trombone), Ryan Keberle (trombones), and Marcus Rojas (tuba).

However, of this album’s many winning qualities, it’s the harmonies that shine brightest.  The first two album tracks illustrate this point clearly, but it’s the delicate opening to third track “Don Pullen” that really drives the point home.  Even in the presence of one charming melody after the other, it’s the harmonic ebb and flow that elevates these album tracks upward to something a little more special.

Released on the Yellow Sound Label.

You can stream several album tracks on the artist site, under the Listen tab.

Available at eMusic.  Available at Amazon: CD | MP3


Sonic Drei – Paralelepipedo

Sonic Drei is very much in the modern jazz environment with skittering rhythms and shifty melodies, regardless of whether the tunes shoot right out of the gate or take on the semblance of a ballad.  But it’s the music’s shiftiness that is its most appealing quality.  Take, for example, the second track “Why Not,” which transitions sweetly from a modern asynchronicity into a pleasant swing.  It’s tiny little surprises like that which make this such a fun album.  Post-rock fans will enjoy the trio’s sharp cuts and pleasant moodiness.

Your album personnel:  Florian Riedl (sax, clarinet), Peter Cudek (bass), and Martin Kolb (drums).

You can stream the entire album on the artist site.

Released on the Unit Records label.

Jazz from the Munich, Germany scene.

Available at eMusic.  Available at Amazon: MP3


Alex Riel – Full House

Recorded live at the Jazzhus Montmartre in celebration of Danish drummer Alex Riel’s 70th birthday.  He leads a quartet that includes alto sax, piano, and bass through a series of jazz standards.  Great straight-ahead jazz, with the rendition of Coltrane’s “Impressions” being a real treat.  Riel has made his mark on a number of excellent jazz albums, and following his name like a trail of breadcrumbs is an excellent journey to take.  I’ll start you out with a rec of his performance on Benjamin Koppel‘s Adventures of a Polar Expedition.

Your album personnel:  Alex Riel (drums), George Robert (alto sax), Jesper Lundgaard (bass), and Dada Moroni (piano).

Released on the Storyville Records label.

Jazz from the Copenhagen, Denmark scene.

Available at eMusic.


Brothers Two Others – Brothers Two Others

Brothers Two Others is a Swedish quartet that likes to play cool jazz a la Lenny Tristano.  Nice mix of tracks that swing and sway. Music that can double as rainy day jazz or for late night drives through the city.  Tracks like “Stompin’ at Ragsved” have some nifty step-for-step action between sax and guitar, but it’s the ballads where this quartet really shines.

Your album personnel:  James Gustafsson (tenor sax), Daniel Gustafsson (double bass), Niclas Lindstrom (drums), and Daniel Svensson (guitar).

Released on the NLM Production label.

You can download a free album track from the artist’s soundcloud page.

Jazz from the Stockholm, Sweden scene.

Available at eMusic.


Emmanuel Cremer – Coma

Solo cello album from Emmanuel Cremer, who has made a name for himself in both jazz improvisation and classical circles. A sublime album of all the cello loveliness one could ever ask for, but with plenty of complexities to prevent it from ever getting superficially banal.  This isn’t a Jazz album per se, but I found it listed there under new arrivals, and I’m a sucker for this kind of thing, so I’m giving it a mention.

Your album personnel:  Emmanuel Cremer (cello).

Released on the Alambik Musik label.

Music from the Marseille, France scene.

Available at eMusic.



The Joe Fiedler and Sonic Drei reviews are original to Bird is the Worm, but portions of the other reviews were originally used in my Jazz Picks weekly article for eMusic, so here’s some language protecting their rights to that reprinted material as the one to hire me to write about new jazz arrivals to their site…

New Arrivals Jazz Picks,“ reprints courtesy of eMusic.com, Inc.
© 2012  eMusic.com, Inc.

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

Tiny Reviews: Laurent Coq/Miguel Zenon, Michael Pedecin, Sean Noonan, Szilard Mezei, & Fischermanns Orchestra

November 8, 2012

Tiny Reviews, featuring:  Laurent Coq & Miguel Zenon Rayuela, Michael Pedicin Live at the Loft, Sean Noonan A Gambler’s Hand, Szilard Mezei Szabad Quintet Singing Elephant, and Fischermanns Orchestra Conducting Sessions.



Laurent Coq & Miguel Zenon – Rayuela

Based on the literary work Rayuela by Argentinean writer Julio Cortázar, Laurent Coq and Miguel Zenon have created a beautifully textured album.  Their approach to translating the novel into music ranges from thematic interpretations of the book’s subject matter to literal notations based on the letters composing story character names.  I’m always a sucker for clever premises like this, but this is an album so finely constructed that one could be oblivious to compositional schemes and inspirations, and not risk sacrificing the tiniest bit of enjoyment.

Your album personnel:  Laurent Coq (piano), Miguel Zenon (alto sax), Dana Leong (cello, trombone), and Dan Weiss (drums, tablas, percussion).

This is one of those albums that sounds so much bigger than the personnel credits would make one assume.  The richness of sounds gives the illusory impression of an outfit larger than a quartet.  Sweeping melodies, cloudbursts of rhythms, a flair from the dramatic, and a cohesiveness like woven silk.

While Coq’s piano and Zenon’s sax are the driving forces behind this recording, enough can’t be said about the integral contribution of Leong and Weiss.  Leong’s sections on cello (like on “La Maga”) elevate the song to a new plateau, and Weiss’s use of tabla (like on album opener “Talita”) bring a sonic tactility to the music that’s an indispensable element of the album’s rich texture.

Released on the Sunnyside Records label.

Available at eMusic.  Available at Amazon: CD | MP3


Michael Pedicin – Live at the Loft

Tenor sax vet Michael Pedicin has been making quality jazz under the radar for a little while now.  He’s back with another recording, bringing in a quintet for a live date that features only ballads.  Most he stays true to form on, though a few nice up-tempo surprises.  A special treat is his version of Coltrane’s “Africa,” which gets a nice bit of swing into it.

Your album personnel:  Michael Pedicin (tenor sax), Jim Ridl (piano), Johnnie Valentino (guitar), Andy Lalasis (bass), and Bob Shomo (drums).

Released on the Jazz Hut Records label.

Available at eMusic.


Sean Noonan – A Gambler’s Hand

Drummer Sean Noonan’s music takes a storytelling approach.  Noonan likes building a narrative for his music.  Definitely the case here, a suite of compositions for drums and string quartet.  Very much a Third Stream recording, mixing in classical and jazz… heavier on the former in this instance.  Really one of those albums that moves beyond the concept of genre.  Some breathtaking moments on strings, like the “I Feel the Clouds,” but also plenty of bluster and drama to keep the heart racing.  Something different, for sure.

Your album personnel:  Sean Noonan (drum set, percussion), Tom Swafford (violin), Patti Kilroy (violin), Leanne Darling (viola), and David West (cello).

Released on the Songlines Records label.

Available at eMusic.


Szilard Mezei Szabad Quintet – Singing Elephant

Violist and composer Szilard Mezei continues to find the balancing act between compositional form and improvisational approach.  This time he leads a quintet in a set of modern avant-garde music.  Sometimes the tunes have a pleasant drift, other times they announce themselves with audacity.  Fans of Harris Eisenstadt’s work might want to spend some time here.  Second mention of Mezei on the site; the other time for his vocal ensemble.

Your album personnel:  Szilard Mezei (viola), Hunor G. Szabo (drums), Peter Bede (tenor sax), Adam Meggyes (trumpet, cornet), and Erno Hock (double bass).

Released on the NotTwo Records label.

Available at eMusic.


Fischermanns Orchestra – Conducting Sessions

The Fischermanns Orchestra is a big band that’s way more avant-garde than anything your parents used to dance to in the ballrooms.  Squaks and skronks aplenty throughout the compositions, though even with the dissonant noises, there are times when forms become apparent.  Neat album, definitely not your everyday thing.

Your album personnel:  Samuel Blätter (synth, trumpet, conductor), Bodo Maier (trumpet), Daniela Künzli (alto sax), Lino Blöchlinger (alto sax, sopranino sax, electronics), Nathanael Bosshard (tenor sax), Philipp Z’Rotz (bass clarinet, clarinet, conductor), Simon Petermann (trombone), Juan Sebastian Rozo (euphonium), Ivan Estermann (tuba), Jan Trösch (guitar, conductor), Martina Berther (electric bass), Philippe Zeltner (percussion), Emanuel Künzi (percussion), Reto Eisenring (snare drum), and Thomas Reist (bass drum).

Released on the Unit Records label.

Available at eMusic.



The Zenon/Coq review is original to Bird is the Worm, but portions of the other reviews were originally used in my Jazz Picks weekly article for eMusic, so here’s some language protecting their rights to that reprinted material as the one to hire me to write about new jazz arrivals to their site…

New Arrivals Jazz Picks,“ reprints courtesy of eMusic.com, Inc.
© 2012  eMusic.com, Inc.

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

Tiny Reviews: Pommelhorse, Georg Breinschmid, & John Ambrosini

April 9, 2012

Tiny Reviews, featuring Pommelhorse Pommelhorse, Georg Breinschmid Fire, and John Ambrosini Nine Stories.


Pommelhorse – Pommelhorse

Pommelhorse is a very cool quintet of clarinet, sax, Fender Rhodes, bass, and drums.  Healthy doses of electronic effects.  It has hints of the austere introspection of the Swiss & Nordic Euro-jazz sound, but the ebullient groove like it’s trying to party until happier days arrive.  Nice juxtaposition of the ethereal and the jam.  Cool music.

Your album personnel:  Lukas Roos (bass clarinet), Joel Graf (alto sax), Olivier Zurkirchen (rhodes), Jeremias Keller (bass), and Gregor Lisser (drums).

The embedded song is my least favorite track on the album, but it was all I could find.  When Pommelhorse employs a lighter touch to the composition, they really do shine.  They do moodiness better than jab-and-move, but overall, this is a decent recording with all kinds of promise for future efforts.

Released on the Unit Records label.  Jazz from the Bern, Switzerland scene.

Available on eMusic.


Georg Breinschmid – Fire

Interesting release from Austrian double bassist Georg Breinschmid.  Trained and performed as a classical musician, he also broke into the jazz world with artists like Kenny Drew Jr. and Archie Shepp.  Fire has Breinschmid playing in a variety of settings, some live, and a bonus disk of live and outtakes.  Strong Hungarian folk music influences with some serious swing.  Whimsical, flighty, and fun. Not World Jazz, per se, just Jazz from a different part of the world.  And, actually, ‘different’ is a good word to utilize when talking about this album in many contexts; Fire is, well, it’s a little different.

Your album personnel:  Georg Breinschmid (bass and vocals).  Some of the album has Breinschmid in a duo with Thomas Gansch (trumpet and vocals), and some of the album has Breinschmid in a trio (“Brein’s Cafe”) with Roman Janoska (violin) and Frantisek Jonoska (piano).

Released on the Preiser Records label.  Jazz from Austria.

Available on eMusic.


John Ambrosini – Nine Stories

Nice little straight-ahead release by pianist John Ambrosini.  Featuring a strong line-up of David Binney (sax), Drew Gress (bass), Ben Wittman (drums), and Mike Moreno (guitars), it’s a very likable recording. Nothing revolutionary about the recordings; just strong playing and straight jazz.

The album is Self-Produced.  Jazz from NYC.

Available at eMusic.


That’s it for today’s article, and the second of two parts of the Tiny Reviews from this batch of new arrivals.

Here’s some language to protect emusic’s rights as the one to hire me originally to scour through the jazz new arrivals and write about the ones I like:

New Arrivals Jazz Picks“, courtesy of eMusic.com, Inc.
© 2012  eMusic.com, Inc.

My thanks to emusic for the freelance writing gig, the opportunity to use it in this blog, and the editorial freedom to help spread the word about cool new jazz being recorded today.