This Is Jazz Today: Matt Owens, Mario Rom’s Interzone, All Included & more!

May 21, 2015

 

BitW square avatarCan’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…

Let’s begin.

*** Album of the Week ***

Matt Owens – The Aviator’s Ball

Matt Owens - "Aviators' 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.

Released on All Made Up Records.  Visit the artist site.

More listening | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

*** Also Featured This Week ***

 

Mario Rom’s Interzone – Everything Is Permitted (Traumton)

Mario Rom's Interzone - "Everything Is Permitted"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.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: BandcampeMusicAmazon

*****

Nuno Costa – Detox (Self-Published)

Nuno Costa - "Detox"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.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: eMusicCDBabyAmazon

*****

Thomas Bergeron – Sacred Feast (Self-Produced)

Thomas Bergeron - "Sacred Feast"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.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: BandcampAmazon

*****

Mads Vinding, Jean-Michel Pilc, Marilyn Mazur – Composing (Storyville)

Vinding Pilc Mazur - "Composing"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.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

All Included – Satan In Plain Clothes (Clean Feed)

All Included - "Satan In Plain Clothes"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.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

Behn Gillece – Mindset (Posi-tone)

Behn Gillece - "Mindset"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.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

Lorin Cohen – Home (Origin)

Lorin Cohen - "Home"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.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

Simon Kanzler’s Talking Hands – Dialogue (Unit Records)

Simon Kanzler - "Dialogue"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.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

Luis Perdomo & Controlling Ear Unit – Twenty-Two (Hot Tone Music)

Luis Perdomo - "Twenty-two"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).

Artist site | Buy: Amazon

*****

Tania Giannouli Ensemble – Transcendence (Rattle)

Tania Giannouli - "Transcendence"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.

Artist site | Buy: Amazon

*****

The Groove – Stop It! (Imogena)

The Groove - "Stop It"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.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

Trio ZaVoCC – Daham (Listen Closely)

Trio Zavocc - "Daham"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.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

Phil Maturano – At Home Everywhere (Self-Produced)

Phil Maturano - "At Home Everywhere"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.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: Only at the artist site.

*****

 

Have a great time digging through the list!

And remember, it’s simple:  You like what you like.

Cheers.

***


This Is Jazz Today: Oded Lev-Ari, Tore Brunborg, Samuel Blaser & more!

April 30, 2015

 

BitW square avatarGood god, this was an excellent week of new jazz releases.  There were any number of albums that could’ve been slotted as the Pick of the Week.  Just as telling, however, are the number of quality albums that didn’t get included on today’s list… albums that I’ll likely try to squeeze in either next week or in short stand-alone reviews.

It’s weeks like this that make all the hard work digging through the new release listings so worthwhile… so much music that’s so uplifting, each in their own way.

If you had a budget, just surrender it right now.  Take out a loan if you have to.  You need to have this music.

Let’s begin…

*** Pick of the Week ***

 

Oded Lev-Ari – Threading

Oded Lev-Ari - "Threading"On a week of many excellent new releases, the debut by pianist & composer Lev-Ari stands out from the crowd.  With his blend of jazz and classical, this large ensemble set of chamber jazz pieces hits any number of sweet spots.  He offers up ballads that sway with a sound of jazz from long long ago, extended pieces cut through with contemporary classical streaks and jazz improvisation, ebullient up-tempo pieces that sing the blues and moody, contemplative pieces that occupy a place all to themselves.  I’ll be writing much more about this excellent album in the very near future, but I don’t suggest waiting… just go buy this album right now.

Released on Anzic Records.  Visit the artist site.

More listening | Buy: BandcampAmazon

*****

*** This week’s featured albums ***

 

Tore Brunborg – Slow Snow (ACT Music)

Tore Brunborg - "Slow Snow"A highly expressive, deeply melodic set from saxophonist/pianist Brunborg.  Two feet in modern territory with compositions that stray into indie-rock and the tasteful use of electronics (courtesy of both guitarist Eivind Aarset and drummer Per Oddvar Johansen). Fans of the Esbjorn Svensson Trio should definitely scoop this one up.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Amazon

*****

Bruno Raberg Quartet – Hot Box (Self-Produced)

Bruno Raberg - "Hot Box"Nifty modern straight-ahead session from bassist Bruno Raberg.  Compositions have plenty of drive, but the casual, almost off-the-cuff delivery is plenty appealing.  Mixing in some oddball pieces gives the more conventional tunes even greater definition.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: eMusicBandcampCDBaby

*****

Samuel Blaser – Spring Rain (Whirlwind)

Samuel Blaser - "Spring Rain"Solid quartet session from trombonist Blaser, drummer Gerald Cleaver, pianist Russ Lossing and bassist Drew Gress.  Whether it’s modern post-bop, avant-garde free improv or chamber music, Blaser always brings an unconventional voice to the affair.  This is the kind of thing that leads to revealing, inspired moments… like on his newest recording.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

John Raymond – Foreign Territory (Fresh Sound New Talent)

John Raymond - "Foreign Territory"Solid straight-ahead recording from trumpeter Raymond, backed with an excellent line-up of pianist Dan Tepfer, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Billy Hart.  Plenty enjoyable when the quartet picks up the pace and increases the flame, but the album really shines when they imitate the grace of flickering candlelight.  Give a listen to “Chant” to get a sense of the album’s heartbeat.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: Amazon

*****

Kevin Hays – New Day (Sunnyside)

Kevin Hays - "New Day"Seriously personable release from vocalist-pianist Hays.  A real folksy charm to this electro-acoustic soul jazz session.  Melodies as welcoming as the morning sun, rhythms with a most delightful conversational delivery, and the kind of friendly music that broach serious subjects and still make everything okay.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: BandcampeMusicAmazon

*****

Manuel Valera Trio – Live at Firehouse 12 (Self-Produced)

Manuel Valera - "Live at Firehouse 12"Wonderful live set from the trio of pianist Valera, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer EJ Strickland.  Plenty evocative, with an inherent moodiness in each piece counterbalanced nicely by a lively rhythmic approach.  Sounds like one of those performances where everything comes together at exactly the right moment.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: eMusicCDBabyAmazon

*****

Keith Kelly Ask Not – A Grand Apparatus, Discarded (Edgetone)

Keith Kelly - "A Grand Apparatus"Saxophonist Kelly leads a quartet through a high voltage set of jazz-rock fusion.  Nifty how an undercurrent of melodicism rises to the surface before again submerging below the crazed intensity.  A sharp intelligence to this furious music.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: eMusicBandcampAmazon

*****

ZetZum Zorglub – ZetZum Zorglub (PG Sounds)

Zetzum Zorglub - "Zetzum Zorglub"Guitarist Buster Jensen’s mix of post-rock, Nordic Jazz and ambient minimalism is pretty damn captivating.  Electric distortion is balanced by contemplative piano phrasings, warm infusions of saxophone harmonies, and a careful attention to how one moment flows into the next.  A strange beauty to this one.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

Jakob Kühnemann Quartett – Contrejour (Unit Records)

Jakob Kuhnemann - "Contrejour"A nice easy-going lyricism to bassist Kuhnemann’s quartet session.  Music stays light on its feet, sometimes flirts with simply drifting away like a dream.  The subtleties and nuance resonate strongly, and shifts this music away from getting to be simply another straight-forward session.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

Antonio Sanchez – Three Times Three (CamJazz)

Antonio Sanchez - "Three Times Three"Wow, outstanding set from drummer Sanchez, who offers up three tunes each with three different trios.  With Brad Meldau & Matt Brewer, it’s deep melodicism.  With John Scofield & Christian McBride, it’s sharp precision.  And with Joe Lovano & John Patitucci, it’s effusive blues.  Go buy this right now.

Artist site | Buy:  Amazon

*****

Martin Auer Quintett – Our Kind Of… (Laika)

Martin Auer - "Our Kind Of"Trumpeter Auer’s quintet gives an intriguing take on the compositions of Kind of Blue.  Nothing straight-forward about the music, as the modern European sound gives a dreamy effect to familiar tunes.  Delightful how the melody sometimes pokes out its head and reveals itself.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

Jean Kapsa, Antoine Reininger & Maxime Fleau – La Ligne de Kármán (Mélisse)

Jean Kapsa - "La Ligne de Karman"Modern piano trio session that swims in the deep end of the melodies.  A sense of constant forward motion helps stretch the melodic development out to soaring heights and lets their final notes linger.  Piano, bass and drums all have plenty to contribute to the conversation.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

Julian Arguelles – Let It Be Told (Basho)

Julian Arguelles - "Let It Be Told"Saxophonist Arguelles’s arrangements of South African music is effusive and warm, and cheery melodies ride the whitecaps of rolling rhythms.  The Frankfurt Radio Big Band provides a fat sound that could fill any room, but when they grow contemplative, like on the Mongezi Feza composition “You Ain’t Gonna Know Me (Cos’ You Think You Know Me), the music resonates with a remarkable strength.  A likable recording that grows more likable with familiarity.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

Nicole – Raizes/Roots (Soundbrush)

Nicole - "Raizes-Roots"A bubbling personality to this recording that snaps together Judaic songs and Brazilian music.  Vocalist Nicole lends a casual ease to the tunes that’s rather charming.  The chatter from guitars, accordion and percussion is all kinds of friendly.

Artist site | Buy:  Amazon

*****

Triologos – Tracce di Canti (SLAM Productions)

Triologos - "Tracce di Canti"Interesting avant-garde session from this trio of saxophone, percussion and double bass.  Melodies are often frayed and warped and run from the sunlight, while the rhythms play a game of hopscotch that abides by its own rules of physics.  Strange music.

No artist site | Buy:  eMusicAmazon

*****

 

Have a great time digging through the list!

And remember, it’s simple:  You like what you like.

Cheers.

***


This Is Jazz Today: Catfish, Vincent Courtois, Steve Coleman & more!

April 24, 2015

 

BitW square avatarIt’s only natural that things would get dialed down a bit after the huge drop of excellent new releases last week.  Our current batch, however, has plenty of gems, many of them refreshingly understated.  Aside from our Pick of the Week, none really knocked me on my ass… but over time, my appreciation and enthusiasm for many of these new albums continued to grow.  All said, I’ve dug up plenty to keep your ears busy and happy for yet another week.

Let’s begin…

*** Pick of the Week ***

 

Catfish – Restraint

Catfish - "Restraint"Absolutely gorgeous mix of modern jazz and contemporary classical.  The core trio of tenor saxophonist Joe Cunningham, guitarist Dan Duval and drummer Ken Ollis are joined by a number of guests on strings, wind instruments and piano for a fascinating mix of melodic fragments and improvisational bursts.  Some breathtaking moments on this one.

Released on PJCE.

More listening | Buy: Bandcamp

*****

*** This week’s featured albums ***

 

Vincent Courtois – West (La Buissonne)

Vincent Courtois - "West"Absolutely captivating chamber jazz session from cellist Courtois, who brings in guest tenor saxophonist Daniel Erdmann, multi-reedist Robin Fincker and pianist Benjamin Moussay on a handful of tracks.  Peaceful music that flashes some sharp teeth from time to time.  Sublime music that exudes a multifaceted character.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  BandcampeMusicAmazon

*****

Steve Coleman & the Council of Balance – Synovial Joints (PI Recordings)

Steve Coleman - "Synovial Joints"A really intriguing flow to the new one by alto saxophonist Coleman.  His large ensemble creates an almost hypnotic tempo with punctuated bursts of rhythm from both the percussion unit and wind instruments, which is occasionally swept away by warm harmonies from the string section… approaching something almost cathartic.  Time and again, Coleman offers up works with a keen intelligence.

Artist site | Buy:  Amazon

(Embedded audio coming soon)

*****

4mament – Aufbruch (Unit Records)

4mament - "Aufbruch"This sax, piano, bass & drums quartet has an engrossing storyteller’s approach.  Modern jazz that adopts some traits of indie rock without ever straying too deep into the foreign territory.  Lively tunes are nicely expressive, but the moodier pieces really resonate strongly.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  eMusicAmazon

*****

Christoph Pepe Auer – Songs I Like (Session Work)

Christoph Pepe Auer - "Songs I Like"Mesmerizing set from multi-reedist Auer, whose music embraces both the soothing ambiance of a drone and the lively chatter of hushed conversations.  Strings, accordion, hurdy gurdy, drums and electronics join him on this set.  A neat personality to this one.

Artist site | Buy:  eMusicAmazon

*****

Tom Tallitsch – All Together Now (Posi-Tone)

Tom Tallitsch - "All Together Now"Strong blues influence on this personable recording from tenor saxophonist Tallitsch.  With one half of the sextet’s slots taken up by wind instruments, there’s plenty of warmth from harmonies, plenty of heat from solos.  A nifty cover of Zappa’s “Uncle Remus” fits right in with the solid originals.

Artist site | Buy:  eMusicAmazon

*****

Theo Jackson – Shoeless & The Girl (Dot Time)

Theo Jackson - "Shoeless and the Girl"Strong imagery generated by vocalist-pianist Jackson’s trio.  A substantive charm to this music, reminiscent, actually, of the way Lyle Lovett can generate both whimsy and profound depth with the turn of a phrase.  Guest saxophone and flugelhorn are a nice touch, and add some welcome texture.

Artist site | Buy:  eMusicAmazon

*****

Hugo Fernandez – Cosmogram (Origin)

Hugo Fernandez - "Cosmogram"Enjoyable how guitarist Fernandez balances an incisive lyricism with a breezy delivery.  Modern post-bop style that fits in well with the Origin label and the Pacific-Northwest sound.  The quartet of sax, guitar, bass and drums creates rainy day music that emits plenty of warmth and plenty of liveliness to boot.

Artist site | Buy:  eMusicAmazon

*****

Duplex – Én (Norcd)

Duplex - "En"A solemn tone to this laid-back Sunday morning music.  The duo of saxophonist Harald Lassen and bassist Christian Meaas Svendsen lay the peacefulness on thick while letting a quirky personality slip out to keep things interesting.  Pretty music made prettier by bringing in a couple guests on strings.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  eMusicAmazon

*****

Barney McClure – Show Me! (Origin)

Barney McClure - "Show Me"Awfully fun recording that matches McClure’s Hammond B3 organ with the Central Washington University Jazz Band.  Plenty of enthusiastic playing, and it’s pretty neat hearing how the B3 bounces around the environment of a traditional big band.  It’s like watching a raft try to navigate the rapids of a roaring river.

Artist site | Buy:  eMusicAmazon

*****

Yelena Eckemoff – Lions (L&H Production)

Yelena Eckemoff - "Lions"Enjoyable trio session from pianist Eckemoff, bassist Arild Anderson and drummer Billy Hart.  Falls right in line with previous Eckemoff recordings… straight-ahead piano jazz that values elegance but gets in a burst of effusive warmth now and again.  Easy to like.

Artist site | Buy:  eMusicAmazon

*****

Vince – A Story About (Unit Records)

Vince - "A Story About"Nice mix of moodiness and tunefulness from this quartet of sax, guitar, drums and bass.  Definitely some post-rock influence in the mix, but then there are tracks that show a willingness to bop right along.  When the quartet gets introspective is when the music shines.

Artist site | Buy:  eMusicAmazon

*****

Enrico Pieranunzi & Federico Casagrande – Double Circle (CamJazz)

Pieranunzi Casagrande - "Double Circle"Personable duo collaboration between pianist Pieranunzi and guitarist Casagrande.  Piano and acoustic guitar make for an intimate affair.  Nice mix of folksy charm and contemplative tranquility.

Artist site | Buy:  eMusicAmazon

*****

Frank Carlberg & Leo Genovese – Shadows and Reflections (Red Piano Records)

Carlberg, Genovese - "Shadows and Reflections"Duo set from Carlberg & Genovese utilizes piano, Rhodes, farfisa and organ between the two for an intriguingly relaxed session of Monk tunes and originals (plus one Cuchi tune).  Occasionally a simmering intensity, but more often than not, the music’s stoned disposition allows notes to hang in the air for an alluring effect.  Strangely engaging.

Artist site | Buy:  CDBabyAmazon

*****

 

Have a great time digging through the list!

And remember, it’s simple:  You like what you like.

Cheers.

***


Recommended: Till Martin Quintet – “The Gardener”

April 20, 2015

 

Till Martin - "The Gardener"Saxophonist Till Martin weaves gorgeous melodic strands into thick, flowing lines on his latest recording, The Gardener.  The addition of cello and viola allows the quintet to transition between an icy elegance and a soft warmth, which provides a perfect amount of edge to complement the comforting, serene beauty.  There are countless moments like these spread across this captivating album.

With opening track “Captain Obvious,” the inherent melodicism begins to emerge almost immediately.  However, the quintet shows it’s not willing to sacrifice other components while crafting the melody.  They set down strong rhythmic lines of demarcation to guides the song’s development, which provides added definition to the melody via bounded motion.  “Spring Mechanic” sees a more even dispersal of attention.  It also has the same impish cadence as the album-opener.

“Unspoken” sees peaceful melodic passages cut through the song like a stiff, cool breeze in Summer.  It’s also allowed to rise up in a moment of unbridled intensity, where the big pronouncement is afforded the space typically used for melodic insight.  “Cordless Wire” follows suit with its own displays of volatility, spurring on solos to build momentum, twisting, winding upwards.  “As the Crow Flies” also lets loose, and the way that gentle melodic passages bleed into the confluence of rapid fire tempo and wavering harmonies is positively enchanting, not to mention proof that melodic expressiveness and rhythmic intensity need necessarily work at cross-purposes.

The serene “Four Breaths” is about as pretty as can be asked of a song.  And “Valerian,” a ballad, delights in the small motions that occur at an easy pace.  Martin spins a solo, dancing around the edges of the song before rejoining it for a quick twirl.

Title-track “The Gardener” is the ultimate proof of the quintet’s talent at interweaving melodic lines and arriving at an intricate expression of beauty… while still affording themselves time to play with the tempo for a bit of contrast.

The album closes with “Across the Blue Above,” an up-tempo piece that builds such a lovely rhythmic flow that a number of enchanting melodic passages are able to soar just over its surface.  The intertwined lines of melody and rhythm seem to possess no beginning, no end, and give the sense they could go on forever.  A track like this one will make the listener wish they would.

It goes a long way to describing the entire album.

Your album personnel:  Till Martin (tenor sax), Andreas Höricht (viola), Christian Elsässer (piano), Henning Sieverts (bass, cello) and Bastian Jütte (drums).

Released on Unit Records.

Jazz from the Baldham, Germany scene.

Available at:  eMusicAmazon

 


This Is Jazz Today: Julia Hulsmann, Theo Bleckmann, Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas, Linus & more!

April 9, 2015

 

BitW square avatarMaybe it’s just by comparison to last week, but this new haul of jazz releases seems a bit of a drop-off.  That said, there are some strong albums to be discovered this week.  El Negocito Records continues its strong trend of releasing unclassifiable & captivating music.  I’ll be writing about several recent releases on that label in the coming days.

There was a meagerly amount of audio available for embedding this week, and that’s a damn shame, too, because I swear, there are a couple albums in today’s list that, had they made a track available to include in the column, I am certain many of you would go running to the nearest retail site.  But, hey, about that music.

Let’s begin…

*** Pick of the Week ***

 

Julia Hülsmann Quartet – A Clear Midnight

Julia Hulsmann - "A Clear Midnight"Something of a Kurt Weill theme to this collaboration between pianist Julia Hülsmann and vocalist Theo Bleckmann, but ultimately this is an album that stands firmly on its own two feet and there’s no real need for the listener to be versed in the source material to get full enjoyment out of the blissfully gorgeous album.  Every track on this album casts the enchantment of moonlight on a dark eve, and possesses its strangely comforting warmth and its striking tranquility.  Hülsmann’s quartet is comprised of trumpeter Tom Arthurs, bassist Marc Muellbauer and drummer Heinich Kobberling, and their presence is that of the enveloping darkness giving even greater brilliance to Bleckmann & Hülsmann’s moonlight.  An album for rainy days and quiet nights and a refuge from a hard day or just any time that your life could use a strong infusion of beauty.

Released on ECM Records, where you can stream an album track.

Buy:  Amazon

*****

*** This week’s featured albums ***

 

Linus – Linus+Skarbø/Leroux (El Negocito)

Linus - "Linus, Skarbo, Leroux"Totally captivating session from the banjo, guitar & bari guitar of Ruben Machtelinckx and the tenor & C-melody saxophone & alto clarinet of Thomas Jillings, joined by the additional guitars of Frederik Leroux and Øyvind Skarbø on drums and Hammond organ.  A blend of folk, electronic, jazz and, well, experimental, I suppose.  It’s an avant-garde rendition of the theme to Deadwood.  Serene as all hell, but lots of quirks and jagged edges to bring out the lively personality.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: BandcampeMusicAmazon

*****

Lisa Hilton – Horizons (Self-Produced)

Lisa Hilton - "Horizons"Gentle, but evocative straight-ahead session from pianist Hilton.  Her quintet (which includes all-stars Sean Jones, JD Allen, Gregg August and Rudy Royston) get every bit of lyricism out of every note.  Music that often has a dreamy presence.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  eMusicCDBabyAmazon

*****

Kirk Knuffke – Arms & Hands  (Royal Potato Family)

Kirk Knuffke - "Arms & Hands"Nifty inside/out session from cornetist Knuffke, drummer Bill Goodwin and bassist Mark Helias.  The trio (plus some guests) keep their hyperactivity contained in a relatively small pocket.  Spiders do the same thing in tight corners, and like Knuffke’s newest, it results in a web of cool shapes and riveting patterns.

Artist site | Buy:  eMusicAmazon

*****

Soundstream Jazz Sextet – The Decade (Self-Produced)

Soundstream Jazz Sextet - "Decade"Big sound, big warmth from this hard bop unit.  Plenty of up-tempo tunes with an infectious enthusiasm.  Music that just jumps right out of the speakers, walks up and shakes your hand.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  eMusicAmazon

*****

Diego Imbert Quartet – Colors (Self-Produced)

Diego Imbert - "Colors"Nice straight-ahead post-bop set from bassist Imbert.  While it appears on its face not to be doing anything particularly special, each track emits a nice jolt of personality that engages the ear nicely.  The right amount of edge to accompany an effusive bounce.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas – Sound Prints: Live at Monterey Jazz Festival (Blue Note)

Lovano, Douglas Sound Prints - "Live at Monterey"Recorded live at the Monterey Jazz Festival, this live set absolutely burns with the electricity of Being There.  This highly charged atmosphere is equally dependent on the accumulated force of a quintet locked in step and the conversational repartee between the all-star saxophonist Lovano and equally talented trumpeter Douglas.  So, yeah, to those “Jazz is dead” proclaimers… here’s your massively beating heart, assholes.  P.S. Really nice to see Blue Note Records continue its strong turnaround.

Artist site & Artist site | Buy: Amazon

*****

Mathieu Scheuber Group – Aggregato (Unit Records)

Mathieu Scheuber - "Aggregato"Vibrant set from pianist Scheuber, who switches between modern piano jazz, chamber jazz and South American folk.  Even at their most sublime, the album tracks have a liveliness that’s tough not to fall for.  A gripping melodicism to this one.

No artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

Janice Friedman Trio – Live at Kitano (Self-Produced)

Janice Friedman - "Live at Kitano"Seriously vibrant set from pianist Friedman, bassist Ed Howard and drummer Victor Lewis.  The electricity of a live performance really comes through strong on the recorded medium.  Rendition of Charles Davis’s “Half and Half,” part simmering intensity, part lively enthusiasm, shows what this album is all about.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicCDBabyAmazon

*****

Joe Fiedler Trio – I’m In (Self-Produced)

Joe Fiedler - "I'm In"You can always rely on Fiedler to deliver to some straight-forward and heartfelt trombone-led jazz.  His, newest, though, goes way further in displaying different aspects of his trio’s personality.  Easily his best in recent years.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

Filip Augustson – Viva Black (Found You Recordings)

Filip Augustson - "Viva Black"Nifty session from bassist Augustson, violinist Eva Lindal and drummer Christopher Cantillo.  Dissonance and atonality are no obstacle for the trio’s unusual but charming melodicism.  Curious music that’ll engage the ear and likely elicit a smile or two.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon

*****

Leïla Olivesi – Utopia (Jazz&People)

Leïla Olivesi - "Utopia"Strong lyricism from the quartet of pianist/vocalist Olivesi, guitarist Manu Codjia, saxophonist David Binney, and Yoni Zelnik & Donald Kontomanou on bass & drums.  Binney is outstanding on this one, though Codija ain’t far behind.  An album with a storyteller’s heart.

Artist site | Buy: BandcampeMusicAmazon

*****

Malin Wättring 4&8 – Glöd (Havtorn)

Plenty to like from saxophonist Wättring’s mixed set of quartet and octet.  The shift in presence between the two formations is often dramatic.  An alluring quality to this music, especially when the clarinets and cello join in and sing.

Artist site | Buy:  eMusicAmazon

*****

Jakob Davidsen’s Kammerat Orkester – Og Andre Dyr (ILK Music)

Jakob Davidsen - Og Andre DyrIntriguing chamber jazz session from pianist Davidsen, leading a quintet comprised of piano, clarinet, trombone, cello and tuba.  A stark beauty, sometimes bathed in warm harmonies, other times in the restless throes of melodic fragments.  Seriously compelling.

Stream album tracks on Ilk Music‘s dedicated site for its White Label Series releases.

Artist site | Buy:  eMusicAmazon

*****

 

Have a great time digging through the list!

And remember, it’s simple:  You like what you like.

Cheers.

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