Nicolas Moreaux – “Fall Somewhere”

June 10, 2013


Nicolas Moreaux - "Fall Somewhere"There was a review series I began back in Bird is the Worm‘s infancy stage titled Know Your Sideman.  It was to highlight artists who have participated on a series of solid recordings without ever really putting one out with their own name in large print as session leader.  It was a nice idea, but for a variety of reasons, that review series never quite took off.  That said, there’s no doubt that bassist Nicolas Moreaux would have merited a column for his work.

His 2013 release Fall Somewhere is just outstanding.  It’s not his first album.  His 2009 release Beatnick hit my radar, but never enough to completely draw me in.  But in the interval, Moreaux has been showing up on a number of excellent recordings as a bassist.  Most recently, albums by Pierre Perchaud, Olivier Boge, Sophie Alour, and a current project with saxophonist Jeremy Udden which will, hopefully, result in a proper recording.

Fall Somewhere, however, is a huge step up.  It has some of the richest melodies to hit my ears lately, and while they make statements that are exquisitely memorable, their wealth is derived in how they’re developed over the course of songs rather than from their immediate impact (which is substantial).  A double-disc that includes a strong line-up of ongoing collaborators and new partners, Moreaux brings together the musicians’ varied sounds into a singular potent concoction, resulting in an album I’ve found positively addictive.

Your album personnel:  Nicolas Moreaux (bass), Bill McHenry (tenor sax), Pierre Perchaud (guitar), David Doruzka (guitar), Antoine Paganotti (drums), Karl Jannuska (drums), Christophe Panzani (tenor sax), Olivier Bogé (alto sax), and guests:  Tigran Hamasyan (piano) and Frida Anderson (vocals).

Most tracks possess a dreamy presence, and drift languidly from first note to last, rarely breaking their spell, even those times when the pulse rate rises.  The album opens with “Far,” a tune that skips right along at a nice clip, yet never sounds hurried.  Saxophone delivers a delicate intonation and an evocative punch.  Guitar creates little eddies of notes, sending out ripples that blend in with the ensemble sound.  And on a track like “Summer Fishing,” where guitar flexes its muscle and sax turns up the heat, these are only interludes that fall between softly drifting moments of lilting melody and friendly rhythmic chatter.

Tracks move in a circular pattern, returning to spot from whence they launched themselves out into the expanse of a song.  The melody is their signpost, the rhythm an engine.

“Baroc” is one of the more consistently upbeat tunes.  Saxophones hang their hat on the melody.  Drums beat out the shape of a smile.  There are a couple interludes where everyone stands up and shouts, but for the most part, it’s an amicable, though boisterous, exchange of notes.  “The Incall” turns up the heat, lets sax set fire to notes.  “Each Other’s Light” plays with tempo, building up to sections that allow saxes to flail about ecstatically before falling back into the stream of the song.

“Oak” brings a nifty texture to the album.  Acoustic guitar works the rhythmic side of things, but the steel strings can’t help but add a deliciously rustic quality to the gentle saxophone expressions, each enhancing the impact of the other via their related but contrasting voices.  Deeper into the song, piano moves in with some lines that, for all intents and purposes, are disassociated from what the rest of the ensemble are doing, and yet, just as a surfer and a wave are entirely different entities, in motion they are one, presenting a fluid unison that all comes together when viewed as a single expression.

The title-track “Fall Somewhere” and “Cool Water” represent the opposite poles of this recording.  The former is a diffuse tune that challenges the concept of structure, whereas the latter brings in a guest vocalist for an infusion of pop music.  Even in their differentiation, neither sound out of place or dispel the album’s cohesion… in fact, they bring a greater clarity to the rest of the album by framing each song by what it is and what it is not.

It’s been tough putting this album down.  Too damn early in the year to be thinking about Best of 2013 lists, and yet here I am bringing up the subject.  This album compels me to do it.  It’s just that good.

Released on the Fresh Sound New Talent label.

Jazz from the Paris, France scene.

Available at eMusic.  Available at Amazon: CD | MP3

Tiny Reviews: Guillermo Klein, JD Allen, & Christophe Marguet

October 11, 2012

Tiny Reviews, featuring:  Guillermo Klein Carrera, JD Allen The Matador and the Bull, and Christophe Marguet Pulsion.


Guillermo Klein – Carrera

In Jazz circles, the question is broached occasionally, of which current batch of musicians will be recognized in 30 years as one of the current generation’s greats.  Pianist Guillermo Klein is often provided as a response, and for good reason.  His modern take on Latin jazz music, which is forward-thinking without turning its back on Jazz’s past, is some of the most compelling music of the last ten years.  Returning for another go-around with his Los Guachos ensemble, Klein’s current album Carrera is one more notch in an already impressive career.

Your album personnel:  Guillermo Klein (piano, Rhodes, vocals), Richard Nant (trumpet, percussion), Ben Monder (guitar), Miguel Zenón (alto sax, flute, vocals), Sandro Tomasi (trombone), Taylor Haskins (trumpet), Chris Cheek (tenor, baritone sax), Jeff Ballard (drums), Fernando Huergo (electric bass), Bill McHenry (tenor sax), and Diego Urcola (trumpet, trombone).

This recording is most comparable to his 2008 release Filtros.  It has a nice mix of instrumental and vocal pieces.  The ignition of most tunes begins with a slow burn.  Evocative songs that are always are of the dividing line between powerful expressiveness and unfortunate melodrama.  Expert weaving of soloists into the fabric of the large ensemble effort.  And, in that way very specific to his Filtros release, a sense of the epic… that the songs on the album represent some greater story, that they possess a greater meaning than simply the collection of beautiful notes.  This is an effect of any great creative endeavor, and it’s getting to where it’s safe to expect it from future Klein recordings.

A seriously talented line-up under the personnel section.  Pretty much all of those names have made separate appearances on Bird is the Worm, and they’re all worth following on to other recordings as you search for new music.

Released on the Sunnyside Records label.

Jazz from the Buenos Aires, Argentina scene.

Available at eMusic.  Available at Amazon: CD | MP3


JD Allen – The Matador and the Bull

Solid trio date for saxophonist JD Allen.  Fiery, but concentrated.  Album tracks don’t combust, but emit plenty of heat via concentrated force of playing style.  This a true team effort, not just sax with rhythm section.  What’s more, it’s not just one person speaking at a time; it’s often three simultaneous lines of conversation that all stick to the same subject… an approach that really lets the trio do more with less.

Your album personnel:  JD Allen (tenor sax), Gregg August (bass), and Rudy Royston (drums).

Allen’s notes flex some muscle, a sufficient show of the strength behind them.  Royston throws punches in bunches, which creates a nice dichotomy with Allen’s seemingly unhurried pace.  August adds his voice to the mix without sounding starved for attention, providing alternating senses of bouncing off the walls and pacing determinedly about the room.  Good stuff.

Released on the Savant Records label.  Jazz from NYC.

Available on eMusic.  Available at Amazon: CD | MP3


Christophe Marguet – Pulsion

Enjoyable release from drummer Christophe Marguet.  Often keeps a quick pace, whether it’s through the chipper rhythm section or the twisting patterns of various woodwinds, but then occasionally breaks into a peacefully swaying track of so much pretty sunlight.  Inclusion of baritone sax really adds to the album’s character, with smart use of clarinet and percussion helping to propel it.  Two feet in the modern jazz sound, with a touch of the Scandinavian sound as color.  A wandering step to most compositions, though some flirt with a straight-ahead nature.  Really, just an intriguing album that I find myself returning to with some regularity.  An under-the-radar album that deserves plenty of notice.

Your album personnel:  Christophe Marguet (drums, percussion), Sebastien Texier (alto sax, clarinet), Jean-Charles Richard (baritone sax, soprano sax), Bruno Angelini (piano), and Maurao Gargano (bass).

Released on the Abalone Productions label.

Jazz from the Asnières, Ile-De-France, France scene.

Available at eMusic.  Available at Amazon: CD | MP3

Tiny Reviews: Dave Chisholm, Bill McHenry, Markus Pensonen, & More

December 31, 2011

Tiny Review recs of new Jazz releases, featuring:  Dave Chisholm, Bill McHenry, Markus Pesonen, Quinteto Ricardo Pinto, Ely Guerra, and Peter Bryngelsson.


The recs below were built off the skeleton of the recommendations I make as part of my weekly contribution to the Emusic New Arrivals article.  I do the jazz recs for it.  Emusic lets me copy it onto my blog 30 after it’s posted on their site.  When I post on Bird is the Worm, I add album art, audio (when available), additional links, and if I’ve had the opportunity to give the album additional listens, modify my opinion a bit and tighten up the original language.  So here it goes…

Let’s begin:


Dave Chisholm – Calligraphy

An interesting sophomore release from trumpeter Dave Chisholm. His debut album Radioactive was a successful big band affair with sweeping melodies and unapologetic turns of drama and melancholy. For Calligraphy, Chisholm scales down to a quintet, and he zooms in on the heart of his melodies, leaving a result of an album that is more post-rock than jazz.  Imagine Mogwai recording a jazz album, and you have a decent idea of what’s contained here.  It’s really quite beautiful, and it’s a fascinating look at different facets of Chisholm’s source of creativity.  A nice meeting point for jazzers and post-rockers to come together. Recommended.

It’s Self-Produced.  Jazz from the Rochester, NY scene.

Go visit his site. There’s a bunch of cool promo videos for the album.

You can stream the entire album (and purchase it, too) on his bandcamp page.

Download a free album track at AllAboutJazz, courtesy of the artist.

Available on Emusic.


Bill McHenry – Ghosts of the Sun

There is something deceptively propulsive about this album. Listen to it, and it comes off as a laid-back affair filled with soft tunes and casual rhythms, but much how gentle waves on a calm sea can carry an inattentive boat far away from its resting place, so is the effect of Bill McHenry’s compositions on the listener. Engaging without fussy complexities, moving despite a whiff of nonchalance, the album is an experience. Features Ben Monder, Reid Anderson, and the dearly departed Paul Motian. Outstanding.

Released on the Sunnyside Records label.  Jazz from the Brooklyn scene.

The entire album can be streamed on McHenry’s bandcamp page.

Available at Emusic.


Markus Pesonen Hendectet – Hum

The Markus Pesonen Hendectet throws their instruments at the listener all at once. Waves of sound come crashing in, one after the other, eleven pieces consisting of an army of woodwinds and brass, strings, accordion, and percussion. Hints of melody, however, tease with the promise of warmth. That promise is honored halfway through the album, gentle ballads, a rousing cover of Charles Mingus’s “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”, and a nifty rendition of the Beatles’ “Day in the Life.” Absolutely thrilled with this album. Highly Recommended.

NOTE:  I’ve written a review of this album for eMusic, found here.

Released on the Unit Records label.  Jazz from the Copenhagen and Berlin scenes.

Available on Emusic.


Quinteto Ricardo Pinto – Sintra Project

Intriguing debut album by this Portuguese jazz quintet. Couldn’t find much online about this group, but I’ve been terrifically enamored with its steady drive and moody ambiance. A balancing act between a pleasant swing and determined rock-like rhythms, in addition to some nice harmonizing between horns and woodwinds, this recording would likely get slotted under nu-jazz, which means it’ll appeal to Indie fans and modern jazzers alike. Nice little recording.

Your album personnel: Ricardo Pinto (trumpet), Bruno Margalho (alto sax), Daniel Hewson (piano), Francesco Valente (double bass), and Rui Pereira (drums)

Released on the FEWG Records label, a digital music label focused in jazz and experimental electronic music. Jazz from the Lisbon, Portugal scene.

Available on Emusic.


Ely Guerra – Invisible Man

Recent Grammy nominee Ely Guerra hits the emusic site with seductive little set of piano trio songs. Ely’s vocals are the kind I like… seemingly effortless, not pushy, and no emotional cheap shots. It’s a delicate affair from beginning to end, pretty straight-forward without any real surprises, but when it’s boiled down its barest elements, it’s a pretty album that’s a very nice listen, and I felt compelled to mention it.

Released on the Homey Company label.  Jazz from the Guadalajara, Mexico scene.

Available on Emusic.


Okay, this one probably shouldn’t even be filed under jazz, but it’s just too damn cool not to mention…

Peter Bryngelsson – Wunderbaum

Founding member of old-school prog rock band Ragnarok, Peter Bryngelsson puts together an album of field recordings, sax, banjo, electric, acoustic, and slide guitars, harmonica, strings, various percussion, and a Hohner Claviola. It’s almost too easy to use the word ‘cinematic’ to describe this album, but easy sounds good to me right now. Fans of Ennio Morricone, Devotchka, Marc Ribot, and John Fahey should spend some time investigating this album. Too cool.

NOTE:  I’ve fallen in love with this album since first hearing and writing about it above, so I’ll be writing a full-length review right after the new year.

Released on DOS Records.

Available on emusic.


That’s it for today.



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, Inc.
© 2011, 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.