Tiny Reviews: Erik Hove Chamber Ensemble, Sketches, & Frank Kimbrough

November 16, 2014

Your Sunday edition of Tiny Reviews!

Featuring:  Erik Hove Chamber Ensemble Saturated Colour, Sketches Sketches II, and Frank Kimbrough Quartet.



Erik Hove Chamber Ensemble – Saturated Colour

Erik Hove Chamber Ensemble - "Saturated Colour"An exciting session offered up on Saturated Colour by the Erik Hove Chamber Ensemble.  The tension formed between free kinetic energy and compositional structure holds for the entirety of this absorbing album.  It’s as if Hove herded a band of cats, corralled them in an orchestra pit, handed them each an instrument with instructions to burn off their night-crazies by playing out his compositions.  Melodies are dispensed in surges and harmonies are just a tool to accentuate the strength of the tempos.  Hove leads an octet comprised of a string trio, clarinet, oboe, trumpet, flute, sax, bass and drums.  Some familiar names participating on the album are Anna Webber, Evan Tighe and Josh Zubot.  What an exciting album this is.  Just as likely to appeal to fans of Henry Threadgill as it is fans of the Peggy Lee Group or Mark Feldman.

The album is Self-Produced.

Available at:  eMusic | Bandcamp | CDBaby | Amazon MP3



Sketches – Volume Two

Sketches - "Volume II"The second go-around for the Sketches crew of trumpeter Matt Holman, saxophonist Jeremy Udden, pianist Jarrett Cherner, bassist Martin Nevin and drummer Ziv Ravitz.  The concept for the sophomore release is the same as the first:  Music fragments and incomplete compositions of one quintet member are adopted by another, developed into a full thought, then spun back into the group dynamic for a final shaping of the song.  Volume Two works far better than the initial foray.  Compositions come off with a clearer definition and the musicians gel around soloists with a greater confidence and to greater effect.  There’s also more differentiation between tracks, with streaks of the blues and rock and folk offering clearer voices within the post-bop context.  The time invested by this group working the Sketches concept on the road and the studio paid some serious dividends on Volume Two.  Good stuff.

Released on Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records.

Available at:  eMusic | Bandcamp | Amazon MP3



Frank Kimbrough – Quartet

Frank Kimbrough - "Quartet"Nice straight-ahead date from pianist Frank Kimbrough, who brings together long-time collaborators for a session that emits all kinds feeling.  It’s mostly originals with a couple standards thrown in for good measure.  The up-tempo pieces often have a relaxed, loose vibe to them, which is all kinds of appealing, but it’s the songs where the quartet expresses themselves with more patience that the album is most evocative.  A representative track:  The beautiful “November” gives the impression of being light-at-heart, but reveals a moodiness in glimpses that creates a gripping dichotomy.  Solid from beginning to end.  That Quartet is rounded out by Steve Wilson on alto & soprano saxes, Jay Anderson on double bass, and Lewis Nash on drums.

Released on Palmetto Records.

Available at:  eMusic | Amazon CD | Amazon MP3



Some of this material was used originally in the weekly new jazz releases column I write for eMusic and Wondering Sound, so here’s some language protecting their rights to the reprinted material as the one to hire me to write about new jazz recordings…

New Arrivals Jazz Picks,” reprints courtesy of eMusic.com, Inc.
© 2014  eMusic.com, Inc.

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

Archaic Future Players – “Station Wagon Interior Perspective (A Requiem for John Fahey)”

April 10, 2014


Archaic Future Players - "Station Wagon Interior Perspective"Incorporating the blues and gospel and ragtime that comprise the roots of Jazz music, and then channeling it with a forward-thinking inventiveness, Robert Stillman’s Archaic Future Players offer up with Station Wagon Interior Perspective that potent mix of past and future, synthesized down in the present moment… a sense of timelessness and nostalgia that is as exciting as it is intoxicating.

It’s unsurprising that the ensemble echoes the voices of similarly inclined musicians like Charles Mingus and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra for their four-movement tribute to deceased folk guitarist John Fahey… a musician who also embraced the roots of the past as he constructed his own inventive expressions.

Your album personnel: Robert Stillman (Fender Rhodes, drums), Jeremy Udden (C-melody saxophone), Kenny Warren (trumpet), Dave Noyes (trombone), and Ben Stapp (tuba).

The album opens with “Part I: Waltz,” a song of heavy notes delivered with a staggering cadence, yet lofted up with a boozy euphoria that lets the music hang in the air, floating weightlessly.  Ben Stapp’s tuba brings a fullness to the tempo, and Jeremy Udden’s c-melody saxophone adds brightness to its edges.

That same cadence continues into “Part II: Blues,” though expressed with a casualness that lends it a lighter gait.  Kenny Warren’s trumpet has a melodic richness thick with feeling, and Stillman’s drums crackle off its surface like sparks from an open wire.

“Part III: Stomp” comes hard out of the gate.  Dave Noyes’s trombone opens the doors for Stillman to glide through with the most beautiful solo on Fender Rhodes.  It’s a stunning moment.  The lightness of Rhodes contrasts dramatically with the heaviness representative of the album up until that moment, and the way it puts this album’s tunefulness into sharp focus is a revelatory moment.  That the ensemble then builds up from this into something bigger and more expansive, the tempo getting chipper and the harmonies warmer, it illustrates this album’s winning attitude.

The four-part movement comes to a close with “Part IV: Funeral March.”  It has the endearingly celebratory tones inherent in the somber New Orleans ritual of taking the recently deceased to their final resting place… and symbolic of this ensemble’s method of honoring the traditions of music while simultaneously expressing itself with its own personality.

The album has two bonus tracks: “Epilogue for J.F.” and “NR Rag.”  Both tunes are introspective piano pieces, achieving a meditative dissonance and possessing an identity separate from that of the album’s four-part movement, while doing nothing to clash with the spirit of the album.  This is a smart recording, and the placement of the bonus tracks does nothing to change that.

I’ve been listening to this album for awhile now, and am just getting around to writing something about it.  My enjoyment hasn’t waned a bit, and I’m just as excited to recommend it today as I would have been the first time I discovered this fine recording.

Released on Stillman’s Archaic Future Recordings label.

Available at:  Bandcamp CD/MP3/Vinyl | eMusic | Amazon MP3

Jon Crowley – “At the Edge”

September 16, 2013


Jon Crowley - "At the Edge"One of the nicer albums to get released in 2011 was by trumpet player Jon CrowleyAt the Edge is most remarkable for its melodic comportment… these are songs that swim in the melodies.  But what makes the album click is that it doesn’t treat the rhythm section as merely an afterthought.  Crowley binds the melodic and rhythmic sections together not through their commonalities but, instead, through the strength of their contrasting qualities.

The duo of Ziv Ravitz and Julian Smith on drums and bass maintain an agitated presence throughout the recording, stirring waters from which the bright notes of Julian Pollack’s Fender Rhodes can bob along the surface.  And it’s with that rhythmic foundation that Crowley and Jeremy Udden can launch off into one lovely melody after the next.

Your album personnel: Jon Crowley (trumpet, Fender Rhodes one track), Jeremy Udden (alto sax), Julian Pollack (piano, Fender Rhodes), Julian Smith (bass), and Ziv Ravitz (drums).

There’s a patience to the cadence with which melodies are expressed… unhurried as if they have all the time in the world, and play each note like its their last.  Crowley’s trumpet often soars, though he switches up the altitudes at which this happens.  “Find Me” has him skimming just over the surface of the rhythm, whereas title-track “At the Edge” sees him lifting off to greater and greater heights.

Most tracks take a linear path from first note to last.  The shifting “Sadness Suffering Hope Triumph” is a series of solos set to emotional changes altered through tone and tempo.  “These Four Walls” have Crowley and Pollack almost within reach of one another on trumpet and piano, as they follow complementary parallel melodic lines… a lesson in the partnership of light and dark in a game of shadow play.

“Shine” is the one track on the album that accentuates the angles more than the curvature of melodic lines, but even here there are times of beautiful melodic sighs.  “Progress” takes it to the other extreme, with melodies that circle back onto themselves in hypnotic pattern that occasionally breaks free from its flight pattern for lovely harmonic expressions.

Half of the album tracks are no longer than two minutes long, affording Crowley the opportunity to add further melodic texture to an album already strong with it.  “And then one day it’s all over…” is melancholic trumpet set against the murmur of bass… an interlude that can stand on its own in terms of creative statements, but also provides a sufficient lead-in to subsequent track “At the Edge,” which also has a somber side to its personality, though expressed with an abounding warmth that overcomes its darker side.

It’s a warmth that attaches to each of these songs, in each expression of melody.  It’s a big reason why this is such a winning album.

This album is Self-Published.

Jazz from the Brooklyn scene.

Available at:  Bandcamp | Amazon CD | Amazon MP3

Matt Holman – “Sketches”

March 24, 2013


Today’s video is from a performance by the Matt Hollman, featuring Jeremy Udden, performed live at the Doulgass St Music Collective, Brooklyn, NY on June 7th, 2012.

Not the best video in the world, but it features two artists I enjoy listening to, and it’s the first time I’ve heard them perform together, so up it goes on the site.

Your video personnel:  Matt Holman (trumpet), Jeremy Udden (alto sax), Ziv Ravitz (drums), Jarrett Cherner (piano), and Martin Nevin (bass).


Here’s a review I wrote about Matt Holman’s new album, When Flooded.

Here’s a review I wrote about Jeremy Udden’s new album, Folk Art.

Have a great Sunday!

Bird is the Worm Best of 2012: Albums 21-25

December 26, 2012

Today’s post reveals the 21st through the 25th Bird is the Worm albums of the year.


BitW photo (full)For each album considered for inclusion, I was looking for it to hit me right in my heart, provoke a strong emotional reaction. I was also looking for it to engage my brain, provide some intrigue or fascination with the music being presented. Extra points were awarded for doing Something Different or building on a premise that embraced the best qualities of creativity. Strong musicianship alone is not enough. Many solid albums didn’t make the list. It literally pains me when I see some of the albums that weren’t included. But I listen to a lot of music, and one of the rare downsides to encountering so much great Jazz is that some of it won’t receive the recognition it deserves. So there you have it.

There is a link to a more formal review following each entry. The text that accompanies each album isn’t a review so much as reminiscences of aspects of the recording I liked when I first heard it and how I still feel about it now. I wasn’t looking to sum any of them up… that’s what reviews are for. Most reviews are accompanied with embedded audio so you can hear some of the music, as well as personnel and label information, links to artist, label, and retail sites, and anything else that seemed relevant/helpful to me at the time.

Let’s begin…



21. Jeremy Udden – Folk Art

Jeremy Udden - "Folk Art"This is the third Plainville ensemble album saxophonist Udden has recorded, and it continues the trend of deconstructing the sublime beauty of the first and exploring Udden’s singular folk jazz sound. With each subsequent album, Udden has managed to engage my brain at increasing strengths without relinquishing its emotional pull. That’s a pretty deft trick to pull off. It’s also why I continue to express my belief that Udden is onto something here, and that his voice will be an important one on the development of Jazz in years to come.

Released on the Fresh Sound Records label.

A Bird is the Worm review here.



22. Sunny Kim – Painters Eye

Just a beautiful symbiosis between Kim’s vocals and Ben Monder’s guitar. There’s more to the ensemble than just those two, but it’s their interplay that really has caused this album to remain on my radar for so long. Kim’s inspiration for the compositions was an Impressionist painter and poet, and the music has a presence and a motion that suggests both those sources. Haunting music of a hazy nature, songs that are sharp in contrast except when they become like mist. Beautiful stuff, and an album I keep returning to.

Released on the Sunnyside Records label.

A Bird is the Worm review here.



23. Piet Verbist – Zygomatik

pietverbist_zygomatic_dssA high-energy recording that just bounces rambunctiously off the walls. Bassist Verbist and keyboardist Bram Weijters aren’t new to one another, and the synthesis on display backs that up. With some excitable drumming and a crowd of saxophones, this album has a swagger while keeping in party-time mode. An album that understands that laying a groove on thick negates an essential lightness. This has that Friday Night On The Town bombast not unlike Lee Morgan’s The Gigolo. An album that never stops being fun.

Released on the Origin Arts label.

A Bird is the Worm review here.



24. Jean Lapouge – Des Enfants

Lapouge’s trio of guitar, trombone, and vibes is both soothing and eerie. Reminiscent of the Bill Frisell recording Quartet with a bit of 80s ambient prog-rock thrown in for good measure. I am persistently drawn to this little mystery of an album. It sounds so different, yet so simple in its delivery, that while I find it challenging on many levels, nothing about the music presents an obstacle to just sitting back and disengaging. It’s lack of conventionalism only adds to this album’s beauty.

Released on the Musea Records label.

A Bird is the Worm review here.



25. Chambr – Freewheel

I considered leaving this one off the list. A sextet that features all strings except for one member on percussion, this is a group that strays far enough out of Jazz territory for it to be included on a Best of Jazz list. With classical and folk the predominant influences, Freewheel does possess much of the folky romanticism and chamber jazz austerity of older World Jazz groups, notably Oregon, especially their earlier recordings on the Vanguard label, not to mention some chipper gypsy swing that can trace its roots back to Jazz territory. What it all came down to really was that this is music with a soaring beauty that deserves inclusion on a Best Of list, genre slap-fighting be damned.

Released on the F-IRE Collective label.

A Bird is the Worm review here.



Tomorrow’s post will reveal the Bird is the Worm numbers 16-20 2012 albums of the year.