This Is Jazz Today: Jeremy Udden & Nicolas Moreaux, Old Time Musketry, Daniel Herskedal & more!

April 3, 2015


BitW square avatarWe got hit with another strong week of new jazz releases.  And it’s not just the albums listed in today’s column that provide the measure of the week’s depth, but the quality of those albums that weren’t able to squeeze onto the column.  Some good stuff ahead of you today.

A whole bunch of today’s recommendations head out to the fringes of jazz territory, mostly to a place where electronics and effects play a major role in the music.  But if that doesn’t float your boat, no worries, because there’s a couple here today that will take you for a ride on the wayback machine, to a time when jazz was easily recognizable and familiar and warm to the touch.

So hey, let’s begin…

*** Pick of the Week ***


Jeremy Udden & Nicolas Moreaux – Belleville Project

Udden, Moreaux - "Belleville Project"Both bassist Nicolas Moreaux and saxophonist Jeremy Udden possess an enormous talent at meshing jazz and folk into dreamy reveries of country roads, forest streams and small town languor. What began as a correspondence between two artists who’d decided they’d found a bird of the same feather in one another eventually became rehearsals, live performances, and culminated in the recording, Belleville Project… named after the French town where the recording happened.

Read more about this album on Bird is the Worm (LINK).

Released on Sunnyside Records.  Visit the artist site & artist site.

More listening | Buy:  Bandcamp | eMusic | Amazon



*** This week’s featured albums ***


Einem.Art – Lamara (Double Moon)

Einem.Art - "Lamara"Nifty contemporary fusion recording that dips into the past and present, both.  Quartet led out by trombonist Max von Einem build some fun grooves.  Lots of personality on this one.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  eMusic | Amazon

Read more about this album on Bird is the Worm (LINK).


Old Time Musketry – Drifter (NCM East)

Old Time Musketry - "Drifter"Sophomore release from the jazz-folk quartet Old Time Musketry a big step up to a new plateau.  Strong lyricism delivered more crisply and woven tighter around the rhythms.  Mix of accordion, melodica, and woodwinds provides a whole bunch of warm & fuzzy harmonies that you’ll pray never end.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: Bandcamp  eMusic  CDBaby  Amazon


Daniel Herskedal – Slow Eastbound Train (Edition)

Daniel Herskedal - "Slow Eastbound Train"So gorgeous, it’s stunning.  Tubist (yes, tubist) Herskedal is yet more evidence that the cumbersome tuba can make the most graceful music.  His core trio (tuba, piano & percussion) are joined by a chamber string orchestra for some beautifully ambient third-stream and folk-jazz music.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: BandcampeMusicAmazon


Jeff Cosgrove/Frank Kimbrough/Martin Wind – Conversations With Owls (Self-Produced)

Jeff Cosgrove - "Conversations with Owls"A pleasantly subdued avant-garde session from this drums, piano, bass trio.  The strongest moments are when the trio just barely restrains a burst of controlled ferocity.  Album includes an inspired take on “My Favorite Things.”

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  BandcampeMusicAmazon


Donny McCaslin – Fast Future (Greenleaf)

Donny McCaslin - "Fast Future"Saxophonist McCaslin continues his exploration of a modern electro-acoustic jazz medium, with some mixed results.  Huge surges of a Big Sound are sometimes undone with grand theatrics, though often this is eclipsed by a deep vocabulary and the eloquence to wield it.  McCaslin is definitely a guy with his own point of view, and it’s pretty exciting to watch him fearlessly pursue it… you gotta respect that.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: eMusicBandcampAmazon


Bjorn Jansson – Genklang (Reach-Up)

Bjorn Jansson - "Genklang"Evocative session from saxophonist Jansson, who adds some bass clarinet in the right spots.  Swedish quintet gets in a nice mix of modern jazz, Nordic folk, and all-around moody goodness.  Easy to like.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: eMusicAmazon


Klabbes Bank – Z (Hoob)

Klabbes Bank - "Z"The Klabbes Bank ensemble dive into an electronica-jazz approach only hinted at on previous recordings.  Their sharper melodicism is replaced by a fuzzier, more ambient sound.  A compelling turn from the talented cast.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon


BenReddik – Gjemsel (Norcd)

BenReddik - "Gjemsel"Rather charming music from the Nordic septet BenReddik.  Heavy with the brass and woodwinds, and led out by a vocalist, they’ve got a nice easy-going nature to their tunes and keep things light.  Curious music that grows more embraceable with time.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon


Avishai Cohen – From Darkness (Sunnyside)

Avishai Cohen - "From Darkness"Bassist Cohen generates a lot of conversation from this trio session.  The dialog features some intense melodicism to accompany the friendly chatter.  You really can’t go wrong with a Cohen album.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon


Jose James – Yesterday I Had The Blues (Blue Note)

Jose James - "Yesterday I Had The Blues"Excellent Billy Holiday-tribute from vocalist James, in a quartet with pianist Jason Moran, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Eric Harland.  This one takes you back… whether it’s the Nat King Cole-like confident ease or the classic Blue Note Records album cover… it brings the lineage of jazz vocal sessions right into the present day.  Unfussy, unshowy, and terribly affecting.

Artist site | Buy:  Amazon


Polar Bear – Same as You (Leaf Label)

Polar Bear - "Same As You"Easily the most engaging aspect of Polar Bear’s latest foray to the fringes of jazz is the way they sit, simultaneously, at extremes of electric liveliness and kicked-back serenity. It’s easy enough to focus on just one quality, but not without feeling the touch of the other. Way cool.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: BandcampeMusicAmazon


David Fettmann Trio – Ruby Project (Double Moon)

David Fettmann - "Ruby Project"Very fun trio session from alto saxophonist Fettmann, organist Guillaume Naud and drummer Jonathan Blake.  This straight-ahead session is elevated by the trio’s high-energy enthusiasm and their incisive lyricism, with no skimping on either melody or rhythm.  An album with plenty of excitement and a real enjoyable way of talking.

Artist site | Buy:  eMusicAmazon


Mark Helias Open Loose – The Signal Maker (Intakt)

Mark Helias - "The Signal Maker"Appealing modern set from bassist Helias, saxophonist Tony Malaby and drummer Tom Rainey.  Melodies are frayed at the edges, form doesn’t always hold, and rhythmic attacks come from many angles.  But at its core, this is whip smart music delivered with an appealing ease.

Artist site | Buy:  eMusicAmazon


Hirofumi Asaba – Easy Like (Self-Produced)

Hirofumi Asaba - "Easy Like"Real nifty classic jazz sound for guitarist Asaba’s debut.  His quintet swings, light on their feet, melody always in hand.  Guitar and vibes make a very nice pairing, provide some nice bounce and warmth.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon


Arturo Serra – Nebulosa (New Steps)

Arturo Serra - "Nebulosa"Likable straight-ahead date from vibraphonist Serra.  His quintet maintains a brisk pace and a sunny attitude.  Plenty of hard bop goodness to cheer anyone’s day.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon



Have a great time digging through the list!

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



Recommended: Jeremy Udden & Nicolas Moreaux – “Belleville Project”

March 31, 2015


Udden, Moreaux - "Belleville Project"It’s only natural, logical even, that bassist Nicolas Moreaux and saxophonist Jeremy Udden would one day collaborate.  They both possess an enormous talent at meshing jazz and folk into dreamy reveries of country roads, forest streams and small town languor.  Moreaux’s excellent 2013 release Fall Somewhere and Udden’s equally excellent 2009 release Plainville captured these qualities in full, expressing a potent serenity on the back of strong melodies and a conversational chatter for a cadence.

What began as a correspondence between two artists who’d decided they’d found a bird of the same feather in one another was given momentum by the Doris Duke and Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation French-American Jazz Exchange Grant… funding which allowed the musicians to travel, hire, record and turn their long-distance exchange of ideas into an in-person collaboration.  It began with rehearsals and live performances, and it culminated in the recording, Belleville Project… named after the French town where the recording happened.

They surround themselves with musicians who have made a home in similar territory.  Saxophonist Robert Stillman’s Archaic Future Players grabbed hold tight of the jazz-folk equation with their 2012 release Station Wagon Interior Perspective… a tribute to folk musician John Fahey.  Pierre Perchaud‘s 2013 release Waterfalls, with Moreaux and saxophonist Chris Cheek, melts hearts with thick melodies and a seaside ease, and works a hazy European style of jazz that hints, at times, of a folk music form.  And in addition to being a collaborator on some of Udden’s previous Plainville projects, RJ Miller‘s 2013 release Ronald’s Rhythm was a captivating mix of Brian Eno ambient minimalism, jazz and folk.  All of these projects, including those of Moreaux and Udden, all sound quite distinct from one another, and from anything else for that matter, but they all hover over territory where folk and jazz share a border and the expressions have plenty in common.  These were the right people for this project.  They’ve been there before, doing this kind of New.

The echoes of both Plainville and Fall Somewhere resonate throughout the album.  “MJH” opens things up with the intermingled sighs and yawns of saxophones and the talkative charisma of banjo and the rustle & hush of brushes and drums.  It’s got a melody made for humming, built from the materials of heartbreak and hopefulness.

The song “Belleville” crackles with life, and it’s one of the few instances of a raised temperature on the recording.  But by retaining a loose, ambling motion, it locks right into place with the other album tracks.

“Jeremy” is back to the folk sound.  The susurrus of steel-string guitar lays a comforting blanket, a haze, swaying to and fro while propelling the song forward in collaboration with drums.  Saxophones sing out the melody just overhead.

“Epilogue” gets back to languorous, peaceful expressions.  Sax, out front, coos the melody.  Electric guitar twitters in the background, sometimes slipping into the foreground… its melodic accompaniment is essential, adding some depth and detail to sax’s simple, gorgeous statements.  The song very much has a sound reminiscent of Moreaux’s Fall Somewhere.

“11” has a melody that melts as it plays.  There’s a slow, almost sleepy expressiveness to it.  Set against a brisk shuffle tempo, it’s a nifty bit of subtle contrast that goes a long way, perhaps unnoticed.

The perky “Bibi” ambles along, in no hurry, but its conversational style is pointed and direct.  Likewise, “Nico” also toys subtly with the cadence, slipping abrupt motions into an otherwise laid-back tune.

The album ends with two brief tunes.  The toy piano of “Albert’s Place” contrasts sweetly with the wavering tones of organ.  “Healing Process” closes things out with a rare instance of elevated heat.  Electric guitar and crashing drums highlight the grand finale.  It’s a nice, fun way to bring down the curtain on an album whose every breath is one of calm serenity.

Your album personnel:  Jeremy Udden (alto sax, pump organ, Prophet 5 synth), Nicolas Moreaux (acoustic bass, toy piano), Robert Stillman (tenor sax, pump organ, piano), Pierre Perchaud (acoustic & electric guitars, banjo), RJ Miller (drums) and guest: Pete Rende (CS-60 keyboard, Prophet 5 synth, pump organ, organ).

Released on Sunnyside Records.

Jazz from the NYC and Paris scenes.

Available at:  Bandcamp | eMusic | Amazon


These are videos that I like: Jeremy Udden & Nicolas Moreaux – “Bibi”

February 13, 2015


Today’s featured video was filmed in-studio as saxophonist Jeremy Udden and bassist Nicolas Moreaux recorded new songs that will appear on their forthcoming release, Belleville Project.  It’s got a scheduled March 31, 2015 release date on Sunnyside Records.  Expect to read a strong recommendation on this site right around that date.  Here’s a link to a project site where you can learn more (LINK).

In the meantime, here’s a taste of what’s to expect…

Your video personnel:  Jeremy Udden (alto sax), Nicolas Moreaux (acoustic bass), Pierre Perchaud (banjo), RJ Miller (drums) and Robert Stillman (tenor sax).


Have a great start to your weekend!


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, Inc.
© 2014, 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