Jun 6 2015
I had a lot of fun with this week’s new batch of jazz releases. Characteristic even of many albums that didn’t ultimately make the final list, there was was a strong sense that the music possessed a wide, warm smile that meant it, and the stranger the music became, the bigger the grin.
For the most part, there ain’t much from this week that’s straight-forward, but all of it’s got heart and brains to spare, so I have no doubt that my recommendations will put a dent in your checkbook today.
*** Album of the Week ***
Henry Threadgill Zooid – In For a Penny, In For a Pound
Nobody shapes music quite like composer & multi-instrumentalist Threadgill. Over the course of decades, he has been busy at work creating innovative, singular music that is both challenging and enthralling. His music seems purposed to inspire vertigo, while also providing a twisting, winding path easy to follow and a soft pillow of a landing spot when all the strange motion becomes just a little too much. On his newest, Threadgill is joined by guitarist Liberty Ellman, trombonist/tubist Jose Davilla, cellist Christopher Hoffman and drummer Elliot Humberto Kavee in a series of long-form pieces that allow plenty of room for experimentalism and discovery. Smart and fun, conservatory and carnival in everything he does. It’s not gonna be everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s the kind of art that everyone should take at least one deep sip of.
Released on PI Recordings.
*** Also Featured This Week ***
Susana Santos Silva – Impermanence (Carimbo Porta-Jazz)
On her newest, Susana Santos Silva mixes in plenty of feints and decoys before unleashing her furious assaults on trumpet. Her quintet follows her lead, and the result is an album of controlled chaos and tenuous calms. Pretty thrilling when they slam down on the gas pedal, and it makes patient harmonic passages resonate even stronger.
Bruno Angelini – Instant Sharings (La Buissonne)
Challenging music that presents no obstacle to some seriously gorgeous moments. Pianist Angelini is joined by violinist Regis Huby, bassist Claude Tchamitchian and drummer Edward Perraud for a mix of classical, jazz and a bit of folk. The quartet shows a refreshing willingness to flash some sharp teeth even as it prepares its next stunning moment of pure melodic beauty.
Katamon Cherry – Recipe (Self-Produced)
Quite enjoyable debut from the quintet of sax, guitar, piano, bass and drums. Nice focus on the melody, which sometimes is delivered with a sharp precision and other times like a hazy beam of light. Mix of modern jazz, indie-rock and cinematic opacity are applied in doses that don’t let one genre direct too much influence over the affair.
Entropi – New Era (F-IRE)
Interesting space jazz project from composer & saxophonist Dee Byrne and her quintet of trumpeter Andre Canniere, keyboardist Rebecca Nash, double bassist Ollie Brice and drummer Matt Fisher. The constant shifts between a playful groove and melodic thoughtfulness keeps the ear engaged. A real fun album, even when the mood grows conspicuously serious.
Liam Noble – A Room Somewhere (Basho)
Solo set from pianist Noble, who generates such a strong rapport with his piano that it almost feels like eavesdropping when listening in. Mix of originals, standards, and an interesting choice of non-standards. The album possesses a certain magnetism, whether introspective & intense or laid-back and humorous.
Alberto Continentino – Ao Som des Planetas (Tratore)
A sunny personality and charming disposition to this contemporary Brazilian jazz recording. Guitarist Continentino’s large ensemble fully embraces a pop music approach that recalls Burt Bacharach and 1970s movie soundtracks. Some seriously catchy moments to this one.
Andy Sheppard Quartet – Surrounded by Sea (ECM)
Not an accidental title on the new one from saxophonist Sheppard. This is languorous music that possesses a thick tranquility even when the waves get choppy. Guitarist Eivind Aarset, drummer Seb Rochford and double bassist Michel Benita team up with Sheppard for a set of laid-back, but captivating music.
Gary Peacock Trio – Now This (ECM)
Exquisite trio set from bassist Peacock, pianist Marc Copland and drummer Joey Baron. The dialog generated by each of the trio members possesses a remarkable clarity that borders on the poetic. All three artists are all-stars in their own right, and show how the collaborative nature of the piano trio can result in something greater than the sum of their individual parts.
Frank Cassara – Apparition (Self-Produced)
Really enjoyable quartet session from percussionist Cassara, who might be more familiar to some with his work in the Philip Glass Ensemble. Straight-ahead modern jazz that just seems to emanate a strength that rings loud from every note. Nice solos and all, but it’s the way this sax/drums/bass/piano quartet comes together in unison where this album really shows its heart.
NAK Trio – The Other Side of If (Double Moon)
The trio of pianist Dominik Wania, bassist Michel Kapczuk and drummer Jacek Kochan possess a talkative style that’s plenty charismatic. Two feet in modern piano trio territory, melodies are brief flames that are merely a jumping off point to lengthy development. The moody tracks resonate strongly, but it’s when they hit the gas pedal that the album takes off.
Have a great time digging through the list!
And remember, it’s simple: You like what you like.