May 21 2015
Can’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…
*** Album of the Week ***
Matt Owens – The Aviator’s 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.
*** Also Featured This Week ***
Mario Rom’s Interzone – Everything Is Permitted (Traumton)
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.
Nuno Costa – Detox (Self-Published)
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.
Thomas Bergeron – Sacred Feast (Self-Produced)
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.
Mads Vinding, Jean-Michel Pilc, Marilyn Mazur – Composing (Storyville)
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.
All Included – Satan In Plain Clothes (Clean Feed)
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.
Behn Gillece – Mindset (Posi-tone)
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.
Lorin Cohen – Home (Origin)
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.
Simon Kanzler’s Talking Hands – Dialogue (Unit Records)
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.
Luis Perdomo & Controlling Ear Unit – Twenty-Two (Hot Tone Music)
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).
Tania Giannouli Ensemble – Transcendence (Rattle)
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.
The Groove – Stop It! (Imogena)
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.
Trio ZaVoCC – Daham (Listen Closely)
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.
Phil Maturano – At Home Everywhere (Self-Produced)
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.
Have a great time digging through the list!
And remember, it’s simple: You like what you like.