Oct 15 2016
This Is Jazz Today
Pip – Pip (Creative Sources Recordings)
This fascinating duo collaboration between trumpeter Torstein Lavik Larsen and acoustic guitarist Fredrik Rasten spends the entire album casting a hypnotic spell then immediately shattering it back to reality. A persistent ambient drone is accompanied with biting melodic fragments and harmonic dissonance that batter the senses as often as soothe them. Sometimes the tempo takes on a pulsing meter, and that extra dose of urgency ramps up the intensity on music that could, if left to its own devices, inspire all kinds of daydreams. But the duo chooses to engage, not enchant, and the music is far more compelling because of that decision.
Fiil Free – Everything is a Translation (Self-Produced)
There’s a loose, almost casual atmosphere running rampant throughout this nifty session from the septet Fiil Free, and how that contrasts with a persistent simmering intensity is the kind of thing that keeps the attention transfixed. With pianist Lars Fiil, trumpeter Tomasz Dabrowski, saxophonist Henrik Pultz Melbye, guitarist Henrik Olsson, vibraphonist Martin Fabricius, double bassist Casper Nyvang Rask and drummer Bjørn Heebøll, they radiate all kinds of tension, and typically at speeds and tones on the dreamier end of the spectrum. And so when they do inevitably stand up and shout, it resonates with even greater force just by way of comparison. Melodies are warped and refracted, and rhythms develop a chatter that seems unattached to any known form of communication. Seriously good stuff.
Hely – Jangal (Traumton)
The dense waves of intensity are no obstacle to the Hely duo of pianist Lucca Fries and drummer Jonas Ruther laying down some seriously hypnotic music. It’s the way that little melodic changes reveal themselves from within a dense fog of repetition that serve up one delightful moment after the other, and it’s the kind of thing that will transfix a person’s attention and almost make them oblivious to any dissonance or chaos in the surrounding area of a particular song… just out of anticipation of catching the next melodic reveal. The Swiss duo is pretty well immersed in the modern sound familiar to their region, and it’s their singular focus upon one aspect of it that really puts this album over the top.
Beekman – Vol. 02 (Ropeadope)
One of the most likable traits from this modern session from the Beekman quartet of pianist Yago Vazquez, bassist Pablo Menares, drummer Rodrigo Recabarren and saxophonist Kyle Nasser is that it retains a nice tuneful quality even as it produces one sharp edge after the other. The melodies can be abrasive and the tempo, at times, mimics the stop-and-go suddenness of rush hour traffic. And yet, in the midst of all that, there’s a delightful lyricism making it easy to embrace. A few tracks, like “Verdict’s Out” serve up something more conventional, and it goes a long way to adding some helpful balance to this enjoyable recording.
Jacam Manricks – Chamber Jazz (Self-Produced)
A nice straight-ahead modern session from saxophonist Jacam Manricks, pianist Kevin Hays, bassist Gianluca Renzi and drummer Ari Hoenig. There’s a bright sunshine lightness to this music, even when the quartet raises their voice or, conversely, latches onto a groove when Hays switches over to Fender Rhodes. Plenty of nice soloing, but it’s how the quartet meshes when the soloing subsides that shows this album at its best. Particularly appealing is how casual Manricks sounds on saxophone, even though the richness of his lyrical approach indicates the presence of a substantive focus. Good stuff.