Tiny Reviews, featuring Mole Stream of Consciousness, and albums by Henning Berg Quartet, Jeff Denson, Human Spirit, and Pearl Django.
Mole – What’s the Meaning?
Fusion gets used sort of lazily in jazz circles, typically to mean that polished, antiseptic, near-smooth concoction of jazz and rock characteristics. It is often looked down upon. But the thing of it is, fusion can apply to many types of genre blending. What matters is that the combinations elevate the genre qualities to a higher level.
The Mole quartet are a prime example of what can be done on their intriguing What’s the Meaning?
Your album personnel: Mark Aanderud (piano, keyboards), Hernan Hecht (drums), David Gilmore (guitar), and Jorge “Luri” Molina (upright bass).
By meshing the mathematical precision and improvisation that is Jazz with the rocket fuel drive of Rock, Mole burns through a series of tunes that speak of the heights that fusion can reach. Some tracks heavier on the rock emphasis, others on the jazz, but overall, it’s a splendid mix of the two. This music is complex, yet goes down smooth.
An aside, half of Mole is comprised of members of Todd Clouser’s Love Electric, which has received some favorable print on Bird is the Worm.
Henning Berg Quartet – Seven Lively Conversations
Berg’s trombone-led quartet (w/ Hendrik Soll on piano, Nils Tegen on drums, Christian Ramond on bass) that does, in fact, present seven lively tunes. The thing is, trombone can get a bit slow and cerebral whether it wants to or not, so, thankfully, it’s not completely an album of elevated heart rates. Plenty of swing, but some modern compositions and some ballads, too.
Jeff Denson – Secret World
Quartet date with Denson on bass and vocals, and backed by an excellent line-up of Ralph Alessi (trumpet), Florian Weber (piano), and Dan Weiss (drums). Denson likes to play three-ball monty with his compositions… where you think the sound is isn’t necessarily where it’ll end up. Experimental, avant-garde, and entirely listenable. Yet another use of Glockenspiel in a 2012 jazz album; Weber also drops a melodica into some tunes.
Human Spirit – Dialogue
Recorded live at the Earshot Jazz Festival, it’s the first album recorded as the Human Spirit ensemble, but comprised of veterans of the Pacific NW scene (Thomas Marriott (trumpet), Mark Taylor (alto sax), and Matt Jorgensen (drums), with guests). Straight-ahead jazz in a modern sense, which in this case means the rhythm section swings and sways like one would expect of a jazz group, but woodwinds and horns don’t necessarily toe the company line. Engaging and fun.
Pearl Django – Eleven
Gypsy jazz ensemble that’s been around for nearly 20 years, changing cast along the way, and transitioning from solely performing the music of Django Reinhardt to composing their own hot jazz style music and original compositions. Very likable album, and it’s been a few months since I rec’d something like this, so here you are.
The Mole review is original to Bird is the Worm. However, portions of the other reviews were originally used in my Jazz Picks weekly article for eMusic, so here’s some language protecting their rights as the one to hire me to write about new jazz arrivals to their site…
As always, my sincere thanks to eMusic for the gig. Cheers.