Aug 17 2016
Recommended: Puzzlebox – “A Place To Be”
This is one for you old-school fans. Well, this is also one for the new-school jazz fans, too, because it’s just that good. But I mention the old-schoolers because A Place To Be is likely, almost guaranteed, really, to send you adrift in nostalgia for the Hard Bop recordings of the 60’s, when heat and steam and elegance and warmth were breathed out in the same expressions, creating a timeless music that was the soundtrack for any and every minute of your day. The octet Puzzlebox conjured up some seriously potent sounds on their 2010 release.
This is music that can shift seamlessly between states of lightheartedness and ferocity. It’s music that can drift peaceably and then suddenly, in what seems like an uninterrupted exhalation, jump up in joyful exultation. The opening tracks “Half Remembered Theme from a Film Noir” and “Ronan’s Dream” are practically descended by blood from the 1960 James Clay classic recording A Double Dose of Soul. Clay showed on that recording how flute could command a huge presence without resorting to shrill dramatics and unnecessary fussiness, that the flute’s light touch and hazy presence were complementary attributes that only needed a spark to give the impression of a flame. On A Place To Be, Stan Slotter clearly grasps that concept, and it’s why his solid trumpet passages are eclipsed by his outstanding performance on flute.
“6:25PM” adds some edge to the melody. It doesn’t cut deep, but it’s sharp enough to draw a little blood, and the tempo stomps more than bops. And after the ethereal presence of the flute in the previous tracks, it’s nice to hear the trombone step up and growl. The higher intensity continues with the up-tempo burner “The Invisible Redux,” adding some Latin rhythms along the way so that the trip isn’t all about speed, but grace, too. “Hair of the Dog” digs into a thick groove and thicker blues. And all of this stuff swings.
I typically stick to only new releases on this site, and rarely stray further back than a couple years from the current spot on the calendar, but when I encountered this terrific recording, I had to shine the site’s spotlight on it.
Your album personnel: Keith DeStefano (bass), Mark Allen (baritone sax), Maxfield Gast (alto & soprano saxophones), Steven Gokh (tenor sax), Joe Falcey (drums), Anam Owilii-Eger (piano), Stan Slotter (trumpet, flutes) and Larry Toft (trombone).
The album is Self-Produced.
Listen to more of the album on the artist’s Bandcamp page.
Jazz from the Philadelphia, PA scene.
Jun 4 2017
Your Sunday Morning Jazz Album: Yuval Cohen – “Song Without Words”
Sunday mornings are when the serenity is supposed to come down. Sunday morning is the cocoon from the heavy exhaustion of too much Saturday night fun. Sunday morning is when the city agrees to use its inside voice. Sunday morning is when a hush settles in over the land. It is a time for sitting still and listening to quiet music and silently praying the aspirin and coffee do something to stop your head from exploding. Drama and stress are strictly forbidden on Sunday morning.
Your Sunday Morning Jazz Album is just for you, for times just like these. If you possess the freakish compulsion to get-up-and-go when the clock strikes Sunday morning, this music is not for you. Go and listen to a Spotify EDM playlist or something. But whatever you decide, just do it quietly and far away from those of us who appreciate the true solemn nature of a Sunday morning.
The music of saxophonist Yuval Cohen has a rather mesmerizing effect, and this is true whether the form of expression snaps into place with a night of fun on the town or something more conducive to quiet moments in quiet rooms. Perhaps no better example of this tonal flexibility exists than his contributions to the 3 Cohens trio, with siblings Anat and Avishai Cohen. But tranquility is the watchword for the Sunday Morning Jazz Album, and so it’s the Tel Aviv resident’s 2010 recording Song Without Words that receives the spotlight today. This duo collaboration with pianist Shai Maestro is the soundtrack for morning light slowly spilling across the floor.
“Bye Bye Blackbird” has a perky attitude, but doesn’t stir things up anywhere close to peacefulness’s tipping point. The motion of “Skylark” mirrors the flight patterns of birds, and its hypnotic effect is nearly as potent as its melodic beauty. But the path to the heart of the album is found via the contemplative tracks “Nehama” and “Angelo,” and how they stir up the daydream imagery as the morning idly drifts along.
You need this album today, right now.
Released in 2010 on Anzic Records.
Listen to more of the album at the label’s Bandcamp page.
Music from Tel Aviv, Israel.
Available at: Bandcamp | Amazon
By davesumner • Jazz Recommendations, Jazz Recommendations - 2010 Releases, Sunday Morning Jazz Album • 0