Micro-recs: Azar Lawrence, Franklin Kiermyer & Nat Birchall

Sunday edition of Micro-Recs!

Today’s recommendations are directed at John Coltrane fans.

Featured:  Azar Lawrence The Seeker, Franklin Kiermyer Further, and Nat Birchall Quintet Live in Larissa.



Azar Lawrence – The Seeker

Azar Lawrence - "The Seeker"Some combination of nature and nurture has resulted in Azar Lawrence becoming one of the standard bearers in the post-Coltrane era.  Yes, having spent his earlier years collaborating both with Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner is sure to have had a pronounced influence on the saxophonist, but there also must be isolated traits coming from within the musician himself that has allowed him to echo the sound of Coltrane while simultaneously developing his own personal sound.  This live performance, recorded at NYC’s the Jazz Standard, has Lawrence leading a quintet through a set of music that recalls classic Coltrane Quartet recordings with a voice that sounds as fresh and clear as today.  Lawrence is joined by trumpeter Nicholas Payton, pianist Benito Gonzalez, bassist Essiet Essiet and Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums.  If you enjoyed Coltrane’s hard bop to spiritual jazz transition period on the Impulse Records label, you really just need to hit the download button on The Seeker asap.

Released on Sunnyside Records.

Available at:  eMusic | Bandcamp | Amazon CD/MP3



Franklin Kiermyer – Further

Franklin Kiermyer - "Further"Further offers up a series of ferocious tempos and solos that charge ahead with a head full of steam, but from within that environment are revealed some mesmerizing melodic interludes and harmonic washes.  Drummer Franklin Kiermyer is very much in synch with later-period Coltrane, when avant-garde met spiritual jazz.  The track “Beyond Joy and Consequence” shows how meditative states can be achieved within the heart of a hurricane, whereas “Bilad el-Sudan” and “Astrophysical” has Kiermyer’s quartet taking on the role of that hurricane and “Supplication” has it sitting squarely in the center of the hurricane’s peaceful eye.  Overall, the tracks express more of Coltrane’s free period, when volatility was the key ingredient to expressing spirituality.  Considering Kiermyer’s prior collaboration with Pharoah Sanders, an essential component of Coltrane’s later work, this quality of Further isn’t terribly surprising.  It’s also terrifically evocative.  Joining Kiermyer are saxophonist Azar Lawrence, pianist Benito Gonzalez, and bassist Juini Booth.  Just a powerful recording.

The album is Self-Produced.

Available at:  eMusic | Amazon MP3

You may also download the album directly from Kiermyer’s site.  He offers it at NYOP (Name Your Own Price), which includes the option of free or, if you wish to make a donation so that he can continue making more music, you can download the music in a higher quality file format.



Nat Birchall Quintet – Live in Larissa

Nat Birchall - "Live in Larissa"Live, double-disc set from saxophonist Nat Birchall, who I typically recommend when someone says they’re a Coltrane fan and want to hear something from a modern musician.  Birchall certainly does seem to channel that sound on his tenor sax, and his embrace of the spiritual jazz form adds to the similarities.  That said, Birchall has compiled an impressive set of recordings under his own name and anchored to his own sound, and Live in Larissa just adds to the existing goldmine.  Bichall is joined for this session by frequent collaborators pianist Adam Fairhall, vibraphonist Corey Mwamba, bassist Nick Blacka, and drummer Paul Hession.  Birchall hits upon some original tunes from past studio albums (“World Without Form, “Sacred Dimension”) as well as some terrific covers, like Alice Coltrane’s “Journey to Satchidananda” and the Bill Lee composition “John Coltrane,” a song originally minted by Clifford Jordan’s Magic Triangle back in the 1970s.  When Birchall solos, it’s with a powerful voice that loses none of its clarity when the intensity shoots upward.  It’s a big reason why this album is so easy to connect with.

Released on Birchall’s Sound, Soul and Spirit label & Kudos Records.

Available at:  eMusic | Bandcamp | Amazon MP3/Vinyl



Note:  Micro-recs (or micro-recommendations) used to be called Tiny Reviews.  I switched the name because, really, they weren’t reviews, but simply synopses with a recommendation to purchase.  I feel like calling them recs is more accurate.  That’s how it will be going forward.


Some of this material was used originally in the weekly new jazz releases column I write for eMusic and Wondering Sound, so here’s some language protecting their rights to the reprinted material as the one to hire me to write about new jazz recordings…

“New Arrivals Jazz Picks” & “New Arrivals Jazz Picks,” reprints courtesy of eMusic.com, Inc.
© 2014  eMusic.com, Inc.

As always, my sincere thanks to eMusic for the gig.