The Round-up: I was still holding that postcard


Here is some very good new music.


Geof Bradfield – Yes, and…Music for Nine Improvisers (Delmark Records)

While nobody is ever gonna mistake the music of Geof Bradfield for traditional, the roots of jazz have long been at the heart of his recordings and it’s not unusual for the pulse to slip into a familiar old-school cadence.  It’s an aspect of his music that has made past recordings so damn enjoyable.  Be that as it may, it’s equally refreshing to hear something where the balance shifts more to the modern end of the spectrum.  His newest isn’t free jazz by any means, but an emphasis on improvisation means that structure and shape of any one piece isn’t necessarily something that can be anticipated.  The saxophonist’s line-up consists of personnel who have received the spotlight from these parts previously, and often:  Alto saxophonist Greg Ward, flutist-saxophonist Anna Webber, trumpeters Russ Johnson and Marquis Hill, trombonist Joel Adams, guitarist Scott Hesse, bassist Clark Sommers and drummer Dana Hall.  Music from Chicago.

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Zela Margossian Quintet – Transition (Art as Catharis Records)

The Armenian influence is just delightful on this session from Zela Margossian.  The pianist keeps a conversational chatter going throughout, and the brisk pace hangs in the air even when her quintet shifts into a lower gear.  There’s something about the fusion of modern jazz and old folk music that makes for such an engaging convergence of time and place and expression.  Music from Sydney, Australia.

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Ari Chersky – Fear Sharpens the Dagger (Self-Produced)

This is one of those recordings where the creativity doesn’t end after the last notes are performed.  What began as a live performance eventually moved into the studio for the long work of overdubbing, cut & paste, layers atop layers, additions where needed, and resulted in something quite different than what went in through the front door.  Ari Chersky has created something quite beautiful and strange.  There’s some ambient textures whose bloom yields something far more volatile and lively, and there are rich passages of complexity where the details reveal tiny universes within.  Fans of Bill Frisell’s Unspeakable phase or, perhaps, some of the new century ECM from Arild Anderson and Miroslav Vitous should give this one a listen, for sure.  Music from Brooklyn, NY.

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Orcastratum – Orcastratum (Compunctio Records)

There is something undeniably inviting about the atmosphere created by Glenn Scott‘s Orcastratum project.  A blend of modern and contemporary jazz, R&B, pop and a strong undercurrent of blues all come together in seamless fashion.  Guest musicians like kora master and vocalist Solo Cissokho, saxophonist Binker Golding and vocalists Shaneeka Simon & Eric Bibb (who end the album with the powerful “No Need”) prove the value of embracing the benefits of diverse expressions.

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First Gig Never Happened – Mingus without Bass, Monk without Hat (Alessa Records)

It’s pretty easy to fall for these renditions, re-arrangements and inspirations of classic Mingus and Monk tunes.  The trio of drummer Judith Schwarz, keyboardist Alexander Fitzthum and saxophonist Lisa Hofmaninger keep in the spirit of the source material, and this is true during the faithful reproductions of compositions and when they channel their own vision of things.  The loose demeanor of their take on “Fables of Faubus” and how they twist that melody into something a bit different is emblematic of the serious fun this album has to give.  Hofmaninger switching over to bass clarinet results in some of the album’s most riveting moments.  Music from Vienna, Austria.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Amazon