The Round-up: When there’s nothing left, and everything


Here is some very good new music.


LG Jazz Collective – Strange Deal (Igloo Records)

There’s different kinds of rainy day music.  Some is meant to mesh with the daydream listlessness of sitting in a window and looking out over the city while lost in thought.  Some possesses the counterweights of tranquility and terror, mirroring the effect of a gentle downpour and rumble of thunder.  Then there’s an album like Strange Deal, where the tone spans the distance from melancholy to lively, and makes the gap in between feel not so far apart.  This session from guitarist Guillaume Vierset, saxophonists Rob Banken & Steven Delannoy, trumpeter Jean-Paul Estiévenart, pianist Alex Koo, drummer Antoine Pierre and bassist Félix Zurstrassen burns with a fire throughout their 2018 release, but they’re just as likely to emphasize the flickering flame’s hypnotic effect as they are its use as fuel for combustible activity.  Music from Brussels, Belgium.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Bandcamp – Amazon


Antoine Pierre Urbex – Sketches of Nowhere (Igloo Records)

It’s as if Antoine Pierre has created a music architecture that only exists in dreams.  There is a hard steel and concrete character to this music.  Melodies are often blunt and nailed down by sharp tempos.  But there is a flow to the music that sees it perpetually undergoing transformations in much the same way as the scenery of dreams. The electro-acoustic foundation of the music influences this quality, as both organic and digital sounds pull at the seams of what, simultaneously, forms the sonic fabric in the first place.  His 2016 release, Urbex, was just as special as his newest.  Music from Brussels, Belgium.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Amazon


Jonathan Barber – Vision Ahead (Self-Produced)

There’s a undeniable charisma to Vision Ahead that has me drawn to music I might not otherwise gravitate to.  The album is split between a post-bop form of expression and one that veers into contemporary territory.  The post-bop pieces work very nicely in Jonathan Barber’s hands.  He keeps the melodies fluid and embraceable, and lets the edginess manifest through the tempo.  The contemporary action is something I’m not always a big fan of personally, but my preferences tend to get obliterated in the face of quality workmanship, and that’s definitely the case here.  The vocal contributions, the groove heavy interludes, the bright & shiny tones… Barber crafts them in a way that borders on perfection, and he couches these qualities within a post-bop framework that gets the two forms of expression to feed off one another.  It’s a strong effort that just seems to keep getting better with each listen… a fact made more impressive by way of it being the drummer’s debut.  Music from Hartford, Connecticut.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Amazon


Sigurd Hole Trio – Encounters (Self-Produced)

It won’t come as any surprise that a new recording from Sigurd Hole would be built upon a foundation of tranquility.  What does continue to amaze are the countless different ways the bassist has gone about constructing it.  His new trio with drummer Jarle Vespestad and violinist Håkon Aase infuses his particular form of Nordic jazz with a number of folk musics.  But rather than differentiate them by their influence (aka here is a piece that incorporates Norwegian folk music, and here’s one that utilizes Middle-east music, etc), the bassist highlights that which unites them.  There’s something rather intriguing about that approach, and gives the sense of a dream, where the tides of imagery are constantly changing and a little bit strange, and yet there’s an undeniable logic and cohesion to it all.  Music from Olso, Norway.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  BandcampAmazon


Legraux Tobrogoï – Volume 1 (Tobrogoï Productions)

What really gets me about this recording is how the sextet Legraux Tobrogoï develop infectious grooves with a delivery that is casual and loose.  Consisting of baritone sax, tenor sax, trumpeter, guitar, bass and drums, the Toulouse, France-based ensemble work in some afro-beat, some surf twang, some Balkan action and plenty other ingredients to flavor the grooves.  Just a real fun recording that got better the more it proved it had to reveal.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Bandcamp