The Round-up: Sometimes the road drops off


Here is some very good new music.


Kuba Płużek Quartet – Froots (For-Tune Records)

This session from pianist Kuba Płużek goes through some changes between first note and last, and yet somehow maintains a cohesive vision throughout.  The most appealing state of existence for his quartet is when they run with a soul jazz and Motown sound.  There’s a real electricity that flows during those pieces, and an almost insistent command to move move move.  That said, those tunes that dish out some modern post-bop edge or just dive into the deep end of a thick melody and let the harmonies splash where they may, well, it’s pretty easy to fall for them, too.  There’s a lot of good stuff going on here, and the most I dig into this album, the more I find to like.  Joining Płużek are drummer Dawid Fortuna, saxophonist Marek Pospieszalski and bassist Max Mucha.  Music from Kraków, Poland.


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Cameron Mizell – Memory/Imagination (Destiny Records)

Those gorgeous interludes on a Bill Frisell recording, where it’s just his moody guitar and some loops & effects?  The new release from Cameron Mizell is pretty much an homage to those moments.  The guitarist keeps it simple.  He takes the seed of a melodic image and runs through an electronic time lapse on its growth.  A variety of effects muddy the waters and shift the focus and opens up facets, but for the most part, Mizell is careful to keep that original vision intact.  It’s the reason these pieces keep a sense of cohesion rather than simple fade into a formless cinematic ambiance.  Plus, he occasionally throws in a tune like “Vulnerabilities,” whose folk music styling goes a long way to providing a sense of shape and direction to the recording.  This is an album that exists in the moment.  Music from Brooklyn.

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Baddest Unity – Fleurir (Self-Produced)

This charming duo session from guitarist Yutaka Hirasaka and trumpeter Masayuki Shikada shimmers in and out of focus and between two states of existence.  There’s the late night jazz club ambiance, where the hour draws late and the moonlight begins to wane, and then there’s the electro-acoustic fusion of a modern loft scene, where laptops are surrounded by beer bottles and listeners lounging anywhere that looks comfortable.  The electronic effects are used sparingly and in just the right spots.  Music from Tokyo.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Bandcamp


Conjunto de Lassaletta – Naturaleza Práctica I (Discos ICM)

There’s an appealing way that flashes of edge emerge from the ethereal dissonance on Naturaleza Práctica I.  Bassist Martín de Lassaletta, guitarist Julian Maliandi, drummer Leo Gerstner and effects specialist Mariano Balestena adopt a posture that structure is a highly elastic medium, which leads to a quick impression of multi-directional focus.  But every so often, things come together with a succinct fragment of melody or unison of rhythm, and that brief landmark provides context to the road traveled to date and, briefly, the next path taken.  This is one of two albums from these sessions.  And while both are a modern jazz-rock fusion form of expression, Práctica I takes on a prog-rock ambiance whereas Práctica II dwells in territory more closely associated with the psychedelic fusion of the 70s.  Music from Mar Del Plata, Argentina.

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Tomáš Sýkora – Songs and Old Forms (Mot’s Music)

Measured by the merits of each individual piece on this solo set by Tomáš Sýkora, there’s plenty offered by way of keeping the attention locked in place.  But the album is best viewed from the context of its entirety.  The album shines brightest in the way the pieces shift between straight-ahead modern elucidations, avant-garde expressions of a strangely comforting dissonance, and classical pieces that border on ambient minimalism.  The pianist spent two years developing this work, and to end up in a place where the source of the album’s cohesion is discovered in its diversity speaks to how time changes vision even when that vision never loses its focus.  Music from Lysá Nad Labem, Czech Republic.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  BandcampAmazon