The Round-up: Those times were hard


Here is some very good new music.


Eyolf Dale – Return to Mind (Edition Records)

This music dances on air.  Sometimes it skips across the clouds, sometimes it soars a graceful arc high above them, and sometimes it bounces along the currents and surrenders to the will of the motion.  And on Eyolf Dale‘s newest, the path to get there is full of life and activity.  The pianist’s octet works the range of expressionism between modern Euro-bop and chamber, and makes the difference between the two appear as nothing, as but a single breath of imagery.  Wind instruments, strings and percussion abide in equal strengths on his latest, and that balance feeds right into the music’s singular vision.  There are more than a few moments on Return to Mind that stopped me from what I was doing just to marvel at their beauty.  Those moments haven’t lost a bit of their power through the process of repeat listening.  I don’t expect they will for you either.  Music from Oslo, Norway.

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Bryan Smith – This Is Water (Self-Produced)

It’s all about the melody on the latest from Bryan Smith.  The saxophonist doesn’t get fussy with those melodies.  It’s all about clear lines of definition and a calm touch with their delivery.  From there, his quintet with guitarist Ryan Meagher, pianist Matt Tabor, bassist Andrew Jones and drummer Jonas Oglesbee take the melody for a short drive, and the road ahead never drops off the map.  There’s something comforting about seeing the entire path, and ending up where everything seemed to lead to in the first place.  It’s a special kind of luxury for a listener to be able to let their guard down and simply appreciate a melody for its beauty, as if from a distance.  “Are We Athletes?” adopts an upbeat tempo and a voice to match, but for the most part, this album resides in territory best suited for contemplation.  That just so happens to be where the album shows its best side.  It’s been a while since I listened to it, but I recall enjoying Smith’s 2011 recording See, See.  Music from Portland, Oregon.

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Luis Verde Quartet – Vientos Cruzados (Self-Produced)

The immediate impression made by Viento Cruzados is that Luis Verde had a lot on his mind and wasn’t going to hold back when translating it to a sonic form of expression.  At times, this sprawling work comes off as a bit disjointed, where the flow of thoughts from one to the next isn’t as fluid as one might hope.  But then certain themes get revisited across the duration of fourteen tracks, and a distinct cohesion begins to emerge.  And those moments when the flow converges with the prevailing imagery, the music explodes with life.  The saxophonist’s quartet with pianist Moisés Sánchez, double bassist Reinier Elizarde and drummer Mark Schilders traverses ample territory, and the effect is amplified by the inclusion of several interludes.  As stand-alone pieces, these interludes are intriguing in their own right, but their deft placement in the sequence of events has a resounding impact far greater than their individual traits.  Music from Madrid, Spain.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Bandcamp


Matt’s Mates – Bodies of Water (SuperSonic)

There’s an intriguing combination of solemn and lively tones on this set from Matt Luff.  The saxophonist’s octet identifies John Coltrane as their guiding music spirit for this recording, and it’s pretty clear right from the start that this was no blithe namedrop.  The ferocity inherent in these tunes has a benevolent presence, and the illusion of contradiction in those qualities makes the music resonate that much greater when it reveals itself, instead, as unity.  Music from Brisbane, Australia.

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Kastenfaul – Kastenfaul (Self-Produced)

The Kastenfaul duo of saxophonist Ali Onur Olgun and drummer Ozan Aktuna is pure gasoline.  They light their music on fire and laugh while fanning the flames.  It’s as simple as that.  It’s also that thrilling.  This two-track EP retails at Name Your Price, so a nice opportunity to explore some new, obscure music at a price that fits your budget.  Music from Istanbul, Turkey.

No artist site | Listen | Buy:  Bandcamp