The Round-up: Sometimes, being close is the hardest thing


Here is some very good new music.


David Ake – Humanities (Posi-Tone Records)

It happens quite often on Humanities that a rising intensity becomes a conflagration, and if any attempt at control is being exerted, it has no effect.  And yet, despite it all, there’s a moodiness that hangs over the newest from David Ake, and it has the effect of framing hyperactivity as an introspective matter rather than an emotional one.  It’s why “Groundwork” possesses the hypnotic effect of burning embers even when its flames reach up to the night sky.  It’s why “Stream” etches a path from first note to last even as it pulls apart the bonds that keep it together in a recognizable shape and moving with a concentrated focus.  The pianist has a nice history on the Posi-Tone Records label, and can always be relied upon for doing something a little different with a straight-ahead sound.  Humanities might be the most enjoyable example of that trend.  The pianist is joined by trumpeter Ralph Alessi, guitarist Ben Monder, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Mark Ferber.  Music from Miami, Florida.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:   Amazon


Roger Kim – Portrait Maker (Self-Produced)

I’m not sure this chamber jazz session could be any more gorgeous.  Roger Kim‘s large ensemble of strings and wind instruments and voices possess an ethereal presence, but so great is its majesty that the sensation is of clouds that could sweep you off your feet and carry you away.  The guitarist (who also adds some banjo to the mix) titles the first track “Franny and Zooey in the Snow,” and the music captures the essence of a lovely winter day surrounded by snowflakes with the same immediacy that it does the resounding innocence clung to by many of J.D. Salinger’s storybook characters.  The album clocks in a little under thirty minutes.  It’s music that feels like it could go on forever and then suddenly ends too soon.  Music from Oakland, CA.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Bandcamp


Emil Miszk & The Sonic Syndicate – Don’t Hesitate! (Alpaka Records)

The sudden transitions between soothing harmonies and caustic dissonance are quite jarring.  But the pattern repeats itself throughout this intriguing session from Emil Miszk & The Sonic Syndicate, and familiarity breeds friendliness.  The trumpeter leads an octet comprised half of wind instruments and the other half of guitar, piano, bass and drums.  It’s the former that’s most responsible for those lovely harmonic passages and the latter for the edginess.  There are moments, however, when the transfer of power between the two achieves a certain balance, a unity of expression, and everything makes sense.  An interesting debut.  Music from Gdańsk, Poland.

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Attila Gyárfás – Cloud Factory (Sinistra)

There’s a very fun and wild personality exhibited by this debut from Attila Gyárfás.  Mixing punk rock, modern jazz and Frisellian effects, the drummer shuffles the deck of tones for atmospheric effect and edgy counterweights to the ambience.  He’s joined by the bass and guitar duo of Marco Zenini & Márton Fenyvesi, along with Felician Erlenburg and Jason Alder on wind instruments.  In addition to the changes in tone, the spikes of intensity are as thrilling as the peaceful moments are comforting.  Just a really neat album, and the kind of thing that really shouldn’t fly under the radar.  Not all of you will like this recording, but some of you will fall head over heels for it.  Music from Budapest, Hungary

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Bruno Heinen – Mr. Vertigo (Babel Label)

There’s a distinct personality to the music of Bruno Heinen.  Whether it’s an embrace of the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen and Vivaldi or a set of songs that uses the children’s song “Twinkle Twinkle” as their basis or a spin with the Bill Evans songbook, Heinen’s perspective cuts to the heart of the matter.  His newest is a solo venture, and it’s particularly intriguing to hear how previous projects filter into a solitary setting.  This is especially true of revisiting his Tierkreis project, and how the music box environment falls right into place in the flow of expressionism that marks this set.  Music from London.

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