The Round-up: Eventually, the sky surrendered


Here is some very good new music.


Joe Martin – Étoilée (Sunnyside Records)

This is one of those recordings that speaks with a soft voice, but carries as if shouted from the rooftops.  The key is how the quartet of bassist Joe Martin, saxophonist Mark Turner, pianist Kevin Hays and drummer Nasheet Waits boost the resonance of a gently stated melody.  There’s an almost casual complexion to the delivery of each tune on Étoilée, which seems counter-intuitive to just how riveting they are.  It’s reminiscent of Clifford Jordan and his Magic Triangle quartet sighing out “One for Amos” on a quiet evening, and how it is charged with a relentless electricity.  Music from NYC.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  BandcampAmazon


Organic Pulse Ensemble – Transcending the Sum (Urban Waves Records)

Here’s your modern spiritual jazz fix for today.  The ensemble is actually a one-musician crew of Gustav Horneij.  This album is all about the grooves, and how Horneij layers one section of instrumentation over the other until the dividing lines between melody, harmony and rhythm becomes indistinguishable.  It’s springtime, and this is the kind of soundtrack you want to help erase the memory of yet another winter passed.  Music from northern Sweden.

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Tune iusto – Tune iusto (Utopia Records)

This is an outstanding session.  It all hangs on the melody, even when it’s barely mentioned at all.  There’s a sense of heightened improvisation, where the orbit of the music circling that melodic inspiration might move with the patience of the moon crossing the nighttime sky.  Saxophone, piano, drums, some effects are the ingredients used to form all kinds of cohesion between the musicians.  Sometimes the music has a little hop to it, sometimes it sighs contentedly, sometimes it skips briskly like a stone across the water, and sometimes it drifts slowly like a thick fog.  I can’t find anything online about this album.  There’s nothing.  I may have tracked down the Facebook pages of two of the musicians, but it’s difficult to confirm.  But there isn’t a weak link on this recording.  Solid from start to finish.  Music from Moscow, Russia.

No artist site | Listen | Buy:  BandcampAmazon


Qi Gang – Music For Elevators (Self-Produced)

This likable session is where modern jazz fusion meets jam band.  Aside from one track where volatility eclipses structure, this is by and large one long expression of a single melodic idea.  Guitar and keys and drums and some effects, and it just kind of rolls along like the currents of a river curving along the embankment while the sun sparkles upon its surface.  Music from Copenhagen, Denmark.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Bandcamp


Contrast Trio – Music For Luminale IM (Bimba Records)

There plenty of fascinating moments on this jazz-electronica session from Contrast Trio.  Its sound and imagery is heavily cinematic, which could be just as much to do with the musicians’ normal expressionism as it does that this music was intended for a soundtrack.  Drums and saxophones fall right into place with modular synths and samplers.  Field recordings and Ukrainian folk augment what already shakes out as a pretty cool sound.  Music from Frankfurt, Germany.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  BandcampAmazon