The Round-up: There was nothing to do except for what I always did


Here is some very good new music


Steve Swell – Music for Six Musicians: Hommage à Olivier Messiaen (Silkheart Records)

It says it right there in the title:  Six musicians.  And, yet, every time I’ve sat down to write about this album, I do another google search to confirm that, in fact, Steve Swell did not invite an orchestra to perform on this recording.  This music is dense, yet precise, like staring down at the intricacy of a microchip.  It’s also rich with textures, a kaleidoscopic explosion of sound that is difficult to absorb in its totality.  The difference between the states of volatile dissonance and comforting melodicism are a fine line, and it’s a quality that behaves as a unifying force.  The NYC-based trombonist is joined by alto saxophonist Rob Brown, violinist-violist Jason Kao Hwang, cellist Tomas Ulrich, percussionist Jim Pugliese and Robert Boston on both piano and organ.  This music is immense.

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Yoni Kretzmer’s New Dilemma – Months, Weeks and Days (OutNow Recordings)

I didn’t fully appreciate the furious blasts of avant-garde dissonance that leads out this recording until it slowly receded into a lovely harmonic bliss of chamber music.  This jazz improv-chamber session from Yoni Kretzmer’s New Dilemma hits all the right notes, but how it all unfolds is why this music is so damn charismatic.  Just outstanding.  New Dilemma is tenor saxophonist Yoni Kretzmer, violist Frantz Loriot, cellist Christopher Hoffman, bass clarinetist Josh Sinton, double bassist Pascal Niggenkemper and drummer Flin Van Hemmen.  Music from Brooklyn, NY.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Bandcamp


Jesse Peterson Quartet – Man of the Earth (Ears & Eyes Records)

There’s an infectious enthusiasm to the debut from Jesse Peterson.  But above and beyond that effusiveness are the thick melodies and rhythmic engagement that possesses an anthemic nature.  When you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps, this is the album you go have a beer with to get your spirits picked back up.  The drummer is joined by saxophonist Adam Scheit, pianist Jorn Swart and bassist Andrew Schiller.  Music from NYC.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Bandcamp


Auziņš/Čudars/Arutyunyan – Baltic (Self-Produced)

The title-track on this curious recording from the trio of saxophonist Kārlis Auziņš, guitarist Matīss Čudars and drummer Ivars Arutyunyan digs into a blues riff and milks it for all its got.  It’s addictive and it’s seductive and it’s the kind of track that can rope a listener in and not let them go.  But it’s those pieces where dissonance comes in sudden bursts and the concept of song structure isn’t one given much regard when the album shines its strongest.  It’s an odd album with an odd sound, and it’s got a magnetic personality.  Music from Riga, Latvia.

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Evan Salvacion Levine – Mestizo (Shifting Paradigm Records)

There’s a pleasant, breezy atmosphere to this trio session from bassist Evan Salvacion Levine, guitarist Matt Gold and drummer Andrew Green.  Pointed melodies are delivered with a casualness that almost belies their sharp precision.  That alone is pretty compelling, but the charm of the recording radiates from the rich rhythmic dialog the trio develops along the way.  That person you know who is just so amicable and easy to like and gets along with everyone?  This album is the sonic equivalent.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  BandcampAmazon