The Round-up: As luck would have it, the train met me at the station


Here is some very good new music.


Jon Irabagon Quartet – Dr. Quixotic’s Traveling Exotics (Irabbagast Records)

The music on this recording is the frenetic, choppy motion of the wings of starlings, and it is also the fluid confluence of their murmuration.  Jon Irabagon doesn’t really do anything normal.  His music, whether it be with the ensemble MOPDtK or his own varied side projects, possesses a feverish energy that radiates from its core, and this is true whether it’s a throwback sound of old-school New Orleans or something more modern than yesterday’s definition of new school.  It’s a marvel to hear how he’d harness that energy and channel it into a lyrical scheme.  His newest, Dr. Quixotic’s Traveling Exotics, is the latest case in point.  On this session, the tenor saxophonist is joined by trumpeter Tim Hagans, pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Rudy Royston.  With the exception of Hagans, this is the same crew that created Irabagon’s 2015 release, Behind the Sky.  But the recordings are nothing alike.  Whereas on Behind the Sky, the group played it fast and loose with a cool blues; on their newest, it’s a display of how a grand unity of voices can give a post-bop sound a propulsion to rival anything from the hard bop era.  Music from NYC.

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Run Logan Run – The Delicate Balance of Terror (Weizenbaum)

It’s pretty easy to fall for the runaway drone of Run Logan Run.  There’s an hypnotic presence to it all, even as the duo floors the melody’s gas pedal.  Saxophonist Andrew Neil Hayes and drummer Dan Johnson add a generous helping of effects and percussion, which behaves more as an accelerant for the music’s intensity than it does texture for the presentation.  The duo have toured with both Colin Stetson and Sarathy Korwar, which I mention only by way of additional insight into the duo’s sound.  I’m assuming their name sources to the 70’s science fiction flick (or the book) Logan’s Run.  Fun music, and an especially nice pairing for driving through the city on a Saturday night.  Music from Bristol, UK.

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Sjøvaag & Silvola – Music for Cities (Shipwreckords)

With their separate and various projects, the duo of guitarist Juhani Silvola and drummer Jonas Sjøvaag have generally shaped their vision with the material of ambient music serenity, folk tune chatter and nuanced experimentalism.  On their debut collaboration, they cloak those qualities within post-rock hypnotic drones that bleed into every moment of Music for Cities.  It’s the driving force of this compelling album.  It also accentuates what’s so likable about the qualities of music that has come before.  The sparing use of ambient, folk and experimental approaches brings them into greater focus, and serves as a nice reminder of what’s come before and how it informs the present.  Music from Oslo, Norway.

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NOM Trio – Saca al perro que tiene hambre (Self-Produced)

It’s delightful how the NOM Trio of pianist Néstor Giménez, double bassist Manel Fortià and drummer Òscar Domènech switch between new-school and old-school viewpoints as they run through a series of jazz standards interspersed with some nifty improvisations.  And no matter which era they channel, it all snaps nicely into place, an intriguing cohesion from an oddball randomness.  The album was recorded at Barcelona’s Underpool Studios, which should be considered an official hot spot of jazz activity at this point, deserving of mention when listing the scenes located around the world.  And this album?  It’s likable in so many ways.

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Daniel Walzer – March to Muddy Water (Self-Produced)

This mix of chamber jazz, found sounds, effects and pop music is plenty intriguing.  Daniel Walzer‘s New England Soundscape Project melts the recorded sounds of his home turf upon the surface of a catchy melody, and then lets it all flow like a patient stream heading out to the ocean.  In some ways, this album reminds me (in the context of approach) of Metta Quintet‘s 2009 release Subway Songs.  Walzer switches between piano, marimba, and a variety of percussion instruments.  Along with a saxophonist, there’s a healthy complement of string instruments, and their judicious contributions are one of the album’s strongest features.  The found sounds vary between sounds of nature to sounds of the city, and the emotional range of the expressions vary accordingly.  For my personal tastes, there’s a few regrettable tracks, where the contemporary sound clashes with the chamber ambiance that serves this album best.  I go back and forth on this one, but ultimately the album’s strengths eclipse its weaker moments, and there a few tracks that I’m pretty crazy about.  If Walzer continues this project, I’d be very interested in hearing what comes next.  Music from Lowell, MA.

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