The Round-up: Each door opens to the same circle


Here is some very good new music.


Kenny Warren Quartet – Thank You For Coming To Life (Whirlwind Recordings)

There’s an impenetrable nature to this music that takes some getting used to.  Some combination of composition and improvisation makes it so that the development of a song occurs like building blocks of an efficiently functional and stunningly ornate fortress.  The best route to acclimation are those moments when the thick veneer falls away and an embraceable bit of melody peeks on through.  There’s the beautiful dance of Noah Garabedian‘s bass and the piano of JP Schlegelmilch on “Huge Knees” and the cheerful blues generated by Warren’s trumpet and Satoshi Takeishi on drums on “Hala Hala,” and then how the quartet decides to close the album with an entire song that wears its heart on its sleeve.  And when the album closes itself off?  That’s a good time to appreciate the solid musicianship displayed by some of the stronger musicians on the modern scene.  The solos are all well and good, but the group interactions are where this quartet shines.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  BandcampAmazon


Black Diamond – Mandala (Shifting Paradigm Records)

This music is best when the quartet slows things down.  At the forefront of the quartet Black Diamond are the twin tenors of Artie Black and Hunter Diamond, and when they offer up gentle sighs of melody that break away and then intertwine about one another, that’s when the personality of this album reveals itself.  Because it’s about more than what goes down when the saxophones have their say.  The rhythm section of bassist Matt Ulery and drummer Neil Hemphill generate all kinds of chatter, and when given the room to snap into place with the shape of things, there emerges a wonderful state of unity from what initially appears to be contradicting elements.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  BandcampAmazon


João Mortágua – Mirrors (PortaJazz)

All kinds of interesting facets to this live set from the 2016 Guimarães Jazz fest.  The quintet of saxophonist João Mortágua, trumpeter Ricardo Formoso, guitarist Virxilio da Silva, electric bassist Felix Barth and drummer Iago Fernandez cycle through a spectrum of modern jazz expressions, and give each their own quirky personality.  The electricity of the live setting comes through pretty strong on the recorded medium, which is always a bonus.  Plenty here to like.  Also, worth nothing that Mortágua had another release over the summer, AXES, which has been recommended previously (go check it out).

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Bandcamp


René Gatica Quinteto – Rana (Discos ICM)

There’s an appealing laid-back feel to this modern jazz set from the quintet of drummer René Gatica, saxophonist Andrés Hayes, guitarist Enrique Peña, pianist Nicolás Boccanera and bassist Juan Bayón.  They lead out with a melody, but keep it just vague enough so that they can bend it at will during solos and not give the sense of straying far from the song’s opening notes.  There’s a little narration woven into the music, and this adds some nice texture along with the interludes scattered throughout.  Nothing groundbreaking here, but just plenty easy to enjoy.  Also, it’s a nice glimpse into the Buenos Aires, Argentina scene.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Bandcamp


Sean Alexander Collins – Family and Friend (Self-Produced)

The album’s liner notes state that this recording session began late at night and ended early in the morning, and everything about the music backs that claim up.  This is serene music that suddenly comes to life and then settles back down into a peaceful calm.  There is something nocturnal about the music’s liveliness and when it gets tranquil, it’s like those moments just as the sun begins to rise.  It’s Sean Alexander Collins on vibraharp, Brandon Sherman on trumpet and Josh Collins on acoustic guitar, and everything about the music gives the impression that they were locked into the creative visions of one another.  A nifty release from the Reno, Nevada scene.  Also, a bargain at just three bucks.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Bandcamp