The Round-up: I wondered if the world would look different for me tomorrow


Here is some very good new music.


Adrean Farrugia & Joel Frahm – Blued Dharma (Gb Records)

It’s always nice to encounter one of those sax-piano duet recordings where it sounds like both musicians got together on a peaceful Sunday afternoon and played music to accompany the sunlight filtering in through living room windows.  It’s more than just listening in on a conversation and more than a glimpse of the intimacy of two musicians focused solely on the actions of their counterpart; there’s an immediacy to the affair, a solemn atmosphere that emphasizes the ephemeral nature of creativity, and were it not for someone hitting a record button before they started playing, it would’ve been a treasure that only the two musicians alone would have been witness to.  There’s something special about capturing those moments on the recorded medium, and Blued Dharma from pianist Adrean Farrugia and saxophonist Joel Frahm certainly honors that particular happening.  The heat on this session is only ever comforting and the tranquility it generates compels the listener to remain attentive as a guarantee for experiencing every last bit it has to offer.  Music from Toronto, Ontario.

Artist site | Buy:  Amazon


Liebman/Nakatani/Rudolph – The Unknowable (RareNoise Records)

This music is all about the motion.  Viewed in its entirety, The Unknowable is a pond.  At times, it moves like the gentle currents coaxed along by a stiff breeze.  Other times, it darts below the surface like fish seeking food or shelter or friends.  And then there are those moments when it possesses the ethereal presence of mist hanging just above the water’s surface, making indistinguishable where water becomes air becomes light.  Percussionists Tatsuya Nakatani and Adam Rudolph and saxophonist Dave Liebman are the elemental forces that guide things to final track “Benediction (Closing),” a piece as solemn as a reflection of the setting sun upon a gently rippling pond.  Music from New York and New Mexico.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  BandcampAmazon

(Thanks to reader Randy Lang for the location of the album’s Bandcamp page)


Mike McGinnis – Singular Awakening (Sunnyside Records)

I’m pretty cool with it if Mike McGinnis, Art Lande and Steve Swallow keep cranking out one of these albums every year.  Much like their 2017 release Recurring Dream, the clarinet-piano-bass trio makes music that fits snug with any season your headspace is located in.  This is music for kicking Autumn leaves as you crunch through them on a walk down a neighborhood street.  This is music for watching snow fall from the safety and warmth of a bedroom window.  This is music for greeting a late-July sun as it arcs its way to the zenith of its heat potential.  This is the music of Spring, where every melody is a burst of new life and new delights.  Music from NYC.


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Florian Favre Trio – On a Smiling Gust of Wind (Traumton)

There’s something lighthearted and free about this trio session from pianist Florian Favre, double bassist Manu Hagmann and drummer Arthur Alard, and it transcends just the sound of the music.  It’s as if they walked into the recording studio with some melodic ideas scribbled down on a postcard and decided just to see where it took them.  Pretty much across the board, it takes them far and wide.  Rarely does a melody have a brief life on the trio’s 2018 release, and that time is often spent either in a state of peacefulness, a state of joyful enthusiasm or one that’s never short on thrills.  A nice example of the modern piano trio form of expression.  Music from Berlin, Germany.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  BandcampAmazon


Noshir Mody – A Burgeoning Consciousness (Self-Produced)

I really don’t know what to make of my predilection for the music of Noshir Mody.  It’s really not normally my kind of thing.  If we’re looking to categorize it, we’re gonna use a term like contemporary jazz, and we’re gonna qualify that with an additional descriptor of world jazz that sometimes veers close to new age-prog fusion.  This does not describe music I typically like, but I’ll be damned if I don’t keep enjoying his recordings.  The guitarist puts together a tight, unfussy melody, and rolls it out like it had a bank of spotlights covering its movement.  There are times that he hits that odd sweet spot of soothing but lively music that marked the music of latter-day Oregon, when much of the edge has been polished from their sound and became something decent to accompany a peaceful evening hanging around the house as the sun fell over the horizon.  For me personally, Mody is a great reminder that the qualities of music that connect with us are as mysterious and unpredictable as the forces of creativity that give them birth.  I like this new one from Mody. I also still find time to spend with his 2014 release Stories From the Years of Living Passionately.  Music from NYC.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Amazon