Sep 11 2017
Here is some very good new music.
Samuel Eagles’ SPIRIT – Ask Seek Knock (Whirlwind Recordings)
There’s plenty to like about this modern straight-ahead session from Samuel Eagles‘ sextet. The alto saxophonist’s latest has a heavy presence, sometimes giving the impression of an ensemble twice its size. Thankfully, this quality doesn’t inhibit the development of a fluid lyricism or prevent melodies from attaining a freedom of motion to accompany their substantive depth. The potency of this combination becomes even more evident when tenor saxophonist Jean Toussaint sits in for a couple of tracks or, conversely, with the gentle “Hope in the Hills” and how it contrasts in tone and yet clearly originates from the same set of ingredients. Speaking of personnel, the SPIRIT ensemble consists of names who’ve made their share of appearances in this site’s recommendations, featuring tenor saxophonist Duncan Eagles, vibraphonist Ralph Wyld, pianist Sam Leak, bassist Max Luthert and drummer Dave Hamblett.
Arve Henriksen – Towards Language (Rune Grammofon)
Atmospheric. Let’s just get that word out of the way, because if we’re talking about an Arve Henriksen recording, inevitably, that descriptor will make an appearance. And for good reason, because while the cinematic qualities of his music can range from tranquil to nightmarish, it’s always got a seriously atmospheric presence. That certainly applies to his newest, Towards Language. Thick, ethereal melodies, like the sonic manifestation of an ocean fog, mark every moment of this recording. Some keyboards and sampling from Erik Honoré & Jan Bang help things along, and the guitars and effects of Eivind Aarset leave their mark, and all of it are exactly the type of elements that Henriksen thrives upon. For those familiar with Henriksen’s sound, this album won’t present any surprises… and, in the grand scheme of things, there’s a certain comfort to be gained from that.
Andrew Hartman – Compass (Self-Produced)
Guitarist Andrew Hartman‘s sophomore release starts out well-enough. I mean, it’s likable, no obvious flaws, and it’s what you’d expect to hear on a straight-ahead modern jazz guitar session. It will make many jazz guitar fans very happy. That sums up the album’s first half. But things change for the homestretch, and the album finishes strong. “London Blues” is the catalyst for that change. Tracks like “New Day” and “Breaking Light’ don’t stray dramatically from what came before, but Hartman’s quartet expresses them with far more panache and allows the personality of the melodies to shine with greater resonance. In the context of the the album’s overall presentation, it’s a minor contrast. But the gap between by-the-numbers and discrete individualism is vast, and the measured difference is the former will make jazz guitar fans happy and the latter will do the same for all jazz fans. Hartman’s quartet is comprised of saxophonist Chris Cheek, bassist Ike Sturm and drummer Zach Harmon.
Ólafur Jónsson – Tími til kominn (Self-Produced)
Nice debut from tenor saxophonist Ólafur Jónsson, who hits upon the popular stopping points along the lineage of jazz music. There’s the swinging “Klisja,” the gentle ballad “Minning,” the moody Hard Bop “Nýtt líf,” the modern straight-ahead tune “Tími til kominn,” and also “Dreyminn” and “Annar dagur páska” that perhaps echo some of the folk music of the saxophonist’s Icelandic roots. Jónsson is joined by a strong contingent from the Icelandic scene with pianist Eyþór Gunnarsson, bassist Þorgrímur Jónsson and drummer Scott McLemore.
Daniel Beaussier & Manu Pékar – For (and more) (Futura Records)
The duo of wind instrumentalist Daniel Beaussier and guitarist Manu Pékar chose about a third of the seventy brief improvisations they recorded together, and considering how enjoyable those included turned out, it leaves me wondering what got left on the cutting room floor. Beaussier utilizes a nifty array of instruments, including oboe, bass clarinet and English horn, and Pékar’s choice of guitar does an admirable job of complementing each one. The grinding “Robert F” and chaotic “Bruno M” show the musicians are willing and able to jack up the temperature, but for the most part, this album consists of contemplative pieces that aren’t necessarily always tranquil, but definitely instill an ambiance that could lead to all kinds of potent daydream imagery. Jean-Lou Deschamps and Pierre Marcault add some violin, effects and percussion, adding texture to a canvas that had plenty to begin.