The Round-up: Sleeping in windows, dreaming of roads


Here is some very good new music.


Rafael Karlen – Trace (Self-Produced)

There’s a nice peaceful demeanor to this trio session from tenor saxophonist Rafael Karlen, pianist Steve Newcomb and guitarist Toby Wren.  The tranquility maintains a presence even when the music gets a little upbeat on “Stray” and a little whimsical on “Top ten.”  But the heart of the album beats strongest when the mood turns introspective.  The melodies of “Something New For Jessie” and “Driftwood” are thick like plumes of smoke that seductively trail off.  And then there’s the title-track, and how its melody burns bright while generating the distant warmth of stars.  Some stunning moments of beauty on this one.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  BandcampAmazon


Kiesewetters GammaRama – The Mission (Unit Records)

The gem to be discovered on the sophomore release from Kiesewetters GammaRama is the three-part suite “The Mission.”  It opens with the quartet’s quirky post-bop lyricism to an alluring mix of old-school cool blue bop and then ends with a gorgeous moonlight serenade.  It’s all glued together with some electronics and effects, and it has a mini-epic demeanor running through its veins.  The album’s other tracks are plenty enjoyable, nothing that would get tagged as a weak link, but that suite sitting at the heart of the album is worth the price of admission alone.  The quartet is comprised of multi-reedist Jan Kiesewetter, electric guitarist Bernd Huber, double bassist Uli Fiedler and drummer Tilman Herpichböhm (who has received a few mentions for his own album and his work with Rebecca Trescher).

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Amazon – eMusic


Eva Kess Group – Flying Curly (Unit Records)

It’s interesting how the melodies of Flying Curly shift between states of intense focus and scattered randomness.  Both states have their appeal, but the slow burn of “Fünf (Take 2)” and simmering beauty of “Beautiful Weekend” are prime examples of this quartet’s strengths lying more with the former than the latter.  The quartet is comprised of bassist Eva Kesselring, guitarist Filipe Duarte, pianist Gregor Ftičar and drummer Peter Kronreif, and, together, they’ve made quite a captivating album.

Artist site | Buy:  Amazon – eMusic


Leandro Kalén + Azurro Trío Tano – Parque Rivadavia (Self-Produced)

I fell for this EP of space-jazz fusion almost immediately.  Featuring a collaboration between keyboardist Leandro Kalén and the Azurro Trio Tano of alto saxophonist Lucas Torrisi, bassist Rodrigo Lammardo, drummer Dino Mereu, this music bubbles with excitement and yet remains patently dreamy.  The constant rhythmic patter often melts into pools of spilled melody, which then comes together in an entirely new confluence.  Heavy doses of electronic effects contribute to the album’s success, too, and binds the electronic and organic instrumentation into a cohesive whole.  Fun.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Bandcamp


Stefan Frommelt Trio – Some Kind of Odd (Unit Records)

Nothing fancy here, just an album with straight-ahead tunes and catchy melodies that don’t let go.  The trio of pianist Stefan Frommelt, double bassist Marius Meier and drummer Marvin Studer work their best magic when they dig into a groove and make a cadence dance.  That said, “Marv & Fros” has the thick harmonics and swells of intensity that one would expect from the Esbjorn Svensson Trio.  It’s one of the album’s stronger moments, which just goes to show that a little differentiation across the breadth of an album is never a bad thing.  Pretty damn likable.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  AmazoneMusic