The Round-up: Too much music, too little time


… Because there’s not enough time for everything.

Here’s some new music I like.  I wanted to give these albums a mention, no matter how brief.  Let’s begin…


Gustavo Cortiñas Snapshot – Esse (OA2 Records)

The newest from Gustavo Cortiñas engages in a thrilling sleight of hand.  The drummer leads out with melodies that are crisp and clear as a cloudless Summer afternoon, not to mention pretty damn catchy, to boot.  But then his septet obscures the view, solos up a storm of distractions and details and fireworks, and while it all flows naturally from that original statement of melody, before too long, it’s long forgotten.  Well, until they suddenly return to it, revealing that the melody was still there, all along.  And the repetition of this pattern does nothing to diminish the excitement even as expectations rise.  I’ve been listening to this album all year long, and it’s unlikely to drop from my listening queue any time soon.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Amazon


Shake Stew – The Golden Fang (Traumton)

There’s an abiding sense of fun that runs through this entire album from the septet Shake Stew.  Melodies are shouted out with boozy enthusiasm, and sometimes they’re drawled.  Even when the rhythm section is indicating the tempo sparingly, there’s always a feeling that it’s just a matter of time before it all blows up in an unrelenting tumult of percussion.  A member of the septet is trumpeter Mario Rom, and the past write-ups of his Interzone trio should give you an indication of how wildly unpredictable Shake Stew can be, as well as how much fun.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  BandcampAmazoneMusic


Noah Preminger – Meditations On Freedom (Dry Bridge Records)

The arrival of saxophonist Noah Preminger’s protest album in the wake of the U.S. Presidential election has plenty of raw emotional output and composition material to reflect both the intent and sincerity of the project.  That said, over the last few years, Preminger has typically displayed a resonant strength in his music, so nothing on the quartet session Meditations On Freedom sounds out of sorts with what’s come before.  Of particular appeal is his talent at effortlessly shifting between big statements and nuanced intricacy.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: No retail options found


Rich Halley & Carson Halley – The Wild (Pine Eagle Records)

There’s no denying that Rich Halley has a presence on saxophone.  It’s not about the ferocity he exhibits, but how his notes slowly fill up the room in the aftermath of the initial volley, much in the way rolling thunder can seem imposing even when from far away… it’s that sense of something immense fast approaching.  On this duo session with his son, drummer Carson Halley, they seem well suited to collaborate in that kind of environment.  This is not an album for subtlety.  You scoop this one up if you’re in the mood to hear a couple musicians just go to town on their instruments.

Artist site | Buy:  Amazon


Walt Weiskopf – Fountain of Youth (Posi-Tone)

Nice straight-ahead modern session from saxophonist Walt Weiskopf.  Of particular interest is how his saxophone edge complements and contrasts with the genial warmth of vibraphonist Behn Gillece.  A track like “Echoes of the Quiet Past” illuminates how their opposite sounds can result in a multi-faceted melodic perspective, with the resulting beauty that sometimes it’s bright sunlight melting an icicle and sometimes it’s the icicle capturing the sunlight.

Artist site | Buy:  Amazon


Tetraptych – Tetraptych (Red Piano Records)

An easy to like quartet session from pianist Bert Seager, saxophonist Hery Paz, bassist Max Ridley and drummer Dor Herskovitz, and this is true whether they stick to a modern straight-ahead sound or those times when they noodle around with the structure to where it becomes a slightly warped version of itself.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: Amazon


Jeff “Siege” Siegel Quartet – King of Xhosa (Self-Produced)

This collaboration between drummer Jeff Siegel and trumpeter Feya Faku is at its best when it digs into some spiritual jazz.  Things get plenty evocative and there’s a deft balance between intensity and joyfulness.  Nothing wrong with the tracks that take on a more straight-ahead sound, especially with a nice turn on the ballad “Ballad of the Innocent,” but it’s those spiritual jazz tracks that’ll leave you wanting more from the quartet (plus guests).

Artist site | Buy:  Amazon


The Vampires – Meet Lionel Loueke (Earshift Music)

There’s an enjoyable convergence of easy-going vibes on this collaboration between Jeremy Rose’s outfit The Vampires and Lionel Loueke.  The casual groove from the saxophonist’s quartet and Loueke’s charismatic folk sound on guitar makes for a natural pairing.  And no matter whether the tune is sunny and cheerful or thoughtful and contemplative, each song is engaging in the most personable way.  Completely random non-sequitor:  This is the kind of album you put on to signal the start of your vacation.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  BandcampAmazon


Kajetan Borowski Trio – Totem (Inetive Records)

Plenty to like on this debut release from pianist Kajetan Borowski and his trio with bassist Kuba Dworak and drummer Grzegorz Masłowski.  The album sticks to a modern straight-ahead sound, often with a strong European jazz influence and further influenced by Borowski’s Polish background.  In fact, it’s the subtle infusions of the latter quality that add a resonant quality to the more introspective tracks.  That said, the trio keeps to an upbeat demeanor, even when they slip into contemplation, and the resulting chatter is more than a little bit engaging.  An easy to like album.

Artist site | Buy: Amazon


Bill Brovold & Jamie Saft – Serenity Knolls (RareNoise Records)

The duo collaboration between Bill Brovold (on electric guitar) and Jamie Saft (on dobro and lap steel guitar) sometimes takes on the persona of the Nordic folk often documented on the Hubro label and then other times it delves into the drone-born-of-repetition effect mastered by soundscaper Roy Montgomery.  The displays of personality and differentiation between tracks are nuanced and, at times, nearly imperceptible.  But there’s the sense that these artists were less concerned about the concept of song and more interested in meshing with their counterpart on the same creative wavelength, to where the dividing lines between musicians and instruments is obliterated.  Also, it’s nice to view another facet of Jamie Saft’s creativity.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  AmazoneMusic


Have a great time digging through the list!

And remember, it’s simple:  You like what you like.