The Round-up: We grew up believing in lightning strikes of good luck


Here is some very good new music.


Dustlights – In a Stillness (Ropeadope)

Candlelight is the dominant imagery induced by the sound of Dustlights.  The trio’s pulsing drone possesses a hypnotic effect of flickering flame, and its distant warmth is suggestive of a tiny heat burning bright.  Saxophonist Joe Wilson, drummer David Christian and bassist Ran Livneh make judicious use of electronic effects, and its harmonic influence is the sign of its strength.  Every now and then, I field a “what next” question, both for people looking to get into modern jazz and those just looking for similar music to explore.  If Portishead is the foundation of that what-next question, then Dustlights would make a fine answer.  They’ve got just enough post-jazz in their delivery to make it an easy crossover from ambient rock tastes.  Fans of Nik Bartsch’s Ronin should also be paying close attention here.  Music from Brooklyn, NY.

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Alex Lefaivre Quartet – Yul (Multiple Chord Music)

This is wholly modern post-bop jazz, but there is something very old-school about Yul.  It’s like those classic Blue Note recordings where nothing groundbreaking was going down, but everything about the music was exciting.  Because if you get four musicians together who know how to trade volleys and honor a well-crafted melody when its presented them, and have as much fun comping a solo as they do riding one off to the horizon, well, it’s an electrical jolt that keeps you hitting the play button.  Bassist Alex Lefaivre gets that done on Yul, along with drummer Mark Nelson, guitarist Nicolas Ferron and an exceptional contribution from alto saxophonist Erik Hove.  Everyone sounds like they walked into the recording studio feeling at their best and ready to light things up.  Music from Montreal, Québec.

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Toni Saigi TronikLa prinsire de la Sal (Underpool)

There’s a nice flow of electricity on this 50s bop throwback recording from pianist Toni Siagi, saxophonist Jaume Ferrer, bassist Marc Cuevas and drummer Carlos Falanga.  The music swings and it scoots along, and its cheery, upbeat tone is infectious as hell.  With its peculiar emphases rolling out the melody on “L’Anell que no tinc,” a clear Monk influence is drawn out, but it’s just one example of the different expressions a classic bop can elicit… and on his debut, Siagi hits on many of them.  Nothing here not to like.  Music from Badalona, Spain.

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Peter Evans – Peter Evans Group (Self-Produced)

Really what makes this recording crackle with energy is its combination of a thick blues and a noir ambiance.  This is standard post-bop modern jazz, but those two elements give it a life that is something more than standard stuff.  Distinctive melodies are like a door held wide open to the rest of the song, and even when a soloist takes the tune out in unexpected direction, those melodies light the way back home to the opening theme.  This is Peter Evans‘ debut, and it’s a strong opening statement.  His quintet is a nice example of music coming out of Melbourne, Australia.

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Maxi Caballero – I Could See For Miles (Self-Produced)

I’ve really been enjoying this nifty modern jazz guitar recording.  Maxi Caballero brings a couple different approaches to the table, ranging from a Frisellian looping sound to a straight-ahead post bop to a little something with strings and even a piece that situates itself in territory not far removed from some of Pat Metheny’s more ambient works.  The guitarist is joined by drummer Alfonso de Miguel Drums and bassist Jesús Caparrós, plus some guests on piano and strings.  Naturally, I enjoy the looping action of the opening track, but the breezy melodicism of “Up in the Woods” reminds me pleasantly of the Marc Johnson classic The Sound of Summer Running, and how the music just makes the soul feel free and hopeful and full of light.  A nice under-the-radar recording that should be on your radar.  Music from Murcia, Spain.

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