The Round-up: What it looks like when the search is almost over


Here is some very good new music.


Wayne Escoffery – Vortex (Sunnyside Records)

I adore how Wayne Escoffery articulates on tenor saxophone at high speeds.  There’s something so magnetic about how clear and crisp he sounds in the midst of volatility, like picking out the way light catches individual raindrops within the storm.  His latest is certainly a case in point.  It’s unsurprising that he collaborates with those who gravitate to that form of expression.  Pianist David Kikoski has some standout moments picking up a solo where Escoffery’s left off.  Bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Ralph Peterson, Jr. are just as often the catalyst for this album’s fireworks, especially on those tracks that feature percussionist Jacquelene Acevedo.  There are some seriously thrilling moments when Peterson and Acevedo enter a rhythmic confluence and just go to town.  Music from NYC.


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Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra – Bohemiana Vol. 1 (Self-Produced)

There’s something special when a big band can scoop you up with a melody and use it to carry you all through a piece, even when the melody becomes a distant memory.  That’s what happens on Bohemiana: The compositions and arrangements of Dan Roberts Volume 1.  This straight-ahead session from Brad Linde‘s 17-piece orchestra comes with the big sound and harmonies that generate a warmth strong enough to beat back an Alaskan winter, but it all hinges on those inviting melodic statements.  After that, the swinging tempos spur things along, and it’s an even draw between the soloists and ensemble play as to which will win over your attention.  Music from Washington, DC.

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Kaladin Quartet – Apropos of Nothing (Self-Produced)

There’s an appeal to how Kaladin Quartet makes a bold statement with each recitation of melody.  There’s plenty of life to them just by way of their construction, but the quartet of pianist Henry Walsh, bassist David Storelli, drummer Marc Celestini and saxophonist Christopher Greene really breathe life into them, accenting the melodies with just the right amount of emphasis for a dramatic splash and avoiding the risk of it sounding contrived and over-the-top.  The music is situated firmly in modern territory, with tempos just as inclined to rock as they might swing.  Overall, an album with a magnetic personality.  Worth nothing it’s retailing at Name Your Price, so it’s an opportunity to explore new music at a cost that suits your ability.  Music from North Carolina.

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Tleikak – Tleikak (Self-Produced)

There’s something about the catchy melodies and breezy tempos of the duo Tleikak that I find a little addictive and plenty fun.  Comprised of Japhlet Bire Attias on the Chapman Stick and synths, and Manuel Caffarena on drums and percussion, the duo finds the sweet spot where contemporary jazz and indie pop come together.  The result is music that is easy to embrace while retaining qualities that keep the head engaged sufficiently to keep from just drifting off.  Music from Mexico City, Mexico.

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Francis Hon – Before Dawn (Self-Produced)

I do really try to stay away from the approach of comparing one artist to another… especially a modern artist with one from the classic jazz age.  But this lovely set from pianist Francis Hon had me thinking wistfully about how long it had been since I’d given a Duke Pearson recording a spin.  Hon has a way of gently coaxing a melody to resonate with impressive strength.  Much of the album echoes the hard bop era, but there’s some modern influence that makes its presence felt, too.  Hell of a nice debut.  Hon is joined by bassist Jeong Hwan Park and drummer Billy Drummond.  Music from Brooklyn, NY.

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  Amazon