Sep 26 2015
This Is Jazz Today: ACT, Misha Mullov-Abbado, Chamber Metropolitan Trio, Rotem Sivan and Thomas Fonnesbæk
Okay, we’re back with another batch of recommendations! The new edition of This Is Jazz Today is gonna make the straight-ahead jazz fan quite happy. Thankfully, these recordings show just how diverse the current jazz landscape is, and how the descriptor “straight-ahead” is woefully inadequate to encapsulate the sheer breadth of sounds that musicians are able to generate, even while seeking to stay near jazz center.
*** Today’s Featured Album ***
ACT – II (Self-Produced)
Seriously lively set from the trio of bassist Harish Raghavan, drummer Nate Wood and Ben Wendel on tenor sax, melodica and bassoon. It’s all about the captivating motion and the way the trio is able to string out a melodic thought for an extended time and with enduring streams of dialog. That said, working in this recording’s favor is the relative brevity of most album tracks. Much in the way a thrilling movie can become a bit tiresome for the inclusion of too many up-tempo scenes, the trio’s deft use of an editorial eye brings a succinctness to many of the album tracks and provides plenty of thrills without overextending the stay. Besides, it’s always nice when a song leaves you wanting a bit more. A substantially illuminating moment is when they slow things down on “Memorial,” and all of the lyrical elements that flash on by on other album tracks are given the time to breathe and fully emerge. Magical moments like that aren’t to be ignored or undervalued. You really can’t go wrong scooping this one up.
*** Also Featured ***
Misha Mullov-Abbado – New Ansonia (Edition Records)
Enjoyable release from bassist Mullov-Abbado, who incorporates many different shades of a straight-ahead sound on his debut recording. It’s got some old-school swing with “Lock, Stock and Shuffle,” some new-school post-bop with “Satan, Oscillate My Metallic Sonatas,” some down-the-middle contemporary with title-track “New Ansonia,” the vague world-jazz styling of opening track “Circle Song” and there’s the gorgeous jazz with strings ballad of “Heal Me On This Cloudy Day.” Pretty impressive as far as introductions go.
Chamber Metropolitan Trio – Arkhè (Hybrid’music)
Plenty of melodic action on this modern straight-ahead trio set from pianist Matthieu Roffé, drummer Thomas Delor and bassist Damien Varaillon. A track like “Jardins Suspendus” shows how the trio can dive into the deep end of the melodic pool and just float hypnotically on its gentle currents, but the best this trio has to offer is when they kick up a little dust and scoot along. Their ability to bounce the melody along the surface of the up-tempo rhythms, using each to accentuate both the melodic and rhythmic components… that’s the kind of conversation tool that grabs hold of the ear and does not let go.
Rotem Sivan Trio – A New Dance (Fresh Sound New Talent)
Overall, I’m not exactly crazy about the new recording by guitarist Sivan. It’s relatively straight-ahead with both originals and standard fare renditions like “In Walked Bud” and “I Fall In Love Too Easily.” Occasionally Sivan turns up the heat, and those moments are not reflecting the album at its strongest. But there are tracks on this recording where Sivan enters this tiny, introspective pocket, and he sounds as if he’s so absorbed in what he’s doing that it radiates a palpable sense of isolation. And when Sivan gets in that mode, playing slowly and with an almost haphazard quality, that’s when drummer Colin Stranahan’s richly talkative style locks right into place, and there is something massively hypnotic about the seemingly disassociated dialogues of Sivan’s meandering guitar, Stranahan’s driven rhythmic attack, and the bass work of Haggai Cohen-Milo, who transitions neatly between those two states. A guest saxophonist adds a nice touch, too. There are times with this album when my reaction was “meh,” but there are also songs where I had to drop everything I was doing and just listen, fascinated by what the trio was generating.
Thomas Fonnesbæk – Where We Belong (Naxos Sweden)
Vibrant piano set from bassist Thomas Fonnesbæk, pianist Lars Jansson and drummer Paul Svanberg. Mostly straight-ahead tunes, and even those tracks that seek to break from the fold keep often enough in touch with the melody that the album’s personality doesn’t change all that much. When bass arco enters the room, jaws will drop.
Have a great time digging through the list!
And remember, it’s simple: You like what you like.