Oct 29 2016
This Is Jazz Today
Bundesjazzorchester & Niels Klein – Groove and the Abstract Truth (Double Moon)
Over the years, I’ve highlighted various volumes in the BuJazzO series, but that still doesn’t do justice to all of the solid music issued by Germany’s Youth Jazz Orchestra, an organization dedicated to promoting the new generations of jazz musicians. The current installment featuring Niels Klein is a case in point. They step up and out with a big sound and harmonies as warm as the day is long. There’s a pop music sensibility to this music, dishing out passages that border on hooks, and which retains a permanence that holds even when instrumental soloists dig into complex expressions of improvisation that have little to do with pop music at all. But it’s the vocalists, both as chorus and soloists, that elevates this session up to a level that approaches a certain euphoria. The voices provide a fullness and also a delicate touch, and whether they launch themselves dramatically into a burst of focused speed or take to thrilling aeronautics, there’s always the sensation of soaring above. And of that particular piece of turf they occupy along the borders of jazz and pop, where this iteration of the orchestra on this session sits firmly on the jazz side of that border, by point of comparison, it could be said that the Polyphonic Spree occupy its opposite position on the pop music side. A seriously enjoyable recording.
Tim Stine Trio – Tim Stine Trio (Astral Spirits)
There’s an oddball poetry to this trio session from guitarist Tim Stine, bassist Anton Hatwich and drummer Frank Rosaly. Melodies fall and collapse with the staggered pace and sudden precision of a game of Tetris. That Stine uses an acoustic guitar adds a rustic charm to music that might otherwise dive too deep into the cerebral. The rhythm section is locked in with Stine’s unusual flight patterns, and the way they are still able to develop a relatable rhythmic message under those constraints is more than a little impressive. It’s easy to imagine that the origin of each song is a simple tune, long before the trio began reshaping it into warped imagery. A strange, but easy-to-like personality to this one.
Your album personnel: Tim Stine (acoustic guitar), Anton Hatwich (bass) and Frank Rosaly (drums).
Earprint – Earprint (Endectomorph Music)
There’s a strong propulsion system that carries this album from first note to last, but it’s the way that the Earprint quartet of trumpeter Tree Palmedo, tenor saxophonist Kevin Sun, bassist Simón Willson and drummer Dor Herskovits use the melody as a way to generate imagery that acts as an appealing counterbalance to all the hyperactivity of the driving tempos. So even though these tunes speed right along on their way, there’s always an opportunity to sit back and check out the view. It’s a nifty bit of contrast, and really kicks the album up a notch or three. And it’s an effect that pays extra dividends when the quartet slows down the pace and coaxes the melody out front… taking advantage of the same form of contrast, but flipped on its head.
Your album personnel: Tree Palmedo (trumpet, ocean drum), Kevin Sun (tenor sax, clarinet), Simón Willson (bass) and Dor Herskovits (drums).
Hearts & Minds – Hearts & Minds (Astral Spirits)
The bass clarinet has traditionally delivered a curious type of lyricism, as if a flawed soul were attempting to sing an aria. On the trio session from Hearts & Minds, bass clarinetist Jason Stein, pianist Paul Giallorenzo and drummer Frank Rosaly just skip all that business and, instead, show how the instrument can be a tool for the proliferation of raw energy. Every melody carries with it the scars and fractures of a rough life and tempos are more often spurred forward through sheer force of will than the development of a flow. Add to the mix some generous helpings of electronic effects, and what shows up at the front door is a brusque personality that occasionally reveals a more personable side (see: track “Streaming”).
Your album personnel: Jason Stein (bass clarinet), Paul Giallorenzo (synthesizer, Pianet) and Frank Rosaly (drums, electronics).
Enjuti – Schönheit durch Zerbrechlichkeit (Traumton Records)
It’s a split personality from the quartet Enjuti. There are times they dive deep into contemplative waters, slowly exhaling a melody and letting it drift slowly away. But then there’s those passages when the quartet enters a harsh industrial type of atmosphere and all the introspection gets blown away. The thing of it is, sometimes fragments of those melodies drift into the center of the dissonant chaos, and that sense of the hurricane and its eye occupying the same tiny spot is pretty thrilling in its way. And sometimes that little spark of a melody triggers a larger conflagration, and the chaos of the storm takes on a shape and form, and while the result is never going to be described as tuneful or songlike, it possesses a certain enchantment, much in the way that crosswinds can twist the rain and whip it around hypnotically.
Your album personnel: Andreas Völk (guitar, effects), Laurenz Gemmer (piano), Kenn Hartwig (bass, effects) and Thomas Sauerborn (drums, percussion).