Apr 24 2015
It’s only natural that things would get dialed down a bit after the huge drop of excellent new releases last week. Our current batch, however, has plenty of gems, many of them refreshingly understated. Aside from our Pick of the Week, none really knocked me on my ass… but over time, my appreciation and enthusiasm for many of these new albums continued to grow. All said, I’ve dug up plenty to keep your ears busy and happy for yet another week.
*** Pick of the Week ***
Catfish – Restraint
Absolutely gorgeous mix of modern jazz and contemporary classical. The core trio of tenor saxophonist Joe Cunningham, guitarist Dan Duval and drummer Ken Ollis are joined by a number of guests on strings, wind instruments and piano for a fascinating mix of melodic fragments and improvisational bursts. Some breathtaking moments on this one.
Released on PJCE.
*** This week’s featured albums ***
Vincent Courtois – West (La Buissonne)
Absolutely captivating chamber jazz session from cellist Courtois, who brings in guest tenor saxophonist Daniel Erdmann, multi-reedist Robin Fincker and pianist Benjamin Moussay on a handful of tracks. Peaceful music that flashes some sharp teeth from time to time. Sublime music that exudes a multifaceted character.
Steve Coleman & the Council of Balance – Synovial Joints (PI Recordings)
A really intriguing flow to the new one by alto saxophonist Coleman. His large ensemble creates an almost hypnotic tempo with punctuated bursts of rhythm from both the percussion unit and wind instruments, which is occasionally swept away by warm harmonies from the string section… approaching something almost cathartic. Time and again, Coleman offers up works with a keen intelligence.
4mament – Aufbruch (Unit Records)
This sax, piano, bass & drums quartet has an engrossing storyteller’s approach. Modern jazz that adopts some traits of indie rock without ever straying too deep into the foreign territory. Lively tunes are nicely expressive, but the moodier pieces really resonate strongly.
Christoph Pepe Auer – Songs I Like (Session Work)
Mesmerizing set from multi-reedist Auer, whose music embraces both the soothing ambiance of a drone and the lively chatter of hushed conversations. Strings, accordion, hurdy gurdy, drums and electronics join him on this set. A neat personality to this one.
Tom Tallitsch – All Together Now (Posi-Tone)
Strong blues influence on this personable recording from tenor saxophonist Tallitsch. With one half of the sextet’s slots taken up by wind instruments, there’s plenty of warmth from harmonies, plenty of heat from solos. A nifty cover of Zappa’s “Uncle Remus” fits right in with the solid originals.
Theo Jackson – Shoeless & The Girl (Dot Time)
Strong imagery generated by vocalist-pianist Jackson’s trio. A substantive charm to this music, reminiscent, actually, of the way Lyle Lovett can generate both whimsy and profound depth with the turn of a phrase. Guest saxophone and flugelhorn are a nice touch, and add some welcome texture.
Hugo Fernandez – Cosmogram (Origin)
Enjoyable how guitarist Fernandez balances an incisive lyricism with a breezy delivery. Modern post-bop style that fits in well with the Origin label and the Pacific-Northwest sound. The quartet of sax, guitar, bass and drums creates rainy day music that emits plenty of warmth and plenty of liveliness to boot.
Duplex – Én (Norcd)
A solemn tone to this laid-back Sunday morning music. The duo of saxophonist Harald Lassen and bassist Christian Meaas Svendsen lay the peacefulness on thick while letting a quirky personality slip out to keep things interesting. Pretty music made prettier by bringing in a couple guests on strings.
Barney McClure – Show Me! (Origin)
Awfully fun recording that matches McClure’s Hammond B3 organ with the Central Washington University Jazz Band. Plenty of enthusiastic playing, and it’s pretty neat hearing how the B3 bounces around the environment of a traditional big band. It’s like watching a raft try to navigate the rapids of a roaring river.
Yelena Eckemoff – Lions (L&H Production)
Enjoyable trio session from pianist Eckemoff, bassist Arild Anderson and drummer Billy Hart. Falls right in line with previous Eckemoff recordings… straight-ahead piano jazz that values elegance but gets in a burst of effusive warmth now and again. Easy to like.
Vince – A Story About (Unit Records)
Nice mix of moodiness and tunefulness from this quartet of sax, guitar, drums and bass. Definitely some post-rock influence in the mix, but then there are tracks that show a willingness to bop right along. When the quartet gets introspective is when the music shines.
Enrico Pieranunzi & Federico Casagrande – Double Circle (CamJazz)
Frank Carlberg & Leo Genovese – Shadows and Reflections (Red Piano Records)
Duo set from Carlberg & Genovese utilizes piano, Rhodes, farfisa and organ between the two for an intriguingly relaxed session of Monk tunes and originals (plus one Cuchi tune). Occasionally a simmering intensity, but more often than not, the music’s stoned disposition allows notes to hang in the air for an alluring effect. Strangely engaging.
Have a great time digging through the list!
And remember, it’s simple: You like what you like.