Jun 13 2016
*** This Is Jazz Today ***
Henri Texier – Dakota Mab (Intuition)
Henri Texier – Sky Dancers (Label Bleu)
You really gotta be impressed with how bassist Texier works up pieces that possess a curious personality yet exude such a friendliness that it’s impossible not to embrace the music. The side-by-side recommendations are two recent releases, one studio and one live.
Dakota Mab is a smart live performance at Theater Gutersloh with multi-reedist Sebastien Texier, baritone saxophonist Francois Corneloup and drummer Louis Moutin. Even when it stokes a raging fire, the conversational quality of this performance is the guiding force of the performance. Actually, I could say the same thing about the studio album Sky Dancers, which adds guitarist Nguyên Lê and pianist Armel Dupas. The lyricism put in play, both live and in studio, is really something to marvel at.
Brenden Varty – Cloudstream (Self-Produced)
Nice EP from saxophonist and flautist Brenden Varty. Just three tracks, but each has their own personality, thus giving the album the impression of greater expanse than its run time might otherwise indicate. The opening track has him with a quartet of pianist Claire Lee, bassist Patrick Nabuurs and drummer Julian Di Vito, plus a string quartet. It’s a straight-ahead tune, and it provides the strings a chance to exert their influence without letting it become the song’s reason for living. The third track has Varty switching over to flute, though it’s pianist Claire Lee’s accompaniment that’s most notable. But, to my mind, it’s the EP’s second track, a rendition of the John Zorn composition “Gnostic Hymn” that steals the show and earned this album a mention in today’s column. Joey Martel guests on electric guitar for this excellent take on the gorgeous tune from Zorn’s Transmigration of the Magus. A fun surprise to encounter that, and, really, why aren’t more musicians digging into Zorn’s mystical works? So many thick, beautiful melodies to dig into. Anyways, check this album out.
Mira Nørr. – Min Juvenile (Self-Produced)
Very likable bit of Scandinavian jazz pop from the quintet of vocalist Linda Bergström, saxophonist Karolina Almgren, pianist Ruben Stolp, double bassist Lisa Wulff and drummer Stefan Schneider. Melodies are diffuse, and the quintet exploits this quality by laying down a quiet ambiance that keeps its composure even when they allow the intensity to surge upward and crest. That kind of abiding peacefulness goes a long way to making this the kind of album where you hit the play button again immediately after hearing the album’s final note.
Succi Saiu Papetti – Three Branches (El Gallo Rojo Records)
When the trio of bass clarinetist Achille Succi, electric guitarist Francesco Saiu and double bassist Giacomo Papetti settle into a track and patiently draw the melody out, things get captivating and fast. And while I do appreciate that they try to mix things up with some dissonance at faster speeds, they seem to lose some of the essential qualities that unite them in a tranquil environment. Also, bass clarinet-guitar-bass is an unusual combo for a trio set, and they do manage to exploit some of the possibilities in some interesting ways. There were times this music had me thinking back on an excellent trio set comprised of the same instruments, The Ninth Planet, by the Jesse van Ruller Chambertones Trio (an album that earned a slot of this site’s Best of 2012 list). Three Branches has some uneven moments, but it’s outweighed by all those that take flight to the skies and soar.
Wout Gooris – Voor Jef (Self-Produced)
Seriously contemplative work from keyboardist Gooris. These are tunes that will leave the air undisturbed first thing in the morning, before dawn breaks, and when the whole world is still asleep. Some acoustic guitar, some piano, some keyboards, some electronics, some accordion (or something that sounds like an accordion)… and maybe this is a Gooris solo project and he’s manipulating all these sounds and mixing them in together or maybe he’s just not listing out the album personnel. This is a beautiful little album, and I wanted to give it a mention.
Have a great time digging through the list!
And remember, it’s simple: You like what you like.