Sep 7 2015
This Is Jazz Today: Improgressive, Yuma Uesaka, The Sorcerers, Gregg Belisle-Chi and Dave McDonnell Group
This is gonna be a huge week for playing catch-up on our This Is Jazz Today recommendations. Hopefully, we’ll be back up to speed one week from today. Speaking of today, we’ve got five more recommendations for you, and I’m thrilled to present each of them. All five albums are quite distinct from one another, and, really, quite distinct from anything else on the scene. There’s a few familiar names to this site among the bunch, but many of these names and projects will be new to you… and that’s a quality of this site that always makes me happy to uphold.
Time for some spotlight on under-the-radar music.
Improgressive – Primo (SLAM Productions)
A duo collaboration between clarinetist Alberto Popolla and saxophonist Errico Defabritiis, where the 70s British Rock Canterbury scene serves as both the inspiration and the foundation for this very cool project. The intertwining paths taken by the two instruments is a joy to hear, both as an appreciation of the complexity of their patterns and the simplicity of its beauty. A couple bonus live tracks show that this duo’s magic isn’t relegated just to a studio setting. Soft Machine fans should definitely be checking this out.
Yuma Uesaka – Spear and Shield (Self-Produced)
A compelling debut from saxophonist Uesaka, who susses out some powerful moments from his gentle lyricism. Of special interest is the way in which he shows no difficulty working a lighter touch, as on album opener “Dot to Dot” than he does on a rendition of Ornette Coleman’s “Turnaround”… with both tracks resonating strongly in their own way. A member of Uesaka’s quintet, bassist Ben Rolston, put out a solid debut of his own a few years ago, and it shows that the Ann Arbor, Michigan scene has some nice talent to offer up.
The Sorcerers – The Sorcerers (ATA Records)
Like a great TV theme song, this seriously catchy recording brings together Ethiopian jazz, soul and funk. Plenty of grooves that you’ll want to dive into head-first, but it’s the way the melodic elements dance atop that motion that cinches the recommendation. This music is fun and is likely to elicit plenty of smiles, and while it’s plenty enjoyable to kick back and listen to alone, this album is a soundtrack meant for gatherings of friends.
Gregg Belisle-Chi – Tenebrae (Songlines)
Solo electric guitar session from Belisle-Chi that really falls outside of the Jazz sphere and situates itself under the vague descriptor of instrumental music. An easy-going style that prefers to flirt with serenity rather than give into it altogether… an effect amplified by guest vocalist Chelsea Crabtree who adds some nice harmonies to the affair. Fans of Steve Tibbetts’ ECM works should really be checking this out.
Download a free album track courtesy of the label.
Dave McDonnell Group – The Time Inside a Year (Delmark)
Another engaging release from saxophonist Dave McDonnell, who displays a talent for grasping avant-garde randomness and post bop catchiness in one handful. The result of this approach is an album that is delivered as if a straight-ahead session, but isn’t necessarily so conventional when viewed at any one particular moment in time. Strong cast joining McDonnell for this recording, including drummer Frank Rosaly, guitarist Chris Welcome bassist Joshua Abrams, and Jason Adasiewicz, Tomeka Reid and Nate Lepine sitting in on some tracks.
Have a great time digging through the list!
And remember, it’s simple: You like what you like.