Jun 18 2015
June is typically one of the busiest months of new releases, and this year did nothing to shake that reputation. Unsurprisingly, the sheer volume of new releases precipitated too many recommendations to fit in one column. So, today, you get the Album of the Week and a bunch of excellent new recordings… and Saturday, you’re gonna get another large batch of stuff meant to obliterate your budget.
If today’s column is only able to maim your budget, Saturday’s, undoubtedly, will come in for the kill.
*** Album of the Week ***
Greg Foat Group – The Dancers at the Edge of Time
Good grief, this album has got both heart and soul. Some of those classic Pharoah Sanders Impulse recordings had the bliss and the fury to where the music simultaneously had its feet planted in the soil even as it gazed heavenward. The newest from the Greg Foat Group goes about it similarly, but rather than lay down roots, the ensemble tethers itself to the brightest stars in space. Ambient grooves and explosive solos, music to pray to, music to jam out to. Greg’s previous recordings were nice enough, and I certainly had no problem recommending them, but his newest is a huge step up, both in terms of songwriting and performance. So beautiful and in so many ways. Go buy it. Now.
*** Also Featured This Week ***
Ghost Rhythms – Madeleine (Self-Produced)
Massively fun and ornately detailed. The large ensemble, Ghost Rhythms has created an adaptation of a score to the movie Vertigo told through the eyes of poor, dead Madeleine. Some stunning moments of beauty from this mix of jazz sub-genres, and folk and pop. I’ll definitely be writing more about this album in near future.
Charlie Hunter Trio – Let the Bells Ring On (Self-Produced)
Hunter and his 7-string guitar are joined on this session by veteran scenesters and long-time collaborators, trombonist Curtis Fowlkes and drummer Bobby Previte. This is music that sets its roots deep in the soil, sounding like something old given new life. Read a lot more about this album on Bird is the Worm (LINK).
Ryan Dragon – Kid Songs (Orenda)
Fun music with an abundant playfulness that sometimes follows marching orders and sometimes becomes unhinged. Trombonist Dragon leads a quintet (tenor sax, piano/keys, bass & drums) through a set of tunes that takes the theme of kid songs seriously. There’s a clear attention paid to the tunefulness of each song, even when the quintet purposefully muddies the picture’s clarity.
Allan Browne Quintet – Ithaca Bound (Jazzhead)
There’s an appealing looseness to this quintet set by drummer Browne, and the more it verges on messiness, the niftier the music gets. Up-tempo tracks tend to curve over the heart of the plate, but when they slow things down, there’s a Tom Waits sort of eerie tunefulness to things. Trumpeter Eugene Ball, guitarist Geoff Hughes, alto saxophonist Phil Noy and bassist Nick Haywood round out the quintet.
Editor’s Note: Sadly, Allan Browne passed away just five days ago, just shy of his 70th birthday. Read more about this excellent music at the ABC Jazz site (a nice resource for all things Australian jazz).
Ivo Neame – Strata (Whirlwind)
An intriguing and incongruous personality to the new one from pianist Neame, who infuses it with the catchiness of his Kairos 4tet work, the nonstop chatter of his Phronesis trio and the morphing song structures that one might take to were they to collaborate with Marius Neset (which Neame does). Sudden changes lead to soft landings. Solid quintet with vibraphonist Jim Hart, saxophonist Tori Freestone, bassist Tom Farmer and drummer Dave Hamblett.
Denny Zeitlin & George Marsh – Riding the Moment (Sunnyside)
What a strange and fascinating recording. A duo collaboration between drummer/percussionist George Marsh and pianist Denny Zeitlin, who also works into the mix all kinds of keyboards and effects. The cerebral playfulness of their interactions has the heart of a roots-down garage band jam session, while all the electronics and effects suggests that their garage is wedged onto a satellite hurtling somewhere far off in space.
Fabian Baur – Lifestream (Morpheus)
Strong infusions of pop music make this modern jazz-indie rock session all kinds of catchy. Melodies are well-lit paths for the ear to follow from first note to last. The tracks that adopt a contemplative frame of mind show the strength of this quartet (piano, bass, drums, guitar & effects).
Aaron Diehl – Space, Time, Continuum (Mack Avenue)
It’s more than just symbolic that pianist Diehl assembled a cast that includes both the new generation of jazz musicians and elder statesmen like Benny Golson and Joe Temperley… Diehl’s music seems to exist in both present and past simultaneously. His newest effort is no different, sounding both classic and a breath of fresh air. Straight to the heart of jazz.
Mats Bergstrom – Music for Trio (Naxos)
Guitarist Bergstom’s trio session switches between a quirky, excitable demeanor and one that floats peaceably on the surface of a flowing melody. The drummer adds other percussion and the bassist doubles on cello, and both are vital to the album’s likability. Plenty here to enjoy.
Have a great time digging through the list!
And remember, it’s simple: You like what you like.
Part II of this week’s column posts on Saturday!