Mar 15 2015
Okay, well, it took a little bit longer to publish this week’s This Is Jazz Today column than I’d intended, but now you have a nice lazy Sunday ahead of you to slowly peruse the new music… so there’s that, at least.
The top albums this week all have some serious personality to them, sounding unlike much anything else on the scene, so I expect the extended time you spend listening to it all will match my own. Aside from a couple straight-ahead piano trio albums, there weren’t many quickies this week… lots of patient listening, instead. And while the side-effect may be a late column, the huge amount of originality reflected by the albums below makes it worthwhile… as well as signalling the depth of modern Jazz today.
My only real disappointment is the meager amount of music I was able to embed with the synopses. Typically, it’s just a small percentage that go without, but this week, unfortunately, there’s a shameful amount of albums that didn’t provide a single embeddable track. Thankfully, though, this week’s strongest albums did, so get yer ear’s engine started.
And let’s begin…
*** Pick of the Week ***
SFJazz Collective – The Music of Joe Henderson
For its most recent project, the SFJazz Collective chose to embrace the music of jazz titan, Joe Henderson. An all-star line-up consisting of the saxophones of Miguel Zenón and David Sánchez, trumpeter Avishai Cohen, trombonist Robin Eubanks, vibraphonist Warren Wolf, pianist Edward Simon, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Obed Calvaire, their imaginative takes on Henderson’s music reveals how a well-crafted arrangement can have a transformative effect on a familiar song and how a surgical dissection of a body of work can result in thrilling bursts of original creativity. And perhaps the greatest display of talent on this session is the way in which the Collective is able to utilize odd turns of phrase and take the road least expected, yet still end up in a place that sounds very much like straight-ahead jazz.
*** This week’s featured albums ***
Harris Eisenstadt – Golden State II (Songlines)
Where on previous recordings a jarring change of mood would signal a new direction, on the newest from drummer Eisenstadt, his quartet displays a remarkable ease in transitioning seamlessly from flurries of dissonance to extended melodic glides and jaunty strolls through the park humming the blues.
Read more about this album on Bird is the Worm (LINK).
Jean-Marie Machado Danzas – Lagrima Latina (Self-Produced)
Pianist Machado offers up an abundance of liveliness and personality with his Danzas orchestra and vocal trio. A supreme tunefulness, the music jumps with enthusiasm and purrs with the sweetest melodic passages. Expect to be reading more about this fun album on Bird is the Worm in the coming weeks.
chuffDRONE – chuffDRONE (Jazzwerkstatt)
All kinds of personality displayed by this quintet. Led out by two saxophonists, they find the right balance between boisterous enthusiasm and melodic flirtation. Everything about the music screams fun.
World Kora Trio – Un Poisson dans le Désert (Passé Minuit)
This trio of kora, cello and percussion keeps finding new ways to enchant. The trio develop an easy-going conversational style that teeters between serene & chatty. So damn pretty at times, it’s heartbreaking.
Dominik Strycharski – Prophetic Fall (NotTwo)
Furious behavior from flautist Strycharski’s trio. Avant-garde demeanor, however, doesn’t hide the rampant melodicism. That said, it’s the trio’s percussive force that represents this album’s best qualities.
Mohamed Abozekry & Heejaz Extended – Ring Road (Jazz Village)
A hell of an exciting release from oudist Abozekry. A strong folk music influence, but the way it’s expressed ranges far and wide. The shifts from a furious assault to a lazy day serenity are some powerful stuff.
Toine Thys Trio – Grizzly (Igloo)
Personable sax-drums-organ trio set from saxophonist Thys. Considering the unusual match of instruments, for the most part, this is a straight-ahead affair. Strong lyricism that bathes in soulful waters.
Judith Goldbach – Reisetagebuch (JazzNArts)
Goldbach’s quartet gives a modern spin to Hungarian folk tunes, providing a bit of something old and a bit of something new. When bass clarinet and vibraphone step up, the album really takes off. Enchanting in its way.
Steve Turre – Spiritman (Smoke Sessions)
Another solid straight-ahead release from the Smoke Sessions label. Led by veteran trombonist Turre, they apply their hard bop touch to both originals and standards. It’s on those tunes that fall in the former category that the quintet’s heart beats the strongest.
Andre Leroux – Synchronie-cites (Effendi)
Duduka da Fonseca – Jive Samba (Zoho)
Excellent Brazilian jazz set from drummer da Fonseca. His trio continues to thrive in finding subtle ways of evoking both the South American and NYC influences. Best tracks on the newest are the talkative, uptempo tunes that beat with the heart of Spring.
Jack DeJohnette – Made In Chicago (ECM)
Recorded at the 2013 Chicago Jazz Festival, drummer DeJohnette leads an all-star cast of Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell, Muhal Richard Abrams and Larry Gray. Music befitting a (sort of) AACM reunion. Untamed, wild music.
Weldon Hill – Free Expression (Self-Produced)
Ryan McGillicuddy – Boots & Boots (LAJC Records)
Tim Whalen – Oblivion (Self-Produced)
Pianist Whalen leads a quintet in a Bud Powell-themed set. Lots of surprising moments where the trio breaks from the mold of “just another covers album.” Passages of intense melodicism carry the day.
Have a great time digging through the list!
And remember, it’s simple: You like what you like.