Tiny Reviews: Hans Glawischnig, Ben Wendel, & Goldberg/Avital/Jackson

Tiny Reviews, featuring:  Hans Glawischnig Jahira, Ben Wendel Frame, and Aaron Goldberg, Omer Avital, & Ali Jackson Jr. Yes!.


Notably, among the three albums reviewed today, is that they’re all released on the Sunnyside label.  Sunnyside Records released a slew of strong albums near the end of 2011 and then into 2012.  And, like labels sometimes do, they release several at a time.  I decided to bunch these three together because… well, now that I write this, I can’t really recall the exact inspiration for the idea, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Perhaps we should just begin…


Hans Glawischnig – Jahira

Fascinating trio date with bassist Hans Glawischnig, drummer Eric Doob, and Samir Zarif on soprano & tenor sax.  Glawischnig sticks to acoustic bass and gets a wonderful tone on it.  Zarif’s tone has a celebratory swing to it.  Doob takes an ebb and flow approach to the rhythm, providing some dynamic moments, especially on cymbals.  While Glawischnig’s background in Latin jazz (via work for Paquito D’Rivera, Miguel Zenon, and Ray Barretto) informs some of the compositions, much of the album’s sound seems to spring more from the African influenced jazz a la Pharoah Sanders earlier Impulse date or Abdullah Ibrahim’s post-millenial recordings.

However, a tune like “Crow Point” aptly demonstrates that Glawischnig has his own unique vision to follow.  At times, his basslines could feel right at home in a modern jazz indie-rock fusion a la Kneebody, even while the composition overall speaks more to an avant-garde jazz piece; a compelling mix of cold steel and fiery groove.

Some ballads and slow-tempo tunes are thrown into the mix to great effect.  This is a group that knows how to instill a supreme serenity over a song, of making grand statements with simple phrases, of creating the sense of something big without having to talk it up incessantly.  Master strokes.

Released on the Sunnyside Records label.  Jazz from NYC.

You can stream the entire album on the label’s bandcamp page.

Available on eMusic.


Ben Wendel – Frame

With his group Kneebody, Ben Wendel fused the modern Indie rock sound with jazz into a perpetual ignition of music fuel.  The result was a series of Fringes of Jazz albums that moved its feet too quick to determine which side of the Jazz Dividing Line they rested upon.  Ultimately, it was great music, which tends to make music territory discussions a bit irrelevant.  On his new release, he brings in Kneebody bandmates, but adds a larger ensemble that includes jazz great pianist Gerald Cleaver for a series of a tunes that fall squarely in the (modern) jazz family.

Your album personnel:  Ben Wendel (saxophones, bassoon & melodica), Gerald Clayton, Tigran Hamasyan (piano), Adam Benjamin (piano & Fender Rhodes), Nir Felder (guitar), Ben Street (bass), and Nate Wood (drums).

There is a relentlessness to this album.  Not in the avant-garde free jazz exhaustive sense, but a rhythmic attack that keeps one on their toes, even as reflected through the expressions of melody.  I say this by way of describing the album, but also as advice that with an album like this, sometimes the subtler details take some repeat listening to flesh out.  Or said differently, it’s easy to allow oneself to get swept away by the waves, but it’s important to remember that it’s also nice to dive beneath them and take a look at what’s darting beneath the water’s surface.

Three different pianists collaborated with Wendel on the album.  And while there is nothing generic about their contributions, it is impressive that the shifts in personnel don’t detract from the album’s cohesiveness.

Final two tracks, “Leaving” and “Julia” end the album on a very strong note.  “Leaving” has a dramatic bent and a furious groove, even as it palpitates a sense of the melancholy.  “Julia” twists and turns in a gentle breeze, light as a feather but with the occasional sharp change in direction; a wistfulness even in peace.

Released on the Sunnyside Records label.  Jazz from NYC.

You can stream the entire album (and purchase it) on the Sunnyside bandcamp page.

Available on eMusic.


Aaron Goldberg, Omer Avital, & Ali Jackson Jr. – Yes!

Pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Omer Avital, and drummer Ali Jackson Jr. have been performing together for decades, but this is their first collaboration on a studio recording.  A live set of a wonderful mix of covers and originals that both swing and sway. Cover of Abdullah Ibrahim’s “Maraba Blue” and the Avital original “Homeland” are highlights on an album filled with them.  Three musicians with modern voices developed from jazz traditions.

Goldberg has recently stood out on his duo album with fellow pianist Guillermo Klein Bienestan, but has plenty of recorded music under his belt.  Omer Avital recently released Suite of the East, and, in my opinion, is the finest bassist and composer on the scene.  Jackson Jr. is mostly closely associated with Wynton Marsalis, though his reach extends further out than that.

This is primarily a straight-ahead jazz album that should appeal to fans across many jazz sub-genres.  Three great jazz artists just putting their heads down and making jazz music.  Outstanding.

Released on the Sunnyside Records label.

You can stream the entire album on the label’s bandcamp page.

Available on eMusic.



That’s it for today’s article.  This was a set of Tiny Reviews from a batch of new arrivals a couple months back, and I really wanted to spend more time expanding on my original thoughts in the eMusic article, so I’m just getting to them now.  They kinda resemble the original pieces I wrote for eMusic, but not really.  In any event…

Here’s some language to protect eMusic’s rights as the one to hire me originally to scour through the jazz new arrivals and write about the ones I like:

New Arrivals Jazz Picks“, courtesy of eMusic.com, Inc.
© 2012  eMusic.com, Inc.

My thanks to eMusic for the freelance writing gig, the opportunity to use it in this blog, and the editorial freedom to help spread the word about cool new jazz being recorded today.