Tiny Reviews: Jensen/Anschell/Symer, Steve Davis, Claudio Scolari, Heliocentric Counterblast, & Greg Spero

Tiny Reviews, featuring:  Jensen/Anschell/Symer Blueprints, Claudio Scolari Synthesis, Steve Davis Gettin’ It Done, Heliocentric Counterblast A Tribute to Sun Ra, and Greg Spero Acoustic.



Brent Jensen, Bill Anschell, & Chris Symer – Blueprints

It’s nice when an album possesses qualities that are both serene and scattered.  Music like that makes for lazy Sunday afternoons when napping is the furthest thing from ones mind.  The trio of Brent Jensen, Bill Anschell, and Chris Symer hits that sweet spot just right.  With soprano sax, piano, and bass (respectively), they take a peaceful stroll through a set of tunes that sound vaguely deconstructed.  Bits of original melodies peek out from crosscurrents of notes that all sound like original ingredients doctored up in a new, though similar, meal.  The cover of “How Deep the Ocean” flirts with free improvisation performed in a tiny crucible.  Parker’s “Yardbird Suite” goes from swing on the dance floor to bop musings on the staircase.  The trio goes in the opposite direction on Monk’s “Blue Monk,” giving the tune an alluring sway that shifts into a jittery wobble.  It makes for a nice effect.

My only disappointment is that only one of the nine tracks is an original composition.  The delightful symbiosis amongst the trio makes me pine for what might have been had they sunk their teeth into some original melodies.  Based on the results from this recording, there’s no reason to expect it would be anything less than sublime.

Your album personnel:  Brent Jensen (soprano sax), Bill Anschell (piano), and Chris Symer (bass).

Stream a couple album tracks at the artist’s website.

Released on the Origin Arts label.

Jazz from the Seattle, WA scene.

Available at eMusic.  Available at Amazon: CD | MP3


Claudio Scolari – Synthesis

Percussionist and composer Claudio Scolari finds a way to make avant-garde music out of the same ingredients that many ECM artists create atmospheric soundscapes.  The thing of it is, he doesn’t appear satisfied with simply having developed his own uniquely compelling sound.  Whereas others may have simply coasted on the creation of the sound itself and created a series of comparable tunes, on Synthesis, Scolari appears to venture into other music territories.  There’s some riffs on jazz, including one with Latin jazz rhythms, and there’s a few that hit the folk-jazz elements, and then others that earn the avant-garde tag. Richly textured.  Plenty of percussion with some trumpet to soar over the top of it all. Something for those who like Something Different, and a nice release, especially following on the heels of his excellent release Colors of Red Island.

Your album personnel: Claudio Scolari (drums, percussion, synth computer, flute), Daniele Cavalca (drum, vibraphone, piano, melodica, bass), and Simone Scolari (trumpet).

Released on the Principal Records label, which may be Scolari’s own label.

Jazz from the Caltanissetta, Italy scene.

Available at eMusic.


Steve Davis – Gettin’ It Done

Nice hard-bop session from trombonist Steve Davis. Davis was one of the musicians who worked the transition years, when the old-school jazz legends were winding down their careers and a new generation was rising up to continue the Jazz tradition.  Davis, who notably was part of Art Blakey’s crew in the 90s, has amassed an impressive resume in a relatively short time (by jazz career standards). His current release displays a workmanlike effort, as he leads a sextet in a series of hopping tunes.  This is pure jazz, no need to check the fine print.

Your album personnel: Steve Davis (trombone). Josh Bruneau (trumpet, flugelhorn), Mike DiRubbo (alto sax), Larry Willis (piano), Nat Reeves (bass), and Billy Williams (drums).

Released on the Posi-Tone Records label.

Jazz from the Hartford, CT scene.

Available at eMusic. Available at Amazon: CD | MP3


Heliocentric Counterblast – A Tribute to Sun Ra

This German octet does a nifty rundown of Sun Ra, capturing Ra’s compositional eccentricities as well as his abundance of joyful music.  Fun album, and glad I ran into it.  I like that I got to type “space-keys” in the personnel section.  No proper website, but here’s a link to their Facebook page.

Your album personnel:  Nikolaus Neuser (trumpet), Kathrin Lemke (alto sax, flute), Dirk Steglich (tenor sax, flute), Andreas Dormann (baritone sax), Gerhard Gschlössl (trombone), Uri Gincel (piano, space-keys), Mike Majkowski (bass), and Philipp Bernhardt (drums).

Released on the Yellowbird Records label.  Jazz from the Berlin scene.

Available at eMusic.


Greg Spero – Acoustic

Spirited recording from the dynamic pianist.  Greg Spero has plenty of flash, but as this album illustrates, he’s got the substance to back it up.  A nice mix of late-night piano jazz, some which could induce listeners to just close their eyes and lean back in their seats, and other tracks which simmer with an R&B groove.

Your album personnel:  Greg Spero (piano), Matt Ulery (bass), and Makaya McCraven (drums).

Released on the BluJazz Productions label.  Jazz from the Chicago scene.

Download a free album track at AllAboutJazz, courtesy of the artist.

Available at eMusic.



The Jensen/Anschell/Symer and Steve Davis reviews are original to Bird is the Worm, but the portions of the other reviews were originally used in my Jazz Picks weekly article for eMusic, so here’s some language protecting their rights to that reprinted material as the one to hire me to write about new jazz arrivals to their site…

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

As always, my sincere thanks to eMusic for the gig.  Cheers.