Tiny Reviews: Jessica Williams, Béla Fleck, Silke Eberhard/Alex Huber, Afrodisax, & Jacques Pirotton

Tiny Reviews, featuring:  Jessica Williams Songs of Earth, Béla Fleck Across the Imaginary Divide, Silke Eberhard & Alex Huber Singen Sollst du…, and Afrodisax Ostinati & Other Music For Imaginary Movie, Jacques Pirotton Stringly 612.



Jessica Williams – Songs of Earth

Solo piano albums just leave me entranced.  They have the ability to sound as expansive as the sea and just as deep, while also revealing an intimate fragility that can be as endearing as the former quality is awe-inspiring.

Culling recordings from solo performances recorded over a three year stretch at Seattle’s Triple Door, pianist Jessica Williams displays those same characteristics in the mesmerizing Songs of Earth.

Your album personnel:  Jessica Williams (piano).

There is an element of contradictory yet complementary tension, like watching sparklers glisten in the foreground while fireworks explode in the distant night sky.  Right hand concentrates on the shiny action, while left hand focuses on sounds that lean to the dramatic side of things… but the music is quick to remind that every note is potentially flammable.

Some tracks, like “Little Angel,” have a lilting sway, while others like “Poem” have a confident gait and smoldering passion.  Album-opener “Deayrhu” is reminiscent of Origin Arts label-mate John Moulder‘s 2012 live album, which shares the characteristic of unabashed daring of artists pouring themselves into the effort and flirting with moments of pure magic.  There’s an honesty to this music viscerally felt.  It’s not the kind of element that can be adequately described or measured, which, I suppose, is one of those qualities of art that is both the point of creating it and experiencing it.

Released on the Origin Arts label.

Jazz from the Seattle, WA scene.

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

Available at eMusic.  Available at Amazon: CD | MP3


Béla Fleck – Across the Imaginary Divide

In light of the recent trend of unfortunate jazz/non-jazz crossovers, this recording is surprisingly tuneful.  Béla Fleck continues to display new facets to his talent on banjo by meshing with the excellent Marcus Roberts Trio.  Fleck keeps his folkish voice on banjo and the Trio is pure jazz, and yet nobody steps on anybody’s toes,  all playing on the same page.  In addition to creating a wonderful album, they show how musicians from different genres are able to find the soft places in between, those interstices where the genres touch and connections are made.

Your album personnel:  Béla Fleck (banjo), Marcus Roberts (piano), Jason Marsalis (drums), and Rodney Jordan (bass).

Here’s a link to the music project-specific website.

Released on the Rounder Records label.

Available at eMusic.


Silke Eberhard & Alex Huber – Singen Sollst du…

Very likable free jazz duo recording with alto saxophonist Silke Eberhard and percussionist Alex Huber.  Plenty of screeching and skronking, drums like raindrops in a hurricane, and moments that smolder brightly just before the explosion.  Transitions between the quiet and the noise most appealing aspect of this album.

Your album personnel:  Alex Huber (drums) and Silke Eberhard (alto sax).

Released on the NotTwo Records label.

Jazz from the Berlin scene.

Available at eMusic.


Afrodisax – Ostinati & Other Music For Imaginary Movies

The Afrodisax octet is straight-ahead music with one foot in the jazz of the past and one of the present.  Music layered in with thick brushstrokes, melodies capable of taking flight, and a nice mix of tempos.  Group play and solos equally solid.  Song “Ostinato II” is enchanting.

Your album personnel:  Marc Mangen (piano), Laurent Barbier (alto & sopranino saxes, flute), Toine Thys (tenor & soprano saxes, clarinet), Tom Van Dyck (baritone sax), Michel Paré (trumpet, bugle), Frederik Heirman (trombone), Hendrik Vanattenhoven (contrabass), and Renaud Person (drums).

Stream three album tracks on the “Music” tab on the artist site.

Released on the Mons Records label.

Jazz from the Biel, Switzerland scene.

Available at eMusic.


Jacques Pirotton – Stringly 612

Veteran guitarist Jacques Pirotton brings the 12-string along with the 6-string.  The album leans more toward folk than jazz, and is more likely to appeal to fans of Leo Kottke than Django Reinhardt, but the recording is too pretty not to get in a quick mention.

Your album personnel:  Jacques Pirotton (acoustic 6- & 12-string guitars), Stephan Pougin (drums, percussion), Boris Schmidt (acoustic bass), and guests:  Phillipe Thuriot (accordion) and Steve Houbin (sax).

Released on the Home Records label.

Available at eMusic.



The Jessica Williams review is original to Bird is the Worm, but 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,“ reprints courtesy of eMusic.com, Inc.
© 2012  eMusic.com, Inc.

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