Tiny Reviews: Marc Perrenoud, Strasax, Jazoo, Joachim Kuhn, & Blue Cranes

Tiny Reviews, featuring:  Marc Perrenoud Trio Two Lost Churches, Strasax Live, Jazoo Are You Still There?, Joachim Kuhn Trio & HR Big Band , and Blue Cranes Cantus Firmus.


Marc Perrenoud Trio – Two Lost Churches

High octane piano trio that doesn’t forget the melody in its rear view mirror.  Swiss pianist and composer Marc Perrenoud, historically, has kept the personnel on his albums to three or less, and his ability on this album to build a sense of more out of less is evidence of his comfort level with the small combo setting.  Laying back on the tempo, like title-track “Two Lost Churches,” doesn’t cost Perrenoud’s sound any emotional impact, clearly just as comfortable getting the most out of a few notes as he is doing wind sprints on piano.Modern piano trio, but keeps things grounded in the jazz tradition. Nice stuff.

Your album personnel: Marc Perrenoud (piano), Marco Muller (bass), and Cyril Regamey (drums).

Stream the album on Marc’s website.

Released on the Challenge International / Double Moon labels.

Jazz from the Geneva, Switzerland scene.

Available on eMusic.


Strasax – Strasax Live

This quintet of four saxes and a set of drums invites excellent pianist Benjamin Moussay to sit in for a live set of modern jazz. Sax collectives tend to take to approaches to a performance: everyone storming off in their own direction with a powerful cumulative effect when their paths cross or take-turns-soloing blowing sessions approach. On Live, Strasax seems to straddle both those extremes. A fair amount of dissonance and skronk, but Moussay’s work on piano and electric keyboards brings a groove to the set that nicely counterbalances the saxes and attracts them back to the center of the tunes.

Your album personnel: Franck Wolf (sax), Christophe Fourmaux (sax), Laurent Wolf (sax), Michael Alizon (sax), Francesco Rees (drums), and Benjamin Moussay (piano).

I couldn’t find any audio to embed.

The album is either Self-Produced or it’s released on a label called Autoproduction.

Jazz from the Alsace, France scene.

Available on eMusic.


Jazoo – Are You Still There?

This quintet from Slovenia is a neat little find. Instruments comprising sax, piano, drums, bass, accordion, flute, and electronics.  Jazoo has a fresh modern sound abounding with celebratory cheer and respect for the melody. Woodwinds that sway happily to and fro, rhythms like a race through the driving rain, squiggly electronics blended with the teddy bear warmth of accordion. Absolutely love this. Find of the Week.

Your album personnel: Nejc Haberman (bass), Danijel Hartman (drums), Stare Katja (flute, vocals, percussion), Matjaz Mlakar (saxophone, flute, vocals), and Tomaz Pacnik (keyboard, accordion, electronics).

Released on the Celinka Records label.

Jazz from Slovenia.

I’m gonna see about doing a full review of this in the near future.  There’s lots to like on this album, and I’d to spotlight some of it in an extended written piece.

Available on eMusic.


Joachim Kuhn Trio & HR Big Band – Out of the Desert

Pianist Joachim Kuhn does some amazing stuff with the trio format, but he just can’t help himself when it comes to the large ensembles.  Much like the guy who foils his friends attempts to have a quiet night at home with a beer by dragging everyone out to the tavern, Kuhn brings his trio, once again, out into the crowd.  This time it’s with the HR Big Band in a live performance. Kuhn’s a vet of the scene, and even though his compositions sound very much of Today, his roots of jazz past clearly inform his current releases. If you like your big band to sound a little different, this is a good choice.  And if you prefer something more symphonic with your piano trio, then Kuhn’s excellent Europeana with the Radio Philharmonie Hannover will float your boat, too. Both albums on the ACT Music label, a great source of under the radar modern jazz.

Released on the ACT Music label.

Available on eMusic.


Blue Cranes – Cantus Firmus

This Portland quintet seem to straddle the line between jazz and post-rock, but where much of post-rock sounds meticulously thought out, it’s the heart of jazz that typically shines through when improvised music is the guiding principle. The Blue Cranes clearly take to improvisation. Featuring a core of tenor & alto sax, keyboards, drums, and bass, they seem more than happy to toss a bunch of strings into the mix. Strangely, it pushes their music further away from post-rock and closer to an avant-chamber jazz sound. Cantus Firmus is an EP, but they also have a proper album from 2010 called Observatories and another called Lift Music! Flown Music! from 2007, and it’s just as cool as the EP. Intoxicating tunes with plenty of force from sax and melancholy from strings, rhythms that don’t so much keep the time as spray paint the walls wherever the melody wanders.

I couldn’t find any audio to embed.

Your album personnel:  Reed Wallsmith (alto sax), Joe Cunningham (tenor sax), Rebecca Sanborn (keyboards), Keith Brush (bass), and Ji Tanzer (drums).

Music from the Portland, Oregon scene.

Available on eMusic.


That’s it for today’s article.  I’ll have more Tiny Reviews from this batch of new releases on Monday.


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.