Tiny Reviews: Max Johnson, Partyka Brass, Irene Scardia, Florian Pellissier, & Pow Wow

Tiny Reviews, featuring:  Max Johnson Quartet, Partyka Brass The Day After Christmas, Irene Scardia Risveglia, Florian Pellissier Quintet Le Diable et Son, Pow Wow Wop n’ Wow



Max Johnson – Quartet

Debut album from bassist Max Johnson as session leader, though not new to the scene at all.  Plenty of dissonance, spastic rhythms, bending and twisting of notes, and the occasional interludes of lullaby warmth.  Though free jazz can often be sort of prickly when it comes to first date hugs, Quartet is nuanced in a way that makes it embraceable on the initial listen.  I think it gets too often accepted that a free jazz album won’t be accessible music, but Johnson proves that wrong here, and he does a nice job of reminding us of the bass’s possibilities without letting the album become a classroom exercise.  Also, fine taste in collaborators.

Your album personnel: Max Johnson (bass), Mark Whitecage (alto sax, clarinet), Steve Swell (trombone), and Tyshawn Sorey (drums).

Released on the NotTwo Records label.

Jazz from NYC.

Available at eMusic.


Partyka Brass – The Day After Christmas

Known by some of you as the group that recorded a holiday album with Carla Bley, Ed Partyka‘s septet returns with another holiday themed album. Day After, however, doesn’t result in traditional holiday tunes (aside from album closer “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”). It’s a set of sometimes haunting, sometimes sublime tunes that accentuate the delicacy of the instruments, rather than their inherent boisterousness.

Your album personnel: Ed Partyka (bass trombone, tuba), Adrian Mears (trombone), Johannes Lauer (trombone), Christine Chapman (French horn), Axel Schlosser (trumpet), Bill Forman (trumpet), and Tobias Weidinger (trumpet).

Released on the Mons Records label.

Available at eMusic.


Irene Scardia – Risveglia

Peaceful piano album, trio format with soprano sax and bass. Piano is definitely the spotlight instrument, with sax and bass adding support. Bass is more often bowed than not, which adds a delicious tension to songs, and the sax parts are flighty and light, and bring a sublime beauty to the album. Very nice recording.

Your album personnel: Irene Scardia (piano), Emanuele Coluccia (sax), and Luca Alemanno (bass).

Released on the Workin’ label.  Jazz from the Lecce, Italy scene.

Available at eMusic.


Florian Pellissier Quintet – Le Diable et Son

Easy-going hard bop date from the Florian Pellissier Quintet.  Some modern jazz flourishes, but its obvious that their hearts pine for the jazz of the sixties, especially music like the Herbie Hancock Blue Notes.  Should appeal to new- and old-schoolers alike.

Your album personnel:  Florian Pellissier (piano), Yoann Loustalot (trumpet), Christophe Panzani (sax), David Georgelet (drums), and Yoni Zelnik (bass).

The album is Self-Produced.  Jazz from the Paris scene.

Available at eMusic.


Pow Wow – Wop n’ Wow

Swedish outfit that plays moody avant-garde.  More of a melodic focus than a rhythmic one.  This is still pretty accessible, and if you like the introspective Nordic jazz sound, this album is just a ramped up and deconstructed version of it.  The group has been around since 1975.  Quality musicianship.  Probably the kind of album that gets better with repeat listens.

Your album personnel:  Björn Almgren (sax), Ingemar Landén (drums), Kjell Thorbjörnson (double bass), and Jonny Wartel (tenor sax).

Released on the Footprint Records label.  Jazz from the Gothenburg, Sweden scene.

Available at eMusic.



Portions of the 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.