Tiny Reviews: Minasi & Berger, Jazz Bigband Graz, & Shims Trio

Tiny Reviews, featuring:  Dom Minasi and Karl Berger Synchronicity, Jazz Bigband Graz Urban Folktales, and Shims Trio And Again.


Dom Minasi and Karl Berger – Synchronicity

Dom Minasi, Karl Berger - "Synchronicity"Appealing duo recording from free jazz vets, guitarist Dom Minasi and vibraphonist/pianist Karl Berger.  Minasi’s inquisitiveness seems to match very well with Berger’s free-floating lines, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a “pretty” album, there is a surreal beauty to this music that proves avant-garde and free jazz need not get all up in the listener’s face to get its point across.  And yet another example of how guitar and vibes make the best jazz marriages… warm bright notes that often hang frozen in the air.  Berger has an established history with improvised and outside music, notably his co-founding the Creative Music Studio with Ornette Coleman.  Minasi has put out an array of recordings over the last decade that show his devotion to free improv music, but more importantly, his willingness to present it through as many facets as he can find.

Your album personnel:  Dom Minasi (guitar) and Karl Berger (vibes, piano).

Released on the Nacht Records label.

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

There’s a bunch of free tracks from other Minasi albums available from his artist profile at AllAboutJazz, courtesy of the artist.

Available at eMusic.  Available at Amazon: MP3


Jazz Bigband Graz – Urban Folktales

jazzbigbandgraz_urbanfolktalesThis recording came out back in August 2012, and now approximately five months later, I’m finding myself increasingly drawn to it.  Some albums have staying power, but Urban Folktales by Jazz Bigband Graz gets incredibly stronger with the passing of time as it reveals all of its dynamic nuances and textures.  The thing to keep in mind as I briefly talk about this album is that it is, truly, first and foremost, a Big Band recording.  Yes, there is a tasteful use of electronic effects and programming, and they do manage to work a theremin, an electric zither, and synthesizers into the action.  But the most prominent characteristics of this recording are the moments of euphoria when saxophones and trombones combine for uplifting passages, and when trumpets and flugelhorns brightly light up the room with a heavenly brilliance, or the intrepid rhythmic adventures that drive some tunes on epic journeys.  Plenty of guests get worked into the fabric of the ensemble for wonderful effect.  “Rêve Africain” is about as beautiful a big band tune as you’ll hear.  Just a thrilling album that will reward listeners who make a sincere effort to spend time with it.

Your album personnel:  Horst-Michael Schaffer (co-director, trumpet, flugelhorn), Heinrich von Kalnein (co-director, soprano & alto saxes, flute), Christoph “Pepe” Auer (alto sax, clarinet), Herbert Berger (tenor sax, alto flute), Martin Harms (baritone sax, bass clarinet, flute), Bernhard Nolf, Andi Pesendorfer, Axel Mayer, David Jarh (trumpet, flugelhorn), Reinhard Summerer, Daniel Riegler (trombone), Wolfgang Tischhart (bass trombone), Uli Rennert (keyboards, synthesizers), Barbara Buchholz (theremin), Mattias Loibner (electric hurdy gurdy), Christof Dienz (electric zither), Henning Sieverts (acoustic bass, cello), Gregor Hilbe (drums, electronics, programming), and guests:  Theo Bleckmann (vocals), Hadja Kouyate (vocals), Gianluca Petrella (trombone), Nguyên Lê (electric guitar), Verneri Pohjola (trumpet), Robert Friedl (alto saxophone), Johannes Enders (tenor saxophone), Klaus Gessing (tenor saxophone), Robert Bachner (trombone), and Philip Yaeger (bass trombone).

Stream two album tracks here, on the label site.

Released on the ACT Music label.

Jazz from the Graz, Austria scene.

Available at eMusic.  Available at Amazon: CD | MP3


Shims Trio – And Again

Shims Trio - "And Again"Fast-paced recording by the Shims Trio.  The starting gun goes off just before the first note, and it’s never heard from again.  Tempos are what drives this album, and each trio member puts in his share of sweat equity to get the job done.  Quirky melodies are easy to find, but tough to tie down.  Most pleasing quality of this recording is that even amidst a sea of apparent randomness, the trio performs as a cohesive unit, bringing a sense of togetherness to chaotic sound.  Not an easy trick to pull off.  Nifty album.

Your album personnel:  Nathan Eklund (trumpet), Drew Gress (bass), and Don Peretz (drums, percussion).

The album is Self-Produced.

You can stream the album, and purchase it, at the artist bandcamp page.

Available at eMusic.  Available at Amazon: MP3



The material is original to Bird is the Worm, but a portion of my Minasi/Berger review was 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,“ reprint courtesy of eMusic.com, Inc.
© 2012  eMusic.com, Inc.

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