Recapping the Best of 2011 (Part 3): Will Collier Septet, Joel Harrison String Choir, Tin/Bag and Adam Baldych


Recapping the Best of 2011, featuring:  Will Collier Septet, Joel Harrison String Choir, Tin/Bag (Kris Tyner & Mike Baggetta), and Adam Baldych Damage Control.



Will Collier Septet – Those Who Wait

It is so refreshing to encounter a jazz ensemble who sounds as if they’d get along swimmingly back in the sixties, yet are in possession of a sound that is assuredly contemporary.  On both Those Who Wait, and its predecessor Everybody Loves, Will Collier strings together compositions that even at their most melancholy still sing of sunny days and hope for better times.

Your album personnel:  Will Collier (double bass), Ed Sheldrake (piano), Mike Lesirge (alto sax), Ben Somers (tenor sax), Bob Dowell (trombone), Joe Auckland (trumpet), and Ben Reynolds (drums).

While each of the septet’s members’ solos are quite lovely, it’s when they all come together, their sounds weaving around one another, that are the pinnacle moments of the album.  In some ways, Those Who Wait is a deceptively simple album.  I find myself struggling a bit to pinpoint exactly why this is an exceptional album.  The quality musicianship would be one; the septet doesn’t appear to have a weak link.  The joyfulness of modern jazz voices with two feet planted firmly in the jazz genre is another element of this album’s perfection.  The technical detail of the compositions that are almost hypnotically engaging, yet motivate more to dance than to introspective analysis would be another good point.  Ultimately, it all leads to an inspiring recording that has to be placed near the top of the Best of 2011 list.

Released on the F-IRE Collective label.  Jazz from the London scene.

A free album track is available at the AllAboutJazz site, courtesy of the artists and label.

Available at Amazon: MP3


Joel Harrison String Choir – The Music of Paul Motian

It really makes sense that Joel Harrison would record an album of Motian compositions.  Joel’s guitar on his own albums falls right into that Paul Motian Halloween Jazz sound… a little bit ominous and scary while simultaneously a lot of fun.

Your album personnel: Christian Howes (violin), Sam Bardfeld (violin), Mat Maneri (viola), Peter Ugrin (viola), Dana Leong (violincello), Joel Harrison (guitar), and Liberty Ellman (guitar).

For this recording, Joel adds an extra guitar, two violins, two violas, and a cello for a mesmerizing set of tunes that alternate between being very pretty and mildly threatening.  The end result is a very compelling album.

Recorded not long before Paul Motian’s passing, the album carries an additional weightiness, as any reminder of a sad loss will do, but being as beating hearts are pretty much open season for string ensembles, there’s an emotional depth that is undeniable.

Released on the Sunnyside Records label.

Listen to more of the album on Sunnyside’s bandcamp page.

Available at Amazon: CD | MP3


Tin/Bag – Bridges

Tin/Bag is a duo of trumpeter Kris Tiner and guitarist Mike Baggetta.  This isn’t their first duo album together, and it shows.  And it’s easy to see why they enjoy working together.  Each on their respective instruments, they have an inquisitive style, music curiosity that isn’t so much interested about what lies around the next corner as an obsession in viewing the corner from unusual perspectives.  It renders a feeling of wandering great distances without ever traveling very far from home.

They work together even when they don’t sound on the same page.  It’s as if their familiarity with one another’s style leads to an understanding of what the other is thinking, but instead of using that as a planning tool for improvisation, the familiarity is seen as more useful as establishing trust.  It’s why it can appear that they’re not reading off the same page, yet still never come close to stepping on each others toes or getting hopelessly separated.  It makes for an odd cohesion; they’re not bonded together by composition so much as held together by the magnetism of their improvisations.

It’s a peaceful album of modern jazz.  Self-Produced, jazz from the Boston & New York scenes.

Stream the album in full on the Tin/Bag bandcamp page.

Download a free album track from AllAboutJazz, courtesy of the artists.

Available at Amazon: CD | MP3


Adam Baldych Damage Control – Magical Theatre

Violinist Adam Baldych has recorded an odd little album here, one that occupies a space that has advanced the rock-fusion of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, but has substituted out the 70s rock for a modern indie-rock sound.  Inspired by Polish traditional music, classical, and European trends in jazz, the end result is a very intense album that arguably may be standing outside the jazz tent and looking in.

The best example of what I’m talking about is embodied in the second track on the album, “The Room of Fear.”

It opens with a sound that would stand up against anything similar put out on ECM (moody world-jazz languid tunes), Baldych’s violin soars over a quick step hop and skip rhythm section while guitar spurts out choppy chords for texture.  There’s an ebb and flow to the tune.  When Baldych’s goes from up-tempo to silence, bass solos in with frenetic bursts of sound, drums tapping its toes barely heard, before Adam and the gang comes back in for the grand finale.  Ultimately, it might have more in common with Andrew Bird or Camper Van Beethoven than fellow modern jazz violinist Mark Feldman.  It’s also a thrilling tune, the strongest on the album.

But then after the strong fusion track of “Party Place”, Adam presents us with a straight-ahead modern jazz piece in “Princess Ballet Room”, where trumpet and piano alternate between float and frenzy, with Baldych’s violin the jazz ballad foundation.  But just in case anyone started getting the idea in their head that this was an indicator of things to come, the guitar brings in the wah-wah pedal on the following track “Devil’s Kitchen”, and so much for trying to pigeon-hole this wonderfully complex album.

Your personnel for the album: Adam Baldych (violin), Josh Lawrence (trumpet), Pawel Tomaszewski (piano), Andrzej Gondek (guitar), Piotr Zaczek (bass), Jakub Cywiski (upright bass), Michal Bryndal (drums), and Adam Sak (background guitar).

Released on the Eleet Records label, which might actually be Adam’s own label.  Adam Baldych has relocated to NYC, but its more evidence of the rich jazz coming from Poland.

A free album track is available on the AllAboutJazz site, courtesy of the artist.

Available at Amazon: MP3