Tiny Reviews – Recapping the Best of 2011 (Part 5)

Featuring Tiny Reviews of Jeff Gauthier, Emilio Marinelli Trio, Mark Weinstein, and Matthew Halsall.


Jeff Gauthier – Open Source

Jeff Gauthier ain’t your typical violinist.  His albums aren’t your typical jazz recordings.  When it comes to jazz violin and composition, he’s quite singular.  His 2011 release Open Source does nothing to dispel that reputation.

Your album personnel:  Jeff Gauthier (violin, electric violin, effects), John Fumo (trumpet, effects), Nels Cline (electric & classical guitar, effects) David Witham (piano, keyboards, effects), Joel Hamilton (bass), and Alex Cline (drums, percussion).

Gauthier’s compositions are full of sharp curves and crooked angles, roads paved with dissonance and electronic effects, artists driving their instruments while filled with road rage, tires screeching and the occasional sideswipe and clash of bumpers.

And then there’s moments of respite, when long graceful violin notes glide over elegant piano lines, rolling hill of bass, and floating trumpet calls, drums chattering happily of calm days and quiet nights.

Open Source really spoke to me more than past Gauthier albums, and it was the dispersal of peacefulness amongst the chaos, its precise placement, that pulled me right into the recording.  Gauthier has a strong discography under his belt, and I’m thrilled that he found a way to top it.

Released on the Cryptogramophone label, which Gauthier helped found.  Jazz from the L.A. scene.

Available on Amazon: CD | MP3


Emilio Marinelli Trio – Clouds Digger

I have a difficult time exactly putting my finger on what I love about the Emilio Marinelli Trio‘s Clouds Digger.  Ultimately, I’ve decided to chalk it up to the observation that, here, here is a simple yet expressive piano trio jazz album that has all the joyous charm and exuberance that I celebrate about jazz every day.  Tunes that invoke happiness even when it’s a sad song, inventiveness with the way Emilio tackles the songs of others and makes it his own with his own personal style of view, and experimentation with prepared piano stringing and strong improvisation.

Your album personnel: Emilio Marinelli (piano), Amin Zarrinchang (bass), and Matteo Fraboni (drums).

Whether it’s his clever take on covers of the Police’s “Message in a Bottle” or Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” or his flirtation with Pharoah Sanders epic-like adventures in world jazz or introspective jaunts as only a piano trio can take, Marinelli has an exuberant voice that’s tough not to like.

Released on the Dodicilune label.  Jazz from the Fano, Italy scene, in the “Regione Marche.”

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

Available on Amazon: MP3


Mark Weinstein – El Cumbanchero

Giving a modern jazz flute twist to the traditional Cuban form of Charanga, jazz vet Mark Weinstein gifts us an album that is full of warm bouncing tunes and, also, one of the albums of the year.

Your album personnel:  Mark Weinstein (flute), Aruan Ortiz (piano & arrangements), Yunior Terry (bass), Mauricio Herrera (timbales), Yusnier Snchez Bustamante (conga), Francisco Salazar (violin), Everhard Parades (violin), Samuel Marchn (viola), and Brian Sanders (cello).

The element of string quartet on this album is absolutely delightful.  It gives a lush texture to the slower pieces and an mesmerizing frenzy to the up-tempo tracks.  Weinstein, a former jazz trombonist who discovered his love for flute in his early thirties and has dedicated himself to the instrument since then, displays an incisive sharpness in tone which implies force and volume without having to actually deliver it.  It results in the illusion of casual intensity, much like how a boxer can exude the sensation of danger while leaning nonchalantly against a wall, and it gives El Cumbanchero a strength that exudes from its heart rather than its fists.  Said better, Mark’s confident touch on flute precludes him from any unnecessary showy display.  The music is proof of his virtuosity, and he lets the music shine through the compositions.

Speaking of those compositions… Aruan Ortiz handles the arrangements.  Ortiz is described in jazz circles as something of a wunderkind.  His contribution to this album does nothing to negate that reputation.

If you’re looking for a foothold in the Latin Jazz subgenre, this would be a great choice.

Released on the Jazzheads label.  Jazz from the Glen Ridge, NJ scene.

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

Stream music from the album on Mark’s myspace page.

Available on Amazon: CD | MP3


Matthew Halsall – On the Go

Trumpeter Matthew Halsall burst onto the (recording) scene a couple years ago and has proven himself incapable so far of putting out anything less than a great album.  2011’s On the Go keeps his impressive streak alive.

Fully embracing Miles Davis’s modal jazz style (focusing more on scales and their intervals than on chord progressions for soloing), Halsall has a throwback sound of the cool smoky jazz clubs of the bop era, but his voicing of it sounds fresh and current.

Your album personnel: Matthew Halsall (trumpet), Nat Birchall (tenor sax), Adam Fairhall (piano), Gavin Barras (bass), and Gaz Hughes (drums).  Rachael Gladwin guests on harp on the fourth track.

Halsall has an easy stroll on trumpet, laid back and confident.  Arrangements are nicely organized; everyone gets their say.  With his arrangements, Halsall builds a sense of anticipation from section to section, dividing the listener’s attention between what is happening now and what’s next to come.  Frequent collaborator Birchall has a symbiotic music relationship with Halsall, and their pairing is one that I never tire of.  Fairhall on piano doesn’t get enough recognition for his work on Halsall recordings; if we follow the analogy of Halsall playing the Miles Davis role and Birchall as Coltrane, then Fairhall’s style of building drama through slight variances in repetition would make him McCoy Tyner.  I hesitate to reference old school artists when describing current musicians, but they really make it hard not to.  Regardless, these are wonderfully fresh voices making their own mark on the scene.

Released on the Gondwana Records label.  Jazz from the Manchester, UK scene.

Available on Amazon: CD | MP3