Dec 21 2013
Tiny Reviews edition!
Featuring: Samuel Blaser Consort in Motion A Mirror to Machaut, Robert Hurst BoB: A Palindrome, and Shannon Graham Shannon Graham & the Storytellers.
Samuel Blaser Consort in Motion – A Mirror to Machaut
Trombonist Samuel Blaser rarely takes the easy road. Doesn’t matter whether you’re talking compositions or improvisational delivery. The thing is, while his music is often atypical and complex, it’s not all that difficult to connect with. On his newest, A Mirror to Machaut, he finds a middle ground between experimental jazz and medieval court music (via Machaut & Dufay). Artistic intentions aside, it’s a music of a particular glowing beauty, steeped with deep moments, but so easy to just kick back to and drift off peaceably. Kind of stunning at times, in a laid back way.
Your album personnel: Samuel Blaser (trombone), Drew Gress (double bass), Russ Lossing (piano, Rhodes, Wurlitzer), Gerry Hemingway (drums, percussion), and Joachim Badenhorst (tenor sax, clarinet, bass clarinet).
Released on Songlines Recordings.
Jazz from the Berlin scene.
Robert Hurst – BoB: A Palindrome
The full scope of this gem of an album doesn’t reveal itself into the home stretch is in sight. Featuring a seriously all-star lineup, this straight-ahead jazz album constantly changes the lens through which the nature of straight-ahead is viewed. This, actually, makes sense considering that Robert Hurst‘s BoB: A Palidrome is an album that has been evolving over the course of decades. Some tracks are rooted in a modern post-bop, but others call back to other times.
There’s opening track “3 for Lawrence,” with the James Moody Last Train from Overbrook contrast of melodic and harmonic lightness set against a tempo that elicits a heavier emotional reaction. The three-part “Middle Passage Suite” evokes the spiritual jazz-avant-garde nexus of John Coltrane. And then there’s “Picked From Nick” and “Indiscreet In Da Street,” of which the former has the bright notes of the modern nu-soul jazz sound, and the latter is a nifty straight-ahead bop session that gives plenty room for solos over a tight rhythm section.
A case where inventiveness is reflected in the strength of the musicianship and the lengths to which it allows the artists to stretch out, all the while keeping both feet firmly entrenched in jazz territory.
Your album personnel: Robert Hurst (bass), Branford Marsalis (tenor & soprano saxes), Robert Glasper (piano, Fender Rhodes), Adam Rudolph (percussion), Marcus Belgrave (trumpet, flugelhorn), Bennie Maupin (alto flute, bass clarinet, tenor & soprano saxes), and Jeff “Tain” Watts (drums).
Released on BeBob Records, which is Hurst’s Self-Produced label.
Jazz from the Detroit scene.
Shannon Graham – Shannon Graham and The Storytellers
Debut album from Shannon Graham. Some jazz, some classical, some folk, some pop… and all of it mesmerizing in the way it remains engagingly lyrical whether speaking in soothing tones or swerving like a car chase movie scene. Fans of Matt Ulery’s chamber jazz works should probably spend some time checking this out, though where Ulery’s music has a classical stateliness at its expansive roots, Shannon Graham and The Storytellers is more inclined to cinematic flair and its character more expressive in its varied branches and stems.
Your album personnel: Shannon Graham (sax, viola, vocals), Kelly Lefaive (violin, spoken word), Aline Homzy (violin), Jessica Deutsch (viola), James Ervin (trumpet), Aidan Sibley (trombone), Tom Fleming (guitar), Chris Pruden (piano), Matt Fong (bass), and Evan Cartwright (drums). Most members contribute to the choir sections.
This album is Self-Produced.
Jazz from the Toronto scene.
Portions of the above 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,“ “New Arrivals Jazz Picks,“ and “New Arrivals Jazz Picks,“ reprints courtesy of eMusic.com, Inc.
© 2013 eMusic.com, Inc.
As always, my sincere thanks to eMusic for the gig. Cheers.