This is Jazz Today: Hereward, Casey Golden, Lisanne Tremblay & more!

January 22, 2015


BitW square avatarSo here we are.  As you (hopefully) read in a previous column, my run on eMusic & Wondering Sound is now over.  You can read about what’s what, here, w/this LINK.  For the time being, as I search for a new home for my weekly jazz recommendations column, I’ll be posting the recs on Bird is the Worm.

About those recommendations…

Welcome to the new year.  As with past years, I’ll be scooping up many albums that dropped between now and a month ago, when my annual vacation from the new arrivals listings begins so I can focus on year-end assignments.  That means a month’s worth of new releases.  Even during a dead period (as the end of the year often is), that’s a huge stack to sort through, but that also means you’ll get a pretty deep selection this week.  Several of the albums that fall in the “bottom half” of the column could’ve just as easily been featured… and, perhaps, will receive more words of recommendation in the near future.

2015 is off to a great start.

Now, let’s begin…

*** The Featured Ten ***


Hereward – Hereward

Hereward - "Hereward"It makes sense that Brady Millard-Kish‘s debut would sound like this.  His New Orleans roots inform the music with a view of many genres and sounds becoming one.  This mix of modern jazz, post-rock, chamber, pop, etc, isn’t unlike the approach of fellow-N.O. musician Cliff Hines and his captivating Wanderlust.  The sound, on the other hand, clearly reflects his current Pacific-Northwest environs, falling right in line with Cellar & Point and Blue Cranes.  Melodically heartbreaking, rhythmically mesmerizing, and a presence like the sweetest lullaby you’ve ever heard.  Pick of the Week.

This album is Self-Produced.  Visit the artist site.

Available at:  CDBaby | eMusic | Amazon


Casey Golden Trio – Outliers

Casey Golden Trio - "Outliers"Sometimes you’ve got a melody as thesis statement and sometimes it gets strung out like a trail winding through the hills, always within sight but an uncertainty where it’ll take you.  Pianist Casey Golden‘s newest album is of the latter group, and it’s why his simple piano trio recording is so damn absorbing.  Those melodies are more like guideposts to some exciting travel routes.  Two feet in modern jazz territory; it’s gonna be more cerebral than swing, but the thoughtfulness the trio puts into each tune makes it a winner.

Released on Scrampion Records.  Visit the artist site.

Available at:  Bandcamp | eMusic | CDBaby | Amazon


David Roitstein & Larry Koonse – Conversations

Roitstein Koonse - "Conversations"This is one of those duo collaborations when two individual voices speak as one instrument and yet the result is multiple conversation lines… each of the collaborators apart and their notes in unison.  Guitarist Koonse and pianist Roitstein provide just such a series of dialogues, and whether laid back or kicking up a little dust, the music is just sublime.  Peaceful and lively, both.  Everybody needs music like this for a lazy Sunday morning, when the whole city is at rest and quiet sounds are needed to fill quiet rooms.

Released on Jazz Compass.  Visit the artist site & site.

Available at:  eMusic | Amazon


Aaron Goldberg – The Now

Aaron Goldberg - "The Now"With his longtime trio of bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland at his side, pianist Aaron Goldberg offers up a solid new piano trio recording, finding the right mix of compositional structure and improvisational effusiveness.  The resonance of each tune is strong, but it’s the diversity of expression that makes the album stand out.  Read more about why I recommend this album (LINK).

Released on Sunnyside Records.  Visit the artist site.

Available at:  Bandcamp | Amazon CD/MP3 | eMusic


Lisanne Tremblay – Violinization

Lisanne Tremblay - "Violinization"Absorbing debut from violinist Lisanne Tremblay.  Her quartet (violin, piano, bass, drums) switches things up in terms of the jazz perspective they present, but Tremblay’s violin maintains a remarkably consistent voice despite the scene changes.  The end result is that a familiarity is bred with her particular voice throughout an album that never sits still in presenting unexpected views.  There’s some post-bop, some contemporary, some avant-garde(ish) angularity and some jazz-folk.  Somehow the quartet wraps it up into a neat bundle.

Released on Inner Circle Music.  Visit the artist site.

Available at:  eMusic | CDBaby | Amazon


David Helbock Trio – Aurual Colors

David Helbock - "Aural Colors"David Helbock develops a nice talkative demeanor on his newest.  It’s a relatively straight-ahead affair, especially compared to his previous release, Think of Two, a tribute to the music of Monk and Hermeto Pascoal, which used a huge arsenal of eccentric instruments to go along with the unconventional compositions of the unconventional artists.  This time around, aside from a string of Arnold Schoenberg compositions, it’s Helbock originals and a straight trio of piano, drums and bass ukulele (well, there had to be something strange in there somewhere).  Strong melodies, nice dialog between the trio members, and refreshing infusions of blues and gospel along the way.

Released on Traumton Records.  Visit the artist site.

Available at: Amazon


Anna Webber – Percussive Mechanics: Refraction

Anna Webber - "Refraction"Returning with the same cast that offered up the excellent 2013 release Percussive Mechanics, Anna Webber crafts Refraction with a similar method of coalescing a disassembled collection of moving parts into a form of synchronized chaos where melodic fragments thrive and prosper.  Read more about why I recommend this album (LINK).

Released on Pirouet Records.  Visit the artist site.

Available at: eMusic | Amazon CD


Manatee – Look the Other Way

Manatee - "Look the Other Way"The 11-piece ensemble, Manatee comes heavy with the wind instruments, especially sax, and they put the numbers to good use, offering up a big sound with warm, wide harmonies.  The thing that separates the album from the pack, however, is the way the group develops tempos that shape the music into something catchy and, at times, danceable.  The Ontario-based ensemble’s mix of post-jazz, modern bop and indie-pop isn’t at all unlike some of the cutting edge bands hailing from the Swedish countryside.  It’s their debut.  Hopefully it’s not their last.  Fun album.

The album is Self-Produced.  Visit the artist site.

Available at:  eMusic | Bandcamp | CDBaby | Amazon


Sweet Defeat – Sweet Defeat

Sweet Defeat - "Sweet Defeat"This is a strange one.  Sweet Defeat is a trio of Tom Wouters on reeds, Lode Vercampt on cello and Bert Dockx on electric guitar.  Carried along by punctuated tempos, the trio switches between a seaside ease, an incisive edge and a fierce burn.  This is whimsical music delivered with a deadpan facade.  And somehow, amidst all of that, the trio tries to melt some hearts by sneaking in beautiful melodic passages.  Very cool, plenty different.

Released on El Negocito Records.  Visit the artist site.

Available at:  Bandcamp | eMusic | CDBaby | Amazon


Duane Eubanks Quintet – Things Of That Particular Nature

Duane Eubanks Quintet - "Things Of That Particular Nature"Solid straight-ahead recording from trumpeter Duane Eubanks, who returns to session leader after a long hiatus.  There’s a decent contemporary piece thrown in, but mostly we’re talking some sort of bop… hard bop, post-bop, whatever bop, it’s all great stuff.  The most notable member of the sextet has to be pianist Marc Cary, who’s been lighting up the scene recently, however vibraphonist Steve Nelson brings a warmth to the session that brightens melodies and puts a spring in the tempo’s step.  Just excellent musicianship from first note to last.

Released on Sunnyside Records.  Visit the artist site.

Available at:  Bandcamp | eMusic | Amazon


 ***And Ten More ***


Justin Kauflin – Dedication (Jazz Village)

Justin Kauflin - "Dedication"Absolutely resonant piano session from Kauflin. Inspired use of two different guitarists.  The kind of tunes that never get old no matter how many times you hit the play button.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: Amazon


Felice Clemente Trio – 6:35 am (Crocevia di Suoni Records)

Felice Clemente - "6.35 am"Nifty sax trio recording. Maintains an alluring flow while sticking to up-tempo pieces. Straight-forward, likable.

Artist site | Buy: eMusicAmazon


Linda Presgrave – Along the Path (Metropolitan Records)

Linda Presgrave - "Along the Path"Nice easy-going cadence whether throwing out heat or blanketing the room in moonlight. Broken into suites to reflect her travels. Presgrave’s piano synchs in nicely with drummer Allison Miller on this trio set (w/some guest saxophonists).

No artist site | Buy: Amazon


George Colligan – Risky Notion (Origin Arts)

George Colligan - "Risky Notion"Strong sense of locomotion on the newest by Colligan. A quartet with two saxophonists (plus, guest trumpeter) provides melodies more stomp than bop. Nice follow-up to his last recording, The Endless Mysteries, when he’s at the piano.

Artist site | Buy: Amazon


Makaya McCraven – In the Moment ((International Anthem))

Makaya McCraven - "In the Moment"On-the-spot rhythms are the feature presentation on McCraven’s compilation of improvised tracks culled from live sets over a year’s stretch. He’s joined by an all-star line-up of Chicago’s best. A whole bunch of brief spurts of friendly conversation that’s often catchy as hell.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: BandcampeMusicAmazon


Akua Dixon – Akua Dixon (Self-Produced)

Akua Dixon - "Akua Dixon"Personable session from cellist Dixon, joined by her string quartet.  Lively take on Mingus’s “Haitian Fight Song” and sweetly melodic touch to “Moon River” are highlights.  Develops some more action with takes on Ellington, Strayhorn and Latin standards.

Artist site | Buy: CDBabyAmazon


Chamber 3 – Grassroots (Origin Arts)

Chamber 3 - "Grassroots"Nifty trio set of guitar, sax and drums (plus guest bassist).  Straight-ahead modern set, planted firmly in that shimmery post-bop style typical of the Pacific Northwest scene.  Differentiation in the details develops something a little less ordinary.

Artist site | Buy: Amazon


Five Plus Six – Such Sweet Thunder (Self-Produced)

Five Plus Six - "Such Sweet Thunder"Vance Thomposon’s big band sticks to the compositions of the masters. Develops a big sound, full of life. Nothing unconventional, but quirky traits rise to the top and provide some real personality.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: eMusicCDBabyAmazon


Art Hirahara – Libations & Meditations (Posi-Tone Records)

Art Hirahara - "Libations & Meditations"Excellent straight-ahead piano session. Hirahara’s trio gets every tempo to crackle with electricity, melodies glitter like stars. This recording keeps getting better to my ears with each listen.

Artist site | Listen | Buy: Amazon


Rob Mazurek – Alternate Moon Cycles (International Anthem)

Rob Mazurek - "Alternate Moon Cycles"Few as creatively daring as Mazurek. On his newest, it’s a crosshatch of In a Silent Way and shoegaze. A seriously captivating album. Read more about why I recommend this album (LINK).

Artist site | Listen | Buy: BandcampeMusicAmazon+MP3



Have a great time digging through the list!

Remember, it’s simple:  You like what you like.


Recommended: Anna Webber – “Percussive Mechanics: Refraction”

January 21, 2015


Anna Webber - "Refraction"Returning with the same cast that offered up the excellent 2013 release Percussive Mechanics, Anna Webber offers up with Refraction a similar method of coalescing a disassembled collection of moving parts into a form of synchronized chaos where melodic fragments thrive and prosper.  Though each of the album’s seven songs possess a shape and form that is perpetually in a state of flux, Webber’s ensemble directs the action in a way that guarantees a strangely melodic tunefulness will shine right on through.

“Five (Action)” is a brooding tune with a heavy step, but the lumbering tempo is belied by the darting motion of the wind instruments.  The mix of motions is where this ensemble excels.

Atop a strong current of rolling tempos, “Tacos Wyoming” is all about the melodic shapeshifting.  Though shape and form change from moment to moment, the melody’s presence is felt always.

“Climbing On Mirrors” builds from an amicable chatter to an intense wail, whereas “Theodore” shifts between expressions of varying dissonance, as if the tempo were run through a hyperactive blender.

It’s interesting how the ensemble is able to develop a rather beguiling motion on “The All Pro 3 Speed,” even though, for all intents and purposes, it’s a tune meant to kick up all kinds of turbulence.  There’s an interlude when it adopts a distant peace, and, of course, it enters, eventually, into a strong melodic passage, but this is one of the songs where the dissonance rules the day.

The album ends with the roiling tempo of “Friction – Vif (Reflection),” a tune that builds from a drone up to a roar before blossoming into a pulsing cadence and a melodic theme that enjoys the cyclical pattern of chasing its own tail in increasingly snugger confines.

There should be a law that this ensemble has to record something new every year.  First Percussive Mechanics and, now, Refraction illustrate just how creatively rewarding such a legal action would be.

Your album personnel:  Anna Webber (flute, alto flute, tenor sax), James Wylie (clarinet, alto sax), Julius Heise (vibraphone, marimba), Elias Stemeseder (piano), Igor Spallati (bass), Max Andrzejewski (drums, marimba) and Martin Kruemmling (drums).

Released on Pirouet Records.

Jazz from the Brooklyn scene.

Available at:  eMusic | Amazon CD


Anna Webber - "Percussive Mechanics"As mentioned above, Webber’s 2013 release, Percussive Mechanics, was one of the best things to come out that year.  It received the #8 slot on the Bird is the Worm Best of 2013 list.  And I gotta tell ya, I still think it’s something special.  You can read my original recommendation, here –> (LINK).


Recommended: Aaron Goldberg – “The Now”

January 20, 2015


Aaron Goldberg - "The Now"For what amounts to a straight-ahead modern piano trio recording, The Now doesn’t exactly come packaged in a neat bundle.  But considering that the inspiration for the newest from pianist Aaron Goldberg is a respect and appreciation for the transitory nature of improvisational creativity and the need to exist in the present moment to best express it, this relative lack of cohesion may not only be intentional, but also necessary.  With his longtime trio of bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland at his side, Goldberg carves out a set of tunes that share some common bonds, but stand alone, each to themselves.

Album-opener “Trocando em Miudos” is absolutely resonant.  It expresses itself patiently and peacefully and emanates a powerful warmth from within.  It’s one of three Brazilian compositions on the album, and Goldberg gives each its own voice.

The simmering “Triste Bahia da Guanabara” and the introspective “Wind in the Night” show that the sublime can take many forms.  “E-Land” gets back to the resonance of the opener, but kicks up the tempo a bit.  This, along with slow boil of Toninho Horta’s “Francisca,” are emblematic of they way Goldberg keeps switching things up to make what might have been common stand completely apart.

The upbeat “Yoyo” is all about the sunny attitude.  Goldberg’s renditions of Charlie Parker’s “Perhaps” and Konitz/Marsh’s “Background Music” honor the originals with chipper tempos and a melodic playfulness, while also drawing emphasis to the individual motions of each that speak to the heart of the matter.  The exciting “One’s a Crowd” keeps the pulse rate up and finds a way to express both structural composure and improvisational effusiveness.

The album ends with the somber “One Life.”  Guest Kurt Rosenwinkel brings that same potent mix of melancholy and combustion that lent so much personality to his involvement with the Brian Blade Fellowship.  It’s an evocative way to end an album that doesn’t limit the ways it chooses to express itself.

Your album personnel:  Aaron Goldberg (piano), Reuben Rogers (bass), Eric Harland (drums) and guest:  Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar).

Released on Sunnyside Records.

Jazz from NYC.

Available at:  Bandcamp | Amazon CD/MP3 | eMusic


Recommended: David Mengual Free Spirits Big Band – “Vertebrats”

January 19, 2015


David Mengual - "Vertebrats"I’ve always had a thing for the music of David Mengual.  The term “free spirits” is very applicable to his music.  No matter the size of the ensemble, it possesses a lightness and a flowing motion that I always take to.  His newest, Vertebrats, an album that incorporates both an octet and big band formation, holds true to form.  Consisting of six different suites that all snap neatly into place, Mengual displays his ability to convey an orchestral grace to music with a pop music sensibility.  With pianist Toni Vaquer given the role of arranger and, in some instances, composer, the David Mengual Free Spirits Big Band eases its way through 32 tunes, originals and interpretations, short pieces and extended, and covering the expanse of jazz, rock, and classical.

The album opens with the eminent grace of “Canicas,” “En Patufet i sa lletuga” and “L’Ira del Bosc.”  All short pieces that have a lightness and flowing motion that accentuates a humble beauty.  It’s a quality that I associate most often with Mengual’s music.

Not uncommon are the dramatic shifts into a sense of urgency.  This happens here with fourth track “El Resumen,” which signals the beginning of surges of intensity, bouts of dissonance and thick introspective drifts.

The ensemble shifts into a new gear, starting with “Dimonis fent foguerons.”  They retain much of the intensity developed in the previous section, but now come together and focus on patient, lovely expressions of melody while taking the care to wrap them up carefully in thick, warm harmonies.  There’s no less drama than the previous section… it just coalesces where the previous section dispersed or collided.

After a short interlude of a straight-ahead jazz tune (“Plaga de ratas siguiendo a flautista enfermo”) and one more of the free variety (“Las crónicas de Saturno”), the album settles back into one of orchestral grace.  And, then, typical of Mengual’s sense of adventure, this ensemble begins a medley of classic rock tunes from Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix and The Beatles, before ending the album with the New Orleans inspired “Himne.”

Fun moments, beautiful moments, both, to be discovered on this enjoyable recording.  Go check it out.

Your album personnel:  David Mengual (director), Alvar Monfort, Natsuko Sugao (trumpet, flugelhorn), Ivan Gonzalez (trumpet, French horn), Joan Mas (alto sax), Miguel “Pintxo” Villar (alto, soprano sax), Gonzalo Levin (tenor sax, flute), Juan Saiz (flute), Aram Montagut, Dario Garcia (trombones), Amaiur Gonzalez (tuba), Enric Peinado (guitar, cavaquinho), Lina Lomanto, Toni Vaquer (piano, Hammond organ), Alex Reviriego (double bass), Josema Martín, Oriol Roca (drums, percussion), Roser Farré, Maria Ibáñez (violins), Alicia Domínguez (viola), Margarida Mariño (cello), Marcel-lí Bayer, Jordi Santanach (clarinets), Pau Domenech (bass clarinet) and Alfonso Fernandez Vargas (bassoon).

And for more listening, follow this LINK to Vaquer’s Soundcloud page, where he streams the “rock ‘n roll suite.”

Released in 2014 on Bebyne Records.

Jazz from the Barcelona scene.

Available at: eMusic | Amazon MP3


Recommended: David Ullmann 8 – “Corduroy”

January 17, 2015


David Ullmann - "Corduroy"Using the thought & form of 1970s TV show theme songs as his inspiration point, guitarist David Ullmann put together one of the more melodically rich albums in 2014.  The melodies on Corduroy have a memorable quality that rivals those of that decade’s classic themes.  However, what seals the deal is Ullmann’s thoughtful attention to the way in which harmony pushes the sale of the melodies on an album where, really, the melodies sell themselves.

He opens things with the upbeat “The Chase,” a tune with a hard charging Rockford Files tempo.  Making use of his entire cast, Ullmann builds plenty of room for soloists to step up and drive.  “Ocelot” isn’t far removed, but works a Barney Miller groove instead of a determined beat.  “Papaya,” too, scoots right along, but with a Chico & The Man optimism.

Title-track “Corduroy” takes it nice and easy, some shuffle and some sway and the warm embrace of a Welcome Back, Kotter.  There’s a nifty shift in tempo, too, on “Something You Said,” but here it performs a WKRP switch between a darting motion and smooth glides.  The sadness of “You Can’t Go Back” has an incongruous warmth that fits like a pea in the same pod with M*A*S*H “Suicide is Painless.”

“Champ” staggers into the room, each step an unpredictable one.  But then it gets its engine going and dives headlong into a Starsky & Hutch car chase, especially in the appealing way the different instruments stagger atop one another near its conclusion, intertwining in the most fascinating pattern, much in the same way car engines, crashes, and gun shots blend into the cop show theme groove.

The album ends with “Moving On,” a song that bleeds the imagery of a late-night taxi cab crossing the Queensboro Bridge at the end of its shift and heading down New York streets just beginning to drift off to sleep.  It’s a logical, lovely way to roll the credits on this very fun album.

Your album personnel:  David Ullmann (guitar), Kirk Knuffke (cornet), Brian Drye (trombone), Mike McGinnis (clarinet), Loren Stillman (alto sax), Chris Dingman (vibraphone), Gary Wang (bass) and Vinnie Sperrazza (drums).

Released on Ullmann’s label, Little Sky Records.

Jazz from NYC.

Available at:  eMusic | CDBaby | Amazon CD/MP3