So 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
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.
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.
David Roitstein & Larry 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.
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).
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.
David Helbock Trio – Aurual 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.
Available at: Amazon
Anna Webber – Percussive Mechanics: 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).
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.
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.
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.
***And Ten More ***
Justin Kauflin – Dedication (Jazz Village)
Felice Clemente Trio – 6:35 am (Crocevia di Suoni Records)
Linda Presgrave – Along the Path (Metropolitan Records)
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)
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.
Makaya McCraven – In the Moment ((International Anthem))
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.
Akua Dixon – Akua Dixon (Self-Produced)
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.
Chamber 3 – Grassroots (Origin Arts)
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.
Five Plus Six – Such Sweet Thunder (Self-Produced)
Art Hirahara – Libations & Meditations (Posi-Tone Records)
Rob Mazurek – Alternate Moon Cycles (International Anthem)
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).
Have a great time digging through the list!
Remember, it’s simple: You like what you like.