New Jazz Releases – 9/25/2023
So it’s my turn to review the new releases for this week. I had the privilege and honor of being able to pick and choose from a huge number of CDs in our New Bin that have recently arrived. Therefore, the following may inadvertently or vertently reflect my musical taste. Sorry I didn’t have time to review more, but busy week with Maqueque, Mad Jazz Festival, and John D’earth’s CD release show. Enjoy
Todd Sickafoose “Bear Proof” Secret Hatch Records, with Jenny Scheinman – violin , Adam Levy – guitar , Erik Deutsch – piano , Ben Goldberg – clarinet , Kirk Knuffke – cornet , Rob Reich – accordion , Allison Miller – drums , Todd Sickafoose – acoustic bass .
Admittedly I knew I’d like this album as soon as I saw it. It’s basically an augmented version of Allison Miller’s great Boom Tic Boom band, which is a favorite of mine. Todd says it’s an hour long composition meant to be listened to straight through, and recorded the same way. But they did divide it into various tracks, and each segment seems distinctive from the rest. It has at times a symphonic sound, given the large group and the instrumentation. I think everyone will find something to like about it. I found a lot. I plan to play at least play tracks 1-4 together, and maybe 6-9 as well. Todd says this can be viewed as a “surreal meditation on Boom or Bust.” Don’t know about that but it does certainly paint a picture of some kind.
Jeff Lederer with Mary LaRose, “Schoenberg on the Beach,” Littlemusic, with Jeff Lederer clarinet and flute, Patricia Brennan vibes, Hank Roberts cello, Michael Formanek bass, and Matt Wilson drums.
Jeff Lederer is another favorite of mine, largely because of the great sense of humor he brings to his music. That humor is less evident here than on other albums and live performances (he’s played in town twice, with Joe Fonda’s group and leading a big band playing Allison Miller’s music). Still, it comes through in these quirky arrangements of avant-classical composer Arnold Schoenberg. I was a little worried about hearing Lederer’s wife, Mary LaRose singing translations of German poetry, but I’m enjoying it. The great accompaniment helps, especially up and coming vibes player Patricia Brennan, who adds an interesting moodiness to parts.
Russ Lossing and King Vulture, “Alternate Side Parking Music”, Aqua piazz records, with Lossing on keyboards, Adam Kolkeron saxes and bass clarinet, Matt Pavolka bass, Dayeon Seok drums.
Russ Lossing is a veteran reed man who played in Paul Motian’s quintet for many years, and now has 18 albums under his name. I’ve enjoyed his music here and there over the years, but never really dug into his catalog, which is impressive. He explains the title of this cd as coming from the fact that he composed most of the songs in his car, while he was double parked in Manhattan waiting for the street sweeper to go by on the alternating days that they clean the streets there. Thus such song titles as Honk, Move it Over, and Parallel Park. As a result, the music can be kind of jagged and cacophonous, but with some great soloing and moments of funk and swing. Not for everyone, but I love the combo of bass clarinet and Fender Rhodes on some tunes.
Denin Slage-Koch, “It Comes in Waves,” self-produced, with Slage-Koch guitar, Ryan Keberle trombone, Shane Endsley trumpet, and an unfamiliar rhythm section.
Pronounce his name however you like, he won’t mind. Koch is a fine young guitarist who teaches at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, so maybe we’ll see him at Big Ears. This is an actual jazz album you’ll be happy to know, and a good one. I like most everything Ryan Keberle does, as he always plays and composes with passion and a social conscious. This album boasts lush, rich arrangements of Koch’s compositions, and it swings. The one cover is Tears For Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Never thought I’d hear that but it’s kind of nice.
Triogram, “Triogram,” Circle Theory Media, with Will Lyle bass, Bijan Taghavi piano and Kofi Shepsu drums.A
This is a killer little trio album. Triogram is the name of the group and the album, so it’s meant to be a collective effort. Richmond based drummer Kofi Shepsu is familiar to many in the C’ville area through his frequent work with Charles Owens, John D’earth and others. Most recently he backed up vocalist Tina Hashemi at the Mad Jazz Festival. Kofi tells me that although it’s a collective, the bassist Will Lyle is the driving force behind the group. I don’t know him or the pianist, but they’re all great. Kofi is always tasteful, swinging and never overpowering. Check his work out on the Afro Cuban “Asojano,”and the original “Trap.” A couple of originals and several covers, all very well done.
Sky, Will Bernard and Beth Custer, Dreck to Disk Records, Will Bernard guitar, Beth Custer clarinets and vocals.
This is a quite lovely collection of short (2-3 minute) pieces, about half by Bernard and half by Custer. Bernard is a favorite of many of us dj’s for his funky, quirky guitar playing, though his work here is largely quiet, sometimes acoustic. Custer is a west coast-based musician and contributes some subtle vocals and great clarinet and bass clarinet work. These are pretty mellow, ethereal tunes, but check out “Not Necessarily Stoned” for some of Will’s signature bluesy sound.