New Jazz Adds – 12/4/2015
New Jazz Adds – 12/4/2015
Geof Bradfield – Our Roots (Origin): Tenor sax man Geof Bradfield explains the premise of this disc as revisiting Clifford Jordan’s tribute to Leadbelly when asked to put together a concert for the Fulton Street Jazz Record Collective. He and the band revisited these classic sounds while honoring the spirit that Jordan had first brought: play the old songs to honor them while adding your own voice which in itself has been influenced by the root without simply copying that root. Bradfield and the rest of the quintet – Marquis Hill (trumpet), Joel Adams (trombone), Clark Sommers (bass) and Dana Hall (drums) – have done just that, both individually and as a unit. The style shows influences of early blues, gospel, jazz, and even harmony, but blend current influences from Africa to Coltrane to create an entrancing hybrid. The program includes five Leadbelly songs, two from Blind Willie Johnson, two traditional folksongs, and three compositions by Geof Bradfield. Everything seems to come together here. Click here to listen to the Quintet’s version of Blind Willie Johnson’s “Motherless Children”.
Joseph Daley (Warren Smith & Scott Robinson) – The Tuba Trio Chronicles (JoDa Music): This disc is dedicated to Daley’s friend and mentor, Sam Rivers. One selection on the disc was composed by Rivers and the rest by Daley. Understanding that relationship, one would not look for simple melody. This is a more melodic offering than many Rivers performances were and that may well owe a lot to having three tubas instead of the more fluid sax. That being said, even if it is easier on the ear, it still outside the melodic standard. Let’s say for the uninitiated, this won’t chase you into a bomb shelter, but you will need to open your mind as well as your ears. I am unable to find a sample from this disc, but click here for a song featuring Sam Rivers and Joseph Daley. Note: this sample is FAR more intense than the music on this particular disc.
Jorrit Dijkstra – Never Odd Or Even (Driff): This is a solo disc, at times with overdubs, but as Dijkstra explains, “…the somewhat uncontrollable element of analog electronics provides me with an aleatoric (gambler’s) framework for improvising.” Dijkstra plays alto sax, lyricon, analog synthesizer and effect pedals. Add this all up and you would/should expect an electronic base and effects, an improvisational spirit, but not necessarily a soundscape that would drive you out of the room. That being said, the music is quite quirky and present a soundtrack often less fixed upon melody. That description may not help much! If you don’t like quirky music, keep on moving; if you’re open to stretching musical boundaries, this may be melodic enough to serve as an entry point though it does stretch boundaries, especially with it’s electronic effects. Click here to listen to a sample from this disc.
Dave Douglas Quintet – Time Travel (Greenleaf Music): I have heard numerous people declare the jazz is dying, but it is people like innovator-educator-composer-trumpeter Dave Douglas who continually demonstrate the untruth of those claims. A frequent collaborator with Joe Lovano, Douglas constantly seeks new combinations of musicians and musical ideas and the Quintet is a terrific example of the vibrancy of jazz and newer players. The Quintet features Matt Mitchell (piano), Linda Oh (bass), Rudy Royston (drums), Jon Irabagon (tenor sax) and, of course, Douglas on trumpet. The interaction of these musicians, especially between Irabagon and Douglas, is stunning. Douglas acknowledges that the focus for this second disc with this group was for the band to “get to something richer as a band, rather than just take turns soloing on a form.” The difference will grab your attention immediately. There are solos to be sure, but the frequent combination of the players soloing and bandmates adding a harmony or second element is striking. Click here to listen to a song from this disc.
Dave Douglas – High Risk (Greenleaf Music): If you wondered about the accuracy of my comments above that Douglas encourages others and he also searches for new combinations and musical outputs, here is an example. Two years after the recording above, Douglas plunged into a predominantly electronic setting and joins forces with Jonathan Maron (electric and synth bass), Mark Guiliana (acoustic and electric drums), and Shigeto (electronics). His trumpet has a large presence, but, once again, each participant makes statements as the disc progresses. There are some segments reminiscent of Miles Davis’ sound, but this is in no way a reprise of Davis’ earlier work. The electronic soundscape and styles are current. Douglas plays beautifully throughout. To my ear, this match is less exciting than the disc above, but you should certainly judge for yourself. Click here to listen to the title song.
Robin Eubanks Mass Line Big Band- More Than Meets The Ear (Fully Altered Media): “The Mass Line Big Band project is the culmination of Robin Eubanks’ year of study and research as the recipient of Research Status from Oberlin College where he has been on faculty since 1998. It was Robin’s goal to write, arrange, and record for large ensemble.” (birdlandjazz.com) All of the songs except one are Eubanks originals rearranged for big band. The exception is “Bill And Vera” which he composed especially to honor his parents. In addition to Eubanks who plays acoustic and electric trombone and percussion pads, the band personnel includes Antonio Hart (lead alto sax), Alex Cummings (alto, soprano sax), Marcus Strickland and Bobby LaVell (tenor sax), Lauren Sevian (baritone, bass clarinet), Lew Soloff (lead trumpet), Alex Sipiagin, Duane Eubanks and Aaron Janik (trumpets), Jason Jackson (lead trombone), James Burton, Jennifer Wharton, and Douglas Purviance (trombone), Glenn Zaleski (piano), Mike King (organ), David Stillman (percussion), and Nate Smith (drums). The band gives a strong performance throughout. The best description I can give you is this: Click here!
Food – This Is Not A Miracle (ECM): Food is a duo – Thomas Stronen (drums, electronics, percussion, Moog, Fender Rhodes) and Iain Ballamy (saxophones, electronics) – joined on this recording by Christian Fennesz (guitar, electronics). On previous recordings, they have jammed before recording until they honed down the main elements and then recorded their generally designed product. This time around, they changed the process so that they brought in their own ideas and recorded the initial jams and Stronen then created the songs by editing and “cutting and pasting” the jams into the eleven songs on offer. The sound is certainly identifiable as an ECM product – dreamy, progressive, and atmospheric above all else. Strong also feels that he was able to bring more immediacy in sound and development without losing the most creative moments. Click here for a sample.
Mette Henriette – Mette Henriette (ECM): This is the first recording as a leader for saxophonist / composer Mette Henriette and based upon the music here the label is a perfect match for her. She composed all but three of the musical sketches on this double disc. She is accompanied by Johan Lindvall (piano, composer of the three songs not written by Mette Henriette) and Katrine Schiott (violincello) on the first disc and adds the following players to the trio on disc 2: Henrik Norstebo (trombone); Eyvind Lonning (trumpet); Sara Ovine, Karin Hellqvist, and Odd Hannisdal (violins); Bendik Bjornstad Foss (viola); Ingvild Nesdal Sandnes (violincello); Andreas Rokseth (bandoneon); Per Zanussi (bass); and Per Oddvar Johansen (drums, saw). Disc 1 is quite spare and some of the pieces are less than a minute and a half. They are basically tone sketches. Disc 2, though offering several very short tunes as well, offers both fuller tones and a stronger sax performance from the leader. Everything is still a bit impressionistic, but she and the band handle the jazz aspects of these soundscapes with more authority. I fully expect we’ll be hearing a lot more from Mette Henriette and it will be interesting to see how she continues to grow. Click here to let her introduce herself and talk about her music.
Ralph Irizarry & Timbalaye – 20th Anniversary (Truth Revolution): Timbales player Irizarry began forming Latin jazz bands 20 years ago and this third iteration of younger players continues his commitment to keeping the public aware of and enthusiastic about this warm, rhythmic, and swinging musical style. In addition to Irizarry, this newest band features Adam Perez (piano); Alex Apollo Ayala and Israel Cedeo (alternating on bass); Hommy Ramos (trombone); Anibal Rojas (tenor sax); Dennis Hernandez (trumpet); and Robert Quintero and Sebastian Nickoll (percussion). There are also numerous invited guests to augment the band on specific songs, including Ruben Rodriguez (bass), Bobby Franceschini (tenor sax), Jonathan Powell (trumpet), and Eric Chacon (flute) among others. The music has great energy and in the words of Irizarry, “It’s a complete labor of love by everyone involved….” Great grooves! Click here and scroll down to listen to up to three songs on this disc!
Brad Mehldau – 10 Years Solo Live (Excerpts) (Nonesuch): This disc is a “sampler” or “teaser” of a new retrospective release from Mehldau’s 4 CD or 8 LP issue of live solo performances from the past decade. This release begins with a lovely piano solo of The Beatles’ “Blackbird” and Bobby Timmons’ “This Here” and progresses to magnificent renderings of Miles Davis’ “Think Of One”, Coltrane’s “Countdown” and the classic “My Favorite Things”. Click here to listen to some songs included on this set. I’d recommend “My Favorites Things” (it’s on the sampler), but you have quite a choice!
Ben Monder – Amorphae (ECM): Electric guitarist Ben Monder begins this disc in a quiet mode, but the sound continues to build throughout this melodic solo number. Once he has announced himself, he offers what must be the most unusual yet highly effective version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oh, What A Beautiful Morning” ever recorded. He is typically quite mellow but, on this cut, he adds some strikingly electric spice to the stew. Ironically, it is the only time on the disc that Monder brings things to a boil, preferring to keep this sonic brew on simmer. Additional musicians include drummers Paul Motion (two songs) and Andrew Cyrille (four songs) and Paul Rende (synthesizer on two songs) and the additions create an interesting flow: Monder opens with a solo, is joined by Motion on the next cut, then Cyrille replaces Motion on the next. The two compositions that hold the center feature Monder and Cyrille with the addition of Rende on synthesizer, followed a return to duets with Motion on the first and Cyrille returning on the next. The finale is another solo by Monder. Click here and scroll down to listen to short samples from this disc.
Lloyd Swanton – Ambon (Bugle): Here’s the back story on this most unusual addition to our jazz library: “Lloyd Swanton’s Uncle Stuart served in the doomed Gull Force on the island of Ambon during WWII, sent there to defend the “Dutch East Indies” from the Japanese invasion. His uncle died in the shocking Japanese POW camp on the island the day before war ended. Tracing through a secret diary written in code by Uncle Stuart during his imprisonment Lloyd has taken many of the accounts and created a celebration and remembrance of the uncle he never met.” (http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/musicshow/lloyd-swanton27s-ambon-project/6507778). The complete band line-up is: Lloyd Swanton (bass), Paul Cutlan (bass clarinet, saxophones, recorder), James Eccles (viola), Sandy Evans (tenor, soprano saxophones), James Greening (trombone, cornet, pocket trumpet, tuba), Fabian Hevia (cajon, percussion), Chuck Morgan (ukulele), Jon Pease (guitar), Ron Reeves (kendang, percussion),
Michel Rose (pedal steel guitar), Alex Silver (trombone), and Hamish Stuart (drums). The music reflects the exotic setting and terrible times. The music is also used at the end of disc 1 as a background for readings from Swanton’s uncle’s secret diary. On disc 2, “the darker side of this ambitious, inventive and emotional suite, Lloyd … evokes the horrific conditions his uncle and comrades endured with remarkably good spirits while POWs on Ambon in WWII. We’ll hear Lloyd and the ensemble imagining what a group playing on incomplete and damaged instruments might have sounded like….” (source as listed above) The work is a tribute to the courage of the prisoners, especially Swanton’s uncle, to in the composer’s words, “…to salvage whatever beauty I could from what is, for the most part, a quite horrible story. Click here and scroll down a little to listen to some brief samples from this release.