Monday, September 30, 2013

Denny Zeitlin, Both/And, Solo Electro-Acoustic Adventures

Pianist-keyboardist Denny Zeitlin got off to an auspicious start in the '60s with a series of piano trio recordings that showed an advanced harmonic-melodic imagination and real improvising prowess. In the '70s he integrated synthesizers into his music, making a set of "progressive" sides that showed a fused outlook devoid of some of the cliches that sometimes plagued the music made then. With the '80s-'90s Zeitlin returned to the acoustic side of his music. But in the decade to follow he began taking advantage of the advances inherent in MIDI-based sound modulator synths and their wider palette of sampled and synthesized sounds.

That experience led to a sonically diverse, near orchestral solo style that bears significant fruit in the new release Both/And (Sunnyside 1352). It's an entire album of improvisations/spontaneous compositions created on acoustic piano and an array of sampling/synthesizing gear.

There will of course be those who dislike all electronics on principal. Nothing I say here will, I suspect, have any bearing on their beliefs. They are entitled to them--and so be it. For those, however, with more open ears/minds this album holds much of interest, even delight.

Of course the first thing to consider is that the modern electronic instruments are just that, instruments. Like a Hammond B-3 or a cathedral organ they have a certain number of sounds that can be accessed. With the sampling capabilities of the modern synths there are more unlimited possibilities, but always within the finite framework of the instrument(s) and their capabilities. The trick with any instrument of this sort, just like an organ or even a harpsichord, is what you bring musically to the situation, how you "orchestrate" your sound and with what musical elements.

And perhaps what is most striking about this disk is that. Not the sounds, which have interest within themselves in any event, but the improvisational imagination, the inventive orchestrational musical mind of Denny Zeitlin. That is what makes this music have a certain consistent excellence, his ultra-creative, generative knack. It is everywhere to be heard on these tracks. What perhaps is most remarkable is how the line creating, harmonically expansive, rhythmically alive Zeitlin comes through intact, rather brilliantly so.

Those who only want acoustic music can leave this one alone. They will miss out on some first-rate Zeitlin however. For the rest of us, there is Both/And. We do not need to chose between acoustic and electric because Zeitlin builds on top of both aspects of his playing and of the music at large.

Impressive and delightful!

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Convergence Quartet, Slow and Steady

Free music is no simple matter. It can work marvelously when the chemistry between players is right. Or it can earnestly go along but never quite reach a collective point of convergence. Happily, the group named after such occurrences, the Convergence Quartet, achieves such a state consistently and rewardingly on their album Slow and Steady (No Business NBCD 53).

The band has excellent chemistry. Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet), Alexander Hawkins (piano), Dominic Lash (double bass) and Harris Eisenstadt (drums) each has a hand in the compositions presented (live at the Vortex in England as part of the London Jazz Festival). They are substantial. And each contributes excellent improvisations within a first-tier group dynamic.

I have not explored the music of Alexander Hawkins much at all but he shows himself stylistically well-suited to this outfit, with both a free/new music and a harmonic sensibility as needed. Like the others in this band he is not readily pigeonholed as a follower of x, y, or z, but rather has his own voice.

It's a beautifully hewn set! No one dominates; everyone dominates. There is tender introspection and hard-edged dynamics side-by-side here. It will make you think. It will let you feel. It will inspire you to a far away musical mindset that energizes and causes reflection. Very much an album to hear.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Red Hot

Mostly Other People Do the Killing is one of today's finest new jazz bands. They view the past with a healthy sense of humor born out of respect, then go on to create their own original world out of the building blocks of tradition. Their latest album does for old-time jazz what earlier ones have done for other styles: uses it as a springboard for a sound of total immediacy. Red Hot (Hot Cup 126) is the name of the new one, and as usual with their albums the first thing that hits you is the hilarious send up of album/publicity shots of the period represented. In this case we have one of those formal, stiffly posed shots of the band awkwardly hulking around the seated leader, who if possible looks even more awkward. If memory serves it looks like a photo taken of Fletcher Henderson's band back in the day? Either way it sets the tone for the music to follow.

For this '20s-early-'30s jazz tribute we have the regular band (and a fine one they are) of Peter Evans (trumpet), Jon Irabagon (soprano and C-melody saxes), Moppa Elliot (bass) and Kevin Shea (drums). They are appropriately joined by David Taylor (bass trombone), Brandon Seabrook (banjo and electronics) and Ron Stabinsky (piano) to flesh out the old/new sound with the basic sound configuration appropriate to the style.

But then as you might expect they take the style on as their own but in the process at (most) times rip into it/extend it in various outside ways.

It seems to me of all styles to parody the early jazz one is among the very hardest. It is so different than the various later incarnations which still get plenty of performance time today, styles that still are in our ears so to speak. And perhaps as a result the MOPDTK exuberance is less up front on this album. It's there, for sure, but a little more subtly so. Fact is, as much as MOPDTK have fun within the parameters of taking on the early ways, they also seem to be concentrating on bringing the essence of the era to light. The additions of Taylor, Seabrook and Stabinsky do much in that way, through Stabinsky in a cadenza or two and Seabrook throughout making some period-sympathetic but far outside statements. Dave Taylor sounds great as always.

The above is not a quibble, it's only pointing out how this album is partially a departure from the usual MOPDTK. The arrangements are much more thoroughly central to the music here than typically. They are funny but also a kind of old-new meld of a different sort and so there is much to absorb. In the end the absorption transforms to a thorough appreciation. This is very smart stuff--and a little bit less smart-arse than the norm, but yes also very smart-arse stuff.

That's something I love about the band. They go at it without the wax museum, jazz-is-the-classical music or classical-is-the-jazz music museum idolization. Whatever jazz is today, it can still be fun while also having greatness/cutting-edge currency. MOPDTK's Red Hot most definitely has both!

Julia Hulsmann Quartet, In Full View

German pianist Julia Hulsmann gathers a quartet together for her third ECM album, In Full View (ECM B0018446-02). I missed the first two, both trio outings, but the new one is something I am very glad to be hearing.

If there is a "cool school" alive today, much of it has been spawned by ECM artists. In Full View is one of the finest examples of the new, introspectively internalized yet vividly communicating jazz sets one can hear.

Trumpet master Tom Arthurs brings a quiet intensity to the outfit, with a post-Wheeler kind of purity of tone and a way around the tonalities of the quartet's compositions represented here. Julia is thoughtful and in no way anemic, perhaps impressionist may be a word that works for her performances. The solid rhythm-team foundations of Marc Muellbauer on double bass and Heinrich Kobberling on drums do much to set up the two-person front line, to reinforce the melodic-harmonic-time grounding, to set off the beautiful playing of Hulsmann and Arthurs.

All band members contribute compositions and they set the mood well. Julie Hulsmann is onto a group sound that quietly fills your listening being with intrinsically musical content, nicely turned musicianship of a high order. This one is different enough that you need to return to it several times to fully adjust. It's quite beautiful.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bobby Miller and Ron Enyard, Live at Herbie's, 1967

When fate preserves a single recording of a jazz artist who otherwise is not at all known, and that recording gives you a tantalizing glimpse of that artist's capability and talent, the feeling can be uncanny.

Such is the case with the recently released Live at Herbie's (Cadence Jazz 1234). It is a well preserved recording of a quartet holding forth at some length at a small Cincinatti club in 1967. Ron Enyard is on drums and swings with fire, Sam Jackson is at the piano, Bergoine Denny is on bass, and at the tenor is the too-unknown-to-be-legendary Bobby Miller.

There isn't a great deal known about Miller, except he was active in the '50s until his death in 1979. And from the evidence of this recording he deserved attention. An erratic lifestyle brought on by substance abuse apparently translated to times when his playing was not representative of how good he was. But then on other nights, such as the night this was recorded...

The disk captures three long numbers and a shorter set-ender on a tape recording typical of what you might get when you are documenting a gig--but it is quite reasonably clear for all that. The tunes comprise standard jazz improv platform-launching material typical of what you might hear in a club at the time. Within those parameters we hear the Bobby Miller we missed. He has great passion and facility, out of the bop tradition extended--with a sound and approach somewhere between Rollins, Gordon, and early-middle Trane. But that doesn't begin to capture the immediacy of his playing on this set. And the influences are secondary to where he takes the music. He is blazing!

Bobby Miller should have been a jazz star, based on what and how he plays on this CD. That he wasn't is tragic. We can console ourselves and revel in the man's artistry nonetheless on Live at Herbie's. A tantalizing and enriching listen!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Vandeweyer, Van Hove, Lovens, Blume, Quat, Live at Hasselt

A foursome that includes vibes and piano may initially put you in mind of the Modern Jazz Quartet. It's a natural reaction for those who have absorbed the jazz canon going back at least that far. But though there is a certain kind of quietude at times in common with MJQ, the quartet Quat doesn't occupy the quasi-formal bop-classical-tonal-composed-head territory of the earlier group. Listen to Quat's CD Live at Hasselt (No Business NBCD54), however, and you will find there is much going on in an intimate interactive setting that the MJQ also excelled at, though the Quat quartet firmly occupies a modern free improv context. Quat comes through with four middle- to long-lengthed improvisations that surely bear repeated listens.

Who is Quat? It is a European free jazz ensemble that includes Els Vandeweyer on vibes, Fred Van Hove on piano and accordion, and the two percussion-drum team of Paul Lovens and Martin Blume. They are in excellent form here, running the gamut between the new music end of free music and the more expressionist improvisation side, jazz if you will, and everywhere in between.

Ms. Vandeweyer, not someone I have been exposed to much, has a post-Hampelian all-overness that works very well with Van Hove's comprehensive keyboard scatter and cluster approach. The Lovens-Blume pairing works very well with the two-person melodic frontline, laying back a tad and laying down dense but often quiet washes of exotic and virtuoso-istic sound colors.

There is a very effective balance between the four that gets maintained throughout. All four voices meld in continuously permeating, endlessly varying abstractions of sound.

I found the subtlety of the music to take several listening sittings to embrace. Once the foundational listens were done with I started hearing the whole as a creative and sequential inevitability.

This is high-ambition freedom music. They do not veer into multi-stylistic referential moments (save for a brief moment when Van Hove's accordion has an almost folksy but still free-new connotation) but stay pretty firmly within a special zone that advances the abstract sound world that perhaps more typifies the European improv school than is the case with their American counterparts. They do it so well, though, that you fall into the music more than wonder what else there could be. What is, is in the best sort of way.

MJQ it isn't. It's Quat. Beautiful sounds. Recommended.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pandelis Karayorgis Quintet, Circuitous

Boston-based Pandelis Karayorgis is a post-Monk avant pianist with poise, great ideas, real torque and feeling conjoined with a lively musical mind. And he writes compositions that reflect his angular way and stay with you long after you've heard them. For the recording Pandelis Karayorgis Quintet Circuitous (Driff 1304) he gathers together a significant group of Chicago jazzmen in a studio date recorded there. These are musicians often associated together (see previous reviews on this site) and their conjunction with Pandelis is most fortuitous, fortunate, fabulous, productive.

The musicians involved are Dave Rempis, tenor, alto and baritone, Keefe Jackson, tenor sax, bass and contrabass clarinet, Nate McBride, contrabass and Frank Rosaly, drums, cutting edge musicians all.

The set involves all Karayorgis compositions. They set the tone for the improvisations and inspire all to some of their best work--the powerful Rempis, puckish, ascerbic Jackson, angular Karayorgis, deep exploratory McBride and the wise ranging swing and free intelligence of Rosaly. This is symbiosis at its best: the Chicago artist clearly get a jolt from their association with Pandelis and vice versa.

A fine date, great example of Karayorgis today and a testament to the creative thrust of four exceptional Chicago improvisers. Grab this one.

Carline Ray, Vocal Sides

There are some vocalists that have that special something, so that the moment you hear her/him you feel you are in the presence. That surely hit me from the moment I put on the CD by the octogenarian wonder, Ms. Carline Ray--and that CD is called Vocal Sides (Carlcat). Whooo, she goes way back. She was married to bandleader Luis Russell (and look him up if you don't know that band--it was smoking) she graduated from Julliard AND the Manhattan School of Music, she was guitarist and vocalist for the legendary International Sweethearts of Rhythm, then went on to be a featured vocalist with Erskine Hawkins Big Band, and then, get this, the bass player in Sy Oliver's band!

And she as of this recording is still going strong, eighty-something, making this vocal album with her daughter Catherine Russell, a beautiful singer herself and the subject of praise on these blog pages--you check, I'm writing this at 3AM! The songs were recorded between 2008-2011 and they bear witness to a masterful vocalist whose voice has deepened and become ever more burnished, somehow stronger than ever.

She goes through a very interesting set of songs here, from bop to movements from Mary Lou William's Mass, which Carline sang years ago on the original recording, Thad Jones's "A Child is Born" and some rousing gospel duets with her daughter. As a special bonus we have the 1961 demo "Lucille," written by Luis Russell for Louis Armstrong to sing to his wife. It never happened but the demo is something else. It's a rewardingly wide-ranging set sung with soul, grace and elegance.

Carline Ray still had it! She had boiled it down over the years and we get her very essence. Listen and you'll get there. Alas I just read that Carline Ray passed on last month. She was 89. May she rest in peace. All sympathies to her family. This recording captures her in her last years, in full flower. That's how we should remember her.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Harris Eisenstadt September Trio, The Destructive Element

For my money Harris Eisenstadt is a key composer, drummer and bandleader on the new jazz scene today. Happily there have been a good number of recordings to document his music, and today we have another fine one.

Harris joins together with two beautiful players in his September Trio for the disk The Destructive Element (Clean Feed 276) in a program of Eisenstadt compositions. They are place setters sometimes for some excellent improvisations--yet have a memorable quality either way for the best of the new. In Angelica Sanchez and Ellery Eskelin, piano and tenor, respectively, Harris has chosen well. Angelica may not be a household name as yet but she impresses strongly here as elsewhere as a pianist who can get inside a tonality and take it to farther reaches when it seems right, all with her own way of going about it. Of course Ellery Eskelin is a monster artist, someone who keeps turning in great performances and remains a fresh voice, an evergreen so to speak.

The program goes from strength to strength as composition and artist meld into what is a most creatively probing series of chapters in a seriously absorbing "book" of music. My system is crashing this morning continually so I must cut this a bit short and check my virus software!

The Destructive Element is to me one of the minor masterpiece of this year thus far, eminently worth your time.

Book of Three, Continuum (2012), Taylor Ho Bynum, John Hebert, Gerald Cleaver

Anyone who regularly reads this blog and listens to what comes out knows that Taylor Ho Bynum is a heavy--a cornetist with a great imagination, good ideas and a personal sound. Similarly bassist John Hebert and drummer Gerald Cleaver are important presences on the new improvisation scene, top caliber players with original musical personalities. Put the three together as Book of Three, turn them loose and you've got something. That's what happens on their CD Continuum (2012) (Relative Pitch 1012).

Of course a trio configuration like this one gives all three artists a clarity of presence and exposes their playing in the most aurally transparent way. Bynum, Hebert and Cleaver rise to the occasion and create a very open, pulsating happy three-way coincidence.

They start out with a Bobby Bradford number, and one is immediately put in mind of the Bradford-Ornette nexus and the great music it has produced. But of course this is a trio with its own way so one then adjusts to the improvisational distinctiveness they bring to the music. The program goes on to feature compositions in a three-way collaboration, some solid Cleaver pieces and one each by Jim Hobbs and Salim Washington.

The play is the thing with these creative three, ultimately, and we are treated to some excellent interactions. All sound great, whether swinging along with a time element or diving into freetime excursions.

One comes away from a hearing of this disk with the desire to hear it again, and again. A sign that this is important music is that the luster never fades the more you listen. It only glows more brilliantly. This is one to hear, by all means.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Giuseppi Logan, ...and They Were Cool

When an artist is off the radar as long as Giuseppi Logan was, it is understandable if his comeback is subject to a certain amount of fits and starts. That has been the case to my ears but in his new one ...and They Were Cool (Improvising Beings 16) he is firmly in his zone. Giuseppi fronts a quartet for this one in a program of freely spinning improvisations. There's Giuseppi on alto and piano, Jessica Lurie on flute and alto, Larry Roland on bass and Ed Pettersen on electric guitar.

Now certainly Maestro Logan has never been known as a high-velocity technician and he is not that here. But he is most certainly back to full form as a free thinking, original sounding avant reedest. And his bandmates complement him contrastingly and appropriately, Jessica as an excellent front-line reedest who stylistic remains very much herself yet meshes nicely with Logan, Ed Pettersen as a very stimulating electric presence that still maintains a group balance while he brings his own line and texture weaving to the table, and Larry Roland in a nearly classically free role of foundation builder and expansion creator.

This is a new, reconstructed Giuseppi that nevertheless reminds us why he was interesting in the first place. He is brashly out in a starkly affective way here and his bandmates do much to further his vision. New-thing-ologists, take note.

Mike Wofford, It's Personal

Mike Wofford first came to my attention as a key member of Shelly Manne's later configurations toward the later '70s-early '80s. He also played a key role as accompanist to Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. He has always struck me as pianist thoroughly embodying the bop and after ethos but very much in his own intelligent and soulful way.

That he sounds better than ever these days is clear from his latest, a solo outing called It's Personal (Capri 74121-2). And surely this is a very personal summing up of where Wofford has been and where he is, through an impassioned set of rather unexpected standards and memorable originals. I like how he starts with a striking voicing of Jackie McLean's classic "Little Melonae," which swings yet brings out at the same time the advanced sound of that composition. After so many years, the work still sounds startlingly fresh and Mike gets his best into it.

From there we get a lively program of Ellington-Strayhorn, Dizzy, Carisi's perennial "Springsville," prime Gigi Gryce, even a Talking Heads song, in a complete package that gives you a satisfying in-the-moment portrait of Wofford's fertile melodic-harmonic way in its full-strength glory.

Wofford's cumulative from the inside-out self-presentation moves, charms and strongly delivers the pianistic goods. It is certainly personal but its appeal seems to me nearly universal, insofar as any jazz can be that. Listen and you will hear what I mean, I hope.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Nobu Stowe & Alan Munshower with Badal Roy, An Die Musik, 2006

Another something different today, from the batch of CDs Nobu Stowe kindly sent. It's him with drummer Alan Munshower and Badal Roy, the tabla virtuoso, in a program of total improvisations from 2006 called An Die Musik (Soul Note).

This is almost free rock, you could say, free acoustic music for piano, drums and tabla in a straight-eight vein. Not that it is brimming over with rock riffs, backbeats or other tell-tale insignias of the rock world. It isn't. In fact it states a series of free spontaneities centering around Nobu's piano, occupying its own post-Jarretian landscape where the extemporized harmonic underpinnings are often insistently stated and improvised upon in conjunction with the fine drumming and, when Badal is present, the tabla setting up open yet structured grooves that play counterpoint to the pianistic presence.

The music breathes well. Nobu has consistency of inspiration yet can be unpredictable in where he will go. Rhythmic drive serves as foundation, as the constant, and the drums-tabla interlocking against the piano stay at an inventively high level throughout.

It's a different sort of date, by no means perfect (which is quite understandable given the no-safety-net total improv situation), but enormously stimulating once you get on its level. I know of nothing else quite like it. The three are integral to the result and there are virtually always interesting, multiple levels of interaction to focus in and out of, the rhythmic, the pianistic left-hand grooves, ostinatos and overall harmonic shifts coming about in tandem with the rhythm, Nobu's melodic-improvisatory right hand ...

It's a fascinating disk, with many rewards to discover if you approach it with an open mind. Listen to it a few times and you will see, I think, what I mean.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Evan Parker, Barry Guy, Paul Lytton, Live at the Maya Recording Festival

In many ways the threesome of Evan Parker, Barry Guy and Paul Lytton is the ideal lineup for European free music, free jazz if you will. They of course are no strangers to each other, having played together rather often. But there is something in the performance Live at Maya Recordings Festival (No Business CD 55) that is even more than you might come to expect from them.

There are three long and one shorter improvisations involved. Evan plays in his patented soprano style (that circular blur of invention) but puts forward his tenor playing a bit more than is sometimes the case. And maybe I've missed some of his pretty considerable output in the last decade, but at any rate I notice something in his playing on tenor here that is perhaps evidence of an evolvement. That is, it is still about the sound, yes, but there is much more about the notes than usual. His tenor playing is phenomenal here. And it's note choice as well as timbre that stands out.

Barry Guy is firing up the bass in exceptionally expressive and impressive ways and the recording brings out his extraordinarily way quite sharply. Paul Lytton gets that excitingly busy wash of drums that makes him integral, as always.

And it's funny but on this one I feel like there is a direct link between the music and the classic Ayler trio. It's an extension, a development, but there is a rootedness that branches out of the Ayler-Peacock-Murray nexus in very nice ways. No one into the music would mistake the one for the other, but there's a real connection, a logical progression out of that classic lineup.

These are some of the very best of the Euro-avant masters, of course, and this is one of the very best recordings. It is powerful. It doesn't flag. And Parker on tenor was (and is) thrilling to hear on that night. But then they all sound perfect!

Trespass Trio & Joe McPhee, Human Encore

Not every promising collaboration lives up to its potential. Some disappoint because the chemistry isn't there or there wasn't enough preparation before the actual encounter. That isn't the case with the meeting of Joe McPhee and Trespass Trio, as heard on the very stimulating live disk Human Encore (Clean Feed 369).

The foursome played in a special three-day residence at Jazz Ao Centro at Salao Brazil, Coimbra, Portugal during the summer of 2012. The disk is some highlights of that appearance. McPhee is on tenor and pocket trumpet, Martin Kuchin, alto and baritone, Per Zanussi, double bass, and Raymond Strid, drums.

It features both free blowing and compositional structures. What's exceptional about it is the sympatico meld they get. McPhee clearly gets inspiration from the trio and vice versa. Joe's trumpet stands out more dramatically when part of a two-horn front line, and everybody works marvelously together for some bold music-making. The two-plus-two breakdown of McPhee-Kuchen and Zanussi-Strid gives double clout to the outcome, though of course all four mix it up in different ways throughout.

There is intent in the music, nothing slap-dash or thrown together. All play freely, thoughtfully, movingly. It's a kick, a bit of master-inspiration, a disk you should not miss if you are into what is new in new jazz avantdom.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Steven Lugerner, For We Have Heard, with Myra Melford, Matt Wilson, Darren Johnston

Steven Lugerner? After hearing his limited edition LP For We Have Heard (No Business NBLP 64) I KNOW. Before I did not. He plays all manner of winds on the album and plays them well. But most strikingly he is an avant jazz composer of talent. The music is post-Weill, post-Carla-Bley, if you want some forebears. There is the slightest hint of the hoary cabaret or old march music in there faintly, yet there is so much more, and it is quite modern. Blocks of structure vary and repeat but not typically minimalistically.

He's put together a quartet pretty ideal for the music he writes. These are players who can work inside structures (as they do in their own music) and when called upon to solo reflect freedom-in-structure. It's the wonderful Myra Melford on piano, Darren Johnston on trumpet, and Matt Wilson on drums, all composers in their own right, master instrumentalists, and for lack of a better term, structuralists in the Lugerner manner.

The music has plenty of rhythmic and harmonic twists and turns of an original sort. It's highly arranged quartet music, and in that it also reminds favorably of Jimmy Giuffre's early work, not as especially an influence, but a sharer in essence.

The time limits of the LP translates into very compact and meaningful programming. There isn't a moment that doesn't count.

Beyond that I give this one lots of kudos. Seriously well crafted, excellently refreshing quartet music! Lugerner is a name to remember. Get the album.

Christian Wallumrod Ensemble, Outstairs

The new album by Christian Wallumrod and his ensemble affirms one thing--we live in an age where there is no shortage of innovative, excellent new music. Outstairs (ECM B0018469-02) is a very good example. Maestro Wallumrod fronts on piano his six-member ensemble which includes trumpet, violin-viola, tenor sax, cello and drums. His compositions are thoroughly through, so to speak, and very original. There is the nominal feel of jazz sometimes, but tempered by new music elements. Improvisation is not the main concern, and I assume there is not that much built into the scores from what I can hear. The music as composition speaks directly and uniquely so you do not feel the absence.

There are world elements and Euro-folk elements to be heard, but so well-integrated into Wallumrod's startlingly personal melodic-harmonic-voicing way that all becomes Wallumrod Music.

This is music so different I have trouble describing it. It is exceedingly beautiful. Wallumrod is a force to be heard, perhaps a gentle force, but essential for those adventurous listeners out there. Very much recommended.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Eric Revis, City of Asylum, with Kris Davis and Andrew Cyrille

Bassist Eric Revis assembles an all-star piano trio and turns them loose on City of Asylum (Clean Feed 277). Acutely inspired collective improvisation is the order of the day. Revis and his very advanced bass forays, the increasingly ever-present Kris Davis on piano and the fantastic drumming of Andrew Cyrille hold forth for a really nice set that includes one by Jarrett and one by Monk along with a series of very accomplished and adventuresome free journeys.

I don't believe I've heard Kris Davis sound so continually brimming over with ideas and so poised at the same time. This one is a real ear opener for me in that. Eric is right up there with inventive all-over ideas. And Andrew sounds so beautiful, you could certainly listen just to him and get much to appreciate. He plays out-of-time phrasings that perfectly complement the musical proceedings, do not repeat and are models of inventive freetime.

This one is a piano trio triumph in the free zone. It makes me smile! You must hear it.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Correction with Mats Gustafsson, Shift

We are lucky that there is no shortage of excellent avant jazz out there today, all over the world, those of us who follow and appreciate the global new. I have another for you this morning. It's Correction with Mats Gustafsson and their limited-edition LP Shift (No Business NBLP 59).

Mats is on baritone, Sebastian Bergstrom, piano, Joacim Nyberg on bass, and Emil Astrand-Melin on drums. It's an extraordinarily game-sounding quartet on a post-bop-free good blowing date.

Mats has fire and finesse, Sebastian has a kind of post-Bley hard-charging attack, Joacim can walk out the window with it all and give you a solo that makes your ears perk up, and Emil gives it all that freetime, time-time push.

This is top-of-the-line outness. If you don't know these four well, Shift is the one to get. Since there is a limited pressing of 500 LPs, now is the time!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Doug Serd, Beautiful Friendship

A good swinging organ trio with trombone in the driver's seat? Well that's what you get on Doug Serd's Beautiful Friendship (self-released). It's a nicely put-together band of Serd on a lucid bop-ish bone, Peter Bernstein ace-ing it on the guitar, Rick Montalbano doing the genre to a "t" on B-3, and Terry Clarke churning and burning at the drums.

Seven songbook-jazz standards springboard the band into a very good place with solos for all and good foot patting for you. Everyone has just enough of themselves that it isn't deja vu all over again. It hangs there just right!

If you dig that sound, it's here all the way.