Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Live@VisionFest 20, Perry Robinson, Mark Whitecage, Ken Filiano, Lou Grassi


Time seems to fly by half the time. Here we are contemplating a fine album Live@VisionFest20 (Not Two MW1023-2) and as I listen with a lot of pleasure I of course then note with alarm that clarinetist Perry Robinson and alto saxist Mark Whitecage are both gone from this earth! The good news is that bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Lou Grassi are still thriving, and that we have this excellent set of all four to enjoy as many times as we want!

As I mentioned on the last Whitecage review I also recall hearing Mark and Perry with the Gunter Hampel Big Band at Sweet Basil and not only was that in 1985 but my two dear friends who went to see them with me are dead as well. As it turned out that set was recorded too and it still sounds great to me. So thank the stars for recordings!

But what matters here is this new release. The VisionFest is like what Newport was years ago. If an important conflagration was slated to play, you know they were going to give it their all. Are sure enough, this quartet set has a full flush effort going for it. It is a Free exploration of course, and the 34 minute "One for Roy" is an especially flat-out scorcher with Filiano and Grassi laying down a thick carpet of energy and heat while Robinson ranges fully and firey across the entire spectrum of his clarinet. And then Mark comes through with some of the most fully stoked chromatic runs ever. That in itself is a thing of fineness and we remember why he mattered always!

Well now such a recording and such a festival is all the more valuable in the scarcity of every moment going forward. This is essential music, just as the VisionFest in NYC is essential each year. So grab this one and get gone to the good stuff!

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Alessandro Sgobbio, Piano Music


Piano music, solo piano music at one time "on disc" was pretty rare in "Jazz!" There was Bill Evans, Muhal Richard Abrams, of course some choice bits of Duke Ellington, Fats Waller nailing it in Camden, NJ, some Lennie Tristano that was wild or madly swinging or both, of course Thelonious Monk. Then Keith Jarrett with a few that kind of changed a lot of things. Who have I missed? A great deal but still not as much as you might think. You should explore it all without fail! Come what may I plan never to stop exploring the wonderful whole of it. 

Well Classical music is a huge other category and thank the muses for all of that, too. My first piano teacher told me I should play drums because I arranged one of his silly canned songs as a cha cha, a march, something else dance-like. He was wrong, damn it. I could have picked up drums later. I was in first grade, stupid! Well the piano was still there so I kept at it as I felt it. but there were no formal lessons again until 1971! I am glad though about the piano because it helped me listen to others playing!

Well I am still up for such things. The other day Alessandro Sgobbio told me he had a solo piano album coming out. Could he send a copy? Sure. Well here it is, words about it anyway, his Piano Music (AMP Music and Records AT0114).

So if I may caution you if you are an early bird you can pre-order this on Bandcamp--and September 2022,  voila!

So I have been listening to this a lot. It is a series of compositions that have an immediacy that gives it a Jazz sort of ambiance, something of course that Keith Jarrett helped forward so well and now the mantle passes to another, more than one other, no doubt. Well Alessandro shows us with this album he has his own vivid, lyrical, pensive, rapturous sense. It is perfect, each of these pieces has a perfectly lively and original way about it.

This is a full-bore winner from start to finish, if you seek that dream world of expression a piano can give you like no other instrument in many ways.

I will not try to explain this music except it is performative and spellbinding. I can imagine many of you will love it? I think so! So get it. It is worth waiting for but trust me, it will take you someplace nice!

Monday, July 4, 2022

Tomasz Dabrowski & The Individual Beings, Polish New Jazz


When I was a good deal younger and LPs were king I took delight in finding a couple of excellent albums of Polish Jazz on Muza Records--by Kristof Komeda and Tomasz Stanko, respectively. There would be others to come and I have always appreciated the fine artistry and stylistic boldness of the best of Polish jazzmasters. Now here we are today and both Komeda and Stanko have left this earthly world. But happily there are others coming to us and all is well, certainly for the group known as Tomasz Dabrowski & the Individual Beings (April Records 093CD).

It features trumpet master Tomasz Dabrowski and his seven-tet in a tribute to Tomasz' friend and mentor, the great Tomasz Stanko. You can hear the line of influence in Tomasz's deliberate, probing trumpet style and an intelligent compositional stance.

Unless you are really on top of the Polish Jazz scene today the group members might be unfamiliar to you, and a few are not Polish, not that it makes a difference in total. Yet at any rate they get together nicely--though the trumpet playing is ever at the forefront, mostly. Still, kudos for all of them, Fredrik Lundin on tenor sax, Irek Wojtetezak on tenor, soprano and electronics, Grzegorz Tarwid on piano and keyboards, Max Mucha on double bass, Knut Finsrud on drums, and Jan Emil Mlynarski on drums and electric drums.

What matter in the end is the density of musicality and the Modernist compositional contentfulness and trumpet presence in it all. Dabrowski is a trumpeter and jazz stylist that deserves acclaim and appreciation. He is excellent in his very own way. Anyone who likes or loves Polish Jazz as I do, you will find this one a real boon! Get it!