Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Jacob Chung, Epistle


Tenor Sax Hard Bop and Postbop adept Jacob Chung scores big with his Quintet and this most attractive set entitled  Epistle (Three Pines Records) which came out in late 2021 but seemingly stands the temporal test and gladly so as far as I am concerned. So this comes to us as a tight knit and swinging tenor-trumpet-piano-bass-drums unit that includes Christian Antonacci, Felix Fox-Pappas, Thomas Hainbuch, Petros Anagnostakos in a lively album of hard charging Postboppers out of the Blue Note mould of New-Thing-Eve offerings, updated with a new cast of swinging cats.

All six numbers have a sort of anatomically correct bearing and a goodly hipsonic attack. It reminds me obliquely of the Lee Morgan Blue Note middle period album I found  at the Sam Goody Sale Annex  in midtown Manhattan when I was a budding listener in my adolescence years ago. Not that this album is a ringer for that one in any way, but it could have been in that same bin and would not have alarmed me as being out of place were I to have somehow heard it back then. I only set the scene to give you a context for this music. It assuredly refers back to those heady days of the music yet holds its own as a first-tier tenor vehicle to appreciate whether you go back to earlier days or do not.

One thing is certain. Jacob Chung is a tenor star to watch. Meanwhile he has a great sound, motility facility and the guy could be one of keys in the action avenues of Jazz soloing in the years to come,

It is a good bet and I happily recommend it to you. For some additional considerations listen to him on some select videos and such. https://jacobchungmusic.com/

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Amjad Ali Khan, Music for Hope


If there are good musical ideas out there, I hope someone will hip me to them. In the old days I might frequent a hip record store and maybe as I went in there was a new Don Cherry album on, and I got it musically, so I got it! Nowadays someone might send me a review copy in the mail. So that latter happened happily with Amjad Ali Khan and his album Music for Hope (Zoho ZM202207).

This is sarod master Amjad Aki Khan/s good idea of pairing himself and his two sarod playing disciple sons Ayaan Ali  Bangash and Amaan Ali Bangash with Chinese Pipa  virtuoso Wu Man and Indian-Mideast-Asian drum specialist Shane Shanahan. All get together to play music with compositional and rhythmic frameworks primary of Hindustani origins but then free wheeling improvisations that allow each instrumentalist personal leeway. And so truly we experience a synergy between North Indian and Classical Chinese commonalities.

The album clocks in at 35 minutes of pungent compositional improvs that thanks to all concerned truly punches in for a genuine fusion of two local art brilliances.

It is an album that actually is what it purports to be and in very winning ways. Nice compositions, vital improvisations. So do not miss it! Here is a taste of the music and a little more about it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_Y0vf9KXMY

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Sara Caswell, The Way to You


Every so often I catch up with somebody who I have missed in the years of isolation I have endured when some significant miles away from the urban centers of Jazz. Happily I have recently connected with such a luminary in violinist-Jazz composer Sara Caswell and her quartet in her first outing as a leader in more than 17 years. It is the album entitled The Way to You (Anzic Records ANZ-0085-02) and I am very glad to have gotten to know it in the last few weeks.

If you go back a few years in your listening it might strike a resonance in you if I say that this music reminds me nicely of the sort of lyrical melodic jazz that was practised by Gary Burton in his fertile middle period with Steve Swallow, Keith Jarrett, Sam Brown, violinist Richard Green, etc. Then also some of the more memorable early ECM records by Eberhard Weber come to mind as well. Sara and her tight-loose sympathetic quartet bring you significant performative elements that set off the songful niceties of Sara's pieces with a Jazz immediacy that gives them vibrant life.

Sara's violin understandably is a central component of it all and a marvelous voice for Jazz it is. She handles the written-melodic and the improvised passages with a special ease and beauty that sets her apart. But then a critical voice in it all too is electric guitarist Jesse Lewis in a sport of post-Friswellian post-Abercrombie-like universe makes for especially attractive ballsy lyrical flow soloing throughout. Ike Sturm is a marvelously anchoring bass component who can give us a lovely solo too without hesitation. Drummer Jared Schonig has a loose Swing-Rock feel that sets each piece apart and breathes periodic charm always. Finally on about half of the numbers here the quartet is joined by vibist virtuoso Chris Dingman to give us that classic Rock-Jazz interwovenness we have so happily heard in years gone by on Burton albums, etc.The program of originals and nicely turned cover arrangements stand out as terrific vehicles for Sara and the artists to shine forth.

When it comes to this kind of expressive  harmonically impressive fare I must say it is the very nicest sort of music in this style that I have heard in years. Very recommended.