Sandy Brown Jazz

 

Featured New Releases and Re-Releases 2018

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Click here for Releases featured prior to 2018 and for the full Releases Index

 

By artist in alphabetical order:

 

A

Martin Archer + Engine Room Favourites - Safety Signal From A Target Town

 

B

Andrew Bain - Embodied Hope

Chet Baker - Three Classic Albums Plus

Alan Barnes and David Newton - Ask Me Now

Sidney Bechet - Five Classic Albums Plus

Alan Benzie Trio - Little Mysteries

Brian Blade And The Fellowship Band - Body And Shadow

Oscar Brown Jr - Between Heaven And Hell / Sin And Soul

Alina Bzhezhinska - Inspiration


C

Mark Cherrie Quartet - Joining The Dots

Francesco Chiapperini Extemporary Vision Ensemble - The Big Earth

The Nels Cline 4 - Currents, Constellations

Cloudmakers Five - Traveling Pulse

Anat Cohen / Fred Hersch - Live In Healdsberg

Alyn Cosker - KPF

Julian Costello Quartet - Transitions

 

 

D

Eyolf Dale - Return To Mind

Josephine Davies - Satori

Dinosaur - Wonder Trail

The Dissolute Society - Soldiering On

Jimmy Dorsey - The Hits Collection: 1935-1957 (Box Set - 5 CDs)

Kit Downes - Obsidian

 

 

E

Duke Ellington - Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins

Enemy - Enemy

Peter Erskine and the Dr Um Band - On Call

Wayne Escoffery - Vortex

Eyebrow - Strata

 

 


F

Favourite Animals - Favourite Animals

Maynard Ferguson - Memories Of Maynard: The Best Of The Columbia Years

Zoe Francis - Remembering Blossom Dearie

Fraser And The Alibis - Fraser & The Alibis

Alycona Mick and Tori Freestone - Criss Cross

Bill Frisell - Music Is

 

 

G

Trio Galactus - Trio Galactus

Elliot Galvin - The Influencing Machine

Go Go Penguin - A Humdrum Star

Martin Pyne / Stephen Grew Duo - Winter Landscape

 

 

H

Edmond Hall with the Ralph Sutton Quartette - Live At Club Hangover [2 CDs]

James Hall - Lattice

Mary Halvorson - Code Girl

Alexander Hawkins / Elaine Mitchener Quartet - Uproot

Coleman Hawkins - The Middle Years: Essential Cuts 1939 - 1949

The Tubby Hayes Quartet - A Little Workout : Live At The Little Theatre

Anat Cohen / Fred Hersch - Live In Healdsberg

Lenore Raphael, Wayne Wilkinson and Chris Hodgkins - At Pizza Express Live

Billie Holiday - The Complete Billie Holiday Songbook

Peter Horsfall - Nighthawks

Helen Humes - The Helen Humes Collection - 1927 - 1962

Anton Hunter - Article XI

McClenty Hunter Jr - The Groove Hunter

Jack Hylton And His Orchestra - Just Humming Along

 

 

I

Jon Irabagon Quartet featuring Tim Hagans - Dr Quixotic's Traveling Exotics

 

 

J

Hank Jones - In Copenhagen

Dinah Washington & Quincy Jones - The Complete Sessions (3 CD Box Set, Remastered original recordings)

 

K

Kairos Sextet - Transition

Verneri Pohjola and Mika Kallio - Animal Image

Mark Kavuma - Kavuma

Rose / Kellers / Roder - New World

 

L

Julian Lage - Modern Law

Steve Lane - Steve Lane Plays Vintage Jazz Music

Paula Rae-Gibson and Sam Leak - Permission

 

 

 

M

Dave Manington's Riff Raff - Challenger Deep

Nicolas Masson - Travelers

Mike McGinnis - Singular Awakening

Alycona Mick and Tori Freestone - Criss Cross

Alexander Hawkins / Elaine Mitchener Quartet - Uproot

Zoot Money's Big Roll Band - Big Time Operator

Wes Montgomery - In Paris : The Definitive ORTF Recording

AKA Moon - Now

Mark Murphy - Midnight Mood


N

Simon Nabatov String Trio - Situations

Ivo Neame - Moksha

Alan Barnes and David Newton - Ask Me Now

Adam Nussbaum - The Leadbelly Project

 

O

Larry Ochs Sax And Drumming Core - Wild Red Yellow

Meg Okura and the Pan-Asian Chamber Ensemble - Ima Ima


P

Art Pepper - Smack Up

The Oscar Peterson Trio and Singers Unlimited - In Tune (Remastered Anniversary Edition)

Leslie Pintchik - You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl

Verneri Pohjola and Mika Kallio - Animal Image

Bobby Previte - Rhapsody

Dafnis Prieto Big Band - Back To The Sunset

Martin Pyne / Stephen Grew Duo - Winter Landscape


Q

 

R

Paula Rae-Gibson and Sam Leak - Permission

Freddy Randall And His Band - My Tiny Band Is Chosen (The Parlophone Years 1952 - 1957)

Kristjan Randalu - Absence

Lenore Raphael, Wayne Wilkinson and Chris Hodgkins - At Pizza Express Live

The Matthew Read Trio - Anecdotes II

Buddy Rich - The Lost Tapes

Tom Ridout - No Excuses

Howard Riley - Listen To Hear

Rose / Kellers / Roder - New World

Rose / Kellers / Roder - New World


S

Marta Sánchez Quintet - Danza Imposible

David Series - Meerkat Parade

Andy Sheppard Quartet - Romaria

Nina Simone - The Colpix Singles

Solveig Slettahjell - Live At Victoria

Sloth Racket - A Glorious Monster

Walter Smith III - TWIO

Snowpoet - Thought You Knew

So Much, So Quickly - British Modern Jazz Pianists: 1948 - 1962

Martin Speake - Intention

Bobo Stenson Trio - Contra La Indecisión

Zhenya Strigalev - Blues For Maggie

Thomas Strønen's Time Is A Blind Guide - Lucus

Kevin Sun - Trio

John Surman - Invisible Threads

Edmond Hall with the Ralph Sutton Quartette - Live At Club Hangover [2 CDs]

Esbjörn Svensson Trio - e.s.t. Live In London

 

 

 

T

Henri Texier Twiga Quintet - Sand Woman

Katie Thiroux - Off Beat

Henry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg - Dirt... And More Dirt

Jean Toussaint Allstar 6tet - Brother Raymond

Trialogue - First Flight

Joshua Trinidad - In November

Trio HLK - Standard Time

 

 

U

V

 

W

Mark Wade Trio - Moving Day

Dinah Washington & Quincy Jones - The Complete Sessions (3 CD Box Set, Remastered original recordings)

Ben Webster - Ben Webster & Associates

Lenore Raphael, Wayne Wilkinson and Chris Hodgkins - At Pizza Express Live

Jeff Williams - Lifelike

Martin Wind - Light Blue

 

 

 

 

X

Y

 

Z

Patrick Zimmerli Quartet - Clockworks

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Kavuma - Kavuma
(Ubuntu Music) - Released: 15th June 2018

Mark Kavuma (trumpet); Mussinghi Brian Edwards (saxophone); Ruben Fox (saxophone); Artie Zaitz (guitar); Reuben James (piano); Conor Chaplin (bass); Kyle Poole (drums) plus Michela Marino Lerman (taps on Church).

Mark Kavuma album

 

 

' .... the debut album of virtuostic trumpeter Mark Kavuma, brings together some of the leading jazz musicians on the UK jazz scene today ...' "They resemble the finest amalgam of classic '50s Blue Note and Prestige line ups. Perhaps what attracted them to jazz in the first place was the energy, vibe, blues, rhythm, gospel and emotions found on these influential sides" (engineer and musician Jake Zaitz). 'Kavuma's music is original contemporary jazz with historical roots planted deep in American post-bop, blues and African rhythms ... ' (release information).

Details : Listen to Modibo from the album : Listen to Church : Mark Kavuma's website :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sloth Racket - A Glorious Monster
(Luminous Label) - Released: 4th June 2018

Cath Roberts (baritone saxophone); Sam Adreae (alto saxophone); Anton Hunter (guitar); Seth Bennett (bass); Johnny Hunter (drums).

Sloth Racket A Glorious Monster

 

'Sloth Racket formed in 2015 when Jazz North east invited Cath Roberts to present a new project at Gateshead International Jazz Festival. Since then, Sloth Racket have released two studio albums, a live album, and another studio album with an extended lineup, Favourite Animals.

A Glorious Monster was recorded in November 2017 when the band was in the middle of a mini-tour. Cath had spent a few months trying to write an upbeat and optimistic album, ending up with a batch of music that was mostly pretty dark, heavy and/or downtempo. The one-day session was a process of orientation, deconstruction and communal improvised negotiation ... the resulting album is a staement of continued intent from a group who are deeply into the rabbit hole of a collective musical experiment.

The band is on tour during the summer when 'the music will almost certainly transform itself again as repeated performances turn the compositions inside out'.

Details and listen to Animal Uprising, the first of the four tracks on the album : Sloth Racket website and videos :

 

 

 

 

Trialogue - First Flight
(Spark! label) - Released: 29th April 2018

Chris McMurran (piano); Arvin Vaghela (bass); Alexander Blackwell (drums).

Trialogue First Flight'

 

Debut album from three Cambridge scientists: neurologist and Dankworth Prize-winning pianist Chris McMurran; physicist Arvin Vaghela (bass) and biologist Alexander Blackwell (drums). The compositions are by each member of the band who draw on their scientific backgrounds for inspiration, for example, Bhaskara's Wheel describes the fruitless quest to develop a perpetual motion machine, whilst blues Mother Tongue is a transcription from our own genome: the gene FOXP2. 'Musically, we have exchanged influences throughout the trio tradition,' say the band, 'from Oscar Peterson to Brad Mehldau and Avishai Cohen, but the tracks on the album draw widely from Beethoven, Alfred Schnittke and Jimi Hendrix'. The fact that the inspiration for the compositions comes from scientific backgrounds does not make the music cold and formulaic, as you can see from the introductory video. There is some nice work from McMurran and Vaghela, and Blackwell makes plenty of use of his cymbals on some tracks'. (release information).

Details and Samples : Introductory Video :

 

 

 

 

Alina Bzhezhinska - Inspiration
(Ubuntu Music) - Released: 15th June 2018

Alina Bzhezhinska (harp); Tony Kofi (soprano and tenor saxophones); Larry Bartley (double bass); Joel Prime (drums, percussion).

Alina Bzhezhinska Inspiration

 

 

Originally from Ukraine/Poland and now based in London, Alina Bzhezhinska is an internationally renowned harpist. She has performed with leading classical and jazz musicians such as Django Bates, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and the Glasgow String Quartet. Her duo, with award-winning jazz vocalist Niki King, supported Gregory Porter at the 2017 Edinburgh Jazz Festival. Alina's critically acclaimed Quartet led the 80th Birthday celebrations for Alice Coltrane around the UK in 2017. Their appearance at the EFG London Jazz Festival in a special bill featuring Pharoah Sanders - 'A Concert for Alice and John' - has been nominated for Best Live Experience of the Year at the 2018 Jazz FM Awards. Her new album, Inspiration, will be released in June 2018 through Ubuntu Music. "I set myself on a mission to tell Alice and John Coltrane's story in my own words, through my own interpretation of their music and my compositions," explains Alina. Her music fits under the banner of contemporary jazz with its virtuosic playing and improvisation. However the appeal of Inspiration will reach well beyond a jazz audience because of its unique combination of genres. (Website).

Details : Introductory Video : Taster of Blue Nile : Live video of Alina playing Alice Coltrane's Wisdom's Eye :

 

 

 

 

 

The Dissolute Society - Soldiering On
(Babel Label) - Released: 11th May 2018

Fini Bearman (voice); Naomi Burrell (violin); Zosia Jagodzinska (cello); Gustav Clarkson (viola); Laura Jurd (trumpet); Raph Clarkson (trombone, vocals); Phil Merriman (keys, synth bass); Simon Roth (drums). Special guests: Huw Warren (piano); Mia Marlen Berg (vocals,fx); Joshua Idehen (rap vocals); Mike Soper (trumpet).

The Dissolute Society Soldiering On

 

'Absorbing, multi-faceted debut album by this new 8-piece ensemble, led by the inspired, ever-active, London-born trombonist-composer, Raph Clarkson. ... The album is dedicated to the late John Taylor (two of whose compositions are featured) and Micaela Comberti, Raph's late mother – violinist and leading figure in the British Early Music revival. ... It is a highly personal, poignant, often dark album - interweaving a wide range of genres, styles and influences, including: avant-garde improvised music, traditional & modern jazz, contemporary classical music, folk, funk, poetry and spoken word. Ralph's musical palette covers all these areas and more - and he has developed a compositional and improvisational interest in the intersection between trombone and voice - an area he explores with The Dissolute Society, for which he provides most of the compositions and writes the words. In fact, he especially likes to employ the power of words in music to give a narrative arc, which also acts as a 'glue' for the many genre styles within this project. The 15-track album is full of remarkable performances: Fini Bearman's breathtaking part-spoken vocals; Huw Warren's mesmerising piano; Laura Jurd's fleet-footed trumpet; Mia Marlen Berg's elastic voice; and not least, Raph Clarkson's trombone virtuosity - from soft, mournful refrain to unrestrained vigour, and all shades in between. But, genuinely, all the participating musicians bring phenomenal feeling and interpretation to this complex, opaque recording - that also has such immediacy and inner energy. ...' (release information). 'On the whole though, Soldiering On is a challenging listen, dominated by bracing free improvisation and unflinching poetry ...an album that requires several plays to get your head around'. (Thomas Rees in Jazzwise).

Details and Samples : Video :

 

 

 

 

Howard Riley - Listen To Hear
(SLAM) - Released: 20th April 2018

Howard Riley (piano).

Howard Riley Listen To Hear

 

 

'Pianist Howard Riley performing solo works, recorded 12 September 2017 at Porcupine Studios, London. Howard has been a regular and productive recording artist on SLAM since the very early days of 1990. In fact his discography includes 16 SLAM CDs. In his solo recordings he has always shown a preference for the short tracks, which he has on occasion referred to as his 'Short Stories'. This studio session, is very much of that character, with 17 tracks of around 3 and 4 minutes - plus, as is not uncommon, the inclusion of a jazz standard, in this case a couple of takes on "April in Paris". "Listening to the music on this CD is to hear, in an almost Dickensian flow of characterisation, much of the history not just of jazz but of 20th century music, plus some Romanticism, plus some Baroque, flowing past. Riley in his pomp is also a music historian...Precious moments" - Brian Morton (release information). 'The veteran English pianist's playful charm and deceptively naive craft are in evidence ....'(Selwyn Harris in Jazzwise).

Details and Samples :

 

 

 

 

McClenty Hunter Jr. - The Groove Hunter
(Strikezone Records) - Released 4th May 2018

Stacy Dillard (tenor saxophone); Eric Reed (piano); Corcoran Holt ( bass); McClenty Hunter (drums) + guests Eddie Henderson (trumpet); Donald Harrison (alto saxophone); Dave Stryker (guitar); Christian Sands (piano, Rhodes); Eric Wheeler (bass).

McClenty Hunter Jr The Groove Hunter

 

'The drumming qualities of McClenty Hunter could be fully enjoyed throughout the years while performing with Kenny Garrett, Eric Reed, Jim Snidero and Dave Stryker. His faultless rhythmic drives have a special meaning now since he gathered some of the most revered heavyweights on the scene to play with him on The Groove Hunter, his debut full-length album. The guest appearances include emblematic musicians like trumpeter Eddie Henderson, altoist Donald Harrison, and guitarist Dave Stryker, but also emergent talents such as pianist Christian Sands and bassist Eric Wheeler on three tunes each. They expanded the possibilities of a tight core quartet composed of Stacy Dillard on tenor sax, Eric Reed on piano, Corcoran Holt on bass, and McClenty in the drummer’s chair'.

'The album, pure post-bop thrill, comprises four gentle originals and a selection of five exciting covers .... The Groove Hunter is a notable jazz ride whose tightness and dynamism defines the rhythmic pathos of a gifted drummer who will certainly conquer much more in the future'. (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review :

 

 

 

 

Jon Irabagon Quartet featuring Tim Hagans - Dr Quixotic's Traveling Exotics
(Irabbagast Records) - Released: 15th May 2018

Jon Irabagon (tenor saxophone); Tim Hagans (trumpet); Luis Perdomo (piano); Yasushi Nakamura (double bass); Rudy Royston (drums).

Jon Irabagon Dr Quixotics Traveling Exotics

 

 

'Searchers and enthusiasts of contemporary jazz will probably agree with me about the works of saxophonist Jon Irabagon being a must-listen. Let me add that his explosive new album of originals, Dr. Quixotic’s Traveling Exotics, is one of his very best ....'

'Nothing in this music is pointless or forced, in the same way that everything is tangible, honest and risk-taking. Irabagon shows off brilliant compositional skills and a personal tenor conception that elevates him to a superior level'. (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples (when available) : Full JazzTrail review : Video of The Demon Barber of Fleet Week played live :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike McGinnis - Singular Awakening
(Sunnyside) - Released: 27th April 2018

Mike McGinnis (saxophone, clarinet); Art Lande (piano); Steve Swallow (electric bass).

Mike McGinnis Singular Awakening

 

'Rising-star clarinetist/saxophonist/composer Mike McGinnis couldn’t have had better associates to develop his musicality than pianist Art Lande and electric bassist Steve Swallow, whose experience and distinct styles provide an elegant carpet for his strides. Singular Awakening is the natural follow-up to last year’s Recurring Dream. The album comprises twelve tracks, eight of them being improvised numbers, while the bassist and the pianist contribute with two compositions each ...'

'Swallow’s groovy jazz compositions occupy the extremities, starting and closing the album with bliss ... Both the established compositions and the collective improvisations enrich a session in which three multi-generational voices crisscross with imagination and clarity of purpose' (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Video Introduction :

 

 

 

 

 

Meg Okura and the Pan-Asian Chamber Ensemble - Ima Ima
(Self-Release) - Released: 13th May 2018

Meg Okura (violin, vocals, erhu); Tom Harrell (trumpet); Sam Newsome (soprano sax); Sam Sadigursky (bass clarinet, clarinet); Anne Drummond (flutes); Riza Printup (harp); Rez Abbasi (guitar); Brian Marsella (piano, electric piano); Pablo Aslan (bass); Jared Schonig (drums).

Meg Okura Im Ima

 

 

'Japanese violinist Meg Okura records for the fourth time with her Pan-Asian Chamber Ensemble, this time having first-rate improvisers Rez Abbasi and Tom Harrell in the roster, guitarist and trumpeter, respectively. Containing seven original compositions, the album Ima Ima put on view her lucid musical vision as she explores material across the world-fusion spectrum. Thus, it’s more than common to hear timeless Eastern melodies running over contemporary jazz arrangements .... Elements of Japanese folk merge with jazz harmonies, shaping a gracious chamber jazz that lands on an uplifting Latinized vamp dominated by Harrell’s soloing aptitude. Ms. Okura was able to create magical crossover soundscapes with intimacy and subtlety, resorting to a pure lyricism and fascinating collective passages that never put the homogeneity of the whole into question'. (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Video of A Night Insomnia played live :

 

 

 

 

Henry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg - Dirt... And More Dirt
(Pi Recordings) - Released: 8th June 2018

Henry Threadgill (alto sax, flutes); Liberty Ellman (guitar); Chris Hoffman (cello); Jose Davila (tuba); Ben Gerstein (trombone); Jacob Garchik (trombone); Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet); Stephanie Richards (trumpet); Curtis Macdonald (alto sax); Roman Filiú (alto sax, flute); David Virelles (piano); David Bryant (piano); Thomas Morgan (bass); Elliott Humberto Kavee (drums, percussion); Craig Weinrib (drums, percussion).

Henry Threadgill Dirt And More Dirt

 

 

'Saxophonist Henry Threadgill, holder of a sui-generis jazz style, debuts his 14 or 15 Ekstra: Agg, another singular project that includes guitar - adroitly handled by longtime collaborator Liberty Ellman, who also produces the record - cello, tuba, two trombones, two trumpets, two or three saxophones (depending on if Threadgill conducts or plays), two pianos, one bass, and two drums. The album, Dirt… and More Dirt, presents ten compositions that pretty much represent the gravitating sound of the multi-awarded altoist, whose unmistakable signature, built on power, finesse, and mystery, constantly undermines the listeners’ expectations .... As a top-tier experimentalist, Threadgill continues to innovate through a spontaneity and reflex that navigate the abstract and the emotional. For the ones experiencing the saxophonist’s forms and textures for the first time, this can be a real challenge. Yet, it's just a matter of time before concluding that his airy (de)constructions never lack drama or elegance'. (Jazztrail).

Details and samples when album released : Full JazzTrail Review : Video of Henry Threadgill in conversation in 2014 :

 

 

 

 

Francesco Chiapperini Extemporary Vision Ensemble - The Big Earth
(Rudi Records) - Released: 12th March 2018

Francesco Chiapperini (arrangements and compositions, clarinet, bass clarinet); Andrea Jimmy Catagnoli (alto sax); Gianluca Elia (tenor sax); Eloisa Manera (violin); Vito Emanuele Galante (trumpet); Marco Galetta (trumpet); Andrea Baronchelli (trombone and tuba); Simone Quatrana (piano); Luca Pissavini (cello); Andrea Grossi (double bass); Filippo Sala (drums); Filippo Monico (drums and percussions).

Francesco Chiapperini The Big Earth

This 12 piece big band, led by Chiapperini on clarinet, sets out as a tribute to the "great land" of Puglia and its deep cultural and musical tradition. A universe steeped in rituals originating from the ancient peasant and maritime civilization.

What you get is a mixture of religious imagery, raucous street music, folk melodies, and contemporary modern jazz, often playfully interpreted.  And there's some fine soloing in what is an unmistakeably European, if not Italian sound.

One of the most interesting big bands I've come across for a while, from the always innovative Rudi Records.

Peter Slavid ((Peter Slavid hosts a monthly, 2 hour radio show at www.mixcloud.com/ukjazz and says: 'The programme has a very specific purpose. The show is entirely European and entirely modern'. Peter shares his 'album of the month' with us)

Details and Samples : Introductory Video :

 

 

 

 

Solveig Slettahjell - Live At Victoria

(Jazzland) - Released: 1st January 2018

Solveig Slettahjell (piano, vocals); Pål Hausken (vocals) and guests.

Solveig Slettahjell Live At Victoria

 

A singer, alone, at a piano is not an unusual sight. But when that singer is Solveig Slettahjell, the rarity of the moment becomes vivid, and the expectation of what this moment could deliver is amplified. And, on a September night in 2017, at Nasjonal Jazzscene in Victoria, Oslo, Solveig gave such a performance. "Magical moments guaranteed" ran the tagline, and - for once - it was not advertising hyperbole. Guests joined for some songs: Pål Hausken provided percussive accompaniment on some tracks, while the choir Safari appeared to provide a whole new ambience to proceedings. However, their sparing use adds colour and drama at just the right moments, never resorting to mere chorus build-up and repetition. Featuring a set made of standards, original material, and settings of poems by Emily Dickinson, Solveig's performance is a masterful blend of emotional honesty and technical brilliance. Her delivery of classics by the likes of Gershwin, or more recent creations by Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen is bold and forthright, and her interpretations retain the spirits of the originals while marking them clearly with her own stylistic thumbprint. Her Emily Dickinson interpretations are much more than mere exercises - they are charged with the energy of the original poetry, and often viewed through unexpected lenses ...'. (release information). 'Any new recording by the Norwegian vocalist, pianist and composer ... is a huge cause for celebration ...in an age of downloading and streaming, Live At Victoria is an album that deserves to be heard at one sitting...' (Peter Quinn in Jazzwise).

Details and Samples :

 

 

 

 

Esbjörn Svensson Trio - e.s.t. Live In London
(ACT) - Released: 25th May 2018

Esbjörn Svennson (piano); Dan Berglund (bass); Magnus Öström (drums).

est Live In London

 

'The release of this album marks a poignant moment: the tenth anniversary of the tragic and premature death of Esbjörn Svensson on 14 June 2008. During the last ten years after the end of e.s.t. there have been constant reminders of the indelible mark which the band has left on the international jazz scene. Indeed it is hard to imagine a whole generation of currently highly successful young bands all over the world, often attracting an audience of same age, without the deep and lasting influence of the sound and the aesthetic of e.s.t. It might sound like a cliché but it is evident that through his music, Esbjörn Svensson will stay with us forever.The trio really was a phenomenon. Its scale, recognition and impact grew progressively and internationally during the seventeen years of its existence' (release information). 'It is now 10 years since the tragic and untimely death of Esbjörn Svensson .... So this excellent album is a timely reminder of the emotional and aesthetic appeal of a group whose music crossed barriers of age, ethnicity and genre to reach beyond jazz, not just in Europe, but the US itself ...' (Stuart Nicholson in Jazzwise). 'In no sense am I an expert in jazz or for that part, but this is a lovely album. It contains a stellar performance of a band at their peak. The vinyl version is what I have and the pressing is dead quiet, crisp and clear. A joy listening to!' (Customer review).

Details and Samples :

 

 

 

 

Jimmy Dorsey - The Hits Collection: 1935-1957 (Box Set - 5 CDs)
(Acrobat) - Released: 8th March 2018

Jimmy Dorsey (clarinet) with various personnel.

Jimmy Dorsey Hits Collection

 

'Clarinetist and saxophonist Jimmy Dorsey and his brother Tommy led two of the most popular and successful big bands through the swing era of the late 30s and through the war years into the post-war decade until popular music changed in the new socio-economic climate. Jimmy took over leadership of The Dorsey Brothers orchestra in 1935 when Tommy left to form his own band, and over the next two decades maintained a remarkably consistent presence in the pop charts, capturing the zeitgeist of the times with instrumental hits that provided the favoured style of dance music and vocal hits which encapsulated the sentimental, optimistic and escapist themes which kept people going through the difficult times of the war or reflected the upbeat mood of later years. When he died from cancer in 1957, aged just 53, his final hit was still in the charts. This great-value 105-track 5-CD set comprises his entries in Billboard, Cash Box and the other US charts which existed before the Billboard record sales charts began in 1940 ....It’s a thorough and entertaining overview of the music that made his orchestra such a fixture in the pop music landscape of the time'. (release information). ' .... for a whistle stop tour through his own work as a leader, and the big hits he had, then this exemplary 5 CD set is essential, with surprises including his brilliant 'Dorseyland' trad band'. (Alyn Shipton, Jazzwise).

Details :

 

 

 

Ben Webster - Ben Webster & Associates
(Poll Winners Records) - 23rd March 2018

Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Budd Johnson (tenor sax); Roy Eldridge (trumpet); Jimmy Jones (piano); Les Spann (guitar); Ray Brown (bass); Jo Jones (drums).

Ben Webster and Associates

 

 

'... Leonard Feather ... wrote on the original liner notes to this album that: 'here you will find the type of music that will never depend on fashion, or technical display or a caustic rejection of society - here is experience, here is wisdom, here is beauty, here at its purist and truest is jazz', he had a point .... The time is made up with a couple of JATP jams featuring Ben, but the original album on its own is such a thing of beauty it really needs no further adornment'. (Alyn Shipton in Jazzwise).

Details :

 

 

 

 

 

Buddy Rich - The Lost Tapes
(Lightyear/Lobitos Creek) - Released: 2nd February 2018

Paul Phillips, Eric Mayashiro, Michael Lewis, Joe Kaminsk (trumpet); Scott Bliege, Mike Davis, James Martin (trombone); Steve Marcus, Mark Pinto,Bob Bowlby, BrianSjoerdinga, Jay Craig (reeds); Bill Cunliffe (piano); Dave Cropener (bass); Buddy Rich (drums).

Buddy Rich The Lost Tapes

 

 

'Buddy Rich The Lost Tapes is an historic preservation and restoration project. The producers recovered the masters from a fire in 1990 and went about restoring the original surround soundtrack of this 1985 show, the last concert Buddy Rich filmed and recorded before he passed away in 1987. This release follows the Emmy Award winning Channel One Suite (both concerts were recorded the same night)'. (release information). '... this 15 minute version (of West Side Story Suite) is one of his most dazzling and heroic solos ...In the past I might have directed someone seeking the best of Buddy Rich to the 1960s Pacific albums like Mercy Mercy or Big Swing Face, but having heard this, I think this is the one ...' (Alyn Shipton in Jazzwise).

Details and Samples :

 

 

 

 

 

Duke Ellington - Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins
(Poll Winners Records / Intermusic) - Released: 23rd March 2018

Ray Nance (cornet, violin); Lawrence Brown (trombone); Johnny Hodges (alto sax); Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax); Harry Carney (bass sax); Duke Ellington (piano); Aaron Bell (bass); Sam Woodyard (drums).

Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins

 

 

'Two pure voices - heartfelt and soulful! It is studio quality mastering, as if we were in the same room when it was recorded'. (Customer Review). 'This is one of the great Ellington small group sessions for Impulse!... Impulse themselves reissued it with the John Coltrane/Duke Ellington session in 2011, which represents rather better value than this. However, here the bonus tracks provide more cuts by Hawk, playing Ellington material with his own bands'. (Alyn Shipton in Jazzwise).

Details :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maynard Ferguson - Memories Of Maynard: The Best Of The Columbia Years
(Sleepy Night Records) - Released: 16th February 2018

Maynard Ferguson (trumpet) with various personnel.

Maynard Ferguson Memories of Maynard

 

'Remastered original tracks from Sony Music. Maynard Ferguson, passed on 10 years ago, regarded as a one off, there will never be another musician like him with his power and incredible high note technique on the trumpet. This is his Greatest Hits from his time with Columbia, Big Band Pop/Jazz/Disco ... some are rare mixes never available on CD before. (Including from 1977), a top-40 (#22) pop single, Gonna Fly Now (from the movie Rocky), a rare accomplishment for a jazz musician in the 1970s. Film and television themes figured prominently in the surging popularity of MF. On this CD the Theme from Star Trek, and Main Title from Star Wars, Bernstein's Maria from West Side Story, Scheherazade from the classical music realm, Dorothy's Over The Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz. For the first time anywhere, on any format, we bring you the previously unreleased, Shanti Mantra' (release information). ' This is the Maynard of the lavish studio years ... yet there's a driving energy about everything here from Chameleon to Hollywood (with Stanley Clarke in the driving seat) ..' (Alyn Shipton in Jazzwise).

Details and Samples :

 

 

 

 

Dave Manington's Riff Raff - Challenger Deep
(Loop Records) - Released: 11th May 2018

Brigitte Beraha (vocals); Tomas Challenger (tenor saxophone); Ivo Neame (Fender Rhodes, Mellotron, Hammond organ); Rob Updegraff (guitar); Dave Manington (double bass); Tim Giles (drums, percussion).

Dave Maningtons Riff Raff Challenger Deep

 

Long awaited follow-up to Riff Raff's 2013 album Hullabaloo although Dave Manington has been playing on many releases with other people's albums. Dave says of the title track: 'Challenger Deep is the deepest ocean trench in the world, nearly 11km down  at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. This is more of a mood piece, with the low bass riff and slow otherworldly melody trying to capture the strange beauty and calm of the deep ocean. Imagine all the weird fish and creatures unknown to science swimming past in the darkness. Tom was very pleased I wanted to name the tune and album after him, but it has nothing to do with his deep saxophone playing or the fact that he’s deeply challenging – although perhaps the HMS Challenger was named after one of his ancestors?!' The starting point for the music is collective improvisation but compositionally (and all the compositions are by Dave Manington) it draws on as wide a range of styles as possible - folk, electronic music and contemporary classical influences are added to the mix with complex jazz harmonies and rhythms.

Details and Samples : Video of Dr Octopus live : Video of Challenger Deep live : Website and details of May and June tour dates

 

 

 

 

 

Dinosaur - Wonder Trail
(Edition Records) - Released: 4th May - 2018

Laura Jurd (trumpet); Elliot Galvin (synths); Conor Chaplin (electric bass); Corrie Dick (drums)

Dinosaur Wonder Trail

 

After their highly praised 2016 release Together As One (given 5 stars in The Guardian's review), their second album 'plunders synth-pop of the 1980s for a new sound. But this is not gratuitous borrowing, or any kind of hipsterish, retro post-modernism. For one, these are very current sounds (Broen's an indie band with similar reference points that comes up in conversation. And for two, Jurd and Galvin use the poptastic-ness of the keyboard sound as a sort of tin opener to get into all kinds of serious musical areas - improvisation, vocodered strangeness, strutting rockishness, bucolic folkiness. But, as with any proper stylistic amalgam, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.' (Edition). This is an engaging and outstandingly produced album that deserves to be heard.

Details and Samples : Video for Quiet Thunder : Website and details of May, June and July tour dates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alyn Cosker - KPF
(NYLA Recordings) - Released: 7th March 2018

Alyn Cosker (drums, piano, percussion) and on various tracks - Steve Hamilton (keys and piano); Marcio Doctor (percussion); Davie Dunsmuir (electric guitar); Colin Cunningham (electric bass); Fraser Anderson (vocals); Adam Bulley (mandolin); Jim Cosker (piano); Laurence Cottle (electric bass); Fiona Hamilton (fiddle); Kirsty Johnson (accordion); Rachel Lightbody (vocals); Joe Locke (vibes); Tommy Smith (tenor saxophone); Paul Towndrow (alto saxophone); Chas Mackenzie (acoustic guitar); Eddi Reader (vocals).

Alyn Cosker KPF

 

 

Born in Ayr, Scottish drummer Alyn Cosker is the resident drummer with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. 'KPF is the follow up to Alyn's critically acclaimed album Lyn's Une. It features the drummer's core band of Steve Hamilton on keys, Davie Dunsmuir on guitar and Colin Cunningham on bass alongside a host of world renowned musicians/artists such as Tommy Smith, Joe Locke, Laurence Cottle and Eddi Reader and many more. Alyn's compositions reflect his love for artists such as Sting, Peter Gabriel, Steely Dan, Jaco Pastorius and Michael McGoldrick in a groove based album with challenging yet accessible time signatures. (Release information). Alyn explains that the track and album title KPF is named after his fiancee, Kirsty: 'Her grandad played a special part in her life (along with the rest of the family). When they were kids he had a car that contained KPF in the registration plate. He would always state it stood for 'Kirsty's Pretty Face'. Couldn't agree more'.

Details and Samples : Video from live album launch :

 

 

 

 

 

Jean Toussaint Allstar 6tet - Brother Raymond
(Lyte Records) - Released: 18th May 2018

Jean Toussaint (saxophone, composer); Byron Wallen (trumpet); Mark Kavuma (trumpet); Dennis Rollins (trombone); Tom Dunnett (trombone); Tom Harrison (saxophone); Jason Rebello (piano); Andrew McCormack (piano); Ashley Henry (piano); Daniel Casimir (bass); Alec Dankworth (bass); Shane Forbes (drums); Troy Miller (drums); Mark Mondesir (drums); Williams Cumberbatch Perez (percussion).

Jean Toussaint Brother Raymond

 

 

'Brother Raymond, Jean Toussaint's eleventh album as leader, is made up of eleven original compositions. The Grammy award-winning saxophonist, composer and jazz educator recorded the music following extensive touring in 2015 and 2016 with his All-Star Roots & Herbs project that commemorated 25 years of the passing of his mentor, Art Blakey .... Like Blakey, Toussaint is renowned for nurturing new talent and the album features the Young Lions line up of his band as well as his All-Star Sextet. ... The title track, written for Toussaint's eldest brother who passed away in 2015, draws upon the influences of Toussaint's favourite composers, 'Duke' Ellington and Wayne Shorter ...' (Release information).

Details : Video of Brother Raymond from Roots & Herbs live gig :

 

 

 

 

 

Enemy - Enemy
(Edition Records) - Released: 25th May 2018

Peter Eldh (bass); Kit Downes (piano); James Maddren (drums)

Enemy album

 

 

'ENEMY is the vital new piano trio featuring bassist Frans Petter Eldh, pianist Kit Downes and drummer James Maddren. Described as ‘fiercely intense’ and ‘beautifully intricate’, ENEMY spotlights three brilliant and creative musical minds committed to the exploration of new worlds of performance and music: total music, with each musician contributing equally in an authentic aesthetic display. Each member of ENEMY has achieved personal recognition in the jazz and wider music world (including a Mercury Music Award Nomination, ECHO Jazz nomination, multiple Downbeat Critics Poll nominations and a BBC Jazz Award). “We want this music to be fierce, vital and to have and give energy – and to do so whilst never sacrificing its intricacy and its integrity.” (ENEMY). ''ENEMY's music fills me with a mix of wonder and fear. The compositions on this, their debut release as a trio, are fiendishly complex, but they're also exhilarating and infectious ... This is a formidable release from three musicians at the top of their game.' (Thomas Rees in Jazzwise).

Details and Samples : Brief introductory taste : Video of Prospect of K live :

 

 

 

 

 

Ivo Neame - Moksha
(Edition Records) - Released: 23rd March 2018

Ivo Neame (piano, Fender Rhodes, mellotron, Hammond, nord lead); George Crowley (tenor saxophone); Tom Farmer (bass); James Maddren (drums).

Ivo Neame Moksha

 

 

'An innately gifted pianist, composer and bandleader, Ivo Neame has demonstrated over the last decade that he is a musician of world-class quality with a powerful spirit of adventure and exploration. He is by any measure an original and a risk-taker. With Moksha, he returns to Edition Records with an album that will define a new era for him in his already illustrious career. With a new band, a greater use of electronic keyboards and an edgier rhythmical groove and band interplay, Neame has produced his most remarkable and boldest musical statement to date'. (Edition Records). 'Here there's a shift in direction that's not so much about style as a relaxation of the kind of tricky, airtight grooves at the core of Neame's compositions on previous CDs ...As ith Neame's recordings so far, it's a grower, but this one gets you hooked sooner rather than later. It's arguably his strongest and certainly his most directly lyric music so far'. (Selwyn Harris in Jazzwise).

Details and Samples : Video : Video of Vegetarians : Brief video of live performance of Laika : Review ****

 

 

 

 

 

Martin Speake - Intention
(Ubuntu Music) - Released: 20th April 2018

Martin Speake (alto saxophone); Ethan Iverson (piano); Fred Thomas (bass); James Maddren (drums).

Martin Speake Intention

 

'In 1990 alto saxophonist Martin Speake and Ethan Iverson met at Banff Centre for The Arts in Canada where they studied for a month with Steve Coleman, Rufus Reid, Kevin Eubanks, Stanley Cowell, Kenny Wheeler and many others. This began their musical relationship and they kept in touch for a while as Ethan moved to New York and eventually became the musical director/pianist with Mark Morris Dance Company. Since then he has toured with world with the critically acclaimed trio The Bad Plus and recently has recorded with Ron Carter and Lee Konitz amongst others. They eventually lost touch after Banff and both pursued their separate paths in music. Martin decided to contact Ethan after a ten year gap and they began playing together again and in 2002 performed as a duo in the UK and Scotland and released the cd My Ideal (Basho Records), a ballad album of standards. Now 15 years later they have recorded a quartet album of Martin's compositions for release on the Ubuntu Music record label in 2018. This band also features bassist Fred Thomas and drummer James Maddren'. (Release information).

Details and Samples : Article / Review by Robin Kidson Celebrating Martin Speake : Video of band playing Intention :

 

 

 

 

 

Trio HLK - Standard Time
(Ubuntu Music) - Released: 11th May 2018

Rich Harrold (piano, keyboards); Ant Law (eight-string guitar); Richard Kass (drums); Dame Evelyn Glennie (percussion); Steve Lehman (alto saxophone).

Trio HLK Standard Time

 

 

'The debut album for Trio HLK is driven by a single artistic concept- to deconstruct classics tunes and drastically rework them using contemporary classical compositional techniques. The album's two special guests emphasise the drawing together of these two languages- Alto Saxophonist Steve Lehman, one of the most important artists in contemporary Jazz, and Evelyn Glennie, the world's leading classical percussionist. This conceptual vision permeates every aspect of the album, right down to the artwork. The cover depicts a deconstructed clock whose components reference elements of each track. The result is a fully realised stand-alone artwork'. (Release information). 'Standard Time is coded language. The sources for five of the eight pieces on the British ensemble's Ubuntu records debut are well known standards, but they are comprehensively dissected and extrapolated in order to lead the listener into 'distant territory by a familiar thread.....'. (Kevin Le Gendre in Jazzwise).

Details and Samples : Video : Further Details :

 

 

 

 

Peter Erskine And The Dr. Um Band - On Call
(Fuzzy Music) - Released: 6th April 2018

Bob Sheppard (saxophone); John Beasley (keyboards); Benjamin Shepherd (electric bass); Peter Erskine (drums).

Peter Erskine and the Dr Um Band On Call

 

'Consummate drummer Peter Erskine, a former Weather Report member, has always shown an inclination for electric jazz fusion. Commanding The Dr. Um Band with metrical depth and angular vision, he releases On Call, a new double album on his own music label ... disc one includes brand new material recorded in the studio whereas disc two encapsulates previously recorded tunes performed live in Occhiobello, Italy. All the members of the quartet ... penned compositions for the studio session ... The live session, filled with enthusiasm and excitement, opens with a couple of tunes by Erskine: the cerebral, blues-based “Hipnotherapy” and the funk-inflected “Hawaii Bathing Suit”. The former thrives with woody bass grooves decorated with wha-wha effects and concordant drumming, while the latter is a playful avant fusion that captivates through gorgeous unisons, apt improvisations, and an effusive drumming with strong Latin accents. After the soaringly atmospheric first section, Henry Mancini’s “Dreamville” combines bossa nova rhythms with balladic tones, whose silky textures result from mixing light funk, smooth jazz, and malleable R&B elements ... With the live recording surpassing the studio session, On Call sparks with tremendous rhythmic engagement as it shows Erskine’s productive modus operandi'.

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review :

 

 

 

 

 

Patrick Zimmerli Quartet - Clockworks
(Songlines Recordings) - Released: 6th April 2018

Patrick Zimmerli (tenor saxophone); Ethan Iverson (piano); Chris Tordini (bass); John Hollenbeck (drums).

Patrick Zimmerli Quartet Clockworks

 

 

'Saxophonist Patrick Zimmerli penned an hour-length suite of new music to be played by the members of his quartet: former Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson, vigorous bassist Chris Tordini, and spectacular drummer John Hollenbeck. The album, Clockworks, is a breathtaking foray into metrics, temporal expressions and variations, cadenced movements, percolating polyrhythms, and mind-boggling patterns that make Zimmerli’s music highly contemporary, memorable, and unique ... This quartet of modernists allows us to discover new ways of looking at jazz through oblique angles and groundbreaking perspectives. The inviolable authenticity of the group is remarkable, and Clockworks is a preciousness that simply shines with a levitational synergy'.

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review :

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Frisell - Music Is
(Okeh) - Released: 16th March 2018

Bill Frisell (electric and acoustic guitars, loops, ukulele, bass, music boxes).

Bill Frisell Music Is

 

'This is guitar master Bill Frisell’s first solo album since Ghost Town was released on Nonesuch 20 years ago. “Playing ‘solo’ is always a challenge,” Frisell says. “For me, music has all along been so much about playing with other people. Having a conversation. Call and response. Playing all by myself is a trip. I really have to change the way I think. In preparation for this recording I played for a week at The Stone in New York. Each night I attempted new music that I'd never played before. I was purposely trying to keep myself a little off balance. Uncomfortable. Unsure. I didn't want to fall back on things that I knew were safe. My hope was to continue this process right on into the studio. I didn't want to have things be all planned out beforehand.” All the compositions on Music IS were composed by Frisell, some are brand-new - Change in the Air, Thankful, What Do You Want, Miss You and Go Happy Lucky - others are solo adaptions of now classic original compositions Frisell has previously recorded - In Line, Rambler, Ron Carter, Pretty Stars, Monica Jane, and The Pioneers. The focus of Music IS is on the telling of musical stories from Frisell’s original and inimitable perspective. The end result is Frisell at his most distilled and fully realised'. (Release information). 'Frisell is an inveterate drifter whose musicality leans toward introspection rather than spectacle. He knows how to sculpt a candid melody and make it the pounding heart of a song. Very personal, this is a novelty act of pure Frisellian atmospheres'. (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTraill Review : Video of Bill Frisell playing Rambler from the album.

 

 

 

 

The Nels Cline 4 - Currents, Constellations
(Blue Note) - Released: 13th April 2018

Nels Cline (guitar); Julian Lage (guitar); Scott Colley (bass); Tom Rainey (drums).

Nels Cline 4 Currents constellations

 

'Following the release of Nels Cline's expansive Blue Note debut Lovers which found him fronting a 23-piece ensemble arranged by Michael Leonhart, the Wilco guitarist pares it down to The Nels Cline 4 for his latest project Currents, Constellations. The album features Cline alongside fellow guitarist and frequent collaborator Julian Lage, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Tom Rainey on a set of seven Cline originals plus one piece by composer Carla Bley. It's a showcase of Cline's versatility that veers from rollicking rock energy to avant-garde explorations to ballads of serene beauty'. (Release information). 'Whether digging into glam pop songs, avant-jazz routines with punk attitude, or sophisticated garage-rock episodes, impetuous guitarist Nels Cline, a creative powerhouse in small group settings, always sounds unique and fetching ... There’s a deep sense of understanding among the musicians and that reflects positively in their nimble moves and sounds. The levels of abstraction in Currents, Constellations makes it more indisputably alluring than any recent project led by Cline, who has here one of his best albums since the masterpiece New Monastery'. (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Video of Imperfect 10 : Video of Temporarily :

 

 

 

 

 

Dafnis Prieto Big Band - Back To The Sunset
(Dafnison Music) - Released: 5th April 2018

Mike Rodriguez, Nathan Eklund, Alex Sipiagin, Josh Deutsch (trumpet/flugelhorn); Roman Filiu, Michael Thomas, Peter Apfelbaum, Joel Fraham, Chris Cheek (reeds); Tim Albright, Alan Ferber, Jacob Garchik (trombone); Jeff Nelson (bass trombone); Manuel Valera (piano); Ricky Rodriguez (bass); Roberto Quintero (percussion); Dafnis Prieto (drums) + Guests – Brian Lynch (trumpet); Henry Threadgill (alto sax); Steve Coleman (alto sax).

Dafnis Prieto Big Band Back To The Sunset

 

 

'Although I’m not a staunch fan of Latin jazz, there are a few records that stand out, whether due to its bold arrangements, vivid harmonic colors, or distinctive contagious rhythms and energy. This is the case of Back To The Sunset, a kaleidoscopic big band record by Cuban-born drummer Dafnis Prieto, who employs a roster of reed titans and rhythm experts to shape up nine original compositions, each of them dedicated to influential mentors/musicians ..... The most grandiose moment of the record comes with the title track, coinciding with the second guest appearance. Acclaimed alto saxophonist Henry Threadgill kills it with a sensitive, sharp solo, beautifully developed outside the standard patterns while driving this ballad into his own musical realms. The tune was dedicated to him and genial pianist Andrew Hill .... Encompassing the worlds of Latin and jazz music, this 75-minute fusion tour is full-blooded and predominantly spirited'. (JazzTraill).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTraill Review : Video :

 

 

 

 

Kristjan Randalu - Absence
(ECM) - Released: 6th April 2018

Kristjan Randalu (piano); Ben Monder (guitar); Markku Ounaskari (drums).

Kristjan Randalu - Absence

 

 

'With a knack for texture and improvisation, as well as a huge capacity to understand form and structure, Estonian pianist Kristjan Randalu, a former student of John Taylor and Django Bates, establishes his own depth-charged dramatic stance on his ECM debut record, Absence. The work comprises nine rigorously structured originals for trio, combining jazz, avant-garde, classical, and modern composition with a carefully cultivated touch. Filling out the band are American guitarist Ben Monder, a mainstay in the New York scene, and Finnish drummer Markku Ounaskari, whose temperate chops qualify in perfection to tone up the bottom layer ... This trio, whose members are no imitators but builders of their own language, embraces discipline and finds coherence in the assemblage of their musical aesthetics'.

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joshua Trinidad - In November
(RareNoise) - Released: 23rd March 2018

Joshua Trinidad (trumpet); Jacob Young (guitars); Stale Liavik Solberg (drums).

Joshua Trinidad In November

 

 

'Joshua Trinidad, a virtuosic trumpeter based in Denver, joins forces with a distinctive Norwegian rhythm section composed of guitarist Jacob Young and drummer Stale Liavik Solberg. Boasting an entrancing sound, this bass-less trio gave the best treatment to Trinidad’s compositions ... Modest and reverent, the bandleader shapes the title track as a dim-lighted ballad suffused with aching pensiveness. He and his trio partners envelop us in the type of harmonious atmosphere that dominates the record, and the sensation is that we are hearing Enrico Rava exchanging points of view with John Abercrombie or Robert Fripp ... Brimming with endless enchantment, these are keen compositions we can easily relate to. Furthermore, the artists involved in this project have a special chemistry, delivering from the heart every time they are called to intervene'. 

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review :

 

 

 

 

 

Chet Baker - Three Classic Albums Plus (2 CDs)
(Avid) - Released: 3rd November 2017

Chet Baker (trumpet); Herbie Mann (fulgelhorn); Marchello Boschi (alto sax); Bobby Jaspar (tenor sax, flute); Johnny Griffin (tenor sax); Pepper Adams, Gino Marinacci (baritone sax); Al Haig, Bill Evans, Amadeo Tommasi, Piero Umillani (piano); Franco Chiari (vibes); Kenny Burrell, Rene Thomas, Enzo Grillani (guitar); Paul Chambers, Benoit Quersin, Berto Pisano (bass); Connie Kay, Philly Joe Jones, Daniel Humair, Ralf Ferraro (drums) plus strings.

Chet Baker Three Classic Albums Plus

 

'Recorded between 1958 and 1962, AVID Jazz continues with its Three Classic albums plus series with a re-mastered 2CD release from Chet Baker, complete with original artwork and liner notes. 'In New York'; 'Chet'; 'Chet Is Back' plus three tracks from 'I Soliti Ignoti (Big Deal On Madonna Street)' (featuring the music of Piero Umiliani) Late 50s early 60s Chet at his best with three classic selections which find the trumpeter in the company of a cavalcade of jazz big hitters. And they don't come much bigger than tenor sax supremo Johnny Griffin who blows hard alongside Chet, Paul Chambers on bass, and Al Haig on piano on our first album 'In New York'. For 'Chet' our hero is joined by.. get this line up... Herbie Mann, Pepper Adams, Bill Evans, Kenny Burrell, Paul Chambers, Philly Jo Jones and Connie Kay.... Over to Italy for our last two sessions, 'Chet Is Back' finds our man with superb Belgian sax and flute man Bobby Jaspar alongside some of the finest Italian jazz players of the era. Our last three tracks feature the film soundtrack music of Piero Umiliani where Chet is joined by the great composer himself for selections from I Soliti Ignoti (Big Deal On Madonna Street)'. (Release information). ' ... an essential and timeless document of one of the finest trumpeters in jazz'. (Aly Shipton in Jazzwise).

Details :

 

 

 

 

So Much, So Quickley - British Modern Jazz Pianists 1948 - 1962
(Acrobat) - Released: 3rd March 2018

Various musicians including George Shearing, Dill Jones, Stan Tracey, Harry South, Dudley Morre and Bill Le Sage.

So Much So Quickly album

 

'To those British jazzmen coming to terms with the Bebop revolution of the Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk during the late 1940s, there was one, hugely imposing barrier; harmony. The new, supersonic melodies and off-kilter rhythms were one thing but underpinning these and forming the very bedrock of the music was a very novel, very definite methodology, a new system of chordal building blocks that challenged the understanding of all but the most patient. Inevitably, it fell to the pianists those with a map of keyboard harmony laid out before them to try and discover just what were these new, at times mind-bogglingly complex routes towards the cutting edge. So Much, So Quickly charts the rise and development of British modern jazz piano during the 1940s, 50s and early 60s, charting a journey which moves from the hip stylings of the young George Shearing and Ralph Sharon through the classic Hard Bop of Terry Shannon, the wilful, unpredictable originality of Stan Tracey and onto the post-Bill Evans brilliance of Gordon Beck. Over 24 tracks, the music moves from bop to cool, from soul-jazz to free-improv and beyond, taking in the work of well-known names Dudley Moore, Victor Feldman and Harry South, together with rarities from such overlooked contributors as Damian Robinson, Stan Jones and Norman Stenfalt. Featuring a host of other famous British modern jazz icons Ronnie Scott, Tubby Hayes, Joe Harriott, Phil Seamen et al this release also includes an extensive booklet essay by award-winning saxophonist Simon Spillett, period photographs and three previously unissued tracks'. (Release information).

Details and Samples :

 

 

 

The Tubby Hayes Quartet - A Little Workout - Live At The Little Theatre
(Acrobat) - Released: 2nd February 2018

Tubby Hayes (tenor sax, flute); Mike Pyne (piano); Ron Mathewson (bass); Tony Levin (drums).

Tubby Hayes A Little Workout

 

'When the Tubby Hayes and his new quartet alighted on the Little Theatre in Rochester, Kent for two evenings' worth of performances during the winter/spring of 1966/67 both the leader and the bands music were in a period of transition. Drawing equal inspiration from both the recent innovations of Miles Davis and John Coltrane and the energy of his new, young and adventurous sidemen, Hayes was to turn these to-all-intents-and-purposes typical provincial club nights into definitive manifesto statements of his contemporary musical ambitions. Luckily, excerpts from both these performances were captured on tape. Occasionally bootlegged, the recordings made on these two gigs half a century ago illustrate everything the saxophonist had learned, experienced and pioneered up to that moment; from the blistering paint-off-the-walls bebop of Walkin, a solo to rank alongside any of John Coltrane or Sonny Rollins extended forays from the Sixties, through to the astonishing emotional denouement of a seventeen-minute deconstruction of Dear Johnny B. - this isn't Hayes merely on form; this is him on fire! This new Acrobat CD is the first ever release of these recordings and comes packaged with rare, hitherto unpublished photographs and a fascinating booklet note by award-winning saxophonist Simon Spillett author of The Long Shadow of The Little Giant: The Life, Work and Legacy of Tubby Hayes'. (Release information). 'Despite a few technical reservations surrounding these private recordings ... the collective performance by all concerned is nothing less than staggering ...' (Roy Carr in Jazzwise).

Details and Samples :

 

 

 

 

Nina Simone - The Colpix Singles (2 CDs)
(Stateside) - Released: 23rd February 2018

Nina Simone (vocals, piano) plus various personnel.

Nina Simone The Colpix Singles

 

 

'A child virtuoso whose piano recitals were local events, Nina Simone started her musical career as a classically trained pianist, strongly rooted in the works of Bach, and became a singer almost by accident. The rest is history. Her recordings, over the next five decades, earned her cult status, critical acclaim and reached the top of the charts on many occasions. Between 1959 and 1964, she was signed to Colpix, who relinquished all creative control to her, including the choice of material. Her voice at her finest, she worked her way through jazz and blues standards like ‘The Work Song’ and ‘I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)’, folk tunes like ‘Little Liza Jane’ and ‘Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair’, her very own ‘Blackbird’ and ‘I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl’. This compilation gathers all the singles released by Colpix with their original edits, in mono*. *7 of these edits available for the first time since first released in the 1960s. (Release information). 'Traversing jazz, blues, folk, classical and more, this is an unmissable collection by one of the 20th century's most influential artists'. (Peter Quinn In Jazzwise).

Details and Samples : Details and Background Information :

 

 

 

 

Coleman Hawkins - The Middle Years : Essential Cuts 1939 - 1949 (4 CD box set)
(JSP) - Released: 6th April 2018

Coleman Hawkins (tenor saxophone) with various personnel.

Coleman Hawkins The Middle Years

 

 

'In 1939, after 5 years in Europe, the Hawk returned to the US, not as a faded star, but as a soaring monarch. This was a classic period for the tenor legend Coleman Hawkins. After he returned form Europe in 1939 he embarked on a stunningly creative and successful recording career both under his own name and with other bandleaders. The recording of Body & Soul was a particular milestone as well-a true gold plated jazz classic which is of course included here. This collection charts his progress through the decade, when he dazzled audiences and fellow musicians alike'. (Release information).

Details :

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Ridout - No Excuses
(33 Jazz Records) - Released: 1st November 2017

Tom Ridout (saxophones, alto and bass recorders); Rob Luft (guitar); Billy Marrows (guitar); Will Barry (piano, keyboards); Flo Moore (bass); Phelan Burgoyne (drums); Alexandra Ridout (trumpet, flugelhorn); Ann Drysdale (french horn); Elliot Pooley (trombone); Anastasia Stahlmann, Didier Osindero (violin); Anita Kurowska (viola); Cecilia Bignall (cello).

Tom Ridout No Excuses

 

 

Debut release from the award winning young saxophonist, Tom Ridout, featuring his sister, Young Musician of The Year Alexandra Ridout, guitarists Rob Luft and Billy Marrows, with Will Barry on piano, Flo Moore on bass and drummer Phelan Burgoyne. The Group is joined on some tracks by Anna Drysdale, french horn, Elliot Pooley on trombone and a string section - Anastasia Stahlmann, 1st violin, Didier Osindero, 2nd violin, Anita Kurowska, viola and cellist Cecilia Bignall. 'Sometimes young musicians, striving for their own sound, lose touch with the beauty of jazz. No Excuses avoids this trap. The album is an assembly of talented musicians taking us through an array of moods with the energy and unboundedness of youth. Tom Ridout's technical accomplishment is clear, but he doesn't need to prove it so often. If he can further mature the narrative abilities he so evidently possesses, Ridout the elder will be very exciting indeed' (All About Jazz).

Details and Samples : Review **** : Video of Tom Ridout performing his original, 'No Excuses', in the BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander Hawkins / Elaine Mitchener Quartet - Uproot
(Intakt Records ) - Released: 17th November 2017

Alexander Hawkins (piano); Elaine Mitchener (vocals); Neil Charles (bass); Stephen Davis (drums).

Alexander Hawkins Elaine Mitchener Quartet Uproot

 

Brian Morton writes in the liner notes: 'This is music that speaks directly to our condition, our uprootedness and our strange fixities of purpose alike. It is clever and emotional. It comes out of jazz, and a whole lot else besides. Mathematicians have mostly done their great work by the age of 30. Musicians often continue to mature for decades. Here is a group, populated by some of our most singular and precious talents, whose greatest talent is to communicate, and whose music already bears the signs of maturity and longevity'.

Details and Samples : Review **** :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andy Sheppard Quartet - Romaria
(ECM) - Released: 16th February 2018

Andy Sheppard (tenor and soprano saxophones); Eivind Aarset (guitar); Michel Benita (double bass); Sebastian Rochford (drums).

Andy Sheppard Quartet Romaria

 

 

'With a penchant for the intimacy and the subtlety, British saxophonist Andy Sheppard, earned international reputation while playing with Gil Evans, George Russell, and Carla Bley. His new ECM album, Romaria, features experienced bandmates from early recordings: Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset, Algerian-born French bassist Michel Benita, and Scottish drummer Sebastian Rochford ..... Sheppard’s compositions and leadership reflect his experience as a musician. The pure, full-bodied timbre of his sax, diffusing favourable energy in an effortless way, fortifies the luxury of his impeccably layered compositions'. (Filipe Freitas, JazzTrail)

ECM Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail review : Purchase Details and Samples

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cloudmakers Five - Traveling Pulse
(Whirlwind Recordings) - Released: 23rd February 2018

Jim Hart (vibraphone); Michael Janisch (double bass); Dave Smith (drums); Antonin-Tri Hoang (alto saxophone, clarinet); Hannes Riepler (guitar).

Cloudmakers Five Traveling Pulse

 

 

‘Under the leadership of vibraphonist Jim Hart, Cloudmakers Five is the new band grown from his long-standing Cloudmakers Trio with Michael Janisch and David Smith, now augmented with Austrian-born guitarist Hannes Riepler and French-based alto saxophonist Antonin Tri Hoang .... With their uncompromising approach, Cloudmakers Trio has been known to effortlessly marry the complex with accessibility, the improvised with composed, and showcase original music that lies somewhere between New York’s downtown sound and the modern European tradition – their music defies easy category yet draws influence from a diverse range of traditions, featuring the under-exploited format of the vibraphone trio’. (Whirlwind Recordings). 'Once I knew who I was writing for, the music came very quickly, and it was so freeing to have all these ‘colors’ available. I found I could now share the responsibility of covering the harmonic and melodic elements, while affording each player room to express themselves'. (Jim Hart). The album was recorded live at the Vortex Jazz Club in London.

Details and Samples : Listen to The Exchange from the album : video of a live performance of The Exchange : video of a live performance of Golden.

 

 

 

 

 

Zoe Francis - Remembering Blossom Dearie
(Zoe Francis Records) - Released: February 2018

Zoe Francis (vocals); Jim Mullen (guitar); Barry Green (piano); Mick Hutton (bass).

Zoe Francis Remembering Blossom Dearie

 

 

'Remembering Blossom Dearie' is a selection of songs Blossom made famous, including songs by Cy Coleman, prolific duo writing team Comden and Green, and Dave Frishberg, who wrote I’m Hip and Peel Me A Grape. London born Zoe Francis began singing at the Barry Harris workshops in New York, performing her first gigs in Manhattan with musicians including, Jo Cohn, Harry Allen and Howard Alden, and also sitting in with Frank Wess, Warren Vache and Ken Peplowski. Returning to the UK, Zoe performed and recorded her first album Looking For A Boy with award-winning pianist Dave Newton. Her second album The Very Thought of You was with an all-star group including, saxophonist Stan Sulzmann and pianist Gareth Williams, recorded live at London’s 606 club.

Article on this website by Howard Lawes :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Williams - Lifelike
(Whirlwind Recordings) - Released: 20th April 2018

Jeff Williams (drums); John O'Gallagher (alto saxophone); Josh Arcoleo (tenor saxophone); Kit Downes (piano); Sam Lasserson (bass); guest Gonçalo Marquez (trumpet).

Jeff Williams Lifelike

 

Dividing his time between Brooklyn and London, veteran drummer Jeff Williams is in the midst of an exceptional run on the Whirlwind Recordings label. Outlier, in 2016, showcased his working UK quintet in a set hailed by All About Jazz for its “imaginative compositions and excellent musicianship.” Lifelike, the follow-up, finds Williams and the group live on the bandstand, with a tweak in personnel and an expansion to sextet with the addition of guest trumpeter Gonçalo Marquez. “Lifelike is another way of saying ‘live,’” he muses about the album title. “The word is usually ascribed to inanimate objects and I always found it humorous. Basically, I felt that this recording has ‘life’ in it, the kind of life embodied in a live performance .... “My own compositions come from different periods,” Williams says. “‘Borderline’ and ‘Lament’ are from the ’90s, others quite recent. All are conceived at the piano: sometimes I just write down the notes as they present themselves, or sometimes I’ll play one for an extended period while learning to improvise on the form and tweaking the harmony, as was the case with ‘The Interloper'. I’m looking for balance between songs with structure and open forms so that the players have freedom to express their own conception.” (Whirlwind Recordings).

Details and UK Tour dates April - June : Video of Dream Visitor live : Article on this site by Robin Kidson : Purchase Details :

 

 

 

 

 

Alycona Mick and Tori Freestone - Criss Cross
(Whirlwind Recordings) - Released: 23rd March 2018

Tori Freestone (tenor and soprano saxophone, flute); Alcyona Mick (piano); Brigitte Beraha (voice tracks 1 and 8)

Alcyone Mick Tori Freestone Criss Cross

 

 

'Known for diverse roles in jazz, folk and world music, Freestone and Mick have been friends for years, performing together in different ensembles, including the London Jazz Orchestra. But it was casual duo explorations in music from their combined eclectic influences, taking in the output of Thelonious Monk, which led to an enthusiastic invitation from Manchester Jazz Festival's artistic director, Steve Mead, to develop the project for live performance in 2015 ... "this project especially engders warmth, enjoyment and openness amongst the intensity and complexity. It's both fun and heavy - a developing journey through the material and styles we love ...." (Whirlwind Recordings and Tori Freestone)'.

Details : Introductory Video : Listen to Hermetica :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paula Rae-Gibson and Sam Leak - Permission
(33 Extreme) - Released: 30th March 2017

Paula Rae-Gibson (vocals, lyrics, photography, filmography), Sam Leak (piano)

Paula Rae Gibson Sam Leak Permission

 

 

'Permission is a melodic, free-jazz exploration based upon lyrics and poetry by Rae-Gibson. The two musicians have developed a synergetic approach to real-time composition, with the combined goal of expressing an unapologetically raw and intimate underlying emotion. Embracing the unknown, they let the music guide them as it happens, resulting in a very immediate honesty and integrity. Sometimes dark, sometimes joyful, prepared piano interplays with confessional vocals as the pair examine their own experiences of the ups and the downs of love and relationships' (press information).

Details : Samples : listen to Rather Make Believe Than Make Do :

 

 

 

 

 

Eyebrow - Strata
(Bandcamp / eyebrowmusic.com) - Released October 2017

Pete Judge (trumpet, electronics); Paul Wigens (drums, percussion, violin, bowed guitar).

Eyebrow Strat

 

 

 

Eyebrow is a trumpet and drums duo based in Bristol UK. Its music evolves out of improvisations which are reassembled into structured pieces with an unexpectedly cinematic sweep, like journeys through slowly-changing landscapes. "Music of quiet imagination and intimate beauty" (Richard Williams). Pete Judge and Paul Wigens both work with the award winning band Get The Blessing as well as many other ensembles.

Details, Samples and listen to Gravity Waves : Video : The Eyebrow website.

 

 

 

Adam Nussbaum – The Leadbelly Project
(Sunnyside Records) – Released: 23rd February 2018

Ohad Talmor (tenor saxophone); Steve Cardenas (guitar); Nate Radley (guitar); Adam Nussbaum (drums).

Adam Nussbaum The Leadbelly Project

 

 

'On The Leadbelly Project, (Adam Nussbaum’s) first work as a sole leader, he draws from the American roots, focusing on treasured repertoire by the influential blues and folk singer/songwriter Lead Belly, but still adding a couple of kindred compositions of his own. Besides being a powerful singer, Leadbelly was a dedicated 12-string guitar strummer. Hence, the choice of two guitars to revive the rawness of his bluesy tones through an entirely up-to-date perspective doesn’t feel particularly surprising. Playing in tandem yet resorting to sweet-tempered counterpoint, guitarists Steve Cardenas and Nate Radley join the drummer in a bass-less quartet rounded out by saxophonist Ohad Talmor. .... Nussbaum’s drumming has that kind of shining quality that rewards the collective and enhances the tunefulness of the music. Throbbing with marvellous interplay and filled with compelling tonal colours, this project provides us with an optimum revitalization of the folk and blues genres, here seamlessly merged with the exciting language of jazz'.

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Video of live performance of Black Betty

 

 

 

 

 

Martin Wind – Light Blue
(Laika Records) – Released: 2nd March 2018

Martin Wind (upright bass, acoustic bass guitar); Ingrid Jensen (trumpet); Scott Robinson (saxophones, clarinet, taragota); Anat Cohen (clarinet); Gary Versace (organ, piano); Bill Cunliffe (piano); Maucha Adnet (vocals); Matt Wilson (drums); Duduka Da Fonseca (drums).

Martin Wind Light Blue

 

 

'German-born, New-York based bassist Martin Wind, is a respected bandleader whose first work was released 25 years ago. His new album, Light Blue, is divided into two different parts/recordings ..... For the first five compositions, he leads a more robust quintet .... The remaining five tunes are held by a new group with strong Brazilian accent called De Norte a Sul ... Mostly sailing in straight-ahead waters, ... he composes and hears harmony and rhythm, making Light Blue a satisfying stop for fans of easy-listening jazz and amicable tropical rhythms'.

Details and Sample : Full JazzTrail Review : Video Introduction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Halvorson - Code Girl
(Firehouse 12 Records) - Released: 30th March 2018

Mary Halvorson (guitar); Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet); Amirtha Kidambi (vocals); Michael Formanek (acoustic bass); Tomas Fujiwara (drums).

Mary Halvorson Code Girl

 

 

'Guitarist Mary Halvorson is known for her ability to create wayward yet rich soundscapes. She has been spreading sonic charms in fruitful collaborations, usually in duo and trio formats. However, it was leading her nonet that she definitely caught the jazz world’s attention, in a rapturous record from 2016 entitled Away With Me. Now she’s back with a brand new experience permeated with genre-bending ideas, having penned lyrics and music of the 14 appealing tracks that compose Code Girl, a vocalized album envisioned for the quintet of the same name. ... The longest piece on the record and also one of the most beautiful, “The Unexpected Natural Phenomenon” is a dramatic avant-garde excursion with lugubrious arco bass work, impeccable vocal technique, expressive guitar phrases constantly falling ‘outside’ the expected, and poised drumming ... With an enviable openness and a propensity to explore the unknown, the unrivaled Halvorson crafts a fantastic album that I urge you to enjoy out loud'. (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Video of solo by Mary Halvorson :

 

 

 

 

Anat Cohen / Fred Hersch - Live In Healdsburg
(Anzic Records) - Released: 8th March 2018

Anat Cohen (clarinet); Fred Hersch (piano)

Anat Cohen Fred Hersch Live In Healdsburg

 

 

'On their debut duo record, world-class instrumentalists Anat Cohen and Fred Hersch, clarinetist and pianist, respectively, included originals and carefully selected repertoire, whose variety enriches sonic possibilities as it supplements their creative vein. This intimate recording session was part of the 2016 Healdsburg Jazz Festival's lineup and comes in the sequence of very personal works recently put out by the two artists ... After Fats Waller’s emblematic “Jitterbug Waltz”, here re-invented with a playful intro from piano, expressive musical smiles, and loose-limbed interplay with some rhythmic wallops, the recording comes to an end with the amicable serenity of Ellington’s classic “Mood Indigo” ... Inspiring each other and divinely ingratiated by their natural talent and musical sophistication, Cohen and Hersch make effortless music. This cute live recording, warmly temperate and melodic, makes for a pleasant listen'. (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Video of Child's Song performed live :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julian Lage - Modern Law
(Mack Avenue) - Released: 2nd February 2018

Julian Lage (guitar); Scott Colley (double bass); Kenny Wollesen (drums); Tyler Chester (keyboards); Jesse Harris (maracas, casio, acoustic guitar).

Julian Lage Modern Law

 

 

'Guitarist Julian Lage recorded his new album, Modern Lore, with a quality lineup of musicians ... Fusing country, rockabilly, and jazz, “The Ramble” takes you to a spine-tingling rollercoaster, erupting in a stunning guitar solo whose point of entrance is impactful enough to make you alert. ... With techniques, styles, and lucid tones being constantly cross-wired and recombined, we can appreciate the easy listening pop/rock of “Splendor Riot”, the bluesy rodeo style of the hard-swinging “Look Book”, the Roy Orbison-esque lament of “Whatever You Say, Henry”, and the free state of mind of “Earth Science”, where the musicians endorse exploration. Far more reflective is the closing tune, “Pantheon”, abandoning the tradition in favor of a modern harmonization and shifting tempos. Regardless if this is your style or not, it’s undeniable the superb instrumental outfits created by an ambitious rising-star who, without wasting time, is carving out his own space. He's making his way with a sui generis sound and a sure sense of direction, just like Bill Frisell and Pat Metheny did'. (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Video of Roger The Dodger played live :

 

 

 

 

 

Kairos Sextet - Transition
(Dafnisonmusic) - Released: 15th December 2017

Sam Neufeld (trumpet); Tom Kelly (alto and soprano saxophones); Sean Johnson (tenor saxophone); Nick Lamb (piano); Jon Dadurka (upright and electric bass); Johnathan Hulett (drums).

Kairos Sextet Transition

 

 

'Every single member of this band penned at least one tune for this work, which also contains an interesting reinvention of the standard "I Remember You". The arrangement by Kelly is fabulous, altering the traditional chord progression, favoring post-bop modulations, and still sticking to the most common swinging drive that normally characterizes the song. ... The sextet proves to have that desirable rapport that allows them to scintillate with creativity. Each individual statement feels hand-in-glove with the written material and Prieto has all the reasons to be flattered and proud of this band'. (JazzTrail).

Details and Samples : Full JazzTrail Review : Videos

 

 

 

 

Henri Texier Twiga Quintet - Sand Woman
(Bleu) - Released: 2nd February 2018.

Sébastien Texier (Alto Sax, Clarinet); Manu Codjia (Guitar); Vincent Le Quang (Tenor Sax, Soprano Sax); Gautier Garrigue (Drums)

Henri Texier Sand Woman

 

My choice this month comes from one of the true giants of European jazz. Now in his 70s, Henri Texier came to prominence in France in the 1960s as an early follower of Ornette Coleman. He worked extensively with Martial Solal, Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, Gordon Beck and also with Don Cherry.  In the 1970s he formed a popular trio with Louis Sclavis and Aldo Romano. Since then he has constantly formed and re-formed a series of bands, encouraging many young musicians – these days usually including his talented son Sebastien.  His compositions have also developed, pursuing his interests in African and Native American sounds. This latest group comprises: Sébastien Texier (Alto Sax, Clarinet); Manu Codjia (Guitar); Vincent Le Quang (Tenor Sax, Soprano Sax) and Gautier Garrigue (Drums). In many ways the music is quite conventional.  It swings, and it follows a standard theme and improvisation structure.  Texier's bass playing is characterised by a big booming distinctive sound.  The improvisation style is probably best described as post-bop.  What is outstanding, apart from each of the individual musicians, is the interactions between them which makes the whole thing sound like one of those groups that has been playing together for years. All the tracks on this CD are 10-12 minutes long and that means that they all have time to develop melodically and to allow extended soloing – it's rare to find that these days. Highly recommended. (Peter Slavid)

Details and Samples : Video :

Peter Slavid (Peter Slavid hosts a monthly, 2 hour radio show at www.mixcloud.com/ukjazz and says: 'The programme has a very specific purpose. The show is entirely European and entirely modern'. Peter shares his 'album of the month' with us).

 

 

 

 

Bobo Stenson Trio - Contra La Indecisión
(ECM) - Released: 19th January 2018

Bobo Stenson (piano); Anders Jormin (double bass); Jon Fält (drums).

Bob Stenson Trio Contra La Indecision

 

The Swedish pianist, Bobo Stenson has always been a serious contender.  One massive indicator is his early championing of the mercurial Ornette Coleman/Don Cherry partnership. Paul Bley excepted, there was a time when pianists retreated from the implications of Ornette’s harmolodics.  To be fair, initially Ornette Coleman kept his distance from keyboards.  Bobo Stenson and the great German piano player, Joachim Kühn, both got underneath Mr Coleman’s open lyrical line, refreshing the music in a way that confirmed Don Cherry’s move to Scandinavia. Stenson/Jormin’s presence on the overlooked late Cherry masterpiece, Donna Nostra (track What Reason Could I Give here), also on ECM, is proof positive of their commitment to following ‘the line’.

‘The line’ is at the crux of this new album. As the title indicates – the flow of ‘song’ throughout this session is in the complete opposite direction to indecision. The spontaneity of the note narrative is fabulous. Bassist, Anders Jormin composed almost half of these eleven tracks.  His pluck and arco throughout is like a springboard for the pianist. They act like one. Whether it be Erik Satie’s Elégie, or Mr Jormin’s Doubt Thou The Stars or his robust, Stilla, the emphasis is always decisively on how far the trio can stretch the line of collective interaction within the inherent lyricism. For my money, Bobo Stenson is still not given the accolades he deserves: A true giant of contemporary jazz piano. Don’t be indecisive, I urge you to listen.

Steve Day     www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk 

Details and Samples : Purchase Details : Video of Bobo Stenson Trio playing live in 2017

 

 

 

Eyolf Dale - Return To Mind
(Edition Records) - Released: 2nd March 2018

Eyolf Dale (piano); Hayden Powell (trumpet, flugelhorn); André Roligheten (tenor saxophone, clarinet); Adrian Løseth Waade (violin); Kristoffer Kompen (trombone, euphonium); Rob Waring (vibraphone); Per Zanussi (bass); Gard Nilssen (drums)

Eyolf Dale Return To Mind

 

 

'Return to Mind is the new album from Norwegian pianist Eyolf Dale. Since releasing his Edition debut in June 2016, the poetic and expressive Wolf Valley, Eyolf Dale has expanded and developed his already elegant and warm sound into a powerfully emotive force. Radiating elegance and poise, Return To Mind confirms Eyolf Dale’s promise and reputation as a strong band leader, creative composer and an expressive soloist with a taste for melodies and interplay that summons powerful musical images' (Edition Records). 'Music for me is a personal statement, a musical representation of my imagination. I often start with images, sometimes abstract, sometimes stemming more from reality ...' (Eyolf Dale).

Details and Samples : Video Introduction : Review **** :

 

 

 

 

 

Verneri Pohjola and Mika Kallio - Animal Image
(Edition Records) - Released: 23rd February 2018

Verneri Pohjola (trumpet, electronics); Mika Kallio (drums and gongs)

Verneri Pohjola Mika Kallio Animal Image

 

'Animal Image is a soundtrack album to a poetic documentary about the infinite relationship between man and animal. Edited to an improvised score by Finnish trumpeter Verneri Pohjola and percussionist Mika Kallio, the film illustrates the emotional bond between man and animal beyond the boundaries of written language or fictional storylines. The movie depicts nature-photographer and writer Heikki Willamo’s journey to the landscape of the post ice-age northern wilderness to explore man’s ancient relationship to his prey and Willamo’s personal encounters with the inhabitants of the northern woods. Man, bear, sky and fire: the Finnish forest is a place like nowhere else, a place of dreams and the imagination, an ancient place where its denizens live in the shadows'. (Edition Records). 'When I saw the breathtakingly expressive footage for the first time, I immediately recognized this as something too inspiring to retract myself from. And as the project developed I realized, that probably no other project or person has ever treated my music with such a respect and vision'. (Verneri Pohjola).

Details and Sample : Video : Review ****

 

 

 

 

 

Hank Jones - In Copenhagen
(Storyville Records) - Released: 2018

Hank Jones (piano); Mads Vinding (bass); Shelly Manne (drums)

Hank Jones In Copenhagen

 

 

This well recorded live performance is a set of previously unreleased music from June 6, 1983.  ‘In the 1970s and 1980s, Jazzhus Slukefter in Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, was the site for a large number of live recordings release by Storyville. Hank Jones brought Danish bassist Mads Vinding with him, a bassist with a large sound, the ability to take very original solos, and a love for straight ahead jazz. The third name on the stage was drummer Shelly Manne .... This 1983 concert consists of nine jazz standards. Jones takes the lion’s share of the solo spots, changing his style between that of a classical bebop pianist and other times swinging elegantly like Teddy Wilson. The masterful trio comes up with creative variations and give all the songs on the release rewardingly fresh treatments’. (Storyville Records)..

Details and Samples : Listen to the album on Soundcloud :

 

 

 

 

Zoot Money's Big Roll Band - Big Time Operator
(Repertoire Records) - Released: 26th January 2018 [4 CD Box Set]

Zoot Money (vocals, organ,piano); Nick Newell, Clive Burrows (saxophones and flute); Andy Summers (guitar); Paul Williams (bass, vocals); Colin Allen (drums)

Zoot Money Big Time Operator

 

 

 

'Zoot Money's Big Roll Band was one of the most popular and entertaining groups of the British R&B boom era. A charismatic personality, soulful singer and cool Hammond organist, Zoot was much loved by the Mods who flocked to his shows at London's 'in' clubs like The Flamingo. The Beatles and Rolling Stones were among his greatest fans. The Big Roll Band boasted an array of top class musicians, including guitarist Andy Summers, later to find fame with The Police, saxophonists Johnny Almond and Nick Newall, singer/bass player Paul Williams and drummer Colin Allen. This essential 4 CD box set collection captures the band playing soul, jazz and R&B hits on stage and in the studio with energy,drive and humour. ... Detailed liner notes, complete with new interviews with Zoot Money and a brilliantly written foreword by Andy Summers, reminiscing about the unique atmosphere of the Flamingo Club, help make this eagerly awaited Box Set an essential release for all lovers of Big Rollin R&B at its best' (publicity notes).

Details : Video :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edmond Hall with the Ralph Sutton Quartette - Live At Club Hangover [2 CDs]
(Sounds Of Yesteryear) - Released: 13th October 2017

Edmond Hall (clarinet); Ralph Sutton (piano) Clyde Hurley (trumpet), Walter Page (bass), Charlie Lodice (drums).

Edmond Hall Ralph Sutton album

 

 

Edmond Hall worked as a farm-hand, but by 1919 he had become tired of the hard work, and despite his parents’ worries of finding a decent job as a musician, he left for New Orleans. The first New Orleans band he played with was that of Bud Rousell and he was to go on to grace the bands of many of the most famous names in Jazz. On this double CD he is featured with the Ralph Sutton Quartet. Ralph Sutton was a stride pianist born in Missouri whose style was in the tradition of James P. Johnson and Fats Waller.

 Details : Listen to Black and Blue :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Pepper - Smack Up
(Poll Winners) - Released: 9th February 2018

Art Pepper (alto saxophone); Jack Sheldon (trumpet); Pete Jolly (piano); Jimmy Bond (bass); Frank Butler (drums) plus Jack Sheldon Nonet: Jack Sheldon, Chet Baker (trumpet); Art Pepper, Herb Geller (alto soxophone); Harold Land (tenor saxophone); Paul Moer (piano); Buddy Clark (bass); Mel Lewis (drums).

Art Pepper Smack Up

 

 

'This release contains Art Pepper’s complete original album "Smack Up" (Contemporary S7602). Recorded in a quintet format with trumpeter Jack Sheldon, "Smack Up" marks Pepper’s second to last album as a leader before entering prison to serve the longest of his drug-related sentences (after a short session as a sideman in January 1961 he entered San Quentin and wouldn’t record again until May 1964, or lead a studio date until 1973). The only tune from the soundtrack to the film 'The Subterraneans' by a quintet co-led by Pepper and Sheldon, as well as a complete 1959 nonet session, featuring both musicians in the esteemed company of Chet Baker, Harold Land and Mel Lewis, have been added as a bonus'. (Publicity notes). 'If Pepper was under pressure due to his imminent incarceration it didn't have any negative effect on his playing. As feisty as ever, his readily identifiable signature sounds resonate through this magnificent album ...' (Roy Carr, Jazzwise)

Purchase and Details : Review and Samples from earlier release of Smack Up :

 

 

 

 

Jack Hylton and his Orchestra - Just Humming Along
(Halcyon) - Released: 15th December 2017

Jack Hylton and his Orchestra featuring Pat O'Malley (vocals)

Jack Hylton Just Humming Along

 

 

'Featuring vocalist Pat O'Malley, this collection draws attention to what was Britain's top-selling dance orchestra of the early 1930s, playing passable jazz and demonstrating fine musicianship and ensemble cohesion'. (Alyn Shipton in Jazzwise).

Details :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helen Humes - The Helen Humes Collection 1927 - 1962
(Acrobat) - Released: 8th August 2017 [2 CDs]

Helen Humes (vocals) with various personnel.

The Helen Humes Collection

 

'Helen Humes was a blues and jazz singer who defied categorisation, working successfully as a big band vocalist with Harry James and then replacing Billie Holiday in Count Basie's orchestra, as a classic blues performer and R&B/jump blues hitmaker during the 1940s, a noted jazz stylist in the 50s and, during her later career, a sophisticated interpreter of ballads and popular songs. This great-value 49-track 2-CD comprises recordings from across more than three decades of her career, from her studio debut as a 14-year-old in 1927 through to the early 60s. As well as including some of her titles with James and Basie, it encompasses recordings with some of top blues, R&B and names of the 40s, including Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Milton, Buck Clayton, Pete Brown, Leonard Feather, Bill Doggett and Dexter Gordon, plus noted recordings with Red Norvo in the 50s, and live recordings done in London in the early 60s with T-Bone Walker, Memphis Slim and Willie Dixon. It naturally features her two big Top 10 R&B chart hits of the 40s, Be-Baba-Leba and Million Dollar Secret. Its a varied and highly entertaining showcase for her very special talent'. (Album notes).

Details and Samples : Video of a live performance of Million Dollar Secret from 1979.

 

 

 

 

Alan Benzie Trio - Little Mysteries
(CD Baby) - Released: February 2018

Alan Benzie (piano and composition); Andrew Robb (bass), Marton Juhasz (drums).

Alan Benzie Trio Little Mysteries

 

Second album from the young Scottish pianist who won the BBC Scotland Young Jazz Musician at only 17 (his 2015 debut album was Traveller's Tales). Now 27, he has won a string of high profile awards in the last few years, including the prestigious Billboard Award at Berklee College of Music. Journalist Rob Adams has said: 'Benzie has an orchestrator’s ear for detail in his compositions… His spontaneous creativity impressed even more as improvisations were developed with a clear sense of direction and sustained with inspired phrase'. The Trio has recently been touring the Continent and the UK promoting the album. CD Baby describes it: 'From sensitive, magical textures to virtuosic explosions of energy, the trio are both sophisticated and accessible, with the warmth and empathy that can only be achieved through great friendship and years of making music together'.

Details and Sample Album : Video of The Warrior Who Became A Tiger : CDs are available through Alan's website :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snowpoet - Thought You Knew
(Edition Records) - Released: February 2018

Lauren Kinsella (vocals); Chris Hyson (multi instrumentalist); Josh Arcoleo (saxophone); Matt Robinson (keyboards); Nick Costley-White (guitar); Dave Hamblett (drums).

Snowpoet Thought You Knew

 

 

Jazz FM Vocalist of the Year (2016) Lauren Kinsella and multi-instrumentalist Chris Hyson explores the common ground between poetry, electronica, modern folk, and jazz. Blending sweet hook-laden vocal lines with warm and lush arrangements, the music is infectious, delicate and tasteful. The sound is clear and beautifully produced, while the lyrical content exhibits a deep and raw emotion.

See Robin Kidson's article Jazz And Poetry : The Work Of Snowpoet

Details and Samples : Video Introduction : Video for Love Again : Review ****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Surman - Invisible Threads
(ECM) - Released: 19th January 2018

John Surman (soprano & baritone saxophones, bass clarinet); Nelson Ayres (piano); Rob Waring (vibraphone, marimba)

John Surman Invisible Threads

John Surman’s Invisible Threads is near on his 20th album with ECM under his own name. He’s used electronics, had other ‘invisibilities’; witness Invisible Nature, the 2002 John Surman/Jack DeJohnette session.  Today I’m declaring Invisible Threads top of the Surman ECM stack. High praise because Stranger Than Fiction and Brewster’s Rooster are stunning sets, however the explorations of Invisible Threads are gripped by a beautiful intensity.  Tracks like the short, compressed, At First Sight, the extended Pitanga Pitomba and Concentric Circles deliver a strong narrative.  The vibes into piano, piano into vibes, lace the contours of these compositions.  On The Admiral,Surman’s bass clarinet cuts between the two like a wave through a spontaneous sea.

Why I’m so taken up with Invisible Threads is that the Brazilian pianist Nelson Ayres and American-now-living-in-Norway, Rob Waring, (vibes/marimba), provide a pairing that gets underneath the Surman sound.  They own it for themselves.  Since I first heard John Surman playing with Barre Phillips and Stu Martin in 1970 I’ve realised he is special.  The baritone and soprano on Invisible Threads doesn’t ‘sound’ anything like the reeds that roared with the Martin/Phillips bass ‘n drums.  Take the trail through the past, and it is possible to hear how one great musician went on a mission. Together the three compatriots of Invisible Threads are ‘The Trio’, 2018.  Here there is also no need for electronics.  The sleeve has a studio photograph showing a never heard guitar propped up in the corner.  Now, what’s that doing there? 

Steve Day (Steve Day is a writer and poet and leads the band Blazing Flame. www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk )

Details and Samples : Samples on Soundcloud : Further Details on ECM Records page

 

 

 

 

Kit Downes - Obsidian
(ECM) - Released: 19th January 2018

Kit Downes (organ) with guest Tom Challenger (tenor saxophone)

Kit Downes Obsidian

 

 

Some of Kit's earliest musical experiences were as a church organist and in recent years he has been revisiting the instrument, exploring its sonic possibilities and idiosyncrasies, in improvisations both melodic and textural. In November 2016 producer Sun Chung followed Downes to three English churches - the Snape Church of John the Baptist and Bromeswell St Edmund Church - both in Suffolk - and Union Chapel Church in Islington, London. These are very different acoustic spaces housing organs of very different characters which Downes investigates creatively.

Details and Samples : Introductory Video : Review ****+

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Go Penguin - A Humdrum Star
(Blue Note Records : Decca UMO) - Released: 9th February 2018

Chris Illingworth (piano); Nick Blacka (bass); Rob Turner (drums).

Go Go Penguin A Humdrum Star

 

 

The Manchester-based trio conjure richly atmospheric music that draws from their shared love of electronica, their grounding in classical conservatoires and jazz ensembles alongside indie bands, and a merging of acoustic and electronic techniques ... “I think we felt even more liberated on this album—and I think there’s more of each of us on it,” says bassist Nick Blacka. Their latest material reveals both native turf and far-flung influences. ... As with previous albums, these tracks stemmed from a love of electronic music ... That electro-acoustic tension pulses throughout the new album. (Blue Note website).

 

Introductory Video : Purchase Details and Sample :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martin Archer + Engine Room Favourites - Safety Signal From A Target Town
(Discus Music) - Released: 1st January 2018

Martin Archer (saxophones); Mick Beck (tenor saxophone, bassoon); Seth Bennett (bass); Graham Clark (violin); Laura Cole (piano); Steve Dinsdale (percussion); Peter Fairclough (drums); Johnny Hunter (drums); Kim Macari (trumpet); George Murray (trombone); Corey Mwamba (vibraphone); Walt Shaw (percussion); Riley Stone-Lonergan (tenor saxophone, clarinet).

Martin Archer Safety Signal From A Target Town

 

 

'This suite is the third and most ambitious release by my AACM influenced big band. Across three releases, the band has developed from the original idea of saxophone + percussion quartet + studio based orchestration ... to the current release which features a larger group and more complex scores. I’m not usually one for programmatic music, but these pieces were conceived written very quickly in the final 2 months of 2016. The titles enable the listener to imagine their own story of a world moving in exactly the opposite direction to the version most people would wish to live in'. (Martin Archer).

Details and Listen to the Album : Video of a test recording of The Playground In The Desert : Martin Archer's website : Martin's 'Tea Break' on this site in July 2017.

 


 

 

 

 

The Matthew Read Trio - ANECDOTES II
(Self Release) - Released: 9th February 2018

Matthew Read (double bass); Benedict Wood (guitar); Arthur Newell (drums).

Matthew Read Trio Anecdotes II

 

 

Drawing influence from a multitude of styles including jazz, folk, country, hip hop, dance music, spirituals and both European and American church music, the trio creates a soundscape of melody driven music. The album features eleven original compositions based on Read's experiences including K, an imagining of the music that might be played if Kendrick Lamar and Kurt Rosenwinkel were to play together: Burke and Hare, a melody with a contrasting, darker undercurrent that reflects its subject matter including 19th Century serial killers; and Revolutions, a piece that laments the loss of interest in physical media formats.

Details and Samples : Live video of Burke and Hare : Review ****

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martin Pyne / Stephen Grew Duo - Winter Landscape
(Tall Guy Records) - Released: 22nd January 2018

Martin Pyne (percussion, vibraphone), Stephen Grew (piano, keyboards).

Martin Pyne Stephen Grew Winter Landscape

 

 

The album consists of a sequence of improvisations for vibraphone and piano recorded on a bitterly cold day in Lancaster in the north west of England.

See Howard Lawes' article 'Free Improvastion and the Music of Martin Pyne and Stephen Grew'

 

Details and Listen to the Album :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lenore Raphael, Wayne Wilkinson and Chris Hodgkins - At Pizza Express Live
(Bell CDs) - Released: 17th November 2017.

Lenore Raphael (piano); Wayne Wilkinson (guitar); Chris Hodgkins (trumpet)

Raphael Wilkinson Hodgkins album

 

 

Recorded at a live session at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean Street, in 2016, this album was released last November. The event had originally been planned as a duo performance by American pianist Lenore Raphael and UK trumpeter, Chris Hodgkins, but Lenore's regular guitarist, Wayne Wilkinson joined them to make the Trio. With interpretations of 12 Standards and one original track by the three musicians, the album features enjoyable solo tracks, duets and ensemble performances.

Details and Samples : Listen to September In The Rain : Listen to Georgia On My Mind : Visit our Jazz As Art article :

 

 

 

 

 

Nicolas Masson - Travelers
(ECM) - Released: 16th February 2018

Nicolas Masson (tenor and soprano saxophone); Collin Vallon (piano); Patrice Moret (double bass); Lionel Friedli (drums).

Nicolas Masson Travelers

 

 

'The real strength of the recording resides in the musicians’ convergence, reciprocity, and team spirit. They denote a clear understanding of one another’s moves. More reserved than effusive, Masson’s music dawns slowly, subverting unnecessary stunts while describing through lightly smoky soundscapes the magical realism of a hermetic, personal world. Regardless if their storytelling is deep or shallow, the quartet engages in the commitment of wringing every emotion from a song'.

Details : Introductory Video : JazzTrail Review :

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leslie Pintchik - You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl
(Pitch Hard Records) - Released: 15th February 2018

Leslie Pintchik (piano); Scott Hardy (acoustic bass, guitar); Michael Sarin (drums); Satoshi Takeishi (percussion) with Steve Wilson (alto saxophone); Ron Horton (trumpet, flugelhorn); Shoko Nagai (accordion).

Leslie Pintchik You Eat My Food

 

'Equipped with originals, jazz standards, and a supportive combo of talents, pianist Leslie Pintchik commits to a smooth and groovy jazz on her latest album ... Even lacking the factor surprise, the album has enough diversity and flexibility to conquer audiences looking for unwrinkled post-bop'. 'Pintchik found the album title in one of those "only in New York" moments. While crossing Canal Street at West Broadway in the SoHo section of Manhattan, she heard a voice behind her yell, "You eat my food, you drink my wine, you steal my girl!" It was a perfect fit for the sharp-elbows vibe of her new tune, with its samba-funk groove, understated humor and fender-bender of an ending. So with one gruff shout, serendipity handed her a bold, spunky for a bold, spunky tune'. '...the wide range of grooves (samba-funk with a touch of partido alto, swing, bolero, traditional samba, straight-eighths, and ballads-all played with exceptional skill and pizzazz by Pintchik and her top-notch band members) is a great added pleasure'.

Details and Samples : Audio Introduction : JazzTrail Review

 

 

 

 

 

Bobby Previte - Rhapsody
(RareNoise) - Released: 23rd February 2018

Bobby Previte (drums, percussion, autoharp, guitar, harmonica); Fabian Rucker (alto saxophone); Nels Cline (acoustic guitar, 12 string guitar, slide guitar); Zeena Perkins (harp); John Medeski (piano); Jen Shyu (vocals).

Bobby Previte Rhapsody

 

 

'Taking into account the outstanding rhythmic skills of American drummer Bobby Previte, it came to no surprise that his new album, Rhapsody, reveals a tour-de-force storytelling that takes us into an uninterrupted journey of musical discovery while addressing pertinent subjects such as transit and migration in the current days ... Boasting a stupendous sound and concept, as well as an unconventional repertoire of converging influences and metaphors, this is a masterwork by a fearless musician who never ceases to innovate'.

Details : JazzTrail Review : Video : Audio Edit : Information

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Hall - Lattice
(Outside In Music) - Released: 9th February 2018

James Hall (trombone); Jamie Baum (flute); Deanna Witkowski (piano, Fender Rhodes); Tom DiCarlo (bass); Allan Mednard (drums) + guest Sharel Cassity (alto sax)

James Hall Lattice

 

 

'The effortless genre-bending approach that characterizes him is well patented on Lattice, his sophomore album inspired by his own love story and Herbie Hancock’s Speak Like a Child ... The tunes we hear on Lattice are easy to connect and assimilate. They not only show a high level of musicianship but also authenticate Hall as a talented voice in today’s jazz'.

Video : JazzTrail Review : Purchase Details

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kevin Sun - Trio
(Endectomorph Music) - Released: 2nd February 2018

Kevin Sun: (tenor and C-melody saxophones); Walter Stinson: (acoustic bass); Matt Honor (drums).

Kevin Sun Trio

 

 

'The album Trio, released on the saxophonist’s label Endectomorph Music, allows him to explore textures and dynamics with freedom while merging the contemporary and the tradition in a tasteful way ... I have no doubt that Sun’s musical integrity will bring him wide recognition. Trio proves him a high flyer whose presence is voluminous and a gifted saxophonist who feels comfortable in a variety of musical contexts'. 

Video : JazzTrail Review : Purchase Details and Samples

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walter Smith III - TWIO
(Whirlwind Recordings) - Released: 9th February 2108

Walter Smith III (tenor saxophone); Harish Raghavan (bass); Eric Harland (drums); with guests Christian McBride (bass); Joshua Redman (tenor saxophone)

Walter Smith III TWIO

 

 

Working and touring for the last fifteen years, playing multi-layered compositions in different configurations with artists such as Terence Blanchard,​ Roy Haynes,​ Sean Jones, Ambrose Akinmusire and with his own bands, Smith also began to revisit classic jazz songs. He elaborates: “I would try and alter tunes quite radically by rearranging, reharmonizing and altering meters to a point where I was barely playing the original song; but realized that I was confusing the point of playing the songs, so I began to interpret them more directly, as they were first meant to be played ... This project represents something that everyone of all levels can relate to because it presents familiar and accessible songs that we've all grown up playing. The plan is that when we tour, I’ll use that opportunity to invite the community to come sit in, have fun, and share ideas, which I imagined this music was all about in the first place.”

Details and Samples : Video Introduction : Listen to Ask Me Now :

 

 

 

 

Katie Thiroux – Off Beat
(Capri Records) - Released: 18th August 2017

Katie Thiroux (bass and vocals); Ken Peplowski (tenor saxophone and clarinet); Roger Neumann (tenor and soprano saxophones); Justin Kauflin (piano); Matt Witek (drums).

Katie Thiroux Off BeatReleased in 2017, Off Beat, with its interesting mix of vocals and instruments, follows Katie’s inaugural album, Introducing Katie Thiroux, released in 2015.  The title comes from the mix of lesser known songs featured.  There are 10 tracks on Off Beat, but only one, Slow Dance With Me, which has a blues feel and is an instrumental with a solo on the bass, is composed by Thiroux. Katie has a degree from Berklee College of Music and a Masters from California State University and has an impressive musical background.  She has worked with numerous musicians such as Geri Allen, Branford Marsalis, and Ken Peplowski who plays reeds on 5 of these tracks. Roger Neumann arranged the title track, Off Beat, which uses both clarinet and soprano sax to good effect with good clear vocal and bass from Katie.  This is followed by When The Lights are Low,  a Benny Carter composition that features sultry vocals ably accompanied with a delightful piano solo by Kauflin.  Katie scat sings on Ray’s Idea, a Ray Brown composition including some smooth clarinet from Peplowski.  Duke Ellington’s Happy Reunion, has both Peplowski and Neumann’s tenor saxophones to the fore with backing from Thiroux’s bass and drums from Witek.  Willow Weep for Me, shows Katie’s talent off by a solo effort with just vocals and the bass.

This album shows off Katie Thiroux’s vocal skills and bass playing backed by great musicianship from the other band members.  There is a mix of tempos through swing to blues, clear vocals ranging through sultry to tender and dazzling arrangements from multiple band members which means that there is a hugely varied range covered in the short time available.  This is an unusual selection of tracks but there is something for everyone here and most jazz fans would favour at least one number.  I am sure I will be listening to this album again.

Tim Rolfe

Details and Samples : Interview with Katie : Katie's Website
 

 

 

 

Trio Galactus - Trio Galactus
(Improvvisatore Involontario) - Released: 8th January 2018

Giorgio Casadei (electric guitar, guitar-bass double handle); Alessio Alberghini (baritone sax, alto saxophone, flute); Simone Pederzoli (trombone)

Trio Galactus album

 

What you see below is the contents of the box that contains this really interesting Italian CD.  It starts with a most unusual line-up of double-handled guitar, baritone sax and trombone.  Then the subject matter is entirely devoted to compositions (by Casadei) inspired by superheros.  And the box contents shown here include 13 postcards, each one a painting by a different artist, of the 13 superhero tracks. And then there's the music.  Quirky and sparkling.  Some odd and broken time signatures, some very odd sounds from that combination of instruments, but overall I found the whole thing terrific fun.

As far as I can establish the complete box set is only available from jazzos.com under Giorgio Casadei's name (click here), but the music can be downloaded from all the normal sources.

Details and samples : Listen to Spider Jessica :

Peter Slavid (Peter Slavid hosts a monthly, 2 hour radio show at www.mixcloud.com/ukjazz and says: 'The programme has a very specific purpose. The show is entirely European and entirely modern').

 

Trio Galactus album cards

 

 

 

 

Rose / Kellers / Roder: New World
(FMR Records) - Released: January 2018

Simon Rose (baritone & alto saxophone); Will Kellers (drums); Jan Roder (double bass)

Rose Kellers Roder New WorldIn October 2017 I reviewed an album called Edith’s Problem.  It was a wonderful stark clean study of jazz minimalism by Berlin based British reeds player Simon Rose and Swiss pianist, Deniz Peters.  Mr Rose’s new album, with percussionist Will Kellers and bass player Jan Roder, takes the opposite approach.  New World is a dense soundscape built on drones and multiple rhythms. Twenty years previously Kellers recorded Twilight Etchings with Keith and Julie Tippett.  New World and Etchings share similarities, the link, not surprisingly, drums.  Will Kellers is a constantly inventive percussionist.  Technically jaw dropping, he holds your ears to the beats as if he’s Caesar.

What starts with Human Head, Mr Roses’ droned saxophone turning into deep soloing, moves into Cargo, a high pitch of mouthpiece, gong and split bass falling into richly fractured baritone against trip-tuned percussion.  At the album’s centre is No Joseph (maybe “No Joseph for your manager”, maybe some other Joseph), either way it’s a vital three-way improvisation with Rose bringing the reeds into forensic clarity against multi-active drums and Jan Roder’s spatial double bass.  The longest track is the final, River Witness.  It feels like a story but is played out as if the trio are turning a river into a lake; a liquid edifice where saxophones are air, the drums heavy rain, and the bass, the bottom of the ocean. New World is revitalised European saxophone, bass ‘n’ drums.  Anyone interested in the genre will want to hear this fascinating album.

Steve Day (Steve Day is a writer and poet and leads the band Blazing Flame. www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk )

Purchase Details : Simon Rose's website

 

 

 

Simon Nabatov String Trio - Situations
(Leo Records) - Released: February 2018

Simon Nabatov (piano); Gareth Lubbe (viola); Ben Davis (cello).

Simon Nabatov String Trio Situations

 

'Nabatov's chamber music calls for a kind of string player only recently arrived, who is equally comfortable with complex scores and the challenges of improvising ....violist Gareth Lubbe (Principal Violist in the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig) and cellist Ben Davis (Basquiat Strings) ... participate ... in Nabatov's compound vision - the dialectics of possibilities, the brace of the new in the embrace of the known. In a single piece, the trio moves from manic-chaotic through spiky school-of-Vienna pointillism to roller-coaster improvisation that thins out to something that might play blissfully in the background of an impossibly high-end Brazilian beach bar ...'

Details : As the album is only just out as we go to print, samples are likely to become available on the Leo Records site or on Simon Nabatov's site - click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zhenya Strigalev - Blues For Maggie
(Whirlwind) - Released: 9th March 2018

Zhenya Strigalev (saxophone, composer); Frederico Dannemann (guitar); Linley Marthe (bass); Eric Harland (drums).

Zhenya Strigalev Blues For Maggie

 

 

Live recording from two venues in Vienna and the Netherlands featuring seven original compositions by Zhenya. Maggie Black was a well known figure in London who loved jazz and supported its musicians. She has since become a close friend of Strigalev, inspiring and supporting his work. The recording's mood is 'ebullient'; Strigalev says: 'The goal was to capture our 'breath', along with our mistakes (you won't notice them, I bet), out friendship and joy, our spontaneous musical decisions and interactional mastery, as well as a serious approach to music. All ways we like to express ourselves - responsible fun ... and with a happy ending!'

Details : Video of Pinky live : Listen to Not Upset : UK purchase details

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Lane - Steve Lane Plays Vintage Jazz Music
(Lake Records - Limited Edition) - Released: 1st December 2017

Steve Lane (cornet, bandleader) with the Famous Southern Stompers; Red Hot Peppers and VJM Washboard Band and various personnel including: Bob Dwyer (trombone); Bob Beardsworth (trombone); George Dawson (clarinet); John Wurr (clarinet); Geoff Over (banjo); Martin Litton (piano).

Steve Lane Plays Vintage Jazz Music

 

 

Another valuable archive of historic UK jazz from Lake Records. 'From the late 1940s up until the 2000s Steve Lane’s various bands recreated the sounds of the Classic Jazz era of King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke and a whole host of others. Steve also ran the Vintage Jazz Music record label, VJM. Never content to simply carbon copy the originals Steve Lane would put his own stamp on the tunes whilst remaining true to the genre. Steve never turned professional, but a whole host of musicians who would make music their living served an apprenticeship in Steve’s bands'.

Samples and Details : Profile of Steve Lane

 

 

 

 

 

 

Billie Holiday - The Complete Billie Holiday Songbook (2 CDs)
(Essential Jazz Classics) - Released: 13th October 2017

Billie Holiday (vocals) and other vocalists with various personnel.

Billie Holiday The Complete Songbook

 

 

Remastered original recordings with various takes and a wide variety of personnel, the CDs cover work from the Decca, Columbia and Commodore labels as well as a couple of short Basie film soundtracks. 'The idea is to draw together all the songs that Billie Holiday wrote or co-composed, firstly in her own performances and secondly in interpretatuions by other singers ... the real interest here is in Billie's own records, and some of them in particular are lesser-known gems ...' Writes Alyn Shipton in Jazzwise giving the album 4*.

Details :

 

 

 

 

 

Oscar Brown Jr - Between Heaven And Hell / Sin And Soul
(Soul Jam Records) - Released:

Oscar Brown Jr (vocals) with various personnel including Floyd Morris (piano); George Duvivier (bass) and David 'Panama' Francis (drums).

Oscar Brown Jr album

 

 

Recorded between 1960 and 1962 'This CD includes two of Brown’s finest studio albums from his most inspired years at Columbia Records: the excellent and underrated Between Heaven and Hell (1962), featuring a couple of arrangements by the fascinating Quincy Jones, and Brown’s critically-acclaimed debut LP Sin & Soul (1960). Both masterpieces are widely regarded as landmark recordings of the early ‘60s. This remastered collector’s edition also includes 3 bonus tracks from the same period'. 16 page booklet with rare photos, memorabilia and detailed liner notes.

Purchase Details : Review : Listen to Work Song from the original Sin And Soul album :

 

 

 

 

 

Sidney Bechet - Five Classic Albums Plus
(Avid) - Released: 3rd November 2017

Sidney Bechet (clarinet and soprano saxophone) with various personnel.

Sidney Bechet Five Classic Albums plus

 

 

2 CDs with remastered original recordings of the albums On Parade; Ambience; Deux Heures Du Matin Au Vieux-Colombier; Rendez-Vous and Bechet Revient complete with original artwork and liner notes plus Airs Du Film Serie Noire EP; Un Ange Comme Ca EP and L'Inspecteur Connait La Musique EP. 'Bechet's own compositional skills are to the fore on a number of the sides on this two CD set, including Petite Fleur, a big hit for Bechet and a few years later a million seller for Chris Barber - as well as the suitably moody Temperamental and the beautiful Jacqueline which Bechet composed in honour of his mistress'. 'Alyn Shipton in Jazzwise gives it 4* and says: ' ... an excellent follow up to Avid's earlier set of Bechet in France'.

Details :

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Murphy - Midnight Mood
(MPS Records) - Released: 17th November 2017

Mark Murphy (vocals); Jimmy Deuchar (trumpet); Äke Persson (trombone); Derek Humble (alto saxophone); Ronnie Scott (tenor saxophone); Sahib Shihab (baritone saxophone and flute); Francy Boland (piano); Jimmy Woods (bass); Kenny Clarke (drums).

Mark Murphy Midnight Mood

 

 

'Mark Murphy exhibited an inventive stylistic range that covered blues to bebop on through to modern jazz. His 1967 MPS recording lands in the middle of his European decade, and it is one of the most beautiful, striking documents of his skills. Midnight Mood is characterized by the sophisticated dialogue between voice and eight musicians from the Kenny Clarke Francy Boland Big band ...'

Details, Sample and Album Description : Listen to Alone Together : Listen to My Ship :

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew Bain - Embodied Hope
(Whirlwind Recordings) - Released: 10th November 2017

Andrew Bain (drums, percussion); Jon Irabagon (saxophone); George Colligan (piano); Michael Janisch (double bass).

Andrew Bain Embodied Hope

When I first became interested in jazz as an adolescent in the 1960s, British jazz seemed to suffer from a pronounced inferiority complex. The assumption was that, for the truly authentic product, one had to look to America. All began to change when Miles Davis recruited not just one British jazz musician but two – Dave Holland and John McLaughlin – for his band in the late sixties. Since then, British jazz has developed its own self-confident and distinctive voice, well able to compete - and collaborate on equal terms - with the best in America and beyond.

Andrew Bain’s new album, Embodied Hope, shows just how thoroughly British jazz has shaken off any inferiority complex, particularly in relation to American jazz. The album sees Bain, a Scottish born, Birmingham based percussionist leading three Americans in a recording made in the English Cotswolds for a British record company. And not just any Americans: Jon Irabagon on tenor saxophone is a rising star of American jazz. George Colligan on piano has a long established international reputation, winner of the 2015 Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll for keyboards amongst other accolades. Michael Janisch on double bass is one of a number of American musicians who have chosen to pursue their careers in the UK. He is also the owner of Whirlwind Recordings which is producing some of the best contemporary music around at the minute on both sides of the Atlantic. Andrew Bain himself has lived and worked in America with distinction.

Embodied Hope is a suite of eight pieces all composed by Bain around the theme of positive change in the fields of human rights, community and social transformation. Actually, Bain considers himself more as a writer of music for improvisers rather than “composer” – “like all good music written with improvisation in mind”, he says, “Embodied Hope starts with an idea and a vibe, as well as melodies, chord sequences, solo sections and as many boundaries as I want to provide. But apart from that, it’s all in flux and very much up to the band, even in terms of suite order, solo order, etc.”. To a listener unaware of the underlining theories, however, Embodied Hope is just high quality, straight ahead contemporary jazz with a strong, rhythmic pulse as one might expect from a band led by a drummer. And for all Bain’s emphasis on improvisation, there are some surprisingly good tunes to be found.

The album opens with Accompaniment, which Bain says was originally intended as a ballad, “but as we rehearsed, it became this classic Coltrane rumble-and-tumble, elevating it with some kind of higher energy”. Both Irabagon and Colligan take solos against a  gentle wash provided by Bain and Janisch, sounding slightly ominous on bowed bass. Irabagon’s sax is often attractively lyrical but with some striking patches of Coltrane intensity and strained notes. Colligan has a distinctive style and plays marvellously liquid runs of notes. The whole does have a Coltrane feel about it – think the Psalm section of A Love Supreme.

The second track, Hope, is an upbeat, rhythmic piece with a memorable melody. Irabagon builds his improvisations in a logical and compelling way with snatches of half familiar tunes. Colligan’s solo is all note filled virtuosity with a classical feel at times. Bain and Janisch provide a solid, sometimes rock, beat throughout which is guaranteed to set feet tapping.

Practice is another upbeat piece but with sudden changes in the beat from fast to very fast. Both Irabagon and Colligan get to stretch themselves in the faster sections, and Janisch provides some nimble bass. The next track, Responsibility has an intricate but attractive tune full of nice hooks and riffs with a touch of Dave Brubeck about it. Janisch gets to shine in an impressive solo; and Bain and Irabagon engage in some neat call and response. Surprise is notable for its sudden and abrupt (and therefore surprising?) changes in rhythm. Its stop-start feel is (again, surprisingly) very effective and keeps the listener’s attention throughout. Bain takes two solos, beautifully judged both in their textures and length.

The first part of Listening is back to the vibe of the first track, Accompaniment, with Janisch on bowed bass again. The improvisations are freer than some of the other tracks with a jagged feel and little bombs of discordance. It is almost as if the instruments were having a drunken conversation with the sax being whimsical and the piano, assertive and truculent. Then the beat picks up with something of a latin flavour, and both Irabagon and Colligan take dazzling solos. Towards the end, there is some engaging call and response between sax, piano and drums – back to a conversation although perhaps a little more sober and certainly more animated. Trust is another upbeat piece with a good tune. It segues into a reprise of Accompaniment and ends in a satisfying mélange of cacophonous sound. The final track is a brief reprise of Hope which fades in as if one has gradually opened a door to a joyous party. Then the party quietens down and peacefully finishes. It’s an effective, life-enhancing end to a life-enhancing and, yes, hopeful, hope-filled album.

Robin Kidson

Andrew Bain is touring with his Embodied Hope Quartet from 2nd to 15th April 2018. Details of dates are on his website.

Details and Samples : Video of Hope

 

 

 

 

Julian Costello Quartet - Transitions
(33 Jazz Records) - Released: 15th September 2017

Julian Costello (tenor and soprano saxophones); Maciek Pysz (electric and classical guitars); Yuri Goloubev (double bass); Adam Teixeira (drums and percussion).

Julian Costello Quartet Transitions

 

In the album's sleeve notes saxophonist Iain Ballamy says: 'What I hear is a set of music with a strong identity - with a thread running through it created by a group that has clearly played the music enough to be able to wield it in a playful way. The music is expressive (there is no module for expression to be seen on an undergraduate music course!) it ebbs and flows, accelerates and slows naturally in the only way a real band can'.

A good description by Ballamy. The music is appealing, warm, enjoyable, eloquent and varied from an international band now all based in the UK. The musicians co-ordinate comfortably within the arrangements leaving plenty of room for solos from Costello and Pysz. Recommended.

Ian Maund

Details and Samples : Video of Walking Through The Jungle : Listen to Earworm and Panettone : allaboutjazz review ****

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Series - Meerkat Parade
(Bandcamp) - Released: 12th December 2017

David Series (guitar and compositions); Huw Rees (keyboards); James Lindasy (double bass); Max Popp (drums).

David Series Meerkat Parade

David Series is an Edinburgh based guitarist whose debut album consists of 6 tracks composed by David. Although it may look a shorter album, 3 of the 6 tracks are over seven minutes long and another six and a half minutes in duration with only two less than four minutes.  David states that the compositions are modern jazz influenced by amongst others, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Julin Argüelles and Derek Trucks.  He has also created the colourful and quirky artwork that features on the album. There are no CD notes about the basis for the tracks, but they sure do have some quirky titles, like Oink, Hermwei and Mr. Frisbee.

The first track is called Herzog, with the intro featuring a melodic double bass which then provides the pulse with guitar and drums joining later.  There is also an interesting keyboard solo.  Mr. Frisbee has Popp on drums keeping everything going with some melodic interplay between keyboards and guitar and an inspired keyboard solo around the middle.  The changes in rhythm are interesting and well managed and this seems to be a theme on most of the tracks.  Oink, is possibly the track which shows Series' wonderful guitar playing at its best.  Gentle instrumental beginning with the guitar lead through the melodies building to a crescendo, and there is lots of interplay between superb keyboards and the aforementioned guitar. Hermwei is the longest track at 8 minutes 11 seconds where the entire band starts together but each breaks out and has a solo section.  Quieter, light guitar sections interspersed with a memorable keyboard solo feature on this track.  On Where’s Waltzy, the bass solo was of note.  The last track is Scoobie Snack, which has a soulful guitar start with bass before the pace picks up as everyone piles in, and again each of the band members produce some great solos.

This is a mostly a well-balanced and melodic album with lots of interaction between the musicians whoever is providing the lead or base rhythm and I did look forward to Series' guitar sections when listening to the album. 

Tim Rolfe

Details and listen to Album :

 

 

 

 

Anton Hunter - Article X1
(Efpi Records) - Released: 9th February 2018

Sam Andreae, Simon Prince, Mette Rasmussen, Cath Roberts (saxophones); Graham South, Nick Walters (trumpets); Seth Bennett, Richard Foote (trombones); Anton Hunter (guitar); Eero Tikkanen (double bass); Johnny Hunter (drums)

Anton Hunter Article XI

 

This album is two ends of a spectrum.  After just a couple of weeks percolating my ears, I have become caught up in its dropped curve – Article X1 is another superb ‘on-a-roll’ project from those busy Luminous people.  A very smart live sound from Alex Bonney and Dill Katz, straight from The Vortex in London, along with two tracks caught at the Manchester Jazz Festival.  Initially I couldn’t help feel slightly disappointed that Anton Hunter’s own asymmetrical guitar isn’t more centre stage in these performances.  (Mr Hunter is not some flashy stadium guitar-slinger.  Given the right context, his telecaster can merge a whole intake of crackle ‘n pop into a probing ascetic.  It’s not just the sound that is unique to him, but the deceptively casual way he cuts into an ensemble.)  On this Article X1 debut the Guitar-Hunter takes on the role of composition catalyst; an under-the-scene scope-shaper hovering beneath the action like a current off a cliff. Article X1 deserves a lot of attention.  This is the Sloth Racket/Favourite Animals team (check out previous reviews), plus others, on yet another important encounter.  Okay, it leaves me waiting for Anton Hunter’s ‘guitar’ album but I’m a man of patience, right now I’m listening to something else.  It’s multiple stars, let’s get on with it!

Retaken captures a glorious opening from the eleven musicians. Brass chords played like laying out a carpet.  It’s an unveiling of a harmonised melody which feels rich with very little; a morning tune played at night with sparse reeds and held notes.  It falls into a Nick Walters’ trumpet solo.  I don’t know why, but it initially reminded me of raga structure.  What I really like about Retaken is the fix it gets on that melody.  After eleven minutes (the number must be coincidental) it ends, compositionally well taken.  There’s form, there’s beauty, Nick Walters has spoken with something to say about the ‘sound’ of trumpet.  There’s a glimpse of guitar at the back of it just tipping off the structure.  Anton’s brother Johnny’s drums breaking up the beat, fetching and carrying it so things don’t come out straight.  And it ends the right way up, a glorious opening begets a glorious ending, and I know whatever else this is music not taken lightly.

Innards Of Atoms is the one track where the guitar kindles the flame, or to paraphrase the title, becomes the ‘innard’ within the atom.  The piece begins piping a repeat between brass and reeds.  After about three minutes, the ears ‘getit’, the Hunter brothers then enter just like I’ve heard them do on other sessions; they have an uncanny instinctive way of rolling in a dual direction.  It’s their almost blues-but-isn’t way of stringing the sound out.  See, it’s not so much soloing as listening to an explanation from the guitar, while all the time there’s percussion offering up some kind of agreement.  Yeah sure, try this, right....! tell me more, ok, ok, let me assist you a little, ah, I’m with u. And then perhaps, finally - let’s nail it.  Innards Of Atoms ends with all eleven players intact and playing a concentrated credo which takes on the form of an aural scientific study.  It’s artful, evolutionary and one of those performances you’re damn glad that the likes of Alex Bonney and Dill Katz were on hand to capture the Atoms.

There’s inventive title-ling of this material; how about I Dreamed I Spat Out A Bee? A description of an alto sax turning inside on itself. (Sure, Mette Rasmussen’s alto mouthpiece accuracy can b major when she’s not b-ing minor.) Or there’s C# Makes The World A Better Place, a nice sentiment.  This sharp ‘sea’ is an ocean free of plastic, as well as a drone tonic which opens up into a melody so transforming it truly does give off a feeling of positivity.  And the ‘litter’ of clicks and smearings, rattles and beats on a prepared snare only go to emphasise the inherent poignancy of the piece.  Then there’s the simple two word title, Peaceful Assembly, alluding to Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Both in content and context it has a close connection to Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra – the stellar trumpet solo could almost come from the horn of the great Michael Mantler when he’s having a good day.

The thing that really encourages me about Anton Hunter’s Article X1 recording is the cordial rapprochement inherent in the final track, Not The Kind Of Jazz You Like. It seems to me it signals something special.  Anton Hunter is a different ‘kind’ of guitarist/composer playing The Kind Of Jazz that, by his own admission, is possibly not ‘immediate’ to majority taste.  Not only are such considerations beside the point, he makes no apology, why should he?  Sure, he’s aware of his situation, but because the whole LUME scene is The Kind Of Jazz that leads to true exploration he is going to do it anyway.  The band move from squashed, crushed experimentation into the Drummer-Hunter driving the band forward in a welter of 4/4 for a short distance only to break the whole thing up in a dead-end of improv. From here the ensemble reappear out of the debris, with the Fender telecaster setting up a final trombone song for either Seth Bennett or Richard Foote (I wasn’t there so I’m not sure who is responsible and yes – Mr Bennett is usually playing double bass!). The Guitar-Hunter hits a play-out riff and it’s all over; until next time.

I hope that Anton Hunter is able to find the necessary mental fix to stay at the task he has set himself.  His presence on Martin Archer’s crucial 2016 album Storytellers was, for me, the green light.  Here, Article X1 is further dramatic evidence of his abilities.  Personally, I’m also keen to hear a recording from his trio.  I believe that could reveal even more than we’ve heard so far.  That was certainly the case with the American avant-garde guitarist Mary Halvorson, with whom Mr Hunter shares similar terrain.  May we all find some place for Peaceful Assembly; I’d urge anyone who really has an interest in any ‘kind of jazz’, to spend at least one evening taking in Anton Hunter’s direction. None of us can stand still, not unless we want to get run over.

Steve Day

Details and Samples : Video of I Dreamed I Spat Out A Bee ; Anton Hunter's website

Steve Day is a writer and poet and leads the band Blazing Flame. www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Cherrie Quartet - Joining The Dots
(Trio Records) - Released: 2nd February 2018

Mark Cherrie (steel pan); John Donaldson (piano); Mick Hutton (double bass); Eric Ford (drums) with guests: Dominic Grant (acoustic guitar); Dave O'Higgins (tenor saxophone); Nigel Price (electric guitar); Sumudu (vocals).

Mark Cherrie Quartet Joining The Dots

 

Mark Cherrie is one of the foremost steel pan players in the UK but it is unusual to hear the instrument in a jazz context. Perhaps the best known use of the steel pan as a jazz instrument is on the 1979 album Morning Dance by Spiro Gyra where it was played by David Samuels who went on to co-found the Caribbean Jazz Project, although in this band the steel pan was played by an Andy Narell.  Both these musicians were born in the USA whereas Trinidad is the ancestral home of the instrument invented by Anthony Williams who along with other members of the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra showcased the instrument at the 1951 Festival of Britain. Another member of the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra was Sterling Bettancourt who made his home in England and as well as being a pioneering musician went on to be a leading light of the Notting Hill Carnival where the steel pan has become so popular with large ensembles and marching bands.  Mark Cherrie's father Ralph played steel pan with Sterling Bettancourt and now Mark continues the family involvement with the instrument and has done for many years.

For his quartet Mark Cherrie has selected musicians with biographies that include involvement with many of the best jazz bands around, suffice to say that with John Donaldson on piano, Mick Hutton on double bass and Eric Ford on drums there is a wealth of expertise and experience but on top of that there are also special guests in the form of Dominic Grant on acoustic guitar, Dave O'Higgins on tenor saxophone, Nigel Price on electric guitar and Sumudu with vocals. In the album notes Mark Cherrie mentions that the band had never played together before entering the recording studio but this is not normally a problem for good jazz musicians and so it transpired. Cherrie comments on each track in the album notes and it would seem that this album is to some extent a Desert Island Disc compilation of tunes that have been important in his jazz journey. Of the thirteen tracks plus one reprise featured on Joining The Dots, only four are composed by Cherrie despite the fact that he has been a prolific composer of music for film and television over many years; other  compositions are by some of the great names in jazz and also jazz versions of rock and folk music.  All in all an eclectic mix of personal favourites from a genuine musician.

Cherrie's compositions begin with a tune called Morse Code, and of course the steel pan lends itself to providing the staccato notes of early telecommunication. Cherrie describes the track as the 'opening salvo' but it is not aggressive, just energetic with some nice saxophone from Dave O'Higgins.  The other Cherrie compositions are much more romantic, celebrating the birth of his son with October's Child, accompanying the vocals of Sumudu on Just Like Lovers Do and playing a lovely, latin style duet with Dominic Grant on acoustic guitar in Lost Summer.  The folk song is Scarborough Fair in which the steel pan sounds suitably plaintive for a song about a lost lover while for Jimi Hendrix's Little Wing the piano introduction is followed by Cherrie playing a strikingly evocative version of a song about love and dreams.  The jazz standards include Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage with plenty of cymbal from Eric Ford making it sound like a very rough crossing; Pat Metheny's When We Were Free in which John Donaldson's piano more than does justice to a piece which was one of the composer's favourites and the all too short Sippin' At Bells by Miles Davis and featuring Nigel Price on electric guitar in a duet with Cherrie. Also included is the tune which really turned Cherrie on to jazz music, the title being due to Dylan Thomas's immortal phrase Starless and Bible Black and which became part of the jazz canon via Stan Tracey's version of Under Milk Wood.  One of the best tunes on the album is the Nirvana rock anthem, Smells Like Teen Spirit, the band are really grooving with some great drumming from Eric Ford and Cherrie's arrangement is excellent.

This is a really enjoyable album featuring the steel pan which is rarely heard in jazz but which easily holds its own in the company of the more usual instruments. This eclectic collection of tunes lasting well over an hour is great to listen to and all the more interesting because it includes tunes that were written specifically for the steel pan as well as others of different genres that were not - a rare gem not to be missed.

Howard Lawes

Introductory Video (Morse Code) : Sample The Tracks : Website : Purchase

 

 

 

 

 

Elliot Galvin - The Influencing Machine
(Edition Records) - Released: 26th January 2018

Elliot Galvin (piano, keyboards, toys); Tom McCredie (double bass, guitar); Corrie Dick (drums, percussion).

Elliot Galvin The Influencing Machine

 

Terrific! Immediately my ears caught the trail and before I was finished with the first track, I knew I’d be there for the duration.  It’s a lesson, music is a connection.  Unless you can make it, even ‘good’ musicians just become a damn fly buzzing in your box.  It could be said the title of this recording, The Influencing Machine, makes a play for that idea.  It’s the third album Elliot Galvin has released under his own name and it’s already received a lot of interest. Mr Galvin is also the keyboard player with Laura Jurd’s band Dinosaur; I’m going to attempt putting aside what I’ve already taken in.  Punch, the previous Galvin album was a really neat thing, but The Influencing Machine runs it very close.

I’m going to cover the context because there is no way anyone can listen to what is going on here without realising there is something being said.  This session is threaded through with samples – sounds, spoken word and musical clippings.  If you are someone who is only here (hear) for the piano trio you might as well go find yourself a Bill Evans album and enjoy it; don’t bother with The Influencing Machine.  However, not bothering would be a mistake in my view.

The thread that runs through this brilliant conception is the life and times of James Tilly-Matthews whose story takes us back to the latter half of the 1700’s.... yet also plunges us straight back into our own world dilemmas.  It’s the kind of facts-based story you could read in a Robert Harris novel. Tilly-Matthews was involved in British and French spy networks.  A political activist, merchant .... and paranoid schizophrenic who believed he was being influenced by a ‘machine’ in order to undertake acts of espionage.  Okay, so the internet is currently responsible for hatching terrorism; well, Tilly-Matthews in the 18th century got there first. There’s no space here to debate this stuff, all that I can tell you is that Elliot Galvin makes an utterly convincing fist (and fingers) job of bringing all this together through music and samples.  And if you’re still with me, in amongst all that, there is a ‘piano trio’ buried within.  It’s just that they play beyond piano, bass and drums.  This, my friends takes us a hell of a lot further forward than the latest American Songbook regurgitation.  What does not get lost in all the studio edits is Elliot Galvin - one imaginative pianist and keyboard player.

The Influencing Machine consists of ten tracks.  I am going to pick out three which I find fundamental to what is going on here.  This approach should not distract from the other seven pieces which all offer surprises.  Even in the pathos of the very short final ‘goodbye’, Fountainhead, there is a beguiling moment.  It is in fact a compression of the starter track – New Model Army.  The NMA was Oliver Cromwell’s much vaunted professional fighting force of the English Civil War. They literally revolutionised the way combat troops were organised.  Here’s another link, when Charlie Haden in 1983 recorded his Liberation Music Orchestra for the first time on the ECM label (Ballad of The Fallen) one of the pieces quoted on the title track was The People United Will Never Be Defeated, originally based on the Chilean song by Sergio Ortega.  As I sat down to my first listen-through of The Influencing Machine there, right at the beginning, before anything else had happened, was that evocative melody making its presence felt as if it were a forgotten eulogy.  Played bitter/sweet by the piano through an oscillating bell, if you knew the connections it did what I guess it was meant to do; I felt strangely moved, at the same time apprehensive, yet completely focused.  If a musician is going to bring such strands together and use them as his starting position, what on earth is going to follow? Answer: the name ‘James Tilly-Matthews’ is writ large, and it becomes an album of intrigue.

Take for instance the third track, Red and Yellow. It begins with a funky piano riff given additional motivation by Tom McCredie’s defined double bass (he’s a strong protagonist throughout the whole session) squeezing his runs into tight corners.  Dinosaur’s drummer, Corrie Dick, completes the angular path feeding in odd fills, smart rolls and whole-drum-kit comment.  It could be weird Chic.  At heart Red and Yellow is a five minute theme with a clear form, yet it is spiked with ‘ghost’ samples of electronic speech that cross like interruptions from a past life, confabulated by stride and honky-tonk piano.  I guess my reason for picking it out is that this track is actually a dub ‘mix’, a technique which defines this session. Red and Yellow has no extensions; it has a beginning, a middle and an end.  On this occasion the frame serves a purpose. Every track on The Influencing Machine has its own retinue of sounds. Mr Galvin keeps control of them.  What could become a mere musical toy box is used with care.  This is an audio story with a narrative maintained throughout.

The central track is probably Bees, Dogs and Flies. It is the longest cut and passes through a continual haze of torn harmony.  Pieces of prepared piano, a hint of Hammond organ, hymnal quotes accompanied by percussion detritus, fragments of folk song, echoes of distant drumming; it cements itself into the consciousness like heat when baked into gravel.  This would be my download choice, though it hurts to hear it, like listening to Britten’s War Requiem or Billie Holiday’s March 1959 recording with Ray Ellis of All The Way.

On the strength of Elliot Galvin’s recommendation I went to my local library and got out the book, The Air Loom Gang: The Strange and True Story of James Tilly-Matthews and His Visionary Madness by Mike Jay. I pass on the recommendation to anyone who has got this far in this review. Here is an extraordinary album, bigger than it initially appears.  Certainly not easy, neither is schizophrenia.  It is dark territory made positive; music made anew.  This is how it is. Thanks.

Steve Day

Details and listen to the album : Video Trailer (there are flickering images at the start) : Elliot Galvin's website

Steve Day is a writer and poet and leads the band Blazing Flame. www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk 

 

 

 

Mark Wade Trio - Moving Day
(Edition 46 Records) - Released: 19th January 2018

Tim Harrison (piano); Mark Wade (acoustic bass); Scott Neumann (drums).

Mark Wade Trio Moving Day

 

Mark Wade is a proficient double bassist and composer who has been playing in NYC for two decades, showing off his fluid, athletic sound. The follow-up to his widely recognized debut album, Event Horizon, is entitled Moving Day and like before, features a classic trio with Tim Harrison and Scott Neumann on piano and drums, respectively. Together, they achieve an impressive triangular tightness that can be heard without delay on the first track, the 6/4 post-bop wonder that gave the album its title. It kicks off with the pianist delivering an ostinato, which, minutes later, is reutilized by the bassist to install the groove. The bandleader, embarking on an effusive back-and-forth solo, discharges melody and rhythm with aplomb, and the energy doesn't faint when Neumann unleashes his clear-sighted chops over a rock-inflected vamp.

These soloists are furiously active again on “Wide Open”, a pretty straightforward tune with a catchy piano riff and a gorgeous rhythm that brings a scent of R&B and soul to the jazz-rock stamina that sustains its core. I thought of it as a crossing between Stevie Wonder and Chick Corea. Borrowing melody from Debussy’s “La Mer”, “The Bells” is an imaginative waltz encompassing glorious suspensions and a chamber-esque sparseness created by the bowed bass. On top of this musing, Harrison’s left-hand onrushes are perceptible on the lower register, bringing McCoy's technique to the mind. The coolness of the piano solo sparks nice melodies while the brushwork of the drummer is noticeable throughout the bass solo. Wade devised new shiny outfits for a couple of jazz standards, with “Another Night in Tunisia” being shuffled in tempo while maintaining the strong latin affinity present in Dizzy’s original, and “Autumn Leaves” being subjected to a successful reorganization to include Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage”. 

Virtuosity and creativity also reign on “Midnight in the Cathedral” in which the band plunges into a dense modal spirituality. Although honoring medieval music, I sensed it more like a mantra-based chant within a style that reminisces Alice Coltrane. With disparate natures, “Something of a Romance” and “The Quarter” are a medium-tense ballad and an elated march, respectively. The latter has a decompressing effect, displaying occasional bluesy flourishes and a more traditional flow that feels as humorous as the compositions of drummer Matt Wilson. With an impressive command of his instrument, Wade takes his tightly-knit acoustic trio beyond stereotyped formulas or just simplistic reinterpretations of known songs. Moving Day is a dazzling testament to his evolving artistry, where inventiveness is on full display.

Filipe Freitas - JazzTrail.

Introductory Video : Performance Video: JazzTrail Review

Filipe Freitas runs JazzTrail in New York City with photographer Clara Pereira. They feature album and concert coverage, press releases and press kits, album covers and biographies. They are valued contacts for Sandy Brown Jazz in the United States. You can read more about Filipe and Clara in their 'Tea Break' item with us if you click here.

 

 

 

 

Wes Montgomery - In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
(Resonance Records) - Released: 26th January 2018

Wes Montgomery (guitar); Harold Mabern (piano); Arthur Harper (bass); Jimmy Lovelace (drums) + guest Johnny Griffin (tenor saxophone).

Wes Montgomery In Paris

 

 

'Released as a deluxe 2CD-set and digital edition, In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording signals the memorable Paris concert by the super jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery. The event took place at the Theatre des Champs-Elysées during his 1965 European tour ... It is bebop at its best, revealing that the guitarist’s sound is just as brilliant live as it is in the studio'.

Details and samples : JazzTrail Review : Video introduction

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wayne Escoffery - Vortex
(Alliance Import) - Released: 2nd March 2018

Wayne Escoffery (tenor and soprano saxophone); Dave Kikosk (piano); Ugonna Okegwo (bass); Ralph Peterson (drums).

Wayne Escoffery Vortex

 

 

'... shaped in an urgent, socio-political way that aims to (highlight) racism, bigotry, and hate in the US, (the album) is a tour de force and the title track exemplifies this better than any other track. It’s an attractive post-bop discharge whose kicking-and-screaming locomotion is absolutely stunning. The bandleader shows his magnificent soloing capabilities, showing an affinity to explore deeply and widely with irrepressible inventiveness and bristling provocation. Kikoski and Peterson don’t squander their chances to be noticed when called to intervene'.

Details : JazzTrail Review : Video - Wayne at Ronnie Scott's in 2016.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marta Sánchez Quintet - Danza Imposible
(Fresh Sound New Talent) - Released: 1st October 2017

Roman Filiu (alto saxophone); Jerome Sabbagh (tenor saxophone); Marta Sanchez (piano); Rick Rosato (bass); Daniel Dor (drums).

Marta Sanchez Quintet Danza Imposible

 

'Madrid-born pianist Marta Sanchez has been an influential voice on the New York jazz scene since she moved to the Big Apple seven years ago. Danza Imposible, couldn’t have been a better follow-up to Partenika (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2014), exceeding all the expectations by presenting music that challenges, intrigues, and bewilders.... Conquering her space with a triumphant confidence, Marta Sanchez, proves she is a top 21st-century composer. This seminal work takes us to unexpected places, radiating energy in its most varied forms and passages. This outstanding Danza is not Impossible at all!'

Details and Sample : JazzTrail Review : 'Nebulosa' from the album : Video

 

 

 

 

AKA Moon – Now
(Instinct) - Released: 19th January 2018

Fabrizio Cassol (saxophone); Michel Hatzigeorgiou (bass); Stéphane Galland (drums)

AKA Moon Now

 

My CD of the month comes from across the channel in Belgium from a trio that almost never makes it over here and is probably a new name to most readers, despite having being one of the best known European improvising bands since an encounter with the AKA Pygmies some 25 years ago. This new album is typical of their style, and quite unlike most British jazz.  There are certainly influences from Steve Coleman's M-Base movement, and some of the early music from F-IRE and Loop collectives did have a similar approach.

The music is built on simple riffs and phrases, but is rhythmically complex and full of inventive and often ferocious improvisation. The collective interplay has patterns and rhythms constantly shifting between the different instruments. To celebrate their 25 years together the band has also released a 20 CD Box set. That may be a bit tough for newcomers but it does feature their collaborations with Indian, African, Balkan and other musicians, as well as other trio albums.

Peter Slavid

Listen to Persevering : Details : Purchase :

Peter Slavid hosts a monthly, 2 hour radio show at www.mixcloud.com/ukjazz and says: 'The programme has a very specific purpose. The show is entirely European and entirely modern'.

 

 

 

 

Thomas Strønen's Time Is A Blind Guide - Lucus
(ECM) - Released: 19th January 2018

Thomas Strønen (drums); Ayumi Tanaka (piano); Hakon Aase (violin); Lucy Railton (cello); Ole Morten Vagan (bass). 

Thomas Stronen Lucus


Norwegian drummer/composer Thomas Strønen, a member of the experimental jazz band Food, returns with a quintet variation of his Time Is A Blind Guide project. Entitled Lucus, the 11-track album features the collective’s core members: violinist Hakon Aase, cellist Lucy Railton, and bassist Ole Morten Vagan, plus a valuable new addition with the up-and-coming Japanese pianist Ayumi Tanaka sitting in for Kit Downs.

An ethereal chamber setting is immediately assimilated on the first track, “La Bella”, a reiterative meditation of great beauty that, suspended and static in nature, varies in intensity. All the compositions belong to Strønen, except this one ... it was with the idiosyncratic arrangement of “Wednesday” that the band captivated me the most, showcasing classical piano spells and beautiful folk melodies instilled by Aase ... Strønen gives his counterparts the freedom they need to totally connect with his spacious sense of composition, and Lucus lives from the harmony of their constant exchanges.

Filipe Freitas - JazzTrail

Video Introduction : Details and Samples : JazzTrail Review

 

 

 

The Oscar Peterson Trio and Singers Unlimited - In Tune (Remastered Anniversary Edition)
(MPS) - Released: 17th November 2017)

Oscar Peterson (piano); George Mraz (bass); drummer Louis Hayes (drums) and Singers Unlimited.

Oscar Peterson Trio In Tune

 

 

'Peterson himself instigated the first contact between the Schwarzwald studio and The Singers Unlimited (TSU). That contact developed into a fruitful decade-long relationship; the Villingen studio's superb technology perfectly suited the sophisticated requirements of vocal artist and leader Gene Puerling. Recorded in 1971, In Tune was TSU's first album on MPS. It feeds off the languages of the two musical poles, whether it's in the swinging give and take of the opener, Sesame Street, or in the switch from the reverential orchestrally-layered choir intro to Peterson's sparkling play on It Never Entered My Mind'.

Details : Samples : Listen to Catherine; Sesame Street ; Here's That Rainy Day

 

 

 

 

 

Dinah Washington & Quincy Jones - The Complete Sessions (3 CD Box Set, Remastered original recordings)
(Essential Jazz Classics) - Released: 13th October 2017

Dinah Washington (vocals); Quincy Jones (director, arranger, conductor) and various personnel including Clark Terry, Joe Newman, Charlie Shavers (trumpets); Urbie Green, Quentin Jackson, Billy Byers (trombones); Lucky Thompson, Paul Quinichette, Budd Johnson, Jerome Richardson (reeds); Wynton Kelly (piano), Barry Galbraith (guitar), Milt Hinton (bass); Jimmy Cobb, Osie Johnson (drums).

Dinah Washington Quincy Jones The Complete Sessions

 

'This 3-CD, 73-track set presents, for the first time ever on a single edition, all existing sessions featuring the singing of Dinah Washington with bands conducted by Quincy Jones, who was also responsible for most of the arrangements on these dates. Ranging from 1955 to 1961, the sessions include the complete contents of the classic albums For Those in Love (Emarcy MG-36011), I Wanna Be Loved (Mercury SR-60729), and The Swingin’ Miss “D” (EmArcy MG-36104), along with various other tunes issued on singles. Contained here are her unforgettable renditions of “Mad About the Boy”, “Blue Gardenia” and “I’ll Close My Eyes” (the latter two were selected by Clint Eastwood for the soundtrack to his movie The Bridges of Madison County)'.

Details : 4* Jazzwise review of Feb 2018 'This 3CD set is an extremely efficient way to acquire all the Jones/Washington collaborations'.

 

 

 

Brian Blade And The Fellowship Band - Body And Shadow

Album Released: 17th November 2017 - Label: Decca (UMO) - Reviewed: January 2018

Brian Blade Body And Shadow

Brian Blade (drums); Myron Walden (alto saxophone, bass clarinet); Melvin Butler (tenor saxophone); Dave Devine (guitar); Jon Cowherd (piano, keyboards); Chris Thomas (bass). 

American drummer Brian Blade has conquered many jazz fans with his sophisticated technique, open nature, and instinctual rhythm. His unique touch, never too loud and never too soft, has played a crucial role in projects of likes such as Kenny Garrett, Joshua Redman, Mark Turner, David Binney, and Wayne Shorter. He also built an amazing reputation as a leader of the Fellowship Band, a 20-year endeavour that normally comprises two saxophones, one or two guitars, piano/keyboards, and bass.

Body and Shadow is Blade’s fifth album with this band, whose regular members include saxists Myron Walden and Melvin Butler, pianist/keyboardist Jon Cowherd, and bassist Chris Thomas. The novelty here is guitarist Dave Devine, a sure-footed Denver-based rock guru, who makes his debut in the group after Daniel Lanois, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Marvin Sewell and Jeff Parker have occupied the position in the past.

Click here to listen to Duality from the album.

Embracing identical methodologies as in the previous albums, yet cutting a bit in the improvisations in detriment of a more crafted textural work, the band opens with “Within Everything”, a melodious, unfussy piece that carries the lightness of a pop song entwined with the warm melancholy of Americana. I’m quite sure that both Joni Mitchell and Oasis would approve its atmosphere.

The title track was divided into three parts according to the parts of the day. “Body and Shadow (Night)” upholds a flowing chamber jazz quality, enhanced by bass clarinet melodies (expertly handled by Walden), low-toned key vibes, and bowed bass. The guitar, whether translucent or distorted, fingerpicked or strummed, fits perfectly within the uncongested musical scenario. Conversely, the ‘Morning’ part increases the electrified sounds, getting a tangy indie rock bite, while the ‘Noon’ part is a stagnant electro-acoustic episode with emphasis on Devine’s guitar.

Obeying a 7/4 time signature, “Traveling Mercies” is arranged with compassionate melodies and harmonies that bring some sadness attached. It rekindles the flame during the chorus, in a successful combination of genteel jazz and untroubled folk-rock, as if Joshua Redman has fused with Crosby, Stills, and Nash. The resplendent Christian hymn “Have Thine Own Way, Lord” is subjected to two opposite treatments. The first is ‘sung’ exclusively by Cowherd's harmonium, and the second devotionally orchestrated according to Blade’s categorical arrangement.

The syncopated rhythms that initiate “Duality” are also velvety. They are an integral part of a magical soundscape, which, even shifting along the way, maintains both the consistency and stability. The improvisations are further extended here, beginning with Cowherd, who pulls out interesting melodic lines over exuberant chord changes. Giving the best sequence to a short bridge, packed with horn unisons and counterpoint, it’s Walden who, taking advantage of the recently appeared balladic tones, makes his alto saxophone cry and beseech intensely within an outstanding, repeatedly motivic post-bop language. Holding an absolute control of tempo, “Broken Leg Days” closes the session, flowing elegantly while Blade's drumming brings together simple rudiments and dynamic rhythmic accentuations.

Click here to listen to Broken Leg Days.

Brian Blade, as stylish and generous as ever, continues to persuade, and Body and Shadow is another great personal achievement that also serves to commemorate two decades of a tight musical bond.

My Favourite Tracks: Traveling Mercies, Duality and Broken Leg Days.

Click here for details.

Filipe Freitas JazzTrail

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Larry Ochs Sax And Drumming Core - Wild Red Yellow

Album Released: 7th July 2017 - Label: Rogue Art - Reviewed: January 2018

Larry Ochs Wild Red Yellow

Larry Ochs (tenor & sopranino saxophones); Natsuki Tamura (trumpet); Satoko Fujii (piano, synthesizer); Scott Amendola (drums, percussion, electronics); Matthias Bossi (thunder drums; Chinese gongs, shaky flotsam, percussion); William Winant (timpani, roto-toms, percussion).

The Drum is the most basic and yet at the same time, one of the most sophisticated of instruments. What do you do with it?  You hit it!  Sound.  Hit it! Tap it. Stroke it.  One way or an other it carries the rhythm of the heartbeat.  It holds loops; on beat, off beat, rolls, fills, a single shot.  There are flicks and brushes on skin, heavy hands to touch-light.  The beat can be eternal, the beat can be a moment struck in emphasis.  Duke Ellington called one of his short epicsThe Drum Is A Woman (click here).   It became a controversial title because, for sure The Duke was using the phrase to carry the humanity of rhythm, but women (and men, adult and children) should not be beaten to obtain their sound.  I would suggest, the drum is an instrument that carries what we ourselves cannot hold, and therein lies its importance and fascination. 

When Larry Ochs originally formed his Sax And Drumming Core, the band was a trio including current kit drummer, Scott Amendola.  The focus was on the trade off between the leader’s horns and Mr Amendola’s percussion. Scott Amendola still has a central role within the Core but for Ochs the drum became so compulsive that he needed more beats than one person could produce - enter Matthias Bossi and William Winant on gongs, timpani, plus a massive collection of additional percussion.  Running in parallel with all this is the fact that Larry Ochs is also one of the original members of the Rova Saxophone Quartet, formed in 1977, who could be said to have their roots in John Coltrane’s later works like Ascension and Meditations. In other words, the period when Coltrane was piling on beats through the use of double drummers and percussionists.  Rashid Ali, his regular drummer, was being asked to multiply time and rhythm.  The music could not stop still; it was eventually played to the backdrop of a thickening of beats.  Of course the ‘twist’ is that Rova Saxophone Quartet, the band that ‘made’ Larry Ochs name, actually contains no percussion at all.

The essential premise of Wild Red Yellow is to connect drumming into the core of things.  If necessary, to run so many beats in different times and combinations that it becomes possible to trade off the ‘frontline’ of Larry Ochs’ tenor and sopranino saxophones / Natsuki Tamura’s trumpet / Satoko Fujii’s keyboards into multiple directions.  At any split second in the process, the direction of travel can be shredded into a number of routes at exactly the same time. 

The album only has three tracks, Omenicity, A Sorcerer’s Fate and Wild Red Yellow. Of the three, Sorcerer’s is the shortest at just over nine minutes, bookended by the big beast Omenicity and the title track, both weighing in at over twenty minutes each.  Already this description doesn’t need a conjurer to work out that the content of this Wild Red Yellow session is not for the faint hearted.  It demands acute concentration on the part of the musicians and, if you’re going to commit to the course of events, a lot from the listener too.  Can I recommend it to you?  You bet you I can.  Wild Red Yellow is like going on an intense fitness course at the gym. Damn hard work, not to be taken lightly, but once completed the result is a feeling of exhilaration.  It’s a whole body experience – what comes through your ears is ingested and then poured through your inner system of nerve endings, muscle and mind.  Jeepers! Drums are the thunder of the soul.  Or at least, something like that.

Sandy Brown Jazz featured Fujii and Tamura in my November review of Satoko Fujii’s celebratory album Aspiration along with trumpet icon, Wadada Leo Smith.  Here on the Ochs album Fujii plants both her synth and piano into the mix of Omenicity early. She spins the frontline for about thirty seconds before either Larry Ochs or Natsuki Tamura can bring their horns to the mouth.  The three percussionists are already spreading a blanket of sound and fury.  Even listening blind to vision it’s obvious there are at least three languages in action.  As for Satoko Fujii, rather like the omnipresent ‘ghost in the machine’, she unleashes her own withering whine of keyboards across the soundscape as if the ears have entered Hades-Under-Heaven.  Rarely does Omenicity ease the pace, just when it seems they may be applying the breaks, the whole ‘Core’ move into a new phase.  About fifteen minutes in there is a massive sheet metal sound which brings down an arpeggio of piano.  For a short while this internal shudder ushers in a massive dance between the innards of a grand piano and the drummers.  It could be fertility; it could be death; it could be some kind of ceremonial descent into crisis.  I don’t know what it is.  The Sax And Drumming Core have pulled down the lights and entered into a storm of their own making.  Larry Ochs dedicates this huge work to June Taymor (who directed The Lion King). Omenicity would scare Broadway Theatre.  A friend of mine who knows these things, tells me June Taymor is a brave producer.  Good.  Omenicity is bravery personified.

Back in 2009 at the Sigüenza Jazz Festival in Spain a member of the audience called the police to investigate the fact that the Larry Ochs Sax And Drumming Core were not playing jazz.  Once the law enforcement arrived, they too were mystified as to whether what was coming off the stage constituted the j-word.  Sandy Brown Jazz readers will be pleased to know that the final judgement was that Larry Ochs was found to be innocent of the crime of not playing jazz.  So, it’s a matter of factual accuracy that A Sorcerer’s Fate, the ‘short’ nine minute track, has official clearance to be reviewed on a ‘jazz’ website.  For sure I find it a golden nugget. 

In my view, Mr Ochs could present Sorcerer’s Fate to the Spanish authorities as a prima facia fact that he, and indeed the whole band, are jazz musicians.  Sorcerer’s starts with a tight pulse coming off the kit drum (I think it’s Amendola), with Bossi and Winant (or maybe some other combination) whipping and whooping additional percussion on the ‘on’.  Mr Ochs eases in his tenor horn, Fujii and Tamura sound like they’ve just turned up at Ronnie Scott’s and got away with it, and then Fate deals to the damned; it is obvious, the Sax And Drumming Core playing ‘jazz’ in disguise.  Nonetheless the track maintains something close to the evidence required.  I’d swear on its authenticity (sic).

The title track, Wild Red Yellow is another country.  Essential listening.  It is twenty minutes long.  It takes its time.  What begins as a platform so spare of clutter, utterly divorced of the big gesture yet full to the brim with creative detail, ends like it has traversed a mountain range.  This is dissection of sound. The bloom of a bell ringing. The hint of synth-electricity curling on trumpet breath.  Even when Ochs’ reeds come in advocating action he is somehow contained, given space, but contained nonetheless.  Produce a wasted note at your peril; Wild Red but not wilful.  Yellow with colour not green with envy.  It is an improvisation of manners. The final result is, in its own way, a beautiful story without words and narrative.  I don’t believe in perfection, but music like Wild Red Yellow makes me want to.

Finally, let’s give a mention to the sleeve notes written by master-craftsman jazz writer, Brian Morton.  They are worth the cost the album.  Over eight paragraphs Mr Morton sets out a hypothesis on the nature of “where does Asia” begin?  A profound short speculation on the socio interrelationship between the European, the American and the ‘Asiatic’.  I have not the space to devote a second ‘review’ to Morton’s concept.  I’ll therefore finish by quoting a small section which conveys a morsel of what’s on offer:

“If one quality of Asian cultures sets them apart from the European/American then it is a curiosity of language.  European tongues lack what might be called the ostensive case, the ability to put down “Dog” or “Tree” or “Stone”, and not imply a narrative: whose dog? in what landscape? is the dog peeing on the tree?  A quality of Asian art that troubles the Western eye is that the subject floats in the picture space without context.  It presents but doesn’t explain.  Larry Ochs’s music is often like that, and it is like that here.” 

There you have it, Wild Red Yellow floats.  If I’ve provided a little context for this floating, may this not detract from Brian Morton’s fascinating premise, or an album worthy of purchase.

Click here for details.

Click here for a video of Larry Ochs Sax And Drumming Core live at The White House 2009.

Steve Day  www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk

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Peter Horsfall - Nighthawks

Album Released: 24th November 2017 - Label: APP Records - Reviewed: January 2018

Peter Horsfall Nighthawks

This CD from Peter Horsfall is the first album under his own name, a horn player with the swinging Kansas Smittys collective; he puts down his trumpet to sing lead vocals on this 10 track album. Of these, 3 are short instrumentals, two are covers and the rest are original compositions. As with other musicians, the inspiration for the project was Edward Hopper’s painting “Nighthawks”. As Horsfall states “Edward Hopper’s painting of the same name has always chimed with me. The lonely figures of the night time scene; the waiter working until the early hours, the man sat lonesome at the counter. Perhaps it is musicians who are the definitive nighthawks.”

The rest of the band comes from Horsfall’s fellow musicians in the Kansas Smittys House Band based in a bar of the same name located in Hackney, East London. They are saxophonist Giacomo Smith, pianist Joe Webb, Ferg Ireland on double bass and Pedro Segundo on drums. On track 8, Couldn’t Stop Loving You, David Archer plays guitar, and backing vocals are provided by Cherise Coryna Adams-Burnett and Renato Paris.

Click here for a video of Couldn't Stop Loving You.

The lyrics to the songs are reproduced in a booklet that accompanies the album and that has original artwork of three water colours by Cecile McLorin Salvant.

The opening title track is a fitting introduction to the ‘Nighthawks’ theme and features “breathy” vocals from Horsfall whilst the backing musicians echo the lyrics with especially good accompaniment from Smith on alto sax and Segundo on drums. The two covers are, Barry Harris’ Paradise and Duke Ellington’s Sunset & The Mockingbird which has a new lyric.

The compositions by Horsfall are: Then I Saw You, Secretly, Couldn’t Stop Loving You and This Is Goodbye. The 3 instrumental sections are entitled Interludes 1-3 and as they are interludes, they are very short, but I would have liked a touch more of these atmospheric and melancholy pieces. The closing track This Is Goodbye is also appropriately titled and the drums and double bass lend a gravitas to the finale.

Edward Hopper Nighthawks

This is not a CD that gets your foot tapping, nor is it the most uplifting, but it is different. There is a strong nightclub set feel with some of the lyrics and vocals taking you straight back to the 1930s or '50s (eg. Paradise).

 

Edward Hopper - Nighthawks

 

 

Horsfall’s voice is hard to categorise, some comment it is “bittersweet”, “plaintive” or gritty”, perhaps it is just unique. However, although the structure with its mix of vocals and instrumental interludes is dated in itself, there is a sense of modernising in the contemplation within the lyrics. The album title is well echoed in the desolation from the sound of the voice and lyrics which enhance the late night vibe.

Click here for details and to sample the album.

Tim Rolfe

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Favourite Animals - Favourite Animals

Album Released: 4th December 2017 - Label: Luminous Label - Reviewed: January 2018

Favourite Animals album

Cath Roberts (baritone saxophone); Sam Andreae (tenor saxophone); Anton Hunter (guitar); Seth Bennett (double bass); Johnny Hunter (drums); Dee Byrne (alto saxophone); Julie Kjaer (bass clarinet, flute); Tom Ward (bass clarinet, flute); Graham South (trumpet); Tullis Rennie (trombone).

When do ten Favourite Animals add up to five?  Roberts, Andreae, Bennett & 2 x Hunter’s are members of Sloth Racket (see our review archive).  The Racket is an improvising quintet led by baritone sax player Cath Roberts.  Over the last eighteen months they have begun to re-energise the process of spontaneous jazz composition/performance in the UK. This new larger version of Sloth Racket is an exciting development.  For sure if you’ve picked up on the quintet’s two previous albums Triptych and Shapeshifters you’re gonna dig this new Favourite Animals session.  But even if you found those first two precious gems a little demanding I’m suggesting you may well wish to consider this latest Cath Roberts project as a new start. 

Here comes the statement:  Favourite Animals is a brilliantly conceived big band construct, played by musicians who tip their tones to the Brotherhead of Breath, Keith Tippett’s The Ark, with a trace of the London Jazz Composers Orchestra somewhere down in the deep end.  There’s maybe even a smidgin of the great Loose Tubes in the mix.  For all that lineage, it is the FA’s who are now producing a radical contemporary music which is absolutely on the money.  The album was paid for by crowd funding; join the masses.  Favourite Animals comes very early in the year, but it makes January 2018 worth getting into; it’s a stunner!

Track one, Confirm Or Deny is undeniably ‘big’.  It steps out with a riff as huge as a dinosaur (no, this one is not extinct) and then creates space for flute/wind, reed smears to give us a whole rainforest of smaller Favourite invertebrates.  And I’m glad Cath Roberts gets in early with her baritone saxophone.  (Come ON, when do you get to hear a good bari exercising some discretion over proceedings?).  Anton Hunter’s guitar is bleeping his own spacey descriptions alongside the reeds and brass.  Plus, there’s that dinosaur riff building and fading providing a kind of compass point to the direction of travel.  The Drummer-Hunter forcefully batters his kit.  For a few bars it’s as if he’s joined the old Brecker Brothers.  Michael and Randy would have been scrambling for the open country if they’d ever been asked to get this close to a tight corner.  It’s the first track, eight minutes of creative mayhem, invention, and sheer joyous orchestrations and improv.  Already I’m congratulating the good people of the LUME collective for releasing these Favourite Animals from captivity.

Click here to listen to Confirm Or Deny.

The next fabulous track is called Unspeakable – I won’t let the title get in my way, because music like this gets to the core of what improvisation in contemporary orchestras is all about (and what it isn’t).  This is my interpretation, I don’t ‘speak’ for Cath Roberts or her crew.  The quality of Unspeakable comes direct from the interaction of the musicians, the ‘compositional’ element is in the form not the lines. It begins with Anton Hunter’s guitar, a simple chord shaping and theme setting the scenery, his brother Johnny logging the slow, slow pace of the piece with poised percussion positioning.  Everything else that is unveiled over the next eight-plus minutes grows out of these initial delicate conversational cadences.  Unspeakable doesn’t stay still, it isn’t soft focus ambient ‘Eno’, neither cathartic workout; every ‘Favourite Animal’ is on message. Reeds and brass almost shudder within their detailed front-line/backdrop of orchestration. Seth Bennett’s double bass ripples underneath the other nine like he’s had private information of the direction home.  A slightly extended version cries out for contemporary choreography.  When it dies away, using crushed electricity coming off the Guitar-Hunter, I have to agree the performance has become Unspeakable.  The word ‘Magic’, simply will not do.

Click here to listen to Unspeakable.

What follows are three contrasting tracks.  Boiling Point is introduced by reeds, brass and an investigative double bass. Byrne, Roberts and Andreae’s reeds achieve every angle other than playing a straight line.  They know the score (that there is no score), and the flute/bass clarinet partnership of Kjaer and Ward begin a circle dance of their own. South and Rennie’s brass come to the boil just as the reeds gradually begin to pull out some long lines of form.  The Hunter brothers have also imperceptibly established contact.  The Boiling Point is cooking.  By the time the tentet reach thirteen minutes there is an arrival. The end is a lovely thing for sure but it’s how they got there that is the real fascination.  Off-World is a different pitch and only half the length of Boiling. It is built on ‘small’ sourced sounds.  The Art Ensemble of Chicago came to something close to Off-World two or three decades ago.  How any improvising ensemble harbour the tiny detail in their capabilities is surely an important facet of their art.  The AEoC were/are true pioneers of the longevity of maintaining a stable line-up over years, over decades, across continents, through marriages and death, in politics and out of politics, via reeds, brass, drum&bass and literally another hundred other instruments collected on the journey.  May it be that twenty years from now there will be a Favourite Animals continuum that tracks their journey too.  I’d suggest, it’s that important, this music.  The longevity.  And as such the discovery of the ‘smaller’ sounds – the scrapes and rattles, the overblows, the percussion of sax pads, the bringing together of the brittle wire in electricity, and the choices made in bringing them together give a sense of ‘fit’ to musicians and thus the music they make.  It’s an Off-World. The real world.

The final track is called Shreds and there-in lies the clue. Shreds is literally conceived out of Shreds of everything that has gone before. So it begins with that Confirm Or Deny riff from track one and goes on to reference aspects of Unspeakable, Boiling Point and Off-World.  By ‘shredding’ the music there is an element of re-cycling, in so doing the content has become a different thing.  To my mind Shreds could be said to be a long coda seeking to reframe the ‘bandbook’ without calling any of it into question.  I like the way it just ends.  It just stops.  No returning to the Confirm Or Deny riff, in fact not confirming or denying anything.  In doing so Cath Roberts gives validity to the whole five track performance. And I like that too.

Over the last couple of years the Cath Roberts/Dee Byrne Lume Collective (as well as the Martin Archer Discus Label in Sheffield) have really made their own ‘Giant Steps’ on the UK jazz scene.  The fact that none of these people figured in the ‘British Jazz Awards 2017’ should not be considered a problem unless you want to find one.  Often, okay very often, that’s just how it is.  It doesn’t take away from all those excellent musicians who did figure in the Awards listings.  But this I know, Favourite Animals are making a ‘mindset’ change not just a musical one.  In doing so they represent an immensely positive start to 2018.  Stay on board for the Luminous long game. Brilliant.

Click here for details and to listen to the album.

Steve Day  www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk 

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Freddy Randall And His Band - My Tiny Band Is Chosen (The Parlophone Years 1952 - 1957)

Album Released: 1st December 2017 - Label: Lake Records - Reviewed: January 2018

Freddy Randall My Tiny Band Is Chosen

Lake Records continue their retrospective collections by British jazz musicians with this compilation of tracks from trumpeter Freddy Randall and his Band. From the correspondence I receive, I know many readers have fond memories of the Freddy Randall band playing at venues such as Wood Green Jazz Club or Cooks Ferry Inn or from those who played with him such as Dave Keir and Gerry Salisbury, both who feature on this album.

As usual with Lake releases, Paul Adams has included informative liner notes, in this case looking back at the record labels that existed as the Trad boom grew in the 1940s and 1950s and how they responded to jazz. 'Parlophone on the other hand was the one label to embrace it from the word go' ..... 'Lyttelton and Randall produced two of the finest bands of the era. Freddy Randall did not achieve the fame and following Humph did, but given the number of records which were issued, they must have sold well enough to justify continuing with releases. In those days Freddy stuck doggedly to his Chicago / Condon / Spanier style: he was not frightened to use a guitar instead of a banjo and, like Humph, was prepared to use a saxophone'.

Freddy Randall was born in 1921 in Clapton, East London. At eighteen he was playing trumpet with the St Louis Four and with other bands as a sideman. After the War he led his own groups that would feature many top British jazz musicians such as Bruce Turner, Danny Moss and Brian Lemon, but he sadly gave up playing between 1958 and 1963 suffering from lung problems. He returned to the recording studio in the mid 1960s playing with Dave Shepherd and recorded for Black Lion Records in the early '70s. He passed away in 1999. at the age of 78. Click here for a full obituary for Freddy in The Independent.

In his liner notes, Paul Adams quotes Digby Fairweather as saying that Freddy played: 'in a style which varied at will from the direct punch of Muggsy Spanier to the more florid creations of Harry James and Charlie Teagarden ... his records of the 1950s period - for Parlophone's Super Rhythm Style - are great Jazz in any language'.

So here we have 24 tracks in all. 21 are from Parlophone and three 'from a very rare somewhat battered acetate and have never been issued before. In fact 'The recordings on the CD came from a variety of sources: original master tapes, 78 rpm discs, LP, EP and acetates ... the rarest sides are tracks 8, 9, and 10 (Smokey Mokes; The Sheik Of Araby and At The Jazz Band Ball) and they required the most work'. As you might guess, Paul Adams has produced the reproduction with care.

The first eleven tracks are from 1952 starting with a happy version of I Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None Of My Jelly Roll and Freddy takes the vocal in a line up that includes Norman Cave, Bruce Turner, Lennie Felix, Lew Green, Ted Palmer and Lennie Hastings. Dark Night Blues is an interesting track with the effects introduced in the arrangement. Opening with Lew Green's guitar the use of muted brass make this a little different to the norm. Clarinet Marmalade romps away, as you might expect, punctuated by Norman Cave's trombone and with Bruce Turner interrupting before Norman takes his solo and Ted Palmer's bass duets with Art Straddon on piano. The Original Dixieland One-Step gets your feet tapping and has a nice, extended solo from Bruce Turner. If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight) has a sensitive clarinet introduction with Freddy then taking the vocal and following it with a straight trumpet solo before Norman Cave's trombone enters. (I now realise that I have not given due notice in the past to Norman's playing).

Billy Banks takes the vocals on Tishomingo Blues with a line up where David Fraser on piano, Bob Coram on guitar and Ron Stone, bass, replace Art Straddon, Lew Green and Ted Palmer. Banks has a distinctive vocal style and here again Norman Cave makes himself heard. The same line up play Walking The Dog, a dance step described by Banks in his vocal. Bruce Turner's clarinet is a joy 'walking that dog, boy'! 'Do that slow drag round the hall ... drop just like a dog'. Smokey Mokes, one of the rare tracks here, has call and response with the rhythm section solidly driving the band through a great track that exudes 'happy'. The Sheik Of Araby ripples in with David Fraser's piano leading into a clear Freddy Randall trumpet solo before trombone and clarinet come out the play, and then At The Jazz Band Ball is taken fast; played this fast even the teens of the time would have had a job dancing to it! The same band line up slows down somewhat for Sunday with nice ensemble interaction and a solo from Bruce Turner before Freddy cuts in. Norman's trombone and David's piano each take us back to the ensemble. Let me mention again the solid rhythm section that ties things together well.

The next three tracks introduce a different line up from 1955. Trumpeter Dave Keir plays trombone here; Al Gay (a charming, highly respected musician I only met once and sadly never heard play live) has the clarinet; Betty Smith is on tenor sax, Harry Smith on piano and bass, and Stan Bourke has the drums. They take the title track, a derivative My Tiny Band Is Chosen, with a storming solo from Freddy Randall and a short swinging burst from Betty Smith. They follow it with Hindustan with a weaving clarinet from Al Gay before Betty solos again. Al Gay has his solo turn as does Harry Smith on piano before the ensemble drives to the finish. W.C. Handy's Memphis Blues makes use of the front line in unison and Al Gay, Freddy Randall and Harry Smith take the solos. Another band change has Pete Hodge coming in on trombone, Syd Boatman at the piano and Jack Peberdy on bass for November Blues with Freddy on muted trumpet for a call and reponse beginning. Al Gay, Pete Hodge, Betty Smith and the muted Freddy take solos on this smooth version. Ja Da has Orme Stuart on trombone and Harry Smith is back at the piano. No mute to Freddy's cutting trumpet here and Al Gay's clarinet dances lightly before trombone, bass, piano and drums solo.

Another change for the next three tracks sees Eddie Thompson on piano for a welcome version of Sugar reminding us how good these musicians were. That Da Da Strain and Ain't Misbehavin' bring more good solos to old favourites. Esox and Jealousy bring an interesting change as trumpeter Gerry Salisbury takes over on bass! Gerry told me that Freddy Randall’s one-time piano player, Mike Bryan, phoned Gerry to say that he was starting up a band to play at the United States Air Force bases throughout France. Lennie Hastings, Tony Coe, and others had signed up but Mike needed a bass player – was Gerry interested? Gerry had just two weeks to learn. Mike offered Gerry an old string bass that was at Mike’s house, and two weeks later, Gerry went to France and stayed for six months playing with the band. Esox has some good solos at differing tempos.

Which brings us to the three 'bonus' tracks. These have much the same line up as the Billy Banks tracks from 1952 but without the vocalist and with Dave Fraser on piano. Avalon, Mood Indigo and New Orleans Masquerade are from battered acetates, not from Parlophone and are previously unissued. Lake Records have done an excellent job with the reproduction and with Bruce Turner's clarinet and Bob Coram's guitar on Avalon; Freddy's trumpet and Norman Cave's trombone on Mood Indigo and the Masquerade jauntily taking us out, these are welcome 'finds'.

If you remember Freddy Randall's band, this is a compilation worth having. If you don't remember Freddy Randall, this is not only a fine introdution to the bandleader but a great reminder of some early nuggets from British musicians who should not be forgotten.

Click here for details and to sample the album.

Ian Maund

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Fraser And The Alibis - Fraser & The Alibis

Album Released: 1st October 2017 - Label: Self Released - Reviewed: January 2018

Fraser and the Alibis

This eponymous debut album from Fraser & The Alibis is the result of someone's Dad suggesting the band do a recording.  The group of erstwhile music students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama met at college and have been playing together for around 10 years.  The band features Fraser Smith on tenor saxophone,  Joe Webb on Hammond organ, Harry Sankey on guitar and Gethin Jones on drums.  The album has seven tracks and lasts twenty five minutes in total. 

Major influences for the band include tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon, guitarist Wes Montgomery and organist Jack McDuff; all musicians who were active around the 1960s during the hard bop and soul jazz era. This style of music came into being in reaction to both the cool jazz of the 1950s and rock and roll which was rapidly gaining popularity with young audiences at the time. Hard bop is dynamic and vigorous music with roots in gospel and blues and Fraser Smith & The Alibis happily embrace this genre with gusto, Joe Webb's Hammond organ in particular evoking giants of the style such as Jimmy Smith.  All of the tunes are compositions by Fraser Smith.

Fraser Smith describes the music the band play as straight ahead jazz, in other words a melody (or head) establishing a chord progression that is typically repeated each time a band member plays a solo. This approach is commonly adopted in jam sessions and at jazz clubs and pubs where perhaps a visiting soloist plays with the house rhythm section and it is enjoyed by many jazz fans, particularly when the soloists are really good.  Luckily this band does have some really good musicians with a combination of instruments that provide excellent opportunities for some exciting music.

The first two tracks are classics of the straight ahead genre, entitled Dream and French Toast respectively. Both melodies have Smith's distinctive, burly saxophone providing the introduction and lively solos from saxophone, organ and guitar.  The next track is a blues, called B's Blues, and is the longest track on the album; the title could indicate a link to BB King and the guitar does get the first solo.  Track 4, On The Green reverts back to the original format with another strong saxophone melody and some really good solo improvisations.

Click here for a video of Fraser and the Alibis playing On The Green at Sofar, London on March 31st, 2017.

Track 5, Breakout, raises the tempo considerably with a bebop style piece, energetic drumming and solos that really demonstrate the bands skill and versatility. Tracks 6 and 7, Boogaloo Stew and The Woods return to the straight ahead style which Fraser Smith and the band are passionate about. 

The straight ahead style of jazz and hard bop played by Fraser Smith & The Alibis was probably most popular in the 1960s and again from 1980s but is still enjoyed today by many and it is they who will most appreciate this album.  The album transfers your local jazz club into your living room and this may be an attractive option if winter tightens its icy grip and no one fancies venturing out of the house. The band is made up of some talented, energetic musicians who are making their way in the music world playing different styles of jazz in various bands, which is confirmed on the band website where it states that the band has an unrivalled repertoire of American songbook and classic popular tunes and that they have played at over 500 private and corporate events.  In view of this it is a little disappointing that the album is rather short and could perhaps have been improved with some extra tracks, maybe a ballad or two and some variations of tempo and rhythm. 

Click here to listen to the complete debut album from Fraser and the Alibis.

Click here for Fraser and the Alibis' website.

Click here for our 'Tea Break' with Fraser.

Howard Lawes

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Josephine Davies - Satori

Album Released: 24th February 2017 - Label: Whirlwind Recordings - Reviewed: January 2018

Josephine Davies Satori

Josephine Davies (tenor & soprano saxophones);  Dave Whitford (double bass); Paul Clarvis (drums).

The inventive percussionist Paul Clarvis hasn’t crossed my path for a few years.  It’s probably a matter of where I’ve been, not him.  (His world’s bigger than mine.)  No matter, it’s great to rattle my ears again with his take on time.  Paul Clarvis smacks drumhead, rim and metal in a way that edges a band forward; like dodging dodgems.  There’s something Southend-On-Sea about him.  Here Mr Clarvis is in partnership with bassist Dave Whitford.  A man who is so damn linear he runs a continuous line straight through this session.  He could lead you into tomorrow without you realising midnight had passed the witching hour.  Why, what’s on their agenda?  Josephine Davies.  A reeds player who is new to me.  Her soprano is both strong and smooth, her tenor a feed off all those names you already know, yet she definitely has her own way of doing stuff.  Dances the sound of her two horns into some very fine music.  Already the Satori session could be said to have raised the game, at least in the UK. 

The fact that Ms Davies has taken (what still seems like) a bold step and dispensed with ‘comping chords’ is to her credit.  No piano or guitar.  The Clarvis/Whitford team afford her all the clarity she needs.  Satori has got to rate as a debut classic, full of fine artistry and unfettered melodic investigations, brimming over with pleasure.  She name-checks Sibelius on the cover.  Okay, I wouldn’t know about that.  I’d checkmate Ornette and call it a day.

The opener, Insomnia is all melodic soprano, a nice taster.  Then you hit this short thing called Something Small played on a new voice tenor and it seems as if the leader has just opened the windows.  She might as well be reading poetry.  The saxophone is singing unaccompanied for the first verse then Mr Whitford’s bass begins following her note for note, and that man Clarvis is shaking his drum kit around the pair of them as if the party’s over and they’re making their way home through deserted streets where they’ve got the whole width of the road.  Josephine Davies is faintly awesome, dying a note the way Charles Lloyd used to.  She lets this Something Small bleed into the third track The Tempest Prognosticator (a 19th Century leech barometer – no, I don’t know either). To my ears it begins before the other has ended.  It doesn’t matter, that’s why Something Small is recorded, just play the track over and over again until you’ve convinced yourself it’s the tonic you’ve been searching for since the coming of the winter solstice. Then you can allow entry to The Prognosticator and wake up to the realisation that here is another whole composition turned into an experiment as powerful as medication.  A tight bass and drum duet leads into the tenor getting turned on until it swings and races through the non-existent ‘changes’ like Jarrett or someone similar had got hold of an invisible score and was playing them in silence.  I tell ya, she’s the real thing.  And this trio is exactly where she should be right now.  Ms Davies has been in the reeds ranks of both the Pete Hurt Orchestra and the London Jazz Orchestra.  Fine, but having some space around her is definitely what’s needed. 

Click here to listen to The Tempest Prognosticator.

It’s not always true that the longest cut is the deepest.  But I’m going to try and make that case for Snakes.  It’s not that Snakes is way ahead of the pack.  This album is consistently good from the git-go.  Snakes is singled out because it begins languid and loose, almost a casual slow blues pulled from the pocket; there’s Clarvis worrying the cymbals, Whitford pulling off a bass line like he borrowed it and can’t give it back, and the tenor unthreatening and late-night.  But as the saxophone talks, it begins to speak of midnight’s demons and gradually unfolds into something close to Coltrane when he was still recording for Atlantic. It’s possible to position the saxophone with such a description.  But it really will not do.  Let’s start a new paragraph.

Click here to listen to Snakes.

This Satori album contains two takes of a composition called Paradoxy which are a straight nod to Sonny Rollins both in the title and recital, but Snakes has much bolder ambitions.  Josephine manages to squeeze through the gap in mere ‘homage’.  Her Snakes contain venom.  It is one of four tracks on the album recorded live at the Jazz Nursery at Southwark. Listen carefully and you can hear the audience respond to this ‘snake’ (a term Evan Parker used to use for his horn).  There’s a couple of other smart performances, Crisp Otter (say it fast and think of a famous America tenor player).  There’s an odd time signal, a theme which spreads out and then closes in on itself. I like the fact that a dedication can both invoke another player without paraphrasing them. 

The other key track is a spare twisting, circling thing called The Yips.  It runs the Davies soprano very close to the territory of Jane Ira Bloom.  Ms Davis allows the straight horn to sing through its full length.  The sound simply takes off.  And it’s here that the Clarvis/Whitford partnership becomes embedded.  There’s space given to a truly creative tangled percussion/single noted duet - all brushed snare smacks and flip flicks, double bass picking a line free of borders.  Yippee!

Click here to listen to Something Small.

I’m totally convinced.  Josephine Davies needs to hang onto this trio.  I hope to hear them again, live and on disk.  Someone put the word out – DAVIES, CLARVIS, WHITFORD. 

Click here for details and to sample the album.

Steve Day  www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk

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Alan Barnes and David Newton - Ask Me Now

Album Released: January / February 2018 - Label: Woodville Records - Reviewed: January 2018

Alan Barnes and David Newton Ask Me Now

Alan Barnes and David Newton, two stalwarts of the British jazz scene, have been collaborating on various projects for 40 years. Ask Me Now is their latest joint outing and features Barnes on clarinet, and alto, soprano and baritone saxophones; and Newton on piano. Together, they elegantly work their way through eleven pieces ranging from old standards to some less familiar tunes.

The sleeve notes nonchalantly tell us that the album was “recorded ‘round Ronnie Smith’s house, Watford on 12th and 13th July 2017” and, indeed, photos of the recording session on the sleeve show microphones, musicians and instruments within the cosy domestic setting of stairs, halls and sitting rooms. This lends an appealingly intimate tone to the album, as if the musicians were performing in your own sitting room. You can almost hear them breathing – and what sounds like humming on occasion. It has to be said, though, that there is nothing home-made about the recording quality which is superb.

There is a freshness to the album which may also be partly a consequence of the recording context. Familiar tunes, like the Jerome Kern opening track, I Won’t Dance, are played as if they’d never been played before. The quality of the improvising is a factor here – both Barnes and Newton are skilled and imaginative improvisers who never allow themselves to settle into a complacent groove.

Another factor contributing to the fresh feel is the emotion which both musicians invest in their playing. Listening to Barnes’s lilting and passionate alto on I Won’t Dance, for example, is enough to convince you that, no, he won’t dance. Ever. But it is on clarinet, of which he is surely one of the modern masters, that Barnes can be at his most feeling and lyrical. On the Luiz Bonfa tune, The Gentle Rain, for example, his warm clarinet leaps and soars.

Even on baritone, which sometimes I find can be a cumbersome, rather cold instrument, Barnes hits the mood time after time – pleasantly melancholic on Billy Strayhorn’s Ballad For Very Sad And Very Tired Lotus Eaters; wistful but intense on the old standard, Little Man, You’ve Had A Busy Day; humorous and agile on the title track, Thelonious Monk’s Ask Me Now.   

But this is not the Alan Barnes Show with Newton providing the accompaniment. This is a genuine collaboration with both musicians interacting beautifully, their contributions knitting together to create constantly satisfying performances. On The Gentle Rain, for example, Newton’s arpeggios mimic the sound of said rain perfectly. On Ask Me Now, Newton is just as agile and imaginative as Barnes, and both capture the Monk-like mood of the piece. The Harry Warren composition, You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me, sounds like the two musicians are having a far-reaching conversation with each other in the pub.

Barnes contributes one of his own compositions to the album: The Sun, The Sea, The Stars, And Me, originally composed for lyrics by Alan Plater. As a tune, it easily holds its own with the rest of the album, with an attractive bossa nova rhythm rendered superbly by Newton. Not to be outdone, Newton brings his own composition, Looking At You – coincidentally, another gentle bossa nova (and another memorable tune) – to the table.

The highlight of the whole album is a version of Duke Ellington’s The Mooche. Barnes plays some marvellously passionate and brooding clarinet, engaging with all the different moods and registers of the piece. Newton’s bluesy piano has touches of Ellington and Monk, but is mainly Newton. Both players manage to sound like a much bigger ensemble than a duo, locking together in a compelling performance which would surely have even impressed the Duke himself.

This album will be available on Woodville Records during January 2018 and more widely from February.

Click here for a video of Alan Barnes and David Newton playing The Song Is You in 2017 with Eryl Roberts (drums) and Ed Harrison (bass) - [Not on the album].

Click here for Alan Barnes' website. Click here for David Newton's website.

Robin Kidson

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These reviews are the personal impressions/opinions of each reviewer. Where we can, we provide links to samples of the albums so that readers can make up their own minds.

© Sandy Brown Jazz 2018

 

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