Friday, March 30, 2007
Quick Review - several albums
Soil & Pimp Sessions - Pimp Master
A great album - the Japanese have always seemed a bit extreme or mad in their approach to jazz, and this one is no different. This is modern, compact, high energy, roller-coaster band music, with very tight compositions and powerful short solos. As an extra, you can view a short video here of one of their songs. It says it all.
Dave Holland Quintet - Critical Mass
Dave Holland does it again. A great album in the same vein as Extended Play. Great musicians : Chris Potter (sax), Steve Nelson (vibes), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Nate Smith (drums), and of course Holland on bass. A pleasure to listen to, great improvisors, great musicians, great interplay, although the compositions start to sound too familiar. Extended Play revisited.
Enrico Rava - The Words And The Days
Enrico Rava is the typical European trumpet player/musician/composer. The mood, the romantic expression is more essential than the swing and he is an absolute master at this. So, this all-Italian band brings melancholy to its absolute essence. Absolutely excellent album if you're in a sad mood, and if you're not, it's guaranteed to lead you there. And yet, absolutely excellent album.
David Binney - Cities and Desires
Alto saxophonist David Binney brings one of his best albums so far, accompanied by a great band : Craig Taborn on piano, Mark Turner on tenor, Dan Weiss on drums and Thomas Morgan on bass. The album travels around the world, indeed from one city to the next. Modern jazz at its best. No big surprises, but great music, a pleasure to listen to.
Rob Reddy - A Hundred Jumping Devils (Reddy Music, 2007) ***½
Saxophonist Rob Reddy has always had his own style, not really mainstream jazz, not really avant either, but taking a modern middle-road, selecting ideas and influences left and right, sometimes in balkan music, but definitely not on this CD. I thought some of his previous albums at times irritating because the dragging sound of both his sax and his compositions. This albums is luckily different : a nice selection of strong compositions, with a great palet of instruments : Mark Taylor on French horn, Charles Burnham on violin, Brandon Ross on acoustic and electric guitars, Dom Richards on bass and Mino Cinelu on percussion. The musicians are excellent and their interplay great. The music is varied, but with focus, with great rhythms and rhythm changes. Something else for once : refreshing and accessible. Worth listening to many times.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Satoko Fujii & Natsuki Tamura - in Krakow in November (Not Two Records, 2006) *****
Listen to In Krakow, In November
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Arve Henriksen - Strjon (Rune Grammofon, 2007) ***½
Friday, March 16, 2007
Ned Rothenberg - Inner Diaspora (Tzadik, 2007) ****½
Ned Rothenberg (sax, clarinet) creates something remarkable here : music which stands beyond any known genre. His well-known Sync trio, with Jerome Harris on bass and guitar, and Samir Chatterjee on tabla, is being completed with the master strings of Mark Feldman on violin and Erik Friedlander on cello. For the afficionadi of the Radical Jewish Culture Series of the Tzadik label : this is not the umpteenth modernization of traditional klezmer songs. This is music that stands on its own and mixes eclecticly a variety of musical genres from across the world, or rather extracts the pure essential power of expression of each of these genres in order to create something new. On their previous albums, Rothenberg's Sync already demonstrated their talent to compose beautiful melodies, forceful and odd-metered rhythms and strong improv, and this full of life and passion. But the addition of Feldman and Friedlander is a stroke of genius : it gives the music another dimension : more romantic, more classical, more depth, more timeless. Rothenberg's technique is nothing less than stunning, also on the shakuhachi, the Japanese flute, which he uses in "Minutia" as a true zen masters, as a soaring of pure sound over a multi-layered shifting muscial background. "Fuga Ladino" mixes classical ingredients with klezmer and flamenco, but in a suggestive manner, supporting the composition (I mean : this is not a circus of "watch-how-many-genres-I-master, but rather a fully functional use of the influences). "Krechtser Shpatsirn" brings a total mix, from jazzy clarinet solo, walking-bass, tabla with Karnatic singing by Chatterjee, the strings playing unisono and solo in a swirling whole. In "Fantazyor" Rothenberg demonstrates his masterly control of the circular breathing technique, in a piece which is more sober and more emotionally stronger than the previous one. This album scores high at all levels : strong compositions, intense interplay, emotional improvizations, adventurous yet accessible at the same time. In the last song moods and styles follow each other : the strings bring some dramatic menacing sounds in full power and pathos, the sax howling over a backdrop of tabla, a subtle interplay between bass and pizzicato cello evolving into group improvization and a modern classical finale. Run to the shop!
Rabih Abou-Khalil - Songs For Sad Women (Enja, 2007) ****
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Thomas Chapin Trio - Ride (Playscape, 2006) ****
Thursday, March 8, 2007
Henri Texier - Remparts D'Argile (Label Bleu, 2001) *****
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Atomic - Happy New Ears (Jazzland Recordings, 2006) ****
This is the fourth CD by the Swedish/Norwegian band Atomic, with the Swedes Fredrik Ljungkvist on clarinet/sax and Magnus Broo on trumpet, and with the Norwegians Håvard Wiik on piano, Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten on bass, and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums. And you're right about Scandinavians, they have their own approach, ... and guts and vision. Whether it's this band, or musicians like Nils Petter-Molvaer or Arve Henriksen or Eyvind Aarset or Bugge Wesseltoft, they're not afraid of adventure, regardless of the direction they're taking (fusion ambient electronic industrial acid ...). Atomic also goes on an adventure trip, but then within the idiom of the "classic" jazz, and that makes this band so exceptional. Without adding elements from outside jazz, they recreate it with its own means, purely acoustic, without mixing style elements, and yet this music has the signature of Atomic : carefully composed, with improvisation, but don't be fooled : the most "free"-sounding pieces are often composed, the sudden spontaneous interplay by the band is too good for that. They change the so-called "telephatic" interplay of the improvisation into a compositional element, ... and therefore the music sounds carefully crafted yet very expressive. This makes the music accessible and still modern. On top of that, they master all the sub-genres of jazz, from bop, over latin, cooljazz, freejazz to post-bop, and this combined with an almost perfect mastering of their instruments : a real joy to listen to. Atomic keeps close to the essence of jazz: music with soul, with recognizable melodies, with lots of improvisation, strong rhythms, emotional power, yet sounding like they're playing in your living room. And the sound is wholly theirs. Great! This album, and the other three are more than worth checking out.
Monday, March 5, 2007
Charlie Haden - The Liberation Music Orchestra (Impulse, 1969) and The Ballad Of The Fallen (ECM, 1982) *****
Sunday, March 4, 2007
Some quick reviews
David Murray with the brothers Oles on bass and drums. Excellent sax trio, with amongst others a great rendition of Ornette Coleman's Law Years. In contrast to the previous CDs, Murray knows what music is all about. Available for download on Emusic.
Carlos Barretto : Radio Song (Cleanfeed Records, 2005) ****
I didn't know Barretto (see my earlier review on him) but this Portuguese bass player is really worth checking out (also on Emusic). On this trio the guitar is the most important solo instrument, but Louis Sclavis adds his bass clarinet on three pieces. Emotionally strong, powerful music.