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Monday, May 7, 2007

Quick Review - several albums

John Abercrombie - The Third Quartet (ECM, 2007)

John Abercrombie has been very productive lately. On this album he reunites his quartet with Mark Feldman on violin, Marc Johnson on bass and Joey Baron on drums. He kicks off hard with a raw yet sensitive guitar sound, and ends the album with acoustic yet equally sensitive playing. And that's his strength : to create musical tension and to bring variation without having to resort to needless technological distortion of aimless noodling. The first piece "Banshee" starts great, with nervous guitar and drums, supported by quiet violin and bass. Abercrombie gives us some great compositions here and he remains the true master of economic guitar. Less is more and indeed he offers us impact. Other highlights are "Round Trip" and "Elvin" in which Feldman gives a great solo.

Scott Colley - Architect Of The Silent Moment (Camjazz, 2007)

Bass-player Scott Colley is accompanied by some of the greats of modern jazz : Craig Taborn on piano, Ralph Alessi on trumpet, Antonio Sanchez on drums, with on top some great guest musicians : Adam Rogers on guitar and Jason Moran on piano. Despite the somewhat abstract melodies, this album is relatively accessible. Technically very strong although I would have liked some more risk-taking at times.

Anat Fort - A Long Story (ECM, 2007)

A new voice at ECM : the piano of Anat Fort. With Perry Robinson on clarinet, Ed Schuller on bass and Paul Motian on drums. Quiet, typical ECM music : great production, great sound quality, great musicians, yet haven't we heard all this before? Paul Motian is to me the real star of this album. For those who like it quiet and subdued.

John Lindberg & Karl Berger - Duets 1 (Between The Lines, 2007)

Master bass-player John Lindberg plays duets with master vibes-player and pianist Karl Berger. Quiet and respectful they circle around each other's improvisations. No fireworks. Well-made, but nothing more than that.

Branford Marsalis Quartet - Braggtown (Marsalis Music, 2007)

This quartet has delivered some great material in the past few years, yet this time they excell even more. Braggtown is an album that deserves more attention than this short review I write about it, yet this is not a mainstream blog, that's why. From the first tones of the first piece "Jack Baker" the fire is in the music and it keeps roaring till the very end, indeed, also the quieter pieces are no less intense and keep the listener's attention high. Marsalis' tone is so pure and his overall playing is, especially in the improvisations, stellar. Peak moments are the uptempo "Blakzilla" with rebellious rhythms and wonderfull interplay, kudos for Jeff "Tain" Watts on drums here, and the next piece, "O Solitude", is a slow bluesy ballad on which Marsalis plays a melody on his soprano which might have made Bach jealous, such classical beauty it offers.

Keith Jarret - The Carnegie Hall Concert (ECM, 2007)

A new solo album by Keith Jarrett, well that has been long in the waiting, and it offers him space and freedom to move about without taking anyone else into consideration, and what he brings us here reminds us the best of his best solo pieces from the past, and that's no small compliment.

He brings the whole works : abstract pieces (part IV), modern classical, but also almost "poppy" melodies (part VII), quiet romantic pieces (part III en VIII), even without his usual humming, and he even brings "My Song" again. I like him best in longer pieces, with a repetitive hypnotic left hand, over and above which his right hand works magic in the form of beautiful improvisation (part X). He even talks to the audience (although ununderstandable), and that's already a small miracle, and you have to be able to stand that the applause and the shouting of the enthusiastic crowd at the end are entirely reproduced on the album, but this should not deter anyone from buying it.