Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Eric Revis - Slipknots Through A Looking Glass (Pyroclastic Records, 2020)

Experimenting in form and freedom, bassist Eric Revis assembles a stellar lineup to explore a wide ranging set of modern jazz with Bill McHenry on tenor saxophone, Darius Jones on alto saxophone, Kris Davis on piano and Chad Taylor on drums. "Baby Renfro" opens the album with a very nice bass and drums groove, allowing the horns enter to complete the theme, in a choppy rhythmic fashion. Revis employs a deep elastic bass tone near bright piano chords and spicy sounding horns to create a very interesting performance, with the whole band developing a deep rhythmic significance in a focused and tightly wound presentation. The leader's patient bass sets the tone on "SpÆ" with spare piano creating a unique atmosphere, and Taylor adding interesting percussion. Davis uses prepared piano and Taylor adds marimba along side bowed bass to create a fascinating pensive soundscape where their rhythm is complex, but exciting and enjoyable, and builds to an unpredictable finish. On "Shutter," the band comes out blazing, behind heavy drums with rippling piano and sweeping saxophones, developing and potent theme and unleashing a raw and guttural saxophone solo with the unrelenting drums pushing everyone forward. Harmonizing horns work together well, with each saxophone getting a turn to add scorching commentary to this stellar track, nearing Coltrane at Seattle level of rending, ripping sounds. Bass and drums open "Vimen," sounding abstract and probing, followed by cascading free sounding piano that enters and flows amid the channel provided, leading to a three way rhythmic exchange that is quite compelling. The horns enter late, soaring together over the established foundation, leading to a withering saxophone solo that stakes a claim to space over pointed bass and drums with piano briefly laying out, adding a corrosive air to the proceedings. Strongly played piano re-enters, fighting back, creating a maelstrom of fascinating sound that is in continuous development. The lighter toned saxophone takes the music in a different but no less intense direction with the collective improvisation coming fast and furious as the group is fully locked in and playing modern jazz at its highest level, returning to the urgent theme for an epic conclusion. This was an album that was very successful, with the musicians fearlessly moving through a wide range of musical themes and concepts, working together to create a robust and lasting statement. Slipknots Through A Looking Glass - amazon.com

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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Second Sight - Tiger Tracks (Sunjump Records, 2020)

Second Sight was an excellent modern jazz band consisting of Dave Douglas on trumpet, Jeff Marx on tenor and soprano saxophone, John Esposito on piano, Allen Murphy on bass, Jeff Siegel on drums and Frederick Berryhill on percussion. This album was recorded in 1987 when the group was performing live regularly but were let down by management leaving the record to languish until now. The music opens with "Arrival," which is a brief interlude of cool percussion sounds developing an African groove. "Dai Yat Lo" comes out fast with a hard swinging post bop head sounding urgent, with cooking piano, bass and drums and featuring a robust tenor saxophone solo to boot. There is room for spacious trumpet with brushes and elastic bass, keeping spirits high. Rising tones in theme of "Fu Jow Pai" form a majestic theme followed by the full band developing a boiling pace, with crashing drums and tenor saxophone soloing amid thick bass. Douglas adds raw trumpet accents, slow and probing, becoming brisk and punchy with crisp group support. Heavy drums anchor the rhythm section, allowing everyone to stretch out, then heading back to the blustery theme. "Harlequin's Child" has a quieter medium tempo full group opening theme, developing a ballad sensibility, with descending bass and long trumpet tones, aided by graceful piano and dancing cymbals. Strong bounding piano along side cool bass and drums are key to "Point Transit" with grand reeds pushing forward strongly, and a rippling a muscular trumpet solo sounding very impressive, playing at length making this a real keeper, adding a lengthy structured sax solo with some trumpet support that is very exciting, a sweet treat for all concerned. "Pressure Makes Diamonds" features appropriately slamming drums and percussion, complex rhythm horns arcing overhead adding a deep raw tenor solo delving fast and loose among the thicket of percussion building a scorcher of a feature out of it. Douglas's trumpet builds equally strong solo with drum set driving fiercely. "Harlequin's Child Alternate Take" shows the group at a mid tempo, patiently stating the theme, as thoughtful trumpet playing evolves with fine bass support, followed by a graceful saxophone solo which weaves around the anchoring bass. Using a fast post bop theme that swings hard, "Dai Yat Lo Alternate Take" releases a strong ripe tenor saxophone to solo over urgent rhythm section for a fast paced run. The trumpet builds solo gradually, to rippling fast segment, then back to strong theme for the end. Many of the composition on the album display Esposito's interest in martial arts, and it comes through in the music, which is angular and athletic, and clearly made by a band that was deeply in tune with one another, and the results are very impressive. Tiger Tracks - amazon.com

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Matthew Shipp - The Unidentifiable (ESP-Disk, 2020)

Pianist Matthew Shipp convened his trio mates Newman Taylor Baker on drums and Michael Bisio on bass at Park West Studio in Brooklyn in October of 2019. The group has worked for several years and the camaraderie that they have built up allow them the ability to take the music into unexpected and exciting directions each time that they meet. This album opens with "Blue Transport System" featuring spare piano descending spaciously into the cymbals and bass, with Baker's brushes clearing room for more urgent piano and beautiful sounding bass, creating a chamber/parlor like feel with shimmering and billowing music accented with bass tones and climbing piano notes, rising and falling to the conclusion. Insistent heavy piano chords are at the forefront of "Phantom Journey" alongside tight bass and drumsticks and the play of light and shade is key, with Shipp brandishing heavy bass chords and levying them against urgent fast bursts of sound and crisp drumming, developing a fascinating trajectory. "Dark Sea Negative Charge" has a wide open field for bass and piano with the slightest percussion, sounding quite handsome, as the carefully chosen notes shimmer like gems placed on velvet. Shipp takes "The Dimension" as solo piano, weaving a complex and convex puzzle, using a brisk but not impatient pace with many shades and hues, framed briefly with heavy bass chords. "Loop" features the trio in a collective improvisation that sounds very free, adding ideas playing off of one another, with fast bursts of information all coming together. Bass and drums meet with full blooded piano on "The Unidentifiable" creating near post bop swing, bright and potent beams of light, ripples of cascading piano, thick bulbous bass and weighty drums. A true centerpiece, this ties everything together in grand fashion. Bisio is featured with a well played bass solo, rich and sonorous in sound, then the piano and drums crash back in dramatically leading to an excellent conclusion. "Regeneration" keeps things moving with choppy bass, drums and strong almost brittle piano chords are added, creating an excellent counter rhythm alongside the drums. The finale, "New Heaven and New Earth" builds bowed bass and knotty piano falling in together. A galloping trio improvisation unfolds urgently from the whole group as the drama develops. The lengthy track builds an impressive narrative from all three musicians as they go for broke to the finish, creating a wonderful closing statement for this excellent album. The Unidentifiable - amazon.com

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Artemis - Self Titled (Blue Note, 2020)

Artemis is a very talented group, each one of the musicians has a successful career as a leader and collaborator, and adding this well performed album to their resumes will certainly be feathers in their collective caps. The band consists of Renee Rosnes on piano, Anat Cohen on clarinet, Melissa Aldana on tenor saxophone, Ingrid Jensen on trumpet, Noriko Ueda on bass, Allison Miller on drums, and Cécile McLorin Salvant on vocals. The album begins with "Goddess Of The Hunt" which has an incisive piano, bass and drums foundation, allowing the horns build in and developing a swirling theme. Tenor saxophone solos grandly over strong rhythm support, framed by the other horns, with Rosnes sounds great in support and soloing, developing interesting figures as the trumpet punches loose soaring and then turning over to clarinet flying over the crisp drumming, followed by the horns melding nicely with the rhythm for conclusion. Spacious and patient, "Frida" has saxophone over thoughtful rhythm, allowing the music to breathe in an artful way and the instruments to blend gracefully. The sounds fill in layers and stratify, with instruments like the tenor sax take the helm for brief solo sections that work quite well within the overall concept of the musical performance. Swelling and receding, the rhythm section makes the most of their centerpiece, and allowing some dynamic drumming to launch the group into the finale of the piece. "Big Top" has rippling piano and swirling light sounds which bring forth a fun and light hearted performance, with a bright and swinging theme. Bounding piano and explosive drumming push the music forward, in a very exciting flash of cascading piano and reeds, coming back to the riotously colorful theme and conclusion. The graceful "Step Forward" has a gradually unfolding opening section that allows the players room to move within the theme. The music soars followed by Cohen breaking out for a swooping clarinet solo played with vigor, with blustery trumpet cutting in to push the music into more angular territory. A well played bass solo re-grounds the music, framed by piano and light percussion, followed by some stellar piano playing that leads the group back together for a return to the original theme and sendoff. This album worked quite well and should appeal to most mainstream jazz fans. Each of the musicians also wrote for the album in addition to arranging popular pieces like The Beatles "The Fool on the Hill" and Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder." Artemis - amazon.com

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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Nubya Garcia - Source (Concord Jazz, 2020)

Another excellent musician from the seemingly limitless pool of young London jazz musicians, saxophonist Nubya Garcia mixes elements of dub and reggae to her music to create an interesting and personal music that works quite well. She is accompanied by the core band of Joe Armon Jones on keyboards, Daniel Casimir on bass and Sam Jones on drums along with some special guests on an album that begin with "Pace" which has crisp drumming and dreamy sounding piano and saxophone, creating an evocative soundscape. Thick and insistent bass and drums underpin and encourage the music and the band comes together as a whole with a fine all-encompassing sound. The music drifts to a space for thick bass and saxophone to ride the thermals floating above, before re-engaging with the band in a dynamic resonance. Fast drumming and saxophone are locked in tightly, opening up to a piano, bass and drums section that weaves rippling textures, picking up speed to a rippling fast pace and saxophone re-entry that brings everyone back together for a fine conclusion. "The Message Continues" uses drums and electric piano to provide a nice groove for the saxophone to enter into, creating a solid mid-tempo foundation for the band. Garcia is patient, letting her solo grow organically and presenting thoughtful tone and pacing throughout her extended solo section. There is a pleasant area for electronic keyboard, bass and drums, playing fast and nimble, followed by Garcia coming back to slow things down a touch, giving the music a little more room to breathe. "Inner Game" has tight bass and drums with electronic keyboards setting a good foundation for the leader whose saxophone builds  in gradually, creating a performance that develops into something that embraces rhythm with complex drumming and saxophone playing. Garcia plays with vigor, pushing her instrument over the driving percussion and meeting the vigorous rhythm section, creating a strong collective improvisation, and adding longer punctuating tones and the music climaxes in volume and intensity. There is a very intricate and fast electric piano, bass and drums section when Garcia lays out, with all of the remaining musicians pushing their limits, and creating a fascinating mesh of musical ideas. Garcia returns amid cascades of electronics and percussion to rally the troops for a final push to the conclusion of a dynamic and well executed performance. This album worked quite well, and Garcia presents a wide ranging program of music with her well executed saxophone playing at the center. The music is accessible and will hopefully receive attention from a wide range of mainstream jazz fans. Source - amazon.com

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Friday, September 18, 2020

Dan Weiss Starebaby - Natural Selection (Pi-Recordings, 2020)

Natural Selection takes up where drummer and composer Dan Weiss left off with 2018's Starebaby, melding metal, math/prog rock, mid-1970's dark Miles and modern jazz into a potent and unexpected potion. He is joined on this album by Ben Monder on guitar, Trevor Dunn on bass, and Matt Mitchell and Craig Taborn on keyboards, electronics and piano. They open with "Episode 18" which develops a complex progressive rock vibe that includes spacey areas to build an interesting dynamic flow with music that is exciting if a bit imposing. Thick layers of sound are built upon, electronic and percussive with the speed reaching hyperkenetic levels. Monder's guitar breaks out for a late solo before the musicians come together for a towering climax and long fade. "Dawn" changes the pace with brushed percussion and piano weaving together before gradually getting faster and more intense. Long electronic tones beam out along side bass and drums and smear in space arming electric piano and bass. Galloping drums and guitar usher in "The Long Diagonal" adding in keyboards and loping bass to fill out the sound. The music is in constant motion, whether shifting to acoustic piano and drums or back to a powerhouse guitar solo, back to slinging some more head-spinning piano and elastic bass. "A Taste of a Memory" slows the tempo even further, opening quietly with spare, pale sounding piano. After a few minutes the music begins to unfold episodically, with gritty guitar and drums coming to the forefront, and electronics cascading in flourishes. Weaving back to an acoustic piano focus, the music slows again before developing groove and punch for the finale. The leader's drums develop deeply rhythmic energy on "Bridge of Trust" with synth and piano joining, creating some interesting electro-acoustic textures where the weight and tone of the electronics shift to an intricate and interplanetary improvisation. "Accina" finds the piano and drums developing a shimmering sound signature, followed by a head-snapping switch to a crushing rock-like sound, dynamic changing trough tempo and sheer heft. Monder's guitar snakes out on patrol with a laser like tone amid long electronic sounds and hard drums. This as another lengthy performance that moves trough many moods including a piano trio conclusion. The final performance on the album is "Head Wreck" which presents a track of grinding jazz rock to form a fine bookend with the opening track. They balance darkness and light deftly here where acoustic piano and electric guitar, using pounding piano, scouring electronics leading to a caustic full band interplay that is very hot, with drums of imposing force as an exclamation point. This was a very creative and fearless album from a great group of musicians, who recorded this music right after a series of live engagements and were able to carry that spontaneity into theses sessions. Anybody with an interest in forward thinking or experimental music whatever the genre would do well to check this recording out. Natural Selection - amazon.com

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Don Braden / Joris Teepe Quartet - In the Spirit of Herbie Hancock (Live at De Witte) (O.A.P. Records, 2020)

Saxophonist and flutist Don Braden and double bassist Joris Teepe have been collaborating in many different musical situations for more than twenty-five years, most recently on the 2016 album Conversations. This album presents a live performance where they are joined by Rob van Bavel on piano and Owen Hart Jr. on drums in a live performance recorded during November of 2019 at The Hague in The Netherlands. They focus on the music of the great pianist and composer Herbie Hancock, arranging a cross-section of his compositions to form a varied program, adding two of their own compositions that were strongly influenced by Hancock as well. "Maiden Voyage" works well as a lead-off tune, it is a familiar theme that the jazz savvy in the audience can immediately grasp, and the enigmatic nature of the composition allows the players a lot of room to develop individual and group expression. Pianist Rob van Bavel does yeoman's work here and throughout the concert, not trying to be Hancock by proxy, but playing the music with imagination and vigor. Braden takes an excellent tenor saxophone solo that he is able to develop at length, aided admirably by an alternately swinging and seeking rhythm section. They follow with "Watermelon Man" which admirably displays the funky and populist side of Hanocock's work. van Bavel's piano is bright and strong and the whole infectious performance is buoyed by Hart Jr.'s crisp drumming. The band as a whole really dives into this performance with a great deal of energy and the crowd just eats it up. The group works well on some of Hancock's more impressionistic music as well, developing a speculative full band theme and improvisation on "Speak Like a Child" that glides through that mysterious and atmospheric sound world in a confident and imaginative manner. Braden moves to flute on "Butterfly," which he plays in a lithe and nimble fashion, gracefully floating over the piano, bass and drums unit which plays with the utmost refinement. Overall, this album worked very well and the fans assembled at the jazz club were treated to a concert of excellent music from a band that was dialed in and ready to play, and this disc should be enjoyed by anyone who has an affinity for modern mainstream jazz. In the Spirit of Herbie Hancock (Live at De Witte)

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