Sunday, January 13, 2008

Arkana Music - Hyprovisation (n/a, 2007)

Arkana Music is a Canadian modern jazz outfit playing acoustic music that nicely bridges the gap between form and freedom. Comprised of pianist and composer Ali Berkok, bassist Mark Laver on saxophones, Jake Oelrichs on drums and Gord Mowat bass. The band uses their knotty compositions as springboards for broad based improvisational flights. "Our Man in Cleveland" is a spaceous ballad for piano, bass and drums which evolves into a calm Bill Evans-ish melancholy. Tracks like "Drive" and Monkey groove show that the band can improvise at high tempos with flash, bringing a Monk-ian angularity to their performances. This is a solid album from a promising group. Their use of space leaves the music with a wide open and expansive feel. One senses that the group enjoys musical exploration and yearns for yet more vistas to enjoy.

Brad Goode - Nature Boy (Delmark, 2008)

Trumpeter Brad Goode leads a classy ensemble on this well rounded program of standards and originals. Accompanying him on this disc are Jeff Jenkins on piano; Johannes Weidenmueller on bass and Todd Reid on drums. The band plays well throughout the disc with the focus on the leader and the lack of another frontline instrument giving him plenty of opportunity to show off his chops. The uptempo version of the familiar title track and the fun "Nightmare of the Mechanized World" are the standout tracks. "Nature Boy" gets a nice lyrical version with the trumpet seeming almost vocal, while Mechanized is a groover that gets everybody involved. This was a consistently fine quartet album, and fans of thoughtful hard bop should find it enjoyable.

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