Sunday, March 29, 2020

Oded Tzur - Here Be Dragons (ECM, 2020)

Tenor saxophonist Oded Tzur's studies of Indian music and raga have influenced the tone and approach he has developed on his instrument. Long round melodic lines of sound are aided by the presence of an excellent band, consisting of Nitai Hershkovits on piano, Petros Klampanis on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums, and the group develops a well articulated sense of narrative flow. "Here Be Dragons" opens the album in a very mellow and spacious fashion, with a gradual buildup by the group and release to a fine bass solo with slight piano comping. Tzur develops long and emotionally longing lines of saxophone, breathy and gentle for the remainder of the track. Soft saxophone and piano with brushed percussion in open space lay the foundation for "To Hold Your Hand." Deft brushwork with restrained bass and piano are hallmarks of the rhythm section feature. Soft saxophone returns, weaving around the other instruments, creating an improvisation for the full group as the performance develops further. "20 Years" continues the meditative groove, with slow wafting sounds of saxophone and light touch piano developing at a glacial pace, building an elegiac feeling, with gentle droplets of piano and brushed drums. Soft and lilting saxophone reenters wafting above the rhythm team, gradually concluding with a mild and tender manner. The flow of the album is broken by three brief solo features, "Miniature 1, 2 and 3" short pieces for piano, bass and saxophone respectively. "The Dream" comes as a surprise,with the full band playing at a much more robust clip and a greater sense of urgency. Rippling piano playing along with forward moving bass and drums pushes ahead as the leader lays out. Tzur returns to engage with the bass and drums at a speed that is much more appealing. The band finishes the album with a version of the standard "Can't Help Falling in Love" which returns to the slow and quiet pace of their earlier performances. This performance is very melodic with the slow and stately tempo saxophone and piano are featured, melody is repeated over and over to the end. Here Be Dragons

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Friday, March 27, 2020

Bobby Previte, Jamie Saft, Nels Cline - Music From The Early 21st Century (RareNoise, 2020)

The collective trio made up of veteran musical explorers Bobby Previte on drums, Jamie Saft on Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes and MiniMoog and Nels Cline on electric guitar and effects create an album of exceptional excitement where there are truly no boundaries. Recorded live during a short US tour, the music is for the most part freely improvised, but it goes beyond on the standard free improv model to draw on King Crimson like progressive rock and early seventies dark funk of Miles Davis's fusion combining them and then moving any direction they choose. "Photobomb" is vibrant with electronic sounds and drums creating an excellent sound world right off the bat, and then driving that further with keyboards, strong guitar and heavy drums. Slashing electronics creates a wild post/prog rock/fusion musical environment that is very impressive and fun to listen to with devastating guitar and drums buoyed by startling keyboard work. The music slows gradually and moves into "Paywall" which initially has a more spacious sensibility. The organ then begins to grind and the drums dig in for leverage as the track makes its move, with shards of guitar slashing across, creating a dark and ominous sounding performance. By the middle of the track things are dark and gritty with Cline carving out savage guitar lines amid over-driven keyboards and muscular drumming, and they bring it together into an absolutely savage improvisation. "Occession" opens with an oscillating drone varying in pitch, in a Krautrock-ish manner, with drums and guitar entering in as the piece begins to unfold. Massive smears and squalls of sound envelop the musicians, and the trio comes together into one massive forward moving all encompassing collective improvisation with bolts of guitar, slashing cymbals and massive undulating waves of keyboard, leading to an epic electric freakout with drums riding point. There are so much going on within each performance on the album, with the multitude of textures and hues that that Saft and Cline are able to coax from their instruments and the potent and complex rhythms that Previte meets them with, that their interaction within the music is a treat to hear. Music From The Early 21st Century -

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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Irreversible Entanglements - Who Sent You? (International Anthem, 2020)

Irreversible Entanglements burst on the scene a few years ago with a fierce album of spiritual jazz that sounded like the best of the 1960's "new thing" time warped into the present. This album continues in that vein with impressive instrumental playing an thoughtful lyrics from this powerhouse band: Camae Ayewa on vocals and songwriting, Keir Neuringer on saxophone and percussion, Aquiles Navarro on trumpet and percussion, Luke Stewart on bass and percussion and Tcheser Holmes on drums and congas. "The Code Noir / Amina" opens the album with thick bass and horn riffs, clearing the way for the vocalist to enter. She speaks a bold declaration of the rights of all people, true civil rights as the music frames the her like a cloak, both urging her on and protecting her. Horns flare, drums boom, and Stewart's bass weaves everything together. The medley "Who Sent You - Ritual" opens fast with a crushing intro of horns and drums at maximum volume, before fading a bit to allow the vocalist move to room. Ayewa sounds great, demanding, angry, with the music fierce and free, she meets it with paranoid yet justified lyrics, and storming improvisation meets the imploring vocals head on. Squalling free jazz gradual trumpet and drums long fade, adding more abstract lyrics, with hand percussion and saxophone to close out this epic piece. "No Mas"shows the horns phased and building to a memorable theme, followed by the elastic bass and drums diving in, forming and absolutely killing full band section, where the bass is just epic. The vocals are upbeat, backed by brash trumpet, soaring as the music and lyrics become bold and defiant.There is a subtle fast rhythm on "Blues Ideology" with storytelling around a tight groove that is upbeat, using fast saxophones to swirl around her commentary pushing the narrative faster. Slagging those at the top as the band rages, speaking truth to power. The quiet "Bread Out of Stone" concludes the album with bass and percussion framing a light groove, clanking percussion taut bass providing the backdrop for a narrative of time and space before a gradual fade out. Who Sent You? -

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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Curt Sydnor - Deep End Shallow (Out of Your Head Records, 2020)

Keyboardist and composer Curt Sydnor was fascinated by the breadth of talent that was concentrated in Brooklyn in the mid Twenty-Teens. He developed this album as a fantasia, presenting a melange of all of the sounds and textures of the different styles and music scenes that a working musician would have experienced while living in that borough around 2016. Bringing together a talented and open minded band featuring Sydnor on keyboards and vocals, Caroline Davis on saxophone, Greg Saunier on drums and Aaron Dugan on guitar with some guests sitting in on various tracks. You see how wide ranging and adventurous the group is during the lengthy sections of bright progressive rock and jazz fusion influenced elements that carry a multitude of rhythms which keep the music moving briskly and then suddenly everything stops for an acoustic piano solo, "Fieldgaze Variations." Beginning in an elegiac fashion, then turning exploratory, Sydnor moves all about the keyboard in search of melody and beauty, building a sense of classical music to the music which unfolds like a recital. Then "Deep End Shallow" turns back into monster electro-jazz rhythm jam, with smears of keyboard and crushing drums. Davis's horn adds a freer more avant edge as disconnected voices are added to the thick mix. "Well of Stares" concludes the album with a base of funky avant techno electronic that allows the music to ebb and flow dynamically adding long drones to use as texture and gradually conclude. This album worked very well, the musicians are deeply talented in their ability to play in different genres and juggling multiple rhythms and manners of playing. The compositions were well designed and thoughtful, bringing the listener back to an important time in the composers life and career, while playing and improvising music that is completely alive and in the moment. Deep End Shallow -

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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Harold Mabern - Mabern Plays Mabern (Smoke Sessions, 2020)

Pianist Harold Mabern passed away last year after a productive and influential career in jazz playing swinging and soulful modern mainstream jazz as a leader and as an in-demand sideman. During the last decade of his career he cultivated a very fruitful relationship with the Smoke Sessions label and their associated stable of musicians, which leads to this posthumous release recorded live at the Smoke Club in New York City during January of 2018. He was performing with a state of the art mainstream jazz band; Eric Alexander on tenor saxophone, Vincent Herring on alto saxophone, Steve Davis on trombone, John Webber on bass and Joe Farnsworth on drums. These musicians were very familiar with one another and each had the utmost respect for their colleagues and the music they are playing, whether it is storming hard bop or a gentle ballad. The opening track, "Mr. Johnson" was written for the great trombonist J.J. Johnson who often employed Mabern in his younger days, and it is a track that allows the band to gradually grow in intensity, allowing space for a deft solo by their own trombonist, Steve Davis, and then finally working themselves into a fervor with a boiling alto saxophone in the concluding section. Eric Alexander wrote "The Iron Man" and Mabern adds wonderfully bouncy and percussive piano playing to set the stage for a potent Alexander solo followed by supple brass interplay. A Mabern dedication to longtime friend and saxophonist George Coleman forms the basis for the track "The Lyrical Cole-Man" which allows everyone to stretch out at length and the saxophonists to take lengthy solos with the riveting rhythm section churning underneath. After the maximum motion saxophone blowout there is a section for Farnsworth to plant his own flag with a fine drum solo leading to the conclusion of an excellent performance. Overall this was a very good album of mainstream jazz featuring veteran players that are still willing to push themselves to make the best music they possibly can, and it makes a fine memorial for Harold Mabern who was a master pianist and improviser. Mabern Plays Mabern -

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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Pharoah Sanders - Live in Paris 1975 (Transversales Disque, 2020)

After three years of playing hardcore free jazz with John Coltrane and then spending the late sixties and early seventies trying to graft that sound to the nascent spiritual jazz movement, saxophonist Pharoah Sanders had begun to diversify and alter his sound and approach to live concerts by the middle of the decade. While he was still capable of the fierce overblowing that was the hallmark of his early years, he was now willing to incorporate large swaths of mainstream jazz, elements of blues, R and B and ballads which gave his concerts a much more well rounded narrative sensibility. That is what is presented here, with a well rehearsed band featuring Danny Mixon on piano, Calvin Hill on bass and Greg Bandy on drums playing music that is accessible to all jazz fans beginning with the opening two-parter "Love Is Here" which allows the band to stretch out on a solid theme and improvise on it with lengthy spots for the leader's tenor saxophone and Mixon's piano soloing, and also vocal chanting encouragement throughout. "Farrell Tune" calls back to his given name and time growing up in Arkansas, creating an easy swinging groove for the rhythm section to build dynamically and lead into the centerpiece of the album, "The Creator Has a Master Plan." Easily Sanders' best known composition and the thirty minute anchor of his Karma LP, this version is much shorter, but it is really the only place on the record that he cuts loose with some of the raw honks and bellows that were the hallmarks of his earlier albums. But you get the sense that these were carefully placed, and done in a way that wouldn't offend those of a gentle disposition. Neither would the ballad "I Want to Talk About You" a longtime staple of the Coltrane songbook, where Sanders does his old boss proud with a beautiful reading of the melody, and a chaste performance of the song. They finish with the rousing "Love Is Everywhere" mixing vocal chant with uptempo jazz performance, percussive piano and strong saxophone creating an almost gospel fervor. Live in Paris 1975 -

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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Joe McPhee / John Edwards / Klaus Kugel - A Night in Alchemia (NotTwo, 2020)

Quite a night it was, and although Joe McPhee, playing saxophones and trumpet, has recorded scores of album as a leader or co-leader, putting him in the company of John Edwards on bass and Klaus Kugel on drums makes for an extremely potent group and a very exciting album. The trio had been touring across Europe for over a year before they were captured performing live at Alchemia in Krakow, Poland in 2018 for this album. The musicians are playing very tight and interconnected free jazz that suits these veterans perfectly, they perform four lengthy tracks beginning with "Burden Of Proof" which shows them coming out of the gate and playing complex, yet accessible jazz that draws on their own unique backgrounds and shows just how compatible they are. This is most well represented on the massive twenty three minute track "At the Waters Edge" where McPhee moves through trumpet and saxophones in the most impressive fashion and Edwards and Kugel develop an ever shifting rhythm that is in constant motion and free from cliche. This was a fine album, an excellent snapshot of working band at the peak of their not inconsiderable powers. A Night in Alchemia -

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Monday, March 16, 2020

Cream - Goodbye Tour Live 1968 (Polydor, 2020)

For all of the influence that they have spread over the course of fifty plus years of rock and roll history it's hard to believe that Cream only existed for about two and a half years. Though insanely talented, the group of Eric Clapton on guitar and vocals, Jack Bruce on bass, harmonica and vocals and Ginger Baker on drums was fraught with interpersonal problems; Baker and Bruce hated each other, with Clapton in the middle, unsure if the music is going in the right direction. They decided to go their separate ways during a 1968 spring tour of the United States, but stayed remarkably busy, recording an album, naturally named Goodbye, and struck out on a grueling "farewell tour" with twenty-two shows in the USA in the fall of that year, and then capping their association with two final farewell concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London in late November. This four disc collection consists of three concerts from the west coast swing of the US tour: Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego and their last concert (until their brief 2005 reunion) from London. The sound quality of the three American shows is very good, and the band seems really hot and genuinely appreciative of the audience. The setlists are similar for all four concerts, leading off with blistering versions of "White Room" and then slowing down for the groove based sounds of "Politician." The group stretches out in Oakland for a nearly seventeen minute version of "Spoonful" which bumps Baker's drum feature "Toad," out of the night's list, though it is well represented on all of the other concerts with the drummer bashing is way through ten to twelve minute solos, setting the stage for all self indulgent rock drum solos to come. Bruce's big solo section is on harmonica rather than bass, blowing gales of improvised blues on "Traintime," while Clapton's "Crossroads" may be the most interesting solo section, as he tinkers with the tune constantly, playing at a different tempo for each concert, and adding and taking away certain guitar inflections and ideas. The sound quality for the Royal Albert Hall show is a bit boomy, almost like a high quality audience recording, but it doesn't distract from the music as the band is going full out in what they assumed would be their final concert together. Digging into the deep blues that originally brought them together on "Spoonful," "Sitting On Top Of the World" finally closing with "Steppin' Out."  This was an excellent collection, creating a very good snapshot of the band's final weeks on stage, and it definitely rounds out fan's knowledge of their live sound. Twenty nine of of the tracks are appearing on disc for the first time, and nineteen of the tracks are previously unreleased in any form. There is also the requisite hardcover book with essays, photographs and discographical information. Goodbye Tour Live 1968 -

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Saturday, March 14, 2020

Raoul Björkenheim - Solar Winds (Long Song Records, 2020)

Finnish-American guitarist Raoul Björkenheim meets a trio of talented Italian musicians on this very well crafted album dedicated to the memory of John Coltrane. Silvia Bolognesi on bass, Tiziano Tononi on drums and percussion and Emanuele Parrini on violin come together with the guitarist to create an album that melds fusion and free with great success. "Joy" has urgent bowed bass and percussion with jabs of guitar moving into a snarling interplay with the violin, creating a dynamic collective improvisation and letting loose a stellar guitar solo. There's room for a fine bass solo with percussion framing, leading to a shimmering full band finish. Solo bass opens "Transition," sounding deep and truthful, with the band eventually crashing in with slashing cymbals supporting intertwined guitar and violin. There is a swooping violin solo, over crushing drums, then Bjorkenheim's guitar joins, leading to flat out fusion excitement, and white hot collective improvisation. "Solar Winds" comes on faster, the band chomping at bit with potential energy, lifting off with torrid intensity led by a steaming guitar lead and pummeling drums. Over the top interaction at high speed leads to a more open section for violin and roiling drums in deep tension. Everyone returns for a surging full band conclusion. Stoic bass sets the table on "Saturn" for supersonic guitar soloing with massive drums not far behind. Björkenheim is fast and focused, setting the fascinating theme and allowing the bass and drums to have their say, as well as a swirling violin section. Their playing is white hot leading to an enthusiastic big yell of "yeah!" at the end. They slow down with "Peace on Earth," with a spacey feel spiritual jazz feeling, using shaken bells around searing spears of guitar, weaving in and out. This leads to the finale, "Volition" which uses deep bass and drum groove to support a pithy guitar and violin theme, where the sawing violin keeps the energy very high, guitar plpaying chords. The leader then takes over  with a passionate solo, presenting a kaleidoscopic burst of sound color. Solar Winds -

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Thursday, March 12, 2020

Gordon Grdina's Nomad Trio - Nomad (Skirl Records, 2020)

Forward thinking jazz and world music seeker Gordon Grdina plays guitar and oud on this album, in the company of Matt Mitchell on piano and Jim Black on drums. The music carves a bold stylistic path that keeps it interesting throughout, beginning with the opening track “Wildfire.” On this performance, the group develops an intricate theme, working together with Grdina’s guitar surging over the slashing drums and lashing piano chords. This gives the trio a strong and vivid appearance that suits them well, as they build a raucous and exciting collective improvisation of grinding guitar, pounding piano and bracing drums. The music lightens up about three quarters of the way in, but remains complex, especially in the guitar playing, ending with a section of enigmatic quiet. “Nomad” has spacious guitar playing, soon met by rapid piano and drums giving the music a distinct forward motion. Dark cascading notes and chords fall from Mitchell’s piano met with excellent percussion from Black, making their short duet conversation a fascinating listen. Grdina’s guitar re-emerges and really puts things into overdrive, with a sharp scalding sound met by some heavy percussion to excellent effect. “Benbow” uses quiet guitar probing, with piano and drums slowly building into the overall sound, supple beautiful piano notes fall like a summer shower, as the music slowly gains power and speed as it takes shape. Mitchell’s piano is the key, guiding the music forward at an ever faster pace with the two other musicians moving in to create a fine and complex creative interaction. Skittish percussion opens “Thanksgiving,” gradually coalescing into a firm foundation, with the piano developing an interesting groove like figure that Grdina takes off from for a guitar solo that works well within the overall context of the track. It makes for a nice layered performance with the instruments within their own strata, yet in communication with one another. Everyone then melds together for a strong improvised section, where all of the musicians are reacting in real time and creating very exciting music in the process. This album worked quite well overall, all three musicians are capable of creating very colorful music and bringing their talents together for this project produced lively and exciting music. Nomad -

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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Charlie Parker - The Savoy 10-Inch LP Collection (Craft Recordings, 2020)

Charlie Parker is one of the Mount Rushmore figures of jazz, revolutionizing the way the alto saxophone was played and reconceptualizing the very nature of the music through the evolution of bebop. These groundbreaking sessions were among his first as a leader, recorded between 1944 and 1948, with various musicians in accompaniment including future jazz heroes like Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, John Lewis, Bud Powell and Max Roach. There are many Parker anthologies available, but this one is notable for the quality of the sound, with newly restored and remastered audio achieved using digital and analogue sources which sounds remarkably clear considering the source material without overwhelming the music. Also the music flows very well from one track to another not getting bogged down by presenting multiple versions of the same track in a row as several anthologies do. Several of Parker's most well known themes are presented in this collection, including "Donna Lee" with it's bright and complex melody for alto saxophone and trumpet giving way to a wonderful Parker solo that swings gracefully with added bursts of energy added when needed. "Chasin the Bird" shows trumpet and saxophone intertwined swirling through the air before there are short bursts of fast saxophone notes amid supple rhythm. One of Parker's most searing performances is "Warming Up a Riff" with just him and the rhythm section going all out. The saxophone is out of sight, playing with grace and wisdom and unmatched fluidity, the music fades as they reach the limit of the 78 rpm disc, but it sounds like it could go on forever. "Thriving From a Riff" mines the same idea with but with trumpet leading off, when the saxophonist joins in he is in rare form dashing forward with flurries of notes that shine like beacons. He comes out playing at an absolutely blistering pace on "Klauntsance" playing with seemingly impossible speed and control, and 19 year old Miles Davis takes a gutsy solo of his own. "Constellation" is another beautiful high flyer, with the bevy of notes coming fast and furious, leaving the listener gobsmacked.  "Ah-Lu-Cha" is slightly more medium tempo with some very nice interplay for saxophone and trumpet in the theme, and Parker taking a dynamic solo that balances the melody with quick bursts of speedy saxophone runs. Overall, this set works very well, the attention to detail in the presentation is worthy of a master, and the music itself is simply the Rosetta Stone for the next fifty years of jazz history. The Savoy 10-inch LP Collection -

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Monday, March 09, 2020

Francois Carrier / Tomek Gadecki / Marcin Bozek / Michel Lambert - Wide (FMR, 2019)

Recorded live on May 24, 2018 at MÓZG in Byrgoszcz, Poland, this is a recording of a thrilling free jazz concert with Francois Carrier on alto saxophone, Tomek Gadecki on tenor saxophone, Marcin Bozek on bass and french horn and Michel Lambert on drums. The music is very well recorded and presented, with the two saxophonists trading massive squalls of sound along side excellent bass and drums with Bozek acting as a wild card adding interjections on french horn. Their whole set unfolds beautifully like a flower in the springtime, revealing the passion for music and improvisation that the musicians have. Carrier and Gadecki make an excellent front line, and the contrasting tones of their individual instruments are ideal for creating shades of light and darkness and bold swathes of color. Three lengthy compositions allow them to explore the nature of improvisation at great length, beginning with the twenty-three minute track "Wide" which really sets things up for the group, who are clearly playing at a very high level. The level of intricate interplay between the instruments here and on the shorter "Radiancy" is very impressive with the sounds of the band flowing very naturally whether they are playing the harshest free jazz or the most spacious interludes. The concluding track "Leeway" in particular evolves episodically with a determined narrative presented by the musicians, complete with sections for spontaneous melody, slashing free improvisation and cells for quieter contemplation. Using a cohesive melding of modern jazz and free improvisation, the trio is able to develop an album that has both spontaneous and interconnected playing. The group develops a dynamic sound, characterized by constant change, but still remains accessible with the musicians in full support of one another. The music is exploratory and continuously evolving as it proceeds, successfully accomplishing its purpose. Wide - Francois Carrier Website

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Saturday, March 07, 2020

Kenny Barron / Dave Holland Trio Featuring Johnathan Blake - Without Deception (Dare2 Records, 2020)

Building off of their 2014 duet album The Art of Conversation jazz masters Dave Holland on bass and Kenny Barron on piano meet with the highly regarded young drummer Johnathan Blake for an album of performances of original compositions as well as covers of the music of other artists. Barron's "Porto Alegre" is a bossa nova that has a jaunty rhythmic feeling to it, with the band deeply intertwined at a medium tempo, and Holland developing a melodic and taut bass solo framed by piano and light percussion. Barron's playing balances bright runs with lower bass notes, playing the whole instrument beautifully, while Blake moves in and around the other two, supporting and making tasteful asides. The title track "Without Deception" develops a graceful and flowing form with bright and tasteful piano playing sparkling notes over swinging bass and drums for an extended trio section. Holland solos in a deft manner weaving his bass through a thicket of percussion and piano chords, while Blake trades crisp sections with the pianist and bassist to excellent effect. "Speed Trap" has a thick and propulsive bass line with drums adding further momentum, and Barron responding with a nimble start / stop theme that solidifies this jittery and caffeinated track. The trio improvisation is complex and exciting, with the three musicians playing in a tightly wound and effective manner. Holland stretches out for a bass solo, his sound kneading and undulating, finally giving way to a section for Blake to make his presence felt with a potent and imaginative drum solo. Holland's own "Pass It On" has an excellent percussion opening, with bass and drums falling in to create a medium up tune with a fine rhythmic foundation. The music has a well defined and appealing groove to it, with the group improvising in a colorful manner, and the composer stretching out for another excellent bass solo, one of many that define the sound of this album. Thelonious Monk's "Worry Later" has a bright and infectious theme that is fast and joyous, with Blake providing a fine percussive rhythm while Barron and Holland burrow deep into the song itself, completing a wonderful three way improvised conversation. Blake is the key here, again trading solo sections with Barron and Holland, he's not the least bit intimidated playing with these legends, he's more than up to the task. This was a well done album, the music flows very easily and nothing is forced, with the trio taking the time to explore each of the the pieces presented here, mining them for the best nuggets of melody and improvisational inspiration. Without Deception -

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Thursday, March 05, 2020

Avishai Cohen - Big Vicious (ECM, 2020)

Trumpeter Avishai Cohen grew up in Tel Aviv, but has made is mark in New York, finishing well in the Thelonious Monk competition and playing in the Mingus Big Band. He has built up a solid discography as a sideman ad this is his his third album as a leader. Relocating from the US to his native Israel, he adds effects and synthesizer to his quiver and forms a band with Uzi Ramirez on guitar, Yonatan Albalak on guitar and bass, Aviv Cohen on drums and Ziv Ravitz on drums and live sampling. They go in a fresh direction, taking direction from advances in ambient music and psychedelia blending jazz with elements of rock hip-hop and beyond. "Hidden Chamber" opens with clear sounding trumpet, adding some echo and skittish electronics, as the drums develop a steady beat for atmospheric guitar, trumpet and swirling electronic sounds. The music evolves gradually, moving further far afield, opening to a section of louder accompaniment for Cohen's trumpet, with the pulsating soundscape moving around his uncluttered sound and using some spoken word sampling. Tight bass and drums form a thick groove on "King Kutner" with snarling electric guitar and powerful swathes of electronics and trumpet giving the music a full and propulsive sound. The full band charges forth together, driving forward, dynamically shifting into more open passages where the electronic instruments hold sway. Everyone returns for the fully integrated dash for the finish line with powerful trumpet playing and crisp drumming. "Fractals" uses smears of sound which breathe and soar with trumpet and drums bubbling up from the mix in short burst of notes amid the ominous swirling electronic soundscape, while "This Time It's Different" builds crisp and sound drumming with guitar accents to set the table, followed by cool sounding electronic filigrees make room for a medium tempo making for an overall dance-able atmosphere. Cohen's trumpet punches gently, developing firm control over the instrument and developing an impressive albeit short solo, adding layers of long tones to meet shimmering electronics in a more trippy part of the song. The final track, "Intent" is an atmospheric ballad with some hauntingly beautiful trumpet playing along side spectral guitar accompaniment. Cohen's tone is pure and longing, and the percussion is subtle, framing his horn playing and the samples that make up much of the backdrop. This album worked well on the whole, Cohen has a strong and memorable tone on the trumpet and a clear conception of the music he is looking to make. He has chose his band mates well and they all make fine contributions furthering the success of this project. Big Vicious -

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Sunday, March 01, 2020

Charles Lloyd - 8: Kindred Spirits (Live From The Lobero) (Blue Note, 2020)

Legendary saxophonist Charles Lloyd celebrated his 80th birthday in his adopted hometown playing live at Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theatre. Performing with him on the standard release of this album is Julian Lage, on guitar, Gerald Clayton on piano, Reuben Rogers on bass, and Eric Harland on drums. There is also a superfluous deluxe edition with musical guests, CDs, LP's, a DVD and hardcover book. Lloyd and his younger charges are locked in from this get go, playing a lengthy version of the well known Lloyd original "Dream Weaver" which, after a crushing intro, leads to spacey sensation with subtle saxophone and drumming. Gentle melodic are phrases framed by the piano, gradually gaining momentum as an impressive full band improvisation takes flight. The rhythm section plus guitar really soars when Lloyd sits out, guitar solo, as powerful drums up ante. Clayton develops a piano solo, kneading the keys with a bouncy feeling, and Lloyd's saxophone eventually returns with strong tone engaging the group in complex improvised interaction. The group comes out in a ballad configuration for "Requiem," with soft guitar, spare piano and percussion, the leader sounding very good at this tempo playing longing and emotional ballad saxophone. Guitar and rhythm keep the mood while presenting their own spin, Lage's guitar solo adds a few flashy bits, then leading to abstract an piano section and deft bass solo before the band reconvenes for a mild and gentle send-off. "La Llorona" has emotionally resonant piano, sounding vaguely classical, with the guitar adding texture, finally drums and saxophone coming in quite late into the performance. Long soft tones of saxophone finally enter, developing a dramatic cinematic widescreen quality to the whole track. The final track of the standard version of this album is "Part 5, Ruminations" which begins with Lloyd's subtle breathy saxophone along side light complex rhythm making an interesting setting. Skittish piano and percussion percolate as Lloyd paints the edges of the improvisation in a delicate and indirect manner. He moves to center stage with a well articulated solo backed by strong drums and waves of piano and guitar. Choppy swells of electric guitar and cymbals keep the performance moving briskly in a steep duo conversation. Piano probes the open space, building a gently progressive section. Harland's drum solo is a kinetic and exciting feature that is played all over the kit in opposition to the often quiet and restrained music if this album. Lloyd re-enters to calm things down, weaving quiet slow horn playing over undulating rhythms, leading to a respectful finish. This was a very solid album, Charles Lloyd has a unique approach to music and improvisation, and the musicians he has playing with him are also given plenty of freedom to express themselves which keeps the playing fresh and natural. 8: Kindred Spirits (Live from The Lobero) -

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