martes, 7 de octubre de 2014

Terry Hsieh Collective - Multiplicity (2014)

Source: Cdbaby

Multiplicity started as a five-week project bringing a group of Oberlin Jazz musicians to play all original music in the Jazz clubs of Beijing. Terry little anticipated that the five weeks in 2010 would turn into five years and an album of his own. Terry has brought successive generations of emerging Oberlin musicians to play Beijing, continuing a conversation transformative for the close-knit musical communities on either end of the process.

While the version of the Terence Hsieh Collective found on Multiplicity is not the original configuration, the bond shared between the players runs deeper than just a musical one. All the compositions are arranged with the strengths and personality of the particular musicians in mind. Terry blends the different horn parts into a whole and I found myself repeatedly losing the sense of a single part in the beauty of the combined melody. The intimacy of a shared musical language is felt in full effect.

While Multiplicity represents a beginning for Terry and the rest of the group, it exemplifies just what Wayne Shorter talked about in his master class. The best music starts when the musicians communicate to the audience and each other as whole human beings. The Terence Hsieh Collective heard here lived the music they play, having traveled the world together. The songs tell the story of their shared journey, engaging with fragments of Chinese melodies & folk songs, are inspired by famous landmarks and historical sites they encountered. If every album tells the story of the period of life leading to its creation, Multiplicity tells a more interesting story than most

1. Dawn (Introlude) 03:13
2. Beautiful Danger/On the Other Side 10:15
3. Riding Alone For Thousands of Miles 04:03
4. Snowjade 09:03
5. Late 05:17
6. The Hall of Accumulated Embroidery Suite Part I: The Hall of Appreciating Flowers 07:54
7. The Hall of Accumulated Embroidery Suite Part II: The Hill of Accumulated Elegance 06:37
8. The Hall of Accumulated Embroidery Suite Part III: The Pavilion of Imperial Scenery 08:26
9. Intrinsic Doubt (ft. Miguel Zenon & Robin Eubanks) 07:57
10.Dusk 03:23

The Terry Hsieh Collective:
Terry Hsieh, trombone
Pat Adams, trumpet
Alexander Cummings, alto saxophone, flute
Jacob Baron, piano
Matt Adomeit, bass
Peter Manheim, drums

and guest artists:
Miguel Zenon, saxophone
Robin Eubanks, trombone

"The most important thing I look for in a musician,
 is whether he knows how to listen."
  - Duke Ellington - 


Nate Birkey - Just a Closer Walk (2014)

NYC-based jazz trumpeter, vocalist, composer Nate Birkey has built a solid reputation for creating a modernizing “mainstream” musical voice, steeped in subtle swing and expressive lyricism while making careful, tasteful detours into other rhythms and genres. He steps into some terrain both new and old by offering fresh yet traditional approaches to the realm of gospel music and spirituals on his latest album Just a Closer Walk, for Household Ink Records. 

Recorded live in St. Michaels Church in Isla Vista, CA, the inspiring all-instrumental song set features the ripe and empathetic work of his “west coast” quintet, with pianist Jamieson Trotter, tenor saxist Tom Buckner, bassist Jim Connolly and drummer Peter Buck.

This isn’t the first time Birkey has followed a particular conceptual path on an album: he focused his musical attentions on earlier albums with the deceptively simple, self-descriptive titles, 2001’s “Ballads” and 2008’s “Christmas.” Alongside the pulse of “straight ahead” jazz in the foundation of Birkey’s approach, his taste for New Orleans, Latin, Country and other genres can also be heard on 1998’s Indelibly You, The Mennonite (2001), Shortest Day (2004) and Almost Home (2008).

Just a Closer Walk, similarly, stokes the long tradition of a gospel influence in jazz while adding some twists of Birkey’s own devising. Jazz classics with a gospel pedigree include the opener “Cristo Redentor,” the Duke Pearson tune made famous by trumpeter Donald Byrd. A New Orleans ‘Second Line’ groove percolates on his arrangement of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” while a brass chorale effect lends a hushed, spiritualized glow to the 19th century hymn “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” - one of the favorite hymns of Birkey’s mother back in his childhood home in Evergreen, Colorado.

That brief, sanctuary-suitable track segues gracefully into the title hymn, “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” given a natural jazz cred and improvisatory flex by the quintet. The album closes with a nod to the great African-American spirituals repertoire, “Soon Ah Will Be Done,” by which time we’re true believers in the project’s musical mission, regardless of one’s link to the religious affiliations involved.

Just a Closer Walk is another strong addition to a fascinating discography and musical adventure in progress for Birkey.

Nate Birkey: trumpet
Tom Buckner: tenor sax
Jamieson Trotter: piano
Jim Connolly: bass
Peter Buck: drums

01) Cristo Redentor
02) What a Friend We Have In Jesus
03) And Can It Be
04) His Eye Is On The Sparrow
05) If Thou But Suffer God To Guide Thee
06) O Sacred Head Now Wounded
07) Just A Closer Walk With Thee
08) Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
09) The Deacon
10) Soon Ah Will Be Done

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Bill Laurance - Flint (2014)

OVER THE LAST DECADE, thunderous New York jazz-funk fusionists Snarky Puppy have garnered a solid international fan base with their intoxicating live shows, as well as a successful catalogue of albums. At the heart of this creative powerhouse is English pianist/keyboardist Bill Laurance, who now presents his own sparkling debut release, along with a UK and Netherlands tour.

Described by Laurance as the album he’s been searching for since he started making music, Flint is a collaboration with two close friends – Snarky stalwarts Michael League (basses, guitars) and Robert ‘Sput’ Searight’ (drums, percussion) – as well as a host of string and horn players. Together, they realise a magnificent compositional spectrum, often on an orchestral/filmic scale as well as anticipated jazz-funk grooving, with Laurance commanding at the grand piano and Fender Rhodes. And, although the majority of the ten through-composed pieces are solely from the leader’s pen (along with League’s considerable input as arranger), the communal sense of striving for both musical exactitude and improvisation is palpable… and exciting.

Setting the tone are the complex urban drum patterns of opener Never-Ending City, with gutsy five-string bass, keys ostinati, cityscape strings and Laurance’s cool piano extemporisations. Janáček/Copland-style brass announces Money in the Desert, a brooding, quietly-pulsating episode which can’t help but break out into moog-driven funk with accented strings, and League’s popping electric guitar lead (blame it on the boogie!). Title track Flint (named after the inspirational effect on Laurance of a Snarky Puppy gig in Flint, Michigan) is more akin to soundtrack, dipping in and out of marching band mode and expansive Philip Glass-like pianistic/orchestral vistas, underpinned by Sput’s metronomic pulse. And all the while, the arrangements feel organically whole.

Smooth jazz Swag Times features quite breathtaking drum razzle-dazzle from Searight against an irresistible Rhodes/synth/vocoder wash – and again, brass and strings widen the landscape (such beautiful execution from string players who completed their entire recording requirement within a day!). The Good Things pares down the line-up to piano, bass and drums, Laurence leading in mysterious, echoic grandeur, plus impressive fuzz bass from League; and baroque-inflected Chia, with its gorgeously mercurial piano and double bass, invites the rapid gypsy fiddle of Zach Brock and portamento string backing to ramp up the tempo and augmented orchestration – in a word, delightful. Whimsical and grungy ska tune Smokers Castle jerks and clatters around Laurance’s detuned piano and a wonderfully brash New Orleans-style brass section; and Gold Coast features the fluid flugelhorn of Mike Maher (also of Snarky Puppy) in an orchestrally opulent, shining affair.

At ten minutes in length, penultimate track Ready Wednesday is a sure highlight, Searight’s fast Latinesque tempo showcasing Laurance’s exacting, rhythmic piano style; and the broad orchestral sweep – even in its later, slower section – has ‘movie soundtrack’ written all over it. As closing titles roll, classical piano end-piece Audrey, with delicate strings and flugel, melancholily waltzes to its rest.

As part of the package (on a second disc), a 47-minute DVD documentary – made by Andy Laviolette – provides a fascinating insight into the making of Flint, revealing the musicians’ passion for their art, as well as various triumphs over adversity along the way (including the sudden non-availability of their pre-booked studio, twelve few hours before recording sessions were due to begin!). Videos of all tracks are also included.

Released on 14 July 2014, this is an ambitious and absorbing project – not least for the Snarky Puppy faithful – which promises much in its translation to a live setting (see below for October 2014 tour dates, samples and purchasing). Check it out!

01. Neverending City 04:28
02. Money In The Desert 05:56
03. Flint 04:03
04. Swag Times 05:50
05. The Good Things 06:53
06. Chia 04:24
07. Smokers Castle 05:18
08. Gold Coast 04:58
09. Ready Wednesday 09:38
10. Audrey 02:58

Bill Laurance: acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, vocoder, keyboards, shaker, congas, ride cymbal, propane tank, hand claps
Michael League: electric bass, double bass, moog bass, 12-string acoustic guitar, electric guitar, hand claps
Robert ‘Sput’ Searight: drums, timpani, marching snare & bass drums, shekere, cowbells, vibraslap, woodblocks, shaker, hand claps
Maria Im: violin
Zach Brock: violin (solos)
Curtis Stewart: violin
Henry Flory: violin
Lev Zhurbin: viola
Eylem Basaldi: viola
Maria Jeffers: cello
J.Y. Lee: cello
Mike ‘Maz’ Maher: trumpet, flugelhorn
Matt McLaughlin: french horn
Chris Bullock: tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute
Brian Donohoe: alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute
Scott Flynn: trombone
Magda Giannikou: propane tank, glockenspiel, xylophone
Emília Canas Mendes & Andy Laviolette: hand claps