domingo, 15 de noviembre de 2015

Amos Hoffman - Back to the City (2015)

Amos Hoffman's story is one of departures and returns. This guitarist-oudist cut his teeth in his native Israel, made his way to Amsterdam, and finally ended up in New York in the '90s as part of what could be considered the first wave of Israeli jazz talent to really make an impact on the Big Apple. And then he left. Hoffman returned to Israel, continuing to play, record on occasion, and mentor up-and-comers who've come stateside, or, no doubt, will. But that's not where this story ends: after spending the past fourteen years in Israel, Hoffman came back to the city that never sleeps in February of 2015 and recorded this appealing straight-ahead statement. 

Back To The City finds Hoffman rekindling old musical relationships, covering classics all by his lonesome, and delivering a good number of originals that speak in different tongues. There's upbeat, blues-infused music that's Monk-ish in the way it swings, speaks, and sings ("Back To The City"); sounds of southern life—breezy, unhurried, semi-countrified, and wholly hospitable in nature ("Alone In South Carolina"); and Brazilian-based music capped off with a brief but memorable guitar cadenza ("After Lazy Noon"). In addition, there's also some driving bop ("Mr. X."), mellow-ish swing with room for stretching ("Easy Going"), and groove music that speaks in Adderley-esque fashion ("Little Pigs"). And then there are the aforementioned solo takes on standards ("I'm Getting Sentimental Over You," "Pannonica," "Darn That Dream," "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes"), performances that ably demonstrate how an artist can be an in-the-tradition player and an individualist all at once. 

It's clear that there's genuine camaraderie here, as everybody's supporting one another, playing for the song, and having a blast all the while. Hoffman and drummer Vince Ector really connect when trading solos ("Back To The City") and leading the charge ("Mr. X"), trumpeter Duane Eubanks and saxophonist Asaf Yuria feed off of each other and thrive in both down-home environs and up-tempo locales, guest Itai Kriss' flute sounds right at home when it appears ("Little Pigs"), and bassist Omer Avital ties everyone and everything together with his tasty and tasteful bass work. This is a solid group, delivering what can only be described as a straight-down-the-middle winner.

01. Easy Going
02. After Lazy Noon
03. I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
04. Back To The City
05. Alone In South Carolina
06. Pannonica
07. Mr. X
08. Darn That Dream
09. Little Pigs
10. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Amos Hoffman: guitar
Omer Avital: bass
Vince Ector: drums
Duane Eubanks: trumpet
Asaf Yuria: tenor sax
Itai Kriss: flute


Aaron Diehl - Space, Time, Continuum (2015)

Widely acknowledged as a modern master in the aftermath of his acclaimed 2012 Mack Avenue debut, The Bespoke Man’s Narrative, 29-year-old pianist-composer Aaron Diehl ups the ante with the 2015 release Space, Time, Continuum.

Diehl first documented his inclusive, across-the-timeline conception on the self-released late ʼ00s albums Live At Caramoor, a solo date on which he navigated the stride piano canon with deep assurance; and Live At The Players, on which he applied a broad lexicon of piano trio vocabulary to a program spanning classical music, bebop and the blues. On The Bespoke Man’s Narrative, Diehl presented original music drawing on antecedent bandleader-composers like John Lewis and Duke Ellington for strategies that facilitated individualistic performances from his unit of A-list peers.

On Space, Time, Continuum, an eight-piece program, Diehl assembles a pan-generational ensemble of masters. Joining his core trio of bassist David Wong and drummer Quincy Davis, in different configurations, are the iconic tenor saxophonist-composer Benny Golson and the magisterial baritone saxophonist Joe Temperley, both 85 years young; the 39-year-old underground tenor saxophone giant Stephen Riley; and the rising star trumpeter Bruce Harris, not yet 30.

“It’s important to use both contemporaries and elders as sources of inspiration,” Diehl says. He is particularly pleased at “the opportunity to play and improvise with living legends” Golson and Temperley. Diehl met Golson in 2009, when Juilliard School of Music—Diehl’s alma mater—commissioned the veteran to compose a work entitled “Above and Beyond” in celebration of the school’s centennial. Two years later, they performed together at the Lincoln Theatre in Columbus OH, Diehl’s hometown.

“Mr. Golson has been inspirational beyond the legacy of music he’s created,” Diehl states. “Carpe diem while he and Joe Temperley are still around.”

The leader pairs off Golson and Harris on “Organic Consequence,” a discursive, multi-sectional work for quintet; and “Space, Time, Continuum,” Diehl’s notes-and-tones response to a lyric by vocalist (and Mack Avenue artist) Cécile McLorin Salvant, with whom he works extensively as pianist and musical director.

01. Uranus
02. The Steadfatst Titan
03. Flux Capacitor
04. Organic Consequences
05. Kat’s Dance
06. Santa Maria
07. Broadway Boogie Woogie
08. Space, Time, Continnum

Aaron Diehl: piano
Joe Temperley: baritone sax (track 2)
Benny Golson: tenor sax (tracks 4, 8)
Stephen Riley: tenor sax (tracks 3, 5)
Bruce Harris: trumpet (tracks 4, 8)
Charenee Wade: vocals (track 8)
David Wong: bass
Quincy Davis: drums


Yelena Eckemoff Quartet - Everblue (2015)

In a quick follow-up to her masterful two CD set Lions, Russian-born and now North Carolina-based pianist Yelena Eckemoff offers up Everblue, the most "ECM Records-sounding" set not on that deservedly esteemed label. It is, rather, released on her own L&H Productions. 

The names of the sidemen on the date explain in part the ECM-like sound: saxophonist Tore Brunborg, bassist Arild Andersen, and drummer Jon Christensen, the Norwegian contingent, are all long time ECM Records artists, as leaders and hired guns for other players, and their long term contributions have been instrumental in shaping the ECM aesthetic of subtlety, intricacy, and fluid motion. 

Refined beauty, coming from a place of deep commitment combined with the foundation of a serious musical education, mixed with spontaneous joy, a relentless searching for the divine and a childlike sense of wonder is what makes Yelena Eckemoff's music so special, so edge-of-the-seat mesmerizing. With her Norwegian bandmates, the sum of the parts adds up to unfathomable whole. The music glows, as if enveloped in an aura. Everyone solos, nobody solos? Sometimes that means an auditory mess. But Eckemoff's music has such of preconceived structure that the "thread" never unravels or tangles. On Everblue, the tunes sound like written-out pieces with a judicious flexibility built in for the individual players. Some of ECM Records to which Everblue can be compared (the sets falling into the Euro-folkloric aesthetic) can sound placid, in a very good sense of the word. With Everblue the sound here always has an "edge," a dynamic four-way input of the individual parts that never allows the listener's attention to wane: Brunborg's organically sacred sax work on tenor and soprano, Andersen's sharp, singing bass lines, Christansen's rustling drum work, the ringing cymbal accents, Eckemoff's virtuosic, crystalline touch and prayerful, gorgeous immediacy. 

There are ten tunes here, eight by Eckmoff and two by Andersen. The Ecklemoff-penned tunes explore the conept of beaches and oceans, while Andersen's are more abstract, freer. Eckemoff painted the cover art, and wrote poems (included in the cover booklet) for each of her songs. She has, after a career as in classical and sacred music, evolved—in five short years and eight jazz albums—into a major jazz artist 

The year 2015 has been a productive one for Yelena Eckemoff, with two extraordinary recordings—Lions and Everblue, both sets worthy of end-of-the-year, top ten list consideration.

01. Everblue
02. All Things, Seen and Unseen
03. Waves & Shells
04. Skyline
05. Sea Breeze
06. Prism
07. Man
08. Abyss
09. Ghost of the Dunes
10. Blue Lamp

Yelena Eckemoff: piano
Tore Brunborg: saxophones
Arild Andersen: bass
Jon Chistensen: drums


Steve Abshire, Steve Herberman - Between Friends (2015)

Steve Abshire (6 string guitar) and Steve Herberman (7-string guitar) will celebrate the release of their new CD “Between Friends” (the second recording on the Mainstay Music label) with a concert at The Mainstay.

The CD is a live concert recording made last summer in Annapolis.

1. There Is No Greater Love
2. How Insensitive
3. Sweet and Lovely
4. Emily
5. There Will Never Be Another You
6. Body and Soul
7. The Intimacy of the Blues