Thursday, January 7, 2016

Fredrik Kronkvist - Monk Vibes (2015)

Alto saxophonist Fredrik Kronkvist releases album with Thelonious Monk’s music along with three American superstars.

When Kronkvist releases his new album MONK VIBES he continues cooperate with some of the hottest names on the jazz scene with Jason Marsalis on vibraphone, Reuben Rogers on bass and Gregory Hutchinson on drums. This time they dedicate themselves to interpret the genius composer Thelonious Monk’s music and spirit. The unusual constellation with alto saxophone, vibraphone, bass and drums create a different, challenging sound without the piano and gives the group wide open spaces for colorful improvisations. MONK VIBES reflects Thelonious multidimensional universe where simplicity and complexity come together in a beautiful, danceable and contrasting music.The album contains wild conversations, humor, calypso beat, odd time signatures, blues, beautiful ballads and a tonal language that sounds as skewed as obvious.

01 Skippy
02 Misterioso
03 Teo
04 Brilliant Corners
05 Trinkle Tinkle
06 Round Midnight
07 Evidence
08 Kronk’s Monk
09 Four in One
10 The Virtue of Patience

All tracks by Thelonious Monk except tr.8 by Fredrik

Fredrik Kronkvist – alto sax
Jason Marsalis – vibraphone
Reuben Rogers – bass
Gregory Hutchinson – drums


Jessica Jones Quartet - Moxie (2015)

Label: Self Released

Moxie is both an extension of tenor saxophonist Jessica Jones' previous work and a glimpse back to an earlier point in her career: she continues to explore the possibilities inherent in a piano-less quartet with a two-tenor front line while reuniting with a rhythm duo that she worked with in the '80s—bassist Stomu Takeishi and drummer Kenny Wolleson. The music that she makes here, with that team and fellow tenor/husband Tony Jones, is predictably unpredictable, grounded yet far-reaching, and irresistibly intriguing in its unfolding.

The album opens with the true-to-name title track—a funky and off-kilter composition that periodically dissolves, only to be brought right back to form with a swiftly executed rhythmic figure. The tenors move along with a combination of patience and attitude, enhancing the underlying feel with there cool-headed, hot-blooded moves. "In A Sentimental Mood" follows, both lining up with and defying expectations. The song largely adheres to its well-worn melodic and harmonic paths, but, thanks in large part to the way the rhythm section dissects the beat, it's subtly reborn in three.

Headier sounds appear on the Jones-Jones penned "Haitian Cotillion," a number that's both insistent and open in its delivery. It's the first piece to really highlight this group's penchant for free thought married to rhythmic specificity. The follow-up—"Soft Target"—looks at the same topic from a different angle. It opens in uncertain lands, but the tenors soon find their footing(s) atop Wolleson's steady eighth note groove. They're free to roam around as his drums and Takeishi's rubbery bass lines hold things in place.

The second half of the album starts with Tony Jones' "Dear Toy"—a sonic search for meaning—and closes with three numbers from the leader's pen: "The Clapping Song," an odd-metered vehicle that opens on a Takeishi solo over handclaps before settling into the saddle; "Tag On A Train," a piece that coalesces, confounds, and then connects on a deep spiritual level; and "Manhattattan," a cheery sendoff with some surprising twists of form. It's the perfect ending to a program that's both unrestrained and structurally sound. 

1. Moxie 07:35
2. In a Sentimental Mood 06:10
3. Haitian Cotillion 08:40
4. Soft Target 05:54
5. Dear Toy 05:06
6. Clapping Game 06:42
7. Tag on a Train 06:40
8. Manhattattan 05:28

Jessica Jones, sax
Tony Jones, sax
Stomu Takeishi, bass
Kenny Wollesen, drums



Arne Huber - Pearls (2015)

Source & Label: Meta Records
2nd Source: Jazz Page

A bass player as band leader is still quite uncommon. Arne Huber proves that there is no musical reason for this. “Pearls” is the second album of the Arne Huber Quartet, after “Jordan” (2009). On “Pearls”, which consists mainly of original compositions by Huber, he again explores the depth of modern jazz, with great skill and a lot of musical sensitivity. The bass player is joined in this endeavour by his band colleagues.

Nach der Debut CD »Jordan« stellt Arne Huber mit seinem 4tett die zweite CD »Pearls« vor. Durch seine Kompositionen und sein unaufdringliches Spiel prägt er die außergewöhnliche Stimmungen dieser Musik. Mit seinen herausragenden Mitmusikern gelingt es ihm so eine Atmosphäre fern von Effekthascherei zu erschaffen.

Huber, 1977 in Offenburg geboren, absolvierte 1997 bis 2001 ein Jazzstudium an der Musikhochschule Mannheim bei Thomas Stabenow, dem er 2002 bis 2006 ein klassisches Kontrabassstudium an der Musikhochschule Freiburg folgen ließ. Arne Huber lebt in Mannheim und in der Nähe Freiburgs. Sein Können und seine musikalische Versiertheit machen ihn zu einem viel gefragten Bassisten. Huber ist unter anderem Mitglied des Trio »Böhm-Huber-Daneck«, mit dem Quintett »L14,16« gewann er zwei Mal den »Vierteljahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik«. Er spielte u.a. mit Ingrid Jensen, Johannes Enders, Tony Lakatos, Randy Brecker, Adrian Mears, Julian Argüelles, Paul Heller, Ack van Rooyen, Bob Degen, Nils Petter Molvaer und Julien Lourau.

01. Erie     8:18
02. Pearls     5:35
03. Syracuse     7:19
04. You do something to me     6:17
05. Delaware     6:40
06. Ornaments     4:33
07. Monrovia     4:14

Domenic Landolf - tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
Rainer Böhm - piano
Jochen Rückert - drums
Arne Huber - bass



Arne Huber Quartet - Jordan (2011)

Label: Nagel Heyer Records
Source: Arne Huber

Leader de ce quartet, Arne Huber est contrebassiste. Cette place centrale dans la disposition de l’ensemble le rend très sensible à l’équilibre des voix instrumentales. Attaché à la mélodie, il a composé un ensemble de pièces originales dont on apprécie la faîcheur et la finesse autour d’un élément central emprunté au répertoire de Cole Porter pour la référence aux standards. Chacun des membres du quartet s’exprime ouvertement sans menacer l’équilibre d’un ensemble dont la stabilité rythmique repose sur le talent reconnu du batteur Jochen Rückert. Encore une très belle référence du label Meta Records, plus « jazz » que ses dernières productions 2014.

1 Lantana
2 My Little Brown Book
3 Jordan
4 Gemini
5 Freitag
6 Reincarnation Of A Lovebird
7 Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow
8 Everything I Love

Arne Huber - bass
Domenic Landolf - tenor saxophone, clarinet
Rainer Böhm - piano
Jochen Rückert - drums



Jake Saslow - Crosby Street (2011)

Label: 14th Street Records

One of 2011's many notable debuts is saxophonist Jake Saslow's Crosby Street, an ode to the street in New York's iconic SoHo, where the musician's formative years recalled the neighborhood's sights, music, and people. An analogy is formed between the music and the community, one that speaks of a distinct personality carried in Saslow's full-bodied horn that's filled with lyricism and communication interpreted by peers and fellow-New Yorkers that include guitarist Mike Moreno and pianist Fabian Almazan.

The seven pieces visualize an assortment of aural dreamscapes and tempos, supported by bassist Joe Martin and drummer Chris Persad Group, The Dautaj, Marcus Gilmore , Coquito, Fri, as the soloists deliver lively movements in Saslow's "Early Riser" and "Taiga Forest." But it's the chord-less trio rendition of Horace Silver's "Lonely Woman" where Saslow's sepia-toned notes give a truer indication of his capabilities. Its depth and detail exudes not only knowledge of the source material but also a fresh statement.

"Lucky Thirteen" is the smoothest piece in set with its street-savvy cadence and elastic solos, whereas "Until Next Time" has the most personality. With a rich sonic quality it begins slowly with Saslow's sumptuous horn, before the melody changes and swings seductively, carried by Moreno's unique phrasing. It's got a certain ambiance and personality—just like a vibrant neighborhood, the essence of what Saslow's debut portrays.

1. Early Riser
2. Taiga Forest
3. Lonely Woman
4. Lucky 13
5. Crosby Street
6. How Things Were
7. Until Next Time

Jake Saslow: tenor saxophone
Mike Moreno: guitar
Fabian Almazan: piano
Joe Martin: bass
Marcus Gilmore: drums



Lionel Loueke - GAÏA (2015)

Guitarist Lionel Loueke chose to record GAÏA—his remarkable rock-infused fourth Blue Note album—live in the studio with an intimate audience in attendance. The purpose was to achieve a raw energy and reach a musical essence, and to that end he reunited with the two musicians who accompanied him on his 2008 Blue Note debut Karibu—bassist Massimo Biolcati and drummer Ferenc Nemeth—a simpatico trio that first formed when the three attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston together in the late 1990s.

“I always wanted to record this trio live” says Loueke of the sessions, which were captured at Sear Sound in New York City. “We were all in the same room with a small audience, no headphones, no isolation and no overdubs of course. It has a real live feel. It was a very special event.”

Loueke's compositional mastery is evident in the construction of the 11 original songs presented here and the trio's performances are extraordinary. “I don't think we sound like any other trio on the scene today" says an understated Loueke. “I have been writing for this trio for a long time. They can handle every metrical challenge in my songs. There is an inside communication between the three of us.”

The musical dialogue on the album—which was produced by Blue Note president and GRAMMY-winning producer Don Was—pertains to the nature of the Earth and man's effect on it, an urgent message at a time when the warning signs of global warming have become undeniable. In Greek mythology, Gaïa is the personification of the Earth, the mother goddess who birthed the planet and the entire universe. "She would be angry,” Loueke states bluntly. “We have not taken good care of her child."

“Broken” opens the album with an otherworldly flourish.  “It’s a very electric song,” says the Benin native. “The chord is a little de-tuned. It keeps you on edge. It represents a broken ecological system. It's actually in 33/8 = 6/8+7/8+6/8+8/8+6/8. It creates a little skip in the rhythm and doesn't let you relax or become complacent.”

“’Sleepless Night’ could also have been titled ‘Day And Night’” says Loueke. “There are two movements—one in a major chord, the other in a minor chord. I play the whole intro on one string, imitating the sound of the gimbri,” he explains referring to the lute-like African instrument. The 19/4 time signature keeps the song bubbling.

“Sources of Love” draws its warmth and energy from the strength of the family, both cosmic and personal. “I wrote this thinking about the love that holds a family together and the love that Gaïa gives,” says Loueke. “It's a lyrical tune. You don't hear the notes' attack because I use a type of delay to soften the attack.”

The other end of the sound spectrum is brought to the fore in the aptly titled “Wacko Loco.” The track is an unabashed electric guitar showpiece which finds Loueke channeling the raw distorted power of the live Jimi Hendrix album Band of Gypsys. “This is Gaïa's anger and madness becoming evident. It was also a lot of fun to play.”

“Rain Wash” is an aural equivalent of a cleansing rain. Played on acoustic guitar and bass it is supported with a wave-like flow of cymbals and brushes on the drums before ending on a slight dissonance.

A deceptively simple guitar figure opens the heartfelt plea to Gaïa for “Forgiveness.” The longest track on the album, the song builds slowly towards a driving African highlife groove. “It's probably one of the strongest melodies” said Loueke. “We just played it and let it build.”

“Even Teens” is a pun on the 17/4 time signature of the piece, which begins with Loueke’s extended-technique intro where he makes the guitar sound more like a talking drum before the trio crashes in with roiling rhythms. “It's like seven teenagers each given a day of the week to help find a solution for the earth, each with their own rhythm and heading in their own directions, but also aware of their friends’ searches.”

The time signature of the title track “Gaïa” is a propulsive 35/8. "This band can handle any rhythmic challenge. But the most important thing to remember is to write strong music no matter what the time signature may be. The rhythm must flow naturally and not draw attention to itself. It's a tool of expression.”

“’Veuve Malienee’ is a widow crying for the loss of her husband” says Loueke. The lyric sound is created by his adept use of the volume pedal, softening the attack of the note throughout the piece. “You don't hear my voice. There is no singing on this disc but I'm trying to speak through my instrument.”

The quiet is quickly broken by the opening fanfare of the rock-edged “Procession.” “B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix were my heroes,” says Loueke. “I see this as a ceremonial piece for the forgiveness of mother earth. It brings to mind a bunch of people marching through the graveyard, tapping the ground with their canes.”

The album ends surprisingly with a spry version of the Bee Gees hit “How Deep Is Your Love” which leaves us pondering how we might change this destructive course. “I didn't understand the words when I was young,” says Loueke. “I just loved the beautiful melody and voices.” Even presented wordless, the lyrics take on new meaning here: “And you may not think I care for you / When you know down inside that I really do.”

Lionel Loueke, guitar
Massimo Biolcati, bass
Ferenc Nemeth, drums

Sleepless Night
Sources of Love
Wacko Loco
Aziza Dance
Rain Wash
Veuve Malienne
How Deep Is Your Love