Monday, May 30, 2016

Andreas Hellkvist - Finally! (2016)

Source: Cdbaby
Genre: Jazz Hammond
GAB's Rating: ★★★★☆

Swedish Hammond jazz organist Andreas Hellkvist already boasts a prolific career as a sideman, having toured extensively for some 15 years together with the Swedish jazz elite and appeared on a dozen albums, three of which are by Do Music Records artists Trinity. As a performer, Hellkvist is a virtuoso and has flabbergasted audiences from the very outset with his impeccable skill, fiery improvisational passion and rhythmic energy, making any piece of music he lays his hands (and feet) on more or less catch fire. For years, fans have bemoaned the absence of a Hellkvist solo album, but happily, that has now changed as his debut album is here and appropriately titled 'Finally!' Forming a steady two-some with versatile drummer Daniel Olsson, Hellkvist presents Swedish jazz guitar stars Erik Söderlind, Samuel Hällkvist and Thomas Arnesen as guests, who all in unique ways add to the jazzy magic found in Hellkvist's well-crafted compositions. Hammond organ and jazz aficionados will no doubt be in seventh heaven!

01. The Hellkvist Shuffle 4:32
 02. Midnight Cruiser 4:56
 03. Maybe September 6:14
 04. Snowflakes 4:09 
 05. Danslåten 5:30
 06. Piecewise Continuity 5:42
 07. Morgonkaffe 5:22
 08. Jesus 5:06
 09. Up And Away 5:13 
 10. Headin' Downtown 4:21
 11. Old Gal Blues 5:54  

Andreas Hellkvist / Hammond Organ
Erik Söderlind, Samuel Hällkvist, Thomas Arnesen / Guitar
Daniel Olsson / Drums


Geoffroy Colson - Tales from Tahiti (feat. Jeremy Cook, Nishchal Manjunath & Joshua Spolc) 2016

Geoffroy Colson is a French ethnomusicologist, pianist, composer, and music teacher. He is currently completing a PhD in Ethnomusicology and Composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the University of Sydney.

Through his current research, which focuses on the aesthetic and cultural issues surrounding musical change and ‘hybridity’ in French Polynesia, he has been pursuing vital new ways to contribute to Islander approaches to sustaining their rich but extremely vulnerable traditions.

His career as a jazz pianist and music teacher led him to develop an interest in musical syntheses, thereby to discover the fascinating Polynesian culture in 2002. From then on, he has been investigating Polynesian music and culture, and collaborating with indigenous artists.

His work articulates with a range of disciplines including ethnomusicology, anthropology, and creative performance studies research, exploring in particular the intersection between ethnomusicological research and composition.

"Tales from Tahiti" comprises five original pieces for jazz quartet and quintet bridging Tahitian musical heritage with jazz and improvisation. They constitute the result of a four-year investigation into Tahitian traditional heritage, including a period of fieldwork of the composer in Tahiti.

This creative exploration of musical syntheses represent an effective alternative or at least additional approach to be considered to processes of cultural revival through engagement with an indigenous community. It relies on a concept of sustainability extended to the global cultural environment that might be termed meta-sustainability. In allowing aspects or elements of Tahitian music to be transmitted by way of a repository of global intangible culture, it enacts a proactive and cosmopolitanist response to perceptions of out-of-control globalization processes. 

The creative processes involved in the creation of this body of work have been informed by a number of factors: an in-depth understanding of the musical system, sociocultural practices, and symbolic and metaphysical elements, along with their interrelationships. The compositions incorporate traditional Tahitian musical instruments such as the tōʻere (slit drum), the pahu (membrane drum) and the Tahitian ukulele into a conventional jazz quartet. But beyond the simple blend of instruments, specific compositional processes have been applied, including textural conceptualisations, arrangement techniques, and structural models derived from traditional music. Ultimately, the compositions lean on the knowledge gained from research into local ontologies, epistemologies, cosmogonies and metaphysics.

An in-depth multi-mode inquiry

This album of original intercultural composition constitutes one of the artistic outputs of a larger research project undertook since 2012 about traditional Tahitian musical heritage, combining ethnography, ethnomusicology, and creative work. This research constitutes a work of practice-based research as applied to ethnomusicology, and is framed as a new kind of musical ethnography within the paradigm of a sustainability of a second order that draws on a fluid conception of tradition.

The creative work complements the ethnographic writing and analysis, and together these ethnographic and compositional components form and represent the fruits of the research, and constitute evidence of application of the research methodology, gathering and processing of data, as well as the presentation of results. Following the idea, developed by James Clifford in Writing Culture (Clifford & Marcus, 1986), that all ethnography involves ‘fictions’, that is, imaginative and novel constructions relating to the collection, presentation and interpretation of data, the approach presented in this research demonstrates how composition, informed by ethnographical fieldwork, can represent a new form of fiction that serves the overall scope of meta-sustainability. It has to be noted that the portfolio of compositions that forms the creative core of the research is not Tahitian music but rather contemporary jazz informed by fieldwork observation, interviews, performance participation, and musical analyses. 

Description of the pieces

1. The opening composition of the folio, "Aito" , attempts to illustrate the power of ancient Tahitian warriors, as well as the energy that pervades contemporary Tahitian music. The piece unfolds as a simple melody floating over a strong rhythmic background. It is built on a series of contrasting modal sections alternating a descending chromatic movement using major, Phrygian, and suspended chords. 

2. "Swell" features, in its first part, long balancing sections over two minor chords concluding on the D major chord. Whereas the contrasting piano bridge builds in its gesture, on the well-known Prelude in C major from the Well Tempered Clavier by Johann Sebastian Bach, leading to the piano solo on the same chord changes. Eventually, the saxophone repeats the initial theme whereas the piano continues soloing until it fades, while supported by the ukulele. 

3. "Tēteta" follows a simpler structure. The introduction announces the harmonic landscape of the first theme, built on a modal progression moving through bright and dark colors, as an evocation of the dance of the sunrays in transparent and deep waters surrounding the island of Tahiti. Whereas the initial theme moves in a medium register, the secondary theme declared by the tenor saxophone is built on two successive pedal points and glides towards overtones, as a reminiscence of a dolphin’s song. Saxophone improvises on a dark modal plateau which then opens up into a much brighter piano solo on the chord changes that underpinned the first theme. The saxophone then smoothly re-enters over the piano solo, hinting at the first theme, and the piece ends with the re-exposition of the secondary theme. 

4. "Tāmau" in Tahitian means permanent, fixed. It is a basic dance movement as well as a function in the percussion orchestra. It is also a basic pattern played on the pahu. This piece develops melodic characteristics from the hīmene genre (the traditional polyphonic Tahitian singing), combined with various rhythmic features. The piece begins as a tribute to the jazz pianist Bill Evans , through a light piano solo in the upper register. The main melody builds on a very slow harmonic movement using long tenuto triadic chords. A contrastive interlude follows, developing repeated block chords in the manner of the Prelude Op. 28, No. 4 in E minor by Frédéric Chopin, before providing another contrast through the bass line inspired by the tāmau pattern. The subsequent piano solo develops an increasingly hysterical atmosphere over a powerful double bass line.

5. "Tārava ʻĀpī" refers to tārava, meaning extended, laid, and also one of the hīmene styles, and ‘āpī, new. This piece employs a ‘Second line’ drumming style, originating from the New Orleans jazz drumming tradition, in order to underline the joyful, festive, messy, and energetic dimension of the piece. The melodic line displays affinities with some Keith Jarrett’s or Eddie Harris’ tunes in its structure of fourths. Improvised sections build on triadic progressions reminiscent of Claude Debussy and Olivier Messiaen colors.

Aesthetic placement and stylistic predecessors

Repertoire that fuses jazz with non-Western musical systems abound. There have been very few previous attempts however, to intentionally blend Tahitian music with exogenous genres. Besides isolated one-off encounters between Tahitian musicians and touring international artists, the only planned projects have been the recording of the French jazz pianist, Jacques Diéval in 1970 with percussion instruments, and that of the French Polynesian pianist, Carine Bonnefoy, in 2010. The former performed a four-part impressionistic suite where his improvisations intertwine with polyrhythms played by a traditional percussion ensemble. The latter inserted short rhythmic pieces for percussion ensemble between her jazz compositions arranged for piano and symphony orchestra, as a ‘celebration of her intimate quest of her Polynesian origins’. Norfolk Island jazz composer Rick Robertson’s work, Mutiny Music (2006), which draws on elements of Polynesian drumming, hymnody and spoken language, is a further example. 

The composer

Geoffroy Colson is a French pianist, composer, and ethnomusicologist. In 2016 he completed a PhD in Composition and Ethnomusicology at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the University of Sydney, in Australia. As a composer he has previously released two compact discs of his original works. Besides the present album of jazz compositions, in the context of his research he also composed the first operatic work in Tahitian language, of which he his currently preparing the world premiere.

His areas of expertise include Polynesian music and francophone Pacific Islands cultures, as well as globalization and musical change studies. His recent publications include an article and a book chapter about processes of transculturation in Tahitian contemporary music and in Pacific Islands festivals context. His research bridges ethnomusicological methods and creative practice, and articulates with a range of disciplines including ethnomusicology, anthropology, and creative performance studies. It advocates the creative exploration of musical syntheses as an emergent alternative approach to the sustainability of expressive culture within a changing environment.

His initial contact with Tahitian culture dates back to 2002, when he came in Tahiti to visit a friend. During this three-week stay, he remained deeply impressed by the power and the complexity of the indigenous music, and he was immediately attracted by what he perceived, perhaps unconsciously in the first instance, of the ancestral pact that connects Tahitian people to their environment. Subsequently to this discovery voyage, he decided to spend more time on the island, and in 2003-2004 he dedicated one year in Tahiti as a musician and music teacher. During this second stay, he could develop cultural projects, and get to know more about the Tahitian culture and musical heritage. 

In observing the contemporary Tahitian musical landscape, he had the primary intuition that Tahitian music could reach further audiences, and that as a jazz musician, he could contribute to propagate this unique musical heritage using his own musical background. When he came back to France he undertook a deeper personal approach to Polynesian music, and he initiated successful creative intercultural collaborations with the diasporic Tahitian community, which led to intermusical performances in 2007 and 2008 in the South of France. In 2010, he released Matamua, a CD of his own compositions partly inspired by the Tahitian traditional and contemporary music, in collaboration with the singer Mimifé. The CD launch took place in Tahiti, where he undertook a musical tour and collaborated with local musicians. His ongoing creative work resulted in the award of a cultural prize in 2011 by the French Government, "2011 Année des Outre-Mers". 

Selected Discography and Published Music

- Taʻaroa. IRMA, The University of Sydney, 2013. seven-minute piece for jazz nonet. World Premiere: 2 May 2013, Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Fairweather Family Prize, Centenary Commissioning Project.

- Tresses, pour piano. Soldano Editions, Neuilly sur Marne, France, 2011

- Mimifé & Pacific Vibrations, Matamua, Compact Disc, Pacific Vibrations & Claudia Sound, PV201001, 2010

- Te Ouʻa, pour piano. Soldano Editions, Neuilly sur Marne, France, 2008

- Voyages, Compact Disc, Association Galapagos, LZD001, 2000

01. Àito (feat. Jeremy Cook, Nishchal Manjunath & Joshua Spolc)
02. Swell (feat. Jeremy Cook, Nishchal Manjunath, Joshua Spolc & Vanessa Caspersz)
03. Tèteta (feat. Jeremy Cook, Nishchal Manjunath & Joshua Spolc)
04. Tàmau (feat. Jeremy Cook, Nishchal Manjunath & Joshua Spolc)
05. Tàrava Âpì (feat. Jeremy Cook, Nishchal Manjunath & Joshua Spolc)


Garage Jazz - Regarde le Tucan (2016)

Ramón de la Vega, guitar
Andrés Bernardo Mitchelstein, double bass
Leandro Pasos, drums

01. Manifiesto
02. El Paso Del Avestruz
03. El Aire Que Nos Une
04. Dls
05. 3 "B"
06. Something Related To...


Mammal Hands - Floa (2016) GODWANA RECORDS


We’re super excited to announce the new Mammal Hands album, Floa will be released on Gondwana Records on 27/05/2016 on LP/CD and DL. Produced by Matthew Halsall and recorded/mixed/mastered by George Atkins at 80 Hertz Studios in Manchester the album also features string players from The Gondwana Orchestra on tracks ‘In The Treetops’ and ‘The Falling Dream’.  The beautiful artwork is by Gondwana’s in-house designer Daniel Halsall. You can catch the band live on tour too – see below for tour dates.

Here is a welcome return for East Anglian band Mammal Hands who weigh in with a strong follow up to the excellent debut that came out Gondwana eighteen months ago in ‘Animalia’. Once again minimalist cover graphics, possibly a nod to the Factory label that became inextricably linked with the Manchester indie scene, make this CD stand out from the crowd and the same can certainly be said of the music within.

Mammal Hands have carved out their own distinctive path that takes on multiple influences that range from Sufi and African trance to eastern European and Irish folk influences. Contemporary improvised and electronica music are skilfully weaved into the mix and Weather Report are surely one of the major jazz influences for the band. This reviewer immediately warmed to the intimacy of ‘Hourglass’ and the ability of the band to conjure up seemingly simple, yet highly effective and melodic collective riffs, with an empathy between piano and saxophone evident here. That should come as little surprise since they are the brotherly nucleus of the band in pianist Nick Smart and saxophonist Jordan Smart. 

A real favourite is the North African flavoured ‘Think anything’ that has at once a supplementary and complementary Latin undercurrent with sensitive percussive accompaniment from regular drummer and tabla player, Jesse Barrett. At times the interplay between musicians takes the breath away as illustrated on the percussion plus saxophone intro to ‘Kudu’. Hints of acoustic period Steps Ahead emerge on ‘Hillum’, with another pretty folk-tinged melody and the lilting hues of ‘Quiet fire’. This is music for the twenty-first century, and very much in keeping with the musical ‘global village’ that we now inhabit. What marks Mammal Hands out from the rest is the creative use of such resources while still retaining their own image.

If Mammal Hands receive sufficient promotion, they will surely appeal to an audience well beyond the already committed jazz fraternity and there is floating quality to their work in general that is not without recalling the most lyrical of EST. Mammal Hands will be performing live on the bank holiday Saturday (27 May) at the launch of their new album in their native city of Norwich and on 31 May at the Jazz Café in London. Tim Stenhouse

01. Quiet Fire
02. Hillum
03. Hourglass
04. Think Anything
05. In The Treetops
06. The Eyes That Saw The Mountain
07. Kudu
08. The Falling Dream
09. Shift

released May 27, 2016 

Jordan Smart, saxophone 
Nick Smart, piano 
Jesse Barrett, drums and tabla 

All tracks composed by Mammal Hands 

Produced by Matthew Halsall 

Recorded by George Atkins at 80 Hertz 

Mixed by George Atkins, Matthew Halsall & Mammal Hands at 80 Hertz 

Mastered by George Atkins at 80 Hertz 

Artwork and design by Daniel Halsall 

℗ & © Gondwana Records 2016 

UK Tour Dates

30/05/16 – The Bell – Bath

31/05/16 – Jazz Café – London

02/06/16 – Hare and Hounds – Birmingham

08/06/16 – The Latest Music Bar – Brighton

10/06/16 – Old Malt House – Bristol

11/06/16 – GWIDIHW – Cardiff

12/06/16 – Hifi Club – Leeds

25/06/16 – Glasgow Jazz Festival (Hug and Pint) – Glasgow

15/07/16 – Zeffirellis – Ambleside

27/07/16 – The Lescar – Sheffield

28/07/16 – Manchester Jazz Festival (Band on the Wall) – Manchester

31/07/16 – Kendal Calling – Lake District

27/08/16 – Shambala – Northamptonshire

04/09/16 – Valley Fest – Somerset


Bänz Oester & The Rainmaikers - Ukuzinikela (Live in Willisau) 2016 ENJA YELLOBIRD

Bandleader and double bassist Bänz Oester has been active in the Swiss and international improvised jazz scene since the early eighties. For this highly inventive quartet he brings together tenor saxophonist Ganesh Geymeier, one of the most popular Swiss sax players of the younger generation, with two highly respected South African musicians; pianist Afrika Mkhize and drummer Ayanda Sikade. The band have toured extensively and their 2012 release “Live at The Bird’s Eye”, recorded at the Basel jazz club, was an excellent introduction to the band’s collective talents. Further tours of South Africa and Europe ensued, leading to the release of this live recording made in Willisau, Switzerland. The band have benefited a great deal from touring and performing together over the last few years, their heady mix of joyous, exciting jazz now being wonderfully refined to the point that I would venture to suggest they are potentially now one of the must-see acts on the world circuit.

There are many reasons to wax lyrical about this album, the most obvious being the band’s energy. You can feel the essence of what they’re all about right from the off. 

The opening track, and for me, undoubtedly the high point of the album, is an incredible rendition of Jacque Brel’s classic folk tune “Amsterdam”. There are many outstanding moments throughout this release, but this track sums up everything that is great about this band. The first few minutes take up Brel’s tuneful intro and listeners familiar with the song will smile at the warmth and clarity with which it is performed. From this point on, the band take the piece into new ground with daring, exciting, energetic gusto, led by the brilliant sax playing of Geymeier. Coltrane-esque in his playing, with splendid back-up from the band at the top of their game, this is one of the best jazz interpretations of a classic tune I have ever heard. It’s worth buying the album for this track alone. But the brilliance doesn’t end there. The album as a whole focusses on a selection of originals and Swiss and Bulgarian folk tunes, all performed in a mouth-watering style that incorporates African polyrhthyms, seductive and funky blues patterns, post-bop jazz, mixed with some spellbinding improv from each and every member of the band. 

At times reminiscent of the Jarrett/Garbarek European quartet of the 70’s, there is a deeply felt connection emanating from the musicians, their intense and dynamic interplay giving the listener a highly immersive and thoroughly enjoyable experience. The tunes performed have some lovely variation to them, with many ‘wow’ moments to be enjoyed along the way. Perhaps at their best when the quartet get into a groove and run with it, the whole band are on fire, but a constant source of wonder is Afrika Mkhize’s piano playing. Having reviewed his wonderful album “Rain Dancer” late last year, I was already familiar with his prodigious talent, and this recording just further solidifies my belief that he is set to become one of the jazz stars of the decade.

A European tour begins in ernest this Spring with the band taking their evocative, refreshing mix of jazz/folk/blues on tour once again. One to look out for most definitely, the two album releases to date having both been recorded from live performances, both albums being a breath of fresh air. Bänz Oester and The Rainmakers are just that; a breath of fresh air, putting some much needed joy and excitement back into jazz. If they continue to play together with such stylish abandonment, one can only imagine what they might be capable of. Mike Gates

Ganesh Geymeier, tenor sax
Afrika Mkhize, piano
Bänz Oester, double bass
Ayanda Sikade, drums

01. Amsterdam
02. Hungersnot
03. Philadelphia
04. Alone Again
05. Dr. Schacher Seppli
06. Land's End
07. Nach Em Räge Schint Sunne