Thursday, July 21, 2016

Burning Ghosts - Burning Ghosts (2016) ORENDA RECORDS



BURNING GHOSTS explodes from the Los Angeles Underground with an expressionist metal-jazz opus that singes the fabric of a fraying American culture. An ambitious and scathing referendum, this eponymous debut comes at a moment when our civic morality and sense of social justice, our communal values and even our very national identity, find themselves under brutal scrutiny. Holding the mirror close and clear, Burning Ghosts is an uncompromising, incendiary artistic response to ubiquitous injustice. This is music without restraint. 

Flash back to the summer of 2015. Rampant reports of police brutality, bigotry, racism, rape culture, gender discrimination, and vast social inequity flooded our newsfeeds. Compelled to channel grave misgivings about the state of our union into a creative act, acclaimed Los Angeles trumpeter-composer Daniel Rosenboom reached out to some of the West Coast’s most adventurous musicians: guitarist Jake Vossler, bassist Richard Giddens, and drummer Aaron McLendon. Together, the quartet forged an immediately singular sound, seamlessly integrating diverse musical aesthetics, and shaped a fiercely provocative concept album addressing their mutual feelings of frustration and despair, inflamed by this rising tide of injustice.

Burning Ghosts is a vital, writhing grand gesture, designed to inspire brutally honest discourse on the madness of modern times. Utilizing an organic balance of structure and spontaneity, the band crafts an expansive narrative that arcs like a two-act opera. These musicians demonstrate unparalleled versatility in harnessing a vivid sonic palate for disseminating their message. At times, the instruments groan and shriek like a worn army of mechanical slaves, and at others the band swings like its aiming squarely for the chin of the ruling class. Moments invoking experimental metal, free jazz, post-rock, and even the classical avant-garde percolate impressionistically like oppressed urban voices sharing common street corners.

Set as ten dynamic vignettes, Burning Ghosts challenges its audience at every turn. Launching with the rousing one-two punch of “Anthem” and “Defiance,” the band wastes no time diving into the fire. From the outright protest march of “Dissent” to the 13 tolling bells and wailing trumpet cry of “Requiem,” social injustice underlies the motivation of this entire opus as the band pulls you in and out of chaos. And after the blazing, emotional triumph of “Rise”, “Mercy” offers a clear reminder that, behind all the steaming bullshit, compassion remains the core of our shared humanity. In an epic grand finale, the album culminates with a sonic collage on a symphonic scale: “Manifesto” pulls the listener through bickering, absurd dysfunction into a churning transformation that ultimately rages in the spirit of smoldering revolution.

With this bold debut, Burning Ghosts announces its presence and ethos with unabashed intensity. Resounding through the rogue radios of an ever-expanding American diaspora, this is the sound of upheaval in the face of discrimination, senseless violence and stratospheric greed. They force the questions: “Who do we want to be as a civilization?” and “Can we defeat our common enemies by virtue alone?” Whatever a listener’s answers may be, this statement from a brilliant new band commands reflection, attention and sheer awe.


Daniel Rosenboom: trumpet
Jake Vossler: guitars
Richard Giddens: bass
Aaron McLendon: drums


Ellery Eskelin - Trio Willisau : Live (2016)

Source: Allaboutjazz
Genre: Modern Creative / Avant-garde
GAB's Rating: ★★★★★

I considered writing just this sentence as my review of Ellery Eskelin's trio recording Live, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever." Taken from poet John Keats' 1818 poem "Endymion," the line just about says it all.

Ok, to appease those that need a bit more information, Keats continues, "its loveliness increases / it will never pass into nothingness / but still will keep a bower quiet for us." The bower being a shady place to rest your soul. Eskelin is a romantic avant-gardist. Whether he is playing in the large ensembles of Satoko Fujii or John Hollenbeck, you can count on him centering his sound in a sentimental bohemia. In his case, this is not an oxymoron.

His recent releases have included Solo Live At Snugs (Hatology, 2015) and a series of trio recordings by his Trio New York with Hammond B3 organist Gary Versace and drummer Gerald Cleaver. That trio, like his Trio Willisau, favors jazz standards. This concert was recorded live at the Swiss jazz festival in August of 2015, and finds Gerry Hemingway in the drummer's seat. He is a player Eskelin is accustomed to performing with, being a member of the drummer's quartet and quintet, plus the pair recorded the tantalizing duo Inbetween Spaces (Auricle Records, 2010) back in 2008.

With some confidence, we can assume the 51-plus minute opening piece, "On (or about)," is a group improvisation. One that spontaneously inhales the jazz conventions and exhales the jazz standards "My Melancholy Baby," "Blue And Sentimental," and "East Of The Sun." The music excels in an unhurried indulgence. The opening instant composition hints at the standards to come, with Versace easing into "Blue And Sentimental" accompanied by Hemingway's rat-a-tat accents. The trio picks up momentum, often by decelerating. Again, not an oxymoron. They are a juggling act working with fire, water, and ice.

The two, we suspect,"called" tunes, Thelonious Monk's "We See" and "I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You," the standard first sung by Bing Crosby, are wondrous covers. They take Monk on with Hemingway introducing the melody, then Versace's notes like skipping stones, before Eskelin bites. The trio work the edges, barely hinting at the composition, parsing out the music before diving headfirst into a hurly-burly of deconstructed notes. The finale, "I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You," features Eskelin channeling his inner Lester Young. It is indeed, a thing of beauty.  Mark Corroto

On (or about)/My Melancholy Baby/Blue And Sentimental/East Of The Sun
We See
I Don’t Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You

Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone
Gary Versace: Hammond B3 organ
Gerry Hemingway: drums





Uros Peric & Dusko Goykovich - All of Me (2016) CHALLENGE RECORDS


Uros had known about Dusko Goykovich years before he started his own musical career. He loves that bluesy, souly sounds of Dusko very much. They first met personally in 2006 when Dusko held a concert with the domestic band at the Royal Garden Jazz Club in Graz, Austria. The chemistry between these two men, although almost of 50 years difference, was perfect and they set up the programme for the All of Me CD.

For Uros it was a great challenge and excitement to work with the man who shared the stage with musicians like Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Scott Hamilton and many, many other musical celebrities. Uros suggested  the songs to appear on the CD and Dusko added two tunes of his choice: Summertime, arranged by himself, and When I Saw You (music by D. Goykovich. lyrics by J. Evans). 

Dusko has never before recorded Summertime with any singer. This album thus consists mainly of jazz standard, and one song comes from Uros' feather, Without You I've Got Nothing But Misery.


Adam Meckler Quintet - Wander (2016)

Genre: Crossover Jazz
GAB's Rating: ★★★★★

Adam Meckler is among a handful of jazz artists who are helping put Minneapolis on the map as a jazz/improv scene worth a road trip. Meckler’s nine originals on his sophomore album, Wander, follow a progressive, explorative route and are peppered by elements from RnB, pop, indie rock and more. Groove is paramount on many cuts, as is impeccable melodicism, underlying lyricism, and rhythms which seem straightforward but often are not. Meckler (who also uses flugelhorn on some tracks) is joined by other Twin City jazz players. Nelson Devereaux is on tenor sax and soprano sax; the rhythm section comprises drummer Greg Schutte and bassist Graydon Peterson; Zacc Harris is on guitar; and tenor saxophonist Joe Mayo guests on the opening number.

Movement—going from destination to destination—is the CD’s clearest aesthetic connection. Meckler states, “I’ve spent a lot of time on the road over the last decade. That means leaving family and friends at home. While this can be difficult, travel often leads to discovery and discovery is the catalyst for new art.” The album’s title links Meckler’s viewpoint. It is taken from a line in a poem in J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: “Not all who wander are lost.” The other reason for the album name is because the record was taped live during three different nights at three different Twin City venues.

Wander proceeds with two persuasive pieces. First is the nine-minute title track, which starts in a quiet mood and gradually builds, from a rubato melody to a brighter groove (which moves from 4/4 to 7/4 time). There is a mix of composed and improvised sections. On the second tune, the eight-minute “The Sun Sets Slowly,” Peterson supplies a notable introductory bass solo. The band maintains a darting groove broken by variances in the phrases, which provides an off-kilter but never bothersome fluctuation. Harris showcases his hollow-body guitar around the six minute mark, as the horns temporarily settle back to give him space.

Meckler is well-read. Besides Tolkien, Meckler is also stimulated by Wisconsin author/poet Norbert Blei. The mid-tempo and satisfying “One Creaking Birch Tree” gets its title from one of Blei’s books about preserving nature and natural landscapes. The cut has some prominent dialogues between trumpet and sax. Meckler plans to continue his involvement with Blei’s works via a larger band project in 2017, so “One Creaking Birch Tree” might be considered a sneak peek of bigger things to come. Read more...

1 Wander
2 The Sun Sets Slowly
3 One Creaking Birch Tree
4 The Call    
5 Improvisation
6 Little Wild Child
7 Let's Live
8 Drew's Beard
9 Atomium Jules

Adam Meckler – trumpet, Flugelhorn
Nelson Devereaux – tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone
 Joe Mayo – tenor saxophone
Zacc Harris – guitar
Graydon Peterson – bass
Greg Schutte – drums 



Greg Ward & 10 Tongues - Touch My Beloved's Thought (2016)

Source: Allaboutjazz
Genre: Modern Creative Jazz
GAB's Rating: ★★★★★

To describe saxophonist Greg Ward's Touch My Beloved's Thought as his magnum opus is to impede his development as a composer. Let's just say for many a jazz artist, if this recording were included in their discography, it would be their signature piece. For Ward, it just represents the possibilities.

The backstory to this live recording is Charles Mingus' The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady (Impulse!, 1963), a six-part composition written for dancers. Ward was commissioned to fashion a piece of music in collaboration with choreographer Onye Ozuzu to commemorate Mingus' efforts. Instead of producing a snide Mostly Other People Do the Killing knockoff à la Blue (Hot Cup, 2014), Ward chose to stand on the shoulders of giants and make music for the 21st century.

If Ward is chasing Mingus here, then he is also pursuing the music of Duke Ellington, a band leader Mingus aspired to emulate. Just as Duke and Mingus wrote music for particular players, Ward's compositions here favor his soloists. The music opens with "Daybreak," a blending of all parts of his 10 Tongues large ensemble. He breaks free with a soaring alto solo halfway through. His tone, which is often employed by drummer Mike Reed's People, Places, & Things ensemble, is delivered in full service to the music. Just as Rudresh Mahanthappa's Bird Calls (ACT, 2015) used almost imperceptible fragments of Charlie Parker's music, Ward takes pieces and parts of Mingus' Black Saint to build anew here. His nine pieces are part on one long composition, pausing only for the audience's applause.

Of note is Ward's integration of his soloists, pianist Dennis Luxion on "Singular Serenade," Norman Palm's trombone "With All Your Sorrow, Sing A Song Of Jubilance" and Keefe Jackson's baritone on "Grit." "Dialogue Of The Black Saint" opens with Jason Roebke's bass solo, before horn shouts fall into Russ Johnson's trumpet plunger blues. The music, like Mingus and Ellington before him, is folk/dance music, be it blues, gospel, Latin, march, hip-hop, or flamenco, it's all good.  Mark Corroto

Singular Serenade
The Menacing Lean
Smash, Push, Pull, Crash
With All Your Sorrow, Sing A Song Of Jubilance
Round 3
Dialogue Of The Black Saint
Gather Round, The Revolution Is At Hand

Greg Ward: alto saxophone, compositions
Tim Haldeman: tenor saxophone
Keefe Jackson: tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone
Ben LaMarGuy: cornet
Russ Johnson: trumpet
Norman Palm: trombone
Christopher Davis: bass trombone
Dennis Luxion: piano
Jason Roebke: bass
Marcus Evans: drums


Steve Davis - Another Trio (2016)

Drummer Steve Davis has performed with David Liebman, Bill Evans, Richie Beirach, John Pattitucci, Walt Weiskopf, Benny Golson, Ira Sullivan and Lynne Arriale. He has over 165 recordings to his credit, including 8 of his own. Other recording credits include work with Walt Weiskopf, Conrad Herwig, Richie Beirach, Bill Evans, Kenny Werner, Tim Hagans, John Pattitucci, Manfredo Fest, and Andy LaVerne.

In addition to his extensive touring throughout Europe and North America, Steve served on the faculty of Jamey Aebersold Jazz Clinics from 1982-2008 and served on the faculty of the Berlin Conservatory of Music as professor of jazz studies in 2000 and 2001, as well as Port Townsend in 2007. He has written six drum books,including a newly released book(2008) from Schott-Music Publishing and has conducted educational clinics throughout the world.

Steve is also a respected recording engineer in the jazz community having engineered over 300 recordings.

Steve was a Visiting Artist in Residence at Indiana University in 2000-2001 and served on the faculty of the University of Southern Florida Tampa from 2004-2008. Steve is currently on the faculty at Washington University and divides his time between freelancing and playing with his own group.

I have recently finished 8 new playalong for jazz drummers. These are a great to practice soloing, comping, and general tune learning. They are beautifully recorded and feel as close to the real thing as it gets.

1. Someday 06:28
2. Rap-So-Dee 05:17
3. Leaving 05:44
4. Ain't So 07:02
5. Iris 03:16
6. Ocean 05:03
7. Main Man 05:34
8. Peacocks 09:43
9. Foot Prince 08:36


Houston Person & Ron Carter - Chemistry (2016)

Saxophonist Houston Person and bassist Ron Carter have a duo partnership that goes back at least as far as their two 1990 recordings, Something in Common and Now’s the Time! Since those albums, the legendary artists have released several more duo collaborations, each one a thoughtful and minimalist production showcasing their masterful command of jazz standards, blues, and bop.

The duo’s 2016 effort, the aptly titled Chemistry, is no exception and once again finds Person and Carter communing over a well-curated set of jazz standards. As on their previous albums, Chemistry is a deceptively simple conceit; just two jazz journeymen playing conversational duets on well-known jazz songs. At face value, that is certainly what you get. The deception enters into the equation with just how masterful and nuanced Person and Carter are in each song. 

Whether it’s the way Carter anchors the duo’s yearning reading of “But Beautiful” with his languorous, doomy basslines, or the way Person’s languorous rubato introduction joins up with Carter on “Fools Rush In,” they never fail to find surprising and deeply emotive ways to interpret each song. Similarly, cuts like the poignant “Blame It on My Youth” and the dewy-eyed “I Can’t Get Started” are endearing romantic numbers that cradle the listener in the warmth of Person and Carter’s warm tones.

 Elsewhere, they deliver a gleeful version of Thelonious Monk’s “Blue Monk,” and summon the memory of Carter’s former boss, trumpeter Miles Davis, with their jaunty take on “Bye Bye Blackbird.”

Ultimately, Chemistry is a lovely, heartfelt album of well-loved standards imbued with the duo’s decades of experience.

01. Bye Bye Blackbird (4:19)
02. But Beautiful (6:08)
03. Young And Foolish (4:10)
04. Fools Rush In (7:10)
06. Blame It On My Youth (6:16)
07. I Did Not Know What Time It Was (4:43)
08. I Can't Get Started (4:21)
09. Blue Monk (3:30)
10. When I Fall In Love (4:39)