Monday, September 5, 2016

Sean Foran - Frame of Reference (2016) JAZZHEAD

Better known as one third of the highly-lauded progressive piano trio Trichotomy, pianist and composer Sean Foran steps away from the group whose cohesion and empathy saw them do now wrong over their 17 year history.. Bringing together a brand new ensemble of cutting edge British players, Foran releases his debut as a leader; 'Frame of Reference', a collection of original works for the inventive line up of piano/Rhodes, guitar, saxophone, cello and drums.

Frame of Reference moves away from the jagged, pulse-racing intensity of Trichotomy, but is no less fluent, tight or dramatic. Foran's desire to work with new musicians was, in part, a response to reaching for a more chamber jazz sound. Throughout the eight tracks, tempos shift with pieces building and swooping with Foran's playing both bright and dreamy. Together, the ensemble provides sharp interplay. Whilst their repeating melodies and the cello accompaniment at times provide an anthemic, cinematic touch - rhythmic and hypnotic - they maintain a clear melodic focus. Indeed, Foran's love of minimalist composers including Steve Reich, Phillip Glass and modern jazz masters such as Pat Metheny are evident in his compositions.

Foran's time in the UK, as a Masters student at the Leeds College of Music and later through numerous tours with Trichotomy, saw him to interact with a variety of the UK scene's vibrant players. So for this recording he was able to gather "players" he says "I really admire''- Julian Arguelles (sax), Stuart McCallum (guitar), Ben Davis (cello) and Joost Hendrickx (drums). Foran wrote each of the album's eight tracks specifically for the band, thinking about what each member offers both as a player and as a person. An immediate chemistry is evident in the ensemble who were assembled for the first time at the recording session.

"This project was something that I'd thought about for a while, and I wanted to write and record some music that featured a different lineup to the trio that I usually work with. It's more chamber based that my trio material, and also more textural. The saxophone, guitar and cello complement each other in a really interesting way and open the music up to so many possibilities for melodic and harmonic interactions. Most of all, there's space for everyone to improvise... it feels very open and melodic...I think there's a sense of optimism in the music, a sense of calm".

In touring the project within Australia Sean has assembled an equally stunning group of musicians, with a varied lineup for each show featuring John Parker (Drums), Sam Vincent (bass), Stephen Magnusson (guitar), Toby Wren (guitar), Ben Hauptmann (guitar), Jeremy Rose (saxophones) and Rafael Karlen (saxophones). The sensitivity of these players will create performances not to be missed.

"…this album with its richly nuanced, multi faceted writing and highly skilled playing. There are some brilliant individual moments from all of the musicians involved but it's the overall balance and coherence of the ensemble in conjunction with Foran's intelligent and colourful writing that impresses most. "Frame of Reference" is one of the most consistently beautiful albums that I've heard all year, but there's genuine rigour and intelligence alongside the prettiness. Highly recommended."

1. Room with a View 07:11
2. Une Fille 08:39
3. Frame of Reference 09:02
4. Dare to Dream 09:12
5. A Fine Balance 07:01
6. Quiet Times 06:27
7. Mish Mash 06:00
8. The Sum of 06:31

Sean Foran - piano / rhodes
Stuart McCallum - guitars
Julian Arguelles - saxophones
Ben Davis - cello
Joost Hendrickx - drums

Sean Foran: FRAME OF REFERENCE - album trailer from Sean Foran on Vimeo.

Metalwood - Twenty (2016) CELLAR LIVE RECORDS

Returning to the studio after a 14 year hiatus, Metalwood has released an impressive new recording of outstanding electric jazz sounds. And this is not surprising coming from one of the foremost electric jazz bands from Canada that emerged nearly twenty years ago.

With Mike Murley on saxophones; Brad Turner on piano, triton and trumpet; Chris Tarry on electric bass and Ian Froman on drums, the quartet has a sound that will delight the eardrums of adventuresome jazz fans.

Highlights include "Solidarite" which sounds like a Weather Report gem from back in the day, and has that groove to be sure. It's a thrill to hear Murely's saxophone float above the groove that Turner is creating on the keyboards, reminding the listener of the beautiful artistry that Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul created in Weather Report.

Brad Turner - keys / trumpet
Mike Murley - tenor / soprano saxophones
Chris Tarry - electric bass
Ian Froman - drums

01. The Past Before You
02. Bodybeard
03. Fortune Smiles
04. Gargantua
05. Rooftops
06. Clutch
07. Good Things (For Good People)
08. Extra Salty
09. Solidarité
10. Push

Russell Gunn - The Sirius Mystery (2016)

The highly anticipated release of the new Russell Gunn musical masterpiece “The Sirius Mystery” is now official. 

What is already considered to be a game changer on the strength of the first single “Sirius B (the unseen absolute)”, “The Sirius Mystery” as a complete suite, delivers pure creative magic.

Gunn Fu (as Russell Gunn is affectionately known) delivers a brilliant musical portrait of the mysteries of Dogon Mythology. An Epic modern and ancient work of music by Russell Gunn.

“Russell Gunn’s inimitable conception of music is a diasporic crucible of ancestral intent.” – Mtafuta Ukweli

Russell Gunn’s new recording “The Sirius Mystery” is a progressive, dynamic and compelling four part master work, genre bending musical odyssey blending “Jazz”, EDM, American Trap, African Drums, Dub Step and Charlie Parker improvisation in a four movement suite that is inspired by and based on the Mythology of the mysterious Dogon Tribe of Mali.

The title of the work takes its name from the best selling book on the subject by author Robert K. Temple and research by French anthropologist Marcel Griaule.

“The Sirius Mystery” seamlessly blends “Jazz” with EDM, African Drums, Southern Hip Hop, Dogon Astrology, and acutely complex Melodic Motifs. Intensely emotional and angular improvisation crown the “odd rhythm”, “drum chant”, “trap jazz” aggregation of sound and spirit composed by Russell Gunn.

1. Sirius B (The Unseen Absolute) 9:06
2. The Nummo Fish (Natatory Astronauts) 11:12
3. The Dogon (Primordial Permanence) 11:02
4. Amma's Egg (The Structure of Matter) 9:20
5. Sirius B (The Unseen Absolute) [Radio Version] 5:57
6. The Nummo Fish (Natatory Astronauts) [Radio Version] 6:54
7. The Dogon (Primordial Permanence [RadioVersion]7:02
8. Amma's Egg (The Structure of Matter) [Radio Version]

The Time Flies - The Time Flies (2016)

“The Time Flies” is a brand-new chapter of a style of music I thought I had out-grown almost 20 years ago.

From the time we had relocated to the US from Germany in 1988 to about 2002 my wife Monika Herzig and I had a “fusion” band called “BeebleBrox”. That band went through many different incarnations, recorded eight albums, played countless good and bad gigs, opened for big name acts such as Santana and Sting. Both of us were obviously trying to work out serious encounters with the music that popped into our lives at an early age. Artists like Weather Report, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin pulled our emotional strings. “BeebleBrox” was our own version of the music that became known as “fusion”. “BeebleBrox” tried but over it’s 14 year lifespan but never quite took off and never quite died.

But “BeebleBrox” finally met its end at the 2002 Indy Jazz Festival with a great performance. Then we had kids. Monika wanted to pursue acoustic piano jazz. The band members moved away……

For many years I had my own fusion oriented groups, “Kwyjibo”, which recorded one great little CD. After “Kwyjibo” imploded I had a “Splinter Group”. We never recorded, we had few gigs even though it was a great band. But that also went away and with it my interest in “fusion”.

I realized that I had spent decades of my life re-imagining (some would say copying) the music which powered my early years. It was relatively easy to discover ‘new’ music now. And to find that there is a lot of great stuff out there I never knew of because of my fixation on my own thing was…. strange.

However, Monika had been mentioning a “BeebleBrox” reunion. I didn’t want to have anything to do with that. While I am proud of a lot of the music we recorded back then I didn’t feel any particular desire to re-experience those days. Then, in the Summer of 2015, fateful events were put into motion by a longtime friend of ours in Germany. As a longtime Bob Berg/BeebleBrox fan he thought that the three tracks Bob had recorded with “BeebleBrox” on our last album “Dominant Domain” in 1997 had never received the recognition they deserved (Bob Berg used to be one of the jazz saxophone greats, right along with Michael Brecker and Bob Mintzer, and we paid him to play on three tracks). Our friend from Germany, Lothar, wanted to re-release these three tracks.

Lothar’s thought was to put the three tracks from 1997 on one side of a vinyl album and have a new version of “BeebleBrox” record a few new tunes for the second side. He had lined up a few of the top notch german sax players to record the new tracks and thought we would also use a german bass player and drummer. At that point everything was still floating around. In February this year (2016) Monika and I started to take this project serious and started to pick out tune candidates. I had located the original source tapes from the 1997 recording - on ADAT. While transferring the tracks to my computer I realized how dated the music sounded - Bob Berg’s playing was stellar but the band was barely hanging on. Did we really want to re-release this? At least we could remix it and match the sound with the new tunes.

The next step came when we recruited two musician friends, drummer Josh Roberts, who had played with both Monika’s and my projects, and Quinn Sternberg on bass, highly recommended by Josh. One cold March evening we met in our basement to read through the tune candidates for the Summer recording. It felt and sounded great. Jokingly we talked about taking the material and go out as a band and play a few gigs - and maybe record one of the rehearsals.

All of that happened. The band name “The Time Flies” had been buzzing around between Josh and me for a while. All four of us were enthusiastically on board and we played a nice string of gigs, booked some studio time in early June and put down the tracks to have something on record. In the “BeebleBrox” days recording was a stressful experience for me; endless hours of pressure with the guitar never sounding the way I wanted it to and the band never really playing what I heard on my own tunes. “The Time Flies” recording session was really only intended as a good documentation. Little pressure. Everything sounded great. The guitar sounds worked. The band played so much better than I could have ever imagined. Good enough to put it out on CD.

The name “The Time Flies” is also fitting in that basically the band had a built-in expiration date because Quinn was going to move to New Orleans and Josh to New York after the Summer.

But the story doesn’t end here. Through some masterful organizing Monika was able to locate funds to take Quinn and Josh to Germany for the recording that had started the whole thing. We recorded a few new tunes with the German sax players. The recording engineer pointed out what I had been saying for months: The original Bob Berg tunes didn’t hold up to the new material. The sound couldn’t be matched and our 1997’s musicianship just didn’t compare. So we re-recorded new versions of the three tunes - keeping only Bob Berg’s superb playing. This album is scheduled to come out in a limited vinyl edition in Germany later this year. 

Peter Kienle - acoustic & electric guitars, glissentar
Monika Herzig - piano & keyboards
Quinn Sternberg - electric bass
Josh Roberts - drums

01. Esoteric Cleric
02. Nutcasing
03. Paul's Vesper: Schnell!
04. The Third Passenger
05. Junk Jazz
06. Streampunk
07. Critical Mass
08. Plugged In
09. Make It Count
10. The Seventies
11. Quiet Earth

Tom Harrell - Something Gold, Something Blue (2016) HIGHNOTE

Superb trumpeter Tom Harrell, who has been releasing recordings as a leader since 1989, has a new album out, Something Gold, Something Blue, on HighNote featuring fellow trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, as well as guitarist Charles Altura, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Johnathan Blake. Harrell is a prolific arranger and composer and a mysterious yet mesmerizing presence in concert and a regular in the recording studio. His resume is impressive, with contributions to bands led by Stan Kenton, Horace Silver and Joe Lovano. He has written scores for ballets and arrangements for symphony orchestras and his last HighNote album “First Impressions” (HCD 7276) was in the Top Ten Best Jazz albums of 2015 in the 64th Annual Downbeat Critic’s Poll while Akinmusire and Harrell took the top two slots in the trumpet category in the same poll.

1. Circuit
2. Travelin'
3. Trances
4. Delta of the Nile
5. Keep on Goin'
6. View
7. Body and Soul
8. Sound Image
9. The Vehicle

Tom Harrell - trumpet, flugelhorn
Ambrose Akinmusire - trumpet
Charles Altura - guitar
Ugonna Okegwo - bass
Johnathan Blake - drums
Omer Avital - oud (4)

Jacky Terrasson & Stéphane Belmondo - Mother (2016)

La collaboration de Jacky Terrasson et de Stéphane Belmondo remonte à leurs débuts dans le monde du jazz, il y a près de trente ans. Une époque où ils entretenaient déjà une relation musicale privilégiée. Ils se sont retrouvés il y a six ans pour un concert donné en duo dans le sud-ouest de la France au Festival de Saint-Emilion. Depuis ils ont eu l’occasion de cultiver leur complicité et de donner naissance à un univers qui leur appartient en propre. « Mother » (Impulse!/Universal) dont la sortie est annoncée pour le 02 septembre, est l’aboutissement logique de leurs retrouvailles.

A l’origine, Jacky Terrasson et Stéphane Belmondo ont enregistré une trentaine de titres au Recall Studios. Après écoute, ils « se sont rendus compte que les ballades sonnaient superbement » explique le pianiste. Ils ont donc pris le parti de conserver les « morceaux les plus lents » pour « Mother ».

« Mother », un album de ballades comme une rêverie nostalgique reflet des états d’âme des deux artistes. Dans cet opus Jacky Terrasson et Stéphane Belmondo explorent le registre d’une intimité mélancolique. Non dénuée de lyrisme et d’humour, l’atmosphère du disque est teintée d’un romantisme sobre et raffiné.

Le répertoire de « Mother » comprend des compositions originales, Souvenirs de Belmondo et Hand in Hand de Terrasson, des standards du jazz américain, des classiques de la chanson française, une reprise de Stevie Wonder et des interludes.

Au moment de l’enregistrement l’album devait s’intituler « Twin Spirit ». De fait, après que la production de l’album ait été achevé et à la suite de la disparation de la mère de Jacky Terrasson, le disque a été rebaptisé « Mother » d’après le titre de la composition du pianiste figurant au cœur du CD. Ainsi, comme le dit le pianiste, l’album devient un hommage à dédié à sa mère mais aussi « plus largement à toutes les mères et les femmes qui ne peuvent l’être ». L’interprétation du titre éponyme est particulièrement sensible et intense.

L’album ouvre avec First Song, le morceau poignant de Charlie Haden dont les deux musiciens font ressortir la beauté mélancolique. Il se referme avec une interprétation splendide du célèbre Que reste-t-il de nos amours ? de Chauliac et Trenet sorti en 1943.
Du côté de la chanson française on aime une version remarquable de La chanson d’Hélène composée pour le film de Claude Sautet « Les Choses de la vie ». Le thème exposé très sobrement par les deux instrumentistes est harmonisé de belle manière par le pianiste dont le toucher délicat sied à cette interprétation raffinée.

Par son équilibre, le dialogue entre les instrumentistes contribue à la réussite de l’interprétation de Lover man où les deux musiciens croisent et entrecroisent leurs lignes musicales. Sobre mais lyrique. Sans esbroufe, juste la musicalité comme cheval de bataille. Le tissage de You don’t know what love is est de la même veine sensible. On écoute avec bonheur les échanges parfaitement maîtrisés. On se plaît à savourer le toucher minimaliste du pianiste qui n’est pas sans rappeler l’influence 300_-j-terrasson-s-belmondo-2016-copyright-philippe-levy-stabdes musiques de Debussy, Poulenc, Ravel et Fauré.

On apprécie aussi les « interludes » posés comme des virgules sonores décalées parmi les autres titres. La fantaisie de Pic Saint Loup, nom d’un vin de la région où se trouve le studio d’enregistrement Recall. Les propos interrogatifs de Pompignan, en clin d’oeil à la ville qui a accueilli les musiciens pour l’enregistrement. L’atmosphère désuète mais malicieuse du titre de Stéphane Grappelli, Les Valseuses. La rupture rythmique de Fun Keys où l’on retrouve la frappe percussive et explosive du pianiste, ancien lauréat du prix Thelonious Monk (1993).

La reprise du grand succès de Stevie Wonder, You are the sunshine of my life est une surprise savoureuse. En effet, le morceau est presque méconnaissable. Déconstruit et malaxé, il est reconstruit avec des modifications harmoniques et un parti-pris rythmique qui transfigurent le morceau. On dira à juste titre que les deux interprètes se sont réellement réapproprié la composition pour la faire leur.
Tout au long des plages de l’album, l’accompagnement subtil du pianiste Jacky Terrasson procure une trame de musicalité propice à l’expression des lignes mélodiques très dépouillées que dessine le trompettiste Stéphane Belmondo. La simplicité et la subtilité de leur expression contribuent à créer l’atmosphère feutrée et raffinée qui caractérise l’album « Mother ».

1. First song
2. Hand in hand
3. Lover man
4. La chanson d'hélène
5. In your own sweet way
6. Pic saint-loup
7. Mother
8. Fun keys
9. Les valseuses
10. Souvenirs
11. You don't know what love is
12. Pompignan
13. You are the sunshine of my life
14. Que reste-t-il de nos amours ?

Alex LoRe Quartet - More Figs and Blue Things (October 10th, 2016) INNER CIRCLE MUSIC

Noted by Nate Chinen of the New York Times as a “crisp, young alto saxophonist”, Manhattan-based saxophonist and composer Alex LoRe is quickly making himself known throughout the New York City jazz scene. Originally from Tarpon Springs, Florida, LoRe has been mentored by a “who’s who” of saxophonists, including Lee Konitz, Bunky Green, George Garzone, Jerry Bergonzi, James Moody, and Steve Wilson to name a few.  The aforementioned Green says LoRe “…will emerge to become one of the leading voices on the international jazz scene.” Saxophonist George Garzone describes his playing as “bold and unforgiving”, with “…a beautiful sound; he understands the concept of melody.” With a strong upbringing in classical music, LoRe’s playing and compositions are influenced by many genres, ranging from European classical music through today’s most influential artists on both the jazz and popular music scenes.

LoRe has been featured at venues such as New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), the Jazz at Ravinia Festival held at the Stean’s Institute for Young Artists in Chicago, the Monterey Jazz Festival in California, the Jacksonville and Clearwater Jazz Festivals in Florida, and the Savannah Jazz Festival in Georgia, among others. In New York, he frequents prominent venues such as Smalls Jazz Club, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, The Iridium Jazz Club, and Smoke Jazz Club both as a leader of his own groups and as a sideman. He is a member of saxophonist Lucas Pino’s “No Net” Nonet, which currently holds a residency at Smalls Jazz Club and is releasing their debut album in late 2014. LoRe has had the opportunity to perform and work with artists George Garzone, David Liebman, Tony Malaby, Jim McNeely, Steve Wilson, and John Riley, among others. Internationally, he has performed throughout the Netherlands, Israel, and Canada.

1. Southbound 06:30
2. Next Time 05:23
3. Normal 05:53
4. Away 05:24
5. Cold Spring 08:35
6. Interlude 01:03
7. Figs For Birds 09:13
8. And Mending 06:43
9. No More Blue Skies 03:02
10.Wild Things 07:21

Alex LoRe: Alto Saxophone, Xaphoon [track 6]
Glenn Zaleski: Piano
Desmond White: Bass
Colin Stranahan: Drums


Gauthier Toux Trio - Unexpected Things (2016) NOMAD MUSIC

par Philippe Méziat / citizenjazz

Cependant que Gauthier Toux vient de remporter le prix de groupe au Concours de la Défense, après avoir gagné haut la main celui d’Orléans, nous avons le plaisir de rappeler à nos lecteurs que nous n’avons pas attendu ces distinctions pour attirer l’attention sur ce pianiste, originaire de Chartres mais qui a fait un détour par la Suisse pour se former et se faire connaître. Précisément pour ce qui nous concerne à Cully l’an dernier.

Avec des complices éprouvés et avec lesquels la connivence est parfaite, il fait valoir d’abord dans « Always There Anyway » un joli sens des contrastes, passant de la retenue à l’éclat et retour, sans jamais forcer le trait dans un sens ou dans l’autre. « Step » s’inscrit dans le champ maintenant bien balisé depuis Brad Mehldau des thèmes populaires repris et joués par les jazzmen. Comme compositeur, Gauthier Toux est un musicien plutôt tourmenté, très sensible aux humeurs du monde et aux siennes, en tous cas très généreux, et capable aussi de s’exprimer en solo, dans le répertoire de Thelonious Monk par exemple. Capable de faire monter la sauce jusqu’à des « climax » orageux, il sait aussi faire patte de velours dans des ballades solitaires (« J & J »). La formation s’augmente parfois de guitare et trompette, sans perdre son unité et en y gagnant des couleurs plus contrastées. De la belle ouvrage qui demande à se poursuivre pour une affirmation plus personnelle encore.

Gauthier Toux (p), Maxence Sibille (dm), Kenneth Dahl Knudsen (b)

1. Always There Anyway 5:24
2. Step 3:51
3. Mk 5:32
4. No More Questions 4:47
5. Interlude 1:27
6. J And J 2:07
7. Introduction To Unexpected Things 0:53
8. Unexpected Things 4:29
9. Day Dreaming 5:02
10. Run But Breathe 4:36
11. 39 And All Of The Rest 4:15