Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Stefan Aeby Trio - To the Light (INTAKT RECORDS 2016)

Acclaimed Swiss pianist and composer Stefan Aeby presents with his trio his debut on Intakt Records as a bandleader.

His excellent new album "to the light" with bass player André Pousaz and drummer Michi Stulz has a clear, unique identity.

The trio follows a free vision of minimal sound art, leaving space and time to react to each other, and to revel in the sounds.

Florian Keller writes in the liner notes: "To build their multi-layered sound architecture, these three music fanatics avoid the weight of the monumental, instead using their atmospheric musicianship to create a soundtrack for the poetry of the unobtrusive.

The magic of this expansive music lies in a courageous aesthetic of modesty, which favours fine-fingered sensitivity over the muscular gestures of musical high-performance sport, and thus a statement against the thundering excesses of spectacle. Yet this graceful sonic art is indeed spectacular in its filigree way. 

Unpretentiously, the trio have cultivated a kind of gallant tiptoe. The principle is to play softly and generate tension walking on velvet paws. This urgent ensemble music often creates its magic through a calmness bordering on silence."

01. stalden 6:22
02. to the light 8:38
03. knabautsch 4:26
04. hmmm 7:12
05. iuk 5:37
06. the good king 6:05
07. shi 5:20
08. the wheel 8:32

Orchestre National De Jazz - Europa Rome (2016)

Le troisième album de l’ONJ offre une passionnante incursion dans la musique contemporaine.

À travers deux pièces originales spécialement écrites pour l’orchestre, les compositeurs Benjamin de la Fuente et Andrea Agostini nous donnent à entendre leur vision très personnelle de Rome, emprunte de souvenirs, d’émotions réveillées, d’un rapport intime à la ville.

Deux oeuvres contrastées, oscillant entre envolées survoltées, masses orchestrales implacables, et plages mélancoliques et minimalistes où improvisations et déflagrations rock ont le droit de cité. EUROPA ROME, un nouvel album qui brouille assurément les pistes du genre musical !

01. Esuberanza 1
02. La scena 1: Dal fiato al armonia
03. Esuberanza 2
04. Le campane: Trasformazione
05. Un altro eccesso
06. La scena 2: Nella trattoria
07. Espace
08. Which Way to Rome?
09. Beta+ World City
10. Nachtstück I (I fori imperiali, una sera d'inverno)
11. Nachtstück II (Buio)
12. Topology, Pt. 0
13. Topology, Pt. 1
14. Nachtstück III (Natura morta)
15. Topology, Pt. 2
16. 25 avril 2015: Crying for Sister Kathmandu (We Were Young and Powerful Once, My Wounded Friend)
17. Which Way out of Rome?
18. A Retromodernist Dance Number, as We Approach the End
19. Temps

OLIVIER BENOIT direction artistique

ALEXANDRA GRIMAL saxophones ténor et soprano
HUGUES MAYOT saxophone ténor
FABRICE MARTINEZ trompette, bugle, piccolo
PAUL BROUSSEAU Fender Rhodes, effets
SYLVAIN DANIEL basse électrique

Enregistré par Boris Darley assisté de Camille Rousseau & Paul-Edouard Laurendeau, ICP Studios, 02&03.2016
Mixé par Maïkôl Seminatore, The Border Studio, 04.2016
Masterisé par Marwan Danoun, Galaxy Studios, 05.2016

Cory Weeds Quintet featuring David Hazeltine - It's Easy To Remember (CELLAR LIVE 2016)

Join tenor saxophonist and jazz impresario Cory Weeds celebrates the release of his 11th CD as a leader. It’s Easy To Remember was recorded at Smalls Jazz Club in New York City in March. A saxophonist with an expressive sound rooted in Jazz tradition, Weeds has released 11 records as a leader on Cellar Live, the label that he founded in 2000. 

His last release This Happy Madness, recorded with The Jeff Hamilton Trio reached #1 on the Jazz Week Chart and stayed there for 2 weeks. Weeds fulfills a long time dream of collaborating with New York City pianist David Hazeltine. He is one of a handful of young pianists who has successfully forged his own distinctive style and musical voice out of the accumulated greatness and weight of a modern piano tradition. David's influences extend from Art Tatum and Bud Powell to such great living masters as Buddy Montgomery, Barry Harris and Cedar Walton.

01. With Prestige
02. Emily
03. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
04. Expose
05. Candy Man
06. It’s Easy To Remember
07. Bossa For All
08. Kelp
09. The Mabe

Recorded at Smalls Jazz Club in New York City by Jimmy Katz

Simon Nabatov Trio - Picking Order (LEO RECORDS 2016)

After many years of navigating the tempestuous waters of free-improvised music, Simon Nabatov drops anew the anchor in the bay of written material, tunes, pre-determined dramaturgy and gestures — leaving plenty of room for suspense and surprise.

His new trio is a purely Cologne based venture and includes two of the brightest talents of its current scene the bassist Stefan Schönegg and the drummer Dominik Mahnig (who already appears on a couple of Leo Records releases). Every piece of this album tells a unique story, often choosing a specific route and vernacular to get to the core of the story unfolding.

Nebulous collective fluctuations get pierced by brutal invasions of well hidden Brazilian origins; a soulful groove disintegrates into a microtonally sliding dirge; a sunny song, seemingly maimed for good in the process, receives a glorious resurrection with a touch of Africa thrown in all of it, and much more, makes up the musical journey with the Simon Nabatov Trio.

Stefan Schönegg bass
Dominik Mahnig drums

01. Fill In The Blanks 18:56
02. Aria 6:36
03. Picking Order 7:20
04. Growing A Soul Patch 11:22
05. Turning Point 6:13
06. It's A Given 10:35
07. Chrystal Clear 1:43

Revolutionary Snake Ensemble - I Want That Sound! (INNOVA RECORDINGS 2016)

Jazz has been declared "dead" innumerable times since saxophonist Ken Field formed the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble (RSE) in 1990. The band obviously didn't get the memo! In fact, over the years rather than playing a "Second Line" dirge for jazz's funeral, the horn-heavy sextet - inspired by the New Orleans brass band tradition - has been developing and cultivating a distinct sound critics and audiences alike hail for invigorating an illustrious musical heritage with fresh ideas, wit and spunk while in the process attracting new and younger audiences. Over more than a quarter century of touring and performing in settings ranging from clubs and concert halls to festival and parades, RSE has been evolving and refining a unique sound incorporating post-bop and avant jazz influences without ever losing its allegiance to the groove and the party spirit of NOLA. The Guardian (UK) recently celebrated the fact that over the past few years, jazz has entered a new golden age and RSE has definitely been part of the vanguard sparking this renaissance. 

I Want That Sound! (Innova 941), RSE's fourth album, celebrates the band's collective experience by providing a snapshot of where and what it is today - a tight, funky, fun and heady unit that's transgenerational in its appeal and whose music resonates with listeners on melodic, harmonic and rhythmic levels. Decked out in feathered and metallic finery that evokes Sun Ra's Arkestra as much as the Mardi Gras Indians, RSE has always honored the spirit of New Orleans brass bands that provide succor and uplift to mourners accompanying loved ones for burial and fulfilling the celebratory imperative for the promenade back from the cemetery.

This is the first album in RSE's discography to feature all original material, with all but the opening track penned by Field. "I Want That Sound! presents the band as a mature entity," he explained "We started out as a New Orleans second line brass band, copying others and performing covers. Then we put our own spin on traditional music and in the process over the years created a sound and style that's come into its own and is showcased on this record," Field continued. "The album was recorded in an amazing studio in Chelsea, MA that was formerly a Masonic Temple. In one of its incarnations it was actually called ‘The Sonic Temple.'"

The musicians heard on I Want That Sound! are Field's current working band and the RSE line-up that has played continuously together the longest. "I love the sound of multiple saxophones and I've known Tom Hall forever. He's one of those guys who intuitively listens and responds so it's a natural pairing - it's like we're sonic brothers," Field said. "I've worked with Dave Harris in a number of contexts over the years," Field continued. "He's a phenomenal trombone player and became equally phenomenal on tuba when he picked that horn up. Dave now also plays a horn called the helicon - an early version of the Sousaphone - and he just blows it out of the park." Field heard trumpeter Jerry Sabatini playing a gig with Charlie Kohlhase's band The Explorer's Club. "Jerry has an approach to music that really resonates with me and fits perfectly into RSE's sound. 

He's one of the most in-demand players in Boston and we're fortunate to have him on board." The personnel is rounded out by the solid and inspired rhythm section of virtuoso bassist Blake Newman - with whom Field has played in at least four different bands as well as on his soundtrack recordings - and the fluid and versatile drummer Phil Neighbors - who, apart from Field, has been a member of RSE the longest and has also worked with the saxophonist on soundtracks, his music for Sesame Street and other projects.

The music on I Want That Sound! ranges from the funky to the meditative. With the exception of the opening track, "Slippery When Wet" - written by New Orleans drummer Chris Lacinak whom Field calls upon when RSE is in The Crescent City - everything is penned by Field. 

Some are unrecorded pieces he wrote years ago and recently worked into RSE's repertoire, while others are quite new. "‘Discoveries' and ‘Nature' are instrumental versions of two of 10 songs featuring lyrics by my late wife Karen Aqua that we wrote for a project to teach English to Mexican kids," Field explained. "‘Higgins Hollow' is named after a back road in Truro at the tip of Cape Cod that has a spooky, midnight-in-the-woods kind of feeling to it." 

The album's title track was actually a warm-up tune played in the studio where everyone was blowing hard. "I'd told the engineer to record everything and when I reviewed the music there was some pretty great stuff in there," Field recalled. "While recording that track someone did something in the booth that made a jarring noise and I yelled ‘I want that sound!' which is how the song got its name."

"‘John's Jailhouse Blues' was written many years ago for a roommate of mine when I was studying at Berklee. John was a bus driver who went to jail because he went on strike." "Roohane," another musical tribute, was inspired by Billy Ruane, a tireless promoter of creative music in Boston for several decades. "Billy was beautiful yet troubled guy with huge ‘ears' who died in 2010. I tried to capture some of his manic nature in this tune."

"Just Walk Closer" is a different kind of Field tribute - a salute to the New Orleans second line tradition that so inspires him and so influences RSE. "Spirituals and hymns form the core of the second line repertoire," he explained, "and I've always felt that what makes this music so strong is the simple harmonies and the incredibly strong melodies. 

What I did here was take the melody of ‘Just A Closer Walk With Thee' and changed the duration of each note regarding where it fell in the measure and the phrasing. Then I added some new harmonies and counterlines to it. So while I retained the exact sequence of notes from the original melody, I ended up with a different and, I think, interesting variation."

Jeff Libman - Strange Beauty (CELLAR LIVE 2016)

Chicago-born jazz guitarist Jeff Libman is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at Arizona State University. He holds a PhD in Music Education from ASU. Libman is Vice President of the board of Jazz in Arizona, the 501(c)(3) organization that opened The Nash, Phoenix’s jazz performance and education center. As a jazz guitarist, Libman performs frequently in the Phoenix metropolitan area, sharing the stage with some of Arizona’s finest jazz musicians, including Michael Kocour, Brice Winston, Dom Moio, and Eric Rasmussen. 

His most recent album, Strange Beauty, was released in late 2016 on the Cellar Live label.

01. And I Love Her
02. A Portrait of Jenny
03. Strange Beauty
04. Stop Hitting Yourself
05. Star Eyes
06. Force of Will
07. A Ship Without a Sail
08. Ecaroh

Jeff Libman - guitar
Michael Kocour - piano
Ben Hedquist - bass
Dom Moio - drums

John Escreet - The Unknown (SUNNYSIDE RECORDS 2016)

The idea of jumping into a completely improvised musical situation can be daunting, especially a live performance. To muster the energy and the ideas to fill a concert is extremely taxing and takes some preparation and motivation. To carry out a performance of this sort, especially one that is communicative and entertaining, requires skill and a bit of serendipity. 

Pianist John Escreet left New York for a four-date tour in Europe in February of 2016 with a bit of trepidation. It was with this sense of nervousness that Escreet arrived and met up with his long standing trio of bassist John Hébert and drummer Tyshawn Sorey along with their illustrious guest, saxophone and improvisational music legend Evan Parker. 

It wasn’t until he hit his first note on the piano at Brussel’s Bozar that Escreet’s worries disappeared and this extraordinary ensemble began to coalesce. Escreet had recorded with this ensemble before for their Sound, Space and Structures release in 2014 and, though Escreet had managed to perform with the group in a couple of single performances, this was the first time they had been on the road as a unit. The natural advantage to this is the camaraderie that builds when the group spends time together off the bandstand. 

The six years that Escreet has spent playing with Hébert and Sorey have made their unit a highly functioning organism, their musical and individual personalities intertwined in close friendship. The addition of the amiable and jocular Parker did not add any strain. The time spent with this progenitor of free music added to the collective’s drive and creativity. 

The ensemble’s rapport can be heard on The Unknown, Escreet’s new live album (his first) that compiles two recordings made on the last two nights of the tour at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam and Lantaren Venster in Rotterdam. These two professionally recorded sets showcase the ensemble in a natural performing environment without a script, or any intention of being released, producing music that is honest and deep. 

Unlike the ensemble’s first recording, which presented a collection of shorter group improvisations split between duos, trios and quartet done in a studio, The Unknown’s two tracks are long group improvisations that evolved naturally throughout the set, the shapes and structures coming on their own accord. There was no discussion about the concept or direction the ensemble would take, the music developed on the spur of the moment creating a revelatory album of breathtaking music. 

From the piano’s quietly ominous opening to the unabashed blowouts in its heart, “The Unknown (Part One)” is a forty-five minute improvised suite recorded on February 12th at the Bimhuis that presents all the textural diversity that this ensemble can provide. Recorded the next evening in Rotterdam, “The Unknown (Part Two)” is shorter but no less varied and may provide the best examples of the dynamic balance between softly introspective and loudly unabashed. 

John Escreet’s The Unknown is an incredible document highlighting some fascinating interdynamics of a regularly working ensemble and an icon of free music. The music is certainly an investment for listeners but one that is highly worth the effort.

Released October 28, 2016 

01. The Unknown (Part One) 45:09
02. The Unknown (Part Two) 29:38

03. Sample from The Album