Monday, January 9, 2017

Yago Vázquez, Scott Lee & Jeff Hirshfield - Second Stream (FRESH SOUND NEW TALENT 2016)

It is commonplace to describe many of today's jazz musicians as "sharp-eared," "having lightning reflexes," or "uncanny musical ESP" and this is many times true even for one-off gigs.

As new generations of performers and composers mature in front of our eyes and ears, the level of musicianship continues to rise to astounding levels. New recordings constantly surprise with modes of expression that feel completely natural while being fresh and new.

Despite so much good music appearing almost daily, the trio that is Stream -pianist Yago Vazquez, bassist Scott Lee and drummer Jeff Hirshfield- must be placed in the highest echelon of such groups.

Their music combines the qualities of depth with lyricism, intensity with calm assurance and an elastic, yet sure handed rhythmic sense. Stream's hallmark sound is one of graceful chamber jazz, which nevertheless, has a taught core.

The qualities that each player brings to whatever group in which they find themselves are perfectly balanced when brought together in Stream. Lee and Hirshfield, having played together for a long time, have now almost become one. As Hirshfield's delicate, yet insistent cymbals fill the sound space, Lee's bass lines simultaneously provide the bottom and counterpoint to Vazquez's piano. This supple and responsive "rhythm section" gives the younger Vazquez not only the freedom to lead, knowing Lee and Hirshfield will follow, but also the room to step back and provide accompaniment.

The music presented in Second Stream has many intertwining levels, and can be listened to in a number of ways; the most appropriate being with one's full attention, letting this master session weave its spell. -Budd Kopman

01. Passing By (Vázquez) 4:28
02. Cue Ball (Lee) 6:24
03. Gratitude (Lee) 7:01
04. Suyai (Vázquez) 4:18
05. As If (Vázquez-Lee-Hirshfield) 4:07
06. Displaced (Lee) 6:34
07. Haze (Vázquez) 5:58
08. I’m Pretty Sure I’m Right...Dear (Vázquez-Lee-Hirshfield) 2:43
09. Song for Pedro (Vázquez) 5:39
10. Basses Loaded (Lee) 10:29
11. Seeing Through (Vázquez-Lee-Hirshfield) 5:29

Yago Vázquez (piano)
Scott Lee (double bass)
Jeff Hirshfield (drums)

Recorded at Systems Two Studios, Brooklyn, New York, on May 12, 2016

Engineered by Mike Marciano
Mixed and Mastered by Katsuhiko Naito at Avatar Studios, New York City.

Cover photo: Sandra Blach. 
Photography: Deborah Feingold
Inside liner notes by Budd Kopman

Produced by Yago Vázquez, Scott Lee & Jeff Hirshfield
Executive producer: Jordi Pujol

Hans Koller - Heart and Soul (FRESH SOUND NEW TALENT 2016)

“the most expansive, expressive and exciting new jazz orchestral sound to have emerged in this country since the late-lamented Loose Tubes” John Fordham, The Guardian

“A force to be reckoned with on the British scene … his approach to the interplay of the historical and the contemporary is as open-minded as it is creative…” – Jazz Journal

“an incredible achievement from Hans Koller, and has to be rated as one of the most important and musically rewarding releases in 2016.” – UK Vibe

01. Ohr/Uhr 8:33 
02. Blues for JC 3:42 
03. Voyage into the Past 5:50 
04. Sixteen 5:19 
05. Row Row Row Your Boat 4:17 
06. The Wheel 5:59 
07. Lou Lou’s Birthday 4:36 
08. Heart and Soul 6:50

All music composed by Hans Koller

John O’Gallagher (as)
Percy Pursglove (b)
Jeff Williams (d)

Recorded at Red Gables Studio, London, March 15, 2016

Sound engineer: Dick Hammett
All music mixed by Alex Bonney 

Cover image “Score for la Fille” by Liz K. Miller 
Sleeve Notes by Sebastian Scotney

Produced by Hans Koller
Executive Produced: Jordi Pujol

Dustin Laurenzi - Natural Language (EARS & EYES RECORDS 2016)

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language is a band of four like-minded improvising musicians. The quartet weaves its way through original compositions that bring to mind the idiosyncratic melodicism of drummer/composer Paul Motian as well as the melancholy folk songs of Nick Drake. Each member brings his own distinct voice as an improviser, but no single member outshines the group. Melodies are passed between the musicians, creating contrapuntal textures with simmering intensity. 

"Laurenzi has already achieved one of the toughest things to do in jazz without overdoing it: a genuine presence." - Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader 

"...a compelling portrait of an agile quartet." - Izzy Yellen, DownBeat Magazine 

"This superb album is another milestone in [Laurenzi's] brilliant career." - Hrayr Attarian, All About Jazz

Little Wheel
Folk Song
Walter's Song
Big Talk

Jeff Swanson:guitar
Mike Harmon: bass
Charles Rumback: drums


Chicago saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi has developed a distinctly personal approach to improvisation and composition that has garnered the attention of the city's creative music community. Recognized for his "offbeat approach to articulating harmonies and constructing melodies" (NextBop), Dustin's music is inspired and informed by jazz, folk, improvised music, and contemporary classical music. His wide range of influences and inventive improvisational sensibilities have made him a sought-after musician in many circles of Chicago's rich music scene.

Dustin has been a leader/co-leader of his own projects, Twin Talk, Snaarj, and Natural Language, and a member of the Marquis Hill Blacktet, the Quentin Coaxum Quintet, and Katie Ernst's Little Words, among others. He has released several albums featuring his original compositions, including Twin Talk’s eponymous release, praised by Chicago Jazz Magazine as “a cohesive and original album that brims with a vibrant fluidity and a poetic sense.”

Dustin earned a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies and a Performer's Certificate from Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music in 2011. He has performed or recorded with Jeff Parker, Matt Ulery, Russ Johnson, Jeff Hirshfield, Corey Christiansen, Lil BUB's Big Show, the Dave Lisik Jazz Orchestra featuring Tim Hagans, and has recently been featured at the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, and the Kennedy Center. Dustin’s debut album as a leader, Natural Language, will be released in September 2016 on ears&eyes Records.

Jobic Le Masson Trio + Steve Potts - Song (2016)

Le plus odieux dans la formule journalistique est moins son implacable débilité, que le constat que de temps à autre, bien plus rarement qu'on ne l'utilise, elle convient. Elle idoine même. Elle sied. Donc oui, Jobic Le Masson est bien « le secret le mieux caché » du jazz parisien, depuis trop longtemps pour trouver cela normal. Mais je m'arrêterai là, dans le cadre de ma thérapie contre la quérulence chronique de ces chroniques.

Revenons au pianiste : deuxième album de ce trio après Hill en 2008, mais cette fois avec Steve Potts aux saxophones en plus de Peter Giron et John Betsch (basse et batterie). Soit un line up très marqué par Steve Lacy, parfaitement. Deuxième album en leader pour ce pianiste bientôt cinquantenaire qui a pourtant joué avec beaucoup de monde, notamment les camarades de la scène parisienne de sa génération et notamment ceux passés par le free. Or, Jobic ne joue pas là du free, quoique les incursions plus out aient plus qu'un droit de cité dans l'album (voir le solo de Steve Potts sur « Double Dutch Treat », composé par John Betsch). Song est une caravelle gonflée d'universelle musicalité navigant dans la mer des Sargasses d'une histoire du jazz idéale, sans recherche de concept ni de référence que ceux qui viennent sous les doigts. Sous les heures et les années d'improvisation à quatre, sous la complicité et l'entente qui ont pris leur temps.

Song est peut-être une chanson, filée par un propos très narratif dont les solistes fournissent une trame captivante et soubresauté de mille plateaux : ballade langoureuse à la pulsation bancroche (« Idania »), marche antimilitaire à la solennité fantasque et créatrice (« Tangle »), up tempo dont l'évidence masque la précision de l'arrangement et de l'interprétation (« Cervione »), etc. Song est peut-être la somme des influences de son leader, revendiquées ici à travers Waldron et Monk (j'aime ce type,!), suggérées dans le jeu de chacun des solistes.

Song est peut-être sa diversité musagète, peut-être plus que la somme de quatre individualités fortes dont chaque solo touche juste, c'est-à-dire au cœur de tout ce qui fait que nous écoutons de la musique, dans la simplicité d'une tonalité comme dans la touffeur ésotérique de vocabulaires plus complexes. Song est peut-être tout cela, et plus encore tout ce qu'on ne peut écrire ni dire, parce que Song est. Ça suffit bien à préserver cette vie de toute attaque journalistique, dont le plus odieux reste de réifier les êtres vivants. Alors faisons silence, devant la chanson de ce quartet précieux.

01. Cervione
02. Round Table for Four
03. Song
04. Tangle
05. C
06. Waldron Well
07. Brook
08. Double Dutch Treat
09. Indian
10. Backache
11. You Must Think I'm Crazy

Steve Potts : saxophones
Peter Giron : contrebasse
John Betsch : batterie