Monday, January 30, 2017

Standard Procedure - Somewhere up Here (2017)

The aim of the music was to find a way of bridging the gap between my thoughts and ideas, and the audience who would eventually listen to them; I wanted the tunes to be ‘down-to-earth’ and be easy for anyone to approach no matter what their taste in music. Most of the tunes on the album were written with certain subjects in mind. 

For example, 'Conversion' was inspired by my move away from religion. This tune focuses on the confusion and moral chaos that comes from becoming an atheist after being raised within a religious family. Another example is 'Restored', which is a ballad that I wrote for 'Young jazz Musician of the Year 2016'. The idea behind this one is how at some point in everyone's life, after an atrocious event, we are eventually restored. The tunes are based on my own experience, which I think adds to the meaning behind the music. Maybe the listener will hear these emotions, but most of all, I hope they will draw their own conclusions from the music.

1. Conversion 8:13
2. Hindsight 4:55
3. Restored 7:25
4. Move on Out (feat. Dominic Ingham & James Maltby) 5:05
5. Somewhere up Here (feat. Gustavo Clayton-Marucci) 8:30
6. They Loved, They Love, I'll Live (feat. Gustavo Clayton-Marucci) 4:30

David Swan, piano & keys
Matthew Read, double bass
Boz Martin-Jones, drums

Mark Lewis - The New York Session (2017)

As well-traveled and widely recorded as alto saxophonist Mark Lewis has been over the past four decades, his new CD "The New York Session" is likely to be the album that helps rectify his current under-the-radar reputation. Recorded last year in Brooklyn with a world-class rhythm section—pianist George Cables, bassist Essiet Essiet, and drummer Victor Lewis—the new disc will be released by Lewis’s Audio Daddio label on January 27. It’s the work of an artist clearly reveling in the company of fellow masters making the most of his tasty compositions.

“There’s so much to savor and admire here,” writes critic Ted Gioia, a self-professed Mark Lewis fan who contributed the CD booklet notes. “Lewis’s musicality, his inventiveness, his humor, his ability to immerse himself in the soundscape of the performance with total emotional commitment these all stand out here in track after track.”

Whether he’s inviting his listeners to a carnival on “Boberto’s Magical World” or waxing philosophical on the introspective “Not As Beautiful As You,” Lewis displays an utterly personal mix of authority, playfulness, and interactive immediacy. He’s at home in the blues, playing with relaxed soul on the strolling, minor key “DL Blues,” and draws on his deep love of African music for several pieces, most obviously on the lilting “Sierra Leone” and the boisterous 12/8 closer “Roll ’Em Joe.”

Legally blind, Lewis hasn’t let his disability slow him down, traveling the world and establishing deep creative bonds wherever he’s landed. But not being able to assess a colleague’s immediate reaction to his music may shape his approach to recording.

“I don’t see well enough to see facial expressions,” Lewis says. “I used simple compositions because I didn’t want to clutter the purity of the sound we were trying to get. I think pieces of music are like places or rooms. You play in those spaces as a musician, in those settings, and they’ll make you into slightly different people doing different things, which I think is good.”

Born in Tacoma (in 1958) and raised on a farm outside of nearby Gig Harbor, Mark Lewis absorbed music from both sides of his family. A standout player in middle school, he formed his first band at 14. By high school, Lewis’s waking hours were filled with music as he played lead alto in the stage band and clarinet in the concert band. Leading several bands around the region, he supported himself while studying composition, flute, electronic music, and piano at Western Washington University and the Cornish Institute of Allied Arts.

Settling in Seattle, Lewis started performing regularly at Norm Bobrow’s Jazz at the Cirque showcase and quickly found invaluable mentors amongst resident masters. Drummer Otis “Candy” Finch, who’d moved to Seattle after a sterling New York career, recognized Lewis’s budding talent and took him under his wing. He also encouraged him to get out of town, and in 1978 the 20-year-old saxophonist flew to Europe with a one-way ticket, his alto sax, and virtually no contacts.

He ended up making Rotterdam his homebase for the next 14 years, and established himself as a vital force on the international jazz scene as a player, label owner, and producer. Building an extensive network of musical peers amongst Dutch players and American ex-pats (“Johnny Griffin got me my first gig in Europe,” Lewis recalls), he maintained three working Dutch groups.

Lewis’s record company Audio Daddio became one of the era’s essential outlets, releasing recordings by Art Foxall, Vonne Griffin, Al Hood, Art Lande, and David Friesen. The label’s last European recording "The Rotterdam Session" features tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, who brought his ambitious “Presidential Suite” to the studio, and legendary jazz drummer Philly Joe Jones, in one of his last recordings. Lewis also maintained a strong presence back in the States, spending several long stints in the Bay Area in the 1980s. He gained a considerable following with a quartet featuring drum maestro Eddie Moore, pianist Mark Levine, and a brilliant young bassist named Larry Grenadier (the group featured on most of his critically hailed 1988 album "In the Spirit" on Quartet Records).

Now based in Bremerton, a small city west of Seattle on the Puget Sound where he returned to be close to his family, Lewis maintains a busy schedule that includes teaching private students and college clinics. He continues to expand his daunting book of compositions, which number over 1,700. Though he’s recorded more than 20 albums, only a fraction of his compositions have been documented on record, another reason why "The New York Session" is a particularly important release.

The discovery of a master improviser is always thrilling, but finding a player/composer at the peak of his powers is a rare occurrence indeed. Though fully aware of his accomplishments, Lewis sees himself as part of a modern jazz continuum. “I try to approach each composition, each performance, with knowledge and technique from studying the masters who came before and also the innocence of a child,” he says. “I hope it keeps the music authentic and genuine.”

Chris Thile - Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau (NONESUCH RECORDS 2017)

Nonesuch Records labelmates mandolinist/singer Chris Thile and pianist Brad Mehldau, longtime admirers of each other's work, first toured as a duo in 2013. At the end of 2015, they played a two-night stand at New York City's Bowery Ballroom before going into the studio to record Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau, a mix of covers and original songs that Nonesuch releases on January 27, 2017, on two CDs / LPs. Pre-orders are available now at iTunes and the Nonesuch Store, where the album track "Scarlet Town," written by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch, may be downloaded immediately. You can watch a live performance of the song from the Bowery Ballroom, directed by Alex Chaloff, below. A US tour will be announced at a later date.

"Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau come from different worlds but the same species," says the New York Times. Mr. Thile "is a progressive-bluegrass pacesetter; Mr. Mehldau is the most influential jazz pianist of the last 20 years. Both are team players ... Both love Bach and the Beatles, and both have developed fan bases bigger and broader (and younger) than their genre silos can accommodate."

The two musicians first performed together in September 2011 as part of Mehldau's residency at London's Wigmore Hall. The Guardian said of that performance, "Mehldau struck up his signature rocking chord vamp over which lightly struck motifs swell to sensuous extended melodies. Thile kept cajoling him with percussive snaps, flying runs, and chords strummed fast enough to sound as seamless as a purring strings section, inducing Mehldau … to bat back the playful provocation with stinging rejoinders."

MacArthur Fellow and A Prairie Home Companion host Chris Thile is the founding member of Punch Brothers, which a Boston Globe reviewer called "the tightest, most impressive live band I have ever seen." The band has released four albums on Nonesuch beginning in 2008: Punch, Antifogmatic, Who's Feeling Young Now?, and The Phosphorescent Blues.

Thile's other releases on the label include Sleep with One Eye Open with Michael Daves; Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile and Bass & Mandolin—the latter of which won a Grammy Award; a solo record of Bach violin sonatas and partitas; and A Dotted Line with his longtime band Nickel Creek. He also recently collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, and Edgar Meyer on the double Grammy Award–winning album The Goat Rodeo Sessions.

Brad Mehldau's Nonesuch debut was the 2004 solo disc Live in Tokyo and includes six records with his trio: House on Hill, Day Is Done, Brad Mehldau Trio Live, Ode, Where Do You Start, and Blues and Ballads.

His collaborative records on the label include Love Sublime, Highway Rider, Metheny Mehldau, Metheny Mehldau Quartet, Modern Music, and Mehliana: Taming the Dragon. Mehldau's additional solo albums on Nonesuch include Live in Marciac and last year's 8-LP/4-CD 10 Years Solo Live, which the New York Times says "contains some of the most impressive pianism he has captured on record." Earlier this year, he released a duo album with Joshua Redman, Nearness, of which the Wall Street Journal said: "Few records released this year better define what jazz sounds like today, even if there isn't a hip noun to describe it."

01. The Old Shade Tree 6:26
02. Tallahassee Junction 5:53
03. Scarlet Town 6:03
04. I Cover the Waterfront 7:00
05. Independence Day 3:10
06. Noise Machine 4:53
07. The Watcher 5:27
08. Daughter of Eve 8:58
09. Marcie 4:50
10. Don't Think Twice It's Alright 6:01
11. Tabhair dom do Lámh 4:21

Jan Lundgren - Potsdamer Platz (ACT MUSIC 2017)

Pianist Jan Lundgren makes music like a brilliant architect. If he were to build a house, it would – in the words of the song – be a very very very fine house. And it would have all his hallmarks about it. It would show his deep understanding of both tradition and modernism, together with his preternatural instinct for bringing the two together. It would visibly convey his unique way of blending the very best of American design and construction with immaculate European style and taste. To extend the metaphor, Lundgren's building on several floors would be a delight to inhabit, with rooms that have fascinating shapes, cosy corners, clear lines, rooms that would contain artefacts and objets trouvés which would allow nostalgia to well up in the visitor's mind. There would also be a spacious loft with the room to play, to improvise and to wander. Ever since the early days of his career, Lundgren’s artistry has been defined by change and renewal, and yet he never loses sight of the past. His album “Potsdamer Platz” is a statement that is personal, a faithful portrayal of the unique perspective from which he experiences and performs jazz.

One German critic, writing for the highly-regarded DPA (German press agency) recently described Jan Lundgren as “a man who can, quite simply, do everything.” The pianist's starting point is his rootedness in the American jazz piano tradition, which was what first brought him together with mainstream players such as Harry Allen and Scott Hamilton. And yet his music is also deeply infused with the musical language of his native Scandinavia. He is a superbly skillful, classically-trained musician who knows the Western tradition well, but that heritage always co-exists quite naturally in his music with swing, with Nordic melancholy and a quicksilver impressionistic wit.

In Lundgren's different projects, he has shown a variety of ways to carry European musical traditions into classic jazz. In “The Ystad Concert”, he has followed the paths travelled by Swedish jazz piano icon Jan Johansson, but what he left behind were his own new and distinctive footmarks. “European Standards” has demonstrated that jazz has long since moved from the USA, and has developed its own young cultural heritage back on the old continent. And in “Mare Nostrum” with Sardinian trumpeter Paolo Fresu and French accordion player Richard Galliano, Lundgren has created a unique, distinctive and appealing “sound of Europe.”

With ”Potsdamer Platz”, Lundgren goes further in this direction and has put down a significant marker. All of the pieces (except “Tväredet”) are his compositions. These are personal works, which flourish and blossom in this perfect setting. Lundgren has assembled a group which can really own these pieces, and give them stylistic heft and meaning. ”What I wanted,” says Lundgren, ”was to work with these people, my favourite musicians, and to make something new out of these tunes through the process of interaction. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against concept albums, in fact I have made a few; but here, it was as if we only realised what the concept actually was after we had done it.”

So who is in this quartet of Jan Lundberg’s favourite musicians? Melodic duties are the domain of the great Finnish alto saxophonist Jukka Perko. In the rhythm section, the drummer is the Dane Morten Lund, who recently instigated and made a very well-received album with Lars Danielsson and Marius Neset. Lund is a stalwart: he was already occupying the drum chair of Jan Lundgren's regular trio in 2000. On the bass is Lundgren’s fellow Swede Dan Berglund, who for a long time played exclusively for the renowned Esbjörn Svensson Trio. He and the pianist have known each other for a long time, but Lundgren has never actually shared the stand with him before. “I've had the idea of this band in my head for a long time. Four years ago, we met at the festival in Milan and arranged the project,” recalls Lundgren. As so often happens, it took quite a while to put the idea into practice, but in this case the wait has been worth it: musicians who click together into a unit as well as these do are a very rare phenomenon indeed.

These four musicians dispensed with all written music right from their first meeting. The joyous title track “Potsdamer Platz” is bursting with positive energy. “Ballad no. 9” then takes the listener right to the opposite end of the emotional spectrum. With its plaintive melody, it demonstrates what a capable and emotional songwriter Lundgren can be. “Lycklig Resa,” the Swedish classic, is then given an extremely cultivated treatment. It starts lyrically, but quickly hunkers down into a groove so solid you could drive your Volvo over it. In “Twelve Tone Rag”, things then take off in a virtuosic and tricksy direction, with a supporting melody built on a twelve-tone note row which has been craftily inserted into a bebop frame. There is a gleeful lightness of touch and a carefree spirit pervading this album, even if it does go through different moods. “On The Banks Of The Seine” is a melancholic and romantic excursion, whereas “Bullet Train” is febrile and funky. There are moments when Balkan music is transformed into folk jazz (“Dance Of Masja”) or when a more sombre mood is created and held, such as in “Song For Jörgen”.

The one thing that definitely could not be said about Lundgren and his fellow musicians on this album, is that they have played it safe in any way. All four of them just dive into the torrents of this music, try out new things, they are bold in everything they do, and yet the music never tips over into inaccessibilty. There seems to have been a magical, providential hand guiding this album too, if the way the choice of title is anything to go by. “I hadn’t thought up a name either for this piece or for the whole album. We were recording at the Hansa Studios at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, and one day when I woke up in the hotel, I suddenly realised I’d got it: “Potsdamer Platz.” The name fits perfectly with its jaunty, bright lights, big-city feel, to its funk-march character. This is a tune definitely more about strength than it is about beauty.”

“Just as the reconstruction of Potsdamer Platz is, in a sense, a symbol of the new Germany,” says Lundgren. “as the title here it stands for the kind of positive force that I feel should always emanate from music. Music should be on the move, taking us somewhere.” This new album shows how well Lundgren's new quartet has not only fitted together, but has also grown together, and now started to move forward with a clear and strong common purpose.

01. Potsdamer Platz (Jan Lundgren)
02. No. 9 (Jan Lundgren) 04:42
03. Lycklig Resa (Jan Lundgren) 06:03
04. Bullet Train (Jan Lundgren) 05:23
05. The Poet (Jan Lundgren) 05:33
06. Never Too Late (Jan Lundgren) 04:49
07. Twelve Tone Rag (Jan Lundgren) 04:23
08. Song For Jörgen (Jan Lundgren) 05:53
09. Dance Of Masja (Jan Lundgren) 06:25
10. On The Banks Of The Seine (Jan Lundgren) 04:43
11. Tväredet (Per Ödberg) 03:53

Jan Lundgren / piano
Jukka Perko / alto & soprano sax
Dan Berglund / bass
Morten Lund / drums

All compositions by Jan Lundgren, 
except 11 by Per Ödberg

Recorded by Arne Schumann at Hansa Studio Berlin, May 3 & 4, 2015
Mixed and Mastered by Arne Schumann

Rosario Bonaccorso - A Beautiful Story (2017)

“A Beautiful Story”  è il nome del nuovo progetto  discografico di Rosario Bonaccorso che uscirà nel Gennaio 2017 per l’etichetta Jando Music/Via Veneto Jazz.    Dopo l'ultimo capitolo firmato nel 2015, il cd "Viaggiando" (Jando Music/Via Veneto Jazz), la lunga storia musicale di Rosario Bonaccorso prosegue, arricchendo il suo percorso discografico, di band-leader e compositore.Le dodici composizioni da lui firmate per "A Beautiful Story", che è anche la title track dell’album,  conquistano  fin dal primo ascolto.

Ancora una volta la sua musica sorprende, spazia e ci trasporta in quel  suo  raffinato universo personale,  dove si rinnova la forza della sua scrittura, che  conquista l’ascolto per profondità e bellezza.Per questo nuovo lavoro discografico il contrabbassista ha chiamato al suo fianco Dino Rubino al flicorno, Enrico Zanisi al pianoforte ed  Alessandro Paternesi  alla batteria.

Tre giovani “leoni” del firmamento jazz italiano già apprezzati nel panorama europeo, artisti sensibili e  maturi, che nonostante la giovane età vantano un ricco patrimonio  di esperienze e di collaborazioni di rilievo.C’è una speciale magia nella direzione musicale e nel suono raffinato di questo  quartetto, in cui spicca quel gusto tutto italiano di creare musica, di cui Rosario Bonaccorso da tempo è apprezzato rappresentante  e portavoce.

Non rimane che ascoltare  “A Beautiful Story” per rendersi conto di quante emozioni meravigliose Rosario Bonaccorso sappia raccontare.

01. A Beautiful Story
02. Come l'acqua tra le dita
03. Dear Walfish
04. Duccidu
05. My Italian Art of Jazz
06. This Is for You
07. Storia di una farfalla
08. Minus One
09. Tango per Pablo
10. Lulù e la luna
11. Freddie
12. You Me Nobody Else

Dino Rubino flicorno
Enrico Zanisi pianoforte
Alessandro Paternesi batteria

Madness Tenors - Be Jazz for Jazz (CRISTAL RECORDS 2017)

En 2014 sur le festival bulgare de Stara Zagora, Lionel Martin fait une rencontre décisive en la personne du saxophoniste George Garzone. Naîtra alors ce projet de Madness Tenors en hommage au Tenor Madness de 1956 ( où Sonny Rollins se confrontait à John Coltane ), un quintet vif-argent composé de Mario Stantchev au piano, Benoit Keller à la contrebasse et du batteur Ramon Lopez, groupe que l’on découvrit à VAULX JAZZ en 2015.

Dès l’ouverture de ce brillant « Awo » rugit le saxophone de Lionel Martin énervé et effervescent et c’est parti pour plus de 9 minutes de transe. Distorsions et transgressions en un élan continu qui se poursuivent avec « Plus Plus », autre composition de Lionel Martin où le piano particulièrement percussif de Mario Stantchev suit les stridences des saxophones. Ramon Lopez, le batteur coloriste, rythmicien sans pareil, n’est pas en reste dans ce quintet cent pour cent jazz, apportant sa touche toujours très personnelle et exaltée, intégrant avec souplesse les imprévus de cette musique. Il faut attendre la cinquième composition pour entendre une pièce plus délicate de Georges Garzone « Fox in the wood ». Si Garzone reste au ténor sur tout l’album, Lionel Martin alterne les saxophones et fait ainsi varier, se superposer les timbres. Sans relâche, Lionel Martin vibre au son de ces musiques qu’il aime à déconstruire. Georges Garzone ne le suit pas toujours dans cette « chase » éperdue, mais en balançant autrement, il s'impose comme un contrepoint indispensable et précieux. Leurs unissons splendides traversent ce "Hey Open Up", autre composition de G. Garzone, d'une tension constante sans aller jusqu'à la cassure. Splendide!

Last but not least, «On the phone» est une pièce co-écrite par le duo Stantchev/Martin que l’on a apprécié dans leur relecture de Louis Moreau Gottschalk, compositeur classique qui faisait des tournées comme un jazzman, dans le très beau Jazz before Jazz. La pochette de l’album Be Jazz For Jazz est d’ailleurs un écho à celle du duo (Cristal Records 2016).

On retrouve pour le final cette qualité de mélodie soyeuse et tendre, le soprano faisant entendre sa plainte, une touche lyrique bienvenue après l’explosion de certaines compositions. Ainsi s’entend dans cette musique sans parole, un seul chant exprimant la colère, la fougue mais aussi la promesse d’une (ré)conciliation. Du jazz comme on l'aime!

01. Awo 9:02
02. Plus Plus 3:41
03. Nobody's Perfect 5:42
04. Sadness 5:30
05. Fox in the Wood 7:45
06. Hey Open Up 3:17
07. A Bacchus 5:44
08. On the phone 5:41

Lionel Martin (saxophones)
Georges Garzone (tenor saxophone)
Benoît Keller( contrebasse)
Mario Stantchev (piano)
Ramon Lopez ( batterie)

Angles 9 - Disappeared Behind the Sun (CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2017)

Martin Kuchen’s nonet returns for more avant-jazz to dance to, confirming once again that creative music with political conscience can be festive, even considering the seriousness of the subject of this record.  The title is an expression given to people who are taken away and put into solitary confinement, with its relatives knowing anything about the prisoners whereabouts. That’s what is happening usually in the Middle East, from Egypt to occupied Palestine. The melodies introduced by the compositions are very simple and very suggestive, leaving to the improvisations all the complexity and also the essential of the fireworks. And that’s what is the most important in “Disappeared Behind the Sun”, just like it was in the previous albums of Angles 9 and Angles 6. The refrains played by the large horn frontline with its African and Swedish folk connotations and the lively pulsation maintained by the rhythmic section have the power to seduce every sensible ear, and the connection to the most “difficult” parts follow in a natural way. It’s impossible not to like this challenging, energized and puzzling successor of three big bands, mixing it in a highly intelligent project: Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath, Carla Bley’s Jazz Composers Orchestra and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra are very much alive in this exciting new record of the best jazz played in Europe today.

1. Equality & Death (Mothers, Fathers, Where Are Ye?) 7:37
2. Ådror 9:18
3. Pacemaker 5:39
4. Disappeared Behind the Sun 11:41
5. Love, Flee Thy House (In Breslau) 9:52

Martin Küchen: alto sax, tenor sax
Eirik Hegdal: baritone sax
Goran Kajfes: cornet
Johan Berthling: double bass
Andreas Werliin: drums
Alexander Zethson: piano
Mats Äleklin: trombone
Magnus Broo: trumpet
Mattias Ståhl: vibraphone