Saturday, April 29, 2017

Alex Sipiagin - Moments Captured (CRISS CROSS RECORDS 2017)

Moments Captured is trumpeter Alex Sipiagin's third Criss Cross date to feature a three-horn lineup, after Equilibrium (Criss 1257) in 2004 and Destinations Unknown (Criss 1336) in 2011.

While the earlier discs featured David Binney on alto, here it is the fiery Will Vinson displaying his prodigious talents alongside the leader and master tenorist Chris Potter. Rounding out the lineup on this exploratory all-original session are the players from Sipiagin's 2015 album Balance 38-58 (Criss 1378): John Escreet on piano and keyboards, Matt Brewer on bass, and Eric Harland on drums.

The intricate, polyphonic aspect of Sipiagin's writing continues to flower and grow, but it is Escreet's extensive use of the Prophet 6 synthesizer that marks this album's biggest departure. Wringing a seemingly limitless array of tonal colors from the instrument, Escreet gives Sipiagin's music a refreshing and wholly unpredictable edge.

1. Evija Bridge (Alex Sipiagin)  11:09
2. Moments From The Past (Alex Sipiagin / Alina Engibaryan)  10:02
3. Unexpected Reversal (Alex Sipiagin)  10:07
4. Blues For Mike (Alex Sipiagin)  11:00
5. Breeze (Alex Sipiagin)  5:16
6. Bergen Road (Alex Sipiagin)  8:39
7. Dream (Alex Sipiagin)  9:22

Total Time: 65:40 
Recorded September 21, 2016 in Brooklyn, NY, USA by Michael Marciano

Chris Potter (Ts)
Will Vinson (As / Ss)
John Escreet (Prophet 6 Synth / Fender Rhodes / P)
Matt Brewer (B / El B)
Eric Harland (D)
Alina Engibaryan (Vc) [2,5]

David Kikoski - Kayemode (CRISS CROSS RECORDS 2017)

Since his first appearance on record (Randy Brecker's album In the Idiom), pianist David Kikoski has demonstrated an infinite capacity to swing, a rare sensitivity as a ballad interpreter and genuine harmonic savvy as a composer. He delivers once again on all counts on Kayemode.

Kikoski says:
"I'm very proud and lucky to have 2 new collaborators in my trio. I met Justin Faulkner on a Monday night at "the Jazz Standard" where I play with the Charles Mingus Big Band and was very impressed. Soon after we really hooked up on a gig with Branford Marsalis and I remember thinking I would love to try and use him on my own project. We had a ball hanging at my house and shedding and listening to music.

Joe Martin was someone we both agreed on to be the perfect bassist for the session. I recently heard him at "Mezzrow" with Spike Wilner and was blown away. His use of harmony and counterpoint is more advanced than most bass players I've known. I knew he could get inside of my concept.

We are using 1st or 2nd takes with no fixing or editing, because I wanted the freshness and honesty to be there".

1. Au Privave (Charlie Parker)  7:30
2. Binge Watching (David Kikoski)  7:48
3. Morning Glory (David Kikoski)  8:37
4. H & H (Pat Metheny)  6:37
5. Switching Roles (David Kikoski)  7:54
6. Mirror Mirror (Chick Corea)  6:14
7. Trinkle Tinkle (Thelonious Monk)  5:48
8. nSmoke Gets In Your Eyes (Jerome Kern)  7:44
9. Blues For Gerry (David Kikoski)  3:58

Total Time: 62:15 
Recorded September 20, 2016 in Brooklyn, NY, USA by Michael Marciano

Joe Martin (B)
Justin Faulkner (D)

Lukasz Korybalski - CMM (ALLEGRO RECORDS 2017)

This is the debut album as a leader by Polish Jazz trumpeter / composer Lukasz Korybalski, known primarily for his work as composer of cinematic music. This album presents the music Korybalski wrote for the film "Cale Mnostwo Milosci" (hence CMM), performed by a quintet which features the leader on trumpet and also includes saxophonist Borys Janczarski, pianist Michal Tokaj, bassist Andrzej Swies and drummer Lukasz Zyta; a most formidable team. Saxophone icon Zbigniew Namyslowski and percussionist Bogusz Wekka guest on one tune each. The album presents six original compositions, all by Korybalski. 

The music is absolutely stunning from start to finish, typical melancholic Polish Jazz very closely reminiscent of early cinematic music by Krzysztof Komeda, with the same melodic hooks one just can´t stop humming after the music is over. The similarity is so close, that if I didn´t know what album is playing, I´d suspect that a newly discovered Komeda album is on. This is not only reflected by the music, the melodic approach and the harmonic progressions, but also by the way the quintet performs the music, which has a tinge of wonderful "out fashioned" nostalgia to it. Even the one relatively "free" composition on the album is spiritually almost identical to Komeda´s famous composition "Astigmatic". 

The instrumental performances are all top notch. Korybalski displays some Miles Davis modal influences, all being in the most elegant form, Janczarski has a warm and smooth tone and Tokaj, one of Poland´s best pianists, sadly relatively rarely heard on albums, is a dream. The superb rhythm section cements the lineup with amicable support for the soloists and wonderful drive. 

Albums like this one are a persuasive proof that contemporary melodic mainstream can be intelligent, creative, fascinating and aesthetically fulfilling. It simply has something that sets it apart from thousands of other mainstream albums, firmly standing in a class of its own. It also shows why European Jazz left the American Jazz in a fifty years slumber. 

Overall this is one of the best Polish Jazz albums that I have had the pleasure to listen to in many years. It is perfect in every way, it bridges the tradition with contemporary ideas, it pays tribute to its cultural background and sources; in short it is it! Absolutely not to be missed!

Adam Baruch – The soundtrack of My Live

1. He Who Talks Loud Says Nothing
2. Sofia
3. Crossing
4. Taniec Greka
5. No Hangover
6. CMM

Łukasz Korybalski – trumpet, flugelhorn
Borys Janczarski – tenor saxophone
Michał Tokaj – piano
Andrzej Święs – bass
Łukasz Żyta – drums

Cuong Vu 4-Tet - Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs (RareNoiseRecords 2017)

On the heels of his acclaimed 2016 recording, Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny (Nonesuch Records), and his 2014 collaboration with electro-acoustic pianist-composer and Director of the School of Music at the University of Washington Richard Karpen on their Ellington-Strayhorn tribute That The Days Go By And Never Come Again (RareNoiseRecords), trumpeter-composer Cuong Vu joins forces with guest guitarist Bill Frisell on Ballet, a tribute to renowned composer-arranger Michael Gibbs.

With regular Vu 4Tet bassist Luke Bergman and drummer Ted Poor, the four exchange ideas in the moment in a collective fashion on the expansive opening track, “Ballet,” which gradually morphs into a kind of quirky, dissonant blues waltz featuring brilliant solos from Vu and Frisell. The ethereal ballad “Feelings and Things” showcases Frisell’s more sensitive and spacious side while Vu turns in a remarkably lyrical solo here. “Blue Comedy,” a tune recorded by the Gary Burton Quartet (with Larry Coryell, Steve Swallow and Bob Moses) on 1968’s In Concert, kicks off with a drum salvo from Poor before Frisell and Vu join together on some tight unisons through the intricate head. As the piece progresses, it picks up a kind of shuffle-swing momentum which Frisell solos over with his signature fractured phrasing and surprising detours. Vu and Poor engage in some spirited exchanges near the end of this jaunty number. The most dramatic piece on the album, “And on the Third Day,” which originally appeared on Gibbs’ 1970 self-titled debut album, evolves gradually from a peaceful opening drone to a turbulent crescendo featuring powerful. soaring solos from both Vu and Frisell, the latter power chording with impunity and kicking on his fuzz box and backwards pedal for maximum effect.

“This recording came about as Bill’s wish to bring Mike Gibbs out to the University of Washington to do some of his arrangements of Bill’s music for orchestra,” says Vu. “Mike is indeed an iconic hero to Bill and it all came about from Bill’s desire to bring him to the UW.  I asked the boss, Director of the School of Music, Richard Karpen, and he gave us the green light because he wanted to honor Bill. We did two nights with the first night being the orchestra night and the second being the big band night (both student ensembles). The quartet of Bill, Ted Poor, Luke Bergman and myself was a featured part of those (both the orchestra and the big band) performances. In addition to that, the quartet (sans orchestra/big band), played Mike’s music as the second set each night. This recording is from the second night.”

Regarding this exhilarating Vu 4Tet project, Vu says,

“This was a very collective/equal opportunity effort, so we just played and dealt with the cards collectively as they were dealt. I think it just comes down to the collection of players and our individual aesthetics coming together and trying to find a common goal/language.”

They succeed in triumphant fashion on Ballet, the second collaboration between Cuong Vu and Bill Frisell (their first was Vu’s 2005 ArtistShare album Mostly Residual).

1 Ballet
2 Feelings and Things
3 Blue Comedy
4 And on the Third Day
5 Sweet Rain 

Cuong Vu - trumpet
Bill Frisell - guitar
Luke Bergman - bass
Ted Poor - drums