Monday, May 22, 2017

Mason Razavi - Quartet Plus, Vol. 2 (OA2 RECORDS 2017) introspective experience of deeper meaning, his latest offering is a mature rendering of masterful playing and ideas. Razavi is definitely one to watch. JAZZ TIMES

From delicately scored ballads to a raucous take on "Caravan," Bay-Area guitarist Mason Razavi's second volume of his "Quartet Plus" series inhabits the great traditional jazz forms while enhancing them with modern textures and rhythms, creating a work that should leave jazz aficionados of various stripes nodding in approval. Working with pianist Bennett Roth-Newell, bassist Dan Robbins and drummer Cody Rhodes, the "Plus" is a five-piece horn section featured on several dynamic and intricately arranged compositions. "Evocative storytelling is the hallmark of Razavi's music." All About Jazz

The interesting thing Razavi does on this second 'quartet' outing is show that you can be a classically styled guitar jazzbo without having to show that you can chase the ghost of Wes and catch him. Firmly his own cat, this solid program of mostly originals is right in the pocket of great playing making for great listening. A real winner of a set, this is the kind of stuff that fools you initially into think it's dinner music but gently elbows it's way to the fore without you noticing. Well done.

1 Riverbed 6:35
2 Blues in New Hues 6:28
3 Looking Forward, Looking Back 5:31
4 Blue and Grey Waltz 5:57
5 With The Wind At My Back 6:55
6 When The Ink Ran Dry 8:01
7 Grvünkabop 6:22
8 Portrait for Mingus 5:07
9 Through The Fog 6:04
10 Caravan 6:53

BENNETT ROTH-NEWELL - piano, keyboards
DAN ROBBINS - acoustic & electric bass

PLUS (Tracks 6-10)
JUSTIN SMITH - trumpet, flugelhorn
BEN TORRES - alto sax, clarinet
OSCAR PANGILINAN - tenor & soprano sax, clarinet
KEVIN BRYSON - trombone
ALEX MURZYN - bari sax, bass clarinet, clarinet

Mario Pavone - Vertical (CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2017)

By now, Mario Pavone doesn’t need more presentations: he’s on the top of the jazz nobility of today, after a life of partnerships with the greatest, namely Paul Bley, Bill Dixon, Thomas Chapin, Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, Marty Ehrlich and others of similar status. In his own bands, Pavone chooses the best in activity: his new opus, “Vertical”, include the contributions of Tony Malaby, Oscar Noriega, Dave Ballou, Peter McEachern and Mike Sarin. With such luminaries, the music could only have a solar quality: it’s colorful, bright, warm and intense. 

The compositions extend the percussive approach to the double bass which imediatly identifies this extraordinary musician: Pavone’s integrated work with drummer Sarin is propulsive, nervous and energetic, cutting through the clouds of sound formed by the reeds and the brass instruments. The horn frontline can be formed by only four contributors, but sometimes it seems we’re in front of an entire orchestra.

This is dense and intense music, full of grain and humanity, powerful and fragile at the same time, meticulously structured and spontaneous in the same measure, with motivating theme lines and loose improvisations. It has everything you can ask for in just a jazz album.

1. Ellipse 6:16
2. Vertical 7:19
3. Suitcase In Savannah 4:26
4. Broken 2:40
5. Cube Code 5:55
6. Blue Drum 1:52
7. Start Oval 5:07
8. Horizontal 2:15
9. Two Thirds Radial 6:20
10. Axis Legacy 5:03
11. Voice Oval 4:55

Dave Ballou trumpet
Tony Malaby tenor, soprano saxophone
Oscar Noriega clarinet, bass clarinet
Peter McEachern trombone
Michael Sarin drums

All compositions by Mario Pavone (Pavo Publishing/BMI) | All arrangements by Dave Ballou

Recorded on June 16th, 2016 at Systems Two , Brooklyn NY by Mike Marciano | Mixed and mastered at Systems Two by Max Ross
Produced by Mario Pavone | Executive Producer Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos

Roscoe Mitchell - Bells for the South Side (2 CD) ECM 2017

Roscoe Mitchell contrasts and for the first time - combines the sounds and distinctive characters of his four trios in an exhilarating double album recorded at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. Multi-instrumentalist and composer Mitchell had been invited to premiere new music at the museum, in the context of the exhibition The Freedom Principle, which celebrated the directions in music and art set in motion by the AACM on Chicago's South Side.

He offers what amounts to a composer self-portrait in continually changing colors and textures, reflecting on his own history while looking toward the future. Two pieces including the title composition draw upon the full percussion instrumentarium of the Art Ensemble of Chicago a panorama of gongs, bells, rattles, sirens, hand drums and more. Along the way there are remarkable contributions by all participants, among them a lyrical bass guitar feature for Jaribu Shahid on EP 7849, a heart-dilating solo by Tani Tabbal on Cards for Drums, an extended trumpet feature for Hugh Ragin on the title track, evocative and atmospheric electronics from Craig Taborn and James Fei on Red Moon in the Sky, and plenty of Mitchell's powerhouse saxophones throughout, from the piercing sopranino down to the mighty bass sax. The performance is concluded with Odwalla, the Mitchell-composed theme song of the Art Ensemble.

CD 1
1. Spatial Aspects Of The Sound  12:14
2. Panoply  7:37
3. Prelude To A Rose  12:45
4. Dancing In The Canyon  10:24
5. EP 7849  8:14
6. Bells For The South Side  12:36

CD 2
1. Prelude To The Card Game Cards For Drums And The Final Hand  16:03
2. The Last Chord  12:27
3. Six Gongs And Two Woodblocks  7:50
4. R509A Twenty B  1:34
5. Red Moon In The Sky / Odwalla  25:49

Roscoe Mitchell sopranino, soprano, alto and bass saxophones, flute, piccolo, bass recorder, percussion
James Fei sopranino and alto saxophones, contra-alto clarinet, electronics
Hugh Ragin trumpet, piccolo trumpet
Tyshawn Sorey trombone, piano, drums, percussion
Craig Taborn piano, organ, electronics
Jaribu Shahid double bass, bass guitar, percussion
Tani Tabbal drums, percussion
Kikanju Baku drums, percussion
William Winant percussion, tubular bells, glockenspiel, vibraphone, marimba, roto toms, cymbals, bass drum, woodblocks, timpani

Mat Maneri / Evan Parker / Lucian Ban - Sounding Tears (CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2017)

Over the course of a quarter century career American violist Mat Maneri has “changed the way the jazz world listens to the violin and viola” ( and has established an international reputation as one of the most original and compelling artists of his generation. Maneri posses an immediately recognizable sound and approach which marries the distinct worlds of jazz and microtonal music in a fluid, remarkably expressive fashion which The Wire dubbed “endlessly fascinating.” Over the course of his career, Maneri has worked with 20th century icons of improvised music including his father Joe Maneri, Cecil Taylor, Tim Berne, William Parker, Craig Taborn and many others.

For Sounding Tears, his first release under his own name (not as co-leader or collaborator) in 12 years, Maneri has enlisted legendary British saxophonist Evan Parker, one of European avant-garde’s leading voices for the past four decades, alongside his long-standing collaborator, Romanian expat, pianist Lucian Ban.

The improvisations conjured by these improvisers bespeak a music of the new millennium – tender and lyrical while also angular, gritty and suspenseful. Reflecting on Sounding Tears Maneri says: “Music begins before music. As an improviser the first note I play sets in motion the whole world. As a trio, where does musical intimacy come from? Is it improvisation, is it chamber music? Is it jazz? The music on this album, the experience, empathy and the shared history that Evan and Lucian bring to Sounding Tears, is our answer to those questions.”

Maneri and Ban have been working together for close to a decade spanning a number of different projects. They met while working on Ban and bassist John Hebert’s Enesco Re-Imagined (Sunnyside, 2009). On one piece played a memorable duo, so remarkable that they didn’t hesitate to begin touring as a duo. This touring relationship ultimately resulted in their acclaimed recording, Transylvanian Concert (ECM, 2013). It was at the Bucharest release show for Transylvanian Concert that they invited Parker to be a special guest. The music was elevated to a new plane. The three played a few more times together before heading to Tedesco Studios in New Jersey in 2016 to record what would become Sounding Tears.

The music on the album showcases a side of the saxophonist’s playing not often heard on record – a more introverted, crooked way of phrasing, tenderly enveloped in Maneri and Ban’s sonic universe. Over the course of eight free improvisations and two written melodies, this trio showcases a distinct language; a language built on equality and listening with no grandstanding or hierarchical principles at play.

A notable influence on this album’s concept was the seminal 1995 ECM album Time Will Tell by Paul Bley, Evan Parker and Barre Phillips. This album meant an immeasurable amount to both Maneri and Ban. A sense of space invoked throughout and the collective phrasing were influential to both musicians. Bley was also one of the first people to give Joe Maneri and Mat Maneri the recognition they so deserved. Bley recommended them to ECM Records’ Manfred Eicher, with whom they went on to record with Barre Phillips and many others in a series of albums which are still cherished for their inventiveness.

Maneri sums up the spirit of Sounding Tears. “It’s like Lester Young mixed with something insane; rooted in the past of an alternate universe which may have never existed.” No other words can describe the dualities that this record holds within itself – the music is both cutting-edge and remarkably progressive while also being firmly rooted in tradition, song, and improvisational tactics which recall 20th century modern classical music in addition to jazz. The sound of Sounding Tears is the sound of three master musicians playing with integrity and heart, listening as much as asserting, letting silence dictate as much as sonic density. It’s a treat and a delight to hear a recontextualized Evan Parker sitting patiently, enmeshing himself in a codified universe that Maneri and Ban have been crafting for several years.

Friends Fly South - Scatterbrain (Live at the Thirsty Hippo) 2017

A collection of musicians that met in Hattiesburg, MS got together to make a beautiful but gritty album. This album is pulling from influences such as Snarky Puppy, Lettuce, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock. It's rooted in funk but has the structure of pop music today, with the elements of jazz thrown in. We hope this album makes you think but also makes you move your body mindlessly!

01. Hi-Inner-G (Live) 5:46
02. Stoner with the Boner (Live) 7:45
03. Cruise Ship (Live) 7:48
04. Avenues (Live) 6:40
05. Mercy, Phat (Live) 6:16
06. Lost in Thought (LIT) [Live] 9:28
07. Friends' Groove (Live) 4:31
08. Bar None (Live) 7:46
09. Spiritual Man (Live) 7:42
10. Scatterbrain (Live) 7:06
11. Just a Zimple Zong Remix (Live) 8:10

Ray Bradford - Bass
Garrick Pitts - Sax
Colman Grinnell - Trumpet
Jeffery Reynolds - Keys
Darius Scott - Keys
Adam McPhail - Guitar
Ben Langston - Guitar
Marlon Huddleston - Percussion
Josh Reynolds - Drums

The Blumenthal is now open!

Indian Air & Bob Mintzer - Rare Moments (ATS RECORDS 2017)

Since his first awareness of Indian music and the sitar more than 20
years ago, the Austrian musician Klaus Falschlunger has become a
master of the instrument and an active representative of the Indian-
Musicscene in Europe.The whole emotional spectrum of the
musician´s inner world comes alive in "INDIAN AIR".

He is accompanied by Clemens Rofner on doublebass, and by the
percussionist Tobias Steinberger on framedrums/ric/kanjira.Growing
up with jazz and rock music, he discovered in his extensive travels to
Asia, the Middle East and Europe, more and more the diversity of
music. Next to his love for Indian classical music, he composed and
experimented with different formations. His creativity and versatility
brought him together with many musicians and artists from India,
Korea, USA and Europe.

01 Not You , Not M e
02 New Earth *
03 Who Knows
04 In Silence
05 Rare Moments
06 Noah‘s First Breath *
07 In the City
08 City Hymn
09 Water : Fall

Klaus Falschlunger, Sitar
Clemens Rofner, Double Bass, Bass Ukulele
Tobias Steinberger, Percussion, Framedrums

Special guest
Bob Mintzer*- Soprano Saxophone