Saturday, December 9, 2017

Don't Miss This Weekend's $5 Album... (CUNEIFORM RECORDS)

Joy Ellis - Life on Land (2017)

Life On Land is the debut jazz album by Joy Ellis. The album features Joy's original compositions and reflects her passion for jazz, her love of groove and dance music, her classical roots as a pianist and the mournful, soulful aspects of being a singer-songwriter.

1. From Dusk Till Dawn 04:45
2. The Jazzman 05:09
3. Here In The Quiet 05:15
4. Life On Land 07:37
5. Veteran 05:23
6. What Got Lost Along The Way 03:54
7. Refugee 05:43
8. Ellington Said 05:43
9. When The Snows Fall 05:01
10. Be Kind 04:51
11. The City 06:48

Joy Ellis - piano/Rhodes/voice
Rob Luft - guitar
Henrik Jensen - double bass
Adam Osmianski - drums
James Copus - flugelhorn (tracks 4 & 10)
Binker Golding - tenor saxophone (tracks 2 & 8)

Marco von Orelli / Max E. Keller / Sheldon Suter - Blow, Strike & Touch (hatOLOGY 2017)

Manuel Valera Trio - The Seasons (MAVO RECORDS 2017)

Was there a closet ‘renaissance man’ just waiting to jump out of Manuel Valera? Probably so, but although his recording of The Seasons references Vivaldi’s eternal series of four concerti making up The Four Seasons there is little to link the two works other than the title of Valera’s suite. This centrepiece of the recording is a series of four single-movement pieces and Manuel Valera’s playing is spirited and eloquently ornamented and serves its referenced mentor well. It ends there, however. “The Seasons” is a dark suite where the composer (and performer/pianist and his trio) visits several states of mind that change from expectation then hopeful, melancholic and finally foreboding, capturing the mood of the times, as it were, in the Americas and, indeed, the world. As such it is not only the single most ambitious work by Manuel Valera, but certainly his most breathtaking performance.

Within the framework of The Seasons are seven other pieces of varying mood and scale. Not all of them are composed by Manuel Valera, but they all signify changing times in the life and times of the pianist. Valera has always seemed to lean into the idiom of Jazz as he sought to forge the distinctive of his own. In his idiosyncratic and exploratory style his music has become thematically more challenging and boldly expressive, slipping the Afro-Cuban mooring ever so gently with each new recording. At its heart his music will always retain that cultural topography but now Manuel Valera seems less beholden to inner clave. This ‘breaking free’ to express himself may lead him back to his roots at any time; who can tell? For now, however Valera is putting on another skin. And he does wear this one rather well.

There is an easy swing in all of the work on The Seasons. It is clear from the ever-so-spritely song, “Opening” that this music is going to demand the listener’s undivided attention. Turn away and you might miss something extraordinary. With characteristically expressive pianism, Manuel Valera reveals a profoundly thoughtful side to his music. “In the Eye of the Beholder”, for instance, is framed with rhapsodic harmonic and rhythmic elements around which the riveting expressiveness of the melody takes flight. “Tres Palabras”, the only Cuban song is at once dreamy, yet crisply modern, complex yet rich in space and silence. In dramatic contrast is movement IV of “The Seasons – Winter”, in which there is an almost unbearable, icy tenderness that leads, in turn, to “What is This Thing Called Love”, a perfect vehicle to set up the album finale, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.

In solo performances there is absolutely no room for error and this is much the same with duos and trios. However, Manuel Valera has assembled two extraordinary virtuoso players: Hans Glawischnig on bass and E.J Strickland on drums. Both musicians deliver harmony and rhythm with relaxed grace and total lack of vanity; for they are musicians who just happen to play bass and drums respectively. And while both Glawischnig and Strickland are dazzling virtuosos they conjure tonal colours and expression through eye-popping articulation and deeply-felt emotion. It’s almost impossible to think how this performance would have sounded with other musicians on board and it is fortunate, indeed, that this is not the case.

In the Eye of the Beholder
Tres Palabras
In My Life
MOV I-Spring
MOV II- Summer
MOV IV-Winter
What Is This Thing Called Love

Miles Davis and His Quintet – Miles and His Quintet (2017)

1. Just Squeeze Me (Miles Davis And His Quintet) 07:29
2. There Is No Greater Love (Miles Davis And His Quintet) 05:21
3. How Am I To Know (Miles Davis And His Quintet) 04:41
4. S'Posin (Miles Davis And His Quintet) 05:17
5. The Theme (Miles Davis And His Quintet) 05:51
6. Stablemates (Miles Davis And His Quintet) 05:20

João Paulo Esteves da Silva / Mario Franco / Samuel Rohrer - Brightbird (ARJUNAMUSIC RECORDS 2017)

This balanced music has no need to pound or harass. It develops its strength from congenial casualness. Improvised bagatelles add together to form an unobtrusive bath of sound because no-one feels the need to exhibit their virtuosity. This creates a magical triangle.

1. The Fireplace 05:45
2. Sun 04:51
3. Trusting Heart/Cosmos 05:53
4. Renewal 05:21
5. Winter 03:53
6. Bird 05:38
7. Noontide 04:53
8. Waking 02:35
9. Uncertain Steps 04:23
10. Oldness 06:06
11. There Were Shadows 05:00
12. Waves 03:39
13. So Much Water So Much Green 04:04

All music composed by Esteves da Silva, Franco, Rohrer
Recording, Mix and Mastering at Studio La Buissonne, France
Layout and graphic design by Ian Anderson, The Designers Republic

Hot Club De Norvege – Stardust (2017)

Det er fire år siden forrige turné med Hot Club de Norvège i Nord-Norge. Kvartetten er pionerer innen string-swing og Django-musikk i vårt land. Tusenvis av mennesker har de gledet gjennom årene. Bli med på eventyret – hør en av Norges lengstlevende grupper! Skikkelig Djangomusikk med Hot Club de i Skarvens lokaler; en scene gruppen liker og har spilt på mange ganger.

1: On The Sunny Side Of The Street
2: Kvalsundet
3: Ved Rondane
4: Blessed Relief
5: Webster
6: The Bear And The Strawberry Tree
7: Jersey Bounce
8: Stardust
9: It Had To Be You
10: Meanwhile, Down On Earth
11: That's Why They Call Me Shine
12: Dream Of You

Carlos Malta & Thomas Clausen - Dreamland (SUNDANCE MUSIC 2017)

Their congenial musicianship and pure joy is contagious as they give well-known tunes their unique special treatment. Even the old ragtime piece Tiger Rag receives a shot of baiao rhythm and Jobim’s One Note Samba is spiced up. But most of the compositions are originals written by the two featured musicians. Thomas Clausen’s pieces are colored by his work in the many various jazz styles and European music, while Carlos Malta’s tunes have that unmistakable Brazilian sound, that special rhythmic lilt and unique coloration – an ethnic texture with references to the wealth of music from the country of his birth.

The Brazilian saxophone and flute virtuoso and Danish pianist and composer began their duo collaboration during the 2016 Copenhagen Jazz Festival and continued in 2017. DREAMLAND was recorded in two days at the Nilento Studio in Gothenburg. They are joined on several tracks by Brazilian bassist Romulo Duarte (known from his work with Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Milton Nascimento and others) and the everpresent Swedish (but Danish resident) drummer Niclas Campagnol.

Carlos Malta is a saxophone and flute virtuoso from Rio de Janeiro. He is one of Brazil’s most popular musicians known from Hermeto Pascoal’s band and his own group Pife Muderno. He often collaborates with several of Brazil’s top vocalists and composers including Edu Lobo and Milton Nascimento.  He has appeared on an impressive list of recordings as a sideman and in his own name.

Thomas Clausen is a Danish pianist and composer. He has led his own groups with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Alex Riel, Jesper Lundgaard and Peter Danemo, and collaborated closely with Gary Burton, Steve Swallow, Billy Hart, Palle Mikkelborg and many others. In 1997 he started his Brazilian Quartet with Fernando de Marco (b), Afonso Correa (d) and Jan Zum Vohrde (as, fl). Later Teco Cardo Cardoso and Lea Freire from Sao Paolo joined on horns.

3 no Samba
After The Metronome
Tiger Rag
Under The Strawberry Moon
One Or More
Logum Ede
Toy Joy

Romulo Duarte (b)
Niclas Campagnol (d)