Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Matt Penman - Good Question (SUNNYSIDE RECORDS June 8, 2018)

"The music on this recording is a series of musical questions I posed to my bandmates over two days, that I might get their input on a range of subjects that interest me. Much like having prescribed topics for conversation, I wrote these tunes in the hope of starting a dialogue that could provoke reactions, new angles and corollaries that were unforeseen, yet welcome. In fact all of the musicians on this album have their own points of view and a strong opinion, as well as a natural inclination to collaborate, and these are the reasons why I wanted to record with them. This is also why the musical discussion proved to be so rich and wide-ranging." – Matt Penman 

Bassist/composer Matt Penman has spent much of the past decade developing and presenting music for the illustrious SFJazz Collective and the fantastic James Farm collective. That had left a gap between solo recordings that he felt it was time to abate. The result of his efforts are presented here on Good Question, a poignant recording of pieces meant to challenge, engage and entertain both its listeners and the musicians involved in its creation. 

Originally from New Zealand, Penman, since his arrival in 1995, has been an essential voice in the musical landscape of New York. His experience in the States has provided him with both inspiration and exasperation. He has chosen to address his feelings as a part of his new music: 

"There are a variety of musical moods and spaces, some written with these exact musicians in mind, some not; some written as a response to the cultural and political climate in the country I have chosen to make my home, and some as purely musical excavations. Overall, you could say that the album represents a general delight, bemusement, indictment and celebration of the American experiment through the eyes of a foreigner who has now lived more than half his life in the States." 

The ensemble that Penman assembled features not only the top musicians in jazz but also his regular collaborators and friends, including saxophonist Mark Turner, pianist Aaron Parks and drummer Obed Calvaire. There are also guest appearances by guitarist Nir Felder, saxophonist Will Vinson and percussionist Rogerio Boccato. 

Penman’s compositions are meant to stimulate the ensemble into reactions and conversations within their framework. The pieces either present musical puzzles or are think pieces for reflection on topics, mainly natural or political. The ensemble handled the task with aplomb over three days of recording at Brooklyn Recording during the spring and summer of 2017. 

The recording begins with the shimmering “Mr. Right,” which poses questions of how much freedom is too much and do the boundaries of a closed song form encourage creativity? The challenge behind the deceptively difficult yet beautiful “Small Famous” is to make the tune’s complex harmonic form sound easily formulated. The quietly insistent “Fifths and Bayou” presents the players with defined phrase lengths and a set form with the hopes that they would transcend them, as does the soaring soprano saxophone of Will Vinson. A moving excursion on “Blues and the Alternative Truth” explores the many possibilities of the open space allowed by paring down the ensemble to a trio of piano, bass and drums. The exploratory “Cave Life” is about portraying a scene and creating a story about it, in this case spelunking. 

“Ride the Paper Tiger” is an adventurous piece that provides ample opportunity to highlight the talents of the ensemble, including guest guitar slinger Nir Felder. On “Copeland,” Penman asks the ensemble to create an aural safe haven from the traumas of modern life, “a place for political refugees, PTSD sufferers, ex-White House staffers and anyone undergoing a tax audit.” The impressively wrought “Meats” is through composed with a little solo wriggle room given to drummer Calvaire. The concluding piece, “Big Tent, Little Tent,” is a grooving, easygoing composition that frees the ensemble as it closes out the set. 

After posing his questions and framing his scenarios to his open-minded ensemble, Matt Penman has been awarded with a fascinating and moving recording in Good Question, knowing all along that there might not be any answers to his queries at all. 

"'Good question' becomes a response when we don’t actually know the answer, but are willing to ponder further."

1. Mr. Right
2. Small Famous
3. Fifths and Bayou
4. Blues and The Alternative Truth
5. Cave Life
6. Ride the Paper Tiger
7. Copeland
8. Meats
9. Big Tent, Little Tent

Mark Turner - tenor sax (1, 2, 5, 7-9)
Aaron Parks - piano, Rhodes, organ, vibraphone
Oded Calvaire - drums
Nir Felder - guitar (6 & 9)
Will Vinson - soprano sax (3)
Rogerio Boccato - percussion (3)

Javier Colina & Chano Dominguez - Chano & Colina (SUNNYSIDE RECORDS June 1, 2018)

There are bonds that cannot be broken. Brotherhood and musical understanding are two such bonds. Pianist Chano Dominguez and bassist Javier Colina grew up together exploring musical genres that moved them like no other, namely jazz and flamenco (a music that is inherently tied to their Spanish identities and heritage). Their new recording, Chano & Colina, reunites the two after 15 years of pursuing differing musical courses. 

It was in 1986 that the Cádiz born Dominguez met the Pamplona native Colina at Spain’s National Jazz Young Talents Contest, where the pianist won first prize. The two had much in common as they were both self taught and they were both fascinated by the possibilities of combining flamenco and jazz. Flamenco was engrained in their consciousness from early on. Dominguez hailed from the capitol of flamenco music and Colina’s northern Pamplona was the home of one of the masters of the form, the incredible guitarist Sabicas. 

The two were able to develop their own, very unique language blending jazz and flamenco, thus developing a simpatico relationship in a short time. Soon thereafter, they formed the NeoBop ensemble in Madrid, which performed standards and original jazz material. Dominguez and Colina continued to play together regularly through the next decade. Their popular trio made its first recording, entitled Chano in 1992. 

In 2002, Dominguez moved to Barcelona and the distance made collaboration between the two more difficult;i they stopped playing together. Both musicians went on to accomplish some incredible things. Dominguez has led ensembles of all sizes, effectively establishing the flamenco jazz genre and even releasing two recordings on the illustrious Blue Note jazz record label. Colina has worked with some of the most highly regarded musicians in jazz and flamenco, including Bebo Valdés, Tete Montoliu, Al Foster, Chucho Valdés, Agustín Carbonell, Silvia Pérez Cruz and Diego El Cigala, among many others. 

The two had not played together in 15 years when they decided to meet up and perform with a trio at the Clamores Jazz Club in Madrid in November 2015. The intimate connection that they had fused years before was undiminished. Plans to play together more regularly were quickly made. 

The recording Chano & Colina was culled from the duo’s live performance at Sala de Camara del Auditorio Nacional de Musica in Madrid on January 19, 2017. The performance captured the musicians’ incredible musical breadth and skill, not to mention their fascinating rapport as musicians and friends. 

The program begins with Colina’s “Luces De La Fragua,” a festive tribute to the region where Dominguez was born . The track contains some intriguingly nuanced playing from both musicians. The Schwartz and Dietz standard “You the Night and the Music” receives a flamenco treatment with a rhythm straight from the tanguillos of Cádiz. Dominguez’s lovely “Habanera De La Habanera” was originally written for the WDR Big Band but is reduced here for a hypnotic duo treatment. The Wood and Mellin standard “My One and Only Love” is performed movingly in a waltz- time signature, while Dominguez’s tribute to Chick Corea, “Para Chick,” is an aggressive rumba that the duo had honed for years. 

Under the aural influence of piano great Bill Evans, the duo’s take on Parker and Charles’ “We Will Meet Again” is done in a slow-flamenco rhythm that goes into double time upon each chord change. Michel Legrand’s haunting “You Must Believe In Spring” follows and fits their setting as a flamenco tango. The great guitarist and composer Paco de Lucia remains a huge influence on Dominguez and Colina. They perform the maestro’s wonderful ballad “Canción De Amor” to perfection and create some tremendous moments on his “Ziryab.” The program concludes with a spontaneous (and very fast) rendition of Miles Davis’s “Serpent’s Tooth.” 

Building on a history and style they championed for decades, Chano Dominguez and Javier Colina have reunited to create a truly stunning recording that will stand as a perfect consolidation of their craft and influence on Chano & Colina. 

1. Luces De La Fragua
2. You The Night and The Music
3. Habanera De La Habanera
4. My One and Only Love
5. Para Chick
6. We Will Meet Again
7. You Must Believe In Spring
8. Canción De Amor
9. Ziryab
10. Serpent's Tooth

Christian Artmann - Our Story (SUNNYSIDE RECORDS May 25, 2018)

Flutist and composer Christian Artmann (“a composer with great vision,” allaboutjazz.com and a performer of “stunning virtuosity,” jazztimes.com) is proud to announce the release of Our Story, his third album as a leader and his second for Sunnyside after the well-received 2015 release Fields of Pannonia. One of the most compelling flute specialists to emerge on the jazz scene in recent years, Artmann has assembled a cast of long-term musical associates for the recording of Our Story: the formidable Laszlo Gardony on piano, whom Artmann cites as an important musical and spiritual teacher; the tight and responsive rhythm section of bassist Johannes Weidenmueller and drummer Jeff Hirshfield, both of whom played on his previous album as well as his 2011 debut Uneasy Dreams; and special guest Elena McEntire who substantially enhances the uniqueness of the band’s sound with her versatile and expressive vocals. 

After growing up in Germany and Austria immersed in classical music, Artmann discovered a natural affinity for the jazz tradition and ethnic music when he moved to the U.S. as a teenager. Drawn to expansive sonorities and rich harmony, he has a modern rhythmic sense that is at home equally in straight ahead jazz as well as grooves redolent of funk, hip-hop and Brazilian music. Compositionally, Artmann cites Wayne Shorter, Claude Debussy, Miles Davis and Johannes Brahms among his most important influences, and his music seems to transcend genres effortlessly. His instruments of choice are both the concert flute and alto flute — the latter having grown increasingly central to his music since 2009. 

The title track of Our Story, and Artmann’s conception of the album as a whole, are a reflection of his Buddhist faith. “The idea that we all interrelate, that whatever I do has an effect on you and vice versa, that’s a powerful concept that I really believe in. The music on Our Story isn’t so much about me as it is about us as a band and as comrades in challenging times, and about all of us as eternal beings living together on this precious planet.” 

1. The Noctambulist
2. Earthling
3. Quixote
4. Our Story
5. Amazing Grace
6. Tropic of Capricorn
7. Resilience
8. Elena
9. Pan's Blues 05:41
10. Always Here

Laszlo Gardony - piano
Johannes Weidenmueller - acoustic and electric bass
Jeff Hirshfield - drums
Elena McEntire - voice

Bob Reynolds - Quartet (May 15, 2018)

Tenor-saxophonist Bob Reynolds has uplifted many sessions through the years including working with Snarky Puppy (with whom he recently won a Grammy), John Mayer, and as the leader of eight previous CDs. However he considers the ensemble featured on Quartet to be his first regular band. “It’s not just a few guys playing a gig or an all-star group. This four-piece unit has played together for a couple of years—including a monthly residency at Los Angeles’ famed Baked Potato jazz club—and we’ll soon be touring Europe and the UK. “Things have been really progressing and I wanted to capture our chemistry on recording. This is the first time I’ve led a group that reached this level.”

Bob first met bassist Janek Gwizdala 20 years ago when they both attended the Berklee College Of Music. “He’s long been one of my closest friends. Regardless of who else might be in a group, when he is on bass, I’m not the slightest bit worried. Janek is not only an incredible player but our conceptions match up very well and he really knows my music.” Reynolds met drummer Chaun Horton ten years ago after moving to Los Angeles. “I love Chaun’s dynamic range, enthusiasm and ideas. He can be a ferocious drummer but also be extremely sensitive and quiet.” The saxophonist has often worked with pianist-keyboardist Ruslan Sirota during the past five years. “Ruslan is also a very sensitive player, giving the music whatever it calls for. These three guys can practically read my mind and always seem to know what I want out of the music.” 

Proof of that statement can be seen in the fact that all of the performances on Quartet were recorded in one day, partly before a live studio audience. The program begins with “Crush,” a melodic tune that seems simple but packs a lot of power as it builds. Note how Reynolds’ final solo phrase is joined spontaneously by Sirota, creating a gentle transition into his piano solo. The music is both thoughtful and full of inner tension. 

“Down South” has a catchy melody, an infectious groove that one could imagine Stanley Turrentine enjoying, a surprise quote of “Eleanor Rigby,” and an adventurous piano solo by Sirota that reminds Reynolds a bit of Lyle Mays’ playing with the Pat Metheny Group. 

“Hollywood Startup” could be a soundtrack to a silent film about a hopeful moving to Los Angeles with the dream of becoming a star. “It has hope, struggle, and a quiet acceptance at its end, as if things do not work out as one had hoped...but it’s okay.” The tenor’s heartfelt long tones and the active rhythm section combine together to create an atmospheric work about a journey through life. 

“Sway” is a medium-slow soulful strut that has Sirota creating an organ sound from his keyboard that adds to the sensuality of this rendition. “This one is what we call an adult tempo. It’s not easy to pull off a groove at this tempo because it’s easy to overplay. But these guys nail it.” 

“Hush” received its name because it was originally a ballad but, ironically, this rendition recasts it as a medium-tempo high-energy piece. Reynolds takes one of his most expressive and swinging solos of the set. 

“Stray Voltage” is a real change-of-pace, a free improvisation performed live in the studio before an audience. It blends together electronic sounds with acoustic instruments; Reynolds uses a delay pedal, and Gwizdala employs a slide to make his electric bass sound like a guitar. The quartet is so attuned to each other that it sounds as if it were worked out in advance even though the musicians had no idea what they were going to play beforehand. 

“Resistance,” a ballad worthy of John Coltrane, builds in intensity while it progresses. Quartet concludes with “Closer,” a performance that begins as a whisper before building to a final climax. 

Bob Reynolds, who grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, started on the alto before switching to tenor three years later. Early on he discovered Joshua Redman and Chris Potter who he still considers his biggest influences. After earning a degree from Berklee College of Music, he moved to New York and gained important experience working five years with singer-songwriter Jonah Smith and six with John Mayer. “That is some of my favorite work I’ve done. I love finding ways to fit into a band without being just the soloist, but using the saxophone in a supportive way.” He has also been an important part of Snarky Puppy during the past five years while developing his solo career. 

Beyond his playing and composing, Reynolds is continually busy. He has been happily married for 12 years and has a six-year old daughter and a two-year old son. He runs an online school with hundreds of students around the world, produces recordings, classes and coaching through his Virtual Studio and has created over 140 vlog episodes on his YouTube channel, which has over 40,000 subscribers. 

“It’s my never-ending goal to continue growing as an instrumentalist and a composer, and to create meaningful music that will reach and move listeners.” Quartet shows he is succeeding. 

Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including The Great Jazz Guitarists, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76

1. Crush
2. Down South
3. Hollywood Startup
4. Sway
5. Hush
6. Stray Voltage
7. Resistance
8. Closer

Ruslan Sirota - piano, keyboard
Janek Gwizdala - bass
Chaun Horton - drums

Florian Pellissier Quintet - Bijou Voyou Caillou (HEAVENLY SWEETNESS 2018)

Le pianiste revient en quintet pour un 4ème album et trempe son groove dans une transe vaudou libératrice célébrée avec Anthony Joseph et Roger Raspail.

Figure emblématique du renouveau jazz français, Florian Pellissier n'en a pas fini de jouer avec ses codes, exportant toujours un peu plus loin son swing hard bop et son groove sur des terres protéiformes. Après la sortie de l'excellent Cap de bonne espérance en 2016, le pianiste globe-trotteur a laissé son quintet, le temps d'un voyage au Togo et au Bénin, pour y découvrir les cérémonies vaudou dont les vibrations nourrissent les rythmes de ses diverses aventures musicales; latin Funk avec Setenta, jazz funk avec Cotonete, brésilien avec Camarao Orkestra ou encore hip hop avec Guts.

C'est sur cette découverte et ce désir de transe rythmique universelle que sont nés les onze titres de Bijou Voyou Caillou, un quatrième album aussi divers qu'exaltant à l'instar du titre homonyme où le quintet est rejoint par Arthur H, sublime narrateur de cette suite digne des grandes BO de nos films noirs.

"Arthur H avait en fait le refrain en tête depuis des années. Le matin de l'enregistrement, il s'est bloqué sur l'histoire de Kim Kardashian qui a été cambriolée lors de son passage à Paris il y a quelques mois et a mélangé son idée de départ et cette histoire dingue, ce qui a donné le morceau que l'on a enregistré. De mon côté, j'étais très fan déjà du morceau Cool Jazz d'Arthur, sorti en 1990 . Je voulais faire de ce Bijou Voyou Caillou une suite spirituelle, presque 30 ans après, une suite de l'histoire aussi. On l'a joué très cool jazz donc, ce qui donne un bon contrepoint à l'histoire de ce prisonnier que raconte Arthur sur notre morceau."  Florian Pellissier

Que les adeptes du son et de l'énergie hard bop et soul jazz des années 60 se rassurent, les intrépides Yoni Zelnik (contrebasse), David Georgelet (batterie), Christophe Panzani (saxophones) et Yoann Loustalot (trompette & bugle) et Florian Pellissier vous réservent quelques pépites du genre (Colosses de Rhodes, Fuck The Police, South Beach). Une poignée de ballades au swing subtil comme Espions sont autant de respirations rêveuses, avant une envolée de spiritual jazz avec une version puissante de Colchiques dans les prés digne de celle d'Eddy louiss.

Le quintet nous embarque dans une virée caribéenne enflammée avec la complicité du percussionniste guadeloupéen Roger Raspail. Le maître des tambours Ka est rejoint aux percussions par Erwan Loeffel pour une tempête rythmique sur Jazz Carnival, une reprise à couper le souffle du groupe brésilien Azymuth. Le slam percutant du poète britanno-trinidadien Anthony Joseph associé aux vibrations caribéennes sur Boca vient compléter ce tableau au groove universel qu'on a hâte de découvrir sur scène.

1. Fuck with the police 09:27
2. South Beach 06:50
3. Bijou voyou Caillou (feat. Arthur H) 05:35
4. Hibou bleu (feat. Arthur H) 04:46
5. Coup de foudre à Thessalonique 04:22
6. Colchiques dans les prés 02:54
7. Boca feat. Anthony Joseph 07:51
8. Colosse de Rhodes 06:06
9. Interlude chou 03:20
10. Espions 07:41
11. Jazz carnival 09:21

Wout Gooris Trio & Chisholm/Vann - Some Time (2018)

Wout Gooris has an instinct for tranquility. His 2016 release voor Jef was music made for the first moments of morning, when the sun is just shaking the sleep from its eyes, and a calm hush hangs over the world. Album opener “Fata Morgana” is a gentle sigh of melody, as comforting as it is serene, but from there, Some Time expands into livelier forms of expression, and sparks with life and busyness. Aiding that transformation is the addition of saxophonists Hayden Chisholm and Erwin Vann. And while the melodic textures they bring to the session are enchanting, it’s their harmonic contributions that give this music a greater presence than Gooris’s previous offering. It’s a welcome change, and brings to light facets only hinted at on voor Jef. It’s something best represented on the album finale “Lullaby,” the way the tune escalates from a familiar tranquility up to a temperature with enough heat to burn.

1. Fata Morgana 04:30
2. 't Wout 05:36
3. Rêver 08:10
4. Earthlings 06:52
5. Chant 07:11
6. Close 05:51
7. Open 06:31
8. Lullaby 05:00

Hayden Chisholm - Alto Saxophone
Erwin Vann - Tenor Saxophone
Nathan Wouters - Double Bass
Stijn Cools - Drums

Recorded by Ted Masseurs at Audioworkx on July 8 & 9, 2016 
Mixed by Stijn Cools 
Mastered by Uwe Teichert at Elektropolis 
Artwork by Stefaan Claeys aka Stanley Casfea 
Graphic Design by Marie Sledsens

Meg Okura & The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble (feat. Tom Harrell) - IMA IMA (May 13, 2018)

“PACJE has no peer in melding classical and jazz within an ethnically informed chamber setting.”
- Elliot Simon, The New York City Jazz Record

The ensemble’s self-titled debut album “Meg Okura’s Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble” was one of the “2006 Best Albums” of the Independent Music Awards. The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble has since released Naima (2010), Music of Ryuichi Sakamoto (2013), and the forthcoming Ima Ima (2018) to critical acclaim. The group has performed over 50 concerts and festivals nationally and internationally, including NYC Winter Jazzfest, Lincoln Center, Levitt Pavilion (CA), KL International Jazz Festival in Malaysia and sold-out concerts in Japan.

​A native of Tokyo, Ms. Okura moved to New York after making her solo debut at Kennedy Center as at 19. She studied at the Juilliard School as a classical violinist, only to switch to jazz upon graduation. Since then, she has performed and recorded with jazz masters including Michael Brecker, Steve Swallow, Lee Konitz, and Tom Harrell, earning her place as “the queen of chamber jazz.” (All About Jazz) She has appeared on several dozens of albums and soundtracks as a violinist and erhu player.

Her composer credits appear on films such a documentary, The Congregation, or TV Series, Louie, among others.  She has also written for C. Eule Dance, the New York Symphonic Ensemble, Sirius String Quartet, the J-Orchestra (18- piece jazz orchestra), and the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble.  She has received numerous grants and awards including Metlife Creative Connections Grant (Meet The Composer), Brand Personality Award (Asia Pacific Brands Foundation), Manhattan Community Arts Fund (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council), Jerome Composers Commissioning Program (American Composers Forum), and most recently, New Music USA Project Grant.

1. Ima Ima
2. A Summer In Jerusalem 10:27
3. A Night Insomnia 08:42
4. Birth of Shakyamuni 09:33
5. Blues In Jade 08:46
6. Black Rain 07:06
7. Tomiya 07:38

Tom Harrell (trumpet)
Anne Drummond (flute, alto flute, piccolo)
Sam Newsome (soprano sax)
Sam Sadigursky (bass clarinet, clarinet)
Brian Marsella (piano, Wurlitzer electric piano)
Riza Printup (harp)
Pablo Aslan (bass)
Jared Schonig (drums)
Rez Abbasi (guitar)

NPO Trio: Meg Okura / Sam Newsome / Jean-Michel Pilc - Live At The Stone (CHANT RECORDS 2018)

NPO Trio (Meg Okura, Sam Newsome, and Jean-Michel Pilc) is a group of like-minded friends celebrating their freedom of expression through music and sounds. Within the context of experimental music, the group weaves through musical idioms of jazz and classical – Romantic to Atonal, blues to free jazz.

1. A Four Forty 05:58
2. Bells, Whistles and Sirens 05:01
3. Oyfn Pripetchik-ish 07:16
4. Travels 06:26
5. Exodus and Emancipation 08:47
6. Pleading 05:37
7. Unkind Gestures 06:54
8. Yiddish Mama No Tsuki 18:54

NPO stands for Newsome, Pilc, Okura. soprano-saxophone master Sam Newsome, jazz pianist and Guggenheim fellow composer Jean-Michel Pilc, and jazz composer and violinist Meg Okura create the world of improvisational music which draws influences from different genres of music – from Romantic to Atonal, blues to Free jazz, from Yiddish and Japanese melodies to Coltrane.

Hely: Borderland - 24 bit 44​.​1 kHz (RONIN RHYTHM RECORDS 2018)

Imagine a Rothko, from the Color Field Painting era: luminous, full of contrasts; layered, extremely saturated, yet all the while, deliberately restrained. An object which was designed to elicit a type of internal, compositional tension that is not only capable of triggering your latent emotions, but that can also invoke that, which can only be described as an expression of the sublime. Now, imagine this in musical form! 

Borderland, the sophomore release from the Swiss piano and drums duo (with Lucca Fries, also known from the band Ikarus and Jonas Ruther) called HELY, is a collection of emotionally spiked compositions that sound like a series of intense, vivid, pictographic abstractions. A true feast for synaesthetics! It’s a record that reimagines the relationship between the piano and a set of drums and proposes a unique musical vernacular, one that fuses these two distinctly percussive instruments into an expansive, droning, polyrhythmic tapestry. The sound presented here could just as well be the bastard child of trance-inducing West African drumming traditions and the minimalistic, contemporary, European, post-classical and experimental sensibilities –if the two were to ever cross-pollinate and were presented in the form of an immersive soundtrack. 

All the songs found on this album were recorded in just two days, as a series of single and double takes. The session took place under the auspices of producer Nik Bärtsch and sound engineer Willy Strehler, at HELY’s rehearsal space, in a Cold War fallout shelter. The key objective for the duo was to get an honest, context-specific sound, and not worry about anything but the actual performance. Plus, the fellas knew that no concert grand would ever be able to reproduce the magic of their beaten up 1920s Welmar short, with its beautifully uneven reverb and idiosyncratic resonances and overtones. Here, it’s important to note that all of the sound-design-like “special effects” that are scattered about Borderland (if you listen to this record on headphones you will find plenty) were made with the actual instruments. 

Borderland is the product of a decade spent honing a singular sound and defining an operational modus which can sustain it in the long term. Novel contingencies between the piano and the drums were thoroughly explored. In the two years leading up to this recording session, sketches of songs were not only collected, but also repeatedly tested, both in a live context and during rehearsals. These thematic blueprints eventually became the core material for this record and were recorded as a serious of live improvisations. This should explain the extremely dynamic performances and raw emotional affect of this body of work. 

Thematically, Borderland is a polychromatic sprawl, with each composition presented as a complete universe in its own right. The hidden architecture of every song is wholly an outcome of an emotional tension and the result of two extremely seasoned musicians mining the present moment for it. Hyoga and Opio, for example, explore the hypnotic affects of the drone, with each going about it in its own, singular way. Hyoga relies on a sequence of overlapping, intensifying currents of staccato piano, interspersed with glistening shards of percussion; which eventually explodes into a cinematic crescendo. Opio, by contrast, abandons all of these shimmering, icy qualities and crafts a taut, insular space out of seemingly repetitive combinations of dampened percussion and muted piano strings. Cluster cyclically revisits a cluster of notes, relying on a 10/4 time signature, making it sound completely new and simultaneously familiar with every returning cycle.

Chopin SpaceStation revels in a melodic type of poetry, and despite what its title infers, was actually inspired by Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Trance, on the other hand opens a field of limitless possibilities around a single note and a pulsating, shuffling breakbeat. It’s one of those songs that feels like it could play on forever. Borderland, the title track of the LP, is what the fellas half jokingly sometimes refer to as “the hit.” The reason for this is not only its simple harmonic backbone, but that it had connected with the audience every single time they played it out. Perhaps the fact that it was born out of personal turmoil is also not coincidental here. And it’s just a ravishing moment on the record. In sum total, all of these songs add up to one rich, highly gratifying, yet unpredictable soundtrack of a journey, through an imaginary space called Borderland. 

1. Hyoga 08:21
2. Trance 08:47
3. Borderland 07:50
4. Opio 02:49
5. Cluster 09:10
6. Josyne 09:55
7. Kanazawa 07:34
8. Chopin Space Station 10:58

Lucca Fries: piano
Jonas Ruther: drums

Music composed by Hely.
Album produced by Nik Bärtsch & Lucca Fries.
Recorded July 2017 in Zürich by Willy Strehler.
Mixed & mastered by Willy Strehler and Lucca Fries.
Cover design by Benjamin Kniel, Photography by Andrea Ebener.
Songs published by Ronin Rhythm Productions & Neonstars Publishing.
Supported by Popkredit Stadt Zürich and Stadt Winterthur.

Kali: Riot - 24 bit 96 kHz (RONIN RHYTHM RECORDS 2018)

Kali represents the fresh and deep spirit of a new post-genre generation of musicians. Nicolas Stocker on drums (also known from Nik Bärtsch’s Mobile and Marena Whicher), Urs Müller on guitar (also known from Sha’s Feckel) and Raphael Loher on prepared piano (also known from Sekhmet) are natives of a contemporary musical world in which prog groove, noise, new minimal, ambient and new classical chamber music are just dialects of a common language. They feel at home in a composed and simultaneously in a free improvised musical context and follow their musical intuition with a wide and non-ideological understanding of music history. 

With this background Kali creates beautiful dark pattern spaces, hard minimal grooves and abstract mystical journeys with sound sensibility and progressive power. The band’s creative range varies from epic mystic dramaturgies to minimalistic miniatures of twinkling beauty. 

Kali is a genuine working band, which invests time, passion and patience into the idea of being a true musical and social organism with weekly sessions and rehearsals over years. With this consequent band spirit and with their enormous groove know-how, the three Kali members create an evolving new world of sounds and rhythmic interactions. As exemplary pieces for Kali’s musical variety embedded in a characteristic aesthetics are the pieces Riot and Um: 
The longest track Riot develops carefully into a wild dramatic groove trip flowing into a rough and empty area of sound and glowing notes, leading into a furious finale. 

In Um it seems as if a female Morton Feldman would sing a beautiful-strange song dedicated to Anton Webern. 

1. Trope 09:46
2. Bist du ein Schmetterling? 06:44
3. Riot 15:52
4. Um 03:14
5. Of 06:21
6. 61 06:57
7. Maya 02:06

Music composed by Kali.
Album produced by Nik Bärtsch & Kali.
Recorded 2017 at Suburban Sound Studio by Manuel Egger. Mixed & Manuel Egger, Nik Bärtsch and Kali.
Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound Studio NYC. Album photos, design and layout by Andrea Ebener.
Songs published by Ronin Rhythm Productions & Neonstars Publishing.

Emanative - Earth (JAZZMAN RECORDS June 19, 2018)

Led by drummer and producer Nick Woodmansey, Emanative have created a cosmic strand of multi-cultural UK jazz with African, Indian and Middle Eastern influences unlike any other act on the UK scene. Following on from their previous record on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood label back in 2015, Earth celebrates the diverse backgrounds of it’s galaxy of contributors, which includes Idris Ackamoor of US spiritual jazz legends The Pyramids, Afrobeat legend Dele Sosimi (previously of Fela Kuti’s Africa 80), key protagonist from Manchester's jazz scene Nat Birchall, India-raised Ninja Tune artist and Shabaka Hutchings-collaborator Sarathy Korwar, Ibibio Sound Machine player Ben Hadwen, Benjamin Page from RocketNumberNine, The Heliocentrics’ Malcolm Catto and Flying Lotus collaborator Ahu. 

Initially Emanative was an output for Woodmansey’s more beat-led productions which he began releasing in 2008. Over the course of a decade and a multitude of singles and three full-length albums, the project has morphed – emanated – into a collaborative, jazz-influenced, outward-facing globally-inspired collective. 2015’s The Light Years of the Darkness album release was a key turning point and a record that saw Woodmansey work with a stellar cast of contributors featuring amongst others Keiran Hebden aka Four Tet and trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah. All profits went to the Steve Reid Foundation, a charity which Gilles Peterson set up of which Woodmansey is a trustee – all in the name of the legendary jazz-drummer to help musicians in crisis as well as to support new talent. 

Born in 1975 and growing up in Sussex, music was part of Nick’s life from an early age as his dad Mick ('Woody') Woodmansey was the drummer with Bowie’s Spiders from Mars. His father instilled in him a life-long passion in drums, teaching him the basics. Plans to go to art college were shelved after he moved to London in 1991, squatting in Dalston, and esconsing himself in the London music scene. A few years later Woodmansey took a 12-month gig playing drums on a cruise ship, before returning to the UK and spending the next decade playing on the London scene in various projects whilst raising a family – it was there he decided to go it alone and so in 2006 Emanative was official. 

The Earth record encouraged Nick to delve deeper into his spirituality: “When you work with guys like Ahmed and Idris (Ackamoor), spiritual people, their vibe, attitude rubs off on you”, he opines. “I’m not religious but I an very spiritual: my perspective on life is less materialistic, more humanitarian. It’s important to see both the negative and the positive in life – but a spiritual perspective is inherently positive – you look for the good in things”. Nick’s spirituality is intertwined with his musicianship yet he is quick to point out that “the rest of the band are not necessarily on the same planet as me!” 

“I remember reading something Sun Ra said that has stuck with me. For most cultures and tribes music is not about the technical quality but it’s about expression, communication and the joy of playing. For me it’s about the vibe rather than technical perfection - if it sounds good, it is good". 

1. Dawn Child (Sunrise)
2. Heaven's Mirror feat. Idris Ackamoor & David Molina
3. Ìyáàmi feat. Dele Sosimi
4. Spice Routes feat. Nat Birchall
5. Sandhyavandanam
6. Egosystem (Solar Noon)
7. Reflection feat. Nat Birchall & Liz Elensky
8. New Day feat. Ahu
9. Heaven's Mirror (Reprise)
10. Minute's To Midnight For This Planet

11. Raga Requiem (Dusk)

Dinosaur - Wonder Trail (EDITION RECORDS May 4, 2018)

Dinosaur’s second album is as electrifyingly different as anyone who knows Laura Jurd’s track record would expect. Never one to be labeled, the fearsomely talented and multiple award-winning Jurd has a Miles-like way of taking her work and tuning it to illuminate a vast array of musical worlds. She’s done orchestrated and meticulously composed; jazz rock grooves; electronic minimalism; mainstream jazz and now, with her new album, Wonder Trail, and band Dinosaur, keyboard maestro Elliot Galvin to the fore, she’s plundered the synth-pop of the 1980s for a new sound. But this is not gratuitous borrowing, or any kind of hipsterish, retro post-modernism. For one, these are very current sounds (Broen’s an indie band with similar reference points that comes up in conversation). And for two, Jurd and Galvin use the poptastic-ness of the keyboard sound as a sort of tin opener to get into all kinds of serious musical areas - improvisation, vocodered strangeness, strutting rockishness, bucolic folkiness. But, as with any proper stylistic amalgam, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. 

Wonder Trail, whilst being a stations of the cross tour through an array of musical influences/interests, synthesises the experience (in more ways than one). It’s the use of the synth as the core sound that brings it all together, the other instruments queued in by its stabs and swirls, energised and contextualised. Within, around and over this hovers Jurd’s clear-toned trumpet sound which manages to be hot and cool without any apparent expenditure of energy - poised is the word I suppose, but that belies the power and incisiveness of her improvising and technique. 

Laura is keen to join the tricky task of placing the music on some kind of stylistic map. “There’s two vocals on the album. Plus one track with a scattering of vocals... something to bear in mind. The pop / folk influence is definitely there. There's certainly more of that in there than the second Viennese school! Perhaps it could be described simply as 'synth-pop meets jazz band'. I quite like the clarity of that. Personally I'd love to filter that down further and say - 'Dinosaur is a trumpet-led, instrumental band'. That way it's left to the music to explain the rest - which is something unique and personal for every listener.” 

1. Renewal (part I)
2. Quiet Thunder
3. Shine Your Light
4. Forgive, Forget
5. Old Times' Sake
6. Set Free
7. Swimming
8. Renewal (part II)
9. And Still We Wonder

All music by Laura Jurd
Recorded at Giant Wafer Studios, Wales on 27th - 31st October 2017
Recorded and Mixed by Sonny Johns
Mastered by Tom Leader