Saturday, February 20, 2021
You would think that the ever-restless, searching pianist and composer Satoko Fujii would have performed and collaborated in every possible setting by now, but at least once a year there is a new Fujii release that finds her in a construct she hadn’t previously attempted before. Beyond (Libra Records) is Fujii’s first ever one-on-one with a vibraphone.
That vibraphonist is fellow Japanese native Taiko Saito, a young, up-and-comer who’s spent virtually her entire adult life in Germany. This record will likely be a lot of people’s introduction to Saito and they should be prepared to listen without any preconceptions because she doesn’t kowtow to set rules about how a vibraphone should be played. Like Fujii, she is capable of wringing all kinds of interesting sonorities from her instrument, a lot of which are completely foreign to it but are creatively done for the sake of art.
From the very first moment, it’s clear that Saito isn’t your typical vibes player, “Molecular” opens with a comforting, drone-like sound resembling those Tibetan meditation bowls. Fujii very gently eases herself in with a prepared piano that offers up the perfect counterpoint. Saito uses her vibraphone as a percussive instrument “Proliferation” as Fujii rummages around on the lower end of her piano’s range. Saito finally wrings notes from her vibes but even then she hits the bars in ways to get uncommon timbres from them.
Even more alien noises are created during “Todokanai Tegami,” a creaking sound as Fujii strums the strings of her piano and later, notes ring without the sound of mallet strikes as Fujii carries out a pretty melody. Those creaking sounds continue on “Beyond” while Fujii plays a series of chords widely spaced apart, as if to give Taiko the room to breathe.
“On The Road” is the first track where Saito reminds me of another vibes player at all, where there are echoes of Gary Burton. But Burton & Corea never sounded as free as these two do even on this song, and the chemistry between this pair getting together to record in the middle of their first-ever tour together is already comparable to that of the older masters.
“Ame No Ato” is a song of varying intensity and every little modulation in that intensity is done with tight cohesion, evidence that the two are listening very closely to each other. The same is true for “Mobius Loop,” even when it enters a massive, free-form vortex.
The piano/vibraphones duo isn’t exactly a new concept, but Satoko Fujii and Taiko Saito take that concept to places it’s never been before. The exotic places they visit make Beyond a trip well worth taking.
1. Molecular 05:46
2. Proliferation 05:24
3. Todokanai Tegami 08:48
4. Beyond 05:32
5. On The Road 04:52
6. Mizube 05:26
7. Ame No Ato 04:35
8. Mobius Loop 08:01
9. Spectrum 07:42
Recorded at the Oda Community Center “Subaru” Concert Hall in Ichiko, Ehime, Japan on June 26, 2019 by by Toshihiro Toyoshima, Akio Ishiyama, Naofumi Sato and Mitsuru Itani.
Mixed on November 6, 2019 by Mike Marciano, Systems Two, NY.
Today will mark the release of my second studio album, and my first full-length album with my 10Tet! The album features seven original compositions of contemporary and straight-ahead jazz, performed by Toronto’s most talented young jazz artists.
The album features Thomas Steele (Wind I, Compositions), David Hodgson (Wind II), Jacob Chung (Wind III, Compositions), Alex Manoukas (Wind IV, Compositions), Kaelin Murphy (Trumpet I), Christian Antonacci (Trumpet II), Nick Adema (Trombone I, Compositions), Andrew Gormley (Trombone II), Evan Gratham (Upright Bass), Jacob Slous (Drums) with Dennis Kwok and James Warren Morris (Arrangers).
1. Deja Vu 08:06
2. Push and Shove 05:15
3. Eastbound to Greenwood 08:04
4. Once In A 06:28
5. February Flowers 06:27
6. Sway 07:13
7. Middle Space 08:55
Feb. 25: NEC's Black Student Union honors Coretta Scott King in livestream event 'Continuation of a Dream: Requiem'
Evan Arntzen, renowned multi-reedist, vocalist and bandleader, presents his third album as a bandleader, Countermelody. This uplifting new release is a celebration of the interplay, collective improvisation and soulful counterpoint that played such a big role in Black American Music emanating from New Orleans in the first half of the 20th century. During a time when convening is all but impossible, Countermelody brings the gaiety of live music to the recorded realm.
Countermelody brings early-jazz-exuberance to an eager present in a release which author and Louis Armstrong historian, Ricky Riccardi, calls “the very definition of timeless” in the album’s liner notes. Arntzen’s Dot Time Records debut features many of his own astounding arrangements of early New Orleans and Chicago jazz compositions written by such luminaries as Kid Ory, King Oliver, Sidney Bechet and Bennie Moten. The release also features wonderfully innovative compositions by Arntzen, Halloran and Kellso. Aside from thirteen hi-fidelity tracks, listeners will also be treated to tracks that were recorded to wax cylinder, a medium that actually predates when much of this music was composed.
Stories is the newest recording from renowned guitarist and composer Roni Ben-Hur. On his latest collaboration with some of the finest musicians on the international jazz circuit, the jazz guitar virtuoso shares a fascinating collection of 'stories' from his genre-busting 40-year multicultural musical journey.
"Recording Stories has been a unique and very fulfilling experience, allowing me to incorporate songs I loved since my childhood, and ones that speak to social issues that are important to me, with the exquisite mastery of the artists in this album. Each person on this recording brought their stories to mine, adding beauty and depth that was beyond my imagination, making it a tale I wanted to listen to again, and again. I feel very blessed to be able to share this with the world," shared Ben-Hur.
Roni Ben-Hur is a master in the world of straight-ahead jazz, but his unique style also reflects the Brazilian, Middle Eastern and African musical landscapes that are so much a part of his heritage. This album is a dazzling compilation of great Stories from that rich treasure chest that yearn to be heard again and again.
1. La Serena
2. Something for Kenny
3. But I Had To Say Goodbye
6. After The Morning
7. A Redoblar
8. Melodius Funk
RONI BEN-HUR – Guitar
INGRID JENSEN – Trumpet
GEORGE CABLES – Piano
HARVIE S – BASS
VICTOR LEWIS – Drums
MAGOS HARRERA – Vocals tracks 1 and 7
TAMUZ NISSIM – Vocal Track 5
Cosmonauts is the exciting follow-up to PLS.trio’s 2015 debut album East River, which was lauded by All About Jazz as “the best in this category in many years”, and was nominated for “Best New Album” at the 2015 NPR Jazz Awards.
With influences spanning from minimal and ambient music to hard-pumping dance music and bombastic rock styles, PLS.trio creates a blend which, while defying easy categorization, is compelling, distinctive, and oddly familiar. With Cosmonauts, these electronic-driven modern jazz explorers continue this tradition with a first-rate mix of precision, refinement, playfulness and invention.
The tracks of Cosmonauts are adorned with bombastic, epic space-battle beats from drummer Shawn Crowder (Emel Mathlouthi, Sungazer), ferocious improvisational motifs of bandleader Pier Luigi Salami (Emel Mathlouthi, Chris Brown, Amy Vachal), and a breadth and depth of timbres explored by bassist / synth bassist Martin Fowler. However, while all these components lend gravity to the vast compositional expanses throughout the record, the standout, trademark fixture of all PLS.trio pieces lies in their uncompromising sense of melody. While so many of today’s improvisational instrumental artists hide behind their complex rhythmic and tonal chops, PLS.trio revels in the power of sweeping, memorable melodies though they certainly maintain the chops to support these melodies and improvisations.
1. Conquering 01:18
2. #stronglion 05:39
3. Look Ahead 05:26
4. Cosmonauts 08:40
5. B.E.C. 05:05
6. Just Before 01:19
7. The Heppicola Aftermath 04:33
8. What For 02:48
9. F0 06:40
10. Nessun Dorma (ft Giorgia Renosto) 05:02
PIER LUIGI SALAMI – Piano, Live Piano FXs, Synths
MARTIN D FOWLER – Electric Bass, Synth Bass
SHAWN CROWDER – Drums, Percussion, Electronic drums/percussion
‘Quintet Sessions 1979’ is the follow-up to Dot Time’s critically acclaimed re-release of Wolfgang Lackerschmid and Chet Baker’s Ballads For Two. A continuation of Lackerschmid’s great adventure with one of the greatest trumpet players in the history of the art form, the album features the spirited duo of iconic trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker and vibraphonist Wolfgang Lackerschmid alongside a stellar rhythm section made up of jazz luminaries Larry Coryell (guitar), Buster Williams (bass) and Tony Williams (drums).
The archival vaults have been reopened by Dot Time Records after the widespread success of Wolfgang Lackerschmid and Chet Baker’s Ballads For Two. JazzTimes noted “Serenity permeates [Ballads For Two], a serenity born of internal logic that feels both welcome and foreign”. Quintet Sessions offers a distinctly different lens through which to hear these fine musicians coalesce. This material (two tracks of which have never been publicly released before), presented here in a stunning CD package, displays the stunning musicianship and compositional prowess of each of these five leaders of their instrument.
1. Mr. Biko 09:05
2. Balzwaltz 06:46
3. The Latin One 02:24
4. Rue Gregoire Du Tour 06:31
5. Here's That Rainy Day 04:15
6. Toku Du 06:28
7. Balzwaltz Alternate Take 05:19
8. Rue Gregoire Du Tour (Rehearsal Take) 03:58
WOLFGANG LACKERSCHMID – Vibraphone
CHET BAKER – Trumpet, Vocals (2)
LARRY CORYELL – Guitar
BUSTER WILLIAMS – Bass
TONY WILLIAMS – Drums