Monday, March 1, 2021

Fredrik Nordström Quintet - Live in Coimbra (2021 Clean Feed Records)

"Inspired in the American jazz of the Sixties, but with a North European perspective of inquestionable modernity, Fredrik Nordström imposed himself already as one of the most powerful and intriguing saxophonists in the tenor variant coming from the Old Continent. His prestige as a performer is extensive to the compositional work he’s developing, such is the richness of ideas in terms of harmony and rhythm presented by his quintet.

With trombonist Mats Äleklint replacing Magnus Broo and his trumpet and Torbjörn Zetterberg ocupying the position of the double bass instead of Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, but keeping Mattias Ståhl (vibraphone) and Fredrik Rundqvist (drums) at their posts, this live CD recorded in Coimbra, Portugal, presents a renewed band with the same objectives defined since the beginning: elasticity of style and afirmative drive. Adding a new voice to the lineage of tenors with robust sound, it’s nevertheless in the Ornette Coleman heritage that we can place Nordström. And that even if “Live in Coimbra” has more connections with the Blue Note catalogue and the Bobby Hutcherson groups in the golden period of this master vibraphonist than with the harmolodic concepts.

The album includes two pieces never recorded before, “Yakiniku” and “Mister Barista”, and a version of a song by none other than the pop singer Björk, “Cocoon”, and it’s a blast, showing this project in the ideal of contexts when the music in question is jazz: a concert. Bravo."

1. Yakiniku 08:01
2. Russian T 05:53
3. No Longer 09:36
4. In Motian 06:01
5. Cocoon 07:28
6. Pizza Girl 12:00
7. Mister Barista 10:01

Fredrik Nordström - tenor saxophone
Mats Äleklint - trombone
Mattias Ståhl - vibraphone
Torbjörn Zetterberg - double bass
Fredrik Rundqvist - drums

All compositions by Fredrik Nordström except "Cocoon" by Björk Guðmundsdóttir/Thomas Knak

Recorded live on November the 5th 2005 at Teatro Académico Gil Vicente in Coimbra, Portugal by Luis Delgado
Mixed and mastered at Bluenord Studio in Stockholm, Sweden by Fredrik Nordström
Produced by Fredrik Nordström

Fredrik Nordström - Needs (2021 Clean Feed Records)

"In his new album, saxophonist and composer Fredrik Nordström deals with a format that reminds of a double quartet of the same type as Ornette Coleman recorded in the early 1960’s. For someone always interested in exploring different possibilities of group interaction, the decision isn’t really a surprise in itself: what surprises us are the results. Instead of acting as a double quartet, Nordström and his fellow Swedish musicians sometimes acts as an octet or as a trio, a quintet, or, you name it! The (double) rhythm section shows off some groovy and hard swinging parts as one unit, but the freedom to contribute individually in this collective of great improvisers is fundamental.

Nordström’s writing and conduction of the improvisational developments are, as always, subtle and meticulous, like hidden geometrical forms in an (apparently) abstract canvas. And if the double quartet matrix is generally connoted with the free jazz subgenre, in “Needs” something else is in equation, coming from the bop and hard bop traditions (Nordström’s tenor style owes something to Dexter Gordon) adding adventurous compositions with dazzling improvisations and giving expression to what the leader of this one day session calls «progressive jazz with unquestionable influence of contemporary classical and rock music». A must."

1. Needs 07:37

2. Fake Face 04:34

3. House of Tales 07:09

4. Hometown Prophet 05:51

5. Hope 07:29

6. Brand New Dollars 06:13

7. Morning Bliss 09:02

LEFT channel:

Fredrik Nordström - tenor & baritone saxophones

Mats Äleklint - trombone

Filip Augustson - double bass

Christopher Cantillo - drums

RIGHT channel:

Fredrik Ljungkvist - clarinet & tenor saxophone

Niklas Barnö - trumpet

Torbjörn Zetterberg - double bass

Fredrik Rundqvist - drums

All compositions by Fredrik Nordström

Recorded March 23, 2018 at BAS, Bandhagen Sweden by Mats Äleklint

Mixing and mastering at Bluenord Studio, Högdalen Sweden by Fredrik Nordström

Produced by Fredrik Nordström

Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul

Archie Shepp & Jason Moran - Let My People Go (2021)

"Words, sounds, speech, men, memory, thoughts, fears and emotions—time—all related…all made from one…all made in one." —John Coltrane, 1964

There comes a time when musical expression flows directly from the soul—unimpeded, unfiltered. Unmasked. A point when the modes of expression—the way a person plays and sings, the way he walks and talks and even wears his hat—are all on the same wavelength, all drawing from the same inner spirit. Their music reveals not just who the individual musician might be, but reflects who we all are. Message, music, and identity weave together into one.

Archie Shepp, more than sixty years into a career of supreme dedication, has devoted a lifetime to this idea of spiritual singularity. His vast discography is peppered with moments of deep connection: small ensembles and big bands. Significant studio projects and equally historic live performances, as sideman, leader, and very often, collaborator.

A special thread connects the saxophone/piano duets and makes them standout, Shepp’s meetings with such greats as Horace Parlan, Joachim Kühn, Mal Waldron, Jasper Van’t Hof, and Abdullah Ibrahim (back when he went as Dollar Brand.) Four hands, two instruments, one common statement. Shepp has found a way to consistently excel in this space, as a speaker and as a listener. Much of it has to do with the intensity of the interaction between the two voices, how that space allows the dialogue to stand out. Shepp, in all these instances, has elevated it further: developing these conversations with just the right amount of form and freedom.

Neither Shepp nor Jason Moran are old, and neither are they young—except in spirit and delight. Moran is the more recent arrival, and he’s no new kid on the block. They carry age and experience in their playing as much as a youthful fascination with the songs and forms that define this tradition we call jazz. Let My People Go is the timely title of this collection, but when has that message not been relevant? Now, sadly, as ever.

This is their first recording together, a gathering of duet performances from 2017 and 2018, chronicling a relationship that can sound like the intimate huddling of two old friends: whispered asides, excited exclamations, utterances coinciding with practiced harmony, followed by bursts of laughter. “Ain’t misbehavin’!” cries out one. “Waahhhh!!”, says the other. (That’s really Shepp speaking both parts—but you get the idea.)

Shepp and Moran first met backstage at Belgium’s annual JazzMiddelheim Festival in 2015; I’m proud to say I was there, having interviewed them separately, watching them talk for the first time, feeling the mutual respect that was there from the outset. In five quick years, their friendship has grown, and they have cultivated the chances to perform together: co-headlining or as guests on each other’s gigs, in Europe and the U.S., sometimes with a rhythm section and singers, and as often, just the two of them. The performances herein stem from two encounters: “Motherless Child”, “He Cares”, “Slow Drag”, and “Isfahan” from a gig at Paris’s annual Jazz à la Villette festival in 2017, and the remaining tracks from the 2018 edition of the Enjoy Jazz Festival in Mannheim, Germany.

Let My People Go offers ample evidence of Shepp and Moran’s consanguinity. Both were born in the deep South, raised up in the sound of the blues and black gospel: Shepp in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Moran in Houston, Texas. Both fell in love with jazz and other forms of cultural expression, and followed their muses north. Shepp pursued a degree in drama at Goddard College in Vermont, while playing saxophone and writing poetry; Moran, years later, focused on classical and jazz piano at Manhattan School of Music. Both developed an ever-expanding appreciation of pioneers like Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and Thelonious Monk, with an ear for contemporary styles: Shepp with 1960s Free Jazz, and Moran with Hip Hop of the late ‘80s through today. Tellingly, neither has limited their appreciation or their own modes of expression to just one style or age. Even as they maintain their own individual approaches, their mutual ardor for the African American cultural tradition embraces all leaves, branches, and —especial—its roots.

Love and pride and an abiding sense of message-giving that defies years and categories. That’s the essence of these performances. There’s an old African-American proverb that says, “The spirit will not descend without a song.” Let My People Go is a supreme example of this idea. In this music, one can hear how, when two deeply connected souls meet, the message in the music is clarified and amplified, how its power is increased exponentially. Listen to what they say to each other, and what their music has to say to us. — Ashley Kahn

1. Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child 08:20
2. Isfahan 06:10
3. He Cares 06:41
4. Go Down Moses 07:00
5. Wise One 13:12
6. Lush Life 08:48
7. Round Midnight 08:31
8. (Radio Edit) Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child 03:51

Recorded on September 12th 2017 at La Philharmonie de Paris, during Jazz à la Villette Festival, on November 9th 2018 at the Alte Feuerwache Mannheim, during Enjoy Jazz Festival.

Artistic coordinator : Monette Berthomier
Executive Producers : Clément Gerbault, Martin Sarrazac
Mixing : Raphaël Allain
Mastering : Raphaël Jonin

Jason Moran - The Sound Will Tell You (2021)

The Sound Will Tell You, Moran's 3rd Solo piano recording, was made on January 4-6, 2021. Half of the works use an effect dubbed "DRIP", a filter to allow the sound cast a shadow. The Drip gives the note another gravity. These pieces are marked by "tear", "honey" and "shadow. Moran, from Houston, also recalls DJ Screw's ability to give a song a new sluggish gait. Drawing out the drawl and sinking the beat into the mud. The music moves in slower motion.

Many of the titles refer to Toni Morrison, the author Moran read most frequently during quarantine. She evokes sound often and speaks of the pitch black night as "it may as well be a rainbow." - Song of Solomon.

The Sound Will Tell You is being concurrently released with an exhibition of new works on paper at the Luhring Augustine Gallery in Tribeca, New York. Moran's practice of recording his hand motions on the piano manual creates a variation on the "recording". The attack of the finger on the key leaves a mark and accumulates residue.

A believer in "melody", much like his idols Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols, Moran writes pieces that retrace themselves. The songs step into their own footsteps, a choreography of repetition, occasionally disrupting their own dance. Body and Soul remains a piece Moran circles around, this time with a nod to Eddie Kendricks' Intimate Friends.

For Love was recently heard in the film version of Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me, which Moran scored. His dedication to the melody is what pulls this record into another territory, aiming to eliminate the differences between melody and solo. The narrative drives these works.

How much more terrible was the Night highlights America's current state of pandemonium. 

1. Follow the Light 02:38

2. Spoken in Two (Tear) 02:55

3. For Love 03:56

4. My Mother's Handful of Tea 03:35

5. Only the Shadow Knows (Honey) 04:56

6. Body & Soul with Intimate Friends (Shadow) 03:06

7. Dawns after the Dream 02:13

8. Bee Mantra (Honey) 03:22

9. How much more terrible was the Night 03:12

10. The only morning coming (Tear) 02:34

11. Hum then Sing then Speak 05:16

12. Toni Morrison said Black is a Rainbow (Shadow) 04:23

Jason Moran: piano solo


Cecil Taylor Quintet - Lifting The Bandstand (2021 Fundacja Słuchaj Records)

When the Cecil Taylor quintet was ready to play at the Tampere Jazz Happening on October 30, 1998, all the musical world knew the virulent compactness of Taylor's groups, especially after the American pianist had established an on-going link with Berlin and the European public. That day in Tampere, a superlative performance of free improvisation (Harri Sjöström on soprano sax, Tristan Honsinger on cello, Paul Lovens on drums and Teppo Hauta-aho on double bass) was able to represent Taylor's enormous creative potential. It is a concert discovered in the archives of Finnish Radio YLE, never documented on a recording medium, which allows us to enter that absolutely unique world of Taylor’s groups: art and sound density, expressive universes that leave you speechless even after their conclusion. 

That day the sound power produced by the group was even able to impress Steve Lacy who, at the end of the concert, went to find the musicians backstage, saying:"...You guys really lifted the bandstand...", a statement that has been carved into the memory of that evening and also provides the title of this live recording. In Lifting the Bandstand the structure is typical: Cecil enters the stage, poetizes on his verses and enters into a free dance; then some deep clusters on the piano; the string musicians offer themselves in an abstract design and the development of a sort of propitiatory ritual outlined in all its excitement and fullness when the clusters start to become cutting and the musical set becomes explosive. In this concert Taylor and the four European musician-personalities continue their enthusiastically celebrated non-hierarchical style of play that they started from the very beginning of this constellation. 

They sow the seeds for a free and choral relationship that favors the shattering, the physical prowess of the musicians and a phenomenology of music. The first half hour of Lifting the Bandstand is an uncontrolled expansion of the sound mass, with the instruments continuously expanding so that one cannot believe that musicians can play with that intensity for so long: an instinctive, chemical experiment consumes itself, in which all "music" is demolished and re-presented according to a project of apparent intangibility, not a sterile but a constructive fury, which upsets for the speed undertaken and the extended techniques; only after an hour the shockwave fades into a cubic phase, less thunderous, more oriented towards a melodic quality and a timbre line, where onomatopoeia intervenes; there are some attempts to replicate operatic singing and we find reminiscences of classicism camouflaged in areas of interaction. 

Even when the music calms down in the end, there are still electric shocks of music, small refluxes of the instruments, which the musicians cannot completely dominate in this new situation of relaxation. When the ritual ends, the sensation is to have experienced the equivalent of a virtuous myth, a regenerating force that leaves the listener astonished, breathless and enriched not really knowing to where he had been taken. Ettore Garzia

1. Desperados A 28:25

2. Desperados B 47:08

Cecil Taylor, piano

Harri Sjöström, soprano sax

Tristan Honsinger, cello

Teppo Hauta-Aho, double bass

Paul Lovens, drumset, cymbals and gongs

Recorded October 30.1998 at Tampere Jazz Happening by the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE at Tampere Jazz Happening. Originally produced for YLE by Veli- Pekka Heinonen

Final mix by Patrick Römer and Harri Sjöström + Paul Lovens

Mastering by Patrick Römer of Unisono Records


Marek Malinowski / Robert Rychlicki-Gąsowski / Wojciech Zadrużyński - Scratching Fork (2021 Fundacja Słuchaj Records)

A place between structure and fluctuation where planning and spontaneity intertwine, enriched by rational thinking or wild instinct. A connection between cold focus and wonderful oblivion. The art of compromise without compromising. It might be a place where the hardness of metal touches the softness of skin. Scratching Fork could be all of these. One thing is certain – it is a band, a talented trio playing jazz-like music in contemporary style. The story of this band started in 2015 and since then Scratching Fork has been growing without rush, but consistently and inevitably, just like the mountains of New Zealand. Developing, not seeking attention or caring about changing trends, simply focusing all its energy on its purpose, emotions and discovery. 

Slowly cultivating its music, the band has grown stronger by firmly following its local Kuyavian roots. And what about these roots? What, or rather who creates Scratching Fork? The idea to create the group, just like the first song of Ilúvatar, seeded in the mind of Marek Malinowski. He then invited two musicians from Toruń to cooperate, Wojtek Zadrużyński (drums) and Robert Rychlicki (double bass), who had cooperated in rhythm sections for years. Both were fascinated by Marek’s music from the very first rehearsal and thus, adding a touch of their own sounds and emotions, became part of the band.

1. When She Sleeps 07:00

2. Mountains 10:05

3. Vertigo 03:06

4. Dancer In Galoshes 05:17

5. 7 O'Clock 04:18

6. Goodbye Poem 04:43

7. Fairytale Land 05:14

Marek Malinowski - guitar

Robert Rychlicki-Gąsowski - double bass, bass guitar

Wojciech Zadrużyński - drums

All compositions by Marek Malinowski


Frisque Concordance - Distinct Machinery (2021 Trost Records)

1. Inklings 03:57
2. Hot and Cold 07:19
3. Torsion 03:00
4. Metes and Bounds 02:46
5. Drunken Thread 10:20
6. Fissures 02:10
7. Flank Angle 01:51
8. Entanglements 09:05
9. FlowField 05:17
10. Refraction 02:22
11. Desmodromics I 10:39
12. Desmodromics II 13:42
13. Desmodromics III 20:37
14. Cold and Hot 02:26

Released as a double cd -
CD1, tracks 1-10: in the studio
recorded in Vienna, 11.3.2017 by Martin Siewert

CD2, tracks 11-14: live on stage
recorded at Konfrontationen Festival, Nickelsdorf, 18.7.2018 by Gerald Pally & Jens Jamin for ORF

John Butcher - tenor/soprano sax
Georg Graewe - piano
Wilbert de Joode - double bass
Mark Sanders - drums

Recorded, mixed, mastered by Martin Siewert

Disquiet - Disquiet (2021 Trost Records)

Disquiet is a special quartet that came together on the stage of the Konfrontationen festival in 2018. Initially formed and lead by Austrian electronic musician Christof Kurzmann, the project is reflecting the difficult political situation of the refugee movements to Europe – and how politicians deal with it in a selfish and unhumanitarian way. Christof Kurzmann, Sofia Jernberg, Martin Brandlmayr (Radian) and Joe Williamson reinterpret and process in quiet waves of emotions and thoughtful lyrics - concentrated music between serenity and sheer beauty, esp when Kurzmann and Jernberg sing a duet with Joe McPhees lyrics.

1. Disquiet 47:14

Christof Kurzmann - lloopp, vocals
Sofia Jernberg - voice
Joe Williamson - double bass
Martin Brandlmayr - drums

Shaymus Hanlin Quartet - Just Us, Just We (2021)

Shaymus Hanlin is a 19-year-old vocalist based out of Portland, Oregon. Growing up with the American Songbook in his heart, he fell in love with the music and began performing at age 13. For many years Shaymus had dreams of creating a jazz combo and, in late 2019, the Shaymus Hanlin Quartet was born. Their debut single “It’s All Right With Me” was released on November 28th, 2020. That release marked their very first sound out to the public. As the pandemic of 2020 crushed live entertainment around the world, the hopes for the band getting to play live anytime soon were fading fast. So... what did they do?

They recorded their very first album. With the help of many, lots of planning, hard work, and passion, SHQ is set to release their 10 track album in Feb. 2021 titled “Just Us, Just We.” Shaymus and the band can’t wait to share the music with everyone and hope you will follow along their journey. To learn more about Shaymus Hanlin Quartet, be sure to follow shaymus_hanlin on all major social media platforms, as well as

1. Just You, Just Me 04:50

2. A Kiss to Build a Dream On 04:42

3. How High the Moon 03:38

4. The Lady Is a Tramp 07:49

5. It Had to Be You 02:58

6. 'S Wonderful 04:37

7. Too Marvelous for Words 03:16

8. I Fall in Love Too Easily 05:59

9. It's All Right With Me 04:33

10. Almost Like Being in Love 03:22

Vocal/Bandleader: Shaymus Hanlin

Piano: Wes Georgiev

Bass: Liam Hathaway

Drums: Michael Rodenkirch


Tommy Smith - Solow (2021)

These five short solo saxophone tracks are slightly different from anything you've heard before.

The idea behind this, especially Songs of the Martyrs, was directly inspired by experiencing and listening to Psalm singing live, on the Isle of Lewis, in the Scottish Hebrides; music, which is one of the branches of 'call and response'.

About Tommy Smith

Born in 1967, Edinburgh. In 1983 Chick Corea recommended Tommy Smith to Gary Burton; he joined his group. Recording over 30 solo albums for Blue Note, Linn, ECM, Spartacus Records, touring 50+ countries, performing with Arild Andersen, Edwin Morgan, John Scofield, Jaco Pastorius, Trilok Gurtu, Dizzy Gillespie. In 2019, he was awarded an OBE for services to jazz from HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

1. Perotin 01:45
2. Amoris 01:20
3. Procurans 02:44
4. Montrose 02:34
5. Song of the Martyrs 02:17

Tommy Smith - Tenor Saxophone