Sunday, March 14, 2021

Vijay Iyer / Linda May Han Oh / Tyshawn Sorey - UnEasy (April 9, 2021 ECM)

Vijay Iyer presents a powerful new trio, in which he is joined by two key figures in creative music, Tyshawn Sorey and Linda May Han Oh.  “We have an energy together that is very distinct. It has a different kind of propulsion, a different impulse and a different spectrum of colours”. Repertoire on UnEasy, recorded at Oktaven Audio Studio in Mount Vernon, New York in December 2019, includes Iyer originals written over a span of 20 years, plus Gerri Allen’s “Drummer’s Song” and a radical recasting of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day.”

1. CHILDREN OF FLINT (Vijay Iyer) 06:26
2. COMBAT BREATHING (Vijay Iyer) 07:50
3. NIGHT AND DAY (Cole Porter) 09:33
4. TOUBA (Vijay Iyer, Mike Ladd) 07:17
5. DRUMMER’S SONG (Geri Allen) 06:47
6. AUGURY (Vijay Iyer) 03:29
7. CONFIGURATIONS (Vijay Iyer) 09:27
8. UNEASY (Vijay Iyer) 09:11
9. RETROFIT (Vijay Iyer) 06:40
10. ENTRUSTMENT (Vijay Iyer) 05:06

Vijay Iyer - Piano
Linda May Han Oh - Double Bass
Tyshawn Sorey- Drums

Sinikka Langeland - Wolf Rune (April 9, 2021 ECM)

Wolf Rune, a solo album, casts a new light on the highly personal idiom of Sinikka Langeland, kantele player and folk singer from Finnskogen, Norway’s “Finnish forest”.  Sinikka integrates her own songs among folk hymns, shamanistic rune songs and traditional dance pieces, draws texts from multiple poetic sources, and expands the expressive range of her instruments. Few artists embody the spirit of place as comprehensively as Langeland, and her music ruminates upon the wildness of the natural world and the interrelationships of its inhabitants.

Wolf Rune, recorded in December 2019 in Oslo’s Rainbow Studio, is an absorbing addition to Sinikka’s ECM discography, which has featured critically acclaimed projects including Starflowers, The Land That Is Not, Maria’s Song, The Half-Finished Heaven and The Magical Forest.

1. MOOSE RUNE 02:03
3. ROW MY OCEAN 04:29
8. WINTER RUNE 06:37
11. I SEE YOUR LIGHT 02:08
12. WOLF RUNE 04:55

Sinikka Langeland - Vocal, Kantele

Thomas Strønen / Ayumi Tanaka / Marthe Lea - Bayou (April 9, 2021 ECM)

A fresh and open music, delicate and space-conscious, is shaped as drummer Thomas Strønen and Ayumi Tanaka, previously heard in the ensemble Time Is A Blind Guide on Lucus, resurface in a new trio with clarinettist/singer/percussionist Marthe Lea. The group first came together at Oslo’s Royal Academy of Music, where for two years the players would meet each week for exploratory music making. Strønen: “We always played freely- drifting between elements of contemporary classical music, folk music, jazz, whatever we were inspired by. Sometimes the music was very quiet and minimalistic: playing together generated some special experiences.”

The spontaneous spirit of the music is reflected in the trio’s debut recording, which was made at the Lugano radio studio and produced by Manfred Eicher. With the exception of the title piece, based on a traditional Norwegian tune, the music on Bayou was collectively created in the moment.

1. BAYOU 05:38
2. PASHA 06:28
3. DURYEA 03:37
4. NAHLA 03:44
5. VARSHA 04:04
6. EYRE 04:27
7. DWYN 04:14
8. BAYOU II 01:01
9. COMO 03:03

Thomas Strønen - Drums, Percussion
Ayumi Tanaka - Piano
Marthe Lea - Clarinet, Vocal, Percussion

Nik Bärtch - Entendre (March 19, 2021 ECM)

A fascinating solo album from the Swiss pianist, composer and conceptualist, Entendre offers deeper insight into Nik Bärtsch’s musical thinking, illuminating aspects of his playing and the nature of his modular pieces.

As its titles implies the new album, recorded at Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo studio, considers listening as a dynamic process. In these solo realizations, Bärtsch’s polymetric pieces unfold with heightened alertness to the subtleties of touch. The pianist finds freedom in aesthetic restriction, while also seizing opportunities to guide the music to new places. An adaptive as well as a highly original musician, he diligently serves the context at hand, and the solo work has been developing in parallel to his group activities over the last few years. For Nik, some key moments in this regard have included his solo appearance at ECM’s 50th anniversary celebration at New York’s Lincoln Center in 2019, as well as performances in ongoing collaboration with visual artist Sophie Clements. A solo piano tour in 2017, furthermore, whose unorthodox itinerary took him to Teheran, Cairo, Alexandria, Kolkata and Delhi, had also prompted rumination on the intertwined relationships of solo performance and ritual music in different cultures. This, too, influenced the preparatory work on Entendre.

Nik’s numbered “Modul” pieces can be considered as templates rather than fixed and final compositions: he likens them to “a basic training in martial arts, which can be adapted to all sorts of situations. My way of working is to create new contexts. Each piece plays with the idea of composition, interpretation and improvisation, and is nourished by the same force, yet can create very surprising results…”

This is immediately evident on the opening “Modul 58-12” which unites pieces previously interpreted on recordings with Nik’s bands – “Modul 58” with Ronin on Awase, and “Modul 12” with Mobile on Continuum – to emotionally powerful effect. “It just developed in that direction in the studio. I didn’t plan it or expect it to open up in that way. The combination of these two pieces is maybe not a coincidence but more of an inner call. With a vivid celebration in the beginning, an opening flight that then goes to emptiness, stillness and breathing space.”

Patience, intense focus and lightness are among the contrary qualities necessary to play this music in “a dramaturgically directed way” and set its secrets free. In playing solo Bärtsch attempts, he says, “to let go and flow in the piece and transcend the egocentric way of forcing the music, finding a higher level of freedom in agreement with the form of the work.”
He also emphasizes that the solo music has been borne out of collaboration, including the long years of honing the music with Ronin and Mobile, and the teamwork of the session itself, with producer Manfred Eicher and engineer Stefano Amerio. “It was extremely helpful to have Manfred listening and giving advice about ways in which the pieces might be approached and interpreted. Hearing connections to Gurdjieff’s music in one piece, for example. Or suggesting that I play ‘Modul 26’ with the kind of flow that I’d found when playing 58. Such feedback helped to enlarge the whole listening experience in a very organic way.”

The responsive Lugano studio room – previously used also for Mobile’s Continuum recording – also asserted its character, Bärtsch says. “My touch in the solo music is not primarily a ‘jazz’ attack on the piano. It’s between things. Between chamber music, solo playing in the classical tradition, more modern minimal music, and the ‘groove’ aspect. And the natural reverberation, the natural sound, of the Lugano room helped to bring out these elements. I also felt inspired by the history of the room. And I really like the fact that it is here in Switzerland, in the country where I live and where Ronin works. I didn’t need to go anywhere else to document this music. It happens here.”

Entendre was recorded at Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI in September 2020, and produced by Manfred Eicher. The album is released as Lars Müller Publishers of Switzerland prepares to issue Nik Bärtsch’s book Listening: Music – Movement – Mind, which charts the development of Nik’s “ritual groove music” and the philosophy that underpins it.

1. MODUL 58_12 (Nik Bärtsch) 08:57
2. MODUL 55 (Nik Bärtsch) 08:44
3. MODUL 26 (Nik Bärtsch) 13:54
4. MODUL 13 (Nik Bärtsch) 06:22
5. MODUL 5 (Nik Bärtsch). 10:05
6. DÉJÀ-VU, VIENNA (Nik Bärtsch) 05:15

Nik Bärtsch - Piano

Danish String Quartet - Prism III (March 2021 ECM)

This is the third volume of the Danish String Quartet’s ongoing Prism series, which shows how the radiance of Bach’s fugues is refracted through Beethoven’s quartets to illuminate the work of later composers.  “Beethoven had taken a fundamentally linear development from Bach,” the Danes note, “and exploded everything into myriads of different colours, directions and opportunities – much in the same way as a prism splits a beam of light.”  Here the quartet follow the beam from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Fugue in c-sharp minor (The Well-Tempered Clavier , Book I) through Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet . 14 to Béla Bartók’s String Quartet No. 1.

“Inevitably, we base our work on what we know, as individuals and as a group, but the important thing to us as musicians is that these connections be experienced widely on an intuitive level. We hope the listener will join us in the wonder of these beams of music that travel all the way from Bach through Beethoven as far as to our own times.”

Danish String Quartet violist Asbjørn Nørgaard elaborated on the origins of the Prism project in an interview with the Boston Globe: “The idea came when I was reading Lewis Lockwood’s book about Beethoven. [Beethoven: The Music and the Life] He writes about Beethoven’s lifelong obsession with Bach and, in particular, The Well-Tempered Clavier. In his last years, Beethoven basically spent all his time studying Bach and writing string quartets.  Most of the musical material that he used to craft his last five string quartets can be more or less directly found in specific fugues by Bach.”

In the liner notes for Prism III, Paul Griffiths traces the ways in which the essence of Bach’s c-sharp minor fugue is transformed in Beethoven’s op. 131.

In turn, Bartók’s First String Quartet, completed in 1909, when the composer was just 27,   and still in the process of discovering his own artistic voice, paid direct homage to Beethoven’s String Quartet no. 14.  The first movement begins in the same spirit as Beethoven’s quartet, and as Bartók biographer David Cooper has suggested, “one might argue that there is an even more direct correspondence between Bartók’s overlapping entries  and his pairing of instruments and the approach taken by Beethoven in the fourth movement of op. 131.”

The Danish String Quartet has the unusual distinction of being a group of young musicians with an extensive – almost lifelong   - history of musical collaboration. Its three Danish-born members, Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen, Frederik Øland and Asbjørn Nørgaard first played chamber music together in a music summer camp before they were even teenagers, and then continued to do so throughout their school years. “All of a sudden, at the ages of 15 and 16, we were a serious string quartet. It all happened so fast that none of us seemed to notice the transition. We were enrolled at The Royal Academy of Music and our life as music students had begun. None of us have any memory of our lives without the string quartet.”

In 2006 they made their first recordings as the Young Danish String Quartet, immediately attracting the attention of publications from Gramophone to the New York Times. In 2008, Norwegian cellist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin joined the quartet, and the group has since gone from strength to strength, with repertoire embracing core classical and contemporary music, as well as folk music, which they also play with verve and commitment – as their album Last Leaf (released in 2017) confirms.

The Danish String Quartet made its first ECM recording in 2015, playing Thomas Adès’s Arcadiana, Per Nørgård’s Quartetto Breve, and Hans Abrahamsen’s 10 Preludes.
The DSQ’s Prism series was initiated in 2018 with the first volume incorporating Bach’s Fugue in E-flat major from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 12 and Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 15. “The whole approach invites active, committed listening,” wrote Fiona Maddocks in The Observer. Prism I also received a Grammy nomination.

Prism II features Bach’s B-flat minor Fugue from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Beethoven’s String Quartet Op. 130/“Große Fuge” Op. 133, and Alfred Schnittke’s Quartet No. 3. (“A revelatory connected soundscape in which Beethoven’s introspection feels more unsettling than usual.” – BBC Music Magazine.)

Prism III was recorded in Reitstadl Neumarkt in November 2017, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

1. Adagio ma non troppo e molto 08:08
2. Allegro molto vivace 03:00
3. Allegro moderato - Adagio 00:50
4. Andante ma non troppo e molto 14:47
5. Presto 05:15
6. Adagio quasi un poco andante 02:28
7. Allegro 06:47

8. Lento 10:23
9. Allegretto 08:37
10. Introduzione. Allegro 01:42
11. Allegro vivace 10:26

12. Fugue C-sharp minor, BWV 849 04:24

Frederik Øland - Violin
Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen - Violin
Asbjørn Nørgaard - Viola
Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin - Violoncello

Momo Kodama | Toshio Hosokawa | Mito Chamber Orchestra - Hosakawa / Mozart (March 2021 ECM)

In a composer’s note, Hosokawa writes that “Momo Kodama’s transparency, sensitivity and expressiveness have continued to inspire my piano music deeply. As she touches this magical instrument, she touches the mysterious energy of the universe and stirs my soul.”

Lotus under the moonlight is one of several works written by Toshio Hosokawa on themes of flowers and blossoms. Flowers are symbols of perfection in both Japanese poetry and noh theatre, with the lotus the most highly valued of all. In Buddhist tradition the blossoming of the lotus symbolizes the opening of the mind and receptiveness to revelation.

In his concerto, the composer explains, the piano represents the lotus and the orchestra the surrounding water and nature: “It is a quiet, moonlit night. The lotus flower, still in its budding stage, is bathed in moonlight and, preparing to open, falls into a dreamy doze. A deep admiration for Mozart’s music is faintly expressed in the dream.” This affinity, described by Momo Kodama as “the loving respect the Japanese lotus flower shows to the Viennese Mozart, along a bridge between the worlds of East and West,” was further emphasized by Seiji Ozawa in the Japanese premiere performances of 2006 from which the present recording is drawn. “Days of intensive rehearsals allowed us to witness the intensity and precision with which Maestro Ozawa poured his heart and soul into this work, underlining the parallels to the spirit of Mozart,” says Kodama.
Born in Osaka and educated at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris, Momo Kodama is well-placed to approach music from both Eastern and Western vantage points, as each of her ECM releases has done. La vallée des cloches (recorded 2012) traced lines of influence between Orient and Occident with music of Ravel, Takemitsu and Messiaen. Point and Line (recorded 2016) juxtaposed piano études of Hosokawa and Debussy, and was described by the BBC Music Magazine as “a fascinating meta-work that creates myriad associations, resonances, and new perspectives. Kodama brings a wonderful capacity for stillness to Hosokawa’s often ascetic language.”

After her time at the Paris Conservatory in the class of Germaine Mounier, Momo Kodoma made further studies with Murray Perahia, András Schiff, Vera Gornostaeva and Tatiana Nikolaïeva. In 1999, she became the youngest winner of the Concours International ARD in Munich. Momo Kodama has been invited to perform with orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Tokyo Symphony, NHK Symphony, NDR Hamburg, Radio France Philharmonic and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, under the baton of Seiji Ozawa, Eliahu Inbal, Charles Dutoit, Jun Märkl, Lawrence Foster, Kent Nagano, André Prévin and Sir Roger Norrington. Her musical partners have included Renaud Capuçon, Christian Tetzlaff, Steven Isserlis and Jörg Widmann.

Toshio Hosokawa was born in Hiroshima in 1955. He studied in Berlin with Isang Yun and in Freiburg with Klaus Huber and Brian Ferneyhough before returning to Japan, where he developed and refined his compositional style, influenced by Japanese traditional music and Noh theatre, by the sparse strokes of calligraphy, and by the sights and sounds of nature. The present recording is the fourth ECM New Series to feature Hosokawa’s music. Others, in addition to the aforementioned Point and Line, include Thomas Demenga’s double album Hosokawa/Bach/Yun, in which chamber music by Toshio Hosokawa and Isang Yun frames performances of Bach cello suites. Landscapes, recorded 2009 in Munich, features the Münchener Kammerorchester under Alexander Liebreich playing Hosokawa’s music for shō and orchestra, with soloist Mayumi Miyata.
Seiji Ozawa’s advocacy of modern composers has been one of the hallmarks of his long creative life, which has included celebrated work with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, of which he was music director for three decades.

Founded in 1990 in the city of Mito, situated in the northern Kantō region of Japan, the Mito Chamber Orchestra, under Seiji Ozawa’s direction, has achieved a reputation for its distinctive musical signature, combining the meticulousness of a chamber group with the sense of scale of a larger orchestra.


2. Allegro 00:09 - 11:07
3. Adagio 07:12
4. Allegro assai 08:23

Momo Kodama   Piano

Veronica Swift - This Bitter Earth (March 19, 2021 Mack Avenue Records)

Whereas Veronica Swift’s 2019 Mack Avenue Records debut, Confessions, contained songs that played out like pages from her personal diary, on the captivating follow-up, This Bitter Earth, she flips by crafting an ingenious song cycle that tackles sexism (“How Lovely to Be a Woman”), domestic abuse (“He Hit Me”), environmental issues, racism, xenophobia (“You Have To Be Carefully Taught”), and the dangers of fake news (“The Sports Page”). The singer-songwriter gathered material that covers multiple genres, including jazz, American musicals, and contemporary indie-rock fortifying her position as a leading force in genre-bending song presentation. 

“I want this album have two separate approaches,” states Swift. "I wanted to start with women’s place in society now and how it's changing. During the second half, I wanted to address other ailments in the world, whether it’s racism or fake news. But I don’t take any political stances. I’m very clear with my audience that as an artist I just want to address certain issues as an outsider looking in.”

1. This Bitter Earth
2. How Lovely to Be a Woman
3. You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught
4. Getting to Know You; The Man I Love
5. You’re the Dangerous Type
6. Trust in Me; He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)
7. As Long as He Needs Me
8. Everybody Has the Right to Be Wrong
9. Prisoner of Love
10. The Sports Page
11. Sing

Veronica Swift: voice / vocals
Emmet Cohen: piano
Yashushi Nakamura: bass
Bryan Carter: drums
Aaron Johnson: flute
Armand Hirsch: guitar

Lavinia Pavlish: violin
Meitar Forkosh: violin
Andrew Griffin: viola
Susan D. Mandel: cello
Steven Feifke: background vocals
Ryan Paternite: background vocals
Will Wakefield: background vocals
Stone Robinson Elementary School Choir: background vocals
Walton Middle School Girls Choir: background vocals

Cameron Graves - Seven (2021 Mack Avenue Records)

Pianist, composer and vocalist Cameron Graves calls the music he’s architected for his new Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group release thrash-jazz, though that only begins to tell the story. Yes, upon an initial listen, the juggernaut metal force and hardcore precision of Seven can knock you back. After all, Graves grew up in metal-rich Los Angeles, headbanging to Living Colour as a kid and, after immersing himself in jazz and classical studies for years, reigniting his love for hard rock through records by Pantera, Slipknot and his most profound metal influence, Swedish titans Meshuggah.

But listen closer to Seven, Graves’ follow-up to 2017’s Planetary Prince (which Pitchfork called a “rousing debut”). “Los Angeles is a melting pot of everything,” Graves points out. His father, Carl Graves, was a great soul singer, and you can hear his imprint along with the likes of Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding, on “Eternal Paradise,” which marks the younger Graves’ vocal debut. Throughout the album, the generation of 1970s jazz-rock fusion pioneers is a source of inspiration. “Our mission is to continue that legacy of advanced music that was started by bands like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and Return to Forever,” Graves says. “That was instilled in us by the masters. Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock—these guys sat with us and told us, ‘Look, man, you’ve got to carry this on.”

1. Sacred Spheres
2. Paradise Trinity
3. Sons of Creation
4. Seven
5. The Life Carriers
6. Super Universes
7. Red
8. Fairytales
9. Master Spirits
10. Mansion Worlds
11. Eternal Paradise 

Cameron Graves - piano
Colin Cook - guitar
Max Gerl - bass
Mike Mitchell - drums

Kamasi Washington - tenor sax

Yohan Giaume - Whisper of a Shadow (February 2021)

French Composer/Trumpeter Yohan Giaume Presents Whisper of a Shadow Opus 1, a Sonic Celebration that Traces the Musical Lineage Between Europe, Africa and America Through the Eyes of Romantic Composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk

Whisper of a Shadow is a Cross Cultural Project Featuring Evan Christopher, Herlin Riley, Nicholas Payton, Roland Guerin, Aaron Diehl, and More
Giaume explains, “By exploring these cultures from inside, traveling back and forth to different countries seeking the roots of the music, I started to discover pieces of the puzzle of the musical family tree and the links that interconnect the various cultures. Music is like a tree, everything is connected, every musical line or rhythm you play is the shadow of something that came from somewhere and it is fascinating to me to see how cultural heritage continues to exist after centuries of geographical transformations. It shows how music is powerful, essential in a society, and how vital it is to have continuum from the past to present time.” Giaume began in Cuba and South America, but it was New Orleans that left him rapt. “I had a strong feeling of recognizing a part of myself in that culture and city.” He also made an unexpected discovery during his journeys to the Crescent City: Louis Moreau Gottschalk, the Louisiana romantic Creole composer and pianist, had taken almost the same route in his travels as Giaume did two centuries apart. During Gottschalk’s time, he was one of the first, if not the first, American composer to inspirationally embrace Afro-Creole music. Gottschalk was heavily inspired by Afro-creole folk songs that his Haitian nanny sang to him when he was child.

Giaume discovered a song that Gottschalk never used in his compositions, although it was very familiar to him, he reimagined it as his own arrangement, sublimated by Christopher’s interpretation. In New Orleans the melody of “Lisette Quitté la Plaine,” once a very popular tune, was labeled as an Afro-creole song, but in his research Giaume discovered that the melody was originally part of the melodic repertoire used in operettas vaudevilles in France during the 18th century and the lyrics were a creole parody of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s opera “Le Devin du Village.” In his composition “Lez African E La” Giaume was inspired as well by another old afro-creole folk melody “Quan Patate La Cuite“ that Gottschalk used for his famous piece named “Bamboula”. In this track, Yohan pays a special homage to the enslaved that gathered on Sunday afternoon in Congo Square at Gottschalk’s era.
Another example of Giaume’s compositional process is what he did with the melody of Gottschalk’s piece titled “Morte!! (She is dead).” “One of my most powerful experiences was to attend Snooks Eaglin’s funeral in the streets of New Orleans. It is the first time I saw a funeral that celebrates a life and life, in general, with such beauty,” explains Giaume. “I was moved by the emotional strength and grace of this experience where the procession is accompanied by a riveting and soulful music. Gottschalk’s melodic lamentation sounds like a hymn and it moved me by its grace and its simplicity. That melody walked with me and infused the whole development of my composition called “Life Circle” inspired by the jazz funeral procession.”

Whisper of a Shadow in summary is much more than a musical album. It is an artistic invitation to slow down, step back from our time, enter into a journey through times and spaces, and celebrate what a multicultural experience can offer. Giaume concludes, “I found my roots through my journey in the culture of others which were entwined with so many others. We all have a shared commonality even if nothing suggests it; but to discover it, one must go out of one’s own comfort zone to explore it.”
1. Le Poète Mourant 06:49
2. Mascarade 04:48
3. Lisette 05:44
4. Cold Facts 02:54
5. The Promise of Dawn 06:12
6. Bamboula Dreams Part 1 02:01
7. Bamboula Dreams Part 2 01:53
8. Lez African E La 06:12
9. Life Circle Part 1 - Death 07:01
10. The Passage 01:20
11. Life Circle Part 2 - Birth 04:30

Yohan Giaume (Compositions / Arrangements / Musical Director / Trumpet) 

Evan Christopher (Clarinet / Collaborating partner)
Aaron Diehl (Piano)
Herlin Riley (Drums)
Roland Guerin (Bass)
Tristan Liehr (Violin)
Louis-Jean Perreau (Violin)
Emmanuel Francois (Viola)
Thomas Ravez (Cello)

Additional musicians:

Nicholas Payton (Trumpet on tracks 5, 9, 11)
Terrance Taplin (Trombone on tracks 9, 11)
Greg Hicks (Trombone on tracks 9, 11)
Matt Perrine (Tuba on tracks 9, 11)
Chuck Perkins (Spoken word / poetry and lyrics on tracks 2, 4, 6, 10, 11)
Nell Simmons, Kid Merv, Troy Sawyer, Casme Barnes, James Germain (Choir on tracks 8, 11)
Philippe Makaïa (Vocal and Percussions on track 8)
Bago Balthazar (Percussions on track 8)
Bruce Sunpie Barnes (Lyrics on track 8)

Recorded at Esplanade Studio in New Orleans 
by Misha Kachkachishvili assisted by Jesse Snider 
Recorded at Sextan Studio in Paris 
by Vincent Mahey assisted by Arthur Gouret. 

Mixed by Steve Reynolds 
Mastered by Gene Paul and Joel Kerr at G&J Audio, Union City, NJ

Artwork by Guillaume Saix
Nicholas Payton appears courtesy of Paytone Records.

Executif production by Yohan Giaume.
Produced by Life Celebration Project.

Greg Murphy - Cool Water (2021 Whaling City Sound)

It is glad tidings indeed that Whaling City Sound announces the release of a new Greg Murphy recording. In fact, the news is almost as joyous as the sound of Murphy’s piano. Cool Water is both heartwarming and exhilarating. Greg’s fingers find delicate and exciting ways of expressing themselves across the keys

It is the sound of a blissful talent given a new lease in both life and career, as well as the opportunity to rediscover his true and glorious gift. The recording opens with the ebullient “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” segues into a chancy take on Steely Dan’s “Green Earrings,” careening through a battery of brisk melodies and beautiful playing, including the astonishing “Cuttin’ Trane’s Corners,” a dark, surprising cover of Wayne Shorter’s “Lost,” and the funk-filled closing celebration, “You Decide.” Featuring Murphy’s bandmates Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums, Eric Wheeler on bass, and a bevy of special guests, Cool Water is just that, long and fresh, a ride with the top down, rife with optimism and full of freedom and discovery.

Greg Murphy is clearly glad to be back and playing music again, and we should all be thankful for it.

1. Chim Chim Cher-ee
2. Green Earrings
3. My Life
4. Theme For Ronnie
5. Friendship
6. Free Fur Nina
7. Enkare Nairobi

Greg Murphy / piano, keyboards
Eric Wheeler / bass
Jeff "Tain" Watts / drums

Miles Donahue - Just Passing Thru (2021 Whaling City Sound)

It may or may not be a fact that jazz musicians age with grace and class. Perhaps someday we will understand this idea better. But in Miles Donahue’s case, the concept certainly bears out. His latest album, coming on the heels of The Bug (Whaling City Sound, 2017), Just Passing Thru is large in scope and beautiful in execution. From song to song, there are moments of tenderness, passages of grandeur, and fistfuls of exhilarating, technical wonder. He ventures out on a Celtic limb on “Ireland,” swings with verve on “Living Room Blues,” and demonstrates subtlety and passion on the opener, “A Man of Few Words.”

Donahue, who is fluent on trumpet as well as tenor and soprano saxes, chooses notes boldly, exploring the full length of tonal potential. It is a joy to follow his risky explorations, as he makes his way through a labyrinth of unexpected turns. It certainly helps that he has an amazing crew behind him. Joe Santerre provides power grooves on electric bass as does Larry Finn on drums. They are joined by percussionist Ricardo Monzon, keyboard player Alain Mallet, and a handful of tracks featuring guitarist Mike Stern. With a vision that includes Crusaders’ style R&B, Weather Report fusion and lovely, soulful turns, Donahue is masterly here. More than simply Just Passing Thru, he’s making his permanent mark on today’s jazz landscape.

1. Hear My Words
2. Living Room Blues
3. Killing Me Softly
4. Just Passing Thru
5. Donny’s Groove
6. A Man of Few Words
7. 7_9_65
8. Railroaded
9. Ireland

Miles Donahue / saxophone, trumpet, keyboard
Joe Santerre/ electric bass
Larry Finn / drums
Richardo Monzon / percussion
Alain Mallet / keyboards
Mike Stern / guitar