Monday, May 3, 2021

Wollny / Parisien / Lefebvre / Lillinger - XXXX (2021 ACT Music)


This story begins with just one sound, originating in the place which Berlin jazz people think of as their living room, the A-Trane. Back in December 2019, the club was host to four leading figures in today’s improvised music scene, who turned this cozy space into their blank canvas, their research lab. In eight sets over four nights, piano phenomenon Michael Wollny, re-inventor of the soprano saxophone Emile Parisien, electric bass icon Tim Lefebvre, and that free spirit of the drum kit Christian Lillinger were given free rein. They had agreed beforehand, incidentally, that nothing should be composed, arranged or pre-planned.


As a result, the music we hear doesn’t fit into any category. We’re in uncharted territory, so a good way to capture its essence might be to break it down into its four component parts. First there’s Michael Wollny, here for the very first time playing only on electronic keyboard instruments. He creates a characterful world of retro-futuristic sounds that is very much his own. We find the occasional nod to early Jean-Michel Jarre, references to science fiction and horror movies, and also vivid memories of the sounds of avant-garde Krautrock: "Can" and Irmin Schmidt and Klaus Schulze. As for Tim Lefebvre, here is a musician who has plied his very great craft with stars such as David Bowie, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, John Mayer, Knower, Steely Dan, Elvis Costello and Wayne Krantz. Here he is like a rock in a tempestuous sea. He propels the music forward with a combination of bass and effects. He builds structures and tames unruly elements. The way he lays down a groove is overwhelming. As a counterbalance we find the explosive yet highly sensitive playing of drummer Christian Lillinger. He stacks layer upon layer of rhythms and textures. And the melodic lines of Emile Parisien on soprano saxophone always have an astonishing springy inventiveness. Such is Parisien’s latent energy, it seems as if at any moment he could suddenly become airborne.


It takes a particular kind of musician to step forward willingly into a context like this with no fall-back or safety net. Before they actually met, the four musicians had been well aware of the risks. Each of them knew how different the others’ musical vocabularies and heritages were. And there was indeed a kind of tension at the start, which took about a quarter of an hour to subside. What took its place, however, was a collective sense of raised consciousness. The players’ eager curiosity as to what the next turn, the next impulse, the next push will be is palpable to the listener. One can sense the tension between the urge to construct forms, lines, grooves, harmonies, textures, versus the illicit joy of tearing such fragile structures apart before they have even been heard. There are beats and patterns from the 90s, 80s and 70s, all coalescing into cinematic bacchanalia of sound. These four master improvisers and composers all have the urge to rewrite the rules of their musical world – and to do so in real time.


And the story continues. The live sets by the musicians and their equipment produce a wealth of juxtapositions, fascinating collages of instrumental sounds. And in total, the recordings from the A-Trane result in at least eight hours of music. A decision is taken to distil these recordings into just one album that will be more than simply a document of the series of live concerts. Tim Lefebvre has the spark of an idea, and in February 2020, he and Michael Wollny meet producer and sound engineer Jason Kingsland in Atlanta. Kingsland has a background not just of working with renowned indie rock and pop artists, but also a passion for experimentation and improvisation. So the task becomes one of capturing the intoxication and the euphoria of these four Berlin nights, and also to take the abundance of possibilities and whittle them down to a cohesive album. Gradually, over several days and nights, the material is reduced, and a distillate consisting of ten surprisingly succinct tracks emerges. But here’s the paradox: this is a live recording which also sounds like a studio album… and yet every note in it was improvised at the club. What emerges here is an album full of joy, emotion, humour and an almost childlike, naïve pleasure in "playing". And it also presents a new trans-Atlantic group which is absolutely “sui generis” – a quartet which is one of its kind in the world right now.

1. Somewhere Around Barstow (Michael Wollny / Emile Parisien / Tim Lefebvre / Christian Lillinger) 04:14
2. Dick Laurent Is Dead (Michael Wollny / Emile Parisien / Tim Lefebvre / Christian Lillinger) 04:47
3. Too Bright in Here (Michael Wollny / Emile Parisien / Tim Lefebvre / Christian Lillinger) 05:33
4. Grandmother’s Hammer (Michael Wollny / Emile Parisien / Tim Lefebvre / Christian Lillinger) 01:59
5. The Haul (Michael Wollny / Emile Parisien / Tim Lefebvre / Christian Lillinger) 05:03
6. Find the Fish (Michael Wollny / Emile Parisien / Tim Lefebvre / Christian Lillinger) 03:05
7. Doppler FX (Michael Wollny / Emile Parisien / Tim Lefebvre / Christian Lillinger) 03:59
8. Michael vs. Michael (Michael Wollny / Emile Parisien / Tim Lefebvre / Christian Lillinger) 06:50
9. Nörvenich Lounge (Michael Wollny / Emile Parisien / Tim Lefebvre / Christian Lillinger) 03:47
10. Nostalgia for the Light (Michael Wollny) 05:22

Michael Wollny / synthesizer, rhodes & piano
Emile Parisien / soprano saxophone
Tim Lefebvre / electric bass & electronics
Christian Lillinger / drums & percussion

All music improvised by Michael Wollny, Emile Parisien, Tim Lefebvre & Christian Lillinger, except “Nostalgia for the Light” written & arranged by Michael Wollny; “Doppler FX” includes a sample of The Norwegian Wind Ensemble: “Rules of Behaviour Part II” directed by Geir Lysne & Michael Wollny

Recorded by Gleb Zagrebin live at A-Trane, Berlin, December 2019
Mastered by Zino Mikorey, Berlin

Produced and mixed by Jason Kingsland, Michael Wollny & Tim Lefebvre at Martin’s Garden, Roswell, Georgia, February 2020

Executive Producer: Andreas Brandis

Ida Sand - Do You Hear Me? (2021 ACT Music)

In 2020, the authorities in Sweden tried to keep normal life going for as long as possible, but, even there, things were eventually brought to a halt by Corona. And like everywhere else, musicians were among the hardest-hit. "It felt somehow as if one of my limbs had been severed,” recalls Ida Sand. “I had a longing to sing, I was missing music so much." The Stockholm-based singer/pianist is a well-established artist with a strong and long-standing following in several countries across Europe, so her diary would normally have been full. The lack of work, it turned out, was having a similar effect on her long-term colleague, keyboardist/organist Jesper Nordenström. "One day he called me,” she recalls. “'Let's meet in my studio and let's just do something'. Okay, I said, I can try to bring some compositions. We asked some more friends if they wanted to play. It all came from the simple desire finally to be doing again what we all love: making music together. We played four or five pieces and agreed to meet again. I promised I’d bring some new material for the next time, and I did. It was amazingly motivating to be back doing my job..."

The result is "Do You Hear Me?". The phrase is used a lot, but here it has a special significance: this is Ida Sand's most personal album to date, and not least because she has written all of the ten songs herself. "Before every project, you ask yourself: what should my next step be? In this case it was very clear: for the first time, I wanted to record my own songs, and only my own songs." But that's not the only reason why "Do You Hear Me?" has turned into such a strong singer/songwriter album. Sand has always seen herself as more of a soul singer than a jazz singer, and in terms of emotions, these tunes hold nothing back. They aim directly for the heart. "I didn't think much about the songs before I wrote them. It all just came together when we were in the studio. One track, ‘Too Close for Comfort’, I wrote when I got home after a session. It took me about half an hour, I was in such a state of creative flow, I literally couldn't stop!"
Ida Sand has produced an exciting, varied and colourful garland of songs to make up the album: we start with a snappy, guitar-heavy folk number, "Wasted on the Youth", then the ravishingly groovy "Burning". This is followed by a funky anthem a la Randy Crawford,"Now Is Not the Time".

The title track is a ballad which feels almost psychedelic, whereas “Too Close for Comfort" is a languid love song. "Don't Run Away" is a crisp soul shuffle with a brass section, and "Now Is Not the Time" is thoughtful, drawing the attention in on its subtle lyrics. "Go Be With Her" has the melancholy defiance of a song by Tom Waits or Randy Newman. Here, the singer pointedly expresses the wish that her departing lover should experience just as much happiness with his new squeeze as she had with him...

The members of Sand's band dovetail with each other wonderfully: they are all old friends, and she has been with them either in the studio or on the stage countless times. Besides Nordenström – who contributes a superbly abstract organ intro to "Can You Hear Me Now" – they are Sand's husband Ola Gustafsson on acoustic and electric guitars, e.s.t. veteran Dan Berglund on bass and Per Lindvall on drums. Anders Van Hofsten contributes vocals, while trumpeter Goran Kajfeš and saxophonist Per "Ruskträsk" Johansson, both known for their roles as creative heads of Oddjob, are there to form a top-notch brass section as required.

This band of soloists puts itself completely at the service of Sand's music. They never fail to ensure that the distinctive timbre of her voice, always so dramatic, can shine through. As different as the many moods, styles and the solo passages in this album may be, the songs have one thing in common. As Sand explains: "It could have been a subconscious thing, but because of the time and the circumstances, the songs are almost always about relationships – and not just about couples. I wrote one song for my mother, one for a friend, and one is about parting." So, "Do You Hear Me?" is an album which has something to say – musically, thematically and at a human level – about the times we are living through. So we need to thank Ida Sand – plus her friends...and the strength of that irrepressible longing to be back doing what she does so naturally and so well – for having captured all of these moods and reflections in ten remarkable and captivating new songs.

1. Wasted on the Youth (Ida Sand) 03:29
2. Burning (Ida Sand) 04:20
3. Can You Hear Me Now (Ida Sand) 04:45
4. Waiting (Ida Sand) 05:34
5. Now Is Not the Time (Ida Sand) 04:33
6. Sweet Child (Ida Sand) 05:24
7. Too Close for Comfort (Ida Sand) 05:15
8. Don’t Run Away (Ida Sand) 04:14
9. Let Go (Ida Sand) 03:46
10. Go Be With Her (Ida Sand) 03:12

Ida Sand vocals, piano & wurlizer
Jesper Nordenström organ, keyboard & synths
Per Lindvall drums & percussion
Dan Berglund upright bass & Höfner bass
Ola Gustafsson acoustic & electric guitars

Anders Von Hofsten backup vocals
Goran Kajfeš trumpet
Per “Ruskträsk” Johansson saxophone
Mats Öberg harmonica (guest on “Waiting”)

Recorded by Jarkko Heiniö at Stureparken Studio, Stockholm
May 4 - 6 and June 10 - 12, 2020
Mixed by Pål Svenre at Unit 7
Mastering by Klaus Scheuermann

Produced by Ida Sand

Marius Neset - A New Dawn (2021 ACT Music)

“What Neset does on the saxophone is nothing less than taking this instrument into a new dimension” (Süddeutsche Zeitung.)

The energy and the unassailable virtuosity with which Marius Neset burst onto the scene have not been forgotten. Back in 2004, as a nineteen-year old student recently moved to Copenhagen, he won the Talent Award at Norway’s Nattjazz Festival. He then made a huge impression as a member of groups led by Django Bates in 2008-2010. John Fordham of the Guardian described his 2011 debut album of original compositions as “sensational”, “indispensable”. He was the only artist from Europe in the Downbeat 2016 feature “25 For The Future,” in which he was described as “not only an impressive technician but also a formidable composer.” There has always been much more to Neset’s artistry than mere virtuosity: he has achieved several huge and successful composition projects with both classical and jazz orchestras, notably on three of the six previous albums he has produced on ACT since 2014, one of which, “Lion”, won him the coveted Norwegian Grammy, the Spellemannprisen.

Now back and settled in Norway, the “Wizard from Os” (Jazznyt) finds new ways of combining the urge to construct compositional structures with being free in the moment. Among the many delights of his seventh ACT album “A New Dawn”, Neset says that one of his own favourites is “Morning Mist”. His transformation of the opening of Lutoslawski’s first cello concerto into a vivid dialogue between two very different characters, a high and a low voice, does indeed feel like a stroke of genius. And his new take on Brecker-ish jigs and reels in “A Day in Sparrow’s Life”, originally written for a flautist, communicates not just dervish-like inspiration but also sheer joy.

Marius Neset has written an eloquent and carefully thought-through sleeve-note for “A New Dawn”, explaining the origins and the concept of this album, which looks forward to better times:
I have always dreamed of doing a solo album, an album where I am completely alone playing the tenor saxophone with no overdubs or effects, just as pure and honest as it can be. It is an amazing challenge – and also a bit scary: I cannot lean back on a rhythm section or another player, I am completely responsible for every little detail in the music myself.

I have chosen a combination of songs that I have composed during the past few years. Some of them were written for solo saxophone, others for small band, some even for symphony orchestra. What all of these songs have in common is that they were originally composed by me, playing the tenor saxophone, alone. In other words, they all started out as solo saxophone pieces.

When the Covid-19 pandemic made us all isolated and alone, I started to work more and more on these songs, and gradually the idea about making a record became more of a reality. I finally decided to record them in a beautiful-sounding room a few kilometres away from where I live in Oslo. There was something very special about the atmosphere on the day of the recording. It was a beautiful, sunny and very cold winter day, which reminded me of all the good things I have been doing almost every day in the past year: being outside in nature, walking, running, skiing or just being together with my lovely family. I felt inspired, so I just started playing and recording the songs that I felt most like playing at that moment. And this was more or less how I spent the rest of the recording day. I would let the tape run and play what felt most natural to me in the moment. Playing alone also allows you to focus much more on the little details. I played around a lot with different sound colours, for example using quarter-tones, or playing a note very softly with a particular embouchure to produce a very nice little multiphonic sound which would have been scarcely audible if I hadn’t been playing alone.

I also thought as I played about the stories behind many of these songs, and that seemed to make them more relevant to me than ever before. Some of the pieces are not just directly inspired by the many challenges that the world faces today, they also have a story to tell about hope and brighter times to come. I can’t wait to get back to making music with all my friends again, but in the meantime playing alone in my home gives me energy and positivity as we wait for life as we know it gradually to come back, as a new dawn. Marius Neset

1. A New Creation (Marius Neset) 04:27
2. Theme from Manmade (Marius Neset) 02:59
3. Old Poison (Xl) (Marius Neset) 03:24
4. Taste of Spring (Marius Neset) 04:44
5. Brighter Times (Marius Neset) 02:27
6. A Day in the Sparrow’s Life (Marius Neset) 04:59
7. Morning Mist (Marius Neset) 03:58
8. The Real Ysj (Marius Neset) 03:41
9. Theme from Every Little Step (Marius Neset) 06:50

Marius Neset / saxophone

All music composed and arranged by Marius Neset

Recorded and mixed by Daniel Wold at OSLO:Fuzz in January 2021
Mastered by Klaus Scheuermann

Produced by Marius Neset

Philipp Schiepek & Walter Lang - Cathedral (2021 ACT Music)

“An insightful and versatile guitarist.” (All About Jazz). “He has found a sound that is his own - and it is always imbued with both beauty and excitement” (Süddeutsche Zeitung). The responses to Munich-based guitarist Philipp Schiepek’s 2019 debut album marked him out as a musician of real sensitivity and one to watch. Schiepek, now aged 26 – who first played piano and accordion before taking up the guitar at the age of twelve – definitely has that most important asset of a musician: his own individual style. During his time as a student of both classical and jazz guitar at the conservatoires in Würzburg and Munich, bookers in Southern Germany already had this accomplished, versatile, technically flawless guitarist firmly on their radar. From 2016-2018, he played in the BundesJazzorchester (BuJazzO). He has also appeared as concerto soloist with a classical orchestra, and in various bands in the Munich region, for example with Mulo Francel, and alongside players with an international profile such as Richie Beirach and Klaus Doldinger. He won several prizes, including the 2020 BMW Welt Young Artist Jazz Award, and he has also steered his first major project as leader, “Golem Dance”, involving no less a figure than stellar New York saxophonist Seamus Blake, to a highly successful conclusion.

An important feature behind the rapid rise in Schiepek’s profile in Germany is that he is just as interested in classical music as he is in jazz. Schiepek sees the fact that he can oscillate between the two worlds as positive, enriching and complementary. And the miracle is how he manages to remain true to both: the classical acoustic guitar and the electric jazz guitar are essentially two very different instruments, whether seen from the perspective of playing techniques or timing or how musical interaction happens. Schiepek’s exceptional craft and his unique approach can now be enjoyed on his ACT debut “Cathedral”, in a duo with pianist Walter Lang, in which he plays just one instrument, the nylon-string acoustic guitar. His sound has a wonderful warmth to it; the setting may be intimate, but the playing is spellbinding.

Walter Lang, now aged 59 and from the Stuttgart region, has been called “the poet”, “the romantic” among German jazz pianists. He grew up with classical music, folk music and the Beatles, and it was essentially chance which led him to Berklee College of Music in Boston, and into jazz. The constants with Lang are a love of melody and a remarkable economy of expression – as his two albums with Lee Konitz testify. And the fact that he had developed accompanying vocalists into an important strand in his career is also fully consistent with this. And yet there are other sides to his artistry: he is a member of Trio Elf, successful pioneers in adapting electronic dance-floor sounds into the jazz arena. And he is also always looking for new challenges. Lang explains the genesis of “Cathedral” as follows: “The combination of piano with conventional jazz guitar can often be problematic. And that's why I've been having thoughts during the past three years about a duo with nylon-string guitar. During the Corona time I composed an enormous amount for it. I had been aware of Philipp for a while, so I just asked him.”
They got together for a session: “We just played for four hours straight, and realised that it was all working absolutely perfectly,” says Schiepek. “We didn't have to talk much about the music at all.” The power of simple melodies brings their playing together in “Cathedral”, whether in unison, in alternation or as call-and-response – or indeed all of these together in "Estrela Cadente” (shooting star). The two players are an ideal complement for each other. Lang's delicate touch and the variety of his approaches to both single note and chordal playing are enhanced by Schiepek's refined technique and frequent ornamentation, evoking the world of the Spanish classical guitar.

“Cathedral” is an album which lives up to its name: as an act of devotion, as sounds that rise into hallowed space. This is a touching and enchanting dialogue between piano and guitar, between young and old, classical and jazz, form and freedom. We eavesdrop on a musical conversation which through its depth and intimacy speaks directly to the times we live in. It can sometimes be sustained and calm, with hints of oriental meditation – as in the opener, “Sumniran” or in “Kamo”, evoking a time-honoured river which flows gently through the Japanese city of Kyoto. Or hymn-like as in the title track, or expressing the allure of a setting off on a long walk – as in “Pilgrimage”, composed by Schiepek. Or melancholic, as in “The World Is Upside Down”, which feels like an ode to the sorrow and sadness of the pandemic. But we find comfort and consolation too, as in the final track “The Encourager”.

“Cathedral” carries several messages of hope: that music will reawaken; that the universal language of jazz can and will both reach out into the future and, as ever, hold its many traditions to its heart; and - by no means least – one about the promise, the exciting prospect of all that young guitarist Philipp Schiepek still has to offer.

1. Sumniran (Walter Lang) 07:20
2. Cathedral (Walter Lang) 06:18
3. Estrela Cadente (Walter Lang) 06:11
4. Kamo (Walter Lang) 04:20
5. Pilgrimage (Philipp Schiepek) 05:13
6. Meditation in Ten (Walter Lang) 06:32
7. Gliding over Meadows (Walter Lang) 06:11
8. Prelude To the World Is Upside Down (Philipp Schiepek) 01:50
9. The World Is Upside Down (Walter Lang) 03:52
10. Light at the End of the Tunnel (Walter Lang) 05:06
11. The Encourager (Walter Lang) 05:49

Philipp Schiepek, Nylon String Guitar
Walter Lang, Grand Piano

Recorded and mixed by Uli Fiedler at Flip Top Studio, Wertingen, 13.11.2020
Mastered by Klaus Scheuermann
Piano tuner: Helmut Troendle

Produced by Philipp Schiepek and Walter Lang

Various Artists / Fahrt ins Blaue III - dreamin in the spirit of jazz (2021 ACT Music)

"There's a place for us, somewhere a place for us. Peace and quiet and open air wait for us. Somewhere…". These words from the classic song from Leonard Bernstein's “West Side Story” set the tone for "Fahrt ins Blaue III - dreamin' in the Spirit of Jazz": this is uplifting music, to take the mind and the soul to a place of safety. The kind of quiet interlude in a day which is always restorative. Switch off and then switch back on – better focused. We find calm, intimacy, thoughtfulness here; the sixteen tracks in this compilation have a sense of flow, while also allowing the listener to wander off into all kinds of musical dream worlds....

From the very first spacious piano tones of Esbjörn Svensson’s "Ajar", one feels time standing blissfully still. This little gem, and the "e.s.t. Prelude" which follows it, is our entry point into the dreamy universe which will open itself up to us over the next 67 minutes. Youn Sun Nah's bittersweet "Lento", based on the music of Russian composer Alexander Scriabin, gently emerges, seamlessly followed by Dusko Goykovich’s wonderfully warm and sad muted trumpet as he contemplates the falling of "Autumn Leaves" with Wolfgang Haffner's "Kind of Cool" ensemble. Then we hear singer/trombonist Nils Landgren, gentle almost to the point of weightlessness in "Somewhere". There is poetry and the originality in Paolo Fresu, Richard Galliano and Jan Lundgren’s Mare Nostrum Trio: we hear Swedish pianist Lundgren’s earworm-ish ballad “Aurore”. Lundgren also appears with his own quartet, with some hushed lyrical magic from Finnish saxophonist Jukka Perko in "No.9".

On "Fahrt ins Blaue III", Michael Wollny and Vincent Peirani show their astonishing kinship of spirit and their serendipitous ability to move together in their duetting on "The Kiss". Accordionist Peirani is also to be heard with Ricardo Esteve’s heart-rendingly lovely flamenco guitar and cellist Matthieu Saglio on the poignantly sad but uplifting and warmly Mediterranean "Bolero triste". We then hear the Wasserfuhr brothers transport us to New York's Brooklyn Bridge with a sweeping view of the shimmering Manhattan skyline at dusk with their relaxed grooving jazz ballad "Carlo".

For peace and inspiration, there’s a man and his guitar: Ulf Wakenius plays Keith Jarrett's "My Song". That is followed by the duo of Caecilie Norby and Lars Danielsson enchanting us with an intimate version of Leonard Cohen's “Hallelujah”. Two more singers take us to the world of cinema: Natalia Mateo sings  Wojciech Młynarski's gorgeous lyrics to Krzysztof Komeda’s “Lullaby” from "Rosemary's Baby", starting in her native Polish, and drifting into utterly beautiful wordlessness; and Viktoria Tolstoy offers that most pensive and gentle of break-up songs, "Why Should I Care". from the Clint Eastwood film "True Crime", with some stupendous guitar work from Krister Jonsson.

And then there is an appearance by inimitable Norah Jones alongside guitarist Joel Harrison and saxophonist David Binney. She recorded a languid version of the country song "Tennessee Waltz" on ACT, on the album "Free Country", from the same era as her 27 million-seller "Come Away With Me". Pianist Jens Thomas and saxophonist Christof Lauer give us the quiet poise of “Green Dance”. This epilogue sums up the aesthetic of "Fahrt ins Blaue III": dreamlike music of beauty, tranquillity and calm – that it is well worth spending some time with.

1. Ajar (Svensson, Esbjörn) 01:36
2. e.s.t. Prelude (Esbjörn Svensson / Dan Berglund / Magnus Öström) 06:42
3. Lento (Alexander Scriabin / Youn Sun Nah) 03:04
4. Autumn Leaves (Enoch, Jacques|Kosma, Joseph) 04:05
5. Somewhere (Bernstein, Leonard / Sondheim, Stephen) 05:06
6. Aurore (Galliano, Richard) 03:57
7. Carlo (Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr) 06:06
8. Why Should I Care (Eastwood, Bayer Sager & Thompson-Jenner) 03:56
9. Hallelujah (Cohen, Leonard) 05:03
10. Bolero triste (Matthieu Saglio) 05:26
11. My Song (Jarrett, Keith) 04:14
12. Tennessee Waltz (King, Pee Wee / Stewart, Redd) 06:08
13. No. 9 (Jan Lundgren) 04:42
14. The Kiss (Sill, Judee) 04:34
15. Kolysanka Rosemary / Rosemary´s Baby (Krzysztof Komeda) 05:09
16. Green Dance (Thomas, Jens) 03:19

line up
Esbjörn Svensson
E.S.T. Symphony
Youn Sun Nah, Ulf Wakenius & Lars Danielsson
Wolfgang Haffner Quartet feat. Dusko Goykovich
Nils Landgren Quartet
Paolo Fresu, Richard Galliano & Jan Lundgren
Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr, Tim Lefebvre & Nate Wood
Viktoria Tolstoy
Cæcilie Norby & Lars Danielsson
Matthieu Saglio & Vincent Peirani
Ulf Wakenius
Norah Jones, Joel Harrison & David Binney
Jan Lundgren Quartet
Michael Wollny & Vincent Peirani
Natalia Mateo
Jens Thomas & Christof Lauer

Konstantia Gourzi - Anájikon (2021 ECM Records)

Anájikon, the second ECM album after Music for piano and string quartet (ECM New Series 2309) by Athens-born and Munich-based Konstantia Gourzi, incorporates her chamber and orchestral music of the past decade. The composer also conducts the Lucerne Academy Orchestra here: "I see composing and conducting as a whole, as an inseparable relationship," she says. Gourzi is particularly concerned with making connections between the arts, which also relates to the question of her own artistic identity and the influence of her origins. In Gourzi's sound language, elements of different musical traditions repeatedly merge, and East and West enter into a dialogue. This album presents three of her compositions: her Third String Quartet Anájikon, her orchestral piece Ny-él (commissioned by the Lucerne Festival, in August 2016 with the orchestra of the Lucerne Festival Academy) as well as Hommage à Mozart, three Dialogues.

1. I con eleganza, intense, tanzend 05:28
2. II singing, sostenuto, dreamish 03:49
3. III scherzoso, ma calmo 05:41

4. Eviction 03:16
5. Exodus 04:34
6. Longing 02:45
7. The White Garden 06:06

8. The Blue Rose 04:37
9. The Blue Bird 05:13
10. The Blue Moon - The Bright Side 04:24
11. The Blue Moon - Turning 00:48
12. The Blue Moon - The Dark Side 03:57

Konstantia Gourzi   Composer and Conductor
Nils Mönkemeyer   Viola
William Youn   Piano
Lucerne Academy Orchestra   
Minguet Quartett

Cymin Samawatie / Ketan Bhatti / Trickster Orchestra (2021 ECM Records)

Singer Cymin Samawatie and percussionist Ketan Bhatti from the Berlin-based group Cyminology apply their poetic musical language on a larger scale with the Trickster Orchestra. Under Cymin and Ketan’s artistic direction, the orchestra interprets their characteristic blend of transcultural modern music. Cymin draws inspiration from traditional verses, spanning psalms to texts by Sufi poets Rumi and Hafiz, this time around performing lyrics not only in Farsi but also in Hebrew, Turkish and Arabic. With the growth of instrumentation comes an expansion of dynamics, textures and colours.

1. SHIR HAMAALOT (Cymin Samawatie, Ketan Bhatti) 05:05
2. HAST HUSSLE II (Ketan Bhatti) 07:09
3. HAFEN VOR TOUNSIBUURG (Ketan Bhatti) 07:20
4. TOUNSIBUURG (Ketan Bhatti) 05:46
5. GEBETE (Cymin Samawatie) 04:17
6. MODARA (Cymin Samawatie) 07:15
7. KORDS KONTINUUM (Ketan Bhatti) 09:52
8. KESKE (Cymin Samawatie, Ketan Bhatti) 07:12
9. POR SE SSEDAA (Cymin Samawatie) 07:19

Cymin Samawatie   Vocals
Ketan Bhatti   Drums
Trickster Orchestra

Juan Cato Calvi - Gaucho de la Pampa (Bass Clarinet Live Concert) May 10, 2021 Koshkil Records

Juan Calvi plays bass & soprano clarinets, classical, jazz, contemporary and improvised music in mixed written/improvised projects. He has performed in many countries, such as Argentina, Italy, Brasil, USA, Spain, France, Indonesia, India and Portugal. He has studied tenor saxophone, jazz and improvisation with Tony Malaby, Marty Erlich, Ellery Eskellin (New York) and Marcelo Peralta (Madrid), and bass clarinet with Eduardo Raimundo (Madrid) and Luis Gomes (Lisbon). Also, he has studied gamelan music with Pranoto Ahmad Raji (Bali), hindustani music with Nityanand Haldipur (Mumbai), and has played in jazz ensembles with Jerry Bergonzi, Steve Grossman and Peter Bernstein.

He is a record producer, has participated in several records and has released many albums on jazz, contemporary and improvised music (Creative Sources Records,Koshkil Records, etc.). He has received a Degree and a Phd in Media Studies and Music at Bologna University (Italy), Westminster University (UK) and Complutense University (Spain), and has published many books and articles about music and cultural theory. His last book is titled “De Gustibus Sí Disputandum. A practical philosophy of taste and music improvisation” (Dykinson,Madrid, 2018), and since 2004 he is Professor of Music at University Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain.

1. PURPLE FLOWER (Y. Lateef) 03:21
2. ABEJORRO (J. Calvi) 01:51
3. BEARD & HAT (to E. Dolphy) 01:58
4. ESTÁCATO? (J. Calvi) 01:47
5. IONA / STARGATE (J. Calvi) 07:29
6. LA MALHERVA (J. Calvi) 02:55
7. PRESENTACIÓN / LA OBRA (J. Calvi) 06:19
8. ZAMBA DE LOZANO (G. Leguizamón) 03:16
9. RANCHO (J. Calvi) 02:45
10. LONNIES LAMENT (J. Coltrane) / QHISPIKAY 05:18
11. CANTO GRECO (J. Calvi) 02:28

Live Bass Clarinet Solo Set Concert at SMUP, Lisbon, November 2020.

Bryan McCune and Brian Kooken - Land of the Free (May 2021)

1. Spiral...let's go out West 08:00
2. Omeros 05:29
3. Chant 04:20
4. 8/23 07:09
5. Talking Back 05:20
6. The Nice Song 02:51
7. Abduction 01:39
8. On Again, Off Again 03:28
9. Up Above the World so High 06:13
10. Stretchin' the Truth 07:30
11. They're Here 09:04
12. Blue Outness 06:16

Originally a limited release on cassette in 1995, this 12 track album features original compositions and improvisations recorded direct to 2 track DAT in Baltimore. With Bryan McCune on cornet, electronics, loops and occasional percussion, and Brian Kooken on guitar and electronics

Smandem / Self​-​Titled (2021 Super-Sonic Jazz Records)

Amsterdam based SMANDEM. proves that an incredible skill set and open minded approach causes genre distinctions to blur into pure energy. Inspired by the likes of Herbie Hancock, Christian Scott and Wayne Shorter as well as Travis Scott and Drake, the four-headed collective produces a sound that is deeply rooted into jazz tradition, while never restrained to any style boundaries or formal etiquette. They strive forward and explore ways to marry their delicate ability with present-day popular music. With a strong friendship at core, their dynamic live-show feels like it effortlessly accelerates from lush harmonies into colourful mixtures of dense rhythms and fierce improvisation. Including features by Herbie Hancock flutist Elena Pinderhughes (USA) and NL based talent Pink Oculus, their debut EP called ‘Self-Titled’ - set to release on Super-Sonic Records early 2021 - exemplifies best what this free-spirited mandem is up to.

SMANDEM. - consisting of Aäron Bouwman (Bass), David Nino van der Grinten (Keys), Rafael Devante Sinay (Guitar) and Kick Woudstra (Drums) - first met during their studies at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. They were quick to find out that they shared similar perspectives and were meant to play with each other. Their stunning synergy even got picked up by Kelly Coker, dean of New York’s famous New School of Jazz and Contemporary, quoting; “There’s never a feeling of trying too hard and that made it an absolute joy to listen to you. You guys don’t sound like Weather Report, but feel like Weather Report ''. Getting support from several local Amsterdam platforms such Super-Sonic Jazz, SMANDEM. sets out on a journey of becoming a vanguard in modern day music.

A philosophy that describes one the fundamentals of the band's music and personalities is; “There’s often confusion about the meaning of the words tradition and history. The tradition has a history, which we study to keep the tradition alive. The jazz tradition to us means communicating a mixture of styles and cultures. We share a love for present-day popular music and strive to create a sound that combines all of our influences into something relevant.” 

1. Gotu Lust 03:51
2. DM 01:41
3. Caption This 04:38
4. 12 AM in Bali (Ft. Elena Pinderhughes) 05:36
5. Illumi 04:44
6. Parasite (Ft. Pink Oculus) 05:11