Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Walter Smith III & Matthew Stevens - In Common III (March 11, 2022 Whirlwind Recordings)

Walter Smith III and Matthew Stevens are two musicians at the forefront of developments in jazz and improvised music, listing the likes of Terence Blanchard, Ambrose Akinmusire, Esperanza Spalding and Christian Scott as collaborators. The pair started working together in 2017, and four years later, they’re back for the third iteration of their highly commended In Common project. Previous guests include Nate Smith, Linda May Han Oh and Marcus Gilmore; on In Common 3, Kris Davis takes the piano chair vacated by Micah Thomas, and completing the lineup are two legends of the game – Dave Holland and Terri Lyne Carrington.

What’s new, third time around? “It’s longer, freer, and yet more spontaneous,” says Smith. The successful In Common formula – inventive ‘one-page songs’ written with specific musicians in mind – disguises the through-line that uniquely shapes this record: “The spotlight is on the community of musicians as a whole,” Smith comments. “The general vibe is sculpted by the musicians’ interpretations of what we bring in.” Davis’ influential presence means the project leans into the aesthetics of free improvisation for the first time; the resulting soundworld lends itself to electronic manipulation, another first for the series. The span of fifteen tracks showcases the duo’s knack for reinvention, slipping into unfamiliar contexts without losing sight of the album’s focused essence.

Smith is keen to emphasise the standalone nature of the divergent In Common recordings. Some aspects carry through though, like their commitment to remembering lost influences – opener ‘Shine’ serves as both a thank you and an acknowledgement to McCoy Tyner, Wallace Roney, Chick Corea, Jimmy Health and Ellis Marsalis. That introduces the remaining fourteen tracks, that divide nearly exactly into spontaneously constructed ideas that introduce fully composed tracks.
‘Loping’ was Stevens’ part-tribute to Carrington and Holland: “being of a certain ilk and having come up a certain way, I knew they would have had a specific way of playing this track” – Smith and Stevens feature in their trademark coolly cast melodic divisi. The single riff of ‘Oliver’ dissolves into ‘Hornets’s slinky groove, where we catch a glimpse of the sense of humour amongst the group. ‘Orange Crush’ squeezes all the juice out of a lop-sided ostinato, a concentration of the In Common philosophy into a three-minute segment. Then comes ‘After’, which captures Smith’s “never-ending optimistic thoughts about things being better ‘after’” – the opaque whirrs of the ensuing ‘Lite’ show that outcomes are far from clear-cut.

‘For Some Time’ does provide Smith with some closure, however – a timeworn composition that “finally finds a solidified direction amongst this quintet,” as Carrington and David jostle for position. ‘Reds’ sees Stevens back to Holland’s 1990 album ‘Extensions’, and “those big beat, odd meter songs.” ‘Variable’ involved Smith venturing into non-determinacy – “it’s written to be played in many tempos, meters, and approaches, but was not discussed prior to recording it” – and, via ‘Dust’s twanging landscapes and ‘Familiar’s misty acquaintance, In Common 3 concludes with the pensive ‘Miserere’, an aptly reflective conclusion to this wide-ranging endeavour.

1. Shine
2. Loping
3. Oliver
4. Hornets
5. Orange Crush
6. After
7. Lite
8. For Some Time
9. Shutout
10. Reds
11. Variable
12. Prince July
13. Dust
14. Familiar
15. Miserere

Walter Smith III - saxophone
Matt Stevens - guitar
Kris Davis - piano
Dave Holland - bass
Terri Lyne Carrington - drums

Recorded at Clubhouse (June 4-6 2021)
Mixed by Jay Dudt
Mastered by Jay Dudt & Jesse Naus
Produced by Matthew Stevens & Walter Smith III
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
Photography - Pierce Johnston
Album Artwork/Graphic Design - Dave Bush

Marta Sanchez - SAAM (Spanish American Art Museum) February 25, 2022 Whirlwind Recordings

Marta Sanchez’s creative voice is strikingly original – circling rhythms, elaborate forms and criss-crossing counterpoint distinguishes her sonic signature on the crowded New York contemporary music scene. Following three critically acclaimed quintet releases, the Madrid-born pianist-composer presents SAAM (Spanish American Art Museum) on Whirlwind Recordings, an album driven by emotional candour and boundary-pushing compositions.

A talented cast realises her knotty, technical writing – frontline partners Alex Lore and Roman Filiu meet Sanchez, Rashaan Carter andAllan Mednard on backline duties.

SAAM riffs on the Smithsonian American Art Museum, on an album that’s an exhibition of Sanchez’s life in musical form: “It’s made up of all the elements of society from both countries [Spain and America] that impact my life and make me who I am.” Matters internal and external are realised in musical expositions of complex feelings. The pieces took shape in lockdown, as Sanchez exchanged fortnightly composition tasks with a pen- pal. “Those compositions express all the phases I was going through at that time. I was reflecting super deeply on what’s important, and how we might give some sense to life.”

Most of the album draws on those precisely realised emotions. The colouristic, texturally driven opener ‘The Unconquerable Areas’ describes parts of herself “that are still vulnerable. These weak parts of myself; even though I’ve been dealing with them for a long time, they’re still there.” Similarly reflective is ‘Dear Worthiness’, a “sad ballad that reflects on my self worth” – it features beautifully lithe melodies, but melancholy is never far away. ‘SAAM’ cuts through that smoothness, in a jagged, Schoenberg- inspired outburst full of intense feelings and dense clusters, built around an essential pain.
A different form of pain features in ‘The Eternal Stillness’ – mournful sighs and cries emanate from the saxophones, as layered textures shift underneath. Then something very different comes along – ‘Marivi’, featuring Ambrose Akinmusire and Camila Meza, offers a warm tribute to Sanchez’s mother, who died during lockdown. “I tell her things I could never tell her,” says Sanchez of the lyrics. “I loved my mum but it was really hard to tell her the deep things.”

‘If You Could Create It’ strikes a lighter tone, with cascading torrents of tenor sax sound, before ‘The Hard Balance’ offers reflection, both musically and personally – the track is finely balanced on an intricate polyrhythm, that reflects the difficulties of maintaining a work-life balance. ‘December 11th’ is the day Sanchez’s mother died, a personal tribute featuring an extended, heartfelt piano solo.

The album concludes with ‘When Dreaming is Only’, the most complex tune on the album; insistent piano rhythms and duelling saxophones give way to a band texture that’s bustling, brimming with energy. “Sometimes I just take the vibe, compose the atmosphere, and sometimes I focus on something super specific.” Sanchez’s ability to tap into emotional expression through detailed instrumental music is without parallel – this collage of moods and feelings is testament to that.

1. The Unconquered Vulnerable Areas
2. Dear Worthiness
3. SAAM (Spanish American Art Museum)
4. The Eternal Stillness
5. Marivi
6. If You Could Create It
7. The Hard Balance
8. December 11th
9. When Dreaming Is The Only

Alex LoRe - alto saxophone
Roman Filiu - tenor saxophone
Marta Sanchez - piano
Rashaan Carter - bass
Allan Mednard - drums
Camila Meza - voice and guitar (5)
Ambrose Akinmusire - trumpet (5)
Charlotte Greve - synths (5)

Recorded by Chris Allen at Sear Sound
(March 15/16, 2021)
Mixed by Dave Darlington
Mastered by Dave Darlington
Produced by Marta Sanchez
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
Liner Notes - Michael Formanek
Photography by Kimberley M Wang
Graphic Design by Dave Bush

Jack DeSalvo - Bare Trees (February 4, 2022 Unseen Rain Records)

Though largely unrecognized, Jack DeSalvo may be one of the most unique guitarists on the planet. His synthesis of classical and jazz guitar techniques allows him to play long, intricate lines while still adding chords. No doubt due to his pianist influences like Keith Jarrett. But the real story is subtle melodic development. All emanating from years of study of jazz, classical and world folk music repertoire and a focus on both the pure spirit of improvisation in the service of creating beautiful music as well as being a prolific composer. DeSalvo's music is nothing short of visionary as the music here emphatically shows. The exquisite beauty of the performances bring it all home.

1. Monads
2. Aside
3. Bare Trees
4. Verdure
5. Radiance
6. News From Haskell
7. Agon
8. For JB
9. October 3
10. Keeping Watch
11. Late July
12. She Has With
13. Which We Hadn't Noticed Before
14. Mentions
15. She Has With (Reprise)
16. Wind Grains 1
17. Wind Grains 2

Jack DeSalvo - guitar (nylon string)

Recorded in Jack's studio
Mixed and mastered by Larry Hutter, Orlando, FL
Design by Qua's Eye Graphix
An Unseen Rain Production

Jack DeSalvo - Numinous (January 31, 2022 Unseen Rain Records)

Jack DeSalvo's music covers a lot of ground, but with this trio it's an intimate affair, melodic, often swinging yet with arching, virtuosic solos all around. This trio has been the nucleus of a number of ensembles both live and on record - Quintrepid, Zone and others. DeSalvo exclusively plays nylons string guitar here, utilizing his amazing facility that's a synthesis of classical and jazz technique. Here the music's the thing from the open Dream of the Lynx to the two swinging takes of Perhaps.The fullness is more like a piano trio but with the expressive touch of the guitar. Dmitri and Tom are deep listeners which make the music rich emotionally and powerful in its realization.

1. One Footprint
2. Numinous
3. Perhaps Take 1
4. Liquid Stones
5. Aside
6. Exuvae
7. Perhaps Take 2
8. Dream of The Lynx
9. Balue Bolivar

Jack DeSalvo - guitar (Godin nylon string)
Dmitri Ishenko - double-bass
Tom Cabrera - drums

All music by Jack DeSalvo except Balue Bolivar by T. Monk

Recorded at Woodshedd Studio, Westbury, NY
Mixed and mastered by Larry Hutter, Orlando, FL
Front photo of group by Eli Forde
Design by Qua's Eye Graphix
An Unseen Rain Production

Sumari - Ramsey (December 2021 Unseen Rain Records)

Though mostly known for his time as violinist with Cecil Taylor, Ramsey Ameen was a musician, polymath, computer engineer, mathematician and philosopher. When I learned we lived close by each other we began to drive together to gigs in NYC. Ramsey was well versed in any subject I could bring up, and could discuss deeply for hours. And we did. Bach, Ornette Coleman, Gurdjieff, Blavatsky, geometry, world events, politics, et al. I called him about recording a duo with him on violin and guitarist Dom Minasi. Two days later I learned Ramsey had passed. A shock to say the least, heartbreaking news at the loss of this dear friend and great man. This album, Ramsey, is dedicated to him.

This performance by Sumari at a concert in memory of Ramsey with several ensembles was recorded at Scholes Street Studio in Brooklyn, NY.

The performance was attended by numerous Downtown Music luminaries and is likely the last recording from Sumari, an improvising unit that started as a trio and was later augmented by the presence of double-bass master Hilliard Greene. Sumari recorded 5 previous album for Unseen Rain Records. This album, Ramsey, has three extensive tracks with the last one a surprise blues. - Jack DeSalvo

1. Piece 1 for Ramsey 19:42
2. Piece 2 for Ramsey 13:54
3. Blues for Ramsey 07:28

MATT LAVELLE - Trumpet, Alto & Bass Clarinets
JACK DeSALVO - Guitar
HILLIARD GREENE - Double Bass
TOM CABRERA - Drums

Recorded at Schole Street Studio, Brooklyn, NY by René Allain
Mixed and mastered by Larry Hutter, Orlando, FL
Cover painting by Tom Cabrera, design by Qua's Eye Graphix
Produced by Jack DeSalvo

In memory of Ramsey Ameen (1945-2019)

Gorm Askjær Secret Safari - First Movement (December 2021 Jaeger Community)

The album First Movement is a musical journey into the near: From the splashing of West Jutland surf waves in Cold Hawaii, past three fantastic fantasy dances and what lurks under the veranda, to a trip into the first 16 bars of a Brahms symphony. For the open mind, every place is a treasure trove of new experiences.

1. First Movement 05:59
2. Something Lurking Under The Front Porch 04:32
3. Secret Safari 05:11
4. Phantasie Gymnopedie 05:07
5. Slow Surfing In Cold Hawaii 05:34
6. In The Dark Of The Light 06:46
7. Three Dances 05:26

Gorm Askjær - guitar and composition
Thomas Sejthen - double bass
Morten Nottelman - drums
Kasper Tranberg - trumpet
Christian Vuust - saxophone

Recorded, mixed and mastered at FinlandStudio by Jacob S. Worm

All compositions by Gorm Askjær
except Phantasìe Gymnopédie (Askjær/Satie)
based on Gymnopédie No. 1 by Erik Satie

Photo (front) by Gorm Askjær
Photo (back) by Hreinn Gudlaugsson
Layout by Simon Gorm Eskildsen

Peeter Uuskyla / Tellef Øgrim / Anders Berg / Harri Sjöström - Tlaxkon / Soft City / Have a Drink, Have a Drive (December 2021 Simlas produksjoner)

This quartet's music is an oblique and deconstructed but red-hot mix of jazz, rock, and several other styles in between. It's taut and metallic, sprung, flexed and twisted, hitting hard on the recoil.

NOTE ...
This is part of the second set recorded live at Kafé Hærverk, the entire first set has been released as an album on JAZZTRAU

1. Tlaxkon / Soft City / Have a Drink, Have a Drive 15:20

Peeter Uuskyla - drums and bells
Tellef Øgrim - guitar
Anders Berg - bass
Harri Sjöström - soprano and sopranino saxophones

Recorded at Kafé Hærverk, Oslo, 10 October 2021 by Jens Ole Bjerkan.
Edited, mixed and mastered by Anders Berg.

Peeter Uuskyla / Tellef Øgrim / Anders Berg / Harri Sjöström - A Band Off And On (2021)

This quartet's music is an oblique and deconstructed but red-hot mix of jazz, rock, and several other styles in between. It's taut and metallic, sprung, flexed and twisted, hitting hard on the recoil.

1. Off And On We Go 14:56
2. Why Do You Worry? 06:41
3. Slow Down Ride 05:15
4. Sky Rider 08:06

Peeter Uuskyla - drums and bells
Tellef Øgrim - guitar
Anders Berg - bass
Harri Sjöström - soprano and sopranino saxophones

Recorded at Kafé Hærverk, Oslo, 10 October 2021 by Jens Ole Bjerkan.
Edited, mixed and mastered by Anders Berg.
Cover art: Public graffiti by unknown artist.
Executive producer: Petter Flaten Eilertsen.

THAR - THAR [KR​-​5] December 2021 Koshkil Records

THAR

LONG-TIME COLLABORATORS TAYLOR HASKINS AND ANDREW RATHBUN TEAM UP WITH THE BRILLIANT TOM RAINEY AND ENERGETIC MATT PAVOLKA TO CREATE A RECORDING THAT RUNS THE GAMUT FROM THE WILD TO SERENE. THEY OPERATE IN BOTH OPEN FORMS AND WITH STRUCTURE, SOMETIMES DANCING TOGETHER AND OTHER TIMES SPARRING, TO CREATE A SONIC JOURNEY THAT IS ALWAYS EVOLVING.

1. WAKE UP CALL – Taylor Haskins 03:25
2. SKWONK – THAR 01:47
3. GO AHEAD AND TRY TO HAVE A CONVERSATION ONLINE – Andrew Rathbun 02:45
4. SKWAAK – THAR 01:45
5. SLOW VIGNETTE – Andrew Rathbun 04:29
6. GLANCE – Taylor Haskins 03:13
7. SKWEEK – THAR 02:15
8. DO NOT CALL LIST – Andrew Rathbun 06:11
9. SKWERT – THAR 03:59
10. MARCH – THAR 05:11
11. SUN DOGS – Taylor Haskins 03:34

THAR
Taylor Haskins – trumpet
Andrew Rathbun – saxophone
Matt Pavolka – bass
Tom Rainey – drums

Recorded August 19-20, 2015 at SYSTEMS II, Brooklyn
Engineered by Michael Marciano
Mixed and Mastered by Taylor Haskins
Andrew Rathbun uses D’Addario reeds and products

Stoch - WireWalker (December 17, 2021)

First in a series of jazz guitar constructions - live-in-the-studio improvisations developed into stochastic compositions in the jazz idiom. It's standard operating procedure for Stoch but this time with an instrumental focus. These constructions also involve destruction, deduction, obstruction, induction, ruction, suction, expansion and contraction.

"Experimental? Definitely didn’t know what I was doing or where I was going with this. But I got there."

Lead guitar parts are created by Stoch on a Telecaster or Ibanez AG97. It could be post-bop, post-fusion. It’s smoother than may have been intended but those are the research results and WireWalker is the resulting thesis.

"More dirt next time. I promise."

1. Show Me Tonight 02:36
2. Arp On 02:51
3. No Sleep 01:32
4. Ulterior 05:32
5. The Narrow Way 10:22

Sven Wunder - Asterism Waltz (December 2021)

The word asterism comes from astḗr (ἀστήρ), the Ancient Greek word for star. In astrology, an asterism is a pattern of stars (that is not a constellation) and can be seen in the night sky. In meteorology, an asterism indicates light snowfall. In typography, an asterism is a symbol consisting of three asterisks placed in a triangle: ⁂. The symbol is a type of dinkus that can be used to divide text to emphasize a passage or a sub-chapter in a book.

Sven Wunder celebrates this space in-between by offering a brief hiatus in a gently tinkling jazz-waltz comprised of two variations for small ensemble, that calls attention to the starlit sky and the light falling snow, before resuming.

1. Asterism Waltz (Celesta Version) 02:32
2. Asterism Waltz (Piano Version) 04:02

Music by Sven Wunder

Simon Lovermann - Handwerke (Songs for my Fathers)

The album deals with the personal story of the artist. Simon’s biological father, Robert, was a Jazz musician and died before his birth. Simon was raised by his father Christian. This album is therefore a vividly emotional way for him to explore topics like death, fatherhood, family, identity and belonging.

The album »Handwerke« brings together different core aspects of the artistic practice of Simon Lovermann – music, video, photography – as well as loop, remix and sample-based concepts. Composed between 2012 and 2015 and influenced by Jazz, Electronica, Hip Hop and Minimal Music, the album is focused around the piano, both as a harmonic and a percussive instrument.

The beats are created with the piano and are enriched with body-percussion and beatbox to create an idiosyncratic atmosphere and distinctive sound. All instruments are played by Simon Lovermann and the mixture of piano, percussion, analog synthesizers and Rhodes creates a structure that resembles a jazz trio.

1. Schweben 03:48
2. Fliegender Teppich 03:34
3. Spuren 04:53
4. Welk 03:51
5. Zwischenzeit 01:37
6. Repeater RPTR 04:34
7. Wanderlust 05:16
8. Weichen 04:18
9. Interlude #1 (for Robert) 02:43
10. Zugvögel (for Pascal) 04:51
11. Karavanserai 05:18

Recorded and mixed between summer 2015 and spring 2016. All compositions and arrangements by Simon Lovermann, except Interlude #1 (composed by Robert Walzer).

Recording & sound engineering: Michael Kamm, Lovebox Studios (Augsburg)
Edit: Karim Weth, Simon Lovermann, The Grand Post (Vienna)
Mixing: Sam Irl (Vienna)
Piano Tuner: Kilian Volz

Creative Direction & Production by Squama
Design by Daily Dialogue
Published in collaboration with Der Greif