Monday, January 17, 2022

Dolman / Rossy / Jobin — Are You Here To Help? (CD/ Digital) March 18, 2022


Are You Here To Help?

Out: March 22nd, 2022 (CD/ DL)

There's something undeniably immediate and elemental about music that employs only drums and voices—two of humankind's most universal means of expression. The striking debut album of Montreal trio Dolman / Rossy / Jobin largely eschews the raw, exuberant force one might associate with such instrumentation. Instead, the group turns toward more delicate channels to articulate a vivid awareness of their unusual ensemble's evocative potential. Led by drummer and composer Aaron Dolman, the band's lineup is completed by vocalists Sarah Rossy and Eugénie Jobin, the latter of whom occasionally plays vibraphone. Are You Here To Help? unfurls an alluringly elusive soundworld and uses a diverse array of vocal and percussive sonorities to conjure intimacy and profound vulnerability.

Dolman's compositions speak with a clear and distinct artistic voice, while leaving leaving ample room for both improvisation and silence. His writing derives its unique personality through the disarming nakedness of the band's sound palette. Rather than working to conceal its apparent limitations, he embraces his group's in-built minimalism as well as the intrinsic features of each constituent element. There's a straightforwardness to Dolman's melodic ideas; a folk-like transparency that's matched by the gentle precision of Rossy and Jobin's delivery. And while this ensures that the singing retains a certain crispness and economy, there are always deviations from the expected—sometimes in the form of subtle jazzish inflections, other times in full-on textural excursions. A little over half of the album's tracks feature original texts, which are remarkably congruent with the band's unadorned sound. Dolman's use of language is efficient yet emotive, managing to subtly reference imagery from folk songs and jazz ballads, while remaining concise and personal. His drumming is similar—spartan, sophisticated, prone to surprising twists. Often, he seems content to underline the sung phrases with tidy, elegant accompaniment punctuated with thoughtful ornamentation. However, when his playing eventually becomes more extrovert—and it does—it  imbues the music with unconventional momentum, deliberate yet rousing.

Even as the three musicians drift into more nebulous territory, melody and pulse remain close at hand, lending cohesion and amiability to the hovering sonorities they generate collectively. There's a feeling of candour at every turn—no matter where the music falls along the continuum between lyricism and abstraction.  Their wondrous, haunting, and thoroughly original take on the early Joni Mitchell tune “The Fiddle and the Drum”—the album's lone cover—is telling. Dolman unfolds a rousing, dynamic solo, as Jobin and Rossy intone the song in a dreamlike, staggered unison, eventually finishing the piece with a minute of faint acapella.
Photo by Pipa Jones

Part of what makes this collaboration so potent is that the singers both lead and compose for their own groups, each of which also blends exploratory minimalism and song. Sarah Rossy's 2019 album The Conclusion folds hushed yearning into strange atmospherics, and threads beautiful snaking melodies through volatile ensemble arrangements.  Marc Chénard of La Scena Musical praised one of Rossy's live engagements at Montreal's Off Jazz Festival as: “Shimmering with quiet intensity, full of subtle timbral and dynamic shadings.“ “Introspective as it may seem,” he continued, “it is also adventurous, both from a melodic and harmonic angle.” Where Rossy's work seems to emerge from a similar world to Sidsel Endresen or Jenny Hval, Eugénie Jobin's equally compelling Ambroise project has shades of mutant folk such as Josephine Foster and Eric Chenaux. Ambroise's 2018 recording À la tonalité préférable du ciel on Delphine Dora's Wild Silence label was praised by French experimental music site Inactuelles as follows: “La voix d'Eugénie se fait plus fine encore, module chaque mot avec une infinie délicatesse.” Jobin is also a member of acclaimed composer and musician Isaiah Ceccarelli's new quartet, House of Gold.

Montreal's Aaron Dolman made his recorded debut in November 2019 with the pastoral quintet disc Nostalgia and Other Fantasies. Showing equal affection for improvised musics and folk idioms, the heartfelt collection swayed between evocative melodies, energetic improvisations and ethereal soundscapes. Japan's long-running Jazz Life Magazine enthused of it: “With a mixture of jazz, avant-garde, folk, and bluegrass, drummer Aaron Dolman, only in his twenties, has perfected his own unique style.”At the moment, Dolman is based in Basel, Switzerland until August 2022. There, he is participating in FocusYear, a program that assembles a small international ensemble to work and perform with a remarkable selection of visiting artists under the musical direction of the acclaimed German guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel. The 2021/22 visiting artists include Aaron Parks, Jeff Ballard, Larry Grenadier, Guillermo Klein, Linda May Han Oh, and Becca Stevens. An in-demand accompanist, Dolman has also played alongside the likes of  André White, Sasha Berliner, Jean-Michel Pilc, Kevin Dean, Mike Rud, Yesseh Furaha-Ali and Josh Rager, as well as members of Canada’s diverse folk music scene, such as Connie Kaldor and Folle Avoine. You can find his full bio here.

1. Two Boats and the Lighthouse Keeper
2. Giving (With)
3. Together
4. The Mountain Sighs a Heavy Breath
5. Borrow a Memory
6. Apart
7. Are You Here to Help? (Intro)
8. Are You Here to Help?
9. The Fiddle and the Drum*
10. When We Get There
11. To Hold Love

Aaron Dolman — drums / compositions
Sarah Rossy — voice 
Eugénie Jobin — voice & vibraphone (tracks 2, 4 & 8)

Music and Lyrics by Aaron Dolman, except * by Joni Mitchell.
Produced by Aaron Dolman. Recorded and Mixed by Jon Kaspy at Studio
Dandurand in Montreal, QC. Mastered by Piper Payne at Infrasonic Sound.
Graphic Design by Anita Cazzola and Sam Boer

Tony Overwater | Atzko Kohashi - Crescent (January 2022 Challenge Records)

Atzko & Tony’s latest album, "Crescent" was recorded on February 14, 2021 at Beauforthuis, a music venue and a former church, in Austerlitz in the Netherlands. In the midst of a prolonged pandemic, it was an exceptional recording where two musicians entrusted their passion to their instruments. Atzko & Tony immediately bonded through a deep desire to realize the recording and put their best into the project. The duo was deeply inspired by Coltrane’s Crescent.

The beautiful acoustic of the church building, combined with the beauty of the surrounding snowfields, resulted in an impressive recording. Only five months after the recording, the album "Crescent" was released by Studio Songs in Japan, and it is scheduled to be released worldwide in January 2022 by Jazz in Motion records.

It is said that people have long considered the gradually waxing moon to be a symbol of the fulfilment of their wishes, and that praying to the crescent moon was a special occasion. The crescent moon, which reflects the sunlight and waxes day by day, is like a piece waiting to be fully formed. You do not just entrust your dreams but you set your sights and your hopes, looking forward to the future and preparing to take action. It is no wonder that Coltrane's Crescent connected with their hope to realize this recording session.

1 Wise One 05:11
2 What's New 04:52
3 Lonnie's Lament 07:03
4 De Boot 06:52
5 Crescent 04:56
6 Nightfall 04:01
7 Mr. Syms 04:55
8 Our Spanish Love Song 05:36
9 As Long As There's Music 04:55

Dee Bell - Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now (January 2022 Laser Records)

Indiana-born, San Francisco Bay Area vocalist-lyricist-performer Dee Bell, elicted notice for her mellifluous sound from the late Eddie Jefferson, who told her “that’s a fine sound mama, just keep on singin’.” Less than a year later, that same unique sound was championed by the late Eddie Duran and Stan Getz for Dee’s first album on the Concord Jazz label, followed by a second Concord album with Eddie, and with Tom Harrell. These were followed by four recordings on the Laser label, including this new release with two new “Now” songs, and 8 popular “Then” favorites from Dee’s previous Laser releases which include her lyrics for Ivan Lins By Chance, and Don Sebesky’s You Can’t Go Home Again, and her arrangement of You’re My Thrill.

Jazz critics have reviewed her sound as “warm with West Coast sophistication, husky, pure-voiced, haunting, jazzinflected, pure, tender, with supple phrasing that takes you inside the lyrics.” Influences of Chris Connor, June Christy, Peggy Lee, Irene Krahl, Anita O’Day, Cleo Laine, and more are present in her style.

Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now kicks off with a joyful Marcos Silva samba arrangement of Abbey Lincoln’s I Got Thunder with Lubambo’s masterful and felicitous guitar solo, and I’ll String Along with You showcases Lubambo’s acoustic guitar deft elegance. The 8 re-releases, with 7 of the full 10, arrangements by Marcos Silva deserve new ears.

Bell has collaborated with Marcos Silva, Houston Person, Romero Lubambo, Erik Jekabson, John Stowell, Andy Narell, and Michael Spiro, to name just a notable few. She has performed domestically and internationally for many years.

Albums: Let There Be Love, One by One: Concord Jazz | Sagacious Grace, Silva.Bell.Elation, Lins, Lennox, & Life, and new release, Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now: Laser Records.
Track Listing

1. I Got Thunder [and it rings] 4:04
2. I’ll String Along with You 4:33

3. Harvest Moon 4:16
4. Beijo Partido [Broken Kiss] 4:53
5. You’re My Thrill 5:42
6. By Chance [Acaso] 5:39
7. Boa Nova 5:13
8. You Can’t Go Home Again 5:39
9. Watch What Happens 5:39
10. The Face I Love 3:16

Dee Bell - VOCALS
Marcos Silva – Electric & Acoustic Pianos
the late Al Plank, Piano
Romero Lubambo – Electric & Acoustic Guitars

John Stowell – Electric Guitar
Scott Thompson – Electric Bass
Tyler Harlow – Electric & Acoustic Bass

John Wiitala, Acoustic Bass
Celso Alberti – Drums
Colin Bailey, Phil Thompson, Zack Mondlick – Drums
Erik Jekabson – Flugelhorn
Houston Person, Chris Sullivan – Saxophone
Michael Spiro – Congas, Percussion