Friday, July 12, 2019

Jazz favorites, January through July 7th, 2019



I'm well aware we are a couple of weeks past the half-year mark, but since I'm just now enjoying something of a break between having visited Kongsberg Jazz Festival and the smaller, more condensed and thus more focused sort of protest festival Motvind last week, and gearing up to next week's Molde Jazz Festival, doing a short and quick half-year round-up seemed appropriate. Below are some of the newly released recorded music that has grabbed my attention the most over the first six months plus a week of 2019, and a couple reissues and "vault music" releases of interest. An asterix denotes that I have had a published review of the release in question.


James Brandon Lewis magnificent An UnRuly Manifesto has been a favorite since its release, and seems like a major work in an already promising career. It channels the lessons of Ornette Coleman and cohorts like Charlie Haden while avoiding the trap of trying to sound like them, the odd musical nod apart. Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity's To Whom Who Buys a Record (officially released today), does something similar in the acoustic trio format, yet another great outing from a terrific band. Catch 'em live if you can. 

Speaking of trios, the number of good-to-great sax, bass and drums albums that have crossed my path is notable, topped by two Scandinavian acts including Acoustic Unity, with Matt Brewer's an all American trio close behind, all exhibiting great inventiveness, agility and skill and slipping in and out familiar structures and melodic hooks and intricate, nimble and exciting acrobatics. Then there's the hefty yet loose limbed, occasionally ferocious Transoceanico by Federico Ughi with Rachel Musson on tenor and Adam Lane on double bass, and the freewheeling openness of Dave Rempis, Brandon Lopez and Ryan Packard's Early Bird Gets.

I'm reluctant to call this a trend, though, as I see no clear cultural, social nor really economic reasons for there being as many sax, bass and drums trios around at this moment in time. So put it down to a happy coincidence, plus that my particular predisposition for sax, bass and drums trios means I tend to sniff such albums up more easily. Nevertheless, the number of recordings in this format that have tickled my fancy are notable not only for their number, but also the variety of musical expressions they exhibit.

Other things of note: Anna Webber's intriguing, percussion work inspired Clockwise, the continued rise of trumpeter Steph Richards as an instrumentalist, composer and bandleader, the perpetual relevance and inventiveness of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, veteran pianist Burton Greene's return to the piano trio with Life's Intense Mystery, the absorbing zen-jazz of Christian Meaas Svendsen's New Rituals, to mention only a few. The list is capped at 30 for no particular reason other than to keep it somewhat short. I've heard more good music than I've found space for here, also in fields outside of jazz:



Tête de la course:

- James Brandon Lewis: An UnRuly Manifsto (Relative Pitch Records) *
- Per 'Texas' Johansson/Torbjörn Zetterberg/Konrad Agnas: Orakel (Moserobie Music Production) *

- Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: To Whom Who Buys a Record (ODIN) *
- Anna Webber: Clockwise (Pi Recordings) *

Chase:


- DKV & Joe McPhee: The Fire Each Time (6CD, Catalytic Sound)
- Matt Brewer w/Mark Shim and Damion Reid: Genymede (Criss Cross Jazz) *
- Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom: Glitter Wolf (The Royal Potato Family) *

- Nature Work (Jason Stein/Greg Ward/Eric Revis/Jim Black): Nature Work (Sunnyside) *
- Scheen Jazzorkester & Thomas Johansson: As We See It... (Clean Feed) *
- Bjørn Marius Hegge: Ideas (Particular Recordings) *

Breakaway:

-  Aki Takase Japanic: Thema Prima (Budapest Music Center Records) *
- Dave Rempis, Brandon Lopes & Ryan Packard: The Early Bird Gets (Aerophonic Records)
- Federico Ughi: Transoceanico (577 Records) *
- Steph Richards: Take the Neon Lights (Birdwatcher Records) *

- Angelica Niescier: New York Trio feat. Jonathna Finlayson (Intakt)
- Fire! Orchestra: Arrival (Rune Grammofon) *
- Art Ensemble of Chicago: We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration (Pi Recordings) *

- The Attic (Rodrigo Amado, Goncalo Almeida, Onno Govaert): Summer Bummer (NoBusiness) *
- Matt Mitchell: Phalanx Ambassadors (Pi Recordings)
- Gebhard Ullmann Basement Research: Impromptus and Other Short Works (WhyPlayJazz)

- Christian Meaas Svendsen + Nakama + Rinzai Zen Center Oslo: New Rituals (Nakama) *
- William Parker / In Order To Survive: Live/Shapeshifter (AUM Fidelity)
- Fabian Almazan Trio: This Land Abounds With Life (Biophilia)

- Alex Fournier: Triio (Furniture Music Records)
- Matthew Shipp Trio invites Nicole Mitchell: All Things Are (Rogue Art)
- Maria Faust, Tim Dahl & Weasel Walter: Farm Fresh (Gotta Let It Out)
- Boneshaker (Mars Williams, Paal Nilssen-Love, Kent Kessler): Fake Music (Soul What Records)
- Iro Haarla, Ulf Krokfors & Barry Altschul: Around Again - The Music of Carla Bley (TUM) *
- Lind May Han Oh: Aventurine (Biophilia Records) *
- Greg Ward presents Rogue Parade: Stompin' Off From Greenwood (Greenleaf Music) *

Reissues/vault:
- Detail: Day Two (NoBusiness)
- Alice Coltrane - Live at the Berkeley Community Theater 1972 (BCT Records)
- Griot Galaxy: Kins (Third Man Records)
- Clifford Jordan: Glass Bead Games (Purple Pleasure Records)
- Sam Rivers: Emanation - Sam Rivers Archive Project, Volume 1 (NoBusiness)

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Fave Jazz of 2018

I'm repeating myself, but doing year-end round-ups when the year isn't even over still feels a bit odd. That said, having voted in Francis Davis annual Jazz Critics Poll over the past 7 or so years, where votes are due at the beginning of December, has made me get used to a Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving "jazz season" of sorts. So, putting together a top 10 ballot for this year's edition of the Jazz Critics Poll is where and when this now expanded list was started. I do consider of whatever crosses my path after this "season" ends, of course, and have added a couple of notables here, too. Withthat out of the way, below is my list of the 50, which seemed an apt and sufficient amount at he time of posting, best jazz albums released since the turn of the year. An asterisk denotes that I've written about the album in question (see here and here for info about where and when). As has been my custom in recent year, I separate these recordings into sections rather than rank them in any strict, numbered manner. That said, they are loosely listed in order of preference.

Cream of the crop:
  • Hanna Paulsberg + Magnus Broo: Daughter of the Sun (Odin) *
  • Salim Washington: Dogon Revisited (Passin' Thru) *
  • Trondheim Jazz Orchestra & Ole Morten Vågan: Happy Endlings (Odin) *
  • Ken Vandermark, Klaus Kugel & Mark Tokar: No-Exit Corner (Not Two Records) *
  • Henry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg: Dirt... And More Dirt (Pi Recordings) *
Heavy rotation:
  • Angelika Niescier, Christopher Tordini & Tyshawn Sorey: The Berlin Concert (Intakt Records) *
  • Daniel Carter, William Parker, Matthew Shipp: Seraphic Light (AUM Fidelity)*
  • Erlend Olderskog Albertsen: RødssalG nEEn GlassdøR (Dugnad Rec.) *
  • Rodrigo Amado, Joe McPhee, Kent Kessler, Chris Corsano: A History of Nothing (Trost Records)*
  • Dave Holland, Evan Parker, Craig Taborn & Ches Smith: Uncharted Territories (Dare2 Records) *
  • James Brandon Lewis & Chad Taylor: Radiant Imprints (Off) *
  • The Necks, Body (Fish of Milk) *
  • Johan Lindström Septet: Music For Empty Halls (Moserobie Music Productions) *
  • Friends & Neighbors: What's Next (Clean Feed) *
  • Myra Melford Snowy Egret: The Other Side of Air (Firehouse 12) *
Thoroughly enjoyed:
  • Mia Dyberg Trio: Ticket! (Clean Feed)*
  • María Grand: Magdalena (Biophilia)
  • Kaja Draksler, Petter Eld, Christian Lillinger: Punkt.Vrt.Plastik (Intakt) *
  • Fredrik Nordström: Needs (Clean Feed) 
  • Adam Hopkins: Crickets (Out of Your Head Records)
  • Harriet Tubman: The Terror End of Beauty (Sunnyside Records) 
  • Bjørn Marius Hegge: The Creator Has a Bachelor Plan (Particular Recordings) * [review due to be published before the end of the year.]
  • Tord Gustafsen Trio: The Other Side (ECM) *
  • Moskus: Mirakler (Hubro) *
  • Fay Victor's SoundNoiseFUNK: Wet Robots (ESP Disk') *
  • Josephine Davies' Satori: In the Corner of Clouds (Whirlwind Recordings) * [published in Musikkmagasinet, Dec. 17th.]
  • Jemeel Moondoc Quartet: The Astral Revelations (RogueArt)
  • Brandon Lopez: quoniam facta sum vilis (Astral Spirits)
  • Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore: After Caroline (Northern Spy)
  • Chris Pitsiokos CP Unit: Silver Bullet in the Autumn of Your Years (Clean Feed) 
  • David S. Ware Trio: The Balance (Vision Festival XV +) (AUM FIdelity)
  • The Heat Death: The Glenn Miller Sessions (Clean Feed) *
  • Sylvie Courvoisier Trio: D'Agala (Intakt) *
  • Tyshawn Sorey: Pillars (Firehouse 12)
  • Barre Phillips:End to End (ECM)
  • Håvard Wiik Trio: This Is Not a Waltz (Moserobie Music Productions, 2017)
  • Igor Lumpert & Innertextures: Eleven (Clean Feed) 
  • Christian McBride: Christian McBride's New Jawn (Mack Avenue Records)
  • Luke Stewart: Work for Upright Bass and Amplifier (Astral Spirit)
  • Bjørn Marius Hegge Trio: Assosiasjoner (Particular Recordings) *
  • Lauren Sevian: Bliss (Posi-Tone)
  • Steve Coleman and Five elements: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 1 (The Embedded Sets) (Pi Recordings) *
  • Mette Rasmussen & Chris Corsano: A View of the Moon (From the Sun) (Clean Feed) *
  • Emmeluth's Amoeba: POLYP (Øra Fonogram)
  • Espen Eriksen Trio & Andy Sheppard: Perfectly Unhappy (Rune Grammofon)
  • Atomic: Pet Variations (Odin) *
  • Mary Halvorson: Code Girl (Firehouse 12) *
  • JD Allen: Love Stone (Savant)
  • Amaro Freitas: Rasif (Far Out Recordings) 
  • Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band: Presence (Smoke Sessions)
Reissues/vault:
  • Frode Gjerstad with William Parker and Hamid Drake: Frode Gjerstad with William Parker and Hamid Drake (4 CD, NotTwo Records) *
  • Svein Finnerud Trio: Plastic Sun (ODIN) *
  • Sonny Rollins: Way Out West (Deluxe) (Craft)
  • Charles Mingus: Live In Detroit / Strata Concert Gallery / 46 Selden (BBE) *
  • Anthony Braxton: The Essential Anthony Braxton: The Arista Years (Arista/Legacy)
  • John Coltrane Quartets: Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album (Impulse!) *
  • Miles Davis & John Coltrane: The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series Vol. 6 (Columbia/Legacy)
  • Erik Andresen Quartet: GIP (Jazzaggression Records)
(The Ornette Coleman 10 LP box set The Atlantic Years (Atlantic/Rhino) would trump pretty much any music any year, but though I know the music contained here inside out, I do not own this particular box set and so I only mention this in passing here rather than add it to the list proper).
PS: If you think the album is a silly concept to care about in the era of streaming, then 1) you tell that to musicians who have spent time and energy writing compositions, hours practicing with a group of musicians (regulars or not) that they probably already had in mind when writing the music and whom they have to pay for their services as they also have to do for studio time. Go tell them that they should only record a single in stead. 2) f*ck the exploitative nature of the current streaming services, and finally 3) f*ck off!

    Monday, December 03, 2018

    Listening Booth: Music releases (and other stuff) covered July through November, 2018

    As I've been listening back on some of the year's notable releases with the deadline for the Francis Davis run Jazz Critics Poll coming up this weekend, it seemed an apt opportunity to post a rundown of the music I've covered during the second half of 2018. I've got no time to add translated excerpts or listening notes this time around, so this post lists artists and releases, plus my original grading where applicable, in addition to where and when they were published.

    For Musikkmagasinet (Klassekampen's weekly music supplement):
    • Mia Dyberg Trio: Ticket (Clean Feed) - Reviewed Aug. 6th, 2018. Original grade: 5/6
    •  Daniel Carter, William Parker, Matthew Shipp: Seraphic Light (AUM Fidelity) - Reviewed Aug. 13th, 2018. Original grade: 5,5/6
    •  Moskus: Mirakler (Hubro) - Reviewed Aug. 20th, 2018. Original grade: 5/6
    •  Wayne Shorter: Emanon (Blue Note) -Reviewed Aug. 27th, 2018. Original grade: 4/6
    •  Ken Vandermark / Klaus Kugel / Mark Tokar: No-Exit Corner (Not Two Records) - Reviewed Sept. 3rd, 2018. Original grade: 5,5/6 
    • Lassen: Eventyrer (Jazzland) - Reviewed Sept. 17th, 2018. Original grade: 4,5/6
    •  Tord Gustavsen Trio: The Other Side (ECM) - Reviewed Oct. 1st, 2018. Original grade: 5/6
    • The Necks: Body (Fish of Milk/Northern Spy) - Reviewed Oct. 1st, 2018. Original grade: 5,5/6
    •  Fay Victor’s SoundNoiseFUNK: Wet Robots (ESP-disk) - Reviewed Oct. 8th, 2018. Original grade: 5/6
    • Hanna Paulsberg Concept + Magnus Bro: Daughter of the Sun (Odin) - Reviewed Oct. 15th, 2018. Original grade: 5,5/6
    • Jonathan Finlayson: 3 Times Round (Pi Recordings) - Reviewed Oct. 22nd, 2018. Original grade: 4/6
    •  Trondheim Jazz Orchestra & Ole Morten Våga: Happy Endlings (Odin) - Reviewed Oct. 29th, 2018. Original grade: 5,5/6
    •  Charles Mingus: Live In Detroit / Strata Concert Gallery / 46 Selden (BBE) - Reviewed Nov. 5th, 2018. Not graded.
    • Atomic: Pet Variations (Odin) - Reviewed Nov. 12th, 2018. Original grade: 4,5/6
    • Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret: The Other Side of Air (Firehouse 12) - Reviewed Nov. 19th, 2018. Original grade: 5/6
    • Eric Dolphy: Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions (Resonance Records) - Reviewed Nov. 26th, 2018. Not graded.
    Live reviews:
    • Sons of Kemet, Oslo Jazzfestival, Nasjonal Jazscene August 12. Published Aug., 20th, 2018
    For Jazznytt:

    • Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 1 (The Embedded Sets) (Pi Recordings) - Reviewed in Jazznytt #248, fall 2018. No grade.
    • Der Lange Schatten: Concurrances (Trouble In The East Records) - Reviewed in Jaznnytt #248, fall 2018. No grade.
    • Friends & Neighbors: What’s Next? (Clean Feed) - Reviewed in Jaznnytt #249, winter 2018. No grade.
    • Mette Rasmussen Chris Corsano: A View of The Moon (from the Sun) (Clean Feed) - Reviewed in Jaznnytt #249, winter 2018. No grade.



    Friday, August 03, 2018

    Listening Booth: Music reviewed January through the first week of July, 2018 + first half and a bit faves

    For a half-year update, this is of course a month late, but since my summer vacation came to an end this week it seems a good if belated moment to post an update of the records I've reviewed so far in 2018. I've also added a short list of "favorites" of the year's new releases up to the last week of July or so. By no means a comprehensive one -- the magnitude of great music to have crossed my path would lead to a much longer list than this, and there's still plenty more on the horizon that I'm not comfortable to rank in any way yet -- but it felt appropriate to give an extra shout out to a handful of the new recordings I've enjoyed the most thus far in 2018.

    For Klassekampen's weekly music supplement Musikkmagasinet (all 2018 releases except where noted):
    • Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: Live in Europe (Clean Feed, 2017) - Reviewed Jan. 15th, 2018. Original grade: 5/6
    • Shopping: The Official Body (Fatcat Records) - Reviewed Jan. 22., 2018. Original grade: 5/6
    • Sylvie Courvoisier Trio: D’Agala (Intakt Records) - Reviewed Feb. 5., 2018. Original grade: 5/6
    • Kris Davis & Craig Taborn: Octopus (Pyroclastic Records) - Reviewed Feb. 12., 2018. Orignal grade: 4,5/6
    • Frode Gjerstad with Hamid Drake and William Parker: Frode Gjerstad with Hamid Drake and William Parker (NotTwo, 4CD) - as part of the article "Frode Gjerstad: Verdensklasse." Reviewed Feb. 19., 2018. Not graded.
    • Various Artists: We Out Here (Brownswood Music) - Reviewed 4/6
    • The Heat Death: The Glenn Miller Sessions (Clean Feed) - Reviewed March 5., 2018. Original grade: 4,5/6

    • Erlend Olderskog Albertsen: RødssalG nEEn GlassdøR (Dugnad Rec) - Reviewed March 5., 2018. Original grade: 5/6
    • James Brandon Lewis & Chad Taylor: Radiant Imprints (Off Records)
      - Reviewed March 12., 2018. Original grade: 5/6
    • Mary Halvorsen: Code Girl (Firehouse 12) - Reviewed March 19., 2018. Original grade 4,5/6
    • Miles Davis & John Coltrane: The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6 (Columbia/Legacy/Sony Music)
      - Reviewed March 26., 2018. Not graded.
    • Sons of Kemet: Your Queen Is a Reptile (Impulse!/Universal)
      - Reviewed April 9., 2018. Original grade 4,5/6
    • Svein Finnerud Trio: Plastic Sun (ODIN/Musikkoperatørene)
      - Reviewed April 16., 2018. Not graded.
    • Johan Lindström Septett: Music for Empty Halls (Moserobie Music Productions) - Reviewed April 23., 2018. Original grade: 5/6
    • The Ex: 27 Passports (Ex Records)
      - Reviewed May 7., 2018. Original grade: 5,5/6
    • Dave Holland, Evan Parker, Craig Taborn & Ches Smith: Uncharted Territories (Dare2 Records)
      - Reviewed May 14., 2018. Original grade: 5/6
    • Henry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg: Dirt... And More Dirt (Pi Recordings)
      - Reviewed May 28., 2018. Original grade: 5,5/6
    • Henry Threadgill: Double Up, Plays Double Up Plus (Pi Recordings)
      - Reviewed May 28., 2018. Orignal grade: 4,5/6
    • Angelika Niescier, Christopher Tordini & Tyshawn Sorey: The Berlin Concert (Intakt Records) - Reviewed June 4., 2018. Original grade: 5,5/6
    • Bjørn Marius Hegge Trio: Assosiasjoner (Particular Recordings)
      - Reviewed June 11., 2018. Original grade 5/6
    • Rodrigo Amado, Joe McPhee, Kent Kessler, Chris Corsano: A History of Nothing (Trost Records) - Reviewed June 18., 2018. Original grade 5/6
    • John Coltrane: Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album (Impulse!/Universal) - Reviewed for July2., 2018. Not graded.
    • Kamasi Washington: Heaven and Earth (Shoto Mas/Young Turks/Playground)
      - Reviewed July 2., 2018. Original grade 4,5/6
    • Salim Washington: Dogon Revisited (Passin’ Thru Records) - Reviewed July 2., 2018. Original grade 5,5/6
     For Jazznytt:
    • Roswell Rudd: Embrace (RareNoiseRecords, rel. 2017), Jazznytt #245
    • Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa (TUM, rel 2017), Jazznytt #245
    • Wadada Leo Smith: Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk (TUM, rel. 2017), Jazznytt #245
    • Joe McPhee/Pascal Niggenkemper/Ståle Liavik Solberg: Imaginary Numbers (Clean Feed), Jazznytt #246
    • Håverd Wiik Trio: This Is Not a Waltz (Moserobie, rel. 2017), Jazznyt #246

     Other published writing:
    • Murray i utvalg. Three highlights from David Murrays discography, for Musikkmagasinet, Feb. 12., 2018.
    • Frode Gjerstad: Verdensklasse for Musikkmagasinet, Feb. 19., 2018.
    • Carla Bley: Foreganskvinne for Musikkmagasinet, July 2., 2018.
    • Fred Hersch: Inn ruslet Fred for Musikkmagasinet, July 2., 2018.
    • Hittegods: Wilbur Ware: The Chicago Sound for Jazznytt #246

    Fave music January through July (loosely ranked in order of preference):
    • The Ex: 27 Passports (Ex Records)
    • Henry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg: Dirt... And More Dirt (Pi Recordings)
    • Parquet Courts: Wide Awake (Rough Trade)
    • Salim Washington: Dogon Revisited (Passin' Thru)
    • Superchunk: What a Time to Be Alive (Merge)
    • Angelika Niescier, Christopher Tordini & Tyshawn Sorey: The Berlin Concert (Intakt Records)
    • Toni Braxton: Sex & Cigarettes (Def Jam Recordings) 
    • JPEGMAFIA: Veteran (Deathbomb Arc)
    • Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Hope Downs (Sub Pop)
    • Erlend Olderskog Albertsen: RødssalG nEEn GlassdøR (Dugnad Rec.)
    • Tracey Thorn: Record (Unmade Road)
    • Lori McKenna: The Door (CN Records) 
    • Pusha T: Daytona (G.O.O.D. Music)
    • Shopping: The Official Body (FatCat Records)
    • Johan Lindström Septet: Music For Empty Halls (Moserobie Music Productions)
    • Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore: After Caroline (Northern Spy Records)
    • Dave Holland, Evan Parker, Craig Taborn & Ches Smith: Uncharted Territories (Dare2 Records)
    • Janelle Monae: Dirty Computer (Bad Boy Records)
    • Elza Soares: Deus É Mulher (Deckdisc) 
    • Mia Dyberg Trio: Ticket! (Clean Feed)
    • María Grand: Magdalena (Biophilia)
    • Amy Rigby: The Old Guys (Southern Domestic Recordings)
    • Sloan: 12 (Yep Roc Records) 
    • Old Man Saxon: The Pursuit (Pusher, LLC)
    • No Age: Snares Like a Haircut (Drag City)
    • Skadedyr: Musikk! (Hubro) 
    • Rodrigo Amado, Joe McPhee, Kent Kessler, Chris Corsano: A History of Nothing (Trost Records)
    • James Brandon Lewis & Chad Taylor: Radiant Imprints (Off)
    • The Young Fathers: Cocoa Sugar (Ninja Tune)
    • Chris Pitsiokos CP Unit: Silver Bullet in the Autumn of Your Years (Clean Feed)
     Vault music:
    • Frode Gjerstad with Hamid Drake and William Parker: Frode Gjerstad with Hamid Drake and William Parker (NotTwo, 4CD)
    • Sonny Rollins: Way Out West (2LP, Craft) 
    • John Coltrane: Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album (Impulse!/Universal)
    • Anthony Braxton: The Essential Anthony Braxton The Arista Years (Arista Records) 
    • Svein Finnerud Trio: Plastic Sun (ODIN/Musikkoperatørene)
    • Alan Braufman: Valley of Search (Valley of Search, original release on India Navigation, 1975)
    • Miles Davis & John Coltrane: The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6 (Columbia/Legacy/Sony Music)

    Thursday, December 21, 2017

    Fave Jazz of 2017 and the 2017 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll

    The results of the 2017 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, as usual conducted by Francis Davis, were posted on the 20th of December. The winner in what I thought would be a close race from a year with so much great jazz, but no clear consensus recording, turned out to be Vijay Iyer Sextet's Far From Over in something of a landslide. Further proof that Iyer is cementing a place as a universally respected artist. It was one of several excellent albums from what turned out to be a terrific year for jazz in the running for place on my ballot, losing out in the very last minute. Which is to say, on any other day it might have been included, as could a handful of others.

    For me as I'm sure for many others, it makes little sense to set a top 10 in stone. Heck, a top 10 itself doesn't really make all that much sense. By the end of a given year, my fave list usually consists of a few -- most often three or four, sometimes less rarely more -- releases that have engaged, enthralled and moved me profoundly in ways that set them apart from all the other great music I might have heard that particular year. After that, there's a selection from a further pile of terrific albums that float in the zone just below. Picking the remaining releases from that stack to create a top 10 is a rather off the cuff exercise, the results depending on several, seemingly haphazard things such as day form, how recently I've heard a particular recording, and so on and so forth.

    In any case, my ballot for the 2017 Jazz Critics Poll can be accessed via this link (more specifically on this page: scroll down or do a page search). But for my personal run down of my favorite jazz albums of the year, I'll instead go with the format I have used in recent years, and separate them into a three categories that makes more sense to me. Happy listening, and Happy Holidays!




    MUSIC FOR THE AGES:
    • William Parker Quartets: Meditation / Resurrection (AUM Fidelity) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen July 3., 2017] -- The New York eminence has achieved similar artistic heights previously, but the juxtaposition of his two celebrated quartets -- one groove focused and bop-tinged, the other more abstract and experimental, with Parker and drummer Hamid Drake's distinctive rhythmic interplay the beating heart of both -- mirrors two sides of Parker's qualities as composer, band leader and musician, providing a rich picture of a remarkable artist in the process. Few if any create avant-jazz this warm, engaging, energetic, burning and soulful as Willim Parker does.
    • Angles 9: Disappeared Behind the Sun (Clean Feed) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Febrary 27., 2017] -- Angles 9 come at you as a boisterous, mini big band, with poignant melodies, similarly captivating rhythms and deceptively unruly music that mines the tension between sorrow and joy, with winning results.
    • Harriet Tubman (feat. Wadada Leo Smith): Araminta (Sunnyside Records) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, March 6., 2017] -- Araminta is a onse the most unsettling yet uplifting and powerful collection of music Harriet Tubman have made yet, and one of this year's most gripping listening experiences.
    ON HEAVY ROTATION:
    • Trio 3 (Andrew Cyrille, Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman): Visiting Texture (Intakt Records) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, April 10., 2017]
    • Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die (International Anthem) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, May 29., 2017]
    • Eric Revis: Sing Me Some Cry (Clean Feed) [reviewed for Jazznytt #244]
    • AKMEE: Neptun (Nakama Records) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, June 19., 2017]
    • Cortex: Avant-Garde Party Music (Clean Feed)[reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, October 16., 2017]
    • Mike Reed, Flesh & Bone (482 Music) [reveiwed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, August 28., 2017]
    • Aki Takase & David Murray: Cherry - Sakura (Intakt Records)
    • Matt Mitchell: A Pouting Grimace (Pi Recordings)
    • Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: Live In Europe (Clean Feed)
    • Kate Gentile: Mannequins (Skirl Records) [reviewed for Jazznytt #244]
    • Vijay Iyer Sextet: Far From Over (ECM) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, September 18., 2017]
    • Nate Wooley: Knknighgh (Minimal Poetry for Aram Saroyan) (Clean Feed) [reviewed for Jazznytt #244]
    • Team Hegdal: Vol. 4 (Particular Recordings Collective)
    • Alexander Hawkins: Unit[e] (self-released) 
    • Hegge: Vi är ledsna men du får inte längre vara barn (Particular Recordings)
    • Lisa Mezzacappa: avantNOIR (Clean Feed) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, February 20., 2017]
    • Matthew Shipp Trio: Piano Song (Thirsty Ear) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, February 6., 2017]
    • Pedro Melo Alves' Omniae Ensemble: Omniae Ensemble (Nischo)
    • Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York: Fukushima (Libra Records) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, December 18., 2017]
    • Large Unit: Fluku (PNL) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, December 18., 2017]
    THOROUGHLY ENJOYED:
    • Craig Taborn: Daylight Ghosts (ECM) 
    • Liza Mezzacappa: Glorious Ravage (self-released)
    • David S. Ware Trio: Live in New York 2010 (AUM Fidelity) [reviewed for Jazznytt #244]
    • Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo: Peace (Libra Records)
    • Pereservation Hall Jazz Band: So It Is (Legacy)
    • Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa (TUM) [reviewed for Jazznytt #245]
    • CP Unit: Before the Heat Deadth (Clean Feed)
    • Tyshawn Sorey: Versimilitude (Pi Recordings) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, August 21., 2017]
    • Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition: Agrima (self-released) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, November 20., 2017]
    • Roswell Rudd-Fay Victor-Lafayette Harris-Ken Filiano: Embrace (RareNoise) [reviewed for Jazznytt #245]
    • FCT (Francesco Cusa Trio meets Carlo Atti): From Sun Ra to Donald Trump (Clean Feed)
    • Eivind Opsvik Overseas: Overseas V (Loyal Label) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, March 20., 2017)]
    • Kirk Knuffke: Cherryco (SteepleChase)
    • Atomic: Six Easy Pieces (Odin) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Febrary 27., 2017]
    • Nicole Mitchell and Haki Madhubuti: Liberation Narratives (Black Earth Music)
    • JD Allen: Radio Flyer (Savant) [reviewed for Jazznytt #244]
    • Goncalo Almeida-Rodrigo Amado-Marco Franco: The Attic (NoBusiness)
    • Steve Coleman's Natal Eclipse: Morphogenesis (Pi Recordings) 
    • Miguel Zenón: Típico (Miel Music) 
    • Nicole Mitchell: Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds (FPE Records) 
    • Max Johnson: In the West (Clean Feed) [reviewed for Jazznytt #244]
    • Jonas Sjøvåg, Karl Seglem, Sigurd Hole: West Wind Drift (Shipwreckords)
    • Angelica Sanchez Trio: Float the Edge (Clean Feed) [reviewed for Jazznytt #243]
    • Harris Eisenstadt Canada Day Quartet: On Parade in Parede (Clean Feed) 
    • Billy Meier: Introducing... Billy Meier (Just For the Records)
    • The Mess (Brandon Lopez, Chris Corsano, Sam Yulsman): Holy Holy (Tombed Vision Records)
    • Brandon Seabrook: Die Trommel Fatale (New Atlantis)
    • The Necks: Unfold (Ideologic Organ)
    • Trespass Trio: The Spirit of Pitesti (Clean Feed) 
    • John Pål Inderberg Trio: Linjedalsleiken (Ponca Jazz Records)
    • Jane Ira Bloom: Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson (Outline) 
    • Roligheten: Homegrown (Clean Feed)
    • The Microscopic Septet: Been Up So Long it Looks Like Down to Me: The Micros Play the Blues (Cuneiform Records) 
    • Amor Amok: We Know Not What We Do (Intakt Records) 
    • Roots Magic: Last Kind Words (Clean Feed)
    • Led Bib: Umbrella Weather (RareNoise Records)
    • Mind Games: Ephemera Obscura (Slean Feed)
    • Tim Berne's Snakeoil, Incidentals (ECM) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, September 18., 2017]
    • Wadada Leo Smith: Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk (TUM) [reviewed for Jazznytt #245]
    • Scheen Jazzorkester & Audun Kleive: Politur Passiarer (Losen)
    • Ross Hammond: Follow Your Heart (Prescott Recordings)
    • Jeremy Pelt: Make Noise (High Note)
    • Julia Ulehla & Aram Bajakian/Dálava: The Book of Transfigurations (Songlines Recordings)  
    • 1982: Chromola (Hubro)
    • Noah Perminger: Meditations on Freedom (self released)
    • Ahmad Jamal: Marseille (Jazz Village) 
    • Friends & Neighbors: What's Wrong (Clean Feed)
    • Ben Allison: Layers of the City (Sonic Camera Recordings) [reviewed for Jazznytt #244]
    • Jeremy Pelt: Make Noise! (HighNote)
    Reissues and vault music:
    • Dave Holland: Conference of the Birds (ECM) 
    • Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Karyobin (Emanem)
    • Thelonious Monk: Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1960) (Sam Records) [reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, May 8., 2017)
    • Winston Mankunku Ngozi Quartet: Yakhal' Inkomo (Jazzman Holy Grail Series)

    Tuesday, August 01, 2017

    Listening Booth: Fave music a bit past the half way point, published reviews April through July 3rd, Geri Allen RIP & more

    This post should have been posted a month ago, but events has prevented me from finishing it. Since July is a quiet month for me in terms of writing, I don't feel too bad posting it at the end of the summer break.

    The few months prior to the summer break were difficult ones. Not only did my dad die in May, just before that and in the weeks following, so did Chris Cornell, Geri Allen, Prodigy, and then Khelan Phil Cohran, all of them musicians who have made an impact on me at least to some extent over the years. Following their respective deaths, I've found solace, power and courage in the music they made, in particular in the case of Cornell and Allen. And as for my dad, some of the music he loved. But life goes on, and additionally, there has been so much great new music released so far this year (and much more just over the horizon) to keep me occupied and to lift my spirits.

    None more so than William Parker's terrific, riveting and uplifting Meditation / Resurrection double album, which showcases two of his quartets -- the actual William Parker Quartet as well as In Order to Survive. It's a truly wonderful release. Parker has hit similar heights on record previously, but part of what makes this one so interesting is how the two albums both contrast and mirror each of the two groups, both among the best jazz ensembles of the past few decades, and in doing so revealing the breadth of Parker's work in the quartet format as well as how his singular voice as a musician and composer permeates the music of both, with the unparalleled rhythmic power duo of Parker and Hamid Drake at their respective cores. As I wrote in the conclusion of my review for Musikkmagasinet, whether the music swings hard or moves in more abstract, exploratory patterns, absorbing melodies and impelling grooves never too far away, and few if anyone today makes avant-jazz this warm, energetic, soulful, fiery and engaging quite like Parker and his trusted cohorts.

    A couple of words, too, for Geri Allen. I was a tad late to Allen's music, admittedly, not really digging into her discography until I re-listened to and was subsequently captivated by her trio recording Printmakers (Minor Music), featuring Andrew Cyrille on drums and Anthony Cox on double bass, for the 1984 project I started almost 10 years ago. Geri Allen was a terrific pianist and a talented composer whose artistic practice followed its own path. Much has been made of Allen's ability to operate on either side of the trad./mainstream and the avant-garde so-called divide, but to me she rendered such a division pointless, and thus paved the way for how great musicians such as the bassist Eric Revis (who also has a new, really good album out) seem to think and work today. It was as if she ripped away the wires of a dividing fence and danced between the posts with grace and vivacity.

    Printmakers remains a fave, but there are many other great recordings with Allen, both as a sidewoman and as a leader and co-leader. From her work with Oliver Lake, Steve Coleman, and Wallace Roney, to the trio recordings with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian and later Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, up to the very recent group she had with David Murray and Terri Lyne Carrington, and many others, including an album with Ornette Coleman. She'll be sorely missed.

    Published reviews, April through July 3rd.
    • Trio 3: Visiting Texture (Intakt Records) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, April 10., 2017. Original grade 5 out of 6. A
    • Thelonious Monk: Liaisons Dangereuses (1960) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, May 8., 2017. [Link to online version] Not graded (part of an article). A
    • Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die (International Anthem) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, May 29., 2017. [Original grade 5 out of 6. A-
    • Akmee: Neptun (Nakama Records) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen,June 19., 2017. Original grade 5 out of 6. A-
    • William Parker Quartets: Meditation / Resurrection (AUM Fidelity) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, July 3., 2017. Original grade 6 out of 6. A+
    • Linda May Han Oh: Walk Against Wind (Biophilia Records) Reviewed for Jazznytt #243, Summer 2017. Not graded. B+
    • The Angelica Sanchez Trio: Float the Edge (Clean Feed) Reviewed for Jazznytt #243, Summer 2017. Not graded. A-
    Additional published writing: "Opp med Shipp-farten", on Matthew Shipp, Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, April 3., 2017 and Chris Cornell obit, Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, May 22., 2017.

    Fave new releases, January through the first week of July 2017:


    For the ages:
    • William Parker Quartets: Meditation / Resurrection (AUM Fidelity)
    • Angles 9: Disappeared Behind the Sun (Clean Feed)
    • Harriet Tubman feat. Wadada Leo Smith: Araminta (Sunnyside Records)

    Heavy rotation:
    • IDLES: Brutalism (Balley Records)
    • Jens Lekman: Life Will See You Now (Secretly Canadian)
    • Trio 3 (Andrew Cyrille, Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman): Visiting Texture (Intakt Records)
    • Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die (International Anthem)
    • Arto Lindsey:  Cuidado Madame (Northern Spy Records)
    • Khalid: American Teen (Right Hand Music)
    • Akmee: Neptun (Nakama Records)
    • Alexander Hawkins: Unit[e] (self-released)
    • Lisa Mezzacappa: avantNOIR (Clean Feed)
    • Matthew Shipp Trio: Piano Song (Thirsty Ear)
    • Craig Taborn: Daylight Ghosts (ECM) 
    • David S. Ware Trio: Live in New York 2010 (AUM Fidelity) 
    • Emperor X: Oversleepers International (Tiny Engines)

    Thoroughly enjoyed:
    • Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo: Peace (Libra Records)
    • CP Unit: Before the Heat Deadth (Clean Feed)
    • Eivind Opsvik Overseas: Overseas V (Loyal Label)
    • Atomic: Six Easy Pieces (Odin)
    • Preservation Hall Jazz Band: So It Is (Legacy Recordings)
    • Lithics: Borrowed Floors (Water Wing Records, 2016)
    • Orchestra Baobab: Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng (World Circut Records) 
    • Wire: Silver/Lead (pinkflag)
    • The Mountain Goats: Goths (Merge Records)
    • Goncalo Almeida-Rodrigo Amado-Marco Franco: The Attic (NoBusiness) 
    • Priests: Nothing Feels Natural (Dischord Records)
    • Steve Coleman: Morphogenesis (Pi Recordings) 
    • Saint Etienne: Sound of Water Heavenly Recordings)
    • Miguel Zenón: Típico (Miel Music) 
    • Nicole Mitchell: Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds (FPE Records)
    • Angelica Sanchez Trio: Float the Edge (Clean Feed) 
    • JD Allen: Radio Flyer (Savant Records) 
    • Oumou Sangare: Mogoya (No Format)
    • Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: The Nashville Sound (Southeastern)
    • Spoon: Hot Thoughts (Matador)
    • Harris Eisenstadt Canada Day Quartet: On Parade in Parede (Clean Feed)
    • Brandon Seabrook: Die Trommel Fatale (New Atlantis)
    • Bardo Pond: Under the Pines (Fire Records)
    • Sunny Sweeney: Trophy (Aunt Daddy Records)
    • Tresspass Trio: The Spirit of Pitesti (Clean Feed)
    • The Microscopic Septet: Been Up So Long it Looks Like Down to Me: The Micros Play the Blues (Cuneiform Records) 
    • Diet Cig: Swear I'm Good at This (Frenchkiss Records)
    • Syd: Fin (Columbia)
    • Amor Amok: We Know Not What We Do (Intakt Records) 
    • Led Bib: Umbrella Weather (RareNoise Records)
    • Nnamdi Ogbonnaya: DROOL (Father/Daughter Records) 
    • Brandon Seabrook: Die Trommel Fatale (New Atlantis Records) 
    • The Necks: Unfold (Ideologic Organ) 
    • Low Cut Connie: Dirty Pictures (Part 1) (Contender) 
    • Omar Souleyman: To Syria, With Love (Mad Decent)
    • Ross Hammond: Follow Your Heart (Prescott Recordings)
    • Jeremy Pelt: Make Noise (High Note)
    • Julia Ulehla & Aram Bajakian/Dálava: The Book of Transfigurations (Songlines Recordings) 
    • Noah Perminger: Meditations on Freedom (self released)
    • Benjamin Brooker: Witness (Rough Trade)
    • Cloud Nothings: Life Without Sound (Carpark Records)

    Reissues and vault music:
    • Dave Holland: Conference of the Birds (ECM)
    • Thelonious Monk: Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1960) (Sam Records) 
    • Prince: Purple Rain (Deluxe, Expanded Edition) (NPG Records/Warner)
    • Soundgarden: Ultramega OK (Sub Pop)
       

    Tuesday, April 04, 2017

    Listening Booth: Published reviews and fave music of 1st quarter, January through March, 2017

    Not too many albums covered here, partly because I did not write for the latest issue of Jazznytt, but worth the update nonetheless, not least because among these are some terrific albums. Below, 20 of the most notable new albums I heard form January through March (listed 20 because I had to stop somewhere. Albums to be released have not been included).

    • Steve Swell Quintet: Soul Travelers (Rogue Art, released 2016) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Januray 16., 2017. Original grade 5 out of 6. -- A-
    •  The XX: I See You (Young Turks) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Januray 16., 2017. Originally graded 5 out of 6. -- B+
    • The Modern Times: This is the Modern Times (Drabant) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Januray 30., 2017. Originally graded 4,5 out of 6. -- B+
    • Matthew Shipp: Piano Song (Thirsty Ear) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, February 6., 2017. Originally graded 5 out of 6. -- A-
    •  Liza Mezzacappa: avantNOIR (Clean Feed) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, February 20., 2017. Originally graded 5 out of 6. -- A-
    •  Angles 9: Disappeared Behind the Sun (Clean Feed) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, February 27., 2017. Originally graded 5,5 out of 6. -- A
    • Atomic: Six Easy Pieces (Odin/Grappa) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, Feruary 27., 2017. Originally graded 5 out of 6. -- A-
    •  Harriet Tubman (feat. Wadada Leo Smith): Araminta (Sunnyside Records) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, March 6., 2017. Originally graded 5,5 out of 6. -- A
    •  Eivind Opsvik: Overseas V (Loyal Label) Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, March 20., 2017. Originally graded 5 out of 6. -- A-
    20 engrossing and enjoyable albums, January 1st. - March 31st.:
    • Angles 9: Disappeared Behind the Sun (Clean Feed)
    • Harriet Tubman (feat. Wadada Leo Smith): Araminta (Sunnyside Records)
    • IDLES: Brutalism (Balley Records)
    • Trio 3 (Andrew Cyrille, Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman): Visiting Texture (Intakt Records)
    • Jens Lekman: Life Will See You Now (Secretly Canadian)
    • Lisa Mezzacappa: avantNOIR (Clean Feed)
    • Matthew Shipp Trio: Piano Song (Thirsty Ear)
    • CP Unit: Before the Heat Death (Clean Feed)
    • Eivind Opsvik Overseas: Overseas V (Loyal Label)
    • Atomic: Six Easy Pieces (Odin)
    • Lithics: Borrowed Floors (Water Wing Records, 2016)
    • Orchestra Baobab: Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng (World Circut Records) 
    • Led Bib: Umbrella Weather (RareNoise Records) 
    • Priests: Nothing Feels Natural (Dischord Records)
    • Miguel Zenón: Típico (Miel Music)
    • Spoon: Hot Thoughts (Matador)
    • Bardo Pond: Under the Pines (Fire Records)
    • Sunny Sweeney: Trophy (Aunt Daddy Records)
    • The Microscopic Septet: Been Up So Long it Looks Like Down to Me: The Micros Play the Blues (Cuneiform Records)
    • Syd: Fin (Columbia)
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