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)

Friday, February 03, 2017

Fave Jazz Recordings of 2016

Below you'll find my picks of the best jazz recordings of 2016. A tad late, I'll concede, especially considering some publications seem to think the year ends in November. Then again, even those of us who write about music professionally come across gems that for whatever reason had slipped us by way into the following year and beyond. I'll also once again note that the past year was an eventful one for me personally speaking, so I did not get to play as much music as I normally would and will have to play catch-up on several notable and/or hyped releases for a while yet. Still, with a good few 2017 recordings having been moved to the front of the listening queue already, I felt this was as good a point as any to post a 2016 list. You may also want to have a look at my NPR Jazz Critics Poll ballot, which I posted in late December.

2016 may have been a rough year on several fronts, but musically there was a lot to be elated by, such as Steve Lehman's Sélébéyone, the powerful beyond jazz-and-hip hop meeting ground that more than any other project proved it is more fruitful to ignore boundaries than to build walls between them. Then there was veteran trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and his Golden Quintet who conjured up America's National parks in their vast expanse and minute details, with stirring bluesy undertones. Mary Halvorson took another step as a composer and set up intriguing interplay between her often angular guitar patterns with steel guitarist Susan Alcorn's gliding lines, plus long time compatriots John Hébert and Ches Smith returning by her side. And that's just three of the many intriguing jazz albums I heard last year. Here's the list (an asterisk denotes I've had a review of the recording published) 

The 15 best, more or less in order of preference:
  • Steve Lehman & Sélébéyone: Sélbéyone (Pi Rcordings) *
  • Wadada Leo Smith Golden Quintet: America's National Parks (Cuneiform)
  • Mary Halvorson Octet: Away With You (Firehouse 12)
  • Anna Högberg Attack: Anna Högberg Attack (Omlott)
  • Jane Ira Bloom: Early Americans (Outline) *
  • Roswell Rudd, Jamie Saft, Trevor Dunn, Balázs Pándi: Strength & Power (RareNoise)
  • Damana (Dag Magnus Narvesen Octet): Cornua Copiae (Clean Feed)
  • Steve Swell Quintet: Soul Travelers (Rogue Art) *
  • Michael Formanek Ensemble Kolossus: The Distance (ECM) *
  • James Brandon Lewis Trio: No Filter (BNS Sessions)
  • Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom: Otis Was a Polar Bear Roayl Potato Family)
  • Aruán Ortiz Trio: Hidden Voices (Intakt Records) *
  • Greg Ward & Ten Tongues: Touch My Beloved's Thought (Greenleaf Music) *
  • Murray, Allen, Carrington Power Trio: Perfection (Motema Music)
  • Henry Threadgill Ensemble Double Up: Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi Recordings)
15 more on heavy rotation:
  • Peter Brötzmann, William Parker, Hamid Drake: Song Sentimentale (CD version, Otorku) *
  • Eric Revis Trio: Crowded Solitudes (Clean Feed) *
  • Jason Roebke Octet: Cineman Spiral (NoBusiness Records) *
  • Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio: Desire & Freedom (Not Two)
  • Jasmine Lovell-Smith's Towering Poppies: Yellow Red Blue (Paintbox)
  • Cortex: Live in New York (Clean Feed) *
  • Marylin Crispell, Gary Peacock, Richard Poole: In Motion (Intakt)
  • Gutbucket: Dance (Gut Records)
  • Bennett / Johnston/ Mezzacappa / Rosaly: Shipwreck 4 (NoBusiness Records) *
  • Nick Fraser Quartet: Starer (self-released)
  • Moskus: Ulv Ulv (Hubro) *
  • Tyshawn Sorey Double Trio: The Inner Spectrum of Variables (Pi Recordings)
  • Julie Kjær 3: Dobbeltgænger (Clean Feed)
  • Rich Halley 5:  The Outlier (Pine Eagle Recordings)
  • Nate Wooley, Hugo Antunes, Jorge Queijo, Mário Costa, Chris Corsano: Purple Patio (NoBusiness Records)
Other notable recordings I thoroughly enjoyed:
  • Mark Dresser Seven: Sedimental You (Clean Feed)
  • JD Allen: Americana (Savant Records)
  • Eve Risser White Desert Orchestra: Les Deux Versants Se Regardent (Clean Feed)
  • Harald Lassen & LAB Trio: Rainbow Session (Hagen Recordings)
  • I.P.A.: I Just Did Say Something (Cuneiform) *
  • Rønnings Jazzmaskin: Jazzmaskin! (Losen Records)
  • Rudy Royston Trio: Rise of Orion (Greenleaf Music)
  • Kenny Barron Trio: Book of Intuition (Impulse/Universal) *
  • Jonathan Finlayson & Sicilian Defense: Moving Still (Pi Recordings)
  • Momentum: Momentum (Clean Feed)
  • Festen: Festen (Clean Feed) *
  • No Project Trio: Vol. II (FMR Records)
  • Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Real Enemies (New Amsterdam)
  • Jeff Lederer's Brooklyn Blowhards: Brooklyn Blowhards (Little (i) Music)
  • Hanna Paulsberg Quartet: Eastern Smiles (Odin) *
  • Fail Better: OWT (NoBusiness Records)
  • Vijay Iyer & Wadada Leo Smith: A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (ECM) *
  • Nakama: Most Intimate (Nakama Records)
  • Thomas Borgmann, Max Johnson, Willi Kellers: One For Cisco (NoBusiness Records)
  • Matt Brewer: Unspoken (Criss Cross)
  • Mats Eilertsen: Rubicon (ECM)
  • David Helbock Trio: Into the Mystic (ACT)
  • Monkey Plot: Here I Sit, Knowing All of This (Hubro) *
  • Protean Reality: Protean Reality (Clean Feed) *
  • Avishai Cohen: Into the Silence (ECM)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The 2016 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll

The results for the 2016 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll have just been posted online, won by Henry Threadgill's fascinating Ensemble Double Up album Old Locks and Irregular Verbs. A typically strong recording masterminded by an incomparable old master but one I nevertheless enjoyed a bit less than his Pulitzer Prizer winner In For a Penny, In For a Pound, and so it did not make my ballot. Still, out of the ten albums I voted for, four made the top 10, with a fifth in the top 15. None of the rest made the top 50. Individual ballots can be accessed here, but I've also put my own ballot is below. I will post more on these as well as a more comprehensive "jazz of 2016" list soon.

New releases


 1.  Steve Lehman & Sélébéyone: Sélbéyone (Pi Rcordings)

 2.  Wadada Leo Smith Golden Quintet: America's National Parks (Cuneiform)

 3.  Mary Halvorson Octet: Away With You (Firehouse 12)

 4.  Anna Högberg Attack: Anna Högberg Attack (Omlott)

 5.  Jane Ira Bloom: Early Americans (Outline)

 6.  Roswell Rudd, Jamie Saft, Trevor Dunn, Balázs Pándi: Strength & Power (RareNoise)

 7.  Damana (Dag Magnus Narvesen Octet): Cornua Copiae (Clean Feed)

 8.  Steve Swell Quintet: Soul Travelers (Rogue Art)

 9.  Michael Formanek Ensemble Kolossus: The Distance (ECM)

10. James Brandon Lewis Trio: No Filter (BNS Sessions)



Reissues / historical albums:


1.  Peter Brötzmann, Fred Hopkins, Rashied Ali: Songlines (Trost)

2.  Arthur Blythe: In the Tradition / Lennox Avenue Breakdown / Illusions / Blythe Spirit (BGO)

3.  Tom Prehn Quartet: Axiom (Rune Grammofon)



Vocal album:


· Steve Lehman & Sélébéyone: Sélbéyone (Pi Rcordings)



Debut album:


· Anna Högberg Attack: Anna Högberg Attack (Omlott)



Latin album:


· (no pick)

Friday, December 02, 2016

Listening Booth: belated round-up of published reviews, mid April through November, 2016

I'm smack in the middle of paternity leave, which has left and still leaves little to no time for writing. Add to that, I had a very busy summer -- much of it on the road -- and as for the rest, between doing renovation work on the house as well as my professional writing gigs I've not been able to update the blog much at all this year. Still, I thought I had to do something and for now, posting the usual list of music I've reviewed during this period (well, up until I entered the leave period at least) will have to do.

  • Vijay Iyer & Wadada Leo Smith: A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (ECM) -- Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, April 11., 2016. Originally graded 4 out of 6.
  • The Coathangers: Nosebleed Weekend (Suicide Squeeze) -- Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, April 18., 2016. Originally graded 5 out of 6.
  • Eric Revis Trio: Crowded Solitudes (Clean Feed) -- Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, April 25., 2016. Originally graded 5 out of 6.
  • Kenny Barron Trio: Book of Intuition (Impulse!) -- Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, April 25., 2016. Originally graded 4,5 out of 6.
  • Beyoncé: Lemonade (Parkwood/Columbia) -- Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, May 2., 2016. Originally graded 5 out of 6.
  • Snarky Puppy: Culcha Vulcha (GroundUP Music/Decca) -- Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, May 30., 2016. Originally graded 3 out of 6.
  • Jane Ira Bloom: Early Americans (Outline Records) -- Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, June 13., 2016. Originally graded 5 out of 6.
  • Festen: Festen (Clean Feed) -- Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, June 20., 2016. originally graded 4,5 out of 6.
  • Cortex: Live In New York (Clean Feed) -- Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, August 8., 2016. Originally graded 5 out of 6.
  • Steve Lehman & Sélébéyone: Sélébéyone (Pi Recordings) -- Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, August 29., 2016. Originally graded 6 out of 6.
  • Peter Brötzmann, William Parker, Hamid Drake: Song Sentimentale (CD version, Otoroku) -- Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, September 19., 2016. Originally graded 5 out of 6.
  • Drive-By Truckers: American Band (ATO Records) -- Reviewed for Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, October 3., 2016. Originally graded 5,5 out of 6.
  • Bennett, Johnston, Mezzacappa, Rosaly: Shipwreck 4 (NoBusiness) -- Reviewed for Jazznytt, #240
  • I.P.A.: I Just Did Say Something (Cuneiform Records) -- Reviewed for Jazznytt, #240
  • Jason Roebke Octet: Cinema Spiral (NoBusiness Records) -- Reviewed for Jazznytt, #240
  • Greg Ward & Ten Tongues: Touch my Beloved's Thought (Greenleaf Records) -- Reviewed for Jazznytt, #240
Additional published writing:
  • "Nasjonale natur-verk": interview with Wadada Leo Smith, published in Musikkmagasinet/Klassekampen, October 17., 2016.
As we're entering poll and year-end lists season, I'm currently revisiting a good deal of the music that has caught my attention throughout this past year, as well as stuff that for various reasons I have not had the time or opportunity to dig into at all. I hope to add a list of some of the most notable of these releases in the coming week, possibly with a comment or two on at least a couple of them.

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