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) *


- 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) *


-  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) *


- 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)

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