Deniz Cuylan, Christopher Hoffman, and Pino Palladino & Blake Mills

Artist:Deniz Cuylan

Title: No Such Thing As Free Will

Label: Hush Hush Records

Release Date: 3/19/21

Personnel: Deniz Cuylan: Guitar, Clarinet, Piano; Brian Bender: Cello; Cem Mısırlıoğlu: Piano on “No Such Thing As Free Will”

Impression: Beautifully played and meditative minimalism is the rule on this terrific nylon string guitar-centric collection.

More Info: Deniz Cuylan interview

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp

 

 

Artist:Christopher Hoffman

Title: Asp Nimbus

Label:Out of Your Heads Records

Release Date: 3/26/21

Personnel: Christopher Hoffman – cello, composition; Bryan Carrott – vibraphone; Rashaan Carter – bass; Craig Weinrib – drums; David Virelles – piano (track 2 only)

Impression: Atypical instrumentation, inspired / memorable compositions, and expert performances combine to make AN one of the most fulfilling releases of 2021 so far.

More Info: Out of Your Heads Records

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp

 

 

Artist: Pino Palladino and Blake Mills

Title: Notes With Attachments

Label: New Deal / Impulse Records

Release Date: 3/12/21

Personnel: Pino Palladino – semi-acoustic bass, bass harmonica, bass, polyphonic bass synthesizer, calabash, guitars, fretless bass, Fender bass; Blake Mills – berimbau, nylon string guitar, electro guitar, Coral electric sitar, DI Neve Fuzz, percussion, polyphonic guitar synthesizer, rubberized guitar, ngoni, fixed reeds, string synthesizer, e-flute with Direct String Synthesizer, fretless baritone guitar, drums, slide guitar, marimba, wordless vocals; Chris Dave – drums, baby kit, percussion, clavinet, Rhodes, brushes; Sam Gendel – Poly-Sax with BOSS Super Shifter, saxophones; Larry Goldings – Mellotron saxophone, celeste, Hammond B3, Prophet V; Rob Moose – viola, violin; Jacques Schwarz-Bart – sax section; Bruce Flowers – IZotope synthesizer; Andrew Bird – violin; Marcus Strickland – bass clarinet, saxophone; Ted Poor – prepared piano; Ben Aylon – Senegalese percussion; Matt Chamberlain – timbales.

Impression: At times, when more than one producer tackles a project together the old “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario rears its ugly head, but on Notes these masters prove they are above all else exemplary listeners, yielding an impossibly grooving and immersive sonic experience.

More Info: Blake Mills site

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Blake Mills site

 

Nick Dunston, Steph Richards, and WHO Trio

Artist: Nick Dunston

Title: Atlantic Extraction: Live at Threes

Label: Out of Your Head Records

Release Date: 7/24/20

Personnel: Nick Dunston – double bass, compositions; Louna Dekker-Vargas – flute, alto flute, piccolo; Ledah Finck – violin, viola; Tal Yahalom – guitar; Stephen Boegehold – drum set

Impression: As evidenced by the overabundance of inspired ideas/execution/processes on this modestly recorded live date, there is no doubt that Dunston will continue to flourish as a major force in the direction of new music. Additionally, for every sale of this album OOYH Records will donate $1 to the Third Wave Fund, an organization chosen by Dunston.

More Info: Nick Dunston website and Out of Your Heads Records

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp

 

 

Artist: Steph Richards

Title: Supersense

Label: Northern Spy Recs

Release Date: 10/23/20

Personnel: Steph Richards – trumpet, flugelhorn, resonating drums/water; Jason Moran – piano; Stomu Takeishi – bass; Kenny Wollesen – drums, Wollesonics; Andrew Munsey – track 7, Wollesonics; Sean Raspet – scent design

Impression: In the midst of this recording of consummate masters tasked with, among other assignments, interpreting/responding to an array of scents, we are submerged in a truly distinctive environment…one that I anticipate experiencing in full when scratch-and-sniff swatches are mailed out with physical copies of the release in December.

More Info: Steph Richards website and Northern Spy Recs

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp

 

 

Artist: WHO Trio

Title: STRELL The Music of Billy Strayhorn & Duke Ellington

Label: Clean Feed Records

Release Date: 09/04/20

Personnel: Michel Wintsch – piano; Gerry Hemingway – drums, voice; Bänz Oester – bass

Impression: No one has bested Duke Ellington’s mastery of all things musical and no group of musicians in recent memory has done greater justice to the Ellington / Strayhorn’s songbook as a pan-genre blueprint than WHO Trio.

More Info: Gerry Hemingway website and  Clean Feed Records

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp and Clean Feed Records Store

 

 

Support Musicians via Bandcamp on Friday 3/20/20…and beyond

To support musicians during the Covid-19 pandemic, Bandcamp is waiving their revenue share on all sales Friday, March 20, from midnight to midnight PST.

Though certainly not exhaustive, I have assembled a list of some of my favorite recent and forthcoming releases on some of the greatest labels in the world available via Bandcamp. Just click on the label to see all their offerings on Bandcamp and/or click on the album title to see that specific release.  You can use the players on this page to listen.

Musicians are some of the hardest-hit by our new reality, so please consider supporting these and other artists now by loading up if you are able AND by spreading the word about this opportunity.

Don’t forget, you can pay in excess of the asking prices of releases on Bandcamp, making this an optimal way to enact your generosity for all that our favorite musicians do for us.

While you’re at it, ease into the habit of frequenting Bandcamp along with other great music retailers on the regular if you haven’t already!

Music matters friends, so let’s do our best to propagate it in any way we can.

Be safe and be well.

 

GEENLEAF MUSIC

Webber/Morris Big Band “Both Are True

listen here

 

 

INTAKT RECORDS

Tim Berne’s Snakeoil “The Fantastic Mrs 10

listen here

 

 

Aruan Ortiz “Inside Rhythmic Falls

listen here

 

 

Ohad Talmor Newsreel Sextet “Long Forms

listen here

 

 

INTERNATIONAL ANTHEM

Irreversible Entanglements “Who Sent You?

listen here

 

 

NORTHERN SPY RECORDS

Horse Lords “The Common Task

listen here

 

Jerry Cunningham “The Weather Up There

listen here

 

 

ORANGE MILK RECORDS

Nick Storring “My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell

listen here

 

 

OUT OF YOUR HEAD RECORDS

Curt Sydnor “Deep End Shallow

listen here

 

 

NEW FOCUS RECORDINGS / PANORAMIC RECORDS

Ali Can Pushkulcu “Gibberish Shreds

(pre-order, so no preview yet)

 

Hasco Duo “The Same Old Wonder

listen here

 

Luis Ianes “Instrucciones de Uso

listen here

 

 

PI RECORDINGS

Tyshawn Sorey “Unfiltered

(preview at link above)

 

Liberty Ellman “Last Desert

listen here

 

 

PYROCLASTIC RECORDS

Kris Davis “Diatom Ribbons

listen here

 

 

RARE NOISE RECORDS

Bobby Previte, Jamie Saft, and Nels Cline “Music From The Early 21st Century

listen here

 

Giorgi Mikadze “Georgian Microjamz

listen here

 

 

RATTLE RECORDS

Steve Barry and Judy Bailey “Elements

listen here

 

Ferocious “Ferocious

listen here

 

 

CHRIS BROKAW

Chris Brokaw “End of the Night Band Live at the Lost Church

listen here

 

Chris Brokaw “End of the Night

listen here

 

 

FENNESZ

Fennesz “Live at Empty Bottle/Chicago”

listen here

 

Fennesz “Live at Jazz Café

listen here

 

 

OREN AMBARCHI

Oren Ambarchi “Simian Angel

(preview unavailable)

 

 

STEAMROOM RECORDS

Jim O’Rourke “Steamroom 46

listen here

 

 

SOUTHERN LORD

Caspar Brotzmann Massaker “Home

listen here

 

 

SHHPUMA

Bernhard Meyer and John Hollenbeck “Grids

listen here

 

 

BIRDWATCHER RECORDS

Jessica Pavone “Brick and Mortar

listen here

 

 

CHANT RECORDS

Curha “II

listen here

 

Randi Pontoppidan & Christian Rønn ” HEAD¨SPACE

listen here

 

 

EARS & EYES RECORDS

Nuturia “Meeting In Progress

listen here

 

2019 NPR Jazz Critics Poll

Happy new year and best wishes to everyone for a beautiful 2020!  I have been decidedly inactive on this site for some time now, but I thought I would drop a note to reflect one last time on 2019.

The 2019 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll has now been published, and Francis Davis has again let me chime in.  Go buy all of this great music!

The overview results are here

Davis’ commentary is here

…and my contribution is here

My favorite part of this poll is reading each of the contributor’s picks, which can be done here

My best of 2019 are as follows…

NEW RELEASES

  1. David Torn-Tim Berne-Ches Smith, Sun of Goldfinger (ECM)
  2. Anna Webber, Clockwise (Pi)
  3. Camila Meza & the Nectar Orchestra, Ambar (Sony Masterworks)
  4. Bill Frisell, Harmony (Blue Note)
  5. Timespine, Urban Season (Shhpuma)
  6. Tyshawn Sorey & Marilyn Crispell, The Adornment of Time (Pi)
  7. Gregg Belisle-Chi, Book of Hours (Ears & Eyes)
  8. Kris Davis, Diatom Ribbons (Pyroclastic)
  9. Sonar With David Torn, Tranceportation (Volume 1) (RareNoise)
  10. Stefan Aeby, Piano Solo (Intakt)

REISSUES/HISTORICAL

  1. Eric Dolphy, Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions (Resonance -3CD)
  2. Nat “King” Cole, Hittin’ the Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943) (Resonance -7CD)
  3. Paul Bley-Gary Peacock-Paul Motian, When Will the Blues Leave (ECM)

VOCAL

  • Camila Meza & the Nectar Orchestra, Ambar (Sony Masterworks)

DEBUT

  • Nick Dunston, Atlantic Extraction (Out of Your Head)

LATIN

  • Camila Meza & the Nectar Orchestra, Ambar (Sony Masterworks)

 

Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret, Albatre, Wayne Horvitz, Adam Hopkins, and Casey Golden

Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret – The Other Side of Air (Firehouse 12)

One thing is for sure: you’d be hard pressed to gather a more impressive group of players/improvisers than Bay-area pianist/composer Myra Melford has done with her Snowy Egret project.  As she has said, “I really feel like it’s the vehicle that expresses where I am as a composer, performer, and bandleader right now”. It is only with such a remarkable vehicle that a group of artist can so seemingly effortlessly navigate the improvisational and compositional terrain that SE explores on The Other Side of Air.

For their second release together, Melford and company have run the gamut through what a quintet is capable, covering territories from the sublime to the revved-up to the ridiculous. These five are so locked in to these compositions and to each other that it is beyond clairvoyance at times.

I love how on a number of these pieces, Melford has created divisions or movements in which one or two soloists are featured: micro concertos, almost! It is in these moments, as on “Attic” (greatest bass solo of 2018?) and “Living Music” (Ellman and Sorey tear it up), that a very rare transcendence takes place.  Some very inspired work here, for sure.

learn more at Firehouse 12 Records and buy at your local record store, bandcamp, or Amazon

 

 

Albatre – The Fall of the Damned (ShhPuma)

Relentless, aggressive, cathartic, concerted, guitar-less, and odd meters are apt descriptors of The Fall of the Damned, the new album by Rotterdam-based Albatre. And this is just what the doctor ordered to fight the chaotic dumpster fire that is 2018.

There are more than a few comparisons that can be made between Albatre and Kevin Martin’s battering “God” project from the ’90s.  For starters, harshly effected drums, bass, and saxophone intent on relaying the paramount importance of rhythm take center stage on both. Philipp Ernsting, Gonçalo Almeida, and Hugo Costa convincingly bring the noise on said trio of instruments, respectively, but not respectfully. Compared to their terrific 2015 release, Nagual, there is an even more deliberate middle-finger-to-the-state-of-the-world vibe at play here, and it’s one that I can get behind.

Although these sounds are not necessarily for the faint of heart, they are a mollifying space to occupy as you plan your daily acts of resistance. Coincidently, albâtre is French for “alabaster”, the stone material artists have diligently chipped away at for millennia to immortalize greatness through sculpture. Viva L’Albatre!

learn more at SHHPuma and buy at your local record store, bandcamp, or Amazon

 

 

Wayne Horvitz – The Snowghost Sessions (Songlines Recordings)

As a key member of Naked City, Pigpen, Zony Mash, and The President – bands who illustrated to me early on just how out music can be taken – Wayne Horvitz will always hold a special place in my consciousness. Since relocating from New York to Seattle in the late 80s, Horvitz has covered an absurd amount of musical territory from popular and experimental band-work, theater and dance pieces, chamber and orchestral writing, sound design, TV and soundtrack work and so on. It has been a full ride, indeed…and the ride continues.

SnowGhost is the relaxed, top-shelf recording studio in Whitefish, Montana where the sounds of Horvitz’s beautiful piano playing and electronically augmented keys, along with exceptional accompaniment from bassist Geoff Harper and drummer Eric Eagle were immaculately committed to tape (or disc). There is a filmic quality to The Snowghost Sessions, not because it requires an image to complete an artistic statement, but because it reveals imagery upon listening: a profile of a man falling down and getting back up again, a snapshot of the jarring yet taciturn winter that inevitably descends on the Midwest year after year, or a family gathered in silence, in mourning.

Like all the best art, The Snowghost Sessions improves with each listen, vying hard for the top spot on year-end lists that will be rampant before we know it. Kudos to Horvitz, Harper, and Eagle, and to Songlines Recordings for this gift.

learn more at Songlines Recordings and buy at your local record store, bandcamp, or Amazon

 

 

Adam Hopkins – Crickets (Out Of Your Head Records)

Evidently, Adam Hopkins learned a great deal about how to play the bass (and likely much more) from luminary Michael Formanek and how to effectively lead a group (and likely much more) from heavy-hitters Henry Threadgill and John Hollenbeck, both in whose groups he has served time. Crickets is Hopkins’ first release under his own name, and what a fine and feisty romp it is.

The groundwork for much of the record is the mighty riff, delivered with potency by Hopkins and guitarist Jonathan Goldberger, and reflective of the influence of 80s and 90s punk/indie rock. Onto this framework Hopkins has grafted the triple-sax threat of Anna Webber, Ed Rosenberg, and Josh Sinton, deftly delivering glorious wails of charted lines and spirited solos over said riffage. Drummer Devin Gray completes the group with both agility and judicial backbeat, serving the music well at every step.

It’s heartening to see the DIY spirit of yesteryear alive and well as we do on Crickets – Out of Your Head Records is run by Hopkins and his friends – particularly at a time when the artist’s slice of the pie continues to shrink. PSA: remind a musician, especially with your wallet, that you are still listening and that what they do matters and they won’t go away.

learn more at Out of Your Head Records and buy at your local record store, bandcamp, or Amazon

 

 

Casey Golden – Atlas (self-released)

For the better part of the past decade, pianist Casey Golden has been active in Australia, releasing well-received trio records with Bill Williams and drummer Ed Rodrigues, and more recently has begun to make a splash in London with his quartet with guitarist Alex Munk, bassist Henrik Jensen, and drummer Will Glaser.

The sensitivity that Golden and his UK quartet demonstrate in their interplay on their first release Atlas is undoubtedly impressive and is a considerable step forward for Golden. The tunes are just so agreeable and the playing is refreshingly in service of the music rather than the ego of the player. This is not to say that these four don’t have chops; quite to the contrary, these four can play.

Whatever Golden is up to in England agrees with him, and I look forward to more of the fruits of this creative activity in the future.

learn more at Casey Golden’s site and buy at your local record store, bandcamp or Amazon