Hafez Modirzadeh, Miguel A. Ruiz, Camino al Desván, Mecánica Popular, Finis Africae, Orfeón Gagarin, Victor Nubla, Javier Segura, Jabir, Esplendor Geométrico, Luis Delgado, Mataparda, Suso Saiz, Eli Gras, and Ben Monder, Tony Malaby, & Tom Rainey

Artist: Hafez Modirzadeh

Title: Facets

Label: Pi Recordings

Release Date: 03/05/21

Personnel: Hafez Modirzadeh – tenor saxophone (2-5, 7, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17); Kris Davis – piano (3, 4, 6, 9, 12, 16); Tyshawn Sorey – piano (2, 5, 8, 10, 14, 17); Craig Taborn – piano (1, 7, 11, 13, 15, 18)

Impression: In a series of totally riveting pan-chromatic duets, Dr. Modirzadeh and company deliver the equivalent of a sound-fantasy of mine: Steve Lacy meets La Monte Young uptown.

More Info: Pi Recordings

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp or Pi Recordings

 

 

Artist: Various

Title: La Ola Interior: Spanish Ambient & Acid Exoticism 1983-1990

Label: Bongo Joe

Release Date: 03/05/21

Personnel: Miguel A. Ruiz, Camino al Desván, Mecánica Popular, Finis Africae, Orfeón Gagarin, Victor Nubla, Javier Segura, Jabir, Esplendor Geométrico, Luis Delgado, Mataparda, Suso Saiz, and Eli Gras

Impression: If you’ve been revisiting ethno-trance music of the late 80s/ early 90s (Steve Roach, Rapoon, Jorge Reyes, etc) during lockdown like me, the release of this collection of mostly underappreciated Spanish artists of imaginary-global-ambience is cause for great excitement.

More Info: Bongo Joe

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp

 

 

Artist: Ben Monder Tony Malaby & Tom Rainey

Title: Live at The 55 Bar

Label: Sunnyside Records

Release Date: 02/26/21

Personnel: Ben Monder – guitar; Tony Malaby – saxophone; Tom Rainey – drums

Impression: Just days before COVID-19 took the reins of the foreseeable future, Monder’s trio arrived at NYC’s venerable 55 Bar as a volatile powder keg, and proceeded to pummel with the ferocity of an unhinged basement power electronics gig…and I’m grateful it was documented for us to hear.

More Info: Sunnyside Records

Listen Here:

Buy Here: Bandcamp or Sunnyside Records

 

 

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)

 

Live Music in Louisville, 03/09/19 – Tyshawn Sorey world premier performed by Louisville Orchestra

A very unique opportunity has presented itself to music fans in the Louisville, Ky area: experience a top-shelf, world premier performance of one of the most important living composers…right down the block!

Louisville’s majestic Kentucky Center for the Arts will host the Louisville Orchestra under the direction of Teddy Abrams Saturday, March 9 at 8 p.m. as they present the world premier of commissioned piece, For Bill Dixon and A. Spencer Barefield by Dr. Tyshawn SoreyThe performance will feature soloists trumpeter Ansyn Banks and guitarist Craig Wagner.

Also on the bill are another LO world premier by Gabriel Evens called Run For It, Michael Tilson Thomas’ Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind, and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. 

No-brainer and highest possible recommendation here, folks…

learn more about the composer at Tyshawn Sorey’s website and buy tickets here!

Also, buy Sorey’s most recent release Pillars (that I wrote about here) at bandcamp as well as his earlier releases on Pi Recordings at bandcamp

Anna Webber, Cyrille Aimée, Chris Potter, Julian Lage, and Marilyn Mazur

Anna Webber – Clockwise (Pi Recordings)

Taking influence from percussion pieces by Xenakis, Feldman, Varése, Stockhausen, Babbitt, and Cage – the Big-6 of 20th century composition, maybe – composer and saxophonist/flutist Anna Webber descends like a friggin’ superhero onto new home Pi Recordings with Clockwise.

This music is heavy, like King Crimson or Don Caballero-heavy. No surprise here, considering the propulsive capacity of three-headed beast Matt Mitchell, Chris Tordini, and Ches Smith. In choosing master improvising soloists/extended technicians Jeremy Viner, Jacob Garchik, and Christopher Hoffman for the project, Webber has deftly adorned and accentuated the proceedings’ weight. According to Webber, “The goal was not to re-contextualize the composers’ original intents or ideas, rather it was to find hidden sympathetic points of resonance within the primary compositions that I could abstractly develop into new works.” Riffin’ on the germs of the ideas of the oldies, perhaps? On Clockwise, pitch and harmony take a back seat to texture/timbre and rhythm/meter, just like in the best, heaviest rock music. This does much to make Clockwise some of the most accessible highly complex music imaginable.

Webber has created an environment so wonderfully conducive to solo and group improvisation with these inspired pieces, which is particularly exciting with such a creative and skilled group of players. Clockwise is a total grand slam!

learn more at Webber’s site and Pi Recordings and buy at your local record store, bandcamp, or Amazon

 

 

Cyrille Aimée – Move On: A Sondheim Adventure (Mack Avenue Records)

Acclaimed vocalist Cyrille Aimée seems to have found in the work of singular Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim more than sufficient material with which to tell her own story. With Move On: A Sondheim Adventure tell it she does, and with great aplomb. Her first studio recording since moving from New York to New Orleans, Move On features a cast of nearly twenty musicians masterfully supporting Aimée’s personal statement of journey and transition. In addition to a literal “moving on”, Aimée has gone through the significant personal changes of ending relationships with both band mates and a significant other.

The core group on this session is comprised of the French trio of pianist Thomas Enhco, bassist Jérémy Bruyère, and drummer Yoann Serra. Additional top shelf work came from the hands of Brazilian guitarist Diego Figueiredo, as well as from keyboardist and Aimée’s old friend Assaf Gleizner, who also co-produced and beautifully co-arranged the album. There is an infectiousness on MO that seemingly only comes from an artist’s full immersion in the creative act: the pained reverie of “I Remember”, augmented in no small part by Warren Walker’s electronically processed saxophone, is profound, and the gospel-tinged delivery of “No One Is Alone” is supremely affecting.

The album ends with an up-tempo samba version of “With So Little To Be Sure Of”, the cherry on the top of this weighty testament to the therapeutic and redemptive power of music.

learn more at Aimee’s site and Mack Avenue and buy at your local record store or Amazon

 

 

Chris Potter – Circuits (Edition Records)

As one of the most accomplished and in-demand improvisers for the past nearly three decades and twenty-some-odd leader records later, Chris Potter needs no introduction, but there you go with one anyway.

For his first outing for England’s Edition Records imprint, Potter, as is his wont, dons many hats: ​composer, tenor and soprano ​saxophonist, clarinetist, flutist, sampler guru, guitarist, keyboardist, and percussionist. He also recruited some players of the highest order: keyboardist James Francies, drummer Eric Harland and bassist Linley Marthe. The playing by all on Circuits is, no surprise, clairvoyant and spectacular, but it is the locked interplay within the rhythm section that really shines here. Harland tests the limits of a groove’s relationship to meter in signature fashion while Francies and Marthe reside splendidly in the pocket. Though Circuits is a decidedly rhythm-forward affair, it is also one in which the players are given the high sign to go off. And go off they do, none more than Potter himself, who nearing 50, is doing some of the sharpest playing of his life.

Truth be told, I’m not easily wowed in the presence of technically proficient playing, but Circuits is really quite impressive, and quite unique in that these guys are on another plane of skill and are also saying something quite compelling. It’s heartening that Potter is off to such a swell start at his new home of Edition Records.

learn more at Edition Records and buy at bandcamp or Amazon

 

 

Julian Lage – Love Hurts (Mack Avenue Records)

I have plenty of time for a record that kicks off with the musical centerpiece of cinematic juggernaut Eraserhead, David Lynch’s “In Heaven”.   Love Hurts is one such collection, and fortunately, there is much more to guitarist Julian Lage’s new one than a cool bookend.

At 31, Lage has already carved out an illustrious career, working with some of the greatest musicians on the planet including Gary Burton, John Zorn, Nels Cline, Dave Douglas, Charles Lloyd, and Fred Hersch. On top of his side-work, he has released several records under his own name, included two trio records with bassist Scott Colley and drummer Kenny Wollesen. For LH, Lage recruited bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Dave King, effectively opening wide the door to an elevated scrappiness that was perhaps missing on his two previous trio recordings. The song selection on LH is impeccable, including a sating triptych of “pairs”…1) original numbers: “In Circles” and “Lullaby”, the almost Ayler-esque highlight of the record; 2) Keith Jarret tunes: “The Windup” and “Encore (A)” 3) Roy Orbison-associated classics: “Love Hurts” and “Crying”. According to Lage, “the covers on this record are like when you move into a new apartment, the last thing you do is hang your pictures on the wall…. those pictures define your aesthetic in a way. So the tunes we chose kind of define the aesthetic I natively love but hadn’t put on a record yet.”

Julian Lage’s trajectory is one that is impossibly ever onward and upward, given the ashes of excellence and innovation that are still smoldering in its trail. One can only imagine what wonders he still has in his bag, and how much fun it will be to find out.

learn more at Lage’s site and Mack Avenue and buy at your local record store or Amazon

 

 

Marilyn Mazur – Shamania (RareNoise Records)

If you’re like me (ill-informed, lazy, etc.), the name Marilyn Mazur might not ring a bell at first. Upon further digging, it turns out she is the same Danish percussionist who played on Miles Davis’ Aura record, a pair of Gil Evans releases, a handful of Jan Garbarek’s albums, and in fact, has numerous recordings under a variety of monikers on ECM, Storyville, and Stunt Records. In sum, she is a seasoned professional who has been kicking ass since well before many listeners were born.

Mazur began making adventurous music back in the mid-1970s with her multi-discipline music/theatre group Primi Band. More than forty years later, she has resurrected that concept with Shamania, a collective of ten of Scandinavia’s most creative female musicians who, according to their new label, draw “from a deep well of primal energy and experimental audacity”. What Mazur and co have created on their eponymous RareNoise Records release is somewhat indescribable given their holistic approach to music making. The reed/percussion/string/vocal music grooves, floats, bobs, weaves, and it quenches. Suffice it to say, and this is no secret, the best music throws genre to the wind, and that is what Mazur has done with Shamania.

I’m not saying we should leave it to women to do it right, but far more often than not, given the opportunity, they will. More appropriately, we should let women show the world what it could be and then the world can and will likely fall in line. Big ups to RareNoise for again presenting terrific sounds to a world filled with noise.

learn more at Mazur’s site and RareNoise Records and buy at your local record store, bandcamp, or Amazon