PER TJERNBERG AND ARCHIMEDES BADKAR: Perfect Time (Gamlestans Gramofonbolag)
Elegantly, Tjernberg and the band guide the listeners on a multifaceted, kaleidoscopic musical journey, where several of the songs go into each other and are presented in a longer or shorter suite form. Much of Archimedes Badkar’s significant global sound and cross-border mix of music is recreated at Perfect Time. With this new edition of the group, psychedelia, blues, americana, santeria and mardi grass rhythms have also been added to the well-sounding brew. Works by Don Cherry, Duke Ellington, Bob Dylan, Son House, Dr John, Joni Mitchell, Harpo Marx and Grateful Dead that are reworked beyond recognition are combined with originals that the bandleader has largely written on his own. During the more than 100-minute musical odyssey, the rhythm and improvisations are constantly in forward motion, regardless of the tempo at which the music is performed.
NICE CHAIR: The Game (Gateway)
Nice Chair is a trio: Claus Waidtløw (ts), Kaspar Vadsholt (el b), Martin Maretti Andersen (d). Excerpt from Steve Swallow’s cover notes: “Electing to make an album of tenor-bass-drums music is a bold move, grabbing the bull by the horns. You’d better have something to say, and a way of saying it that compels attention. This Trio accomplishes that.”
MATHILDE GROOSS VIDDAL: Notre Dame – Meditations and Prayers (Losen Records)
JEAN-MARIE MACHADO: Majakka (La Buissonne)
This new and colorful quartet has its own sound, already. The music flows gently, guide by the majakka (lighthouse in finnish) of Machado’s compositions.
Nels Cline Singers: Share The Wealth (Blue Note)
FRANCESCO ORIO TRIO: Os (self production)
MART SOO/FLORIAN WALTER: The Golden and Other Ratios (Umland Records)
JAN PTASZYN WRÓBLEWSKI: Studio Jazzowe Polskiego Radia 1969 -78 (Polskie Radio)
There was probably a record number of jazz CDs released in Poland in 2020 – easily more than a hundred, but the most important album came out by the end of the year, just before Christmas. It is nothing but sensational, of great artistic and historical merit. This 5-CD box features the Polish Radio Jazz Studio under the direction of the saxophonist, composer and arranger Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski. Not a conventional big band, but rather an experimental orchestra, it operated during 1969 – 1978, yelding nearly 200 original compositions. As many as 56 pieces, selected by Ptaszyn himself, and mostly never released before, are spread chronolgically over 4 CDs, the 5th disc offering bonus tracks by the Ptaszyn Wróblewski Quartet and Sextet from the more recent perdiod. The Polish Radio Jazz Studio occasionally toured, playing major jazz festivals in Poland and abroad, but it primarily functioned as a radio workshop. It brought together the most creative Polish jazz musicians of the time, charismatic and colorful personalities, just to mention saxophonists Zbigniew Namysłowski, Włodzimierz Nahorny and Tomasz Szukalski, pianist Andrzej Trzaskowski and trumpeter Tomasz Stańko, whose legendary Quintet formed the core of the orchestra. The box is accompanied by a 50-page booklet with comprehensive liner notes in Polish and English. A gem.
LOGAN RICHARDSON: Afrofuturism (Whirlwind Recordings)
VICTORIA KAUNOVA, ILYA MOROZOV: Christmas Wish (Butman Music)
There was no tradition of Christmas jazz albums in Russia. This one, put together by singer Victoria Kaunova and alto sax / flute player Ilya Morozov, their sophomore album together, is only the second Christmas jazz album in the country’s history. And it’s full of positive vibes and youthful energy of the two musicians, who are partners in music and life for the last several years.
DON CHERRY: Cherry Jam (Gearbox)
We’re talking 1965. Trumpeter Don Cherry is on one of his visits to Copenhagen, to make a radio recordings with the danish musicians Mogens Bollerup (ts), Atli Bjørn (p), Benny Nielsen (b), Simon Koppel (dr). This is the same year he made “Complete Communion”, one of his most exciting recordings. “Cherry Jam” has become a brilliant record with only four compositions, mostly within the hard-bop landscape, from one of our favorites on trumpet, and I think it is a surprise that the four danes are playing so well and follows Cherrys ideas so well all the way through the four tracks. Nice ensemble playing, beautiful and creative solos, and a record that all Cherry fans should have, and play often! A Cherry a day, keeps the doctor away!
RON CARTER: Foursight – Stockholm Vol. 2 (In+Out Records)
SONNY ROLLINS: Rollins in Holland: The 1967 Studio and Live Recordings (Resonance Records)
Sonny Rollins had been a jazz great from his Day 1. He preceded Coltrane in jazz scene and is still active. So, it really doesn’t matter what, when, where and/or with whom he played. His music is the same, his repertoire is the same (he plays standards and original compositions which eventually have become standards). He never had an established band, he performs with everyone and the outcome is almost always Rollinsesque. Thus, this album from 1967 presents us this unaltered formula with 2 Dutch virtuosi, Han Bennink on drums and Ruud Jacobs on bass. And, who could ask for anything more to end (or get rid of) a year like 2020 with such a gem of artistry?
JULIEN TASSIN: Moondancer (Igloo Records)
Moondancer is an album that creeps under the skin. The compositions stretch out in relaxed atmospheres and brilliant moods. Tassin is a great guitarplayer who adds lovely blues and folktouches to his rich jazzcompositions. His trio, with Dré Pallemaerts on drums and Nicolas Thys on bass, is definitely one of the best in European jazz.
GOLDEN AGE OF STEAM: Tomato Brain (NOISE Records)
The music of James Allsopp’s Golden Age of Steam has been described as ‘abstract electronica meets radical jazz’. In this album, the group’s first since 2012, the music has indeed become more electronic, and also more radical. The group has also increased in size: Alex Bonney on electronics and Ruth Goller on electric bass have joined the original trio of James Allsopp on saxophone, Kit Downes on Hammond Organ and Tim Giles on drums. There are just two tracks: Loftopus lasts for 30 minutes; the shorter track is based on Ivor Cutler’s whimsical poem about a man eating a cheese and tomato sandwich. The music stretches the boundaries of jazz, and is always full of spontaneity and surprises.