European Jazz Charts
A selection of the hot new music surfacing across the continent this month by the top European jazz magazines and websites
KRIS DAVIS DIATOM RIBBONS: Live at the Village Vanguard (Pyroclastic Records)
These are two records with the great piano player Kris Davis that you should spend some time with, to get into the music. And like a lot of good music, it grows with each time you play it. Kris Davis has once again proven that she is an outstanding pianist and composer, and of the few female pianists who have recorded at the Village Vanguard over the years, she proves with this recording that the small, intimate venue in Greenwich Village is the right place for her and her excellent fellow musicians (Terri Lyne Carrington – drums), Val Jeanty – turntables, electronics), Julian Lage – electric guitar, and Trevor Dunn – electric bass, double bass).
HIGH PULP: Days In The Desert (Anti)
High Pulp from Los Angeles is a nice progressive jazz collective. And productive, too. More than a year after their second album Pursuit of Ends (the follow-up to 2018’s self-released Bad Juice), the band has just released Days in the Desert. High Pulp’s sound may be drenched in jazz, but they just as easily add influences from indie rock, hip-hop and electronic as well as delicious rhythms and grooves, making the sound ever broader, atmospheric and psychedelic. And with each album they manage to greatly enrich that sound again. And with guestplayers like Jeff Parker and Kurt Rosenwinkel it can get even better.
NILS WOGRAM: The Pristine Sound Of Root 70 (selfreleased)
MEHMET POLAT QUARTET: Embodied Poetry (Aftab Records)
After listening to this album, you may want to learn more about Ottoman Classical Music and Turkish Alevi Spirituals, yet oud player Mehmet Polat’s recent album displays nothing but pure creative jazz with outbursts of introspective improvisations…
TOM WARD / NUNO TROCADO / SÉRGIO TAVARES: Corrosion (Carimbo Porta-Jazz)
The album opens with creepy grunts and other noises, creating an immediately frightening soundscape. The instruments enter the scene, saxophone buzzing, electronic effects, double bass appearing occasionally; the instruments approach, connect, move away; together they create rougher textures, dirtier sounds, adding a layer of electronics on top. Full of darkness, this music could be illustrated by some sombre paintings by Goya, Munch or Bacon. Tom Ward, Nuno Trocado and Sérgio Tavares have recorded challenging and intriguing music: a surprising sound exploration that leaves the listener perplexed.
AMIIRA: Curious Objects (AMAC/Arjunamusic)
This album offers astonishingly deep-breathing, freely pulsating, subliminal space-flooding music full of exciting tension carried by a solid heart beat. The music invites us to freedom zones of listening, zones to surrender and loose yourself and at the same time find and remain at yourself. It is astonishing how a rich diversity of musical experiences has been transformed here and emerges from a quietly rotating pole. The music confine itself to indications that lead the floating listener into rich sonic realms and never resolves in over-evident ways. I can even easily sense and imagine how this music would sound with a larger ensemble in an orchestral rendition. There are no obsessive repetitions or trancing attacks. The music renews itself from a deeper lived through experience. It is music of intense serenity and highest Stimmigkeit. This German term contains both: inner coherence and vocalised expression. In short, it is albatross music at highest degree, in its purest gestalt and substance. The music is performed by reed player Klaus Gesing (bass clarinet, soprano sax), Björn Meyer (electric bass) and Samuel Rohrer (drums, modular synthesiser and other electronics). Long garlands of name dropping are not necessary here except maybe two: Björn Meyer will be welcomed by all lovers of Steve Swallow’s electric bass guitar style, and one of the ten album pieces, “Gravity Inn”, is a wonderful nod to Jon Hassell. P.S.: The music can be addictive.
SAM EASTMOND: John Zorn Bagatelles Vol 16 (Tzadik Records)
Sam Eastmond has established a unique status for himself as the go-to big band arranger of John Zorn’s music. Zorn’s output is prodigious – the Bagatelles alone comprise 300 3-line melodies. Eastmond’s intricate arrangements of his chosen eight, as with his previous work on Zorn’s Masada compositions, combine a dynamic big band sound with both lyrical and fierce improvisations from twelve of the UKs finest improvisers, including some stellar young players from our scene.
NISSE SANDSTRÖM GROUP: Öppet Ett (Caprice Records)
Nisse Sandström Group (Björn J:son Lindh/Mats Hagström/Erik Dahlbäck/Bengt Linnarsson) were jointly active for several years and managed to adopt a collective way of playing where everyone was individually free in every moment of the music, but where the group’s commonalities were always the priority and superior to the soloist entrances. Imaginative, open and radical. They set out radical possibilities and perspectives that were previously unknown. In a context and meeting where psychedelic rock, free jazz and contemporary art music could meet. Öppet Ett contains recordings made between 1965 and 1967 and is presented on a recording for the first time through Caprice Records hard diving in the archive.
MIKE RODRIGUEZ: Pathways (Redbrosmusic)
Rodriguez can effortlessly play the trumpet in the realms of hardbop or a ballad on the flugelhorn without losing tension. Quick articulation and a full-bodied tone. While Rodiguez previously has been awarded a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album, this is a different vibe very much founded in a newyork’ish jazz tradition. And he is supported by a stellar group of John Ellis (ts), Gary Versace (p), Joe Martin (b), and not least Obed Calvaire (d)! Rodriguez road to fame has gone through musicians like Chick Corea, Kenny Barron, Maria Schneider, Charlie Haden, Gonzalo Rubalcaba…
BUSHMAN S REVENGE: All The Better for Seeing You (Is It Jazz? Records)
BOJAN ZULFIKARPASIČ: As Is (Paradis Improvisé)
The Paradis Improvisé collection invites French pianists to play solo. Bojan Z hasn’t recorded a solo for a decade, so it’s a pleasure to hear him again in total freedom. His playing is as energetic and dynamic as ever, and he offers nine tracks including five compositions by Mingus, Silver, Shorter, Rowles and Fisher, sometimes accompanied by a bird-like whistle… a beautiful album!
JOSHUA REDMAN: Where We Are (Blue Note)
TILO WEBER: Tesserae (We Jazz Records)
FLYGMASKIN: Dérive (Cyprès Records)
Flygmaskin’s cinematographic music invites you to daydream. If that was their goal – which we have no doubt – he has largely been achieved!
KAREN WILLEMS: Kaap Mij (W.E.R.F. Records)
Completely consistent with the slogan on her bandcamp site: „There are those who conform and those who confront and never stop transforming“. (Georges Tonla Briquet)
HEDVIG MOLLESTAD WEEJUNS: Weejuns (Rune Grammofon)
MAMA TERRA: The Summoned (Acid Jazz Records)
Debut album by the band, whose idea and music was developed by the Scottish pianist Marco Cafolla. The record was made like a real modern jazz cake, layer upon layer. Initially, Marco Cafolla recorded a piano demo using rhythm loops during the pandemic lockdown, then on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in New York, upright bass and drums were played on top, and in two songs of the album also the great trumpet solos were delivered by special guest Jeremy Pelt. Then saxophones, flutes, trombone and flugelhorn were added to the mix in the Glasgow studio, plus airy vocals by Rachel Lightbody. The cake, however, holds together and tastes amazingly well, offering both a sonic and a philosophical spiritual journey through the consciousness of human life and cosmic phenomena. A conceptual and ambitious contemporary jazz work.
HAROLD LÓPEZ-NUSSA: Timba A La Americana (Blue Note)
Harold López-Nussa’s Blue Note Records debut, produced by Snarky Puppy founder Michael League, showcases the Cuban musician’s infectious vitality and virtuosity. Since winning the prestigious Montreux Jazz Piano Competition in 2005, the pianist and composer has steadily built a worldwide following in jazz and beyond over the past two decades.
MIHO HAZAMA M_UNIT: Beyond Orbits (Edition Records)
YOUNG POWER NEW EDITION: Freedom (Power Bros Records)
Young Power made a stir on the Polish jazz scene in the late ’80s with its fiery mix of jazz-rock, fusion, rhythm and blues, soul, punk rock, and latin. An untypical big band, it offered more than the music itself. Its spectacular performances were perceived as a manifesto – of freedom. However, after a few years of making the noise and several recordings the group split. Fast forward – nearly three decades later its eponymous debut recording Young Power was rerelased in 2018 on CD in the venerable Polish Jazz series, giving an impulse to revive the group under the banner of Young Power New Edition. In the reformed lineup we can see the charismatic old tigers joining forces with young lions (including one lionesss on saxophone). Their newest album is a live recording of a striking performance at The Witkacy Theater in Zakopane earlier this year. Freedom features 12 original pieces, including four flag wavers from their old repertoire. The leader still in charge is Young Power’s founder, flutist, composer and arranger Krzysztof Popek. Old spirit, young blood.
HIROMI: Sonicwonderland (Telarc/Concord Jazz)
MICHAEL BATES ACROBAT / LUTOSŁAWSKI QUARTET: Metamorphoses: Variations on Lutosławski (Anaklasis)
The hour-long album is an excellent example – let’s give the publisher the floor here – of music that escapes pigeonholing. The energy of the ‘Wind Trio’, the mysterious mood of ‘The Sea’, in which one can hear the voice of Anna Lobedan, and the delicacy and spaciousness of ‘Bucolic for WL’ build a picture of a contemporary 21st-century reading of Lutosławski. And the whole is fantastically rounded off by the capital consonance of both ensembles. The artistic fusion and synergy here are downright perfect.