CHRIS POTTER CIRCUITS TRIO: Sunrise Reprise (Edition Records)
Chris Potter slows down from his previous tours de force and focuses on lyricism and atmosphere instead in this album. He is a master saxophonist from the Coltrane tradition and with James Francies on keyboards and Eric Harland on drums he makes an electrified comeback in the midst of the lockdowns…
MEOW: Mice! (Oscar Productions)
Berlin band MeoW is shrill, brash, heavy and first of all it is first order musical fun – the greatest I have experienced in years (Saalfelden 2019, Berlin Jazzfest 2020). What we call p l a y i n g is an all-encompassing, a stormy, ruthless pervasive affair on a multitude of levels for MeoW. Nothing is set in stone here, everything goes as long as it arises from cat spirit, is realized in feline moveability and is expressed in Catish vernaculars. MeoW that is Berlin musicians drummer Jim Black, vocalist Cansu Tanrikulu, bassist Dan Peter Sundland and keyboardist Liz Kosack. MeoW’s approach opens a magic door to real liberated musical expression and real liberating musical experience. Anarchic fun with understated humor sometimes derailing in overstated moments is MeoW’s ace. It’s unescapable lively feline logics. All is fueled by mad rush, over-the-top pomposity sometimes, cascading annunciations, relentless runs, flashing and crashing bonfires – a feast of all senses. All band members sing, alone and in combinations together. All modes of vocalizing sprout through various kinds of vocoder distortions. You might think at times that Flo & Eddie are back, or the early Mothers of Invention and Sly Stone have rejuvenated. Ayse Cansu Tanrikulu’s voice is the leading will-o’-the-wisp in all, entering in quick succession from various angles as talking voice comments, rap, Laurie Anderson narration magics, Nina Hagen screams and Freddy Mercury innuendo, just to give an idea what you could hear out of her of course very own signature.
PAUL DUNMALL/PERCY PURSGLOVE/OLIE BRICE/JEFF WILLIAMS: Palindromes (West Hill Records)
Palindromes was recorded live at Café Oto in London in February 2020 with a quartet set up by bass player Olie Brice which features Paul Dunmall on tenor sax, Percy Pursglove on trumpet and Jeff Williams on drums. It was the first time that Paul Dunmall had played together with Ohio-born drummer Jeff Williams. This is free improvisation at its best: Paul Dunmall and Percy Pursglove fit together really well as do Olie Brice on double bass and Jeff Williams on drums. There are two long improvisations: Tattarratattat 1 and 2, both just over 30 minutes in length.Jeff Williams is particularly impressive in this free context, sensitive to the dynamics of the music dropping out or coming in strongly as required by the music.
DR. LONNIE SMITH: Breathe (Blue Note)
Breathe, is the third new album by legendary Hammond B-3 organist Dr. Lonnie Smith since his 2016 return to the label Blue Note where he first made a name for himself in the late-1960s. Breathe is a dynamic eight-song set, six tracks of which were recorded during Smith’s 75th birthday celebration at the Jazz Standard in New York City in 2017. The album captures Smith with his steady trio guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Johnathan Blake, as well as an expanded septet featuring John Ellis (tenor saxophone), Jason Marshall (baritone saxophone), Sean Jones (trumpet), Robin Eubanks ( trombone) and Alicia Olatuja (vocals). Also included on Breathe is a captivating studio collaborations with rock icon Iggy Pop, among the tracks is a cover of Donovans Sunshine Superman.
HEINE HANSEN TRIO: Signature (Storyville)
I rediscovered this five year old release and thought it deserved wider recognition. Classic trio jazz of the highest order. An unforced collaboration sliding away with ease. Especially the drums, played by the old master Alex Riel, are restrained in a exquisite way as are Heine Hansen’s compositions and his touch on the piano. The bass player, Thomas Fonnesbæk, is in the tradition of Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen – great facility, but here is no reason to show off.
HEDVIG MOLLESTAD TRIO: Ding Dong. You are Dead (Rune Grammofon)
KARIN JOHANSSON AND LISEN RYLANDER LÖVE: Arter (Havtorn Records)
Each piece seems to belong to a different musical species, but all of them are living, moving, pulsating. This is a delicate album, whose liquid sounds seem to float. It must be said that the extremely well-balanced mix between acoustic and electronic, the live recording, the energy of the interaction and the careful production make this recording a musical highlight. The Swedish scene really does have some good stuff to offer.
FLOATING POINTS, PHAROAH SANDERS AND THE LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: Promises (Luaka Bop)
PAOLO ANGELI: Jar a (ReR Megacorp)
JAKOB BRO: Uma Elmo (ECM)
MICHAŁ TOMASZCZYK AND PETTER OLOFSSON: Sketches From The North (MT001)
“Sketches From The North” is a beautiful first album recorded by the Polish-Swedish duo of Michał Tomaszczyk playing trombone and Petter Olofsson on acoustic bass. They are both members of the Norrbotten Big Band, one of Europe’s best jazz orchestras today. In his comments on the album’s sleeve, the big band’s leader, great saxophonist Joakim Milder, stresses the conversational character of the music and inspired interplay between both players. But in fact it is Michał Tomaszczyk, who is the dominant force – he is the composer of the music, except one pieces that is pure improvisation. Tomaszczyk is a trombone virtuoso, he has a gorgeous tone, playing his melodic themes and improvising with ease and fluidity, with Petter Olofsson providing mostly rhythmic foundation and harmonic context (plus occasional, brief and to the point, solos). The overall mood of this friendly duo project is pensive, melancholic, reflecting the Northern moods and spaces. The latest hot news is that Michał Tomaszczyk has just received three nominations in all three jazz categories of Fryderyk – Poland’s equivalent of Grammy – Jazz Artist of the Year, Jazz Debut of the Year and Jazz Album the Year! Congratulations!
GOGO PENGUIN: GGP/RMX (Blue Note)
ARSENY RYKOV TRIO: Forgotten Melody (Rainy Days Records)
Is 25 too early for a debut album a jazz pianist’s original music of on an internationally-distributed label? Not if your name is Arseny Rykov, you graduated from the Russian Academy of Music jazz program, studied and performed all over Europe, and collected several prizes for original jazz compositions at major competitions in your country even as a graduate student. The album itself was a prize, won as a certificate for a studio session at a jazz competition in 2019, when Arseny was barely 23. His music, and the level of his interaction with fellow Academy graduates Nikolai Olshansky on the bass and Vitaly Epov on the drums, impressed producer Sasha Mashin (himself an accomplished jazz drummer) so much that he volunteered to produce, record, and mix the album for Rainy Days Records. Highly recommended if the listener’s taste includes the moody, subtle, and sublime species of European jazz piano trio format.
WILLIAM PARKER: The Music of William Parker – Migration of Silence into and out of the Tone World Volumes 1-10 (AUM FIDELITY, CENTERING)
10 CDs with one of the world’s best jazz bassists in the company of vocalists Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez, Ellen Christi, Jake Sokolov-Gonzalez, Fay Victor, Anais Maviel, Jean Carla Rodea and Lisa Sokolov (solo vocals on a record), pianist Eri Yamamoto on a solo record with Parker’s compositions, a record with the Universal Tonality String Quartet, and with a number of brilliant musicians as co-players, William Parker has created an unparalleled musical masterpiece! To go professionally into every song and record in this massive box of 10 CDs, is much more than the undersigned has the ability, knowledge and capacity to. Because when you sit down with these records, you quickly become so engrossed in the music and lyrics, that you forget both time and place. For this must be one of the most accomplished and exciting, big projects I can remember sitting down with as long as I have listened to music (and it is actually starting to get quite a few years). But if you first go in and highlight some highlights, I would say that the meeting with vocalist Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez on the first album is a big surprise. I do not know the vocalist from before, but this is a vocalist you should note. Energetic and nice voice, and she performs the lyrics in an excellent way over the brilliant band with strings, piano and drums. But the whole box is a massive show in great, musical art – and not least, musical breadth. With this box, William Parker proves that he is one of the most exciting composers of our time, at the same time as he is an exquisite bassist and orchestra leader. And after reading the biography “Universal Tonality – The Life and Music of William Parker”, by the author Cisco Bradley, and meeting Parker on a few occasions, I can in many ways perfect my view of this incredibly nice person, who is socially engaged, strong , gentle and pleasant, while at the same time making some of the most exciting music possible in today’s music world. This is a box of CDs that should be purchased by anyone with a record collection they think they can vouch for. Because without “The Music of William Parker – Migration of Silence into and out of the Tone World Volumes 1-10” you have a big hole in the collection that should be filled!