European Jazz Charts

A selection of the hot new music surfacing across the continent this month by the top European jazz magazines and websites

Paweł Brodowski, Jazz Forum (Poland)

MARCIN WASILEWSKI TRIO: En attendant (ECM)

It was August 2019. Marcin, Sławek and Michał came early for a recording session in the French La Buissonne Studios with a breathaking view of the Alps. They had spare time before the arrival of their special guest. The American saxophonist Joe Lovano was to join them the following day to record “Artic Riff”, which came out in 2020. While the seasoned trio were warming up in the studio, producer Manfred Eicher kept the tapes rolling. The recorded material, however brief, yielded an extra album, now released as „En attendant”. It is their seventh album in the ECM catalogue, not counting four recorded as part of the Tomasz Stanko Quartet. The axis of the new album are three different parts of a collective free improvisation called “In Motion”. There is “Variation No. 25” from Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” and new takes of two pieces found in their previous outings – Marcin’s “Glimmer of Hope” and Carla Bley’s “Vashkar”. And then there is one special gem – “Riders on the Storm”, which they had occasionally performed at concerts. The Doors’ mega hit is one more in a series of their rock covers, including Björk’s “Hyperballad”, “Message in the Bottle” (The Police) and “Diamonds and Pearls” (Prince). This autumn, with an extra load of recorded material, the Marcin Wasilewski Trio will hit the road for an extensive international tour – at first in support of „En attendant” and then “Arctic Riff” with their special guest Joe Lovano. In this particular case, extra load will mean extra adventure and musical excitement.

Mike Flynn, Jazzwise (UK)

FERG IRELAND TRIO: Ferg Ireland Trio (Mondegreen Recordings)

Ferg Ireland’s big tone, sure rhythmic sense, adventurous musicality and lightning fast chops have earned him a place as first-call bassist for a wide range of different musical situations across the London jazz scene. This is the latest instalment in a developing series of trio recordings teaming him with two of the UK’s most exciting musical voices, both of whom match the leader in terms of skill, knowledge of the tradition and fearless adventurousness. All the compositions are by Ireland, roaming around the edges of the contemporary jazz landscape: “Stay Broke” uses an ominous bass ostinato as the framework for Nathaniel Facey and James Maddren to hang all kinds of creative expositions on, while “Ludwick Blues” is an uptempo piece of mutated bop that gives Facey all the space he needs to explore the kind of sophisticated approaches, pushing at the limits of harmony, that he’s developed so effectively as a member of Empirical.

Anna Filipieva, Jazz.ru (Russia)

ALEXEY KRUGLOV and JAAK SOOÄÄR: Music Without Borders. The International Jazz Day at Narva Castle & Ivangorod Fortress (ArtBeat Music)

The usually busy bridge over the Narva River lies between the two 17th century strongholds, the Narva Castle built by the Swedish kings, and Ivangorod Fortress built by Russian tzars. For the last 30 years, the river is the state border between Estonia and Russia. The bridge, once full of tourist and commercial traffic, became silent and empty when the pandemic erupted. However, on April 30, 2021, two jazz musicians – guitarist Jaak Sooäär on the Estonian side and saxophonist Alexey Kruglov on the Russian side – performed together, each remaining in his own country, standing on top of the respective castle’s wall, some 130 meters from each other. They toured and recorded together for years until 2020, but by the 2021 International Jazz Day they haven’t seen each other for more than a year. The resulting album is deeply symbolic as it’s signifies exactly what the IJD is all about: that music defies walls, bridges, borders, and even pandemic quarantines.

Jan Granlie, Salt-peanuts.eu (Pan-Scandinavian)

MARIO PAVONE / DIALECT TRIO + 1: Blue Vertical (Out of Your Head Records)

“Blue Vertical” was one of the two last recordings Pavone did before he left this world because of cancer May 15. this year. And it  has become a record that clearly shows what Mario Pavone was able to produce from good jazz. Together with Dave Ballou (tp), Matt Mitchell (p), Tyshawn Sorey (dr), they have made a beautiful album, that shows that Pavone was a great bass player og composer. He is the one who has written all the compositions, and it is Ballou who has been in charge of the arrangements, although I have a feeling that he has only come up with small tips and directions, while most of it is left to the four musicians. And if you only need to have one record in the collection with Mario Pavone’s name on the front cover, I would definitely recommend this one. Here, modern acoustic jazz is at its best, where the roots goes back to the 50s and 60s, but where the musicians ooze their experiences from different parts of the newer jazz

Christine Stephan, JAZZTHETIK (Germany)

KUU!: Artificial Sheep (ACT)

Viktor Bensusan, Jazzdergisi.com (Turkey)

NIKOLAJ HESS: Spacelab and Strings (Sunnyside Records)

The versatile Danish jazz pianist Nikolaj Hess has composed and performed anywhere in between Lars (von Trier soundtracks) and Mars (aka his trio Spacelab). In this album, he tries to show that 3 + 4 > 7 by combining a jazz trio and a classical string quartet.  And the result is not a melange but a cohabitation of the best of two worlds.

Dick Hovenga, Written in Music (Netherlands)

TIMO LASSY: Trio (We Jazz Records)

Trio is much more than the album title suggests. It is a super rich jazz album that optimally highlights Lassy’s great ambition as a songwriter and musician. The perfect chemistry between him, bassplayer Ville Herrala and drummer Jaska Lukkarinen, combined with the beautiful stringarrangements of Marzi Nyman, create a phenomenal album on which strings and electronics further enlarge the magic of the compositions.

Peter Slavid, LondonJazz News (UK)

PETTER ELDH: Projekt Drums vol.1 (Edition Records)

This latest album from Edition sees Gothenburg-born Petter Eldh acting as composer, producer and sound mixer, as well as playing bass and numerous other instruments. Each of the six different tunes is led by a different drummer, and a total of sixteen different musicians appear on the album. From the UK there’s James Maddren and Richard Spaven (whose track was issued as a single back in June). From the USA there’s Savannah Harris, Eric Harland and Nate Wood, and from Norway Gard Nilssen. Each drummer has their own approach, yet Eldh’s love of a heavy and complex beat infuses all the tracks.

Patrik Sandberg, JAZZ/Orkesterjournalen (Sweden)

NILS PETTER MOLVÆR: Stitches (BMG)

The Norwegian uncompromising trumpeter, composer and producer Nils Petter Molvær is undoubtedly one of the most prominent names in the  electroacoustic, improvised, composed musical hybrid that has become its  own genre since the 1990s In this domain, sometimes called future jazz or Nu-jazz, Molvær is both a pioneer and a veteran. He is one of the first jazz musicians to embrace the new digital and electronic trends. Nils Petter Molvær’s changing tonal landscape includes sampled sounds as well as acoustic and electric instruments.  In Molvær’s hands, the sounds flow together with deep intensity far beyond the given patterns.  Stitches, released on the BMG label is Nils Petter Molvær’s 10th album as bandleader. More than ever before, Molvær has given the musicians full artistic freedom, and everyone in the ensemble has been involved in the entire process. The bandleader adds his trumpet with electronics and vocals, Erland Dahlen plays drums, percussion, synths and electronics, Jo Berger Myhre treats bass, electronics and shares the production role with Molvær, Johan Lindström treats pedal steel, guitar and organ.

Cim Meyer, Jazz Special (Denmark)

ELLA FITZGERALD: Ella at Zardi’s (Verve Records)

Previously unreleased live recording from 1956 by Norman Granz. Two sets, 21 songs with an inspired Fitzgerald and an excellent trio. They swing all the way. Truly a vintage performance by one of jazz’s greatest artists.

Lars Mossefinn, Dag og tid (Norway)

HÅKON KORNSTAD TRIO: For You Alone (Jazzland Recordings)

Matthieu Jouan, Citizenjazz.com (France)

KAJA DRAKSLER: Soothe My Soul, Feed My Thought (Idyllic Noise)

Recorded live in 2017, this piano solo by Kaja Draksler has just been released on vinyl only. A graceful moment which the pianist has the secret of, a long suite cut into narrative sequences that point to a tense acme before ending up blunting on a short and pared down version of an Ellingtonian standard. A very melodic music, that plays on the harmonies and the sensitive percussion of the instrument, a surprising little marvel, as it happens sometimes.

Luca Vitali, Giornale della Musica (Italy)

SKRIM: The Crooked Path (HUBRO Music)

Madli-Liis Parts, Muusika (Estonia)

NILS PETTER MOLVÆR: Stitches (BMG)