European Jazz Charts

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

Kaspars Zavileiskis, Jazzin.lv (Latvia)

FERGUS MCCREADIE: Stream (Edition Records)

A great continuation of the flow of Scottish pianist Fergus McCreadie’s musical boat, which is kept in the stream by two perfect oars – double bassist David Bowden and drummer Stephen Henderson. One can only admire McCreadie’s ability to combine the energetic dynamics of piano playing with a wide range of emotions – from distinctly dark to brilliantly bright. An indispensable basic value in his music is the presence of Scottish culture, which gives an impression of both unusual sound nuances borrowed from folk music and the untouched beauty of wild nature. Stream makes us look forward to what sea next album will take us.

Jacek Brun, Jazz-fun.de (Germany)

YELENA ECKEMOFF: Romance Of The Moon (L and H Production)

Yelena Eckemoff’s music is beautiful, soulful and at the same time precise and perfect in its execution. With this album she proves once again that she is not only an outstanding instrumentalist, but also an excellent composer and arranger, who is able to create unique melody lines and leave room for her accompanists. Beautiful lyrical music that is hard to resist.

Bega Villalobos, In&OutJazz (Spain)

FEDERICO CALCAGNO OCTET: Mundus Inversus (Habitable Records)

Federico Calcagno, clarinet/ Nabou Claerhout, trombone/ José Soares, sax/ Pau Sola, cello/ Aleksander Sever, vibraphone/ Adrián Moncada, piano/ Pedro Ivo Ferreira, bass/ Nikos Thessalonikefs, drums.The Italian clarinetist’s career is marked by an unwavering will to explore sound and the expressive possibilities of his compositions.  Mundus Inversus is the result of three years of work by Federico Calcagno playing, composing and collaborating within the Dutch avant-garde jazz and improvised music community.

Mike Flynn, Jazzwise (UK)

GARY HUSBAND: Songs of Love and Solace (BFD)

Kateryna Ziabliuk, Meloport (Ukraine)

UIVO ZEBRA AND HORNS: Sombras (self-released)

Krzysztof Komorek, Donos kulturalny (Poland)

THE BEAT FREAKS AND RALPH ALLESI: Mechanics of Nature (self-released)

Mechanics of Nature captures the attention for almost an hour with intriguing ideas and perfect execution.  The admirable ensemble understanding, as well as the excellent disposition of the individual instrumentalists.  The Beat Freaks did not disappoint, presenting music that is original and definitely worthy of attention.

Jan Granlie, Salt-peanuts.eu (Norway)

KALUZA QUARTETT: Jack (Aut Records)

The album Jack is the debut of the Kaluza Quartett. With Anna Kaluza on alto saxophone, Christof Thewes on trombone, Jan Roder on double bass and Kay Lübke on drums, they immerse themselves in a deep, musical conversation. After listening to the disc a number of times, I have ticked the name of trombonist Christof Thewes in the book, as someone to be aware of. He has a slightly „raw“ tone in his horn, a bit like Steve Swell, and his creativity is interesting and exciting. In addition, I think Anna Kaluza delivers fine alto saxophone playing. She has a „strict“ tone in the horn, which goes well with the more „brutal“ trombone. The tone of the alto saxophone can remind a little of Anthony Braxton, and occasionally the interaction with Thewes makes it remind a little of the duo between Braxton and George Lewis. This has become a solid debut from a quartet you can almost hear are coming from Berlin. There is something special about many of the relatively free releases that comes from the rich jazz scene in Berlin, which, in many ways, stands out from the rest of Europe and the USA. And the Kaluza Quartet delivers with this release, one of the better records within the category.

Christine Stephan, JAZZTHETIK (Germany)

BRAD MEHLDAU: After Bach II and Après Fauré (Nonesuch / Warner)

Dick Hovenga, Written in Music (Netherlands)

JAKE LONG: City Swamp (New Soil)

Drummer/composer Jake Long, founder of the amazing Maisha, fully convinces with his first solo album City Swamp. Played with musicians he has also worked with Maisha, by now resounding names from British jazz, this makes City Swamp a dream solo debut. There is A Place, Maisha’s debut record, was fueled by the spiritual jazz of Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, and her subsequent collaboration with Gary Bartz (the album Night Dreamer) connected seamlessly with it. For City Swamp, Long embraced the musical ideas of Miles Davis (that so defining Bitches Brew period) and the deep funk of Parliament. It also honors the dub of King Tubby and Scientist. That influences from that corner with the right musicians played can produce fascinating records is also proven by City Swamp. City Swamp once again showcases the growth of British jazz to its fullest potential. With Long both as drummer and composer in great form as the leader of a band full of musicians who know exactly what these pieces need to get the full potential out of them.

Viktor Bensusan, Jazzdergisi.com (Türkiye)

WADADA LEO SMITH AND AMINA CLAUDINE MYERS: Central Park’s Mosaics of Reservoir, Lake, Paths and Gardens (Red Hook Records)

You may or may not call this music jazz, but it is definitely poetry that are mostly hymns and elegies about the Central Park, its domicile and inhabitants …

Nuno Catarino, Jazz.pt (Portugal)

JOWEE OMICIL: SpiriTuaL HeaLinG : Bwa KaYimaN FreeDoM SuiTe (Bash! Village Records)

Celebrating the Haitian revolt against slavery, composer and improviser Jowee Omicil presents us with a profoundly intriguing piece of music. Omicil, the primary driving force behind this work, showcases his talent on various instruments, particularly the alto and soprano saxophones. Omicil does not embark on this musical journey alone, he is joined by Randy Kerber and Jonathan Jurion on keyboards, Jendah Manga on bass, Yoann Danier on drums, and Arnaud Dolmen on percussion (ka). In „SpiriTuaL HeaLinG,“ listeners are treated to a rich tapestry of references that continuously intersect, creating an ever-surprising auditory experience. The album navigates through a spectrum of moods, alternating between moments of subtle restraint and bursts of chaotic effervescence. It seamlessly blends exploration with energetic explosion, traversing various soundscapes that collectively reveal an exceptionally curious and captivating piece of music.

Henning Bolte, freelance (Netherlands)

ALISTAIR PAYNE: This Thread Walks (Dox Records)

New cooking of excellent trumpeter ALISTAIR PAYNE from the exciting young Amsterdam kitchen in collaboration with San Francisco poet, spoken word artist and activist TONGO EISEN-MARTIN and Marta Arpini vocals, José Soares alto saxophone, Floris Kappeyne piano/synth, Tijs Klaassen double bass, Sun-Mi Hong drums. ALISTAIR PAYNE is a highly promising young generation trumpeter of the P-Evans-type. A month ago he figured in an Amsterdam Solo Festival next to soloists as pianist Craig Taborn.

Peter Slavid, UK Jazz News (formerly LondonJazz News, UK)

ANDREW WOODHEAD: Swing you Sinners (self-released)

Take a bunch of well-known tunes from the 1930s written by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet and Cab Calloway…hand those tunes over to a bunch of today’s improvising musicians…. and who knows what might happen. If you tell them to hold on to that era’s collective improvising approach as well, then this is the result! Birmingham-based composer/pianist Andrew Woodhead and his superb quintet give these melodies a very modern and exciting new life with a huge sense of fun!

Patrik Sandberg, Jazz (Sweden)

MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM AND DAN BERGLUND: e.s.t. 30 (ACT)

In 2023, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the founding of e.s.t., Dan Berglund and Magnus Öström formed an ensemble with playing companions such as Ulf Wakenius guitar, Magnus Lindgren tenor sax and flute, Verneri Pohjola trumpet and Joel Lyssarides piano for two unique tribute concerts. One was held in the Filadelfia church as the Stockholm Jazz Festival’s official opening concert, the other took place the following day at the Kölner Philharmonie in Cologne. e.s.t 30 contains parts of the recorded material from the concert in Cologne. The interplay between the seasoned musicians is consistently genuine and responsive. The group dynamic is as tight as it was at e.s.t with the personal, individual introductions.

Cim Meyer, All That … (Denmark)

GINMAN/BLACHMAN/DAHL: What’s To Come (Storyville)

Carsten Dahl (p), Lennart Ginman (b), Thomas Blachman (d). The three gentlemen’s merits are well documented, and this listener has high expectations. The sound is excellent and the dosage of reverb exquisite. It takes some time to come to terms with the airy, slow, and understated feeling. But slowly and quietly, the first melancholy and later also more angular and combative expression finds its way into the mind. You hear these three musicians as an extension of blessed Bill Evans‘ famous trios. As the written surnames already indicate, it is a joint project – even more so than it applied to Evans‘ trios. Each of the 15 relatively short pieces on WHAT’S TO COME is based on an idea, an unwritten loose sketch that has been played out together through improvisation in the studio. As a conversation where all three are more or less in agreement on the subject and refer to the luminaries of jazz in the 1950s and 60s (including Jan Johansson in A Children’s Walk, Thelonious Monk in The Rock And Roll Swing Experience and Avant-garde Muzak In The Lush Palm Garden, and there are shadows of Miles Davis in Waiting Room Anxiety Blues, where Dahl reverses the rhythm in his left hand). It should not surprise me if all the pieces appear in the order in which they are conceived and recorded. Despite the predominance of tracks in slow tempos, this listener senses an increasing intensity. This is partly due to Blachman’s dynamic markings (also when he competently plays with brushes) and Ginman’s bass-lines, which inspire Dahl, who as usual is not afraid to break boundaries and conventions both harmonically and rhythmically. Where other pianists fear failure, Dahl finds new sounds and figures that can be developed. The playful approach without a written or pre-rehearsed structure is the project’s great strength and small weakness. This particular trio indisputably gets great art out of it – could it be even more interesting if there was a more compositional and rehearsed structure, or would the current fresh expression become a stiffened mask?

Lars Mossefinn, Dag og tid (Norway)

FLUKTEN: Flukten (Odin)

Matthieu Jouan, Citizenjazz.com (France)

ART TATUM: Jewels in the Treasure Box (Resonance Records)

A fantastic 3CD box set of previously unreleased live recordings from the Blue Note Jazz Club in 1953. Art Tatum plays solo, but also with the great Slam Stewart on bass and Everett Barksdale on guitar. The ambience and tape quality make it feel like 1953. You can clearly hear why Art Tatum is one of the greatest of all time.

Axel Stinshoff, Jazz Thing (Germany)

REBECCA TRESCHER TENTET: Character Pieces (Enja)

Luca Vitali, Giornale della Musica (Italy)

ROBERTO NEGRO AND L ENSEMBLE INTERCONTEMPORAIN: Newborn (Parco della musica records)

Yves Tassin, JazzMania (Belgium)

LOUISE VAN DEN HEUVEL: Sonic Hug (W.E.R.F. Records)

Louise van den Heuvel’s debut album is full of research, emotion and melodies… In short, it’s full of talent!

Jos Demol, Jazzhalo.be (Belgium)

TGB: Room 4 (Clean Feed)

Marking two decades of continuous, eclectic evolution, TGB – the Portuguese power trio boasting tuba ace Sérgio Carolino, guitarist Mário Delgado and drummer Alexandre Frazão – take another captivating whirligig around their enigmatic universe of collective musical influences, filtering an impeccable sonic palette via the prism of Room4, the ensemble’s fourth stunning full-length for the Clean Feed imprint.