There's so much good jazz being recorded around the world....a lot of it on small labels....and yet it rarely gets airplay. JAZZ it's own small way....tries to put that right!

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Tuesday 31 December 2013

Pete's Pick of 2013

As always, it’s been difficult selecting my Pick of 2013. I've only heard a fraction of the new releases and on another day I may have chosen differently (hence the appendix). However, all the albums below come recommended. This year’s listing contains a trio of albums recorded live, plus a couple that take a new look at the tradition. Most are self-released or released by independent labels. no particular order:

Ben Goldberg – Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues (BAG Production)
For starters, this recording wins ‘album title of the year’. And that title also reflects the mix of old and new that one finds on this album. Ben manages to mine that exciting seam of jazz that falls between the tradition and the free. And he brings in some heavyweight support to help him, namely Joshua Redman, tenor saxophone, Ron Miles, trumpet, Devin Hoff, bass, Ches Smith and Scott Amendola drums.

Ben has come a long way since his early recordings with the New Klezmer Trio two decades ago. Sadly this particular line-up was (as Ben puts it) a band for a day. But as you can tell from the music, they were made for each other!
Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues can be found on Ben’s own label ...BAG Productions. Check his website for further details. And while you’re about it, why not check out Bens other 2013 release with Nels Cline, Rob Sudduth and Ellery Eskelin......Unfold Ordinary Mind.

Nils Wogram Root 70 with Strings – Riomar (NWOG)

Nils Wogram and his Root 70 quartet are regulars on Jazz Today, but as far as I can make out, this is their first outing with strings. And, as with all their releases, the blues are never far from the surface. Take the title track as an example, introduced by the crying viola of Gareth Lubbe.

Nils is one of the premier trombonists in Europe, master of everything from classical stealth to rousing gutbucket. Alto saxophonist Hayden Chisholm comes on like a 21st century Paul Desmond, and Matt Penman and Jochen Rueckert provide subtle yet creative support. The string trio add a different dimension to Root 70’s sound. The writing is creative, without ever slipping into sentimentality.
The sleeve notes begin with the question, ‘what manner of an album is this?’ Answer: a bl**dy good one!

The Dickens Campaign – Oh Lovely Appearance (Mole-Tree Music)

Drummer Deric Dickens is a name I’ve not encountered before, but he arrives fully formed (so to speak) on this fascinating debut by his trio The Dickens Campaign. It’s a collaboration between Deric, Kirk Knuffke (cornet), and Jesse Lewis (guitars) and pays homage to the late musical archivist Alan Lomax. Ten tunes inspired by American folk and blues, given a 21st century makeover by the trio.
I’m increasingly impressed by Kirk Knuffke, who can turn his cornet to any genre, whether it be bluegrass with Petr Cancura's Down Home, Dixieland with Jeff Lederer’s Swing n’ Dix or the avant garde stylings of another trio with guitar and drums, Sifter. That’s not to downplay the role of Deric and Jesse who contribute greatly to this entertaining and accessible release.

The promotional material describes it as ‘music that has its eyes on the far horizon ....and its feet on the front porch of America’. I couldn’t describe it better.

Mark Dresser Quintet - Nourishments (Clean Feed)

The Portuguese Clean Feed Record label has garnered quite a reputation for releasing high quality, adventurous jazz. And this debut release from Mark Dresser’s new quintet is no exception.

Mark says that the music is centred on his personal approach to the jazz tradition and song form. Seven tracks played by a premier-league band comprising Rudresh Mahanthappa, alto sax, Michael Dessen, trombone, Denman Maroney, piano and Tom Rainey or Michael Sarin drums. Michael Dessen’s trombone is a revelation throughout, and Denman Maroney’s prepared piano (hyperpiano) adds a different dimension to the group sound.
Mark finishes his liner notes with the comment ‘thank you for listening’. Thanks Mark for creating such enjoyable music.

Roby Glod, Roberta Piket, Mark Tokar & Klaus Kugel -  Op Der Schmelz Live (Nemu)

‘Op Der Schmelz’ translates to ‘At the Foundry’ and is a venue in Dudelange in the south of Luxembourg. I’d not encountered saxophonist Roby Glod before.  He hails from Luxembourg and has brought together a top-rate international band, with bassist Mark Tokar from Ukraine, drummer Klaus Kugel from Germany and pianist Roberta Piket from the USA.

As with the Mark Dresser release, it’s an album that sits on the boundary of jazz and the avant garde and harbours an exciting tension. I’m used to hearing Mark and Klaus in this context, having worked with the likes of Ken Vandermark, Michel Pilz and Theo Jorgensmann, but it’s astonishing to hear Roberta Piket in such a free environment. She is excellent throughout.
Op Der Schmelz Live is released on the Berlin-based Nemu label, a label run by Klaus and violinist Albrecht Maurer.


Nick Sanders Trio – Nameless Neighbours (Sunnyside)

There are many piano trios vying for notice in the world of contemporary jazz. However, occasionally one comes along that makes you really stop and listen. Such was the case (for me at least) with this trio led by pianist Nick Sanders with Henry Fraser on bass and Connor Baker, drums.
Nick is a young musician whose compositions never quite go where you expect them to. His playing is quietly inventive, but often unsettling. It’s reflected by the album cover which shows a deserted street of pastel coloured houses akin to a Tim Burton backdrop.

Nick has been mentored by Fred Hersch, who produced this intriguing new release. A recommendation in itself.

Sebastien Boisseau & Matthieu Donarier – Wood (YolkMood)

This duo have played together on and off for over a decade and that experience shows on this engaging album. Matthieu first came to prominence with Daniel Humair’s Baby Boom, and on this recording he splits his time between, tenor and soprano saxophones and clarinets. Bassist Sebastien Boisseau is turning up with increasing regularity on Jazz Today, most notably with Hans Ludemann, Simon Spang- Hanssen and Alban Darche. His skills are clearly in demand.

This album comprises a dozen short tracks, all bar 2 composed by the pair. It’s like listening to a series of private conversations. The CD comes in a box with a circular piece of wood. Make sure you put the right thing in the CD player.

Steinar Raknes Quartet - Live in Tokyo (Reckless)

Steinar Raknes previous quartet album (Tangos, Ballads & More) came my way long after its release date, and hence was not considered for my end of year listing. However this new live recording was released earlier this year, and it is equally enjoyable.
On this second outing, the violin of Ola Kvernberg has been replaced by the piano of Erlend Slettevoll, but the rest of the band are the same; Jon Pal Inderberg, baritone sax, Steinar Raknes, bass and Hakon Mjaset Johansen, drums.
Steinar’s tunes are memorable and influenced by the music of South America and the folk music of his native Norway. However that doesn’t mean they fall into the easy listening category.  And all four musicians contribute challenging solos, much to the delight of the Tokyo audience. And mine!


Henri Texier Hope Quartet – At L’Improviste (Label Bleu)

Henri Texier leads a number of line-ups from sextet to trio, with overlapping personnel. This is the first outing on record for his Hope Quartet.
The album was recorded live at L’Improviste, a jazz club based on a barge in Paris. And from the liner notes you get the feeling that this was not intended as a recording session, but the sound engineer at the club did just that. The quality of the performance clearly convinced Henri that this was suitable for release. How right he was.

As a result the album comes across as free-er than recent releases from the bassist. The soloing of Francois Corneloup (baritone sax), Sebastien Texier (alto sax and clarinets), Louis Moutin (drums) and the leader himself is first rate and their combined energy is remarkable.
My hope is that they visit the UK asap. I’m sure we can find a barge.....

Mark Lockheart – Ellington in Anticipation (Subtone)

A septet that graced the Hidden Rooms in Cambridge in March 2013. And despite an horrendous journey from Belfast in the snow, they gave a highly entertaining performance, including a much deserved encore. And their skill is well captured on this enjoyable release.
Marks creative arrangements of the Ellington (and original) compositions still allow space for the band to explore. And what a band it is. Alongside Mark on reeds are Finn Peters and James Allsopp. Emma Smith is on violin, Liam Noble piano, Tom Herbert, bass and Seb Rochford drums.

I think the man himself would have been impressed!

As always there were plenty more releases I enjoyed over the past year. Here are some of them:

Pandelis Karayorgis Trio – Cocoon (Driff), Gretchen Parlato – Live in NYC (Obliqsound), Elodie Pasquier & Gregoire Gensse – Ortie (Laborie Jazz), Ibrahim Maalouf - Wind (Mi’ster Productions), Quarterpounder – Brood (self-released),  Vincent Peirani – Thrill Box (ACT), Nicole Mitchell’s Ice Crystal – Aquarius (Delmark), Honeyleap – Honeyleap (Oyvinds Jazz Forum), Escalandrum – Vertigo (Epsa Music), Arun Ghosh – A South Asian Suite (Camoci), Nate Wooley Sextet – (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship (Clean Feed), Paulo Botti Quartet – Slight Imperfection (Caligola), Mark Turner & Baptiste Trotignon – Dusk is a Quiet Place (Naive), Simon Spang-Hanssen Trio – Luna Moon (Gateway Music), Andrew Robson Trio – Songbook (Lamplight), Sebastien Texier – Toxic Parasites (Cristal), Omer Klein – To the Unknown (Plus Loin Music), The Aruan Ortiz & Michael Janisch Quintet – Banned in London (Whirlwind), Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom – No Morphine, No Lilies (Foxhaven), Roberto Ottaviano – Arcthetics - Soffio Primitivo (Dodicilune).......

And why not check my previous listings for 2012, 2011 and 2010?

Sunday 29 December 2013

Playlist: Dec 29th 2013

Steinar Raknes Quartet: Passion Island from Live in Tokyo (Reckless)
Deric Dickens: Roy at the Store from Speed Date (Mole Tree Music)
Tobias & Stefan: Weites Land from Bitter Sweet (Unit)
Carnival Skin: Journey to Strange from Carnival Skin (Nemu)
Kate Daniels: Nature Boy from Atmospherics (Loxford)
Hernan Mandelman Quinteto: Detras de esa Puerta from Detras de esa Puerta (Sofa)
Renaud Garcia-Fons: Berimbass from Beyond the Double Bass (Enja)
Belmondo Family Sextet: Alone Together from Mediterranean Sound (B Flat / Discograph)
John Escreet: Animal Style from Sabotage and Celebration (Whirlwind)
Paul Harrison: A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody from Ten Play Ten (self-released)
JASS: Recurring Dreams from JASS (Yolk)
Alban Darche: Vive Le Vent from My Xmas Trax (Pepin & Plume)
Andrea Buffa: Barley Coffee for Hamlet from 30 Years Island (Leo)
Deric Dickens: Original Self from Speed Date (Mole Tree Music)
Steinar Raknes Quartet: Tango Rachetti from Live in Tokyo (Reckless)
Renaud Garcia-Fons: En Mi Barrio from Beyond the Double Bass (Enja)
John Escreet: Beyond Your Wildest Dreams from Sabotage and Celebration (Whirlwind)

Sunday 15 December 2013

Playlist - Dec 15th 2013

Escalandrum: Cumulus Limbus from Vertigo (EpsaMusic)
Mozdzer Danielsson Fresco: She said She was a Painter from Polska (ACT)
Amir ElSaffar: Ending Piece from Alchemy (PiRecordings)
Moutin Factory Quintet: Forgiveness from Lucky People (Plus Loin)
Renaud Garcia-Fons: La Linea del Sur from Beyond the Double Bass (Enja)
Die Freundliche Ubernahme: Luna Moth from Die Freundliche Ubernahme (PAO)
Ricardo Gallo Cuarteto: Frontera Quebradiza from Tribu del Asfalto (Ladistritofonica)
Ricardo Gallo’s Tierra de Nadie: Stomp at No Man’s Land from The Great Fine Line (Clean Feed)
Emmanuel Bex & Nico Morelli: Bill’s Heart from B2Bill – A Modern Tribute to Bill Evans (Bonsai Music)
New Garden Orchestra: Parting at Kwan Yang from Le Depart (Karkia Mistika / Neko)
Charles Evans: Certain Soprano from Subliminal Leaps (More is More)
Gretchen Parlato: Within Me from Live in NYC (Obliqsound)
Escalandrum: Ostinado from Vertigo (Epsa Music)
Open Trio: The Dinosaur from Dinosaurs (Found YouRecordings)
Ken Aldcoft’s Convergence Ensemble: X Marks the Spot from Saskatoon (Trio)
Mozdzer Danielsson Fresco: Spirit from Polska (ACT)
The Respect Sextet: It’s Christmas Time from Respect in Yule (Mode Avant)

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Jazz Today Online - Autumn 2013

The Autumn Edition is now cast! Listen using the widget on the left-hand panel:

Simon Spang-Hanssen Trio: Garbage Can from Luna Moon (Gateway Music). Simon Spang-Hanssen, sax; Sebastien Boisseau, bass; Christophe Lavergne, drums.
Mark Dresser Quintet: Para Waltz from Nourishments (CleanFeed). Rudresh Mahanthappa, sax; Michael Dessen, trombone; Denman Maroney, piano; Mark Dresser, bass; Tom Rainey, drums.

Nick Sanders Trio: New Town from Nameless Neighbours (Sunnyside). Nick Sanders, piano; Henry Fraser, bass; Connor Baker, drums.

Arun Ghosh: Sufi Stomp (Soul of Sindh) from A South Asian Suite (Camoci). Arun Ghosh, Idris Rahman and Chris Williams, reeds; Zoe Rahman, piano; Liran Donin, bass; Aref Durvesh, Nilesh Gulhane, Pat Illingworth and Rastco Rasic, percussion.
Sebastien Texier: Song for Paul Motian from Toxic Parasites (Cristal). Sebastien Texier, sax; Alain Vankenhove, trumpet; Bruno Angelini, piano; Frederic Chiffoleau, bass; Guillaume Dommartin, drums.
Roby Glod, Roberta Piket, Mark Tokar & Klaus Kugel: Still Alive from Op Der Schmelz Live (Nemu). Roby Glod, sax; Roberta Piket, piano; Mark Tokar, bass; Klaus Kugel, drums.

The Dickens Campaign: Oh Lovely Appearance of Death from Oh Lovely Appearance (Mole-Tree Music). Kirk Knuffke, cornet; Jesse Lewis, guitar; Deric Dickens, drums.

Mark Turner & Baptiste Trotignon: Sonnet for Stevie from Dusk is a Quiet Place (Naive). Mark Turner, sax; Baptiste Trotignon, piano.
Andrew Robson Trio + James Greening: Flux from Songbook (Lamplight). Andrew Robson, sax; James Greening, trombone; Steve Elphick, bass; Hamish Stuart, drums.

Sunday 1 December 2013

Playlist - Dec 1st 2013

Laurent Coq Blowing Trio: 257 Church St. from The Thing to Share (Cristal)
Marc Perrenoud Trio: Nymphaes Blues from Vestry Lamento (Double Moon)
Daniel Guggenheim NY Quartet: Toasted from Beyond Moments & Time (Laika)
Robert Jukic: Birth from Life (Unit)
Robert Jukic: Change the World: Ore from Life (Unit)
Kannaste Viinikainen Riipa: Untitled from Kannaste Viinikainen Riipa (JASKAA)
Drew Gress: No Saint from The Sky Inside (Pirouet)
Oddarrang: Self-Portrait from In Cinema (Edition)
Massimo Cavalli: Free Four Three from Verandas do Chiado (Note Sonanti)
Maria Faust Jazz Catastrophe: Love is a Dog from Hell from Maria Faust Jazz Catastrophe (Barefoot)
Kannaste Viinikainen Riipa: Evidence from Kannaste Viinikainen Riipa (JASKAA)
Satoko Fujii: Der Traum from Gen Himmel (Libra)
Tom Harrell: Blues 2013 from Colors of a Dream (HighNote)
Gretchen Parlato: Butterfly from Live in NYC (Obliqsound)
Amir ElSaffar: Nid Qablitum from Alchemy (PiRecordings)
Kevin Seddiki & Bijan Chemirani: Schumannsko from Imaginarium (World Village)
Bastien Stein: New West from Diegesis (Pirouet)
Massimo Cavalli: Sabrina from Verandas do Chiado (Note Sonanti)