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Morning Song

6 Jun 2022
Matt Aronoff
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Adhyâropa Records

 

An interesting and in places engrossing album that shouts from every fibre of its digital being: hard core modern jazz. The sound reminded me of Moon Germs an old favourite from the early 1970s by Joe Farrell, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette. The line up here is Matt Aronoff (bass), Jason Rigby (tenor sax), Yago Vazquez (Fender Rhodes) and Henry Cole (drums). All the musicians ooze talent. With instruments that merge seamlessly to form captivating rhythms and harmonies at various tempos that are interspersed with some prolonged bouts of self-indulgence that may not be to all tastes, but the sum of this album’s parts is great. 

The album was recorded as a live session which may explain some the aforementioned self-indulgence, the 24-bit/48kHz digital download is lush and accurate. The style is intimately modern veering towards avant gard in places, but the performance is filled with lyrical and achingly beautiful passages. Afficionados of straight jazz and bebop will scoff in places but find much to love in others on this album. 

Morning Song is a great introduction into modern jazz that will please many. As with all complex musical presentations, the album requires multiple plays for the talent involved in its creation to be fully appreciated, but it rewards the effort.
Stand out track: June 25th

Reuben Klein

Formats also available: 
CD

Celebrating Mingus 100

30 May 2022
Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic XIII
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ACT

Take Mingus’s music, add a wee bit of European accent, sprinkle on a great performance, pour in incredible recording quality and joyful wit, and voila, you get Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic XIII - Celebrating Mingus 100.

Led by Magnus Lindgren (sax/bass clarinet) and Georg Breinshmid (double bass), the album features a talented bunch of musicians that consists of Tony Lakatos tenor saxophone, Jakob Manz alto saxophone, Matthias Schriefl trumpet, Shannon Barnett trombone, Gregory Hutchinson drums, Danny Grissett piano and Camille Bertault with vocals. 

Mingus has penned many melodious and rhythmic numbers, here they are recreated on stage with equal amounts of great talent and merriment which are evident throughout the performance. The guys and gal fuse influences that include blues, bebop, swing and even a touch of New Orleans jazz to recreate Mingus’s tuneful creations with great deal of verve, while seasoning the merry sounds with a touch of distinctive European je ne sais quoi. 

Made up of six tracks the album is almost exactly 47 minutes long and was recorded live which makes the sonic quality of this musical tour de force all the more remarkable. The recording is a treat, it will give those who think that CD’s 44.1/16 is limited and compressed pause for a reconsideration. A joy from start to end and a perfect panacea to the stream of bad news that many of us are exposed to, get it! 
Stand out track: Jelly Roll.

Reuben Klein

Formats also available: 
CD

Jokers

30 Mar 2022
Vincent Peirani
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ACT

Vincent Peirani’s Jokers doesn’ fall under any of the usual classifications. From its first track, a rendition of Marilyn Manson’s This Is the New Shit and thereafter, it’s a musical hoot. Across the Brexit channel, Peirani is considered to be a jazz musician, on the evidence of this album, he swings his accordion in very different directions. Rock; check. World music; check. Progressive rock; check. European Folk Music; check. A touch of the Zydeco; check. Shades of Ennio Morricone; check. All performed with much talent, glee and aplomb. Sometimes in a single track.

Aided by Federico Casagrande on guitar and Ziv Ravitz (also moonlighting in the Shai Maestro trio) on drums and keyboards, Peirani offers measured, understated accordion playing supported by rock’ish guitar and jazzy drumming.

The album has an intimate feel, even when the volume reaches its version of 11. Not all the tracks are as listenable as others but the whole is greater here than the sum of its highly piquant parts. The recording is good with a mighty speedy bass and well-defined instruments in the mix, but it lacks ‘air’ and stays confined to a flat soundstage. 

The tracks that stood out for to me were River and Heimdall (no connection to Nordost). Highly recommended for those who are bored by formulaic albums and seek genre free performances for their listening pleasure.

Reuben Klein

Formats also available: 
CD, vinyl

Potsdam

18 Mar 2022
Iiro Rantala
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ACT Records

WARNING: This album will spellbind from its first note and induces a feeling of well-being that is liable to spread smiles and relaxed expressions on the faces of listeners.

This is the second time I have reviewed an album by this prolific Finish pianist and it won’t be the last. On this occasion Rantala has chosen to dedicate his very considerable talents to interpretations of ragtime, honky tonk and some of Leonard Bernstein’s iconic pieces, and in addition he managed to sneak in some tracks from the aforementioned Anyone With A Heart album from 2014.

While the intoxicating mix of playful ivory tinkling has a strong flavour of early 20th century Americana, it is spiced with healthy doses of classical, folk, blues and modern jazz styles All presented in a whimsical and engaging fashion. Rantala uses drops hints and homages to tunes and styles by evoking the styles once used by iconic pianists from Scott Joplin to Oscar Peterson.

ACT music has released a great deal of albums that highlight the amazing talent of many European jazz musicians, this album is no exception, it is a musical tour de force that should find a home in the collection of anyone who ever claimed to like jazz piano.

Having just praised the good folks at ACT Music… the download of the album received for the review is nowhere near the very high standards and qualities of ACT Music recordings. It is likely that the CD of this album will offer a far more pleasurable euphonic experience as this is a sensational album from start to finish, Iiro Rantala’s ability to create magic with piano keys is truly remarkable.
Best track: Can you be Bob

Reuben Klein

Formats also available: 
CD, vinyl

Serenity

8 Feb 2022
Yogev Shetrit Trio
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www.yogevshetrit.com

In his second album drummer Yogev Shetrit presents a compelling and unique fusion of middle-eastern, North African and Spanish Flamenco inspired rhythms packed into short, thoughtful and innovative musical gems. 

In places the style is distinctively jazz albeit of the most enjoyable and listenable type. In others it’s a cornucopia of world music that is anchored around the eastern and southern shores of the Mediterranean.

Accompanying Shetrit are a large number of musicians that include: Moshe Elamkias (piano), Stav Goldberg (piano), Avri Borochov (bass), Meni Welt (bass), Mike Karuchi, Amir Alaev (percussion) Aviva Alaev (violin), Matan Caspi (darbuka drum) and Harel Shahal (clarinet).

Salsa, Yemenite, Arab and Moroccan styles as well as shades of traditional eastern European themes are woven throughout the album and in most cases intermingle in the same tracks. All the musicians that accompany Shetrit play with precision and commendable aplomb as they switch styles and beats. Three tracks stand out and reveal the immense talent shown by all the players, Guatamala, the version of Bésame Mucho the title track Serenity.

Although the sample offered for the review is an MP3 copy, it was possible to hear the warm, analogue tonal signature of the recording, and even though the sound is very compressed I could get glimpses of nice separation between instruments, well defined cymbals and percussion as well as a generous yet tight bass. Engrossing and enjoyable Serenity is highly recommended to chase away the winter blues.

Reuben Klein

Formats also available: 
none

Omegah

29 Jul 2021
9 Horses
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Adhyâropa Records

Omegah is a remarkable musical feet that will never be heard and appreciated by enough people. The music is hard to define but post-modern-Americana may go some way towards describing it. The album contains essence of heavy metal, but can hardly be described as raucous, it has a lead violin backed by Hammond B3 with funky overtones, but can hardly be described as funk-jazz, it is folk, it is country and it is many other things, it is mostly an album made with intoxicating creative verve.

Omegah is the brainchild of Joe Brent (acoustic and electric mandolins), Grammy Nominee Sara Caswell (violin and hardanger d'amore) who uses bow and strings to weave and merge folk, country and modern classical sounds reminiscent of of Carl Nilsen, and Andrew Ryan (bass).  The three are joined by as many as 18 contributors who help to create a vast range of aural landscapes, in places these are minimalistic and in others they project energy and scale that’s nigh on symphonic. The track A New Machine is a great illustration of these attributes and a great example of the creativity and talent of this collective.

The recording quality is excellent if bright in places, at least on the 24-bit download, excellent depth of image and fast, pronounced and big bass ensure that even audiophiles will be able to fully enjoy the performance. Omegah makes a strong impression on first hearing, and even more so after the second and third times. It achieves a high level of musical craftsmanship and originality and that’s a rare quality. 

Performers 
Dallin Applebaum (vocals), Damien Bassman (drums), Michael Bellar (Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes and Contempo, Wurlitzer), Mairi Dorman- Phaneuf (cello), Kevin Garcia (drums, percussion), Justin Goldner (electric bass), Nathan Koci (piano), Kristine Kruta (cello), Mark Marshall (acoustic guitar), Nadje Noordhuis (trumpet, flugelhorn), Marco Paguia (piano), Rebecca Pechefsky (harpsichord), Emily Hope Price (cello), Mike Robinson (electric guitar), Ben Russell (violin), Jared Schonig (drums), Nuiko Wadden (harp), Glenn Zaleski (piano)

Reuben Klein

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2x vinyl

After The Real Thing

19 Jul 2021
Roy Mor
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Ubuntu

This album is a treat. Straight jazz shuffle imbued with a significant influence of middle eastern themes courtesy of pianist Roy Mor’s original homeland. The album consists of 12 Jazz tracks that weave a personal tale and stand as separate musical statements. I get the impression that the musicians have enjoyed themselves immensely and likely stayed behind to sharpen this and discover that way after the studio guys went home. Full of innovative notes, but highly accessible, this is a great album to introduce anybody that never got the jazz thing, to the jazz thing.

Roy Mor’s phrasing is reminiscent of Ahamed Jamal’s lyrical playing, the blues laden verve of Jessica Williams and in places the sound of Lennie Tristano. The first track is a lovely meditation and a rendition of an Israeli song, using solos from oud, piano and bass to seamlessly combine Mediterranean-eastern sound with gentle jazz verging on a bossa nova. It’s followed by a blues jazz track that carries the album title, and just when listeners have eased into their chairs anticipating more jazz Jerusalem Mezcla comes along with Yemenite, Moroccan and African rhythms and yet again highlighting the immense depth of talent from musicians gathered for this album, they are Amos Hoffman (oud), Avishai Cohen (trumpet), Devy Lazar (flugelhorn), Myles Sloniker, Martin Kenney, Joel Kruzic (bass) and Itay Morchi, Peter Traunmueller and Jeremy Dutton on drums. 

Nearness of You, the last track,  is a piano solo recorded live. The recording is good, placing instruments correctly in space and avoiding the wide-piano syndrome of many a jazz albums. This is a truly lovely album, very highly recommended for jazznicks as well as gentle folks who have hitherto found the jazz thing a little too challenging.

Reuben Klein

Formats also available: 
CD

Traditional Techniques

17 Mar 2020
Stephen J Malkmus
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Matador

Former Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus seems to have a romantic side, maybe that’s a bit strong, but on this lovely album there’s not much obvious angst. Made with Decemberist Chris Funk and a bunch of great instruments and musicians Traditional Techniques

is a feast of acoustic guitars with very little in the way of the percussive. The sound is reverberant and rich but a little thick in the lower frequencies, the vocals, guitars and fabulous arrangements stand out however and the songs are somewhat obscure but the important thing is the vibe which is warm and harmonious. It could almost be a folk record but has a contemporary twist that marks it out as something more original. 

JK

Formats also available: 
vinyl, CD

Poshmanella

11 Feb 2019
Collectif Medz Bazar
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Bandcamp

Yet again a musical set of juxtapositions with styles, languages and harmonies not often heard on this sceptred isle. Collectif Medz Bazar is a largely French Armenian band that calls Paris home. The sound, tones and colours of the album are minor Asia-centric, with melodies and harmonies that migrated via the near east from India and formed the building blocks of many musical styles used by gypsies and Balkan musicians. It also bears the influence of jazz, French Chanson and in places there is a feel of cabaret, and, just when you thought that was it, a western swing that sounds just like a tribute to Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks.

The happy crew of CMB consists of Raffi Derderyan (percussion), Shushan Kerovpyan (percussion and double bass), Vahan Kerovpyan (percussions), Elâ Nuroğlu (percussion), Marius Pibarot (double bass), Ezgi Sevgi (clarinet and sax) and Sevana Tchakerian on accordion. Solos and backing vocals are performed by various members of the band.

The songs are sung for the most part in Armenian and Turkish, with a sprinkling of French and English. The album oozes character and ethnicity, this is not an album you will listen to in order to hear flamboyant performance, it is an album you will find yourself feeling. Whether it is pentatonic voices or jazz vocals, whether it is an ancient lament sung in Armenian or a haunting slow hypnotic melody in Turkish, it always oozes passion. Not all of the tracks can be easily fathomed and in one or two cases those of us who were not born between Istanbul and Yerevan may never be able to make a connection.

The album features entirely acoustic instruments and the recording quality is above average, warmish and accurate. Poshmanella is a breath of fresh original music, an album that should be on the wish list of any world music lover, and is recommended very warmly for those who wish to take a holiday from the cookie cutter mould of average music.

If you want to get an idea turn on Spotify and listen to ‘Kanadim Degdi Sevdaya’, a famous Turkish song, followed by ‘Balik’, ‘Khio Khio’, and the western swing ‘Hand Me Down My Walking Cane’, an American piece. 

Reuben Klein

Formats also available: 
CD

New Hymn To Freedom

5 Dec 2018
Szun Waves
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The Leaf Label

This album is difficult to describe but both musically intriguing and sonically appealing thanks to the use of acoustic as well as electronic instruments. Especially if you music that provides an escape into rich and undulating soundscape that touch on the ambient but have plenty going on. This is what the record label says about it:

Sometimes in improvised music there can be a distance between listener and players, a sense you’re sitting back and admiring their interplay and abstraction – but with Szun Waves’ second album, you’re right in there with them, inside the playing, experiencing the absolute joy the three musicians feel as they circle around each other, exploring the spaces they’ve opened up.

The three members already have sparkling pedigrees of their own. Norfolk’s Luke Abbott is well known for his explorations of the zones between pure ambience and the leftmost fringes of club culture. With Portico Quartet and Circle Traps, Jack Wyllie has been in the vanguard of UK fusions of jazz, classical and club music. Australian drummer Laurence Pike has likewise found a unique voice in improvised and experimental music-making, whether in the bands Triosk or PVT, or as a solo artist.

The trio’s musical relationship has grown naturally and steadily, and it shows. From Wyllie adding shimmering sustained sax notes to Abbott’s gorgeous ambient pieces in 2013, Szun Waves emerged when Pike was added to the mix, energising the sound but still keeping its levitational qualities. Their 2016 self-released debut album hit a natural groove – it was a “proof of concept” as Abbott says – and now they’re in a place of pure spontaneity: New Hymn To Freedom is a document of six entirely live improvisations – “no edits or overdubs” – and its title couldn’t be more apt.

In some senses this is jazz, and in its ripples, sparkles and waves of rhythm will certainly chime with anyone turned on by Don Cherry, Alice Coltrane or Sun Ra. But just as much it’s in the British electronic tradition of artists like James Holden (in whose studio the first album was recorded), Four Tet and Nathan Fake that Abbott has emerged from – only now instead of his synths echoing Norfolk’s wide open pastoral landscapes, they’re depicting altogether more celestial vistas. Indeed, the drifting ecstasies of this record take you to dimensions that only the most genre-free musicians can reach: you might hear hints of Can, Ryuichi Sakamoto or even Liars.

But really, this isn’t the sound of any influence other than the influence the three players are having on each other, and how happy that makes them. “It still feels to me like a mystical adventure when we play,” says Abbott, “but there’s a musical language developing between us, we’re starting to make more sense together.”

Formats also available: 
CD, LP

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