Well there you have it: the very antithesis of blandness and playing to formula. There is such a cram and collision of sound on Phalanx Ambassadors, a boisterous, uneasy sense of vitality, clawing at chords, rampaging off on mad solos... pianist, keyboardist, composer Matt Mitchell is as reliable as ever in his anarchic disregard for neat little solutions. Quite a band of star left-field bandleaders he has gathered with him on this new album from Pi records: Miles Okazaki on guitars, Patricia Brennan on vibraphone and marimba, Kim Cass on bass, and Kate Gentile on drums with producer David Torn in tow. Turn this mighty effort up loud.
Tasteful, inoffensive, a little bit too perfect in some ways there is nothing particularly disagreeable about Luxembourg’s globetrotting piano trio, the bafflingly monikered Dock In Absolute, as they return for a second album on the Cam Jazz label. Pianist Jean-Philippe Koch’s approach compares maybe to his fellow countryman Michel Reis as he sweeps in and out of lush involving tunes yet with all the rough edges smoothed out somehow redeeming himself by pulling a reliable rabbit out of his hat every so often: a thoughtful theme never far away. Bass guitarist David Kintziger and drummer Michel Mootz are reliably team spirited. File under: just that bit too neat and nice. SG
He is one of the most convincing and committed disciples of John Coltrane ever to come out of the UK. But these days hearing Alan Skidmore (a veteran of 77) is not that common a treat. Well, when better this summer on 17 July, dove tailing with the day that Coltrane died on in 1967, to hear Skid in a special 52nd memorial concert. Appearing with a quartet at Dalston club Cafe Oto plus special guest Ed Jones, Skidmore is no stranger to Oto having performed there a few years ago with Paul Dunmall. Tickets can be obtained here.
Wynton Marsalis pianist Dan Nimmer features on this tasty hard bop grounded sextet release Road Warrior from trumpeter Quentin Collins due in September on the Ubuntu label. Collins will be playing a club date around launch time at Pizza Express Jazz Club on 3 September.
There is a certain simplicity at play with Arvoles especially the way tunes seem to build from the ground up via tiny motifs... but then layer complexity upon complexity into a remarkable confection that escapes category harnessing folk, bebop, rock and classical music flavours often delivered with extraordinary facility. The record was recorded in a studio in Sweden earlier this year. ‘Arvoles’, which means ‘Trees’ in the ancient Sephardic language Ladino, finds Cohen with the trio that he introduced to Ronnie Scott’s audiences earlier this year, featuring newcomer Elchin Shirinov from Azerbaijan on piano and Cohen’s old school friend Noam David on drums, plus Anders Hagberg on flute and Björn Samuelsson, trombone. The horns add a bright attractive flavour and fill out the tunes. “You could say I’m going back to basics,” Cohen has noted. “Nostalgia at its best is the strongest, most romantic, sincere, bitter-sweet feeling. And I agree it’s all over the record, with compositions like ‘Childhood’, ‘New York 90s’ and ‘Nostalgia’. Thoughts? Well, it is a solid record and the horn arrangements add an attractive flavour. I am not sure if the compositions are as strong as you will find on some Cohen albums but the bar is set high. I’d pick ‘New York 90s’ and the Monk-like ‘Wings’ as the stand-outs and most relevant to jazz listeners. Go there first. SG