ECM these days is much too eclectic to easily categorise in an easy way. This release however by the returning Small Town duo of guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan sums up one huge tranche of its style as a label: the intimate turn the lights down low approach the label has so long championed.
Recorded live at jazz shrine the Village Vanguard in New York peppered with Monk tunes as in the title track and a spread of other covers from Doc Pomus and Paul Motian to John Barry and Jerome Kern, Frisell is the dominant lead as you might expect and his quietly triumphant introversion draws out the quirky side of the tunes and lets the melodies breath set against his rickety harmonies and self-effacing charm.
You get the sound of an appreciative audience, the feeling that this is a real concert via the fine album sound and you can almost sense the expectation of the Vanguard audience. Morgan has risen in recent years to become one of the most reliable bassists in progressive jazz settings and has an incredible sense of tone and poise and you get that on this record as well. Enough for now — just rush out and get this when it is released on Friday 12 April.
From Soul Awakening by harpist Brandee Younger, to be released in June.
The last show of the Avishai Cohen trio’s latest Ronnie Scott’s residency: this late night set was the first time I’d heard him with his new trio, Azerbaijani pianist Elchin Shirinov and an old school mate of Cohen’s, drummer Noam David.
It is a tough gig for any musician keeping up with Cohen given the extraordinary level of technique and power the former Chick Corea bassist brings to the table, and while David was more than up to the challenge and provided his own fireworks I thought Shirinov took a while to settle. But when he did his rapport with Cohen was pretty clear and the gig really caught fire.
Playing new music which the trio have been recording recently, often shaped around a tiny folkloric figure often rising up from the piano, there were no tune titles provided at all throughout and it was only in the encore when prompted by a heckler and when Cohen sang a beautiful version of Mercedes Sosa’s ‘Alfonsina y El Mar’ that the gig touched on the more familiar given that this gem has been in Cohen’s repertoire for many years.
Cohen has incredible speed at his disposal but more than this it is the way he curls rhythms away from the places you expect them to land that continually surprises and provides such delight. SG