Quite funky in a way, taken from the upcoming album Songs of the Degrees by the Israeli pianist Yaron Herman back with his trio again (Sam Minaie is on bass and Ziv Ravitz is on drums) after what seems an inordinately long time. 

To be released by Universal in February, Herman in an evocative phrase talks of each track being a “self-addressed letter.” Certainly good to find Herman back in such fine form with such a strong lead-off track landing in a Mehldau vein to introduce us to his new sounds.  

Anna Webber? Simple back in 2014 was our introduction to the avant saxophonist/flautist and her fractured, interlocking Anthony Braxton-like saxophone lines impressed at the time.

It was certainly music infused with a strong uncompromisingly rugged improvising ethic that was the complete opposite of “simple.”

That positive characteristic remains the same and is enhanced if anything on Clockwise which gets a release next month on the Pi label. 

A couple of tracks have been made available ahead of release.

With Webber are reedist Jeremy Viner; trombonist Jacob Garchik; cellist Christopher Hoffman; pianist Matt Mitchell; bassist Chris Tordini; and drummer/vibist Ches Smith. If you are into the Claudia Quintet you will probably like this a good deal. Lots of sinuous interplay, great sense of syncopation, and a collision between freer forms of abstract jazz and the discipline of contemporary classical music, provide the canvas the ensemble spreads itself liberally over.

Look out for Motian Music from long time Paul Motian pianist Russ Lossing to be released next month by the US indie Sunnyside. ‘Fiasco’ from the studio album recorded in New Jersey is available ahead of the release. Covered by a range of artists this appealingly jagged Motian composition was on a fairly hard to get Soul Note record that he co-led with Charlie Haden and which featured Geri Allen released in 1988 called Études. Lossing on the upcoming record is in a trio setting with bassist Masa Kamaguchi and drummer Billy Mintz.  

Joys and Solitudes

A very so-so affair from pianist Yonathan Avishai, Yoni Zelnik on bass and Donald Kontomanou, drums. Joys and Solitudes opens with a glacial version of ‘Mood Indigo’ followed by seven fairly bland originals of Avishai’s. A studio affair recorded in Lugano last year this is as neat and tidy as it possibly gets. Tasteful, well played and professionally presented for sure but there is nothing however that really screams passion or adventure here. Archetypal chamber jazz instead, there is a discreet and polite playbook at work but too much so and this teeters over the line into over-compliance with too many assumed norms. A record that could certainly do with a lot more heat and risk-taking to properly engage. SG. 
Released on 25 January.


Trio Tapestry

IT IS hard to know where to begin with Trio Tapestry. Somehow, listening, you feel that you have stepped into the wrong room. It could even be a Charles Lloyd record. A long way from a hard bop blowing session, which is what you might expect with Joe Lovano, this is open, thoughtful and challenging music delivered in an unfamiliar language although its building blocks are deep down always there in terms of tone, blues connotation and means of expression.

‘Seeds of Change’, which in sequence is the second of the 11, is very beautiful with a real feeling of aching intimacy and rapport, and you might swear it hints at the melody of ‘Equinox’ before veering into a free floating bluesy reverie, an emergent Marilyn Crispell in serene contemplation. As the tonality waveringly oblique adds mystery and a sense of occasion, a weightlessness wraps the atmosphere in ribbons of space. percussionist Carmen Castaldi sweeps forth in the latter part emerging as a glinting observational presence amid the steely fragility of the momentous mood.

Recorded last year at a studio in New York the overall approach strips sound back to poetic forms and if you think of albums as novels, short stories or poems this is definitely a poem.

There is nothing trite here and yet no overdone pomposity either. On ‘Razzle Dazzle’ instead of a show stopping anthem you get an ominous piano solo from Crispell who plays impeccably throughout, Lovano accompanying her mournfully as if this is a lament. ‘Sparkle Lights’ taken at a lento tempo also has that mood of requiem and the interplay between sax and piano is very respectful. In the end you consider that eternal rivalry of time and silence.

Lovano mostly refrains from showing us the powerful side of his playing although the ‘Piano / Drum Episode’ midway through has a weight to it that contrasts heavily with what has gone before or after when his tender side is more explored.  His experiments with gongs on one track are frankly less engaging, however. 

A very atypical Joe Lovano record all considered, not always overly stocked with great moments to be fair and a little lacking in killer material, but there is plenty here to enjoy and Lovano is to be applauded for his adventurous spirit and the seriousness of his spiritual questing. SG

Released on 25 January. 


Emanating from a hitherto unknown Chicago collective, Resavoir are directed by trumpeter Will Miller who also throws in MIDI keyboard harmonies, ‘Escalator’ (this longer version is better than the shorter one also available) retains a lo-fi unglossy groove to it that journeys on to a sax soloing over a catchy rhythm section the bass bubbling up at you. Akenya Seymour is on keyboards & vocals, Irvin Pierce on tenor sax, Lane Beckstrom on bass, Peter Manheim on drums & percussion, and Jeremy Cunningham on drums, all fairly new names. Released by International Anthem and recorded in Chicago listen on and on for Seymour’s scatting coming out of seemingly nowhere, the keys-led main theme motif recurring again as an undertow as she goes wilder and wilder and then equally unexpectedly the pitch starts waywardly detuning and mucking about in zany fashion behind her. We even get an instrumental portion of ‘My Favorite Things’ tucked in.

Wrap your ears around a sublime bit of Joe Jackson and ‘Strange Land’ from the singer’s album Fool which is released this week. Live dates coming up include April dates in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester, Cork and Dublin. 

Quite beautiful... a piano-clarinet duet by pianist Lucian Ban and clarinettist Alex Simu taken from the upcoming Free Fall to be released by Sunnyside records on 15 February that serves as a tribute to reedist Jimmy Giuffre.

There is something quite special in the rapport the pair have on ‘Quiet Storm (for Jimmy Giuffre)’ and especially the atmosphere they convey, a tingling extra element that exists invisibly beyond the simplicity of the appealing melody and its slow, hypnotic, wheeling, motion. 

Pretty left-field this but no matter look out for some extraordinary sounds on The Oracle to be released on the International Anthem label next month. Chicago composer, clarinettist, singer, Angel Bat Dawid provides nearly all the sounds you will hear on this album which to our ears lands in an Abbey Lincoln-meets Sun Ra type space (with the path finding spirit of Tony Scott in there somewhere too!) torn up, pieced back together and reinvented for the 21st century. Pretty lo-fi and no wonder as Dawid recorded tracks on the album using only her mobile phone. Just goes to show that you do not necessarily have to rely on state-of-the-art studios to come up with something fresh and compelling. Ideas and a bag full of originality are the real currency, more like. 

From The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul Andrew Hill’s ‘Snake Hip Waltz.’ 

The album was recorded over the course of three days in the Alexander Theatre at Monash University in Australia last year it features the Branford Marsalis Quartet “in the usual line up on all tracks, no guests this time,” says OKeh label chief Wulf Muller.

So that’s sax icon Branford Marsalis also the producer, with pianist Joey Calderazzo, double bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Justin Faulkner.

Tracks are: 1 Dance of the Evil Toys by Eric Revis; 2 Conversation Among the Ruins by Joey Calderazzo; 3 Snake Hip Waltz by Andrew Hill; 4 Cianna by Joey Calderazzo; 5 Nilaste by Eric Revis; 6 Life Filtering From The Water Flowers by Branford Marsalis; and 7 The Windup by Keith Jarrett.

Branford Marsalis says: “Some musicians may need to work in different projects to create the illusion of sounding different by changing the context, whereas we are confident that we can adjust our group sound so we don’t have to change the context. What always appealed to me were the great bands, not just the great players who could start and stop at the same time. Staying together allows us to play adventurous, sophisticated music and sound good. Lack of familiarity leads to defensive playing, playing not to make a mistake. I like playing sophisticated music, and I couldn’t create this music with people I don’t know.” To be released through Sony on 1 March the same day as the Branford Marsalis Quartet play London’s Barbican.