Lion is a good name for Marius Neset's first recording with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, for like a great cat, the Norwegian orchestra purrs and prowls, roars and pounces. Regardless of tempo--whether cruising or charging--there's majesty in the collective voice. Commissioned for the Molde Jazz Festival in 2012, the momentum from that performance took Neset and this twelve-piece orchestra into the recording studio with spectacular results. In fourteen years, the TJO has become something of a Norwegian national institution, reaching an ever-greater audience across Europe. Lion is another feather in its cap, following collaborations with Chick Corea, Pat ...read more
Julie Kelly is a talented singer whose talents are a fairly well-kept secret except on the West Coast, where she makes her home. Happy to Be is Kelly's eighth album, the first on Graham Carter's Colorado-based Jazzed Media label, and as has been her custom in the past, she chooses for the most part interesting songs that aren't heard nearly often enough. Compositions by Dave Frishberg, Bob Dorough, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Richard Rodney Bennett and even Phoebe Snow are here, hanging out alongside engaging themes by such lesser-known but no less able writers as Bill Peterson, Jim Tomlinson and Susan ...read more
Charles Lloyd Arrows Into Infinity ECM Records 2014 It's rare to have an opportunity to see a music film in both the theatre and the comfort of your own home, but a serendipitous invite to the 2013 Jazztopad Festival in Wrocław, Poland not only provided the chance to hear saxophonist Charles Lloyd premiering a new work, commissioned by the festival, with an entirely new group; it also presented, in a movie theatre, Arrows Into Infinity, a nearly two-hour look at Lloyd's life and career, directed by his longtime life partner, manager and co-producer Dorothy ...read more
When is a trio with a piano not a piano trio? British outfit Mammal Hands offers one answer to that conundrum with debut album Animalia, released on Gondwana Records, the label run by discerning trumpeter and producer Matthew Halsall. Actually, given the varied nature of the tunes on display--co-written by the band members--it offers eight answers. Nick Smart's piano is certainly a key element of the Mammal Hands sound, but it's by no means the dominant one--brother Jordan Smart's saxophones and Jesse Barrett's distinctive percussion are equally as important. Jordan Smart often favors the soprano saxophone--a choice that ...read more
Ever since I wrote the biography of Clifford Brown (Oxford University Press, 2000) I've been hoping that someone would come forth with some newly discovered recording, some new photos of Brownie, or some new piece of information about his life that wasn't available at the time the book was published. One of the great bonuses of new-age information technology is the amazing dissemination of material that seems to come forth in dribs and drabs. Any biographer hopes that new discoveries will appear to add to the knowledge of the subject. So it was with great joy that ...read more
La Scala (the ladder or stairway in Italian} was a theatrical production that bore this atypical chamber ensemble featuring French pianist Roberto Negro, brothers Théo Ceccaldi on violin and viola with Valentin Ceccaldi on cello and percussionist Adrien Chennebaut. The idea, like the play's title, was to find a musical equivalent to the concept of ascension. The music--composed and improvised---symbolizing a pathway through a spiral staircase, a paper stairway, a stepladder, an ever unpredictable rope ladder, used by this sure-footed, opinionated quartet with a constant ear to each other's movements. It can also be listened to as a reflection on ...read more
Colombian, Strasbourg-based viola player and vocal artist Elisa Arciniegas Pinilla studied classical music and viola at the Conservatorio de Música de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogota and jazz and improvised music at the Conservatoire de Strasbourg in France. She also specialized in performance and free improvisation at the Hochschule für Musik in Basel, Switzerland (one of her teachers there was Fred Frith. This wide spectrum of approaches enable Pinilla to create a musical universe that transcends borders, genres or conventions. The music on her debut album--after a yet-to-be-released collaboration with Chilean composer Javier Muñoz ...read more
Tori Freestone is a name that will be familiar to those with an interest in the British Jazz of the last few years. A multi- instrumentalist she contributed flute and sax to Ivo Neame's excellent Yatra from 2012 but you may equally have come across her work with the likes of Rory Simmons or Neil Yates. This trio collection on emerging London indie label, Whirlwind, sees Freestone making the leap to band leader on record for the first time showcasing the tenor saxophone side of her undoubted talents.As that CV implies Freestone is no rookie and there is ...read more
Even among established groupings Japanese composer and pianist Satoko Fujii continues to search for new means of expression. For the ninth disc from her New York Orchestra, Fujii departs from accustomed practice, particularly in the 36-minute plus title track which dominates proceedings. Truly orchestral in its scope, Fujii wields her composer's wand in a way which largely avoids some of the expected intricacy, in favour of more opaque connections, organically developed soundscapes and ragged choruses, from which the compositional signposts unexpectedly emerge. The loose painterly style recalls the trumpeter Bill Dixon's large scale works, in that the talented cast is ...read more
Grenoble-born keyboardist Matthieu Marthouret started playing the Hammond organ as a way of covering for bass players' absence from rehearsals. It became one of his favorite instruments, leading to the formation of the Matthieu Marthouret Organ Quartet in 2007 and then to the establishment of the Bounce Trio. Small Streams...Big Rivers is the first album from that outfit, an organ/tenor/drums triumvirate. On Small Streams...Big Rivers the Bounce Trio performs original tunes by Marthouret and saxophonist Toine Thys alongside a trio of covers. The band opens This Guy's In Love With You" with a few seconds of free-form noodling ...read more
This interview was originally conducted in 1997. I met Nat Adderley in jny: San Diego, California in 1986 when I was working as a disc jockey at a jazz radio station and doing the PR for La Jolla Playhouse. We did an interview about a new production of a musical being revived at the progressive La Jolla Playhouse and premiered on Broadway later that year. Shout Up a Morning," based on the folk hero John Henry, began as a musical collaboration between Nat and his brother Julian ("Cannonball") and Diane Charlotte Lampert, lyricist, with librettists Paul Avila and ...read more
Drummer Mark Guiliana's work has nothing to do with benzedrine, berets, William S. Burroughs and the like; he's a beat poet of a different sort, shrewdly dissecting and interpreting the language of rhythm in real-time. Guiliana is one of the few drummers who can successfully and creatively straddle and blur the electro-acoustic dividing line, and he's been a key ingredient in the musical recipes concocted by artists as different as bassist Avishai Cohen, vocalist Gretchen Parlato, singer/rapper Matisyahu, and pianist/keyboardist Jason Lindner. Thus far, Guiliana has largely been viewed as a valuable sideman, but things are rapidly ...read more
Think you know every aspect of Tierney Sutton's artistic persona? Think again. Hearing the Paris Sessions is to hear Sutton anew. Sure, it's that same one-of-a-kind voice, but there's no Tierney Sutton Band here, incredibly novel arrangements aren't a priority on this one, and there's no grand umbrella theme to contend with. This is simply a captivating listen-by-candlelight album that strikes to the heart of Tierney Sutton. Paris Sessions is easily the most informal item in Sutton's discography, but the idea of informality shouldn't carry a negative connotation; quite the opposite, in fact. This is a work ...read more
Over the past ten years, electronic music and jazz have developed a curious relationship. As programmers and DJs sought to remove the human element from their beats and loops, acoustic musicians sought to apply the tight, complex patterns of house and trance music to their traditional instruments. Drummer Mark Guiliana is at the forefront of this new vanguard of progressive acoustic artists. In this article we'll discuss his work with acclaimed pianist Brad Mehldau, his studies with renowned instructor John Riley, and his new record label Beat Music Productions. All About Jazz: I have to admit that I ...read more
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