According to Wikipedia, the Kármán Line ..."lies at an altitude of 100 kilometres (62 mi) above the Earth's sea level, and commonly represents the boundary between the Earth's atmosphere and outer space." It's as good a name as any for the debut album from sPacemoNkey, a collaboration by two of Norway's most impressive and increasingly influential musicians, despite still being in their early-to-mid thirties: keyboardist Morten Qvenild and drummer Gard Nilssen. Largely the result of spontaneous composition, with just three of its nine tracks being preconceived by Qvenild, sPacemoNkey's music is both as grounded as the world and as ethereal as ...read more
It's been nearly two decades since Karen Mantler last released an album under her own name on the XtraWATT label belonging to her similarly coifed mother, pianist/composer Carla Bley, but she's been anything but idle. Work on Bley albums like Appearing Nightly (Watt, 2008), recordings by father Michael Mantler like Folly Seeing All This (ECM, 1993), and sessions with fellow singer/songwriter Robert Wyatt have dovetailed with the singer/pianist/harmonicist's collaborations with the Golden Palominos and Hal Wilner, as well as her own Pet Projects (Virgin, 2000), the final instalment in a series of albums about her cat, that began with My ...read more
Despite having yet to make a breakthrough in North America, in the space of less than five years Marius Neset has gone from virtual unknown to one of Europe's hottest properties, gigging with his quartet all around the continent, including an incendiary showcase at the 2012 Jazzahead! trade show in Germany and an even more searing set at the 2014 Jazzkaar festival in Estonia. That this young Norwegian-born/Denmark- based saxophonist (still on the shy side of 30) has managed to achieve so much in so little time is not only evidenced by Lion, but by his carrying enough weight to ...read more
Cold Truth Warm Heart isn't Mike Pope's first album as a leader (it's his third), but in the 12 years since The Lay of the Land (Whaling City Sound, 2002), the bassist has, in addition to some serious life-changers, forged a relationship with two musicians of unequivocal significance. First appearing on Joe Locke's State of Soul (Sirocco, 2002), Pope has worked with the superb vibraphonist and equally fine pianist Geoffrey Keezer in the by turns incendiary and profoundly lyrical Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group since 2006, first documented on the charging out of the gate Live in Seattle (Origin, ...read more
While making noise with her debut, Shoot! (Rune Grammofon, 2011), it was with All Them Witches (Rune Grammofon, 2013)--and subsequent touring that took her from her home country of Norway, playing at festivals like the 2013 Molde International Jazz Festival, to a short North American tour this year--that guitarist Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen's career really took off. Alongside Pixel, Hedvig Mollestad Trio represents some of the most exciting music from a new generation of Norwegian musicians, though the two groups couldn't be more different. And with Enfant Terrible" released just prior to its 2014 North American tour, Hedvig Mollestad Trio is ...read more
Peter Gabriel Back to Front: Live in London (Deluxe Limited Blu-Ray) Real World/Eagle Vision2014 Peter Gabriel has, for most of his career, been an artist who has never looked back. Still, the past few years have seen him reevaluating his large repertoire, between orchestral interpretations documented on New Blood: Live in London (Real World/Eagle Entertainment, 2012) and the Back to Front tour that has, since that time, celebrated the 25th anniversary of the release of So (Charisma, 1986)--the album that turned him from cult hero to (now) pop culture elder statesman. So turned out to ...read more
While jazz purists like to think that the artists they love have always been into jazz and nothing else, the truth is often more than a little different: not only have most jazz artists who grew up in the '60s and beyond been unalterably impacted by more than just the jazz music of their time, but they remain fans of music beyond the genre's broadest purview. Yes, there are purists, but most musicians--irrespective of the style of music upon which they focus as performers and writers--are not just jazz fans, they're music fans, plain and simple. So it's no particular ...read more
Originally released in 1990 on Brian Eno's forward-thinking Opal Records and reissued again, two years later, on All Saints Records, Jon Hassell's City: Works of Fiction was the trumpeter/keyboardist/conceptualist's fourth official" installment in the Fourth World series that began with Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics (EG, 1980), followed by Fourth World Vol. 2: Dream Theory in Malaysia (EG, 1981) and Aka / Darbari / Java--Magic Realism (EG, 1983), though this groundbreaking and ultimately vastly influential concept truly began to take shape with his first recording under his own name, Vernal Equinox (Lovely Music, 1977)--where, as he described in his ...read more
Recorded just five months after the three-CD/two-DVD Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith (Inside Out, 2013), it's not an unreasonable question to ask: why another show from the same tour (given the tour has been extended even further, by popular demand, into 2014 under the moniker Genesis Extended, featuring the same lineup with the exception of Nick Beggs replacing Lee Pomeroy on bass, bass pedals, guitar and vocals)--especially when this is the music of Genesis, a group renowned for its desire to perform its music as faithfully to the studio recordings as possible? The answer is simple: this is, ...read more
It's always difficult for an artist who has become so intimately associated with a group--especially if he or she has been a significant compositional contributor--to build a separate identity outside of that group. It might be one of the reasons that Pat Metheny Group keyboardist Lyle Mays--who not only contributed compositions of his own, but also co-wrote some of the group's most well-known and well-loved material--has released so few recordings under his own name. Pianist/keyboardist Jon Cowherd is nowhere near as joined at the hip to Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band, heard most recently on the characteristically ...read more
Festival International de Jazz de Montréal Ambrose Akinmusire By Invitation Tigran By Invitation Tord Gustavsen Quartet / Brad Mehldau & Mark Guiliana, Mehliana June 26-July 6, 2014 There simply isn't a festival in the world like the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. Where else in the world can you find a city where, with a population of well over 1.5 million people, six square blocks are closed down for the entire duration of the festival--in this year's case 11 full days running from June 26 to July 6, 2014? Where can you find ...read more
Days 1-2 | Days 4-6 | Days 7-9 Anat Fort / Susanna Torben Waldorff Wah Wah / Norma WInstone Partisans TD Ottawa Jazz Festival Ottawa, Canada June 20-July 1, 2014 For the last three days in Ottawa before heading to Montréal for five days of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, the emphasis was entirely on the Improv Invitational series, at the National Arts Centre's intimate, club-like Fourth Stage. It was an eclectic mix of artists, ranging from an Israeli pianist, a Norwegian singer/songwriter and a Danish guitarist to two ...read more
Days 1-2 | Days 4-6 | Days 7- 9 Tedeschi Trucks Band Bill Frisell Guitar in the Space Age! Julian Lage & Nels Cline / Bill Frisell Go West TD Ottawa Jazz Festival Ottawa, Canada June 20-July 1, 2014 While not necessarily an intentional decision, the next three days of the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival were a guitar lover's dream: two performances by festival stalwart Bill Frisell; the return of Julian Lage (by this time, no longer an up-and-comer) in an eagerly anticipated duet with Nels Cline, the more avant-leaning ...read more
Days 1-2 | Days 4-6 | Days 7- 9 Joey DeFrancesco Trio / Sun Rooms / Harris Eisenstadt Golden StateTD Ottawa Jazz Festival Ottawa, Canada June 20-July 1, 2014 Another year, another TD Ottawa Jazz Festival, except to say so would sound dismissive of a festival that, year after year--now, in 2014, in presenting its 34th edition--has managed to address the challenges of festival programming for a musical genre where the majority of the attendees is in the gray hair or no hair demographic. And it's not been without its detractors; ...read more
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