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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Louis Sclavis Quartet: Silk and Salt Melodies

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After reinventing himself with a completely revamped ensemble on Sources (ECM, 2012), reed multi-instrumentalist Louis Sclavis expands the purviews and possibilities of his Atlas Trio by adding percussionist Keyvan Chemirani to the mix for Silk and Salt Melodies. Sclavis has, in his 33-year career as a leader--and since coming to ECM Records in 1991 with the recording of Rouge (1992)--made a life's work of regular reinvention, both contextually in terms of lineup and stylistically through a broad cross-section of projects ranging from the fully unplugged, improv-heavy but still composition-based Acoustic Quartet (1994) and image-inspired blend of form and freedom on ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Marcin Wasilewski Trio w/ Joakim Milder: Spark of Life

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What do you do when you've released three albums as a trio (more, if you include albums released in Poland, prior to coming to the label) for a producer who traditionally seems to like shaking things up after that magic number? For Polish pianist Marcin Wasilewski and his longstanding trio--first coming together in their teens, they've been together more than two decades, and first recorded for ECM with trumpeter Tomasz Stanko for a triptych of evolutionary albums that began with 2002's Soul of Things and concluded with the far maturer Lontano (2006)--there have been two moves in 2014: first, show ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Mark Turner: Lathe of Heaven

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Given that he's participated on no fewer than six recordings on ECM over the past six years-- two this year alone, with drummer Billy Hart's sophomore effort for the label, One is the Other (2014), and pianist Stefano Bollani's career-defining Joy In Spite Of Everything (2014)--it's no surprise to find Mark Turner finally getting his own date on the venerable German label. That Lathe of Heaven is the saxophonist's first recording under his own name alone since 2001's Dharma Days (Warner Bros., 2001) only speaks to an approach to recording that is as painstakingly well thought-out as Turner's approach to ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Erik Honore: Heliographs

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If patience is a virtue, then Erik Honoré is, indeed, one virtuous man. Over the past few decades he's built a busy career as a novelist and record producer in his home country of Norway, and has come to increasing international attention as co-Artistic Director of the Punkt Live Remix festival--that globe-trotting festival with a philosophy that is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary in its hometown of Kristiansand in September, 2014. He's also become a more active participant on recordings over the past few years, performing on recordings by trumpter Arve Henriksen like Cartography (ECM, 2008) and Places of ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Chick Corea Trio: Trilogy

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Remember when CDs were so expensive to make that record companies would release double albums and remove a track or two, just so that it could fit on a single CD? Well, there may be many negatives about the state of the music industry today---despite this being a time when so much music is being made that, like the glory days in the 1960s/70s, it seems like anything is possible...there's just no more industry support to help any of it reach the same number of people--but one good thing is that the price of manufacturing a CD has dropped so ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Charles Lloyd: Arrows Into Infinity

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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 ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Arve Henriksen: The Nature of Connections

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Few artists could call an album The Nature of Connections with as much veracity as Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen. There's been the myriad of collaborations on his own albums--just a small handful of the contributors to recordings including Places of Worship (Rune Grammofon, 2013), Cartography (ECM, 2008), Strjon (Rune Grammofon, 2007) and Chiaroscuro (Rune Grammofon, 2004) including producers/Punkt Festival co-directors Jan Bang and Erik Honoré; bassist Lars Danielsson; drummer Audun Kleive; Supersilent mates, keyboardist Ståle Storløkken and guitarist Helge Sten; singers David Sylvian and Trio Mediaeval's Anna Maria Friman; guitarist Eivind Aarset; and pianist Christian Wallumrød. And that doesn't account ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Stefano Bollani: Joy in Spite of Everything

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Anyone who's had the pleasure of watching pianist Stefano Bollani in concert--whether it's in duo with fellow Italian, trumpter Enrico Rava, at the 2009 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival; in the trumpeter's New York Days quintet at the ECM 40th Anniversary celebration, part of the 2010 Enjoy Jazz Festival; or in one of his own various contexts (solo, trio, large ensemble)--knows that, above all, joy is fundamental to the music he makes. Sometimes it's blatantly obvious, as on his 2013 duo release with bandolim master Hamilton De Holanda, O Que Sera (ECM), where these two virtuosos could barely contain themselves and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jenny Hval & Susanna: Meshes of Voice

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After winning the Spellemannpris (Norwegian Grammy) for her first release on the fledgling Susanna Sonata label, the career-defining collaboration with Ensemble neoN, The Forester (2013), singer Susanna resists the urge to repeat herself by moving on to even more experimental territory with Meshes of Voice, this time together with fellow Norwegian vocalist Jenny Hval--a collaboration that, in retrospect, seems absolutely inevitable. Prior to launching her Susanna Sonata label, Susanna was a (largely) Rune Grammofon recording artist, releasing albums like 2009's Flower of Evil under her own name, and others, like 3, from the same year, as one-half of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

InterStatic: Arise

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Its beginnings may have been a little closer to the jazz side of the jazz-rock equation with Anthem (PVY Records, 2011), but British expat keyboardist Roy Powell's and trio with Norwegian guitarist Jacob Young and drummer Jarle Vespestad has, since changing its moniker to InterStatic with the release of its first album on UK's RareNoiseRecords label, InterStatic (2012), ratcheted up the energy, the volume and the rock quotient. If InterStatic was the trio's first shot across the bow, then Arise is InterStatic's true statement of intent. The trio continues to explore the space first innovated by drummer Tony ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bugge Wesseltoft: OK World

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There are artists who find their niche and then spend the rest of their careers carefully honing that one thing--often to great effect and, in some lucky cases, great success. Then there's Bugge Wesseltoft. Since emerging in the mid-'90s with his techno/house/electronica-driven New Conception of Jazz series--which didn't just establish him in his native Norway but, with guest appearances from artists like John Scofield and Dhafer Youssef, abroad as well--the keyboardist/producer/Jazzland Recordings label head has shaped a career defined by diversity. From electro-centric solo piano excursions like Playing (Jazzland, 2009) and beautiful slow-motion jazz standards on Songs (Jazzland, 2012) to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Solveig Slettahjell: Various Artists: Norwegian Woods - Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic II

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One night, six Norwegian artists--three of them together in a group for a decade. Such ideas can look great on paper, but turn out less than inspiring in reality. Fortunately, beyond the individual talents involved, there's been enough interconnectivity between singer Solveig Slettahjell, keyboardist Bugge Wesseltoft, guitarist Knut Reiersrud and the members of In the Country--keyboardist Morten Qvenild, bassist Roger Arntzen and drummer Pål Hausken--that Norwegian Woods-Jazz at the Berlin Philharmonic II doesn't just work...it soars. Slettahjell--bringing a very personal vision to both her own music and her many interpretations of songwriters ranging from Cole Porter to Tom ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Claudio Fasoli Four: London Tube

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One of the pleasures of traveling to events abroad is the opportunity to learn about musicians who may be established at home, but are deserving of more attention abroad. Such was the case when covering the Fondazione Siena Summer Jazz Workshop 2013 in Siena, Italy, and the chance to experience saxophonist Claudio Fasoli, both in action as an instructor at the academy and at a very special performance by his Claudio Fasoli Four. London Tube is the quartet's second recording following 2011's Avenir (Caligola) and, like its predecessor, capitalizes on the strengths of a quartet of exceptional players that deserve ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Stein Urheim: Stein Urheim

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Things are looking up for Bergen-based Stein Urheim, a musician who, on the basis of Stein Urheim--his second release on Hubro after the vinyl/download-only Kosmolodi (2012) and third as a leader following his 2009 debut, Three Sets of Music--seems interested in just about anything with strings...and a few without. Beyond his own career, which includes work with Gabriel Fliflet´s Åresong and a guest appearance on The Last Hurrah!'s 2011 Rune Grammofon debut, Spiritual Non- Believers, his Stein and Mari collaboration with Mari Kvien Brunvoll--an electro- acoustic singer who, since enthralling a group of international guests at a church showcase, continues ...



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