Fresh Sound New Talent: Truth in Advertising

J Hunter By

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Operating in an era dominated by contradictory product names (i.e. Jumbo Shrimp, Clear Skies Initiative), Fresh Sound New Talent delivers exactly what it advertises—the CD equivalent of showcase gigs for up and coming musicians—and leaves a the future in the hands of the players and the free market. With that in mind, here are four FSNT discs for consideration.

Jordi Rossy Trio
Fresh Sound New Talent

Organist Albert Sanz's opening run makes Wicca sound like a new take on the organ trio; in fact, it is Jordi Rossy's keyboard that is the star, and this disc is a very new take on the venerable piano-trio concept. Rossy's music has the elegant feel of Tord Gustavson, but Sanz's Hammond organ brings a buzz and an undertone that circumvents any potential tediousness. Sanz—an FSNT artist himself—not only pours firm foundations for hypnotic compositions like Rossy's languid love scene "Sexy Time," he also provides Rossy with foil and second-soloist possibilities the traditional piano-trio matrix doesn't offer. Although the tempo jumps up from time to time ("El Bardo") and even gets downright bluesy ("Loving Tone"), Wicca is set up to cool things down—so much so that when horns appear on the title track, it seems like an intrusion.

Jesse Stacken
That That
Fresh Sound New Talent

This may be the traditional piano-trio configuration, but pianist Jesse Stacken's music is as far from the Bill Evans/Vince Guaraldi archetype as New York City is from downtown Mars. Although the disc's title evokes the cryptic language of pianist Thelonious Monk, Stacken's aesthetic is much closer to the more manic side of Ethan Iverson. Stacken lacks Iverson & The Bad Plus' instinct to outrage jazz traditionalists—no blood-curdling covers of heavy metal rock tunes or iconic movie themes here. Instead, That That is a detailed observation of a single thought process, and a thought process is a volatile thing: there are distractions, obsessions, twists and turns from moment to moment, and the only consistent element is chaos. Stacken is volcanic one moment ("Shady Oak"), lost in mourning the next ("Sad Sidewalk"). That That is not pretty, but it is very real, and a real bone-shaker.

Aaron Irwin Group
Blood And Thunder
Fresh Sound New Talent

This disc's title sounds like one of the current legion of thrash metal bands—melody makers like Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, and As I Lay Dying. In fact, alto saxophonist Aaron Irwin does do some pretty serious thrashing with tenor saxophonist Chris Cheek and guitarist Ben Monder on the turbulent title track. However, the rest of Blood And Thunder glows with an old school romanticism—both on stellar covers of Cole Porter's "From This Moment On" and Bill Evans' "Very Early," and on Irwin originals like "Back To You" and "The Wizard." (The latter tune enters with a rose between its teeth, looking for someone to tango with.) Cheek's quicksilver tenor folds into Irwin's mellifluous alto to create truly delicious harmony, and Monder's crackling guitar adds a 21st century texture to Irwin's classic visions. Overall, Blood and Thunder has a marvelous theatrical zeitgeist reminiscent of 1930s musicals: "Ain't we got fun!"

Ramon Diaz
Fresh Sound New Talent

Okay, this act doesn't really qualify for "up and coming" status: drummer Ramon Diaz's outstanding quintet has been a fact of life on the Spanish jazz scene for several years. That being said, Unblocking may be the first chance for the rest of the world to experience the weapons-grade chemistry that boosts this astonishing set of originals to dizzying heights. It contains a sound and a compositional aesthetic that has deep roots in trumpeter Miles Davis' Nefertiti (Columbia Records, 1967), the release that held the first clues about the soon-to-be-earthshaking change in Davis' creative direction. Diaz's overall textural work and out-section drum solos demand considerable attention, but the telepathic interplay between horn player Idafe Perez and reedman Jeppe Rasmussen grabs the big headlines, while Jose Alebrt Medina commutes between piano and Fender Rhodes to give each tune the tweaks it needs to go from Good to Better, and from Better to Best.

Tracks and Personnel


Tracks: Sexy Time; El Bardo; Tainos; Metamorfosis; Loving Tone; Wicca; Moose Love.

Personnel: Jordi Rossy: piano; Albert Sanz: Hammond organ; R.J. Miller: drums; Felix Rossy: trumpet (6), Enrique Oliver: tenor sax (6).

That That

Tracks: Humidity; Shady Oak; Distractions; Sad Sidewalk; North Shore; Inventor; Bulge In Tire; Ignored; Birds In Slow Motion (From Above); Climb A Tree; That That; Current.

Personnel: Jesse Stacken: piano; Elvind Opsink: bass; Jeff Davis: drums.

Blood and Thunder

Tracks: Like The Sunshine; The Wizard; Blood And Thunder; Back To You; From This Moment On; Little Hurts; Sprung; Very Early; Until We Say Our Last Goodbye.

Personnel: Aaron Irwin: alto sax; Chris Cheek: tenor sax; Ben Monder: guitar; Matt Clohsey: bass; Ferenc Nemeth: drums; Eliza Cho: violin (9).


Tracks: Unblocking; Ocean Legacy; Bad Milk; Demasiado Trafico; Disoes De Papel; Danzarina; Suite canaria; Bombo Clart.

Personnel: Ramon Diaz: drums; Idafe Perez: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jeppe Rasmussen: tenor sax, soprano sax; Lusimo Vallardes: contrabass, electric bass; Jose Alberto Medina: piano, Fender Rhodes.

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