Jordi Pujol & Fresh Sound Records

Phil DiPietro By

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With the release of Vine, Chris Cheek takes his place in the contemporary jazz world as an improvising saxophonist and composer of up-to-the-minute sophistication and taste. He's joined by two of the most heralded young voices in mainstream jazz today, Brad Mehldau and Kurt Rosenwinkel, as well as bassist Matt Penman and Fresh Sounds "house" drummer and original A&R man (check out the interview) Jorge Rossy. This is a new kind of "Young Lions"—let's call them "The Matadors" in the arena of Fresh Sounds.

Brad and Kurt mix it up nicely by throwing fans of their previous work some huge curveballs. Mehldau plays Fender Rhodes on all but three tracks, quickly proving himself a non-derivative stylist on the electric 88, which he achieves in large part by telepathically blending with Rosenwinkel's guitar. Kurt, in turn, willingly screws up his sound and phrasing in spots, giving us some distortion , grit and variation in trademark crystalline bop tone, while maintaining the advanced linear harmonic concept for which he's noted. There are hints of drum'n'bass, Latin-tinged tunes, incredible tenor/guitar unison lines, a 12/8 tune and a couple folkier melodies that recall Cheek's previous work on "A Girl Named Joe".

For a bold antithesis to Vine, check out a band for which the label reached out a little more into the left hand side of America, the Minneapolis-based Bad Plus, consisting of pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson (again), and uber drummer David King. The self-proclaimed "loudest piano trio ever" lives up to their hype by covering ABBA's "Knowing Me, Knowing You, " Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit, " and Rodgers & Hart's "Blue Moon," with the pianist and bassist each chipping in with two originals.

They take the radio-friendly melodic material of others (as well as their own, which would make great additions to hip college-station playlists, for instance) forcefully radicalizing creativity , with a listener-friendly humorous bent. As they listen to consecutively diatonic and dissonant tone clusters set up against stylistic collisions, hipsters can take solace in "getting in early" on yet another relatively obscure unit with frighteningly obvious crossover potential.

You can watch this space for more links out to coming Fresh Sound reviews. In the meantime, let's reveal the answer to the question that begins this spot. It comes in the form, really, of one man-the incredibly driven, resourceful and most importantly tasteful Jordi Pujol, president and chief-entrepreneur-in-charge of the FSNT appellation, and, as I came to find out, a double-fistful of other labels under the umbrella of Bluemoon. Check the vastness of their new website and consider this: Pujol has done much more than assemble a delectable, delicious, ever-increasing Tapas menu of uniformly tasty recordings. From his outpost in Barcelona , it cannot be denied, Pujol has fashioned not only a label, not only a deep catalogue, not only an all-star roster, but something more—achieved by a handful of labels before his—a readily identifiable aesthetic that weaves throughout the FSNT tapestry.

Meet Fresh Sounds Founder Jordi Pujol


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