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During the past few years much attention has been given in this column to currents in European jazz. The British scene is characterized by intense club activity and a robust recording output epitomized by Edition Recordsa label unafraid to support new compositional ideas and innovative styles.
A recently released CD displays the compositions of Dave Stapleton featured in a quintet he has led to prominence in European festivals. Between The Lines contains music Stapleton has played at Cannes, Budapest, Zagreb, Cork, Bratislava, Belgrade festivals and has been widely praised in UK publications. Stapleton's writing has analogues in '70s jazz developments of figures like Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett. Also influenced by classicists such as Ravel and Satie, Stapleton reaches even further back to earlier masters such as Mahler and Beethoven. Some of this influence can be heard on "October Sky" and "Under The Cherry Tree"tracks best reflecting the CD's personality. The Dave Stapleton quintet features Ben Waghorn on reeds, Jonny Bruce on brass, Paula Gardner on bass, Elliot Bennett on drums and Stapleton on keyboards.
Phronesis, a trio led by Danish bassist Jasper Hoiby, recorded Alivea CD to be released on July 26thduring a two night stint at the Forge Arts Venue in London. The CD features the unique melodic strains of pianist Ivo Neame over the complex rhythmings of bassist Hoiby and American drummer Mark Guilanaa last minute recruit for the live performance. This CD provides the listener with what is perhaps the most accessible of the musics Edition records is trying to advance.
If Phronesis is accessible then Spin Marvel is esoteric and challenging. A quintet that features percussionist Terje Evensen interjecting a vast array of audio effects against the improvisations of acoustic musicians, "Spin Marvel" reflects the most adventurous music in the present Edition productions, Dubbed "The Reluctantly Politicized Mr. James" this CD contains a "strong Angelo/ Norwegian connection" in the person of trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer who joins Evensen representing the Scandinavian contingent. UK drummer Martin France who leads the group has been seen in these parts with leaders such as Maria Schneider, Bob Mintzer and Dave Holland. Guitarist John Parricelli and bassist Tim Harries round out this group.
Edition must be encouraged to transport some of its artists to our shores and give Americans a proper introduction to their musical vision.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.