New Releases from Fresh Sound New Talent

Mark F. Turner By

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2005 was another stellar year for jazz music, with many fine recordings from both mainstream and independent labels. Here are just a few more of this year's recent releases from the extensive and growing Fresh Sound New Talent catalog.

Plays The Blues In Need
Fresh Sound New Talent

It is said that to effectively play the blues one needs to know the blues. This may or my not be the case for this young trio but they sure have the music aesthetic down to a science with fearless and soulful playing that pulls from both jazz and blues. Led by the hot pianist Sergi Sirvint, whose playing echoes Thelonious Monk as well as Brad Mehldau, his performance is inspiring. Though the core musical element is the blues, the music also makes use of contemporary styles to form a recording of considerable depth such as the chamber like voicing on "Concret, the modern jazz "Blue In Need and the creative "Waltz for Someone with blues, dissonant vocals, and fiery playing thrown into the inventive mix.

Arthur Kell Quartet
Fresh Sound New Talent

Arthur Kell's varied background has included being an activist, a jazz bassist and composer, and a globe trotter over twenty years. This new recording seems to draw from these experiences to create some fresh and interesting material. Recorded in Barcelonia with a working quartet including drummer Joe Smith, saxophonist Gorka Benitez, and a stellar guitarist Steve Cardenas; the compositions are filled with melodic arrangements, spontaneous interaction, and vibrant individual performances. Booming bass lines, crisp drumming, and dynamic sax and guitar harmonies (and solos) are in abundance and every tune has elements of swing and discovery. Memorable moments include the free jam "Crinkum Crankum, the peacefulness of "A Hand for Santiago, and Kell's bass solo on the mellow "Can Festis.

Juan Pablo Balcazar Group
The Heckler - Heckler City
Fresh Sound New Talent

Though their influences include rock, indie, and free jazz this group takes the best parts to deliver an energetic recording. This quartet's contemporary sound is backed by a flexible bass and drum section, and stellar out-front sax and guitar voices. The theme for this recording is based upon the heartbeat and diversity of life in a city. The varying tales are articulated musically into the garage rock of "Tristeza, the Nuevo-hip flow of "Nervio #1, or the shadowy mood of "Lisboa. Each musician brings his entirety with artistic touches on the masterful "It's the Same with its breezy cadence and smooth arranging, or the industrialized metro sound of the title composition. Highly recommended.

André Matos
Pequenos Mundos/Small Worlds
Fresh Sound New Talent

Though guitarist André Matos uses a minimalist approach dotted with sparse notes and a delicate tone, the music on this debut stands out loud and clear, with compositional bravado. The opening piece "Surrealistic Cous-Cous is painted with a moog synthesizer and a funky repeating bass riff which deceptively gives way to music covering a variety of moods like the emotive warmth on "Transatlantic Affair. Many pieces have an air of simple melodicism such as "Los Pasos with a focus on the group dynamic rather than individual solos. With band members from Portugal, North America, Israel, and Argentina, the music restates the truth that the jazz community is indeed a small world.

The Alon Farber Hagiga Quintet
Fresh Sound New Talent

This Tel Aviv-based group influences include Wayne Shorter and Dave Douglas while attempting to display their own style with brassy horns, a meaty rhythm section, and subtle hints of their Middle Eastern heritage. Like a musical chameleon the group changes their persona to fit many musical styles. "Illusions Swamp is imbued with a psychedelic guitar vibrato and free jazz horns. "Monkeys has a funky backbeat and "A Chat with Ornette, dedicated to the free jazz icon Ornette Coleman, is filled with sweet sax solos and a swinging tempo; while the song that most exemplifies their homeland is "Mi ze Itzik? which combines both traditional jazz and Jewish music. Though the recording suffers from a lack of a singular identity these musicians are quite talented.

Alan Ferber Nonet
Scenes From An Exit Row
Fresh Sound New Talent

Alan Ferber joins the new resurgence of talented young trombonists with vision and leadership. This debut reveals not only solid group musicianship but also high compositional work. Ferber plays his horn trombone with a voice that is robust, warm, and commanding. But the strength is in his writing and how he effectively navigates the ensemble of skilled musicians in executing multicolored music anchored by big horns, modern arranging, and a tight band. Intricate details such as the use of voice with the music on the title composition, the big band swing sound of "Reunion, and a nasty blues shuffle on "Get Sassy adds to the enjoyment.

Tracks and Personnel

Plays The Blues In Need

Tracks: Fúcsia; Milonga en la frontera; Concret (Nostalgia de Barcelona); Need; Blues in Need; Les esquerdes; Acurrucat i Injust; Waltz for Someone.

Personnel: Sergi Sirvent Escué: piano; Esteban Hernández: bass; Daniel Dominguez: drums.


Tracks: I Believe Ya; Djailo Feast; Ijinna; Crinkum Crankum; A Hand for Santiago; Hermeto; Mary Louise; Can Festis; Lucy's Back.

Personnel: Gorka Benitez: tenor saxophone, flute; Steve Cardenas: guitar; Arthur Kell: bass; Joe Smith: drums.

The Heckler - Heckler City

Tracks: Tristeza - Sadness; Blues?; Yo no sé por qué la vida es asi si tu naciste para ser feliz; Lisboa; Heckler City; Nervio #1; Solo...; San Victorino; It's the Same; Temita-Codita.

Personnel: Juan Pablo Balcazar: bass; Miguel 'Pintxo' Villar: tenor saxophone; Alejandro Mingot: guitar; Hasier Oleaga: drums. Guests: Fredrik Carquist: tenor saxophone (10); Sergi Sirvent: vocals (3).

Pequenos Mundos/Small Worlds

Tracks: Surrealistic Cous-cous; Por Outras Palavras; Pequenos Mundos; Transatlantic Affair; Uncle John; Los Pasos Perdidos; Spirit of Change.

Personnel: André Matos: guitar; Nathan Blehar: tenor saxophone; Leo Genovese: piani, Moog; Demian Cabaud: bass; Ziv Ravitz: drums.


Tracks: Illusions Swamp; Monkeys; Hagiga; Jinji Serenade; A Chat with Ornette; Mi ze Itzik?; Run Itzik, Run!; Runnin' Out.

Personnel: Alon Farber: tenor, alto saxophone; Hagai Amir: alto saxophone; Uzi Finerman: guitar; Tal Ronen: bass; Dani Benedikt: drums; Avishai Cohen: trumpet (2,3,4).

Scenes from an Exit Row

Tracks: New View; Scenes from an Exit Row; Reunion; Get Sassy; Jigsaw; Long Lost; Filin; Kayak.

Personnel: Alan Ferber: trombone; David Smith: trumpet; Will Vinson: alto, soprano saxophone; John Ellis: tenor saxophone; Douglas Yates: bass clarinet; Bruce Saunders: guitar; Bryn Roberts: piano; Alexis Cuadrado: bass; Mark Ferber: drums; Akiko Pavolka: vocals (2,8).


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