Although the coronavirus has brought live music to a virtual standstill, recorded jazz has continued to pour out over the last few months. Here is a roundup of several recent releases that deserve some attention.
Troy Roberts Stuff I Heard
Toy Robot Music
2020 Troy Roberts
goes practically solo on this release, playing multiple overdubbed saxophones and basses with only drummer Jimmy Macbride
along for company. Roberts harmonizes his sax lines, creating an accordion-like sound, as they fan out on swaying melodies like "Little Room" and "Prayer Of Hope." His bass playing has a tough, earthy sound which comes to the fore on tracks with a funkier beat like the surging "Hightail" or "Rejekt" which is a pure James Brown
chicken-picking soul groove with Roberts' horns popping and squealing like a chorus of Maceo Parker
s. There are also selections where Roberts plays only one sax, leading giddy trio romps with soprano on "Solar Panels" and tenor on "Harry Brown."
Rachel Therrien Vena Bonsai Music
Canadian trumpeter Rachel Therrien
leads a quartet here in a set of wide-ranging music. The tracks are short, most in the four to five minute range, and come off lyrical and evocative with Therrien's warm brass tone featured up front. "Emilio" and "Parity" conjure images of serene beauty, "Pigalle" skips and gambols and "Assata" is a mix of cool Latin sounds and walking jazz grooves. Saxophonist Irving Acao
joins in for a quiet ballad, "This Isn't Love" and a snappy Latin jaunt, "Bilka's Story." Despite the short track times, Therrien gets to stretch out a bit on "Just Playing," running coolly over a jagged melody like Miles Davis
navigating a Thelonious Monk
tune. Through all these changing moods and tempos, her quartet, Daniel Gassin
on piano, Dario Guibert
on bass and Mareike Wiening
on drums, support her well.
Clark Sommers' Ba(SH) Peninsula Outside In Music
Bassist Clark Sommers
calls the shots in this trio, building the music on his thick, melodic bass lines while Geof Bradfield
plays slithery saxophone and Dana Hall maintains a solid drum foundation. The tunes are spare frameworks that give the trio members room to work out. "Morning Bell" rhapsodizes off an African base, "Hope Dance" is a greasy shuffle featuring rattling brush work and Bradfield bellowing and "The Forgotten" slides out of a march tempo as the saxophonist plays cool soprano over heavy bass and decorative percussion. This trio fits together with a near-telepathic closeness to produce deep and rich music.
Anne Mette Iversen Quartet +1 Racing A Butterfly Brooklyn Jazz Underground
Befitting the album title, this music flies along with a light touch. Leader Anne Mette Iversen
, pianist Danny Grissett
and drummer Otis Brown III
keep a relentless forward motion going at various tempos while saxophonist John Ellis
and trombonist Peter Dahlgren
sail over them. "Dancing Butterflies" swings and dances in waltz time and "Triangular Waves" steps and honks gingerly. "Cluster" pounds with a funky stomping rhythm and "Reworking of a Butterfly" is fluid and heady. There's a constant feeling of joyful movement to this set whether the music is fast or slow.
Enrique Haneine Unlayered Elegant Walk Records
Working with a pallet of trumpet, saxophone and bass clarinet, drummer Enrique Haneine
brings density and depth to his music. Some of his compositions are straightforward. "Luculent Jiggle" has the horns chugging and bouncing over the Latin beat laid down by Haneine and bassist Jay Anderson
and on "Oust No More" the three horns pound through in fast unison while Haneine struts on his drums. Other pieces have more entwined and complex structures, including the busy Middle Eastern vamping of "Dance of Endless Encounter" and the massed tango movements of "The Sweetest Finding." Catherine Sikora
's saxophone work is featured on those last two while Christof Knoche
's ponderous bass clarinet sets the tone on "Illustrious Bickering." The two reeds constantly mingle and have fun conversations while Thomas Heberer
's trumpet adds bite and body. Haneine's group has a uniquely brisk and punchy sound that is very well executed.
Paul Shaw Quintet Moment of Clarity Summit Records
Finally there is drummer Paul Shaw
who, leading a highly proficient quintet, goes through several phases on this CD. Some pieces play it the mainstream jazz way. Alex Sipiagin
's trumpet and Brad Shepik
's guitar soar high and resonant over a leisurely swinging rhythm on "Heartland" and sound low and cool on the quasi-Brazilian ballad "Mary Oliver." Then there are the more hybrid sounds of "Shapeshifter" and "Song For Everyone" where Shaw's drumming and Gary Versace
's piano run constantly in a nervous manner that sounds like some of Radiohead songs. In front of all that, Sipiagin's trumpet bubbles and soars while bassist Drew Gress
The group also tries out tense Seventies' style urban funk on "Peekaboo," and an old-fashioned head-shaking boogaloo on Showdown." Sipiagin is in fine form throughout the set, but he is especially powerful vaulting through the brooding vibe of the title track. This is a surprisingly varied set played with sharp precision.
Tracks and Personnel Stuff I Heard
Tracks: Little Room; Harry Brown; Lifeline; Prayer Of Hope; Rejekt; Hightail; Aeonian; Solar Panels; The Comedian.
Personnel: Troy Roberts: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, acoustic bass, electric bass; Jimmy MacBride: drums. Vena
Tracks: Folksjam; V For Vena; Parity; Pigalle; 75 Pages Of Happiness; Assata; Bilka's Story; Emilio; Women; Synchronicity; This Isn't Love; Just Playing; Bleu Tortue; Migration; Folkstune.
Personnel: Rachel Therrien: trumpet, flugelhorn; Daniel Gassin: piano; Dario Guibert: bass; Mareike Wiening: drums; Irving Acao: saxophone (7,11) Peninsula
Tracks: High Tide; Morning Bell; Goes Around; The Forgotten; Maybe Never; Hope Dance; Disambiguation.
Personnel: Clark Sommers: bass; Geof Bradfield: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Dana Hall: drums, cymbals. Racing A Butterfly
Tracks: Triangular Waves; Racing a Butterfly; Parallel Flying Part 1; Parallel Flying Part 2; Butterfly Interlude; Dancing Butterflies; Cluster; Reworking of a Butterfly; Butterflies Too.
Personnel: Anne Mette Iversen: acoustic bass; John Ellis: tenor saxophone; Peter Dahlgren: trombone; Danny Grissett: piano; Otis Brown III: drums, cymbals. Unlayered
Tracks: Behind The Missing Whisper; Luculent Jiggle; Thriving Ring; Queen Of The Underground; Dance Of Endless Encounter; Seldom Disguise; The Sweetest Finding; Illustrious Bickering; Oust No More; What Of What We Are; Once.
Personnel: Enrique Haneine: drums, cymbals, udu drum, tambourine; Thomas Heberer: trumpet; Catherine Sikora: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Christof Knoche: bass clarinet; Jay Anderson: acoustic bass. Moment Of Clarity
Tracks: Heartland; Shapeshifter; Song For Everyone; Mary Oliver; Peekaboo; Moment Of Clarity; Showdown.
Personnel: Paul Shaw: drums; Alex Sipiagin: trumpet; Brad Shepik: guitar; Gary Versace: piano; Drew Gress: acoustic bass.