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Summer 2019


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Jazz Journal is a regular column consisting of pithy takes on recent jazz releases of note as well as spotlights on those titles in the genre that might otherwise go unnoticed under the cultural radar.

Nick Sanders Trio
Playtime 2050
Sunnyside Records

The music inside the cover of Playtime is a vivid reflection of the deceptively whimsical cover art. Witness, for instance, two tracks juxtaposed with each other: "Live Normal" almost but not quite contradicts its name by dint of its halting progression, while "Manic Maniac" wholly and completely belies its title with the easy-rolling, rollicking motion of the trio. And then there's the contemplative "Prepared For The Blues" that illustrates how the pianist, in unison with bassist Henry Fraser and drummer Connor Baker, run the emotional gamut during the course of these dozen cuts; there's never a sense of thoughts interrupted or feelings disrupted, but rather the inexorable growth of momentum over the course of the album's forty-four minutes. Not surprisingly, it's a process not surprisingly akin to the development of each relatively concise number, during which the bell-like tones and ringing authority of Nick Sanders' piano playing is the bellwether.

Marcos Silva
Brasil From Head to Toe
Gooseegg Productions

As a genre of music unto itself (in the most general sense), Brazilian music needs no infusion of energy or imagination. Yet few of its practitioners, and arguably fewer of those musicians who adopt the style, embrace the sound with the vivacious engagement of Marcos Silva. His Brasil From Head to Toe finds the keyboardist/composer/producer/arranger luxuriating as much in the alternately cool and sultry sounds of "It's Gone" as the infectious high-stepping dance that is "Dos Pes A Cabeca." The fact he runs the colorful dynamic gamut over the ten tracks is all the more admirable, especially considering he includes both electric and acoustic guitars and basses, harmonica and vibes plus violins, violas and cellos. It's little wonder the record invites regular and repeated re-listenings after the first: even the most casual hearing will discern the splendor here.

Yoko Miwa Trio
Keep Talkin'

Albums as readily accessible as Keep Talkin' usually don't prove to be so deeply durable. But like the great baseball pitcher who knows how to expertly change speeds, pianist Yoko Miwa proceeds from the immediately recognizable likes of Thelonious Monk's "In Walked bud" to the slightly atonal "Boogie Stop Shuffle," after which the emotive take on The Beatles' "Golden Slumbers"/You Never Give Me Your Money" brings a listener comfortably into the fold. Clearly, this Boston-based bandleader and her trio don't play it safe by any means, as they then proceed into the provocative territory of Joni Mitchell's "Conversations" by way of original music that sounds like it derives directly from her fluent interactions with bassist Will Slater and drummer Scott Goulding: as with (almost) all the best jazz, it is well nigh impossible to tell where the compositions leave off and the improvisations begin.

Kuhn Fu
Chain The Snake
Berthold Records

In keeping with its garish, absurdist cover art, the music Kuhn Fu creates is, in turns, discordant, danceable and utterly delightful (though perhaps a bit off-putting for those with conventional taste and listening habits). Over the course of the album's seven cuts, bandleader/guitarist/vocalist Christian Kuhn leads his comrades on a somewhat fitful sojourn through his original material, during which the quartet often seems top proceed through the changes in a halting manner that can be frustrating. Yet to the credit of the foursome, they more often than not pique the curiosity as they imbue their digressions with a certain logic, even if it is somewhat idiosyncratic. And while the group may want to consider exert a bit more patience to more fully develop at least some of their collective threads of thought—they often sound almost over-excited—with Chain The Snake, they have laid a firm foundation upon which to build.

Marton Juhasz

Drummer/composer Marton Juhasz and his seven bandmates move with formidable agility through the frontman's original compositions in the course of this approximately forty-two minutes. Three horns impart an airy mood to the proceedings, accentuating the atmosphere Yumi Ito conjures up with her wordless singing on the first of eleven tracks, while guitar and piano, each in its own way, punctuates the involved conversations later arrangements represent. Moving nimbly en masse through transitions such as that on "The Curve," the musicians issue statements through the respective instruments that are invariably articulate, carefully punctuated for maximum emphasis, the end result of which invites close concentrated listenings to exact the details. Still, there's an underlying tranquility here too that makes a more meditative approach equally rewarding: "Spellbound" may be the inevitable end result of involvement with Discovery (a most appropriate album title), but then there's the evocative imagery arising from the likes of "Wolves Gather Under a Winter Moon" to involve the mind in a more dynamic yet equally engrossing manner.

Tracks and Personnel

Playtime 2050

Tracks: Live Normal; Manic Maniac; Playtime 2050; Prepared For The Blues; Still Considering; The Number 3; Interlude For S.L.B.; Endless; It's Like This; Hungry Ghost; RPD; Prepared For The Accident; #2 Longfellow Park.

Personnel: Nick Sanders: piano; Henry Fraser: bass; Connor Baker: drums.

Brasil From Head to Toe

Tracks: Dos Pés À Cabeça; It's Gone; In; New Life; Hathor; Dry Land; Escape; Prediction; Pra Zuca; Spring.

Personnel: Marcos Silva: acoustic piano, synthesizer; classical guitar; tamborim, shaker, triangle; Dillon Vado: vibraphone; Jeff Buenz: electric guitar; Ricardo Peixoto: classical guitar; Gregoire Maret: harmonica; Gary Meek: alto and soprano saxophones; Jeff Denson: double bass; Scott Thompson: bass; Mads Tolling, Kayo Miki, Karen Sur, Rachel Noyes, Yuri Kye, Phillip Brezina: violins; Keith Lawrence, Charith Premawardhana, Jacob Hanesen-Joseph: violas; Lewis Patzner, Nina Flyer: cellos. Mauricio Zottarelli: drummer.

Tracks and Personnel

Keep Talkin'

Tracks: Keep Talkin'; In Walked Bud; Secret Rendezvous; Sunset lane; Boogie Stop Shuffle; Golden Slumbers/You Never Give Me You Money; Tone Portrait; Casa Pre-Fabricada; Conversations; If You're Blue; Sunshine Follows The Rain.

Personnel: Yoko Miwa: piano; Will slater: acoustic bass; Scott Goulding: drums; Brad Barrett: acoustic bass (11).


Tracks: Sea of Uncertainty; The Curve; Little Prayer; Levian; Industry; Stino; Wolves Gather Under a Winter Moon; Spellbound; Camels in the Sky; Strange Glow; Run.

Personnel: Yumi Ito: vocals, text; Szymon Mika: guitar; Olga Konkova: piano, Fender Rhodes; Sergio Wagner: trumpet, flugelhorn; Paco Andreo: valve trombone; Enrique Oliver: tenor saxophone; Danny Ziemann: upright bass; Marton Juhasz; drums, composition.

Chain The Snake

Tracks: Chain The Snake: Marco Messy Millionaire; Gargamel; Sonic Manah; Oswaldo's Waltz; Gustav Grinch; Traktus; Wolf's Muckenkogel.

Personnel: Christian Kühn: guitar, voice; Ziv Taubenfeld: bass clarinet; Esat Ekincioglu: double bass; George Hadow: drums.

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