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Jazz Journal

Summer 2022


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Jazz Journal is a regular column comprised of pithy takes on recent releases of note, spotlighting titles that might otherwise go unnoticed or that deserve special attention.

Manel Fortia
Segell Microscopi

Beginning softly and politely, as befits its title definition (trans. "fall asleep"), "Dormir" is the prelude to a series of alternately restful and enlivening instrumental intervals referencing the bassist/composer's experiences in New York City in recent years. The cosmopolitan landscape fills with detail through the subtitles in the playing of pianist Marco Mezquida and drummer Rapahel Pannier: their respective Spanish and French heritages deepen the international flavor of the compositions as rendered through these interactions with the Barcelona-born bandleader. In keeping with the timeline of songs such as "Crescente" and "Simple," as well as the concept of this, Fortia's first album is comprised solely of original material, and therefore the uniformity may not be all that surprising. Nevertheless, it's certainly no less satisfying, even in isolated moments such as the modified blues of "Espiritual."

Milen Kirov
ICSM Records

The most engrossing solo piano music, whether it's Bill Evans,' Brad Mehldau's, Fred Hersch's or Keith Jarrett's, usually radiates a certain distinct quietude and that's certainly the case with this arresting effort of Milen Kirov's. But the prevailing tranquility here is less a constant atmosphere than a series of waves therein, its intensity waxing and waning over the course of the baker's dozen tracks and seventy-plus minutes playing time—it's almost as if the pianist/composer stops periodically to marshal the resources of his imagination and physical stamina, not just to go on, but to continuing performing at the highest possible level. Suggesting that sequence of events is not to disparage the Bulgarian's gifts for writing or playing, but rather to emphasize his unerring grasp of dynamics as he propels the music to flow in such inexorable motion.

Sylvie Courvosier & Mary Halvorson
Searching For The Disappeared Hour
Pyroclastic Records

Pianist Courvosier and guitarist Halvorson engage in some delightful conversations during the course of this album's dozen tracks. Delving into a variety of instrumental dialogues, the pair allow none to go on too long, but rather enact invariably emphatic and occasionally somewhat abrupt closes; it's as if the duo is stating, in no uncertain (but not overly-assertive) terms, that the the conversation exists as is, completely unto itself. And indeed, many cuts like "Faceless Smears" contain moments of such pure, unadulterated sweet melody, their purposeful inclusion serves to highlight the semi-abstract sounds that surround those intervals on, to name just one cut, "Mind Out Of Time." Due to the judicious positioning of such segments, the sometimes startling, stark contrast becomes duly arresting in its slow emergence during the roughly sixty minutes of the recording's playing time.

Rebecca Martin & Larry Grenadier w/Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos
After Midnight

Bassist Larry Grenadier has lent his distinct but unobtrusive skills to a wide variety of projects over the years, including but not limited to guitarist/composer Pat Metheny and pianist/composer Brad Mehldau. His presence is no less immediate on Rebecca Martin's engagement with Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos, After Midnight. In fact, this insinuating, often breezy music tangibly mirrors not only Grenadier's gently assertive style, but also Martin's understated vocal ardor when she sings "Kentucky Babe," for instance. The variety of material comprising this fifty-one plus minutes of music, however, may be its most audacious facet: six originals, including the title tune, and five jazz standards like the still-relevant "Brother Can You Spare A Dime," are ripe for reflection in the moment(s) of listening and remain so for contemplation after hearing the album as well.

George Cotsirilos Quartet
OA2 Records

This deservedly well-respected guitarist/composer adds to his already impressive résumé with this, his seventh studio album. As with the trio effort, Variations (OA2 Records, 2013), it's a wonder to hear how he so effortlessly yet precisely he pulls bright lines from his fretboard to then interweave them with the other instrumentalists' sounds. But based on the expansion to a four-piece alignment on this project, George Cotsirilos has additional openings for such deft placement: the presence of Keith Saunders' piano alters the contours of both arrangements and musicianship and thus elevates the intrinsically challenging nature of the musicianship. That this OA2 album is all original material, composed specifically for this ensemble, only renders the listening experience that much more impressive, not to mention more likely to elicit repeated hearings to fully discern the record's multiple attributes.

Tracks and Personnel


Tracks: Dormir; Circular; Saudades; Espiritual; El dia despues; Crescente; Aires de libertad; Simple; Despertar.

Personnel: Marco Mezquida: piano; Manel Fortià: bass; Raphael Pannier: drums


Tracks: Back to Bulgaria; Bulgarian Stride; Intermezzo I Raindrops; Pharos; Intermezzo II; For Grandma; Take 7; Tonus Peregrinus; Intermezzo III Spatium; Intermezzo IV; The Shepherd and the Mountain; Thracian Blues; Time.

Personnel: Milen Kirov: piano

Searching For The Disappeared Hour

Tracks: Golden Proportion; Lulu's Second Theorem; Faceless Smears; Four-Point Play; Moonbow; Torrential; Mind Out Of Time; Party Dress; Bent Yellow; The Disappearing Hour; Gates & Passes; Blizzard Rings.

Personnel: Sylvie Courvoisier: piano; Mary Halvorson: guitar

After Midnight

Tracks: The Space in a Song to Think; In the Nick of Time (State of the Union); Brother Can You Spare A Dime; Kentucky Babe; Portrait; Don't Mean A Thing At All; Willow Weep For Me; All Day Long She Wrote; Lush Life; Joey.

Personnel: Rebecca Martin: voice, guitar; Andre Fernandes: guitar; Carlos Azevedo: piano; Joao Predro Brandao: also saxophone, soprano saxophone, alto flute; clarinet; Joao Guilaraes: also saxophone, flute clarinet; Jose edro Coelho: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet; Ruie Teixeira: baritone saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet; Luis Macedo: trumpet, flugelhorn; Javier Pereiro: trumpet, flugelhorn; Rogerio Ribeiro: trumpet, flugelhorn; Ricardo Formoso: trumpet, flugelhorn; Daniel Dias: trombone; Paulo Perfelto: trombone; Andreia Santos: trombone; Goncalo Dias: trombone; Larry Grenadier: bass; Marcos Cavaleiro: drums.


Tracks: Devolution; Refuge; Planet Roxoid; Igualmente; The Three Doves; Slacker; Aftermath; A Faint Light; Smoke Signal; Let's Make a Break for It.

Personnel: George Cotsirilos: guitar; Keith Saunders; piano; Robb Fisher: bass; Ron Marabuto: drums

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