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Article: Album Review

Szun Waves: Earth Patterns

Read "Earth Patterns" reviewed by Gareth Thompson


The second Szun Waves album, New Hymn To Freedom (The Leaf Label, 2018), was a critical smash that united fans of Radiohead and Pharoah Sanders alike. Media types drowned in a torrent of adjectives such as gleaming, sparkling and rippling, as if the combo of brass and electronics could produce anything else. Unless, of course, it ...

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Article: Album Review

Amanda Whiting: Lost In Abstraction

Read "Lost In Abstraction" reviewed by Gareth Thompson


Ahh, the angelic harp, a symbol of celestial beings, Biblical healing, Irish identity and a rubbish lager. In jazz terms we think of the instrument in relation to Casper Reardon, Dorothy Ashby, Alice Coltrane and more recently Deborah Henson-Conant. A noble list of names if not exactly boundless. The harp is, after all, much less portable ...

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Article: Album Review

Espen Eriksen Trio featuring Andy Sheppard: In The Mountains

Read "In The Mountains" reviewed by Gareth Thompson


Espen Eriksen uncorks a surprise at the end of this remarkable live album. For the closing cut, his trio takes on Krzysztof Komeda's theme tune for the 1968 urban horror flick Rosemary's Baby. To begin with, gothic piano hammerings and eerie bass scrapings replace Komeda's spooked female “la-la" vocals. Yet by the end, Eriksen's keyboard genius ...

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Article: Album Review

Maridalen: Bortenfor

Read "Bortenfor" reviewed by Gareth Thompson


Maridalen's eponymous 2021 debut for Jazzland Recordings was quite the breakout success. Earning strong coverage across the British music press, it proved that sometimes the media gods are with you. A host of other fine Norwegian albums made less impact back then, but Maridalen look determined to seize the moment. And, with their follow-up record Bortenfor, ...

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Article: Album Review

Bugge Wesseltoft: Be Am

Read "Be Am" reviewed by Gareth Thompson


In a 2008 interview, Bugge Wesseltoft spoke of his despair at seeing civilians suffer throughout history, unable to protect their families and children from wars. He also noted that watching such events unfold from the safety of his Norwegian homeland was painful. Wesseltoft had recently released his superb album IM (Jazzland Recordings, 2007) which found him ...

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Article: Album Review

Jack Cooper & Jeff Tobias: Tributaries

Read "Tributaries" reviewed by Gareth Thompson


The Greek philosopher Heraclitus claimed that “No one ever steps in the same river twice," as everything is in flux and constantly changing. By the same logic we might say that no jazz musician ever plays the same piece twice. Now consider the album Tributaries, a river-inspired work created by Jack Cooper (guitar) and Jeff Tobias ...

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Article: Album Review

Abdullah Ibrahim: Solotude

Read "Solotude" reviewed by Gareth Thompson


Abdullah Ibrahim once told a seminar at his M7 Academy in Cape Town, “The devil lives on the stage. This is where the ego comes out." On the strength of Solotude, recorded live on his eighty-sixth birthday, Ibrahim has crushed such personal demons and now lets angels guide his performing. One takes his point though, given ...

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Article: Album Review

Joy On Fire: Unknown Cities

Read "Unknown Cities" reviewed by Gareth Thompson


In creating his Dream City paintings, the Baltimore-based artist Minás Konsolas aspired to a mountain village ideal, an entity of intimacy and community. Using a detail from these works as the cover for their Unknown Cities album, the power trio Joy On Fire again shows how its art intersects with outsider culture. There is something of ...

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Article: Album Review

Young Pilgrims: We're Young Pilgrims

Read "We're Young Pilgrims" reviewed by Gareth Thompson


Based in Birmingham, England, the record company Stoney Lane is named after a street where soccer team West Bromwich Albion once played. Thus, each of the label's releases is numbered with a glory year from the club's past, whether a promotion or a cup win. However, so often have West Brom yo-yoed between England's top leagues ...

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Article: Album Review

Graham Costello's Strata: Second Lives

Read "Second Lives" reviewed by Gareth Thompson


A top German physiologist once compared the brain's nerve fibres to a piano's keys, on which our thoughts play or strike. Scottish drummer and composer Graham Costello might relate to this, given how well he writes for the piano, as he explores themes of mental challenges on this second album with his excellent band Strata.


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