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2 Debuts = 2 Quartets

Friedrich Kunzmann By

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Bebop idioms prove far from extinct on these debut albums from two hungry cats, leading vigorous quartets with the mission to carry the bop torch of a young jazz generation.

Nathan Francis
Nathan Francis Quartet
Ajabu! Records
2021

American bassist Nathan Francis has been based out of Helsinki, Finland ever since moving to Scandinavia from San Francisco, to study at the Sibelius Academy of Music. On his leader debut he gathers a Finnish quartet comprised of saxophonist Eero Koivistoinen, drummer Aleksi Heinola and pianist Markus Nilttynen. Francis reveals an interpreter rather than a composer on this effort, focusing on standards and contributions from his sidemen, notably Koivistoinen, who proves quite the John Coltrane scholar on his self-penned opening cut "Minor Solution." Not your typical bebop harmony-based exercise nor strictly a modal jazz vamp, the driven romp introduces Koivistoinen's nasal tenor tone and Coltrane-esque ability to connect intervals by bypassing them and instead spontaneously writing new melodies around them as he goes. Each member lives up to a high standard throughout the six-track set, playing their parts with punch and swing in the old-fashioned way but with the sonic qualities of the 21st century. In regard to interplay, the Koivistoinen-penned tunes hold some of the most resourceful playing on the record, seeing the leader go toe to toe with the drums on the Thelonious Monk-spirited "Late Show." Cecil McBee's "Song of her" and closer "Vilia"—Coltrane's adaption from a Franz Lehar ballet— however, demonstrate the point at which the quartet proves a most united front, gently, comfortably and collectively swinging in lush harmony together. On "Vilia" especially, it seems that even Koivistoinen himself is convinced to be Coltrane's disciple. A short but poignant studio debut.

Richard Glassby Quartet
Eclipse
Self-Produced
2021

Recently the Scottish jazz scene has seen the international rise of young talents saxophonist Matt Carmichael and pianist Fergus McCreadie, who each released their respective debuts as leaders in the spring of 2021. McCreadie deserves double credit for holding down the keys in virtuoso fashion on Carmichael's album, too. Make that triple. On Eclipse, McCreadie accompanies drummer Richard Glassby's quartet with old-school stride through hard-bop territory in the tradition of Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers—channeling the likes of Bobby Timmons, Cedar Walton and even McCoy Tyner in more than one instance. The leader's sheets are stocked with fun melodies and playful rhythmic drive, drawing lively interplay out of a quartet, whose youthful spirit unearths the occasional bar of conventional playing, too close to the books, but in the main makes for a fresh set, inviting the listener on a journey through familiar turf dressed in new colors. Glassby is more than a solid drummer, swinging hard and filling the measures with aplomb as his sidemen, bassist Ewan Hastie and saxophonist Simon Herberholz, skillfully guide the melodies through the changes. McCready steals the show more than once however, proving himself—for the third time in 2021—to be one to keep a close eye on in the future.

Tracks and Personnel

Nathan Francis Quartet

Tracks: Minor Solution; After The Morning; Crystal Clear; Song For her; Late Show; Vilia.

Personnel: Nathan Francis: bass; Eero Koivistoinen: saxophone; Markus Niittynen: piano; Aleksi Heinola: drums.

Eclipse

Tracks: What The Bop; Time Out; A Subtle Change; First Contact; Eclipse; Another Day; Vehement; In And Out; Final Thought. Track;

Personnel: Richard Glassby: drums; Simon Herberholz: saxophone; Fergus McCreadie: piano; Ewan Hastie: bass.

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