These are just a few of the many CDs released in 2016 that thoroughly deserved a review but didn’t get one on this site. Well, not until now, and in brief…
Nils Petter Molvaer – Buoyancy (Okeh Records): The trumpeter continues to explore the rich timbral mix that results from blending chilly electronic washes with pedal steel guitar and a rich array of percussion – blossombells as well as knives and forks are mentioned. Luckily, thinks don’t get too icy due to the rich sonorities of the bass which completes his quartet. He uses his trumpet sparingly but always to good effect, somehow suggesting a good deal of flesh and bone within the electronic, sometimes prog-rock storm.
Errol Garner – Ready Take One (Sony Legacy): Those familiar with Garner’s strongly-grooved interpretations of the standards on albums like the classic Concert By The Sea are in for a surprise with these newly-discovered master session reels from 1967 to 1971. Six new Garner compositions, including the funky Latin of High Wire, which prefigures Ramsey Lewis, are filled out by interpretations of familiar tunes like Sunny, Night And Day and Satin Doll, and the whole thing concludes with a majestic reading of the Garner showpiece, Misty. The studio noises and instructions from producer Martha Glaser add to the irresistible frisson of creativity which surrounds these rich recordings.
Jorge Rossy – Stay There (Pirouet): We mostly remember Rossy as the drummer with the first Brad Mehldau Trio, but here he plays vibes and marimba, with Mark Turner on tenor saxophone, Peter Bernstein on guitar, Doug Weiss on bass and Al Foster on drums. Any group that has Turner is worth a twirl, and this is a really pleasing mix of strong musical personalities. Mostly Rossy is the writer and his tunes provide plenty rich pickings for these musicians. A particular highlight is Artersano by the Argentine pianist Guillermo Klein, now a mainstay of the New York scene, with Rossy on marimba and Foster stressing the Latin swagger of the rhythm.
Ben Bryden – Glasgow Dreamer (benbryden.com): The dreamer in question is the late, singular Ivor Cutler, who is due a good many celebratory albums. Saxophonist Bryden, born in Scotland and now working out of New York, has just the right blend of unabashed romanticism and deadpan mischief in his tone and phrasing to bring out the character of Cutler and expand it in an jazz setting. He has Reinier Baas on guitar, Tom Berkmann on bass and Mark Schilders on drums to help him. And of course no album of Cutler’s music would be complete without a harmonium – there are two on 74 To Dumfries, one of three pieces by Bryden.
Yussef Kamaal – Black Focus (Brownswood Recordings): There is a picture of a black Ford Focus on the back of this CD sleeve. Yeah, this band, mainly a collaboration between drummer Yussef Dayes and Rhodes/synths player Kamaal Williams, also known as Henry Wu, is keeping its feet on the ground and its credibility on the street. The rhythms are strong, the horn riffs – Shabaka Hutchings is on tenor, Yelfris Valdes on trumpet – catchy, and the keyboards are distinctly retro in a thoroughly of-the-moment kind of way. It’s easy to hear what Gilles Peterson heard in them. Hip, but not painfully so.
Wadada Leo Smith – America’s National Parks (Cuneiform Records): Yes, I fully own up to the absurdity of trying to sum up a two-disc set from the U.S. trumpeter which comprises the vast parks of his vast country. The man has never had small ideas. Here he goes for a tight ensemble of Anthony Davis on piano, Ashley Walters on cello, John Lindberg on bass and Pheroan akLaff on drums. For live shows he uses video artist Jesse Gilbert. It’s an exploration of nature as majestic landscape but also as “a shared legacy for the American people, a common ground for the country’s diverse citizenry”. It’s big stuff in every sense.
Christine Tobin – Pelt (Trail Belle Records): The Irish jazz singer who has recently moved from Kent to New York has always had a particular affinity with poetry in music. Following her settings of WB Yeats’s verse for her 2012 album Sailing To Byzantium and her skilled interpretations of Leonard Cohen comes Paul Muldoon’s poetry set to Christine’s music. The lyrics are more contemporary and so too are the arrangements, with Tobin’s long-time partner and musical collaborator Phil Robson able to unleash the rockier side of his electric guitar on a track or two, and Tobin doing a Tom Waits megaphone vocal on one. Gareth Lockrane’s flutes and string arrangements give added lushness, and pianist Liam Noble, bassist Dave Whitford and drummer Simon Lea complete the band, but it’s Tobin’s distinctive timbre and way with a lyric – you never miss a word or an emotional nuance with her – that are centre stage.
Frank Kimbrough – Solstice (Pirouet): The first few bars of this album are a reminder of how crucial this pianist is to the sound and character of the Maria Schneider Orchestra. Kimbrough has worked with Schneider not only on her jazz pieces but also her classical suites, and his touch, his phrasing, his tone, his use of space, all feel in perfect concert with hers, whether in the big band or on this, his own trio date with fellow Schneider bandmember Jay Anderson on bass and Jeff Hirshfield on drums. He opens with Carla Bley’s Seven, closes with Schneider’s Walking By Flashlight, and in between explores the music of Gershwin, Annette Peacock, Paul Motian, Maryanne de Prophets (the exquisite title track) and Andrew Hill, as well as one original. An album filled with wisdom, grace and beauty.
Categories: CD review