Jazz Consumer Guide: Loosening (or Tightening) Up

Or slicing, or muscling—anything but letting up, really

Returns the banjo to its native Africa, where it best suits rural backwaters.

Larry Ochs/Sax & Drumming Core
Out Trios Volume Five: Up From Under

Rova sax-quartet man goes it alone, with two drummers hard on his tail.

Anat Cohen
Notes From the Village

Focusing on her clarinet by popular demand, but still wielding a bass tenor.

Roy Nathanson
Subway Moon
Yellow Bird/Enja

Notes from the underground, delivered sotto voce with squiggly sax and brass.

Jim Snidero

Flashy mainstream alto saxophonist teams up with guitarist Paul Bollenback for a sweet, snazzy little quartet.

Zaid Nasser
Off Minor

Classical bebopper, smoother and slicker than Bird, and not in such a hurry.

Golden Section

Unreleased sets unleash Gary Boyle, spinning Montgomery-size note strings with McLaughlin-inspired steeliness.

Joe McPhee/Paal Nilssen-Love
Tomorrow Came Today
Smalltown Superjazz

Dual pleasure with the avant-garde's grand old double-threat: sax and trumpet, both uncompromising.

Darren Johnston/Fred Frith/Larry Ochs/Devin Hoff/Ches Smith
Reasons for Moving
Not Two

Two fierce horns orbit around Frith's dense guitar, the gravity that holds them in thrall.

Adrian Iaies Trio + Michael Zisman
Vals de la 81st & Columbus

Tango, of course, with Argentine pianist Iaies prancing, and Zisman's bandoneon filling the room with lush, soulful sound.

Lajos Dudas
Jazz on Stage
Jazz Stick

Bop-easy clarinet, sort of a Hungarian Buddy DeFranco—with guitarist sidekick Philipp van Endert, sometimes more.

Steven Bernstein/Marcus Rojas/Kresten Osgood
Tattoos and Mushrooms

Solemn trumpet-tuba-drums trio beats down Monk, Mingus, Hank Williams, and some ragged blues.

Sun Ra & His Astro-Infinity Arkestra
Strange Strings [1966]

Waves of mysterious bowed and plucked string instruments crash on a shore of log drums and tympani, with a squeaky-door bonus.

Joe Lovano Us Five
Folk Art
Blue Note

The very young band liberates his idiosyncrasies, like playing straight alto sax and tárogató at once—his Rahsaan Roland Kirk phase.

Denman Maroney Quintet
Clean Feed

Trumpet and reeds play (relatively) straight, compared to the strange stuff coming out of the hyperpiano.

On Ka'a Davis
Seeds of Djuke
Live Wired Music

Searching for deepest, darkest Africa on the Lower East Side.

Full Blast/Black Hole

High-energy physicists attacking the building blocks of the universe, mostly with clarinet to minimize the damage.

Joe McPhee/Peter Brötzmann/Kent Kessler/Michael Zerang
Okka Disk

Two unrepentant veterans of four decades of free-jazz wars, swapping riffs over roiling rhythms.

Maybe Monday

Fred Frith guitar, Miya Masaoka koto, and Larry Ochs sax, with guest electronics swirling around no discrete point.

Nathan Eklund
Trip to the Casbah
Jazz Excursion

Another Donny McCaslin sideman tour de force, jump-starting a postbop trumpeter in a hurry.

Evan Parker/Ingebrigt Håker Flaten
The Brewery Tap
Smalltown Superjazz

The prime saxophonist of England's avant-garde sticks to tenor for these pensive improvs, rounded out by a tough young bassist.

Bruno Råberg
Orbis Music

Two discs of Chris Cheek sax and Ben Monder guitar, framed by the bassist-leader into tasty postbop.

Townhouse Orchestra
Belle Ville
Clean Feed

On two long, towering improvs, Evan Parker does his usual tenor-sax thing with bass, drums, and Sten Sandell's piano mischief.

Vassilis Tsabropoulos/Anja Lechner/U.T. Gandhi

Gurdjieff melodicism, if not mysticism—the real chamber jazz.

Chuck Bernstein
Delta Berimbau Blues

Minimalist gutbucket blues played on a Brazilian diddley bow, with Roswell Rudd for a choice cut.

François Carrier/Michel Lambert
Creative Sources

Twenty rough sketches, a catalog of sax ideas with a thin veil of drums.

Exploding Customer
At Your Service

Two-horn quartet from Sweden play free bop with garage-rock energy, except when they're teasing a vibe.

Fat Cat Big Band
Meditations on the War for Whose Great God Is the Most High You Are God/Angels Praying for Freedom

Two separate discs cross Ellington and Mingus for postbop swing and back-to-the-future politics.

Rogério Bicudo/Sean Bergin
Mixing It

Expats from Brazil and South Africa play show-and-tell duets, like Getz and Bonfa, with half the chops and a bit more charm.

Sun Ra & His Solar Arkestra
Secrets of the Sun

Space drums and space birds among the scattered lineups and rotating instruments, with Ra's rough piano jumping hither and yon.

Daniel Levin Trio
Clean Feed

Clear, sharp cello, muscled up with Ingebrigt Håker Flaten's bass and accented by Gerald Cleaver's drums.

Jon Irabagon
I Don't Hear Nothin' But the Blues
Loyal Label

Mostly the alto saxophonist does the killing.

The Thing
Now and Forever [2000–05]
Smalltown Superjazz

Mats Gustafsson's Don Cherry tribute band morphs into an acoustic postrock monster, badder than the Bad Plus in every way.

Michael Blake/Kresten Osgood
Control This
Clean Feed

Ex–Lounge Lizard saxophonist walks on the wild side, his drummer shifting every which way.

Atomic/School Days
Okka Disk

Another Vandermark's Oslo-Chicago mashup, not as studious as Powerhouse Sound—more like the wrap-up party.

Peter Brötzmann/Paal Nilssen-Love
Sweet Sweat
Smalltown Superjazz

Cranky machine-gun sax with tart percussive interference.


Fire Room
Broken Music

Lasse Marhaug's electronics short-circuit Vandermark/Nilssen-Love. B

Christian McBride & Inside Straight
Kind of Brown
Mack Avenue

A flighty quintet like Dave Holland's, just not as well drilled; short on chops, too. B

Terri Lyne Carrington
More to Say . . .

Project Mersh confusion: Even in jazz, there's more to selling out than just playing crap. C-

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