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Jazz Consumer Guide: Adapt, Improvise, Party

A cross-section of young/old and avant/traditional gets drunk on everything

Digital Primitives
Hum Crackle & Pop
Hopscotch

The singularly named Cooper-Moore has the real folk-jazz spirit, clowning on homemade instruments and singing one piece that starts politically obvious but comes to exemplify the freedom he espouses. Assif Tsahar (on tenor sax and bass clarinet) and Chad Taylor (on all things percussive) adapt their free jazz, playing along without settling into mere groove. A MINUS

The Fully Celebrated
Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones
AUM Fidelity

A trio led by alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs and drunk on Ornette Coleman, for starters: They begin with a basic funk or blues groove, lay on a deceptively simple sax melody, and deconstruct. A

Mulatu Astatke & the Heliocentrics
Inspiration Information
Strut

A percussionist who merged his Ethiopian roots and Western acculturation into something he calls Ethio-jazz meets up with a band of techno-fied Sun Ra worshippers, who push him into harder grooves and improvise around the riddims. A MINUS

Jerry Bergonzi
Simply Put
Savant

Nothing fancy—just another exemplary textbook of mainstream tenor sax. A MINUS

James Carter
Heaven on Earth
Half Note

No new ground here: starts with Django Reinhardt, recaps Don Byas and Lucky Thompson, blows up blues from Leo Parker and Ike Quebec, and winds up with Larry Young's title cut. Organ and guitar try to fix Carter's retro sound in a soul-jazz matrix, but he plays much too large for that. A MINUS

Freddy Cole
The Dreamer in Me
High Note

With the genes, the speakeasy pipes, and even a bit of the piano style, he always both begged and denied likeness to his big brother, but now he's 30 years older than Nat ever got to be. Live uptown, loose and gracious, he finally finds his role as the living legend that never was. A MINUS

Lars Danielsson
Tarantella
ACT

The Swedish bassist composes delectable but spare melodies, sweetening them with his cello and bass violin, Leszek Mozdzer's piano, and John Parricelli's guitar. Mathias Eick's trumpet adds the polish and sheen of brass, and Eric Harland can go exotic on the percussion. In short, everything you might want in a piece of ECM environmentalism, minus the bleak cover photo. A MINUS

Hal Galper/Reggie Workman/Rashied Ali
Art-Work
Origin

A 70-year-old pianist few have heard of—inspired by Bud Powell, taught by Jaki Byard, always turns out thoughtful albums—goes live with two 70-year-old avant-gardists, each as fascinating in his own right. A MINUS

Dennis González Jnaana Septet
The Gift of Discernment
Not Two

Leena Conquest's vocals are integral here, imparting an aura of spiritual ecstasy, although, as usual, I prefer the leader's down-to-earth trumpet. Both are propelled by an endless river of percussion—three drummers (including batas), bass, and sparkling Chris Parker piano. A MINUS

Vijay Iyer Trio
Historicity
ACT

Iyer's first piano trio marks personal history, reworking four originals within a context ranging from Andrew Hill and Julius Hemphill to Stevie Wonder and M.I.A. Also shows off his chops: how he drives the rhythm while throwing off sparkling fills. A MINUS

Adam Lane/Lou Grassi/Mark Whitecage
Drunk Butterfly
Clean Feed

The bassist gets top billing due to his knack for setting up grooves that turn free-oriented saxophonists on rather than off. He did that with Vinny Golia in Zero Degree Music; here, he gets the most accessible work ever out of Whitecage. In her liner notes, Slim calls this "avant swinging bebop." That's right. A MINUS

Steve Lehman Octet
Travail, Transformation, and Flow
Pi

Lehman's octet isn't a big band wannabe—it's a toolkit he employs surgically, making sharp cuts, then polishing them up, often with a shower of Chris Dingman's vibes. His alto sax is all but lost in the mix—no need to show off when he has so many other options to juxtapose. A MINUS

Chris Morrissey Quartet
The Morning World
Sunnyside

The young bassist's indelible grooves are driven home by drummer Dave King and spiced up by King's Happy Apple bandmate Michael Lewis, exploring tangential jazz angles with all kinds of saxes. A MINUS

De Nazaten & James Carter
Skratyology
Strotbrock

The offspring of libertine Prince Hendrik promiscuously adopt the rhythms of former Dutch colony Surinam, with three drummers and lots of brass. Carter, the guest, isn't really needed, but he puts on a mighty demonstration of his prize-winning baritone sax nonetheless. A MINUS

Roswell Rudd
Trombone Tribe
Sunnyside

Several tribes, actually: the title group with three trombones and Bob Stewart on tuba; one called Bonerama with five plus a sousaphone; the Gangbé Brass Band of Benin; and Sex Mob, which qualifies when Rudd weighs in; also, scattered unnamed groups with everyone from Eddie Bert to Ray Anderson to Josh Roseman. And what do trombone tribes do? Duh, party! A MINUS

Tim Sparks
Little Princess
Tzadik

The music of klezmer clarinet king Naftule Brandwein, loosened up and spread out for fingerpicked guitar, with Greg Cohen's bass and Cyro Baptista's percussion taking further liberties. Genuinely easy listening, but you should really call it jazz. A MINUS

Ulf Wakenius
Love Is Real
ACT

Following his gratifyingly spare Keith Jarrett songbook album, Notes From the Heart, the Swedish guitarist takes on another pianist's repertoire: EST's Esbjörn Svensson. The rockish rhythms support fancier arrangements, some with strings and horns. Cut before Svensson died in a scuba-diving accident, it turns out to be an elegant and touching tribute. A MINUS

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