Shatner’s Bassoon are back – did they ever really go away? – after causing a favourable stir with Aquatic Ape Privilege two years ago.
Their new album The Self-Titled Album: Shansa Barsnaan is to be released on their own Wasp Millionaire label on 23 September.
What’s there to expect? Well, a bustling proggy punkified “up yours” attitude will shake you out of your easy listening jazz stupor quite possibly judging by early listens. The Bassoon pick up, in their audaciously fractured fashion, where Led Bib or TrioVD left off.
Mischievous free blowing plastered all over squawky breaks for the border where the barbed wire might just catch you on the way over the fence as a sting in the tail, the sound is free improv-friendly in its more acoustic sections but lightly coated with a squeakily tweaked electronic top coat elsewhere.
The core six-piece – saxist Oliver Dover, guitarist Craig Scott, keyboardist Johnny Richards, bass guitarist Michael Bardon & drummers Andrew Lisle and Joost Hendrickx – recorded the album on homeground in Leeds and are joined in generous helpings by the strings of the Botanical Bardon Quartet plus a raucously creepy ‘choir’, populated by Armley Pure Charmers, on theremin-flavoured Zappafied closer ‘Will You Be My Friend?’
Together for a decade the great jazz singer Norma Winstone’s trio featuring Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German reeds player Klaus Gesing is one of the most subtle and rewarding contemporary jazz group experiences.
You can feel the hush and consummate poise when they perform, their unique sense of experimentation a surprise and pleasure, the open lines of their original approach unfettered by bass or drums that might otherwise steer them in a more regimented direction.
Dance without Answer released last year extended the remarkable chemistry that made the trio tick in the first place. Following on from 2010’s Stories Yet To Tell and the Grammy-nominated Distances two years earlier now framed more within a contemporary lingua franca of popular song, material ranging from sourcing a Madonna song and scrolling further back ‘Everybody’s Talkin’’ synonymous with the film Midnight Cowboy.
Nothing if not voracious in their range of musical sources it’s an album that also includes a Mexican folk tune, the catchy ‘Cucurrucucu Paloma’, new songs such as ‘High Places’ Winstone has written words to with music by Gesing, as well as Dave Grusin’s ‘It Might Be You’, Nick Drake’s ‘Time Of No Reply’ (an out-take from Five Leaves Left), Ralph Towner’s ‘A Breath Away’ with new words by Winstone, not to mention children’s song ‘Bein’ Green’.
Yet as with their previous albums together, also containing material from disparate sources, a clear thread emerges: it’s a music easily ascertained as having jazz roots but also identifiably music of the beyond requiring in its interpretative power odd clashes or questions unasked or simply unanswerable, who’s doing the dance and who’s not answering an enduring riddle.
Hush and consummate poise... Klaus Gesing top left, Norma Winstone and Glauco Venier. Photo: ECM. The trio play Pizza Express Jazz Club in London on Wednesday evening, click for venue and ticket details
In a train to Warsaw, it can happen anywhere, sometimes in a train when I’m nowhere, suddenly the door opens and forgotten figures enter
Words and music, poetry and improvisation together, yet somehow also at a distance from one another, this extraordinary highly aesthetic album, an arthouse mixtape of sorts, opens with the thundery rattle of piano, a scything of cymbal and the voice of a woman, actor Anja Laïs speaking the language of poetry.
Reinartz, an author and director who lives in Cologne, has carefully assembled a beautiful array of sounds from the ECM back catalogue that somehow blend with the porous power of words to produce moment upon moment of heightened melancholia.
Meticulously spanning extracts from a range of artists Reinartz matches their abstractions with an ear for place and mood to texts by the late Tomas Tranströmer, Adam Zagajewski and Philippe Jaccottet. On the opening piece alone there are musical snippets from Benedict Jahnel, François Couturier, Mathias Eick, Christian Wallumrød, Eivind Aarset and Jon Balke taken from a range of their albums interwoven with spoken word. Most of the texts are in German while there’s also some Polish, French and English including the Zagajewski meditation ‘Also Vita Contemplativa’ quoted above. An evocative sampling of Tomasz Stańko playing Komeda’s ‘Dirge For Europe’ following on is just one of the many memorable moments here as is, later, Arve Henriksen emerging as if from a life-changing vision on ‘Im Nildelta.’
It may be a little text-heavy in places but that’s more a matter of taste than a criticism, the pivot between spoken word and sampled music gradually turning inwards and out, the intensity of the focus and seriousness of intent listening to the silence nonetheless ultimately creating something of an enchanted space.
Burkhard Reinartz, above.
Photo: Gerhard Richter/ECM
You can listen to extracts from Eine Olive des Nichts here
The handclaps don’t take long to show up on Love Bullet, Timo Lassy’s gutsy Hank Mobley-into-Dexter Gordon-like tenor saxophone sound seizing firm hold of the Finn’s latest record. And retain his firm grip on the direction of the album from start to finish he certainly does.
Lassy – best known for his work with Five Corners Quintet and recently on soul-jazz delight Welcome to My World – leads a warmly expressive unselfconscious organ-flavoured four-piece rhythm section on the record released by the Membran label earlier this summer on which guests include trumpet star Jukka Eskola on a nifty little set of 10 numbers.
The lazy languorous title-track with the addition of testy vibes from guest Panu Savolainen drawing out the metallic clash of the instrument nicely is one of the album’s strongest suits and there’s plenty of joy on ‘Hip or Not’ led off by a well drilled press roll from Teppo Mäkynen who plays a blinder throughout the album. ‘Stay Close’ distils all that’s best in a slow blues with a little twist and wrinkle on the nature of a jazz waltz coming late in the day on ‘Waltz Unsolved’.
Lassy more than proves himself to be a talented writer and producer as he does a player totally steeped in the Blue Note tradition and you can hear the saxist and his band this summer at the Brecon Jazz Festival on 8 August and Pheasantry in London on 10 August
Her last two albums were Grammy winners. Will it be a hat trick for drummer-composer-bandleader Terri Lyne Carrington?
Two years on from the Money Jungle-themed Provocative in Blue the new Mosaic Project: Love and Soul is a vocals-heavy affair to be released in August. Plenty of stars take part. Singers Oleta Adams, Natalie Cole, Paula Cole, Lalah Hathaway, Chaka Khan (headlining on the Saturday night of Love Supreme at the weekend), Ledisi, Chanté Moore, Valerie Simpson, Nancy Wilson, featured on ‘Imagine This’ above, Jaguar Wright and Lizz Wright are on the Concord album with among the instrumentalists saxophonist Tia Fuller, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, bassists Meshell Ndegoecello and Linda Oh, and keyboardists Geri Allen, Patrice Rushen and Rachel Z. Billy Dee Williams contributes spoken-word interludes. Also look out for a spot from new flautist star-in-the-making Elena Pinderhughes in one of the young player’s highest profile record appearances to date. Carrington also plays guitar, bass and keyboards on several tunes and the album includes a new version of ‘Come Sunday’ as well as Sinatra-associated ballad, ‘I’m a Fool to Want You’ sung by Chaka Khan plus Luther Vandross’ 1980s ballad ‘For You to Love’ featuring Oleta Adams. UK release date for the new album is 14 August.
Terri Lyne Carrington
Photo: Tracy Love
Touring in the autumn beginning in Liverpool on 1 October Matthew Halsall and the Gondwana Orchestra have a new album out that coincides with this eight-date UK tour, which reaches its conclusion in London on 29 October.
Into Forever comes 14 months after the excellent When the World Was One an album that paid tribute to Alice Coltrane locating itself firmly in the spiritual-jazz domain.
The new album features guest singer Josephine Oniyama and draws on the sound of psychedelic soul, contemporary electronica and the cult Cadet recordings of Dorothy Ashby. Gigs will feature music from Halsall albums Fletcher Moss Park and When The World Was One plus material from the new album. Full venue and booking info is here