The Guardian has reported the death of Kenny Wheeler. There have been many tributes so far this morning. ECM’s Manfred Eicher and Steve Lake have also written on the ECM website about the release of Wheeler’s Abbey Road recordings, made last year. “The news of Kenny Wheeler’s death, at the age of 84, reached us just two weeks after we’d finished work on the mixing and mastering of his new album, which was recorded at London’s Abbey Road last Christmas. The session itself was inspirational, a very frail Kenny rousing himself to play creative and touching flugelhorn improvisations in a programme of nine of his fine songs, surrounded and supported by some of his favourite players: Stan Sulzmann on tenor sax, John Parricelli on guitar, Chris Laurence on bass, Martin France on drums. Three of the band were able to join us for the mix of an album which was to have marked a return to ECM for Kenny after some years away.” The statement also indicates that a release date for the album has not yet been finalised, but early-2015 “seems likely.”
- Category: News
- Published: Fri 19th Sep 2014 08:30:07
- Last Updated: Fri 19th Sep 2014 11:33:48
Saxophonist Jesse Bannister, joined by pianist Zoe Rahman, bassist Kenny Higgins, and drummer Eddie Hick tour in October-December beginning in Wakefield on 17 October. A former teacher at the Leeds College of Music and Bollywood collaborator with Bickram Ghosh and whose influences include south Indian saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath, reggae, and modern jazz, Bannister’s Indo-Jazz flavoured debut album Play Out (United Sounds) on which he is joined by Zoe Rahman, Higgins, and Seb Rochford is released on 6 October. Dates on the tour are: Whitby (19 Oct), Leeds (6 November), Nottingham (14 Nov), London Jazz Festival (19 Nov), Maidstone (22 Nov), Harrow (28 Nov) and Norwich (11 December).
‘Cojeste’ featured on Play Out can be heard in the video extract above
- Category: New band radar
- Published: Thu 18th Sep 2014 11:39:25
- Last Updated: Fri 19th Sep 2014 09:50:59
Pianist, composer, and bandleader Robert Mitchell’s new choral work ‘Invocation’, is to premiere next week.
Featuring the pianist’s ensemble Panacea in trio + vocals guise, the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, Avonbourne College and Harewood College singers, the first performance is to take place at St Peter’s church in Bournemouth on Friday 26 September, with a further London Jazz Festival performance on 23 November at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, on that latter occasion the Goldsmiths [big] String, and percussionist/narrator Eugene Skeef added to the line-up.
Mitchell is one of England’s top jazz pianists, having first emerged in the 1990s with the award winning band J-Life making a strong impression as a young player with his sophisticated MBASE-influenced style later developing along progressive chamber jazz lines harnessing a range of musics in the different incarnations of Panacea. The new work derives its impetus from jazz, choral, classical and improvised music traditions.
- Category: News
- Published: Wed 17th Sep 2014 07:28:01
- Last Updated: Fri 19th Sep 2014 08:20:56
One of the hoariest clichés in jazz writing is no, not the used and abused term lyrical; nor even the frankly meaningless catch-all organic. But instead it’s that a record, or better still, a player is deemed spiritual. The last of these terms does actually mean something that isn’t so hazy, however, and usually refers to the more transcendental music of John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, and Albert Ayler. The phrase is a big compliment and not quite so often used as wrongly as the other terms tend to be and in so doing rendering them meaningless. So this cliché should be excused at least for now. Of course, a player can be deemed spiritual without playing in this style, but let’s not over-complicate things.
They aren’t many ‘spiritual’ players. It’s an incredibly hard path to follow, a calling: it’s saxophone player as poet, wise one, and mystic, sound among silence, if you like. The much missed David S. Ware (1949-2012) was one player who very much qualified. Listen to a little of what he could do, above.
And JD Allen whose superb album Bloom (Savant) came out this year could well be the current heavyweight contender of the younger players in this domain. (The great Charles Lloyd, along with Pharoah, the champs among veterans.)
A Detroit-born 41-year-old, JD sends you into a space of retreat on Bloom to emerge somehow exhilarated. You may have also picked up on him on Jaimeo Brown’s groundbreaking 2013 record Transcendence.
Bloom has mostly JD’s own tunes on it plus Tadd Dameron’s ballad ‘If You Could See Me Now’, a song Sarah Vaughan made her own in the 1940s, all stillness and dewy, and Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘Stardust’ glistening and iridescent. The traditional ‘Pater Noster’, above, may well give you chills. MB
- Category: Interviews and features
- Published: Thu 11th Sep 2014 11:04:20
- Last Updated: Thu 18th Sep 2014 18:56:59
Early-October sees the release of a best-of Madeleine Peyroux compilation spread over two CDs covering six albums’ worth of output of the singer-songwriter’s Rounder and Decca releases but also including songs from her Atlantic 1990s debut Dreamland (‘Getting Some Fun Out of Life,’ ‘Walkin’ After Midnight’, and ‘La Vie en Rose’). The as it often seems obligatorily unreleased song that has to be tucked in on such releases is handily the title track of The Best of Madeleine Peyroux: Keep Me in Your Heart for a While, a poignant Warren Zevon gem as it was the last track of Zevon’s final album The Wind. The song is included as the penultimate track of this 27-track collection (a classic Zevon song from the 1970s, ‘Desperadoes Under the Eaves’, is also included here in an extended version of Peyroux’s treatment heard on her 2013 ‘country’ album The Blue Room).
Peyroux, one of the biggest contemporary jazz vocalist draws on the international festival and jazz club scene, has a practically edible strongly middle-of-the-road vintage sound that encompasses early jazz styles including 1930s and 1940s Billie Holiday-esque swing and gypsy jazz quite effortlessly as well as making some sort of innate connection with retro countrified Americana via the soulfully gospelly Ray Charles route.
A former rebellious teenage busker who turned 40 earlier this year Peyroux was “discovered” by Atlantic Records A&R man Yves Beauvais in a New York club a records man who would go on to produce Dreamland, which on release in the 1990s came across as very fresh and different to the glossy but heartland Diana Krall Great American Songbook-grounded sound that was beginning to sweep the board. Francophile Peyroux sings in French on ‘La vie en rose’ as well as ‘J’ai deux amours’, and this new compilation includes Leonard Cohen (a superb supremely loose version of ‘Dance Me To The End of Love’), and Elliott Smith covers as well as original material of the singer’s.
Released by Rounder/Universal on 6 October (UK/Ireland). Madeleine Peyroux, top. Above: a live version of Peyroux singing Zevon’s ‘Desperadoes Under the Eaves’
- Category: News
- Published: Thu 4th Sep 2014 13:18:48
- Last Updated: Thu 18th Sep 2014 18:02:58
Kenny Barron and Dave Holland The Art of Conversation Impulse! **** RECOMMENDED
The fine audio sound quality is the first thing that strikes you here, bathing the listener in warm waters, as there’s a great deal of sonic detail, then before you know it Holland rolls into a gently swooping figure, Barron circling in like a bird from the sky to land into the shimmer of ‘The Oracle.’
It’s the first time the pair have recorded as a duo although both have been playing concerts together since 2012, and began recording together long ago initially as part of a trio in the mid-1980s continuing in other playing situations the following decade. NEA Jazz Master Barron’s duo albums with other people include Regina Carter, and the late Charlie Haden, while Holland has recorded duos with Steve Coleman, and Sam Rivers, among others.
This last year there’s been an increased interest in the duo format, with German label ACT championing the format with no small success, plus the release of Last Dance from the Jasmine sessions, and even a new promising club setting up in New York tailor-made for duos, the deliciously-monikered Mezzrow.
What’s on The Art of Conversation are originals and standards, four of Holland’s compositions, including a sumptuous waltz dedicated to Holland’s friend Kenny Wheeler, who’s not in the best of health, and three of Barron’s plus a very jaunty take on Monk’s ‘In Walked Bud’, Bird’s ‘Segment’, where Barron himself practically takes flight, Holland tucking himself in tidily in the slipstream, and the Ellington/Strayhorn tune ‘Daydream’ just gorgeous.
There’s a lot of beauty here, and that’s no exaggeration, Holland’s tender thematic melody line at the outset of Barron’s ‘Rain’ the first big moment, Barron’s accompaniment so subtle it’s spellbinding, later the modified samba feel of ‘Seascape’ enough you’d swear to feel the wind on your face, to smell the salt in the air. An album more or less bound, for all the right reasons, to engender a lot of real love. MB
Released on 23 September. Kenny Barron, top left, and Dave Holland play the London Jazz Festival, in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, on 21 November
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Mon 8th Sep 2014 13:58:06
- Last Updated: Thu 18th Sep 2014 14:38:27
A skilful sextet album led by Max Luthert, debuting as a leader in the studio, the bassist, best known for his work in Partikel, showing a strong compositional method here.
All his own tunes, beginning with ‘Grand Designs’, there is a lot of jazz history in the Luthert imagination that manages to encompass hard bop, Cool, and even chamber jazz terrain, Duncan Eagles’ tenor saxophone sounding more Wayne Shorter-like than ever Eagles does alongside Luthert in Partikel, and so tender in his own playing voice for instance on the ballad ‘Quiet December.’
Drummer Dave Hamblett is a stimulatingly perky presence but he has, surrounded by players so innately rhythmic, to fight for space particularly on the climax of ‘The Edgewall’.
Even if there aren’t too many silences somehow a spatial sense is invoked despite the hustle and bustle of the arrangements especially on the absorbing ‘Pacific Before Tiger.’
Recorded in October last year a very mature work for a debut, some very “at ease” blowing, altoist Séb Pipe’s taut, dramatic sound blending in well. Flautist Gareth Lockrane offers plenty of timbral variety, particularly on a standout solo passage of ‘Assam’ where pianist Matt Robinson backing him manages to channel a John Taylor-like atmosphere.
Luthert has a fine sense of time and a big jazz vocabulary at his disposal, his modernistic sound encompassing the bass tradition that stretches from Richard Davis to Dave Holland. SG
Released on 27 October
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Wed 17th Sep 2014 13:22:10
- Last Updated: Thu 18th Sep 2014 14:03:41
Chick Corea trio, Trilogy, Concord Jazz (3-CDs) ***1/2
Like a bee drawn to honey piano trio fans will instinctively gravitate to this extensive “art of the trio” classic jazz collection featuring the great pianist here with bass don Christian McBride and Wayne Shorter Quartet drummer Brian Blade recorded live on tour in 2010 and 2012 including venues in Washington DC, Madrid, Istanbul, and Zurich. Guests, on a small number of tracks adding a little piquancy are flautist Jorge Pardo, guitarist Niño Josele, and Chick’s wife Gayle Moran Corea. There’s a tribute to Paco de Lucía on new Chick Corea piece ‘Homage’, and previously unrecorded ‘Piano Sonata: Moon’, these two tracks forming much of the third disc, while the earlier discs include Corea originals ‘Fingerprints’ and classics ‘Spain’ (disc 1), and ‘Armando’s Rhumba’ (disc 2). Of the standards chosen ‘The Song is You’ and ‘My Foolish Heart’ are the big statements on the first disc, while ‘It Could Happen To You’ and ‘How Deep is the Ocean’ stand out in this heartland regard on the second, with ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’ (on which Chick’s vocalist wife Gayle joins) completing the third disc, and the set.
‘You’re My Everything’ is a joyous way to start the first CD, but ‘Recorda Me’ takes longer to gain traction. Chick speaks to the Turkish audience only briefly to introduce the trio at the beginning of ‘The Song Is You’ and then embarks on a solo piano statement of great quality. Monk’s ‘Work’ is a strong rhythmic expansion where Blade comes to the fore and Corea is hugely loose, stretching the meter almost to snapping point the tune skimming along magically.
Three discs makes for a lot of music, perhaps too much, a double album might have sufficed. However, Josele joining for ‘My Foolish Heart’ adds some languorous variety in the introduction, one of the best passages of the first disc, setting up the inclusion of the Rodrigo-flavoured ‘Spain’ that the guitarist then plays on a few tracks later.
The piano sounds very different, brighter and with greater clarity, at the beginning of ‘This Is New’ opening the second disc, Corea thoughtful and so romantic as he begins quite beautifully, Blade’s cymbal splashes adding colour and more life. The version of Sammy Fain/Bob Hilliard song ‘Alice in Wonderland’ is introspective in a Jarrett-like sense perhaps but not for too long as Corea varies moods from inner life to outer passion so often on this set just one part of his unique mastery of the piano language that he’s done so much to contribute to. One of McBride’s best moments occurs at the beginning of the very lively ‘Blue Monk’ Corea letting his hair down when he comes in. ‘Armando’s Rhumba’ by contrast has a very detailed introduction from Corea and one thing that strikes you on this album is how much Corea plays. Corea arranges some Scriabin (opus 11, No 9) on the second disc towards the end, and this fits well before the disc comes to a conclusion with an intense ‘How Deep is the Ocean’. Highlights? ‘Homage’ for one, just beautiful. At the heart of the jazz tradition, and live, Corea remains a considerable force to be reckoned with. SG
Released in the UK/Ireland on 22 September
Chick Corea, above far left, Brian Blade, and Christian McBride. Photo: Andrew Elliott
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Thu 11th Sep 2014 13:47:54
- Last Updated: Thu 18th Sep 2014 10:50:05
Bound to be an occasion, the first Charles Lloyd Dublin concert in a decade, has been announced by the National Concert Hall. No better time to turn on, tune in, and drop out all these decades on still courtesy of the saxophonist who convinced the hippies to stick with jazz.
There’s a live take of ‘Caroline No’, a Brian Wilson song that also appeared on Lloyd’s best album in decades, 2010’s Mirror, above. The concert is on 18 November.
Updated 18/9: One from the 60s archives – Resonance have just issued previously unreleased recordings, Manhattan Stories, on a new double CD set.
- Category: News
- Published: Fri 29th Aug 2014 09:12:40
- Last Updated: Thu 18th Sep 2014 08:25:01
Not all Blue Note records sound like the Blue Note sound in your head. This one does but not like pastiche. It’s just the years, and movement of the music that have become the new ingredients.
Part of the Revive partnership Blue Note has begun, a stirring very woody bass figure at the beginning on ‘The Way (Truth & Life)’ the first thing you hear, and then that arranged, sun-dazed horn sound, distant yet of the now, horns blending like the way Lee Morgan and Joe Henderson fused, and decorated by unmistakable lit-up Glasper chords leading to a salty chromatic run from the pianist.
Drummer Otis Brown III first surfaced with Joe Lovano’s Us5, the New Jersey-born former Delaware State student some time earlier persuaded by the late Donald Byrd to play music in New York. Brown is quality like a latterday Freddie Waits (Time For Tyner, Mustang etc), and then there’s new input from daisy age hip-hop, gospel, and soul Brown and the band have fed in.
The Experiment bassist Derrick Hodge produced The Thought of You (***1/2) and the Glasper family input is strong here not just because the pianist plays on the record but also because singer Bilal features on the first part of the title track. There are three parts of the suite in all here. Imaginative jazz singer Gretchen Parlato features on ‘You’re Still the One’, all the material on the 11 tracks either written by the drummer or by members of the band. The Unity Group’s Ben Williams is on bass, Keyon Harrold (who has played with Glasper in his own band and with R&B star Maxwell), trumpet, Shedrick Mitchell, organ, and Nir Felder, guitar.
There’s spoken word, concerning the subjectivity of truth, on the first interlude, while ‘Stages of Thought’ is a masterclass for drummers (check the perfect press roll when Brown comes in), the drummer’s technical command very impressive. Spoken word against solo bass and then tender Glasper piano on ‘The Two Become One (For Paula)’ with sampled marriage ceremony spoken word text, a fine feature by saxophonist John Ellis comes out of the blue and it’s true that the album is full of surprises. Even after a number of listens you’ll find new things here. Brown syncopates catchily off the beat with snare and bass to introduce Parlato on ‘You’re Still the One’ (a variation of the Shania Twain / Mutt Lange song) Glasper’s piano line beautiful, and Parlato reinvents the vocal line very creatively.
There’s a Wayne Shorter-like beginning in the saxophone part in the beginning of the second part of The Thought of You suite, and this is where the album really delves deepest with rubato bass, Brown gradually pumping up the volume, and the pace.
There are several points of entry on The Thought of You: Glasper’s sublime touches, a rhythm masterclass from the leader, and Williams once more showing his ingenuity. The Parlato vocal on the Shania song and gospel singer Nikki Ross’ sense of letting-go communicated strongly in ‘I Am Your Song’ are some of the highlights, as is the boom-boom-shake-the-room quality of Brown on ‘Interlude II’. The autumn is definitely beginning to shape up.
Released in the UK/Ireland on 22 September. Listen to the second track, above.
• Check out Otis Brown III on Somi's recent album The Lagos Music Salon
- Category: News
- Published: Sat 2nd Aug 2014 08:56:03
- Last Updated: Wed 17th Sep 2014 16:02:41
Further into Jazz returns on Friday 10 October with the David Lyttle 3 confirmed to play.
It’s the second running of the new Enniskillen jazz night to be held once again at Jazzeys on Darling Street, presented by Marlbank in association with Harnessing Creativity and Jazzeys, and shines the spotlight strongly on a music under-exposed locally through the lens of a new jazz generation.
Bandleader, drummer, composer David Lyttle, above, has been recording in New York recently with Blue Note icon Joe Lovano for Lyttle’s upcoming third album, which also features Duke Special, while the Art Blakey-influenced County Down-based 30-year-old’s extensive playing credits since debuting with the album True Story in 2007 include appearances with major international jazz figures such as Birmingham saxophone star/MC Soweto Kinch, and legendary Jazz Messengers saxophonist Jean Toussaint.
Lyttle’s work as a composer includes the Edgar Allan Poe-inspired ‘Dark Tales’; and more recently, ‘The Barinthus Suite’ (2013), co-written with bassist Eddie Lee. The drummer’s latest album is the soul and hip hop-influenced Interlude on which Lyttle was joined by among other luminaries ex-Jeff Beck Group and Sting keyboardist Jason Rebello. Lyttle is appearing in Enniskillen with rising saxophone star Meilana Gillard, who debuted as a leader with the album Day One, and bassist Neil O’Loghlen, a co-founder and member of new generation band Ensemble Ériu. Show time is 10.30pm.
- Category: News
- Published: Mon 15th Sep 2014 09:55:15
- Last Updated: Wed 17th Sep 2014 15:30:52
The Neil Cowley trio return to the road with a gig at the Atkinson in Southport on 26 September – oh the glamour – on what is a pretty hefty tour by anyone’s standards, hitting Bristol, London, Southampton, Cardiff, Brighton, Oxford... and on. Cowley, Horan, and Jenkins return to their home-from-home in Derry for a gig on 23 October, then Belfast (25 October), and play places most touring jazz bands never reach, gigging for the first time in Downpatrick (26 October), Enniskillen (28 October), Omagh (29 October), and Portstewart (30 October), before the caravan moves on to Germany. The trio’s latest album Touch and Flee was released earlier in the year, a pared-down beardily introspective affair very different to the with-strings bravura of The Face of Mount Molehill but no less effective. A band that has popularised the collision between chill-out and dance music-inspirations and a post-EST sense of improvising with its own particular language, the trio know what it means to explore the possibilities of the piano trio when there is, audaciously enough, no obligation at all to swing. Stephen Graham
- Category: News
- Published: Tue 16th Sep 2014 08:02:31
- Last Updated: Wed 17th Sep 2014 10:27:35
Recorded in May this year over a few days at the famed Studio La Buissonne in France, this piano trio has been around for a dozen years. Jean-Christophe Cholet plays both piano and Fender Rhodes here, double bassist Heiri Känzig dominating proceedings at the outset on a co-operatively trio-written ‘2nd Miniature’, one of two such pieces on an album of originals. It’s definitely a stirring start. Astutely contemplative, even a little meditative in some of its best moments when the three really click there are nods to Brad Mehldau perhaps in Cholet’s style. An album with plenty of quiet charm. SG
Released on 6 November
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Tue 16th Sep 2014 12:59:07
- Last Updated: Tue 16th Sep 2014 16:00:40
Chamber jazz ensemble Engines Orchestra collaborate with the Phil Meadows Group on the orchestra’s debut album Lifecycles, currently in the midst of a crowdfunding initiative, launching the project live at the London Jazz Festival on 22 November in an afternoon concert at Kings Place. Saxophonist Meadows has already chalked up Peter Whittingham and Parliamentary Jazz awards, and on this latest venture his much lauded Group is joined by the 20+-piece Engines Orchestra conducted by Matt Roberts featuring Alice Zawadzki on violin and vocals.
Phil Meadows, above
- Category: News
- Published: Tue 16th Sep 2014 06:20:04
- Last Updated: Tue 16th Sep 2014 15:14:49
The fine double bass-led piano trio Phronesis, with their latest album Life to Everything (Edition) released in April, made one of the most definitive live albums of recent years.
They continue their already extensive touring programme this year with English and Welsh dates beginning at the Watermill, Dorking on 13 November, continuing at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff (14 Nov), hitting the Arena theatre, Wolverhampton on the 15th. Phronesis: Ivo Neame, above left, Jasper Høiby, and Anton Eger
- Category: News
- Published: Sun 14th Sep 2014 07:42:16
- Last Updated: Mon 15th Sep 2014 14:07:18
The Signal, the Canadian singer-songwriter Elizabeth Shepherd’s latest album, won’t come out now until late-January 2015 in the UK/Ireland.
Sometimes compared to Esperanza Spalding and Gretchen Parlato The Signal’s sample-based title track (featuring an extract of the voice of CBC radio programme The Signal’s Laurie Brown) is an evocative duet with Alex Samaras based around the premiss of a dreamy “don't you love those stories about people who arrange to meet in five years time somewhere, just meet and then decide what happens?”
Guitarist Lionel Loueke, whose last album was Heritage back in 2012, features on the tracks ‘Willow’, Shepherd inspired in her lyrics by a book about historical feminine archetypes, and the bass-led ‘This.’
Shepherd, who also plays Rhodes electric piano on all tracks, has incorporated a spoken word sample of Leadbelly (on protest song ‘B.T. Cotton’), and folds in hip-hop flavours on the highly atmospheric ‘Lion’s Den’ among other elements of her highly inventive and original approach.
Elizabeth Shepherd, above
- Category: News
- Published: Sat 13th Sep 2014 10:41:23
- Last Updated: Mon 15th Sep 2014 12:59:21
Very sad to hear of the passing of Joe Sample. More details here
- Category: News
- Published: Sat 13th Sep 2014 12:27:47
- Last Updated: Sun 14th Sep 2014 21:53:59
KLOP! Two Steps From the Blues KrushGroove Productions ***
The letters in the band-name stand for the Karen Lane Organ Project, which surely has more of a ring to it than the acronym itself. Inspired by the Australian-born singer’s affection for 1963 Roulette album Sarah Sings Soulfully (‘Gravy Waltz’ and ‘I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry’ from Sassy’s album are included), this soon-to-be-released album was recorded last year at the University of Surrey where Lane is an associate lecturer. It’s been a while since we’re heard from the singer whose previous albums include Beautiful Love, Can’t Help It, and Taste, on this occasion joined by guitarist Dominic Ashworth, organist Pete Whittaker, and trumpeter John Hoare playing the Carmell Jones role a little, to think back to the Sarah Vaughan album. Lane’s vocal inspirations besides Vaughan include Aretha Frankin, Nina Simone, and Shirley Horn, and what she tackles here on Two Steps From The Blues, which takes its name from a Texas Johnny Brown song heavily associated with Bobby Blue Bland, includes a good deal of classic but not done-to-death songs one of which is closer Nina Simone’s ‘I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl.’ A real jazz-heads supper club kind of album pointing towards that fork-in-the-road time in the 1950s and 1960s where the blues folded into this kind of modern-mainstream jazz, reinvigorated by more recent styles including light reggae inflections on ‘Don't Explain.’ Lane’s smoky refreshingly unmannered approach backed by subtle band accompaniment all contribute to a fairly absorbing listen particularly in the first five or six tracks. SG
Karen Lane, above. Two Steps From the Blues is launched at Pizza Express Jazz Club, London on Sunday 14 September
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Thu 4th Sep 2014 16:07:19
- Last Updated: Sun 14th Sep 2014 21:53:42
Tom Harrell, Trip, HighNote **** RECOMMENDED
Tom Harrell has influenced quite a few young players, maybe the latest, new trumpet-star-in-the-making on this side of the Atlantic, Reuben Fowler, is the most obvious. And, possibly needless to say, Harrell has also more than earned the respect of his peers drawn from the impact many albums of his own dating back to the 1970s have instilled on a number of luminaries. It’s appropriate for a few reasons that trumpeter Dave Douglas has penned a sleeve note here.
Douglas, whose sound actually isn’t a million miles away from Harrell’s on some of his own albums such as The Infinite for example, refers to the Illinois-born 68-year-old’s membership of groups such as ones led by the late Horace Silver as well as Harrell’s own work as a bandleader and refers to Tom’s “swinging, lyrical personal vocabulary.” Here that aspect is easy to grasp in a quartet setting, with New Cool School saxophonist Mark Turner blending best with Harrell on ‘There’, bassist Ugonna Okegwo (who was on Harrell’s 2013 album Colors of a Dream), and drummer Adam Cruz who kind of plays, uncannily, with an Adam Nussbaum skip about him on a Don Quixote-themed album dominated by Harrell’s The Adventures of a Quixotic Character six-part suite.
Harrell paraphrases, prods and pokes at the melodies of his own compositions as he goes along, creating sparkling flurries that stir things up or settles down all gathered in an inconsequential heap expressed in a language that harks back to the glory days of hard bop, sometimes favouring witty melodic turns of phrases or moving into edgier and harsher territory.
‘Windmills’ is the best part of the suite for me, full of swirling drama delivered with far sighted solos incorporating an Hispanic sound that has long fascinated jazz composers even before Sketches of Spain. Also it’s impossible to avoid thinking back to Kenny Wheeler’s very different but relevant, given the subject matter here, classic album Windmill Tilter from the late-1960s.
The Don Quixote suite was commissioned by Douglas’ Festival of New Trumpet Music, the latest running of which is this month, and the album was recorded in Hoboken, New Jersey, although the recording date is clearly wrong as it says October 2014. Quick: the time machine!
A very playable, likeable yet deep, tonally complex record with a loose imaginative feel to it, featuring players who clearly understand and appreciate each other and who respond suitably. ‘Coming Home’, say, is an immense ballad, the simplicity as compelling as the honesty in the playing and it may just contain, in the first one up, Harrell’s best solo of the whole superlative affair. SG
Tom Harrell, above. Photo: Angela Harrell
Released in the UK/Ireland on Monday 15 September
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Sat 6th Sep 2014 08:16:51
- Last Updated: Sun 14th Sep 2014 13:21:16
The video above is a live version of the title track, the very last number, on Next Beginning, a debut by saxophonist Samuel Eagles. If you think the surname is familiar you’d be right as Samuel’s brother, also a saxophonist, is well-known now on the Cool School and hard bop-inspired end of the new generation London jazz scene as a member of the adventurous piano-less trio Partikel. Drummer Eric Ford, who is also in Partikel, joins Eagles who plays alto and soprano saxes on this quartet recording of Eagles’ own compositions made at Derek Nash’s Clown Pocket studio, and released by the F-IRE label in its “Presents” series this November. The line-up of the quartet is completed by vibist Ralph Wyld and bassist Fergus Ireland. The Eagles (trips off the tongue, doesn’t it?) play the Lancaster Jazz Festival later this month on 20 September, with dates to follow at London venue the Mau Mau Bar (23 October), and the Oval Tavern, Croydon (9 November) ahead of a Sunday lunchtime launch in Soho during release week itself.
- Category: News
- Published: Mon 1st Sep 2014 13:12:35
- Last Updated: Sun 14th Sep 2014 13:16:01