With a concept that manages without trying to be clever to join the dots between deep house and Thelonious Monk it’s looking like a 6 October UK/Ireland release for Bugge Wesseltoft, Henrik Schwarz, and Dan Berglund’s groundbreaking collaborative album Trialogue, a record that radiates jazz cred by the bucketload despite, or rather because of, its eclectic outlook.
Wesseltoft changed the face of European jazz in the 1990s with his (re)invention of jazztronica, often called nu jazz, and is here on piano, synthesizers, and percussion in the company of another futurist, German electronicist producer/remixer Henrik Schwarz, on computer and small percussion, the trio completed by EST double bass legend Dan Berglund (Tonbruket).
Trialogue (Jazzland) culminates in Monk standard ‘’Round Midnight’, the latter led off by a majestically stark Berglund initial foray, backed by sandpaper percussion rhythm bedded on to keyboards legato lines. Two tracks, ‘Movement Eleven’ and the Terry Riley-esque ‘Movement Seventeen’, feature a violinist, violist, cellist, and bass trombonist from the Luxembourg Orchestre Philharmonique. Yet it's the open-ended trio settings where Berglund’s incantatory presence on solo bass shine through as one obviously strong feature of a strikingly fresh album also found in lustrous dialogue with Wesseltoft on ‘Valiant’, while the tick-tocking ‘Headbanger Polka’ introduces a curveball rhythmic frisson. Indofusion-leading percussion lines bleed through on the mesmering ‘Take a Quick Break’, again another standout early impression from a first listen. Bugge Wesseltoft, Henrik Schwarz, and Dan Berglund play a London jazz festival gig supporting Lau at the Barbican on 22 November.
- Category: News
- Published: Wed 20th Aug 2014 12:13:35
He’s toured with Paul Weller, is a former “best dressed Dutchman”, and since emerging in the 1990s Benjamin Herman has remained a highly effective and credible populist years on from his first days with the New Cool Collective, his unstuffy imaginative treatments of bebop and funk material passionate enough to appeal to the now dispersed acid jazz crowd as well as appealing to non-doctrinaire beboppers and the odd Mod or two. The saxophonist, here on alto, tenor and soprano, with bassist Ernst Glerum, drummer Joost Patocka, who both appeared on Herman’s last two albums, and pianist Miguel Rodriguez, goes even further down the accessibility route on this eclectic vocals album, the twist here provided by the addition of smoothie singer-pianist Daniel von Piekartz. His is a highly velvety retro sound in the Jamie Cullum mould, the title track a boisterous Ramsey McLean and Harry Connick song that appeared on the New Orleansian’s controversial album She back in the 1990s, von Piekartz a little too nice at times but a capable enough companion sound to Herman’s impassioned soloing. Fats Waller’s ‘Smoke Dreams of You’ is a good choice with its ‘Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’-type atmosphere but not everything gels quite so well. ‘Blue Velvet’, very hard to relate to in a jazz treatment, just drags, but Herman feeds in some JJ Cale bluesiness effectively enough reprising ‘You Got Me On So Bad’, the final track of Cale’s 1976 album Troubadour, working well. The best is kept to last, in terms of saxophone at least, with Herman really giving it his all on ‘You Must Believe in Spring’ after a clever quartal harmony piano intro quickly shifting down a gear when Herman slows for the main theme and then lets go completely when he gets to the heart of his superb improvisation.
Trouble (***1/2) is released on Dox Records through Discovery in the UK/Ireland on 15 September. Listen to the opening track, ‘A Slow Hot Wind’, Norman Gimbel’s words set to Henry Mancini’s ‘Lujon’, above
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Fri 22nd Aug 2014 07:53:25
Beginning with a Caribbean lilt to ‘Easy Healing’, Bill Frisell’s guitar finding tentative space as Mark Turner’s tenor saxophone glints within the summery theme, Bollani pulsing exuberantly as his comping darts in and out. With Bollani’s long-time colleagues double bassist Jesper Bodilsen and drummer Morten Lund completing the band, it’s an album of new compositions from the brilliant Italian recorded in June last year at Avatar in New York not long before the release of Bollani’s live duo album O Que Será. ‘No Pope No Party’ has a Cool School vibe to it, busy stop/start flurries smothered in bright voicings, the melody fracturing into more open improvising space, and there’s plenty of intricate chordal improvisational resourcefulness to be found throughout this album. Bollani begins the North African-hinting ‘Alobar e Kudra’ with a shimmering atmosphere finding a good deal of metrical room to encourage bass and drums to assert themselves before the album gets serious on ‘Las hortensias’, brooding bass leading to a sombre saxophone response. ‘Vale’ is more like a miniature piano masterclass but guitar chords are then layered on Bollani’s own choices, a simple saxophone melody then elaborated upon greatly to move the tune into a more complete statement.
Bollani had never met Bill Frisell before this recording session, so there’s a sense of freshness in the band’s interplay on the accessible material, Bollani, Michel Petrucciani-like in his more decorative moments, a virtuoso life force in front of his piano’s keyboard. ‘Teddy’, written by Bollani with Billie Holiday’s piano soulmate Teddy Wilson in mind, has a lot of chewy chordal texture to it the band responding to Frisell’s digging around, Bollani bouncing off change after change in the midst of this whimsical adventure. There’s a velvety soft opening from Bollani on ‘Ismene’ that stops you dead in your tracks, and then Frisell’s entry is perfect, just one of the sheer moments of pleasure, his presence an increasing element of the album in the band interplay as the album progresses with its later primitive edge emerging on ‘Tales From the Time Loop’. The title track kept to the last has a swirling atmosphere to it where everybody seems to just want to let go. A fine album that wins you over right from the start. SG
Released on 25 August
The Bollani quintet, top, left-to-right: Morten Lund, Bill Frisell, Stefano Bollani, Jesper Bodilsen, and Mark Turner. Photo: Paolo Soriani / ECM
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Sat 16th Aug 2014 10:38:44