A must-hear blues and folk loving 23 February release for The Lead Belly Project, new on Sunnyside from revered Impossible Gentlemen drummer Adam Nussbaum, is in the offing.

Adam, highly respected for his work dating back to the late-1970s career of John Scofield and who has also enjoyed a long performing and recording association with the great Steve Swallow including the bass guitarist-composer’s erstwhile tenure in the Gents, is promoting the album on Facebook and says: “We play The Jazz Standard on Feb 27 in NYC.” In the playing company of Ohad Talmor, saxophone, who recorded the album and collaborated closely on it with Nussbaum; Steve Cardenas, six-string guitar and Nate Radley, also six-string guitar Nussbaum’s band are all viewable top in the video. 

Tracks, a few of which are listenable to on Bandcamp, are: Old Riley; Green Corn; Black Girl (Where Did You Sleep Last Night); Bottle Up and Go; Black Betty; Grey Goose; Bring Me a Little Water Sylvie; You Can’t Lose Me Cholly; Insight, Enlight; Sure Would Baby; and Goodnight Irene. Recorded by Ohad Talmor in a Brooklyn performance space last year in a single day, classic Huddie Ledbetter songs plus two Nussbaum originals Insight, Enlight and Sure Would Baby are included.

Updated 21 March 2018

I got in touch with Adam who kindly answered a few quick questions.  To kick off: how did the Jazz Standard gig in February go?  “It was a good night!  A pleasure to play with these musicians.”  

What did you play that night and what’s next for the project?  “We played the songs from the CD.  We’ll see what’s next:-).”

And what about how you and Ohad Talmor work together?   “Very well... He’s a fantastic musician,” Adam wrote via email.

One thing that puzzled me was that ‘Rock Island Line,’  a big hit in the UK and Ireland for Lonnie Donegan and the Chris Barber Jazz Band in 1955 certified gold heralding a craze for skiffle, wasn’t on the album.  So I asked, why not?   “We did what we did,” the pithy response.

On another subject does he have any future plans for the Impossible Gentlemen?   “I hope we play again.  Right now other commitments are being fulfilled.” SG.

Maria Grand

There isn’t much I am at liberty to share so far of the debut of María Grand. I am still digesting Magdalena which is not yet excerpted or streaming. 

Immediately, without any expectations and within a few bars I liked what I was hearing. Join me then instead to walk and bear the talk if you are going to hang out for a few minutes to an earlier 2017 pre-debut shorter release example by the free player, above in the Dimitri Louis photograph and playing, click, on TetraWind.

Zeroing in for more specifics as to dialect if you are a Steve Coleman fan like me you will be curious and probably a little bit encouraged at this player who is within the MBASE innovator’s orbit in terms of metre and sonic construction and yet has carved out her own sound. Coleman casts a giant shadow on contemporary music and has done since the 1980s it is worth repeating.

Around for a while on the Brooklyn scene old news very possibly among taste makers in New York the headlines I am guessing will only get bigger once Magdalena is released in May if there is any justice and she is able to tour beyond New York. 

A Swiss born millennial, tenor saxophonist-vocalist Grand is joined on this point of departure collectively by pianists David Bryant and Fabian Almazan, bassist Rashaan Carter, drummer Jeremy Dutton, guitarist Mary Halvorson, and spoken word artists Jasmine Wilson and Amani Fela.

Exploring, according to publicity material “modern family relationships through the lens of Egyptian and early Christian myths, connecting them to the pioneering work of family therapist Virginia Satir” Grand frames her music within “a non-hierarchical power structure” a “collective conversation” inherent in her music making thinking.

There are links to the saxophonist’s website firstly here; and secondly, her label’s.  To sum up: someone whose music is so worth immersing yourself in to familiarise yourself with as a first option and to turn up to again when the record is actually out to discover for yourself what this bit of buzz is all about.  Watch this space.  

Today is the first day of spring. That may be unbelievable to some who may very well be right in their incredulity towards all things contained in the very notion post-global warming of reliable season. 

Fran Landesman described or rather debated the idea of the indeterminacy of spring as an enduring disappointment however timely it may prove by transporting it to interior analogue (specifically relationships, love) best in words, Tommy Wolf against a sprawlingly bittersweet mood selects chord changes behind the melody and story of the song that you can never quite predict that lend themselves to creative modulation or more accurately can never hint to capture how the harmony resolves itself that is until the end no matter how many times you hear the song and which is a factor central to the success of the song. 

And, yet, there is within all this random but hugely perceivable process of thought in the arc of the song still a swirling ambiguity in the overall effect that is part of the genius of the composition and a model example of the mystery in which words and melody melt in the strangeness, the potency (after Noel Coward), of cheap music that acquires cultural value beyond any currency precisely because it can be so moving and is so powerful in its grip on our universal collective imagination.

Not at all a full of the joys of spring song, which is part of perhaps why generations of jazz fans love it so much – no one likes to be kidded although the suspension of an awareness of the intrusion of reality may be fun for a while. Songs of spring are usually too soppy, not this – the rub to it is that the song neglects somehow to be bleak and sidesteps quite invisibly a destructive wallowing and yet tells its own magisterial, personal, truth.  

Carmen McRae “there’s no mistaking” her exquisite capturing of the essence of ‘Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most’, above  

THE THING about China Moses’ album Nightintales (MPS) released in March last year was that it tears up a notion of genre because the sound is so open and weirdly contemporary yet sort of retro as well particularly in some of the later tracks. 

The jazz singer is confirmed now to headline the Bray Jazz Festival, county Wicklow, in Ireland on 4 May. 

There is no dumbing down. ‘Running’, the first track, sprung forward from the bass of “Level” Neville Malcolm provides a hustle and ignites with the energy of Anthony Marshall’s production that draws in the heat of R&B and yet chills it for a good few minutes in the jazz fridge. 

China Moses has a whole lot of style and is completely in control, poised and primed. ‘Put It On The Line,’ has a monster kick drum and bass-constructed groove roaring up at you from the wiry basement throb to the ease of reluctant horns simmering as Moses languidly reaches the chorus against the deliberately lazy backing blend of vocals peeking in. 

Luke Smith is on piano, Rhodes and organ; Sir Nev on bass playing a blinder; and Jerry Brown is on drums crafting the core of it all. The big song?  Well, it has got to be the beautiful, “complicated”, torch song ‘Ticking Boxes’ introduced lovingly by Smith on piano where China shows her emotions best of all on a song you could well hear Mary J. Blige hardly do more justice to but yes of course you’d like to hear Blige pile in with a version of her own. 

The lyrics are never trite in China’s hands, she has the ability of making you believe it all however make believe, the empowering chorus like an anthem of self-help and let it go. ‘Ain’t about the past/ain’t about worrying ’bout tomorrow,’ she solemnly relates, all neat and direct, an enveloping shadow conveyed in such a layered way, the drama of the song spun from the flimsiest of threads into the purest of silk and complete with an oblique ending.  The contemporary beats coming in here play their part after the main business of the song is done and the smoke of trumpet adds to the mood and yet is not too much of a pose.  The songs were written by Moses and Marshall, and this is their most moving one for sure. 

Overall China seems to have grown as an artist on this album and she has as ever formidable interpretative powers at her beck and call, the confessional resigned quasi-chanson-like asides of ‘Whatever’ one angle she can curl her voice around, and by contrast the sass and cheek provided by the flapper-like fun of ‘Watch Out’ part of the entertaining Caro Emerald-like mix and a boon for fans of a more vintage sound. 
I suppose China has learnt a good deal from her mother Dee Dee Bridgewater in shaping her voice and storytelling and how to project and pounce meaningfully on every little nuance; and China’s idol Dinah Washington’s influence is also surely fed into her overall approach but now so embedded you would scarcely notice as her own timbre and styling is so different. 
The main thing about this album is it is about now and not then. Its pithy elegance, sheer catchiness and joie de vivre also more than play their part. Groovy trumpeter Takuya Kuroda guests on the big ballad trumpet solo on ‘Lobby Call,’ the other stand-out song on the album and a number that contains a certain Strayhornian passion and architecture, while Kuroda’s fellow trumpeter Theo Croker adds dash to the little doo-wop retro Francophile craziness of ‘Blame Jerry.’  SG
China Moses, above. Photo: Sylvain Norget. More details about the Bray jazz festival via their website.

* ASMR [Autonomous sensory meridian response]. More reading on ASMR and how/why it applies to music in ‘chills’.

BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Belfast, 4 April.  Paul Bradytop, and ‘I Like How You Think’, above, written with Paul Muldoon