Pilgrim cover

A numinous lilt to the singer’s voice establishes itself and in tandem with trumpeter Arve Henriksen, who has one of the most unique playing timbres in contemporary music Pilgrim is a welcome turn of the wheel for ACT a label synonymous since the 1990s with the enduring musical contribution of EST.

Patchy in recent years in terms of output since the departure of Vijay Iyer for ECM and reliant more on family acts that the Siggi Loch-directed label is famously supportive and nurturing of notwithstanding the runaway international success of Youn Sun Nah, Janne Mark may not have very wide appeal beyond Europe and many jazz fans will be puzzled by her hymning style, a syncretism of folk-like carefully emergent melodies and Americana among her secret ingredients. The impact is convincing and above all humane much more significantly. Word of mouth, one may hope if not take for granted at all, will in the end carry the day. Covet, and cherish regardless of whether this sinks without trace or not.

Rating: ***** 5/5


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.  

Jon Irabagon website.

See nola.com via the Times Picayune. 

It has often puzzled me how much the big brand mainstream household name media, national newspapers and their magazine counterparts, are not at all receptive to jazz.

First of all it is not the fault of jazz if you care for a moment to think of the music as a single thing.

The mainstream media, and by which I mean the arts and culture pages of the national papers here in Ireland and the UK only, is much too neglectful at best and dismissive more usually of jazz still even when there is strong evidence that it should not be. That evidence is easy enough to demonstrate

Jazz is a global music.

• It possesses over 100 years of recorded music in its back catalogue.

• It has exerted and still projects huge influence on contemporary culture across all of the arts.

• It has even influenced science (in neuroscience and cognitive disciplines particularly via recent research) and technology (a long history of instrument innovation for instance) through its key character, which is improvisation, derived from African American musical traditions, and its ability to expand and transform other traditions to make new ones often in radically different ways yet retaining key things in common.

• It provides content for thousands of festivals and big city 7 day a week jazz clubs around the world. 

Jazz also has a huge following and has had it for decades and is not at all the fringe interest that ill informed papers like to characterise it as borne out of, well, sheer ignorance or begrudgery.

At the moment few newspapers give the music proper coverage. This is not a new claim. Actually it it not a claim at all: it is a fact. Blogs need to exist because of the vacuum and because their reach is potentially far greater than their specialist print counterparts because of the medium of the Internet. We are all deserting the big papers we have read for years because they are not serving us properly.

I have long since accepted that newspapers and their online cousins will not change their ways but yet point out that yes they should and however inconveniently can. SG