Here we have the explosive sounding first track released from Circuits by Chris Potter new on English jazz indie Edition in the latter part of February.
Sounds very jazz-rock, Eric Harland given free rein, groove the order of the day. And yet with a big sprinkling of glassy electronics fed in contributing to a highly customised sound full of episodic metrical changes, twists and turns but pretty full on (and certainly mastered away up on this track so striking even on this lo-fi Bandcamp audio version), the keyboards however sounding very organic.
Check especially underneath the bonnet what the still fairly unknown keyboardist James Francies despite a major label debut recently is doing on this track. His profile I guess will zoom ever higher this year as more people around the world get to hear of him if for no other reason than he is a new Pat Metheny “Side Eye” keyboardist as Metheny cultivates new sounds.
Potter played with Metheny in recent years in the Unity set-up when the guitarist brought the sax back into his sound and it is interesting how families of musicians develop often circles within circles, their past experiences morphing into new spheres as they play on and on.
Potter here, note the credits on the Bandcamp page, overall on the album switches between tenor and soprano saxes, clarinets, flutes, uses a sampler, guitars, keyboards, and percussion so you can imagine how much production went into this album which was recorded in September 2017.
As for Francies well just think the excitement of Robert Glasper when he was unknown for a moment and then lift off into a new orbit (the comparison is even more striking on Francies’ Blue Note debut). Circuits on less than half of the tracks also credits the highly mobile bass guitarist Linley Marthe you may recall from the Zhenya Strigalev record Blues For Maggie.
Born and raised in Kenya, living later in Minneapolis, J.S. Ondara is doing the promotional rounds soon for his major label debut record to be released in February.
Tales of America is billed by Verve as “an examination of the American Dream from an outsider’s perspective.”
Very acoustic with a rootsy flavour the album was recorded in Los Angeles. Album lyrics are by Ondara who is quoted by the label as saying: “When I came to America five years ago, all I wanted to do was to make a record. I had no leads, no knowledge of how to go about it, I couldn’t even play the guitar at the time. But I loved records so much and I had this dream that someday perhaps, I’d make one of my own. Many a times along the way, I was dealt with challenges that made me doubt my path, but I was too far from home to turn back, so I forged forward. The journey has been long but also short, tumultuous but also exciting. This record is a documentation of my time in America; a deliberation on the times and a search for wisdom and the American Dream.”
Look out for a London date at the Slaughtered Lamb on 21 January.
Six years since the release of his first solo piano album reviewed here pianist Alexander Hawkins switches from Babel to Intakt for this latest recording venture which is titled Iron Into Wind (cover above) to be released next month by the Swiss label. Hawkins says in a brief description on his website: “All original compositions; liner notes by Richard Williams; immaculately recorded by Martin Pearson in the studios of the Swiss radio, Zürich, in September 2018.”
A 2015 studio recording of freely improvised, spontaneously composed music performed by drummer Terry Day whose career has embraced such wildly divergent milestones as appearances with Kilburn and the Highroads and Derek Bailey, Dominic Lash known for his work with Alexander Hawkins playing double bass, and the Mopomoso guitarist/clarinettist Alex Ward.
The track titles have a sense to them although knowledge of what they mean is not at all compulsory or even that relevant however if curious they relate to the geology of the sea and to marine biology so ‘Bathyal’ is a term that relates to zonal sea depths between the continental shelf and the abyssal zone; ‘Abyssal’ refers to ocean depth of 3,000-6,000m; ‘Hadal’ are sea depths of more than 6000m; ‘Zoobenthos’ refers to sea bed organisms; and ‘Phytobenthos’ are plant or algae organisms.
As to how it sounds? Well this is very un-noisy free improv. There is a lot of contemplative open work at play and one of the great strengths of the record is how the three play a great deal together and so the collective nature of their bandplay is far greater than on some records which divide down into long duo or solo episodes.
A very fibrous record, meaning that there is a real sense of natural instruments at work, in other words a physical sense of finger on string or stick on skin, the mechanics of the sound operating very much from a point of view where notions of tone, exact rhythm or metrical divisions do not matter in the least and yet the improvising lines are not difficult to follow or hostile. On ‘Hadal’ Lash really comes into his own and throughout his role is vital. Midnight and Below builds cell on cell: a sense of mystery, fecundity and wild growth feeds a wider eco-system as part of the spell. Beyond experimentation this sounds more about putting long held ideas into effect and proving how well they work in performance. SG
The Art Ensemble of Chicago saxophonist Joseph Jarman has died at the age of 81.
Douglas R. Ewart of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians announced that Jarman passed away in New Jersey although there are no other details so far. The Arkansas-born Chicago raised reedist was an early AACM member in the 1960s and in the Art Ensemble which grew out of the AACM became a world renowned avant gardist staying with the Ensemble until the early-1990s later concentrating on his Zen Buddhist practice and his own solo projects.
Hard on the heels of a high profile 2018 gigging and recording with Van Morrison, Joey DeFrancesco hooks up with another legend Pharoah Sanders on his upcoming album In the Key of the Universe to be released in March.
Selections on the new record include ‘The Creator Has A Master Plan’ and DeFrancesco also has ex-Pharoah Karma drummer Billy Hart on the record.
Quoted by issuing label Mack Avenue DeFrancesco says: “I pride myself on being a musical chameleon. There’s so much good music that it’s hard to stay in one place, at least for me. I love being able to go in any direction, and lately that’s sent my music in a more free jazz direction – but still with a groove. Pharoah is one of the go-to guys when it comes to that spiritual aspect of the music. A lot of people do that kind of thing, but I like to go directly to the source, and he really is the source.
“As soon as Pharoah picked up his horn and started playing that melody, my hair just stood straight up. Then Billy started doing his thing with the mallets, wide open and free. Once it gets going it’s so hard to stop; you could listen to that vibe forever. It was almost an unexplainable feeling – absolutely a downright spiritual experience.
“The direction in which my life is going always affects what I’m doing musically. As I grow older, I find myself attracted to a more spiritual vibe. It’s always been that way, to some extent – especially playing music and going into the zone, which has to do with being in touch with the universe. It’s not about religion, it’s just a spiritual vibe that respects everything, in music and in life.”
Joey DeFrancesco, top. Photo: Wikipedia