The Aruán Ortiz and Michael Janisch Quintet
Banned in London
Recorded last November live at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in London this quintet co-led by Cuban pianist Ortiz and UK-based American bassist Janisch and a horn section of adopted Catalan Raynald Colom on trumpet and the great MBASE altoist Greg Osby plus drummer Rudy Royston, best known for his work for JD Allen and Bill Frisell, is a hearty release, and meat and drink to lovers of 21st century bop-become-hard bop. It doesn’t sound at all like hard bop used to sound, but you can hear where this thrusting, in-your-face, kind of jazz has its roots. Imagine if Charlie Parker was 18 years old in 2012; or Clifford Brown was a 20-year-old now walking down the street and into a club, and simply blowing everyone away. Take a moment just to contemplate what their music would be like. It wouldn’t be the same of course as the music they used to play, but it wouldn’t be like this either, as these fine musicians have something to say and no one else can say it for them either in the past or the present. There are five tracks, all very long (no track is shorter than ten-and-a-half minutes) but each individually persuasive and involving. I liked Osby’s opening to ‘Jitterbug Waltz’, but the heart of the album lies on Ortiz’s tunes ‘Orbiting’ and ‘The Maestro’. Go straight there and pretend you’re in the middle of Soho as day becomes night walking down the stairs with the band right in front of you, because the club engineer Luc Saint-Martin has faithfully captured the sound in this special place so it’s easy to imagine. This record unites different generations of jazz fans who know some things never go out of fashion. In fact the concept of being ‘all the rage’ is just plain nonsense to these guys. Strictly no messing. Stephen Graham
Released on 29 October
E One Music ****
Resonating bells and soft, deftly explorative piano are the way Jack DeJohnette chooses to begin this his latest album released later in the autumn during a year in which the great Chicago drummer has turned 70. The second track, after the brief opener, has delicious vocals from Esperanza Spalding over the top of Jack’s salsa beat and Luisito Quintero’s percussion, and there’s lovely guitar syncopation from Lionel Loueke, with trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire chipping in as only he knows how. The cover with concentric rings radiating from a deepening red cymbal hub is emblematic of the ripples DeJohnette sends out not just with his virtuoso playing but his holistic musical approach, one involved in the search for the rhythm within as much as the rhythm without.
There are quite a few different line-up variations on this Robert Sadin-produced nine-tracker, with the band’s size swelling and contracting to suit Jack’s arrangements. ‘Dirty Ground’ with a vocal from Bruce Hornsby is the most accessible, with a “New Orleans-meets-The Band" vibe, and a great downhome shuffle from Jack who co-wrote the song with the man DeJohnette in the notes refers to as ‘The Bruce’. Rolling Stones saxophonist Tim Ries adds great soprano sax on the song, and Loueke shows his range with some funky licks on a tune the lyric of which points to the need in New Orleans or anywhere for that matter not to give up or give in!
‘New Music’ arranged by DeJohnette for just quartet with Spalding on bass this time and more Ries is followed by the expanded Caribbean-flavoured ‘Sonny Light’, then the title track and two other deeply engrossing tracks, including a lovely spot from Bobby McFerrin on ‘Oneness’ written for Gateway, and Jason Moran cropping up on ‘Indigo Dreamscapes’ leading eventually to the meditative Abdullah Ibrahim-flavoured ‘Home’, with DeJohnette on piano by himself, back as it were to where it all began on piano before the drums took him into another sphere entirely.
A wonderful record, beautifully conceived and communicative throughout, with plenty going on from start to finish. Jack’s just about the greatest jazz drummer alive, and this record shows a spread of just a little of what’s he’s all about in a career that has seen him play with everyone from John Coltrane and Miles Davis to Charles Lloyd, Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett. Jack DeJohnette is leading a fine quintet in the UK in November to support the release, and dates are: RNCM, Manchester (13 November); Howard Assembly Rooms, Leeds (14 Nov); Corn Exchange, Cambridge (15 Nov); Queen Elizabeth Hall, London (16 Nov); Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham (20 Nov); and Sage, Gateshead (21 Nov). Stephen Graham
Pictured above: Jack DeJohnette