Dave Pietro, The Talisman, SteepleChase ****

Things kick off here in classic hard bop guise finding US altoist Dave Pietro fuse with trumpeter Scott Wendholt - the rhythm section steered so consummately by Billy Drummond. Pietro's first album for Danish label Steeplechase, tunes include …

Published: 22 Jan 2024. Updated: 36 days.

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Things kick off here in classic hard bop guise finding US altoist Dave Pietro fuse with trumpeter Scott Wendholt - the rhythm section steered so consummately by Billy Drummond. Pietro's first album for Danish label Steeplechase, tunes include originals, a version of Michel Legrand's timeless 'The Windmills of Your Mind' and - I didn't see this coming at all - a beautiful version of Mahler’s 'Adagietto' from his 5th symphony. Pianist Gary Versace is very listenable throughout - I'd pick out his soloing on 'Auriga' and on the introduction to the Mahler, while bassist Jay Anderson adds gravitas to the stand-out title track so well. Pietro is more a modernist than you'd think at first glance, essentially steeped in the language of bop and beyond, and knows exactly what he wants to say with it. He has very persuasive tone on a subdued ballad like 'Alexandra' and again melds so well with Wendholt on 'Yvette'. Recommended. SG

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Simon Spiess Quiet Tree, Euphorbia, Intakt ***1/2

Certainly I wasn't expecting what's on Euphorbia - it's as chill-out a record as the defiantly avant-garde label Intakt has issued in a while (if ever) and this imaginative work from the Swiss trio of saxophonist Simon Spiess, pianist Marc Méan …

Published: 21 Jan 2024. Updated: 37 days.

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Certainly I wasn't expecting what's on Euphorbia - it's as chill-out a record as the defiantly avant-garde label Intakt has issued in a while (if ever) and this imaginative work from the Swiss trio of saxophonist Simon Spiess, pianist Marc Méan and drummer Jonas Ruther who emerge in the press shot above as if they are on the set of I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! is just as far away from the noisier end of the avant-garde spectrum as it is a conventional jazz release. Not a single beat is swung by the way or old jazz standard hinted at - it's not that kind of record although sometimes you get a blue - erm bleu, never bleurgh - note or two. I wouldn't see the recording, which was made in a Berne studio in 2022 with the involvement of British jazzer Dan Nicholls on synths in the mix and heavy on the production side, as a generic this or that at all. Even one of those voguish sleep apps would probably like the vibe here (especially on the snoozesome final track). The opening rough and ready sax statement on 'Bleu foncé' makes us think of something you'd hear on an Alabaster DePlume record. Not an unpleasant listen at all - quite quirky in a way - and certainly the inscrutable sort of thing even the Toblergnomes of Zurich may well value perhaps for its occasionally yummy soft chocolatey centres. SG