Florian Arbenz, Francois Moutin, Maikel Vistel, Conversation #4: Vulcanized, Own Label ***

Vein drummer Florian Arbenz has a fine driving sense to his playing. It's a different context we find him in here but not one that might be alien to the sounds we appreciate him for. He's involved in a marathon effort to make a dozen albums with a …

Published: 19 Nov 2021. Updated: 14 days.

Vein drummer Florian Arbenz has a fine driving sense to his playing. It's a different context we find him in here but not one that might be alien to the sounds we appreciate him for. He's involved in a marathon effort to make a dozen albums with a dozen line-ups and here working from his own studio in Basel Vulcanized finds Arbenz, who is from Switzerland, with Cuban saxophonist Maikel Vistel and French bassist François Moutin. Bill Evans classic 'Waltz for Debbie' is a sentimental way to end the set. But drummers looking for the more in-your-face parts of the album will be more interested in what Arbenz does on Eddie Harris' 'Freedom Jazz Dance'. On it a tumble of ideas provides an open door for the trio to enter into the groove. And without a word of invitation they unfailingly do. Available via Bandcamp

Tags: Albums and EPs

Alex Hitchcock, Dream Band, Fresh Sound New Talent ****

Startlingly vivid and mature while essentially hugging the middle ground in the company of several line-ups the tracks with pianist Noah Stoneman and drummer Jason Brown are best but we are spoilt. These are 'Yeshaya,' 'Move 37' and 'Simulacra'. …

Published: 19 Nov 2021. Updated: 11 days.

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Startlingly vivid and mature while essentially hugging the middle ground in the company of several line-ups the tracks with pianist Noah Stoneman and drummer Jason Brown are best but we are spoilt. These are 'Yeshaya,' 'Move 37' and 'Simulacra'. Anybody who has heard Stoneman live will know that he is the most exciting new pianist to emerge on the UK scene since Kit Downes first surfaced in 2007 in the original line-up of Empirical. And he's alert and agile here. Hitchcock's tunes are outstanding and his very fine technique catnip for tenor sax lovers. My only issue is that the number of line-ups makes it feel like several albums are trying to break out in miniature at once. In terms of dream bands Hitchcock is hedging his bets.

The only cover is the Duke Ellington rarity 'Azalea' released first on The Great Reunion with Louis Armstrong in 1963, (if you like the Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh standard 'Witchcraft' that Sinatra made his own in the 50s you'll be right at home with a scrap of the melody here) Hitchcock stunning in a Coleman Hawkins-like vein on the track in a musical conversation with Midori Jaeger who accompanies with plucked cello and then sings. Begs to be heard.

Alex Hitchcock is playing the Stapleford Granary in Cambridge on Sunday with Deschanel Gordon who is also on Dream Band.

Hitchcock, above, photo via Bandcamp