Nicholas Payton, The Couch Sessions, Smoke Sessions ****1/2

Often very tender material - Buster Williams' 'Christina' that goes back to the 1983 Timeless All-Stars album Timeless Heart and covered beautifully by Sphere in Pumpkin's Delight a decade later - is most gorgeous of all in that regard. Nicholas …

Published: 26 Nov 2022. Updated: 2 months.

Often very tender material - Buster Williams' 'Christina' that goes back to the 1983 Timeless All-Stars album Timeless Heart and covered beautifully by Sphere in Pumpkin's Delight a decade later - is most gorgeous of all in that regard.

Nicholas Payton does not disappoint in his overall approach that just goes deeper and deeper both in terms of choice of repertoire but also a certain framing of his prodigious imagination to curate a dreamworld of his own, comfortable and luxuriant within the idiom.

Material includes Wayne Shorter's 'Fall' led off by excellent drums. Benny Golson's 'Along Came Betty' also has a good Lenny White groove established deftly at the beginning with the main narrative then taken up by Payton on Rhodes.

The rendering of Herbie's tune 'Watch It' - the opening track of 1977's Herbie Hancock Trio - has a crisp confidence to it that again lifts us higher, the piano here instead of Rhodes. With bassist Buster Williams and drummer Lenny White alongside Payton on a July 2022 recording made in New York's Sear Sound the late Geri Allen's spoken word contribution on 'Feed the Fire' is some of the most eloquent spoken word inputs. Payton is an excellent pianist as well as a world class trumpeter and The Couch Sessions at heart is textbook hard bop. Just pick up where the Second Great Miles Davis Quintet left off and grow to what Payton feeds in. The funkier 'Bust-a-Move' I could take or leave and while the spoken word elements distract a bit they still transmit a siren call given the always compelling voices of Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock among others who speak to us here. Patently priority listening this weekend. SG

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Hedvig Mollestad and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, Maternity Beat, Rune Grammofon ****

So what's striking? A helluva lot. Dizzying guitar workouts in the second part of 'On the Horizon' to start - Norwegian guitarist vocalist composer Hedvig Mollestad here with the reliably audacious 12-piece Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. Broad brush …

Published: 26 Nov 2022. Updated: 2 months.

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So what's striking? A helluva lot. Dizzying guitar workouts in the second part of 'On the Horizon' to start - Norwegian guitarist vocalist composer Hedvig Mollestad here with the reliably audacious 12-piece Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. Broad brush strokes provide handsome themes. And yet it's the sprawling detail and ferocious dervish quality of this proggish orchestrated album that is even better. On the zany blink and you'd miss it 'Salt Peanuts' riffing 'Donna Ovis Peppa' you get just one of many scenic detours. Zappa fans won't be the only ones to thrill to the driving beat of 'All Flights Cancelled'. The intimacy of motherhood is a strong feature on 'Maternity Beat' and again lots of airguitar-along-to rockist and quasi-choral pomp on 'Maternity Suite' are all part of an exhilarating formula. Hedvig Mollestad and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra photo: press