Palle Mikkelborg and Bjarne Roupé, Pieces: Generations at Sunrise

Aura, the 1989 Miles Davis album produced, composed and arranged by Danish trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg, is not just one of my favourite late-period Miles albums, it's one of my favourite Miles albums. With Mikkelborg, who turns 80 in a few months, …

Published: 10 Jan 2021. Updated: 10 months.

Aura, the 1989 Miles Davis album produced, composed and arranged by Danish trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg, is not just one of my favourite late-period Miles albums, it's one of my favourite Miles albums.

With Mikkelborg, who turns 80 in a few months, it's impossible not to think of that classic but also when you hear him on this superb album, his sense of space and freedom and that yes Milesian sound is always compelling. Palle's artistry I'm certain is firmly embedded in the internal vision a generation later of another Nordic great, Nils Petter Molvær.

Storyville is not a label you necessarily turn to as a priority even though it has been a stalwart trad outfit over the years. That is until a recent purple patch often involving reissues and a few choice new albums have raised the bar once again. They have definitely excelled themselves with Mikkelborg and Bjarne Roupé's Pieces: Generations at Sunrise to be released on Friday.

Basically a very elegant and sometimes quite moving quartet affair recorded at the JB10 venue in the Danish town of Næstved, Mikkelborg, bassist Anton Langebæk, percussionist Benjamin Barfod and electric guitarist Roupé all take their time and you could easily imagine yourself lying down flat chilling to opener 'Witchi-tai-to'. Nothing much happens for quite a while and then suddenly however everything pops into place and Barfod provides a really tactile percussive opening to John Coltrane classic 'Naima,' Roupé's riffing eventually leads us into the glorious tune interpreted by Mikkelborg by this very scenic route. In other words even if you know the melody (of course you do), you won't recognise the introduction at all. It's a composition all by itself. When Mikkelborg comes in eventually it's a great moment and the album is full of them. I'm sure the synaesthetes among you will have a field day with this record, it certainly has a sensory and imagistic factor that lifts it higher in its best passages. I'll not bang on but even 'Nature Boy' as familiar as your own face at the end sounds brand new. A case if ever there was one of let's get lost in the Mikkelborg sound all over again and let it wash all over. SG On Storyville, out on 15 January

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Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Rise Up

Brilliant cellist-singer Ayanna Witter-Johnson excels herself on this latest EP just released, featuring super-relevant polymath rapper Akala who seems an ideal sparring partner on the Black Lives Matter-inspired title track. On ‘Declaration Of …

Published: 9 Jan 2021. Updated: 10 months.

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Brilliant cellist-singer Ayanna Witter-Johnson excels herself on this latest EP just released, featuring super-relevant polymath rapper Akala who seems an ideal sparring partner on the Black Lives Matter-inspired title track.

On ‘Declaration Of Rights’ the great UK jazz singer Cleveland Watkiss features and back in 2019 as regular readers of marlbank will recall Ayanna appeared with Cleveland on the Abyssinians 1970s classic at his Great Jamaican Songbook show in the QEH receiving some of the biggest applause of the night as he and Ayanna duetted on the Satta Massagana track.

This pristine studio version has a real edge to it, Ayanna's superb classical technique that recalls the passion of Pablo Cassals morphing via the deft offbeats knitted into the unfolding arrangement that underpins her stirring vocal line all going to herald Cleveland's imaginative contribution and ultimate intimations of Bob Marley towards the end with the 'Get up stand up' line. The riddim track completing an EP blessed with very clear audio definition throughout is also very nicely arranged. Out now via Bandcamp