2019 Highlight: Shalosh, Onwards and Upwards, ACT

Not only do Shalosh inhabit similar terrain to e.s.t certainly on the surface, they even appear for Onwards and Upwards on the same label as the great piano trio. But there are as many differences as there are similarities. Certainly the trio …

Published: 14 Dec 2019. Updated: 10 months.

Not only do Shalosh inhabit similar terrain to e.s.t certainly on the surface, they even appear for Onwards and Upwards on the same label as the great piano trio. But there are as many differences as there are similarities. Certainly the trio push and play with the idea of a piano trio and fold in a wide variety of influences spanning jazz, rock and electronica and yet somehow go their own way. Formed of pianist Gadi Stern, bass player David Michaeli and drummer Matan Assayag they have been around for a while largely known mainly only back home in Israel but now projecting to an international audience via the bigger reach of their new label although their earlier releases have appeared on small international labels already and they have toured widely.

Shalosh bring a sense of drama, heat and engagement to their tunes and the trio manage to carve out a space that has appeal to jazz audiences but can also exist simply as modern sounding rock or whatever-inspired instrumental music. I enjoyed what I heard especially when there is a little more depth to the tunes (say ‘Children of the 90s’ or the pick of the album ‘Meditation’) but the pop covers ('You’ll Never Walk Alone', 'Take On Me') left me a little cold. Worth discovering.

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Pixel, We Are All Small Pixels, Cuneiform

First published in 2013. The pick of the new crop of Norwegian jazz bands making a 'beyond' reputation internationally. The band played the first Match & Fuse festival in London in the summer of 2012 but it exists beyond prog-jazz. The …

Published: 14 Dec 2019. Updated: 10 months.

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First published in 2013. The pick of the new crop of Norwegian jazz bands making a 'beyond' reputation internationally. The band played the first Match & Fuse festival in London in the summer of 2012 but it exists beyond prog-jazz. The tuneful ‘Be Mine’ could sit on a pop record as could ‘Space’ but hold on: what’s the rest of the band doing? Well there’s the rub. It’s highly coiled, the horns tightly arranged (a little like the way Get the Blessing’s Pete Judge and Jake McMurchie work together).

Following on from their label debut Reminder last year Pixel are double bassist, vocalist, and songwriter Ellen Andrea Wang (Norway’s Esperanza Spalding), drummer Jon Audun Baar, trumpeter Jonas Kilmork Vemøy, and saxophonist Harald Lassen. ‘Farris’ has a Chet-like atmosphere while ‘Edge’ is New Wave in spirit with a punky edge and a scene-stealing saxophone solo from Lassen.

‘Night Dreamer’ has a big chunky sax riff jutting out against insistent drums to begin and so as the album develops the indie pop end of things and the improvising merge. ‘Easter Song’ loops and twists while ‘Passport’ indicates just what an excellent timekeeper and groove maker Wang is again as the horns move into Get the Blessing territory a bit. Pixel unite vocal and instrumental jazz in a winning formula. SG