Steve Cardenas, Ben Allison, Ted Nash - 'Ictus,' Sunnyside ***

Track of the day is drawn from Healing Power: The Music of Carla Bley out on 8 July and new from Steve Cardenas, top, publicity photo, Ben Allison and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra saxist Ted Nash - in other words a very ''acoustic-sounding'' …

Published: 13 Jun 2022. Updated: 23 days.

Track of the day is drawn from Healing Power: The Music of Carla Bley out on 8 July and new from Steve Cardenas, top, publicity photo, Ben Allison and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra saxist Ted Nash - in other words a very ''acoustic-sounding'' setting involving guitar, double bass and reeds. These fine players are all leaders heard elsewhere in their own right and came together again given their longstanding association as playing partners to record Healing Power a year ago at a studio in rural Pennsylvania. Carla Bley piece 'Ictus' is first known from its inclusion on the 1965-released Paul Bley Quintet album Barrage (ESP Disk) and was covered most recently back in 2018 in a much more riotous trio version by drummer Tamaya Honda and pals. With no drummer on the Cardenas trio's version the arrangement on this new release is quite different. Nash does a lot of the running and sounds a little Paul Desmond-like at times crucially within a Giuffrian panorama. Allison is very fast and plays extremely cleanly while Cardenas when his moment comes is airily thoughtful and it is as if he has all the time in the world.

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Sam Gendel, Superstore, Leaving ****

If you are the proud possessor of a short attention span then great you may regard Superstore as a meaty series of early-21st century symphonies perfect for the digital age. If you know saxist-producer Sam Gendel's already hefty back catalogue then …

Published: 13 Jun 2022. Updated: 23 days.

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If you are the proud possessor of a short attention span then great you may regard Superstore as a meaty series of early-21st century symphonies perfect for the digital age. If you know saxist-producer Sam Gendel's already hefty back catalogue then the story so far flagged up includes in pride of place Satin Doll, an album that is even more jazz-baiting because Gendel just baffles the hell out of the purists by making the familiar seem eerily unfamiliar and yet does not alienate them quite as much as they fear he is trying to do.

2020's Satin Doll - 'Glide Mode' drawn from it is a mini-masterpiece that Gendel made earlier

Insanely prolific, sure the jazzer who is in his mid-thirties puts too many records out (actually that isn't anyone's worst fault) and we on this side of the Atlantic are only catching up on him. We probably, sadly, never will be as quick as his wit. The saxist is certainly an original. That's the point!

Defiantly lo-fi, the tracks have a skit-like quality and there is a lot of admirable pitch-level tinkering-under-the-hood that allows the voltage to spring a back flip every so often. Gendel is more John Lurie than Lee Konitz should you be in a chin-stroking mood. A future album when he is more Konitz than Lounge Lizard: what would that be like?

'Alors' as a Euro hipster piss take made us chuckle. And under 'Cans' if you were to re-score a Jim Jarmusch movie and place these sounds alongside the Mulatu Astatke on Broken Flowers then these would work harmlessly enough.

Souped up surrogate incidental music overall is one reading. There's method in the loitering with intent mayhem as the bit player mentality seizes the main acting role and the main actors are all given elaborately sulk-laden parts instead. And that's not to disparage collaborators on the record who include, but fairly anonymously it's true, percussionist Philippe Melanson on a few tracks, bass guitarist Gabe Noel (both familiar from Satin Doll), guitarist Blake Mills and drummer Kevin Yokota on a single number each. Dichotomy dilemma of the day: sounds that are tailor-unmade for purists or tailor-made for unpurists? Preposterously both can and should apply. The Gendel legend grows still more. Stephen Graham

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