Så er vi kommet til februar 2021, og fremdeles befinner vi oss en situasjon hvor musikk på plate er det eneste vi får mulighet til å oppleve. Europa er nedstengt, stadige nye mutasjoner av Covid-19 strømmer over oss, og verden er preget av isolasjon og hjemmedager. Men vi har fremdeles tilgang til mye god musikk, og her er hva de Europeiske jazzredaksjoner har lyttet mest til den senere tiden:
Sebastian Scotney, LondonJazz News (UK):
SOFT WORKS «Abracadabra in Osaka, Rec. 2003» (Moonjune Records)
Patrik Sandberg, JAZZ/Orkesterjournalen:
JOHAN LINDSTRÖM SEPTETT «On The Asylum» (Moserobie)
Cim Meyer, Jazz Special:
JONATHAN KREISBERG AND NELSON VERAS «Kreisberg meets Veras» (New For Now Music)
Lars Mossefinn, Dag og tid:
NEEDLEPOINT «Walking up The Valley» (BJK Music)
Anne Yven, citizenjazz.com:
MARIA KANNEGAARD TRIO «Sand i En Vik» (Jazzland Recordings)
Axel Stinshoff, Jazz thing:
FRANCO ANBROSETTI «Lost Within You» (Unit Records)
Luca Vitali, Giornale della Musica:
ROBERTO NEGRO «Papier Ciseau» (Label Bleu)
Madli-Liis Parts, Muusika:
ROBERT JÜRJENDAL «Water Finds A Way» (NEWdOG.Records)
Paweł Brodowski, Jazz Forum:
BERNARD MASELI «Drifter» (Warner Music Poland)
Mike Flynn, Jazzwise:
SHAI MAESTRO QUARTET «Human» (ECM)
Anna Filipieva, Jazz.Ru:
KRUGLOV-SOOÄÄR QUARTET «Arsenal» (ArtBeat Music)
Jan Granlie, salt-peanuts.eu:
SAM RIVERS QUARTET «Sam Rivers Archive Project, Volume 4, Braids» (NoBusiness Records)
Christine Stephan, Jazzthetik:
ANDREAS WILLERS «Haera» (Evil Rabbit)
Viktor Bensusan, jazzdergisi.com:
PAT METHENY «From This Place» (Nonesuch Records)
Henning Bolte, Written in Music:
SIMIN TANDER «Unfading» (Jazzhaus Records)
Why did I choose:
The new quartet of multilingual German-Afghani vocalist Simin Tander, Swiss-Swedish electric bass guitarist Björn Meyer, Tunisian violinist Jasser Haj Youssef and Swiss drummer Samuel Rohrer from Berlin form a remarkable force field of igniting, merging and amplifying energies, temperaments and temperatures. Tander provides 12 compositions here and three times lyrics of her own, a mature achievement of class.
Tander’s voice fluctuating between faith and yearning, joy and grief, loss and thankfulness, oriental and occidental spheres, carries these sentiments into the great reach of her touching singing lines. Her voice displays the typical merge of low and high, dark and light side of it, which is characteristic for great southern and eastern singers. She deploys this as calmly as intensely in long curving lines and its widely falling shadows – time after time into every new rhythmical cycle of tension and release. This reveals especially through the piano-less context and prospers through the subtle and forceful playing of her extraordinary fellow musicians.
All poems (except one traditional lullaby) appearing in her 15 songs have been written by female poets, offering a rare glimpse onto female Pashto poetry (Nazo Tokhin (1670), Sohayla Hazrat-Nazim (2020)) as well as featuring a poem by Sylvia Plath (1961) and Gabriela Mistral (1922). There are also the lyrics of a song by female Afghan singer Gulnar Begum from the 1960s (from the movie «Baagh») and the lyrics of a folk lullaby musically reworked by Manuel de Falla (1914). It is quite a range in chronologic and geographic terms that the album unites in a masterfully coherent way. To end the album then with Robert Zimmerman’s «The Times They Are a-Changing» (1964) is a surprising as well as speaking unifying choice. Simin Tander can be praised for her independent spirit, that produced this felicitous daring musical step forward.
If you are a sucker for clean guitar sounds this is it! Acoustic and electric from the highest shelf recorded a couple of years ago. The duo blends influences from both the American continents. Their skills are monstrous, but they never fall into the swamp of pyrotechnical show off. It’s all about music and feeling.
Shai Maestro has been a force to be reckoned with for some years now, but this new quartet with trumpeter Philip Dizack bursts through to the next level of creativity, with sparkling intuitive group interplay matched by some inspired playing by the pianist. Lush yet transparent production, some exciting rhythmic grooves and a wide range of textures and dynamics make Human an early jazz high spot for 2021.
Vibraphone whiz Bernard Maseli has been active on the Polish jazz scene for three and a half decades playing with various (mostly fusion) constellations, including Walk Away, The Globetrotters, Colors, Laboratorium. He has recorded more than 60 albums, but “Drifter,” suprisingly enough, is his first album under his own name. Relased by Warner Music Poland as part of the series Polish Jazz Masters, it is available only in digital form.
Each of the record’s eleven tracks features a different lineup, a different idea and a different stylistic options – fusion, rock, blues, r & b, funk, hip-hop and world music, showcasing Maseli’s melodic invention, rhythmic zest, his incredible instrumental skills on vibraphone, marimba, kalimba, balaphon, MalletKAT… Nearly 30 musicians, instrumentalists and vocalists, have taken part in this endeavor, including international stars such as saxophonist Eric Marienthal, guitarist Dean Brown and bassist Linley Marthe.
The soul of Pat Metheny Group’s unique sound which Pat created together with late Lyle Mays in half a century time span is very much alive on this album. This time he builds his trademark sonic habitat with with British pianist Gwilym Simcock, Malaysian/Australian bassist Linda May Han Oh, and Mexican/American drummer Antonio Sanchez. When we add the symphonic arrangements written by Alan Broadbent and Gil Goldstein and performed by the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Joel McNeely, we end up with another Metheny evergreen reminding us his Ornette background as well as his still untapped audible imagination.
The new «Sam Rivers Archive Project, Volume 4, Braids» is a quartet recording with Rivers on tenor- and soprano saxophone, piano and flute, Joe Daley on tuba and euphonium, Dave Holland on bass and Thurman Barker on drums. Two songs: «An Evening in Hamburg Part I» and «An Evening in Hamburg Part II», both recorded live in Hamburg May 14, 1979. And all way through this is a classic jazz record. All four are playing fantastic, and Rivers flute together with Daleys tuba (or euphonium) on the second song, is the best flute playing I have ever heard. A fantastic recording!
A Russian-Estonian avant jazz rock quartet co-led by sax player Alexey Kruglov and guitarist Jaak Sooäär offers a tribute to Arsenal, Soviet Union’s pioneering jazz rock fusion band which was extensively touring the USSR in 1970s and 80s. This tough, intriguing, and quirky album is dedicated to the 85th birthday of Alexey Kozlov, the Russian alto sax player who still leads Arsenal (in its 4th or 5th incarnation) nearly 50 years after founding it in Moscow. None of the Kruglov – Sooäär quartet member ever played with Arsenal, but they listened to the famed Soviet band as teenagers; the more curios the results.
Maria Kannegaard is a Norwegian jem. The lastest album of the trio she forms with the fantastic Ole Morten Vågan (bass) and Thomas Strønen (drums) is brilliant and dark in the same time.
Her personal and professional path has been marked by psychological troubles, but on this «Sand i En Vik» she’s keeping the music extremely fresh and clear. The compositions are filled with such a delicate musical sense of tension and balance. The improvisations make you dive into darkness. After a somewhat sharp opening, all the songs and melodies will seduce you: they won’t leave your head once you’ve heard them. Minimalist, cinematic but never cheesy: each notes is felt inside her bones and soul. Remarkable!
Johan Lindström (guitar, pedal steel and piano) has long been one of his homecountry Swedens most sought after freelance musicians and producers. In jazz circles, he is perhaps best known as one of the members and founders of Tonbruket. In parallel, he has worked with singers such as Rebecka Törnqvist, Ane Brun, Titiyo, Freddie Wadling and Agneta Fältskog
For his second septett-album as a bandleader Lindström is joined by names like Per Texas Johansson, Mats Äleklint, Jonas Kullhammar, Jesper Nordenström, Konrad Agnas, Torbjörn Zetterberg, Margareta Bengtsson and guest singers Sofie Livebrant and Elvis Costello.
The compositions reflect Lindström’s diverse musical taste. He moves without a safety net across stylistic boundaries. A seamless mix of jazz, art rock, avant, folk and modern art music shaped into an inspired, uncompromising tonal language with a noticeable collective feeling. It is a vast, eccentric tone landscape. Lindström often uses reverb effectively when he switches between his Fender Telecaster and his pedal steel. The cinematic jazz noir feeling is palpable. The undertone is suggestive, playful and painful at the same time. The appearance is both fluid and solid. Release the 19th of February.
First, let’s heap all the praise and the thanks we possibly can onto Moonjune Records proprietor and hero Leonardo Pavkovic, because he deserves it. What he has done for the legacy of UK jazz is incredible. Go to the Bandcamp page for this album and the work that has gone into this project is plain to see: an incredibly detailed sleeve note … an interview…facts, facts and yet more facts. Leonardo’s drive and energy achieve so much, notably getting the current Soft Machine line-up to do more than 50 concerts on the 2018-2019 Hidden Details world tour, including their first American dates since the 1970s.
On this live album recorded by Soft Works in 2003 we find Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper and John Marshall, but the man of the moment is Allan Holdsworth. Our reviewer for LJN, John Bungey, describes him as «the thinking man’s guitar hero” and writes: “He combines the rock guitarist’s love of volume and attack with jazz harmony. Flurries of notes swoop and soar in dramatic crescendos. Unlike some wielders of new tech, he plays his cutting-edge SynthAxe guitar with taste as well as skill and, crucially, he usually knows when it’s time to stop».