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Wolfert Brederode, Currents (ECM/Ode)

Wolfert Brederode, Currents (ECM/Ode)

Minimalism may have run its course but there are pieces on this appealing album by pianist Brederode (and group) which find a romantic heart within the steady pulse. Brederode and his band -- Claudio Puntin on clarinets, Mats Eilertsen on double bass and drummer Samuel Rohrer -- represent a new generation for the ECM label which is now...

Marilyn Crispell: Vignettes (ECM/Ode)

Marilyn Crispell: Vignettes (ECM/Ode)

American pianist Crispell was a longtime member of saxophonist Anthony Braxton's often demanding quartet, and that alone tells you she knows what it means to be put on the spot under the spotlight. Braxton's was assiduously thoughtful improvised music which sometimes had the discipline of mathematical construction. But with sweat. The ECM...

Mathias Eick: The Door (ECM/Ode)

Mathias Eick: The Door (ECM/Ode)

On a blindfold test I doubt many who listen to Norwegian prog-rockers Jaga Jazzist would pick the trumpter leading this ECM set as the same guy from that big band. But Eick has popped up in many shapes:he has played alongside Chick Corea and in jazz orchestras, was a guest in the psychedelic rock band Motorpsycho and is a dab hand on guitar and...

MILES DAVIS, A TRIBUTE TO JACK JOHNSON: And a fighter by his trade . . .

MILES DAVIS, A TRIBUTE TO JACK JOHNSON: And a fighter by his trade . . .

An inch over six feet and usually weighing in just under 200 pounds.  Jack Johnson was perfectly proportioned for a heavyweight fighter. But as a kid in Galveston, Texas in the 1880s, he let his older sisters fight for him. At 12, Johnson jumped a ship for New York, returning a year later to work on the docks where he had his...

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . JACO PASTORIUS: High times and low notes

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . JACO PASTORIUS: High times and low notes

For a jazz musician, Jaco Pastorius died in pretty creditable rock n’ roll style: drug, delusions, alcohol and itinerancy. And beaten to a pulp by a nightclub manager who didn’t recognise the persistent drunk battering on his door at 4am as a former genius on electric bass. Pastorius’ remarkable but brief life is inscribed...

Miles Davis: Kind of Blue (1959)

Miles Davis: Kind of Blue (1959)

Take it from the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis. For slow romantic action when he wants to make out, it's the album he plays. Steely Dan's Donald Fagen likes the trance-like atmosphere it creates, and that it's "like sexual wallpaper." And jazz-rock guitarist John Scofield says that 35 years ago it was so common you...

CHICK COREA INTERVIEWED (2007): The restless quest for connection

CHICK COREA INTERVIEWED (2007): The restless quest for connection

After the long drought came the flood: just 10 days on from Herbie Hancock’s Auckland concert in early 2007 came that by Chick Corea, a keyboard player whose jazz career is equally long and diverse. For jazz lovers used to years between international artists of this calibre, these musicians connect to two great periods in jazz: Corea...

JOHN McLAUGHLIN INTERVIEWED (2009): Has guitars, will travel

JOHN McLAUGHLIN INTERVIEWED (2009): Has guitars, will travel

"I'm still at the beginning of my life and career,” says 67-year old guitarist John McLaughlin. “I don’t really think much about what I’ve done, I don’t have much time to think about what I’ve done. “It’s a worn out phrase, but today is a brand new day and there is a lot to do -- but...

JACQUES LOUSSIER AT 75: Bach and all that jazz

JACQUES LOUSSIER AT 75: Bach and all that jazz

Jacques Loussier, who popularised jazz back when television was broadcast in black and white, says his career came about by accident. Half a century on from his first album and four decades-plus since his Play Bach series screened across the world in prime time, he still pays classical music in a jazz manner. “The people at the...

Dr Tree: Dr Tree (EMI)

Dr Tree: Dr Tree (EMI)

When this album came out in the mid-Seventies jazz-rock fusion was at its peak and many otherwise sensible jazz musicians were wooed to the dark side. Few came out with any dignity (they just didn't get "rock") but Dr Tree from Auckland nailed it directly at a point where they were most comfortable; more jazz than rock because they...

CHICK COREA AND JOHN McLAUGHLIN'S FIVE PEACE BAND LIVE ALBUM: Nu-fusion not so confusin'

CHICK COREA AND JOHN McLAUGHLIN'S FIVE PEACE BAND LIVE ALBUM: Nu-fusion not so confusin'

When Chick Corea and John McLaughlin’s Five Peace band played in Auckland in February of 2009, I noted these players – in the vanguard of jazz fusion in the 70s – had re-invented it for a new audience: gone were the faster-than-thou solos which guitarist McLaughlin once inflicted (notably with his intense Mahavishnu Orchestra)...

Miroslav Vitous Group: Remembering Weather Report (ECM)

Miroslav Vitous Group: Remembering Weather Report (ECM)

With the reunion of Chick Corea and John McLaughlin; bassist Stanley Clarke back with another trio album with pianist Hiromi and drummer Lenny White; Clarke, Corea, White and guitarist Al Di Meola returning as another Return to Forever; and other Seventies fusion artists on the trail again it looks like that whole movement has been...

PIANIST VIJAY IYER PROFILED (2009): The jazzman has a master plan

PIANIST VIJAY IYER PROFILED (2009): The jazzman has a master plan

Among the many things Wynton Marsalis learned from Miles Davis was this: never undersell yourself. If you know you’re a genius just say so. If you know the past and future of jazz just tell people you do. Don’t hold back, put yourself in the lineage, come off arrogant if need be. What Wynton didn’t learn was to say...

NEIL COWLEY, UK JAZZ PIANIST PROFILED (2009): Hip and riffing

NEIL COWLEY, UK JAZZ PIANIST PROFILED (2009): Hip and riffing

In August 2009, to belatedly commemorate the 40th anniversary of the release of The Beatles double album (aka The White Album of ‘68), some Australian singers (including Tim Rogers of You Am I and Josh Pyke) got together with an orchestra to play the whole thing live. Well, not quite the whole thing of course. It would be a brave or...

AL DI MEOLA INTERVIEWED (2009): Guitarist from the loud to the listener

AL DI MEOLA INTERVIEWED (2009): Guitarist from the loud to the listener

At 55, Al Di Meola -- who still lives in New Jersey close to his musical roots -- has had a long and influential career, and was one of the great innovators on electric guitar. In the late Sixties and early Seventies he played small clubs in New York and around Boston while at Berklee, but was largely an unknown when he made his debut...

BILL EVANS' 1963 ALBUM MOON BEAMS: Art from the heart place

BILL EVANS' 1963 ALBUM MOON BEAMS: Art from the heart place

By the merest shift of the prism Moon Beams, the album by the jazz trio lead by pianist Bill Evans, could easily be under Essential Elsewhere. But that of course would deny the genius of his recordings with bassist Scott LaFaro in late Fifites (and drummer Paul Motian) with whom he developed an intuitive understanding. But 10 days after...

Polar Bear: Peepers (Leaf/Southbound)

Polar Bear: Peepers (Leaf/Southbound)

This fiery UK jazz quintet helmed by acclaimed young drummer/composer Seb Rochford (interviewed here) has really caught the attention of the British jazz (and elsewhere) imagination: they were nominated for a Mercury Prize a few years ago; Rochford picks up awards; the various members work in other outside (and very interesting) projects; and...

TRILOGUE; LIVE IN BERLIN 1976, a concert film (Jazz Shots/Southbound DVD)

TRILOGUE; LIVE IN BERLIN 1976, a concert film (Jazz Shots/Southbound DVD)

The tragic story of bassist Jaco Pastorius (1961-87) has been told in depth at Elsewhere (here) but this concert film from '76 -- with avant-trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff and drummer Alphonse Mouzon -- captures him before the rapid decline through drink, drugs and neglect. In Weather Report, Pastorius's style often headed towards jazz-rock...

Herbie Hancock: The Imagine Project (Sony)

Herbie Hancock: The Imagine Project (Sony)

Regardless of what you think of John Lennon's song Imagine -- and opinion ranges from drippy sentimentality to inspirational -- most would agree the song succeeds with many people for its understated delivery. Lennon sang it without aching obviously through whatever emotion he might be bringing to it, which allowed the listener to fill in the...

Vijay Iyer: Solo (ACT/Southbound)

Vijay Iyer: Solo (ACT/Southbound)

This gifted, multiple-award wining pianist and rather ferocious intellect has been profiled at Elsewhere previously (here) and this album is perhaps the one which will be persuasive evidence that he really is something. Eleven pieces played solo -- among them Monk's Epistrophy, the standards Darn That Dream, Ellington's Fluerette Africaine...

JOHN McLAUGHLIN: Live in Paris . . . and New York

JOHN McLAUGHLIN: Live in Paris . . . and New York

The opening track on guitarist John McLaughlin's Live in Paris, usefully serves as a microcosm of his career. It starts slow, melodic and considered with McLaughlin peeling off memorable phrases, then picks up speed to hit a furious pace as he skitters around the fret-board like ferret freebasing. Things then cut back to irresistible...

SERIOUS FUN; THE MUSIC AND LIFE OF MIKE NOCK by NORMAN MEEHAN (VUP)

SERIOUS FUN; THE MUSIC AND LIFE OF MIKE NOCK by NORMAN MEEHAN (VUP)

Alongside Alan Broadbent, Mike Nock has been New Zealand's most successful and visible jazz export. Like composer/pianist and Grammy-magnet Broadbent, Nock was lost to the country early. Both men won Downbeat scholarships to Berklee and were there before they were 21, Broadbent having played the clubs of Auckland and Nock by a rather more...

Mike Nock: An Accumulation of Subtleties (FWM/Rhythmethod)

Mike Nock: An Accumulation of Subtleties (FWM/Rhythmethod)

This quite exceptional double disc by New Zealand-born pianist/composer Nock arrives with the advantage of great timing: Norman Meehan's fine biography of Nock, Serious Fun, has just been published (see Elsewhere review here) on the occasion of Nock's 70th birthday. Well, age shall not weary him as the first, exquisite and commanding disc...

JACK DeJOHNETTE INTERVIEWED (2011): Two Jacks and a Miles

JACK DeJOHNETTE INTERVIEWED (2011): Two Jacks and a Miles

When fame called on Jack DeJohnette during his period in Miles Davis' innovative electric band of the late Sixties and early Seventies, he was ready for it. Acclaim outside their own world is unusual for jazz musicians, but DeJohnette had tasted it a few years previous in the Charles Lloyd Quartet which enjoyed that rarity, a jazz album...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Weather Report; I Sing the Body Electric (Sony)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Weather Report; I Sing the Body Electric (Sony)

One jazz encyclopedia says of this, the second album by the Joe Zawinul-Wayne Shorter lead fusion group -- "everyting about I Sing the Body Electric was very 1972 . . . the brilliant sci-fi artwork . . . the psychobabble liner notes". Another says "another document of the times with a sci-fi cover, impressionistic pieces, booting...

Julia Hulsmann Trio: Imprint (ECM/Ode)

Julia Hulsmann Trio: Imprint (ECM/Ode)

While few would deny the gentle beauty of these trio recordings (and, not incidentally, the impressive playing of drummer Heinrich Kobberling), this too often suffers the fate of some similarly-conceived ECM albums: much of it just evaporates before your ears and it is only when applying diligent listening that it gives itself up to you....

Vallon, Moret, Rohrer: Rruga (ECM/Ode)

Vallon, Moret, Rohrer: Rruga (ECM/Ode)

This is ECM piano trio jazz certainly, but young pianist/composer Colin Vallon brings something different and unusual to these 11 pieces, most of which are his originals or by drummer Samuel Rohrer. (There are two by bassist Patrice Moret). It is hard to put your finger on but you might say his playing has the pace, phrasing and emphasis of...

MILES DAVIS, ON THE CORNER: The man with the bellbottoms

MILES DAVIS, ON THE CORNER: The man with the bellbottoms

The cliche has become so embedded that hardly anyone questions it: “indie label good, major label bad”.   As with most generalisations it doesn’t support much scrutiny: small indie labels may be more comfortable for musicians because they know the boss, but they can also be woefully amateurish, financially incompetent...

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