Jazz in Elsewhere

Interviews, overviews and reviews of interesting historic and contemporary jazz musicians and music.

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

A LOVE SUPREME, LIVE IN SEATTLE (2012): Another rediscovered session by John Coltrane

8 Nov 2021  |  3 min read

Even those with little knowledge of jazz know to nod sagely when trumpeter Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (1959) and tenor saxophonist John Coltrane's A Love Supreme (recorded in December 1964 and released a month later) are mentioned. These albums transcend the genre and -- the Davis in particular which remains the best-selling jazz album – are often on the shelves of those who find jazz... > Read more

Resolution (Live)

Bruce Aitken: Once Upon a No Name (bandcamp)

7 Oct 2021  |  <1 min read

Elsewhere recently took a close listen to The Face Vol 1 by Sydney-based expat Kiwi percussionist Bruce Aitken (and some excellent friends) and were mightily impressed by the improvised diversity on display We look forward to Vol 2 (if there is one, Aitken's a bit eccentric in that regard) but meantime Aitken has started a new series loosely based on the spaghetti westerns of Sergio... > Read more

Jane Ira Bloom/Allison Miller: Tues Days (Outline/bandcamp)

3 Oct 2021  |  <1 min read

On five consecutive Tuesdays in March and April, New York soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom (who has appeared a few times at Elsewhere) and drummer Allison Miller got together in their respective home studios to record some improvised sax and drum duets together . . . as is the way of it in the 21st century under lockdowns. The idea wasn't to record an album particularly, but once the... > Read more

Marcin Wasilewski Trio: En Attendant (ECM/digital outlets)

13 Sep 2021  |  <1 min read

Although this trio have recorded recently with Joe Lovano and under their own name, you can't help but wonder if the subdued mood here is a response to the death in 2018 of trumpeter Tomasz Stanko who this group had a long, profitable and beautiful relationship with. Even their treatment of the Doors' Riders on the Storm is taken at a melancholy, thoughtful pace with few of the... > Read more

RECOMMENDED RECORD: Dexter Gordon: Go (Blue Note)

6 Aug 2021  |  3 min read

In one iconic photo by Herman Leonard taken in New York in 1948, the cool of Dexter Gordon -- his cigarette smoke coiling up above him -- came to symbolise and codify the image of jazz for many. At that time Gordon was in his mid 20s and his tenor playing had already been heard in Lionel Hampton's band but more recently when he was playing and recording alongside Charlie Parker whose bebop... > Read more

Where Are You?

Miles Davis: Merci Miles! Live at Vienne (digital outlets)

2 Aug 2021  |  1 min read  |  3

The mercurial directions in trumpeter Miles Davis' career frequently confounded jazz writers. In the mid Seventies one announced Davis' output after the mid-Sixties as of little interest, thereby dismissing Davis' innovative In a Silent Way (1969) and the game-changing Bitches Brew (70). Another wrote of In A Silent Way, “It was like finding a raised... > Read more

Jake Baxendale and Jasmine Lovell-Smith: Sanctuary (Paint Box/digital outlets)

2 Aug 2021  |  1 min read

The title of this album lead by saxophonists Jake Baxendale and Jasmine Lovell-Smith became prescient when the world dived into various lockdowns. The two three-part suites here -- Baxendale's Whitman-inspired Leaves of Grass and Lovell-Smith's title piece reflecting on her return to New Zealand after years abroad – were all conceived before those events but were recorded in a window... > Read more

Leaves of Grass Suite: Opening

Don Cherry: The Summer House Sessions (Blank Forms/digital outlets)

24 Jul 2021  |  1 min read  |  1

Trumpeter Don Cherry – step-father of Neneh and father to Eagle Eye – was right there in the avant-garde jazz movement on albums in the Fifties with Ornette Coleman (the presciently titled Something Else!!!, Tomorrow is the Question!, The Shape of Jazz to Come and Free Jazz among them). He had a long association with Coleman (one of his sons is David Ornette... > Read more

Auckland Jazz Orchestra: East of the Sun (AJO/bandcamp)

19 Jul 2021  |  1 min read

With CD sales in free-fall and jazz a minority music, why would the AJO (with singer Caitlin Smith) even bother with a professionally packaged, gatefold sleeve release like this? Yet this is much more than a vanity project but a warm showcase of these talented players recorded over a couple of days and mastered by Steve Garden (of Rattle). In the line-up are name players familiar... > Read more

Harbour Lights

Toine Thys/Orlando: Orlando (Hypnote/digital outlets)

1 Jul 2021  |  1 min read

It's a wee bit confusing: It seems this jazz quarter called Orlando but it is lead by saxophonist Toine Thys who also gets his name on the cover, but on digital outlets the album title is Orlando so . . .  And while this came out digitally late last year we bring it to attention now because the French-Belgian group just won the Octave de la Musique jazz award in Belgium, and only now... > Read more

NBQ: New Bop Quintet (Manu/digital outlets)

9 Jun 2021  |  1 min read

Although jazz morphs and changes as it assimilated other styles and sources, there are few key places it pivots back to, notably the classic bebop era of Monk, Miles and others. That style – born in the Forties and dominant for two decades thereafter – threw out geniuses like Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins and many, many more who... > Read more

3Up/3Down

TIMO LASSY and TEPPO MAKYNEN, INTRODUCED (2021): A jazz journey in the far north

7 Jun 2021  |  3 min read

A man walks into a record store . . . and that is his first mistake. My excuse was to buy the new Crowded House album on vinyl (always curious to hear what those Finns are up to) and ending up with even more Fins . . . a single album and a double live by the free jazz duo of saxophonist Timo Lassy and drummer Teppo Makynen from Helsinki. Also on handsome vinyl. It was a costly 20... > Read more

Richard X Bennett: RXB3 (Ubuntu Music/digital outlets)

31 May 2021  |  1 min read

New York-based pianist Richard X Bennett has appeared previously at Elsewhere (and was the subject of some Elsewhere Art) because he has been very different, right from our first hearing of his album New York City Swara in 2013 on which he played Indian ragas. No mean feat! There were subsequent albums which we wrote about and even had him answer a questionnaire... > Read more

Olivier Holland: Olivier Holland's GJAZZ 5 (Time Zone/digital outlets)

30 May 2021  |  1 min read

The provenance of this shape-shifting and often ultra-cool post-bop double album is interesting of itself. German-born and internationally acclaimed bassist/composer Olivier Holland is in the very successful jazz department in the School of Music at the University of Auckland where one of the featured saxophonists here, Roger Manins, also teaches. (Holland and Manins are in the group Dog,... > Read more

Sons of Kemet: Black to the Future (Impulse!/digital outlets)

17 May 2021  |  1 min read

We'll be frank, the previous album Your Queen is a Reptile by this much acclaimed British jazz ensemble (around the peripatetic saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings) didn't quite do it for us. Got the politics and culture, admired the ensemble playing but, as we said, on a musical level it seemed to pull back when its antecedents would have soared. That however seems to be Hutchings' modus... > Read more

Nik Bärtsch: Entendre (ECM/digital outlets)

3 May 2021  |  1 min read  |  1

Swiss pianist Nik Bärtsch has passed our way previously with his electric group Ronin whose Llyria album was in our best of Elsewhere list in 2010. And three years later we wrote equally approvingly (although conceding they were a difficult proposition) about the Ronin live album. As we mentioned previously, coming to an album on ECM has often meant anticipating a frosty... > Read more

Shai Maestro: Human (ECM/digital outlets)

16 Apr 2021  |  1 min read

With a name which befits his accomplishment yet playing which avoids flamboyance, Israeli pianist Shai Maestro found his natural home on the ECM label three years ago with The Dream Thief. Here again he is with fellow Israeli Ofri Nehemya (drums) and Peruvian bassist Jorge Roeder, and now American trumpeter Philip Dizack. With a clear acknowledgement of the American tradition (Hank and... > Read more

RECOMMENDED RECORD: Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: Moanin' (Blue Note reissue/Universal)

5 Apr 2021  |  2 min read  |  1

One of the greatest of the late Fifties swinging, hard bop albums on the Blue Note label, this album – like the self-titled album The Beatles, known as The White Album, of a decade later – didn't actually have a title. But it became known immediately as Moanin' after pianist Bobby Timmons' arresting, memorable nine minute-plus opening track which put solid funk into jazz.... > Read more

Moanin'

John Key's Jazz Monsters: Dune Dancing (OddMusic30/digital outlets)

29 Mar 2021  |  1 min read

No doubt Auckland keyboard player/composer John Key was delighted when a former prime minister abdicated in favour of golf, travel and commentary from the sidelines. Imagine ringing for a gig and saying, “Hi, this is John Key . . . “ Key's small group Strange Fruit has established a sound reputation over the past couple of decades (and three albums by my... > Read more

Zombie Hop

Lucien Johnson: Wax///Wane (Deluge/digital outlets)

22 Mar 2021  |  1 min read

The hypnotic sound of the opening piece here, Magnificent Moon, on this album under the name of Lucien Johnson – the Wellington-based, global-traveller and highly acclaimed composer/saxophonist – should be persuasive enough for anyone to want to continue. On an album inspired by the phases of the moon and natural phenomena, Johnson and his excellent, empathetic friends (vibes... > Read more