Jazz in Elsewhere

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

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Elephant9: Greatest Show on Earth (Rune Grammofon/Southbound)

9 Mar 2018  |  1 min read

It has been some while since we introduced the Rune Grammofon jazz-and-elsewhere label out of Norway. And with this return bout we warn immediately that Elephant9 – a trio of psycho-keyboards, furious bass and jackhammer drums – are probably not for the faint of heart. This is jazz as a power trio, and Elephant9 is apparently considered Norway's best live band. On the... > Read more

Actionpack1

Ella Fitzgerald: Ella at Zardi's (Verve/Universal)

21 Jan 2018  |  1 min read

Last year was Ella's. It was the centenary of her birth in Virginia and 21 years after her death. Between those two points the great Ella became one of the most sophisticated, classy and convincing jazz singers of all time, one who could get as deep inside a lyric as Frank Sinatra, could improvise in a scat style like the best instrumentalists and was a role model, a civil rights... > Read more

Cry Me a River

Chisholm/Meehan/Dyne: Unwind (Rattle)

12 Jan 2018  |  1 min read

Wellington pianist/author/teacher and composer Norman Meehan has appeared a few times at Elsewhere but bassist Paul Dyne, once a mainstay of New Zealand jazz in Sustenance during the Eighties and intermittent recording projects since, not quite as often. And expat composer/saxophonist Hayden Chisholm just the once. But it is Chisholm's nuanced, melodic and sometimes classically... > Read more

Inebriate Waltz

Cecile McLorin Salvant: Dreams and Daggers (Mack Avenue/Southbound)

6 Nov 2017  |  1 min read

Although this Grammy-winning jazz singer is probably on very few people's scanner right now, no doubt that will change in the run-up to her appearances at the New Zealand Arts Festival in Wellington and the Auckland Festival next March. With a small group – and studio strings in a few places – she here spreads her considerable vocal and lyric writing talents across two... > Read more

Runnin' Wild

David Friesen Trio: Another Time Another Place (Rattle)

10 Oct 2017  |  1 min read  |  1

The release of this album recorded live in Auckland in late 2015 could not be more timely because American bassist Friesen is about to tour again (dates below) with guitarist Dixon Nacey and drummer Reuben Bradley who are on hand here. Friesen is a Major Player in the US jazz scene, has a list of album credits under his own name as long as your outstretched arms, and has played on... > Read more

Sailing

Kamasi Washington: Harmony of Difference (Young Turks)

9 Oct 2017  |  2 min read  |  1

As befits a jazz player, composer and arranger whose debut was a triple CD set entitled The Epic – and covered ground from hard bop through soul and funk to Claire de Lune – Kamasi Washington is a Big Picture guy, very much of the old school where jazz had albums entitled The Creator Has A Master Plan (Pharoah Sanders), Ascension (John Coltrane) and The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse... > Read more

Humility

JANE IRA BLOOM CONSIDERED (2017): An artist going beyond place and time

9 Oct 2017  |  2 min read

Even in the broad church that is jazz, soprano saxophonist/composer Jane Ira Bloom from Boston has stood out. The early Eighties, for example, found her beginning her explorations of electronics as applied to her soprano, and later in that decade she was the musician commissioned by NASA Arts Programme for which she wrote and performed three pieces across which she deployed sax,... > Read more

One Note From One Bird

Jim Langabeer: Secret Islands (Rattle)

31 Jul 2017  |  1 min read

Two things immediately come to mind with this exceptional, challenging and rewarding album: Given his manifest talent which he has gifted to others' albums why has Jim Langabeer's name so rarely appeared as a leader on New Zealand albums? (Is this his first?) And that while this improvised music clearly has reference points in jazz it does not overtly appear on the Rattle Jazz... > Read more

The Big Smoke

10 RARE FREE JAZZ ALBUMS I'M PROUD TO OWN (2017): Abstract arts from the past

30 Jun 2017  |  12 min read

Every month dozens of reissues across many genres – sometimes well annotated compilations, often reissued albums in replicas of the original artwork – appear. These days you can find obscure rural blues and Sixties psychedelic albums, the complete works of some folk singer who is barely a footnote in a reference book and much more without too much difficulty. But if there... > Read more

MILES DAVIS : SKETCHES OF SPAIN REVISITED (2017): Jazz at the interface of classical music

8 May 2017  |  4 min read

When Miles Davis entered Columbia Records’ New York studio in November 1959 with composer/arranger Gil Evans and producer Teo Macero to record the material for the album Sketches of Spain, the trumpeter was not on completely unfamiliar territory. He had seen and heard flamenco music, doubtless knew the explorations of Spanish music by Lionel Hampton, Charles Mingus and others,... > Read more

Song of Our Country (take nine)

Julia Hulsmann Trio: Sooner And Later (ECM/Ode)

8 May 2017  |  <1 min read

It has been almost a decade since German pianist Hulsmann’s trio impressed mightily with the emotionally still and evocative The End of A Summer, but also about six since we found her Imprint album mostly evaporated without leaving much of an impression. This new outing – only her sixth for the label since ’89 – finds her back in the trio format after other... > Read more

From Afar

KENNY BARRON INTERVIEWED (2017): Time makes a wine

10 Apr 2017  |  8 min read

Speaking from his home in rainy New York, 73-year old jazz pianist, composer and educator Kenny Barron sounds like he's possessed of the energy someone half his age. He is genial, quick, witty, looking forward to flying to Chicago the following day to play in an Oscar Peterson tribute . . . and clearly remembers his first paying gig. It was in his hometown of Philadelphia almost six... > Read more

Prayer, the Kenny Barron Trio, 2016

Colin Vallon, Patrice Moret, Julian Sartorius: Danse (ECM/Ode)

31 Mar 2017  |  <1 min read

On the second album by this trio --- pianist Vallon and bassist Moret also having recorded in the quartet lead by singer Elina Duni, and together with drummer Samuel Rohrer – the intuitive understand between them is evident in the quiet explorations of melody. There are few fireworks here but rather an almost meditative sensibility is in play for many of the 11 pieces (nine... > Read more

Oort

Joey Alexander: Countdown (Motema/Ode)

23 Mar 2017  |  1 min read

Indonesian Alexander is a child prodigy who caught the jazz world's attention as an 11-year old. He seemed a natural and had been weaned on his father's jazz collection. He played for Herbie Hancock, and Wynton Marsalis saw him on You Tube and invited him to appear at the Lincoln Center's gala programme . . . and he's appeared at Newport and other credible jazz festivals. He's also... > Read more

Sunday Waltz

Benedikt Jahnel Trio: The Invariant (ECM/Ode)

6 Mar 2017  |  1 min read

One of the chief features of artists on the ECM roster is how they move about, hooking up with like minds for an album or maybe two, the chairs being shuffled to allow artists to refresh and renew themselves in the company of others. In that regard the Benedikt Jahnel Trio is almost an oddity. This year they – Berlin-based pianist Jahnel, Canadian drummer Owen Howard and Spanish... > Read more

Further Consequences

SABU TOYOZUMI PROFILED (2017): Zen and the art of freedom

6 Mar 2017  |  3 min read

Any number of guitarists would say they were inspired by Jimi Hendrix, but rather fewer drummers. Least of all a Japanese guy in a pop band with the archetypal name of the Samurais. But drummer Yoshisaburo Toyozumi – known as Sabu and who went on to become one of the most respected free jazz drummers – has always pointed to the chance encounter of seeing Hendrix play in... > Read more

Auckland Jazz Orchestra: Bloom (SDL)

3 Mar 2017  |  1 min read

For many decades, many New Zealand jazz musicians have done what the league players call “the hard yards” . . . jazz players were in high school bands (Grammaphone), navy bands, Rodger Fox's invaluable training ground and flexible working ensembles (Tom Ludvigson's Inner City Jazz Workshop). These rarely-acknowledged training grounds – often hard sprints under the... > Read more

Bloom

Theo Bleckmann: Elegy (ECM/Ode)

1 Mar 2017  |  1 min read

Every now and again we allow ourselves to say, “an acquired taste” . . . But usually that means something totally difficult and out there on the perimeter . . . like Yoko Ono and Pere Ubu used to be. But, to these ears, this album by singer/poet Bleckmann and a very decent jazz quarter is what a university music department might call “Art Music”. Which... > Read more

Comedy Tonight

Craig Taborn: Daylight Ghosts (ECM/Ode)

20 Feb 2017  |  1 min read  |  1

Late on this album by the American pianist Craig Taborn and his quartet, they deliver a thoughtful version of Jamaican Farewell, not the song made famous by Harry Belafonte – that is Jamaica Farewell – but the wistful tune by Roscoe Mitchell which appeared on his '99 album Nine to Get Ready, also on the ECM label. It's a fine tribute to Mitchell and follows two albums... > Read more

Jamaican Farewell

Jasmine Lovell-Smith's Towering Poppies: Yellow Red Blue (Paint Box)

20 Feb 2017  |  1 min read

It has been almost five years since we last heard from this New Zealand saxophonist who moved to Connecticut (where studied with the great Anthony Braxton and appeared in one of his ensembles), then to New York and later Mexico. She has now come back to further her studies Wellington where she is starting a doctorate under John Psathas. This album, recorded with her American group... > Read more

Moving Mountains