Jazz in Elsewhere

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

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

THELONIOUS MONK, DISCOVERED (2020): Not a “lost” recording, but one we never knew of

20 Sep 2020  |  3 min read  |  1

The story is so unexpected and unusual that it just has to be true: Thelonious Monk and his group playing at a high school in Palo Alto, Northern California in October '68 at a concert organised by a 16-year old fan . . . and the concert being recorded by the janitor. And until recently no one knew the recording existed, not even Monk researcher Robin D G Kelley who wrote the magisterial... > Read more

Jimmy Heath: Love Letter (Verve/digital outlets)

19 Aug 2020  |  <1 min read

When the great jazz saxophonist Jimmy Heath died in January this year at 93, one of the final connections with that early age of the bebop of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie (not to mention Miles Davis when he replaced John Coltrane in Davis' band in the late Fifties) was severed. Although sometimes dismissed as being derivative – a follower not a leader – Heath (whose... > Read more

Jon Balke: Discourses (ECM/digital outlets)

12 Aug 2020  |  1 min read

Norwegian pianist Jon Balke is quite unlike any other on the ECM label. Elsewhere first encountered him about four decades ago when he was in his Twenties and briefly in the Arild Andersen Quartet, but we lost touch with him until his engrossing solo piano outing Book of Velocities in 2006. Then he went off our radar again. He had often melded acoustic piano with sonic effects and... > Read more

Jorma Tapio and Kaski: Aliseen (577 Records/bandcamp)

26 Jul 2020  |  1 min read

Opening with a tough but tender and melodic alto piece (reminiscent of Ornette Coleman's tone on the classic Lonely Woman), the Finnish multi-instrumentalist Jorma Tapio and his band immediately grab attention. That opener Reppurin Laulu – a traditional song from a part of Finland now in Russia – is driven along by the precision playing of drummer Janne Tuomi and bassist Ville... > Read more

Marcin Wasilewski Trio/Joe Lovano: Arctic Riff (ECM/digital outlets)

18 Jul 2020  |  <1 min read

Regular readers of Elsewhere's jazz reviews will have encountered pianist Marcin Wasilewski's trio either under their own name or on albums with Tomasz Stanko. The trio's Faithful album was among our best of 2011 releases. And of course tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano has been frequently reviewed (and is interviewed) at Elsewhere. So their first-time pairing on the ECM label should be of... > Read more

Scofield/Swallow/Stewart: Swallow Tales (ECM/digital outlets)

11 Jul 2020  |  1 min read

Anyone who has even a modest collection of ECM jazz albums will have encountered bassist Steve Swallow, most often on albums with his longtime partner Carla Bley but also with vibes player Gary Burton, and with guitarist John Scofield with whom he has an almost intuitive understanding born of four decades of playing and recording together. This album of Swallow's compositions is a salute to... > Read more

GRG67: Happy Place (Rattle)

1 Jul 2020  |  1 min read

This Auckland jazz group with what looks like a personalised plate for a name, impressed mightily with its debut album The Thing two years ago. And at that time we noted the credentials of the players, notably saxophonist Roger Manins who here again writes most of the pieces. The same quartet appears here – Manins, guitarist Michael Howell, drummer Tristan Deck and bassist Mostyn Cole... > Read more

MayWayDay

Rava/Herbert/Guidi: For Mario, Live: (Accidental Records/digital outlets)

28 Jun 2020  |  <1 min read

With elements of minimalism, tone poems, avant-garde inclinations, yearning European trumpet and soundtracks for disconcerting films, this trio of trumpeter Enrico Rava, pianist Giovanni Guidi (both ECM artists) and UK electronic composer Matthew Herbert here invent an aural landscape scape of manipulated sounds and samples, noise and delicacy, drama and reflection. The Mario of the... > Read more

Jerkagram and Martin Escalante: Parkour (577 Records/digital outlets)

26 Jun 2020  |  <1 min read

First let us tell you – warn you perhaps – who has influenced the Jerkagram noise duo of Californian twins Derek and Brent who “play” guitars, drums, loops and so on: Captain Beefheart, Boredoms and Keiji Haino. You might, after listening, add the squeal of tyres, fingernails down a blackboard, broken electric equipment . . . This noisecore-cum-experimental sound... > Read more

Connie Han: Iron Starlet (Mack Avenue/Southbound)

21 Jun 2020  |  1 min read

Sometimes you just have to put aside preconceptions about how an artist looks – Alice Cooper, Tiny Tim, Frank Zappa from days of yore – and just head straight to the music. So it is with glamorous if not stunning jazz pianist Connie Han from LA who comes with all the disadvantages of being sultry, sexualised and seductive on this album cover (as she was on its... > Read more

RECOMMENDED REISSUE: Lonnie Liston Smith and the Cosmic Echoes; Expansions (Ace/Border)

1 Jun 2020  |  1 min read

In the mid Seventies while some African-American artists were getting tight with the brothers and sisters on the angry street or getting back to Africa (sometimes via what we now call Afro-Futurism), some were heading for the cosmos propelled by jazz-funk and using the dancefloor as their launch-pad. This third album in '75 by the great keyboard player LLSmith with his Cosmic Echoes band... > Read more

Paul Flaherty: Borrowed From Children (577 Records/Southbound/digital outlets)

28 May 2020  |  1 min read

Now in his Seventies, alto/tenor player Paul Flaherty has been part of the NYC/free jazz scene for almost 50 years and continues the improvising project of his early influences such as the young Pharoah Sanders, Peter Brotzmann and Ornette Coleman. And for much of that time Flaherty has worked with – as he does here – drummer Randall Colbourne (32 years) and... > Read more

Oded Tzur: Here Be Dragons (ECM/digital outlets)

25 May 2020  |  <1 min read

When recently invited to choose 10 formative jazz albums I had two which bridged Indian classical music and jazz, both being improvised musics. I noted that this area between two cultures and genres was often very rewarding. Here Israeli tenor player Oded Tzur – who has studied with bansuri/flute master Hariprasad Chaurasia – brings his sensibility for raga structure and... > Read more

10 INFLUENTIAL JAZZ ALBUMS IN MY COLLECTION: The shape of me to come

22 May 2020  |  6 min read

During the Covid-19 lockdown, Facebook was awash with people being asked to choose their favourite albums, books and so on. And I too was there at the invitation of Rodney Hewson, a music man from way back, who asked me to pick 10 albums that were influential on my thinking about jazz. An impossible task in many ways, but one that did get me considering. It would have been easy to... > Read more

Trrma: Earth's Relief (577 Records/Southbound/digital outlets)

18 May 2020  |  <1 min read

This Italian duo of Giovanni Todisco (drums/percussion and Giuseppe Candiano (synths) comes courtesy of 577 Records out of Brooklyn which Elsewhere readers have encountered previously through albums by Daniel Carter and Treesearch. Although the promotional blurb says their inspirations are Sun Ra and classical composer Xenakis with some of Flying Lotus' sensibilities... > Read more

Carter/Wilner/Toure/Ughi: New York United (577 Records/Southbound)

17 May 2020  |  2 min read

They say when you get a dealer you can trust, someone who is reliable and knows what you need, then stick with them. So it is for me with Troy at Southbound Records in Auckland who, late last year, guided me to the excellent Radical Invisibility album featuring the prolific, septuagenarian New York saxophonist/flautist/trumpeter Daniel Carter. It has rarely been... > Read more

Al Di Meola: Across the Universe (EarMusic/Digital outlets)

9 May 2020  |  1 min read

Guitarist Al Di Meola is not the first and certainly won't be the last jazz musician to pay tribute to the Beatles, the band he credits with getting him into playing music: “That was a major catalyst for me to want to learn music, so their impact was pretty strong”. And actually it isn't the first time he's been down this route. In 2013 at Abbey Road he recorded All... > Read more

You're Mother Should Know

RECOMMENDED REISSUE: Mal Waldron; Free At Last (ECM 2xLP/CD/digital)

18 Apr 2020  |  1 min read

Some time in late '88 I was in Paris and by pure chance saw a small ad in some street press saying the Mal Waldron Trio was playing that night in a club. What club and where I can't recall but I made my way there despite being almost entirely ignorant of who pianist Waldron was. But I knew who he had been. Decades previous he'd played with Coltrane, Mingus and Eric Dolphy. And... > Read more

Bley, Swallow, Sheppard: Life Goes On (ECM, digital outlets)

13 Apr 2020  |  1 min read  |  1

Now in her Eighties, the great composer/pianist/organist Carla Bley remains productive as a recording artist and here completes a trilogy of albums with her longtime trio of bassist/partner Steve Swallow and British saxophonist Andy Sheppard (who is now in his mid Sixties for those of you who remember hm as the hot young player out of London alongside Courtney Pine). The first in the... > Read more

Copycat 1: After You

Aaron Diehl: The Vagabond (Mack Avenue)

30 Mar 2020  |  1 min read

In a classic trio setting with bassist Paul Sikivie and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, the classically-trained and award-winning jazz pianist Aaron Diehl – still only in his early Thirties – here delivers an elegant, inventive third studio album. It touches obliquely on his broad range of influences, from Art Tatum and the more mainstream but often overlooked style of Oscar... > Read more