Jazz in Elsewhere

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Trygve Seim/Andreas Utnem: Purcor; Songs for Saxophone and Piano (ECM/Ode)

23 Jan 2011  |  <1 min read

On a blindfold test -- "What record label is this on?" -- my money would be on greater than 90 percent of music-aware Elsewhere people saying immediately "ECM", and about half of those left over making an inspired guess and saying the same. Much as this is all things which its oddly under-claiming promo makes for it ("a thoughtful and reflective album, of great... > Read more

Siem/Utnem: Bhavana

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

14 Jan 2011  |  4 min read  |  3

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 share of beatings.  So he took boxing... > Read more

Right Off (extract only)

DAVE BRUBECK (2011): A jazz life of constant discovery

10 Jan 2011  |  3 min read

Dave Brubeck, whose hit album in 1958 was Time Out, understands time better than most of us. In December 2010 he turned 90 and although ailing, as expected, he had been playing right up until his late 80s – and been collecting awards and accolades. For many jazz listeners and critics Brubeck was always considered an intellectual rather than an instinctive musician, although the... > Read more

Dave Brubeck Quartet: Three To Get Ready (from At Carnegie Hall, 1963)

FREE JAZZ WITH A BLEEP: The Norwegian electronic-jazz label Rune Grammofone

23 Dec 2010  |  5 min read

Thelonious Monk said, "Jazz and freedom go hand in hand”. We can guess he meant freedom in a political sense, because jazz is about individual expression and in that regard was a vehicle for the aspirations of his people. It's about freedom and post-Monk found its voice in free jazz. Free jazz is much maligned, largely because it’s difficult to assimilate and... > Read more

Arve Henriksen: Inside Tea-House

John Niland: Barnett Lane (Eelman/Jayrem)

5 Dec 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

Here's a surprise: I hadn't heard of pianist Niland since his Inside album of the mid Eighties which he recorded with drummer Ross Burge and bassist Rob Mahoney in Wellington's Marmalade Studios. It was nomintaed for Jazz Album of the Year at the annual music awards (I'm sure I voted for it) and then Niland was off to Sydney. And here he is again after al these decades. Although this... > Read more

John Niland: Barnett Lane

THE ACT LABEL, SIGNATURE EDITION (2010): Getting their ACT acts together

5 Dec 2010  |  5 min read

There is something smart about a record label adopting the idea of generic covers: certainly the distinctive Reid Miles design for covers for Blue Note (frequently using Frank Wolff's photos) became a hallmark of quality, and ECM came into the world (after a false start) with those cool, enigmatic photos which gave little away but sugested interesting contents within the sleeve. The Rattle... > Read more

Nguyen Le and Dhafer Youssef (on oud): Zafaran (2006)

MILES DAVIS AND QUINCY JONES AT MONTREUX: The circle is unbroken

29 Nov 2010  |  4 min read

It was emblematic of the soul rebel career of Miles Davis that in his final years he was painting as much as he was playing, had a cameo spot in a movie (Dingo) playing a pre-electric period jazz trumpeter, exchanging tapes with Prince, recorded with rapper Eazy Mo Bee and – most surprising of all turned up at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1991 to play some classic tunes from his... > Read more

Blues for Pablo

LLoyd Miller and the Heliocentrics: Lloyd Miller and the Heliocentrics (Strut)

22 Nov 2010  |  1 min read

Both London's Heliocentrics and their label Strut have an admirable practice of getting different artists together for projects (see here and here) and sometimes they just soar. This is one such project, the Heliocentrics with multi-instrumentalist Miller who grew up on Dixieland/New Orleans jazz but then, when his dad was posted to Iran in the late Fifties, began to pick up local... > Read more

Lloyd Miller and the Heliocentrics: Rain Dance

Chet Baker: In New York (American Jazz Classics/Southbound)

21 Nov 2010  |  <1 min read

Although you could hardly argue with a line-up which had tenor player Johnny Griffin, pianist Al Haig, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones alongside trumpeter Chet Baker, the result was a fairly mainstream, late Fifties sessions which -- while admittedly pushing Baker in a way he hadn't previously -- don't really separate themselves from the pack. Of course there is fine... > Read more

Chet Baker: Soft Winds

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

15 Nov 2010  |  5 min read

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 refinement as it gathers in its melodic sharpness... > Read more

John McLaughlin: Seven Sisters (from Live in Paris, 2000)

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

14 Nov 2010  |  1 min read

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 illustrates. With the sibling rhythm section of... > Read more

Mike Nock: Joyous Awakening

PAUL HORN INTERVIEWED (1992): The healing force within

8 Nov 2010  |  5 min read

For a man pegged as “the founding father of new age music," jazz saxophonist and flute player Paul Horn has a clear, pragmatic view of the music – which was spawned in the wake of his Inside album, recorded in the Taj Mahal in the late Sixties. That meditative piece -- which used the long acoustic delay within the building -- has been hailed as one of the earliest of... > Read more

Paul Horn: Agra (from Inside)

Vijay Iyer: Solo (ACT/Southbound)

1 Nov 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

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 and Black and Tan Fantasy, alongside a number of... > Read more

Vijay Iyer: Darn That Dream

THE MODERN JAZZ QUARTET (1968-70): Lost in the big Apple

1 Nov 2010  |  2 min read

If you had a bottomless pit of money to start your own record company, who would you sign? That's what the Beatles faced when they launched Apple Records in early 68. Their famous ad which invited people to send in tapes saw their office swamped – but not one act was signed on that basis: Badfinger (then known as the Iveys) came through their road manager Mal Evans; Mary Hopkins... > Read more

Modern Jazz Quartet: Visitor From Venus

Reuben Bradley: Resonator (Rattle Jazz)

26 Oct 2010  |  1 min read

This new album on the immaculately presented and recorded Rattle Jazz imprint proves again there is a depth of New Zealand jazz talent to be encouraged and taken to a wider audience. Helmed by drummer Bradley -- with a core group of Roger Manins on brusque and/or melodic tenor, keyboardist Miles Crayford and Mostyn Cole on bass -- this album covers a wide swathe of Bradley's original... > Read more

Reuben Bradley: Doppler Effect

Jorgensen, Mikkonen, Ounaskari: Kuara, Psalms and Folk Songs (ECM/Ode)

25 Oct 2010  |  <1 min read

Unfamiliar names, but this trumpet, piano and drum trio deliver an always interesting and often impressive line in meditative mood music which steps lightly between the most refined Miles Davis, contemporary classical and ambient world music. In places Per Jorgensen's trumpet sounds strangely discordant as it conjures up a primitive horn (the Baltic folk song Tuuin Tuuin), Samuli... > Read more

Jorgensen, Mikkonen, Ounaskari: Mountain of Sorrow

Youn Sun Nah: Same Girl (ACT/Southbound)

18 Oct 2010  |  <1 min read

This sophisticated Korea-born singer who has long been based in Europe -- this is her seventh album, but only the second for Germany's ACT Music -- grew up with parents who were classical musicians, and that might explain some of the assured poise she brings to her delivery of ballads. But before she arrived in Paris in the mid Nineties (drawn by chanson apparently) she hardly knew a... > Read more

Youn Sun Nah: My Name is Carnival

Berne, Taborn, Formanek, Cleaver: The Rub and Spare Change (ECM/Ode)

18 Oct 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

Although you would be unwise to say any particular album seems unusual on ECM -- this is a label which has had Jan Garbarek with the Hilliard Ensemble, the noisecore of Lask and the Art Ensemble of Chicago -- this one out of Downtown NYC is unexpected. The composer here is bassist Michael Formanek who has been a mainstay of the Mingus Big Band and in altoist Tim Berne's more edgy... > Read more

Berne, Tabron, Formanek, Cleaver: Inside the Box

Charles Lloyd Quartet: Mirror (ECM/Ode)

11 Oct 2010  |  <1 min read

Anyone who has seen this extraordinary quartet recently -- they played in New Zealand earlier this year, Lloyd interviewed here -- will need not further prodding on this album other than to know it is released, the first studio album by this line-up. These tunes -- many of them familiar in their concert repertoire and from previous albums (I Fall in Love Too Easily) -- were recorded in the... > Read more

harles Lloyd Quartet: Go Down Moses

DAVID S. WARE: The price of free

11 Oct 2010  |  5 min read  |  2

When the histories of jazz in the 20th century are published one name from the last two decades could loom unnaturally large: Wynton Marsalis. In some books he'll be hailed as the man who saved jazz from factionalism, commercial isolation and the like. In others he'll be the revisionist who used unquestionable talent, persuasive intellect and immense personal charm to marginalise... > Read more

David S Ware: Sweet Georgia Bright