Jazz in Elsewhere

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Jon Balke: Book of Velocities (ECM/Ode)

1 Dec 2007  |  <1 min read

From the school of "so spare it's barely there" comes this delightful, melodic and restful debut solo album by the Norwegian pianist Balke, here improvising through 19 short pieces (the longest short of five minutes, most between two and four minutes). They are not miniatures as such, more like fully realised ideas that need be extended no further. In places Balke -- who also... > Read more

Jon Balke: Single Line

Ravi Coltrane: In Flux (SLG)

29 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

Now in his early 40s this tenor and soprano saxophonist has taken his time to emerge, but then again there was a huge shadow cast over his life. His father was jazz legend John and his mother the pianist/composer Alice. Not that he seems to have suffered unduly by these possibly career-crushing associations (there is an interesting interview with the good humoured Ravi under Absolute... > Read more

Ravi Coltrane Quartet: Leaving Avignon

Jacques Loussier: Plays Bach, Encore! (Telarc) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

20 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

Those of us with long memories and greying temples will remember a time when New Zealand television had cultural programmes in prime time, albeit in black'n'white. One of the mainstays of those days was pianist Jacques Loussier whose trio jazzed up Bach, and looked very cool doing it. Loussier made a bit of a career out of jazzing the classics, but unlike some he seemed to have an intuitive... > Read more

Jacques Loussier Trio: Concerto in F Minor, Allegro

Enrico Rava/Stefano Bollani: The Third Man (ECM/Ode)

12 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

It often surprises me what record companies prioritise. My understanding is that the German label ECM is putting a push behind the new album by percussionist Manu Katche, Playground, which is a fine, but somewhat straight-ahead jazz album and not especially adventurous for the most part. Real interest there lies with pianist Marcin Wasilewski who has played with the Thomas Stanko group, and... > Read more

Enrico Rava/Stefano Bollani: In Search of Titina

Herbie Hancock: River, The Joni Letters (Verve)

24 Oct 2007  |  1 min read  |  1

Jazzman Hancock has long been a supporter of Mitchell so this tribute to her music -- with another longtime Joni sideman Wayne Shorter on saxes -- comes as no surprise. And Mitchell's music has long moved into that melodically flexible area jazz musicians inhabit. What does surprise however is Mitchell's guest vocal on Tea Leaf Prophecy where she sounds darker and more husky than on her... > Read more

Herbie Hancock: The Jungle Line (featuring Leonard Cohen)

Lewis McCallum: Wake (RM)

1 Sep 2007  |  1 min read

Young Auckland saxophonist McCallum -- son of singer Malcolm -- adopts exactly the approach he should for someone his age: he comes out of the post hip-hop/clubland culture and so is entirely at home with programmed beats, soul-funk clubland styles, and has been working with those who share a similar sensibility. (He was in Relaxomatic Project, has toured with Opensouls and Mark de... > Read more

Lewis McCallum: It's You

BLUE NOTE'S BRUCE LUNDVALL INTERVIEWED (2005). Riding high on a Blue Note

20 Aug 2007  |  7 min read

The most powerful man in jazz sits in his office six floors above Fifth Avenue, New York. He's smiling. Business is good. Bruce Lundvall -- who began his career at Columbia Records with a hip young Miles Davis -- has been heading the famous Blue Note jazz label for 20 years. And recently business just got better. Why? In a word, “Norah". Founded by Alfred Lion and Frank... > Read more

Ornette Coleman: Sound Grammar (Sound Grammar)

28 Jul 2007  |  <1 min read

The "Buy This Album" link here is to amazon.com because my guess is there are about four copies of this album in stores across New Zealand. That's a pity -- and disappointing given it won Ornette Coleman a jazz Grammy earlier this year, and at the same time the 76-year old picked up a Lifetime Achievement honour. Coleman -- only the second jazz musician to be awarded a... > Read more

Ornette Coleman: Matador

Dino Saluzzi/Anja Lechner: Ojos Negros (ECM/Ode)

1 Jul 2007  |  <1 min read

Argentinean bandoneon player Saluzzi (along with Astor Piazzolla) is widely and correctly credited with bringing this instrument to universal attention through his early work with jazz musicians such as Gato Barbieri. Given his intense and often dramatic style, he also found a natural home on the ECM jazz label where he worked with the likes of Enrico Rava, Charlie Haden, Tomasz Stanko, and... > Read more

Dino Saluzzi/Anja Lechner: Ojos Negros

John Surman: The Spaces in Between (ECM/Ode)

24 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read

British saxophonist Surman's career has been a pleasure to follow: right from early ECM albums such as Upon Reflection ('79), The Amazing Adventures of Simon Simon ('81) and, especially, Private City in '87 (on all of which he played synthesizers as well as bass clarinet in addition to various saxes). Over the decades he has also worked with guitarist Terje Rypdal, in a jazz quartet... > Read more

John Surman: Mimosa

Motian/Frisell/Lovano: Time and Time Again (ECM/Ode)

24 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read

These musicians -- drummer Paul Motian, guitarist Bill Frisell and saxophonist Joe Lovano -- are of the generation which has, by the attrition of age of those who preceeded them, are becoming the senior statesmen of jazz. Yes, figures such as Ornette Coleman and Joe Henderson are still around, but their output is so minimal as to be of little impact today. However these guys -- Motian... > Read more

Tord Gustavsen Trio; Being There (ECM) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

2 May 2007  |  <1 min read

This is Norwegian pianist Gustavsen's third album on the prestigious ECM label and his self-described style of "loving every note" is the hallmark of these often beautifully spare tracks where there is sometimes a hymnal quality, sometimes an intensity of focus that recalls Bill Evans, and at others times an almost ambient Eno-like quality in the melodic miniatures. But that isn't... > Read more

Tord Gustavsen Trio: Still There

Dee Dee Bridgewater: Red Earth, A Malian Journey (Universal)

29 Apr 2007  |  1 min read

Just last week I was saying to a friend that Mali was starting to feel like the new Jamaica. Consider the number of artists whose names are becoming familiar: the late Ali Farka Toure and now his gifted son Vieux Farka Toure; Toumani Diabate, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare . . . And now there is the wave of sub-Sahara blues bands like Etran Finitawa and Tinariwen (both heavily featured in... > Read more

Dee Dee Bridgewater: Bad Spirits/Bani

Carolina Moon: East of the Sun (Global Routes)

8 Apr 2007  |  <1 min read

Even more New Zealand jazz. And different again. Moon began her career in London more than a decade ago, moved to Australia (where as Caroline Lynn she won considerable media praise) and then came to New Zealand. She is now married to saxophonist Roger Manins who appears here, along with pianist Kevin Field, guitarist-for-all-seasons Nigel Gavin, drummer Chris O'Connor, Oliver Holland on... > Read more

Carolina Moon: East of the Sun

Buzz Bahdur: Horizontal Life (Rhythmethod)

25 Mar 2007  |  <1 min read  |  1

Don't let the cheap cover put you off: this is a genuine slice of 70's-based jazz-fusion (with an overlay of contemporary world music and effects) by guitarist/composer Roy Venkataraman -- here as Buzz Bahdur -- whose CV boasts playing in Bob Marley's Wailers, on numerous television ads, appearing on Brooke Fraser's album What To Do With Daylight and so much more. He seems to be based in... > Read more

Buzz Bahdur: New World Bliss

Aronas: Culture Tunnels (Southbound)

14 Mar 2007  |  <1 min read

This is an interesting one: originally released under the same title but in a different cover two years ago from the band lead by gifted young New Zealand pianist Aron Ottignon, it has now undergone a considerable reworking. If you were one of the few who picked up on the early -- and lesser -- version you could actually get into this one as if it were a new album: there are two muscular... > Read more

Aronas: The Splits

Kevin Clark: Zahara (KCM)

15 Feb 2007  |  <1 min read

Wellington pianist/composer/arranger Clark won best jazz album of the year in 2003 with Once Upon Song I Flew, and again two years later with The Sandbar Sessions. Clark is something of a rarity in New Zealand jazz, he has an internationalism about his music and thinnks nothing of incoprorating what we might call "global elements" into his originals which move from blues to... > Read more

Kevin Clark: River Weep For Me

NPME: Mareureu (Pacific Echoes)

15 Feb 2007  |  <1 min read

There is a growing genre of Pacific-influenced jazz: the Mamaku Project (see tag) has elements of it, and this album by the New Pacific Music Ensemble is another. With saxophones and electric guitar alongside ukelele and log drums this has all the expansiveness of a jazz group but also the warm exoticism of island life. Very hard to tear this one out of the stereo on a summery... > Read more

NPME: Arivera

Brian Smith: Taupo (Manu/Ode)

14 Feb 2007  |  <1 min read

Most New Zealand jazz is like the Kiwi: endangered, pokes around in the dark away from public gaze and doesn't take flight. This year however is shaping up to be a good one: albums by Wellingtonians Kevin Clark and Charmaine Ford are both worth serious attention, and now a long overdue new album from Auckland saxophonist Brian Smith. Smith recorded one of my favourite local jazz... > Read more

Brian Smith: Kids At Play

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Brotherman in the Fatherland (Hyena/Southbound

21 Jan 2007  |  <1 min read

Kirk, who died almost 30 years ago, was one of those musicians who divided jazz critics: some thought he was a showman-cum-charlatan (he could play three saxophones simultaneously) and others thought he was something close to a genius. I head cautiously more toward the latter, although he did often seem to be pulling tricks of a bag to impress rather than to enlighten. Certainly... > Read more

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: I Want To Make It With You