Jazz in Elsewhere

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BEN WEBSTER AND ART TATUM CONSIDERED (2008): Genius loves company

27 Feb 2008  |  3 min read

 In my experience, jazz people tend to live in the past. Radio programmes are more often about the greats of yesteryear than the living, jazz mags essay Ellington over ECM, and in any given year you get the clear message that record companies are more interested in reissues than recording new names. Jazz musicians too contribute to this: older hands are frequently sniffy about... > Read more

The Bad Plus, Prog (Do the Math/Universal)

16 Feb 2008  |  <1 min read

This US jazz trio comes with formidable advance notices: Rolling Stone (not exactly a jazz journal) described their music as "action packed and totally schizophrenic -- in a good way". I don't hear it quite that way. They certainly pound up a storm sometimes (the thundering repeated piano chords and percussion in the nine minute Physical Cities here) but can also craft music of... > Read more

The Bad Plus: Tom Sawyer

Hadouk Trio: Baldamore (Naive)

16 Feb 2008  |  1 min read

For an issue of Real Groove magazine I wrote about how boring many New Zealand jazz albums are -- they simply don't surprise and are often retreads of standards which have been done better elsewhere. I like my jazz to have an element which makes me sit up and listen -- and this French/North African trio managed to do that, and more. I haven't air-punched to a jazz album in many years.... > Read more

Hadouk Trio: Baldamore

Marcin Wasilewski Trio: January (ECM)

1 Feb 2008  |  1 min read

If you go to the Thomas Stanko essay/review under Absolute Elsewhere (see tag) you may read at the end my cheap witticism about the names of these guys. That said, it works for me -- I took one look at the names here (pianist Marcin Wasilweski, bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewicz) and remembered them immediately. When you are teaching little ones to read they call... > Read more

The Marcin Wasilewski Trio: New York 2007


20 Jan 2008  |  3 min read

I thought I knew all about Ornette Coleman, a man nominally described as a jazz musician but among the most unconstrained musical geniuses of the 20th century.  I’ve got a couple of dozen Coleman albums on vinyl and at least that many CDs. I’ve got bootlegs and biographies, and a photo of Ornette and me on a couch in a New York loft taken when I interviewed him in ‘96.... > Read more

NEW ZEALAND'S iiii LABEL (2007): 20/20 vision into the past

20 Jan 2008  |  3 min read

In a remarkably short period in the mid 80s, maybe 18 months, Wellington’s Braille label released a swag of albums -- I have eight, there may have been more -- which were nominally “left-field improv”. There was a bit of free jazz, some faux-Dixieland and assaults on jazz standards, and too many unmemorable originals which noodled around to no great effect. Braille’ best... > Read more


20 Jan 2008  |  3 min read

 Only a few jazz musicians have actually changed the course of the music: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis (twice, maybe three times) and Ornette Coleman undeniably reset the compass -- and Wynton Marsalis certainly did. However many would qualify Wynton with, “but not in a good way”. The trumpeter from New Orleans broke... > Read more

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

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

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

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 Finatawa and Tinariwen (both heavily featured in... > Read more

Dee Dee Bridgewater: Bad Spirits/Bani