Jazz in Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

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


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... > 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

Avishai Cohen: Big Vicious (ECM)

28 Mar 2020  |  1 min read

Not to be confused with the Israeli bassist/singer of the same name, this Avishai Cohen – also originally from Israel, then in the US – is a highly regarded trumpeter whose style has some of the spare precision of early Sixties Miles Davis but is also contemporary in that his band Big Vicious edges towards widescreen rock courtesy of guitarist Uzi Ramirez, guitarist/bassist Jonathan... > Read more

Hidden Chamber

Shabaka and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History (Impulse!/digital outlets)

21 Mar 2020  |  1 min read

Shabaka Hutchings – of The Comet is Coming, Sons of Kemet and other evolving UK jazz/funk ensembles alongside this one – has advanced a strand of retro-Afrofuturism which links to Sun Ra, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Don Cherry and others. And given those references it is fitting that the group – back after their Wisdom of the Elders in 2016 –... > Read more

Steve Barry/Judy Bailey: Elements (Rattle)

16 Mar 2020  |  1 min read

Expat New Zealand pianist Barry studied under the exceptional Australia Bailey when he attended Sydney's Conservatorium of Music (where Mike Nock also taught) on a jazz course and almost immediately discovered they had a mutual understanding when it came to live improvisation. Barry called it “telepathy” and this session recorded live in August 2018 confirms that. The album... > Read more


PAT METHENY INTERVIEWED (2020): The confounding career of Pat Metheny

10 Mar 2020  |  6 min read

For more than 45 years, over as many albums and 20 Grammy awards, 65-year old Pat Metheny established himself as the pre-eminent guitarist of his generation. That he's not a household name isn't just down to his chosen idiom – he's nominally a jazz musician – but because he hasn't made it easy for an audience. In his catalogue are sublime and commercially successful albums --... > Read more

Treesearch: Know More Knowledge (577 Records/digital outlets)

2 Mar 2020  |  1 min read

The duo Treesearch from the US – on the same label 577 Records as the great saxophonist/trumpeter Daniel Carter – are violinist Keir GoGwilt and acoustic bassist Kyle Motl. They freely improvise and create something very attractive between quite disciplined free jazz, quasi-ethic sounds, bouncing invention and contemporary art music. There is mostly a poise and... > Read more

Out on a Limb

ONE WE MISSED: Michal Martyniuk: Resonate (SJ Records/digital outlets)

24 Feb 2020  |  1 min read

Released at the end of last year when Elsewhere was winding up, this album by Polish-born New Zealand pianist Michal Martyniuk becomes timely now because he is playing an Auckland concert on March 15 (details below). Recorded with his Polish group of Jakub Skowroński (tenor), Kuba Mizeracki (guitar), Bartek Chojnacki (contrabass), Kuba Gudz (drums) – who appeared on his... > Read more

John Rae: Lighthouse (Thick Records)

13 Feb 2020  |  1 min read

Recorded in Rotorua and inspired by the traditional music of Japan, this album lead by the highly qualified drummer John Rae manages to exist somewhere between world music-cum-jazz, meditative classical music and exotic minimalism. As much as the compositions, the success of these often simple tunes which are stretched and embellished is also down to the small ensemble of pianist... > Read more

Soran Bushi

PAT METHENY INTERVIEWED (2020): Him and Ornette dancing in their heads

11 Feb 2020  |  4 min read

After more than a decade as the golden guitarist at ECM cracking commercially successful albums (by jazz standards), selling out concerts and winning critical acclaim, Pat Metheny was itching for freedom. At 23 he'd told Downbeat “I have as much chops as anyone playing. But I don't want to be thought of as a hot, young guitar player” and “I'm thinking of the long run, not... > Read more

ONE WE MISSED: Corea/McBride/Blade: Trilogy 2 (Concord/Southbound)

11 Jan 2020  |  1 min read

Although Elsewhere unashamedly indulges in free jazz (and has written about some of its more obscure corners here), there is something satisfying, reassuring and comfortable about hearing some of the idiom's finest practitioners playing off each other in a small acoustic setting, often on standards which get reinvented in that instant between thought and expression. That is why we will... > Read more


Dixon Nacey: The Edge of Chaos (Rattle)

24 Nov 2019  |  <1 min read

Auckland guitarist/composer Dixon Nacey here with the usual suspects/fellow travellers – saxophonist Roger Manins, keyboard player Kevin Field, bassist Olivier Holland, drummer Andy Keegan and guest vocalists on one track -- slides effortlessly between shapeshifting jazz-rock (Habituation), bouncy bop (Bench Wrecker) to delicacy (Etiquette, which suggests he could do a refined version of... > Read more


Matana Roberts: Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis (Constellation)

18 Nov 2019  |  1 min read

This extraordinary collision of free jazz, hard bop, spoken word, folk-blues and more is the fourth installment of sonic biographies by Chicago's multi-instrumentalist and classically-trained Matana Roberts who has worked with Vijay Iyer, Roscoe Mitchell, TV on the Radio and Godspeed You! Black Emperor and has been an artist in residence at the Whitney, is a longtime member of AACM and an... > Read more

As Far As the Eye Can See

Mike Stern and Jeff Lorber Fusion: Eleven (Concord/Southbound)

11 Nov 2019  |  1 min read

Guitarist Mike Stern is the man Miles Davis fans loved to hate. Probably even today. That was because he brought the hard rock textures – which Davis wanted – to Miles' band at the dawn of the Eighties, captured on the double live album We Want Miles. He was in Blood Sweat and Tears before joining Davis and six years ago came to New Zealand to play with the Rodger Fox... > Read more