Jazz in Elsewhere

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Cecile McLorin Salvant: Dreams and Daggers (Mack Avenue/Southbound)

6 Nov 2017  |  1 min read

Although this Grammy-winning jazz singer is probably on very few people's scanner right now, no doubt that will change in the run-up to her appearances at the New Zealand Arts Festival in Wellington and the Auckland Festival next March. With a small group – and studio strings in a few places – she here spreads her considerable vocal and lyric writing talents across two... > Read more

Runnin' Wild

David Friesen Trio: Another Time Another Place (Rattle)

10 Oct 2017  |  1 min read  |  1

The release of this album recorded live in Auckland in late 2015 could not be more timely because American bassist Friesen is about to tour again (dates below) with guitarist Dixon Nacey and drummer Reuben Bradley who are on hand here. Friesen is a Major Player in the US jazz scene, has a list of album credits under his own name as long as your outstretched arms, and has played on... > Read more


Kamasi Washington: Harmony of Difference (Young Turks)

9 Oct 2017  |  2 min read  |  1

As befits a jazz player, composer and arranger whose debut was a triple CD set entitled The Epic – and covered ground from hard bop through soul and funk to Claire de Lune – Kamasi Washington is a Big Picture guy, very much of the old school where jazz had albums entitled The Creator Has A Master Plan (Pharoah Sanders), Ascension (John Coltrane) and The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse... > Read more


JANE IRA BLOOM CONSIDERED (2017): An artist going beyond place and time

9 Oct 2017  |  2 min read

Even in the broad church that is jazz, soprano saxophonist/composer Jane Ira Bloom from Boston has stood out. The early Eighties, for example, found her beginning her explorations of electronics as applied to her soprano, and later in that decade she was the musician commissioned by NASA Arts Programme for which she wrote and performed three pieces across which she deployed sax,... > Read more

One Note From One Bird

Jim Langabeer: Secret Islands (Rattle)

31 Jul 2017  |  1 min read

Two things immediately come to mind with this exceptional, challenging and rewarding album: Given his manifest talent which he has gifted to others' albums why has Jim Langabeer's name so rarely appeared as a leader on New Zealand albums? (Is this his first?) And that while this improvised music clearly has reference points in jazz it does not overtly appear on the Rattle Jazz... > Read more

The Big Smoke

10 RARE FREE JAZZ ALBUMS I'M PROUD TO OWN (2017): Abstract arts from the past

30 Jun 2017  |  12 min read

Every month dozens of reissues across many genres – sometimes well annotated compilations, often reissued albums in replicas of the original artwork – appear. These days you can find obscure rural blues and Sixties psychedelic albums, the complete works of some folk singer who is barely a footnote in a reference book and much more without too much difficulty. But if there... > Read more

Julia Hulsmann Trio: Sooner And Later (ECM/Ode)

8 May 2017  |  <1 min read

It has been almost a decade since German pianist Hulsmann’s trio impressed mightily with the emotionally still and evocative The End of A Summer, but also about six since we found her Imprint album mostly evaporated without leaving much of an impression. This new outing – only her sixth for the label since ’89 – finds her back in the trio format after other... > Read more

From Afar

KENNY BARRON INTERVIEWED (2017): Time makes a wine

10 Apr 2017  |  8 min read

Speaking from his home in rainy New York, 73-year old jazz pianist, composer and educator Kenny Barron sounds like he's possessed of the energy someone half his age. He is genial, quick, witty, looking forward to flying to Chicago the following day to play in an Oscar Peterson tribute . . . and clearly remembers his first paying gig. It was in his hometown of Philadelphia almost six... > Read more

Prayer, the Kenny Barron Trio, 2016

Colin Vallon, Patrice Moret, Julian Sartorius: Danse (ECM/Ode)

31 Mar 2017  |  <1 min read

On the second album by this trio --- pianist Vallon and bassist Moret also having recorded in the quartet lead by singer Elina Duni, and together with drummer Samuel Rohrer – the intuitive understand between them is evident in the quiet explorations of melody. There are few fireworks here but rather an almost meditative sensibility is in play for many of the 11 pieces (nine... > Read more


Joey Alexander: Countdown (Motema/Ode)

23 Mar 2017  |  1 min read

Indonesian Alexander is a child prodigy who caught the jazz world's attention as an 11-year old. He seemed a natural and had been weaned on his father's jazz collection. He played for Herbie Hancock, and Wynton Marsalis saw him on You Tube and invited him to appear at the Lincoln Center's gala programme . . . and he's appeared at Newport and other credible jazz festivals. He's also... > Read more

Sunday Waltz

Benedikt Jahnel Trio: The Invariant (ECM/Ode)

6 Mar 2017  |  1 min read

One of the chief features of artists on the ECM roster is how they move about, hooking up with like minds for an album or maybe two, the chairs being shuffled to allow artists to refresh and renew themselves in the company of others. In that regard the Benedikt Jahnel Trio is almost an oddity. This year they – Berlin-based pianist Jahnel, Canadian drummer Owen Howard and Spanish... > Read more

Further Consequences

SABU TOYOZUMI PROFILED (2017): Zen and the art of freedom

6 Mar 2017  |  3 min read

Any number of guitarists would say they were inspired by Jimi Hendrix, but rather fewer drummers. Least of all a Japanese guy in a pop band with the archetypal name of the Samurais. But drummer Yoshisaburo Toyozumi – known as Sabu and who went on to become one of the most respected free jazz drummers – has always pointed to the chance encounter of seeing Hendrix play in... > Read more

Auckland Jazz Orchestra: Bloom (SDL)

3 Mar 2017  |  1 min read

For many decades, many New Zealand jazz musicians have done what the league players call “the hard yards” . . . jazz players were in high school bands (Grammaphone), navy bands, Rodger Fox's invaluable training ground and flexible working ensembles (Tom Ludvigson's Inner City Jazz Workshop). These rarely-acknowledged training grounds – often hard sprints under the... > Read more


Theo Bleckmann: Elegy (ECM/Ode)

1 Mar 2017  |  1 min read

Every now and again we allow ourselves to say, “an acquired taste” . . . But usually that means something totally difficult and out there on the perimeter . . . like Yoko Ono and Pere Ubu used to be. But, to these ears, this album by singer/poet Bleckmann and a very decent jazz quarter is what a university music department might call “Art Music”. Which... > Read more

Comedy Tonight

Craig Taborn: Daylight Ghosts (ECM/Ode)

20 Feb 2017  |  1 min read  |  1

Late on this album by the American pianist Craig Taborn and his quartet, they deliver a thoughtful version of Jamaican Farewell, not the song made famous by Harry Belafonte – that is Jamaica Farewell – but the wistful tune by Roscoe Mitchell which appeared on his '99 album Nine to Get Ready, also on the ECM label. It's a fine tribute to Mitchell and follows two albums... > Read more

Jamaican Farewell

Jasmine Lovell-Smith's Towering Poppies: Yellow Red Blue (Paint Box)

20 Feb 2017  |  1 min read

It has been almost five years since we last heard from this New Zealand saxophonist who moved to Connecticut (where studied with the great Anthony Braxton and appeared in one of his ensembles), then to New York and later Mexico. She has now come back to further her studies Wellington where she is starting a doctorate under John Psathas. This album, recorded with her American group... > Read more

Moving Mountains

RALPH TOWNER and JOHN ABERCROMBIE (2017): Staying true in the old style

6 Feb 2017  |  3 min read

The jazz imprint of the European label ECM has a reputation for acclaimed saxophonists (Jan Garbarek, Charles Lloyd, John Surman, Joe Lovano, Steve Kuhn etc) and pianists (Keith Jarrett, Paul Bley, more recently Vijay Iyer, Marilyn Crispell and Marcin Wasilewski). But it has also kept a roster of remarkable guitarists. Some of these players were out on the edge like David Torn... > Read more

Joy, by the John Abercrombie Quartet

John Key Trio: Back and Forth (Odd)

2 Dec 2016  |  1 min read

Because there is so little money to be made out of releasing a local jazz album, you are surprised to find anyone bothering at all. And that may explain the nine year gap between this by Auckland pianist John Key and his previous release Whole (under the band name Strange Fruit). That's a pity because here Key delivers a very good, straight-ahead piano trio album of all originals with... > Read more

Slow Right Down

MORE CAPITAL iiiiDEAS (2016): Live and direct from Aotearoa

11 Aug 2016  |  3 min read

Although jazz can give the impression of being a one-take music (the performer simultaneously the composer and improvising on the spot), it's often much more considered than that. Witness the number of takes Charlie Parker did for the Savoy label. However, for many purists, jazz is at its best on the bandstand. That is the moment when everyone is on the tightrope and the risks are... > Read more

The Scream, from Dreamville/Jazzmares

Crayford/Street/Weiss: East West Moon (Rattle Jazz)

7 Aug 2016  |  <1 min read

Jonathan Crayford has long been considered one of New Zealand's finest jazz pianists and his range is wide, from Latin flavours to touring with Trinity Roots, playing acid-jazz with New York's Groove Collective, jazz-rock (albeit on acoustic piano) and this album which frequently has a profoundly classical weight and gravitas in many of the pieces. Joined by bassist Ben Street and... > Read more