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Recorded May 4-17, 2010, at the historic Blue Note in New York City, this program is a baseline of sorts, framed on piano great Bill Evans' interminable legacy. However, one of the differentiators here pertains to the respective artists' signature voices. In other hands, a set like this may just fall into the retread bucket.

Many Dutch progressive-jazz musicians tend to inject dashes of humor into the grand scheme of things, evidenced by Talking Cows' witty and somewhat bawdy video on its website, also noted on the amusing album cover art.  Yet, the quartet takes a no nonsense musical approach and cuts to the chase with vigorous intent.  Vibrant and often multidirectional, they exude a persuasive small ensemble outlook with contiguous re-engineering processes and a brute force mode of execution.

Clarinetist John Carter and trumpeter/cornetist Bobby Bradford aligned forces in 1965 and eventually helped flip the West Coast USA jazz scene on its side, although widespread recognition was fleeting. Bradford still remains a vital exponent of progressive-jazz amid numerous session dates and co-led efforts for various record labels. Carter passed away in1991 and released several landmark recordings for Swiss-based Hat Hut Records, Gramavision and others. He wowed the critics via his Folklore: Episodes in the Development of American Folk Music series (1982-1990), providing a visionary musical account of America's roots, owing to the blues and African-American culture.

Acclaimed pianist Luis Perdomo benefits from a dream rhythm section that exercises sympathetic support on this rather zealous trio date.   He's a first-rate improviser, and there's no mystery as to why he's an in-demand session artist.   On this album, Perdomo fuses a restless spirit with a highly rhythmic architecture.  His artistry is modeled on power, grace and shifting tides amid a poetry-in-motion gait, encapsulated by sweeping runs and unanticipated time changes.  Here, the band locks in and punches out a series of sizzling movements, contrasting the temperate subtleties.

Finnish pianist/composer Heikki Sarmanto is a legendary figure within Scandinavian progressive-jazz circles. And this 1972 big band reissue also restates his hip-ness and forward-looking proclivities amid his productions for stage and cinema. Among many rewarding factors, "Everything Is It" has not lost any steam over the years, and is an adventurous undertaking that forges a progressive slant, but incorporates the snazzy, pop shaded big band arrangements of the era.

Guitar master Bill Frisell's global approach includes progressive-jazz, jazz-rock, chamber-jazz, and Americana as the list goes on. But what separates him from others is his signature voice. Otherwise, a biopic account of his rise to prominence exceeds the boundaries of this article. However, Frisell's visionary propensities hit another high mark on this album, based on John Lennon's discography.

Ten Tunes is a loose and playful recording. The band hints at a multitude of styles; they touch on rock, country and funk, as well as Middle Eastern and Latin music, all within a jazz context. Despite the group's eclectic influences, Ten Songs works well as a cohesive whole. This can be attributed to two reasons. First, the group assembled here—leader Bill Barner on clarinet, Stan Smith on guitar, Roger Hines on bass and Danny Aguiar on drums—establish in the pocket grooves on each track, so that each song has an easy rhythmic appeal. Secondly, though the context of the songs may change, Bill Barner always writes around simple, singable melodies.

 

New York City-reared veteran and well-travelled drummer Tony Bianco has been a mainstay in global modern jazz and improvisational circles amid prolific engagements with sax pioneers Evan Parker and David Liebman. Here, he aligns with youthful European inventors, guitarist Michel Delville (The Wrong Object) and nascent saxophonist Jordi Grognard for a program that pushes the envelope via structural baselines and heavy doses of improvisation.

The young HUBRO record label issues LPs and CDs by Norwegian artists, pursuing improvisation that touches upon indigenous folk, jazz, minimalism, electronica and avant-garde metrics. As the second album by the trio 1982 offers a striking audio perspective via its unusual instrumentation. With deep-rooted and slightly disfigured Scandinavian folk, the band casts a vista akin to a solemn winter evening sprawled across farmland-like vistas under a full moon, amid a few highly-charged spikes in the action.

Canadian guitarist Ryan Davidson knew what his mission in life was going to be since grade school. What he has been searching for is the means to make it happen.  As he recalls, "I believe I started playing when I was six, and began lessons at eight.  Truthfully, I don't have any memories of not playing the guitar.  All I can remember is that it was all I ever wanted to do."