Thursday, January 28, 2021

New Music Releases: Diego Rivera, Underflow, Nat Birchall

Diego Rivera - Indigenous

Diego Rivera's a hell of a tenorist – and he plays a bit of soprano too – packing a heck of a lot into just a little bit of space, almost with the mix of hardbop and soul jazz we'd hear from 60s favorites like Benny Golson or Jerome Richardson! As with both of those artists, Rivera's got a way of making his presence known right from the start – but then never needs to overstate himself – as his playing is always right on the money, with just the right notes along the way – supported here by a crack quartet that features Helen Sung on piano, Boris Kozlov on bass, and Donald Edwards on drums – plus trumpet from Etienne Charles on three of the album's twelve tracks. Many tunes are originals by Diego – just the right material for his balance of expression – and titles include "Indigenous", "Sombras Del Pasado", "Secret Life Of Plants", "Melina Maria", "BLM Plaza", "Shir Lashalom", and "Purpose". ~ Dusty Groove

Underflow (David Grubbs/Mats Gustafsson/Rob Mazurek) - Instant Opaque Evening 

A fantastic collaboration between three of the most creative improvisers on the planet – an extended live set that's even better than the studio outing the group gave us on their debut! The lineup here features David Grubbs on guitar and voice, Rob Mazurek on piccolo trumpet and electronics, and Mats Gustafsson on flute, baritone sax, and fluteophone – plus some live electronics as well! The players clearly have tremendous respect and sympathy for each other – and rather than an all-star outing in which everyone's trying to wrestle to the top, the music moves very organically between structure and improvisation – really thoughtful creation throughout, at a level that makes the whole thing even greater than the sum of its three mighty parts. Titles include "Gethsemani Night", "Not At My Funeral", "Self Portrait As Interference Pattern", "A Thin Eternity", "Planks", "Instant Opaque Evening", and "Cooler Side Of The Pillow". ~ Dusty Groove

Nat Birchall - Exalation: Live In Athens Volume 1

We always love the music of British tenor saxophonist Nat Birchall – but here, he's in an even more amazing setting than usual – really stretching out in a live format, and working with two Greek musicians who really bring a lot to the performance! In addition to these long, spiritual solos from Nat, the record also features work from Harris Lambrakis on ney – a flute-like reed instrument that provides a perfect balance to the depth of Birchall's tenor – as both musicians stretch out on long-building tracks with modal rhythms from Adam Fairhall on piano, Seth Bennett on bass, and Andy Hay on drums and percussion – plus a second set of drums from Nikos Sidirokastris – who really helps propel things forward. Titles include "Exaltation", "Humility", and "For Michalis". ~ Dusty Groove

Thursday, January 14, 2021

New Music Releases: Miles Bonny, Muriel Grossmann, Quincy Davis

Miles Bonny - Lumberjack Soul 2

It's been almost a decade since the first Lumberjack Soul album from Miles Bonny – and in that time, he's grown tremendously – both as a singer and musician, and as an artist who's really in command of his sound! Miles' voice still has the raspy charm we loved before, but the overall setting is far richer and more complex – maybe in a way that owes a lot more to jazz than before, although still with just the right inflections of beats – which are balanced with all these really creative sonic touches from Bonny – shapes and sounds from trumpet, piano, moog, and some other sources that are a bit hard to figure out – mixed together wonderfully. Titles include "Day Alone", "Go With The Sun", "In This World", "Soulful Melodies", "Release & Expand", "Wantu", and "Mother Of Love". ~ Dusty Groove

Muriel Grossmann - Quiet Earth

There's nothing quiet about the way that Muriel Grossman approaches her music – as the saxophonist is one of the boldest, strongest voices in jazz in the past decade – one of the key proponents of the new spiritual underground, and a player who just seems to win us over more and more with each new record! This album's got the amazing rhythmic pulse of Grossman's previous records, but also shifts the sound slightly too – as in addition to the fantastic use of guitar by Radomir Milojkovic, the set also features these strongly swirling organ lines from Llorenc Barcelo – in a way that makes us imagine what it might sound like if we ever got to hear those lost jam sessions between John Coltrane and Larry Young! Grossman blows tenor, alto, and soprano sax here, with a rich sense of imagination throughout – and the rest of the group features Gina Schwarz on bass and Uros Stamenkovic on drums – on long titles that include "Wien", "African Call", "Quiet Earth", and "Peaceful River".  ~ Dusty Groove

Quincy Davis - Q Vision

Drummer Quincy Davis has a very visionary approach here – music that makes a bold statement for his role as a leader, as Davis works here with three different groups on a strong set of original material! The mix of players is wonderful – shading in and adding voice to Quincy's music in different ways – sometimes with a septet that includes Philip Dizack on trumpet, Myron Walden on alto, Peter Bernstein on guitar, and JD Allen on tenor – other times with a quintet that has the great Warren Wolf on vibes and Dayna Stephens on tenor. There's also two trio tracks – with excellent piano from Xavier Davis and bass from Ugonna Okegwo – and in the other groups, Adam Birnbaum handles piano, with either Richie Goods or Vicente Archer on bass. Davis has this great way of blending darkness and light in his compositions, in a style that's echoed strongly by the soloists – on titles that include "Shorter Days", "Nat Turner", "Lost In Thought", "The Creeper", "Outbreak", and "Slippery Slope".  ~ Dusty Groove

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

New Music Releases: Tori Handsley, Mayer Hawthorne, Daniel Humair

Tori Handsley - As We Stand

Tori Handsley may not look like your usual jazz musician on the front cover – but she's part of the contemporary London scene, and really breaks out here alongside some killer drums from the great Moses Boyd! Handley plays both piano and electric harp with lots of cool effects – and the trio also features this round, rolling basswork from Ruth Goller – a player who's a perfect counterpart for Boyd's nonstop sense of energy! This is the first we've ever heard of Tori – and she's wonderful on piano, playing with this bold sense of flow that should get her plenty of attention in years to come – and her use of the electric harp is equally great, and never gimmicky at all – a very cool instrument that's often processed in ways that really bring out the richness of its sound. Sahra Gure sings on three of the album's tracks, but the main vibe is instrumental – and titles include "Polar Retreat", "Rivers Of Mind", "Home", "Settling In to The Sun", "Kestrel", "As We Stand", "Out Of Sight Out Of Mind", and "Convolution". ~ Dusty Groove

Mayer Hawthorne – Rare Changes 

Raised by hippie parents in Ann Arbor, Michigan, smack between the Hash Bash and the car factories -Hawthorne’s old man taught him to play bass guitar at age five. He would play records in the house all while Mayer was growing up. He put him up on game. He’d say, “You hear him singing there? That’s David Ruffin.” Or, “You hear that guitar solo? That’s Stephen Stills.” And young Hawthorne would sit there, with his bowl of cereal, soaking it up.Mayer DJed in Michigan at the height of Detroit hip-hop. He was there. Before Em blew, when Dilla was still alive. He was spinning records and making rap beats. Now he’s making soul records and rappers are sampling him. Circle of life.Mayer’s been digging in the crates and you can hear the influences in his music. A touch of Shuggie Otis here, some Bob Marley there, a sprinkle of Sly Stone…

Daniel Humair - Drum Thing

Fantastic work from drummer Daniel Humair – a hugely important creative musician, still very much at the top of his game! Humair was one of the first European percussionists to really set his instrument free from conventions of timekeeping – to open up more possibilities for melody, which is definitely the case here – as Daniel works in a nicely loose group – with Stephane Kerecki on superb acoustic bass, and Vincent Le Quang on tenor and soprano sax – plus a bit of guest flugelhorn from Yoann Loustalot. The songs vary in length and approach, but always have a warmth that other drummers in this situation might not find – that way that Humair has of letting himself free, but never going too far outside – so that there's always this resonance with the bass, which sounds tremendous next to the saxophone. Titles include "Heaven's Gate", "Drum Thing 2", "Mutinerie", "La Cantonal", "Prologue", and a number of "Interlude" tracks. ~ Dusty Groove

New Music Releases: Terrace Martin & Devi Dev, Apifera, Le Deal

Terrace Martin & Devi Dev - Here My Dear

A set inspired by the Marvin Gaye album of the same name, but delivered here in a very contemporary spirit – handled with lots of fantastic production from Terrace Martin – who moves between a mix of hip hop and some of the cosmic jazz touches that have become his strength in more recent years! Guests include a lot of heavyweight talents – Kendrick Lamar, Kurupt, Wiz Khalifa, Charlie Wilson, Snoop Dogg, and others – and titles include "What You Won't Do For Love", "Expectations", "Here My Dear", "Call Me", "Makings Of You", "Koo Koo Cyco Loco", "Hey Girl", "Show Her The Way", and "Cheat". ~ Dusty Groove

Apifera - Overstand

A jazz set, but one that's in a very Stones Throw mode – as the music here mixes jazz elements with more contemporary production elements, and blends together the live and programmed in a mighty nice way! The group's a quartet, most of whom have played on other Stones Throw albums – and the lineup features twin keyboard work from Yuval Havkin (aka Rejoicer) and Nitai Hershkovits, plus bass from Yonatan Albalak and drums from Amir Bresler – the last of whom has a great rhythmic pulse that often defines the energy of the set! Titles include "Notre Damn", "Pulse 420", "Four Green Yellows", "Iris One", "Lake Vu", "The Pit & The Beggar", and "Yaki's Delight". ~ Dusty Groove

Le Deal - Jazz Traficantes

A beautiful debut from this hip French group – a quartet that features piano and arrangements by Florian Pellissier, who we've loved on his other records – plus Yoann Loustalot on flugelhorn, Theo Girard on bass, and Malick Koly on drums – really stretching out here at a session recorded at the legendary Rudy Van Gelder studio! The mix of flugelhorn and piano is great – used spaciously, with really well-punctuated notes from Loustalot – balanced with bolder work from Pelissier on piano and a bit of Fender Rhodes – on a set of all original material that has a wonderfully fresh feel. There's a slightly spiritual current to the music, but the overall sound is maybe more in the territory of 70s soul jazz – sophisticated, but very down to earth too – on titles that include "Custom Agents", "Riot In Chinatown", "Jazz Traficantes", and the three part "Mexican Junkanoo" suite. CD also features the bonus track "Noche En La Carcel". ~ Dusty Groove

New Music Releases: Sun Ra Arkestra, Mandrill, Omniversal Earkestra

Sun Ra Arkestra — Swirling 

Sun Ra left the planet a few decades ago, but his Arkestra has been going strong – really carrying the torch that the great one kept burning – and stepping out here in their first studio album in 20 years! The record is really something special – that core Sun Ra spirit, but taken in righteous territory that shows just how much the group has evolved in his absence – still with alto saxophonist Marshall Allen as the leader, but a combination of classic Arkestra members and younger musicians who have really helped continue that legacy of mentorship and spiritual exploration that was always the greater mission of the ensemble. The production is great – never too commercial, and handled brilliantly to capture the spirit of the group at their most expressive – with a lineup that also features Knoel Scott on alto, James Stewart on tenor and flute, Michael Ray and Cecil Brooks on trumpets, Vincent Chancey on French horn, Farid Barron on piano, Dave Hotep on guitar, Akatunde and Elso Nascimento on percussion, and Tara Middleton on vocals and violin. Titles include "Sea Of Darkness/Darkness", "Swirling", "Seductive Fantasy", "Sunology", "Door Of The Cosmos/Shy", "Satellites Are Spinning/Lights On A Satellite", "Infinity/I'll Wait For You", and "Angels & Demons At Play". ~ Dusty Groove

Mandrill - Mandrill

A masterpiece of freeform funk from Mandrill – New York group at the start of the 70s, but one who work here with the best longform jamming styles of the Bay Area scene! The combo draw equal influence from jazz, funk, soul, and Latin – using all elements in a unique hybrid that's all their own – and which really favors instrumental passages more than vocal moments on this debut album – with searing lead guitar from Omar Mesa, next to plenty of organ lines, flute, trumpet, and tenor – all carried with heavy bass and percussion, and peppered with lots of surprises along the way! The whole thing's tremendous – a massively funky first statement from the group – with cuts that include the extended suite "Peace & Love", plus other funky goodies like "Symphonic Revolution", "Rollin' On", "Warning Blues", and "Mandrill". ~ Dusty Groove

Omniversal Earkestra - Le Mali 70

A fantastic project, and one whose sound is even better than we can sum up in words – as the core group features players from Berlin, inspired by older African sounds – turning to work from the 70s Mali scene, and teaming up with some of its musical giants – but all in a way that's much more jazz-based than you might expect! The Earkestra clearly borrow a bit of their name from Sun Ra's Arkestra – and they keep a strong jazz legacy intact as they use their horns not just for full charts alongside the rhythms, but also for breakout solos that are more jazz than the usual Afro Funk-styled charts – really adding a lot to the album's guest work from legends who include Abdoulaye Diabate, Salif Keita, Sory Bamba, and Cheick Tidiane Seck. A really great record where the whole is even greater than the sum of its elements – something new and unique, with titles that include "Chie", "Wale", "Kulukutu", "Apolo", "Gambari", and "Badiala Male". ~ Dusty Groove

New Music Releases: Javon Jackson, Emma Jean Thackray, Tenderlonious

Javon Jackson - Deja Vu

A beautiful self-released album from tenorist Javon Jackson – a set that's overflowing with warmth and soul, and which features a really well-chosen array of material throughout! Jackson could sometimes have a colder edge in his youth – and while his sharpness is still present here, there's a mature depth to his tenor work that's really fantastic – set up in an easy-flowing trio with Jeremy Manasia on piano, David Williams on bass, and McClenty Hunter on drums – on tunes by Cedar Walton, Wayne Shorter, Jimmy Heath, and Jackson himself – all of which have plenty of space to find the right sort of groove and open up with the solos. Titles include "Martha's Prize", "Venus De Mildew", "Raise Four", "TJ", "In The Kitchen", "Rio Dawn", and "My Shining Hour". ~ Dusty Groove

Emma Jean Thackray - Walrus EP

Emma-Jean Thackray has been one of the most inventive musicians to emerge from the London scene in the past decade or so – a player who, like some of the best from that city, is taking her instrument way past familiar modes of jazz – with sounds that explode here with help from some great collaborators too! Emma-Jean adds a bit of electronics to her trumpet – and the quintet mixes drums, organ, electronics, and sousaphone – the last of which is used more like a bass than anything else – giving the record some odd brass band currents at the bottom, but with freaky sounds up top that are light years from anything in that tradition! Thackray's always given us amazing music, but this record may well be one of her best – with titles that include "Birthday Cake", "Walrus", "Wet Nose", "Baro Bop", and "Morley Bottoms" – plus three short interlude tracks.  ~ Dusty Groove

 - Ragas From Lahore: Improvisations With Jaubi 

One of the most compelling records we've ever heard from UK reedman Tenderlonious – and that's saying a lot, because most of his other recordings have been pretty damn great as well! This set has Tenderlonious playing flute and soprano sax, stretching out on long improvised ragas with the group Jaubi – a trio who use tabla, sarangi, and guitar in modes that echo older currents of Indian music, but also move things towards a slightly more contemporary vibe – with unusual drone elements that enhance the acoustic instruments in a very subtle way – and which only seem to make the flute lines stand out even more by comparison! Titles include "Kirwani", "Impressions", "Azeem", "Shahla Bagh", and "Azadi". ~ Dusty Groove


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