Avishai Cohen’s Latest LP Is A Jazz Record Worth Hearing At Least Once

Courtesy: ECM Records

Late last February, trumpet player Avishai Cohen released his then latest album, Naked Truth through ECM Records.  The nine-song instrumental record is an interesting presentation from Cohen, due in part to its musical arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  While the musical content featured in the record is of note, the lack of any background on the songs in the record’s companion booklet detracts from the overall engagement and entertainment.  This will be discussed a little later.  The general production that went into the album’s presentation works with the record’s musical content to make for at least a little bit more reason for audiences to hear this record.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered they make the album worth hearing at least once.

Naked Truth, Avishai Cohen’s latest studio recording, is an interesting new offering from the trumpet player.  That is due in large part to its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements take audiences in a variety of directions from one to the next, their transitions solid throughout, making the whole feel like one continuous opus.  The whole thing opens in such a subdued fashion in ‘pt. I,’ with Cohen leading the way on trumpet.  The warmth of the notes and the control that Cohen displays in this song conjures thoughts of works on famed trumpet player Miles Davis’ timeless classic album, Kind of Blue.  That controlled tone continues in the record’s second movement and adds in a touch of bluesy vibe as the second movement progresses.  The addition of the steady, repetitive piano line here makes for even more interest as the album grows and progresses.

Speaking of the piano line, pianist Yonathan Avishai gets plenty of opportunity to put his talent on display, too as the album progresses, the crescendos and decrescendos so rich and full of warmth and emotion.  Even Ziv Ravitz gets some time in the limelight at points throughout, adding even more subtle touches to the compositions.  From song to song the compositions’ moods change ever so subtly, even as subdued as each opus proves to be.  The end result is an overall work that will keep listeners engaged and entertained throughout.

While the overall musical content featured in this record makes for its own share of engagement and entertainment, the lack of any background on the album’s creation in the record’s companion booklet detracts from that engagement and entertainment to a point.  Most of the content featured in the record’s booklet is pictures of Cohen and company at work in the studio.  The booklet also features the lyrics to the album’s closing spoken word track, ‘Departure,’ which apparently focuses on the topic of accepting our mortality.  It’s kind of morose, simply put.  Considering how enjoyable the rest of the album’s content is, having that background would have made for even more engagement and entertainment.  So not having said content definitely hurts the record’s overall presentation.

The lack of that background is not enough to doom the album’s presentation.  To that end there is one more positive to note here.  It comes in the form of the record’s production.  Considering the subtle approach that the trio took to each song’s composition and performance, clearly all of the attention in the world had to be applied to each song.  That is so that no one part overpowered the other but rather complimented the other lines.  The painstaking work that went into ensuring all three performances were balanced paid off.  That is because each work exhibits so much depth and warmth in its subtlety.  Keeping that in mind, the general effect of the production and the songs together make the album overall a relatively positive presentation worth hearing at least once.

Naked Truth, the new album from Avishai Choen, is an interesting presentation that is worth hearing at least once.  That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements are subtle works that collectively make up one whole opus that while subdued is still engaging because of that approach and sound.  The production of the songs is to thank for the impact of the arrangements.  The lack of any background on how the album was created detracts from the record’s presentation to a point.  That is because that lack of information makes for engagement and entertainment primarily on a surface level.  It is not enough to doom the record, though.  To that end, the songs and their production make the album worth hearing at least once.

Naked Truth is available now through ECM Records.  More information on this and other titles from ECM Records is available at:

Websitehttps://ecmrecords.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ecmrecords

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Keith Jarrett’s ‘Bordeaux Concert’ Is A Unique Addition To 2022’s Field Of New Live Recordings

Courtesy: ECM Records

This past Friday, pianist Keith Jarrett released his new live recording, Bordeaux Concert through ECM Records.  The 13-song recording is an intriguing presentation that audiences will agree is worth hearing at least once.  That is due in large part to its featured set list, which will be discussed shortly.  While the set list makes the recording worth hearing at least once, the lack of any liner notes detracts from the recording’s appeal to a point.  This will be addressed a little later.  The recording’s production works with its set list to make for slightly more interest.  It will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Bordeaux Concert.  All things considered they make the overall presentation a peculiar work that the most devoted of Jarrett’s established audiences will find appealing.

Bordeaux Concert, the new live recording from pianist Keith Jarrett, is a unique addition to this year’s field of new live recordings that will appeal to the most devoted of Jarrett’s established audiences.  That is due in large part to the recording’s featured set list.  The term set list used very loosely here.  That is because they 13 songs that make up the concert’s body are in fact apparently part of one whole work that Jarrett performs here.  The first half of the concert’s songs are very energetic, modernist type compositions that find Jarrett making his way up and down the piano’s keyboard, playing in very staccato style notes that just feel and sound like a complete cacophony.  The concert’s set half is the exact opposite, with more thoughtful compositions that sound like they belong on the soundtrack of some romantic drama.  The songs allegedly were, at the time, all new and improvised works, according to information provided about the recording.  Sadly, that information and more was not provided in the recording’s booklet.  This will be addressed shortly.  Getting back on the subject at hand, that the concert’s body was seemingly all original makes for its own interest.  It meant that Jarrett did not want to just rehash works with which audiences were already familiar.  If that truly is the case, the songs were all improvised and new, then that in itself makes them worth hearing.

As noted already, the booklet that accompanies Jarrett’s new live recording does not include any background on the concert.  The information was provided to the media in news releases distributed to media outlets only.  The information outlines that the concert featured herein was Jarrett’s last concert in France.  It was performed in 2016 at the Auditorium de l’Opera National de Bordeaux on July 6, 2016.  That information, the date and location of the concert is actually printed on the back of the recording’s exterior case.  Other than that, there is no background information at all about the concert featured herein.  This is important because there are audiences out there who may be less familiar with Jarrett and his work than others.  Those fans who are less familiar with Jarrett and his work are in turn left to have to do so much research into him before even considering whether to buy this presentation.  So again, not having any of that information available makes for a notable negative to the overall presentation.  It is not enough to doom the recording but is still important to address.

Knowing that the lack of any background information on Bordeaux Concert is not enough to doom the recording, there is still one more item to address.  That item is the record’s production, but also circles back around to the importance of having liner notes.  The information provided to the media notes that more than 100 people were in attendance for the concert featured herein.  Even with that many people there, one would not know that the concert was in fact that until the audience’s applause is heard at the end of the first performance.  The sound is that rich from beginning to end.  If not for that applause, the sound otherwise comes across as sharply as a studio recording.  That is a true testament to the work of those responsible for the recording’s production.  It makes for a mostly positive general effect for the recording.  When that positive general effect is considered alongside the recording’s content, the two items collectively make Bordeaux Concert worth hearing at least once.

Bordeaux Concert, the latest live recording from pianist Keith Jarrett, is an intriguing presentation that will appeal primarily to the most devoted of Jarrett’s audiences.  That is due in large part to the material that makes up the concert’s body.  That material is, seemingly new content that apparently is improvised from the concert’s beginning to its end.  Even more interesting is that it seems to be clearly divided up into two distinct halves.  The first half of the concert is composed of very peculiar, modernist compositions while the second half is far more widely accessible by comparison.  While the recording’s “set list” makes for reason enough to hear the presentation at least once, the lack of any background on the concert in the recording’s booklet detracts notably from the whole.  The recording’s production works with the content to make for at least some more reason to hear the whole.  That is because of the clarity of sound that results from the production.  When it and the concert’s primary content are considered together, they make Bordeaux Concert worth hearing at least once.

Bordeaux Concert is available through ECM Records. More information on this and other titles from ECM Records is available at:

Websitehttps://ecmrecords.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ecmrecords

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ECM Records Offers Audiences Yet Another Unique Record In Marcin Wasilewski Trio’s ‘En attendant’

Courtesy: ECM Records

Jazz artist Marcin Wasilewski released his latest record this week under the moniker of the Marcin Wasilewski Trio.  The record, En attendant, is a presentation that will appeal to a very targeted audience what with its blend of originals and covers.  The most notable of its originals is its three-part opus, ‘In Motion.’  It will be discussed shortly.  The cover of legendary classical composer J.S. Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variation 25.’  It will be examined a little later.  ‘Glimmer of Hope,’ which comes late in the record’s 43-minute run time, is yet another intriguing original featured in the album’s body.  It will also be examined later.  When it and the other songs noted here are considered along with the album’s remaining works, the whole makes En attendant a presentation that is worth hearing at least once.

En attendant, the new album from Marcin Wasilewski Trio, is an intriguing new offering from ECM Records.  One listen through the nearly 45-minute album reveals it to be in its sound and style, so much like so many records released through the label by other acts.  That is to say that each of its featured works is very quiet and subdued.  To that end, the album, whose title allegedly translates roughly from Danish to Waiting, will find a very targeted audience through its featured songs.  The three-part original composition, ‘In Motion’ serves well to support those statements.  Spread out across the album, its three movements clock in between five-and-a-half minutes and nearly seven minutes.  The first movement pays a very subtle, brief tribute to Miles Davis’ timeless record, Kind of Blue at one point as Marcilewski gently makes his way across the piano.  His work, alongside that of bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz, gives the first movement overall something of a rather melancholy mood at points while at others, changes the mood somewhat.  Michael Miskiewicz’s work on the drums adds just enough controlled flare to make things interesting in that movement.

The song’s second movement, which serves as part of the record’s midpoint alongside the original, ‘Vashkar,’ changes things up notably.  Kurkiewicz and Miskiewicz take the lead this time in this decidedly rhythmically based work.  The subtleties in the duo’s performance here really demands audiences fully engage themselves in the composition in order to fully appreciate it.  There are light taps on the cymbals, equally subtle rim knocks on the snare, and notes played on the double bass that when paired with the percussion, gives the song in general something of an expressionist sound and style.  Wasilewski’s occasional strains on the piano add even more to that sense.

The third and final movement, which also serves as the album’s finale, changes things up yet again.  Wasilewski takes the lead here again, but also allows his fellow musicians their own moments to shine throughout the gentle, flowing composition.  Wasilewski’s performance on the piano pairs with those of his fellow performers to paint a picture (at least in this critic’s mind) of a quiet forest scene or a lea. A creek gently flows through the forest scene while in the other, the sun is coming up slowly and everything is waking up from the night.  It is such a stark contrast to the song’s other two movements but when considered alongside them, makes the overall song that much more interesting.  The three movements collectively make the song overall the album’s highest point.

‘In Motion’ is just one of the works that makes En attendant a unique new offering from Marcin Wasilewski trio.  The trio’s take of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variation 25’ is of its own interest.  In the case of this song’s performance, Wasilewski works well to stay true to the source material.  The gentle, reserved nature that Bach intended in his work is on full display here.  Wasilewski does a very good job of echoing the emotional depth of Bach’s original thanks to that dedication.  Miskiewicz’s very controlled cymbal rolls add even more to that emotional depth while Wasilewski’s pairing with Kurkiewicz also adds its own unique touch to the whole through the subtle harmony that the pair create.  Overall, this update of a timeless classical composition is a unique presentation that definitely is well worth hearing in this case.

‘Glimmer of Hope,’ another of the album’s featured originals, is just as intriguing as the other songs examined here and the rest of the album’s entries.  While original, clearly, it conjures thoughts of prog-rock trio Liquid Tension Experiment’s song, ‘State of Grace.’  That is because the two songs two have such a similar style and sound in their bodies.  Given there’s no guitar in this song, but the use of the piano and bass together really put forward so much of that similarity.  It comes across just as much as a saccharine, romantic ballad type work as ‘State of Grace.’  To that end, it is another unique addition to En attendant that further makes this record worth hearing.  When it is considered alongside the other songs examined here and with the album’s other entries, the whole makes the album overall worth hearing at least once.

En attendant, the brand-new album from Marcin Wasilewski Trio, is an intriguing record that will find itself a very targeted audience.  That is evidenced through each of its featured works.  The songs examined here make that clear in their diversity.  Each boasts its own unique identity from its counterparts, and they are just as different from the album’s other works as from one another.  That uniqueness in each composition makes the album worth hearing at least once and another intriguing new offering from ECM Records.

En attendant is available now through ECM Records.  More information on this and other titles from ECM Records is available at:

Websitehttps://ecmrecords.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ecmrecords

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Rava, Hersch Offer An Interesting Record In ‘The Song Is You’

Courtesy: ECM Records

Flugelhorn player Enrico Rava has been producing recordings for ECM Records since 1970.  His catalog with the label totals 15 records and reaches as far back as 1975 and as recent as 2021.  On Friday, Rava released his 16th record with the label in the form of The Song is You.  His 48th overall album as a band leader, it sees him joined this time by pianist Fred Hersch for a group of covers and originals that is worth hearing at least once.  Among the most notable of the covers is that of George Bassman and Ned Washington’s ‘I’m Getting Sentimental Over You.’  This song will be discussed shortly.  Among the most notable of the originals is ‘The Trial.’  It will be examined a little later.  The duo’s cover of ‘Round Midnight’ is another interesting update featured as part of the record’s 42-minute body and will also be examined later.  All three songs noted do their own respective part to make The Song Is You an interesting presentation.  When they are considered along with the record’s other entries, the whole makes the record a presentation that most jazz fans will find worth hearing at least once.

The Song is You, the new album from the pairing of Enrico Rava and Fred Hersch, is a presentation that many jazz fans will find intriguing.  That is proven through its originals and covers alike.  Among the most notable of its covers is that of George Bassman and Ned Washington’s timeless classic ‘I’m Getting Sentimental Over You.’  While Bassman and Washington were the song’s craftsmen, the composition was made most famous by Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra way back in 1935.  That composition, led by Dorsey’s work on trombone, was (and is) a very subdued, romantic work.  The use of the piano in support of Dorsey’s work and the eventual introduction of the clarinet line to the mix makes the song even more schmaltzy, but in the best way possible.  It really is one of those true Make-Believe Ballroom type songs (R.I.P. Jim Kelso – for any Public Radio East fans out there who go way back).  Rava and Hersch change things up slightly here, giving the song a slightly more up-tempo approach.  The clarinets and other elements incorporated into the original are gone, replaced by just the duo’s own work.  The result is a song that is longer than the original at almost six minutes (five minutes 55 seconds to be exact) but is still enjoyable in its updated take that balances nicely the source material with updated content.

While Rava and Hersch do quite well taking on that classic big band era tune, the duo does just as well with its original content here.  That is evidenced through the performance of ‘The Trial.’  Clocking in at six minutes, 47 seconds, the gentle, flowing composition is presented largely in a minor key and uses chromatic scales to create an interesting sense of tension throughout.  However, it does gradually progress more into a major key and more into a semi-bluesy approach as Rava joins Hersch.  Hersch leads the way here through his performance, which is more modern classical in its approach than jazz.  That is not to say that there is not a jazz leaning here.  In fact, there is the most subtle jazz touch balanced with the more classical leaning side to make for even more engagement and entertainment.  Sadly, there are no liner notes included with the album to explain the back story behind the song.  That background would have added even more interest here.  Throughout it all, the duo keeps the composition so subdued.  It forces audiences to engage themselves in the song in order to fully appreciate the work.  That could be a good or bad thing depending on the listener.  Regardless, the song holds its own alongside the record’s other works, showing just how much the record’s original content does for the album’s presentation.

One more notable addition to this record is another of its covers.  In this case, the cover is that of ‘‘Round Midnight.’  Crafted collectively by pianist Thelonious Monk, trumpet player Cootie Williams and conductor Bernie Hanighen, the original song clocks in at three minutes, 48 seconds.  The simple composition features Monk on piano, pairing a steady bass line on one hand with a light almost bop type melody on the other.  Hersch meanwhile takes the song in a much more subdued direction.  His approach to the song gives it an almost entirely new identity separate from its source material that really does require audiences to engage themselves in the work in order to appreciate Hersch’s work.  That could prove divisive for certain, but the song is still interesting regardless.  It is one more cover worth taking in, and when considered along with the other covers and originals, shows even more why this collection of songs is worth hearing at least once.

The Song Is You, the latest new studio offering from flugelhorn player Enrico Rava and pianist Fred Hersch, is an intriguing presentation.  That is proven through its blend of originals and covers.  The songs examined here do well to make that clear.  When they are considered along with the record’s other entries, the whole makes the presentation overall worth hearing at least once.

The Song Is You is available now through ECM Records.  More information on this and other titles from ECM Records is available at:

Websitehttps://ecmrecords.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ecmrecords

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Gard Nilssen’s ‘Elastic Wave’ Is A Mostly Successful Addition To 2022’s Field Of New Jazz Albums

Courtesy: ECM Records

Late last month, drummer Gard Nillsen released his new album, Elastic Wave through ECM Records.  The 11-song album is a presentation that jazz fans will agree is worth hearing at least once.  That is due in large part to its featured musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  While the musical content that makes up the record’s body is of interest, the lack of any background on the songs detracts from its presentation to a point.  This will be addressed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of Elastic Wave in its own way.  The whole makes the album worth hearing at least once.

Elastic Wave, the latest album from drummer Gard Nilssen, is an interesting addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.  It is a presentation worth hearing at least once.  That is due in large part to the musical arrangements that make up the album’s body.  The arrangements that make up the record’s 44-minute run time are all jazz compositions.  The thing is that their sounds and styles are diverse from one to the next.  The album’s opener is a gentle, subdued work that exhibits some nice blues influence.  That is exhibited through the pairing of the gentle saxophone line, which leads the way, and Nillsen’s equally gentle work with the brushes on the snare and cymbals.  Petter Eldh’s work on the double bass gives the arrangement even more richness and depth with the warmth from the bass’ low-end.  The nearly four-minute opus makes for a wonderful slow dance composition for any couple.

‘Spending Time With Ludvig,’ which immediately follows, is the polar opposite of the album’s opener.  In the case of this song, Andre Roligheten leads the way again with his work on the saxophone while Nillsen and Eldh add their own touches.  It is their collective work that really makes the song stand out.  That is because the controlled chaos that comes from Nillsen’s performance pairs with Eldh’s own work to give the song something of a free jazz leaning.  Nilssen is all over the place, crafting so many polyrhythmic patterns while Eldh does what he can to keep up with Nilssen.  The thing is that even in that cacophony, there is some structure that somehow comes of it all.  To that end, the contrast of those frenetic performances to that of Roligheten make the song clearly its own work separate from anything else featured in the record.

‘Boogie,’ which comes much later in the album’s nearly 45-minute run time, is yet another song that stands out.  In the case of this song, Nilssen once again is all over the place, but far less so than in ‘Spending Time With Ludvig.’  There is more structure here.  Roligheten once again leads the way with his performance on the saxophone while Eldh fleshes out the arrangement here more through his performance on the bass.  What is really interesting here is what seems at least to this critic as some Western urban influence.  That is evident right from the song’s outset through Eldh’s opening bass solo.  He keeps that line going as Roligheten and Nilssen join in with their respective performances.  The tightness in the beats and in Roligheten’s own tight, staccato playing adds even more to that urban sense.  It is yet another enjoyable work that continues to show the diversity in the album’s musical content.  When it and the other songs examined here are considered with the rest of the record’s entries, the whole makes the album’s musical content so enjoyable and a strong foundation for the album.

While the musical content that forms the body of Elastic Wave forms a strong foundation for the album, the lack of any background on the songs in the album’s booklet weakens that foundation to a point.  The booklet features pictures of Nilssen and company as well as the album’s track listing, but nothing else.  The background on the songs was provided to the media through a press release.  The release states of ‘Spending Time With Ludvig’ for instance, that the song was inspired by Nilssen’s son and that ‘Til Liv’ was inspired by his daughter.’  ‘Acoustic Dance Music,’ which comes even later in the album’s run, was a John Coltrane-inspired opus, according to the background provided in the press release.  What’s more, the song is apparently a “small protest against the encroaching world of electronic dance music.”  Understanding that, it makes the full-on bop composition all the more enjoyable.  It is such a nice throwback to the sounds of a bygone era and really is so much better than anything electronic.  Again though, because nothing is offered in the album’s booklet, audiences would have otherwise not known that.  It is just one more way in which the addition of liner notes would have proven so helpful to the album’s presentation.  The lack thereof is not enough to doom the album, but it certainly would have helped the listening experience to have had that information and more included in the booklet.

Knowing that the lack of liner notes on the album’s songs is not enough to make the album a failure, there is one other positive to note in the form of the album’s sequencing.  From one song to the next, the sequencing keeps the album moving fluidly from one song to the next.  From the subdued energy in the album’s opener to the energy in ‘Spending Time With Ludvig’ to the frenetic energy of ‘Boogie’ to the forward-moving, experimental ‘The Room Next To Her’ and the back and forth of the rest of the album’s songs, the whole makes the album constantly change throughout.  That changes in sounds and styles are just enough that they keep the record engaging from beginning to end.  That stability that the sequencing ensures works with the album’s songs to make the album overall a mostly successful work that any jazz fan should hear at least once.

Elastic Wave, the new album from drummer Gard Nilssen, is a presentation that any jazz fan will find interesting.  That is due in large part to its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements vary in sound and style from one to the next.  At times, the arrangements lean specifically one way, while at others, they blend various subgenres’ influences for equally interesting compositions.  That variety in itself ensures engagement and entertainment.  The lack of background on the songs in the album’s booklet detracts from the enjoyment to a point but is not enough to doom the album.  The sequencing of the album’s content works with the arrangements to make for more enjoyment.  That and the content together are enough to make the album a mostly successful album that any jazz fan should hear at least once.

Elastic Wave is available now through ECM Records. More information on this and other titles from ECM Records is available at:

Websitehttps://ecmrecords.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ecmrecords

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Barre Phillips’ Latest LP Is A Very Targeted Presentation

Courtesy: ECM Records

Bassist Barre Phillips is scheduled to release his new album, Face a Face Friday through ECM Records.  The 12-song record pairs Phillips with composer/musician Gyorgy Kurtag, Jr. in what is unquestionably an intriguing musical presentation.  That is because the arrangements featured in this 33-minute record combine elements of minimalism with abstract expressionist leanings to make compositions that are anything but traditional, easily accessible works.  The songs will be discussed shortly.  The transitions therein are actually of their own note and will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be addressed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered they make Face a Face truly one of this year’s most unique and intriguing musical presentations so far.

Face a Face, Barre Phillips’ latest album, is a unique, intriguing new offering from the well-known bassist.  Coming roughly four years after the release of his then album, End to End (2018), the 12-song record is not an easily accessible album for everyone.  It will appeal to a very targeted audience base.  That is due in large part to its featured arrangements.  The arrangements are anything but typical, traditional compositions.  Rather, they blend elements of minimalism and abstract expressionism to make for extremely ambient works that sound more like they belong in the soundtracks to so many independent arthouse flicks than as an album of actual songs.  That is not to discount the works featured here.  It is just that they clearly will appeal to such audiences.  From the spacey effects of ‘Chosen Spindle’ that Kurtag presents opposite Phillips to the unique bird sounds of the whistles used in ‘Sharpen Your Eyes’ to the completely ethereal performance by Phillips and Kurtag in ‘Two By Two’ what with the use of the bass and the electronics and more, the arrangements featured here are not for everyone.  For those that are into such style of work, the compositions presented here will find appeal.

While the musical arrangements featured in this record are extremely targeted in terms of their audience, the transitions therein are actually of note, too.  They are actually notable in a positive way.  That is because they actually make the record progress fluidly, almost making them into 12 parts of one larger composition.  The transitions work, largely, because of the minimalist elements of the arrangements.  Those elements cause the works to start and end so softly, so from one song to the next, the transitions keep the record moving in stable fashion, thus at least encouraging audiences somewhat to remain engaged.

The production that rounds out Face a Face works with the transitions to help make the record a little more engaging.  That is again, because of the approach that Phillips took to the arrangements alongside Kurtag.  The duo took the old adage about the notes not played being so important to the most literal level throughout.  That means that those behind the boards had to make exceptionally certain each instrument and element used within each composition was balanced perfectly.  That painstaking effort paid off, too.  The subtleties of each composition are brought out to the fullest in each work, leaving audiences – even those who might not otherwise be interested in such “art music” – to find themselves engaged.  To that end, the impact of the thoughtful production and the transitions used throughout the record make the presentation in whole worth hearing at least once.

Face a Face, the first new album in roughly four years from bassist Barre Phillips, is a unique and intriguing addition to this year’s field of new albums.  It is clearly a very targeted effort.  That is obvious through the arrangements that make up the record’s 33-minute body.  The arrangements blend elements of minimalism with abstract expressionism to make them full-on art type compositions that will appeal to a very specific audience base. The transitions used between the record’s arrangements help the record at least a little bit.  That is because it makes the record feel like one larger, overall composition.  It will leave most listeners at least somewhat interested and engaged.  The production that went into the arrangements is important in its own way because it ensures the subtleties of each arrangement are balanced within the songs and in turn that the songs are just as well-balanced.  The result is that the arrangements, even being rather “artsy” in their approach will still have more casual audiences engaged if only purely out of curiosity.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of Face a Face.  All things considered, they make the album worth hearing at least once.

Face a Face is scheduled for release Friday through ECM Records.  More information on this and other titles from ECM Records is available at:

Websitehttps://ecmrecords.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ecmrecords

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Complexity Within Its Subtlety Makes Downes’ ‘Vermillion’ An Interesting New Jazz Album

Courtesy: ECM Records

Pianist Kit Downes is scheduled to release his latest album, Vermillion, next Friday through ECM Records.  His second as a group leader, it is a change of pace from its predecessor, Dreamlife of Debris (2019).  That is because unlike that album, this 45-minute record finds Downes in a more chamber style setting.  Downes said himself of the 11-song presentation that it follows a different stylistic path than in Dreamlife of Debris.  The subtlety in the arrangements, even with their maintained rhythmic complexity, makes for a unique, special overall musical picture here that many jazz fans will enjoy.  One of the record’s most notable entries comes early in the record in the form of ‘Seceda.’  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Sandiland,’ which serves as one part of the album’s midpoint, is another notable addition to the record.  It will be examined a little later.  ‘Castles Made of Sand,’ the album’s closer, is also of note here and will also be discussed later.  Each song noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Vermillion.  All things considered, they make Vermillion an interesting addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums that is worth hearing at least once.

Kit Downes’ new album, Vermillion, is a unique addition to 2022’s growing field of new jazz records.  That is proven throughout the course of the 45-minute presentation’s body.  One of the most notable of the album’s offerings comes early in its run in the form of ‘Seceda.’  The album’s third entry, it stands out because of the juxtaposition of its subtle approach to the complexity within the overall instrumentation.  The song opens simple enough with Downes alone on piano.  James Maddren comes in shortly thereafter and adds a complex but still subtle performance on drums.  He keeps what feels like a ¾ time on the ride while offsetting that with the hi-hat and other subtle little touches on the snare.  There is so much going on here yet his control of that complexity makes for so much enjoyment.  Petter Eldh’s work on the bass here adds its own subtle touch to round out the performance as Downes starts to build on his own line.  Throughout the arrangement, the trio manages somehow to make its work meld so surprisingly well.  The result of the musicians’ serves to support the old adage that less really is so much more. 

Another notable entry in Vermillion comes a little later in its run in the form of ‘Sandiland.’  Serving as one part of the record’s midpoint (the record has 11 songs), this song is much more energetic in its sound and approach.  At the same time, it still maintains that noted chamber music sense.  It is just Downes and his fellow musicians together performing.  The complexity of each musician’s part is on full display here.  The light way in which Downes’ fingers glide across the keys in each polyrhythmic patter and the equally intensive performance by Maddren on the drums is so impressive.  The pair’s focus had to have been complete in his respective performance.  The same applies for the work of Eldh as he provides the arrangement’s low end, having to keep up with his counterparts.  The whole of the musicians’ work is an engaging, entertaining almost free jazz style composition that will impress any jazz fan.  It is just one more example of what makes Vermillion stand out.  ‘Castles Made of Sand,’ which closes out the album, is one more example of what makes it stand out.

‘Castles Made of Sand’ is complex in a simple way, if that makes any sense.  There is a lot going on between all three performers.  The thing is that each performance is so controlled yet subdued.  It is one of those songs that proves the old adage that it’s the notes not played that makes a song great, not the ones that are played.  Those notes make the notes that are played all the more important because of the dynamic control and the general control in their energy because after all, it is so much more difficult to play softly and with control than fast and loud.  This song is a mid-tempo composition yet even in that, there is so much going on among the trio.  The simple cymbal flourishes, the dynamic controls in the piano line and even the accent notes on the bass do so much in their uses.  Taking this song and its performance into account along with the others examined here and with the rest of the record’s works, the whole makes the album in whole such a unique addition to this year’s growing field of jazz albums.

Kit Downes’ new album, Vermillion, is a unique addition to 2022’s still growing field of new jazz albums.  That is proven from the album’s outset to its end in each of its arrangements.  The songs examined here do well to support that statement.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes Vermillion a record that jazz fans will agree is worth hearing at least once.

Vermillion is scheduled for release Feb. 11 through ECM Records.  More information on this and other titles from ECM Records is available at:

Websitehttps://ecmrecords.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ecmrecords

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

‘Coda’ Is A Fitting Possible Finale To Michael Mantler’s Career

Courtesy: ECM Reccords

Composer Michael Mantler has, over the course of his decades-long career, made a habit of re-working songs that he has already composed.  That was pointed out in a press release early this year announcing the then coming album from Mantler, Coda.  That being the case, it makes sense that Mantler gave his new record its noted name, considering that a coda, in music, is meant to repeat already pronounced musical phrases before closing out a song.  Released July 16 through ECM Records, the 54-minute presentation is an appealing work of modern classical music even for those who are unfamiliar with the Mantler’s body of work.  The “bonus” interview featured with the album helps audiences gain an understanding and appreciation for those works, forming a solid starting point for the record.  It will be discussed shortly.  The songs themselves build on the appeal generated through the bonus interview and will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most important items and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of this presentation.  All things considered, they make Coda a fitting potential finale to Mantler’s career.

Michael Mantler’s recently released new album, Coda, is an impressive collection of modern classical compositions.  That is the case even with them being re-workings of songs that Mantler has already composed.  Even those who are unfamiliar with Mantler’s body of work will enjoy them.  That is thanks in large part to the bonus interview with Mantler that is featured in the album’s booklet.  Mantler states of those previously arranged works in his interview that they were in his mind, “the best of” his existing catalog.  He states the exact songs that are re-worked when asked by the unidentified interviewer.  Those songs clearly have slightly updated names in the album here.  Some of the songs are updated slightly, and others more or less so.  This will be discussed a little later.  What is important is that Mantler’s direct mention of the songs that he re-worked for this record serves as a solid starting point for audiences who are less familiar with his catalog.  It could be that starting point on the proverbial journey down the rabbit hole in the best way possible.  From there, Mantler proceeds to discuss the kind of arrangements he is using today.  His brief but concise explanation is itself so engaging.  It will lead many if not most classical music fans to appreciate his works past and present that much more.  Mantler’s explanation of how his composing process both consciously and unintentionally focuses so much on his existing works is enlightening in its own right.  That is because of the insight that it gives into Mantler’s mindset as he crafts each re-worked song.  It is just one more example of how this record’s bonus interview helps audiences appreciate all of the record’s works.

The songs themselves are of their own import in examining the album.  They are important because, as noted, they are modern classical works, but not that impressionist style content that far too many people associate with the genre.  Yes, there are guitars incorporated into much of the featured content.  Yes, the arrangements are harsh at times, but there is something uniquely appealing about that overall approach.  It gives the songs a feeling and sound that makes them sound like they belong in the soundtracks to so many television shows and movies from the 1980s and early 90s.  Case in point is the arrangement featured in ‘Alien Suite.’  The subtle tension that Mantler incorporates into the song through the use of the strings and guitar paints a picture of a foggy, rainy night on a busy streetscape.  Maybe that streetscape is in New York City.  Maybe it is in another major metro region, but the reality is that audiences can see maybe someone unfamiliar with the setting looking on with uncertainty.  It is such a rich musical tapestry that Mantler and company paint here.  On another note, the edge from the strings in the opening bars of ‘Cerco Suite’ against the use of the clarinet is akin to music that one might expect from one of director Alfred Hitchcock’s great thrillers.  It is such a rich, powerful presentation in itself.  Even as the composition eases back in its closing minutes, that edge is still there.  That Mantler is able to keep the tension and mystery there even as the song gradually reaches its end is a positive statement in its own right.  It is yet another arrangement that will keep audiences who actively listen to the album engaged and entertained.  ‘TwoThirteen Suite,’ on yet another note, is unique in its own right.  The increased presence of the guitar here gives the song more of a sense of a work that belongs in some 80s thriller’s soundtrack.  That is not necessarily bad, either.  It is oddly engaging in its own right.  The approach and sound here is so much unlike that of the album’s other songs.  It shows just as much as the other songs examined here, the role of the album’s musical content and how much that content will appeal to audiences in general.  Together with the content in Mantler’s bonus interview, that primary and secondary content does much to make the record so appealing.  When all of that content is considered along with the record’s production, the album gains even more engagement and entertainment.

The production that went into Coda is important because, again, there is so much going on in each composition.  For all that is going on, every part gets its own moment in the spotlight.  The attention paid to each part’s balance with that of its counterparts ensures that no one part ever overpowers the others at any point.  The result is a handful of songs that while they are re-workings of songs that Mantler already crafted, they are just as nice the second time around.  When this is considered along with the content featured in the album and its impact, the whole works together to make Coda an interesting new offering from Michael Mantler that any classical and modern classical fan will enjoy.

Michael Mantler’s recently released album, Coda, is a work that classical and modern classical fans alike will agree is worth hearing.  That is due in part to its liner notes.  The liner notes do well to set the groundwork for the music contained on disc.  That is because it gives audiences new and old alike a starting point for the bigger picture of the album and a journey into Mantler’s catalog.  With that understanding and knowledge of Mantler’s catalog, it makes the re-worked songs featured here all the more entertaining and engaging.  Keeping all of that in mind, the whole of that content does much to make Coda enjoyable.  Taking into account, the impact of the production on the record’s songs, it puts the finishing touch to the presentation.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered, they make Coda a fitting finale to what Mantler hinted in his interview, could be the end of his career.

Coda is available now through ECM Records. More information on this and other titles from ECM Records is available at:

Websitehttps://ecmrecords.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ecmrecords

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Andrew Cyrille Quartet’s New LP Is A Unique Presentation That Every Jazz Fan Should Hear At Least Once

Courtesy: ECM Records

Late this past August, modern jazz act Andrew Cyrille Quartet released its new album, The News through ECM Records.  The eight-song production is another prime example of what makes ECM Records in whole such a unique entity in itself.  That is proven through each of its featured compositions, not the least of which is the album’s title track.  That song will be discussed shortly.  The record’s finale, ‘With You In Mind,’ is another noteworthy addition to The News and will be discussed a little later.  ‘Mountain,’ the record’s opener, is yet another way in which this record deems itself worth hearing.  It will also be discussed later.  When it is considered along with the other two songs noted here and with the record’s other entries, the whole makes the record overall yet another unique presentation from a truly unique label.

Andrew Cyrille Quartet’s new album, The News, is an intriguing new offering from a label in ECM Records, that is itself a unique company, considering the records that it has released.  The record proves itself so intriguing in part through its title track, which serves as the album’s midpoint.  The more than five-and-a-half-minute opus is a full on free/modernist style composition.  According to information provided to the media, Cyrille originally crafted the composition way back in the 1970s for another album, The Loop.  From what is noted in that information there is clearly an expansion from that song to its rendition here.  Now there is no note in the information as to the inspiration for the arrangement.  That aside, its manic nature and the sound effects used on the snare, keyboards and guitar here do well to really echo the chaos that it seems is spread across the news industry.  What sounds like static could easily echo the changing of TV networks while all of the other controlled chaos could really echo that noted energy in all of the news broadcasts out there, considering how the industry in general seems to think everything has to be urgent and so controversial.  It should be stressed here that this is all just this critic’s own interpretation and should not be taken as the only interpretation.  Hopefully this interpretation is somewhere in the ballpark though, considering again how well it reflects that chaos that the news industry churns on a 24/7 basis. 

As much as ‘The News’ does to show what makes The News stand out, it is just one of the most notable of the album’s entries.  ‘With You In Mind,’ the record’s closer, is the polar opposite of ‘The News.’  This song’s arrangement is a slow, gentle composition.  It opens with a spoken word/poem about love.  The speaker (who is not credited in the album’s liner notes) talks about having a certain person in mind.  The sense that is established here is that of adoration for someone and absolute dedication to that person.  The spoken word portion of the song leads into an equally gentle performance by David Virelles on the piano.  Virelles’ light touch on the keys all by himself creates such warmth in its simplicity.  Cyrille’s equally light touch on the snare and cymbals with his brushes joins with famed guitarist Bill Frisell’s also light touch on his instrument to add even more warmth and depth to this arrangement.  This is everything that people expect for a romantic evening.  What with cold weather coming, one can almost hear this song playing on a couple’s stereo as that couple dances in front of a roaring fireplace.  It is such a moving work that again is so starkly unlike what is presented in ‘The News’ but is still so endearing.  The power in the quiet and solitude of the song makes just as clear why this record is so well worth hearing.  It is just one more example of what makes the record worth hearing, too.  ‘Mountain,’ the album’s opener, is yet another way in which the album proves worth hearing.

Frisell leads the way in ‘Mountain’ as it opens.  The light strains that he creates on the guitar along with Cyrille’s light cymbal flourishes create (at least in this critic’s mind) thoughts of looking out over a beautiful mountain landscape in early fall as the weather is just beginning to change.  The positive mindset that the duo creates alongside Virelles’ subtle keyboard line adds even more to that sense.  The equally light, subtle fills that Cyrlle playson the toms makes one think, maybe, of the light breezes the blow through the mountaintops as the temperatures fall, especially along with those cymbal flourishes.  The overall flowing, gentle approach here is so moving, again, in its simplicity even as more layers are added throughout the course of the song’s nearly eight-and-a-half minute run time.  When that depth and countering simplicity are considered along with everything that went into the other songs examined here and with that in each of the album’s other songs, the whole of this record unquestionably proves itself so intriguing in the best way possible.  It, in whole, also shows even more what makes ECM Records such a unique label.  All things considered, the album proves itself to be a work that while maybe modern in its approach, is still worth hearing among most jazz lovers.

Andrew Cyrille Quartet’s recently released album, The News, is an interesting addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.  It is very much unlike so many of its counterparts released so far this year, but is also worth hearing at least once.  The songs examined here do well to support those statements.  They are unique of one another and from the rest of the album’s songs.  Collectively they make the album stand well on its own merits, and in turn, make the album positively unique.  All things considered, this record proves itself a successful offering from the quartet that every jazz fan should hear at least once. 

The News is available now. More information on this and other titles from ECM Records is available at:

Websitehttps://ecmrecords.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ecmrecords

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Audiences Will Not Want To Pass Over Marc Johnson’s ‘Overpass’

Courtesy: ECM Records

Late this past August, bassist Marc Johnson released his latest album, Overpass through ECM Records.  Not the only bassist to release a solo record this year (Eberhard Weber released his new live recording, Once Upon a Time Live in Avignon this month), Johnson offers audiences a unique presentation in his new eight-song album.  That is proven through its covers, originals, and re-worked originals that make up the 43-minute album’s body.  Among the most notable of the covers that Johnson takes on here is that of ‘Nardis,’ made most famous by Miles Davis.  It will be discussed shortly.  The improvised ‘Yin and Yang’ is among the most notable of the originals featured in this record and will be examined a little later.  ‘Samurai Fly’ is a unique re-working of another of Johnson’s originals.  It will also be discussed later.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole make Overpass a record over which modernist music fans will not want to pass.

Bassist Marc Johnson’s recently released solo record, Overpass, is an interesting new presentation that jazz and modernist music fans alike will find worth hearing at least once.  That is proven through each of its featured works, covers, originals, and re-worked originals alike. The most notable of the featured covers comes in the form of the Miles Davis cover, Nardis.  Made most famous by Bill Evans, Davis’ rendition is starkly unlike that of Johnson.  Davis’ rendition is so much more upbeat and free in its energy through its full orchestral arrangement.  By comparison, Johnson’s take on the song is much more subdued and almost melancholy.  Johnson echoes certain accents from the original composition’s piano line, but that is about as close as Johnson gets to the original composition.  Even in hearing the rendition made so famous by the Bill Evans Trio (of which Johnson was once a member) is so different from that of Johnson.  It is “darker” and “edgier” for lack of better wording here.  Having no liner notes to reference in the album’s booklet, one can only assume at what led Johnson to go this route in this rendition.  Even information provided to the media about the album offers no explanation from Johnson for the take’s approach.  To that end, this take on the classic song is sure to generate plenty of discussion among audiences.  That discussion shows how deeply the song will engage audiences.  To that end, it is partial proof of what makes Johnson’s new record so interesting and in turn worth hearing.  It is just one of the works featured in this record that proves its interest.  Johnson’s original, ‘Yin and Yang,’ is another example of what makes the album stand out among its counterparts.

‘Yin and Yang’ is notable in that it is a fully improvised composition.  That is pointed out in the noted information provided to the media about the album.  Johnson is quoted as saying of the song that he intentionally let each strain resonate and decay before making the next string of notes.  The simple approach is so powerful in that it fully embraces the mantra that it is the notes that are not played rather than those that are that matter.  The silence between each phrase along with the subdued mood that each phrase creates makes for such a deep emotional impact here.  What’s more, the improvised melodies that Johnson states he crafted to go with those other sounds fully conjures thoughts of the “Far East” where the whole concept of yin and yang as a mindset first developed.  That is evident through the slow, rich bowings that Johnson uses here.  The contrast of the two approaches here really does create its own balance of yin and yang, and in turn makes the song in whole so rich and powerful.  It is yet another example of how this record’s collective content makes it so well worth hearing.  Johnson’s re-worked version of his own original, ‘Samurai Fly,’ is one more example of what makes Overpass successful.

According to the noted information provided to the media, ‘Samurai Fly’ is a re-working of another song that Johnson had composed during his time with ECM Records, titled ‘Samurai Hee-Haw.’  He had recorded the song with a former group dubbed Bass Desires.  Originally crafted more than a decade ago, Johnson’s original bass line is still just as present here as in the original song.  Even with the layering of his one instrument here, the steady time keeping of legendary drummer Peter Erskine still echoes so thoroughly interestingly enough.  Audiences can hear it in their heads even being absent from the work, in simpler terms.  The noted layering of the bass here just as interestingly does its own part to echo the guitar line from the original song.  So really, all in all here what audiences get is an updated take of a classic song from Johnson and a group of other musicians that is simply re-titled.  It is such a rich work in its own right.  Its energy is so infectious along with the arrangement in general.  It is in whole, a composition that is just as good as its source material in its unique new approach and sound and yet another example of what makes Overpass successful.  When it is considered along with the other songs examined here and with the rest of the album’s offerings, the whole of the album becomes another unique addition to this year’s field of new jazz records from Johnson and from ECM Records.

Marc Johnson’s recently released album, Overpass, is an interesting entry in this year’s field of new jazz albums.  That is proven through each of the album’s songs, new, old, and covers alike.  Each of the songs examined here does well to make that clear.  When the songs examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes Overpass a record over which jazz fans will not want to pass.  Yes, that awful pun was intended.

Overpass is available now through ECM Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Marc Johnson’s latest news at https://marcjohnson.net.  

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.