On this weeks show there are new live albums from Steve Coleman and Enrico Rava. There are also new studio based releases from Adán Mizrahi, Byron Asher & Brad Webb, Brian Molloy Quartet, John Zorn, and Bruce Forman, John Clayton & Jeff Hamilton. There’s also a dip in the archive for some classic Charles Mingus.
- Steve Coleman “Memes To Midas” from Live at the Village Vanguard Volume II (MDW NTR) (Pi Recordings) 00:00
- Enrico Rava “Infant” from Edizione Speciale (ECM) 13:58
- Adán Mizrahi “Javastraat” from Dissident (ears&eyes) 27:33
- Byron Asher & Brad Webb “All By Ourselves” from Little Bigby (ears&eyes) 33:11
- Brian Molloy Quartet “Magic Ten” from Modern Traditions (BGMM Records) 38:30
- John Zorn “Auto-Da-Fé” from Heaven and Earth Magick (Tzadik) 44:51
- Charles Mingus “East Coasting” from East Coasting (Bethlehem) 53:17
- Adán Mizrahi “Tone Deaf Morning Chant” from Dissident (ears&eyes) 1:00:00
- Byron Asher & Brad Webb “I Like This More Than You Do” from Little Bigby (ears&eyes) 1:04:07
- Brian Molloy Quartet “Bletchley” from Modern Traditions (BGMM Records) 1:08:08
- Enrico Rava “The Fearless Five” from Edizione Speciale (ECM) 1:11:57
- Bruce Forman, John Clayton & Jeff Hamilton “Rope A Dope” from Reunion (Self Released) 1:25:27
- Adán Mizrahi “Picadita Tropical” from Dissident (ears&eyes) 1:29:22
- Byron Asher & Brad Webb “Les Printemps Perdu” from Little Bigby (ears&eyes) 1:33:57
- Brian Molloy Quartet “Sinkapace for Mary and Phillip” from Modern Traditions (BGMM Records) 1:38:09
- Steve Coleman “Pad Thai-Mdw Ntr” from Live at the Village Vanguard Volume II (MDW NTR) (Pi Recordings) 1:45:41
Pi Recordings’ final release of the year is Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. II (Mdw Ntr) finds alto saxophonist and MacArthur fellow Steve Coleman returning to that celebrated New York venue with his flagship band Five Elements in two sets that fully capture the group’s incendiary live experience. Volume I of this series (Pi 2018) was described by Rolling Stone as “Downright exhilarating… Feels akin to watching the Harlem Globetrotters work their head-spinning magic on the court.” If anything, Volume II – recorded a year later in May 2018 – amps up the energy level even higher. Replacing guitarist Miles Okazaki in the band is the masterful freestyle rapper Kokayi, who brings a freewheeling, rhythmically-acute, almost tent revival aesthetic to the proceedings. Pushed by Coleman to perform as spontaneously as possible, the result is frenetic group improvisation that is constantly teetering on edge, yet somehow still retaining form and structure, an effect that is only possible because of the near-telepathic level of communication that the ensemble has honed through hundreds of sets played together over the decades.
The sets feature a combination of staples of Five Elements’ live sets (“Little Girl I’ll Miss You,” “Pad Thai,” and “9 to 5”) and new works that reflect Coleman’s recent composition practice whereby the melodies and forms are derived spontaneously while he visualizes various motions and shapes, which are then orchestrated for the group. As on Volume I, most of the new compositions are inspired by the shapes and symbolism of the Mdw Ntr, a transliteration of the Kemetic writing system, often referred to as hieroglyphics. The band’s virtuosity is astounding: bassist Anthony Tidd’s rock-solid foundation and drummer Sean Rickman’s constantly-varying attack hurtles the music forward with an irresistible groove. Coleman and trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson weave a serpentine path, sometimes in complex unison but more often in counterpoint to each other. Their ongoing dialogue is uncanny: They are like the modern-day Bird and Miles, which is apt since this is, at its core, a music that is as much as anything else deeply rooted in bebop, albeit of the most futuristic variety.
Steve Coleman – alto saxophone
Jonathan Finlayson – trumpet
Kokayi – vocals
Anthony Tidd – bass
Sean Rickman – drums
Enrico Rava, long a key figure in European jazz, has been a mentor for successive generations of Italian players. His celebratory Edizione special, recorded live at the Middelheim Festival in Antwerp, brings together a team of young improvisers who play his music with fire and élan, accompanying his fountain of melodic ideas, while also taking advantage of the free space that the extensive musical forms open up. The group’s repertoire includes material from the trumpeter/flugelhornist’s early recording Enrico Rava Quartet (1978) and Wild Dance (2015), plus a rendition of “Once Upon a Summertime” – the English version of Michel Legrand’s “La valse des lilas” – as well as the universally known Cuban song “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás”.
Enrico Rava Trumpet & Flugelhorn
Francesco Bearzatti tenor saxophone
Francesco Diodati Guitar
Giovanni Guidi Piano
Gabriele Evangelista Double Bass
Enrico Morello Drums
Containing Argentinean textures and traditional rhythm influences, 20th century “classical music” ideas, deep grooves, and free improvisation would land this record in the overall genre of “contemporary jazz.” It’s fusion music in the sense that it takes elements from different worlds and puts them together to create new, well conceived music with clear influences and yet its own identity. The compositions are often contrasting in style with one another, whilst keeping a coherent aesthetic as a whole. These contrasts will probably lead to a favorite track depending on each listener’s taste. The kind of album that can satisfy the Jazz and Improvised Music enthusiast but also tickle the curiosity of others, like a Rock or World Music lover.
The ensemble is made up of musicians from different backgrounds and generations. This is true in many aspects. Not only is there a 20 year difference of age between the oldest and the youngest member but also their careers have been formed from various “schools” and literal varying hemispheres giving the overall sounds a richness that’s not often heard. It features the Argentina-born, Netherlands-living tenor saxophonist Natalio Sued and the Dutch alto saxophonist Ben Van Gelder – icons of two different generations and latitudes.
Adán Mizrahi – Double Bass & Compositions
Ben Van Gelder – Alto Sax
Natalio Sued – Tenor Sax
Teis Semey – Guitar
Tijn Jans – Drums
George Dumitriu – Guitar on 3
Marcos Baggiani – Drums on 7
Byron Asher & Brad Webb
Little Bigby is the debut duo recording from New Orleans-based clarinetist and saxophonist Byron Asher and drummer Brad Webb. Born out of a many years-long relationship of performing and recording together in each other’s projects as well as a 4-year long stint as next door neighbors in New Orleans’ 7th ward (resulting in countless listening sessions and wanders to the coffeeshop), Little Bigby explores their friendship through improvised composition and free improvisation confined by the technical limitations of their direct-to-cassette recording medium.
Putting the time away from active performing during the pandemic to good use, in January 2021, Asher began experimenting with a busted 4-track cassette recorder he purchased off Craigslist for $40, recording onto blank cassette tapes found in a “free box” on the side of the street. With only three working tracks on his Tascam recorder and a single direct microphone input, he and Webb began trading free improvisations back and forth, overdubbing takes on top of each other, improvising against already recorded material, and developing the tracks released here in a sort of long-form call and response.
Given the medium of the recording project, the performers felt a cassette and digital only release was ideal. The album artwork features a photograph shot by Asher himself, depicting a container ship floating down the Mississippi River from the vantage point of the French Quarter, New Orleans.
Brian Molloy Quartet
Internationally acclaimed Scottish group the Brian Molley Quartet released their third album, Modern Traditions on Friday 3rd December.
Featuring the quartet’s trademark blend of jazz and world music, Modern Traditions again showcases the group’s broad range of musical influences while demonstrating a deep respect for the jazz tradition. From straight-ahead, high-octane jazz to tender ballads, from driving Indian raga to Scottish traditional folk song, Modern Traditions is a collection of creative, contemporary jazz played by an established group at the height of their powers.
Formed in 2012 by Glasgow-based saxophonist and former Jazzwise ‘One to Watch’ Molley, the quartet brings together some of the finest musicians from the UK’s jazz and world music scenes, with pianist Tom Gibbs, double bassist Brodie Jarvie and drummer Stuart Brown joining Molley. Their enthusiastically received debut album, Clock was released in 2013 and was described by BBC Radio 3 as ‘a well-crafted and classy debut’ and by London Jazz News as ‘skilfully crafted music, a minor masterpiece…strikingly good.’
Colour and Movement, their follow-up from 2017, was greeted with similar praise. All About Jazz said, ‘Molley’s tone is gorgeous, he never wastes a note’ and The Scotsman described Molley’s tenor saxophone as singing ‘beautifully, sultry and lyrical.’
The quartet have been selected three times for the Made in Scotland programme at Edinburgh Festival Fringe and represented the cutting edge in UK jazz at Rochester International Jazz Festival, New York as part of Made in the UK 2015. On the same trip the group played well received club dates in New York City, drawing enthusiastic responses at Silvana in Harlem and WhyNotJazzRoom in Greenwich Village.
Their numerous national and international tours include appearances at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester jazz festivals, a live session for BBC Radio 3’s Jazz Line-Up in 2017 and several trips to tour, collaborate and record in India. The quartet’s first collaboration with Rajasthan’s Asin Langa Ensemble included a nationwide tour of India as well as a reciprocal arrangement, bringing the renowned Indian folk musicians to the UK to tour for the first time in 2018. A resulting track, Journeys in Hand, composed by Molley, was selected for Songlines Magazine’s June 2018 covermount CD. More recently the quartet have collaborated with Chennai-based percussionist Krishna Kishor on a nationwide tour of India, including headline appearances at Madras Jazz Festival. Their remotely-recorded album, Intercontinental is planned for release in 2022.
Heaven and Earth Magick showcases Zorn’s fabulous and compelling blending of classical virtuosic instrumental writing with the improvisational world of Jazz. Completely notated works for piano and vibraphone brilliantly performed by Steve Gosling and Sae Hashimoto are set against a dynamic improvisational rhythm section of Jorge Roeder and Ches Smith. An exciting new musical world filled with an exhilarating sense of drama and a mischievous wit. Zorn’s unique mastery of instrumental writing and wild improvisational conducting skills are here in all their thorny complexity. Essential!
Ches Smith: Drums
Stephen Gosling: Piano
Sae Hashimoto: Vibraphone
Jorge Roeder: Bass
East Coasting originally on Bethlehem Records is one of Charles Mingus’s lesser-known band sessions, this set of five of his originals (plus the standard ‘Memories of You’) features his usual sidemen of the period (trombonist Jimmy Knepper, trumpeter Clarence Shaw, Shafi Hadi on tenor and alto and drummer Dannie Richmond) along with pianist Bill Evans. The music stretches the boundaries of bop, is never predictable and, even if this is not one of Mingus’s more acclaimed dates, it is well worth acquiring for the playing is quite stimulating
Charles Mingus – bass
Clarence Shaw – trumpet
Jimmy Knepper – trombone
Shafi Hadi – alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
Bill Evans – piano
Dannie Richmond – drums
Bruce Forman, John Clayton & Jeff Hamilton
Noted Jazz guitarist Bruce Forman, who was mentored in his younger years by Jazz guitar icon Barney Kessel, recently acquired Kessel’s original guitar through a truly ‘miraculous’ route. Securing this long-sought treasure then inspired Forman to join forces with renowned Bassist John Clayton and noted Jazz Drummer Jeff Hamilton to perform as a trio for a new music CD entitled REUNION! What’s completely unique about any of this? Well, in addition to Forman playing Kessel’s guitar for the new REUNION! CD, Clayton played HIS MENTOR Ray Brown’s bass, and Hamilton played one of HIS MENTOR Shelley Manne’s favored drum sets on the new album!