by: Hobert Taylor
Tre Voci - Tre Voci - (ECM)
Trio music (Marina Piccinini, Flute; Kim Kashkashian, Viola; Siven Magen, Harp) featuring Toru Takemitsu's "And Then I Knew Twas Wind", Debussy's "Sonata for Flute Viola and Harp", and Sofia Gubaidulina's "Garten von Freuden und Traurigkeiten"
This is world music on the grandest scale... that is to say studiously composed pieces emerging from the imaginations of a Japanese translator/interpreter of what we call classical music who also remained true to his native aesthetic traditions , France's most popular 20th century exponent for the transition of the Romantic tradition into "the modern world" and a Russian protege of Shostakovich who in Soviet days was an outcast for her idiosyncratic re-imaginings of classical tonality and instrumental arrangement. It is all reverently performed.
Love Supreme collective - Love Supreme Collective - (Ropeadope)
Just because something is popular it doesn't necessarily have to be bad. This iTunes # 1 jazz selection is Coltrane re-born... fresh and now in sound and spiritually profound in the way the music hews to Coltrane's timeless values... eloquent, intricate and articulate improvisation as composition. Just play it. # 2, "Resolution of Purpose "....that's what this whole disc is resolution of purpose.
Charles Lloyd - (with Gabor Szabo - guitar, Ron Carter -bass, and Pete La Roca Sims-drums) - Manhattan Stories - (Resonance)
One of the giants of jazz woodwinds, saxophonist/flautist Lloyd is probably best known for his mellow and romantic/ethereal tone and phrasing...sort of the Debussy of post bop. These early recording of live dates from 1965, here released for the first time, also show his harder side ("Sweet Georgia Bright"). With an all star band, especially the Hungarian guitarist Szabo who pushed his instrument to the outer realms as much as any horn player, ( not a common thing), Lloyd plays the same role for the jazz of his age that Hendrix played for rock. "What came before was cool...but where do we go now?" Be sure to check out" Lady Gabor" ( appearing twice, once in a concert setting, once at a club). The second CD, "Live at Slug's" is pretty lo-fi, but musically exceptional and very very live.
Kenny Barron/Dave Holland - The Art Of Conversation - (Impulse)
Mellow and melodic without being treacle, the conversations recorded here seem like reminiscences of two of the greatest team players in all of jazz. Pianist Barron with Dizzy Gillespie, Yusef Lateef, Joe Henderson, and James Moody, and Holland with Anthony Braxton, Miles Davis, Chic Corea, Joe Henderson, and Kenny Wheeler demonstrated how their unique and personal styles could augment the genius borne by collaboration without being submerged. Here two become one. There is no leader, just a beautifully balanced partnership ... intertwining thoughts. "The Oracle", Charlie Parker's "Segment", the gorgeous "Waltz for Wheeler", the sweet reading of Monk's "In Walked Bud" and the Strayhorn/Ellington "Daydream" are good places to start.
Allison Au Quartet - The Sky Was Pale Blue, Then Grey - (Self Released)
Oh Canada! So many of the great new jazz releases I've added recently have come from there. Also there seem to be a much higher percentage of women instrumentalists releasing new music there.... I wonder if government support of the arts and a non-sexist non-commercial group of promoters might have an effect on quality and diversity... (insert eye-roll here)... On to the CD. Alto saxophonist Au plays both inside and out... going to frantic improvisation against deeply melodic backgrounds. That's the type of music that people who say "I don't get jazz" can grok while leaving jazz purists well nourished. The changes come quickly in a patchwork quilt of rhythms and ideas that float over the musical landscape like a flying carpet. My faves, "Birdy", "What Went With The Wind", the mellow ghostly "The Orchid" (made me think of Charles Lloyd), and the mash-up and title cut, "the Sky Was Pale Blue, Then Grey" (Au's composition interspersed between conversations between John Cage and Morton Feldman).
Diane Roblin - Reconnect - (Self Released)
Also from Canada, pianist Roblin is more old school. Her compositions alternate between the innovative and the derivative. When she is not trying to crossover into pop jazz she shines, as on "Suspend Yourself", the broken time tune "Feeling Good",and the really pretty "Renewed On Thanksgiving Day".
Anne Akiko Meyers - The American Masters - (eonemusic)
Violinist Meyers, accompanied by Leonard Slatkin and The London Symphony Orchestra, performs Samuel Barber's "Concerto for Violin and Orchestra", John Coriglano's "Lullaby for Natalie", and Mason Bates work, "Violin Concerto (2012)". While the first two composers are well established as American masters, the delightful surprise is the addition of Bates. Corigliano is the godfather of this project, which astutely links three generations of American composition together. The addition of Bates' stirring composition which like the more familiar precursors on the disc sounds somehow very "American" serves as an effective coda to a tradition. Bates' piece also emphasizes elements of the Baroque, expansive Romanticism, and the angular jauntiness of the post modern. Not yet 40, Bates is a protege of Corigliano and David Del Tredici and his star seems to be on the ascendance. This disc gives one a sample of why.
Ekaterina Shelehova - Katya: Moonlight - (Marquis)
This Russian born Canadian coloratura soprano sings with a simple purity mixed with disciplined skill. Potentially she could be a popular success because of the folky naturalness in her performance style that links her to the sound of say a young Judy Collins or Joan Baez, but her tonality is so spot on that she clearly comes from the highest of the Bel Canto tradition. When provided with straight classical arrangements or simple folk tunes, there are no distractions from her remarkable instrument. When cheesy pop arrangements interfere... well that unfortunately is a different story. Best cuts are "Canzone Alla Luna","Lux Aeterna", "Ave Maria", "Air On a G String" the one new composition that works for me "The Key", and "Open Air" (based on Schumann's "Traumerei"). Avoid the title cut, "Moonlight".... a way overproduced rendering of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.