by: Hobert Taylor
David Ake - Lake Effect - (Positone)
Pianist and jazz scholar Ake, along with brilliant saxophonist Peter Epstein and a powerful rhythm section, bassist Sam Minae, and drummer Mark Ferber have created an album that displays maturity of vision, profundity of thought and excellence in execution. The compositions, (and I believe they are very calculated compositions not extended improvisations, but it matters not) contain profound melodic structures that satisfy this listener's need for complete and discrete works something akin to a Mozart sonata. This is not to be critical of all the various structures and anti-structures in modern jazz, it just to say that Ake does what he does, writing brilliant and complex songs that build on traditional order, theme/exposition, variation, recapitulation, with an inevitability and thoughtfulness that for me is a constant delight. I hesitate to single out any of the extraordinary tunes here, but "Two Stones", "Lake Effect", and the piano solo "Lone Pine" get my vote for classics. P.S. Often I have found new music in the course of reading. Here after listening to Ake's music, for the first time, I have discovered a new book (his "Jazz/Not Jazz") .
Joe Lovano/Dave Douglas - Sound Prints - (Blue Note)
In contrast, another wonderful new release is the zenderful interplay displayed by saxmeister Lovano, trumpeter Douglas, pianist Lawrence Fields, bassist, Linda Oh, and Joey Baron on drums (a key part of John Zorn's sound if you are keeping track). Free jazz, the party's always going on. Unlike Ake's Lake Effect reviewed above, these tunes aren't about beginnings middles and ends. They are all middles exploding every which way. Moment to moment, this recording done at the 2013's Monterey Jazz Festival is live and alive.
Oded Lev-Ari - Threading - (Anzic Records)
Deep and mellow is this fellow. The tunes swing gently, mid tempo blues and yiddishe jazz from the glory days re-imagined by this pianist and master arranger. It's all very fine. My favorite composition is a neo-classical piece, "Voices", that builds with majesty and grace before resolving into an unnerving tension leading back into a stately crescendo guided by Anat Cohen's clarinet part with the strings that deconstruct the initial theme.