by: Hobart Taylor
Jazz CD.No - Jazz from Norway 2016 7th Set - (Jazzinorge)
Well among all the horrible things that might emerge from a Socialist Bernie Sanders presidency is government support for the arts like they have in Norway.
I hold in my hand a compilation 3 CD set given me by the Consul General of Norway recently at the Jazz Connect symposium in New York. It contains outstanding work by 42 different jazz acts. This from a country with a quarter of the population of metro L.A. Granted unlike the U.S., the 5 million or so Norwegians don't have to fund an enormous nuclear arsenal or imprison a significant portion of its populace, but still...
The music ranges from classical jazz fusion to new age influenced Nordic mysticism to straight ahead be-bop and cool jazz, to Latin jazz, and concludes with a disc entirely dedicated to the avant-garde and improvisation. There is so much music here that I don't have the space to give a detailed review. The music of Espen Berg, Ellen Andrea Wang, Hayden Powell,Solveig Slettahjell and Knut Reiersrud, Arild Andersen, The Waldemar 4, Marius Neset, Ola Kvernberg, Pixel, Morten Qvenild, Mopti, Gard Nilssen', All Included, Team Hegdal, Atomic, Krokofant, Monster!, and Hilde Marie Holsen were my picks from the compilation, but as they used to say in the bad old days of vinyl, drop the needle anywhere.
Jack Mouse Scott Robinson Janice Borla - Three Story Sandbox (Tall Grass Records)
Let's list the universe of timbres represented on this release. Drummer Mouse plays Ojibway tortoise shell drum, Chinese opera gong, Nepalaese gong, Sabian zodiac gong, Sabian thunder sheet, maraca sticks, Japenese densho bell, and oh drums. Reed player Robinson plays photo theremin, aktara, guitar, penny whistle, Navajo cedar flute, cornet, e-flat clarinet, flute, c-melody saxophone and tenor sax. Janice Borla has extraordinary range and her voicings emphasize not just tonal variation and elision, but in her breaths brittle whisperings and clicks.
This is tribal music music, but the tribe is an ur tribe, a tribe before cultural classification, a connection to what is human rather than to any specific race , location, or era.
Helene Grimaud - Water (Deutsche Grammophon)
This compilation of solo piano works interspersed with electronica transitional pieces composed by the record's producer Nitin Sawhney spans a wide range of composers from Berio and Takemitsu in the twentieth century to the romantics, Ravel and Debussy, and Liszt and Janacek. Clearly meant to be listened to in its entirety, one can imagine this to be an engrossing concert experience. The individual highlights for me are Toru Takemitsu's "Rain Tree", the myriad droplets of notes in Liszt's "Les Jeux d'eaux a la Villa d'Este", and a Debussy prelude, (No. 10: La Cathedrale egloutie).
Jon Davis - Change Over Time (Positone)
What I like about Davis is the casual joy with which he approaches his playing. Like Ahmad Jamal or Ramsey Lewis you feel instantly at ease with his playing whether on jazz classics like Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes" or pop tunes like "Yesterday". Best of all for me however are his own compositions. Using the trio format to punctuate his astute melodic reflections, he takes blues based riffs out to the edge in "Changes Over Time", fake stumbles elegantly in "Klutz", and makes a succinct and eloquent argument for something beyond words in the allegro composition "It's for Free".
George Papageorge - Snowstorm Blues (Self Released)
New York organist Papageorge is a soldier in the encroaching soul jazz army currently on the march. He's got the chops, his arrangements are fresh, his tune selection diverse and interesting. My faves, Charles Earland's "Don't Be So Mean Arlene", The Winans' "Heaven", A winning take on "When Johnny Comes Marching home", and his own title composition "Snowstorm Blues".
Glenn White - Quirk (Armored Records)
Tenor saxophonist White treads that rock jazz border pioneered by Adrian Belew and Nels Cline deftly. Prominent in this E.P. are the guitar work of Colin Sapp and Andy Bianco, and they often define the sound by doubling with White on various riffs. This subtle ear candy could reach audiences from trip hop to jazz purists and dinosaur rockers to boot.