by: Hobart Taylor
Hal Galper and the Youngbloods - Live at the Cota Jazz Festival - (Origin)
Pianist Galper is an educator and mentor. Previously with Chet Baker, Cannonball Adderly, Sam Rivers,(1960's) and Phil Woods (1980's) he has been fronting trios and writing scholarly articles since the 90's while teaching at University. On this release he has found gifted young performers and improvisers in drummer, David Frazier, bassist Dean Torrey, and the uninhibited Nathan Bellott on alto sax. In fact the sax drum duets that occasionally emerge echo the free jazz greats. Galper's compositions are classics. Be-bop is embedded, along with free form and modal jazz all seamlessly intertwining. Galper plays a few leads, but mainly cues Bellott with prescient chord changes and rhythmic cues. This is very fine music.
Jason Kao Hwang - Sing House - (Euonymous)
Composer/violinist Hwang has long been a denizen of the avant garde. Talk about categorization! Like many great artists, he is sui generis, his own hybrid. Blues riffs emerge from cataclysmic sound collisions and then devolve into cacophonous and contentious colloquies. Please say the previous sentence aloud. Then you may begin to hear the wonders contained in this music.
On the liner notes Hwang says, "The music is a house, with the score's quintessential melodies, rhythms, harmonies, and textures offering rooms in which musicians extemporaneously sing." His analysis of the music, like the immediate attention and reverence he has for each iota of sound is spot on.
Meklit - The People Move and the Music Moves Too - (Six Degrees)
Ethiopian/American singer Meklit has taken the enveloping rhythms of Ethiopian jazz and added life affirming lyrics to them. Collaborating here innovatively with producer Dan Wilson (Adele), Preservation Hall's horn section and on a couple of cuts the great neo-folk violinist Andrew Bird, she is easy on the ears without losing any of her assertive passion for justice and love. For those of us who miss Joan Armatrading here is another gorgeous contralto voice saying important things.
Bram Weijters/Chad McCullough - Feather - (Monks and Thieves)
Belgian keyboardist Weijters and Chicago based trumpeter McCullough create ephemeral sonic atmospheres that float like cirrus clouds, thin wisps in the cerulean haze. In that nether space between 20th century modernism and ECM jazz, Delius and Keith Jarrett. Deeply composed and thoughtful.