Gidon Kremer has again recorded the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin of Bach and while his facility and technical grace are intact, in this recording he appears to have been deeply influenced by his time with the moderns (Adams, Pärt, Schnittke, Piazzola, Glass, et al). For this listener it seems that studying and performing these contemporary composers' manipulation of sound and instrumental scope has enriched Kremer's thought about the perfection of Bach. Not everyone will agree with Kremer's approach to these works on this new recording, but for those who know Bach's solo violin pieces there are pleasures in store. Remaining technically suave and with a luxuriant tone, Kremer seems to be communicating with the psychological Bach, offering different tempi and more soulful approaches than those of his colleagues. The results are mesmerizing. Highly recommended.
Trombonist Julian Priester, after playing with many different groups, including those of Sun Ra, Lionel Hampton, Dinah Washington, Max Roach, and Duke Ellington, was a member of the Herbie Hancock Sextet during 1970-1973. Hancock's intriguing ensemble went from funk to free blowing, and in its later period was experimenting with synthesizers. On Love, Love, Priester continues in that vein. The two lengthy improvisations are mostly on one-chord repetitive rhythmic vamps stated by the bass, featuring sound explorations and plenty of electronics. Only on the last half of the second medley does Priester himself emerge a bit from the electronic sounds. One is reminded of Bitches Brew, since that is an obvious influence, but also Hancock's group and Weather Report. The music develops slowly, but listeners with patience will enjoy the blending of the many different voices in this unusual musical stew.
What must be heard by contemporary jazz generalists as a typical ECM type European music creation, pianist Christian Wallumrod has conjured up a nomadic series of themes that touch on various strains of ethnic music. Echoes of classical and chamber musics, and Manfred Eicher's brand of tonally reserved, emotionally balanced, and coolly rendered sounds provide a rich but predictable musical palette. The title A Year from Easter might suggest many themes of hope, looking forward, sudden dismay, prayers for peace and justice, and post-distress emergence.
From Norwegian folk singer and harpist Sinikka Langeland comes a seductively subtle contemporary jazz album. The lyrics are all Norwegian or Swedish (the sleeve notes have translations), and celebrate the poetry of Edith Södergran and Olav Håkonson Hauge – the first a shortlived pioneer of modern Swedish poetry, the second the Norwegian "lumberjack poet" who came to the art in his 40s. Langeland's band brings together trumpet-player Arve Henriksen and saxophonist/composer Trygve Seim, and it's a magical combination. Despite a predominant feeling of tranquillity, the singer sometimes adds an almost Nina Simone-like bite, for which Seim's smoky sound, Henriksen's ghostly multiphonics and Anders Jormin's bass are ideal foils. The mood is often broken by grooves that suggest some strange fjord-village cabaret music, or episodes that are like Nordic Miles Davis. It's a real one-off.
Enjoy three A-list players teaming up to celebrate the sorties into the wilder reaches of jazz-rock made by Tony Williams’s band, Lifetime. John Scofield is at his bluesy best vying with the versatile Hammond of Larry Goldings, Jack DeJohnette on drums is a precise mix of grace and fire.
Black Ice is a nice image for Dutch pianist Wolfert Brederode’s new trio music, with its gleaming lyricism, transparency, and hint of danger, as well as sleek melodic invention both from the leader and from Icelandic bassist Gulli Gudmundsson. Brederode and Gudmundsson have collaborated often over the last two decades in contexts from free improvisation to theatre music and have a keenly honed intuitive understanding. Jasper van Hulten is a resourceful addition to the team, a tone-sensitive drummer adept at embellishing the sensitive musical language and sense of interplay. The album, recorded at Lugano’s Studio RSI in July 2015 and produced by Manfred Eicher, is issued as the Brederode Trio goes on tour in the Netherlands…
Kenny Wheeler's beautiful sound on trumpet and his wide range are well-displayed on his four compositions, three of which are given performances over ten minutes long. With the assistance of ECM regulars Jan Garbarek (on tenor and soprano), guitarist John Abercrombie, bassist Dave Holland, drummer Jack DeJohnette and (on one song) guitarist Ralph Towner, Wheeler emphasizes lyricism and romantic moods on this fine set of original music.
Piggybacking on 1992’s Invisible Storm, ECM maverick Edward Vesala returned with his organic collective, Sound & Fury, as our guide for Nordic Gallery. Vesala draws a thinner circle around his ensemble this time around, weaving inside it a dreamcatcher for communal freedom, as exemplified in the 11-minute “Bird In The High Room,” a menagerie of cymbals, muted horns, drums, and birdsong.
Ballads, which really seems to make ballads out of ballads, has been considered both worthy of hanging on the museum wall alongside the other masterpieces and being accorded special merit as the jazz record most used for background music. Since no less a genius than the great French composer Erik Satie invented the concept of background music, this might not be such a contradiction or insult. Only the short "Circles" invites a real comparison with the piano music of Satie; elsewhere you're in extremely extended territory, Paul Bley's desire to play the slowest music in history meshing with a new style of rhythm section accompaniment that sounds like everything from tuning the drums to adjusting the drapes.