Sunday 25 September 2016

A plethora of all sorts of jazz.

August and September has seen no let up in the quality or quantity of jazz both on vinyl and CD, but also live in the south west (and contrary to what some journalists seem to think, the south-west does not end at Bristol!). It's difficult to cover all the material that come in a recorded form, but here are some of my current favourites:

All about melody: Russell Malone

Just because he's probably my favourite guitarist active at the moment (John Etheridge comes close, mind) I don't expect to like all the work he creates, but this album, recorded with a trio that he works with has everything from experimental, funky and straightforward damned good playing. Start with "Jive hoot" and work in from there....

Heritage: Richard Bona

Backed by an Afro quintet that has three percussion players, plus a trumpet and trombone brass section this has seldom been off my turntable this summer. Best described as "joyous" and very African. It all seems effortless, but the band are at the top of their game, and Bona is in fine voice

Soul eyes: Kandace Springs

Very hyped on its release now that I've settled down and really got into this is a wonderfully varied set of tunes. She hasn't gone for the obvious first album ploy of stuffing it full of self-penned tunes but has selected some great covers and some interesting collaborations with other writers. I suppose the real proof will be what she does with the second album, but somehow I d guess that she will not make the mistake that I think Norah Jones did by rushing to get out that 'difficult' second album.

Channel the Spirits: Come is Coming 

Most press releases seemed to equate this with Sun Ra, but its so much different - if you like its very British and seems to follow on from a lot of the prog. stuff that floated around in the late 70's and early 80's, but with an added black music ethos that marks it out as a moving forward.

The Dreaming Room: Laura Mvula

I've thought that ever since the first album she was anxious to avoid some obvious comparisons with the late Nina Simone, and get trapped in that bag. This is an affirmation that she was never going to allow that to happen, and the album is a mixture of new songs and sometimes unexpected arrangements. Having seen her live at the Radio Academy in Exeter in May, and hearing her ideas and views I'm certain that this is another step on the road to a great career done her way.

Secular Hymns: Madeleine Peyroux.

A long time favourite on EoJ moves to a major label (Impulse) and releases an album which fits right into the ethos of the show. There's blues, jazz, reggae, traditional and folk al mixed together on an album recorded in an English Church (and at the request of Raymond Blanc). It's a lot more intimate than her recent outings and all the better for being part of an excellent and sympathetic trio that suits her style and the material.

Blackwater: Henrik Jensen's followed by thirteen.

Saw this quartet at St Lawrence's chapel at Ashburton ( a very special venue if I haven't told you before). Not only are the compositions stunning but the interplay between the band members was astounding. Andre Canniere the trumpet player has got a new album due soon, and Esben Tjalve the pianist has as well. Mention too for Antonio Fusco. Andy who runs @ashburtonlive recorded the live set and some of the tracks will appear on the show before the end of the year.

Together as one: Dinosaur/Laura Jurd.

Cripes! This may well be my record of the year for 2015. A complete and utter surprise with an astoundingly composed and considered set of compositions. Laura Jurd has always been an excellent trumpet player, but her experiments with synthesiser takes the playing to a new plane, and special mention for Elliot Galvin whose keyboard work has moved on apace from his recent album. However it's the overall sound and recording that is so astounding. If you haven't heard it yet you're in for a real treat.

Of course this is a selection of what has come out, and I haven't written about others like the recent Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau album " Nearness"  or Badbadnotgood's album  "IV," but as I've reflected elsewhere jazz is going through a really inventive and interesting time, and I've no doubt there will be much more to write about as the Christmas (sorry!) releases start to come thick and fast. Until then do try to listen to at least a couple of these albums if you can.