Monday 11 July 2022

 Can't think that I've left my first resume of the years new releases that I've enjoyed so late before. However, here it goes; with the following proviso. Like the last couple of years new releases have been subject to all sorts of delays to release, albums recorded by various artist forced to record in seperate locations because of the covid restrictions which have taken a long time to put together, and, I susspect, unavailability due to problems with gigging to support sales. (on this subject one of the bands recently promoted by Phonic FM admitted to us that they expected to make at least as much from 'merch' as they did from their fees at venues)

Jazz Defenders - King Phoenix.

The defenders launched their second album with a series of gigs including one at the Phoenix. The influence is obvious - The Blue Note label c 1964-5, but the material is very much their own, with the majority written by George Cooper (sometime of Exeter). It's a a joyous keyboard led romp, with prominent horns courtesy of Nick Malcolm and Nicholas Dover. There are two 'vocal' tracks and is a building block from the first album, also available on Haggis Records - highly recommended.

Ethan Iverson - Every note is true.

All self written(except for 'Blue' written by Jack DeJohnette)  sees Iverson join the Blue Note label with a rather fine, mainly, trio album. His sidesmen are immensely supportive with Larry Grenadier on Bass, and the aformentioned DeJonette on drums. The material is strong and very varied, with 'The more it changes' being a song sung by 44 friends into their cell phones.. Persoanla favourites are 'At the bells and motley'  and the Jason Moran inspired 'Goodness knows'

Jonathan Blake - Homeward bound.

Drummer Blake sits back and works his way through a largely self written set of tunes. He's joined by a spectrum of 'new' Blue Note artists like Joel Ross on Vibraphone, Immanuel Wilkins on Alto Sax and David Virelles on keyboards. It all gels together into really satisfactory album (that's not damning it with faint praise!) with Blakes 'Rivers and Parks', Deacon Douglas' 'Shake the biscuits' and a wondeful version of Joe Jackson's 'Steppin' out' being my favourites.

Goldstein, Bernstein, Stewart: Peerpetual pendulum.

The ultimate chilled trio? This album is an apparently effortless cruise through a mixture of tunes written by members of the group, with some outstanding re-works of 'classics' like Wayne Shorters 'United', Gary Bartz's 'Libra' and a couple other unexpected tunes from MJQ and George Gershwin. 
They have the ability to make it sound so effortless and yet its complicated and only unravels its secrets slowly.

Kibrom Bihane: Here and there.

New to me, and recommended by a friend in the USA. Out on the (tiny?) Flying Carpet label. He's an Ethiopian keyboard player supported by a 7 piece band with a killer horn section. It's fusion, but there are lots of influences that flow through. There are two vocal tracks(Etsegenate Tadesse) and the whole album runs fluently through a gamut of influences and styles. At the time of wring, apparently no British release)

Joey Alexander: Origin.

18 years old at the time of recording this is not his debut. His keyboard playing is an instantly recognisable one, and it helps that the quret that accompany him on most of the tracks is made up of  Larry Grenadier on Bass, kendrick Scott on drums and Gilad Hekselman on guitar. He wrote and arranged all the material and there's not a duff track on the album.

Charles Lloyd Trio: Chapel

Now over 80 this is the first of what is going to be a three set collection of trio pieces, all with different trio members. This one has Bill Frissell on gitar and Thomas Morgan on drums. As the name suggests it was recorded in a chapel, and it appears to have been a laid-back session giving each of the three musicians, ample space to stretch out and develop the emerging themes in an unhurried and dllightful way. This is one for a quite cotemplative evening, and will more than satisfy until Volume 2 in the series is issued later in 2022.

Al Swainger's Pointless Beauty: Hearts full of grace.

Yes I did an extended interview with him on 'Exeter Talking' which gave us time to play several tracks and contemplate where this came from. That it's been picked up by a wider audence is testament to his writing, and also to the excellent quartet that support his compositions. I'd be hard put to categorise what this music is (do I have to/ do I need to?) but it fits beautifully into 'The Edge of Jazz'. My two favourute tracks are 'Remember the sky' and 'Existential blues'. Did I mention yet that George Cooper - see the top of this list plays keyboards. Ask for this by name at one of Al's gigs.