Monday, November 14, 2016

The Delegation – Evergreen (Canceled World)

by Sylvannia Garutch

Cascading sounds shaped from ideas exhibiting no relation to one another, yet bound by the overall thoughtfulness of the ensemble.  A debut from debut from Gabriel Zucker‘s ensemble The Delegation is a collection of randomness of sound connected into a world of modern outbursts, at times short melodic fragments that reflect earlier passages.  Sometimes it’s the cyclic appearance of influences of modern big band jazz, chamber, pop, and avant-garde vocals and electronics and effects. 

At times a melding of harmonic colors, that circle upon itself blurring the lines of the other.  Though offering surges of intensity and at times tranquility and at times a map of what will come next, there still is a feeling of unpredictability.  This is where you question whether cohesion is even needed – or is it better to be in the now?   Might it just be the experience, the moment, the journey itself?  The answer for me came in the final track “Yellow Paint (Summaries II)/End Of Time (Canceled II),” the culmination appears – the amalgamated message and the coalescing of meaning becomes clear – the beauty is in the chaos, the expression is revealed in the unity.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Rik Wright's Fundamental Forces, Subtle Energy

by Nolan DeBuke

Guitarist Rik Wright is at it again, returning this time with an eloquently titled album Subtle Energy, though he continues his exploration of well-conceived originals and a band of friends with tight chemically bonded friendships, this time the music takes a more relaxed introspective approach.

"Butterfly Effect" is where you will find the groove in the mix, but with a slow-burn that keeps you mooded in modal, Wright shines as the storyteller with an infinite of fire in his belly.  Whereas, tunes like "Patience," Wright demonstrates his understanding that less is more in a compositional approach, his devotion to the essence of creating an overall sound versus chop-atizing a tune and his commitment to melodic colorazations are of significant importance in the mature musical doctrine.  Wright has what takes years for most composers to understand – finesse – subtly – unfolding a melody and the purity of the approach.

Overall, Subtle Energy has a deeper meaning, a consciousness that reaches beyond what can be learned in a classroom of technique, what is messaged here is what can only be gained by years in the trenches and reaching beyond for enlightenment and enjoyment.  Highly Recommended.

Michael Wollny and Vincent Peirani, Tandem

by Sylvannia Garutch

Michael Wollny and Vincent Peirani: Tandem
The eclectic German pianist Michael Wollny and the formidable French accordionist Vincent Peirani present a mix of original tunes and pieces by Björk, joined by Samuel Barber and Sufjan Stevens who also are known for crossing the borders of jazz, classical music and world infused folk references all with a cavalier vibe of ingenuity.   

Peirani gives an insightful introspective sound on the solemn “Song Yet Untitled,” while Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” begins with an enthusiastic swagger that becomes a racing underburn of minimalism. Björk’s “Hunter,” is aptly set to a flamenco pulse before Wollny takes off with steadfast pacing with ala, Chick Corea-esque flourishes and full handed chords.  The pianist’s skittering “Bells” exhibits the freedom both players shine on, this is where you truly see the brilliance of these two musicians.  Moving in and out of chromatic nuances, Sufjan Stevens’ hymnal “Fourth of July,” is  tellingly austere, and the musicians improvised and written exchanges on Argentinian composer Tomás Gubitsch’s “Travesuras” is sublime, alternating between carefree traversing and hushed balladry themes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Sunna Gunnlaugs, Cielito Lindo (SunnySky Records)

by Ferell Aubre

Sunna Gunnlaugs, Cielito Lindo (SunnySky Records)

Yet another lovely offering from the unassuming Icelandic pianist, Sunna Gunnlaugs, Cielito Lindo is a solid, colorful and rhythmically fresh sound, that lingers with you long after your first listen. 

“Cielito Lindo,”captivates with an adventurous tone, as the ensemble explores the delightful rhythms and textures of Spanish rhythms throughout. "Dry Cycle," is a shining example of Gunnlaugs playful touch, but with searing precision and contemplative construction from both Jonsson and McLemore.

"Icelandic Blues" and "Summertime" are both tightly woven and generously played pieces both from different prospective from Gunnaluags’ trio. "Icelandic Blues" highlights the trios rapid ability to move from a sophisticated blues/gospel tinge to slightly frenetic improvisation, that settles back into the bluesy lane again.  Whereas "Summertime" is a different animal altogether, almost an experimental deconstruction of the Gershwin standard.  It is here that Jonsson and McLemore shine and Gunnlaugs channels and almost Keith Jarrett approach in the performances.

Cielito Lindo is a powerfully emotional offering in the cannon of work Sunna Gunnlaugs has put forth over the years, one I hope helps bring more attention to the emotional and enigmatic leader she is.  For this writer, it just keeps getting better each time around.  A highly recommended listen.

Players: Sunna Gunnlaugs (piano); Þorgrímur Jónsson (bass); Scott McLemore (drums).

Monday, June 27, 2016

Enrique Haneine, Instants of Time

by Sylvannia Garutch

Enrique Haneine was raised in Mexico, immersed in Latin groove, and heavily underpinned with classical and jazz studies.  It is a powerful sound, the lineage traces its way into the ancient world, a history of music that he carries of his life story.

Haneine has won international jazz competitions and received multiple music awards, his reputation as a brilliant artist and talented arranger are well deserved, his repertoire has evolved and matured into the realm of free jazz, standards and Latin jazz forays. Ranging from his past role as music director for Ricky Martin and for numerous productions, performing and collaborating with some of the greatest jazz musicians, a winner of the Jane Jarvis Jazz Competition, voted All About Jazz New York’s Best of 2005 Albums of the Year, Grammy Nominated for his performance on Best Latin Jazz Album 2013.  Though his experiences are vast Haneine has had a desire and pull to explore upon free improvisations, founded in Jazz, Latin, and Lebanese traditions, linking the dots from the Cedars of Lebanon, through the open veins of the beloved Latin America, to the melting-pot of New York City.
Enter his most recent recording INSTANTS OF TIME which includes 13 original compositions that take you through a journey with free improvisations founded on the Jazz, Latin and middle eastern flavors, the sound is innovative, offering extended rhythmic groupings, odd meters, fascinating intervallic melodies and contemporary harmonies serving as a point of departure and creating a setting where free-jazz is the centerpiece of sound.

The listen is filled with complex tunes like “Bordeaux” offering a dark, but sensual sound.  Trumpeter, Lex Samu has a warm, yet commanding sound, while bassist Carlo de Rosa creates a driving Latin theme with drummer Haneine adding to the sensuality of the rhythms.   “Angularity Within” utilizes a muscular 3 horn sound, with shifting rhythms and the chemistry of the ensemble is in full view.  Haneine’s writing skills really shine and reveal this is not a rehash of what you have heard so many times before, this is the progression of where jazz should be going and thankfully Haneine is driving that forefront with his crisp ideas and sharpened ideas. Another highlight for me was “East Side of Lloyd” flavored with a Middle Eastern tinge, this is where Haneine’s heritage comes shining through.  The sound is exotic and the rhythm is instantly infectious. Soprano saxophonist, Catherine Sikora creates eccentric stabs to eventuate the pulse of the tune.  Haneine invokes ethnic percussive sounds to truly give this track propulsion. 

13 tracks of non-stop rhythms and odd meters, the afro-Cuban clave and time signatures like 17/4, 21/4, 29/8, and beyond, which may seem unusual, but somehow with genius Haneine makes it seem effortless.  This is what is so unique about this album, not only the supreme musicianship in play, but the clever well laced together ideas and deep harmonic complexities, that engage the listener to deepen their ear and experience.  This is not a light listen; thankfully this is truly improvisational jazz and its hard core.  In truth, I simply have had enough of the re-hash of so many background jazz offerings, this is an eye opening experience that has enlivened my faith, that jazz does have hope in the next generation and it is in the form of INSTANTS OF TIME.  Well done, well played, and highly recommended.  And to the sweetest publicist in the world – thank GOD you nicely kept nudging me, as this was truly a wondrous listen.

Line Up: Lori Cotler: voice (1,5 & 7); Lex Samu: trumpet; Catherine Sikora: tenor and soprano saxophones; Michael Rorby: trombone; Carlo de Rosa: acoustic bass; Enrique Haneine: drums, Cymbals, Udu Drum & Tambourine.

Tracks: Bordeaux; Angularity Within; If You Know What I Mean; Houston; Esperanza; Slippery When Dry; Inside the Journey; Color and Space; By Choice; The East Side of Lloyd; The Tear and Smile of an Angel; Let the Cedar Tell the Story; Who’s Willing.