Improvisational duo is what I call the music of DST, consisting of Simone Di Benedetto on double bass and Alberto Collodel on clarinet. Il Sistema Periodico (Aut) is an album that is light and mellow and yet each song sounds like it could be on the verge of collapsing onto itself to become a powerful rage, but it’s not. Everything is smooth but is far from being smooth jazz, it’s nothing more than two gentlemen talking about life musically through the metaphor of the Periodic Table, speaking about different things through the elements. There’s a Pink Floyd lyric about “a creeping malaise” and the vibe of that phrase is covered through this album but it’s creeping in the other sense, as in a slow pace, not something that is crawling up your back uncontrollably. When I hear duet albums, it’s interesting to figure out what were their goals in making the album and I think Il Sistema Periodico explores beauty through sound, step by step at a leisurely pace. A part of me would love to ehar this done faster or with more musicians than just Collodel and di Benedetto but I like taking what they offer and allowing listeners to interpret where they’re heading to. If only learning about the elements sounded this moving back in elementary school.
Frantic or frenetic? On Naca (Aut), the music of Tony Cattano is a bit of both but with something extra. Italian jazz is an entity onto itself and this form of jazz is on the free side, where Cattano (trombone), Andrea Melani (drums), Matteo Anelli (bass), and Emanuele Parrini (violin) seem to be going wherever they want but there is a level of consistency where what they’re doing is not scatterbrain. The album’s opening track (“Fior di Conio”) is the basis of the album, building and developing itself while the colors and shapes are forming continuously, unsure of where it goes but one follows and see what happens. Then the album gets locked in places but is able to travel, whether it’s in a bit of a strut as they do in “Il Salto del Pachiderma” or fall off the edge of the world in “Impro”. There’s form in what Cattano does but the basis of Naca is trying to listen to where things fall out of form or whether it will drift off into a place unknown. What I also like are some of the folk-ish elements, or perhaps it’s more cultural but throughout, you’re able to tell where they’re from and why they play this way, all while staying true to what jazz means.
Maybe for some people, saying “Portland jazz” may sound like an oxymoron but Portland has a long and diverse history with jazz, back in the days when parts of the city proudly called itself “Jump Town”. A few decades of gentrification later, jazz may not be as widespread as it used to be but you’re able to hear how strong it is on this new album by saxophonist Ian Christensen. Finding (PJCE) is an album primarily consisting of Christensen’s compositions, with a few tracks coming courtesy of bandmates Ryan Meagher (who offers two tracks, including the delicious “Worn Luster”) and Andrew Jones (including the album’s closer, “Cattywampus”). At first, I was expecting the music to be along the lines of ECM Records but this is more bebop, at least to my ears. When I come into Portland a few times a year, I always make sure to turn the radio to the left of the dial to find some jazz and I’d probably find some powerful sounds from Christensen along the way. Everything on Finding is acoustic, so no synthesized or far-out grooves, it’s the kind of music you’d expect to hear in a club or church at 2:47 in the morning when you’re unable to find any food carts still open. It respects the legacy of jazz and it honors the legacy of Portland jazz that may have been hushed somewhat but not completely muted. Finding is an album that looks for the lost and discovers something quite remarkable.
Finding is available below via Amazon.com and Bandcamp.)
The new album from vocalist Eliane Amherd continues to show incredible promise for someone who displays incredible talent, not only in her voice but what she selects for her new album, Skylines (self-released). It’s partly jazzy but it’s rich with pop tendencies, soulful vibes and occasional reggae grooves, showing the kind of diversity that a lot of modern singers are often afraid to do. It would be too easy to compare her to Norah Jones but that’s due to the shared vocal harmony and charm but Amberd is her own person, whether it’s the Herbie Hancock-esque “”Counting Grains Of Sand” or her cover of Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done For Me Lately”. She is someone who is letting people know what she is about and if you liked her previous album, the songs here are saying “I have much more to give and share, please stick around.” Glad she has returned with this new effort.
The warmth of Blooming (Aut) by percussionist Florian Chaigne is a mixture of Brian Blade, Billy Martin, and Charles Mingus, where spontaneous hits and rhythms are the steady string throughout but the music itself is what helps balance things and keeps listeners wanting more. At first, it reminded me a bit of Eberhart Weber’s Chorus where things kinda begin, drift into its own world and you’re unsure if you’re hearing a collection of songs or just one song divided 17 ways. Even a bit of spoken word from Taran Singh will remind people of the works of Rod McKuen. What also pulled me in was the bass work of Sulvain Didou, especially in “Wo Shi”, where he dominates the composition but allows everyone to balance each other out, perhaps what Blooming as a title is all about.
As I often say when I listen to something new from Aut Records, hearing something new from the label is always an adventure and this was one adventure I enjoyed hearing for the first time and will be in the years to come.
Tom Teasley’s Eastern Journey (self-released) is an album that is a compilation of jazz and worldly sounds but don’t expect to hear things lean on the jazz side. Teasley is, according to the back cover, the world percussionist of the year and he explores some of his influences on the album by playing eferything from gongs and cymbals to things like djembe, wood blocks, and Chinese hand symbols. While he could play within a jazz context, he could also make a wide range of music for films and television shows, where he is able to explore, either within the limits of the needs of the project or go all out if allowed. One could easily call this something that is used in the television industry: a “resume tape”. Bring him into your world and he will be able to bring the worldly sounds to you.
Karl Denson will be hitting the road later this month and considering how cold the United States is as of late, it will be a good time to warm up to the jazziness of this amazing band. See where they’ll be and also show up to see everyone scheduled to perform.
January 20… Miami, FL (Jam Cruise 15)
January 25… Fort Lauderdale, FL (Revolution Live) *
January 26… Nevada City, CA (The Miners Foundry)
January 27… San Rafael, CA (Terrapin Crossroads) ^
January 28… Reno, NV (Crown Room @ Crystal Bay Club Casin)o #
January 29… Ashland, OR (Armory)
January 31… Bend, OR (Volcanic Theatre)
February 1… Arcata, CA (Arcata Theater) **
February 2… Eugene, OR (Hi-Fi Music Hall) **
February 3… Portland, OR (Aladdin Theater) **
February 4… Seattle, WA (Nectar Lounge) **
March 3 – Santa Barbara, CA (Soho Restaurant & Music Club)
March 4… Los Angeles, CA (Teragram Ballroom)
* = w/ The Motet
^ = w/ Phil Lesh
# = w/ Orgone
** = w/ The Main Squeeze
For some odd reason, parts of hearing Invisible Cities (Aut) reminds mE of parts of the 1970’s film Midnight Express where some elements sound foreign yet very close by. Some of it sounds very classical and jazzy, then it gets locked into a nice funk that forces me to go “well damn, I want to stay in this place” before it drifts off into a place I’ve never been to before. If I am to judge the music based on the credits alone, it does go everywhere: double bass, electric bass, cumbus bouzuki, recorders, ewi: one is still unsure of where the music goes but you want to stay in and see where it takes you. It has that incidental feel where it is just music with the right visuals missing or perhaps this is what it is meant to be, a soundtrack to a mental eyeful.
Even after reading the liner notes which explain the theme of the songs (i.e. a series of cities, each with female names), you’ll want to hear it once more and see if you can sense what Manera tried to do with this concept, or simply listen to it based on the song titles alone. Either way, Invisible Cities is a journey to places that you’d like to see but can only imagine if you wish to do so.
Hearing something new from ther Germany-based label Aut is always unpredictable and I like that, because I enjoy having trust in a label but unsure of what they’re going to throw out into the world, and this is no exception. Paradigm Shift is a new project involving Francesco Chiapperini along with Simone Lobina and Simone Quatrana. What surprised me at first was the sound of guitars, as the label doesn’t offer shine the spotlight on guitarists or the sound of the guitar so I thought “whoa, what is this?” The music on this 7-track album felt more like a progressive rock album of a Pink Floyd variety but then things get more jazzy in pieces like “Atlas” and “Onlu Theme” and it’s more jazzy than what I’ve come to expect from Pink Floyd, even in their jazzier moments.
Yet ask someone who is more into progressive rock or even progressive jazz and they’re probably tell you “know, this sounds more like Krautrock” or “have you heard of Osanna? This sounds more like them but without ballads.” Regardless of what ones perspective is of this music, Paradigm Shift is something that does offer a new perspective each time you listen to it, and I like the fact I’m willing to listen to this differently and come out wanting to hear more.
Tale Spinnin’ was Weather Report’s fifth album that came out in 1975. While my dad was not heavy into jazz fusion, he did love this album and I’m not sure if he was like me where he randomly chose an album and said “I’ll try this” or if he simply liked the cover. He bought it on cassette and it became one of his cruising albums. Personal reflection aside, this was the album produced bY Weather Report members Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter and this one contains some nice gems, including “Five Short Stories” and “Lusitanos”.
Musicmagic was Return To Forever’s seventh album which is also known for being the group’s last. This was the follow-up to the band’s successful Romantic Warrior album and with this one, Stanley Clarke and Chick Corea were the remaining two from the original line-up. There was a live album after Musicmagic but by then, it was over. Upon listening to Musicmagic, it sounded like they could’ve went on forever like their own name but they had other plans. This one has Clarke’s “So Long Mickey Mouse” while thea lbum ends with a song done by Corea and his wife Gayle Moran, “The Endless Night”.
The CD side will feature the original stereo mix of the album while the SACD side will contain the original quadraphonic mix. Both of these discs are scheduled for release on October 21st, both can be pre-ordered below via Amazon.com.