Jazz CD Reviews – mid-October 2014

October 16, 2014

Ezra Weiss Before You Know It (Roark Records no number)

Subtitled Live In Portland, this new release by Ezra Weiss has him leading a fine sextet playing music largely composed by himself. An exceptionally talented pianist, Ezra presents an extremely attractive set, the music ranging through sensitive ballads to driving burners. Appearing in the band are trumpeter Farnell Newton, alto saxophonist John Nastos, tenor saxophonist Devin Phillips, all of whom have excellent solos, while the rhythm section is ably rounded out by bassist Jon Shaw and drummer Christopher Brown. John Coltrane’s Alabama is a moving treatment of music composed originally in the aftermath of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, only recently brought unhappily to mind by the Sandy Hook killings.ezra weiss The Gershwin brothers’ standard, A Foggy Day, is given an unexpectedly lively interpretation. All the other tracks vividly demonstrate that Ezra’s listings as winner on more than one occasion of both the DownBeat Critics Poll and the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award are especially well deserved. Among these tracks are lovely and deeply personal musings written for Ezra’s wife, Jessie’s Song, and his son, Before You Know It. All of the music heard here is rich with soulful undertones while the instrumental virtuosity on display is striking. Recorded live at Ivories Jazz Lounge in October and December 2013, this CD must surely widen Ezra’s growing reputation as a major composer and performer.

From November 10 five bonus tracks will be available for download HERE and/or HERE. These additional tracks will not be available on CD.

 

Wadada Leo Smith The Great Lakes Suites (TUM Records CD 041-2)

Although he might now be regarded as an elder statesman of free jazz and of contemporary improvised music in general, Wadada Leo Smith has not lost any of the exploratory zeal that has marked his music since the late 1960s. Back then, he left R&B to become an early member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (with Muhal Richard Abrams, Jodie Christian, Henry Threadgill, Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins, Jack DeJohnette, and others) and he was co-founder of Creative Construction Company (with Braxton and Jenkins). During these years, he worked with Derek Bailey among many leading practitioners of cutting-edge jazz. He also studied extensively, steeping himself in ethnic musical forms from many parts of the world, composed, and by the early 1990s was passing on his musical knowledge and philosophical beliefs to students at Cal Arts. In more recent years he has worked with musicians such as Henry Kaiser, Michael Manring, Anthony Davis, and Malachi Favors. Key factors in Smith’s work include his understanding of the role of musicians, and indeed all artists, in society today.wadada He has declared that this should encourage the development of character and morality, among many qualities, if today’s universal problems are to be faced, understood and solved. On this new double album, Smith is joined by two of his previous collaborators, Threadgill and DeJohnette, as well as John Lindberg, in a performance of music he has composed to aurally depict the impressive scenic wonders of the inland waterways that have contributed so much to the of making and development of his country. Moving, intelligent, absorbing, this music makes clear that Wadada Leo Smith still has much to say about the world in which we live.

 

Kalle Kalima & K-18 Buñuel de Jour (TUM Records CD 038)

A leading figure on Finland’s contemporary improvised music scene, Kalle Kalima is a guitar virtuoso who plays here with his group K-18, the other members of which are Mikko Innanen, Teppo Hauta, and Veli Kujala. This album’s title will indicate to all the inspiration for the music heard here. The group’s name will need some explanation for those outside Finland: K-18 is the rating for films not suitable for persons under 18 years of age. A little while ago, Kalima was inspired by the films of Stanley Kubrick; here he takes his cue from revolutionary filmmaker Luis Buñuel, whose own career was rooted in the avant-garde from where he developed into an outstanding international figure, making films in many genres and languages.kalima Among his films are several that are frequently listed among the best ever made. Eleven of the twelve tracks Kalima has composed for this album are titled for Buñuel films, among them Belle de Jour, Diary of a Chambermaid, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Un Chien Andalou. Musically, this album is inventive and carries reflections of the intriguing complexity that marked Buñuel’s work.

 

For more information contact the artists through their websites (highlighted above), or via Braithwaite & Katz (ann@bkmusicpr.com), or to buy these albums visit Amazon.

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