Top Ten: May 2015

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

81L7MhMX4xL._SY355_Tim Berne’s Snakeoil, You’ve Been Watching Me (ECM)

Anat Cohen, Luminosa (Anzic)

Steve Coleman and the Council of Balance, Synovial Joints (Pi)

Erik Friedlander, Illuminations: A Suite for Solo Cello (Skipstone)

Pedro Giraudo Big Band, Cuentos (Zoho)

Ghost Train Orchestra, Hot Town (Accurate)

Marty Grosz Meets the Fat Babies, Diga Diga Doo: Hot Music from Chicago (Delmark)

Ross Hammond, Flight (Prescott)

Mario Pavone, Blue Dialect (Clean Feed)

Matthew Stevens, Woodwork (Whirlwind)

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Top Ten: April 2015

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

51LPItNr-JL._SS280Jovan Alexandre, Collective Consciousness (Xippi)

Stephan Crump & Mary Halvorson (Secret Keeper), Emerge (Intakt)

Harris Eisenstadt, Golden State II (Songlines)

James Falzone’s Renga Ensemble, The Room Is (Allos)

Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas, Sound Prints (Blue Note)

Myra Melford, Snowy Egret (Enja)

PRISM Quartet, Heritage/Evolution (Innova)

Reggie Quinerly, Invictus (Redefinition)

Ryan Truesdell’s Gil Evans Project, Lines of Color: Live at Jazz Standard
(Blue Note/ArtistShare)

Steve Wilson & Wilsonian’s Grain, Live in New York: The Vanguard Sessions
(Random Act)

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Top Ten: March 2015

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

AC1Aidan Carroll, Original Vision (Truth Revolution/Lyte)

Jack DeJohnette, Made in Chicago (ECM)

Duchess (Anzic)

Jozef Dumoulin & The Red Hill Orchestra, Trust (Yolk)

Fresh Cut Orchestra, From the Vine (ind.)

Marshall Gilkes & WDR Big Band, Köln (Alternate Side)

Albert “Tootie” Heath/Ethan Iverson/Ben Street, Philadelphia Beat (Sunnyside)

Julian Lage, World’s Fair (Modern Lore)

Alex Norris Organ Quartet, Extension Deadline (BJU)

Glenn Zaleski, My Ideal (Sunnyside)

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Top Ten: February 2015

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

61VLRlwgKzL._SY355_Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet, Intents and Purposes (Enja)

Lotte Anker, What River Is This (ILK)

Andy Brown, Soloist (Delmark)

Ben Goldberg, Orphic Machine (BAG Productions)

Allan Harris, Black Bar Jukebox (Love Productions)

Vijay Iyer Trio, Break Stuff (ECM)

Rudresh Mahanthappa, Bird Calls (ACT)

Chris Potter Underground Orchestra, Imaginary Cities (ECM)

Joe Sample & NDR Big Band, Children of the Sun (PRA)

Omar Sosa’s Quarteto AfroCubano, Ilé (Otá)

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Top Ten: January 2015

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

intentions_coverAddison Frei, Intentions (Armored)

Art Hirahara, Libations & Meditations (Posi-Tone)

Wayne Horvitz & The Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble, At the Reception (Songlines)

Justin Kauflin, Dedication (Jazz Village)

Tony Malaby’s Tubacello, Scorpion Eater (Clean Feed)

Jack Mouse & Scott Robinson, Snakeheads & Ladybugs (Tall Grass)

Sam Newsome, The Straight Horn of Africa: A Path to Liberation (ind.)

Chris Potter Underground Orchestra, Imaginary Cities (ECM)

Nathan Parker Smith Large Ensemble, Not Dark Yet (BJU)

Jeremy Pelt, Tales, Musings and Other Reveries (HighNote)

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Top Ten: December 2014

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

0003691280_10Michael Blake, Tiddy Boom (Sunnyside)

Jimmy Greene, A Beautiful Life (Mack Avenue)

Louis Hayes, Return of the Jazz Communicators (Smoke Sessions)

Owen Howard, Drum Lore Vol. 2: More Lore (BJU)

Dave Liebman’s Expansions, Samsara (Whaling City)

David Ryshpan, Alicuanta (ind.)

Dayna Stephens, Peace (Sunnyside)

Lennie Tristano, Chicago April 1951 (Uptown)

Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Over Time: Music of Bob Brookmeyer (Planet Arts)

David Weiss, When Words Fail (Motéma)

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On Bobby Avey

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

This review appears in the November 2014 issue of The New York City Jazz Record.

Authority-Melts-from-Me-coverBobby Avey
Authority Melts From Me (Whirlwind)

By David R. Adler

Inspired by a visit to Haiti in 2012, pianist Bobby Avey sought to develop his own musical response to the voudou drumming ensembles he studied. The result is Authority Melts From Me, featuring alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón and guitarist Ben Monder as well as Avey’s longtime trio mates Thomson Kneeland (bass) and Jordan Perlson (drums).

There are three extended movements and two briefer interludes in this nearly hour-long suite, a musical mountain confidently scaled by these ambitious and well-matched players. The music breathes, churns tumultuously, slogs through mud, digs its way out into soaring melodic releases. “Kalfou” moves from highly configured staccato passages to expanses with Monder in a wailing fuzztone mode. Zenón solos assertively but fulfills many functions, doubling bass or piano figures or picking up counterlines as the tracks unfold.

Between Avey and Monder, there are layers on layers of impenetrable harmony in this music, as well as textural reach and an intriguing give-and-take of acoustic and electric sounds. Monder’s hovering, scratchy, sculpted, machine-like swells during “Louverture” give an uncanny shape and feel to the latter part of that nearly 18-minute piece. On the closing “Cost,” by contrast, Monder’s acoustic guitar gives a sense of solid ground, a tactile foundation, under all the harmonic and rhythmic flux.

In his liner notes Avey makes an impassioned case for righting injustices toward the Haitian people. He notes the harmful role of much U.S. policy toward Haiti, citing the CIA-backed ouster of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1990 though not mentioning the U.S. military action that reinstated Aristide in 1994. In any case, Avey’s opinions are strong and worth knowing more about, as they shed light on the knowledge and commitment that lays behind this exceptional album.

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Top Ten: November 2014

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

Jason-AdasiewiczJason Adasiewicz’s Sun Rooms, From the Region (Delmark)

Andy Bey, Pages from an Imaginary Life (HighNote)

Otis Brown III, The Thought of You (Blue Note)

Charlie Haden-Jim Hall (Impulse!)

Hush Point, Blues and Reds (Sunnyside)

Introducing Musette Explosion (Aviary)

Tyshawn Sorey, Alloy (Pi)

Tom Varner, Nine Surprises (ind.)

David Virelles, Mbókò: Sacred Music for Piano, Two Basses, Drum Set and Biankoméko Abakuá (ECM)

Kenny Werner/Lionel Loueke/Miguel Zenón/Benjamin Koppel/Ferenc Nemeth, Coalition (Half Note)

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On Steve Cardenas

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

This review appears in the October December 2014 issue of The New York City Jazz Record.

0002463490_10Steve Cardenas
Melody in a Dream (Sunnyside)

By David R. Adler

Though his output as a leader is somewhat sparse, guitarist Steve Cardenas brings a vibrancy and a shrewd air of restraint to every outing — the same qualities he’s shown as a sideman with Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, Steve Swallow, Ben Allison and many others. On Melody in a Dream, his fourth album since 2000, he includes pieces by Motian, Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver and Lee Konitz along with several originals and a standard ballad, “Street of Dreams.” Relying on a modern electric sound full of fluidity and bite, he swings effortlessly in the company of bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Joey Baron. Trumpeter Shane Endsley guests on three tracks.

The trio leads off in a rubato vein with “Just One More Thing” (an oblique comment on “All the Things You Are”), establishing a textural subtlety and openness that persists throughout the date. The original “Ode to Joey,” which marks Endsley’s first appearance, is freer and more assertive, with shifting rhythmic foundations but a clear compositional path. Baron’s “Broken Time,” a bright trio number, involves the players in a round of continual trading — a taste of what’s to come on the Konitz classic “Subconscious-Lee,” where Endsley spars with the leader until they nail the melody together at the end. Monk’s barebones theme “Teo,” a brief but tension-building duo workout for guitar and drums, has a similar quality of spontaneous grit.

Having absorbed the spirit of Paul Motian’s compositions firsthand as a band member, Cardenas brings an unimpeachable authority to the late drummer’s “Once Around the Park” and “In the Year of the Dragon.” On the former he gives Morgan the melody role; on the latter he invites Endsley back to close out the session in a relaxed medium swing feel.

These Motian pieces have a dark and insinuating quality that sets them apart, yet Cardenas plays them straightforwardly as material from the jazz canon, not far removed from Horace Silver’s “Peace.” That is Cardenas in a nutshell: he plugs in and plays, doesn’t overthink, and yet offhandedly summons a deep and meaningful sense of history with every album.

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Top Ten: October 2014

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

MI0003780534The Bad Plus, Inevitable Western (Okeh)

Paul Bollenback, Portraits in Space and Time (Mayimba)

Darryl Harper, The Need’s Got to Be So Deep (Hipnotic)

Steve Lehman Octet, Mise en Abîme (Pi)

Michael Musillami Trio, Pride (Playscape)

Matt Pavolka, The Horns Band (Fresh Sound New Talent)

Anthony Pirog, Palo Colorado Dream (Cuneiform)

Wadada Leo Smith, The Great Lakes Suites (TUM)

Walter Smith III, Still Casual (ind.)

Anna Webber, Simple (Skirl)

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