Jazz music, news and views

Friday, October 28, 2005

Andrew Hill signs again with Blue Note

Fans of Andrew Hill can look forward to some new material. Blue Note says Hill has re-signed with them, making this his third era with the label since his 1963 debut, Black Fire. His new album, Time Lines, will feature Greg Tardy, Charles Tolliver, John Hebert and Eric McPherson and be released in February, 2006.

Serendipitously, Blue Note has laid the ground for Time Lines by recently reissuing Dance With Death (a quintet with Tolliver and Joe Farrell), Passing Ships (a larger band with reeds and tuba) and Judgment (vibes by Bobby Hutcherson!)... Great examples of his angular performance style, and the tension and release of his compositions can be beautiful, engaging and ear-opening, to say the least. Supposedly, Hill used to turn off the radio, not listen to records and stay out of the clubs during periods when he was practicing and developing his style. Anyway, check him out and let your ears decide!

(Andrew Hill tidbit: though most biographies say he was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, he was actually born in Chicago.)

Dave Douglas and Keystone

Dave Douglas has done it again with an intriguing release with his most recent project Keystone on his own Greenleaf Music label. His new compositions are inspired by one of American film's earliest comic actors Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. (The group takes its name from the production company that put out Arbuckle's films in the 1910s.) Douglas's projects are ambitious and he always seems to meet with success. The pieces on the new album include keyboards, sax, drums, bass and turntables. It's an alluring mix of jazz, fusion, R&B, dub and the sextet can get pretty rockin' at moments, a perfect showcase for his powerful tone and unequalled musicality as a soloist and composer. Recently, Douglas performed these tunes in Seattle alongside the actual films! I'm a sucker for ridiculously creative academic stuff, especially when it gels like this, but it's appeal is more than cerebral. Sample some full-length streaming tunes like "Tragicomique" or "Mabel Normand" here (as well as other recent efforts on Greenleaf) and buy Keystone! There's also a pretty interesting paper on "Fatty" Arbuckle's story here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Gregg August

Check out bassist Gregg August. He’s not new to the jazz scene by any means, but his extensive travels have kept him under the mainstream radar until 2002. Classically trained at Eastman and Julliard, August left New York to fill the principal bass chair for La Orquesta Ciutat de Barcelona, later found himself in Paris, then returned to NYC only to be swept off to Cuba. (Fortunately for us, he now makes his home in NYC.) His interest in Latin rhythms is clear throughout his adventurous debut album, Late August.

This isn’t your typical “bassist’s album”; it boasts some beautifully dark arrangements with thick, modern harmonies, plus a healthy dose of Afro-Cuban flavor. His tone is meaty, he's got great chops and his lyrical sense is engaging. Veterans Frank Wess and Ray Barretto offer their services for the date alongside more modern players
Myron Walden, Donny McCaslin and Alon Yavnai. Check out some nice, long samples of “M’s Blues” or “Melody in Black and Grey” here, and buy Late August!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Some new releases

Marc Johnson was the last bassist in the Bill Evans trio before Evans passed away in 1980. (Evans reportedly said this trio with Johnson and drummer Joe LaBarbera had all the keenness and dynamism of his classic trio with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian.) Johnson's new ECM release, Shades of Jade is hip, emotive and bluesy. John Scofield and Eliane Elias fit in perfectly. Sample “Raise” and “Blue Nefertiti” and buy Shades of Jade here.

Jazz guitar fans, check out Bill Frisell's latest, East West (live sets from the Vanguard and Yoshi's). Frisell fans know his thing isn't "blow-you-out-of-the-water" chops but rather haunting sonic statements to open our ears. I have yet to unglue mine from the speaker. Eerie, beautiful stuff. Hear some full-length songs here, and buy the album here. (Long-time Frisell fans may remember his work with the aforementioned Scofield and Johnson in Bass Desires...)

A couple months ago, Blue Note reissued Bobby Hutcherson's Oblique (at last!). Anyone who enjoys Bobby’s work from the mid-‘60s will love this album, his second quartet effort with Herbie Hancock. (Now, I await the reissue of Total Eclipse.) His solo work throughout the album is incredibly fresh, modern even by today’s standards. Sample "Subtle Neptune" and "My Joy" from Oblique and buy it here!

Hey, all

In the spirit of 21st Century navel-gazing, this post inaugurates my new blog. Hope you can find some sounds and artists you like here. It’ll be mostly jazz-oriented, but please pardon the occasional digression. As always, support jazz musicians, radio stations, publications and initiatives!
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