Jazz Albums 2016 - Weekly Listening, June 13-19

From the 6 chosen albums of the week, I recommend all of them. The list is below.


Cuong Vu: trumpet; Pat Metheny: guitar; Stomu Takeishi: bass; Ted Poor: drums. 

It’s not the first time a renowned guitarist joins Cuong Vu’s powerful trio. It happened in 2006 when Bill Frisell recorded the mandatory “It’s Mostly Residual”. 
And now, 10 years later, we have Pat Metheny experiencing the same trippy electro-jazz-rock often stocked with articulated melodic lines, psychedelic atmospheres, and addictive polyrhythms. Perfectly adapted to the trio’s musical context, Metheny not only draws awesome melodic solos, contrasting with Vu’s more frantic approach, but also incurs freely into abstract and exploratory regions. 
This is a revolutionary, strenuous, and catchy body of work.

Favorite Tracks:
01 – Acid Kis ► 02 – Not Crazy ► 05 – Telescope


Michael Blake: tenor/soprano saxophones; J.P. Carter: trumpet, electronics; Ron Samworth: guitar, banjo; Aram Bajakian: guitars; Emma Postl: vocals; Peggy Lee: cello; Neelamjit Dhillon: tabla; Chris Gestrin: piano; André Lachance: bass; Dylan van der Schyff: drums, percussion.

 Michael Blake is a saxophonist of enormous resources who’s not afraid to innovate and explore in diverse musical contexts.
“Fulfillment”, his latest work, marks the debut of his new band, and the outcome can be described as a 'softened Blake Tartare contemplates Indian sunsets'. 
Appealing to the senses, this comfortable body of work comprised of interesting compositions and arrangements, gains even more impact whenever we hear Blake’s bold and stirring solos. Evocative and triumphant moods dominate the scenarios.

Favorite Tracks:
01 – Sea Shanty ► 06 – Battle at Baj Baj ► 08 – The Soldier and the Saint


Esperanza Spalding: bass, vocals; Matthew Stevens: guitar; Justin Tyson: drums; Karriem Riggins: drums, percussion.

The versatile bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding continues to create music that inhabits outside the jazz boundaries. Here, she explores electric rock, tuneful pop songs, and funk, funk, funk.
Moving effortlessly between styles, Spalding embraces experimentalism with a firm attitude and is not afraid to assume influences. She has become a valuable representative of the modern American subculture. This album features pulsating textures, rich guitar riffs and strumming, theatrical nuances, and long lyrics that end up in several memorable choruses enhanced by suitable background vocals. The shifting moods, raging from vigorous to slink, are truthful to Spalding’s musical beliefs.  

Favorite Tracks: 01 – Good Lava ► 04 – Earth to Heaven ► 10 – Elevate or Operate


Samo Salamon: guitar; Julian Arguelles: tenor/soprano saxophones; John Hollenbeck: drums. 

Unity, the new album from the Slovenian guitarist Samo Salamon, was recorded live in Europe with his renovated bassless trio. Apart from the opening tune, “Asking For a Break”, which was retrieved from the previous Little River, this provocative album is made of new material. 
Salamon, often introducing tension in his comping, and Hollenbeck, invariably unequivocal in his pounding rhythms, create the conditions that enable Arguelles’ exciting saxophone explorations. 
I had so much fun listening to this excellent trio whether in its agitated or moderated states.

Favorite Tracks:
03 – Kei’s Venice ► 05 – Soundgarden ► 07 – Seagulls in Maine


Mike Filice: tenor/soprano saxophones, bass clarinet; Geoff Young: guitar; Artie Roth: bass; Anthony Michelli: drums. 

This is a gratifying modern jazz quartet that typically comprises saxophone, guitar, bass, and drums, following the same paths and currents as other memorable quartets such as Jerome Sabbagh, Andrew Rathbun, and Chris Cheek. 
Roth’s extraordinary compositions are subjected to careful treatment and the band members evince a unified state of mind, as well as an admirable discipline and commitment. Never stagnant, the album plays replete of reverential awe, refreshing and articulated improvisations, and intense crescendos.

Favorite Tracks:
01 – The Compromise Blues ► 02 – Still Hear ► 04 – Something That Is Lost


Renee Rosnes: piano; Steve Wilson: saxophone, flute; Steve Nelson: vibraphone; Peter Washington: bass; Bill Stewart: drums.

The Canadian pianist, Renee Rosnes, has been associated with preponderant quartets such as those of Ron Carter, Buster Williams, and Jimmy Greene, a fact that only confirms her skills. 
This new record, a product of the Smoke Sessions, showcases polished compositions that live in the contemporary jazz without totally abandoning the tradition. 
The tunes, ranging from straight-ahead incursions to dreamy waltzes, are boosted by Steve Wilson’s unambiguous language and Steve Nelson’s never-intrusive vibes.

Favorite Tracks:
01 – The KT Boundary ► 02 – Galapagos ► 07 – Cambrian Explosion