Jazz Albums 2016 - part 1

Below are 6 albums of 2016 I keep listening to.
Keep tuned as I'll introduce you to more of my choices on a weekly basis!


André Fernandes: guitar; Perico Sambeat: saxophones, flute; Alexi Tuomarila: piano; Demian Cabaud: bass; Iago Fernandez: drums; + guests.

Lisbon-born guitarist, Andre Fernandes, has an exceptional ability to merge powerful rock tones with an attractive contemporary jazz language. The result is a very legitimate urbanity that immediately exhilarates and leaves its mark.
“Dream Keeper” belongs to another dimension, excelling in many different ways. An effusive sound (great band), tasteful guitar effects, opulent moves, and riveting dynamics add enough punch to elevate this album to levels of brilliance.

Favorite Tracks:
01 – Chifre
02 – Rabbit Hole
05 – Jack


Ches Smith: drums, vibraphone, timpani; Craig Taborn: piano; Mat Maneri: viola.


“The Bell” had a strong and strange influence over me. Its minimalism, abstractionism, and airy chamber tones, which occasionally incur into more ghostly scenarios, slowly perforated my ears and wrapped my brain. This unique sonorous aesthetic comes from Smith’s astoundingly rhythmic sensibility, Maneri’s profoundly dramatic interventions, and Taborn’s complex piano meshes. Reflective, lyrical, and intuitive, “The Bell” defies the conventional and is ravishingly beautiful.

Favorite Tracks:
03 – Isn't It Over?
06 – Wacken Open Air
07 – It's Always Winter (Somewhere)


Chris Speed: tenor sax, clarinet; Oscar Noriega: alto sax, clarinets; Loren Stillman: alto saxophone; Brian Settles: tenor sax, flute; Tim Berne: baritone sax; Dave Ballou: trumpet; Ralph Alessi: trumpet; Shane Endsley: trumpet; Kirk Knuffke: cornet; Alan Ferber: trombone; Jacob Garchik: trombone; Ben Gerstein: trombone; Jeff Nelson: bass trombones; Mary Halvorson: guitar; Kris Davis: piano; Patricia Franceschy: marimba; Michael Formanek: double bass; Tomas Fujiwara: drums.

The virtuous bassist, Michael Formanek, composed the tunes of “The Distance” to be performed by an impressive line-up. The talent of the musicians emerges in every single movement, which overflows under the direction of another acclaimed bassist, Mark Helias, who conducts the colossal ensemble.
The soloists can be heard one after another, spreading different complexions that keep flying over the multi-layered communion of sounds. The tunes, divergent in mood, may emanate senses of relaxation and danger, and one may jump at the sound of spasmodic rhythms or just slightly sway the body when in the presence of pacific textures.

Favorite Tracks:
01 – The Distance
04 – Exoskeleton: Pt. 4 - Echoes / Pt. 5 - Without Regrets
05 – Exoskeleton: Pt. 6 - Shucking While Jiving / Pt.7 - A Reptile Dysfunction


Aruan Oritz: piano; Eric Revis: bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums.

The Cuban-born, Brookyn-based pianist Aruan Ortiz loves to add a slice of his roots to the audacious jazz style he practices. Together with bassist Eric Revis and drummer Gerald Cleaver, he creates a panoply of noises, relentless motifs, percussive sounds, and dense harmonic webs that are put together with millimetric precision.
Besides Ortiz’s eight original tunes, “Hidden Voices” features two covers: “Open & Close/The Sphinx” by Ornette Coleman and “Skippy” by Thelonious Monk.
Challenging and worthy.

Favorite Tracks:
03 – Caribbean Vortex/Hidden Voices
06 – Arabesques of a Geometrical Rose (Summer)
09 – Skippy


Bill Frisell: guitars; Petra Haden: voice; Eyvind Kang: viola; Thomas Morgan: bass; Rudy Royston: drums, percussion.

Bill Frisell’s spacey guitar chords guide us through friendly and harmonious locations in “When You Wish Upon a Star”, a dignified album that pays a wistful tribute to the world of cinema. Still, these tunes sound much more wide-ranging than just cinematic, as we find Frisell comfortably mixing pop/rock, jazz, and folk as he has been doing for years. 
Compellingly performed with the help of his first-rate quintet, this album presents multifaceted textures that invariably convey a sweet melancholy where the old and the modern converge.

Favorite Tracks:
01 – To Kill a Mockingbird, Pt. 1
02 – To Kill a Mockingbird, Pt. 2
09 – As a Judgement


Marc Copland: piano; Ralph Alessi: trumpet; Drew Gress: bass; Joey Baron: drums.

A beautiful light arises from “Zenith”. Marc Copland worked tightly with the notable musicians of his new quartet in order to deliver harmonic sophistication and melodic intelligence on top of temperate rhythms.
Each tune points to a different direction, but the virtuosity and inspiration are never lost. Alessi’s communicative expressiveness works beautifully with the splendorous ambiances created by Copland, who must be glad to have found a dignified substitute for Kenny Wheeler. Gress and Baron are one.

Favorite Tracks:
02 – Mystery Song
04 – Waterfalls
05 – Best Bet