Jazz Albums 2016 - Weekly Listening Jun 27-Jul 3

Six new recommended jazz records to enjoy. Listed by order of preference.


Ivo Perelman: tenor saxophone; Mat Maneri: viola; Joe Morris: bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums.

The prolific Brazilian saxophonist Ivo Perelman, a reference in the free jazz panorama, is always interesting to follow, no matter what project he’s immersed in. 
In April of the current year, he saw five new albums under his name being released on Leo Records. One of them, entitled “Breaking Point”, was recorded in quartet with a creative cohort of leaders. Maneri is hyperactive on viola, Morris is unflagging on bass, and Cleaver shows why he's one of the most in-demand drummers these days. Fiery solos and jittery rhythms often suggest chaos and anarchy, but there are also even-tempered moments that bring out softer ambiances and textures. The flaming disputes between Perelman and Maneri are powerfully absorbing, and “Breaking Point” is an essential choice for any free/avant jazz collector.

Favorite Tracks:
01 – Harsh Moon  03 – Catch 22  07 – Breaking Point


Rich Halley: tenor saxophone; Vinny Golia: reeds; Michael Vlatkovich: trombone; Clyde Reed: bass; Carson Halley: drums.

Rich Halley, a saxophonist/composer of extended talent, extends his quartet to five elements by adding the portentous and explorative multi-reedist Vinny Golia.
In “The Outlier”, we can indulge ourselves in Halley’s flying improvisations marked by a half-in-half-out approach and frequently adorned with tasteful rhythmic figures, and also the striking low sounds, carrying both fluency and stamina, that are poured out of Golia’s bass reed instruments. The trombonist Michael Vlatkovich is the least adventurous of the three, but no less important in the final product, while the rhythm section guarantees the sometimes groovy, sometimes tribal paths, on top of which the soloists can establish their passive-aggressive interactions without ever forgetting melodic sense. 
A delight for avant-gardists.

Favorite Tracks:
01 – Recipe for Improvisers  03 – Around the Fringes  10 – The Nuthatches


Andrew D’Angelo: alto saxophone, bass clarinet; Jeff Lederer: saxophones, clarinet; Joel Frahm: saxophones; Terell Stafford: trumpet; Kirk Knuffke: cornet; Gary Versace: piano, organ, accordion; Larry Goldings: piano; Matt Balitsaris: guitar; Martin Wind: bass; Paul Sikivie: bass; Yosuke Inoue: bass; Chris Lightcap: bass; Matt Wilson: drums.

“Beginning of a Memory” is the first CD by the imaginative drummer Matt Wilson since he lost his wife Felicia, also a musician, to leukemia. It’s a challenging project that comprises 17 songs recorded without written arrangements or rehearsals.
Traditionally, Wilson’s bands are always composed of excellent musicians, and the Big Happy Family project is no different. In addition to brand new compositions, this album also comprises a few old ones, which were subjected to different treatments and orchestrations without lowering a bit of the original energy and humor. The 1998 album “Going Once, Going Twice” was the most revisited, with four tunes, followed by “The Scenic Route” with two. We missed you, Mr. Wilson!

Favorite Tracks:
08 – Getting Friendly  09 – Andrew’s Ditty  16 – Schoolboy Thug


Noah Preminger: saxophone; Jason Palmer: trumpet; Kim Cass: bass; Ian Froman: drums.

Noah Preminger assembles nine classic Mississippi Delta blues to be part of his new album. 
Oscillating between languorous moans and effervescent dissertations, the tunes are colorfully revitalized and delivered with an actual sound and approach. Preminger’s catchy improvisations reveal an expeditious language and haunting tones as he rambles positively along different registers.
Whether pushing forward or laying back, the rhythm section evinces an enviable coordination while Palmer is more an ally than a stooge in his confident interventions and counterpoints. After all, old blues can still be thrilling.

Favorite Tracks:
02 – Hard Times Killin’ Floor Blues  04 – I Am The Heavenly Way  06 – Spoonful Blues


Peter Bernstein: guitar; Gerald Clayton: piano; Doug Weiss: bass; Bill Stewart: drums.

“Let Loose” is another solid effort by the guitarist Peter Bernstein, whose sound is immediately recognizable. Owner of a clear hard-bop expressiveness, Bernstein insists on the competent rhythm section he knows so well, primarily composed of Weiss and Stewart, while the multi-faceted pianist Gerald Clayton, who recently recorded with Charles Lloyd, makes his first appearance in a project led by the guitarist. Regardless the tempo adopted or the approach (straight-ahead or bluesy), the material sounds genuine and mature. The surprises are a passionate and popular bolero by the Cuban Osvaldo Ferrer and a striking cover of Woody Shaw’s “Sweet Love of Mine”, which features breathtaking improvisations by the leader and Clayton.

Favorite Tracks:
01 – Let Loose  03 – Hidden Pockets  07 – Sweet Love of Mine


John Blevins: trumpet; Drew Williams: tenor saxophone; Brad Mulholland: alto saxophone, flute, clarinet; Nick Grinder: trombone; Marta Sanchez: Fender Rhodes; Jeff McLaughlin: guitar; Marty Kenney: bass; Nathan Ellman-Bell: drums; John Doing: congas.

“Mattherhorn” is a promising debut by the trumpeter John Blevins.In the company of his tight band, which benefits from well-delineated compositions, he confidently bonds to an attractive crossover jazz that lives up to current conceptions and sound specificities.
Amidst the mostly jazzistic excursions, we can easily spot glimpses of Latin and oriental music, as well as progressive rock instincts. The blend encompasses stylish unisons and freewheeling exchanges.

Favorite Tracks:
01 – Identity Theft  02 – Unaware  06 – See