Mathias Eick: October

Mathias Eick received the "International Jazz Award for New Talent” at the January 2007 IAJE gathering in New York. (Remember that event from the Good Ol' Days?) Now he impresses with his debut CD on ECM, The Door. This track is a moody meditation with Eick's trumpet line floating over Jon Balke's stately piano vamp. The rest of the rhythm section somehow manages to sound like the wind blowing through the forest, more an implication behind Balke and Eick than an overt beat. Why are all the lyrical trumpeters coming from Europe these days? Elsewhere (in my article "Chet's Children") I have suggested that Chet Baker's indefatigable gigging around Europe in the 1970s and '80s may have sowed seeds that are now sprouting up around the present-day EU. In any event, Eick is one of the finest of the new generation. Even if you already have Rava, Stanko, Fresu and the other top-flight European trumpeters on your CD shelves, you need to make room for this promising, visionary artist.

August 27, 2008 · 0 comments


Marilyn Mazur & Jan Garbarek: Dunun Song

Building a recording project around sax and percussion, without bass or chords, is a dicey proposition, but these two artists are sufficient unto themselves. A timeless quality permeates the give-and-take between Garbarek and Mazur. Primal, throbbing, hypnotic . . . this is music more suitable for a ritual than a jazz club. Instead of ordering a drink from the bar, you want to join hands in a circle dance and start chanting. A great performance from two very deep artists.

April 12, 2008 · 0 comments


Ketil Bjørnstad & Terje Rypdal: The Sea V

This composition starts with booming tone clusters flying out of the bass end of the piano soundboard, more an aural earthquake than a melody. Then Bjørnstad shifts gears completely, offering up a dose of the 19th-century parlor music that apparently passes for jazz in his mind. But things get very interesting when Rypdal enters with a majestic solo on electric guitar, angry and wistful at the same time. The last three minutes of this eight-minute track are sublime, both players contributing to the potent mood. The Nordic wail, melancholy and transcendent, represents its own distinct jazz idiom, and it comes to the fore in the climax of this quintessential ECM performance.

April 10, 2008 · 0 comments


Marilyn Mazur & Jan Garbarek: Joy Chant

For this tune, Marilyn Mazur chose a single instrument from her hugely diverse percussion kit. It's called a hang and is not much used yet by jazz musicians. It looks a bit like a small flying saucer and sounds halfway between a steel drum and metallic tablas. On this nice repetitive song Mazur has penned, the hang's sound is a perfect match for Jan Garbarek's soprano sax. The Norwegian reed player often had the Danish percussionist in his bands. Now she enlists him for her first ECM record, and shows that Garbarek fits beautifully into her music, which is much more joyous and lively that his usual fare.

March 21, 2008 · 0 comments


Bobo Stenson: Bengali Blue

It begins with a slow, dancing beat from the most musical drums of Jon Christensen, joined by Anders Jormin's bass, singing in its lower register. When the piano enters after more than a minute, superposing a melody plucked on muffled strings, the atmosphere turns definitely Indian. The trio explores this Asian mode at medium tempo with great attention to the sonic quality of the interaction, marvelously creating space and suspense with a remarkable economy of notes.

February 26, 2008 · 0 comments


Jan Garbarek: A.I.R.

During their respective stays in Scandinavia, George Russell and Don Cherry encouraged Garbarek to bring aspects of his own cultural and musical background into jazz, with Russell asserting Garbarek was “the most original voice in European jazz since Django Reinhardt.” Intensity, space and melody are hallmarks of Garbarek’s playing on “A.I.R.” and although Keith Jarrett later came in for Stenson at ECM record producer Manfred Eicher’s suggestion, this was nevertheless an exemplary album from an exceptional group.

November 19, 2007 · 0 comments


Lars Gullin: Danny's Dream

Gullin is notably the first Swedish jazz musician to compose with an authentically Nordic accent. During the year his quintessential composition “Danny’s Dream” was recorded, the Down Beat Critic’s Poll voted him Best New Star on his instrument. As the first foreigner to get this recognition, he showed fans that there was more to foreign jazz than Django Reinhardt. Some critics later grumbled that Gullin’s work was “goatherd’s jazz,” but musicians like Stan Getz and Lee Konitz, among others, acknowledged him as a uniquely gifted artist.

November 08, 2007 · 0 comments


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