by: Hobart Taylor
Noah Haidu - Infinite Distances - (Cellar Live)
Noah Haidu is a young composer pianist currently based in New York. Fronting an ensemble New York's finest, (Jeremy Pelt, Trumpet, Sharel Cassity, alto sax, Jon Irabagon, soprano and tenor saxes, Peter Brendler or Alejandro De La Portillia, bass, and John Davis or Mark Ferber, drums), Haidu propels this set of tunes with fanatical energy and controlled fervor.
His playing sounds so authentic, so impassioned, so committed, so unselfconscious, that whether he is swinging hard, or laying back in the cut, you trust what he has to say. I highly recommend each and every cut. Currently I am playing "The Subversive", "This Great Darkness" (mindblowing)"Momentum" and "They Who??".
Ugly Beauties - Strange Attractors - (Self Released)
20th century music is definitively cross pollinated. Recording technology, immigration patterns and global travel, telecommunications, and freer self-selection of cultural identity has meant that artists, musicians in particular, feel free to ignore labels and succumb to all and any influences that move them. The Canadian trio Ugly Beauties does just that masterfully. Marilyn Lerner, pianist, Matt Brubeck, cellist, and drummer Nick Fraser are classical, rock, and jazz all at once, but crucially they are improvisers of the highest order, listening to each other with their hearts as well as their ears. At least that's what comes through to me, and I have been deeply moved by the results.
Socialist Night School - The Twilight Fall - (Browntasaurus Records)
This Toronto based big band features dramatic and exciting arrangements by young players with deft rock sensibilities. They can also shift gears and revert to deep melodicism and art songs. The instrumental pieces are my picks, especially the glorious title cut "The Twilight Fall". The sung piece, "In Dreams" has the grace of a Sondheim tune.
Ingrid and Christine Jensen with Ben Monder - Infinitude - (Whirlwind Records)
Sisters Jensen (Ingrid, trumpet, Christine, saxes), separately and together have been major shapers of modern jazz in Canada. Ingrid reached acclaim with Maria Schneider's orchestra and often has been likened to the great Canadian trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, (one of whose compositions is on this release). Joining them is electric guitarist Ben Monder, a master of atmospheric playing. Christine's playing is extraordinarily liquid and lucid (check out the hip-hop influenced "Swirlaround"). When they duet the sisters alternate between tight harmonies and subtle deviations revealing individual voicings. A lot to listen to here.
Kirk McDonald Jazz Orchestra - Common Ground - (Addo Records)
Also from Canada is this big band that connects to the orchestral equivalence theory of big band music rather that the macho blow you away or nostalgic syrupy schools. Like late Ellington or Mingus or the David Baker release touted here recently this is music of elaborate and complicated subtlety. There are so many glittering moving pieces and seamless yet radical transitions the inattentive can be overwhelmed. The attentive are in for a musical embrace that is both alluring and stimulating.
Emmet Cohen with Jimmy Cobb - Masters Legacy Series Vol. 1 - (Cellar Live)
Pianist Cohen is joined here by legendary drummer Cobb (Miles Davis, Coltrane, Cannoball Adderly, Sarah Vaughn, etc.) in a trio format (bassist Yasushi Nakamura).
Recorded live, here they swing and sway to classic grooves, (Latin, Be-bop,straight ahead) and document vividly the essence of the genre some call jazz.
Azar Lawrence/Al McLean - Frontiers - (Cellar Live)
Young Montreal based McLean joins fellow tenor man and legend Lawrence and (Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner) for a glorious romp through straight ahead jazz. All the usual changes are here, but the feeling is a communion of souls, the transmission of a tradition in the key of Coltrane.