The Nels Cline Singers – Macroscope

★★★★☆ = Quality release and suggested listening

Sounds like?

modern jazz with rock and free jazz ethos

Moods

Accessible experimental jazz for guitar shredders

Thoughts

Lots of guitar here. Earlier tracks are loaded with face-melting jazz guitar solos, with Cline coming out swinging; enlivened by percussive pushes. Middle tracks like 'red before orange' showcase his sweet tone.

Later tracks break away from structure, becoming more textural with bits of percussion and electronics. Really like the track 'seven zed heaven' which starts off with a swinging thing that turns into a tension building piece (Cyro's on this! Awesome weird percussive textures for this not familiar (see Hairy Mother intro).

Great album that rewards repeat listens.

More Info

https://www.discogs.com/The-Nels-Cline-Singers-Macroscope/release/5631195

Listen!

Youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoVY6M8fTXc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzQCQbso-dY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixk6zST2nM0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZXAIbKNA0o

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF2PaUA79ao

Spotify


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The Nels Cline Singers – Macroscope

Description: Album Review of The Nels Cline Singers – Macroscope


Rating: 4 out of 5

 

Portico Quartet – Portico Quartet

★★★☆☆ = Good!

Sounds like?

modern classic quartet with rock and jazz songwriting structures

Moods

Modern beauty

Thoughts

A true hybrid of genres incorporating everything from rock and electronic to jazz and classical. I'd say you're most familiar approaching this as a jazz album with classical influences. It's difficult for musicians to get that type of combination right but they pull it off in a patient way with effective touches of electronics and overall 'pretty' and 'contemplative' moments. It's richness would lend well to a live setting an I'd be really interested in seeing these guys live. 'Laker Boo' shifts out of the patient structure into something more aggressive and forward.

I like the ideas here but I'm not sure how much I'll revisit this album. I'm curious to see how they evolve, they have the potential for something truly great.

More Info

https://www.discogs.com/Portico-Quartet-Portico-Quartet/release/3455552

Listen!

Youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpNXM-114WU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQH0GPL33uc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVLveOhrvG8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnxZEwoMA_k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhoZqMVFRAs

Spotify


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Portico Quartet – Portico Quartet

Description: Album Review of Portico Quartet – Portico Quartet


Rating: 3 out of 5

 

Szun Waves – New Hymn To Freedom

★★★★☆ = Quality release and suggested listening

Sounds like?

Modern atmospheric jazz rock with electronic textures

Moods

Live at pompeii for spiritual robots

Thoughts

A modern spiritual jazz-rock record. Effective  use of synths modernizes things and adds an interesting texture. Perhaps the only true rock element is the percussion which feels like it keeps things moving forward in rock fashion.  Couple of highlights:

Fall into water- spacey and patient.

High szun maybe a bit more rock oriented. Certain tension is maintained with a noisy keyboard layer. Works while patient solos build around it.

Quite enjoyed this release.

More Info

https://www.discogs.com/Szun-Waves-New-Hymn-To-Freedom/release/12494167

Listen!

Youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAO60apkxEo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNEmFHrdNdA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdaHQESTu4U

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R12-Qn4g72Q

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Txraa21q8FQ

Spotify


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Szun Waves – New Hymn To Freedom

Description: Album Review of Szun Waves – New Hymn To Freedom


Rating: 4 out of 5

 

Wes Montgomery – A Day In The Life

★★☆☆☆ = Eh, fine

Sounds like?

Light guitar driven jazz

Moods

Wedding cocktail reception

Thoughts

A bunch of covers done in this kinda corny, guitar driven light jazz; overly dramatic string arrangements don't really help things much.

As much as I don't like this record I do include these tracks in mixes when entertaining. Easily recognizable melodies in this 'soft’ format serve well as background music.

More Info

https://www.discogs.com/Wes-Montgomery-A-Day-In-The-Life/release/10040768

Listen!

Youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjHiSePn1ts

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86oaCxW2daU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0KZk2Ojxn8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJyarNALJFc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Vp4O3fOLy8

Spotify


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Wes Montgomery – A Day In The Life

Description: Album Review of Wes Montgomery – A Day In The Life


Rating: 2 out of 5

 

Vels Trio – Yellow Ochre

★★★☆☆ = Good!

Sounds like?
Funky modern jazz trio with rock chops

Moods
Couldn’t get into Snarkypuppy so I saw the vels trio instead

Thoughts
Damn this is a tight group. Add vels trio onto the list of recent good modern jazz releases. Has just the right amount of funky keys and rock chops to keep the songwriting engaging.

This feels like a great release to get a friend into jazz as it’s got enough groove for anyone to hook into.

More Info

https://www.discogs.com/Vels-Trio-Yellow-Ochre-/release/10484847

Listen!

Youtube





Spotify

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Vels Trio – Yellow Ochre

Description: Album Review of Vels Trio – Yellow Ochre


Rating: 3 out of 5

 

Kamasi Washington – Harmony Of Difference

★★★☆☆ = Good!

Sounds like?
A contemporary and melodic take on a big jazz band

Moods
Classy evening at Zinc bar

Thoughts
A lovely ep with great playing by Kamasi and his band. Compared to other Kamasi releases songs are more chilled out and run shorter. I appreciate the flow with songs merging into each other.

More Info

https://www.discogs.com/Kamasi-Washington-Harmony-Of-Difference/release/10756796

Listen!

Youtube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtW1S5EbHgU


Spotify

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Kamasi Washington – Harmony Of Difference

Description: Album Review of Kamasi Washington – Harmony Of Difference


Rating: 3 out of 5

 

Antonio Sanchez – New Life

★★★★☆ = Quality release and suggested listening

Sounds like?
I’ll call this adult contemporary jazz. Modern melodic playing, at times building with rock-like structures

Moods
Pensive autumn walk

Thoughts
A lot to like here: top notch songwriting that builds effectively, each piece works as a standalone single.
Playing is great. Not usually a fan of Alto-sax players but I like him here.

Aspects of this border on corny. “New life”, for instance, has this new age scatting that I found distracting.

Overall great playing and writing makes this an album I’ve enjoyed coming back to over the past few years.

More Info

https://www.discogs.com/Antonio-Sanchez-New-Life/release/4490046

Listen!

Youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxQyUU4B_IE

Spotify

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Antonio Sanchez – New Life

Description: Album Review of Antonio Sanchez – New Life


Rating: 4 out of 5

 

Ambrose Akinmusire – A Rift In Decorum (Live At The Village Vanguard)

★★★☆☆ = Good!

Sounds like?
Modern jazz that is rooted in tradition but veers into tasteful experimental deconstructions.

Moods
Downtown jazz

Thoughts
Impressive stuff, wholeheartedly suggest this to fans of modern jazz.

I need to look up the style this is called but I feel this is part of a broader move forward for jazz. His compositions follow a general pattern with a somber melodic start to these songs that veers into intense free jazz like breakdowns. They illustrate a masterful knowledge of post-bop and mindful control on limits free jazz breakdowns.

I think what sets this apart (ie from Justin Brown’s latest) is the way the band keeps it together and doesn’t totally abandon a collective playing. Jazz, as a genre, evolved into something where people seemed to go free, fusion or forced to play as a revivalist. This record combines something of the free and revitalist approach but does so in a modern way that feels fresh.

Credit is due to the band and leadership of Ambrose. He’s a trumpet player who’s style I actually enjoy and is executing a vision perfectly. Justin Brown’s drumming is always impressive and his influence can’t be understated. I find he works very well as a member as a band rather than a leader; see my notes on nyeusi for more there.

Conflicted on what to rate this so gave it a 3 for now. Believe I need a bit more time to really set in with listening sessions where I can enjoy this. Overall a great record with fresh ideas, recommended.

More Info

https://www.discogs.com/Ambrose-Akinmusire-A-Rift-In-Decorum-Live-At-The-Village-Vanguard/release/10749297

Listen!
Spotify

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Ambrose Akinmusire – A Rift In Decorum (Live At The Village Vanguard)

Description: Album Review of Ambrose Akinmusire – A Rift In Decorum (Live At The Village Vanguard)


Rating: 3 out of 5

 

Kneebody – Anti-Hero

★★★★☆ = Quality release and suggested listening

Sounds like?
Rhythmic modern jazz with rock chops

Thoughts
This record is a very successful marriage of jazz and rock, listening notes:

* Like the drum player a lot here, uses the full range of his kit. Keys too, layers well.
* ‘Uprising’ is a good track, the 2nd half I could see extending into a tension building jam live.
* ‘Drum battle’ takes that and builds it into something a bit heavier.
* The sax player has great solos on drum battle and profar. Good use of distortion but otherwise the playing isn’t quite soulful enough.
* Album has a good flow. Almost has a classical like sway to it. Notes are long and melodic. I’d say this is where the ‘cool’ could be upped with this band..

More Info
https://www.discogs.com/Kneebody-Anti-Hero/release/10046749

Listen!
Spotify

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Kneebody – Anti-Hero

Description: Album Review of Kneebody – Anti-Hero


Rating: 4 out of 5

 

Colin Vallon Trio – Danse

★★★☆☆ = Good!

What’s it sound like?

Modern jazz trio led by somber pensive piano player

Thoughts

Serious piano playing is at the core of this album. While there’s bass and percussion it feels like a secondary compared to Vallon. Songs tend to follow a repetitive structure of sparse starts that build towards chaos.

Tracks ‘tsunami’ and ‘smile’ force emotion on you through an intense progression. I prefer tracks like ‘sisyphe’ and ‘danse’ which seem to evolve naturally through the musicians interplay. ‘Kid’ is an album highlight, beautiful with it’s melodic sentimentality.

A lot to like if this is your style. The best I’ve heard from this trip yet.

More Info

https://www.discogs.com/Colin-Vallon-Trio-Danse/release/9658655

Listen!

Youtube

Spotify