by: Hobert Taylor
Snarky Puppy (with Metrople Orkest) - Sylvia - (Impulse)
As you may have noticed if you've read my previous website reviews, I champion genre busting pastiches that enable listeners to re-imagine old forms and discover new ones.
Well these two ensembles, Snarky Puppy, and Holland's Metropole Orkest are all about that and a bag of chips too.
Snarky Puppy is an amorphous collaboration of up to 40 musicians ostensibly led by composer Michael League. That's what Wikipedia says. They are the pros from Dover, North Texas U. alums and studio and touring stars who are musical chameleons and who wear the cloak of a jazz identity lightly. That's what I say.
On this live recording they link to the collaboration between Paul Whiteman and George Gershwin, the explorations of Darius Milhaud, Leonard Bernstein's use of jazz as folk tunes in his compositions, Eric Dolphy, The Kronos Quartet, Anthony Braxton, Carla Bley, and the Godfather of fusion Gunther Schuller to imbibe the potent cocktail of classical and jazz that goes under the cognomen "Third Stream".
They are joined and supported here by one of the longest running Third Stream ensembles , the Netherlands Metropole Orkest.
The Orkest, part big band, part symphony orchestra has been around for seventy years bringing cross genre music and backing up significant artists in venues ranging from the BBC Proms at the Albert Hall and the acclaimed North Sea Jazz Festival to the cannabis haze enshrouded night clubs of Amsterdam.
There are strong funk undercurrents here, Bitches Brew breakouts and Galactic style New Orleans contempo sounds. In the mix one also finds a touch of Satie, some serialism, (think Michael Nyman), and some Gil Evans style arranging.
This is a wonderful and important addition to the KUCI jazz library.
Tom Tallistsch - All Together Now - (Posi-Tone)
Tenor player Tallitsch has a casual and comfortable style, relaxed and filled with tonal clarity. Sure, most tenor players with a free and easy straight ahead sound and melodic grace get compared to Coltrane, and echoes of the "Naima" era Coltrane abound here, but how can that ever be a bad thing? This is a graceful and delightful record. Highlights for me; "Passages", "Big Sky", the swinging "Medicine Man" and the ultra easy to listen to "Greasy Over Easy".
Adam Shulman Sextet - here/there - (OA2 Records)
the 60's 70's small bop/cool jazz ensemble is what is what comes to mind in the popular conception of what is jazz. Specifically Miles Davis quintet music. This recording led by San Francisco pianist Shulman fits right in. It is indistinguishable from recordings of that era. Now some people may consider that a criticism. It is not. This is masterful in it's playing, precise and pleasing in the arrangements, and stellar in its composition.
Janice Friedman Trio - Live At Kitano - (Self Released)
Pianist/composer/singer Friedman, joined by bold face names drummer Victor Lewis and bassist Ed Howard presents a lively and delightful set that echoes Oscar Peterson's joyous performances.
Her style is fluid and lilting with occasional deeply dramatic flourishes.
While there are a couple of old chestnuts here, the highlights for me are Charles Davis's "Half and Half", and her compositions, "Get Set" and "Ripplin' ". She has fun messing with Chopin in "Nocturned Left".
Glen Ackerman - Glenious Alien Landscape - (Blue Bamboo)
Out of Texas come this funk jazz concept album...sort of aliens invade and start dancing. Sort of Zappaesque with frequent shifts in style and mood.
I really like the dreamy "Wind Clouds Rain" which flows nicely into the grand "Bugs Don't Judge".
Ben Sidran - Blue Camus - (Nardis/Bonsai)
Since the 70's Sidran has been a name in jazz/rock fusion. As a teenager one of his first bands was The Ardells with Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs, and he helped formulate Steve Miller's early sound. As a session player in the U.K. he worked with Clapton and the Stones.
Then he took a left turn into cool funk merged with poetry, a genre he almost singlehandedly popularized.
Currently he hangs out in Madison, Wisconsin where he is an intellectual guru. This record ostensibly celebrates the spirit of Albert Camus, and some of the tunes are overtly referential, but that is the icing on the cake. As clever as most of his lyric/poems are it's his playing and spot on arrangements that elevate this to high art. It's a hoot all around, but the highlights for me are "Soso's Dream", "Blue Camus", "The King of Harlem" and the superb instrumental "Rocky's Romance".
Steve Gadd Band - 70 Strong - (BFM Jazz)
Drummer Gadd is a famous session drummer, and heard on hit records from Paul Simon, Steely Dan, and lots of others. He tours with Clapton and James Taylor. As a jazz player he frequently collaborates with Tony Levin, Chick Corea, and David Sanborn.
On this celebration of turning 70 and still being alive as a touring musician Gadd has made a very low key lightly funky blues rock/jazz fusion thing-a-ma-jig. Rounding out the sound are his soulful collaborators trumpeter, Walt Fowler, guitarist, Michael Landau, Larry Goldings on keys, and bassist, Jimmy Johnson, all of whom contribute tunes.
I really like his cover of Eddie Harris's "Freedom Jazz Dance", and the originals: "Duke's Anthem", the slow and elegant "Desu", " and "Blues for..."