Since my New York trip a lot happened in the world and not much of it for the better. In terms of concerts here in Madrid it was a bit quiet, I just went out to see Seamus Blake with his French trio, featuring the pianist Tony Tixier, who was the actual reason for me to go and see this band – he is a very interesting young man, who as well leads his own trio and, even so this wasn’t his music, left his mark on the performance.
And we went to see our friend La Shica with her new program and as usual she just nailed it – perfect vocal performances and cool song selection make her concerts every single time into a special event.
I missed the Brad Mehldau Trio due to other plans, but was happy to have lunch with Jeff Ballard and Larry Grenadier the day after – great guys and always great to chat with and exchange musical ideas.
A quick update on OKeh for February and March: our German colleagues are releasing two local OKeh signing early this year – triosence, a trio led by Bernhard Schüler (piano) featuring Matthias Nowak or Ingo Senst (bass) and Stephan Emig (drums). Their new album ‘Hidden Beauty’, due in March, is highly recommended – one act to watch out for. The other release is the debut album ‘METAMORPHOSIS’ by the BamesreiterSchwartzOrchestra, co-led by Lukas Bamesreiter (cond, comp, arr) and Richard Schwartz (comp, arr, git), whose music is fresh and challenging, modern but with the orchestra jazz tradition in mind and who, with their incredible band members ,might simply make big band jazz fashionable again in Germany.
And then there is Somi: that unique singer and songwriter, a mixture of Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba, but completely her own and she proves that again with ‘Petite Afrique’, here second OKeh outing, to be released on March 31st. New York’s Harlem is the centre of this collection of songs, timeless stories of immigration and assimilation, painfully relevant today. Songs like ‘They’re like Ghosts’, ‘Like Dakar’, ‘Black Enough’ and ‘Holy Room’ are simply amazing. And her version of Stings ‘English Man in New York’, which becomes ‘Alien’ and is about being African in New York, is just very well done. Don’t miss that one and try to see her when on tour in March / April and later in the year.
Just a few recommendations: For all who like Fado – check out the following two records, as they are some of the best of what is happening now: Cristina Branco ‘Menina’ and Katia ‘Até ao fim’ – what voices and beautiful songs.
A bit of European jazz history: sax player and singer Bendik Hofseth, known for his work with Steps Ahead and his own recordings, released a special edition of his debut album IX, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its original release. A successful album then, a cool mix of jazz and pop elements, with good lyrics and great performances, this album still sounds great and relevant now. The set includes 3 CDs (a remastered original, rarities and a tribute CD with other Norwegian musicians performing the songs from the original album) and a DVD from a 1991 live concert. Check this out!