more international jazz

In a way every day is jazz day for me and as I am interested in all aspects of improvised music from all corners of this world, every day is therefore International Jazz Day for me. To prove my point, here are a few recommendations of recordings from around the world I had the pleasure listening to in the past few weeks, especially after jazzahead, where I got some of these albums:

Canada: Andrean Farrugia & Joel Frahm / Blued Dharma

This is musical communication on the highest level – pianist Farrugia and sax player Frahm inspire each other to melodic improvisation of pure beauty. The Farrugia originals are gems and fit perfectly next to the two versions of Cherokee and a gorgeous Nobody Else But Me.

Finland: Timo Lassy / Moves

Lassy is a star in his home country and deservedly so – his sax style traditional, but with an eye on modernity. This is a record based on personal experiences and the wish to express himself beyond his usual group formation – with guests including the Ricky-Tick Big Band Brass and rapper Paleface. The new compositions are powerful and so is the performance – highly recommended.

Poland: Piotr Schmidt & Wojciech Niedziela / dark morning

Another wonderful duo communication, this time by two of Poland’s leading musicians. All 12 tracks are either by pianist Niedziela or trumpet player Schmidt (or by them together) and showcase the deep understanding both players have of each other. Immaculate performances enriched by deep felt emotional content make this album a pure listening pleasure.


Germany: Erik Leuthäuser / Wünschen

This is a truly special debut – young singer Leuthäuser fulfils his wishes with an all-star band featuring among others Joey Baron, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Greg Cohen. Vocalese in German and so much more … German lyrics to a Gato Barbieri or a Wayne Shorter track … music for a poem by Hermann Hesse … great!!!!

Norway: Arild Anderson+Paolo Vinaccia+Tommy Smith / In-House Science

This live recording of the trio with Anderson, Vinaccia and Smith is simply spectacular – it takes their music to a different level, shows the way they play together and react to each other as only groups can do that are together for a while. Andersons music is the perfect vehicle for all three musicians to improvise and create beauty in the moment. Top!

India: Harpreet Bansal / Samaya

Violinist Harpreet Bansal lives and recorded this album in Norway, but it is based on the traditional ragas her father teached her, taking them into HER time, into NOW. Her playing and sound on the violin is immaculate and transports you into a different world, where time flows slowly. Fascinating!

India: Ganavya / Aikyam: Onnu

Finally, the debut album of singer extraordinaire Ganavya is available … and everyone can listen to what I have been raving about for a while – an incredible new voice and new versions of songs we know but can discover anew in her style … check her out, don’t miss this special album and singer!

Switzerland: Elina Duni / Partir

Albania born singer Duni delivers a hauntingly beautiful solo album on which she plays all instruments and guides us with her vocals through traditional songs from her home as well as from Switzerland, Armenia, Macedonia and others and mingles them with Jacques Brel and her own music. Songs of love, loss and parting have hardly ever sounded that wonderful.


USA: Monika Herzig / SHEROES

Composer, arranger and pianist Herzig put together a stellar cast for this recording: Ingrid Jensen on trumpet; Jennifer Vincent on bass; Ada Rovatti on tenor sax; Jamie Baum on flute; Reut Regev on trombone; Leni Stern on guitar; Mayra Casales on percussion and Rosa Avila on drums! There is a lot of variety in musical terms on the album, but it all comes together to make sense as a strong record with some incredible playing and great arrangements. Herzig is as well a jazz educator and writer and just released a very captivating and interesting book – EXPERIENCING CHICK COREA, A listener’s companion. Highly recommended!!


Conciertos Mini is a series of concerts called, presenting old and new in an interesting mix of 30 minutes shows – two per evening. Over two nights and four concerts this May pianist Sebastian Knauer, vibraphonist Pascal Schumacher and the Orquesta Nacional de España were exploring Johann Sebastian Bach and compositions by Arash Safaian, whose works for ÜberBach are based on pieces by Bach as well. The schedule was simple: first a Bach original, then the Safaian composition, which wants us to hear Bach without listening to one of his works. Knauer is a versatile musician and plays his Bach with emotion and understanding and together with Schumacher he played the ÜberBach with verve and power. The combination of the vibraphone with the piano sounded extremely strong and the strings just added to the beauty of this mix. If you don’t get the chance to listen to this in concert, go and get the ÜberBach album – surely worth to explore, discover and first of all to enjoy!!!

3 and 4 and more

Before the International Jazz Day of 2018, there were already concerts and events all over the world leading up to the big show in St. Petersburg, having a week of jazz focused activities with a bit more than the usual mainstream media attention. When celebrating the International Jazz Day we should not forget what we as well celebrate: freedom of expression, global respect and understanding and individual as well as group communication, as all this is an integral part of the music we call Jazz.

I went to see the Pablo Martin Caminero Trio at club Clamores in Madrid, featuring the wonderful pianist Moises P. Sanchez and Michael Olivera on drums. The Trio did perform music from Pablo’s recent albums ‘Salto al Vacio’ and ‘OFNI’ and was a slightly jazzier affair than his bigger ensemble is, but without neglecting the flamenco touches which are part of his compositions and musical heritage. Sanchez is one of the leading Spanish pianists of the younger generation and performed some captivating and excellent soli, with Olivera keeping time immaculately. Pablo is one artist I love to hear, with his full sound and amazing improvisations – one that never disappoints! I hope he will record this trio at one point, as it is worth it and should be heard by more people than the approx. 120 in the club.


















The Nels Cline 4 just released an album on Blue Note entitled ‘currents, constellations’ which features beside Cline the incredible guitar player Julian Lage and Scott Colley on bass and Tom Rainey on drums – the quartet, with Jorge Roeder on bass instead of Colley, came to Madrid’s Clamores for two shows, in support of the album release. I was lucky enough a few years back to see Nels and Julian as a duo at Winter Jazz in New York and therefore did look forward to the quartet show and wasn’t disappointed at all – the interplay and communication between the two guitar players is second to none, ideas flowing freely to be picked up and transformed, answers given to questions that hadn’t been asked, smiles all around and a stunned and excited audience. The music ranges from Robert Johnson to Metallica if I may mention two extremes of influences … blues informed jazz segments are followed by rock riffs any heavy band would be proud of, then moving on to a free sequence just to break into a swing phrase right after … and Rainey and Roeder at the heart of things, making these musical excursions of Cline and Lage safe. Extraordinary!!!! Go and see these guys in concert and if they don’t come your way, just get the record!!


My friend and jazz critic / researcher Fernando Ortiz de Urbina gave in Madrid’s jazz record shop Jazz y Mas a very interesting lecture on the Miles Davis album ‘Miles Ahead’, with details on Miles, arranger Gil Evans and producer George Avakian, which overall told the story of a complicated, but extremely successful album production.  Even a Miles Davis fan like me could learn a few new and interesting facts here. Thanks Fernando.