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!!!