I had some meetings in Berlin at the end of November and took the chance to go to my favourite club there, the A-Trane to see Leona Berlin (that’s really her name). I had heard and read about her before and was simply curious to see her perform .. this time to present her first album live and she had put a decent band together with Gustav Anders on keyboards, Richard Müller on bass and electronics and Mathis Grossmann on drums. The repertoire came from the new album, with the exception of a brand-new song performed here for the first time and pretty good. Some of the songs from the album and concert, like ‘Feel The Love’ and ‘Thinking About You’ as well as ‘Make Me Wanna’ are really good and groovy and came across well. It seemed the band and her leader need a bit more time to gel, but that’s only normal. She did a few songs on her own with loops and sounds and sounded really strong doing so. A great talent in terms of her vocals, not a jazz singer, but very much soul and modern R&B. She got still some way to go, but this first step is more than promising.
Back in Madrid I finally got a chance to hear young singer and Flügelhorn player Andrea Motis performing as a trio with Joan Chamorro on bass and saxophone and Josep Traver on guitars. An intimate setting in a beautiful theatre and laid-back music performed on top level … what more can one ask for? Motis is a good player and a great singer, working her ways through the great American songbook and a bunch of Brazilian classics, plus a few originals. Her sidemen did a great job in creating beautiful grooves and sounds for her to sing on and excelled in some pretty amazing soli. A new album is planned for early 2019 .. something to look forward to.
CD’s to check out
Piotr Schmidt / Tribute to Tomasz Stanko – Polish trumpeter Schmidt and his fellow musicians, Wojciech Niedziela on piano, Krzysztof Gradziuk on drums and Maciej Garbowski on bass, recorded this beautiful and touching music as a tribute to the late Polish master. The compositions are clear and in the same mood Stanko liked to record and the performance of all four musicians is outstanding. Schmidt can play anything and here he is melancholic and full of emotions and pianist Niedziela adds a lyrical touch to all songs, sublime supported by Garbowski and Gradziuk (both known for their work in the trio RGG). Besides listening to Stanko’s own records, as a tribute and to hear his influence on these players, check this out. Highly recommended.
Benjamin Deschamps / No Codes – Young Canadian alto player Deschamps released a new album with his quartet, featuring highly acclaimed Canadian veteran Frank Lozano on tenor sax, Sébastien Pellerin on bass and Louis-Vincent Hamel on drums. Wonderful how the two sax players communicate and do their ‘call and response’ in the open and flowing compositions. This is a straight jazz recording, with some heavy swinging, free explorations and fantastic ensemble play. Modern and adventurous and them taking their ideas from many different sources to create a unique and powerful album.
The Allison Au Quartet / Wander Wonder – 2016 JUNO Award winner for ‘Best Jazz Album of the Year: Group’ for ‘Forest Grove’, The Allison Au Quartet’s follow-up ‘Wander Wonder’ is another strong release of modern jazz. The four musicians Allison Au on alto saxophone, Todd Pentney on piano and Prophet Rev2, Jon Maharaj on Bass & Electric Bass and Fabio Ragnelli on drums take their inspirations from a wide range of influences, including Brazilian music and Wayne Shorter. Just listen to the outstanding tracks ‘Morning’, ‘Red Herring’ and A Trick of the Moonlight’ and get the swing and feel of these compositions, which represent a wonderful recording.
Jazzland Recordings, the label run by pianist, composer and keyboarder Bugge Wesseltoft and record executive Sten Nilsen, has started a sub-label called OK World, which has and will release jazz, world music and electronic projects from around the globe. Here are some of the recent releases:
NORDJORDET – Øyonn Groven Myhren / Bugge Wesseltoft and others create a mix of Norwegian folk music on traditional instruments and ambient music. Incredible!
Bendik Baksaas / Seine sviv – Electronic music mixed with traditional Norwegian vocals by Helga Myhr. Enchanting!
Adama Barry / Lembi – beautiful traditional music from Burkina Faso, featuring Solo Diarra on the original recordings plus some remixes of these songs by Henrik Schwartz, Mental Overdrive and others. A unique production.
Matona’s Afdhal Group – Matona, a vocalist and oud player from Zanzibar collaborating with Norwegian jazz musicians. Cool.
Sanskriti Shrestha Avatar / Brijanga – tabla player from Nepal, who lives in Oslo, with her debut album, featuring a host of Norwegian musicians and combining tradition with improvisation. Captivating!