autumn in jazzland

Autumn in Jazzland … new releases from around the world, some from major labels other from small indie labels – it is the main season for music releases and I want to introduce you to some of the latest new discs (or better files, nowadays) which I heard and enjoyed listening to:

Let’s start in Canada, where Surefire Sweat, a powerful and grooving octet led by drummer Larry Graves, just released their self-titled first album. Cool compositions, captivating arrangements and powerful horn sections are part of this modern jazz album, which shows influences from John Scofield, Tony Allen and Roy Hargrove, to whom the track RH Factor refers. Strong performances by all featured musicians (Rob Neal Christion on flute, Elena Kapeleris on tenor sax and vocals, Paul Metcalfe on baritone sax, Brad Eaton on trumpet, Paul MacDougall on guitar and vocals, Liam Smith on bass, Rhodes and vocals and Dave Chan on percussion, Hammond organ and vocals) make this album an enjoyable listening experience. Get up and dance!

TuneTown, a trio consisting of three of Canada’s leading improvisers, Kelly Jefferson on saxophones, Artie Roth on bass and Ernesto Cervini on drums, as well released their debut album in September, entitled ‘There From Here’. They easily mix elements from the avantgarde with funk, swing and jazz into their own and very eclectic music. In between they show as well how some standards can be treated freshly by wonderfully performing ‘Sophisticated Lady’ and ‘All Of You’. Their nod to Thelonius Monk ‘The Monks Of Oka’ is one of the highlights of the record, that stands firm in the tradition of saxophone trios, but has found its own voice.

Baritone Madness are Pat Belliveau, Keith O’Rourke and Gareth Bane, who together with bass player Kodi Hutchinson and drummer Tyler Hornby recorded their debut album earlier this year for a September release. 3 baritone saxes … and the album starting with ‘Moanin’ .. another wonderful track is ‘Port NOLA’ .. and the rest is really cool and swinging hard. Great originals, wonderful arrangements and top playing by all three saxophonists. I can imagine that this band live gets any audience going …. Baritone madness indeed!


‘Just Friends’ is as well a debut album, this one by UK violinist John Pearce, who with his long-standing side-men David Newton on piano, Will Harris on bass and drummer Ian Matthews recorded an album of standards. Pearce has a full and beautiful sound and is surely a top player on his instrument – he can tell a story; make you dance or captivates your attention by astonishing melodic play. For friends of a more traditional approach to jazz, this is a beauty and Pearce is someone to watch out for.

Australian composer and alto saxophonist Luke Cuerel’s new album is a truly ambitious project, as his 14 piece orchestra is fusing jazz, classical and electronic music on ‘Luke Cuerel Orchestra’. Luke has written an album for string section, wind, brass, harp, drums, bass, keys and electronics. The ensemble features Luke’s favourite musicians and his music is heavily inspired by people and places in Brisbane. The songs are touching, melodic and colourful in the use of many musical shades. For sure an album that needs the listeners attention, but believe me, it’s worth all the while. Gorgeous!

The adventurous UK label EDITION Records has a few surprises for us this fall – already out is the wonderful duo album ‘Hope’ by Kevin Hays & Lionel Loueke. Originally released as a limited LP, this newly remastered release features 3 additional tracks and is available in all formats. This is joyous, uplifting music performed at the highest level. As Hays says: “Music for me is mostly about peace-making by its very nature. I do sort of marvel at the universality of music. How deep the roots go that connect us all. I think that may come out in the music you hear on this recording.” Don’t miss this one – I can’t stop listening to it. Amazing!

Other recommended listening from the labels new releases includes Oddarrang’s fifth album ‘Hypermetros’. The Finnish sound architects delivered another album full of surprises, moulded by raw, emotive and uplifting themes.

Pianist Aki Rissanen, bass player Antti Lötjönen and drummer Teppo Mäkynen’s third album ‘Art Of Motion’ is a tour de force of jazz, classical music and electronics and will propel the Finish trio into the top league of European jazz groups. It is very difficult today for a piano not to sound like e.s.t. or a few other top European piano trios, but Aki and his two musicians are doing just that. Special and captivating!

The Michael Leonhart Orchestra is probably my favourite Big Band of today – deep, surprising and a lot of fun. Their second album ‘Suite Extracts Vol. 1’ is exactly that: amazing arrangements of covers ranging from Howlin’ Wolf via Ornette Coleman to Spinal Tap and Wu-Tang Clan, performed by the best of the best – the orchestra features among others Chris Potter, Nels Cline, Donny McCaslin, John Ellis, Eric Harland and Erik Friedlander as its soloists! Check this out – be open and enjoy – this is simply great music – no categories!

SOUND OUT, Sokolowsko

Sound Out is a professional development and mentoring platform for creative musicians who challenge normal categorisation and is produced by Martel Ollerenshaw as an initiative of the Europe Jazz Network. The first event took place in Sokolowsko, Poland from 25th to 31st of August and had as objective to eradicate limiting factors which hold the artists back, such as insufficient industry awareness, lack of access to relationships within the music industry, limited cross border activities and communication.

The musicians taking part in this first edition of Sound Out were:

Aviva Endean – clarinet, sound artist, performance creator (Australia)

Benedikt Wieland – electric bass, electronics, composition (Switzerland)

Inge Thomson – vocals, accordion, electronics (Scotland)

Joanna Duda – piano, electronics, composition (Poland)

Karolina Rec – cello, vocals, electronics, composition (Poland)

Lucia Cadotsch – vocals, composition (Switzerland)

Morris Kliphuis – horn, composition (Netherlands)

Ramon Landolt – synths, composition (Switzerland)

Throughout the week the musicians had various workshops and guest speakers coming from all over Europe to participate and share their knowledge with this group of exciting artists. I had the pleasure of sharing a session on the recorded music business with my friend and Edition Records founder Dave Stapleton, which I thought was one of the best I did, as the questions of the group were well thought through and challenging. This session was followed by 20-minute face-to-face meetings and discussions, which touched on some of the individual needs and questions the musicians had.  Coming in on the end of the week, it was interesting to see how much the 8 musicians had bonded and grown into a group, open to communicate within the group and beyond.

While preparing for the session and listening to music from all participants, I was overwhelmed with the individual strength of each artist and the music and performances they created. The musical diversity within the group ranges from folk, to electronics, to jazz, to free improvisations and includes other art forms in wonderful collaborations.

When invited I was a bit surprised having to go to a small village in the middle of nowhere in Poland … but once there I came to understand why Sokolowsko was the perfect place for this kind of event:  The local hosts were the Contemporary Art Foundation In Situ, headed by Bozenna Biskupska, Zuzanna Fogtt and Gerard Lebik, which is responsible for many activities in the village, including art festivals, exhibitions and restoring the old Sanatorium into a wonderful place for the arts. Sokolowsko as well is home of the Krzysztof Kieślowski festival and his archive and through the work of the foundation has become a small island for the arts in Poland. No better place to be.

The first Edition of Sound Out felt to me an overwhelming success and I hope that many other editions will follow … there are many deserving artist out there and many experienced people working in the arts, willing to pass on some knowledge.