If one considers that Spotify alone adds around 60.000 new songs every day to its catalogue, yes, that’s sixty thousand, it is hard to imagine how someone can find or discover anything new there …. And it makes me wonder how long they will be able to do so without cutting at the low use end … which for sure would mean classical and jazz and other niche genres. We are not there yet, but I am afraid at one point in the coming years we will see this happen. As I don’t like playlists, I discover new music via my contacts in the music business, by reading magazines for the music genres I like, following musicians on their social networks, stay in touch with labels and some PR companies to get their new records for a possible review. And here are some of these which I got lately and really like – I hope you will enjoy some of these as well.
Pål Nyberg / Lowlands – Swedish guitarist Nyberg’s new album puts a focus on his writing, performed by a wonderful group of musicians including Birgitta Flick on sax, Per ‘Texas’ Johansson on clarinets, Markus Jägerstedt on keyboards, Mauritz Agnas on bass and Konrad Agnas on drums. The compositions are melodic and relaxed, the individual performances especially from Johansson and Flick are outstanding. The subtle use of electronics enhances the overall sound and gives added emotional content. Nyberg’s guitar sound is traditional and clear and he swings wonderfully, even in a more modern context. Laid back, touching and contemplating – a great record for all hours of the day! Recommended.
Logan Richardson / AfroFuturism – Alto saxophonist, producer, and composer Richardson is joined on his new and fifth release by guitarist Igor Osypov, Peter Schlamb on vibes and keyboards, bassist Dominique Sanders, and drummers Ryan J. Lee and Corey Fonville. Guest appearances by vocalist Laura Taglialatela and Ezgi Karakus on strings round up the line-up for AfroFuturism. The albums diverse compositions are enhanced by keyboards, synthesizers and programmed parts, with sound samples used frequently amid heavy grooves. Modern jazz it is, but with a nod to the past. Logan’s alto keeping the album together, binding the various elements into one soundscape of different colours. Says Richardson: “I always feel strongly about all my projects, but this one was so fluid in the way we produced it and the way the different voices came together. It feels like something truly special.” Indeed, it is!
Joan Mar Sauqué / Gone With The Wind – On his second outing as a leader, trumpet player Joan Mar is accompanied by Josep Traver on guitar and Giuseppe Campisi on bass. The drum-less trio leads to a more melodic approach and therefore the selection of the songs: all from the 40’s and 50’s with strong melodies. The trio delivers a wonderful traditional jazz record, with Joan’s trumpet clear and straight and swinging. Outstanding Ray Brown and Dizzy Gillespies ‘Ray’s Idea’ as well as Gigi Gryce’s ‘Shabozz’. One musician to keep an eye on. Very promising!!
Tania Giannouli / In Fading Light – Greek composer and pianist Giannouli recorded her new album in a trio format, featuring Andreas Polyzogopoulos on trumpet and Kyriakos Tapakis on oud. “Oud and trumpet are two of my favourite instruments. A trio with these instruments is unusual, but I wanted to explore the beautiful textures, tonalities and emotional resonances that this combination of instruments offers” says Giannouli about the new record. Her music is touchingly beautiful, contemplative and melodic. One can hear that she is classically trained, but has an open mind for improvisation. In her words “The music on this album is an expression of love, hope and compassion, a plea for understanding, kindness, and the need to respect and embrace our common connectedness”. And it is exceptionally performed and highly recommended!!
HITRA / Transparence – The group Hitra is an international quartet, being born at the Norwegian Academy Of Music in Oslo and featuring Hilmar Jensson from Iceland on guitar, Italian pianist Alessandro Sgobbio on piano and Norwegians Jo Berger Myhre on bass and Øyvind Skarbø on drums. The compositions by Sgobbio for the band are spacious and ambient, with an openness for improvisations, either collectively (‘Labtayt’) or individually. Jensson is a wonderful guitar player with a clear sound and a sensibility to fill spaces to enhance the soundscape of the songs, or to lead the way like in the captivating ‘Cite Des Poetes’. Sgobbio, who as well acted as the producer of this album and who is as well known for his work with the group Periscopes, sets the tone without being in the forefront, making this a true band album. One to check out!
Michael Wolff / Live at Vitellos – Already recorded 10 years ago, this quartet outing by pianist Wolff deservedly now sees the light of day. The band, consisting as beside the leader Wolff of trumpet player Mark Isham, John B. Williams on bass and drummer Mike Clark, opens the disc with the wonderful and touching ‘Ballad Noir’, in which Isham’s melodic improvisations shine. This is followed by a groovier piece entitled ‘Lagniappe’ and a wonderful rendition of Wayne Shorter’s ‘Fall’. Another of Wayne’s compositions, ‘Nefertiti’, shows the musicians’ deep connection, expanding the song through improvisations and working perfectly as a unit. Wolff and Isham are amazing soloists, backed and pushed forward by Williams and Clarke, a powerful rhythm section. A top live concert captured in perfect sound quality. Stunning!
Mike Freedman / Into The Daybreak – The debut album by Toronto jazz veteran Freedman showcases not only his tremendous skills as a player, but as well as a composer, as all 9 tracks on the album were written by him. Recorded with Jeremy Ledbetter on piano, Alexis Baro on trumpet, Chris Gale on tenor saxophone, Kobi Hass on bass, Max Senitt on rums & percussion, plus guests Curtis Freeman on fretless bass and Louis Simão on cuica, these nine diverse tracks are performed with verve and power. Freedman has a wonderful clear and full sound on his instrument and his improvisations shine through deep melodic and musical understanding. This is a top band playing – individually as well as an ensemble they shine and make the listener feel these modern jazz songs. A surprise in many ways.
Jihye Lee / Daring Mind – The second album by South Korean composer and arranger Lee ‘reflects her struggles, doubts, joys and hopes’ of living in New York City. “My goal is to invite listeners into my creative world, to relate to my stories, and to reflect on the truth that as humans, we share similar struggles and triumphs regardless of where we come from. It is my hope that we can create genuine connections with each other through art,” she says. Co-produced with Darcy James Argue the recording session included the following musicians: Guest artist: Sean Jones (Trumpet); Reeds: Ben Kono, Rob Wilkerson, Quinsin Nachoff, Jeremy Powell, Carl Maraghi; Trumpets: Brian Pareschi, John Lake, Sean Jones, Alex Norris; Trombones: Mike Fahie, Alan Ferber, Nick Grinder, Mark Patterson, Jennifer Wharton; Piano: Adam Birnbaum, Haeun Joo; Guitar: Sebastian Noelle; Bass: Evan Gregor and Drums: Mark Ferber. Her music is surely a universal reflection of what it means to be human and her band transports these feelings perfectly. A stand-out big ensemble work of many colours and emotions and timeless quality!!!