The Young Masters - Coming of Age - (Self Released)
I repeat, Chicago is the capital of jazz. I believe it is because jazz is still integrated in multiple facets of the lives of that city's people. It is more than an entertainment. It is more than an art form to be revered. For many Chicagoans, jazz, that is a jazz attitude, is simply a part of day to day life.
Alto meister Ernest Dawkins assembled four of that not so shytown's sharpest talents to be a part of something he calls the "Live The Spirit Residency" where he encourages young composers to address their lives and the realities of their worlds such as gun violence. In Dawkins words,"...what makes this group unique is how we use jazz, a traditional music based on struggle and use it to apply to the struggles we face today."
All the performances and immediate and unselfconscious. While rooted in established jazz traditions,the tunes speak with their own voices, earnestly and honestly.
Bill Anschell - Rumbler - (Origin)
Seattle based composer/pianist Anschell comes at you sideways like the slanting rays of the afternoon sun through your transom, polyrhythms ablazing like dust motes suddenly illuminated. He can also be mellow and precise, cool and modal, neo-classical and melodic to a "T". There is great sax accompaniment from Richard Cole, Jeff Coffin and Hans Teuber. Brian Monroney's guitar work, and the rhythm section, (Jose Martinez, drums-Chris Symer, bass) round out the ensemble for this very special release.
Erik Jekabson - A Brand New Take - (OA2)
Jekabson gets a lot of play around here because of his collaboration with Kamasi Washington on the punk influenced jazz project Throttle Elevator Music. On this
effort where he fronts the band, he is reverential to the soul jazz and post bop traditions. There is a hilarious send up of "Thriller" as if performed by '70's funk jazz ensemble that morphs into Latin jazz. Matt Clark's Herbie Hancock like electric piano riffs and Kasey Knudsen's Turrentine like solo push us back in time. The title tune entitled "A Brand New Take" ironically sounds like a tune you sure you've heard before, but you aren't exactly sure where or when. My faves on this outing, "Blues for Q" and an edgy high wire act, "My Funny Valentine".
Throttle Elevator Music - Retroretrospective - (Widehive)
Most of these tunes from Erik Jekabson, Matt Montgomery, Kamasi Washington et al have a heavy rock edge especially in the rhythm section, psuedo punk at times, with a deep overlay of stately jazz changes on top. This combination, like sea salt and dark chocolate, is magnificent.
Phil Parisot - Lingo - (OA2)
Drummer Parisot delivers a beat driven and fluid romp through be-bop influenced jazz classicism. I like "Staircase, a short drum solo piece "The Drumset...", and "Different Places Together".
Here comes a trio of releases I'd label (heh heh) as non generic jazz.
Band of Other Brothers - Ear Up - (Self-released)
Funk infused but skew like Sex Mob, this group is led by keyboard player Jeff Babko and includes top session players like saxophonist Jeff Coffin and Will Lee.
Echoes of "Bitches Brew" and Parliament/funkadelic abound.
Dog Leg Dilemma Not This Time - - (Self-released)
Yeah, to say Zappaesque is to say nothing... yet what these young Torontans have in common with Frank is the ability to rapidly switch time signatures and genres in ways that make for revelation after revelation.
Snaggle The Long Slog - - (Browntasaurus Records)
Also from Canada, also young, also funk influenced like Band of Other Brothers, this sextet swings like George of the Jungle and can also be deeply bluesy and orchestral sounding, shades of say Oliver Nelson. If you like Snarky Puppy, Bad Not Bad and the Bad Plus...
Massimo Colombo - We All Love Burt Bachrach - (Self-released)
Superbly and thoughtfully played renditions of the finest earworms ever.
Mads Tolling - Playing the '60's - (Self-released)
What could have been a K-tel special, ("Flintstones Theme", "Pink Panther", "Mission Impossible") turns into a fun virtuoso romp by Danish Jazz violinist Tolling.
Gutbucket - Dance - (Self-released)
Psychedelic jazz with Ornette touches from Brooklyn. Like translating William Burroughs prose into music. Gwappy juthheldebrent ludicious tunes.