As I promised, here are five more FSNT CDs I picked up that are all worth listening to. Let's start today wit h two familiar names.
In 2008, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire was just breaking onto the scene in the U.S., and was still three years from his breakthrough CD from 2011 "When the Heart Emerges Glistening" (Blue Note Records 2011), which was on multiple top ten lists for last year and is a wonderfully moving recording. He did, however, demonstrate already his outstanding command of the trumpet as well as his skills as a composer on the 10 piece recording, "Prelude: To Cora" (Fresh Sound/New Talent). The disc also demonstrated how, at a young age, he was already viewed by other jazz musicians, as he was supported by a group of emerging young players: Aaron Parks, himself a relative newcomer who was just hitting it big with "Invisible Cinema" on Blue Note that year, Joe Sanders on bass, who was to emrge this year with the wonderful "Introducing Joe Sanders" (Criss Cross 2012), Justin Brown on drums, Chris Dingman on vibes, and Walter Smith III, who a;lready had a number of recordings as leader on tenor sax.
The music is uniformly excellent and worth hearing for all of the players and to hear the emrgence of Akinmusire in particular, who waas on the custp of stardoom.
Here's one where the well-known, at least in the U. S., player is listed second in a duet partnership. "Equilibrium" (Fresh Sound/New Talent 2012) is a duo partnership between pianist Kritjan Randalu and guitarist Ben Monder. Monder has become a go-to guitarist in the past few years, with his progressive style as a leader on Sunnyside and as a sideman for Theo Bleckmann, Bill McHenry, and others. You might be picking up the disc to here Mponder, but it is Randalu who is the star, a pianist who should have a much bigger audience in the U.S. and one who I have listened to for a while on two outstanding outings.
Grupa Janke Randalu has one CD to my knowledge, "Live" (Our Distribution 2008). I don't know exactly where I got it, but it is well worth finding if you can. It is a duo with Bodek Janke on drums, and an eye opener. It begins with an extended piece by Randalu "Confidance" and confidence is what the two demonstrate in their keen listening to each other and driving music. Standards like "All the Things You Are" get a terrific reworking into a modern but recognizable setting, with "If I Were a Bell" startingwith a major drum solo leading to a vigorous playing of the song. Elsewhere, the two blend classic peices with improvisations, touch on eastern sounds, and genreally provide an exciting hour of music.
Randalu himself has a few discs on European labels and I have "Confidance" (Finetone 2002); again I cannot recall how I found it but it is a wonderful solo piano workout that gives Randalu a chance to show all of his facets -- modern impressionism and improvisation, full on jazz, and other touches a spread throughout this attractive disc.
Which brings us back to the FSNT duo with Monder, which is simply an outstanding outpouring of sympathetic players trading leads and support on Randalu's originals, three fully improvised pieces, and "Milestones" and "All the Things You Are." This is one to find; the two players are outstanding and the interpretations are rendered beautifully across all sorts of tempos and moods.
One to the three last recordings. Vincent Bourgeyx, who I did know from previous work, is a pianist in a trio with Pierre Boussaguet on bass and Andre Ceccarelli on drums on "Hip" (Fresh Start/New Talent 2012). Ceccareilli is a veteran with some nice work on CamJazz, including one as leader, while the other two are young up and comers. Bourgeyx has a beautiful feel for the poetic possiblities of the piano and expresses it in some originals and a host of standards including one of my favorites, "I'll Be Seeing You" that just exudes warmth and longing to me. Bourgeyx is special, as is this disc, a worthy follow-up to "Again", an earlier outing on FSNT(2007) with Matt Penman and Ari Hoenig (and again, sometimes it is the company you keep that skeaks volumes). This is for those who like standards with a bit of a modern twist and some originality, not purely down the middle but close by.
Two complete mysteries to me turned out to be very nice, modernistic piano with shades of the classical, chamber jazz, and standards. The Albert Bover Trio with Bover on piano, Chris Higgins on bass, and Jorge Rossi on drums plays a very nice set on "Esmuc Blues" (Fresh Sound/New Talent 2001). J.S. Bach's "Aria" opens and closes the set with a lovely trio, with the piano supported by the subtle colorations of the bass and drums. And that pretty much says how this group plays -- delicately with lovely colors and interpretations, exressive renderinigs of classics like "I Fall in Love Too Esily", and compositions that blend into this easily listenable and lyrical set. This again is a nice listen for those who want to step a bit out of the box but still wnat to hear melodies and lyrical play. I am not sure where Bover is now as his discography on allmusic.com ends with one more disc, but it is a disappointment not to hear more from him.
And lastly, a two disc set of solo pieces from Sergi Sirvent entitled "El Pes de les Balances" (Fresh Sound/New Talent 2010). Disc one consists of written music, while disc two is called "Improvisacions", and Sirvent handles both with aplomb. This is his third FSNT recording and it is a fine one, with Sirvent able to demonstrate a wide range of emotions, tempos, and origins for his music. This is chamber jazz almost at its purest. There are nine set pieces on Disc 1 including a four part suite which is the title song, and all are done at mid-tempo with plenty of expression and touch. Disc 2 is very much in the mode of a Keith Jarrett concert, or similar freely improvised CDs by Paul Bley and Steffano Bollani on ECM. Fifteen short pieces are presented and each is a little jewel for the listener. This is music that sets a contemplative mood for listeners, a set of peaceful beauty that perhaps is too long for a single sitting, but wonderful nonetheless. By the way, don't let the cover put you off; it is strange but the music is not.