Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Purchases in January

January is generally a slow time for new recordings, so it gave me a chance to catch up with some purchases over recent months that I have not written about but which am finding highly enjoyable. Since I am quickly falling behind the pile, I thought that I would do a rundown of eight CDs by lesser known artists who deserve some attention.

Product DetailsBee Jazz is a french label that has produced some outstanding music, and the 2012 recording "Silences" (Bee Jazz 2012) by Guillaume de Chassy is another. De Chassy is a pianist, and he is joined here by Thomas Savy on clarinets and Arnault Cuisiner on bass. Those of you who may have heard last year's duo recording "DaVinci" by Fred Hersh and Nico Gori on Bee Jazz will see similarities,  with the same elegance in this chamber jazz recording. 

Bill Carrothers "Castaways" (Pirouet 2013)  is a trio recording  that continues his streak of wonderful and worthwhile recordings on the label. Here, with Drew Gess on bass and Dre Pallemaerts on drums they spin a set of 12 tunes written by Carrothers, highlighted by the stirring "Scottish Suite" in three parts.

Pablo Held, too, continues to produce very strong recordings on Pirouet, the latest being "Pablo Held Trio Live" (Pirouet 2013) with Robert Landfermann on bass and Jonas Burgwinkel on drums. Held wrote all six melodies, which range from the 2:56 of the charming "Meta" to 16:27 for "Klartraum", the CD's clear highlight with its multi-rhythms and room for each player to step out.

"The Duke" (Prophone 2012) by Kjell Ohman on piano with Hans Backenroth on bass and Joakim Ekberg on drums is an 11 piece tribute to some of the great composers/players of jazz, featuring melodies by Ellington, Brubeck, Peterson, Billy Taylor, and John Lewis among them. The music is pretty straight-forward but highly engaging, as the energy and inventiveness of the players keeps things fresh and lively. "The Best Things in Life are Free" and "The Duke" stand out among the pieces for this listener. This is a Swedish label but one I found here in the U.S. so look around for it.
Product Details

Product DetailsNot a month seems to go by without a new one by John Zorn, sometimes as composer, sometimes as player, and sometimes both. On "Filmworks XXV" (Tzadik 2013) he is both, composer and pianist, actually one of three solo pianists along with Israeli pianist Omri Mor and  Rob Berger. The pieces are exquisite, touched with some of the sounds of Israeli/Middle Eastern musical scales and chordings, and widely varied in tempo, dynamics, and tone. I highly recommend that folks take a listen and not be scared off by the name Zorn, who once again demonstrates his soft, emothional side herein.

Product DetailsI have three recordings by Pamela Hines, and her latest "3.2.1" (Spice Rack Records 2012) is another fine example of her play. With Yoron Israel on bass and Dave Clark on drums, the trio goes through a set of nine songs from such composers as Bill Evans, Todd Dameron, and Julie Styne/Sammy Cahn. This menu of classic pieces is the deaparture point for some imaginative play by Hines, with especially lovely renditions of "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" and "East of the Sun" at moderate tempos,  "Loose Blues", and the up tempo play of "If You Can See Me Now." The trio clearly enjoys the music and the energy is transmitted to the listener throughout, making this a nice set for those who enjoy classic trios.

Stockton Helbing's "Crazy Aquarius" (Armored Records 2012) is exactly that, a bit crazy but incredibly joyful. This is a sextet that included Helbing on drums, Paul Tynan on trumpet/flugelhorn, David Lown on tenor sax, David Braid on piano, Noel Johnston on guitar (three tracks only), and James Driscoll on bass. Braid is the name I recognized, from last year's outstanding solo piano effort, and he contributes in equal parts with the horn frontline in creating some vibrant melodies and counter melodies, all of which are Helbing originals. There are some moments of craziness at times, but overall this is just a great romp through some wonderfully melodic modern jazz. When three songs in a row are "The Night Before", "The Morning Of" and "The Day After" you know you are in the hands of a fun-loving leader, and that is the case throughout this infectous trip.

Product DetailsMartin Hoper "The Bride" (Hoob Jazz 2012) is a trio recording by Hoper on bass, Jonas Ostholm on piano, and Chris Montgomery on drums. This is another Scandanavian piano trio but that is not a bad thing. While they carry forward the same general ethos of their compatriots, the writing is imaginative and play impassioned. The tunes range from the somber "Olmed", a quiet blues "The Boys in My Hood", to a more jazz-like "Cilantro" and "Muttileinen." All in all a lovely set especially for those who enjoy Scandanavian/Northern European trios.

 Everyone of these is highly enjoyable and recommended.


  1. Thank you for the kind words! I really appreciate you giving the album a listen! Many thanks!

    ~Stockton Helbing

  2. Curses! Just as I think I have my 'wishlist' under control you whet my appetite with all these new delights! Where's that application for a bank loan...?