Friday, February 10, 2017

Frank Kohl Quartet, Rising Tide

An articulate phraser who can give great nuance to each and every line, Frank Kohl joins with a very simpatico quartet for some swinging contemporary jazz on Rising Tide (Pony Boy 50186-2).

It's Frank along with Steve LaSpina on acoustic bass, Tom Kohl on piano and Jon Doty on drums in a well-paced program of Kohl originals and a couple of standards. Everybody (maybe even the drummer!?) has internalized his way around changes and has something soulful and interesting to say throughout. Frank has a strong sound that gives the lines torque, a percussive edge that may remind you of vintage Benson but finds its own way around the changes.

Frank is a guitar tastemaker, a true arteest. Hear him out!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

John Abercrombie Quartet, Up and Coming

As we proceed through our lived experience of important and influential jazz giants of our times, we come to realize that many artists, taken as a whole, have had more than one artistic period. John Abercrombie is no exception. There has been more than one way for him. His initial emergence as a fusionist culminated in the Gateway Trio with Holland and DeJohnette, then there were the progressive years where he was extroverted yet spacey, and finally there is the period he has occupied for the last 15 years, give or take. Once he jettisoned his pick, he remained the consummately brilliant  line and chord improviser, yet there was a new coolness that by now has become subtly brilliant. His tone has been burnished so that it is not that far from a Jim Hall, yet nonetheless he blazes his own trail in the adventurous journeys from A to B.

You can hear that beautifully in his latest quartet album Up and Coming (ECM 2528). The excellent foursome of John plus Marc Copland (piano), Drew Gress (bass) and Joey Baron (drums) is deliberately understated in its quietude, yet capable of monstrously exceptional improvisations in realms where we might not have expected them to dwell a decade ago.

Miles' "Nardis" centers the program of what is otherwise five Abercrombie and two Copland originals, sprawling long form improvisational vehicles where great things happen so quietly you have to focus and dig into the excellent details of what is going on to fully appreciate it all.

Once you do, there are some incredible performances that come into your experience, wonderful things.

Do not overlook this one. John is doing some of his best work and the quartet is a breathing improvisational entity one must experience in focus to appreciate.

A bit of a milestone, this. Bravo!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Massimo Discepoli, Daniel Barbiero, An Eclipse of Images

On the CD player this morning is a very well-conceived, spacey opus from drummer-electronician-electric bassist Massimo Discepoli and contrabassist Daniel Barbiero, namely An Eclipse of Images (Acustronica).

This album nicely incorporates cosmic soundscaping, bowed and pizzicato bass, drums in a free and sometimes rocking zone, an electronic backdrop of concentrated outwardness, and an overall arching organic quality.

Daniel sounds great on bass, Massimo on drums and the conceptual totality rings out nicely. It almost seems like a concerto for bass, drums and electronics, the latter acting as a sort of orchestra.

From first to last this hangs together well, reminding at times of early-mid Soft Machine for its psychedelic minimalist spaciousness. But that is only a rough indicator of what you'll get here.

A very enjoyable listen! Recommended for sure.