American keyboardist Kevin Stewart is a superb contemporary jazz instrumentalist and composer who can perform a range of styles - including jazz, blues, and R&B – with equal dexterity, and his new album, Never Look Back, is a good example of his remarkable facility.
Based in São Paulo, Metá Metá have played a key role in the city’s thriving experimental music scene, mixing samba and Afro-Brazilian candomblé with jazz and rock. Now they have added north African influences, inspired by visits to Morocco, in an album that constantly changes style and pace – often in the same song. Opener Três Amigos sets the mood, starting as an atmospheric piece with an Arabic edge and relaxed vocals by Juçara Marçal, before switching to a furious blitz of sound by saxophonist Thiago França and guitarist Kiko Dinucci, who played a key role in an extraordinary recent album from Elza Soares. Elsewhere, the songs vary from the cheerful and breezy Toque Certeiro (featuring scat vocals from Marçal that have the easy charm of Joyce Moreno) to passages that sound like an angry Brazilian post-punk thrash, influenced by their country’s political crisis.
Ethiopian vibraphonist and percussionist Mulatu Astatke has spent most of his 70 years mixing Ethiopian musical traditions with jazz. 'Some of the music is meant to be danced to, some to be listened to. Astatke's UK links go back to student days, and this new album brings together British and Ethiopian instrumentalists and singers. Each track 'sketches' a different part of Ethiopia and its traditions, mostly written and arranged by Astatke: composed horn riffs, overlapping in harmony; calls and responses; strong grooves, and mostly simple chords. Horn lines are based on Ethiopian 5-note scales. Astatke: 'It's 5 tones against 12-tone music…How do you combine these two things and keep the color of those modes?' Pentatonic phrases recur hypnotically throughout the album, and when the jazz solos emerge they're all the more striking in contrast. But the emphasis is on the textures of the whole group.
Talk about chalk and cheese or to put it another way: what a difference a day makes. After their uneven performance at in Pittsburgh, Boz and the boys spent a day travel up to Milwaukee and washed up at the Riverside theatre. 24 hours spent away from the stage has made them hungry again, giving this gig a distinctive edge to the set. Arguably the best live rendering of Formentera Lady is to be found here; Fripp’s chords and timing are tight and consequently Boz’s vocals are focussed and sharp. Collins moves from supportive flute to bracing salvos of alto sax fired over the rhythm section inquisitive wanderings which range from sparse funk, R&B shuffle, and Elvin Jones workout. As it migrates to become The Sailors Tale, Collins’ frenetic soloing demonstrates why there was no other band quite like Crim doing the rounds back then; it’s jazz rock but not as we know it, Jim.
Compiled from the Porcupine Tree support slot in October 2006, this is a snapshot of the duo grappling with the task of combining the harmonic ambiguity of Soundscapes with some straight ahead rock grooves. With so much of Robert’s public work being taken up with ‘scaping in recent times, it’s almost a novelty to hear him rocking it up like he does on Time Groove from Boston and Queer Jazz NYC. Despite all the technology involved this is a pared-back sound compared to previous projeKcts, and there's a tentative, exploratory quality about much of the music; two players in search of that often elusive moment, an intriguing aspect which provides much of the tension and appeal.
Some Other Time: The Lost Session From the Black Forest is a newly unearthed studio session from the iconic pianist Bill Evans featuring bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Recorded on June 20, 1968, nearly 10 years after the legendary Kind of Blue sessions with Miles Davis and a mere five days after the trio's incredible Grammy award-winning performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival, this is truly a landmark discovery for jazz listeners worldwide. Available in deluxe 2-CD and limited edition 2-LP sets, and containing over 90 minutes of music, this is the only studio album in existence of the Bill Evans trio with Gomez and DeJohnette. Some Other Time was recorded by the legendary MPS Records founder and producer Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer along with writer/producer Joachim-Ernst Berendt at the MPS studios in the Black Forest (Villingen, Germany).
As the grandson of the late trumpeter Doc Cheatham, and former student of legendary jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd, trumpeter Theo Croker is an artist steeped in jazz tradition. Well-versed in the swing, bop, and modal styles of acoustic jazz, Croker's own music reveals a love of organic funk, soul, and gooey, groove-oriented hip-hop. It's a vital amalgam that would have pleased the forward-thinking Byrd, whose own '70s funk-jazz albums are an obvious touchstone for Croker on his hypnotically enlightened 2016 effort Escape Velocity.