Guitarist Paul Bollenback has gotten a lot of props for his long association with organist Joey DeFrancesco. But he’s a composer and bandleader in his own right, and with an intriguing, Brazilian-flavored new album, Portraits in Space and Time (streaming at Spotify) and an album release show coming up at 7:30 PM this Saturday, Sept 27 at le Poisson Rouge with a phenomenal lineup including Marcus Strickland, Joseph LePore, Rogerio Boccato and Jeff “Tain” Watts. A show by a group of this caliber for ten bucks in advance is not to be missed!
The album is an intimate trio session with Lepore on bass and Sao Paolo’s Boccato on drums and percussion. It seems to be more of an attempt to bottle the magic of a live set rather than simply to document a new set of compositions: segues are front and center here, and they’re good. The music moves fluidly with lively interaction and spontaneity: there’s a lot of good chemistry here.
Bollenback’s signature translucence and knack for melodic hooks also takes centerstage throughout the compositions, a mix of acoustic and electric numbers. The opening track, Calling the Spirits, works a steadily rising Indian-tinged theme that draws on Bollenback’s longtime fondness for exotic sounds and sets the stage, thematically, for the rest of the album: virtually everything here follows a matter-of-fact, often almost imperceptible upward trajectory. Homecoming artfully blends hints of Americana and bossa nova, beginning like a more carbonated take on Bill Frisell, Bollenback animatedly shifting chords in a Peter Bernstein-like vein before Lepore’s chugging but pointillistic solo. The trio follow that with Three Days, a slowly unwinding jazz waltz set to Boccato’s low-key but lithe brushwork and Lepore’s similarly graceful pulse.
One of a handful of miniatures interspersed between the longer numbers, Collective pairs Lepore’s dancing bass with Boccato’s animated rimshots and Bollenback’s spare, lingering, bossa-tinged lines. Another, Jungle, pairs brightly incisive harmonics from the guitar with Boccato’s wryly scurrying percussion. Bollenback works his way methodically up to a spiky, incisive solo on Sunset, the most album’s most straight-up bossa nova number. Little Island has Bollenback’s acoustic guitar building the tune with equal parts Jobim breeziness and a contrasting chromatic bite, Boccato alternating between emphatic cymbal work and a suspenseful prowl around the edges of the drumkit.
They follow that with Bird in the Sky, a vivid, methodically crescendoing acoustic ballad that nimbly alternates between tenderness and wariness. Bollenback’s airy washes anchor Lepore’s balletesque leaps as Open Hand gets going, then the guitar and drums take it in the direction of early 70s psychedelic funk before Bollenback airs out a series of wry quotes and tongue-in-cheek riffs.
Subtle metric shifts underpinned by a persistent, graceful groove liven the graceful Dance Delicious. Lepore contributes a starkly swirling, baroque-flavored, bowed solo before Boccato kicks in with an understated clave beat for Dance of Hands, lit up by Bollenback’s alternately judicious chordal phrasing and spiraling solos. Lights, another jazz waltz, juxtaposes Bollenback’s vigorous, incancescent wee-hours theme with a nonchalant swing and a spacious Lepore solo. The album winds up with Swinging at Capone’s, a shapeshifting mix of elements from wee-hours blues to noir funk to straight-ahead swing.
There’s an intriguing, out-of-the-box jazz show coming up this Thursday, Sept 25 at 8 PM at Symphony Space, where hard-charging tenor saxophonist Oleg Kireyev – who hails originally from the Ural Mountains on the Russian/Mongolian border – leads his quartet, Orlan, who are making their US debut. The group, which also includes bassist Oleg Yangurov, trumpeter Rustem Galiullin, keyboardist Yuri Pogiba and drummer Rustem Karimov, are known for employing traditional Bashkir instruments as well as the occasional light electronic touch, and a wordless vocal style drawn from ancient Central Asian throat-singing.
A few minutes at Kireyev’s Soundcloud page reveals a complex composer who’s just much at home in a terse postbop idiom (he’s a Bud Shank protege) as he is in an elegantly Asian-tinged funk groove, or the moody vistas of the title track of his 2012 album Bashkir Caravan. Check out the brooding ballad Lapland, or the swirly, nocturnal noir 70s cinematics of Night Flight, with its disembodied vocal loops. All this should make for an intriguing night to say the least. $17 advance tickets are highly recommended.
All the hype about artists not putting out albums anymore turned out to be just that. While largescale studio productions seem to be pretty much on the way out, everybody still seems to want to document what they’ve written in some kind of controlled, offstage environment. But the jazz world has been lagging behind. Saxophonist/composer Nick Hempton is one of the few guys in that field who’ve started to put out singles, and his first two – part of a series he calls Catch and Release – are fantastic.
They’re more expansive than the jukebox jazz that guys like JD Allen and Orrin Evans have championed lately, each song exhibiting both the cinematic sensibility that Hempton often brings to his music, as well as a Dexter Gordon-like vibrato and terse, close-to-the-ground tunefulness. The initial release – streaming at Hempton’s blog – swings an acerbic samba-tinged hook up to an icepick Tadataka…
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Friday night’s enticingly tuneful show at the Silent Barn, assembled by violinist and Slow Six founder Christopher Tignor, could be characterized as an exploration of new voices in postminimalism…or simply as good music. Moving in waves, each act followed a distinct trajectory, both in terms of dynamics and melody. The trio Sontag Shogun opened: you wouldn’t necessarily think that an ensemble whose music is as stately and slow as theirs generally is would be in constant motion onstage. Pianist Ian temple played artful variations on warmly neoromantic, downwardly cascading figures while his bandmates, Jeremy Young and Jesse Perlstein built a lushly enveloping backdrop with a whirling vortex of loops, terse percussion and icy washes of vocals processed with huge amounts of reverb and delay.
One of the percussion effects was an electrified paintbrush, delivering gentle wavelets, a miniature pond licking the shoreline. How’s that for dedication to a sonic
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