Jazz Prospecting: March 2013

Mario Adnet: Amazonia: On the Forest Trail (2012 [2013], Adventure Music): Guitarist, from Brazil, arranges this tribute to the rain forest for string orchestra and special guests, including several vocalists (Mónica Salmaso, Vicente Nucci, Antonioa Adnet, Lenine, Roberta Sá). My first reaction to the strings was horrible, but something settled them out -- probably the vocals, which still seem more at home on the beach. B+(*)

Neil Alexander: Darn That Dream: Solo Piano Vol. 1 (2011 [2013], P-Dog): Pianist, looks like his second album, solo, mostly originals (obviously not the title song, here in two takes). Plays for dramatic impact, not unimpressive but leaves me cold. B-

Christopher Alpiar Quartet: The Jazz Expression (1995 [2012], Behip): Tenor/soprano saxophonist, studied at Miami-Dade and Berklee, based in Atlanta. First album, quartet with piano-bass-drums, has been sitting on the shelf for quite some time. Alpiar wrote all five songs, ranging from 7-15 minutes. The long first cut is hugely evocative of Coltrane, and the rest of the pieces remain in that vein. B+(**)

Amikaeyla & Trelawny Rose: To Eva, With Love: A Celebration of Eva Cassidy Live! (2011, Patois): Two San Francisco singers on the make, backed by trombonist Wayne Wallace and his band. Songbook is from Evan Cassidy, who died at 33 of melanoma, had her records issue posthumously, and became something of a cult item -- I've only heard one of them, nothing there inspiring me to search further. This doesn't make me want to go back either, partly because the chances of her fronting a band this good are nil. The singers aquit themselves well, too. B+(*)

Amikaeyla: Being in Love (2012, Roots Jazz): Singer, based in Oakland, third album, wrote (or co-wrote) about half of these pieces, with covers from Jobim, Bill Withers, trad., and others -- an eclectic mix. Lots of guest spots, Weber Iago strings, a duet with "singing percussionist" Linda Tillery, flutes, pretty much the whole kitchen sink. Good singer overdoes it. B

Arnaoudov/Szymanski/Stefens/Pärt/Xenakis/Minchev: Sonograms (1974-97 [2013], Labor): Those are the composers as their names appear on the cover and spine. They are postmodern/postclassical, and their pieces are performed by several Bulgarian musicians, usually solo, especially Benedikta Bonitz (recorders: 7 pieces) and Angela Tosheva (piano: also 7 pieces). There is one piece for string quartet (Steffens), one of the recorder pieces adds cello and Khandjari, another triangles, and one scales up to four recorders. Not quite minimalist nor merely abstract, the piano pieces have some teeth to them, and the recorders provide a nice contrast. I don't get much music like this these days, so it's hard to judge. B+(***)

Ehud Asherie with Harry Allen: Lower East Side (2009 [2013], Posi-Tone): Mainstream pianist, from Israel, based in New York, playing standards with tenor sax -- in fact, about the closest thing you can get these days to Coleman Hawkins. They did this last year on Upper West Side, and these are basically the leftovers, probably from the same session -- less famous, and less obvious, songs, although they saved "When I Grow Too Old to Dream" for a closer. For me, this is what jazz sounds like, and although I rated other albums higher than I did Upper West Side, I didn't play any of them more often. More is more. A-

Carlos Barbosa-Lima & the Havana String Quartet: Leo Brouwer: Beatlerianas (2012 [2013], Zoho): Brouwer doesn't play here. He is a Cuban classical composer and guitarist, b. 1939, and he composed or arranged for guitar and/or string quartet the various pieces here, one quintet as early as 1957. Barbosa-Lima, b. 1944 in Brazil, plays guitar. The title piece is a string of seven Beatles songs, starting unimaginatively (for a string arranger) with "Eleanor Rigby" and ending (equally blah!) on "Penny Lane," with such obvious stops as "Yesterday" along the way. Even understood as kitsch it's hard to convey how awful it is. The later pieces do have some interest: Brouwer evidently had a modernist streak and he works some tough abstractions into the string mix. C+

Michael Blanco: No Time Like the Present (2012 [2013], Cognitive Dissonance): Bassist, based in New York, has a previous album on FSNT. New one is a sleek postbop quintet, with John Ellis on tenor and soprano sax, Jonathan Kreisberg on guitar, David Cook on piano, and Mark Ferber on drums. Ellis does a nice job rifling through the changes. Blanco composed all the tunes, reserving one for his solo spot. B+(*)

Samuel Blaser Quartet: As the Sea (2011 [2013], Hatology): Trombonist, from Switzerland, has a handful of albums since 2007. Quartet includes Marc Ducret on guitar, Bänz Oester on bass, and Gerald Cleaver on drums. One title, four parts, 51:14 total. Starts slow and tentative, but builds up in interesting ways, especially when the guitarist works up a sweat, giving the trombone something to bounce off. Second album I've heard by him, but looks like he has a fair sampling on Bandcamp, including a solo: someone to explore further. B+(***) [advance, bandcamp]

Stan Bock & the New Tradition: Feelin' It (2012 [2013], OA2): Plays trombone and euphonium, studied music at Fort Hays State and University of Northern Iowa, spent 19 years in the USAF band; moved to Portland, OR, and has three albums since 2003. Sextet, with two saxes (Renato Caranto and John Nastos), keybs (Clay Giberson), electric bass (Tim Gilson) and drums (Christopher Brown, also credited with alto sax). Bock wrote 4 of 13 songs, Nastos adding 3, Giberson 1, with covers from Cole Porter to Joe Zawinul to Leonard Bernstein. First cut is engagingly slippery, but much of the rest is more conventional. B+(*)

Masha Campagne: Like Water, Like Air (2012, Impetus): Singer, b. in Moscow, moved to San Francisco in 1991. Second album, produced by pianist Weber Iago, one of several Brazilian connections. She write four songs, picks up a couple more from guitarist Guinga, one from Iago, a Jobim, "It Could Happen to You," a couple more. The Brazilian vibe runs deep. B+(*)

Robb Cappelletto Group: !!! (2012 [2013], self-released): Guitarist, from Canada, studied at York University, "grew up listening to prog metal as much as Wes Montgomery and Buddy Guy." First album, trio with John Maharaj on electric bass and Ahmed Mitchell on drums. B+(**)

Ian Carey Quintet + 1: Roads & Codes (2012 [2013], Kabocha): Trumpet player, based in San Francisco, looks like his third album. Figure alto saxophonist Kasey Knudsen for the "+1" since the others -- Evan Francis (flute, tenor sax), Adam Shulman (piano), Fred Randolph (bass), and Jon Arkin (drums) -- repeat from the previous quintet album. Mostly originals, plus Neil Young, Charles Ives, and Igor Stravinsky. Nice comic book packaging, until you read the fine print and see he's mostly grouching about critics. B+(*)

Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Functional Arrhythmias (2012 [2013], Pi): Alto saxophonist, b. 1956, has used Five Elements as his primary group name since 1986, thirteen albums in all. Many explore funk/fusion beats, some are muddied up with vocals, the last couple I didn't care for at all. But this one is stripped way down: two wavering horns (Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet), bass and drums that fully implement the title, a little extra guitar (Miles Okazaki) on 5 of 14 tracks. Maybe too simple, but rarely has the continuous shifting of time come through so clearly -- one could say, functional. A-

Kris Davis: Capricorn Climber (2012 [2013], Clean Feed): Pianist, from Canada, has put together a strong discography since 2004 -- especially the records with Tony Malaby, like Rye Eclipse. This is a quintet, with Ingrid Laubrock (alto sax, also in Paradoxical Frog with Davis), Mat Maneri (viola), Trevor Dunn (bass), and Tom Rainey (drums). Laubrock doesn't drive an album like Malaby, and Davis tends to lie back here, leaving the viola as the signature sound -- interesting as far as it goes. B+(**)

Miles Davis: Live in Europe 1969 [The Bootleg Series Vol. 2] (1969 [2013], Columbia/Legacy, 3CD+DVD): No one in jazz reinvented himself more times than Davis, who followed up his first classic quintet by delving into modal jazz and Gil Evans soundscapes, then assembled a second classic quintet, and followed that with his singular take on plugged in fusion. These live sets represent the first step after the second quintet, with Chick Corea, Dave Holland, and Jack DeJohnette replacing the Hancock-Clarke-Williams rhythm section, but despite Corea's electric piano the look is avant, not fusion. This was a time when Corea and Holland were developing Circle with Anthony Braxton, a year before Holland's Conference of the Birds. Interestingly enough, the musician farthest out here is Wayne Shorter, who has never seemed more intent on channeling Ayler and Coltrane, although Davis takes a few fliers too. I can't say that it really works: I often find myself irritated by one line, then blown away by the next, a dynamic that lessens one's enjoyment even while posing an interesting historical puzzle. A-

Tom Dempsey/Tim Ferguson Quartet: Beautiful Friendship (2010 [2012], Planet Arts): The leader play guitar and bass. Third group album, although Ferguson also played on Dempsey's 1998 debut. Rounding out the quartet are Eliot Zigmund on drums and Joel Frahm on tenor and soprano sax. The latter has long been a superb accompanist and is the main reason to tune in here, but the leaders move it along nicely. B+(***)

The Kahil El'Zabar Quartet: What It Is! (2012 [2013], Delmark): Chicago drummer, has twenty-some albums since 1982, many as Ethnic Heritage Ensemble; always interesting, but his best albums were lifted by bigger names -- David Murray on Love Outside of Dreams (1997), Billy Bang on Spirits Entering (2001). This time he goes with players I'm only barely familiar with -- Kevin Nabors (tenor sax), Justin Dillard (keybs), Junius Paul (bass) -- they have some side credits with Ernest Dawkins and Corey Wilkes. Nabors, in particular, has a strong voice, one you'll be hearing more from. B+(***)

Peter Evans: Zebulon (2012 [2013], More Is More): Trumpet player, best known as one of the terrorists in Mostly Other People Do the Killing, but has a handful of records on his own, mostly more avant than the band's. Trio, with the ever-dependable John Hébert on bass and Kassa Overall on drums. Trumpet stabs, zips, kicks it up a notch, then another one. A-

Food: Mercurial Balm (2010-11 [2013], ECM): Named on the cover: Thomas Strønen (drums, electronics), Iain Ballamy (sax, electronics). Fifth group album since 2002, although Ballamy recorded the album Food back in 1998. First half-plus adds Christian Fennesz (guitar, even more electronics) for some pleasant ambient groove. The rest replaces Fennesz with Eivind Aarset, adding Prakash Sontakke (slide guitar, vocals) for a little exotica, plus trumpet (Nils Petter Molvaer) on one track. B+(*) [advance]

Danny Green: A Thousand Ways Home (2012, Tapestry): Pianist, from San Diego, debuted with a solo in 2009, returns here with a trio expanded with sax (Tripp Sprague on 6 of 13 cuts), guitar/mandolin (various, again 6 cuts, one of those both), and voice (Claudia Villela, one cut). All originals, looks to Latin and Brazilian models and favors soprano sax so this has a slick breeziness. B+(*)

Scott Hamilton: Remembering Billie (2012 [2013], Blue Duchess): Tenor saxophonist, once a "young fogey" but getting on now. His connection to Billie Holiday is through Lester Young -- I vaguely recall that he actually plays one of Young's old saxes. Songs Holiday recorded, half-a-dozen titles I can recall perfectly well but only the exquisite "God Bless the Child" makes me think of Holiday (as opposed to Hamilton) while playing. Duke Robillard plays guitar on two cuts, and "I'll Never Be the Same" is a gem. B+(***)

Ken Hatfield Sextet: For Langston (2012 [2013], Arthur Circle Music): Guitarist, close to ten albums since 1998. Langston, of course, is Hughes (1902-67), poet, essayist, activist, an icon of the Harlem Renaissance, and the lyricist for fourteen songs here. The singer is Hilary Gardner, possessing one of those soprano voices I often have trouble with, and her voice is smoothed out by Jamie Baum's flute -- a combination that gives this an arty flair. On the other hand, Hatfield's guitar is as tasty as ever, and I suppose people should know more about Hughes. B+(*)

Miho Hazama: Journey to Journey (2012 [2013], Sunnyside): Pianist, from Tokyo, Japan; studied with Jim McNeely at Manhattan School of Music. First album, can't read the credits (microscopic pink-type-on-beige) but roughly speaking a big band (probably short in the brass section) plus a string quartet (Mark Feldman takes a solo). Half a dozen truly arresting passages pop out. B+(*)

Justin Horn: Hornology (2009 [2012], Rotato): Singer-songwriter, studied at University of Idaho, based in Auckland, New Zealand. Qualifies for the jazz niche with his arrangements, notably a robust horn section. [bandcamp] B+(*)

Hungry Cowboy: Dance (2010 [2013], Prom Night): Quartet led by Jacob Wick (trumpet, compositions), with Briggan Krauss (sax), Jonathan Goldberger (guitar), and Mike Pride (drums) -- Krauss you know from Sex Mob, and Pride shows up lots of places. First group album; Wick seems to have a couple other albums (duo with Andrew Greenwald, trio with Jeff Kimmel and David Moré, group Tres Hongos and another, White Rocket). Avant horn split, loses a bit when they slow down. [bandcamp] B+(**) [advance]

Robert Hurst: Bob: A Palindrome (2001 [2013], Bebob): Bassist, b. 1964 in Detroit, six albums since 1992 including two Unrehurst compilations, side credits include Wynton Marsalis. Draws in some big names here: Branford Marsalis (tenor/soprano sax), Bennie Maupin (alto flute, bass clarinet, tenor/soprano sax), Marcus Belgrave (trumpet/flugelhorn), Robert Glasper (piano/rhodes), Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums), Adam Rudolph (percussion). No track credits, not that it's hard to sort out the saxophonists. Liner notes mentions almost in passing that this was "originally recorded" in 2001: makes me wonder: (a) typo? (b) is this a newer recording? Everyone else goes way back, but Glasper would have been 23, two years shy of his debut. All Hurst pieces, at least one dating to 1985. No edge to the opening flute, but this picks up strength as its many facets emerge, even a thrilling bit of free thrash. B+(***)

Keith Jarrett: Hymns/Spheres (1976 [2013], ECM, 2CD): An exercise in baroque pipe organ played at Benedictine Abbey in Ottobeuren, Germany, the hymns sound appropriately (even stuffily) churchy, the 9-movement "Spheres" more new agey and more appealing for that -- you weren't expecting B3 funk moves, were you? B+(*)

Stan Killian: Evoke (2012 [2013], Sunnyside): Tenor saxophonist, b. 1978 in Texas, based in New York; second album. postbop quintet with both piano (Benito Gonzalez) and guitar (Mike Moreno), the latter softening the tone of the sax. B+(**)

Steve Kuhn: The Vanguard Date (1986 [2013], Sunnyside): Pianist, b. 1938, cut his first album in 1963; AMG lists 47 albums. This trio with Ron Carter and Al Foster was originally released on Owl, with the liner notes now buried somewhere in the data tracks. A fine set, about half originals, ending with a lovely solo "Lullaby." B+(***)

Joshua Kwassman: Songs of the Brother Spirit (2011 [2013], Truth Revolution): Saxophonist (alto, soprano, clarinet, flute, melodica, piano one cut), studied at New School, first album, composed through. Only musician I recognize is guitarist Gilad Hekselman, but the most significant seems to be vocalist Arielle Feinman, not that I hear her enunciating any words. The notion that the voice is the most versatile forge of sounds is venerable but has yet to be proved. B-

Matt and the City Limits: Crash (2012, Island/Def Jam, EP): Singer-songwriter Matt Berman, debut, seven songs, 27:45, which combined with the major label made me think EP. Not really jazz, but he plays alto sax, keeps a tenor player at his side, and the drummer (Amir Williams) does more than keep time, and the guitarist picks out a solo rather than power through it. Intelligent songs and pretty good voice. Closes with an instrumental: "Bring It On Home to Me." B+(**)

Mikrokolektyw: Absent Minded (2012 [2013], Delmark): Duo, from Wroclaw, Poland: Artur Majewski (trumpet, cornet) and Kuba Suchar (drums, percussion), both with electronics, which is to say pretty comparable to Chicago Underground Duo (Rob Mazurek and Chad Taylor). Second album, at least on Delmark. Starts slow, agonizing drones mostly, but the pieces work out various rhythmic ideas, and in the end it depends on what the trumpet can do with, and beyond, them -- a lesson from Miles Davis' funk period, applies here too. B+(***)

Nicole Mitchell's Ice Crystal: Aquarius (2012 [2013], Delmark): Flute player, b. 1967, based in Chicago where she's tapped into the AACM, intent on pursuing the avant-garde, but also for lack of flute specialists -- Frank Wess has dominated Downbeat's category poll for close to forty years, and he's main axe is the alto sax -- she's something of a mainstream star. I'm tempted to argue that the lack of good jazz flautists is no accident: the instrument has a limited expressive range and a high register distant from most harmony instruments; also that most jazz flautists are too rooted in classical, where they were at best pretty marginal (exceptions tend to be in Latin and other third world musics). I don't hate it all -- Sam Most's bebop is amusing enough, Robert Dick's bass flute is in its own world, James Newton and those Guadalupeans sure polished up David Murray's Creole -- but sometimes it seems that way. Credit Mitchell for steadfastly trying to make it work, as in this quartet where she finds a suitable partner in Jason Adasiewicz's vibes, or her rawest work with just bass and drums. B+(**)

Giovanni Moltoni: Tomorrow's Past (2012 [2013], C#2 Music Productions): Guitarist, b. in Turin, Italy; has tought at Berklee since 1998. Fifth album, effectively a nice showcase for trumpeter Greg Hopkins, with Fernando Huergo on bass and Bob Tamagni on drums. Moltoni wrote 6 (of 9) songs, the others coming from the band (Hopkins 2, Huergo 1), his guitar weaving tastefully in and out. B+(**)

Jack Mouse Group: Range of Motion (2012 [2013], Origin): Drummer, did a tour with the USAF's Falconaires. First album; has a handful of side credits, half behind singer Janice Borla. He wrote all the pieces here (sharing one), for a typical postbop group: Scott Robinson (saxes, flute), Art Davis (trumpet), John McLean (guitar), Bob Bowman or Kelly Sill (bass). Some nice passages, especially for the horns. B+(*)

Anders Nilsson/Joe Fonda/Peter Nilsson: Powers (2012, Konnex): Guitar-bass-drums trio. Anders Nilson has several excellent albums -- Blood, Aorta Ensemble, his Kalabalik meet up with Raoul Björkenheim -- and makes a strong impression as a sideman, but loses a bit of edge here, probably because the bassist tries to steer this into open improv waters, finding an interesting balance. B+(***)

Dawn Oberg: Rye (2012 [2013], Blossom Theory Music): Piano-playing singer-songwriter from San Francisco -- where "poets go to retox" -- second album, publicist tried to pass her off as the next Amy Rigby but her voice reminds me more of Dory Previn, and maybe the words as well. Literate -- lead song is "Girl Who Sleeps With Books" and she manages to rhyme Thucydides (and not just with Euripides) and name drop Fats Waller. B+(*)

Ron Oswanski: December's Moon (2012 [2013], Palmetto): Organ player, also accordion and piano; studied at Manhattan School of Music; first album, with Tim Ries on sax, Jay Azzolina or John Abercrombie on guitar, John Patitucci on electric as well as acoustic bass. Stays away from soul jazz clichés. B+(*)

Beata Pater: Red (2011 [2013], B&B): Singer, also plays violin (5 of 12 cuts); from Poland, has six albums, this the third in her "color series"; 9 of 12 cuts were written by Pater and/or keyboardist Mark Little, the covers including fusion pieces by Herbie Hancock and Freddie Hubbard. B

Dick Reynolds: Music & Friends (2012 [2013], Origin): Pianist, based in Chicago, seems to be his first album although he's an old-timer, a professional musician at least since the 1960s. He wrote all the pieces here, several explicitly tributes (Ruben Alvarez, Johnny Frigo, Nancy Wilson, Carol Ettman, Ben Mocini, Stan Getz), and his friends list is extensive. The four big band cuts are crackling, the piano solo at the end a sweet coda. B+(*)

RJ and the Assignment: Deceiving Eyes (2012, self-released): Born in Chicago, based in Las Vegas, no indication of any other name pianist RJ is known by. His group, the Assignment, rotates three bassists and three drummers -- not sure I'd call that a group -- and slips in a saxophonist on two cuts, a singer on another. Half originals, with Herbie Hancock and Cedar Walton among the covers. Fine technique, moves along nicely. B+(*)

Troy Roberts: Nu-Jive 5 (2012 [2013], XenDen): Saxophonist (probably alto), from Perth, Australia, fifth album (although only the second named Nu-Jive). Leads a quintet with guitar-bass-drums-keys, keeping up a steady funk beat which Roberts riffs over. Like many pop jazz saxophonists, he can stretch out, and unlike most he's willing to get a bit dirty. B+(*)

Dylan Ryan/Sand: Sky Bleached (2012 [2013], Cuneiform): Rand is a drummer, hitherto mostly associated with the group Herculaneum although he has another dozen side-credits, the only one I recognize Rainbow Arabia (a good 2011 electropop album). This is a guitar trio, with Timothy Young the driving force, Devin Hoff on bass. Ryan wrote most of the pieces. Mostly keeps rockish time, so you can count this as fusion, but sometimes you sense they'd like to move beyond. B+(**)

Antonio Sanchez: New Life (2012 [2013], CAM Jazz): Drummer, b. 1971 in Mexico City, fourth album since 2007, also has tons of side work. Super postbop band with Dave Binney on alto sax, Donny McCaslin on tenor sax, John Escreet on piano/fender rhodes, and Matt Brewer on acoustic and electric bass. I'm impressed when it's just them although I rarely get into such fanciness. Sanchez is also credited with vocals and additional keybs, definitely too much, even more so when Thana Alexa throws her voice into the mix. B

Ben Sidran: Don't Cry for No Hipster (2012 [2013], Unlimited Media): Pianist-singer-songwriter, b. 1943, started out in rock, especially with the Steve Miller Band, before eventually evolving into an "existential jazz rapper." Two dozen albums since 1971, first I've heard, first impression is that he's following Mose Allison, his "Hipster" skilled at getting gone, but sheltering a "Rich Interior Life." One cover: always good to hear "Sixteen Tons." B+(***)

Donna Singer: Take the Day Off: Escape With Jazz (2012, Emerald Baby): Singer, has this first album and an Xmas set from last year -- haven't gotten to the latter yet. Cover suggests the artist name should be "Donna and Doug" or "D&D" or "Donna Singer & Doug Richards" but the spine is more economical. She is married to Roy Singer, who produced and has some of the writing credits. Richards plays bass and leads the piano trio, which here and there is augmented by trumpet, alto sax, trombone, guitar, and/or extra drums. Some standards -- e.g., Richard Rodgers -- some by Richards, four by Patricia T. Morris. B+(*)

Ches Smith & These Arches: Hammered (2012 [2013], Clean Feed): Drummer, has a couple albums under his own name, a lot of side credits since 2001 on various avant and left-field projects -- Ben Goldberg, Mary Halvorson, Darius Jones, Marc Ribot, Jason Robinson. Wrote all the pieces here for two roughhousing saxes (Tim Berne and Tony Malaby), with Halvorson (guitar) and Andrea Parkins (accordion, electronics) supporting, sometimes as cross purposes, but this percolates madly. B+(***)

Tomasz Stanko NY Quartet: Wislawa (2012 [2013], ECM, 2CD): Another set by the great Polish trumpeter, who started out on the avant-garde and moderated by age (70) and label still remains one of the world's most distinctive. A few years back he came up with a "young Polish quartet" who continue to work as a piano trio. Here he is traveling alone, picking up a band of locals, which in New York nets him Gerald Cleaver, Thomas Morgan, and a new pianist everyone seems to want to play with these days, David Virelles. Talented as they are, they tend to be deferential, but then it's the trumpet you want to hear anyway. By the way, "Wislawa" is Nobel Prize-winning poet Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012). B+(***)

John Stein: Bing Bang Boom (2012 [2013], Whaling City Sound): Guitarist, has more than ten records since 1995, usually tight groove pieces with a characteristic grain of metal, ups his game a bit with this quartet -- Jake Sherman keybs, John Lockwood bass, Zé Eduardo Nazario drums -- making me think of John Scofield. B+(***)

Twins of El Dorado: Portend the End (2012 [2013], Prom Night): Art song duo, Kristin Slipp on voice (singing is a stretch) and Joe Moffett on trumpet, with a guest lyric from Emily Dickinson. Slipp's previous credits include three albums with Cuddle Magic. This is pretty arch, although the trumpet helps. [bandcamp] B-

Eberhard Weber: Résumé (2012 [2013], ECM): Bassist, b. 1940 in Stuttgart, Germany; 15th album since 1973, all on ECM, where he's long been the most pastoral of the label's artists. He had a stroke in 2007 and hasn't been able to play bass since, so for this album he started with previously recorded solos -- mostly bass but also some keyboards -- and brought in Jan Garbarek (soprano and tenor sax) and Michael DiPasqua (percussion) to dress them up a bit. The percussion tracks break out of the pastoral mode, and Garbarek is as lovely as ever. B+(**)

Mark Weinstein: Todo Corazon: The Tango Album (2012 [2013], Jazzheads): Flute player, sixteen albums since 1996, figured out early that Latin music suits his instrument, and has delved most deeply into Cuban music, with forays into Brazil and now Argentina. Can't fault his planning: Raul Jaurena is the real thing on bandoneon, and he hired bassist Pablo Aslan to arrange the classic tunes. Still comes off awfully flat. Maybe it's the flute? B

Eli Yamin/Evan Christopher: Louie's Dream: For Our Jazz Heroes (2012 [2013], Yamin Music): Pianist, b. 1968 in Long Island, has a handful of records since 1998's Pushin' 30, teams up with the clarinetist for salutes to Armstrong, Bechet, Ellington, Bigard, Mary Lou Williams, Mahalia Jackson, John Coltrane, and Amiri Baraka, plus a couple pieces recycled from Yamin's Holding the Torch for Liberty. B+(***)

The Dann Zinn 4: Grace's Song (2012 [2013], Z Music): Tenor saxophonist, based near San Francisco, third album since 1996. Quartet, with Taylor Eigsti (piano), John Shifflett (bass), and Adam Hall (drums). Wrote 6 (of 8) songs, attractive tone and dynamics. Covers are "House of Pain" and "Stardust" -- both appealing. B+(**)

From Rhapsody Streamnotes

Ben Goldberg: Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues (2008 [2013], BAG): Clarinet player, has a dozen or so albums since 1992 not counting membership in New Klezmer Trio, Tin Hat, Myra Melford's Be Bread, etc. Joshua Redman's tenor sax blends in with the clarinet, but Ron Miles' trumpet breaks free, and provides most of the excitement. Goldberg also plays contra-alto clarinet, deepening Devin Hoff's bass. And while the group doesn't need two drummers, he evidenlty couldn't decide, so went with both of his regulars: Ches Smith and Scott Amendola. B+(***)

Ben Goldberg: Unfold Ordinary Mind (2012 [2013], BAG): Clarinetist, arranged this group to feature his E-flat contra alto clarinet ("a weird member of the family, pitched below the bass clarinet"), with two tenor saxes at least nominally as the lead horns (Ellery Eskelin, Rob Sudduth), Nels Cline on guitar, and Ches Smith on drums. Goldberg's idea was to use his clarinet like a bass, but it's so resonant with the saxes it adds a deep well to the harmony -- except when Cline gets excited and turns this into some kind of heavy metal. B+(**)

Wycliffe Gordon: Dreams of New Orleans (2012, Chesky): Trombone player, could be the real life analogue of the trombone star in Treme except that he's generally more versatile -- just not here, where he not only recycles the old tunes but built a band with banjo and tuba to keep them sounding old. Why they're so subdued is another story. B

Pat Metheny: The Ochestrion Project (2012 [2013], Nonesuch, 2CD): The guitarist's one-man band project, a room full of instruments that can be controlled from the guitar. The gear got a studio workout in 2010's Orchestrion album. Here it goes on the road. May be neat visually, but winds up a bit thin, something more than solo guitar, but not an awful lot. B

Sex Mob: Cinema, Circus & Spaghetti: Sex Mob Plays Fellini (2013, The Royal Potato Family): Meaning the music of Nino Rota, of course. The group -- Steven Bernstein (trumpet), Briggan Krauss (alto/baritone sax), Tony Scherr (electric bass), Kenny Wollesen (percussion) -- has been around since 1998, aiming (mostly) at avant-jazz takes on pop culture (Sex Mob Does Bond was an early title). Fellini may seem high-brow, but they rough him up plenty, much of the music still tends toward the sublime. B+(***)

Omri Ziegele/Yves Theiler: Inside Innocence (2012 [2013], Intakt): Sax-piano duets, same format as Ziegele's superb Where's Africa only substituting for the redoubtable Irène Schweizer. The previous album worked in large part because it cut against expectations into the mainstream. This one is more avant, abstract, except for some poetry. B+(*)

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