Jazz Prospecting: May 2013

Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio + Jeb Bishop: The Flame Alphabet (2011 [2013], Not Two): Bishop is the Chicago-based trombone player who left the Vandermark Five about five years ago, and has kept busy since then mostly guesting on projects where he easily adds to the noise level -- his tour with Cactus Truck is fresh on my mind -- but here he takes the lead without the least bit of slop in a showcase of avant-trombone that would turn the heads of Steve Swell, or for that matter Roswell Rudd: a huge improvement over Bishop's previous album with Portuguese tenor saxophonist Amado's trio, Burning Live at Jazz ao Centro. And Amado is sharp as ever, ably backed by Miguel Mira on cello and Gabriel Ferrandini on drums. A-

Clipper Anderson: Ballad of the Sad Young Men (2008-10 [2013], Origin): Bassist, originally from Montana, based in Seattle since 1992. Third album, if you count an Xmas with Greta Matassa's name first, plus a lot of side credits going back to 1984. Anderson sings as well as plays bass, moldy standards done in the old Sinatra mold, except that he's not Sinatra, and Darin Clendenin's piano trio doesn't pack much punch. B

Lary Barilleau & the Latin Jazz Collective: Carmen's Mambo (2009-10 [2013], OA2): Conga player, b. 1958 in Seattle, still based there, first album as far as I can tell, cut in two sessions, with trombonist Doug Beavers the only other musicians straddling both. B

Michael Bates/Samuel Blaser Quintet: One From None (2011 [2013], Fresh Sound New Talent): Bassist and trombone, leaders because they do the writing, 5-3 in favor of Bates if you're counting. Each as 3-5 records already, solid work, as is this. Band includes Michael Blake (sax), Russ Lossing (keybs), and Jeff Davis (drums). B+(***)

Perry Beekman: So in Love: Perry Beekman Sings and Plays Cole Porter (2013, self-released): Guitarist-vocalist, based in Woodstock, NY; first album as far as I can tell, although he's "been playing in jazz clubs, and at private and corporate events throughout New York City for the past 25 years." Fifteen Cole Porter songs, backed by piano and bass. Hard to go wrong. B+(*)

Jerry Bergonzi: By Any Other Name (2012 [2013], Savant): Tenor saxophonist, from Boston, has a long list of records since 1983 but has never sounded better than in his recent streak -- I have four of his last six albums at A-, the other two just a hair under. So I was surprised when this didn't kick in, but I blame Phil Grenadier's trumpet, which ties the sax up in unison work and takes solos that add up to very little. In his own spots the saxphonist is as brusque as ever -- there just aren't enough of them. Songs are all originals, but parenthetically refer to standards. B+(**)

Marc Bernstein & Good People: Hymn for Life (2012 [2013], Origin): Saxophonist, from New York but based in Denmark, lead instrument here is bass clarinet. Fourth album since 1999, quartet with Jacob Anderskov (piano), Jonas Westergaard (bass), and Rakalam Bob Moses (drums), plus featured singer Sinne Eeg. She has a remarkable voice, dark and smoky. B+(***)

Black Host: Life in the Sugar Candle Mines (2013, Northern Spy): Drummer Gerald Cleaver gets first listing on the cover, has all the song credits except one joint improv and one piece by Bartok. The other names are draws: Darius Jones (alto sax), Cooper-Moore (piano, synth), Brandon Seabrook (guitar), and Pascal Niggenkemper (bass). Jones is a powerhouse who likes to get plug ugly (as on his Little Women albums) yet can make something sublime out of the chaos (see his own albums, although I still can't vouch for Book of Mae'bul), although the most striking solos are the guitarist's. B+(***)

Blue Cranes: Swim (2013, Cuneiform): Group, quintet with two saxes (Reed Walsmith and Joe Cunningham), keyboards (Rebecca Sanborn), bass (Keith Brush) and drums (Ji Tanzer); based in Portland, OR; handful of albums since 2007, including a remix of the last one (not counting an intervening EP). Long guest list this time, including strings on 5 (of 9) cuts. Big slabs of sound, nothing but volume to make you think they need more than one horn. B [advance]

Geof Bradfield: Melba! (2012 [2013], Origin): Tenor saxophonist (also credited with soprano sax and bass clarinet here), fourth album since 2003, a tribute to trombonist and big band arranger Melba Liston (noting also that two songs are named after band leaders she worked for: Dizzy Gillespie and Randy Weston). Septet includes two brass (trumpet and trombone), Jeff Parker on guitar, and Ryan Cohan on piano, with Bradfield the sole reed player. The arrangements swing, the horns slide. Ends with a brief Maggie Burrell vocal. B+(***)

Cactus Truck with Jeb Bishop and Roy Campbell: Live in USA (2012 [2013], Tractata): Dutch sax-guitar-drums trio, guitarist Jasper Stadhouders also playing some bass; has a previous album, which got them this US tour, attracting trombonist Bishop and trumpeter Campbell to join in the mayhem. Three sets packed into one long CD, all but the tail end flat-out noisy, something I've never enjoyed unless I managed to find some coherent strand to organize the chaos around. No evidence of that here. B-

Uri Caine/Han Bennink: Sonic Boom (2010 [2013], 816 Music): Piano-drums duet, going by the order on the spine instead of the front cover. Recorded on the drummer's home ground -- "live at the Bimhuis" -- with Bennink's artwork both inside and out. Looks like joint improvs aside from "'Round Midnight," which isn't the only debt to Monk. The drummer is especially superb, and Caine gets hotter and harder as he learns the ropes. B+(***)

Will Calhoun: Life in This World (2012 [2013], Motéma): Drummer, best known for playing in the rock/metal group Living Colour, although he's been gravitating toward jazz for a while now. Big group here, including Donald Harrison (sax), Wallace Roney (trumpet), Marc Cary (piano), Ron Carter and Charmett Moffett (bass), and some Africans (best known is Cheick Tidiane Seck). Four Calhoun originals, plus some pieces from the band, plus Monk, Coltrane, Shorter, Cole Porter, etc. Runs a bit light and slick. B

François Carrier/Michel Lambert/John Edwards/Steve Beresford: Overground to the Vortex (2011 [2013], Not Two): Alto sax, drums, bass, piano; Carrier and Lambert from Montreal, have played together regularly since the 1990s; the others from England, where this was recorded. Four long pieces, group credits (although Beresford is only listed on the last two -- no credits given, but the latter half is where the piano is most evident). Carrier is superb, as usual: always searching, often finding. A-

Freddy Cole: This and That (2012 [2013], High Note): Nat's little brother, 14 years junior which makes him 81 now, finally found his mature voice a few years back and has been on a steady roll. Backed by pianist John Di Martino, with tasty guitar by arranger Randy Napoleon, and select sax and trombone spots. Scrounging a bit for songs he hasn't done before, but he even makes something of "Everybody's Talkin'." B+(***)

The Jay D'Amico Quintet: Tango Caliente (2012 [2013], Consolidated Artists Productions): Pianist, sixth album since 1983, the last three subtitled "Jazz Under Glass." First tango themed album, although he's done classical- and opera-themes. Expanded his trio to include Andrew Sterman on tenor sax and flute, and Richie Vitale on trumpet and flugelhorn -- nothing that will be mistaken as authentic. Nothing caliente here; don't know the Spanish for "lukewarm," but it's not even that. C+

Hamilton de Holanda & André Mehmari: Gismonti Pascoal: The Music of Egberto and Hermeto (2009-10 [2013], Adventure Music): Brazilians, 10-string mandolin and piano, respectively -- De Holanda has a substantial discography, but this is the first I've seen from Mehmari -- playing Brazilian legends, guitarist Egberto Gismonti and pop star Hermeto Pascoal, who each make a cameo (the latter on Fender Rhodes). The piano dominates, and takes some chances. B+(**)

Marko Djordjevic & Sveti: Something Beautiful 1709-2110 (2013, Goalkeeper): Drummer, from Serbia, studied at Berklee. Recorded first album as Sveti in 1995. Group now is a piano trio (Bobby Avey and Desmond White) with tenor sax added on half the tracks (Eli Degibri and Tivon Pennicott, three cuts each). All originals. B+(**)

Jonathan Finlayson & Sicilian Defense: Moment & the Message (2012 [2013], Pi): Trumpet player, first album after quality side credits with Steve Lehman, Steve Coleman, Tomas Fujiwara, and -- most likely; still haven't heard the album -- Mary Halvorson. Quintet with Miles Okazaki (guitar), David Virelles (piano), Keith Witty (bass), and Damion Reid (drums). No second horn keeps his out front, while the guitar and piano players are rising stars, sparkling soloists with an intriguingly complex interplay. A-

Tommy Flanagan/Jaki Byard: The Magic of 2: Live at Keystone Korner (1982 [2013], Resonance): Two major pianists, live, start out with duets on standards (first three: Charlie Parker, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington), later on alternating solos. Bright and tinkly, Flanagan seems more at home with the material. B+(*)

Nick Fraser: Towns and Villages (2012 [2013], Barnyard): Drummer, based in Toronto, has at least one previous album under his own name, several as Drumheller, a dozen or so side credits. Quartet, modeled loosely on Ornette Coleman's recent two-bass quartet, this one with Rob Clutton on double bass and Andrew Downing on cello. They provide an ever shifting substrate for the horn: Tony Malaby on tenor (and soprano) sax gives a bravo performance, one of his finest ever. A-

Satoko Fujii Ma-Do: Time Stands Still (2011 [2013], Not Two): One of pianist Fujii's many groups, with Natsuki Tamura on trumpet, Norikatsu Koreyasu on bass, and Akira Horikoshi on drums: their third and final album together -- Koreyasu died of a heart attack shortly after. Some typically fine moments from Fujii and (especially) Tamura, but overall a bit subdued, almost poignant in the end. B+(**)

Satoko Fujii New Trio: Spring Storm (2013, Libra): Japanese pianist, has a lot of albums but not many conventional piano trios. This one has Todd Nicholson on bass and Takashi Itani on drums. Some fine examples of her impressive block chording and much more in a more melodic vein. B+(***)

Laszlo Gardony: Clarity (2012 [2013], Sunnyside): Pianist, b. 1956 in Hungary, came to US in 1983 to study at Berklee. Tenth album since 1986, a solo, all original material, inching up to a strong rhythmic vamp at the end. B+(***)

Noah Haidu: Momentum (2012 [2013], Posi-Tone): Pianist, second album, a trio with Ariel de la Portilla and McClenty Hunter. Wrote 4 (of 9) cuts, covering Keith Jarrett and Joe Henderson along with more standard fare. Postbop, energetic, complex, hard to say more. B+(*)

The Bill Horvitz Expanded Band: The Long Walk (2011 [2013], Big Door Prize): Guitarist, has a handful of albums since 1997; wrote this for his late brother Phil Horvitz (1960-2005), performed by a 17-piece band including a lot of orchestral instruments (oboe, bassoon, French horn, tuba, violin, cello) -- mostly musicians I recognize. Interesting bits here and there. Can't find anything that suggests that pianist Wayne Horvitz is related, but he's in the band here. B+(*)

Hush Point: Hush Point (2013, Sunnyside): Postbop pianoless quartet, the two horns John McNeil's trumpet and Jeremy Udden's alto sax, with Aryeh Kobrinsky on bass and Vinnie Sperrazza on drums. I initially assumed this would be McNeil's show -- he's about 30 years senior -- but Udden outwrote him 4-to-3, Kobrinsky pitched in, and they picked up two Jimmy Giuffre tunes that seem like a shared connection. The hornwork is tight and sly, the rhythm slippery. Nothing spectacular, but could well grow on you. B+(***)

I Compani: Extended (2013, Icdisc): Dutch group, founded by saxophonist Bo van de Graaf around 1985, ten or so albums since then, their favorite subject the film music of Nino Rota, although another is Sun Ra, who provides the only non-Rota cover here, plus a song title. As the title suggests, the band has been beefed up here, to as many as 24 members, which can mean massive or mayhem but is usually slyly amusing. Weak spot is the vocals, a mix of art song and opera that easily rubs me the wrong way. B+(*)

Richard Lanham: Thou Swell (1998 [2013], RL Productions): Singer, started out with his brothers in a doo-wop group called the Tempo Tones -- YouTube has a video dated 1957, and Discogs lists one song on an obscure, undated compilation -- and went on to sing with King Curtis, did something with Wynton Kelly, joined another group called the Boateneers -- can't find any evidence of them -- and so forth, eventually recording this debut album, which in turn was shelved for fifteen years. Tenor saxophonist Jerry Weldon arranged, the songs notably checking Ray Charles and Nat Cole, with some gospel and calypso worked in, all of which are to his taste. B+(*)

The Alex Levin Trio: Refraction (2012 [2013], self-released): Pianist, from Philadelphia, based in New York, third album, all standards, none remarkable but the appeal of hearing bits of great songs floating up from the mainstream piano jazz matrix is undeniable. Looks like they manage to make most of their living playing private engagements (first time I've run across Gig Salad). That's a niche they fit nicely. B+(*)

Ivan Lins: Cornucopia (2012 [2013], Sunnyside): Brazilian singer-songwriter, b. 1945, scored his first hit in 1970 and has been a major figure ever since, with over 35 albums. This one is a major production, backed by the SWR Big Band, singer Paula Morelenbaum, Themba Mkhize's South African Choir, bassist Nilson Matta, and lots of extra percussionists. B+(**)

Steven Lugerner: For We Have Heard (2013, NoBusiness/Primary): Plays double reeds, clarinets, flutes, saxes. Second album, after his ambitious 2-CD debut (also has a group record, Dads, by Chives). Quartet with Darren Johnston on trumpet, Myra Melford on piano, and Matt Wilson on drums. Strong soloists in their rare spots, but the compositions come first, with most of the album is woven around the leader's intricate reeds. B+(***)

María Márquez: Tonada (2012 [2013], Adventure Music): Singer, from Venezuela, studied at Berklee, moved to San Francisco area; fifth album since 1985, second on this label. Folkish arrangements, mostly guitar, some accordion, although there are more upbeat pieces, even some brass. Has a distinctive voice, slowly grows on you. B+(*)

Martin Lozano Lewis Wiens Duncan: At Canterbury (2012 [2013], Barnyard): Toronto group, playing, by the way, at Canterbury Music Company in Toronto: Jean Martin (drums), Frank Lozano (tenor and soprano sax), Jim Lewis (trumpet, flugelhorn), Rainer Wiens (guitar, mbira), Christine Duncan (voice, theremin). Joint improv, mostly set out in subdued tones and speed, an invitation to focus on subtleties, which are not without interest. B+(*)

Christian McBride & Inside Straight: People Music (2013, Mack Avenue): Bassist, mainstream guy with 14 albums since 1994 making him one of the best-known players around. Splits piano-drums duties, adding Steve Wilson (alto sax, one cut soprano) and Warren Wolf (vibes). Wolf, Wilson, and the two pianist contribute half of the songs (4 of 8), the rest McBride. Wilson plays a light, airy sax, and the vibes are all froth on top of the bassist's trademark swing. B+(**)

Ruth Wilhelmine Meyer/Helge Lien: Memnon (2012 [2013], Ozella): Subtitled "Sound Portrait of Ibsen Characters, done sparsely with an arch-soprano voice and piano accompaniment. Dark and moody, of course -- an evident labor of love, just one with little appeal to me, though better when the piano breaks free, or when the voice sinks deep into the murk. B

Charnett Moffett: The Bridge: Solo Bass Works (2011 [2013], Motéma): Bassist, has ten albums since 1987, many more side credits. This is all solo, and rather than searching out the far out sounds one can create with bass -- as, e.g., Peter Kowald and William Parker have done on their solo albums -- Moffett sticks to basics, picking and a little arco, and features a dozen proven melodies, adds in eight originals, and keeps them all short and to the point. B+(**)

Charnett Moffett: The Art of Improvisation (2009, Motéma): Checking on his new record, I noticed that I had never rated this old one, which I only got an advance promo of and file it in a queue that I almost never look at -- a risk that wouldn't have happened had they sent me a final copy. (Actually, this is two records back; never got the intervening Treasure in any shape or form.) Don't have the credits, so I don't know how chores were split up between two guitarists and three drummers, or which bass Moffett plays where -- my impression is that the fretless bass guitar gets a workout here. All originals, except for a Langston Hughes poem spoken by Angela Moffett and a warbly "Star Spangled Banner"; one more vocal is by Yungchen Lhamo -- no clue what the language is. The bass is always prominent, driving the groove, incorporating the world, and elaborating on it. B+(***) [advance]

Miki Purnell: Swingin' to the Sea (2013, Sweet and Lovely Music): Standards singer, one original on this her debut album. From San Diego, where she maintains a day job as a family practice physician. Likes vocalese (titles like "Bluesette" and "A Night in Tunisia"), doesn't scat much, has a slightly girlish voice that grows on you. Guests Tamir Hendelman (piano) and Lori Bell (flute) produce. Nice, delicate reading of "The Nearness of You," and her "Swinging on a Star" is utterly delightful. B+(*)

The Rempis Percussion Quartet: Phalanx (2012 [2013], Aerophonic, 2CD): Dave Rempis, first appeared in the Vandermark 5 on alto sax but is equally adept at tenor and soprano; one of the most impressive saxophonists to appear in the last decade. His main vehicle over the past five years has been this quartet, with two drummers (Frank Rosaly and Tim Daisy) and bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten. I've only heard the previous records on Rhapsody or Bandcamp -- Flaten has a tremendous selection of his work on the latter -- and the one-two play regimen has invariably left them just shy of my A-lists, which is where this live double -- 53 minutes in Milwaukee and 75 in Antwerp -- started. Repeated play pushed it over the line, smoothing over the rough spots, easing me down during the lulls, certain that something exciting is just around the corner. A-

Sherri Roberts: Lovely Days (2011-12 [2013], Blue House/Pacific Coast Jazz): Standards singer, fourth album, backed by pianist Bliss Rodriguez and nothing more -- she handles it well, but it doesn't feel like much, especially when the pace turns glacial on "Moon River." B

Wallace Roney: Understanding (2013, High Note): Trumpeter, has at least 16 albums since 1987, basically a mainstream hard bop guy although he's been dabbling with electronics the last few albums. No such electronics here: back to basics, and crank it up a bit. He'a also replaced his brother, saxophonist Antoine Roney, with Arnold Lee on alto and Ben Solomon on tenor. Mostly covers from the hard bop years, including two each from McCoy Tyner and Duke Pearson. One original each by Roney and Solomon. Nothing new here, but it does smoke. B+(**)

Jackie Ryan: Listen Here (2012 [2013], Open Art): Standards singer, six or seven records since 2000; has a deep, flexible voice that over an album gains stature and authority. Arranged by bassist John Clayton, features pianist Gerald Clayton, with Graham Dechter on guitar and selected horn spots -- haven't heard much from him lately, but Rickey Woodard sounds splendid. B+(*)

Cécile McLorin Salvant: WomanChild (2012 [2013], Mack Avenue): Singer, b. in Miami, mother French, father Haitian; first album, wrote 2.5 (of 12) songs; some common standards, more obscure, one in French, other outliers include "Jitterbug Waltz" and "John Henry." Backed by piano (Aaron Diehl), guitar/banjo (James Chirillo), bass (Rodney Whitaker), and drums (Herlin Riley). B+(*)
[Later: Gave this another spin after it swept the Jazz Critics Poll, and the outliers were outstanding, the more ordinary fare a bit more than ordinary, and she can sing to me in French any time. B+(***)]

Alex Snydman: Fortunate Action (2012 [2013], self-released): Drummer, lives in Los Angeles, debut album, mostly piano trio with two cuts adding tenor/soprano sax (Cari Clements). He uses three pianists -- Doug Abrams (4 cuts), Chris Pattinshall (3), and Miro Sprague (2) -- and two bassists, with the pianists writing a bare majority of the songs; Snydman has 3.5 credits, plus covers of Ellington/Strayhorn and Herbie Hancock. Despite the credits jumble, it all sounds remarkably consistent. B+(**)

Craig Taborn Trio: Chants (2012 [2013], ECM): Pianist, from Minneapolis; cut an early album for DIW in 1994, two "Blue Series" albums that established his reputation as one of the few distinctive electric keyb players in jazz, a couple avant exercises on European labels (Clean Feed and ILK), and a very well received acoustic solo for ECM. This trio, with Thomas Morgan and Gerald Cleaver, should be his crowning success, but I keep coming up a bit short with it. B+(***)

Al Thompson Jr.: City Mainstream (2012 [2013], Alcalgar): Plays piano/keyboards, sings a bit, based in Connecticut. First album, a high energy groove thing, the horns stronger than anything the smooth jazz crowd favors -- gives it some appeal. B

Rich Thompson: Less Is More (2012 [2013], Origin): Drummer, third album, basically a hard bop quintet, with Gary Versace in piano and organ, the two horns Terrell Stafford and Doug Stone. One original, the title cut (although bassist Jeff Campbell also kicks in one), two Rodgers & Hart covers, most of the rest from a who's who of jazz in the 1960s (Kenny Dorham, Ornette Coleman, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson). B+(*)

Jacob Varmus: Terminal Stillness (2012 [2013], Crows Kin): Trumpet player, from San Francisco, studied at University of Iowa, based in Brooklyn. Second album, six tracks cut with guitar (Nate Radley), piano (Kris Davis), bass (Ike Sturm), drums (Brian Woodruff); two with accordion (Jacob Garchik), bass (Gil Smuskowitz), and drums; the closer Varmus himself on piano. B+(*)

Anna Webber: Percussive Mechanics (2012 [2013], Pirouet): Plays flute and tenor sax, originally from British Columbia, studied at McGill and moved to New York. Second (or third) album, recorded in Germany, with clarinet/alto sax, piano, vibes/marimba, bass, two drummers -- no names I recognize -- the emphasis on jangly, off-center percussion. All original compositions. B+(*)

Wheelhouse: Boss of the Plains (2010 [2013], Aerophonic): Chicago trio: Dave Rempis (alto/baritone sax), Jason Adasiewicz (vibes), Nate McBride (bass). Avant, of course, but not especially fast or noisy, the bass a steadying influence, the bari sax meant to be moody. B+(***)

Renée Yoxon/Mark Ferguson: Here We Go Again (2012 [2013], self-released): Singer and her pianist, based in Ottawa up in Canada, second album; original songs, slight edge to Yoxon with about half credited to both. Band selectively adds trumpet, trombone, sax, and/or guitar, and they flesh out the sound nicely. She likes to scat, and isn't bad at it. B+(*)

Carlos Alves "Zingaro"/Jean Luc Cappozzo/Jerome Bourdellon/Nicolas Lelievre: Live at Total Meeting (2010 [2012], NoBusiness): Violin, trumpet/bugle, flutes/bass clarinet, percussion, respectively, a prickly combination. Zingaro, b. 1948 in Portugal, came out of the postclassical avant-garde with a long discography. Cappozzo has a few albums, including one with Herb Robertson called Passing the Torch. Don't know the others, but the drummer is terrific, someone to watch out for. Three long improv pieces, difficult but dazzling, kept a smile on my face all the way through. A-

From Rhapsody Streamnotes

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Brooklyn Babylon (2012 [2013], New Amsterdam): Composer-arranger-conductor, made a big splash with his debut Infernal Machines in 2009 and will make a similar impression with this 18-piece big band suite. Starts off with a fine theme, and any time he picks up the pace and/or volume he threatens to rip the roof off. Still, why would someone with so much firepower call for a piccolo solo? B+(**)

Nat Birchall: World Without Form (2012, Sound Soul and Spirit): John Coltrane was by far the most influential tenor saxophonist since the Hawkins-Young split. Several generations of tenor players grew up trying to play like him, even to the point of carrying a soprano sax around, but few have made it work more completely than Birchall. English, from Manchester, with a handful of albums, he easily conjures up a sense of space that Coltrane usually struggled with, while Adam Fairhall does a nifty Tyner, accented nicely by Corey Mwamba's vibes. B+(***)

Ceramic Dog: Your Turn (2013, Northern Spy): Guitarist Marc Ribot's power trio, with Shahzad Ismaily on bass and Ches Smith on drums; second album together, but where Party Intellectuals featured Ribot's name and leaned jazz, this one is hard rock but finds fancier ways to get dissonant. Six songs have lyrics, three sung by Ezter Balint, the others one each from the trio; solid enough the songs carry the singer, while the guitar busts loose. A- [+cd]

Peter Ehwald: Double Trouble (2013, Jazzwerkstatt): German tenor saxophonist, leads a group with two bassists (Robert Landfermann and Andy Lang) and a drummer (Jonas Burgwinkel). Starts rough and ready, then settles into a charming slow groove, not what you'd call ballads but improv at an easy speed. B+(***)

Petra Haden: Petra Goes to the Movies (2013, Anti-): Charlie Haden's daughter, grew up in a broad world of music but has to hang onto a concept to get an album together. Movie music is awful more often than not, and she takes to the bad and ugly as well as the good. Does get some help -- at least the "all vocals" concept didn't stick. C+

Uwe Kropinski: So Wie So: Acoustic Guitar Solos (2012 [2013], Jazzwerkstatt): German guitarist, b. Berlin 1952, has nearly two dozen albums since 1985. He starts with "Funky Box," tapping for literal effect as well as strumming the guitar. Beyond that the solos are more introspective, which seems par for solos on any instrument. B+(*)

Oliver Lake/Christian Weber/Dieter Ulrich/Nils Wogram: All Decks (2011 [2013], Intakt): Festival date with trombonist Wogram joining the alto sax great's Swiss pickup trio. Improv, which means great sax runs, solid trombone, and a little brain fart at the end. B+(**)

Little Women: Lung (2012 [2013], AUM Fidelity): Second group album, an avant jazz quartet with two saxes -- Travis Laplante on tenor, Darius Jones on alto -- plus guitar (Andrew Smiley) and drums (Jason Nazary). One long piece, 42:16, with a nine-minute intro that is nearly inaudible. Loud enough up to a stop around the 37-minute mark, with four-note repeated riff and much thrashing on drums; then they whimper on home. B-

Merzbow/Pándi/Gustafsson: Cuts (2012 [2013], Rare Noise): AMG credits Masami Akita (dba Merzbow) with 136 albums since 1979; they also list 57 albums since 1988 for saxophonist Mats Gustafsson; Balász Pándi is a drummer with a mere three albums, including this one (counted under all three names). Noise improv, Merzbow's electronic static roughed up in real time by the others, sometimes even beat into something that is almost . . . musical, then again not. B

Roscoe Mitchell: Duets With Tyshawn Sorey and Special Guest Hugh Ragin (2013, Wide Hive): Saxophonist, 72, a mainstay of the Art Ensemble of Chicago since the late 1960s. Don't have the credits to break this down, but it sounds like the duos give way to trios when trumpeter Ragin jumps in. Also, figure drummer Sorey for the piano -- actually quite impressive -- and Mitchell, in standard AEC operating procedure, adds to the percussion. So a lot going on, and spectacular when they crank it up. A-

William Parker/Conny Bauer/Hamid Drake: Tender Exploration (2010 [2013], Jazzwerkstatt): Recorded at Roulette in New York, three titles each named for a trio member, probably pure improv. Bauer is a German avant-trombonist (aka Konrad or Conrad), been around since the early 1970s, notably in Zentralquartett. He's not a commanding soloist, but adds all sorts of sounds and colors to one of the most relentlessly creative bass-drums duo ever. B+(***)

Mike Pride: Drummer's Corpse (2012 [2013], AUM Fidelity): Drummer, plays avant-jazz but also noise and metal. Title track runs 33 minutes, adds six guests on drums and gong to otherwise noisy guitar and chaotic vocals. Second track is 26 minutes, mostly atmospheric guitar and bass with some edge but broken up with multiple recitations, some at the same time -- in the end, another way to annoy you. B

Mike Pride/From Bacteria to Boys: Birthing Days (2012 [2013], AUM Fidelity): Drummer-led piano trio with Alexis Marcelo and Peter Bitenc, preferably plus a saxophonist -- Darius Jones on their roughhousing first album; Jon Irabagon, Jonathan Moritz, or Jason Stein (bass clarinet) taking turns here. Results are scattered, or maybe you'd prefer eclectic? B+(*)

Joshua Redman: Walking Shadows (2012 [2013], Nonesuch): Tenor saxophonist, habitually drops in one track on soprano too, father was Dewey Redman; made a big splash when he came up, changed his style notably when he played Lester Young in Robert Altman's Kansas City, and has been swapping in concepts furiously for the last decade -- this is one of the hoariest of clichés, the strings-backed ballad album, spotting composers as moldy as Bach and the Beatles. Brad Mehldau produced and offered his trio, joined on half the tunes by a string orch conducted by Dan Coleman. The trio is forgettable, the strings awful, and while sometimes the sax rises above the muck, too often it doesn't. (Redman's original, "Let Me Down Easy," is a partial exception, with a strong Mehldau line and strings that for once don't suck him down.) B-

Colin Stetson: New History Warfare, Vol. 3: To See More Light (2013, Constellation): Saxophonist, plays everything from alto down but favors the big bass sax, and makes extensive use of circular breathing, which gives his tones resonance and a warbly rhythm, even though no other musicians are credited, and and music was reportedly laid down live with no overdubs or loops. They did dub in some vocals later, credited to Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver), and they add to the eeriness of it all. Nothing else quite like it. A- [+cd]

 April, 2013 June, 2013