Jazz Prospecting: August 2013

Agachiko: Yes! (2013, Accurate): Singer Gabrielle Agachiko, b. 1958 in Kenya, father Kenyan, mother Afro-American, moved to England at 12, New York at 17, based in Boston now. First album, wrote or co-wrote 8 of 11 songs -- covers are "Angel Eyes," "Since I Fell for You," and one from Nina Simone. Backed by guitar, bass, drums, and some horns -- Ken Field, Scott Getchell, and Russ Gershon. B+(*)

Albare: The Road Ahead (2013, Enja): Alias for Albert Dadon, b. 1957 in Morocco, moved to Israel at age 5, France five years later, then to Australia in 1984, where he married the daughter of a billionaire, is executive chairman of "a diversified funds management and property development company," founded and chaired the Australian Israel Cultural Exchange, chaired the Melbourne Jazz Festival, and eventually recorded at least three albums. With piano, bass, drums, and Allan Harris crooning on one song, a pleasant mild groove album. B+(*)

Jimmy Amadie Trio: Live! At the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2011 [2013], TP): Pianist, based in Philadelphia, has eight albums since 1997. No idea how old he is, although he claims to have played with Charley Ventura, Coleman Hawkins, Woody Herman, and Mel Tormé (and he does have a Tormé tribute album). AMG describes him as "a hot jazz pianist in the 1950s" but doesn't list any credits before 1997. This is a trio, with Tony Marino on bass and Bill Goodwin on drums. All standards, most you've heard a million times -- "Summertime," "My Funny Valentine," "Just in Time," "All the Things You Are" -- and he takes a mainstream tack, and he really makes them sparkle. A-

Bryan Anthony/Gary Norian Trio: A Night Like This (2011, Mercator Media): Standards singer, has worked in the Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey ghost bands, and has a couple previous albums. This one is backed by pianist Norian's trio, and Norian provides four songs. Anthony has a classic crooner pose, a soft and pliable voice, and he sneaks up on you. Francis Davis wrote the liner notes. B+(**)

Offiong Bassey (2013, Moonlit Media Group): Singer-songwriter, "first generation Nigerian-American," first album, tends toward gospel or torch effects, doesn't stint on the percussion but doesn't let it run things, has concerns about the world but I didn't find her dis on "experts" in "Weatherman" all that smart. B+(*)

Will Bernard: Just Like Downtown (2013, Posi-Tone): Guitarist, half-dozen albums since 1998, goes for a soul jazz album this time, but everyone except drummer Rudy Royston is a bit eccentric: Brian Charette on organ, John Ellis on tenor sax and bass clarinet, and the leader himself. B+(**)

The New Gary Burton Quartet: Guided Tour (2013, Mack Avenue): Vibraphonist, has tons of records going back to 1961 ranging from some of the worst fusion records in history through an intermittent but lengthy affair with Chick Corea and on to admirable but often disappointing obsessions with Carla Bley and Astor Piazzolla. The "new" quartet draws fresh blood from Scott Colley, Antonio Sanchez, and, especially, guitarist Julian Lage, who draws on a sensible fusion core and stretches it out like Wes Montgomery did bop and blues, setting a pace that everyone else chases. B+(**)

The Candy Shop Boys: Sugar Foot Stomp (2013, self-released): Throwback side project for saxophonist Matt Parker, who has a recent postbop album I like a lot (Worlds Put Together). With Scott Tixier (violin), Jesse Elder (piano), bass and drums, and Sophia Urista singing 7 of 12 songs -- Cab Calloway ("Kicking the Gong Around"), Harlem Hamfats ("The Candy Man"), "St. James Infirmary," but "Light My Fire" seems a misstep, and "I Want to Be Evil" is less convincing than "When I Get Low I Get High." Instrumentals like "Sugarfot Stomp" and "Black & Tan Fantasy" and "Bernie's Tune" are more than filler. B+(***)

Jay Clayton: Harry Who?: A Tribute to Harry Warren (2013, Sunnyside): Singer, b. 1941 in Youngston, Ohio, with 14 albums since 1980, this one a tour through ten of the 800-plus songs Harry Warren (1893-1981, b. Salvatore Antonio Guaragna) wrote. Clayton is very matter-of-fact here, no vocal tics or scat, her accompaniment just pianist John Di Martino with occasional help by tenor saxophonist Houston Person, pretty matter-of-fact himself. B+(**)

Avishai Cohen With Nitai Hershkovits: Duende (2012 [2013], Sunnyside): Bassist, from Israel, thirteen records since 1998, wrote six (of ten) pieces here, with covers from Coltrane, Monk, Cole Porter, and Nachum Hayman (the front half of a medley). Hershkovits is a pianist, also from Israel, first record here, just duets with the bassist. Nice touch, subtle flow. B+(***)

Patrick Cornelius: Infinite Blue (2013, Whirlwind): Alto saxophonist, fourth album since 2006. Mostly quartet, with Frank Kimbrough on piano, Michael Janisch on bass, Jeff Ballard on drums, plus trumpet (Michael Rodriguez) on three tracks, trombone (Nick Vayenas) on those and two more. Bright postbop, moves along briskly, would be more impressive but seems like there's a lot of that going around these days. B+(**)

Dave Damiani: Watch What Happens (2013, Hard Knocks): Singer, based in Los Angeles, has a previous album. Wrote one song here, the rest songbook standards althogh he's picked up a couple rock-era pop tunes and fit them in -- "Happy Together," "Raspberry Beret." Mostly backed by No Vacancy Orchestra, a conventional big band, with 5 (of 13) cuts backed by the smaller Jazzadelics -- roughly the same rhythm section plus Ricky Woodard on tenor sax. So he comes off as a slightly updated '50s crooner, nothing drippy or weepy or overly melodramatic, and I'm always a sucker for songs like "On the Street Where You Live" and "Old Devil Moon." B+(***)

The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band: Feelin' Good (2012 [2013], Origin): Drummer-led piano trio -- Johannes Bjerregaard on piano, Chris Luard on bass -- with DeMerle singing some and his wife Bonnie Eisele, listed as "featuring" on the cover, singing more. Live set starts with a couple instrumentals, then DeMerle sings "East of the Sun," "A Lotta Livin' to Do," and "Star Eyes" before introducing the more formidable Eisele, whose high points include "Cheek to Cheek" and "Fever," with the drummer getting some on "Sing, Sing, Sing." Some records back I had them pegged as in the Louis Prima-Keely Smith vein, but DeMerle's backed away from his comedy. Still a very genial leader of an enjoyable group. B+(**)

Mark Dresser Quintet: Nourishments (2013, Clean Feed): Bassist, b. 1952, a major one although I've often had trouble getting the hand of what he's up to, especially on his own albums. Quintet includes Rudresh Mahanthappa (alto sax), Michael Dessen (trombone), Denman Maroney (hyperpiano), and either Tom Rainey or Michael Sarin on drums -- more options than he normally employs as he develops a complex mystery, with occasional touches of tango. B+(***)

Paquito D'Rivera and Trio Corrente: Song for Maura (2012 [2013], Sunnyside): Clarinet player, b. 1948 in Cuba, played in groups like Irakere there, then defected to US in 1981. Close to 50 albums, including a major interest in Brazilian as well as Cuban jazz. Also plays some alto sax here, backed by a piano trio -- Fabio Torres, Paulo Paulelli, and Edu Ribeiro. B+(**)

Jonathan Elias: Path to Zero: Prayer Cycle (2011, Downtown): Pianist, b. 1956, studied at Eastman School of Music and Bennington College, classical stuff, worked on movie soundtracks, produced rock groups like Duran Duran and Yes; in 1989 composed a piece called Requiem for the Americas; in 1999 released a choral symphony called The Prayer Cycle. This is presumably more of that, "a powerful poetic response to man's inhumanity to man in the nuclear age, told in seven movements" and tied into some sort of political program -- probably well-intentioned, but none of the music here (spoken word, chorales, classical schmaltz played with synths) makes me want to find out. Sometimes when I sit on an album a couple years I'm pleasantly surprised. Sometimes it's even worse than I imagined. D+

Fred Fried and Core: Core Bacharach (2013, Ballet Tree): Guitarist, plays an 8-string model, b. 1948, has at least ten albums since 1988, has used "Core" as his group name the last few. It's a trio with Michael Lavoie on bass and Miki Matsuki on drums. The songs this time come from Burt Bacharach, melodies so catchy they can handle the light and airy, tiptoe-on-the-strings approach. B+(*)

Satoko Fujii: Gen Himmel (2012 [2013], Libra): Solo piano, not sure how many of those she's recorded in a very prolific career -- AMG lists 44 records since 1995 -- but it's not zero and not many. This has none of the thrash I'm so fond of, so it's all the more surprising that this succeeds on its own complex melodic terms. A-

Ghosts of the Holy Ghost Spermic Brotherhood (2013, Resonant Music): Trio: Michael Evans and David Grollman play "snare drum & objects," the former adding electronics, the latter balloons. Evans' website has a long list of records he's contributed to, with Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill (1984) most likely the best, and Fulminate Trio the only recent one I've heard. Didn't find a website for Grollman, but did find two albums, both duos, one self-described as "creepy and atmospheric free improvisation." Haas I know from Canadian new wave band Marhta & the Muffins, after which he moved on to God Is My Co-Pilot. He has a handful of albums more or less under his own name, and provides the sweetening here, but not much of it. This is basically a noise record, improvised noise, chaotic noise, harsh and uncomfortable noise -- something I don't disapprove of in theory, but don't enjoy much in practice. B-

Rebecca Harrold: The River of Life (2013, Imaginary Road Studios): Pianist, 13 years with the Boston Ballet, also has a background as a singer but not here -- Penni Lane is credited with vocals, mostly background shadings. First album, produced by new age guitarist Will Ackerman, who plays on one cut. All originals. Piano has a new age feel but the record is a little lush, with violin and viola much more prominent than bass and percussion, and the horn credits limited to English horn, soprano sax, and lyricon. B-

Albert Heath/Ethan Iverson/Ben Street: Tootie's Tempo (2013, Sunnyside): Heath, b. 1935, nicknamed "Tootie," was one of the three Heath Brothers, along with saxophonist Jimmy Heath and bassist Percy Heath. Only two or three albums under his name, but he's played on at least a hundred starting in 1957 with Red Garland and John Coltrane, and this is the second album he's appeared on named Tootie's Tempo -- the other by Tete Montoliu Trio in 1979. Iverson, who's recently eschewed credit in the Billy Hart Quartet, plays piano, and Street bass. Starts out jaunty with "The Charleston," part of a songbook that sometiems predates the drummer, and ends with the title song, mostly drum solo. Nice tribute. (By the way, the only album Percy Heath put his name on came out in 2004, a year before his death. It was called A Love Song, and was even more charming than this one.) B+(***)

Nick Hempton: Odd Man Out (2012 [2013], Posi-Tone): Alto saxophonist, from Australia, based in New York, third album, quintet with Michael Dease on trombone, Art Hirahara on piano, plus bass and drums. Hempton also plays some tenor. Two covers: Ellington and Randy Newman. B+(**)

Lynn Jolicoeur and the Pulse: World Behind Your Eyes (2012 [2013], self-released): Boston singer/band, the writer there is pianist Steven Travis, who has a hand in 5 (of 12) songs, one co-credited with Jolicoeur. Website promises "timeless jazz and pop hits with contemporary flair and romantic soul" -- hard to imagine how that might work without falling through the contradictory cracks. Nothing bad here, but having a sax doesn't make it jazz, covering Sting and writing new songs doesn't make it timeless. Contemporary flair, sure. B

Kaze: Tornado (2012 [2013], Libra): Quartet with two trumpets (Natsuki Tamura and Christian Pruvost), piano (Satoko Fujii), and drums (Peter Orins). The trumpets burst out of the gate, and the pianist almost makes the drummer an afterthought. And when the fury breaks, they keep it interesting in subtler ways. A-

Shan Kenner: The Behavior of Vibration (2013, Guitar Lotus): Guitarist, based in Brooklyn after spells in Los Angeles and San Francisco; second album, backed by bass-drums and sometimes piano, has a sort of flamenco thing going. Ten originals, covers of Cole Porter and Bill Evans. B

Aaron Lebos: Reality (2013, self-released): Guitarist, based in Miami, third album, calls his group "The Aaron Lebos Reality" -- Eric England (bass, probably electric), Jim Gaslor (keyboards), Rodolfo Zuniga (drums). Fusion, or as the website puts it: "encompasses styles of Jazz, Funk, Rock, R&B, Latin and World Music." I'm inclined to read "air quotes" into those caps -- that's just the way those eclectic, unmediated influences come off, or you could just say "fusion" -- the rut everything else wrecks into. B-

Ray Mantilla: The Connection (2013, Savant): Percussionist, photos show him with congas and an early album was called Hands of Fire; b. 1934 in the Bronx, cut a few records for avant labels Inner City (1978) and RED (1984-2000); this is his third on Savant, vibrant if conventional Latin jazz, fine soprano and tenor sax by Willie Williams, lots of flute by Enrique Fernandez, a splash of trumpet from Guido Gonzalez. B+(**)

Mark Masters Ensemble: Everything You Did (2012 [2013], Capri): Subtitled "The Music of Walter Becker & Donald Fagen," aka Steely Dan, a 1970s rock group with an uncommon affinity for jazz. The Ensemble has some star power -- Billy Harper and Tim Hagans, most obviously, plus guests like Oliver Lake, Sonny Simmons, and Gary Foster wander in for a cut each -- but mostly the big band takes all the whimsy out of the tunes, which become difficult to discern and distinguish unless Anna Mjoll sings one. B

Christian McBride Trio: Out Here (2013, Mack Avenue): Bassist, fifteen albums since 1994, leads a piano trio here with Christian Sands -- two previous albums -- on piano and Ulysses Owens, Jr. on drums -- one previous album, Unanimous on Criss Cross, a quintet with Sands, McBride, and a couple horns. So, young guys with similar tastes and ambitions to the leader two decades ago. Two originals (one shared with Sands), seven covers: standards, piano jazz fare (Billy Taylor, Oscar Peterson), a dab of funk to close ("Who's Making Love"), the centerpiece a long meditation on "My Favorite Things." Leader earns his bass solos. B+(***)

Joe McPhee: Sonic Elements: For Pocket Trumpet and Alto Saxophone (2012 [2013], Clean Feed): One of only a handful of jazz musicians to have put together a significant career playing both trumpet and a reed instrument -- Benny Carter is probably the most famous, although he gave up trumpet long before his death (probably well before McPhee's age of 73). McPhee's usual reed instrument is tenor sax, but these solo pieces are arranged as dedications to Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman, so he goes with their preferred instruments, pocket trumpet and alto sax. (One might note that Coleman played some trumpet along the way -- a good deal less than McPhee.) The solo pieces are thoughtful but scratchy, which is to say more McPhee than Cherry-Coleman. B+(*)

Roscoe Mitchell Quartet: Live at "A Space" 1975 (1975 [2013], Sackville/Delmark): The Art Ensemble of Chicago's saxophonist's arsenal includes alto, tenor, and B-flat soprano sax, the latter featured in the centerpiece here, contrasted with George Lewis' trombone. Also present are pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, who seems peripheral, and guitarist Spencer Barefield, but the main thing is the showcase for Lewis. Reissue adds 19:36 to the 1975 LP. B+(**)

Stephanie Nakasian: Show Me the Way to Get Out of This World (2011 [2012], Capri): Standards singer, b. 1954, ten albums since 1988, mostly on VSOP, her latest Dedicated to Lee Wiley. Backed here by a basic piano trio led by Harris Simon, leaving the focus on the singer, a subtle interpreter with fine tone who can also sling some scat, but is best when she find a song with some bite to it, like "The End of a Love Affair." B+(**)

Scott Neumann Neu3 Trio: Blessed (2011 [2013], Origin): Drummer, from Bartlesville, OK, based in New York. second album, a couple dozen side credits since 1996, all over the map -- including saxophonist Michael Blake's post-Loung Lizards debut in 1997. Blake is back here, along with bassist Mark Helias, playing eight Neumann originals, one from Helias, and one from Roswell Rudd ("Keep Your Heart Right"). All three are terrific, with Blake in an expansive R&B honking mode, the rhythm section pushing him on and running interference. A-

Linda Oh: Sun Pictures (2012 [2013], Greenleaf Music): Bassist, third album, quartet with Ben Wendel (credited with trumpet but sounds like tenor sax, his usual instrument), James Muller (guitar), and Ted Poor (drums). Pieces have an inside-out feel to them, nothing showy, fast or loud -- the guitar and sax just build up on the bass waves and carry you along. A-

Planet Z: Planet Z Featuring Susan Aquila/Music by Rob Tomaro (2011, Blue Chair): Fusion group, only album, Aquila was trained as a classical violinist but plays a Viper 6-string electric here. Tomaro wrote the pieces, has a Ph.D. in composition from NYU, and plays guitar, with the band adding keyboards, bass, and drums. B

Abigail Riccards: Every Little Star (2013, self-released): Standards singer, has a couple previous albums, this one produced by Jane Monheit (who's featured on Joni Mitchell's "Circle Game," an outlier here). Band includes Michael Kanan (piano) and Peter Bernstein (guitar), framing surefire songs nicely -- "Singin' in the Rain," "I Can't Give You Anything but Love," "Smile," "Bye Bye Blackbird." B+(*)

Terje Rypdal: Melodic Warrior (2003-09 [2013], ECM): Guitarist from Norway, one of the George Russell generation, with dozens of albums since 1967, on ECM since 1971. Being a guitarist, he's worked through several fusion stages, but being an ECM artist I suppose it was inevitable that he'd wind up working with classical orchestras and the Hilliard Ensemble, much like Jan Garbarek. Two long, multipart pieces, one recorded in 2003 with Bruckner Orchester Linz and the Hilliards, their choral voices catnip for people, like my wife, in love with the baroque era. The later piece, with the Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra, is darker, denser, more dramatic -- with less guitar, or jazz interest. B [advance]

Imer Santiago: Hidden Journey (2013, Jazz Music City): Trumpet player, originally from Lorain, Ohio; studied at Ohio State under Pharez Whitted, then University of New Orleans; currently based in Nashville, teaching at Tennessee State, also band director at Moses McKissack Middle School and "worship pastor" of The Church at Antioch. First album, quintet plus guests, saxophonist Rahsaan Barber co-wrote three songs. Has a serene tone, does a nice job of pacing this. Two songs are dedicated to Miles Davis and Tito Puente. Stephanie Adlington sings "The Very Thought of You." B+(***)

Susana Santos Silva/Torbjörn Zetterberg: Almost Tomorrow (2012-13 [2013], Clean Feed): Trumpet-bass duo; the trumpet player, from Porto in Portugal, studied there and in Rotterdam, has previously recorded in the group Lama. The bassist is from Sweden, has ten records according to AMG. Free jazz, has moments of clarity, also a lot that sounds like flatulence -- not sure if that's the bass or trumpet, possibly both. B

Sasha's Bloc: Melancholy (2013, self-released): Group led by bass guitarist Alex Gershman, originally from Moscow, moved to Los Angeles in 1988, has a day job as Chief of Laparoscopic Urologic Surgery at Harbor UCLA Medical Center, also serving as president of the American-Russian Medical Association. First album, sort of a cabaret vocal affair. Lots of musicians, but the only ones listed on the website are pianist Sergei Chipenko and singer Carina Cooper (also Russian, by the way). B+(*)

Deborah Shulman & the Ted Howe Trio: Get Your Kicks: The Music & Lyrics of Bobby Troup (2013, Summit): Singer, fourth album since 2004, backed by pianist Howe and his trio, on eleven songs by Troup -- "Girl Talk" is one of the better ones. B

Ricardo Silveira & Roberto Taufic: Atlânticos (2012 [2013], Adventure Music): Two Brazilian guitarists. I've run into Silveira many times and am always impressed by his understated eloquence. Don't know Taufic, but he has a couple previous albums. Inside cover has photos of each with acoustic guitars, and indeed they seem to be going for something subtle and intricate -- perhaps too much so. B+(*)

Alex Sipiagin: From Reality and Back (2013, 5 Pasion): Russian-born trumpet player, moved to US in 1991 and has 14 or so records since 1998. Bright and splashy postbop group, all stars: Seamus Blake (tenor sax), Gonzalo Rubalcaba (piano), Dave Holland (bass), Antonio Sanchez (drums). I should be more impressed, but only Rubalcaba holds any surprises. B+(*)

Natsuki Tamura: Dragon Nat (2012 [2013], Libra): Solo trumpet, makes a nice matched set with Satoko Fujii's solo Gen Himmel. But solo trumpet is much harder to pull off, as evidenced by the fact that there are maybe a dozen such albums compared to many hundreds or possibly more than a thousand solo piano sets. B+(*)

Tunk Trio: Summer Baby (2013, Tunk Music): Chris Tunkel, percussionist, has a previous album under his own name, wrote five songs, arranged (with keyboardist Curt Sydnor) two others from Charles Mingus and Jimmy Heath; also sings, a bit like Robert Wyatt without the falsetto. Third member of the trio is guitarist Anders Nilsson, whod does some nice work here but not as dramatic as elsewhere -- this is all a rather laid-back affair. B+(*)

Steve Turre: The Bones of Art (2013, High Note): Trombone player, poll winner most years, treats his colleagues with a set of songs each featuring three trombones -- usually Frank Lacy and Steve Davis, but Robin Eubanks takes the slot on two cuts, one from each. Also with Xavier Davis (piano), Peter Washington (bass), and Willie Jones III (drums), plus bongos and congas on the memorable closer. B+(***)

Vinx: Love Never Comes Too Late (2012 [2013], Dreamsicle Arts): Singer-songwriter Vincent De Jean Parrette, or as he puts it on his website, Vinx De'jon Parrette, has a handful of albums going back to a debut on Sting's Pangaea label in 1991. Describes this as "a nod to the magic of the original crooners," and cites Arthur Prysock first on his list -- soft as butter, silky smooth. B+(*)

Thisbe Vos: Under Your Spell (2012 [2013], Prime Productions): Singer, Dutch-born, UK-based, wrote 7 of 12 songs on this her debut album, the others well known standards ("I Thought About You," "Round Midnight," "He's a Tramp," "Always," "Ain't Misbehavin'"). Pianist Gary Matsumoto is music director. The pieces with his trio plus occasional horns are snappy, but he throws some to the Pasadena String Ensemble, which smothers them like a wet blanket. In English, but "Rue de la Huchette" stands out among the originals. B+(**)

Christian Wallumrřd Ensemble: Outstairs (2012 [2013], ECM): Pianist, from Norway, eleventh album since 1995 (counting those as Close Erase), seven on ECM. Group is a sextet but unconventional with two horns (trumpet and tenor sax) and two strings (hardanger fiddle/violin/viola and cello, but no bass), Per Oddvar Johansen on drums and vibes. All originals. Inspiration comes and goes. B+(*) [advance]

Nate Wooley/Peter Evans/Jim Black/Paul Lytton: Trumpets and Drums: Live in Ljubljana (2012 [2013], Clean Feed): Wooley and Evans play trumpet, Black and Lytton drums, with Wooley and Black also dabbling in electronics. The two pieces suggest that the whole thing is improv, the trumpets cutting inside rather than blasting away, so it winds up being more the drummers' record. B+(**)

Nate Wooley Sextet: (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship (2012 [2013], Clean Feed): Trumpet player, records quite a lot (AMG lists 13 albums since 2009), comes up with an impressive and rather rather interesting lineup here: Josh Sinton (bass clarinet, baritone sax), Matt Moran (vibes), Dan Peck (tuba), Eivind Opsvik (double bass), Harris Eisenstadt (drums). Sinton's bottom reeds enhance the trumpet contrast, as does the tuba while fattening the bass. When they get it all in sync it's quite a thing, but that doesn't happen often enough. B+(**)

Denny Zeitlin: Both/And: Solo Electro-Acoustic Adventures (2003-12 [2013], Sunnyside): Pianist, has an M.D. in psychiatry but also studied with George Russell and has thirty-some albums since 1964 -- mostly solo or trio, especially since 1978. From 1968-78 he experimented with synthesizers and sound-altering devices for acoustic instruments, culminating in the soundtrack for a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. This album marks a return to his electro-acoustic shtick, and while he's credited as solo (instruments not listed) this sounds nothing like a solo recording. The sound pallette is rich, orchestral even, which leads to the only problem I see: occasional dramatic use of neoclassical motifs -- nothing that triggers my gag reflex, but a relatively ordinary use for otherwise daring sound. B+(**)

Waclaw Zimpel Quartet: Stone Fog (2012 [2013], Fortune): Clarinet player, from Poland, leading a quartet with Krzysztof Dys on piano, Christian Ramond on bass, and Klaus Kugel on drums. Zimpel has a handful of previous albums, including two as Undivided (with pianist Bobby Few), plus he has been involved in a couple of Ken Vandermark projects (ones I haven't heard). He is very striking here, the album held back only by a few long atmospheric stretches, fog perhaps. B+(***)

From Rhapsody Streamnotes

Harry Allen/Rossano Sportiello/Joel Forbes: I Walk With Music: The Hoagy Carmichael Songbook (2013, GAC): Tenor sax, piano, bass, respectively, resisting the temptation to read the cover left to right (which puts the pianist first), doing thirteen standards, most well known. What you want is to just luxuriate in the warm sax, which you can, just not enough to really satisfy. B+(**)

Gilad Atzmon & the Orient House Ensemble: Songs of the Metropolis (2012 [2013], World Village): Saxophonist, also plays clarinet and accordion here, based in London, born in Israel, so disillusioned by the Jewish State that he named his group after the PLO headquarters in Al Quds. I have no idea whether his political tracts are defensible, nor any desire to enter that fray, but his music has never been tactless or guileless, so we'll stick to that. Nine songs, seven named for cosmopolitan cities of the world, the eighth "Somewhere in Italy" -- the tunes secure in their melodies and swathed in rich textures, mostly reeds and keybs, with vocal cheer for Berlin. B+(***)

David Binney: Lifted Land (2012 [2013], Criss Cross): Phenomenally talented postbop alto saxophonist, has a quartet that should push him hard -- Craig Taborn, Eivind Opsvik, Tyshawn Sorey -- but records for a label that likes to settle into the sludge at the bottom of the mainstream. It's about a draw: fun when the band gets uppity, but dull when they lay back. B+(*)

Gerald Clayton: Life Forum (2012 [2013], Concord): Pianist, plays in various family businesses (Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Band, Clayton Brothers), third album on his own. He tries a lot of things here, always sharp at piano whether he's running with a beat or crossing it, and he has good taste in horns -- Ambrose Akinmusire, Logan Richardson, Dayna Stephens. On the other hand, I don't like any of the vocal bits -- Carl Hancock Rux's spoken word, Gretchen Parlato, Sachal Vasandani, or Clayton himself, and they wreck at least four songs here. B

Alex Cline: For People in Sorrow (2011 [2013], Cryptogramophone): Drummer, has a dozen albums since 1981 but nothing that prepared me for this one. First 3:55 is spoken word, lyrics by Larry Ward, titled "A Wild Thing," mostly about nature but suggests music can be a wild thing too. The remaining 63:47 is a new version of Roscoe Mitchell's "People in Sorrow," which was originally recorded by Art Ensemble of Chicago in 1969. The ten-piece band has some heavy hitters -- Oliver Lake, Vinny Golia, Myra Melford, G.E. Stinson, Jeff Gauthier, Zeena Parkins, Mark Dresser -- plus occasional Dwight Trible vocals, and they are marvelous in spots and disturbing in others. B+(*)

Chick Corea: The Vigil (2013, Concord): Past 70 now, he's had a huge career and maintains a devoted following, but I've gotten to where I expect nothing but trash from him, not that he's always obliged. This sure doesn't look promising, with a new fusion band and a conquistador cover that brings to mind Romantic Warrior -- one of his all-time worst. Still, the young rhythm section -- Charles Altura (guitar), Hadrien Feraud (bass), Marcus Gilmore (drums) -- pounds out a sure-footed groove, and it's hard to find a fusion reeds man more tasteful than Tim Garland (whose CV includes a long stretch with Bill Buford). At least for five cuts I'm impressed: then the wife sings one, and the closer's a bit awkward. Still, neither is a major misstep. B+(**)

Andrew Cyrille: Duology (2012 [2013], Jazzwerkstatt): The duo here is Michael Marcus (clarinet) and Ted Daniel (trumpet) -- in fact, they recorded an album together in 2006, also called Duology, which I didn't much care for at the time. This adds not just any drummer but one of the greats: helps keep the two horns alert and engaged, safe from drifting into tedium or drowning in their own harmonics. B+(**)

Dawn of Midi: Dysnomia (2013, Thirsty Ear): Piano trio, met at CalArts, a melting pot for distant Morocco (pianist Amino Belyamani), India (bassist Aakaash Israni), and Pakistan (percussionist Qasim Naqvi). Second album, moved to the label that pioneered avant jazztronica, they respond with a set of repeating rhythmic tacks, all acoustic as far as I can tell, which may prove a bit thin in the long run, or may open up, but is pretty unique either way. B+(***)

Aaron Diehl: The Bespoke Man's Narrative (2013, Mack Avenue): Pianist, has a couple previous albums, this one is trio plus Warren Wolf added on vibes on 7 (of 10) pieces, adding something without shading the piano tone. Half originals, the better half standards. B+(*)

George Duke: Dream Weaver (2013, Heads Up): Long-time keyboard player, best known for his funk quotient but has a bit of jazz cred, mostly from way back. On the other hand, when his well-itentioned "Change the World" came on, I forgot I was listening to a record and wondered where the TV jingle came from. Died shortly after this moderately funky background music came out. Just fast forward the vocals. B-

Scott Fields Ensemble: Frail Lumber (2010 [2011], Not Two): Sort of a double string quartet, with electric guitars -- Fields and Elliott Sharp -- instead of bass or extra violin; never quite escapes my inate distaste for banked strings, but doesn't otherwise fit into the classical milieu, even post. B+(*)

The Fonda/Stevens Group: Trio + 2: Live in Katowice (2009 [2011], Not Two): Long-lived piano trio, founded in 1995 and co-led by bassist Joe Fonda and pianist Michael Jeffrey Stevens, with Harvey Sorgen on drums, playing in Poland where they picked up two saxophonists: Maciej Obara (alto), Ireneusz Wojtczak (tenor, bass clarinet); the saxes are out to make a lot of noise, which takes an interesting turn on the second cut ("Fast"), when someone sings and turns it into jump blues, but eventually this returns to thrash. B+(*)

Paulo Fresu Devil Quartet: Desertico (2012 [2013], Ota): Italian trumpet player, has a couple dozen albums but mostly on local labels that get no press elsewhere. This particular group is built around guitarist Bebo Ferra, who is not just a foil for the leader but the driving force and an eloquent soloist. B+(***)

Frode Gjerstad/Paal Nilssen-Love: Gromka (2008 [2010], Not Two): Norwegian saxophonist -- a rather squeaky alto plus bass and Bb clarinet -- and drummer duo: the latter has cut a lot of sax duos, especially with Ken Vandermark, Peter Brötzmann, and Joe McPhee. This is roughly in that class, although the squeakiness may turn one off. B+(**)

Wycliffe Gordon: The Intimate Ellington/Ballads and Blues (2013, Criss Cross): Trombone player, although I caught myself wondering who played that blistering trumpet solo, and that was him too -- I see that on past records he's also played tuba and didjeridu. Nine Ellington tunes, three with "blues" in the title, plus "Caravan" from Ellington's own trombonist -- can't go wrong with that. Adrian Cunningham provides the only other horn (clarinet, soprano/tenor sax), but Gordon finds yet another lead instrument in Zach Brock's violin. Dee Daniels sings "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good" and duets with Gordon on "Creole Love Call." B+(***)

Derrick Hodge: Live Today (2013, Blue Note): Bassist, first album under his own name but has lots of side credits since 1998, with jazz artists like Mulgrew Miller and Robert Glasper but also with soul and hip-hop artists like Musiq, Anthony Hamilton, and Common. I don't see anything on when this was recorded, but seems like he shuffles a lot of musicians and ideas for a live set -- none of the three horns plays more than two cuts, adds a string quartet for two cuts -- so while the funk grooves are pleasant enough and I like the coffee cups, that's canceled out by the dreamy folkie shit with vocals. B

José James: No Beginning No End (2013, Blue Note): Jazz singer-songwriter, fourth album, has a light touch and much of this seems to get by with little more than brushes on the drums. Not finding any credits online, other than that Don Was produced and singer Emily King is featured on a couple of cuts -- I'd say she steals the show but there's not much to it. B

Lean Left: Live at Café Oto (2011 [2012], Unsounds): Two guitarist from the Ex, the long-running Dutch punk group, hook up with saxophonist/clarinetist Ken Vandermark and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, as they've done a couple times before. Rough, rowdy improv, the guitarist looking for noise, which the sax repays in spades. One problem: Rhapsody only has the 30:40 opener, while Discogs indicates a 37:07 second cut, so far unheard by me, so I'll hedge a bit. B+(**)

Joëlle Léandre & Lauren Newton: Conversations: Live in Ljubljana (2010 [2012], Not Two): Bassist and vocalist, the former with dozens of albums since 1983 (AMG lists 49), the latter with at least 17 since 1983, all this stuff on avant labels. My issues, as usual, are with the vocalist: some remarkable scat, some bracing spoken word, some unlistenable diva shit, all to music that gets in your face and stays there. B

Sabir Mateen/Frode Gjerstad: Sound Gathering (2007 [2010], Not Two): Two reed players, saxes and clarinets, although tenor and alto respectively are first choice, plus you get trombone player Steve Swell listed on the front cover as "featuring"; the two leaders cohere in interesting ways, but Swell seems to bring out the fight in them, and with all three cranking this can get a bit noisy. B+(**)

Sabir Mateen/Frode Gjerstad: Sound Gathering (2007 [2010], Not Two): Two reed players, saxes and clarinets, although tenor and alto respectively are first choice, plus you get trombone player Steve Swell listed on the front cover as "featuring"; the two leaders cohere in interesting ways, but Swell seems to bring out the fight in them, and with all three cranking this can get a bit noisy. B+(**)

Rafal Mazur/Neir Neuringer: Unison Lines (2009 [2010], Not Two): Duo, acoustic bass guitar and alto sax, hooked up in Poland and have at least one more collaboration -- Mazur seems to be from Poland, Neuringer grew up in New York; the sax can get shrill, but the bass not only anchors the music, Mazur is so fast he can riff on it. B+(**)

Szilárd Mezei Szabad Quintet: Singing Elephant (2010 [2012], Not Two): Viola player, Hungarian born in Serbia, prolific juggling many projects in recent years, a relatively conventional group with tenor sax (Peter Bede), trumpet (Adam Meggyes), bass and drums. B+(**)

Ulysses Owens Jr.: Unanimous (2011 [2012], Criss Cross): Drummer, first album, more recently appeared in a piano trio with Christian Sands and Christian McBride and they're the core here, supplemented by Michael Dease (trombone) on two cuts, Jaleel Shaw (alto sax) on four, and Nicholas Payton (trumpet) on five -- last three are hornless, and a bit sharper for that. B+(*)

Nicholas Payton: #BAM: Live at Bohemian Caverns (2012 [2013], BMF): Trumpet player from New Orleans, made a splash early on as a guy with one foot in the tradition and another going places, but seems like he's been floundering recently. Hashtag stands for "Black American Music" -- not sure whether he thinks he's got that cornered or is just content to work in the historical vein. Not sure what's going on here: press release just mentions that he's working with bass and drums, playing Fender Rhodes along with his trumpet. The keyb may suggest soul jazz, but this goes harder and tougher, the key work impressive in its own right, and the trumpet so sharp you don't miss the comping. B+(***)

Portico Quartet (2012, Real World): English group, third album, commonly regarded as jazz but they keep a regular beat and all four members dabble in electronics -- although one, Jack Wylie, plays sax and another, newcomer Keir Vine, plays an ideophone called the hang, the thick keyb textures dominate, and singer Comelia Dahlgren helps out. B

Portico Quartet: Live/Remix (2012 [2013], Real World, 2CD): One live disc, where their proximity to jazz is less convincing than their dedication to the thick textures of electronica, and a remix disc which lets people who do that sort of thing add snappy beats and whirls. Live record is too much of a not-so-great thing, with a Cornelia vocal for a change of pace. Remix disc is more attractive, although I tend to discount such things. B

Revolutionary Ensemble: Counterparts (2005 [2013], Mutable Music): An important avant-jazz group during its original 1972-77 run, a trio of Leroy Jenkins (violin), Sirone (bass), and Jerome Cooper (drums). They eventually regrouped and recorded the marvelous And Now . . . (2004, Pi), but their second phase was cut short by the deaths of Jenkins (2007) and Sirone (2009). A 2008 release of a 2005 session offered little more, but it's more than nostalgia that lifts this release of the group's last live performance. A-

Kermit Ruffins: We Partyin' Traditional Style (2013, Basin Street): New Orleans trad guy, plays trumpet and sings, has a pile of records since 1992 but got a boost nationwide when he started showing up regularly on HBO's Treme -- sort of inevitable because his shtick fits theirs. And success has done him well: I'm not about to backtrack, but I doubt he's ever had a band this good or production this sharp, and it's given him renewed confidence -- pays off even if you know Louis Armstrong as well as he does. B+(***)

Michel Sajrawy: Arabop (2012, Dasam Studio): Palestinian-Israeli guitarist, based in his home town Nazareth, has a couple previous albums on a jazz label that leaned that way, but this one adds a couple vocals, trying to straddle pop and jazz, and not really convincing us of either. B

Susana Santos Silva Quintet: Devil's Dance (2011, TOAP): Portuguese trumpet player, her more recent records out on Clean Feed, so I thought I'd check out this debut. Quintet with tenor sax (Zé Pedro Coelho), guitar (André Fernandes), bass, and drums -- I initially thought the guitar was a postbop move but is probably more of an Iberian thing, especially on a piece like "En Febrero" where the horns graduate from scrawny to endearing. B+(**) [bc]

Alex Sipiagin: Overlooking Moments (2012 [2013], Criss Cross): Russian-born trumpet player, moved to US in 1991 and has 14 or so records since 1998, including a Woody Shaw tribute which helps locate him. Flugelhorn on the cover, a superb quartet with Chris Potter, Scott Colley, and Eric Harland. Smolders a lot, occasionally catching fire. B+(**)

Albert Van Veenendaal: Minimal Damage (2007-09 [2010], Evil Rabbit): Subtitled "miniatures for prepared piano": sixteen pieces, two over 5 minutes, most of the rest close to 2; solo, mostly repeating figures, but the hardware is full of surprises, generating plucked tones like a bass and plonks like a percussionist. A-

Warren Wolf: Wolfgang (2013, Mack Avenue): Vibraphone player, third album, split between two piano quartets -- his usual one with Aaron Goldberg, Kris Funn, and Billy Williams Jr., and a run with the stars: Benny Green, Christian McBride, and Lewis Nash -- plus some duo tracks with Aaron Diehl. One of the annoying things about trying to review records by streaming is the frequent lack of basic documentation, but it isn't hard to guess which tracks belong to whom. Some are real snappy, but the record goes off the rails on the last two tracks: an Ivan Lins tune with some vocal flutter, and a lullaby "Le Carnaval de Venise." B

 July, 2013 September, 2013