This begins a survey of a few of the albums that have arrived lately and in a few cases, not so lately. There are still observers who claim—against massive evidence to the contrary—that jazz is a dying genre, but even if a reviewer went without sleep and lived to be 135, he would have no chance of hearing more than a sampling of the vast outpouring of jazz recordings. It continues unabated.
These days, many fewer albums come from the major labels that once dominated the jazz record business, or from their successors. However, as someone once said (I think it was I), the digital revolution makes it possible, for every 18-year-old tenor player to be a record company and pass out CDs as if they were business cards. The albums reviewed below do not reflect that trend.
Roberto Magris, Need To Bring Out Love (JMood)
With young Kansas Citians Dominique Sanders (bass) and Brian Steever (drums) in his trio, the prolific Italian pianist follows up his 2015 Emigmatix. Magris decorates his improvisations with keyboard runs and swirls that enhance excitement without putting a hitch in his solid bebop approach. The compositions are primarily by Magris. Highlights include “Out There Somewhere” and “What Love,” which is nearly ten minutes of exhilarating soloing and interaction on famous Cole Porter harmonic changes. The trio invests the late Don Pullen’s “Joycie Girl” with insistent bounce. Magris plays beautifully on Billy Eckstine’s “I Want To Talk About You,” but a guest female vocalist has problems with the song’s low notes. A different vocalist sings two other songs without range difficulties but is saddled with mundane lyrics. Perhaps as a service to listeners who don’t get the message from the music, two narrators in a final “Audio Notebook” promote the goal of the album’s title.
Ian Carey, Interview Music: A Suite For Quintet + 1 (Kabocha Records)
In the articulate liner notes for his fifth album, San Francisco trumpeter Carey explains that he writes music not to label it “about something” in order to snag foundation grants, but to employ what he’s learned and make it work for him and his players. Interview Music does that. Even better, it works for the listener. Carey’s influences reflect not only his extensive academic study but also include a long list of composers from before Bach to Stravinsky, Ellington, Mingus, Hindemith, Gil Evans, Clare Fischer and Maria Schneider. His sextet plays the five-part suite with drive, wit, swing and a palpable unity of purpose. It is complex chamber music with solo space for Carey, long an impressive trumpeter; bass clarinetist Sheldon Brown; alto saxophonist Kasey Knudsen; pianist Adam Shulman; bassist Fred Randolph; and drummer Jon Arkin. They are among the cream of the Bay Area’s jazz community. In a victory for his creative policy, the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music supported Interview Music with a grant despite its not being “about something,” which, of course, it is. It’s about music.
Come back soon. There will be more from the Recent Listening file.