The beginning of the year has been relatively quiet for what concerns Jazz music and this gave us the possibility to discover a few emerging artists. Let’s see the best albums that were released in the first two weeks of 2019, based on my personal selection.
“Diario de Vuelo”, by Jose Carra
Pianist and composer Jose Carra is considered one of the most creative artists of the new generation of Spanish jazz musicians. His style is strongly influenced by classical music and jazz and all of his pieces, both when he works as a soloist and when he’s supported by his musical companions Bori Albero (bass) and Dani Domínguez (drums), result always extremely poetic and incorporate many cinematic elements. In his most recent work, called Diario de Vuelo (“Fligth Journal”), the Spanish jazzist has evidently begun a phase of experimentation which sees him inserting many effects on the piano, as well as synthesizers and sounds from tape recordings. Diario de Vuelo is definitely a good record and it fits into that line of contemporary Jazz that looks at rock and pop as sources of external inspirations (we can mention GoGo Penguin and the early works from Tigran Hamasyan as references). The album is also characterized by a nice variation of atmospheres which make the listening experience absolutely rewarding. I’ve already published a quick review of the album. Check it out.
“Reason and Heart”, by Kevin Reveyrand
I feel a particular connection for the instrumental albums made by Jazz bassists: I believe that the music they write is often the perfect meeting point between the world of rhythm and that of melody. And in these first two weeks of the year I could appreciate even two valuable records from bass players. The one I liked the most is Reason and Heart, by Kevin Reveyrand. Reveyrand is playing his bass since more than fifteen years, mostly as sideman. He has accompanied artists of world music such as Souad Massi, Black Eyes, and Safy Boutella, but also many musicians such as Marc Berthoumieux, Vincent Peirani, Sylvain Luc, Patricia Kaas, Dominique Fillon and Manu Katché. Almost ten years ago he started working also on personal projects and he eventually published three albums: Tipari released in 2008, World songs released in 2013, and his new album Reason and Heart, released on January 12, 2019. The original songs of his latest album are characterized by a valuable richness of melodies and, as expected, a wide set of rhythms and bass lines that are really interesting to hear. The album blends in an excellent way the artist’s experiences in world music and jazz, and it’s also one of those works made to listen and listen again in order to appreciate those subtlety and details that may escape at first.
“Sunflower Sutra”, by Sean Hicke
American bassist and composer Sean Hicke started to get some recognition within the Ryan Dart Trio and eventally decided to start his solo career. On the early days of 2019 Hicke published his debut solo album, named Sunflower Sutra. The eight songs of the album presents a number of nice improvisations over simple folk-like melodies, and it’s quite impressive to see how a young player has already got a wide repertoire of playing techniques and also a remarkable musical sensibility. In this sense,
Sunflower Sutra seems a very promising debut record. Guests on the album include Louis Valenzuela (guitar), Matt DiBiase (vibraphone), Julien Cantelm (drums), and Camellia Aftahi, a classical bassist and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Diversity Fellow.
Melon Shades (S/T)
As a final mention, I came across a nice and funny record by a formation named Melon Shades, which consists basically of two friends from Maine, Shawn Russell and Henry Raker, who both used play in a local band called The Astral Pines and decided, at some point, to record an album as a duo. Saxaphone (or clarinet) and guitar, simple folk tunes and plenty of improvisations, this is a record that, in its essentiality, brings us closer to the original spirit of Jazz. Listening to the entire record in single run can be a bit monotonous, but the individual tracks are all interesting and enjoyable. The performance of the guitar is particulary intriguing.