World of Jazz 136


  1. David Chesky – Check Point Charlie – Jazz In The New Harmonic : Primal Scream (2015)
  2. Chris Potter Underground Orchestra – Lament – Imaginary Cities (2015)
  3. Gary Peacock Trio – Gaia – Now This (2015)
  4. Giovanni Tommaso/Enrico Rava – Profumo Di Donna (Scent of a Woman) – La Dolce Vita (2005)
  5. Gebhard Ullmann Basement Research – Trinidad Walk – Hat and Shoes (2015)
  6. Sonny Simmons/Michael Marcus – Mingus Mangus – The Cosmosamatics (2001)
  7. Charlie Haden & Gonzalo Rubalcaba – When Will The Blues Leave – Tokyo Adagio (2015)
  8. Dave Douglas – Molten Sunset – High Risk (2015)


  1. Pianist David Chesky is hardly unique in his embrace of both classical music and jazz, nor is his stated mission—to use “harmonic language … from the Messiaen, Webern, and Ives school” to challenge his bandsmen with “chords that they don’t usually hear in jazz”—unheard-of. (Mingus, to cite just one example, covered similar territory decades ago.) Nonetheless, the music Chesky and his compatriots (reedist Javon Jackson, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Billy Drummond) offer up bristles with inspiration.
  2. Chris Potter: tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet; Adam Rogers: guitars, Craig Taborn: piano; Steve Nelson: vibraphone, marimba; Fima Ephron: bass guitar; Scott Colley: double bass; Nate Smith: drums; Mark Feldman: violin; Joyce Hammann: violin; Lois Martin: viola; Dave Eggar: cello – Imaginary Cities is the recording premiere of saxophonist Chris Potter’s new Underground Orchestra. At the core of this larger ensemble is the personnel of his long-established Underground quartet – with Adam Rogers, Craig Taborn and Nate Smith – now joined by two bassists, a string quartet, and Potter’s old comrade from Dave Holland Quintet days, vibes and marimba man Steve Nelson. The title composition is a suite, panoramic in its reach, with movements subtitled “Compassion”, “Dualities”, “Disintegration” and “Rebuilding”. The scope of the work, and its contrasting moods and thematic development, inspire some of Potter’s finest playing. His saxes fly high above his idealized cityscapes or launch into dialogues or group improvising with its gifted inhabitants. Four further pieces – “Lament”, “Firefly”, “Sky” and “Shadow Self” – extend the feeling of the suite, successfully combining both tightly written material and very open areas involving all members of the orchestra. References are multi-idiomatic and multicultural, and Potter, who counts Charlie Parker with Strings amongst his formative enthusiasms, had Arabic and Indian string sections in mind, as well as contemporary composition, when shaping this material. Imaginary Cities was recorded in December 2013 in New York’s Avatar Studio and produced by Manfred Eicher. Release of the album is followed by US performances with the Underground Orchestra in New York and San Francisco.
  3. Peacock is partnered by thoughtful pianist Marc Copland on this celebratory 80th birthday set, with Joey Baron on drums. They don’t play like a regular jazz-piano trio, often preferring tentative exchanges of clipped motifs and enigmatic queries to busy collective stretches or straight swing, and with considerable space for meditative individual statements.
  4. Aficionados of European films will especially enjoy these treatments of movie themes, featuring a quartet jointly led by bassist Giovanni Tommaso and trumpeter/flügelhornist Enrico Rava, with pianist Stefano Bollani and drummer Roberto Gatto.
  5. Saxophonist Gebhard Ullmann might be the German equivalent of Chicago’s Ken Vandermark. Both players are influential composers and both maintain multiple creative ensembles in Europe and the United States. Like Vandermark, Ullmann’s catalog is vast. Hat And Shoes is his 50th release as a leader or co- leader, and this band Basement Research have put out seven titles. Gebhard Ullmann: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Steve Swell: trombone; Julian Argüelles: baritone saxophone; Pascal Niggenkemper: double bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums.
  6. After Michael Marcus played on most of Sonny Simmons’ albums from the 1990s, the two of them decided to put together the Cosmosamatics. The quartet’s eponymous debut album was recorded in the studio on February 20, 2001, and released in October the same year. The direction is resolutely fire music. The two saxophonists are backed by the freeform rhythm section of William Parker and Jay Rosen.
  7. This recording of a 2005 club date captures the bassist duetting with one of his protégés, the Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. They first met in 1986, and the pianist’s rhythmic precision fits perfectly with Haden’s solid, but somewhat dreamy sense of time.
  8. Two-time Grammy nominated Dave Douglas continues his relentless musical exploration with a new record probing the possibilities of improvised jazz and electronic music. Featuring an exciting new band of noted players: Jonathan Maron (Groove Collective), on electric and acoustic bass; Mark Guiliana (Beat Music, Heernt) on electric and acoustic drums; and DJ, producer and beatmaker Shigeto (Ghostly International) on electronics.

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