World of Jazz 143


  1. The Mandala Octet – Reconciliation – The Last Elephant
  2. Kirk Knuffke – Bright Light – Arms & Hands
  3. Conrad Herwig – Lullaby of the Leaves – Land of Shadow
  4. Papasoff Trio – Point of View – Painless
  5. Vasilis Xenopoulos – Loud City – Loud City
  6. Karin Krog – John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ – Don’t Just Sing | An Anthology: 1963-1999
  7. Peter Herborn – Omega – Large One
  8. Hypercolor – Ernesto, Do You Have a Cotton Box? – Hypercolor
  9. Raymond Boni Octet – Gâteau de mes rêveries – Le goût du jour
  10. Steve Lehman Quintet – Analog Moment – On Meaning


  1.  The Mandala Octet dedicates its third album, to Siri, a Thailand-born elephant housed at a zoo in Syracuse, New York. The record includes a 28-minute concerto-like piece, as well as four other charts written by bassist and leader John Leaman. Again Leaman borrows heavily from the personnel of the Either/Orchestra, using saxophonists Matt Langley, Charlie Kohlhase, and Doug Yates; trumpeter Tom Duprey; trombonist Curtis Hasselbring; pianist John Medeski; and drummer Gene Calderazzo.
  2. Kirk Knuffke: cornet; Bill Goodwin: drums; Mark Helias: bass; Brian Drye: trombone; Daniel Carter: alto saxophone; Jeff Lederer: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone.
  3. Conrad Herwig is a musician on a mission to bring trombone into the front rank of jazz horns. As on most of his sessions, this date is devoted to his own originals,  Herwig opens with a high-powered take on the standard “Lullaby of Leaves,” which sets the tone and introduces his sidemen. Pianist David Kikoski is especially impressive here, stretching the tune’s harmonic structure to its limits. Trumpeter Tim Hagans complements the leader’s ethos, evoking such progressive boppers as Booker Little and Ted Curson. Saxophonist Ben Schachter is a new voice. An educator from Philadelphia he plays with a tone like a fine carving knife — buffed and burnished and sharpened to a fine edge. Drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts slashes across the beat, dealing out rhythmic wisecracks at every turn. Bassist James Genus, like his rhythm section mates a regular participant in Herwig-led sessions, plays the straight man, helping guide the ensemble with an insistent throb on the bottom.
  4. 1997 release, recorded in Canada with Bass – George Mitchell, Bass Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Charles Papasoff and Drums, Percussion – Martin Auguste
  5. 2011 debut album from Greek saxophonist Vasilis Xenopoulos. Berkley educated, Vasilis is fast becoming the most in-demand saxophonist working in the UK. An album of original material from an exciting young band- featuring Vasilis Xenopoulos (saxophones), Nigel Price (guitar), Sam Gambarini (Hammond Organ) and Chris Nickolls (drums).
  6. The work of Karin Krog may be unfamiliar to much of the world, but in her native Norway and Scandinavia at large, she’s practically a household name. This says much about the local enthusiasm for post-bop jazz but also about the tyranny of distribution: until 1994, Krog’s albums weren’t available in the USA or UK, meaning three decades of recordings were waiting to be discovered. In theory, until now, she hasn’t had any regularly distributed albums in the US or the UK–this is certainly the first one even marketed/promoted in here and in England.
  7. Peter Herborn’s arrangements on Large One for his 17-piece big band are quite advanced and sometimes a little reminiscent (though not derivative) of both Bill Holman and Maria Schneider. His three originals and two by Gary Thomas are not particularly memorable melody-wise but contain stirring ensembles and unpredictable solos. In addition the band performs a song apiece by McCoy Tyner, Jackie McLean, and Thelonious Monk (“Misterioso”). The main soloists are tenor saxophonist Thomas, Greg Osby (on alto and soprano), trombonist Robin Eubanks, trumpeter Dave Ballou, pianist Uri Caine, and guitarist Marvin Sewell, all of whom sound challenged by the material. This is a set that grows in interest with each listen.
  8. Their debut CD on Tzadik (released 01/15), this strangely marvelous rock-spastic-jazz band features composition by all three members. NYC-based Hypercolor’s ridiculous artsong craftsmanship alternately revels in complexity or brazen simplicity, favoring entropy and near-disaster over order or tidiness. Like experimental grafting surgery gone horribly awry, Hypercolor bears limbs borrowed from 80s NYC No-Wave, and early jazz/rock, and orchestral rock textures.
  9. Le Goût du Jour, which can be loosely translated as “flavor of the month,” is arguably the most accessible and atypical project led by Raymond Boni. Nevertheless, it should not be perceived as an effort to go mainstream even though he explores various popular music styles: funk, fusion, swing, waltz, etc. The session finds him flanked by longtime associate André Jaume and some newcomers not always attuned to Boni’s free improvisation concepts. This situation forces him to compromise, and the result is an uneven collection of the most structured compositions the guitarist ever penned. The ballad “Gâteau de Mes Rêveries” features fine contributions by the guitarist and trombonist Jacques Veillé.
  10. Throughout On Meaning, Lehman’s cutting-edge compositional voice is brought to life by his remarkable quintet, featuring performer / improvisers who represent the absolute state-of-the-art on their respective instruments: Drew Gress on bass, Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Tyshawn Sorey on drums, and Chris Dingman on vibraphone. Lehman’s own performance, on alto saxophone, bristles with the unique combination of explosiveness and precision that has been his trademark since he burst onto New York’s creative music scene in 2004. Much like the abstract and darkly compelling compositions of On Meaning, Lehman’s work as a saxophonist – combining a highly advanced harmonic language, microtonal playing, extended techniques, and a deeply rooted rhythmic sense — positions him, at 28, as one of the most significant voices to emerge in creative music in recent memory.

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