Zoe & Idris Rahman: Where Rivers Meet (Manushi)
Having first heard some of this music in concert at the mac in December last year, and been bowled over by it, my expectations of this album were dangerously high. Remarkably, it has exceeded them.
Try track six, Now You’re Gone, and listen to Jasim Uddin’s deeply romantic melody line soar, fall, turn and rise again over just over two and a half minutes. The sinuous line is so sensitively articulated by Idris’s clarinet, while Zoe’s piano accompaniment is as lush as a reed bed, as delicately coloured as a tropical water landscape viewed through warm mist.
It’s not all calm and contemplative. On Suddenly It’s Dusk Again Gene Calderazzo gets the drums pushing hard, Zoe digs deep for some piano thunder and Idris blows hard too to get a lovely gritty tone from his clarinet.
The guest singers and Samy Bishai on violin bring added texture and colour over 12 tracks that are all equally satisfying in different ways, and most of which explore the sublime.
It’s hard to remain objective – this is music you don’t so much assess and analyse as simply fall in love with.
Bobo Stenson Trio: Cantando (ECM)
The lazy assumption is that Bobo Stenson is the archetypal ECM pianist; of course the reality is completely different. And even to suggest that there is an archetypal ECM pianist is to miss the point.
There is an extraordinary range of influences here and the modus operandi changes too, depending upon the material. Pages is a series of free trio improvisations; Chiquilin de Bachin is by tango master Astor Piazzolla; Love, I’ve Found You is a standard favoured by Miles Davis; and following straight on from it, Liebesode is an interpretation of the Alban Berg classical piece.
It’s the mixture of jazz, classical and folk influences that marks Stenson out, and Anders Jormin on double bass and Jon Falt on drums are equally adept in all these fields.
Listen to the precise and powerful way Jormin articulates his melodic line in the opener, Olivia, written by Cuban protest singer Silvio Rodriguez; and the almost Baroque twirls in Stenson’s own M. Falt works his cymbals masterfully, scraping and tapping in a lovely rich ambience.
Sonic joys, then, and a lot of surprisingly grooving playing. Look out for the band on tour here next month. They play the Edge Arts Centre in Much Wenlock on 23 October.
David Sanborn: Here & Gone (Decca)
You don’t get a lot of surprises from alto saxophone stylist David Sanborn. What you do get is a classy and very reliable product – a Lexus with some neat stitching on the leather seats, walnut dash inlay and a particularly smooth gearbox, perhaps.
The man with the intense keening tone turns his attention to the blues, and has Eric Clapton and Joss Stone along as guests. Though the most interesting guests to theses ears are Allman Brothers guitarist Derek Trucks and veteran soul man Sam Moore (of Sam and Dave fame).
Familiar songs include St Louis Blues, Basin St Blues, Ray Charles I Believe To My Soul and Percy Mayfield’s Please Send Me Someone To Love.
All-star band, naturally, including Steve Gadd, Christian McBride, Russell Malone and Gil Goldstein.
John Zorn/George Lewis/Bill Frisell: News For Lulu (Hatology)
And from the reliable to the bloody extraordinary. Take iconoclast saxophonist and composer Zorn, left-field trombonist George Lewis and every kind of field guitarist Bill Frisell in Lucerne, Switzerland, in 1987 and what do they choose to play?
Why, a whole bunch of blues-bop ‘60s things written by the likes of Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Freddie Redd and Sonny Clark. Of course, material originally recorded in Blue Note sessions by Rudy Van Gelder sounds very difficult played by this rhythm-sectionless trio, but just as vital.
In some ways this reminded me of the stuff Henry Threadgill’s Air trio recorded on their Air Lore album when they married the avant-garde and the tradition. This disc may show a more short-haul time travelling, but it is just as exhilarating in the fresh insights it gives into jazz we thought we knew.