Jazz CD roundup
There’s no guarantee that jazzers performing live in New York City in the next couple of weeks are going to evoke their recent records. So much the better. Live, expect surprises. On their albums, here’s what some artists with gigs coming right up are doing:
Nate Radley, a punctilious guitarist, is at Barbes in Brooklyn July 18 with four-fifths of the quintet from The Big Eyes (Fresh Sound New Talent 395). It comprises nine of his original songs, measured in tone and tempo, with amorphous melodies that his capable band (Loren Stillman, alto sax; Pete Rende, Fender Rhodes piano, who won’t be at the performance; Matt Pavolka, bass; Ted Poor, drums) flesh out in various combinations. Though too ruminative by half for my taste, Radley and company make the most of dynamics and interplay to build tension and arrive at release. Barbes is tiny; it will get hot.
Tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen brings The Third Incarnation, a septet plus four guest sitters-in, to S.O.B.’s July 19, and that group will obviously sound bigger, if not necessarily better, than The Matador and the Bull (Savant), his new trio album. Commanding in the honorable though prescribed post-Coltrane style, Allen is offset by bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston as he has been on three other records since 2008. Their balance is impeccable, though they expand on Allen’s launching motifs and stream-of-consciousness improvs by each operating in their own fields, connected mostly by mood. On the sixth track of 12, “Paseillo,” the trio suddenly syncs in an upbeat, swinging abstraction over “Sweet Georgia Brown” chords—up till then, they’ve been somber if not sorrowful, and that major mode does not reappear. The format has its limitations and on CD grows repetitious, though live it’s probably compelling.
Rez Abbasi, a guitarist/composer appearing in quartet at Cornelia Street Café on July 20, was born in Karachi, Pakistan, but grew up in California. On ENJA Records’ Suno Suno (“listen listen” in Urdu) he convenes an ensemble called Invocation with alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, who’s of South Asian ancestry but grew up in Colorado; pianist Vijay Iyer, who’s of South Asian ancestry but grew up in Buffalo (and whose own trio is at the MOMA sculpture garden on July 29); bassist Johannes Weidenmueller (from Germany, steeped in Spanish and New Orleans idioms); and drummer Dan Weiss (born in the USA, listened to rock, played metal, attended Berklee, studies tabla with Samir Chatterjee). They make music reflecting Abbasi’s interest in Qawwali religious repertoire of the Indian subcontinent.
Rather than appropriating that tradition’s melodic content or imitating its repetitive phraseology, Abbasi constructs multilayered compositions with lots of detailed moving parts, inspired, so he writes in liner notes, by “feeling.” Though the instrumental work is excellent, the program requires repeated listening to absorb and won’t satisfy anyone looking for a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan tribute or a recognizable hybrid. The cross-culturalization results in something essentially without precedent, though its creators obviously know a lot about a lot of music. This is new. So let’s call it jazz.