Edward Smaldone – Once and Again
Various Artists
New Focus Recordings FCR 258 (newfocusrecordings.com)

Knehans; Smaldone – Double Portrait
All of the Above; HU Jianbing; Wiliam R. Langley
Ablaze Records ar-00053 (ablazerecords.net)

07a Edward SmaldoneThe music of composer Edward Smaldone (b.1956) is firmly rooted in the modernist tradition of what for decades in the 20th century formed the mainstream of American academic “classical” music. It was a lineage severely disrupted, though not wholly extinguished, by numerous new approaches to concert musical experiment including indeterminacy, acousmatic and electronic sound, transethnicism, minimalism and free improvisation, among many others. Smaldone’s own output has nevertheless steadfastly retained close ties with the compositional modernism of his teachers, George Perle and Ralph Shapey, though this mid-century American aesthetic was also modified by admixtures of jazz. With the release of two new albums, we can listen in to the music Smaldone has been composing over several decades. 

Edward Smaldone: Once and Again presents five well-crafted compositions written between 1986 and 2014: a collection of chamber music, two song cycles and a string orchestra work. They collectively showcase Smaldone’s diverse sources of inspiration ranging from the Renaissance/Baroque composer Claudio Monteverdi and American modernist Perle, to jazz giants Ellington and Monk. The liner notes highlight the implications of these influences, contrasting the “’classical’ values of motivic and formal cohesion and development,” with “’modernist’ values of capturing an improvisatory sensibility, asymmetry, and irregularity.” 

The two multi-movement song cycles on the album provide keys to Smaldone’s work. The dramatic Cantare di Amore (2009) – with links to Monteverdi – provides soprano Tony Arnold plenty of room for declamatory drama, supported by sprightly supporting harp and flute writing. Letters from Home (2000/2007/2014), sung by soprano Susan Narucki, uses a five-part narrative of period letters providing a snapshot of mid-century American women’s lives, effectively framed by flute, clarinet and piano. Duke/Monk (2011) for clarinet and piano on the other hand is a contrasting two-part tribute to Ellington and Monk, the American jazz masters’ voices eloquently filtered through Smaldone’s idiosyncratic aesthetic.

Listen to 'Edward Smaldone: Once and Again' Now in the Listening Room

07b Knehans SmaldoneSmaldone shares space with his composer colleague Douglas Knehans on the 2-CD album Knehans Smaldone: Double Portrait. He is well represented by four chamber music works performed by the virtuoso young ensemble All of the Above. Smaldone’s Suite (1992, 2001) played by violinist Scott Jackson and pianist Matthew Umphreys is a standout. The astringent score makes considerable technical and emotional demands of the violin soloist right from its opening cadenza to Stephane’s Dance, its Grappelli-like, jazz-imbued third movement.  

Three Scenes from The Heartland (1994) for solo piano is a sensitive work for the instrument drawing particularly on its jazz legacy. Receiving a definitive performance by Umphreys, Scenes is marked by a wide range of responses to the vast American landscape, both geographic and human, the Heartland of the title. Smaldone writes about “unbridled optimism, freedom of spirit, ingenuity, grit and determination” that lies within the American spirit, “yearning for the new, the unknown,” in the final movement reflecting on “the exultation of reflection in its quiet, motionless close.” 

Whether you share his personal view of the American journey, the call for renewal embedded in this emotional, and perhaps nostalgic, music may well resonate with your own search for meaning and connection during this challenging time.

08 Five ThoughtsFive Thoughts on Everything
Jobina Tinnemans
Bright Shiny Things BSTC-9134 (brightshiny.ninja/jobina)

Her self-confessed “analog obsession” has enabled the Dutch-born, Wales-based composer and performer Jobina Tinnemans to produce some of the most extraordinarily eloquent music you may have heard in a long time. Five Thoughts on Everything is a unique perspective on the ecosystem of planet Earth in which humanity plays a pivotal role. The title suggests that the raison d’être for our existence is quite simple. Tinnemans’ performance on Five Thoughts on Everything brings that existential simplicity to life by weaving the piano into a series of other field recordings so exquisitely made that the mechanical aspects of the recording melt seamlessly into a whole world of ephemeral sound. 

The extraterrestrial white noise of Midtone in G forms a kind of warp into which the chorale of Djúpalónsdóttir & Hellnarson is woven (by the South Iceland Chamber Choir). An interminable dance of marine life burbles in the intertwining of piano and jabbering grey seals from Pwll Deri, Wales in The Shape of Things Aquatic. Meanwhile the rhythmic arrival of roosting starlings is subsumed by deep aquatic life including the call of whales – all this in Microbioism. The sound palette of Varèsotto, Hinterland of Varèse, Tinnemans’ 2018 take on Edgard Varèse’s installation at the 1958 Brussels World Fair, returns us to a macro-view of the ecosystem that is planet Earth. It’s a disc to die for, in which Tinnemans’ universe – and ours – is described with ethereal beauty from end to end.

09 morris jeff close reedingJeff Morris – Close Reeding, A digital view from the inside out
Various Artists
Ravello Records RR8041 (ravellorecords.com/catalog/rr8041)

The third track on this disc by sound artist Jeff Morris is Slurp, an unsettling collection of the very oral sounds made by reed players with the apparatus of their trade: mouthpiece, reed, tongue, lips, actuated by saliva and breath. As an exploration it is horrifying yet familiar. I stood the test of it by writing these thoughts while hearing it, but it was still a challenge. 

Compared to some of the other tracks, Slurp is at least comfortingly acoustic; others, like the title track, are laboratory products, where the hint of a recreated physical space is buried under synthetic effects occurring in the void of Cyberia. I visualize a blank soundstage, black or neutral white, no corners, no floor walls or ceiling. Within this space Morris explores the quasi-human voices of reed instruments, pairing them with, or pitting against, sounds from his own digital sound production mechanisms. 

Melody and harmony sit much of this disc out, back in the “real” world. Instead: dialogues of nattering, whining, dyspeptic, or louche voices, disembodied and reminiscent of the acoustic instruments where they were born. So, rhythm, timbre, certainly pitch, but pitch that is nearly arbitrary, the servant of an attempt to express through something very like speech, something very like meaning. In Voclarise, a brief melodic utterance by the bass clarinet turns into a gorgeous chorale that is soon usurped by a croaking (contra?) bass clarinet. What’s in a Whisper is a four-movement (Hush, Howl, Growl, Grit) trio for drum kit, alto sax and synthesizer. Here is almost conventional chamber music, at least compared with the other more singular and solitary expressions.

The lineup of contributors is impressive, their commitment to this extravagance is total. Not for everybody, but verifiably music.

10 Speak PercussionThomas Meadowcroft – Percussion Works
Speak Percussion
Mode Records mode 319 (speakpercussion.com)

The Australian composer, Thomas Meadowcroft (b.1972), delivers a CD featuring four of his works written for percussion and electronics performed by his compatriots, the renowned Speak Percussion ensemble. In the first piece, titled The Great Knot, piercing electronic drones and chirpings create a delightfully barren expanse. This piece is a meditation in an open field with rusty swings and passing melodies in the wind. Cradles is a psychedelic lullaby warping lounge music into a hallucinogenic dreamscape. In Plain Moving Landfill, the listener travels through industrial ambiences and synthetic punctures. For a piece that is inspired by the layers of rubbish found in a landfill, this piece is decidedly calm – albeit in a Tim Hecker sense of the word. Lastly, Home Organs takes its inspiration from the attempt at memory retrieval at the onset of Alzheimer’s illness. Our memories can create a sense of “home” or belonging for the individual. This piece certainly delivers a sense of frustration that undoubtedly accompanies a loss of this sense of home through the failure of one’s own organs. 

Meadowcroft has a particular knack for quirky electronic tinkering and applies these sonorities to obfuscate the difference between acoustic and electronic sources for the listener. When thinking about a CD of contemporary percussion music, the mind immediately expects to hear bombast and raucousness. This release is an extremely successful shift from the norm in its novel use of electronic auras that blend with acoustic instruments – a must listen for those seeking something unfamiliar in the world of percussion music.

Listen to 'Thomas Meadowcroft: Percussion Works' Now in the Listening Room

01 Diana KrallThis Dream of You
Diana Krall
Verve B0032519 (dianakrall.com)

Four years ago, Diana Krall was working in the studio with her longtime, legendary producer Tommy LiPuma. LiPuma was ill and Krall knew it, so the pair recorded over 30 tracks during those sessions. The initial result was Turn Up the Quiet, released in 2017 shortly after LiPuma died. That album was a return to Krall’s classic, stripped-down jazz sound and This Dream of You is a continuation of that exploration. An homage to the Great American Songbook, and her friend and mentor, Krall delivers the exquisite sound and technique we’ve come to expect from her, both on piano and vocals.

Working with three different small ensembles, the majority of the songs are with her bandmates, John Clayton (bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums) and Anthony Wilson (guitar). The opening track with that crew, But Beautiful, sets the minimalist tone as the album moves from breathy ballads to gently swinging mid-tempo standards. It diverges into somewhat trad/rootsy territory on three tracks featuring the ensemble of Marc Ribot (guitar), Tony Garnier (bass) Karriem Riggins (drums) and Stuart Duncan (fiddle), including the title track, a country-tinged Bob Dylan tune. In-demand players, Christian McBride (bass) and Russell Malone (guitar), appear on two tracks, including a gorgeous, slower-than-slow rendition of Autumn in New York.

The top-notch production has Krall’s vocals front and centre in the mix so it sounds as if she’s right in the room with you, giving you a big old aural hug. It’s just what the doctor ordered in these pandemic times.

02 Whisky Kisses CoverWhisky Kisses
Alex Bird & the Jazz Mavericks
Independent (alexbird.net)

It’s not often that an individual can hit it big in both the acting and music worlds, but locally based vocalist Alex Bird clearly demonstrates his stellar talents and ability to transition smoothly into the realm of jazz with the release of his debut album. Bird will captivate any listener with his sultry and mellow voice that has just that touch of smokiness which both manages to serve as a hark back to the era of golden jazz crooners like Sinatra and Bennett but also brings us into the present with a freshness that breathes new life into the traditional aspects of the genre. The vocalist has had a hand in composing each piece and the disc features the fabulous Jazz Mavericks, a group of emerging musicians, namely Ewen Farncombe on keys, Eric West on drums and Scott Hunter on bass. 

The record opens up with the edgy Fire Not Warmth, a toe-tapping piece that sets the mood for the time-travelling journey to the period of greats that the listener is embarking on. The influence of jazz bigwigs such as Bennett, Baker and Fitzgerald on the golden-throated vocalist is apparent; Bird adds a distinct charm to his stylings while bringing that timeless classiness along into his new take on the past. Title track Whisky Kisses is a beautiful ballad that closes the album on a melancholic yet positive note, a sign that there’s much more to come from this astounding new talent.

Listen to 'Whisky Kisses' Now in the Listening Room

03 Jerry CookWalk in the Park
Jerry Cook Quartet +
Cellar Music CM091919 (cellarlive.com/collections)

Vancouver is known for parks – this disc could aptly accompany a real or imagined walk in the park, romantic possibilities included! Quartet leader/tenor saxophonist Jerry Cook hopes to “help relax, reflect, and recharge.” In a melodic, restrained style, there is nevertheless plenty of expressive, imaginative playing in both standards and Cook’s original numbers. Other quartet players include Chris Gestrin, piano, John Lee, bass, and Jesse Cahill, drums; with added musician Dave Sikula, guitar, they coalesce in a blues-inflected jazz sound, achieving the recording’s purposes well. Cook’s well-controlled slightly edgy tone distinguishes his title track, while pianist Gestrin is confident in accentuation and chord substitution. In Soul Eyes I especially enjoyed Cook’s lyrical, tastefully-ornamented melodic delivery. Soul is more obvious in Scarlett Ribbons, which builds impressively from opening gospel harmonies to greater complexity while maintaining style and mood.

Contrasting is Cook’s Blues, a medium-tempo swing number with agile sax, guitar and bass solos where Sikula’s style is smooth and assured. As for the rhythm section, there is a playful touch in Hello My Lovely where bass and drums are left all alone, just to trade fours for a while. Bassist Lee nails a hard-driving figure in Summertime, suggesting the oppression underlying this well-known number. And overt seriousness is established in Nature’s Lament’s solemn, modal opening, followed by the insistent, urgent Latin drum beat supporting a plea for environmental change.

04 Melito LositoYou’re It!
Mike Melito/Dino Losito Quartet
Cellar Music CM041620 (cellarlive.com/collections)

This album gives off the perfect jazz vibe, from its packaging to the swinging music inside. The title, You’re It!, and the cover artwork, have an excellent retro feel and deserve to be issued on vinyl because they are so reminiscent of an earlier era. The group is named after the drummer (Mike Melito) and pianist (Dino Losito) but it is really a superb partnership amongst all four players. In addition to having written the title track, Larry McKenna possesses a marvellous tenor sax tone that is so smooth and elegant you almost miss his inventive and flowing improvisations. Losito’s piano tone is warm, yet articulate, and he’s one of those players whose thought processes you can almost follow as they develop a solo. A great example is For Heaven’s Sake where he starts out sparse and playful and then works into some excellent bop lines. The pair of Neal Miner (bass) and Melito are always comfortably in sync, as evidenced by an up-tempo tune like What A Difference A Day Makes, where the walking bass and solid swing drums propel the music forward with just the odd tasteful flourish to contribute to the action. On this tune Melito gives us a melodic drum solo that gradually complicates the rhythm until we are not sure what happened to the downbeat, but then McKenna effortlessly jumps in with the melody and it’s off to the end. This is another superb release from the Canadian Cellar Live label which has been producing exciting recordings since 2001.

05 Fawn FritzenHow to Say Sorry and Other Lessons
Fawn Fritzen; David Restivo
Chronograph Records CR-081 (chronographrecords.com/releases)

Canada bristles with artistry from coast to coast to coast. Still, you cannot but be awed by this one from Yukon’s own. The inimitable Fawn Fritzen is a wonderfully seductive vocalist and a superb lyricist who writes not with a pencil but rather with the raw nerve endings of her very fingers.

We experience her emotional musicality throughout the repertoire on How to Say Sorry and Other Lessons. This is wonderful songwriting, and singing, of course. Fritzen tells us: “My life was in chaos” but that she found “the right tools… Compassion, Letting Go, Grief, Healing.” She wears her heart on her proverbial sleeve through this recording. While we are struck by her candidness, we must also admire the fact that Fritzen navigates her emotions without an ounce of gratuitous sentimentality – through music that balances deep song and unfettered swing. As a result, this emotional musical journey is also buoyed throughout by a sense of recovery.

I would be remiss not to recognize her co-producer and pianist, David Restivo, whose contributions cannot be overstated. This astute partnership is particularly evident on Kintsugi, a song with diaphanous, yet delicate, Japanese inflections. Bassists Doug Stephenson and John Lee; drummers Tony Ferraro and Kelby MacNayr are superb throughout. Meanwhile, when called upon to lend a helping hand to Fritzen, vocalists Melody Daichun and Laura Landsberg add superb colour and texture to Show Me Your Heart and Dragonfly to close out the recording.

Listen to 'How to Say Sorry and Other Lessons' Now in the Listening Room

06 Matty StecksLong Time Ago Rumble
Matty Stecks & Musical Tramps
Matty Stecks Music RAC-530/digital available (mattystecks.com)

One of the main difficulties artists face is that of fully realizing their ideas. In the case of Matthew Steckler however, the Manitoban seems blessed with both the burden of an abnormally creative mind and the gift of being able to make the most of his artistic impulses. His latest experiment began life as a debut concert with a virtuosic band he meticulously assembled and later blossomed into what he describes as a conceptual research project in the stylistic marriage of jazz, pop, film score and musique concrète. Taking after his hero Charlie Chaplin, Steckler (aka Matty Stecks) goes the auteur route with his involvement in this album. He is one of two producers, writes all the material, does all the arrangements, contributes field recordings, acts as bandleader and expertly plays several instruments. Steckler particularly shines on saxophones, his Dolphy-esque phrasing as unpredictable as the music. 

This may be the most eclectic jazz release you hear this year. Each track could be labelled as a different genre, and one could make comparisons to artists ranging from Chaka Khan to Frank Zappa. The track list alternates between traditional structure and collective improvisations structured around field recordings provided by various band members. While at first glance this album may not appear to work as a uniform statement, what connects these pieces is the sense of adventure Steckler maintains throughout the runtime. Highly recommended.

Listen to 'Long Time Ago Rumble' Now in the Listening Room

07 Frothing MorseFrothing Morse
Audrey Chen; Phil Minton
Tour de Bras TDB904 (tourdebras.bandcamp.com/album/frothing-morse)

Phil Minton, just turning 80, may be the world’s most creative vocalist. Elsewhere his repertoire can include The Cutty Wren, a Peasants’ Revolt song about eating policemen, and Lieber & Stoller’s Jailhouse Rock lyrics applied to a serial melody (both to be heard on the recent Ways for an Orchestra with Veryan Weston and a Bologna chamber orchestra [i disci di angelica]). If you want, however, to hear a human approximation of a tone arm bouncing across the surface of a vinyl LP of a cat screeching, Minton, the free improviser, is also your man; his duet partner, Audrey Chen, similarly in possession of titanium vocal apparatus, might very well be your woman, and Frothing Morse is the place to hear it. The two have been singing together for a decade, previously releasing both duet and quintet CDs (on Sub Rosa) and there’s a recent COVID-lockdown performance on YouTube.  

Recorded at an Italian festival in 2015, the single 37-minute Frothing Morse covers extraordinary ground, from madness to code, the two singers following or diverging from one another’s inspirations, whether they’re Chen’s whistling highs, abrasive choking and ringing throat-singing tones or Minton’s machine and animal impressions, yodelling, babbling and multiphonics. Their work is usually surprising, often visceral, strangely moving, but most significantly, liberating, a crash course in the sounds that can come out of humans’ mouths with barely a trace of speech, a panoply of emotion in a moment.  

08 PedernalPedernal
Susan Alcorn Quintet
Relative Pitch RPR1111 (relativepitchrecords.com)

Over the past 20 years, Susan Alcorn has emerged as one of the most creative figures in jazz and improvised music, brilliantly exploring the sonic resources of the pedal steel guitar, especially the pitch bending and shifting possibilities little explored in its country and western home. In Alcorn’s hands, the instrument is a self-contained orchestra, able to suggest the elegance of Astor Piazzolla, the wandering mysteries of Harry Partch, the cosmic majesty of Olivier Messiaen or the raw energy of Ornette Coleman. 

Here Alcorn introduces her compositions for a mostly string quintet with violinist Mark Feldman, bassist Michael Formanek, guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Ryan Sawyer. Named for the Pedernal Mesa in New Mexico, the CD’s compositions abound in geographical references. Along with the personnel and general musical quality, it suggests another recording: Nate Wooley’s 2019 masterpiece, Columbia Icefield, on which the trumpeter debuted a quartet with Alcorn, Halvorson and Sawyer. 

Alcorn’s melodic and textural visions come to the fore on the title track, the extended Circular Ruins and A Night in Gdansk. There’s an affinity with Morton Feldman in the rich sustained tones, and a near twinship with Halvorson, whose pitch-bending guitar hardware can ambiguate the source of some burbling, microtonal washes of notes. The concluding Northeast Rising Sun may allude to Maryland highway signage, but the music is a playful romp, beginning with clapping accompaniment then combining a Sufi refrain with elements of an Irish community dance. It’s delightful stuff.

09 Yannick GebildeGebilde
Yannick Chayer
Small Scale Music SSM 023 (smallscalemusic.bandcamp.com)

A dialogue from a single musician, Montreal’s Yannick Chayer has designed this CD’s ten tracks so that his soprano saxophone is constantly reacting to or against programmed samples of reed improvisations and other intonations propelled by his synthesizer. Rife with static crackles, noises and pauses, the results are as changeable as if he were duetting with another player. 

With advances in programming, timbres from the synthesizer take on multiple identities from bagpipe-like tremors to plastic kazoo-like screeches; yet most frequently, organ-like motifs serve as several tracks’ continuum. Meanwhile Chayer’s parallel acoustic tone is snarly and metallic, dedicated to high velocity fluttering or calm multiphonics. 

Extended tracks such as Organisation Off and Master Forgery play with the implicit plasticity of the program. For instance, the former positions a biting reed solo atop massed saxophone timbres and climaxes as the soloist squeals past altissimo with key percussion echoes below. The latter track balances calliope-like patterning that remains unchanged as vibrating reed split tones expand to twitters and trills, sometimes vamping roughly against one another. 

Like a Pimp may be the defining track however, as newer samples keep being added to the stop-time exposition so that a simple melody is present from a singular reed line along with electronic flanging and reverberating tongue pumps. 

Chayer’s stated aim is creating reed programs that move between analog noise and musique concrète. Adding a hearty dose of improvisation, Gebilde proves that he has attained this goal.

10 Barre PhilipsThirty years in between
Barre Phillips
VICTO cd 132/08 (victo.qc.ca)

Proving that an old double bass soloist can still learn new tricks isn’t the point of Thirty years in between. Instead, coupling a genre-defining 1989 solo disc from the now 85-year-old American bassist Barre Phillips with a new set of live solos from FIMAV 2019 makes clear how mature savvy has replaced adroit swagger. Not that the 1989 tracks aren’t dazzling, as Phillips was pioneering a novel approach to soloing. With fluid variation at both ends of the timbral spectrum, he maintained a warm expansive tone, whether he was pummelling pumping variables from the bottom tones or using hard-edged spiccato to extract narrowed multi-string squeaks,

By 2019 however his strategy has been distilled to its essence. Pared away from sometimes baroque-like formalism and showy staccato runs, he concentrates on moody narratives. Mellow in his echoing tones, Phillips still makes use of col legno slaps and spiccato reverberations, with some passages taken prestissimo. But by keeping most interpretations at a low simmer he isolates rubs and pops then plays up the suppleness of variously angled string sets and the instrument’s woody reverb. Animated with harsh stropping when needed, as on Abate? Arise?, silences are also prominent. The concluding A new take strings together old and new techniques. Alternating between cultured sweeps and gaunt shrills, a display of triple stopping is followed by thin moderated slides to the finale. Obviously Phillips was a master solo bass player three decades ago – and he retains that skill.

11 Tom GuarnaSpirit Science
Tom Guarna
Destiny Records DR-0030 (destinyrecordsmusic.com)

Renowned jazz guitarist Tom Guarna, often named alongside greats such as John Scofield and Bill Frisell, has released a delightful record, taking the listener on a pleasing and progressive journey through a spacious jazz world; each track like a different chapter of the trek with its own distinct moods and soundscape. All tracks are penned by the guitarist himself and feature an all-star group of musicians including Ben Wendel on tenor saxophone and bassoon, Aaron Parks on keyboards, Joe Martin on bass and Justin Faulkner on drums. Such a unique instrumentation only serves to further highlight Guarna’s compositions and breathe an additional energy into them. 

The album has been mentioned as having a cohesive theme that is inspired by “the science of sacred geometry” which is reflected in each piece; while singular instruments meander on their own set melodical paths within the songs, they come together as a satisfying and coherent whole that calls to mind a geometric shape. Specifically, in Metatron’s Cube, this organized progressiveness is noticeable, with the rhythmic groove and distinct bass melody lending structure to the piece while soaring sax, guitar and piano solos create the sense of spaciousness and freedom. Crossing over seamlessly between progressive rock and traditional jazz, the album is a must for fans of either genre that are looking for a fresh perspective on how Metheny-esque synth and electric guitar use can be taken a step further into a new and unique dimension.

12 Django ShiftDjango-shift
Rez Abbasi
Whirlwind Recordings WR4762 (whirlwindrecordings.com)

In 2019, commissioned by California’s Freight and Salvage’s Django Festival to present a Django Reinhardt-centric recording project, skilled Pakistan-born and NYC-based guitarist/composer Rez Abbasi was challenged by his desire to present Reinhardt not only as a unique, mesmerizing and beloved guitarist, but also as a composer. He plumbed the depths of Reinhardt’s considerable catalogue and came upon seven stunning Reinhardt tunes, as well as two more that were strongly associated with the magical, Roma-Hungarian guitarist. In order to bring his present-tense, genre-blending vision to life, Abbasi called upon the uber-talented Neil Alexander (organ, synthesizers and electronica) and Michael Sarin on drums.

Abassi’s rhythmic, 6/8 arrangement of Django’s Diminishing feels like a tip of the hat to the great Thelonious Monk – and Abassi freely admits that Monk’s odd, juxtapositional style influenced several tracks. Abbasi’s organic understanding of complex rhythmic patterns and his exquisite guitar technique defines this standout project, and longtime collaborators Alexander and Sarin have jumped down the proverbial rabbit hole right along with him – never missing a nuance. 

Of particular innovation is the invigorating use of organ and synthesizers (including guitar effects), coupled with the contiguous, pulsing drum work by Sarin. Reinhardt’s classic Swing 42 is barely recognizable here, but this new perspective on the tune brings an unbridled urgency and the gorgeous ballad, Django’s Castle, displays the fine trio at their lyrical best. A favourite of Django’s, Anniversary Song (Ivanovici), is arranged here as an odd-metered funky trip and one of the most compelling tracks is certainly Abassi’s take on Kurt Weill’s melancholy September Song. Abassi’s sumptuous tone and emotive interpretation of this classic are beyond compare.

Back to top