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Flux Music Essentials

Greeting’s jazz connoisseurs, I’m back with another intriguing palette of creative music from some of today’s most unique, adventurous and inspiring voices known and unknown artists alike in the world of jazz.

Rez Abbasi - Things to Come

Rez Abbasi -][- Things to Come – [Sunnyside Records, 2009]

In recent years we have been able to enjoy the chemistry between guitarist Rez Abassi and sax player Rudresh Mahanthappa in albums such as Abassi’s Bazaar, and Mahanthappa’s Kinsmen. For an even longer time we’ve been able to enjoy the dynamic combo of pianist Vijay Iyer and Mahanthappa. On this album for the first time, we hear all three South Asian all stars together and the results are dazzling. Abassi, Mahnthappa, and Iyer are joined by a stellar rhythm section made up by Johannes Weidenmueller on bass and Dan Weiss on drums. Special guest Kiran Ahluwalia adds her beautiful Indian vocals to tracks 1,2,4, and 6, and Mike Block adds Cello to tracks 2 and 7.

While there are tinges of Indian and Pakastani music throughout this album, Things to Come is first and foremost a modern jazz album in the post bop style. Abassi has obviously put a lot of thought and time into crafting clever songs with many tightly interwoven parts. The mood of the album tends to be dreamlike, reflective and cerebral. It’s easy to let you mind wander as the songs drift from one clever part to another. Abassi, Iyer and Mahanthappa are all great soloist with very different styles and textures. There are great solos throughout and it is fascinating to go from the blasting ferocity of Mahanthappa’s blistering sax solos, to the richly layered thought provoking explorations of Iyer, to the snaking, trance inducing, meanderings of Abassi.

Every song is good on this CD and is a joy to listen to from start to finish. —Scott Williams | Amazon.com

Michel Camilo - Spirit of the Moment

Michel Camilo -][- Spirit of the Moment – [Telarc, 2007]

I recently saw the Michel Camilo Trio at the International Jazz Festival in Bern, Switzerland. They performed some songs from the new album, including a debut performance of Liquid Crystal. It was literally BREATHTAKING!

Look forward to a tour-de-force of latin jazz at its best. As with all of Michel Camilo’s ensemble works, this trio has an extremely vibrant and exuberant personality. Michel seems to command the piano in an utterly ethereal fashion that often leave the listener awestruck. Charles Flores is coming into his own as Michel’s bassist. In his sophomore performance with the trio, he is much more expressive and makes his instrument speak directly to the soul of the audience. Rounding out this trio is drummer, Dafnis Prieto. A critically acclaimed composer and bandleader in his own right, Dafnis gives this ensemble exactly the percussive edge it requires. With a uniquely latin flavor, he lays down syncopated rhythms that make you wonder whether he has a small percussion section backing him up!

Although the band stomps through uptempo selections, fans should also look forward to the lush ballads presented by the trio. All three musicians use their instruments to communicate emotion that can place you in a different world while listening. From upbeat latin, to swing, to ballads, this ensemble is truly first rate! Michel has never disappointed his fans, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed by his latest release. —Samuel Joseph Haynes | Amazon.com

Sakésho - We Want You to Say

Sakésho -][- We Want You to Say – [Heads Up, 2005]

Andy Narell seems to have fully settled into his new group, which strikes me, amazingly, as even better than his great mid-eighties band. The difference? The truly international flavor each artist brings to the table. Mario Canonge (piano, Fender Rhodes, from Martinique), Michel Alibo (electric bass guitar, from Guadeloupe), and Jean Philippe Fanfant (drums, from France) imbue this music with an infectiousness and crazy island rhythmic sensibility that situates it in a special category in world jazz. Fanfant, especially, puts a unique stamp on the proceedings, emerging as a monster in the drums chair.

I thought their first disc, wonderful as it is, was little more than Andy Narell with some new sidemen. This second recording has forced me to rethink that view. For one thing, each of these musicians brings a musical personality and level of accomplishment equal to that of Narell. For another, Mario Canonge, who has several very nice discs out under his own name and has very far-ranging musical experience, shares a plurality of compositions with Narell, and his are every bit as good. The other members also contribute memorable tunes, especially Fanfant’s driving “Ewa Belia.” But it must be admitted that the high point is a new Narell song, “One More Touch,” with its combination of ravishing romanticism, understated melodic elegance, and subtly shifting rhythms. So I guess it is, after all, a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same. —J. P. Dennis | Amazon.com

Brian Bromberg - Wood II

Brian Bromberg -][- Wood II – [Artistry Music, 2006]

Why is this an unknown album, and why is Bromberg a relatively unknown (or at least, underrated) bassist? This CD has some of the most staggering, ridiculous acrobatic spasms I’ve ever heard on a bass. The recording itself sounds superb, and the warmth of the antique bass is incredible. Vinnie Colaiuta is holding down the drums in his normal, staggering polyrhythmic form and Waldman is a perfect foil to Bromberg on Piano. The trio is kind of a reverse piano trio in that the melodies are carried as often as not by the bass, and the “rhythm” instrument is the piano. It’s an interesting inversion, and the musicians pull it off perfectly.

If you are a bassist, a fan of the bass, a drummer, a fan of drums, or a fan of good jazz in general, you will enjoy this album immensely. Bromberg’s solos are just plain ridiculous. I’ve never quite heard an acoustic bass played in such a manner.

Highly recommended. —McClain Causey | Amazon.com