Sunday, November 3, 2019

Ask a Jazz Blogger

I’m not entirely sure what’s on the agenda for my appearance on the 58th episode of the Ask a Jazz Dude show.  (12:10 p.m. CST Monday, November 4).  Left to my own devices, I’ll repeat my claim that strictly in artistic terms, jazz is thriving.  The miniscule size of the audience for the music doesn’t diminish its magnificence.

The ambiguity that accompanies obscurity makes defining terms essential when discussing jazz in 2019.  Jazz enthusiasts often unwittingly talk past one another because they have entirely different conceptions of the term.  Perhaps because I’m deeply engaged with all types of music, the jazz I’m most passionate about tends to reflect the tenor of the times.

The following list of my 25 favorite jazz albums released in October is intended to clarify my enthusiasm while demonstrating the abundance of the dynamic improvised music being made today.  Ordered by my personal preference, most of these vital sounds are shunned by pitifully conservative jazz radio programmers and are rarely performed on stages in Kansas City. 

Not only are none of these innovative albums by Kansas City musicians, not a single jazz-based album of any stripe was released by a locally based artist in October.  I hope to address this deficiency on the Ask a Jazz Dude session.

1. Kris Davis- Diatom Ribbons (Oct. 4)
The elevation of Cecil Taylor’s unit structures.

2. Robert Glasper- Fuck Yo Feelings (Oct. 3)
You don’t think this is jazz?  You know what to do with your feelings.

3. Jamie Branch- Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise (Oct. 11)
Jazz musicians with punk attitudes are inestimable.

4. Matana Roberts- Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis (Oct. 18)
Conceptual art-jazz.

5. Roberto Fonseca- Yesun (Oct. 18)
Simultaneously slick and earthy.

6. Bill Frisell- Harmony (Oct. 4)
Pastoral folk-jazz.

7. Mary Halvorson and John Dieterich- A Tangle of Stars (Oct. 25)
Exhilarating guitar skronk.

8. Joshua Redman with Brooklyn Rider- Sun On Sand (Oct. 4)
Third stream thrills.

9. Noah Preminger- Zigsaw: Music of Steve Lampert (Oct. 4)
A bonkers electro-jazz odyssey.

10. Petter Eldh- Koma Saxo (Oct. 4)
European free jazz given a dub treatment.

11. Portico Quartet- Memory Stream (Oct. 4)
Electrifying ambient jazz.

12. Kit Downes- Dreamlife of Debris (Oct. 25)
Contemplative church organ jazz.

13. Esbjörn Svensson Trio- Live in Gothenburg (Oct. 25)
A previously unreleased 2001 concert by the ill-fated group.

14. The Bad Plus- Activate Infinity (Oct. 25)
The trio’s second album with pianist Orrin Evans.

15. Chris Lightcap- SuperBigMouth (Oct. 4)
A double quartet with prog-rock inclinations.

16. GoGo Penguin- Ocean In A Drop (Oct. 4)
Acoustic techno-jazz.

17. Nicholas Payton- Relaxin’ with Nick (Oct. 25)
A (relatively) straight-ahead live set.

18. Tamika Reid Quartet- Old New (Oct. 4)
Bristling ingenuity.

19. Rez Abbasi- A Throw of Dice (Oct. 18)
Beyond time, place and form.

20. Yazz Ahmed- Polyhymnia (Oct. 11)
A British big band tackles unconventional arrangements.

21. Dave Holland, Zakir Hussain and Chris Potter- Good Hope (Oct. 11)
Seamless assimilation.

22. Jan Garbarek and Hilliard Ensemble- Remember Me, My Dear (Oct. 18)
Quintessential ECM Records.

23. Marquis Hill-  Love Tape (Oct. 11)
A smoldering concept album.

24. Gebhard Ullmann- Mikropuls (Oct. 18)
The German free jazz saxophonist performed at the Blue Room in April.

25. Made to Break- F4 Fake (Oct. 18)
An urgent missive from Ken Vandermark.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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