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Arun Ghosh Primal Odyssey Camoci Records CAMOC1002 | Arun Ghosh (clt), Shabaka Hutchings (b clt), Idris Rahman (ts; clt), Liran Donin (b; el b), and Pat Illingworth (d).
Successful though Ghosh’s debut album Northern Namaste was in opening up jazz to “local” influences –
i il d i primarily derived from the Indian subcontinent – there was an eagerness to cover too many bases so that as an album it lacked a unified concept. Ghosh himself called this “first album syndrome”. Primal Odyssey must therefore be considered a success, both at an artistic and conceptual level, since he demonstrates evidence of considerable artistic growth that is linked to a more unified concept in the execution of his music. The rhythmic impulse of Primal Odyssey is more explicitly stated than on Northern Namaste, a major factor in making this music so compelling. The melodic premise of Ghosh’s compositions largely eschews chromaticism, so challenging the improviser to favour a largely diatonic approach to improvisation, where extended harmonies are used sparingly, like a rich flavouring to spice the improvised line, rather than as a thing-in-itself. This has the effect of bringing great unity to the music, but also accessibility – there is not the feeling the improviser is about to launch out on the kind of tormented brain puzzle that often passes for improvisation today that can have the effect of repelling rather than attracting the listener. This is music of its time, as a younger man Ghosh enjoyed the rhythms and melodies of the club music scene, but also has within it elements that are timeless – respect for melody, its development and resolution. Opening with ‘Caliban’s Revenge’, Ghosh’s music instantly commands attention and however much you hear of this album, you want to hear more. That is something special. Stuart Nicholson
Humcrush with Sidsel Endresen Ha!RuneGrammofon (RCD 2114) | Stale C (keys), Thomas Strønen (d, elec) and Sidsel Endresen (v). Rec. date not given This fourth album from Norway’s Humcrush further expands the improvisational language developed by Storløkken and Strønen: an odd, electro-acoustic patchwork of spooked echoes, thuds, buzzes and tweets held together by lightning interactions and highly idiosyncratic playing. Storløkken’s spectral keys convey some of the cosmic loneliness he’s brought to Supersilent; while Strønen’s fluttering brushwork sounds like a moth trapped in a paper lampshade. But vocalist Endresen is the biggest personality on the CD, delivering garbled sermons in a pre-Babel, pan-
lingual ur-tongue, such as might have been spoken on the fabled continent of Pangaea. Poised between song, speech and scat, her improvisations avoid the semantic steamroller of meaning, flipping from deranged whimper to Indian chants to cold pebble-in-the-mouth pronouncements. When the drums pick up momentum and Storløkken responds with a juddering sub-sonic rumble, you can feel Endresen react with a thrilling change of gear. It’s like a furious argument in which all participants have exactly the same opinion. Daniel Spicer
Stanley Jordan FriendsMackAvenueMAC-1062 | Stanley Jordan (g, p), Charlie Hunter, Russell Malone, Bucky Pizzarelli, Mike Stern (g), Kenny Garrett, Ronnie Laws (ss), Nicholas Payton (t), Regina Carter (vln), Christian McBride, Charnett Moffett (b), and Kenwood Dennard (d). Rec. 2011
Ever wondered what happened to Stanley Jordan? He was the self-taught boy wonder whose i t h amazing two-hand-tapping system for guitar was far too difficult ever to become commonplace. Apart from Charlie Hunter, one of his guests on this aimiable album, he still has this virtuoso technique all to himself. Jordan was also an overnight star in the finest showbiz tradition, an unknown blue-jeaned kid plucked from a busking pitch outside Carnegie Hall – during an Oscar Peterson concert, if memory serves – to be thrust on to the main stage and into the global jazz spotlight.
Last time I saw him, at Ronnie Scott’s many years ago, Stanley was playing two guitars simultaneously, one hanging from a neckstrap, the other clamped to a chest-high stand, with a few touches of hot piano thrown in. The loyal Kenwood Dennard was on drums that night, and he still is – although for financial reasons the rest of the star-studded cast at this gettogether – just check the names above are unlikely to share a bandstand any time soon. The suits at Mack Avenue must have made a lot of phone calls and most of them were answered.
The session opens with ‘Capital J’, a brisk original which sounds as if it is based on ‘What is This Thing Called Love’, and the first two scorching solos, by Kenny Garrett on soprano sax and Nicholas Payton on trumpet, are worth the price of the album alone. Further exploration reveals a well-mixed bag, ranging from the intensity of ‘Giant Steps’ (for Jordan and Mike Stern) to a Bartók intermezzo for Regina Carter’s rhapsodic violin. As for the leader, his work may have lost its element of suprise but it still sounds very impressive. His guest-list is testament to the truism that style is temporary but class is permanent. Jack Massarik
Chick Corea / Stefano Bollani OrvietoECM2779692|ChickCorea(p)and Stefano Bollani (p) Rec. 2010 The fusing of a pair of virtuosic live wires – the Milan-born Bollani with youth on his side and the 70-year-old Corea, with youth in his heart – could only ever lead to an effervescent, high class rococo affair. Recorded live at the Umbria Jazz Winter Festival in 2010, at times it sounds as if the pair might be playing at speed just to warm up with notes coming thick and fast unusually perhaps for a label renowned for its spaces and silences. But the musical depths explored by both pianists means Orvieto comes across equal parts vivacious, humorous and tender. Surprisingly this is Corea’s first ECM recording in 27 years; Bollani, as with Corea previously, has recently been making a name for himself, in Italy especially, as a classical concert pianist with his unorthodox interpretations of Gershwin and Ravel. Both are pianists that love challenges and breaking rules: from the slyly impressionistic, freely improvised opening title track, the Mediterranean folk dance- flavoured interpretation of Jobim’s ‘Retrato em branco e preto’ and ‘Doralice’, a track the Brazilian music-inspired Bollani has previously recorded on ECM with Enrico Rava, through to Corea’s flamenco-induced, ‘Armando’s Rhumba’ in which the pianists bite rhythmically at each other’s heels and standards all make for a diverse spread of material. Sometimes, its four-handed, tightly-packed avalanches of notes might lead the listener to distraction over the whole recording, but the sparkle of elegant wit and improvisational high-spirits mean you hardly notice.
Jazzwise talks to Stefano Bollani about the album In what ways do you feel the relationship with Chick has developed during the couple of years you’ve been playing together? We started talking about music a lot, even before meeting each other and then when we met we just started playing, and I have to tell you it’s all the same even after two years, just going on stage and just improvising all the time. It’s just using some songs to develop these totally different contexts and for me it’s all fully improvised.
Chick is one of your heroes, but has playing with him in such an intimate environment changed your original perception of him in any way? I have to say as far as I heard him playing with me this year, he’s not playing “Chick Corea”. That’s the good news. He’s 70 years old and he’s still trying to play differently. That inspired me because usually when you become settled on your own instrument you just go on repeating what you are, and he’s always trying new things. So that’s what really surprised me actually. He’s very inspiring not only because he plays so well but because he’s listening to everything I’m doing. Sometimes I miss something and I listen back to the concerts or to a record and I discover that he was listening to me even in that moment.
Can you tell me about some of the characteristics you might share? The most incredible thing I found in playing with him was the sense of humour, I think, is very close to mine. This was natural among musicians of the past but nowadays a lot of jazz musicians are very serious people, taking everything so seriously. Chick is really a nice guy, he’s happy so he’s funny.
You’re playing duo with Martial Solal at the London Jazz Festival. Even before meeting Chick. I played with Martial for the first time in 2006 I think. He’s another guy with a great sense of humour, another master and he’s always playing what you’re not expecting him to. That means I’m obliged to listen all the time and that makes me be very careful and that’s good, because to be careful is to have tension and to have tension is to do good music. Selwyn Harris
Stefano Bollani with special guest Martial Solal, plus the Marcin Wasilewski Trio, play the Barbican as part of the London Jazz Festival on 16 November
37 Jazzwise \\ NOVEMBER11