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Ida Sand

Rota and Morricone, those two Italian giants of film composing. One catches glimpses of the music of the Balkans and North Africa that has washed up on Italy’s shores over the centuries and of the Italian brass band tradition. That one hears all this filtered through a sensibility shaped by Miles and Ornette is but a further tribute to Rava. This may well be his best record yet. Duncan Heining

Phil Robson The Immeasurable CodeWhirlwindWR4620 | Phil Robson (g), Mark Turner (ts), (ss), Gareth Lockrane (s), Michael Janisch (b) and Ernesto Simpson (d) Rec. date not stated Those who look for substance in the maturing Brit jazz renaissance need look no further than this many textured outing that reveals Robson not only as guitarist, but even more pertinently, as accomplished writer. The roots for this music go deep – not the least to 1998 when Robson and Turner first hooked up. But compositionally it is Robson’s Six Strings And The Beat that underwrites Code. This may not seem obvious as that was a string quartet album, but it found Robson testing out sounds and extending his writing ambitions while holding firm to his melodic sense. It also revealed how much power gentleness and intimacy can generate.

With Code Robson takes the unusual tenor/flute front line, gives them some decidedly knotty heads (yet they’re never fussily over-complex) but then unleashes them on acres of space. This is most obvious on the straightahead, boppish ‘The Instant Message’ (note Robson’s rhythm work beneath Lockrane’s flute). But the breath of something new fires up the title track, with Lockrane taking his one note message to fiery extremes while Turner ducks and weaves around him. Considering this is live, Chris Lewis’ sound engineering is extraordinary, matching the intimacy he brought to Julian Siegel’s live trio recording. This is music to return to time and again, with Lockrane in particular catching the ear with his choir of flute sounds. Andy Robson

Dennis Rollins’ Velocity The 11th Gate Motéma | Dennis Rollins (tb), Ross Stanley (d) and Pedro Segundo (d). Rec. date not stated A real treat from Rollins, who has been gigging Velocity for about 18 months, but most people will know from his funk feats with Maceo Parker and his own Badbone & Co. band. Velocity however is very different fare. Indeed, as an organ/trombone trio it’s unique in jazz terms, although Rollins has plugged it into some very recognisable roots, most notably the Blue Note works of Larry Young, circa Unity. Rollins evokes both the spiritual and musically innovative side of Young. He can do it slow, as on the gorgeous slow ballad ‘The Other Side’, all rolling toms and long, rich organ chords upon which Rollins floats, melancholic yet strong; or he can do it with a Lifetime-style attack (‘Emergence’). Of course the funk is never far away, and there’s a rollocking version of the live favourite, ‘Freedom Jazz Dance’. There’s also a swirlingly choral title track, with its multi-tracked ‘bones. But most liberating of all, Velocity eschew effects and go for a straightahead, non-overdubbed live sound. The results are irresistible: take The 11th Gate at the first opportunity. Andy Robson

Sonny Rollins Road Shows Vol.2 Doxy/Emarcy 0602527749723 | Rollins (ts), Russell Malone (g), Bob Cranshaw (b), Kobie Watkins (d), Sammy Figueroa (perc) plus (1 track each) Ornette Coleman (as), Jim Hall (g), Christian McBride (b), Roy Haynes and (2 tracks) Roy Hargrove (t). Rec. 10 Sep-7 Oct 2010

Unlike Road Shows Vol.1, which spanned nearly three decades of Sonny live, all but 16 and-a-half minutes of the new album stems from the New York concert held one day after his 80th birthday last year. As well as the cornucopia of Rollins improvisation, several tracks feature guest appearances, at least two of them unplanned. Haynes, teamed again with McBride, apparently showed up uninvited as did Ornette, who joins in over a third of the way through a 20-minute ‘Sonnymoon For Two’ and plays in alto C-major or a fourth away from Rollins (and McBride). No new originals here, but it’s interesting to have revisions of ‘Sonnymoon’ and ‘I Can’t Get Started’, which were both on the 1957 Night At The Village Vanguard. Hargrove works with the regular group including Malone, but more surprising is the fact that Rollins’s contemporary Hall is given three-and-a-half minutes with Cranshaw and Watkins, uninterrupted by anything from Sonny – except his announcement, and there are quite a few of those. The remaining material consists of a long ‘They Say It’s Wonderful’ and a short ‘St. Thomas’, from concerts in Japan the following month (the latter with an announcement in Japanese, and played in a new key!) Possibly less satisfying as an album than Vol.1, but nevertheless an excellent source of new Rollins. Brian Priestley

Samúel Jón Samúelsson Big Band Helvítis Fokking Funk SJS Music 004 | Haukur Gröndal (as, clt), Ingimar Andersen (as, ), Óskar Gudjónsson (ts), Steinar Sigurdarson (ts), Ragnar Árni Ágústsson (barit s), Birkir Freyr Mattiasson (t), Kjartan Hákonarson (t), Snorri Sigurdarson (t), Ívar Gudmunsson (t), Samúel Jón Samúelsson (trom), Kári Hólmar Ragnarsson (trom), Eybór Kolbeins (trom), Leifur Jónsson (b trom, tuba), Ómar Gudjónsson (g, cym), Ingi Skúlason (b), David Pór Jónsson (Hammond org, Fender Rhodes, clavinet, mini moog, p, banjo), Helgi Svavar Helgason (d, perc), and Sigtryggur Baldursson (perc). Rec. 9 and 10 April 2010

Icelandic trombone-warrier, Samúelsson, here leads just about the whole of Iceland’s jazz community through a handful of thumping great grooves. The liner notes state “everybody played pots and pans, clapped, whistled and danced,” which puts one in mind of Sun Ra’s claim that “as all marines are riflemen, all members of the Arkestra are percussionists.” Right enough, this set begins with a communal blast of massed energy, but soon digs deep into the kind of smoking Afrobeat jam more likely to have wafted from Fela Kuit’s Shrine nightclub in the 70s: a rolling juggernaut of dark rhythm carrying lengthy horn solos, dripping with space effects and dubby whooshes. It’s heady stuff. Less convincing, though, is the title track’s cheesy big band funk, crammed full of polished horn stabs that sound uncannily like Ronnie Hazelhurst’s theme to The Two Ronnies. Still, agit-prop cover art and the satirical swipe of ‘International Monetary Funk’ provide a nicely unruly vibe to the set as a whole. Daniel Spicer

Ida Sand The Gospel Truth ACT 9518-2 | Ida Sand (v, p, kys), plus various personnel including Mattias Thorell (g), Thobias Gabrielsson (b), and Andres Hedlund (d, perc). Rec. date not stated As an eight-year-old girl growing up in Sweden, Ida Sand heard the iconic gospel vocalist Mahalia Jackson singing ‘How Great Thou Art’ and was completely transfixed by the immense power of her music. Sand’s third album for the ACT label pays homage to the huge influence that both gospel and soul music have played in forming her own musical make-up. Alongside a sublime duet with singer and guitarist Raul Midón, a cover of Bobby Scott’s ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’, other highlights include Sam Cooke’s majestic ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ (featuring special guests Steve Gadd and Joe Sample), Sand’s irrevocably catchy ‘It Is To Know’, plus a surprisingly effective cover of Madonna’s ‘Like A Prayer’. Appearing on a quartet of tracks, the celestial harmonies of a fabulous sextet of backing singers – the ACT Jubilee Singers (including Sand herself) – provide the tasty icing on this particular confection. Signing off with ‘God Only Knows’, one of three tracks featuring the evocative sound of Ola Gustafsson’s lapsteel guitar, Sand’s pitch-perfect delivery really hits the bull’s eye. Peter Quinn

Martin Speake Live at Riverhouse Pumpkin Records PUMPKIN003 | Martin Speake (as), Barry Green (p), Dave Green (b) and Jeff Williams (d). Rec. 17 May 2009 Barnet born Speake’s first set with this quartet, 2008’s Generations, attracted a good deal of admiration, and this second outing – recorded live in the acoustically sympathetic surroundings of Riverhouse Barn on the banks of the river Thames in Surrey – is sure to do the same. Once again the band find themselves improvising around a set of easily recognisable, if not currently over-played, standards: ‘When You’re

Smiling’, and ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’, among others. Speake has introduced little twists to defamiliarise the melodic material somewhat: going into unusual keys and the like. But the main point here is to allow the band to stretch out and express themselves, with Speake leading the way and imprinting the ensemble with a collective 1950s West Coast feel. The rhythm section swings with sensitive poise, while Barry Green’s contributions on piano emphasises the more Bird-like tendencies in the leader’s playing. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed ‘Strangers in the Night’ quite so much as here, and the sound quality is splendid. Robert Shore

Viktoria Tolstoy Letters to Herbie ACT 9519-2 | Viktoria Tolstoy (v), Nils Landgren (tb, v), Magnus Lindgren (woodwind), Jacob Karlzon (p, kys), Krister Jonsson (g), Mattias Svensson (b), and Rasmus Kihlberg (d). Rec. date not stated While Viktoria Tolstoy’s previous release, My Russian Soul, paid homage to the music of Tchaikovsky and her Russian heritage, Letters to Herbie pays similarly fulsome homage to the peerless Mr Hancock. From the gorgeously sung ballad ‘Chan’s Song’ to the heart-warming duet with Nils Landgren on ‘Give It All Your Heart’, complete with squelchy bass lines and wah-wah guitar, the singer pulls a variety of terrific interpretations out of the bag. Tolstoy wisely steers away from the oft-covered hits – there’s no ‘Cantaloupe Island’ or ‘Watermelon Man’ – and when you have material of the calibre of ‘Trust Me’, ‘I Thought It Was You’ and ‘Butterfly’ from the classic Thrust – a song recently brought to the fore by Gretchen Parlato – you really don’t miss them. The Gothenburg songwriter Anna Alerstedt pens lyrics to three songs, of which the dreamily outerspacious ‘Chemical Residue’ is a standout, while two non-Herbie songs, Coltrane’s ‘Naima’ and Pastorius’ ‘Come On, Come Over’, round things off in impressive style. Peter Quinn

Trombone Shorty For True Verve Forecast | Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews (tb, v), with Warren Haynes, Jeff Beck (g), Lenny Kravitz (b) Kid Rock and Ledisi (v). Rec. date not stated Mr Shorty calls it “supafunkrock”, and For True has all those elements in abundance: if you’re looking for a party soundtrack mixing riotous dance, some inoffensive rap and a little dance floor funk, then look no further. As our own funkin’ ’bone man Dennis Rollins notes, Andrews has gone for the radio friendly, pop sound and he embraces it with a gusto. The man’s a star. It’s all good fun, will scare no horses and is played with an energy that’s positively old school. If the opening ‘Buckjump’

Samúel Jón Samúelsson Big Band

42 NOVEMBER11 // Jazzwise

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