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Jazzwise Editor's Choice: December 2023

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    Posted: 21 Nov 2023 at 12:57pm
Featuring outstanding releases from Samara Joy, Cautious Clay, Nikki Iles, Steve Lehman, Ed Motta and more 

Arild Andersen



Arild Andersen (b), Marius Neset (ts), Helge Lien (p) and Håkon Mjåset Johansen (d). Rec. November 2021

'The improvisations were recorded in two extended parts, which the tracklist splits on the pauses into seven sections. Andersen's bass opens with repeating single notes interspersed with slurred, humming tones shadowed by Helge Lien's softly trickling piano figures, eventually joined by Marius Neset's clipped exhalations on tenor and Håkon Mjåset Johansen's ringing cymbal patterns. Metallically plucked piano strings then contrast with sensuously melodic bass phrasing which Neset joins in breezily gambolling figures, while the saxophonist's long-tone high sounds over soft mallets in the third part recall Jan Garbarek's haunting soliloquys in churches...' John Fordham

Read the Jazzwise review

 Cautious Clay


Blue Note

Joshua Karpeh/Cautious Clay (v, ts, ss, f, el b, syn), Julian Lage (g),  Joshua Crumbly, Daniel Pappalardo (b), Sean Rickman, Alwyn Robinson (d), plus guests Immanuel Wilkins (as), Ambrose Akinmusire (t), Joel Ross (vb), Arooj Aftab and Kai Eckhardt (el b) and various BVs. Rec. date not stated

'While there’s a lineage from the likes of early 2000s duo OutKast, to the likes of recent crossover titans Kamasi Washington and Thundercat, Clay’s hybrid sound is his own and embraces soul-funk anthems such as ear-worm ‘Ohio’ or unabashed heart-on-the-sleeve balladry ‘Take A Half’ or ‘Moments Stolen’, with wild jazz-heavy twists...' Mike Flynn

Read the Jazzwise review 

Nikki Iles & The NDR Big Band

Face To Face

Edition Records

Nikki Iles (p, comp), Thorsten Benkenstein, Nic Boysen, Claus Stötter, Percy Pursglove, Chris Mehler, Ingolf Burkhardt, Christian Höhn (t), Dan Gottshall, Erik Konertz, Klaus Heidenreich, Stefan Lottermann, Lisa Stick, Ingo Lahme (tb), Fiete Felsch, Anna-Lena Schnabel, Peter Bolte (as), Julius Gawlik, Konstantin Herleinsberger, Frank Delle, Nigel Hitchcock (ts), Luigi Grasso, Tini Thomsen (bar), Gareth Lockrane (f), Florian Weber (p), Nikki Iles (acc), Mike Walker (g), Ingmar Heller (b), Ian Thomas (d) and Marcio Doctor (perc). Rec. December 2021, December 2022

'It is always good when an international jazz collaboration is preserved on a recording that shows clearly what each side brought to the meeting. And that is on show here, not just in the committed and powerful delivery of Nikki Iles’ music by the NDR band, but by the contributions of some of her long-term UK colleagues to the line up...' Alyn Shipton

Read the Jazzwise review 

Emma Johnson’s Gravy Boat

Northern Flame


Emma Johnson (ts), Fergus Vickers (g), Richard Jones (p), Angus Milne (b) and Steve Hanley (d). Rec. 23-36 March 2023

'The band are terrific, really unified in intent and amply gifted in execution, and they give each performance their all. The mood is generally a kind of sombre uplift, evocative of stirring empty landscapes, wild moorland and sombre seascapes...' Eddie Myer

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Samara Joy

A Joyful Holiday


Samara Joy (v), Pasquale Grosso (g), Sullivan Fortner (p), David Wang (b), Kenny Washington (d) and the McLendon Family (v). Rec. 2023


Xmas platters are often cheap cash-ins or malodorous cheese-fests, but not in this case. A Joyful Holiday is a triumph: the playing is perfectly judged, and the singing richly sensuous, honeyed like a cognac supped by the fire...' Kevin Whitlock

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Steve Lehman/Orchestre National De Jazz

Ex Machina

Pi Recordings

Steve Lehman (as), Jonathan Finlayson (t), Chris Dingman (vb) and Orchestre National De Jazz dir by Frederic Maurin. Rec. 2022

'American alto saxophonist Steve Lehman scales up for this session with France’s Orchestre National De Jazz, a big band directed by Frederic Maurin that has a long history of collaborating with progressive players. The match of ideas, talent and resources is gripping, above all because Lehman retains his trademarks all the while building new frameworks around them...' Kevin Le Gendre

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Ed Motta

Behind the Tea Chronicles


Ed Motta (v), Michel Limma (p), João Oliveira (g), Alberto Continentino (b), Sergio Mello (d), Paulette McWilliams and Phillip Ingram (bv) and the Czech FILMharmonic Orchestra. Rec. date not stated

'In his native Brazil, the singer and multi-instrumentalist Ed Motta is known as a rock and soul artist, but with this richly complex new album, his first in seven years, he achieves a masterful synthesis of genres, including jazz. Best not to fret over the baffling title. Instead, wallow in the soaring melodies, lush vocal and orchestral harmonies, and a luxuriously burnished production...' Peter Jones

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Imogen Ryall

Sings The Charles Mingus/Joni Mitchell Songbook

Rubicon Jazz 

Imogen Ryall (v), Julian Nicholas (ts, ss), David Beebee (p), Nigel Thomas (b) and Eric Ford (d, perc). Rec. 22-25 January 2023

'One of her most important artistic touchstones, you get the sense that Ryall has completely immersed herself in the Mingus sound-world, such that the entire album – lyrics, melodies, textures – has been absorbed into the fine print of her consciousness...' Peter Quinn

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Ohad Talmor

Back To The Land


Ohad Talmor (ts, programming, sound design), David Virelles, Leo Genovese (p), Adam O’Farrill, Shane Endsley, Russ Johnson (t), Chris Tordini (b) and Eric McPherson (d). Rec. 2023 

'The result is a kaleidoscopic view of the musical world of a 21st century visionary that skillfully combines the expected with the unexpected. The irrepressibly distinctive nature of Coleman themes – the playfully skipping, singing eighth notes, joyful swing and jolts of tempo – are retained, but Talmor contrasts this throughout with colours that are more muted and mysterious, if not foreboding...' Kevin Le Gendre

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from www.jazzwise.com

Edited by snobb - 21 Nov 2023 at 1:00pm
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