MAX JOHNSON Something Familiar

Album · 2015 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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3.5/5 ·
I really enjoy the trend when major European jazz labels,traditionally associated with mainstream jazz, release more and more high level modern advanced jazz recordings.

Danish SteepleChase,one of the European leader of hard bop and post bop releases,past spring released excellent Danish avant-garde jazz guitarist Pierre Dorge album "Blui". Now Spanish Fresh Sound label,for decades known as largest re-issuer of archival mainstream jazz (and home for debuting mainstream jazz artists from all over the world) presented new NYC-based bassist Max Johnson trio album "Something Familiar" with groovy free-bop on it.

To be honest,Pierre Dorge (for SteepleChase) and Max Johnson (for Fresh Sound) both are not a newbies, just their new music is more significant on the burgeoning new adventurous jazz scene. And the missed link between two bands/releases is excellent Colorado-born trumpeter Kirk Knuffke, who re-vitalized listeners interest to free-bop in full.

So, on "Something Familiar" bassist Max Johnson leads acoustic trio with trumpeter Kirk Knuffke and drummer Ziv Ravitz, his regular collective for some years. Music here is modern free-bop, current reincarnation of Eric Dolphy's early avant-garde works, showing full respect to his (and some other early free-bopers) legacy. Sound is groovy, minimal but full-bodied,often quite muscular - as it was in Late į0s-early š0s American jazz. Tunes snippets are spilled here and there making all sound easy accessible, but whole mosaic of them is really of free form.

Rhythm section is strong here, but a real hero is still trumpeter Kirk Knuffke. His trumpet sings, leads melodies and adds distorted improvised solos totally controlling music's flow. As on other Knuffke's most current albums (this year's "Arms And Hands" for example),he is a modern free-bop magician revitalizing old,almost forgotten (and criminally undeveloped) idea for new life. Slightly less consistent than Knuffke's (and some other leading free-bopers of new generation)best works, this album sounds fresh, easy accessible and adventurous.

Everyone interested in this new (or better to say new version of really old) jazz sub-genre must give this album a chance.

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