21st Century Modern

Jazz music community with review and forums

As we move into the new century, jazz artists continue to merge and blend pre-existing genres in ways that make it hard to find easy labels. Today's jazz artist is likely to pull from the avant-garde, post bop, 3rd stream and modern fusion all within the same piece. Yet as these artists draw from all these eclectic sources, we begin to see some similarities in a lot of new jazz in the 21st century.

The 21st Century Modern genre at JMA is for artists who do not easily fit into pre-existing genres such as the aforementioned, Post Bop, Avant-Garde, Fusion, or 3rd Stream, but whose music may contain elements of all those genres, as well as other elements from outside the jazz world.

Despite all these eclectic elements, we do find some things in common with many of the artists listed in our 21st Century Modern genre.

1)Many artists in this genre feature arrangements and composition in their music, along with improvisation based on chord progressions, or entirely freely improvised sections as well. Large scale pieces with multiple sections are often a part of this genre. There is an attempt in modern jazz to blend composition and improvisation in ways that make them hard to tell apart.

2)Larger ensembles (5 to 8 pieces) and 'mini-big bands' play a part in a lot of modern jazz. Instruments like the violin, cello and clarinet have made a comeback.

3)Rhythmically, modern jazz is all over the map, sometimes swinging, sometimes drawing on international fusion, and sometimes totally free, almost any style can happen.

4)Harmonically modern jazz is equally eclectic, ranging from the extended harmonies of post bop, to atonal free jazz, to the simple triad based harmonies of folk songs and hymns, once again, anything can happen.

21st century modern top albums

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

HENRY THREADGILL Henry Threadgill & Make A Move ‎: Where's Your Cup? Album Cover Henry Threadgill & Make A Move ‎: Where's Your Cup?
HENRY THREADGILL
4.52 | 3 ratings
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THE CLAUDIA QUINTET Royal Toast Album Cover Royal Toast
THE CLAUDIA QUINTET
4.40 | 6 ratings
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VIJAY IYER Vijay Iyer / Wadada Leo Smith : A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke Album Cover Vijay Iyer / Wadada Leo Smith : A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke
VIJAY IYER
4.45 | 3 ratings
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WADADA LEO SMITH America's National Parks Album Cover America's National Parks
WADADA LEO SMITH
4.48 | 2 ratings
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CRAIG TABORN Chants Album Cover Chants
CRAIG TABORN
4.45 | 2 ratings
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MARY HALVORSON Mary Halvorson Octet : Away With You Album Cover Mary Halvorson Octet : Away With You
MARY HALVORSON
4.43 | 2 ratings
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CRAIG TABORN Daylight Ghosts Album Cover Daylight Ghosts
CRAIG TABORN
4.25 | 4 ratings
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KRIS DAVIS Save Your Breath Album Cover Save Your Breath
KRIS DAVIS
4.02 | 2 ratings
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CHES SMITH Ches Smith with Craig Taborn and Mat Maneri: The Bell Album Cover Ches Smith with Craig Taborn and Mat Maneri: The Bell
CHES SMITH
4.00 | 2 ratings
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TIM BERNE Tim Berne's Snakeoil: Shadow Man Album Cover Tim Berne's Snakeoil: Shadow Man
TIM BERNE
4.00 | 2 ratings
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ÉMILE PARISIEN Émile Parisien Quintet feat. Joachim Kühn : Sfumato Album Cover Émile Parisien Quintet feat. Joachim Kühn : Sfumato
ÉMILE PARISIEN
4.00 | 2 ratings
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MARY HALVORSON Reverse Blue Album Cover Reverse Blue
MARY HALVORSON
3.98 | 3 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy JMA!

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21st century modern Music Reviews

WADADA LEO SMITH America's National Parks

Album · 2016 · 21st Century Modern
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Matt
“Tracing back to Wadada Leo Smith’s most recent epic masterpieces, The Great Lakes Suites and especially Ten Freedom Summers” ( excerpt from the album’s notes) concerning the double album “America’s National Parks” construction and contents”. Wadada has changed how he does musical writing and notations with his theory of Ankhrasmation which uses a set of four colours and depending where they are positioned on the chart, left or right being slow or fast with six rhythm units included that start long and then become short with the cover for his album “Sonic Rivers” showing one example of this type of intonations and how “America’s National Park” was composed with the orchestra having a fixed bound input and the soloist free to go where he wants. The ensemble that was used for the album was Wadada’s Golden Quintet which has had quite a change in its line up throughout the years with this current one containing Anthony Davis on piano, Ashley Walters, cello, His old cohort John Lindberg on bass, Pheeroan akLaff, drumming and of course Wadada on trumpet as well as directing the ensemble. One other mention is Jesse Gilbert being a video artist as when the pieces were recorded film was running in front of the ensemble for each National Park pertaining to which piece was being played for it. Although not technically Free Jazz it does have on the album an element of it concerning the soloists.

“New Orleans: The National Culture Park USA 1718” opens being a 21 minute in length composition with Pheeroan akLaff drum’s and Wadada’s trumpet commencing proceedings and the band following in fairly quickly as the music seems to be slowly getting stretched with more and more extensions from the trumpet and Anthony Davis’ piano becoming gradually more complex with the cello seemingly being pushed more to the front but the music does change when Davis’s piano returns with quite a lovely complex solo of varying times and then John Lindberg gets pushed to the front on bass for a delightful bass solo and input which gradually is moved out of the way for Ashley Davis on cello to have a shot with Wadada coming back to close things up. There are two other compositions Eileen Jackson Southern, 1920-2002; A Literary National Park” and “Yellowstone: The First National Park and The Sprit of America- The Mountains, Super-Volcano Caldera and Its Ecosystem 1872” following and although “Eileen Jackson Southern” not being quite as dramatic in sound as “Yellowstone” but that does not mean “Yellowstone” is bombastic either with its gradual opening containing seemingly more space than the prior composition. and I love Anthony’s piano solo within.

Disc 2: Three more suites are included opening “The Mississippi River: Dark and Deep Dreams Flow The River-a National Memorial Park c. 5000 BC and as the first on Disc 1 it is the longest track running for 31 minutes with each musician having quite an individual input and often in short bursts entirely alone within the composition often punctuated with sharp trumpet interjections from Wadada but you could not name it as call and response either for this extremely interesting number where later into the composition Anthony Davis is playing the same four notes repetitively with Wadada’s trumpet just soaring in bursts with more change still to come within. “Sequoia/Kings Canyon national Parks: The Giant forest, Great Canyon, Cliffs, Peaks, Waterfalls and Cave systems 1890” having the longest title is actually the shortest track with piano and trumpet and plenty of space brought to the fore with the album finishing up with the majestic “Yosemite: The Glaciers, the Falls, the wells and the Valley of Goodwill 1890”

Highly original and interesting album which won awards in 2017. Although it is about the Parks, the politics concerning them played just as big a part in the album’s compositions and one would be going to find anything even close to similar in releases unless Wadada did it himself. Getting a bit tired with Bop, Third Stream, Fusion and Avante Garde well try this one for something refreshingly different.

HENRY THREADGILL Henry Threadgill & Make A Move ‎: Where's Your Cup?

Album · 1997 · 21st Century Modern
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Matt
Henry Threadgill’s second album with what was at that time when released in 1997 comprised his current new ensemble, Make A Move being a Quintet with Henry providing alto sax and flute, Brandon Ross on electric and classical guitar, Tony Cedras, accordion and harmonium, Stomu Takeshi, 5 string bass with J.T. Lewis drumming. As per the usual for Henry the compositions maintain a degree of structure providing quite a solid ground for the above mentioned artists solos and input whilst keeping the music from becoming chaotic which can lead to the ruination of any Avante Garde Jazz album. Whilst not an easy listen the benefit of persevering becomes apparent after a few spins and like all good albums of this nature it requires a little work from you the listener. One other mention is Bill Laswell shares Production duties with Henry in the making of this delightful excursion into some truly original Jazz.

Being the most structured of the compositions “ 100 Year Old Game” kicks the album of with Tony Cedras’ accordion beginning the composition with a change in tempo and Henry commencing quite a delightful solo interjected with guitar and accordion as Henry just keeps bringing more and more intensity into it for this superb opening number which has another time change before heading back to the original start time. “Laughing Game” follows with a brief drum solo to get things going with great guitar work from Brandon Ross and Henry following with more of that intensity. The title “Where’s Your Cup” runs at a fairly slow tempo with guitar and accordion opening and Henry providing flute in this lovely atmospheric composition. Things just keep getting better with the album’s longest track “And This” bringing the accordion followed by electric guitar back to open another gradual build up and Henry following on alto with more superb input from Brandon Ross’ electric guitar to follow. There are three other compositions remaining with all keeping up the quality with the last title named “Go To Far’. Well did it?, not really because as I stated previously there is structure for this delightful Avante Garde album from Henry Threadgill’s back catalogue.

It needs work from you the listener as the music can be complicated at times but the reward is there if you persevere. Great album.

WADADA LEO SMITH Solo-Reflections And Meditations On Monk

Album · 2017 · 21st Century Modern
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Matt
Solo trumpet sounds a bit dicey but Wadada Leo Smith pulls it of beautifully. I noticed the selections are more towards Monk's slower tempo compositions which seemed to be a wise choice for this concept. Three of the compositions are Wadada's own with the rest being Monk's. Having the music stripped to just solo trumpet it is often the fragments of the tunes whilst being played that just drift the melodies in

"Ruby My Dear", "Crepuscule with Nellie", "Round Midnight" and the not often played early comp "Reflections" are outstanding in their interpretation but that is not to say that Wadada's compositions are any less either bringing quite an interesting balance to the album with perhaps "Monk and His Five Point Ring At The Five Spot Cafe" which gives a nudge to Monk's most renowned Live album, "Thelonious in Action" being my pick.

If you know your Monk you should love hearing these masterful echoes provided my Smith's solo trumpet throughout but if you don't grab a copy of "Monk's Music" and "Genius Of Modern Music Volume 1" where the majority of the original compositions performed by Smith on this recording lay and work from there to gain a better grip and understanding to where Wadada is coming from with the concept to this album. Beautiful and different stuff

ELLIOT GALVIN The Influencing Machine

Album · 2018 · 21st Century Modern
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js
Judging by all the awards he has won, there is no doubt that pianist Elliot Galvin has some serious jazz chops, and that comes through at times on his latest album, “The Influencing Machine”. Elliot also knows how to rock out too, but the music on this album really couldn’t be called jazz per se, nor could it be called rock or fusion either, instead this music exists in a genre all its own and is one of the more creative and interesting albums to come out so far this year. The title for this album comes from a book by Mike Jay about the 18th century philosopher, polymath, double agent and paranoid schizophrenic, James Tilly Matthews, who thought his life was being controlled by a machine. Given the extant to which machines interact with our lives today, Matthews seems like a prophet. Throughout “Influencing Machine” Galvin explores that intersection of machine and human as his acoustic piano often struggles bravely against an onslaught of electronic blips and sampled voices.

There is a lot of variety on here, “Society” sounds like 20th century classical along the lines of Poulenc and Scriabin, while “Red and Yellow” features pounding rock piano backed with a broken stuttering drumbeat that battles with a host of escalating crazy vocal samples. “Planet Ping Pong” uses sounds from 80s video games and toy pianos, while “Bees, Dogs and Flies” sounds like a Keith Emerson type prog rock progression. On any track, when Elliot cuts loose with flurries of jagged notes he can recall Matthew Shipp or Cecil Taylor, and since Galvin is British, I suppose Keith Tippet might be an influence too. I’ve done my best to describe this, but really this is one you will have to listen to for yourself to get a better understanding of what is happening. Music without much precedent is always the hardest music to describe.

MARIA GRAND TetraWind

EP · 2017 · 21st Century Modern
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Carmel
Maria Grand is certainly becoming a well-known name in the modern and Avant Garde circles, with her affiliation to Steve Coleman, affording her a strong calling card of recognition. But it is with the release of TetraWind, Grand decisively catapults her creativity to the forefront.

A socially conscious offering that mixes elements of poetry, and almost ala-hip-hop sound at times, with raw and raucous saxophone sounds that are masterfully articulated in the hands of this well-schooled saxophonist. TetraWind additionally has a feminine quality to it, an almost heroine feeling, as Grand is not afraid of her voice, muscularity, and prowess of sound. Tunes like “South (Quantum),” are an exceptional example of this quantitative quality.

Where “East (Land of the Living),” gives a more international sound, integrating a full register of comprehensive colors. Grand is not afraid to utilize the upper and lower registers of her saxophone, while digging into the tonal qualities that her instrument has to offer. What struck me most about this young saxophonist was her emotional competence on her instrument, this is a quality that cannot be learned in school alone, it is normally gained on the bandstand through the interpretive interaction between musicians. It is clearly apparent that Grand has this maturity within her wheelhouse.

On “North (Self. Real Power),” Grand evokes another instrument into the mix, her vocals – that convey a sense of mother nature. Which Grand attests to the inspiration of this creative release. Grand explains; “For this project, I also wanted to supplement the musical meaning with actual words, to allow the listener to hear another angle as well. Some of the lyrics are more abstract, and the last track is more political. Music cannot be divorced from the times and from whatever is happening socioeconomically at any given moment.” Speaking of the last track, “West, (Shut Shun)” is filled with tension notes, almost conveying the struggle of the times we are in as the age of Aquarius is once again upon us, which is the eleventh sign of the zodiac, which is now controlling the cosmos, which means we're entering a period of revolution fueled by invention, social media brazenness and free sexuality, say astrologers. Grand has her own take on the reasoning behind this track, she explains “It’s really important that conditions change and improve for everyone right now, we need to treat our Earth and each other a lot better. There’s a lot of greed going on, and a few people are holding on to most of the wealth; I’m not sure exactly why we’re letting this happen, but things have to change. Racism is a plague, sexism is a plague. I want my music to speak on those issues.”

Overall, TetraWind is a compelling listen, from a technically engaging journey, to a rebirth of creative ideas, Grand has captured a sentiment musically, and thematically that will leave a lasting telling piece in her creative catalog of continued depth.

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