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

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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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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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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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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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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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MARY HALVORSON Reverse Blue Album Cover Reverse Blue
MARY HALVORSON
3.98 | 3 ratings
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MICHAEL FORMANEK Small Places Album Cover Small Places
MICHAEL FORMANEK
3.98 | 2 ratings
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TIM BERNE Tim Berne's Bloodcount ‎: Memory Select - The Paris Concert Album Cover Tim Berne's Bloodcount ‎: Memory Select - The Paris Concert
TIM BERNE
3.96 | 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

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.

SCOTT BEVINS For A Mouse

Album · 2014 · 21st Century Modern
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js
I would imagine that this imaginative album slipped under the radar for almost all jazz fans when it came out in 2014, which is a shame because this is one of the better fusion related albums of the new century. A broad description of “For a Mouse” could label this as ‘psychedelic fusion’, a moniker that mostly fits, but it can imply both good and bad things. Certainly the heyday of psychedelic sounds in jazz fusion happened back in the early 70s when some very interesting albums such as Herbie’s “Crossings” and Miles’ “Big Fun” explored the use of electronics and studio manipulation in a jazz format. Along with those innovative albums though, there was also some fluff that tried to cover a lack of ideas with cheap candy coated psychedelia, Donald Byrd’s “Electric Byrd” comes to mind, but in all fairness, there were a few good tracks on that one too. Flash forward to the new century and there has been a renewed interest in electronic flavored ‘trippy’ fusion, and that is where Scott Bevins’ “For a Mouse” enters the picture.

Despite the use of mindbending sounds and studio devices, there is no shortage of compositional ideas or hot chops heavy solos on here. Scott and his crew enjoy using the all the electronic effects they want, but they don’t lean too heavily on them, these guys would sound great with or without all the devices. The influences at work on ‘Mouse’ range from ambient repeating figures on piano and guitar, to all out intense free blowing saxophone solos from Evan Shay. The range of expression goes from the noisy avant jazz-rock of “Bad Pho”, to the gentle pastoral sounds of “The Wilhelm Scream”. Speaking of the latter track, dig the sound of the sax and horn playing the melody together, fans of Miles’ “Big Fun” will get chills when they hear that familiar sound. Overall though, this is not a nostalgic album, this is psychedelic fusion for the new century with sounds that reflects today’s nu jazz scene and a bit of the trip-hop sound too, but also don’t expect anything too formulaic, these guys are well versed in how to free form jam with or without a steady groove. A perfect blend of nu jazz, classic fusion and the avant-garde, “For a Mouse” is an album that deserves much wider recognition.

ANTONELLA CHIONNA Antonella Chionna Meets Pat Battiston : Rylesonable

Album · 2017 · 21st Century Modern
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Carmel
An international collaboration between Boston based pianist, composer and creative “improvator” Patrick Battstone and Italian based phenom Antonella Chionna who began her career at the young age of 12 as a performing professional musician brings to the table a delightful ringing of epic proportions for the creative modern and avant-garde purveyor.

Rylesonable contains twelve tracks, recorded live in the studio to create a highly improvised sound and to capitalize on each musician’s improvisational in the moment skills. The result is breathtaking. The rapport is immediately evident with a collection of nine improvised tunes and two standards, and an original Gabriele di Franco tune with lyrics by Chionna.

“Under a Persian Sky” conjures improvisational qualities of a finely tuned instrument in the two lead musicians, both interacting, listening, and creating. Chionna evokes elongated notes for a dramatic effect, while bassist Kit Demos and Battstone provide a stately underpinning for Richard Poole on vibraphone to colorize with just the right amount of panache.

Tunes like “Sophisticated Lady,” offer a more percussive approach vocally, this is what is most striking about Chionna, her ability to utilize her voice as a full-fledged instrument, not afraid of bends and sharp-edged sounds. Like a fine weathered horn, she truly exhibits her talent as one of the instrumentalists versus a standards vocalist in the mix.

I must say Fender Rhodes is one of my all-time favorite instruments and when used in a jazz setting it becomes an even sweeter experience. Inspired by Plutot La Vie, the Rhodes brings “Rather Life,” to animation. Chionna and Battstone are brilliant together, more than performances, this is genuine emotions in play.

In finality, the selection “Lover Man/Nature Boy,” is poignant, dark and at times evocative. Battstone lays down a silky yet delicate accompaniment, as Chionna conveys in a moody darkened horn-like vocal approach, with a relaxed ala Miles phrasing approach. If you were to imagine Chionna as a horn, you truly would connect with the true message she is laying down. Her vocal has a playful Billie Holiday vibe, but resonates in dark chocolatey colors. Demos, Battstone and Poole adorn with respectful interaction, not overpowering Chionna for an engaging result. It’s wonderful when a vocalist phrases like a horn player, and Chionna certainly connects to this ideal. Supported by seasoned veterans certainly helps the effort tremendously for a cohesion of result.

A wonderful cross-continental collaboration, one I hope to hear again very soon, and with anticipation.

GERALD CLAYTON Tributary Tales

Album · 2017 · 21st Century Modern
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snobb
I never heard about Holland-born American pianist Gerald Clayton till one autumn night in 2010 when I saw him playing on his first European tour soon after the release of his debut album as leader. Leading muscular all-acoustic groovy trio,Clayton sounded as another "cat" playing quite mainstream jazz with rare freshness and without even a touch of sentimentality or nostalgia (both often destroy great artists music turning it to archival self-parody).

Only after I listened to his both debut and soon released second album, but saying true has been a bit disappointed. Somehow recorded music obviously missed that freshness and modernity which I found such attractive on Clayton live gig.

Now, after some years to come,I gave Clayton another chance and was really pleasantly surprised. Same acoustic trio has been improved with strong 3-piece reeds section (incl. Logan Richardson and Dayna Stephens on saxes and Ben Wendel on bassoon), two percussionists, two poets/spoken word artists and singer Sachal Vasandani. What is even more important - rooted in same neo post-bop,music here is tightly composed by Clayton himself, and he demonstrates non-nonsense composition abilities.

Leading quite a big combo, Clayton never overuse arrangements and as a result tuneful and complex music sounds tasteful if not minimalist. Spoken word pieces are as always an acquired taste, but at least here them don't destroy impression from album's music in whole. Band sounds best on instrumental compositions where post bop rhythmic structures organically interweave with modern composition without becoming too lifeless or frozen-formal as on some third steam recordings. Japanese edition contains Count Basie's "Blues For Stephanie" as bonus.

Serious step ahead and one great modern jazz album containing music attractive for listeners of different tastes.

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