Nu Jazz

Jazz music community with review and forums

Nu jazz grew out of the combined influences of Jon Hassel’s Kiranic trumpet playing and ‘fourth world’ rhythms, Miles Davis’ soft tone and use of ambience on “In a Silent Way”, and the early 90s intersection of jazz and electronica, particularly trip-hop, dub and down-tempo. Some early Nu Jazz artists include Nils Petter Molvaer and Bugge Wesseltoft. Over time, other influences were introduced to the Nu Jazz sound.

For a time, the jangling ambient guitar sound of post-rock was a big influence on Nu Jazz, but that has mostly faded now. Meanwhile, bands like Jagga Jazzist and Snarky Puppy have re-discovered the lush orchestrations of sophisticated easy listening and exotica arrangers such as Henry Mancini and Les Baxter. Yet another influence, one that has emerged from the sound of the popular Portico Quartet and others, is the use of repeating minimalist phrases. This use of short repeating melodic phrases not only comes from minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and Phillip Glass, but also from Zeuhl artists and a long history of European art rock. An influence from ambient music is also part of the Nu Jazz genre, this can be found in the early music of Nils Petter Molvaer, as well as others. Nick Bartsch is a popular Nu Jazz artist who often combines the repeating figures of minimalism with a dub reggae style ambiance.

All of the above mentioned influences may appear on a Nu Jazz album, but not necessarily all. As Nu Jazz continues to develop, the most constant factors tend be a relaxed 'cool' approach, an influence from modern electronica and an appreciation for ironic kitsch and retro sounds. Some early precedents for Nu Jazz can found in the Terry Riley influenced ambient sections on Soft Machine's IIIrd album, Brian Eno's use of Brand X's funk/fusion backing tracks in building his late 70s ambient art rock albums, and Miles Davis' lengthy "He Loved Him Madly" from his "Get Up With It" album.

Although there are musical differences between Nu Jazz and Contemporary Jazz, from a pop-culture standpoint, the more obvious difference between the two is Nu Jazz’s self-aware ’hipster’ stance, compared to Contemporary Jazz’s more emotionally earnest approach.

nu jazz top albums

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ESBJÖRN SVENSSON TRIO (E.S.T.) Live in Hamburg Album Cover Live in Hamburg
ESBJÖRN SVENSSON TRIO (E.S.T.)
4.94 | 7 ratings
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BUGGE WESSELTOFT New Conception of Jazz: Moving Album Cover New Conception of Jazz: Moving
BUGGE WESSELTOFT
4.92 | 3 ratings
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BUGGE WESSELTOFT New Conception of Jazz: FiLM iNG Album Cover New Conception of Jazz: FiLM iNG
BUGGE WESSELTOFT
4.92 | 3 ratings
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NIK BÄRTSCH Holon Album Cover Holon
NIK BÄRTSCH
4.72 | 9 ratings
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SNARKY PUPPY Tell Your Friends Album Cover Tell Your Friends
SNARKY PUPPY
5.00 | 2 ratings
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BEN MONDER Amorphae Album Cover Amorphae
BEN MONDER
5.00 | 2 ratings
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SNARKY PUPPY We Like It Here Album Cover We Like It Here
SNARKY PUPPY
5.00 | 2 ratings
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JAGA JAZZIST Jaga Jazzist Live with Britten Sinfonia Album Cover Jaga Jazzist Live with Britten Sinfonia
JAGA JAZZIST
4.86 | 2 ratings
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NIECHĘĆ Śmierć w miękkim futerku (Death In A Soft Fur Coat) Album Cover Śmierć w miękkim futerku (Death In A Soft Fur Coat)
NIECHĘĆ
4.62 | 4 ratings
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NIK BÄRTSCH Llyria Album Cover Llyria
NIK BÄRTSCH
4.50 | 9 ratings
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BOHREN & DER CLUB OF GORE Sunset Mission Album Cover Sunset Mission
BOHREN & DER CLUB OF GORE
4.75 | 2 ratings
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ESBJÖRN SVENSSON TRIO (E.S.T.) Tuesday Wonderland Album Cover Tuesday Wonderland
ESBJÖRN SVENSSON TRIO (E.S.T.)
4.33 | 12 ratings
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nu jazz Music Reviews

STEPHAN THELEN Fractal Guitar

Album · 2018 · Nu Jazz
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js
The MoonJune label has earned a reputation as a leader in international jazz fusion, but they also maintain several artists who work in experimental and psychedelic rock, albeit often with a modern fusion influence as well. Stephan Thelan is such an artist, and has been working somewhat under the radar for several decades releasing solo ambient albums, modern compositions and groove oriented psychedelic group efforts. His latest album, “Fractal Guitar”, is one such group oriented album that features a rotating cast of guitarists and drummers who composed and jammed with Stephan over the last three years. Stephan then picked out the best tracks from several recording sessions. On the surface, “Fractal Guitars” has that space rock meets trip hop groove we might associate with artists such as Ozric Tentacles or Bill Laswell, but this album is more than just jam sessions. Moments of composition help offset tedium and Stephan and his crew often build complex interlocking rhythms that would normally be beyond the grasp of your average ‘jam band’.

Stephan wanted to invite some of his favorite guitarists to participate on this CD, and there are too many to list, but some of the better known include David Torn, Henry Kaiser and Markus Reuter. All of the cosmic guitar solos on here are excellent, and no one gets too carried away. Fortunately this is not a guitar solo slugfest, instead, much of “Fractal” consists of those aforementioned interlocking rhythms riding on top of polyrhythmic odd-metered dub and drumnbass influenced drum patterns. When it comes to this kind of sound oriented music, production is so important and the production on here is outstanding and very much in line with some of Bill Laswell’s best work.

If you enjoy artists such as Pete Cosey, Terje Rypdal, early 70s Pink Floyd, Steve Hillage and Nicky Skopelitis, then you know what to expect here, plenty of electronically enhanced fret fireworks reaching for the infinite beyond mixed with hypnotic ritual rhythm riffs.

WAYNE HORVITZ The Snowghost Sessions

Album · 2018 · Nu Jazz
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Matt
In 2015 Wayne Horvitz headed out to Montana to record this album at Snowghost studios, hence the title “The Snowghost Sessions”. Comprising a trio with Wayne on piano as well providing keyboards and electronics, Geoff Harper who had previously appeared with Wayne on his 2014 release “At The Reception” on Contrabass and Eric Eagle who also had appeared with Wayne on “At The Reception” as well the 2015 release which was a tribute to the writer Richard Hugo “Some Places Are Forever Afternoon” is playing drums. Wayne Horvitz states that he had not recorded a Trio album since the eighties and took quite a few tunes and sketches to this session with the majority of the album recorded Live and Wayne providing some overdubs with keyboards. He actually says that he did not set out to make an album but just wanted to try some ideas that he had with amplified and processed piano as the studios at Snowghost are in a class of their own for acoustics with the addition of an already installed Steinway Grand Piano. For these sessions the studio owner Brett Allen is the album’s engineer and co-producer with Wayne.

Fifteen tracks on the album if one counts the bonus with none running over five minutes which keeps things quite fluent with the beautiful “The Pauls” opening being a lovely spaced composition and as with the majority of the album it is down tempo with the following composition “No Blood Relation #1” bringing the electronics into the mix but in a subtle manner with wonderful recurring chords from Wayne on piano with superb support from the bass and drums by just being there in a minimal fashion which is how their support is performed right throughout the majority of the album. There is “No Blood relation #2” being the eighth track and that composition is its own without borrowing from the prior #1. More of that gorgeous piano space and time for “Trish” with many people describing this as contemplative but it sure has that Wayne Horvitz piano tone. “IMB” does bring out the Electronics and would be the album’s most up tempo composition with Eric Eagle having quite a shot on the drum kit within the number.There a quite a few more interesting and beautiful compositions included with the following “Apart From You #1” , “Northampton”, “For James Tenney”, “The Trees”, Yukio and Noa’s Duet” with these four tracks divided by the short piece “Flies On Friday”. All of those compositions having something different to say and some are straight while others have that subtle electronic keyboard effect added. “55 6 (21) Variations” has that organ addition and “55 6 (7) Variations” has a much deeper bass and piano sound bring us to the album’s end with “Apart from You #2” comprising the trio with more of those subtle electronics appearing more to the fore as the composition progresses.

Wonderful and quite different piano based Trio album from Wayne Horvitz and band which requires a few listens to fully appreciate and gets better with every play. Well worth the purchase as Wayne Horvitz albums are.

PHRONESIS We Are All

Album · 2018 · Nu Jazz
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snobb
After eleven years of activities and seven successful albums London-based Phronesis were probably most respectable contemporary jazz trio in UK. Few years ago, when their music started sounding a bit too safe and predictable they did a double shot trying to improve the situation. First they recorded (at Abbey Road Studios in London) much more muscular album ("Parallax")then they ever did before. I saw them playing life with these new songs and they sounded as high-energy power trio, but from the bad side their new music lost part of their melodies putting them in danger to become "another fusion piano trio". An year after they released an excellent album of their known songs recorded with Frankfurt radio big band. What's next?

Just released their ninth album "We Are All" doesn't open radically different horizons, but it looks here they finally found their best ever balance between slightly melancholic chamber jazz and more modern and youthful power trio sound. Trio's songs are tightly composed and precisely executed again with bigger attention to melodies. They reduced high energy of "Parallax" till controlled groovy sound with complex interplay between virtuoso piano soloing and physical acoustic bass.

"We Are All" represents contemporary European jazz at its best - multilayered intellectual improvisational music sounds almost as accessible as pop and rock songs without loosing its quality. One critic called "Phronesis" "the best modern jazz piano trio since EST", with "We Are All" release they have serious evidence that he was right.

DINOSAUR Together, As one

Album · 2016 · Nu Jazz
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snobb
Fresh wind from England - young London-based trumpeter Laura Jurd's new project Dinosaur just released their debut album, and the album sounds great!

On new album,four young guys play fun and full of positive energy jazz fusion, that kind Miles presented to the world in his music,coming from late 60s-early 70s, but with removed psychedelic component,so characteristic for "Bitches Brew" time. Instead Laura demonstrates attention to composition and as a result them all sound almost as pop (or rock) songs.

For sure it is not a level of innovation or experimentation what attracts in "Together, As One" - just there are already a few generations of listeners for whom "In A Silent Way" says close to nothing. Laura and Co. reinvent original jazz fusion (Miles Davis type) for Z-Generation using Miles legacy very carefully but at the same time making it sounding attractive for today's young listeners.

Mostly on every song Laura's trumpet flies over Hammond / Rhodes passages with tasteful and inventive support from rhythm section. Compositions are quite catchy and it is not strange first album reviews and massive live gigs program both already received very positive media around UK and in partially in continental Europe.

With no doubt one among most significant jazz releases coming from Britain in 2016.

THE COMET IS COMING Death to the Planet

EP · 2017 · Nu Jazz
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snobb
"Death To The Planet" is only new music released by hottest London jazz trio "The Comet Is Coming" in 2017. And it is even not a true album but vinyl-only four track EP, coming as Record Store Day's limited edition.

Surprisingly, this less than half-an-hour musical collection illustrates last year's burgeoning London scene in a best way, especially looking from the very first days of new 2018 year, right after all those end-of-the-year TV analytics, future modelling and apocalyptic visions.

Differently from trio's first two releases, "Death To The Planet" contains less psychedelic rock and more jazz, mixed with hip-hop and Squarepusher's-style electronic grooves. Songs are dark, tuneful, full of passion and as much commercial as anti-commercial.

This music is easy accessible and danceable, but at the same time it sounds as hottest news soundtrack - you almost can see all these explosions on the streets of European capitals and chemical attacks in Syria, Russians maintaining their nuclear missiles, already placed in occupied Crimea's coast and immigrants boats sinking near African and Italian shores.

This music sounds as rock when it was young, as punk in late 70s, as early Blondie and Talking Heads albums, as Patty Smith and Iggy - it sounds as if best music is socially sharp again and it returns back on the streets.

And to be honest I even feel happy that it's just an EP - in our time when technical abilities so often exceed creative content and artists are filling 80 minutes space of blank CDs with useless sounds just because there still is a bit of empty place, I started liking vinyl album size releases again (doesn't matter is it true vinyl or vinyl album-size CD release), it's always better to stay in silent if you have nothing important to say...

Nothing is revolutionary here - simply from all last year's releases this one possibly sounds closest to real music from the times, when it was a significant part of everyone's life, not a pale soundtrack to ageing, bored and tired of consuming society.

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JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

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