Nu Jazz

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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

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 60 min. caching

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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ESBJÖRN SVENSSON TRIO (E.S.T.) Seven Days of Falling Album Cover Seven Days of Falling
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4.61 | 14 ratings
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4.43 | 25 ratings
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4.50 | 6 ratings
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4.67 | 3 ratings
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nu jazz Music Reviews

THE CHEAP ENSEMBLE Patrick Arthur , Dana Fitzsimons, Chris Otts : The Cheap 3nsemble

Album · 2017 · Nu Jazz
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js
The Cheap 3nsemble is a leaderless trio operating out of Atlanta, and their CD of the same name is their debut recording. Despite the somewhat sarcastic name, there is nothing flippant about this trio’s music, instead, they provide compositions and improvisations that are very thoughtful, and even delicate at times, but also muscular as well, depending on how the collective muse moves them. The opening three tracks show an attachment to the early innovations of the ECM label, with saxophonist Chis Otts in particular echoing an influence from Jan Garbarek. But later tracks reveal a band that is far more diverse than mere copycats. Joining Otts in this trio is drummer Dana Fitzsimmons, whose freewheeling approach to the drums may remind some of Paul Motian, and guitarist Patrick Arthur, whose combination of floating space contrasted with gritty distorted muscle may recall the young John Abercrombie.

Along with the aforementioned opening tracks, some other interesting cuts on here include Chick Corea’s abstract post bop classic, “Matrix”, which the ensemble deconstructs into a noisy heavy avant-rock work out. Modern standard, “Pure Imagination” is barely recognizable as Chris stretches out the melody with long silences before the bands turns it into another broken beat rock affair. Arthur’s “Front” features the guitarist playing melancholy arpeggios that sound like a tuned hand drum behind Ott’s freely floating sax melody. Overall, there are no bad cuts on here, everything provided is well considered and treated with the challenge of making something original and new, or nu, if you will.

Going back to the earliest days of the fabled ‘cutting contests’, much of the jazz world has always been based around astonishing technique and virtuosity. It takes a certain amount of bold risk and conviction to check your extended chops at the door and play music that utilizes open space and slow unwinding melodies, but that is the risk that the Cheap 3nsemble has taken on in this debut CD. The end result, combined with the fractured rocking moments, is a new (nu) kind of jazz, something that the millennial generation can call their own. This music constitutes a remarkable debut, lets hope we here more from the cheap 3some, much of their potential is probably still untapped.

JULIAN JULIEN Terre

Album · 2000 · Nu Jazz
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Modrigue
Fusion from a parallel Earth

Have you ever wondered how the musical landscape will be if, centuries ago, someone had swap Earth's local populations' instruments with other populations'? Sonorities played by different cultures with their own approaches? For example, what music would have Eastern European nomads created if they were given Indonesian gamelans? What melodies based on pipes and Indian tablas would have musicians from the old Hausmannian Paris composed? Never thought of this question? Well, I had, and so certainly did multi-instrumentalist Julian Julien, as he - at least partially - brought pieces of a possible answer through his first studio opus.

Fully instrumental, "Terre", the well-named, can be described as world/ethnic fusion, maybe post-fusion, yet accessible. Inspired by his various travels and influences, Julian Julien uses a wide range of instruments and sound effects for unusual purposes to weave harmonious and inventive ambiances. First fooled by exotic sonorities, the listener is brought from an unexpected place to another, then to both known and unknown lands, like on unconnected continents at the same time. The surprise factor is therefore kept intact at each listen.

"La grand-voile!" yells the sailor at the very beginning. Opening with an extract from the movie "L'île aux trésors", the title track is a tragic rhythmic violin-driven tune that can distantly remind another French multi-instrumentalist, Yann Tiersen. Completely different, "L'attente" carries well its name, as the xylophone and soft keyboards seem to suspend time. A little Javanese sounding, but with other incursions, this ethereal tracks is like a patchwork of impressions from South-Eastern Asia displayed through Philip Glass's prism. After an enigmatic and tablas pipes introduction, "Tupperware Et Bibelots" unveils a sad accordion and piano theme, turning from melancholic to frightening. You're wandering in the old 19th Century Paris, among boulevards and galleries of clowns. "Bencoleen Hotel" is located in Singapore, and also a short contemplative and dreamy Asian interlude, while the slowly evolving "Souquez" more resembles modal jazz. Through its interlaced piano and violin, you can sometimes hear few distant echoes from SOFT MACHINE. Really nice. The cheerful "Promenade" is charming and quite contrasts with the rest of the record.

Despite its name, "Degung" don't make usage of a gamelan, but of various gongs, keyboards and organs to recreate an impression of the proud Indonesian instrument, however this time for unexpected destinations. Alongside a sinuous cord melody, this tune will transport you for a mystical journey, to an unknown place somewhere between Hungary and Egypt! On the contrary, "Les Yeux" may be my least favorite passage of the disc. This jazzy minimalistic piano title accompanied by a slight electronic background is a bit lengthy. Don't be fooled by the childish opening of "Clémentine", its mysterious xylophone will make you lost your direction in some enigmatic labyrinth. "P'Tite Pêche" continues with the fruit thematic on a touching and melancholic tone. The record finishes with its longest track, "La Tombe Des Lucioles". Inspired by Isao Takahata's famous and beautiful anime "Le Tombeau des Lucioles" ("Grave of the Fireflies" in English), the instruments depict a desolated and chaotic landscape after the war bombing. You can barely hear the victims struggling for their survival... The last part suddenly accelerates. Certainly influenced by John Surman, this ender is simply shivering!

"Terre" is a genuine trip through several genres and places, between the dramatic and the enchanting, the modern and the ancient, the mystical and the melancholic, yet always remaining accessible and quite homogeneous in terms of quality. The album even gained a little success during its release. If you like to travel and enjoy unexpected musical mixtures, this first opus by Julian Julian will transport you to another lands. Very recommended!

15 years after, the artist will give a follow-up to "Terre", however this second volume will head towards a different planet...

LAURA JURD 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 on 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 this year.

NIECHĘĆ Niechęć

Album · 2016 · Nu Jazz
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js
Sometimes you don’t know what might show up in your mailbox, for instance this odd looking CD that arrived from Polish group Niechec. The strange album cover doesn’t reveal much, but what a great surprise when you give it a spin and all of this exciting and passionate modern jazz-rock comes firing out of the speakers. Because of their frequent use of repeating minimalist type passages, you could put Niechec in the nu jazz genre, but unlike many other nu jazz groups, there is nothing lite and fluffy about these guys, instead, like a lot of music from Poland, this CD is raw and emotional, and the band doesn’t mind raising some fierce noise when it is called for.

The music on here is so eclectic that it is probably best to view the tracks individually to get an idea of what is going on. Album opener, “Koniec”, is a harsh noisy jazz rock number with plenty of rapid change-ups in that style first initiated by the Mr Bungle/John Zorn school of music. On this track Maciej Zwierzchowski reveals his huge baritone sax sound, often playing heavy noire riffs that recall Mel Collins’ work on early King Crimson albums. Tomasz Wielechowski also turns in a fierce atonal solo on the distorted electric piano. The next three cuts reveal Niechec’s interest in a more relaxed electronica flavored post rock groove that recalls Tortoise or Masfel. Track 5, “Krew”, opens with atonal saxophone squawking that alternates with quieter sections and strange demented circus like music.

“Widzenie” uses a repeating piano part that sounds like classic prog rock to which they add a driving drumnbass beat and another free form sax solo. On “Atak”, the band digs heavy into that same ‘crime jazz soundtrack’ sound that inspired much of early King Crimson. Album closer, “Trzeba to Zrobic”, continues with more heavy saxophone sounds, sometimes recalling Doldinger’s first “Passport” album. This number closes with lots of crazy mayhem as the whole band chimes in with collective spiraling chaos.

Niechec is a band that deserves much wider recognition. There are other bands using the same hip modern sounds that these guys use, but the difference is that Niechec knows how to put a complex composition together, as well as a lengthy arrangement that makes sense. There should be a wider market available for these guys, including fans of modern prog rock, the wilder side of today’s jazz rock scene and anyone looking for interesting, eclectic and unpredictable music.

BORIS SAVOLDELLI Savoldelli Casarano Bardoscia : The Great Jazz Gig In The Sky

Album · 2016 · Nu Jazz
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js
The world doesn’t need another faithful tribute to Pink Floyd’s much ballyhooed “Dark Side of the Moon”, which is why Boris Savodelli’s “The Great Jazz Gig in the Sky” is such a relief. This isn’t a tribute as much as it is a radical deconstruction and subversive re-creation, while still maintaining a sense of integrity with the original album. This new album sounds like “Dark Side” in a post-apocalypse future, the original album’s big stadium rock sound has been gutted and replaced with whispering industrial drift, echoed sax melodies and mournful bowed strings. Although Savodelli is one of the top singers of today, he delivers these songs with a dry raspy voice that sounds like someone telling their last tale before checking out for good. ’Great Jazz Gig’ is dark and troubled, yet oddly attractive, and even ‘pretty’ at times due to Raffaele Casarano’s sweet tone on the saxophone.

Only three musicians make up this album, the aforementioned Savoldelli and Casarano, and double bass player Marco Bardoscia, who supplies lonely walking bass lines and faux string quartet bowing. All three musicians expand their presence via various looping and echo devices, and everyone in the group manipulates various electronic processing devices. Their overall sound together is of the hypnotic psychedelic ‘nu-jazz’ variety, with an uneasy industrial hum lurking in the background. Fusion guitarist Dewa Budjana joins for a lengthy psychedelic solo on “Us and Them”.

Many consider the original “Dark Side of the Moon” to be a rock and/or ‘progressive rock’ classic, yet when ’Dark Side’ first came out, it was actually met with some trepidation amongst early Pink Floyd fans, as well as fans of early prog rock. Many saw the album’s big stadium sound and simplified music as a calculated move by bassist Roger Waters to achieve greater popularity and more money. This proved true as Floyd paved the way to the heartland of US suburbia for other bands who adopted a similar approach. Savoldelli’s off-the-wall ‘Great Jazz Gig’ returns Floyd to their original intricate and experimental state as originally initiated by Syd Barret, Richard Wright, Nick Mason ... and Roger Waters when he was younger.

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