Jazz, January 2021

hfnalbum.pngJoel Ross
Who Are You?
Blue Note 0712749; LP: 0712750

In the young vibraphone master's follow-up to his 2019 debut, KingMaker there's once again a major role for the brilliantly communicative alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, whose own Blue Note debut, Omega, appeared last summer. Pianist Jeremy Corren and drummer Jeremy Dutton also reappear, this time joined by bassist Kanoa Mendenhall, who played cello before moving into jazz and being mentored by drummer Kendrick Scott. A special guest is harpist Brandee Younger, who helps make 'After The Rain' such a beautiful, evocative and tender track. Ross demonstrates his sure and subtle harmonic sense throughout, even with no chordal instrument when the group strips down to a trio for 'The Nurturer'. SH


Joshua Jaswon Octet
Silent Sea
Ubuntu Music UBU0065

After the Guildhall School of Music and an early quintet album, Ribbons, alto saxophonist Joshua Jaswon re-located to Berlin, where he formed his multi-national Octet. Central here are three contemporary poems on themes of climate change and Brexit, set in soaring arrangements and sung by the marvellous Dutch vocalist Anna Serierse. From Spain come trumpeter Miguel Gorodi and drummer Aarón Castrillo, who combines drive and swing with an airy touch. Germany contributes sax star Marc Doffey, guitarist Johannes Mann and bassist Sidney Werner, while the horn lineup is completed by Polish trombonist Jan Landowski. Brilliant and refreshing. SH


Django Bates
Loose Marble LM009

Pianist, composer and educator Django Bates has written prolifically for big bands since the 1980s heyday of Loose Tubes, most recently re-imagining Sgt Pepper. This time the track listing indicates a centennial tribute to Charlie Parker, a musical hero that Bates celebrated notably in 2016 with Beloved Bird. Here his Belovéd trio joins the Swedish Norrbotten Big Band to play 'Confirmation' and other Parker themes in wild, extravagant new creations with unsettling rhythmic twists. Bates originals include the title theme, signifying perhaps the determination and brilliant musicianship the big-band players needed to bring these challenging pieces to life. SH


Dave Brubeck
Verve 3514268; LP: 3513980

Unheard until now, this set of 15 short solo piano pieces from 2010 constitute Brubeck's last studio recording, intended originally just for young family members and friends. Opening and closing with Brahms's Lullaby, its soothing melodies range from 'Danny Boy' to 'Over The Rainbow' and from 'Summertime' to 'There's No Place Like Home'. There's also Brubeck's own 'Lullaby For Iola', to the wife and lifelong inspiration who would outlive him when he passed away in 2012. Though likely to be overshadowed by the Brubeck Editions label's Time OutTakes album, which should be out by the time you read this, Lullabies is a heartwarming release. SH