Dave Douglas with Aoife O'Donovan —
Be Still ... CD Greenleaf, 2012. Used ...
Quite a compelling project from trumpeter Dave Douglas – a record that has him working strongly with singer/guitarist Aoife O'Donovan, whose presence really helps transform the sound of the set! Aoife's got a folksy touch on her vocals, and colors things in with some great earthy tones that are a surprisingly good fit for Douglas' lines on trumpet – sometimes jazzy, sometimes sparkling with a rich sense of American history – yet delivered in a subtle, linear way. The blend works a lot better than it sounds on paper – thanks to help from other musicians who include Jon Irabagon on tenor, Matt Mitchell on piano, Linda Oh on bass, and Rudy Royston on drums. Titles include "Barbara Allen", "Living Streams", "Be Still My Soul", "High On A Mountain", "God Be With You", and "This Is My Father's World". CD
Beautiful sounds from bassist Linda Oh – a very vivid set that definitely lives up to the pictures promised in the title! Oh's got this way of painting in sound that we really love – sometimes in a straighter jazz formation, sometimes with a more lyrical, open brush that really makes for magic in the music – an approach that few others could handle this way without falling into older cliches or overly-sentimental passages – but which Linda makes come across with the same sort of edge as her music with others. The group maintains the right sort of feel to realize Oh's vision – with Ben Wendel on trumpet, James Muller on guitar, and Ted Poor on drums – all very versatile players, especially Muller – whose tones really do a lot for the record. Titles include "Blue Over Gold", "Footfall", "Polyphonic HMI", "Shutterspeed Dreams", and "10 Minutes Till Closing". CD
Matt Ulery just keeps on getting better and better – to a point where his music may well be a genre unto itself! This album's got Matt working with a larger ensemble – a mix of woodwind and string players, augmented with some key vocal passages as well – a double-length record that's mostly instrumental, but which has these beautiful songs step forth at just the right points – with lyrics delivered by Sarah Marie Young and Grazyna Auguscik. Matt leads the group, plays bass, and provides some slight backing vocals – and the mix of cello, violin, piano, clarinet, and flute is sublime throughout. Titles include "Gave Proof", "The Farm", "Innocent", "Black Squirrel", "Resilin", "When Everything Is Just The Same", "Viscous", "Seeker", "Sweet Bitter", and "Mary Shelly". CD
A hypnotic live set from the trio of Nicole Mitchell, Harrison Bankhead and Hamid Drake – 3 true leaders of the modern Chicago avant garde – and truly one of the finer new live albums we've heard in long time! Although this festival date from January '05 in Montreal is officially their first concert together as a trio, flautist Mitchell, bass player Bankhead and drummer/percussionist Drake have many years of experience playing together in alternate outfits – and that shows big time in the intuitive report throughout. Wonderful, wonderful work cut from the AACM cloth – and it's an impeccable sound recording, to boot! Titles include the trio-composed "Welcoming", "Thankfulness", "Forest Light" and "Velvet Lounge Bounce", plus an beautifully expansive take on Mitchell's "Afrika Rising" and her set closer "Stand Strong". CD
A sharp set led by tenor sax player Donny McCaslin on the always worthwhile Greenleaf label – and really brilliant showcase for the incredibly talented leader and an exceptional group of players. The title track is a monster, a piece with enormous space for McClaslin to doing his thing muscularly, but paced well enough to leave plenty of room for more subtle interplay. The players include Adam Benjamin and Uri Caine on Fender Rhodes and piano (the Rhodes sounds are terrific throughout), Tim Lefebvre on bass, Antonio Sanchez and Mark Guiliana on drums, and David Binney on alto and electronics. Includes the excellent 12+ minute title track plus "Five Hands Down", "Firefly", "Energy Generation", "Impossible Machine", "For Someone", "LZCM", "Memphis Redux", "For Someone" and more. CD