Guitarist Mark Wingfield is no stranger to these pages. And while not everything he does suits me, several of his albums are a pleasure to hear. Sadly, this album with Gary Husband on piano is not one of them.
The reason for this is simple (at least for me); 3 of the 8 songs (together 39 of the 76 minutes of the CD) are spontaneous improvisations, recorded directly after they finished recording the other 5. And while there is no denying that these guys are very capable musicians, I am having a hard time connecting to this. Maybe I am currently not in the right set of mind or something. For me this is too abstract, too free of form and without structure.
So if that is something you do enjoy, be your own judge. I’ll take a rain check and play a more simple album…
When I was reading the press sheet coming with this album, I got a bit sad and ashamed that, in this day and age, sometimes it is still a struggle for people to reveal their sexual identity. For me, it should be normal for each and every one of us to be who we are!
But okay, this is about music, so let’s have a look at what we have here. A self produced debut by Freya, who wrote the songs, sings and plays guitar and got help on keys, bass, saxophone and flugel horn (!). The music is described as a mix of neo-soul, R&B and hip-hop with jazz. Now site regulars will wonder how this ended up on these pages, as these are not styles I enjoy hearing.
Well, then the good news is, yes, I hear elements of this in the music. But centre stage for me are the sultry vocals of Freya, accompanied by “popified jazz” songs, if you know what I mean. The combination of her great singing, with the jazzy guitar and very tasty and groovy bass parts makes me forget the programmed beats (I assume). Making this something I can enjoy listening to.
So there you have it, sometimes you have to look beyond your borders and discover that in every genre there will be artists that are able to make you question your own “rules”. And that is always a good thing.
Spanish maestro drummer Xavi Reija is giving us another insight in his musical world. And if you are familiar with his previous releases, you will already know that his world is one of complex ideas, based on inventive rhythms and jazzy notes and free form jams.
Accompanying him on this album are the ever so wonderful Tony Levin on bass and stick and on (touch) guitars Markus Reuter and Dusan Jevtovic. All of them no stranger to the Moonjune label.
If anything, this is another album that you will have to digest slowly and repeatedly. Well, at least for me that is certainly the case. Should you be familiar with the Three Of A Perfect Pair album from King Crimson, I am getting the same kind of vibe from several of the songs here. So lots of sound and noise things happening in seemingly random order.
So where opening track Deep Ocean surprises me with riffs and hooks I can immediately identify with, others like From Darkness make me look over my shoulder to check if I am still alone…
Of course there is no debating the quality of the musicians here. This is just a matter of taste and the willingness to invest a lot of time of getting to know and appreciate the music. Which is too rare a thing sadly in today’s world of fast everything. But if you regard yourself an exception to that rule, enjoy this trip!
Seems Mark Wingfield loves to keep himself busy. So here is his next release on Moonjune. Joining him are the familiar faces of Yaron Stavi (bass), Asaf Sirkis (drums) and special guest Dominique Vantomme (keyboard solos on several tracks).
Alas the recently discussed Dwiki Dharmawan album (also from Moonjune, and same rhythm section) did not do much for me. Thankfully this one is a lot easier to get into. Here songs do have structures and hooks I recognize after a few plays, making my listening a much more pleasant experience.
Mark has a very fluid style, vaguely reminiscent of one Jeff Beck. But there is room for all involved to shine. Because we all know these are experienced musicians whose playing capabilities are beyond any doubt. So besides the intricate solo (and rhythm) parts of Wingfield, there are also some expert bass playing and drumming parts to enjoy.
What also helps is that most songs range between 5 to 8 minutes, staying away from endless improvisation. Still, at least for me, the most important part is that the tracks resonate with me after a couple of plays. The moods are often a bit melancholic, with Mark’s guitar really ‘singing’. Try for instance Sunlight Cafe.
Maybe not for everyone, even when they like instrumental guitar music. But sure worth checking if you have an open mind!
Third time Indonesian musician Dwiki Dharmawan is present here. I quite like the first, had some doubts about the second, and have lots of troubles with this one…
Again it is not a case of production or musicianship. Moonjune always takes good care of either aspect. For me, no matter how often I listen to the album, I just cannot seem to find a connection with it. Some songs just seem to linger on, others lack any hook or theme. At least in my ears. A combination of Eastern influences with Western music can be exciting or at least interesting. This goes by and does not stick.
So I guess the moment has come that I have to confess this is just too abstract for me. At least at this moment. Is it a matter of wrong place / wrong time? That is in the future.
For now this is not an album that I will revisit anytime soon. Sorry! Try it out for yourself to find out what you think of it.
Ah, another Moonjune Records release. And featuring none other than the mighty Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, Stick Men) on bass! Vantomme is the project led by Dominique Vantomme (keyboards, Ana Popovic, Vaya Con Dios, Viktor Lazlo)) who wrote all the songs/ jams that Tony contributed to, together with Michel Delville on guitar (The Wrong Object, Machine Mass) and Maxine Lenssens on drums.
Now this introduction should tell you a couple of things. First, yes it is instrumental and probably falls into the jazz / fusion category. Yes, this music takes time to digest as most of the themes incorporated in the songs will not show themselves in the first (few) rounds. Still, some songs do have a fairly quick impact, like opener Double Down or the haunting Sizzup. Other songs remind of the soundscapes King Crimson do. Something Levin is of course very familiar with.
Guys like this are ace players, capable of taking everything that is thrown at them into their own hands and turn it into something special. Yet in all honesty, the result is not always easy on the ears. So people expecting straight forward songs should be beware that this might disappoint them. For the adventurous amongst us, this is a discovery that will last you a long time. And not only for funny song titles likes The Self Licking Ice-cream Cone!
One of the best things about doing this is that you get to hear a wide variety of music. And since variety is the spice of life, this album is been making quite a few rounds in my CD player lately.
The 19 year young Dawson Routledge is a fairly new name on the scene, delivering his first official album here, the 9 track album Monsters.
Probably best described as a mix of soft rock, pop, jazz and folk, Monsters has turned out to be quite the laid back affair. But of the kind that grabs you with an unique voice, clever lyrics and a delivery that is beyond Rutledge’s years.
Sometimes a song starts with a hook that makes you wonder if you have heard it before, but in the end this is all original. The overall sound is warm and does justice to the songs that are carried by their pop sensibilities and folky arrangements. It is clear that he is serious about his craft, especially since his picking skills are on par with his vocals. And the subtle rhythmic changes are often the icing on the cake.
Personal favourites are When Life Gives You Monsters and Heavy Heart, but there are enough choices to please many.
This is a re-release of an album that has long been out of print. It is also a fresh remaster, albeit with original art. And of course, I should not need to introduce the man! What you get on this album are 22 tracks in a total playing time of some 62 minutes. Most of it is Keith (R.I.P.) playing piano, while on a couple of tracks he is accompanied by drums and bass. There are also a couple of live tracks.
And all this serves testament to the legacy of Emerson. A virtuoso, at home in and famous for progressive rock with Emerson Lake and Palmer, but also active in film music, in jazz, boogie, you name it. Since the centre of this is him playing piano, you should not expect wild progressive pieces. This is much more delicate and sometimes jazzy or bluesy, yet all done with flawless taste and impeccable execution.
Thank you Keith Emerson for your music, and thank you Emerson Estate for making this possible.
I guess the cover art and the title says it all really. Yet if you know that the album is out on Moonjune Records, you might also suspect that this will not be a regular covers album. And you would be spot on with that assumption.
Machine Mass is a trio consisting of Michel Delville on guitar, samples. loops and electronics, Tony Bianco on drums and Antoine Guenet on piano and keyboards. And they have taken a lot of liberty with the 9 Hendrix songs they choose to record. Even to the extent that many of them are hardly recognisable anymore. To some extent that has to be praised because of the creativity. On the other hand, if it sounds unfamiliar, why cover it?
So I guess it is a double edged knife for me. Musicianship is always tight on the label’s releases. But the rocker in me misses much of the hooks that identify the songs. You have a listen and decide for yourself what you make of it.
The previous album from Spanish drummer Xavi Reija was one in which he excelled in jazz and free form songs. On his new album he works with New Yorker Nitai Hershkovits on piano and Pau Lligadas on upright bass. And while they both may be young, they already have an impressive curriculum. The result is an album that quite surprised me! And the first hint is that the 11 songs on the disk clock in at just under 40 minutes. Which in comparison to previous output is fairly short.
Now, when you start reading the inside text it reads that this is a recording of dance music. Though definitely not in a regular sense. But when you listen to the CD, it becomes clear that there is a certain lightness on offer here. Restrained elegance as it is so aptly described. While there are still parts that remind us we are dealing with virtuoso players who like to experiment and improvise, there is no denying that these songs speak easy to (at least) my ears.
So, while a drummer, bassist and pianist are reasonable common in jazz land, this trio have managed to come up with a rather delightful album. Joyous and emotionally charged, living and breathing music performed by authentic musicians.
If anything, this proves that music from the heart always reaches out and touches anyone who will listen. Wonderful album.