Urban Hansson, flutes
This CD is an unusual, creative and perhaps unique project by Swedish flutist Urban Hansson. Ten tracks recorded as duo encounters with a who's-who of top European musicians (and one other). And there are many delights and surprises.
All Blues kicks off with harmonica and piano, both played by Mats Oberg, which sets a strong but gentle mood for Urban's flute. He contrasts a windy, breathy entry by shifting to a subdued low register, folksy tone. Altogether a satisfying introduction to Hansson's love of breath, wind, and sibilance, which he varies and uses throughout the recording. Ellington's I Got It Bad follows in a more funky groove thanks to Pierre Sward's Hammond organ playing and expert bass pedalling. This is a cooker for the team!
An original, Winds OverTannisby, features a breathy, and electronically harmonized alto flute alongside Jonny Johansson's 9-string guitar. Here we are taken on sonic exploration of new, but melodically and harmonically satisfying territory. Next, another guitar feature: All of Me. A duo in the gypsy-jazz style, this could have been recorded at a French Hot-Club jam session. Andreas Oberg plays skilfully in a clipped two-beat manouch-like extended solo, and the duo go wild.
Classical and jazz styles are contrasted effectively in a relaxed and melodically based intertwining duo with Jerkier Hallden on flute. The two flutes trade fours, then longer segments to build up an original take on All The Things You Are. This is followed by another Hansson original, Monk Delight. Flute and double bass enjoy each other's company here, with bassist Lars Ekstrom humming and bowing like a modern Slam Stewart. Some solo flute improv, then a solid walking blues in F for Thelonious brings it home.
A second flute duo, with Staffan Hallgren playing Sweet and Lovely works well in a mode that stays close to the original melodic line. For flute-playing listeners this could be the favorite track, and provide inspiration to get out and jam with a flute playing friend. Keeping the melody line present makes it easy listening. Then brushes on a drummer's practice pad, and a hissy, steamy flute, power a new take on Take The A Train. More old wine in new bottles!
When I first played Body and Soul, it was around 10 pm and I had the volume up a little to enjoy the constantly changing tone colours and contrasts on this no drum-set CD. Suddenly loud banging on the studio wall from neighbours! I turned the sound down and listened in agitated quiet to a very strange interpretation of this jazz classic. The track featuring Jonas Kulhammar on bass saxophone is in the style of a spontaneous, free-jazz duo with individual solo sections. Later I realized that it wasn't my friendly neighbours banging but the bass sax player in his musical role of annoyed neighbour! After he greets the flute and stays and plays and noodles until at around the five minute mark he takes off into one of the hottest bop bass sax solos on record. Eventually the peaceful flute calmly brings Body and Soul home together again.
Finally, track ten: Flute Fascination. This is a duo with the sound of a boat engine. For several hearings I hated this track: why was such a creative flute player playing over a loudly repetitive boat engine? I tried to concentrate on Urban's lines and scales and rhythms but the boat engine was driving me mad! Eventually I decided to use an old Asian meditation practice: if something is making you agitated or angry, focus completely on that object. So I listened to the boat engine as closely as possible, and suddenly the balance of sounds shifted and I found myself really enjoying the flute response to the chugging rhythm! Flute and boat come together in a most beautiful improvised jazz rhapsody.
Check it out at: http://www.gillbolaget.se/records
Inner Circle Music
During her decade based in New York, Yukari, from Japan, has studied, travelled internationally, taught and played with some of the best US contemporary jazz masters. She writes that this “CD contains Dreams for waking and for sleeping. Sad and happy dreams. Nightmares and Inspiring Dreams....All kinds of feelings are packed into these songs.”
Her quartet with Ben Monder – guitar, Thomas Morgan – bass, and Greg Hutchinson – drums, seems to work with 21st century ESP artistry. She plays with surety and grace and draws on international flute and music traditions to create her own mature style. Improvisation and passion bring her intriguing compositions to life in the manner of an unfolding musical group dance.
Although there is a logic to the CD track order, a new listener to this contemporary music genre may like to begin with track 5, I Loves You Porgy. Since 1935, this moving composition by the Gershwin brothers has been the inspiration for many great jazz performers and it is the only standard on Yukari's CD. Feel the medium andante pulse here and intuit how the group works around the tempo so freely, while accurately maintaining the onward momentum, neither rushing nor dragging, and without using standard dance band or jazz band patterns. Everything seems implied rather than overtly stated, and all players demonstrate a real freedom in expressing their music. They create drama and poetry while remaining true to the Gershwins' operatic and dramatic form. The music flows from all four players, and Yukari's flute is leading the journey. This is a love song, hopeful but tinged with heart-breaking sadness. Listening to this a few times may make it easier to enjoy Yukati's contrasting musical moods and dreams presented throughout this CD.
Perhaps her most immediately enjoyable composition is track 8 – Morning Waltz. An easy and slowing waking dance into a slightly sad morning. Full of promise. From here, start at the beginning with All You Want, then into Annod Eel with a nod to the happy free-play joyful music of Monk and Ornette. This is 21st century freedom: instrumental New York mastery with shifting moods and patterns. All musicians supporting and leading. Merging and changing.
Choral In 3009 featuress Leon Gruennaum using a Samchillian midi controller to weave now sounds of the future within an almost fugal, majestic march suggested by rich percussion underpinning. A gorgeous tapestry of sound from the quintet. Hopper, another quintet track has Greg Osby's alto sax and Yukari's flute playing tightly together, then contributing strong individual solos.
Sky, the final track, begins with sustained guitar chords, sparse percussion, then resonant bass punctuations, and a windy flute. Yukari's solo building on unhurried sustained notes drifts quietly like slowly moving clouds in a dreamy sky. A fresh new- world shakuhachi meditation.
More information at http//:www.innercirclemusic.net
The Unforgettable Sounds of Esquivel
Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica
Jazz is not all that popular, right? WRONG! What about the jazz that many people know and love: In The Mood, Sing, Sing,Sing, Take Five, Girl from Ipanema, Satin Doll, The Pink Panther. There are dozens, maybe hundreds of jazz tunes mostly played by great unknown musicians, but few flute players. Now we have an updated re-discovery of Esquivel's 20th Century Space-Age Latin-Jazz-Pop-Big Band stylings. In amongst the 22 top Boston musicians are flute players, and Geni Skendo's bass flute is featured in several solo spots.
If you like big bands, this is for you. Such classics as Night and Day, Take The A Train, Frenesi, Sentimental Journey, Dancing in the Dark and Esquivel's own Mini Skirt are included. The playing and production are superb, and the sheer fun of the music from a band on steroids including mallet percussion, mariachi trumpets, sliding steel guitar, subterranean bass trombone, a marvellous vocal quartet and Mr. Ho's enthusiastic piano. And of course, flutes.
More interesting information and videos from: www.orchestrotica.com