Paal Nilssen-Love Large Unit – Erta Ale ★★★★


PNL Records PNL025
Paal Nilssen-Love (d, perc), Thomas Johansson (c, flhn), Mats Äleklint (tb), Kasper Værnes (ss, as), Klaus Ellerhusen Holm (as, bs), Børre Mølstad (tba), Ketil Gutvik (g), Lasse Marhaug (turntable, electronics), Jon Rune Strøm (b, el b), Christian Meaas Svendsen (b, el b) and Andreas Wildhagen (d, perc). Rec. 30 January-4 February and 7 June 2014
Sluice your magma chambers – because Paal Nilssen-Love’s 11-piece band hasn’t just named their formidable box set after an eternally-active Ethiopian volcano, they’ve harnessed the lava bombs and sent them vaulting over the ozone. The drummer’s formative experiences with Peter Brötzmann’s Chicago Tentet and Frode Gjerstad’s Circulasione Totale Orchestra undeniably impact on the full-blast ratio; mobocracies of molten chaos blossom into welters of hellish cat-calls as jive rifts sling salvos of supremely low-slung swing.

Ataxias of semi-composed sax scramble are jettisoned by Lasse Marhaug’s coruscating coordinates, the electronics saboteur dishing clean slates, allowing the collective to devolve into constituent parts, a chain of improvisatory workshops preventing Erta Ale from becoming just another extended white knuckle ride. On the title-track the group broker a suite of diverging tectonics in the aisles of a pachinko parlour before detonating another plum in the guise of a wheezy carp. Nilssen-Love says this is just the beginning. Expect more thunder, more pyros and bucketfuls of BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Spencer Grady

Australian Jazz Album Round-Up November 2014

Two of Australia’s best-known jazz artists release new albums, Paul Grabowsky solo and in contrast, fellow pianist Mike Nock with an octet. Also this month, an Australian jazz faculty goes to Italy to learn from the wonderful Italian trumpeter, Enrico Rava. Finally a stunning set from three very different guitarists, collectively known as MGT.

– Michael Prescott

Jazz Presenter 5MBS, Australia


mikeknockMike Nock Octet

Suite Sima                            FWM Records                      ★★★★

Phil Slater (t), James Greening (tb), Mike Nock (p), Peter Farrar (as), Karl Laskowski (ts), Carl Morgan (g), James Waples (d), Brett Hirst (b). Rec 24, 25 April 2014

In the cover notes to this low key release, Mike Nock states that the concept behind the disc is to pay tribute to the Sydney Improvised Music Society, an organisation that has provided support, a venue and opportunities to jazz musicians for 30 years. To this end Nock composed 6 works and it is his superb compositional skills that are on display here. Despite his extensive discography, Nock has rarely worked with a group of this size or with a horn focused front line. These are very much composed pieces in keeping with the “suite” concept and highlight his well tuned arranging skills. Aside from the opening track, “Freedom Of Information”, generous space is given on each of the remaining tracks for various members of the ensemble to strut their stuff and strut they do in style. Of particular note are the solos of James Greening on “Peripherals”, Phil Slater in “Holding Patterns” and Nock himself in “Option Anxiety” The overall mood is upbeat, very much in keeping with the celebratory intent of the suite. Any release by an artist with the stature of Nock is important, but this even more so, blending, as it does, his compositional and arranging skills in the context of an octet. The only downside is that we don’t get to hear much of Nock’s piano, but there’s plenty of that on many of his other discs.

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paul-grabowskyPaul Grabowsky

Solo                                           ABC Jazz                 ★★★★

Paul Grabowsky (p) Rec. 9, 10 July 2014

Earlier this year Grabowsky released his first sextet album in a long time, “The Bitter Suite”, reviewed here in June. This album, his first solo piano album, comes a somewhat as a surprise, especially so soon after his last release. With this album gone is the difficult, almost cluttered sound in favour of a sparse, melodic series of original compositions and covers. The contrast could hardly be greater. But whilst “The Bitter Suite” required repeated listens to unlock its secrets, “Solo” is an open book, readily accessible on first glance. Grabowsky’s playing here is uncomplicated and almost minimalistic and all the better for it. The album kicks off with the lovely original “Angel” in which he manages to create a feeling of serenity. It’s a perfect opener and leads beautifully into the delights within. There are 2 covers, a subdued “’Round Midnight” and the closer “I Get Along Without You Very Well”. Grabowsky’s versions fit in beautifully with his originals like a comfy pair of slippers. The downside to this relaxed approach is that there is a lack of variety and tempo, although “Cole For Cook” sitting as it does slap bang in the middle, offers a welcome contrast. On the strength of this album Grabowsky should contemplate more solo albums.

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enrico-ravaEnrico Rava

The Monash Sessions     Jazzhead                                                 ★★★

Featuring; Enrico Rava (t), Paul Grabowsky (p), Robert Burke (ts), Stephen Magnusson (g), Mirko Guerrini (ts) plus students Rec 14,15 December 2013

The Monash University jazz faculty, led by Rob Burke, has invited a series of jazz luminaries to attend the University as Artist In Residence. Previous guests have included George Lewis, George Garzone and Hermeto Pascoal. Normally the guest travels to Melbourne, joins staff and students and their labours are recorded by Jazzhead for release. In this instance the musicians reversed that rule by travelling to the Monash’s Italian campus in Prato to join the great trumpeter, Enrico Rava. The results are well worth the effort, it is very evident that Rava still plays at the top of his game, despite his 75 years; his fluid, warm tone is all over this disc. Rava’s contribution extends to his composing all of the tunes. The potential problem with a concept such as this can be the disparity between the master and the students leading to a disjointed sound where the elder struggles against struggling students. That is not the case here, the addition of the above listed staff on some tracks and the quality of students to a great extent avoids that issue. Indeed the basic rhythm is provided solely by students, but on listening, you wouldn’t know it. The albums highlight is the ballad “Lulu”, Rava’s gorgeous tone bookends evocative solos from Grabowsky and Magnusson. The success of the Monash series is a credit to the faculty and the obvious empathy that developed in a short time between the students and the elder statesman.

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MGT (Ralph Towner, Wolfgang Muthspiel & Slava Grigoryan)

Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide

MGT is comprised of three highly skilled and technically proficient guitarists. Firstly, Ralph Towner, best known for his work with Oregon and his many ECM recordings. The second member is Wolfgang Muthspiel, the brilliant German classically trained guitarist and the only member of the group to feature the electric guitar. The final member is the Kazakhstan born and Australian since the age of five, Slava Grigoryan. Whilst he is usually found in a classical setting, he is always looking to expand his horizons and what better way than with his idol, Towner. On a cool Adelaide night these three superb guitarists combined for a little live magic. The evidence supporting a great show came firstly from a beaming promoter post concert and secondly this reviewer who thought the concert had ended early after what seemed like 45 minutes, only to find that it was double that. After short solo introductions from the three they then performed in all possible combinations, highlighting works from their two albums, “From A Dream” (Which Way Music) and “Travel Guide” (ECM). The concept of three guitars and no accompaniment, rhythmic or otherwise, could be problematic, but on this night their combined skill transcended any perceived limitation such that additional instrumentation would have hindered the musical flow. A highlight was the amazing interplay between Muthspiel and Grigoryan in “Nico and Mithra “.

Jazzwise November 2014 Issue Albums Reviewed List

All these albums are reviewed in the November 2014 issue of Jazzwise which is out now – to read them all click here to subscribe and get a FANTASTIC FREE CD
New Releases

Leo Appleyard Pembroke Road F-IRECD
Jason Adasiewicz’s Sun Rooms From The Region Delmark
Jesse Bannister Play Out Groove India
Blue-Eyed Hawk
 Under the Moon
Otis Brown III The Thought Of You Blue Note
Helen Burnett When First I Saw You There Discovery Records
Avishai Cohen’s Triveni Dark Nights Anzic Records
Chick Corea Trilogy Concord
Trish Clowes Pocket Compass Basho
Jamie Cullum Interlude Island Records
Lars Danielsson Liberetto II ACT
Mihály Dresch Quartet with Archie Shepp Hungarian Bebop Budapest Music Centre Records
Eyeshutight Resonance Hungry Bear Records
Eyot Similarity Ninety & Nine Records
The Grip Celebrate Slowfoot
Rigmor Gustafsson When You Make Me Smile ACT
Molly Johnson Because of Billie Decca
Mack Avenue Super Band Live From the Detroit Jazz Festival – 2013 Mack Avenue
Marcotulli & Biondini Duo Art La Strada Invisibile ACT
Raul Midon Don’t Hesitate Mack Avenue
Andy Milne & Dapp Theory Forward In All Directions Whirlwind records
Jason Moran All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller Blue Note
Christian Muthspiel & Steve Swallow Simple Songs In & Out
Matt Nelson Lower Bottoms Tubapede Records
Paragon Cerca Jellymould
Ivo Perelman & Karl Berger Reverie Leo
Émile Parisien Quartet Spezial Snack ACT
Simon Phillips Protocol II Inakustik
Antonio Sánchez Three Times Three CamJazz
Wadada Leo Smith/ Jamie Saft/Joe Morris/ Balasz Pandi Red Hill Rare Noise
Ronnie Smith Trio Illusions RSP001
Supersilent 12 Rune Grammofon
John Surman/Bergen Big Band Another Sky Grappa
Tohpati Tribal Dance MoonJune Records \
Topology and Trichotomy Healthy Topology and Trichotomy Music
Travis & Fripp Discretion Panegyric Recordings
Andreas Varady Andreas Varady Verve
Elio Villafranca Caribbean Tinge Live at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola Motéma
Colin Webster / Mark Holub Viscera New Atlantis
Mark Weinstein Latin Jazz Underground Zoho
Bobby Wellins/SNJO Culloden Moor Suite Spartacus
Charlie Wood New Souvenirs Archer Records

Short Cuts// New Releases

Tony Allen Film of Life JazzVillage
Modern Art Orchestra Circular BMC
Federico Casagrande At the End of the Day Camjazz
Joan Chamorro & Andrea Motis Feelin’ Good Temps Record
Tobias Christl Wildern ACT
Eple Trio Universal Cycle Shipwreckords
Hannah Köpf Lonely Dancer GLM Music
Monika Lidke If I Was To Describe You 33 Records
Jan Lundgren All By Myself Fresh Sounds
Thomas Maintz Present Beach Farm
Elvira Nikolaisen/Mathias Eick Concentrate on You Grappa
Nomad Collective Soundscapes of a Bedouin Rudeboy Nomad Collective
Plasmic Live at Chilli Jazz Festival Leo
Joris Roelofs Aliens Deliberating Pirouet
Andreas Schaerer/Lucas Niggli Arcanum Intakt
Hannah Svensson Each Little Moment Volenza
Joona Toivanen Trio November CamJazz
Trondheim Jazz Orchestra & Albatrosh Treehouse MNJ Records
Dan Weiss Fourteen Pi Recordings

Reissues / Archive

Gene Ammons Blue Groove/Preachin’ Groove Hut Records
Chet Baker Sings Dreamcovers
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers Caravan/Buhaina’s Delight Essential Jazz Classics Walter Bishop Soul Village Soul Brother
Gary Burton Quartet Duster/Country Roads & Other Places
John Coltrane Olé Coltrane Essential Jazz Classics
Walt Dickerson Quartet The Complete New Jazz Recordings: This Is Walt Dickerson!/A Sense Of Direction/Relativity/ To My Queen Solar
Kenny Dorham Quintet with Jackie Mclean Complete Recordings Phoenix
Duke Ellington 4tet/5tet/6tet/7tet: The 1956-58 Small Group Recordings Phoenix
Duke Ellington/Coleman Hawkins Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins Essential Jazz Classics
Grateful Dead Wake Up To Find Out Grateful Dead Productions/Rhino
Freddie Hubbard Red Clay/Straight Life/ First Light
Hubert Laws Crying Song/ Afro-Classic/ The Rite of Spring BGO Records
Don Pullen Richard’s Tune Sackville

Short Cuts// Reissues

Louis Armstrong Plays W C Handy – Complete Edition Essential Jazz Classics
Louis Armstrong Three Classic Albums Plus Avid
Duke Ellington Treasury Shows Vol 18 Storyville
Ella Fitzgerald Sings Gently with Nelson/ Sings Broadway Essential Jazz Classics
Four Freshmen Four Freshmen and Five Trombones / and Five Saxes Black Coffee
Plas Johnson This Must Be The Plas! / Mood for the Blues Fresh Sound
Johnnie Pate Complete Recordings 1955-56 Fresh Sound
Oscar Peterson / Fred Astaire The Astaire Story Master Jazz Records
Nina Simone Little Girl Blue Verse
Jeri Southern Complete Roulette and Capitol Recordings 1957-59 Fresh Sound
Mel Tormé Swinging on the moon / Coming Home Baby Master Jazz Records
Various Artists Salsa de la Bahia Vol 2 Patois Records
Jonah Jones Jumpin’ With Jonah + Jonah Jumps Again / Muted Jazz + Hit Me Again! Blue Moon
Hans Koller & Friends Legends Live Jazzhaus
Jack Nimitz Yesterday and Today Fresh Sound
Various Artists British Traditional Jazz: At a Tangent Vol 6: Classic Style Bands Lake
Sarah Vaughan Sings George Gershwin Master Jazz
Teddy Wilson Trio with Jo Jones Complete Studio Recordings Jazz Dynamics

Chick Corea – Trilogy ★★★★ Recommended

Concord CJA3568502

Chick Corea (p), Christian McBride (b), Brian Blade (d) plus Jorge Pardo (fl) and Niño Josele (g). Rec. date not stated

Chick Corea has been a part of the jazz furniture since the 1960s and it is perhaps tempting to take his great achievements in jazz for granted. So it’s worth reminding ourselves he has had to reinforce his mantelpiece to accommodate 20 Grammy Awards (he is in fact the fourth most- nominated artist in Grammy history), is a NEA Jazz Master and has authored some of the most influential jazz recordings of the last 50 years.

Throughout, his creative spirit has never appeared to falter. Now aged 73, an age when most jazz musicians are content for an occasional tour to revisit their honourable pasts, Corea keeps up a demanding schedule pushing the envelope nightly – this 3CD set of free-flowing trio jazz was recorded live in Washington D.C., Oakland in California, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Turkey and Japan. Corea’s accompanists – McBride and Blade – are from among that select few who breathe the heady air at the top of their profession. They are half his age but are swept along by the pianist’s restless creativity that succeeds in combining intensity – a lot of musical ideas are compressed into small spaces – with what some observers have called ‘impishness’ but what is, in effect, his musical audacity.

Corea covers a lot of musical ground here, from the Great American Songbook to jazz standards (including his own composition ‘Spain’) to classical music; Scriabin’s ‘Opus 11, No. 9’ and his own classically inspired ‘Piano Sonata: The Moon’. The latter, effectively the centrepiece of this album set, lasts some 30 minutes and is a reminder of what a complete pianist Corea is – in the Mike Dibbs documentary The Art of Improvisation featuring Keith Jarrett there is a wonderful section where Jarrett and Corea combine on Mozart’s ‘Concerto No. 10 in Eb Major for Two Pianos’ where both pianists rise to the sublime majesty and challenge of Mozart, with Corea especially making it all appear so effortless.

There is a precise analogy to be made with the music made here – it may sound effortless, but that conceals the craftsmanship, flair and sheer inspiration of the moment to create what is probably his finest work since he left ECM in the 1980s.

– Stuart Nicholson

Australian Jazz Album Round-Up October 2014

Originality from the combination of the jazz and classical worlds with Topology & Trichotomy is contrasted this month with two more straight ahead releases, one from a long admired performer turned academic, saxophonist Rob Burke, with assistance from American pianist Kenny Werner and the second from the younger fellow saxophonist Roger Manins and his somewhat unique line-up and his simply joyous album.

– Michael Prescott, Jazz Presenter 5MBS, Australia


Hip Flask

2         Rattle             ★★★★

Roger Manins (s), Stu Hunter (o), Adam Ponting (p), Brendan Clarke (b), Toby Hall (d). Rec December 2013

Roger-Manins-Hip-Flask-300Roger Manins is nothing if not prolific, last month saw him in “Dog”, this month an entirely different, a Trans Tasman group with an equally quirky name and unimaginative title, and yes, it is their second album! This is a very different beast, just a look at the instrumentation makes that clear. It is unusual to see a bassist and organist together, let alone piano and organ in tandem. Such is the writing and arranging skill displayed here that it all sounds just so right. The resulting noise is firmly rooted in the mainstream, with a very healthy dose of Soul Jazz, courtesy of Stu Hunter’s organ plus a big drop of blues. The obvious exception to this is the very distinctive and album highlight, the Manins original, “Circles and Clouds”, with its circular theme. The balance of the album is just great fun, punctuated by fine melodious solos from the excellent Manins, and his keyboard front line. Make no mistake, this is jazz to be enjoyed. It has a very positive vibe, which, not surprisingly, finds itself in “play” mode on a regular basis. Manins has said that part of his philosophy for this music was based on the fact that most jazz “does not go down well with the next door neighbour”. Play this and expect to be asked to turn the volume to max.

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Robert Burke  

Do True                       Jazzhead         ★★★

Robert Burke (s, b cl), Kenny Werner (p), Johannes Weidenmueller (b), Richie Brashy (d). Rec. 3 October 2013

Robert-Burke-Do-True-Jazzhead-300The opening title track starts off with what initially sounds like a melodic free jazz solo before slowly coming together and allowing the remainder of this excellent quartet to join in. In many ways this introduction of atypical of the remaining content, straight ahead jazz as one would expect from this collaboration with pianist Kenny Werner. Burke is a stalwart of the Australian jazz scene and currently Associate Professor at Monash University. For this recording he wanted to leave his comfort zone, so he travelled to New York and joined Werner and his recommended rhythm section comprising of bassist to the late Hank Jones, Weidenmueller and drummer Brashy, who has worked with both Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. The group perform mostly Burke originals plus three from Werner and one from fellow Australian, Paul Grabowsky. Burke is a fine technician and posses a distinctive dry, but attractive, tone which he utilises to great effect throughout his delightful improvisatory excursions. Werner’s contributions cannot be understated, “Valse” and “Georgia James” are highlights whilst his piano solos shows one jazz music’s best in glowing form. Burke may have wanted to see if he could cut it with some of the best from the Big Apple, especially Werner. He needn’t have worried, this is a strong album, not to mention completely enjoyable.

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Topology & Trichotomy

Healthy                        Self produced           ★★★★

Topology: John Babbage (s), Kylie Davidson (p), Robert Davidson (b), Bernard Hoey (viola), Christa Powell (v), Trichotomy: Sean Foran (p, el p), John Parker (perc), Pat Marchisella (b). Rec March-April 2010

trichotomytopology300This is not one of those Beatles / Frank Ifield albums where each artist fills one side; nor is it dominated by one over the other. This is a complete collaboration between two very distinct groups that are also from totally opposite disciplines; Topology is rooted in classical chamber music whilst Trichotomy is from the jazz tradition. That is not to say that there were no issues that had to be dealt with make it work, there are, after all, two basses and two pianos. Each group contributed equally to the writing and arrangements, with the only non original being a startling arrangement of Steve Reich’s “Clapping Song”. The final result is compelling and represents probably the most successful integration of these two disparate musical worlds this reviewer has heard. Oddly, the sax comes from the Topology’s John Babbage, but such is his musicianship and virtuosity that he handles his new found freedom with ease. The result of this unique coupling is simply delightful, a very melodic and beautiful acoustic chamber jazz, closest to Oregon in texture, but with violin and viola instead of guitars. So often collaborations of this kind promise much and deliver little. It is a testament to these two groups that they make it work so well and deliver in spades.

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