Long and Short of It
The first Jazz Notes update in about half a year. Hard to imagine where all that time went. Haven’t listened to jazz as much this year, probably because my listening time in general isn’t as much as it used to be. Regardless, glad to have found both of these, especially Moskus, which is the better of the two trios here, in my opinion.
JAMES BRANDON LEWIS – Divine Travels (Okeh): Renowned saxophonist’s sophomore set, walking a thin line between avant landscapes and Wayne Shorter-inspired post-bop. Lewis’s background in gospel strongly shines through in the café-and-congas vibe on poetry recitation “The Preacher’s Baptist Beat,” elsewhere finding a happy medium as leader between bassist William Parker’s free jazz tendencies and drummer Gerald Cleaver’s scattered contemporaneity. And while I love the monosyllabic loops he employs on “Desensitized” or “Tradition,” it’s his maneuvers through the likes of “Wading Child in the Motherless Water” that showcase his talent—a young, raw, uncut yet tamed tongue, able to stand with and lead two world-class jazz vets without even a whiff of attempting to overpower them, casually slipping in and out of styles like it was his job. A MINUS
MOSKUS – Mestertyven (Hubro): Norwegian avant trio (Anja Lauvdal, piano; Fredrik Luhr Dietrichson, double bass; Hans Hulbekmo, drums), a breath of fresh air and remarkably charming and playful—opener “Fjesing” features scattered, pick-up-sticks drumming while a twiddling upright piano stutters and stumbles into what could be an accidental Mario Bros. homage; the following “Tandem med Sankt Peter” a leisurely stroll through the park. Unlike their ultra-rehearsed debut Salmesykkel, the group holed themselves up in Risør Church with sound technician Audun Strype and recorded hours of largely improvisatory material, later cutting down the excess to this trim half-hour. Album title translates as “Master Thief,” band name as “Musk.” They certainly steal your attention, and I’d say their scent is pretty sweet. A MINUS