Focus on the jazz projects this week with Walter Smith III, Jeff Williams, Rez Abbasi, Scopes and Partisans !
The joyful freedom of Ferde Grofe’s ‘On the Trail’ captures precisely the intended spirit of Walter Smith III’s new album Twio. Collaborating closely with established colleagues in double bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Eric Harland, the Texas-native, California-based tenor saxophonist & composer presents his own illuminating vision of the saxophone trio while also inviting, along the way, guest appearances by Joshua Redman (tenor saxophone) and Christian McBride (double bass).
It speaks volumes when the bustling opening track of drummer Jeff Williams’ new piano trio release, Bloom, is revealed as “just us warming up, getting our headphone mix together”! For that’s the remarkable, spontaneous quality which his partnership with pianist Carmen Staaf and double bassist Michael Formanek delivers across ten numbers individually penned by each, plus a Buster Williams interpretation.
Completing a trilogy of albums whose compositions are infused with the various, colorful strands of traditional music from his Pakistani/Indian homeland, New York guitarist Rez Abbasi’s Unfiltered Universe presents the line-up of pianist Vijay Iyer, alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, bassist Johannes Weidenmueller and drummer Dan Weiss, plus guest appearances from renowned classical cellist Elizabeth Mikhael. Previous releases Things to Come and Suno Suno focused, respectively, on Hindustani and Qawwali music, whereas this collection of seven new numbers explores and embraces the more rhythmically exuberant, South Asian elements of Carnatic instrumental music.
The contemporary sound is strong in this sparkling, eponymous debut from new European quartet Scopes, led by Austrian drummer Mathias Ruppnig and German bassist Tom Berkmann. Originally meeting up when based in New York for several years, performing there in various projects with French pianist/keyboardist Tony Tixier, they created the basis of a striking collaboration completed by acclaimed Dutch alto saxophonist Ben van Gelder.
With an authority developed over two decades on the circuit, Partisans are proud to unleash their first live album, Nit De Nit, recorded at London’s Vortex Club. Across this rezzed-up hour-plus of back-catalogue reinventions and new delights, electric guitarist Phil Robson, saxophonist Julian Siegel, electric bassist Thaddeus Kelly and drummer Gene Calderazzo command the stage with inimitable joie de vivre.