one faint deluded smile

Friday, April 29, 2005



Well, that's torn it completely - I've started to enjoy Jazz records.

And I don't mean the kind where Miles Davis blows cool in the 50s. And I don't mean the kind of Jazz that's been ripped apart by rock (Soft Machine) or drones (The Necks) or avant leanings (Carla Bley) or tampered with in any other way. I just mean the kind where talented, sometimes egotistical people take solos over beautifully complicated chords and melodies.

Interestingly, the ones that have brought on this brain explosion are piano trios (with some extras). I've got one other such record in my collection - Bill Evans at the Village Vanguard - that always felt rather delicious every time I put it on. (Even if the very name reeked of all things I should have abhored).

Now (via reviews in The Wire) I've heard 2 lovely releases from this year.

First off is Tord Gustavsen whose latest record, "The Ground", is just drop dead gorgeous with lots of empty space, stately chords and simple accompaniement:

mp3: Edges of Happiness

Then there's E.S.T.'s "Viaticum" which is a bit more group orientated and has a less staid nature but is still overseen by effortless piano playing.:

mp3: Tide Of Trepidation

I don't feel any great admiration or wonder for these obviously marvellous pianists. Isn't that what how you're supposed to react? Give them a huge round of applause after another lengthy solo, followed by another round of applause as the next member of the trio trakes the next solo, etc, etc, ad infinitum.

However, I do feel moved by the music they're making. Which is much more than can be said for approximately 90% of the stuff I'm hearing this year.

Or maybe I'm just getting old and I'll wind up with a 3,000 arcane live recordings of some be-bop sax player taking up space in my living room.

[edit] I've just been told by Ian (who should know) that EST aren't really proper jazz. And, no, I suppose they're not with all their slightly trippy rhythms and long sections of deeply ambient tinkling and occassional rock elements. So that's all OK then. I can now breathe easier.


  • weird that you discover jazz when i more or less rediscover it. i have been a big fan of keith jarrett's solo improvisations in the 70s and his trio work at the same time. the gustavsen trio cd which i purchased yesterday (i hadn't heard from gustavsen before reading your blog entry) is really phantastic. gustavsen reminds me of jarrett with his melodic lyricism. the cd seems more relaxed and less fervent than jarrett's trio records with charlie haden and paul motian though. a typical calm ecm release. i can assure you that it is definitely jazz (i suppose you were joking with your "edit"). jazz is a wide field and the most exciting bits of jazz have always been improvisations or on the fringes of classical jazz.

    e.s.t. i just read about in a german blog. they played in frankfurt a couple of days ago but i missed it as i am in the south of france. that thing about the group feeling (the sum is more than the components) is quite typical for jazz too i think. i have never heard anything by e.s.t. i must admit though.

    btw i also bought the new madeleine peyroux yesterday. i get the impression that she sounds less billie holidayish than on the first which is a good thing. perfect clones are really not what i am looking for in music.

    the kammerflimmer kollektief is quite beautiful too. there was a review in a german blog which compared it to a slowly flowing river in which small paper boats (the individual instruments) are launched.

    the other jazz cd i bought recently was the release by heinz sauer, sax and michael wollny, piano. i wrote about their frankfurt concert in my blog. wilder stuff than the other cds. small pieces sounding like impressionist free jazz or something. wollny reminds me of jarrett as well. more jarrett's experimentalist side when wollny plays inside the grand piano e.g.

    By Blogger Alexander, at 6:44 pm  

  • glad you've picked up the gustavsen as it's a lovely sunday morning tea and toast kind of record. my edit was in relation to est particularly who stray from many of the 'defining' jazz elements whilst still being jazz (at least as far as i can hear). i suppose the 'group' thing is in relationship to all improv things, really. haven't heard any jarrett for a while so i should go back and try him out again. as i said to an email today - i think i'll retreat from jazz a little bit now and go back to my amorphous electronic hole-in-the-wall for a while.

    By Blogger Phil, at 7:45 am  

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