Reflections on Five Cds Chosen At Random From My Collection

There is always a danger that Cds are bought or arrive in the post, played once or twice, and then filed away. So I have been selecting several Cds at random, listening to them, and writing a short piece about them. I don’t intend to write about them in detail, rather just summarising them in a few sentences.

Joe Henderson: The State Of The Tenor: Live At The Village Vanguard with Ron Carter and Al Foster

Blue Note Records

Joe Henderson leads a really strong trio with Ron Carter and Al Foster. The music is an excellent example of the style that developed in the 1960s, modal, post-bop. Henderson shows how creative one can be in that style with a beautiful range of phrases in each solo played over the always inventive rhythmic support from Carter and Foster. Carter also takes some excellent solos

Lotte Anker and Fred Frith Edge Of The Light

Intakt Records

Lotte Anker is a Danish saxophonist who playes in the free jazz/improvised music style. Here she appears in duo with Fred Frith on electric guitar. It’s a delightful album that features a very empathetic conversation between Anke and Frith which moves between the spiky, the charming and the melodic. Frith is as inventive as ever, and in the sleeve notes states that the duo is his favourite format, and that he was able to establish an immediate rapport with Anke on this recording.

Alcyona Mick Around The Sun Audio B Records

Alcyona Mick, or just Alcyona as she is listed here, was one of the students on the first jazz course run at Birmingham Conservatoire, There she was taught by Liam Noble, and his influence is apparent in her playing. The album dates from 2006 and features original compositions by Alcyona, and an excellent group featuring Robbie Robson on trumpet and flugelhorn, Mark Hanslip on tenor sax, Alcyona on piano, Phil Donkin on double bass, and Asaf Sirkis drums on most tracks and John Bleese on two others. Vocalist Olivia Chaney appears on one track.

It’s a fine album with excellent solos from the group, especially Alcyona and Mark Hanslip, nice Monkish compositions from Alcyona, and two brilliant solo piano improvisations from Alcyona, one, Black Notes, White Notes, showing an influence from classical music, the second, Discussion, equally good with more of jazz feel.

Alcyona seems not to be leading her own groups these days, but appearing in duo with Tori Freestone, and in groups led by Brigitte Beraha and Henry Lowther. Her appearances in these groups have been well reviewed. Alcyona also writes film scores and is listed as a film composer on the internet.

Finn Peters Su-Ling Babel Label

It was good to revisit the this debut album from 2006 by Finn Peters. Finn is an extremely versatile musician who has worked in contemporary classical ensembles as well as urban music contexts; in this album he focusses on his jazz roots, but reveals an openness clearly derived from his versatility. The album has a lot of variety, and we hear this in the opening track, Al Dar Gazelli, which has an attractive groove and an African feel created by guitarist David Okumu, bass player Tom Herbert and drummer Tom Skinner. The title track has a strong Chinese feel created by Nick Ramm on piano and Finn on percussion. It’s interesting that the album cover includes a quote from Gilles Peterson, and it is clear that the album will have had an appeal for Gilles’ radio audience as well as fans of contemporary British and European jazz. Sadly, Finn seems to have gone very quiet in recent years.

Herb Robertson Certified JMT Records

I like the description in the Guide to Jazz on CD of Herb Robertson as giving ‘the impression that he took up the trumpet only that afternon, discovered an aptitude for it, and has been having fun ever since‘. On this album he plays trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn and valve trombone, often combining with bass trombonist David Taylor to create a splendid brassy sound. This album from 1991 presents music that is typical of the music of the so-called ‘downtown scene’ in New York; it’s very open, full of interesting twists as it moves in and out of composition and improvisation. It is quite often simply bonkers, occasionally indulgently so. But I am delighted to have rediscovered this album which is part of the short-lived but influential output of the JMT label under Stefan Winter.

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