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 New Release Round-up, Jazz New Release Round-Up - 2nd August 2019

Happy Friday fellow syncopation lovers! What is it about off-beats that makes them so moreish? Why is the minor seventh so naughty? And why do I need them on lumps of of plastic, either shiny silver discs or, preferably, shocking pink translucent vinyl? It's a conundrum folks, a riddle I have yet to solve... so let's see if I can feed the beast once again by highlighting some of the lovely offerings that you and I need to complete our lives!

Monkey House

Hands up who ‘gets’ Steely Dan? They’re one of the quintessential ‘Marmite’ band (overseas readers, Marmite is a salty, yeast based, thick, black treacly spread that usually divides people in the UK into two camps – lovers and haters, and never the twain shall meet) whose fans have a near fanatical devotion to their popes of pop, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. Monkey House are most definitely in the lovers camp, as new album Friday could be a long-lost Steely Dan album, it’s that slick and polished. That’s not a criticism though – the hardcore Steely devotee yearns for those gleaming, cynical ‘n’ clinical surfaces, and Monkey House serve up their own original tunes, penned by mastermind Don Breithaupt. After a while the lazy comparisons slipped away (I do need that grist for the mill) and I just enjoyed it for itself, an album of memorable tunes with consummately crafted, precision-tooled jazzy arrangements. If you yearn for fresh sonic pretzels check this out. (As a note, I love Marmite, and think Peg is one of the finest production jobs ever, but most Steely Dan leaves me cold – but maybe that’s the point?).

Available Format: CD

Evan Parker & Matthew Wright

Interesting – Evan Parker and Matthew Wright playing live with electronics from Adam Linson, plus John Coxon and Ashley Wales of Spring Heel Jack… brings back memories of the same musicians' Thirsty Ear collaborations from the early to mid-noughties. Parker’s circular breathing (quelle surprise) through a dense rain-forest of glitches and drones, and it sounds fabulous. The sort of stuff that if you fell asleep to it you’d wake up and it’d still be playing in your head.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC

Hmm… took me a while to get used to Herring’s voice but the debut solo album from Juilliard graduate operatic baritone singer Herring is certainly interesting. You can tell he’s an opera singer first and foremost as he stretches out those deeeeeep vowels. He’s got a good band around him, including saxophonist Stephen Riley, cornetist Kirk Knuffke and drummer Billy Drummond. His voice reminds me of Earl Coleman's, whose appearances on Charlie Parker and Sonny Rollins albums were such an odd match.

Available Format: CD

Jon Batiste

Anyone who has watched The Late Show with Stephen Colbert will know pianist Jon Batiste, especially for his hilarious piano and vocal contributions to Colbert’s punchlines. I’ve enjoyed his previous albums, and this one is no exception, especially as it’s a live recording at the Village Vanguard. That same wit is in effect here, and the appreciative audience contributions only add to the good natured mood. A lovely guest spot from Rachel Price on The Very Thought of You is the icing on a very pleasant cake.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Andy Fusco

With a super band behind him, Andy Fusco has a compelling alto sound, very commanding and able to pull-off a high-speed sax shred. The title track and Tailspin are the aural equivalent of Popeye Doyle chasing the overhead train in French Connection. Crank it up and take it for a spin through Bishop’s Stortford in your Fiat Punto!

Available Format: CD