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 New Release Round-up, Jazz New Release Round-Up - 4th October 2019

I recently spoke with Gwilym Simcock about his latest album Near and Now, which was heavily influenced by classical music structures, and evidence of an urge to bring more intricate, longform designs to jazz composition. It’s interesting then that a couple of other new releases this week, Modest Trio’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Alex LoRe’s Karol, are also looking to bring classical ideas to the jazz table. And surprisingly it’s not at all a mismatch!

Great albums seemingly tumble out of our capital at the moment, with this invigorating session from saxophonist Binker Golding recorded at Abbey Road a prime example. With a band that includes Ezra Collective pianist Joe Armon-Jones, Daniel Casimir on double bass, and Sam Jones on drums, Golding plays with a crisp attack, and full bodied tone. The rhythms snap, crackle and pop, even on the slower numbers, making this fly by most enjoyably. Like a lot of the music coming out of London, the live drums are clearly influenced by developments in electronica over the past 30 years, especially drum ‘n’ bass, without sounding at all rigid or un-swinging. Give it a go.

Available Format: CD

Where do you stand on re-interpretations of classical music? I must admit my guard goes up a little, mainly due to bloated prog rock concept albums from the likes of ELP and Rick Wakeman. Pictures at an Exhibition has proved itself particularly suitable for reinterpretation over the years however - the original piano version still sounds too modernistic to have been written in 1874 - and here the Modest Trio (see what they did there?) offer fresh insights into the piece. In this piano trio format with Vladimir Miller on keys, Joe Williamson on double bass and Arkady Gotesman drumming Mussorgsky's work offers rich source material for flights of improvisational fantasy.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC

Alex LoRe

Saxophonist Alex LoRe’s Karol features compositions influenced by a variety of genres, ranging from European classical music to today’s most influential artists on both the jazz and popular music scenes. The tracks are largely dedicated to classical composers; Stravinsky, Henry Cowell, Ives, and the Karol of the title being Szymanowski. Whilst keeping within a fairly mainstream template, the tunes here abound with little kinks and obstacles for the group to navigate, which they do with aplomb. LoRe’s sax has a Dexter Gordon-like velvet tone making this both listenable and gently challenging. Highlight for me is the Casey Jones (for Charles Ives) which does have some of that maverick's clash of ideas and marching band rhythms.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC

Keiji Haino, Merzbow, Balazs Pandi

You might have noticed we've been adding catalogue to the jazz department at quite a pace, and one of the most exciting additions has been RareNoiseRecords, whose disregard for genre restrictions I wholeheartedly applaud. Their devotion to releasing this sort of hybrid is truly exciting, as it’s not jazz or rock, but it surely is improvisation. Keiji Haino and Merzbow are the two biggest names in Japanese noise rock, and here they are joined by drummer Balazs Pandi to create one heck of a stink. Merzbow is virtually a genre unto himself – for anyone seeking advice on getting into his unrelenting sound world my best tip is to persevere... a portal should eventually appear out of the static, and the rewards are grand vistas of brutal beauty. if any artist deserves the phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ it’s surely the great Merzbow.

Available Format: CD