Jazz, February 2024

hfnalbum.pngJim Rotondi Quintet
Over Here
Criss Cross Jazz 1417 

In the 2000s, while still based in New York, straight-ahead trumpeter and educator Jim Rotondi made a string of albums for Criss Cross, culminating in The Move, a title that presaged his relocation to Austria as Professor of Trumpet at Graz University. Hence the title of this new album, recorded in Italy at the end of a happy ten-day tour of European jazz clubs, with a quintet of seasoned players who've all studied and worked in New York but now spend most of their time in Europe – saxophonist Rick Margitza, for example, moved to Paris in 2003. Rotondi is especially mellow on flugelhorn, and with pianist Grissett, bassist Ginsburg and drummer Kostadinovic all excellent, everything gels enjoyably. SH


Paul Mottram
Seven Ages Of Man
Ubuntu Music UBU0140

A successful composer for television, from The Apprentice to Downton Abbey, Paul Mottram lighted on the 'All the world's a stage' speech in As You Like It for this jazz/classical work built around saxophonist Tim Garland. He prefaces Shakespeare's 'ages' with 'Origin' and 'Gestation', a lovely unfolding theme played by the second main soloist, pianist Jason Rebello. Mottram recorded their solo parts first, then the orchestra and finally the rest of the sextet (vibes, bass, drums, percussion). With an 'Infant' wide-eyed and wondering rather than 'mewling and puking', Mottram's 'seven ages' seem serenely optimistic, but perhaps that's what we need now. SH


Logan Kane
Floor Plans
Ghost Note GNR1024; LP: GNRLP1024

A dazzling player on both acoustic and electric bass, Kane had already made his mark on the LA jazz scene when, aged 23, he cut his ambitious nonet album Nope, Science [Orenda Records]. This time he leads a powerful quartet that sounds like a bigger group, again with the unstoppable alto sax of David Binney and urgent drumming of Benjamin Ring. On piano, UK ex-pat John Escreet alternates with Texas-born Paul Cornish (also a member of Kane's band Thumpasaurus). Though Kane mainly plays acoustic bass, the hypnotic rhythm of 'Labor Day Machines' gives way to his fast and fluid electric solo. Want a stimulating blast of alternative jazz? This is it. SH


Aaron Diehl & The Knights
Zodiac Suite
Mack Avenue MAC1201; LP: MAC1201LP

Jazz pianist, arranger and composer Mary Lou Williams wrote her Zodiac Suite in 1945 but it was never successfully performed or recorded in its orchestral form – until now. In this superb realisation, the brilliant and subtle pianist Aaron Diehl (known for his great trio work, a miraculous collaboration with Cecile McLorin Salvant, and some classical explorations) teams with an adventurous New York chamber orchestra, The Knights. The other soloists are soprano Mikaela Bennett (operatic in 'Pisces'), clarinettist Evan Christopher, saxophonist Nicole Glover and trumpeter Brandon Lee, who makes 'Virgo' sublime. It's a milestone recording, and a unique achievement. SH