Jazz, March 2024

hfnalbum.pngErskine & Kavuma
Banger Factory Records BF006 (CD and LP)

Mainspring of London's Banger Factory collective and founder of the label, trumpeter Mark Kavuma is ravishing on 'The Loneliest', a ballad by US bassist Russell Hall (who'd recorded it with Banger Factory saxist Ruben Fox). This live-sounding quintet album captures his post-lockdown return to the studio of Theo Erskine, who's heard here as saxophonist and co-leader. Bassist Michael Shrimpling wrote the Monkish 'It' while pianist Noah Stoneman, distilling Monk through his own fabulous harmonic sense, contributed 'June'. This gets its happy pulse from Empirical drummer Shane Forbes, whose great solo also lights up the fast 'Return Of Johnny Bravo'. Finally, 'The Day After Tomorrow' jazz-waltzes into a bright future. SH


Joel Harrison
Anthem Of Unity
HighNote Records HCD7348

Versatile and much-recorded guitarist Joel Harrison joins forces here with Hammond virtuoso Gary Versace, but this is no ordinary organ-combo album as it brings together four diverse and long-respected talents. On tenor sax and (occasionally) clarinet is Gregory Tardy, who combines limitless technique, a lithe way with melody and a warm human sound; on drums the great Jack DeJohnette, who despite having been born in 1942, has never sounded less like a veteran. Apart from a jaunty take on Rollins' 'Doxy' and a playful 'Times They Are A-Changing', you get six originals, all full of ideas, ear-catching melodies and engaging rhythms. It's absorbing and enjoyable. SH


Ethan Iverson
Technically Acceptable
Blue Note 5581218

After 17 years as pianist with The Bad Plus (which continues in a different form), Iverson made a duo album with saxophonist Mark Turner before teaming with stalwarts Larry Grenadier and Jack DeJohnette for his Blue Note debut [Every Note Is True, 2022]. Now we hear his new trio, with Thomas Morgan on bass and Kush Abadey at the drums, again exploring jazz history with twists and shocks – as when the title track's cool 1950s locked-hands groove gives way to a whimsical bridge. There's a pop-styled 'Killing Me Softly' and an outlandish 'Round Midnight' with Rob Schwimmer on theremin, and Iverson's craggy piano sonata concludes a constantly surprising album. SH


Valleys & Mountains
Jazzland Recordings 3779599; LP: 3779580

Formed by Norwegian pianist, composer, producer and Jazzland label founder Bugge Wesseltoft, Rymden ('Space') is a Nordic supergroup, as bassist Dan Berglund and drummer Magnus Öström were in Sweden's mould-breaking Esbjörn Svensson Trio (e.s.t.) until Svensson's untimely death in 2008. This latest exploration starts with 'The Hike', tramping to a steady rock beat with a bluesy guest solo by guitarist John Scofield. Heavy on electronics and hypnotic rhythms, the trio look to inner as well as outer space, 'Milam Bardo' referring to the Buddhist dream state, before we get to the mountains, the valleys and, finally, 'Himmel' (heaven). It's a compelling journey. SH