Jazz, October 2019

hfnalbum.pngChick Corea & The Spanish Heart Band
Concord Records 7210335 (LP: 7210336)

Written by Corea and sung suavely by Panamanian actor, activist and musician Rubén Blades, the title song tells us that music is the antidote for all our ills, and the band sounds so good that you believe it. Corea's brilliant new octet is founded on a great Latin rhythm section, with modern-flamenco guitarist Niño Josele and a superb front line of Jorge Pardo on sax and flute, Michael Rodriguez on trumpet and Steve Davis on trombone. They look back to Corea's album Touchstone and his collaboration with the late Paco de Lucia in a new take on 'The Yellow Nimbus', before expansively reinvigorating 'My Spanish Heart' and 'Armando's Rhumba' from 1976. Truly dancing music that's not to be missed. SH


Scott Hamilton Quartet
Danish Ballads... & More
Stunt Records STUCD18102 (LP: STULP1801)

On this follow-up to the saxophonist's Swedish Ballads of 2013, you'll know more of the tunes than you think. Once again Hamilton's group includes Swedish pianist Jan Lundgren and Danish drummer Kristian Leth, but now with Hans Backenroth on bass. They kick off with 'In Love With Copenhagen', the 1968 film theme by Bent Fabricius Bjerre, and then give an elegant take on the same composer's 1962 piano hit, 'Alley Cat'. Less well-known outside Scandinavia is 'Havnen' from 1937, but Hamilton makes it luscious and memorable, while 'My Little Anna', by the late bassist NHØ Pedersen, gets a Caribbean flavour with a dash of Rollins's 'St Thomas'. SH


Edmar Castaneda/Grégoire Maret
Harp vs. Harp
ACT Music ACT 9044-2

Colombian harpist Castaneda's astonishing and joyful blend of traditional and jazz idioms is as captivating as ever here, while the other 'harp' is the harmonica of the Swiss virtuoso Gregoire Maret. He has toured with Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny and many other greats but he's never afraid to keep things simple when appropriate, as it is in a plaintive melody like his own 'Hope', and Castaneda is with him all the way. As a bonus, there's a guest appearance from banjoist Bela Fleck, alternately soloing and bubbling under on the jaunty 'No Fear', for example, and there are also a couple of passionate guest vocals from Andrea Tierra. A cross-cultural treat. SH


Zhenya Strigalev/Federico Dannemann
The Change
Rainy Days RAINY003CD

After more than ten years based in London, and four Whirlwind albums, Russian-born saxophonist Zhenya Strigalev has moved back to St Petersburg, where this was recorded. As with last year's Blues For Maggie the lineup includes the phenomenal Chile-based guitarist Federico Dannemann, but this time it's strictly a quartet and he's credited as co-leader. His rock-inspired, fuzzy-edged sound might have you fearing a drive-unit failure. This dense, driving music is energised by one of the great New York rhythm teams, drummer Obed Calvaire and bassist Luques Curtis, and has the intensity of a controlled explosion. Addictive. SH