Jazz, September 2022

hfnalbum.pngLynne Arriale Trio
The Lights Are Always On
Challenge Records CR7532

With a title quoting the words of one dedicated doctor, this collection of new pieces was inspired by him and by 'all front-line health care workers', and it's offered in memory of the pianist's husband, who passed away in Aug '21. But along with the deep and moving title track, there are celebrations of others 'who stood up for what is right' in difficult times: 'Honor' is for Lt Colonel Alexander Vindman, axed by Trump after testifying in the first impeachment hearing, while 'Walk In My Shoes' is for civil rights activist and Congressman John Lewis. As with 2020's Chimes Of Freedom, bassist Jasper Somsen and drummer E J Strickland provide perfect accompaniment, in music that quietly consoles and heals. SH


Fergus Mccreadie
Forest Floor
Edition Records EDN1197; LP: EDN1197LP

With last year's Cairn, the brilliant and innovative Scottish pianist harnessed his country's musical heritage and celebrated its landscape. This second album is even more dramatic, bursting with energy and building to full-on climaxes of exultant pianism, yet has its lyrical side too. In the title piece, opening with David Bowden's arco bass and a theme in the lowest registers, you feel the soft and ferny bed beneath your feet, while 'Morning Moon' conveys silvery tranquility and shimmering light with brushwork from drummer Stephen Henderson. By contrast, the urgent rhythm of 'Landslide' builds an almost unbearable tension. SH


Opus 5
Swing On This
Criss Cross Jazz 1406

A fifth album – but the first since 2015 – from a really tight-knit and virtuosic New York quintet in the classic hard-bop mould. Back in 2010, saxophonist Seamus Blake and trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, who had both played for years in the Mingus Big Band, recruited three more MBB colleagues to play their own music rather than Mingus's. Here, pianist David Kikoski, bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Donald Edwards (all as of April 2022 still members of MBB), once again bring effortless drive and zest to the music. With Blake's unstoppable tenor and Sipiagin's original and expressive trumpet and flugel flights, they really do Swing On This. This was a joyful reunion. SH


The Pucciarelli Group
Ubuntu Music UBU 0101

Guitarist Giuseppe Pucciarelli began playing at five, absorbing Italian folk music and starting classical guitar at ten. Arriving in London to study jazz at the Guildhall school in 2017, he gathered three countrymen to form the quartet heard then on his self-released Shall We Say It's Worth, and now on this Ubuntu debut. It's a distinctive sound, the florid piano of Ergio Valente and sometimes busy drumming of Marco Gagliano enrobing Pucciarelli's warm-toned, accessibly melodic guitar. He dips into rock idioms but is still clean-sounding even on the slightly bluesy 'Bolo', where Aldo Capasso switches from acoustic to electric bass. A refreshing surprise. SH