There’s a bit of obsession in the dense beauty of Tim Berne’s music on You’ve Been Watching Me (ECM) – once it nails a motif, it doesn’t let go until it’s been examined and exhausted. The wily saxophonist’s tumult comes in calibrated waves, and each splashes toward one exuberant goal. Like its two predecessors, the new album’s action feels elastic, always morphing to put one of the group’s instruments in the foreground. Sometimes it’s the luscious clarinets of Oscar Noriega, sometimes it’s the steely piano of Matt Mitchell, sometimes it’s the octopus percussion of Ches Smith. Further amazing – even with the additional density of new guitarist Ryan Ferreira, Berne’s thick ensemble passages find a way to bust out some breathing room while still delivering on the promise of their signature whomp. Give your speakers some real juice while the band gets ultra agile on “Semi-Self Detached” and you’ll likely agree. Arrangement and chemistry FTW. The quintet tends to explode club gigs like their Jazz Standard romp into a million pieces. Be there.
The celebrated pianist leads a band that generates marvelous moments as a matter of course. Iyer’s unique design sense always finds novel ways for their interactions to be rendered, so flourishes may be whispered and hip-hop beats may swing like some Philly Joe Jones groove. His scope of inclusion includes art and pop, meaning Michael Jackson, Flying Lotus, Henry Threadgill and Duke Ellington pieces are likely to surface between the craggy and provocative originals. Their mighty Accelerando was 2012’s consensus album among critics – long story short, this is the piano trio to beat right now. In a cozy room like the Standard, they’ll truly rattle a few minds. Keep your ears on the rhythm section of bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore, they’re constantly feeding the boss a stream of implosive ideas.
A half century ago Coleman doubled every instrument in his intrepid quartet and threw the switch on one of his masterpieces, a 37-minute squall both passionate and provocative. At this gig eight heavyweights tip their hat to the kind of jazz repertory that’s often left in the dust, and tries to connect the dots within the roar. There’s a joy that wafts through OC’s original, and methinks that emotion will be paralleled by a squad that stretches from Joe Lovano to Jeremy Pelt to Ben Allison to Billy Drummond. Something mighty this way comes.
The pianist’s version of “mercurial” is guilty of very few contrivances, so as he connects the dots between Justin Bieber and Sonny Rollins on his new Gouache album, he builds righteous through-lines all over the place. The demands he makes on his rhythm section (drummer Justin Faulkner and bassist Burniss Travis) are many, and they invariably feature a jaw-dropping moment or two.
The Turner/Grenadier/Ballard team has one of most engaging dynamics around. Funny how some groups can push idiosyncrasy while still creating a palatable sound. The club date at the Standard seems to be a must-hear for trio fiends.
Apologies for the Chris Lightcap version of the band that spent time in the video slot above. I’ve now replaced with a Larry version. Thanks to commenter Pablo for the nudge.