Anthony Dean-Harris’ Favorite Non-Jazz Releases of 2014

Anthony Dean-Harris’ Favorite Non-Jazz Releases of 2014

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

I must admit, there’s a lot of music this year,even music that I may be praising in this very list, that I may forget some time later. Next year, or two years from now. There’s just so much to keep track of nowadays. But for now, in this moment at the end of the year, I would like to feel confident saying that I enjoyed these albums the most.

Honorable Mention. D’Angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah (RCA)
Far be it for me to complain that the album the world has spent over a decade waiting for would disrupt year-end lists when ballots have already been sent, votes, tallied, and blurbs assigned. Yet when one of the best known artistic hermits of our day finally deigns to speak quick fast and in a hurry because the time was right and the streets are uneasy, in league with the notion of this just protest, the disruption was necessary. Yet what resulted feels like what naturally would come from D’Angelo, like hardly any time has passed. The vocals are just as smooth, the grooves from bassist Pino Palladino are just as present, the drums from ?uestlove and Chris “Daddy” Dave” pop, but D’Angelo also sets his hand to playing many of the instruments as well and he’s proved himself just as great at these new crafts as on the ones he had before, and on those he’s still just as great.

10. Interpol – El Pintor (Matador)
Something interesting happened in 2014. It’s not exactly clear how it happened but somewhere along the way of Paul Banks going astray on his own and a few lackluster albums, Interpol remembered what made them so great to listen to, making some of the most exciting music they’ve made since Antics.

9. Spoon – They Want My Soul (Loma Vista)
Back in the summer, Grantland music writer Steven Hyden wrote a feature/review of this album arguing that Spoon is an unsung hero of rock because they’re so consistently great that they hardly make waves. It’s a pretty strong argument but it’s also important to note that this album is indeed so good that it rocked its fair share of boats. Spoon continually satisfies, album after album, and They Want My Soul is no exception. It’s so good, you want to make a note of it so you don’t forget how good it is, and then you’re glad you remembered.

8. Landlady – Upright Behavior (Hometapes)
Adam Schatz is one of my favorite weirdos in the whole wide world. I’m on record saying this. The energy and positivity he exudes in all his various endeavors is infectious, yet in 2014, none of this was more clear than in his indie rock group, Landlady. This group of musicians have made complex, but extremely accessible music that’s a delight to hear live and recorded, sure to squirrel its way into your head via Schatz’ chirping voice and Ian Chang’s snappy drumming.

7. Taylor McFerrin – Early Riser (Brainfeeder)
Taylor McFerrin, son of Bobby McFerrin, spent years on this album.Whenever he would show up live, jamming with the late Austin Peralta for example, he always dazzled, having folks wonder when he’d shine all his own. This year, McFerrin finally did, declaring his statement as a melder of talents and a maker of grooves.To do so, he recruited Hiatus Kaitoye’s Nai Palm, Robert Glasper, Thundercat, Marcus Gilmore, and even his dad to put together an exceptional album and a clear indicator that some good work takes time.

6. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! (Warp)
Did you ever wish Flying Lotus would have taken the last song of Cosmogramma, “Galaxy in Janaki”, and expanded that vibe into a whole album? This may be as close to such a work as we’re going to get, but mixing a mostly jazz fusion album with a bevy of legit jazz musicians, most prominently Herbie Hancock and the constant collaborator Thundercat on bass, with his rap alter ego Captain Murphy, ambient vibes, and numerous other influences in what is ultimately Steve Ellison’s contemplations about the moment and transition into death makes for a jam-packed almost 40 minutes that, as typical for a FlyLo album, is stronger as the the sum of its parts but works as individual songs in lush, mindbending ways that are as introspective as they are head nodding.

5. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream (Secretly Canadian)
The press swept me up, I admit it. So many music journalists and folks I respected, people of good taste, were all about this album and dad gum it if they didn’t end up all being right. Adam Granduciel has made a rocket to the moon powered by a thousand horses weaned on nothing but Marlboro cigarettes and determination (yes, the horses were fed determination). It’s a modern rock record that sounds both modern and rock.

4. Teebs – E S T A R A (Brainfeeder)
Mtendere Mandowa doesn’t just have a signature sound, or a signature trope in his visual art — most recently with his numerous paintings over album covers, Ante Vos, which he debuted around the same time as this album’s release — Teebs has a signature essence. The colorful swirls so frequent in his paints seem to find their way into his music. E S T A R A, his sophomore album if we’re not counting 2011’s Collections 01, takes this superchill blended musical hibiscus into an electronic album that gels so smoothly.

3. Real Estate – Atlas (Domino)
The word “pleasant” has an uneasy sheen to it, the ultimate of coin flips between the interesting and the banal. Pleasant can be so unassuming that it’s ultimately forgettable. Yet sometimes, pleasant can mean so darn nice, breezy, and catchy that you want to revisit it over and over again because they’re just so pleasant you can’t deny them. Ridgewood, New Jersey’s Real Estate strongly encapsulate either sides of this notion for most people, and in their latest album, they’ve only proved this notion even stronger than before.

2. Mndsgn – Yawn Zen (Stones Throw)
It’s hard not to hear some song off Yawn Zen and not want to dive even deeper into the album. In his latest release, Ringgo Ancheta has made what is essentially an electronic R&B album. the beats are charming and hypnotic, and Ancheta’s vocals are a smooth baritone that lilt throughout his songs exactly where needed. It’s not hard to love Mndsgn, and with Yawn Zen, that was kind of the point.

1. Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal/Parkay Quarts – Content Nausea (What’s Your Rupture?)
Something about this band feels anachronistic. They’re stealing from older rock conventions but doing so better than anyone else right now. They’re expressive in their instruments like jazz when they want, or short and sweet like punk. Even their one-offs are gems worth considering in the same breath. Parquet Courts, through being so adept at not just how rock music works but simply at how music works, have released the most interesting, satisfying, ensnaring, enjoyable music this year.

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Nextbop/Art of Cool’s Favorite Jazz Releases of 2014

Nextbop/Art of Cool’s Favorite Jazz Releases of 2014

info@nextbop.com / @nextbop

We don’t like to say “best” around here. We’re limited people with limited knowledge, fans with a platform. There’s no way we have heard everything released this year or are able to assess what’s truly “best” from this year. But there are some things we’ve listened to more than others. Things that have moved us more, emotionally or physically. There are albums that overall have worked for us better than others. There are things that we have considered our favorites, some more than others. That’s the assessment we’re making here, as we do every year, and we’re glad you so esteem the opinion of these people with limited knowledge, fans with a platform.

–ADH

10 tie. Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge – Close to Picture EP & Avalon (Modern Lore Records)
This isn’t even the most jazz-centric release from Lage to come out this year (see his guitar duets with Nels Cline released on Room for that), but the guitar duets between Lage and Eldridge on both the EP and the full-length have some incredible duet playing, with the two guitars melding to form one sound. Lage has put out some great duet records with Nels Cline, Chris Eldridge, and last year with pianist Fred Hersch, but the music with Chris Eldridge was some of my most-played music of the year. Maybe it’s the cognitive dissonance from listening to these two young musicians playing old-time music made with vintage guitars on an ipod? Whatever, it works.

–Ben Gray


10 tie. Otis Brown III – The Thought of You (Blue Note/Revive Music)
True to his complementary role on Robert Glasper and Derrick Hodge’s recent releases, fellow Blue Note-based drummer Otis Brown III opted for a similar stylistic direction on his debut. Post-bop jazz, R&B, gospel and pop all work their way in and out of the mix across The Thoguht of You’s 11 carefully segmented tracks. Brown and his band–featuring Glasper at the piano, and Hodge in the producer’s chair–don’t always get the formula right (I’m looking you, Shania Twain cover). But when they do, as on the multi-part Bilal showcase “The Thought of You”, and the propulsive workout “Stages of Thought”, they find a high ground worthy of over-riding even the record’s most wince-inducing moments.

–J.D. Swerzenski

10 tie. Harvey Mason – Chameleon (Concord)
Harvey Mason charms on this album. He surrounds himself with youthful talented musicians like guitarist Matthew Stevens, keyboardist Mark de Clive-Lowe, trombonist Corey King, vocalist Chris Turner, and trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, among many others, and they’re all great, but there’s Mason in the cut, just doing his charming razzle dazzle. He’s subtly brilliant throughout Chameleon, which seems odd since it’s his own album as a leader, his first in over a decade, but call it gregariousness with his bandmates or an interesting way to frame himself, but Mason amazes as though through peripheral hearing, charming his way into your heart.

–Anthony Dean-Harris

9. Sean Jones – im.pro.vise – never before seen (Mack Avenue)
The quartet on this album (Jones on trumpet, Luques Curtis on bass, Orrin Evans on piano, and Obed Calvaire) put together one of the most engaging, repeat-listen-worthy albums of the year. It’s not groundbreaking, genre-pushing stuff, but it turns out that a blues or a jazz standard played well and with conviction is as good as it gets. Proof? Check out “I Don’t Give a Damn Blues” or “How High The Moon” here. The solos unfold with a perfect logic and melody to them and the tunes are full-blown tunes, not just sketches. Jones and company fill out each song on this album with beautiful playing, and their time together shows on im.pro.vise (this is their fifth album together), as the group interaction is fantastic throughout.

–Ben Gray

6 tie. Ryan Keberle and Catharsis – Into the Zone (Greenleaf Music)
I moved to Oregon a couple months ago, which in addition to familiarizing me with farm shares and the Grateful Dead catalog, has introduced the concept of gray days to my life. And for these gray, rainy winter months, Into the Zone has been a soundtrack of sorts: its wilting, placating texture recalling Matthew Halsell’s equally excellent 2013 tone poem, Fletcher Moss Park. There’s also a quirky tunefulness at play throughout all , a trait likely picked up during Keberle’s time touring with quirky masterminds Sufjan Stevens and David Byrne. Even singer Camila Meza, who contributes wordless vocalizations to a number of key tracks, works her way in to the mix like another horn, weaving in and out of Keberle’s trombone and Mike Rodriguez’s trumpet on “Inevitable Blues” and “Sheryl”.

–J.D. Swerzenski

6 tie. Steve Lehman Octet – Mise en Abîme (Pi Recordings)
Steve Lehman has a doctorate with distinction in Musical Composition. He’s Dr. Steve Lehman. His latest release continues to apply spectral harmony, a compositional style previously only used in contemporary classical (oxymoronic, I know) music in jazz. I have no idea what spectral harmony is (though I damn sure am going to read up about it), but I do know that the man also has a concentration in rump shaking. Chris Dingman on an augmented vibraphone has never sounded better.Tyshawn Sorey keeps everything tight on the kit to keep it all together. It melds a century-old still innovative compositional method to a genre known for constant permutation, adds electronic elements to it, and it still has soul. Robots could have made this through overfeeding baby hamsters, for all I know– I don’t know how Steve Lehman and this octet made an album this good, but I don’t have a doctorate in composition with a concentration in rump shaking.

–Anthony Dean-Harris

Steve Lehman Octet “Mise en Abime” EPK from Joey alvarado on Vimeo.

6 tie. The Bad Plus – Inevitable Western (Okeh/Sony)
The Bad Plus released two albums this year. The first, their take on Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, is inspired, riveting, and unapologetically TBP. It still sounded like a natural thing for them to do as artists, even as they were doing something incredibly difficult. Their second release of the year, Inevitable Western, also naturally sounds like what they would continue to do as artists and it’s just as unapologetically TBP. It proves once again why Iverson, Anderson, and King are the trio they are today.

–Anthony Dean-Harris

4 tie. James Farm – City Folk (Nonesuch)
For all its starpower — sax giant Joshua Redman, powerhouse drummer Eric Harland, first-call bassist Matt Penman — I’ve long suspected that the true force in James Farm is its most unassuming member, pianist Aaron Parks. From the careful construction of the compositions, to the pacing of its dynamic ebb-and-flow, City Folk largely confirms that theory. Parks’ regulating role proves the crucial glue for James Farm, bringing it well beyond the level of just four prime players getting together to jam out a quick record. More so than their 2012 eponymous debut, City Folk also builds in space within those tight arrangements for the band’s other personalities assert themselves. Matt Penman chips in perhaps his snappiest work to date, adding the necessary bounce to opener “Two Step”. Eric Harland makes a case as jazz’s most unrelenting catalysts, his eruptive fills pushing Redman and Parks further and faster from his kit on the title track. And Redman shows himself every bit the heir to Ben Webster and other reed masters before him with “Unknown”, a soprano showcase up there with “Don’t Be Sad” among his top performances.

–J.D. Swerzenski

4 tie. Stan Douglas – Luanda/Kinshasa
It’s a crime that this never saw any sort of commercial release, based on the clips that were put online. Jason Moran, Jason Lindner, Kimberly Thompson, and Burniss Earl Travis, among others, all produced by Scotty Hard!!?? The groove on this is just insanely good. Consider this an appeal to the music gods to make this available in some form…

–Ben Gray

Stan Douglas – “Luanda-Kinshasa” Exhibition from Triple Martini Productions on Vimeo.

2 tie. Takuya Kuroda – Rising Son (Blue Note)
Trumpeter Takuya Kuroda played on Jose James’ excellent 2013 album No Beginning, No End, and James shows up to produce Rising Son and add vocals to this group’s version of “Everybody Loves the Sunshine”. But this is Kuroda’s album, and it’s one that grows on you. The album has improvisation, but that’s not the point here – the groove is front and center throughout, and the compositions are strong enough to carry the album. Of course this wouldn’t be what it is without the musicianship of Kuroda on trumpet, Kris Bowers on keys, Solomon Dorsey on bass, Corey King on trombone, and Nate Smith on drums (plus a guest turn from Lionel Loueke one one track and Jose James on another). Some of the most memorable melodies of this year or any other and a strong beat throughout.

–Ben Gray

2 tie. Eric Harland’s Voyager – Vipassana (GSI Records)
After years of piano dominance, we can now definitively call 2014 the year of the drummer. Otis Brown III, Brian Blade, Ulysses Owens and a number of other skinsmen all logged killer records this year, but it was Eric Harland’s Voyager that struck first. The first studio release of his four years in the making band, Vipassana also marks the full emergence of Harland as a leader. After two decades spent logging crucial assists in other people’s bands, Harland seems to pour every idea he’s had into Vipassana: Indian meditation mantras, hip-hop meets far-east rhythms, vocal melodies. But the traits that have long endeared Harland — his penchant for efficiency over flash, his way of both complementing and prodding soloists — that help sort these ideas in a way that keeps Vipassana grounded. Harland has proven himself a leader in the top tier; let’s hope it’s a role he continues in with plenty more Voyager projects.

–J.D. Swerzenski

1. Phronesis – Life to Everything (Edition Records)
Every song on Life to Everything is a banger. Even the ballads are bangers. The live album, recorded over two nights at The Roundhouse in London, captures the electric energy pianist Ivo Neame, bassist Jasper Høiby, and drummer Anton Eger generate and maintain live in some of their best compositions yet. Phronesis have never sounded better than this, never more trapping, never more infectious. You don’t want to miss a moment of this album.You’ll want to pore over it repeatedly to completely extract its brilliance.

–Anthony Dean-Harris

Nextbop/Art of Cool’s Favorite Everything Else Releases of 2014

Nextbop/Art of Cool’s Favorite Everything Else Releases of 2014

info@nextbop.com / @nextbop

Like any good lover of music, our tastes at Nextbop are wide. Some overlap, some shape others in regard to genre, but there’s a lot of music released this year that we love and are taking the chance to point out to you that are great even if they don’t necessarily swing or even fit out in the fringe of jazz. Here’s our favorite releases of everything else from 2014.

–ADH

10. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time! (Olsen Records)
What a delicious fondue pot of a record this is: lounge disco, 80s TV themes, funky marimba, Bryan Ferry ballads, and more all slathered in a thick layer of cheese so guilty it must be good. Here’s hoping the Swedish producer doesn’t take another 6 years to serve up another.

–J.D. Swerzenski

9. Teebs – E S T A R A (Brainfeeder)
Mtendere Mandowa doesn’t just have a signature sound, or a signature trope in his visual art — most recently with his numerous paintings over album covers, Ante Vos, which he debuted around the same time as this album’s release — Teebs has a signature essence. The colorful swirls so frequent in his paints seem to find their way into his music. E S T A R A, his sophomore album if we’re not counting 2011’s Collections 01, takes this superchill blended musical hibiscus into an electronic album that gels so smoothly.

–Anthony Dean-Harris

7 tie. Merchandise – After the End (4AD)
As far as musical bait-and-switch maneuvers, Merchandise’s flip form post-punk upstarts to new-wave revivalists may be among the most novel. Maybe the band had a revelation over a couple Echo & the Bunnymen records. Or perhaps lead singer realized he pulled off a much more convincing Morrissey than Keith Morris. Either way, as bait-and-switches go: After the End is the equivalent of buying a Nissan Altima and getting a Bentley (or maybe a Delorean in this case). Song-for-song, it’s the best pop record of the year, and may have even been the most popular if the year were 1985.

–J.D. Swerzenski

7 tie. Real Estate – Atlas (Domino)
The word “pleasant” has an uneasy sheen to it, the ultimate of coin flips between the interesting and the banal. Pleasant can be so unassuming that it’s ultimately forgettable. Yet sometimes, pleasant can mean so darn nice, breezy, and catchy that you want to revisit it over and over again because they’re just so pleasant you can’t deny them. Ridgewood, New Jersey’s Real Estate strongly encapsulate either sides of this notion for most people, and in their latest album, they’ve only proved this notion even stronger than before.

–Anthony Dean-Harris

5 tie. Spoon – They Want My Soul (Loma Vista)
Spoon didn’t need to call it a comeback, but They Want My Soul sounds like it’s out to prove something. Maybe they were looking to flush out the stagnation some sensed on 2010’s Transference. It’s returns the band to it’s unstoppable run of mid-2000s classics. 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga might be the best reference point, both in its lean and mean 10-track construction and in how every track could conceivably work as a single. Then there’s the cherry bomb on top, “Inside Out”, a synthy, hip-hop inflected jam whose new direction signals promising signs that stagnation is a long ways off for these guys.

–J.D. Swerzenski

5 tie. Mndsgn – Yawn Zen (Stones Throw)
It’s hard not to hear some song off Yawn Zen and not want to dive even deeper into the album. In his latest release, Ringgo Ancheta has made what is essentially an electronic R&B album. the beats are charming and hypnotic, and Ancheta’s vocals are a smooth baritone that lilt throughout his songs exactly where needed. It’s not hard to love Mndsgn, and with Yawn Zen, that was kind of the point.

–Anthony Dean-Harris

3 tie. Killer Mike & El-P – Run the Jewels II (Mass Appeal Records)
We should have seen this coming. Killer Mike and El-P haven’t collaborated now 3 times before, delivering knockouts each time. But Run the Jewels 2 funnels all the best parts from those projects–the fuck-all aggression of Run the JewelsR.A.P. Music‘s back half, the proggy, left-turn beats of Cancer 4 Cure–distilling them into something much more potent. From the bulldozer opening run from “Jeopardy” through “Close Your Eyes”, to the poignant commentary of “Early”, the pair never let up. Hip-hop needed a definitive statement this year: El and Mike delivered.

–J.D. Swerzenski

3 tie. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! (Warp)
Did you ever wish Flying Lotus would have taken the last song of Cosmogramma, “Galaxy in Janaki”, and expanded that vibe into a whole album? This may be as close to such a work as we’re going to get, but mixing a mostly jazz fusion album with a bevy of legit jazz musicians, most prominently Herbie Hancock and the constant collaborator Thundercat on bass, with his rap alter ego Captain Murphy, ambient vibes, and numerous other influences in what is ultimately Steve Ellison’s contemplations about the moment and transition into death makes for a jam-packed almost 40 minutes that, as typical for a FlyLo album, is stronger as the the sum of its parts but works as individual songs in lush, mindbending ways that are as introspective as they are head nodding.

–Anthony Dean-Harris

2. Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal/Parkay Quarts – Content Nausea (What’s Your Rupture)
Something about this band feels anachronistic. They’re stealing from older rock conventions but doing so better than anyone else right now. They’re expressive in their instruments like jazz when they want, or short and sweet like punk. Even their one-offs are gems worth considering in the same breath. Parquet Courts, through being so adept at not just how rock music works but simply at how music works, have released the most interesting, satisfying, ensnaring, enjoyable music this year.

–Anthony Dean-Harris


1. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream (Secretly Canadian)
In a good number of interviews leading up to the release of Lost in the Dream, band mastermind Adam Granduciel not so subtly hinted that he almost went crazy making Lost in the Dream. And careful listening of the record’s 10 tracks do reveal Brian Wilson-worthy levels of obsession with details. But however much the recording evoked Pet Sounds, the resulting album hews closer to the freewheeling Americana of Bob Dylan and the Band’s Basement Tapes. Like that record, the best moments come in the little flourishes: the way the sax emerges from the lush backdrop of “Eyes to the Wind”, how the harmony vocal Granduciel adds to “Can you release me from this heart again?” elevates the track to Sprinsteenian heights. Lost in the Dream is an epic in every obsessive sense of the term, and we’re all the better off for Granduciel’s madness in making it.

–J.D. Swerzenski

The Line-Up for 12 December 2014

The Line-Up for 12 December 2014

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

As we’re wrapping up our preparation for the Season of Lists, I knew I wanted to do a show of some of my favorite songs of 2014. There are some albums that may not have made my list at all, but there are songs that lift the whole work to such high esteem that I had to shout out such greatness nonetheless. There’s just not a better setting for such a thing than a solid hour of super dope radio.

The Line-Up for 12 December 2014

Zara McFarlane – Angie La La feat. Leron Thomas
I had an epiphany a couple weeks ago that Zara McFarlane’s If You Knew Her released back in January. Then I realized, no, I heard it in January when I reviewed it, but that it really released in February. It seems so long ago, so long ago that you don’t want to forget that such a great album released this year and that I could sing this song all day.
Teebs – View Point
Jeff Ballard Trio – El Reparador De Sueños
This song is just so fun. It’s maybe the most fun on Time’s Tales, but it was hard to pick.
Kris Bowers – WonderLove feat. Chris Turner
This song is just plain fantastic.
Taylor McFerrin – Stepps
Harvey Mason – Before the Dawn
This song is so chill. It’s so smooth and amazing.
Matt Ulery – Sweet Bitter feat. Zach Brock
A double album with a string ensemble, the whole shebang, and the best, most live, off the wall jam on the album is just the trio of Ulery on bass, Brock on violin, and Jon Deitemyer on drums.
DJ Harrison – Carnaval 74
Phronesis – Wings 2 the Mind
I will always get drawn back by Anton Eger’s solo at the end of this one, but everyone’s amazing all over this song and all over this album.
Steve Lehman Octet – Chimera/Luchini
In all honesty, I really would have went with “Autumn Interlude” from Mise en Abîme, but there are so many songs from the album in the library that I didn’t want to go overboard. It’s easy to go overboard with this album. Everything on it is so good.
Mndsgn – Convert
Teebs – Waxxves feat. Lars Hornveth
There was hardly enough time for this song at the end of the hour but I jammed as much of it in as I could. It’s the most fun you can hear on E S T A R A.

Brad Mehldau Trio at Duke’s Baldwin Auditorium – December 11, 2014

Brad Mehldau Trio at Duke’s Baldwin Auditorium – December 11, 2014

Ben Gray
Staff Writer
bengray417@gmail.com

The Brad Mehldau trio played Duke University’s Baldwin Auditorium last night. Mehldau is coming up on twenty years since the 1995 release of Introducing Brad Mehldau, which was followed by his Art of the Trio series and a number of mind-blowing solo piano and piano trio albums, to say nothing of his work as a sideman and on a number of other projects like Largo, Highway Rider, and Mehliana. I mention this up front because after putting together this incredible catalog of work and after blowing so many minds with his staggering piano playing, it can be very difficult to listen to the Brad Mehldau trio in December 2014 with fresh ears. As the band has evolved, the spotlight has moved from Mehldau’s piano to a far broader circle to include more equal contributions from bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard. This is not to say that Grenadier and Ballard haven’t been playing their asses off for years now! But the Mehldau trio’s current playing has a very equitable feel, with fewer pyrotechnics from Mehldau than the listener might be accustomed to based on those previously mentioned records. That said…

The show opened with a left-hand arpeggio from Mehldau’s piano that was unmistakably Mehldau-ian, if that’s a word. That opening arpeggio indeed led into a Mehldau original whose title I missed. The second tune was also a Mehldau original, “Sete”, named for a French fishing village that he visited recently. Both of these tunes were mellow originals, in the vein of something like “26” or some of the other originals off of his recent Ode album. After these originals, they launched into Elmo Hope’s “De Dah”, a be-bop burner that felt looser than the two originals that came before it. “De Dah” featured particularly winning solos from Grenadier and Ballard, with both improvising nicely based on the tune’s main riff. “De Dah” was followed by a couple of Brazilian tunes, including “Vibrações” by mandolinist Jacob do Bandolim. This was a great, subtle tune with a beautiful melody passed back and forth between Mehldau and Grenadier and a really fine piano solo from Mehldau – fewer mind-boggling fast runs, but the way this solo was constructed with a great arc and interaction between his two hands was truly beautiful. The final tune of the set was “Since I Fell For You”, which Mehldau announced as a torch burner, and indeed it was. The trio got into a great groove that almost called for a smoky-voiced soul singer at times, and there was an extended solo piano break that had Mehldau really digging into his piano playing more than the tunes that came before this. They closed that tune as a trio and received their applause to end the set. They came back onstage then to play Sufjan Stevens’ “Holland.” This was a mellow, beautiful way to end the show, and was particularly interesting in that Mehldau finished on a very much unresolved chord, eliciting a smile from Grenadier.

Brad Mehldau Trio – “Holland” (Burghausen, 2008)

The Mehldau trio of 2014 is a different animal from the Mehldau trio of a decade ago, and is seemingly less muscular than the incarnation of this band that appeared on albums like Day is Done. That said, these three musicians appear to be able to play whatever they’d like, and the restraint they show is something to hear in itself, making the times that they do open up into a mind-boggling run up and down the keyboard, or a big drum fill, all the more exciting.

The Mehldau trio has a few more shows on the east coast of the United States in the coming days:

December 12th, 2014: World Cafe Live – Philadelphia, PA
December 13th, 2014: Berklee Performance Center – Boston, MA
December 14th, 2014: Sawyer Theatre at The Egg – Albany, NY

Aaron Goldberg – ‘The Now’

Aaron Goldberg – ‘The Now’

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

Pianist Aaron Goldberg is set to release a quite nice trio album, The Now, early next year on Sunnyside. It’s one of those releases with a trio so particularly impressive but releasing at the start of the year and reaching journalists in a 4Q press cycle so there’s a hazard that such a rather nice, unassuming trio piano trio might get swept under the rug. However, the combination of Goldberg on piano, Reuben Rodgers on bass, and Eric Harland on drums is a trio one should try hard not to neglect, no matter the time of year.

What results is straight-ahead album that works. It’s not reinventing the wheel compositionally or blowing minds, in only that what it pulls off well it does very well. This is the trio’s fifth release together and there’s a tightness tied to these three playing together for so long that translates through Goldberg’s compositions. It’s a nice album a few rungs above “pleasant” and likely worth copping when it drops next month.

The Now featuring featuring Goldberg on piano, Reuben Rodgers on bass, and Eric Harland on drums is out January 20th on Sunnyside. You can cop it on iTunes in due time.

Tigran Drops Two New Songs from ‘Mockroot’

Tigran Drops Two New Songs from ‘Mockroot’

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

Pianist Tigran Hamasyan recently announced the release of his upcoming Nonesuch Music debut album, Mockroot, which will rock the world February 3. The new songs, the rambunctious “Entertain Me” and the somber ballad “The Apple Orchard in Saghmosavanq”, sound just in line with the direction Tigran has been going, particularly working with Sam Minaie on bass and Arthur Hnatek on drums. If this is what we’re getting with Mockroot, it’s looking like there’s a lot more reason to get excited for 2015. Stream the tracks after the jump.

Mockroot, the upcoming album from Tigran Hamasyan, is out. February 3 on Nonesuch Records. You can pre-order it now on iTunes.

The Line-Up for 5 December 2014

The Line-Up for 5 December 2014

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

There’s a lot going on in this week’s show. Brad Walker swept through Texas with his San Antonio show going quite well at Fl!ght Gallery. I take a look back at some releases from earlier in the year to remind you how great they are since I’m wrapping up analysis period of Season of Lists and shifting into blurb & code writing Rumpelstiltskin. It’s a very fulfilling hour.

The Line-Up for 5 December 2014

Jonathan Kreisberg – The Spin
Kreisberg’s new album, Wave Upon Wave, turns my head every time I hear a few notes from it. That’s just the kind of response you want to start off a radio show.
Mndsgn – Sheets
Brad Walker Quintet – Survivor’s Suite
Walker was in the studio live on Friday talking with Kory about the New Orleans scene, the album, and various other topics. It was a really nice conversations worth hearing at the archive when you have the chance. At the end of the talk, Brad spoke this song up so much, I knew I had to play it on the show.
Taylor McFerrin – Already There feat. Robert Glasper, Thundercat & Marcus Gilmore
I totally forgot Taylor McFerrin was playing in San Antonio the day before. I was helping at Fl!ght that night and couldn’t make it anyway, but I’m still bummed it passed me by, so I played him on the show anyway.
Flying Lotus – All the Secrets feat. Austin Peralta
James Farm – Farms
Lists are rolling in and I’m seeing City Folk on quite a few of them.
Joe Sample & NDR Bigband – Children of the Sun
I may have some bias but this truly is a magnificent album.
DJ Harrison – Echo Parking
Zara McFarlane – Move
As I was reassessing the year, I realized If You Knew Her totally dropped in the first quarter and folks better not forget that.
Harvey Mason – Places and Spaces feat. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah & Corey King
This song came up in my rotation last week and I was jamming pretty hard to it, then I realized why I’ve kept Harvey Mason’s Chameleon in my rotation for so long.
Taylor McFerrin – Stepps
Otis Brown III – Stages of Thought
This song came up in rotation last week and the moment I heard the first few notes of Derrick Hodge’s bass, I literally laugh, and said the title aloud, “Mmmm, this is my JAM!”-style. It’s got that kind of effect.

Art of Cool Festival 2015 Lineup

Art of Cool Festival 2015 Lineup

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

Everyone here at The Art of Cool Project has been working diligently putting together next year’s AoC Fest which will take Durham, North Carolina by storm next April 24-26. Last year’s festival was a hella fun and next year’s lineup keeps it all going with an ecclectic mix of jazz, R&B, and neo-soul artists. In addition to headliners legendary vibraphonist Roy Ayers, soulful vocalist Anthony Hamilton, and Grammy award winners Snarky Puppy, AoC Fest 2015 will also feature trumpeter Takuya Kuroda, keyboardist Kris Bowers, jazz/hip hop trio BADBADNOTGOOD, and many others. Check out the lineup after the jump.

AoC Fest 2015 Lineup
Roy Ayers
Anthony Hamilton
Kenny Garrett Quintet
Snarky Puppy
Avery*Sunshine
Jesse Boykins III
Eve Cornelious
Gretchen Parlato & Alan Hampton
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
Ben Williams
Marc Cary Rhodes Ahead Trio
BADBADNOTGOOD
Takuya Kuroda
Kris Bowers
Moonchild
Ester Rada

More information about the festival and tickets are available at aocfestival.org.

‘JU Meets Moster’

‘JU Meets Moster’

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

In my time of being a music journalist, I try to pay attention to musicians when I’m seeing plenty of accents and special characters in folks’ names. There’s just something about the Europeans and their weirdo approach to jazz that ruffles feathers like other stereotypical cultural approaches just don’t have. The team up of Hungarian power trio JÜ with reedist Kjetil Møster certainly fits this description. JÜ Meets Møster a deep, pulsing, electric album that burrows into your ears and rattles the soul.

Guitarist Àdàm Mészáros, bassist Ernö Hock and drummer Andràs Halmos make for an already impressive trio as JÜ. Mészáros plays his guitar as a rock musician does half the time, teeming with energy and giving the distinct impression that there’s got to be some sort of rules broken here or something. Hock on bass seems to be the real heartbeat of this trio, throbbing with every song but never too afraid to make for a funky arrhythmia. Yet it’s Andràs Halmos who really impresses, almost at times sounding as soulful as John Bonham. However, this group is on an entirely different plane of existence with Kjetil Møster on saxophones and clarinet. His addition makes for a quartet with a different kind of muscularity. Together, they make for what is either the rockingest jazz album of the year or the jazziest rock album.

JÜ Meets Møster is out December 8 on RareNoise Records.