sidetracks and detours
name our top two new to us in 2022 jazz musicians whilst
JAZZIZ IS RECOMMENDING TEN ALBUMS
to all of us
by Norman Warwick
We published Lorde´s thoughts on the spiralling costs of being a touring musician last month in an article called If I Only Had A Dollar For Every Song I´ve Sung. That she does not really work in the jazz genre did not make her observations any less pertinent as the New Zealand recording artist explained how long-term after effects, economically and socially, of the covid pandemic are making it (increasingly, not decreasingly) difficult to arrange commercially viable tours either nationally or internationally. However The busy listings of Music That´s Going Places, Jazz In Reading and Ribble Valley Jazz And Blues Festival, the vast number of musicians of that genre played on Steve Bewicks Hot Biscuits show on mix-cloud and the Lawless jazz artists we hear about at Chorlton Reform Club all, perhaps unfairly, suggest that Lorde doth protest too much.
The story of Glasgow-based saxophonist Matt Carmichael (left) releases his first album, Where Will The River Flow on Friday, March 12, 2021. The BBC Young Jazz Musician 2020 finalist, who is due to graduate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland this summer, recorded the album just before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold and it is only in 2022 that he has been able to take the album on the raod.
Twenty-one-year-old Matt, who released the album on his own label, Porthole Music, partly with the proceeds from winning the coveted Peter Whittingham Jazz Award for young musicians said that only ´when the boxes of CDs arrived did it suddenly feel like there was something tangible, something more real about having made an album.´
Early reviews praised the quality of Carmichael’s music – he composed all the tracks on the album himself – and the high standard of musicianship from the saxophonist and his group, which features multi-award-winning pianist Fergus McCreadie, bassist Ali Watson and Tom Potter, a former Young Drummer of the Year.
Carmichael began playing saxophone at school in Lenzie, East Dunbartonshire and despite not being especially aware of the instrument or indeed any saxophonists at the time, he discovered a natural aptitude for it. Through playing in the East Dunbartonshire Schools’ Jazz Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland’s jazz orchestra, he made friends with students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
He eventually applied for the RCS jazz course and the course leader, internationally regarded Scottish saxophonist Tommy Smith, subsequently invited him to join his youth jazz orchestra. Smith, who toured internationally with American vibes virtuoso Gary Burton in his teens, has since described Carmichael as ´better than I was at that age´ and rates Carmichael as world class.
Carmichael formed the quartet that features on the album in 2016 and they have developed a strong group sound and collective energy that have earned them appearances at venues and events including London’s world famous jazz club Ronnie Scott’s, the BBC Introducing Latitude Festival and Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival (right).
´I wanted to form a group that would have a stable line-up because having a regular group is the best way to develop the music,” saíd Carmichael to Rob Adams. ´It’s been great working together and getting to tour a bit. It would have been ideal to play some concerts to promote the album but that’s not possible at the moment, so we’re really looking forward to getting to play to people when the live music scene opens up again.´
Carmichael, who was born and spent his early years in Conon Bridge, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands, is influenced by Scottish traditional music as well as jazz. Three of the tracks on the album, Cononbridge, Spey and The Firth, reflect his strong feeling for the Speyside area. The impressions of the Highland landscape in his music come naturally, he says.
“If I’d grown up in New York or Philadelphia my music might well sound American,” he says. “I’ve listened to the great American jazz masters, of course, but from the beginning I was drawn to the European school of jazz. I was able to relate to it more and I think the music you create comes from your surroundings. There’s a track on the album called Sognsvann, which is named after a lake I used to visit just outside Oslo when I was studying on an Erasmus exchange there before I had to return home due to the pandemic.”
It was strange that whilst reading an interview with a jazz musician I was to be so vividly reminded of a song written by my favourite singer writer, the late great John Stewart (left), who walked the sidetracks & detours of country and folk and rock music. One of his greatest songs, California Bllodlines, opens with the verse
Had I been born in New York City,
a new York girl I would have known
but I really never could have let that happen,
living in that New York Rain and Snow.
There´s California Bloodlines in my heart
and a California woman in my song.
Califrnia bloodlines in my heart
and a California heartbeat in my soul.
The UK’s withdrawal from the Erasmus scheme means Matt Carmichael won’t be able to continue those studies but he hopes to return to Norway to play with his group sometime. As one of a number of students and former students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland jazz course who are creating an impression and releasing well-received recordings, Carmichael is proud to be part of the Glasgow jazz scene that has grown around the RCS.
Matt Carmichael – Tenor Saxophone | Fergus McCreadie – Piano | Ali Watson – Double Bass | Tom Potter – Drums
1. Sognsvann | 2. Firth | 3. Cononbridge | 4. The Spey | 5. Interlude | 6. Hopeful Morning | 7. There Will The River Flow | 8. Dear Grandma | 9. Valley
Release Date: 12 March 2021
Format: CD | Digital
Label: Independent Release
Matt Carmichael´s name is one I invariably see on the monthly listings (kindly sent to us by Rob Adams) as being included on the list of names of Music That´s Going Places, with gigs at prestigious venues along the way, and we happily recommend his name as one of two additions we would add to to the more comprehensive recommendations, from Michael Fagin at the highly regarded Jazziz, of the ten (nay, a dozen) albums to buy for Christmas,
Sidetracks And Detours will take it on the chin if you clip us round the ear (though physically that might be quite difficult) when we name two fantastic jazz artists as being new-to-us this year, despite the fact that we are now learning the rest of the world has held them in high rergard for some time.
Atlanta native Joe Alterman expresses a certain upbeat naivete, with a broad smile and bright eyes that make you feel welcome. One would not guess that this is a man hailed by greats; Ramsey Lewis describes his piano playing as ‘a joy to behold’, Les McCann states ‘As a man and musician he is already a giant’. Journalist Nat Hentoff championed three of Alterman’s albums, as well as his writing (Joe wrote liner notes to three Wynton Marsalis/JALC albums), calling one of Joe’s columns “one of the very best pieces on the essence of jazz, the spirit of jazz, that I’ve ever read, and I’m not exaggerating.”
Joe Alterman (right) began at NYU with a BA and Masters in Jazz Piano, followed by performances with Houston Person, Les McCann, Dick Gregory, and Ramsey Lewis. Downbeat describes his sound as “rooted in the blues, and with a touch reminiscent of the great pianists of the 1950s—Red Garland, Ahmad Jamal, Bill Evans.” It is clear Joe hits all of the necessary points for Jazz critics and fans alike.
But there is more to the story, of course. The twenty-first century has thus far seen yet another transition for this thing called Jazz. In one moment we see the push and pull between tradition and progression, and in another we see Pop and Hip-Hop musicians emulating and sampling. In Joe Alterman we find none of this struggle; the music just sounds good. Our conscious faculties are instantly disabled as we tap our feet, feeling the intent and joy of his playing. An old classic is new when you feel good in the moment.
photo joe This fresh and joyful intent is captured on Joe Alterman’s new release The Upside Of Down. Taken from two live shows at Birdland in November 2019 and February 2020, the album reminds us of a not-too-distant time when we gathered and danced. Joined by Nathaniel Schroeder on bass and Marlon Patton on drums, Alterman cruises gently and delightedly through timeless selections from Les McCann, Oscar Peterson, Henry Mancini and more, with some of his compositions in the mix.
“Joe Alterman is a breath of fresh air on the music scene. I love hearing him play! It’s happy music with tasty meat on the bones! Although much younger than I, he is an inspiration to me! His piano playing, his will to explore and his ability to swing is a joy to behold.”
– Ramsey Lewis
“Joe is tiny, but only in stature. As a man and a musician he is already a giant. He’s on a ‘blow your mind’ level.”
– Les McCann
“A very special artist.”
– Ahmad Jamal
“Joe Alterman combines outstanding musical technique with infectious enthusiasm for his work. I’ve seen him fill a room with joy as his skill at the keyboard combines seamlessly with his delightful and appealing onstage personality. Young Alterman is one fine, first-class entertainer.”
– Dick Cavett
“All the musicians who are now considered jazz legends played there [Birdland]: Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Lester Young, Count Basie, Oscar Peterson and Duke Ellington, among others. Alterman would have been able to hold his own jamming with any of them…Alterman’s continually evolving presence on the jazz scene surely makes people smile and, if the room is right, dance. There’ll be no need for any last rites of jazz.”
– Nat Hentoff
“Joe Alterman is doing his part to keep alive the art of the swinging trio. He is a wonderful pianist whose playing brings smiles and good feelings to his listeners – as he has caused me to experience when I heard his enjoyable album.”
– Monty Alexander
“Joe is, for me, absolutely one of the most musically enjoyable, swingingest Jazz pianists who can be heard playing today.
– Benny Green
“Joe has a great sense of what is most meaningful in the history and tradition of our music, and a real solid musical vision of where he wants to take it.”
– Houston Person
“Pianist Joe Alterman pulls off one of the rarer feats in modern jazz: he swings — hard.
– Downbeat Magazine
“Festivals from Newport and Monterey to Rio and Nice should try to book Joe while they still can afford him.”
– Marc Myers, JazzWax
That Joe and his fellow Trio members enjoy such a synergy and play so sublimely when accompanying or recording with the other new-to-us artist we are going to mention here, has made for a fabulous new album release called Moon To Gold by Karla Harris with The Joe Alterman Trio.
I hadn´t heard of Karla Harris until radio jazz presenter Steve Bewick, an occasional contributor to these pages, mentioned her name to me back in the Autumn. As I know Steve as a trusted source, even if his music is from Chicago and mine is from California, I did what I always do when he lets a name fall out in conversation: I looked up Karla Harris on my seacrh engine and utilised You Tube.
Firstly, I should point you in the direction of Karla´s informed and informative web site and newsletter service at https://www.karlaharris.com/
I also refer you to our post entitled Moon To Gold with Karla Harris, filed on 2nd November that is now available in our easy to negotiate archives of over 800 pieces.
I have listened again to Moon To Gold: (left) every time the piano remains enthralling, the drum and bass empathetic and the vocals of Karla´s sound just as soulful, authentic and adventurous as the first time I heard them.
There are excellent reviews of Moon To Gold. This wonderful collaboration has been picked all across the jazz media but nothing beats word of mouth in raising an artists´s profile,…..so once you have bought the record and played it I am sure you will want to tell others. Please do, loudly and proudly, because this is the real deal.
3D Jazz Trio, 9 to 5 (DIVA Jazz) (right)
Release date: December 2
3D Jazz Trio is formed by pianist Jackie Warren, bassist Amy Shook and drummer Sherrie Maricle, who met while playing in The DIVA Jazz Orchestra in 2014. Their latest album, 9 to 5, marks a continuation of their mission to “fiercely swing on purpose, with purpose,” on a wide-ranging program of creative arrangements, some of which have been part of the group’s repertoire for years, while others were created especially for this recording.
Release date: December 2
Pianist/composer Cory Smythe explores the climate crisis through an abstracted American songbook classic on his new album, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. The album consists of two halves, the first featuring pieces originally commissioned by Norway’s Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and the second comprising seven solo piano improvisations investigating the title song at a microscopic level, serving as an extended coda.
Release date: December 2
Internationally acclaimed Boston-based jazz pianist and composer Laszlo Gardony Laszlo Gardony embraces his Hungarian folk music and prog-rock roots on Close Connection, his 14th album as a leader. The record reunites him with his favorite rhythm tandem of bassist John Lockwood and drummer Yoron Israel on a set of original compositions and collective improvisations.
Lisa Hilton, Paradise Cove (Ruby Slipper)
Release date: December 2
Pianist/composer Lisa Hilton reflects a perceived need to create a state of grace amid today’s fast-moving times, offering a wide-ranging program of nine originals and covers on her 26th album as a leader, Paradise Cove. The album debuts her dynamic new L.I.L.O. Quartet featuring trumpeter Igmas Thomas, bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Obed Calvaire.
Release date: December 2
Trumpeter/composer Natsuki Tamura and drummer Ittetsu Takemura team up as a duo for the first time on Lightning. Consisting of two high-spirited, adventurous extended tracks, Lightning is a digital-only release that finds the two musicians diving headlong into the music, resulting in what is described via a press release as an “uninhibited joyride of an album.”
James Casey, A Little Something for Everyone (12-23)
Release date: December 5
A Little Something for Everyone marks James Casey’s first studio release under his own name and is a four-track festive showcase of his diverse funk, jazz, gospel and R&B influences. Casey is a staple of the live music circuit as Trey Anastasio Band’s longtime saxophonist and this EP was recorded between chemotherapy treatments in Brooklyn. Profits from vinyl sales benefit colon cancer awareness, as he is currently battling a late-stage diagnosis.
Release date: December 9
Live: Cookin’ With Blue Note At Montreux captures a dynamic set with Donald Byrd leading a star-studded tentet at the 1973 Montreux Jazz Festival. Recorded at around the time of the release of his crossover hit fusion album, Black Byrd, this live performance gets its first official release on the day of what would have been the legendary trumpeter’s 90th birthday.
Release date: December 9
Space Beyond the Solar System is the latest concept album that culminated from a string of experiments between MC/lyricist Raw Poetic, a.k.a. Jason Moore, and producer Damu the Fudgemunk. Taking every influence and experience in their personal histories to extract ingredients for a groundbreaking artistic statement, this magnum opus is arguably their most comprehensive environment yet, featuring saxophone great Archie Shepp on selected tracks
Satoko Fujii, Hyaku: One Hundred Dreams (Libra) (left)
Release date: December 9Satoko Fujii celebrates her 100th album as a leader with the release of Hyaku: One Hundred Dreams, an ambitious new composition celebrating a milestone very few musicians ever reach. For this landmark recording, the pianist/composer assembled a one-of-kind “dream band” with Wadada Leo Smith, Natsuki Tamura, Ingrid Laubrock, Sara Schoenbeck, Ikue Mori, Brandon Lopez, Tom Rainey and Chris Corsano.
Release date: December 16
Machina Mundi, the latest project spearheaded by Lubos Soukup, showcases a “modern” side to his creative personality following his raw and intimate collection of duo performances on Levitas, which was released earlier this year. The new quartet makes its self-titled debut on this album, making extensive use of electronics, synths, keyboards and effects. Challenging yet accessible, this is music “designed to reflect our mechanical universe.”
So, there are some fantastic recommendations there that Jazziz is telling us about, but don´t overlook that Karla Harris album !
Meanwhile, in between trips to the few record shops left standing in the UK you can listyen to Steve Beiwick´s Hot Biscuit mix-cloud latest release.
Steve (left) has asked us to share his Xmas greetings to all his Jazz friends and listeners at home and abroad. Next week’s show features as many Jazz n’ Blues tunes that Steve and co-presenter Gary Heywood-Everett and could squeeze into 60 minutes. It highlights with Pete McSloy, includes a Xmas message from the Simpsons and concludes with a Xmas special from the Muppets. This show was recorded at Santa’s Grotto at the North Pole by special permission. (hmmm?). We´re sure there is plenty in the broadcast to interest you so please share the link below with your friends and join us 24/07 at