October 17, 2018

Noname - Room 25 [2018]

Years after a stellar feature (Chance the Rapper - "Lost") put her on the radar of many hip-hop fans, Fatima Warner, who raps as Noname, dropped a phenomenal debut project. Telefone featured the Chicago wordsmith delving into innocence, love, youth, and frequently, death. The mixtape was blessed with beautiful hooks, courtesy of other Chi-Town based artists such as Cam O'bi and Ravyn Lenae, and extremely well produced beats with influences from jazz, neo-soul and gospel, but Noname herself was always the highlight. Her intricately constructed and thoughtful lyrics, delivered with a beat-poetry-like flow that fits her soft voice perfectly, made Telefone a standout project of 2016. 

October 2, 2018

Binker and Moses - Alive in the East? [2018]

This review was published on NextBop
Tenor Saxophonist Binker Golding and drummer Moses Boyd are part of the exciting young London jazz scene that has been taking the genre by storm lately with projects by artists such as Nubya Garcia, Yazz Ahmed and Shabaka Hutchings. Alive in the East?, which was recorded live in June 2017, is the duo's third album together. Binker and Moses are joined by fellow members of the London scene Yussef Dayes (drums), Tori Handsley (harp), Byron Wallen (trumpet) and free-jazz stalwart Evan Parker (tenor and soprano sax). The result of this combination is 47 minutes of enthralling, vigorous jazz.

August 27, 2018

Elucid - Save Yourself [2016]

Regardless of how abstract and indirect it may seem at times - make no mistake, Save Yourself is a deeply personal record. Throughout the development of Save Yourself Elucid's life went through a sea of changes: a change of jobs, the end of a seven-year relationship and the isolation that came with moving to East New York. In the meantime, although some would say the world around him was changing, others might point out that it was just revealing itself, with the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement putting a much needed microscope on the all too common horrid instances of police brutality towards Black Americans. All of this - in addition to the rapper's past, present and views on the future - strongly informs Save Yourself. For Elucid, it's a work "expressing Blackness", delving into "lost love, inequality, and liberation" and speaking on "histories and structures...pointing out where they intersect."

August 25, 2018

The Nels Cline 4 - Currents, Constellations [2018]

Whether releasing accomplished avant-garde jazz albums with the Nels Cline Singers, or ripping through indie-rock songs with Wilco, Nels Cline's guitar work is always impressive. The guitarist's talents have recently earned him a spot on the legendary Blue Note Records, which released Lovers in 2016. Lovers was a 90 minute testament to Cline's range as a guitarist, boasting absurdly beautiful takes on jazz standards ("Glad To Be Unhappy") as well as tasteful rock covers ("Snare, Girl"). Cline's sophomore Blue Note release, The Nels Cline 4's Currents, Constellations, sounds absolutely nothing like Lovers. In the context of the Cline discography, the album could best be described as a somewhat natural progression from Room, a duet album with one of the most in demand guitarists in jazz today, Julian Lage. 

June 13, 2018

Jungsu Choi Tiny Orkester - Tschüss Jazz Era [2018]

This review was published on NextBop

As someone who has written for theater, musicals and film, Jungsu Choi is no stranger to the grand. The South Korean composer has brought together a band of twelve top class musicians - with the power of at least twice that number. Throughout Tschüss Jazz Era, his Tiny Orkester plays through five pieces that are all arranged by Choi, including two Choi originals, "Stolen Yellow" and "Nach Wien 224."