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Roll Call: January 14, 2022

I get a lot of music for my consideration, already more than 80 new releases in 2022. Almost all of them are notable for something, and I’d like to give them their due. So, when I’m not previewing live events in Northeast Ohio (like now when there aren’t too many of those), I’ll offer hot takes on the week’s new releases.

For a certain subset of the jazz fandom multiverse, a simple personnel list would be sufficient to arouse intense interest in John Hébert’s “Sounds of Love” (Sunnyside Records).

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Roll Call: January 7, 2022

It’s been a minute since I’ve done one of these, choosing to concentrate instead on previewing live music events in Northeast Ohio. With few of those on the horizon, and needing to get into a posting groove, here’s a look at some interesting new releases that dropped in the past week. Note: my review of Fred Herschs “Breath By Breath,” will be published at AllAboutJazz.com. I’ll post a link when it’s available.

Taru Alexander: Echoes of the Masters coverIn jazz, bloodlines often count for something. Drummer Taru Alexander is the son of Boston-born saxophonist Roland Alexander. Though he was never a star and didn’t record widely, the elder Alexander has played with a wide range of high-profile musicians, the kind of player who forms the essential  connective tissue of a vibrant scene. Alexander the younger (he’s 54) seems to be following in his father’s footsteps; All Music lists 11 sideman appearances with artists as varied as Fred Ho and Abbey Lincoln, but Echoes of the Masters” (Sunnyside Records) seems to be his debut as a leader. Like a lot of debut recordings, it’s eager to make an assertive first impression, and shows off an athletic, hard-charging band. Behind the kit, Alexander throws down in forceful, post-Tony-Williams style. Antoine Roney is the only horn, but his dry, forthright tone on tenor saxophone gives this session a gritty, cinema-verité edge. Rashaan Carter is mountain-strong as always, but the revelation for me is pianist James Hurt, originally from Memphis, who summons Tyneresque thunder with his left hand while spinning florid runs with his right. He’s a postbop Phineas Newborn by way of Mulgrew Miller, and full of surprises.

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Chestnuts Roasting When They Open Fire: A Togishi Seasonal Spectacular Returns

TogishiIn Japan the togishi is the skilled craftsman who polishes and sharpens the nihonto, the deadly sword used by samurai warriors to cut their enemies to pieces.

In Cleveland, Togishi is a trio of saxophonist Dan Wenninger, Mike Sopko on guitar and electronics, and Joe Tomino on drums and electronics whose improvised music cuts to pieces various genres including jazz, rock, contemporary classical and noise and reassembles them in a glorious freewheeling clatter.

Togishi will bring their usual sonic maelstrom to the Bop Stop stage Tuesday, December 21, but the trio will drop down the Hingetown club’s chimney with a surprise in their sack: tunes–and not just tunes, but some of the most recognizable, widely loved and, yes, even sentimental tunes.

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