September 2022 article @ All About Jazz

Multiple Reviews

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” data-original-title=”” title=””>Teemu Kekkonen indeed does cross a lot of both “heres” and “theres” during the course of Here/There. His debut has one foot in his native Finland’s folk roots and one in the most urbane of metropolitan clubs. It could instead refer to jazz’s past and present, as it channels the class of

Bill Evans
Bill Evans

piano
1929 – 1980

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Bill Evans with the modern rock-influenced fusion pioneered by

Esbjorn Svensson
Esbjorn Svensson

piano
1964 – 2008

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Esbjorn Svensson (the pianist’s CV includes some time in an actual rock band on top of work in cinema and academia). Then again, the mix also has room for catchy grooves, classical sophistication, noisy wailing, and the odd breezy springtime romp, so any binary comparison quickly falls apart anyway. The session has too many shades to reduce to such simple descriptions anyway. The trio is as adaptable as the leader’s omnivorous mind demands, equally comfortable dashing off chamber pieces or touches of blues and gospel on the way to something fun and funky. If there’s one constant, it’s their willingness to go anywhere.

Yosef Gutman Levitt
Upside Down Mountain
Self Produced
2022

Upside Down Mountain Contains a world of colors and emotions for something resolutely pure and simple in structure.

Yosef Gutman Levitt
Yosef Gutman Levitt

bass, acoustic

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Yosef Gutman Levitt‘s music is a quietly eclectic kind that lets straightforward and floaty melodies speak for themselves. It spins together folky and jazzy elements from everywhere he’s been (born in South Africa, migrated to New York City and eventually Jerusalem), spun into a set eminently charming and compiling.

Gutman’s choice of acoustic bass guitar helps set a distinct tone right from the folky plucing that eases into the opener, making the trio format sound familiar and yet different from the more common jazz combo with upright bass. Likewise, his pieces feel homey and comfortable no matter how many different worldly traditions they touch on. He and

Omri Mor

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Omri Mor‘s piano float through sunny meditations and down-to-earth grooves overflowing with quiet warmth; There’s something deeply spiritual running through it all, while the pieces easily transcend any themes based in specific religions or traditions. This music is many things, but above all simply human.

Michael Wollny Trio
Ghosts
ACT Music
2022

It’s common (and even accurate) enough to say that songs are living things. If that’s true, it only stands for reason that they eventually have their own ghosts—not that they actually stop “living” in that metaphorical sense, but because of the echoes they can leave behind in the minds of others. That, at least, is

Michael Wallny
Michael Wallny

piano
b.1978

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Michael Wallny‘s theme for this fairly dark outing. “As an improviser,” he explains, “you often find that it’s not the compositions themselves you’re playing, but your own memories of them.” These are pieces that he frequently recalls and revisits, presented with a deliberate Gothic flair that keeps everything slightly (or sometimes more than slightly) unsettling.

Wollny being Wollny, he also gives each piece a fundamental makeover, though still usually leaving the shape at least partly recognizable. Fans of the band Japan might still have to squint to spot the title track’s melody amongst the clouds of haunting arco bass, for instance, while Gershwin’s “I Loves You Porgy” becomes practically spooky with a dose of macabre drama. The album is not without spots of playfulness (the warmth of “She Moved Through the Fair” still comes through this trepidatious reading), balanced out with other moments of churning and roiling that verge on fearsome. Whatever the treatment, the pieces are kept in weird flux like actual ghosts, hovering between possible worlds and never feeling quite resolved.

Tracks and Personnel

Here/There

Tracks: Here/There; Moksha; Dragonfly meditation; Dragonflies in July; Melancholia; Matkustaja; Endless Joy; Smile.

Personnel: Teemu Kekkonen: piano; Mikael Saastamoinen: bass; Roope Kantonen: drums.

Upside Down Mountain

Tracks: Wedding Song; Time with Abba; Before the Journey; Jericho; Family (Folk Vibe); The Warriors; Arise; Joshua; Poltova; Twelve Stones; The Great River; Hodu Lashem.

Personnel: Yosef Gutman Levitt: acoustic bass guitar; Omri Mor: piano; Ofri Nehemya: drums.

Ghosts

Tracks: I Loves You Porgy; Willow’s Song; Hauntology; Hand of God; Ghosts; Monsters Never Breathe; Erlkönig; In a Sentimental Mood; She Moved Through the Fair; Beat the Drum Slowly.

Personnel: Michael Wollny: piano; Tim Lefebvre: bass; Eric Schaefer: drums.


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