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April 2, 2013 - 6:29pm

The Liner Notes: Breaking down new jazz releases, upcoming performances from Esperanza Spalding and others



We’re in the home stretch. Just about three more weeks of classes before we can all start studying for exams and thinking about plans for summer. Luckily, there are a whole bunch of new jazz albums coming out this week to help you with procrastinating and plenty of live jazz to keep your mind off the grind.


Life Forum
Gerald Clayton
Concord/Concord Jazz
The son of famous bassist John Clayton, New York pianist and composer Gerald Clayton has been making waves in the jazz world since his Grammy nomination for Best Improvised Jazz Solo on his 2009 album Two-Shade. His newest endeavor, featuring a cast of some of the most promising young musicians in jazz, has already received praise from the New York Daily News in anticipation of its release today. Although there aren’t any real previews available, snippets of some of the songs in the background of interviews with Clayton and the other musicians on the project reveal an intricate fabric of musical voices strongly rooted in contemporary jazz. This is definitely going to be worth a listen.

Sails Set
Mats Eilersten Trio
Hubro Records
There is, believe it or not, more to Sweden than Ikea and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” as this new record from the Mats Eilersten Trio shows. With an ethereal vibe and sparse acoustic instrumentation, the songs on this album evoke the echoes inside an empty church more than the cramped quarters of a jazz club. Check out a sampler of the album here.

Always a First Time
Martin Speake Trio
Pumpkin Records
English saxophonist Martin Speake has been around for quite a while, performing with prestigious ensembles and famous musicians like Paul Motian. This newest release featuring guitarist Mike Outran and drummer Jeff Williams features a delicate interplay between the three musicians. Speake’s solos clearly reflect his early influence by Ornette Coleman, while Outran’s beautiful, languorous work draws comparison with Bill Frisell. A sample of the title track is available here.

Portico Quartet
Real World Records
London ensemble Portico Quartet straddles the line between electronica and acid jazz, creating ghostly soundscapes somewhere between Sigur Rós and Sun Ra. As the name suggests, their newest album features live performances of tracks from their eponymous 2012 release and remixes that pull the songs even closer to the realm of dubstep and techno. Samples of all of the tracks and a video of one of the live performances can be found here.

Live Music


If Esperanza isn’t to your liking, however, you can head to the Kerrytown Concert House to see Detroit’s own Planet D Nonet performing a tribute to Billy Stayhorn, composer of “Take the A Train” on Friday at 8:00 p.m. Also at KCH, you can watch University Department of Jazz and Contemporary Composition Chair Helen Rowe and her trio perform a set based on the work of Herbie Hancock at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Or, if you’re planning on making your way down to Detroit this weekend, you can catch what will undoubtedly be a powerful performance by funk/jazz trio Organissimo at Cliff Bells on Saturday at 9:30 p.m.