René Lussier – Quintette (Pasunecenne)
I’m pretty late on this one. Even though I’ve been eyeing it for some time, I never actually wrote about it. René Lussier is a well-known figure in the avant-garde community of Québec, and Quintette is but his latest effort, and it came out in Autumn 2018. The featured quintet is nothing but usual: featuring René on electric guitar and daxophone—a sort of amplified piece of wood—Julie Houle on tuba and euphonium, Luzio Altobelli on accordion, and Robbie Kuster and Marton Maderspach on two independent drum sets. The ten compositions found on the album are dense and varied, leaving you no time to be unhooked, disinterested. Perhaps one of my favourite is “Groove d’enfer”, which adequately translates to “Hellish Groove”.
Quinos – Lune de miel
This Saguenay, Québec-bound trio, featuring returning guitarist Louis Beaudoin-de la Sablonnière, who also plays in Brûlez les meubles! and Gisèle, just released Lune de miel, a fantastic debut album. The full-length derives attitudes from metal and punk music all while remaining, for the most part, within a jazz setting ranging from experimental to free. Therefore, the outcome is a dark, complex, and highly energetic fusion. You’ll have a great time with that one.
Mark Guiliana – Beat Music! Beat Music! Beat Music! (Motéma Music)
New York drummer Mark Guiliana recently put out his latest album, the thrice-titled Beat Music! Despite a deep and extensive background as a jazz musician, the album takes on the appearance of a modern mostly-instrumental R & B or hip-hop electronic album. Once you scratch that surface a little, however, you find yourself surrounded by brilliant harmonic work, multi-layered melodies, and, above all else, astral drumming.
Zlatko Kaučič – Diversity #1
Slovenian percussionist Zlatko Kaučič, here joined by a team of massive musicians—Lotte Anker, Johannes Bauer, Agustí Fernández, Artur Majewski, Rafał Mazur, Phil Minton, and Evan Parker—just dropped a new two-part, free improvisation suite called “Butterfly Wings”. With such a diverse cast, it’s hard to imagine this not sounding chaotic and aimless, yet it does absolutely not. The twenty-three-minute piece sure is winding and crooked, but it nonetheless sounds purposeful, conscious to a certain degree. That’s definitely thanks to the experienced players behind it all.
Spoelstra – West Side Story: Winner of Ten Academy Awards (Narrominded)
Described as “[g]ross misrepresentations of all songs of the musical West Side Story as performed in seven chapters”, I guess you’d have to know the West Side Story musical by heart to be in on the joke, and catch where these gross misrepresentations deviate from the source material. Alas, that I do not. Despite this gaping hole in my musical knowledge, I was able to fully appreciate Netherlands-based group Spoelstra‘s newest album, albeit maybe from an entirely different perspective. Just how you don’t need to know Schlager hits to enjoy the disturbing Suess, you don’t need to acquaint yourself with West Side Story to bask in this album’s glory.
Sferos – Set It Up as Silence (Falcon Gumba)
Set It Up as Silence is Sferos‘s debut album. Led by Venezuelan guitarist Juanma Trujillo, the trio takes its modern and brooding vision of jazz and infuses into it many subtle elements of Latin music. The end result is a challenging and forward-thinking jazz album that’s progressive and experimental, but also quite infectious and groovy.