Goat’s Notes, Fuzzy Wonder (Leo)
Jazz originated in turn-of-the-20th-century America, but its roots amalgamated various Western, African and other musical traditions. To return the favour, the music spread adagissimo over the next five decades, eventually spawning jazz scenes all over the globe.
Conversely, free jazz propagated internationally within just a few years. The sub-genre can be traced back at least to Lennie Tristano in the 1940s, but took flight in the U.S. in the mid- to late-’50s. By the mid-’60s there were already strong and musically diverse scenes in Great Britain, Amsterdam, Germany and elsewhere, including a fledgling Canadian contingent. Some of the earliest European adopters made their way back to the U.S., among them Denmark’s John Tchicai, who performed on John Coltrane’s 1966 landmark Ascension.
Even though Russian troupes like the Ganelin Trio and solo artists such as Simon Nabatov have long combined inside and outside jazz, not many appreciate just how robust the Russian scene has been. Leo Records has been documenting the wealth of talent behind the former Iron Curtain for decades now, and has just released another gem.
Goat’s Notes is a sextet from Moscow that share some common features with other Eastern European jazz bands, like Prague’s Agon Orchestra. One is strong technical skills from rigorous classical backgrounds, although pianist Grigory Sandomirsky was actually trained as an architect. Second, there is the almost obligatory citation of the influence of Mothers of Invention, although only a faint ghost of Zappa’s sound is detectable here. Last but not least is the assimilation of rock, Balkan folk and big band, as well as avant-garde jazz influences, which blend seamlessly on this disc.
Ilya Vilkov’s growling swoops and dives on trombone drive several tunes, which are anchored by the battery of Vladimir Kudryavtsev on bass and Piotr Talalay on drums, who shift from heavy hitting to feather-light dustings, as needed. The front line is rounded out by Maria Logofet on violin and Andrey Bessonov on clarinet.
All contribute to the restless orchestration, which includes subtle avant touches like Sandomirsky’s inside piano playing on “Moses’ First Desert Morning,” and some percussive atmospherics at the start of “Somebody in My Closet.” But mostly this is primo modern jazz, on par with anything Americans are offering these days.
Poliça feat. Justin Vernon, “Tiff”
Ski Lodge, “Just to Be Like You”
There are a few reasons why we like Brooklyn’s Ski Lodge. Their obvious Smiths fandom is one, and this video, directed by Ian Perlman and Ted Greenberg, and featuring a very culty narrative, is another.
Lana del Rey, “Young and Beautiful” (preview)
It’s only 30 second long, but it tells you most of what you need to know about Lana del Rey’s contribution to the soundtrack for The Great Gatsby, Baz Luhrmann’s impending adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic. The soundtrack (feat. everyone from Jay-Z to Bryan Ferry) is out April 23, and the film follows on May 7.