Europe Jazz Media Chart - December 2021

A selection of the hot new music surfacing across the continent this month by the top European jazz magazines and websites

Christof Thurnherr, Jazz’n’More (Switzerland)

KRAAKE: Kraake (Eret Music)

One is tempted to view KRAAKE as a collaboration of a rapper and a jazz musician. But this does not tell the whole story, because the forces which collide on this album can hardly be captured by using mere catchphrases. One one side there is the emotionally dense lyrical phrasing of the Bernese „Verslischmied“ Basil Anliker, a.k.a. Baze, on the other side there is the instrumental backdrop of the versatile keyboarder Mueller, whose work includes dates with Kaspar von Grüningen, Reto Suhner and many more locally well known jazz musicians. They first caught the audience unawares with their reinterpretation of Baze’s last album „Gott“, no easy feat since already the original material proved to be a sonically and materially impressive experience. There, Mueller managed to expose unheard nuances in Anliker’s lyrics which and this effect is further explored on „KRAAKE“. Baze’s texts tell about fears, loneliness, drugs, but also about friendship, love and the possibility to confront the world in a self-determined way - in short about all that at times renders life difficult but always makes it worth living.

Jacek Brun, (Germany)

REBECCA TRESCHER TENTET: Paris Zyklus - The Spirit Of The Streets (Enja)

For almost 10 years, composer, clarinetist and bandleader Rebecca Trescher has been leading her own Large Ensemble and has earned an outstanding name for herself in the German jazz scene. She has also been awarded numerous prizes and grants (e.g. Wolfram-von-Eschenbach Prize 2021, Artist in Residence at the Cité internationales des Arts de Paris 2019, Bayerischer Kunstförderpreis 2017, scholarship holder of the Kunststiftung Baden-Württemberg 2014). The music on this new album is like a path leading through different landscapes, evoking picturesque associations. Very interesting album, brilliantly arranged and played, full of interesting phrases and solo parts.

Madli-Liis Parts, Muusika (Estonia)

KARME RÕIVASSEPP QUARTET: Breathe (Jaeger Community Music)

Paweł Brodowski, Jazz Forum (Poland)

WOJCIECH KAROLAK: Wojciech Karolak (Polskie Radio, Polish Radio Jazz Archives 34)

The newest volume of Polish Radio Jazz Archives is something of a sensation. It is a compilation of never before released studio and concert recordings by the legendary Polish pianist and organ player who departed suddenly several months ago at age 82. A world class musician, he was known for his predilection for mainstream jazz replete with black American feeling, and traditional values of swing and blues. His career spanned more thatn six decades. He left a legacy of more than 50 albums but, alas, only  a few recorded under his own name. This newest album brings to light nine tracks – mostly originals, but also a few jazz standards, recorded over the period from 1977 to 2010. Its most valuable part are the first five pieces recorded by Time Killers, a super trio that also included Tomasz Szukalski on tenor saxophone and Czesław Bartkowski on drums. The original album, released by the now defunct label Halicon, was hailed as the best recording of Polish jazz in the ’80s. There’s a beautiful rendition of „All the Things You Are” in a duo with Zbigniew Wegehaupt on bass, and „Stablemates” by an unusual trio that included Tomasz Stanko on trumpet and Bartkowski on drums. And a few other gems. Karolak, who is featured here playing mainly organ, was a superb musician with great taste, sharp intelligence and a rare sense of humor.

Mike Flynn, Jazzwise (UK)

ILL CONSIDERED: Liminal Space (New Soil)

Ill Considered have pursued an underground course, releasing nine raw improvised albums – including a Christmas LP, natch – in three years. With new bassist Liran Donin (Led Bib and his own 1000 Boats project), Liminal Space is a studio leap forward, with the trio’s wild improv now the basis for added arrangements and musicians. Drummer Emre Ramazanoglu’s production simmers down thickly layered arrangements till star guests such as Theon Cross and Sarathy Korwar become mere ingredients in a multitudinous ferment; yet the sense of space is still sharply defined, like claustrophobic dub.

Anna Filipieva, (Russia)

RACHEL ECKROTH: The Garden (Rainy Days)

On a smart crossing of not-sweet-at-all contemporary jazz and cunning/clever rock, this bunch of Phoenix, Arizona-based keyboardist / singer-songwriter Rachel Eckroth's originals makes an enjoyable listening -- if you don't expect it to be a part of either mainstream: rock or jazz. Not just the core band of Eckroth on everything with keys on it, Tim Lefevbre (who also produced the album) on everything that makes bass sounds, and Christian Euman on drums, is a tight unit with imagination and enough aplomb to make Eckroth's music, written during the pandemic, amusing enough to stay with it for the duration of the record; the contributions from high-class soloists, such as Nir Felder on guitar or Donny McCaslin and Andrew Krasilnikov on saxophones, add enough adventure to help this work to get a Grammy nomination - for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album: although Eckroth sings on some tracks, they may have constituted less than 49 per cent of the material required for the album to be considered instrumental. For the Russian jazz community, it is significant that the record is released on Rainy Days Records, the St. Petersburg, Russia-based label - making it the first-ever Russia-released jazz album to be nominated for the Recording Academy award.

Jan Granlie, (Pan-Scandinavian)

TOM PREHN’S KVARTET: Centrifuga (Centrifuga Records)

On August 3. and 4. 1964, the Danish pianist Tom Prehn was in the studio in Aarhus with his musical friends Fritz Krogh (ts), Poul Ehlers (b) and Finn Slumstrup (dr) to record two free compositions for, if possible , release on disc. But the record did not come out until now, in 2021. Previously, the recording "Centrifuga" has only been available on reel-to-reel tape, and has for a long been a collector's item for those who have enough time and money for such activities. And the result of two days in the studio is very exciting. These are either four musicians who were very early in their understanding of free improvised music, or they took the chance that this was the future, and went "all in" in the free-flowing improvisations. And what we hear is simply shockingly good. That there should be musicians in Denmark who played this type of jazz already in 1964 is a big surprise, at least for me. This was at a time when the American swing and bop stars began to come to Copenhagen, and what we hear from these four young guys is far ahead of what Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster, Stuff Smith and the others who played at the clubs around at that time. Prehn's piano playing can be compared to ab early Paul Bley and occasionally with what Cecil Taylor was doing at that time. But I think Taylor was later out with that kind of free improvisation as this quartet performs. But nowadays we have become accustomed to hearing free jazz in a completely different way than we were at the time. Prehn is a creative and exciting pianist, who throws himself into the music without a safety net, and he is well followed by Slumstrup’s great playing on drums, who is listed as the only soloist on the original record cover, and who plays creatively, originally and tough, Poul Ehlers fine and ongoing bass playing are not very different from Jimmy Garrison and, at least, Fritz Krogh's raw tenor saxophone playing, is some of the toughest I can remember hearing, if we disregard the late John Coltrane, Mats Gustafsson, Peter Brötzmann and a couple of others. The fact that this recording has been re-released gives a relatively new picture of what Danish jazz was in the "old days". We can easily take it for granted that Danish jazz was shaped by the many American star musicians who came to the country. But there we have made a solid mistake. For Tom Prehn's quartet was out very early with some of the toughest free jazz we've ever heard from musicians from the North.

Christine Stephan, JAZZTHETIK (Germany)

KINAN AZMEH and NDR BIGBAND: Flow (Dreyer/Gaido)

Viktor Bensusan, (Turkey)

ACUTE INFLECTIONS: 400 (self-released)

With just vocal and bass, the NYC based duo Acute Inflections just plays the bare basics. And to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Bob Marley, it sounds more than enough to catch his unique soul and sound.

Henning Bolte, Written in Music (Netherlands)

CANSU TANRIKULU W/ GREG COHEN, TOBIAS DELIUS: Kantoj De Fermiteco (LowSwing Records LOSW 07)

Brilliance in the shimmer of dark vaults - magic and bewildering enchantment.

Peter Slavid, LondonJazz News (UK)

CHELSEA CARMICHAEL: The River Does not Like Strangers (Native Rebel Recordings)

Chelsea Carmichael has already carved out a powerful presence on the UK scene, touring alongside other new generation artists Theon Cross and Joe Armon-Jones and as a member of Cassie Kinoshi's SEED Ensemble. This is her debut album produced by Shabaka Hutchings, and available as the first release from his new label Native Rebel Recordings. The album has an outstanding band of guitarist David Okumu, bassist Tom Herbert and drummer Edward Wakili-Hick who all play key roles on the album. Carmichael has said “I feel that the way that I play on this record draws inspiration from the lineage of black music making and the Caribbean diasporas“. You can hear that in the music which is in turns powerful, playful, spiritual and at times beautiful. Adam Sieff wrote in his REVIEW FOR LJN: "Whatever happens, Chelsea Carmichael is surely on her way."

Patrik Sandberg, Jazz (Sweden)

ESPERANZA SPALDING: The Songwrights Apothecary Lab (EJM)

The Songwrights Apothecary Lab is a curated portal of new work that is growing out of bassist, singer and composer Esperanza Spalding’s collaborative practice over the past years, exploring how songwriters might meaningfully incorporate therapeutic practices and knowledge into their process and production.  The researchers and practitioners that took part in the labs specialize in fields ranging from neuroscience and music therapy to psychology and ethnomusicology!

Cim Meyer, Jazz Special (Denmark)


I am a sucker for Bach – especially Johan Sebastian (as I am for Thelonious Sphere Monk). As long as you stay true to the compositions nothing can go completely wrong. But how do you put Bach into a modern jazz context?  Well, together with Rainer Böhm (p) and Patrice Hérald (d) Ilg manages to take advantage of the spots where Bach’s compositions suggest variations and improvisation. They make melodies hidden in Bach’s mathematical constructions lucid without being inferior to the master’s counterpoint and perfect melodic constructions. There are some moving moments of great beauty from this trio.

Lars Mossefinn, Dag og tid (Norway)

MATS EILERTSEN: Hymn for Hope (Jazzland Recordings)

Matthieu Jouan, (France)

LINDA FREDRIKSSON: Juniper (We Jazz Records)

A wonderful collection of nice melodies and tunes, served by a mastering poly-instrumentist and some Finnish musicians. Linda Fredriksson is no more "the baryton player" of Finland, but now a serious composer.

Axel Stinshoff, Jazz thing (Germany)

PETER MATERNA: The Kiss (Jazzline)

Luca Vitali, Giornale della Musica (Italy)


Yves Tassin, JazzMania (Belgium)

DE BEREN GIEREN: Less Is Endless (Sdban Records)

What do instruments matter: that's De Beren Gieren!

Jos Demol, (Belgium)

DARRIFOURCQ, HERMIA, CECCALDI: Kaiju eats Cheeseburgers (Hector/Full Rhizome)

“This trio used to be a real experience live. This will undoubtedly continue to be the case with this material. Open the gates wide of the jazz clubs. With these three's devotion, any virus threat is scaled back.” (Georges Tonla Briquet)

Katherine Zyabluk, Meloport (Ukraine)

MATEUSZ PAŁKA: Blur (Echo Production)

Blur is the second album by the Polish pianist and composer Mateusz Palka. Either his first solo recording, made in the spacious Monochrom Studio far away in mountains. It’s important to know for creating a proper canvas of associations while listening. The album contains 14 short pieces, like classical etudes or a series of impressionistic paintings, in which Mateusz put the essence of his composing approach, emotions he is dealing with and transforming them into sound. He does it sensuously, with natural noble and truthfulness, called to evoke the sense of vivid nostalgia, making listeners miss places they have never been. From the very beginning music fully captures the space and invites you to a journey through vital stories. They are different — melodious “Portrait In Water”, “Aria” or “Moje Serce”, contemplative “Lament for K.P.”, “Yuyuan Garden” and “Ginkgo Leaf” calm you down, both “Variations” and “Blur” are life-enhancing sound clusters, then “Mystic River” along with “Etude D’Une Nuit” are deeply resonating with heartstrings, encourage listening to them in an eternal circle. There will always be something new to discover – as in reallife. All of these short expressions from Blur create the intimate holistic tale, still courageous and confident, as every solo recording is. It fills up with a unique sense of beauty, which can heal and rescue these messy times.

Kaspars Zavileiskis, Delfi (Latvia)

KNUDSEN / RUDZINSKIS SPACE BIG BAND: Space Big Band (Double Moon Records)

A joint original music project by Danish bassist Kenneth Dahl Knudsen and Latvian saxophonist Toms Rudzinskis, recorded at the Blackbird Music Studio in Berlin, with a total of 17 musicians from Latvia, Denmark, Germany, Austria, France, Sweden, Ukraine, Russia and the USA, plus a local conductor Malte Schiller. The two musicians met in Berlin and have split their composing responsibilities in half – five pieces each, but in the album they are intertwined as a whole. The scope is wide and so is the music flowing for more than 70 minutes. The album dedicated to the study of the structure of the universe offers a fresh and long breath into the world of big band music. It lacks such records, which do not obscure the responsibilities of tradition, but are looking for new ways of expression. However, this is not an avant-garde and can be well understood by non-melomaniac listeners. Both thematically and sound-wise, the album can be seen as a journey through time, space and consciousness.