Europe Jazz Media Chart - July 2020

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

Luca Vitali, Giornale della Musica (Italy)

PAOLO ANGELI: Bodas de Sangre (Bandcamp)

Madli-Liis Parts, Muusika (Estonia)

AMBROSE AKINMUSIRE: On The Tender Spot Of Every Calloused Moment (Blue Note)

Paweł Brodowski, Jazz Forum (Poland)

KASIA PIETRZKO TRIO: Ephemeral Pleasures (KPT Records)

Pianist Kasia Pietrzko is an important new voice on the Polish jazz scene. “Ephemeral Pleasures” is her second release following her debut album „Forthright Stories” of two years ago, which generated many awards for this up-and-coming artist. Her trio includes two seasoned players: Piotr Budniak on drums and Andrzej Święs on bass (her bassist on “Forthright Stories” was the American master Corcoran Holt!). This newest outing features original compositions, mostly her own, built on unusual structures and marked by her strong sense of melody. The main pieces are interwoven with five improvised, numbered “Episodes,” in which each player gets a chance to add to the story. One of the compsitions, “For T.S.”, is dedicated to Tomasz Stańko, who invited Kasia to join his group. She played with the legendary trumpeter in a Kracow club just one gig, which turned out to be the very last performance before his departure. The American pianist Aaron Parks, her idol and mentor, is quoted in the liner notes: “It’s been a joy to witness the remarkable and rapid evolution of Kasia Pietrzko’s artistry. Her approach to the piano is at once patient, inquisitive, bold, and filled with the sense of unforced discovery that marks true creative vision. As a composer, her voice continues to develop and deepen in ever more compelling ways".

Mike Flynn, Jazzwise (UK)

JAMES BECKWITH: Long Distance (Bandcamp)

Anna Filipieva, (Russia)

SERGEY GOLOVNYA: Dreamlike Forest (SG)

Muscovite Sergey Golovnya is known as an exceptional virtuoso saxophonist within the post bop idiom, but his album is another story. Recorded during the pandemic-inflicted lockdown in Moscow by a team of only two musicians, keyboardist / programmer Kirill Kuznetsov and Golovnya, who composed all tracks and played flute as well as soprano, tenor, and bari sax, it sounds as far from post bop as possible, exploring menacing or meditative modal soundscapes which reflect a locked-down musician's moody, somber, or contemplative attitudes.

Jan Granlie, (Pan-Scandinavian)

HEDVIG MOLLESTAD: Ekhidna (Rune Grammofon)

This has simply become a gem of a record. It is close to the toughest rock music, and which has most of the elements the "headbangers" of the rock audience just love, while at the same time it is just tough enough so the jazz people can also stand at the end of the bar and nod in tune with the music while smiling appreciatively to the six musicians, who here perform music that can easily replace the energy of most planned wind farms in Western Norway. PLAY IT LOUD!

Christine Stephan, JAZZTHETIK (Germany)

POTSA LOTSA XL: Silk Songs for Space Dogs (Leo Records)

Viktor Bensusan, (Turkey)

HANS LÜDEMANN TRIO IVOIRE XX: Enchanted Forest (Intuition Label)

The 20th anniversary of the Cologne-based pianist Hans Lüdemann's Trio Ivoire is celebrated in the ecological album "Enchanted Forest" as usual with the blending with straight-ahead jazz and African polyphony. Balafonist Aly Keita is an emissary virtuoso of his instrument and drummer Christian Thomé plays drums in his signature Chopinesque style. The guests are vocalists Simin Tander, Tamara Lukasheva, and Amanda Becker – as well as Lisa Wulff on double bass and Alexandra Grimal on tenor sax.

Henning Bolte, Written in Music (Netherlands)

KATHERINE ZYABLUK: Borders Make You Grow (Bandcamp)

When listening to the music of young Ukrainian pianist Katherine Zyabluk (1999) here, it gives a feeling of remote concentration connected to a calmness underlying a tension of stasis and maneuverability. The music is with itself in an astonishing way lacking each sign of bravado or attempt to shine. It wears a kind of humble and serious monkish otherworldliness especially reflected in the piece “23 Ways To Forget Oneself”. In this mode great tunes enter from different sides or shine through, permeated with subliminal drama (as in the Ukrainian titled piece “Oy U Luzi, Ta Shche Y Pry Berezi”) in its thoughtful mostly non-overtly confluent progression. There are exceptions though as the vibrating and blasting “Burn Platanus” and there are the contrasts of “Happy Interlude: Curcuma” and “Gloomy Interlude: Aleph” not to mention the final two excellent seven-minute pieces. It turns out that this music was created by Katherine Zyabluk with restricted means in the isolation, means-restricted and solitude of the Covid-19-quarantine in April in a place near Kraków. It is a personally deep lived through musical manifestation of it. 

Magnus Nygren, Orkester Journalen (Sweden)


Alto player Anna Högberg on a new great album with her group Attack. Totally wild and energetic, but also warm and tender. Högberg is a lovely soloist but in Attack she's also a composer and bandleader and she lets all the players take their share. Nice to hear brilliant trumpeter Niklas Barnö in this context.

Cim Meyer, Jazz Special (Denmark)

REMY LE BOEUF: Assembly of Shadows (SoundSpore Records)

Lars Mossefinn, Dag og tid (Norway)

HEDVIG MOLLESTAD: Ekhidna (Rune Grammofon)

Matthieu Jouan, (France)

SPACEMUSIC ENSEMBLE: Is Okay Okay Is Certified (Motvind Records)

With this unique ensemble, where the instrumentation fades in front of the musicians' personalities, the alto saxophonist and composer Signe Emmeluth achieves a record of great musical maturity and intense orchestral colour. A masterpiece in the form of a suite in eight parts, written precisely for these musicians. The modernity of this suite also stems from the great musical culture of its composer, who has been able to draw intelligently on the standards and codes of improvised, contemporary, noisy music as well as modern jazz and electro. Of course, this is of little importance here, because the musicians in charge of the interpretation don't care about these labels and, as professionals of tampering, cover up a guitar chord as a telluric flash and a saxophone line as a feedback loop, for our greatest enchantment.

Axel Stinshoff, Jazz thing (Germany)