RecommNeds | The Beyond Jazz Edition
Words By: Aaron “Neddy” Stein
Rhododendron: Mad Honey
Sometimes I have no idea how an album gets into my listening queue, but usually a quick Google will get me the scoop on something that piques my interest. With Rhododendron, there’s not much to go on (they’re from Bern, Switzerland), and what there is, isn’t in English. No matter, it’s the music that counts, and their album, Mad Honey, is a post-rock delight, mixing piano and cello and violin with bass and drums providing the consuming rhythms. It’s elegant, powerful, atmospheric instrumental music, somewhere between jazz, classical and rock.
Kenosha Kid: Inside Voices
A bit closer to home and maybe a smidge more “on the radar” is Kenosha Kid from Athens, Georgia. I was hipped to their newest, Inside Voices, and have been digging through its many layers finding secrets and nuances ever since. Led by Dan Nettles on guitar, who has a bit of Frisell in him and a bit of a jammy-ness in him as well, the ensemble builds each piece slowly, arranging and constructing each section with care and expertise. Horn arrangements run both parallel and perpendicular to the melodies, resonances and counterpoints all at once. Altogether some excellent new jazz and occasionally stunning music.
1939 Ensemble: Black Diamond Pearl
1939 Ensemble are a unique trio out of Portland, Oregon who were first featured in this space a couple years ago. They’re back with an excellent new follow-up LP, Black Diamond Pearl, recorded by Tortoise’s John McEntire, which gives a little bit of an indication on the sound. The instrumentation consists of vibraphone, drums and trumpet with some synth thrown in for a jazz-punk, post-rock, retro-futuristic sound. The three of them make a big noise with multiple strata of intense melodies and dark grooves. High level, intelligent instrumental music for the modern era.
Marcus Hamblett: Concrete
Marcus Hamblett is a guitarist from Brighton, UK who spends much of his time as a session or touring musician for the likes of Laura Marling and the Broken Social Scene, amongst others. On Concrete he and his guitar are the sole focus, although he adds other bits of sounds and instruments along the way. Like its namesake concrete, the album is a kind of slurry of sounds that solidifies into something quite strong and tangible. It reaches places you might call jazz and rock (and post-jazz and post-rock for that matter) and probably a dozen other subgenres, but mostly it’s a sound of Hamblett’s own making: at times quite pretty and others pretty weird. It’s worth digging into all 6 tracks – they work on their own, but gain strength as a single unit.