REVIEWS: All that Jazz with Simon Adams

January 24, 2022

Simon Adams reviews the hottest jazz albums that are hitting the high notes…

BRANDEE YOUNGER: Somewhere Different (Impulse!) I raved last January about harpist Brandee Younger’s lockdown set with bassist Dezron Douglas, but here she is now on a major label with a larger band behind her. Younger’s mission is to demystify the perception of the harp as solely a classical instrument, using it to play jazz, soul, r&b, hip-hop, rap, and funk, often gently amplifying and electronically treating her strings to gossamer effect.

Personally, I wanted to hear more of her alone, for she is an adept musician playing a rarely heard instrument, but she gets somewhat lost in this glossy, soft-focussed production. But this is nicely mixed set, part meditative and downtempo, part idealistic and upbeat, and always bang up to date.

JORGE ROSSY/ROBERT LANDFERMANN/JEFF BALLARD: Puerta (ECM). Catalan musician Jorge Rossy is best known as a drummer, notably for Brad Melhdau and Charlie Haden, but has also worked and recorded as a pianist.  For his ECM debut as leader – but not for the first time on record – he has turned to the vibraphone and marimba, handing over the drum stool to Jeff Ballard. Bassist Robert Landfermann completes the trio.

For this set of original compositions, Jossy knew that he needed three soloists, not just a rhythm section, for the set to be a completely balanced affair. As he did when playing drums, his own contributions unfold in elegant waves, made up of minimal phrases all chosen with care. This is a stylish, cool album, an exciting development in Rossy’s varied musical life. Highly recommended.

SEAN GIBBS: When Can I See You Again? (Ubuntu Music). Trumpeter Sean Gibbs grew up in Edinburgh and learned his craft among the various Scottish youth jazz orchestras. A graduate of the Birmingham Conservatoire, he is currently a member of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and has worked with numerous small groups and big bands.

This is his debut album, and what a confident if unpretentious set it is. Steeped in the jazz tradition, it is packed with solid grooves, lyrical and catchy melodies – all the compositions are his – and a deep connection to the blues. And to Blue Note records, too, for this set would sit comfortably among its many classic hard bop and soul jazz releases from the 1950s and ’60s. If I were Sean Gibbs, I would be mighty proud of this album.