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Take Five: Bold Strokes by Matana Roberts, Jared Gold, Mike McGinnis, Tim Berne and Matt Mitchell

Filip Wolak
Whitney Museum of American Art
Matana Roberts alongside Eva Hesse's 'No Title, 1969–70' at the Whitney Museum of American Art";

Jared Gold, "Reemergence"

If you're someone who follows the ins and outs of the Hammond B-3 organ, you probably know about Jared Gold. A New Jersey native and alumnus of the jazz program at William Patterson, he has boosted the groove in bands led by guitarist John Abercrombie, saxophonist Oliver Lake and many others.

His forthcoming album, Reemergence, features another mentor of sorts — guitarist Dave Stryker, who has featured Gold in his own trio for more than a dozen years. Also in the mix is the master drummer Billy Hart, who brings fire and forward pull, and the surefooted trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, who makes a strong statement on each of his three appearances. One of those is the title track, which has its premiere here. It's a medium-uptempo blues that affords every member of the band a chance to blow over a 14-bar form. Elsewhere on the album, there are smart, soulful arrangements of tunes by The Beatles, Ornette Coleman and Stevie Wonder — but "Reemergence," which also opens the album, tells you everything you need to know about Gold's approach, in under six minutes. (Reemergence is due out on Strikezone Records on May 4. Preorder here.)

Matana Roberts, Response to 'No Title, 1969-70'


The alto saxophonist and composer Matana Roberts fits the broad definition of a jazz musician, but it would be just as true (and maybe more so) to call her a performance artist. On Tuesday night she'll present blood.blue(s): a remembrance in the Veterans Room at the Park Avenue Armory, as part of Artists Studio, the series curated by Jason Moran. A site-specific composition, blood.blue(s) will feature Roberts's saxophone along with moving images, spoken word, electronics and a "snare sextet," made up of drummers including Kate Gentile, Tomas Fujiwara and Mike Pride. There's no recording of the work just yet, but thinking about it sent me back to the clip above, of Roberts at the Whitney Museum in 2015. In it, she improvises a response to No Title, 1969–70, an abstract sculptural form by Eva Hesse. Some of the same spatial alchemy should be present in the new piece, which will have two performances, at 7 and 9 p.m. (More information here.)

Mike McGinnis, "Here Comes Everybody"

A clarinetist, saxophonist and composer with an thoughtfully articulate style, Mike McGinnis made his 2017 album Recurring Dream with two mentors, the pianist Art Lande and the bassist Steve Swallow. Singular Awakening, due out on Sunnyside this Friday, features the same personnel, with a title that obliquely recalls its precursor.  

The album opens with "Here Comes Everybody," a Swallow tune that he recorded a decade ago with his own trio. Its quirky melody, compact but riddled with curlicues, perfectly suits the alert rapport that McGinnis has with both Swallow and Lande. The piano solo is playful and probing; the clarinet solo has the bright, expeditionary air of a scout leader on a nature trail. This is chamber-jazz with a glint in its eye. 

Tim Berne/Matt Mitchell Duo, "Perception/reception"

The deep simpatico between saxophonist Tim Berne and pianist Matt Mitchell hardly needs another exhibit for the jury; we've even explored it here, last year, on the occasion of their joint achievement førage. But where førage was a duo album in theory more than practice — Berne's compositions, Mitchell's solo elaborations — their new release, Angel Dusk, is a joint effort all the way.

The album, which was mixed and mastered by David Torn, features a batch of new compositions that fully capitalize on the razor's-edge equilibrium in this duo's rapport. On the opening track, "Perception/reception," listen for how often a premeditated musical gesture blooms in unexpected ways. Mitchell remains the ideal collaborator for Berne, partly for the way that his tonal colors set the compositions in shadowy relief. (Listen, too, for the delicate yet unnerving music-box patter that he generates from roughly 6:40 to 7:15.) There's a great deal of information to absorb on the album, and an invitation to go even deeper: Berne provides an option of ordering the Angel Dusk with a downloadable PDF score of all the music.

Sarah Vaughan, "How Long Has This Been Going On?"


Last Friday marked the 60th anniversary of the release of Sarah Vaughan Sings George Gershwin, originally on Mercury Records but long out of print. Now Verve Records/UMe has released a new vinyl reissue of the album, in its original mono mix. Featuring The Divine One with orchestral accompaniment, in arrangements by Hal Mooney, it's a satiny prestige production — a response to the market forces that had made Ella Fitzgerald's songbook albums such a success. Vaughan didn't strike the same commercial gold, but the musical results are rewarding, especially on a song like "How Long Has This Been Going On?," which she sings with deep pathos as well as magisterial precision. (Order the album here.)

A veteran jazz critic and award-winning author, and a regular contributor to NPR Music.