Take Five: Brandon Coleman, Martin Bejerano, David Virelles, Steve Davis, and Anna Butterss
Brandon Coleman, "We Change Part II" (feat. Keyon Harrold, Ben Williams & Marcus Gilmore"
'For jazzfolk, Brandon Coleman is best known as a keyboardist extraordinaire on the same Los Angeles scene that claims Thundercat and Kamasi Washington. Coleman is guilty as charged on that front, but as he demonstrates on his new Brainfeeder release, Interstellar Black Space, he can hardly be pinned down to one sound, or a single scene. The album finds him self-aligning with an Afrofuturist pop vanguard that includes Parliament-Funkadelic, George Duke, Weather Report and more. But there's still a tether to the straight-ahead tradition in this matrix, as Coleman reminds us on a couple of tracks featuring Keyon Harrold on trumpet, Ben Williams on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. One of these, "Astral Walk," begins in a flowing ballad mode before the rise of a 7/8 ostinato, over which Harrold and then Coleman show us what they can do.
Martin Bejerano, "Yo No Bailo"
#CubanAmerican, the arresting new album by pianist Martin Bejerano, conveys a precise cultural vantage, but without much deference to orthodoxy. It's not a showcase for Cuban-American piano stylings, but it's also not not that showcase; such is the shape-shifting nature of Bejerano's relationship to this musical language. His fellow travelers, for roughly the last 15 years, are bassist Edward Pérez and drummer Ludwig Afonso. They support and challenge him throughout the album; listen to the way they handle the irregular metric foundation of a song titled "Yo No Bailo," whose cheeky title translates in English to "I do not dance." (Listen to the piano solo, and see if you agree.)
David Virelles, "Camino Del Escultor"
Last week, another pianist of Cuban heritage, David Virelles, released his first-ever solo piano album, Nuna. And in case you were thinking that a solitary musical statement might speak to some sense of restriction — well, the expanse of imagination and sonority on the album took care of that. What's more, Pi Recordings saw fit to release a supplemental set of four bonus tracks, speaking to the overspill of ideas that Virelles brought to the table. The opening track on this EP, "Camino Del Escultor," proceeds in methodical fashion, with a contrapuntal balance between Virelles' right and left hands. The solo is set against a creeping bass line, and it unfolds as a series of epiphanies.
Steve Davis, "Bluesthetic"
Trombonist and composer Steve Davis has been an impeccable hard-bop steward since the early 1990s, and his continuing travels down that path are cause for celebration. Certainly there's reason to herald his new album, Bluesthetic, which gathers an elite congress of his peers: guitarist Peter Bernstein, vibraphonist Steve Nelson, pianist Geoffrey Keezer, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Willie Jones III. On the album's title track, the relaxation in their rapport undergirds a simmering intensity; hear how it shines through in the improvisational exchanges from Bernstein, Davis, Nelson and especially Keezer, who brings it all home.
Anna Butterss, "Super Lucrative"
If you know Anna Butterss, you probably know her as a bass player on the L.A. scene, holding it down with the likes of Jeff Parker, Larry Goldings and Josh Johnson. Maybe you also know her as an accompanist for indie-oriented pop artists like SASAMI, Phoebe Bridgers and Aimee Mann. Whatever the case, now would be a good time to clear the slate of preconceptions, as Butterss prepares to release a solo album called Activities. The lead single, wryly titled "Super Lucrative," is an electronic piece evoking Radiohead's Kid A, with a postmillennial systems upgrade: an intriguing opening move.