Take Five: Artemis, The Chicago Experiment, Jacob Garchik, Takuya Kuroda & Billy Childs

Jul 27, 2020

Artemis, “Goddess of the Hunt”

The contemporary all-star group known as Artemis first convened a couple of years ago, making a splash at the Newport Jazz Festival. (As you may recall, that set was featured on Jazz Night in America). The ensemble’s self-titled Blue Note Records debut will be released on Sept. 11, and the label has just released its opening track as a single. Composed by drummer Allison Miller, “Goddess of the Hunt” is an eventful piece titled after the band’s immortal namesake.

The track is a dynamic solo showcase for several members of Artemis: tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, pianist Renee Rosnes, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and clarinetist Anat Cohen. Keeping the motor humming alongside Miller is bassist Noriko Ueda; elsewhere on the album, the group is joined by vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, whose animations are featured in the video above.  

In a press statement, Miller describes “Goddess Of the Hunt” as “a sonic exploration of the powerful traits that define women. We are resilient, tenacious, determined, life-giving, versatile, nurturing, elegant, mysterious, cunning, persistent, and patient. I love how each soloist clearly expresses their unique power.”

Artemis will be released on Sept. 11; preorder here.

The Chicago Experiment, “Maxwell Street”

Almost 20 years ago, Ropeadope released The Philadelphia Experiment, a jazz-meets-hip-hop album with a core personnel of Questlove, Uri Caine and Christian McBride. A success in both creative and commercial terms, it eventually spawned sequels in other localities: first Detroit, then Harlem. Now comes news of The Chicago Experiment, a portrait of a city with plenty of musical grist for the mill.


The first single from the album is “Maxwell Street,” composed by keyboardist Greg Spero and featuring a handful of his noted hometown collaborators, including trumpeter Marquis Hill, vibraphonist Joel Ross and guitarist Jeff Parker. The track begins in a staccato Afrobeat mode, shifts into a Latin house beat, and pivots to a walking swing before the fade.

The Chicago Experiment will be released later this year on Ropeadope.

Jacob Garchik, “Ligne Claire”

In addition to being a top trombonist in the improvising avant-garde, Jacob Garchik is a composer-orchestrator of endless resources; he’s the in-house arranger for Kronos Quartet, and rightly turned his share of heads (including mine) with The Heavens: The Atheist Gospel Trombone Album. Now comes Clear Line, Garchik’s take on the big band tradition, which he’s naturally serving with a twist.

“Ligne Claire” (“Clear Line”) refers to a style of drawing created by the Belgian cartoonist Hergé, and exemplified in his work The Adventures of Tintin. As the album’s title track, it demonstrates some of the principles that Garchik is pushing to the fore — mainly an avoidance of certain big band tropes like woodwind doubling and solo sections. There’s also no piano, bass or drums, so the rhythmic momentum rests entirely within the arrangement. As you can hear, Garchik has no problem creating that effect, entrusting it to a band stocked with young chargers like trumpeter Adam O’Farrill, saxophonist Kevin Sun and trombonists Kalia Vendever and Natalie Cressman.

Clear Line releases on Yestereve Records on Tuesday; preorder here.  

Takuya Kuroda (feat. Corey King), “Change”

Head-nodding groove has been a chief specialty of trumpeter Takuya Kuroda, whose two most recent albums were released on major labels. His next one, Fly Moon Die Soon, is due Sept 18 on First Word Records; Kuroda just released its lead single, “Change,” featuring vocals by Corey King.

A video for the track depicts Kuroda and King in various New York City settings; pay close attention to catch the nuance of King’s metaphysical lyrics. Musically “Change” hews to the standard of millennial jazz-R&B, with Kuroda’s horn often multitracked into a murmuring Amen chorus. His accompaniment includes Takeshi Ohbayashi on keyboards, Ryo Ogihara on guitar, Solomon Dorsey on bass and Zach Mullings on drums.

Fly Moon Die Soon will release on Sept. 18; preorder here.

Billy Childs, “Leimert Park”

Billy Childs is known for the elegance of his designs; he’s a composer, arranger and producer with a feeling for the dignity of form. But of course, Childs is also a terrific pianist and keyboardist, and sometimes it’s all too easy to let that part of his identity slip to the side. Not so on a new album, Acceptance, which Mack Avenue will release on Aug. 28.

The album finds Childs at the helm of a stellar quartet with saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Eric Harland. On “Leimert Park” — a tribute to the Los Angeles neighborhood home to the World Stage — rhythm serves as a guiding spirit. (It should be no surprise to learn that Childs developed this groove with Paul Jackson, Jr. and Mike Clark, alumni of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters.) Stick around for a smart Fender Rhodes solo and some phenomenal drum fills over a vamp in fractured meter.

Acceptance will be released on Mack Avenue Records on Aug. 28.