Music News 9/3/2020


Thumbscrew, THE ANTHONY BRAXTON PROJECT (Cuneiform, $16.98) – Thumbscrew is a cooperative trio with Mary Halvorson, guitar, Michael Formanek, bass, and Tomas Fujiwara, drums/vibraphone. All three members have played with or studied with composer, teacher and multi-reedist Anthony Braxton. To celebrate Braxton’s 75th birthday, the trio went into the Tri-Centric Foundation Braxton Archives in New Haven to find pieces old and new that would work especially well for their instrumentation. The result is a great introduction into the wide-ranging styles of this composer.

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Tony Allen & Hugh Masakela, REJOICE (World Circuit, $14.98) – Recorded in 2010 and issued for the first time, drummer Tony Allen, a pioneer of Afro-Beat, and South African trumpeter Hugh Masakela collaborated in an uplifting mix of “South African-Nigerian swing-jazz.” Sadly, both of these master musicians are now gone—Mr. Masakela in 2018, and Mr. Allen in 2020.

Ora Singers, TALLIS: Spem in Alium & MACMILLAN: Vida Aquam (Harmonia Mundi, CD & DVD) – This is the 450th anniversary of Thomas Tallis’s beautiful 40-part motet, Spem in Alium. The Ora Singers, led by Suzi Digby, balance the recital with a new work written in homage to Tallis’s work: James MacMillan’s The Forty Part Motet: Vidi Aquam.


Ambrose Akinmusire, ON THE TENDER SPOT OF EVERY CALLOUSED MOMENT (Blue Note, $12.98) – One of the most forward-looking musicians on the scene, Ambrose Akinmusire follows up his collaboration with a string quartet and rapper on his last album with a return to the quartet form (with a few guests). He is joined by Sam Harris, piano; Harish Raghavan, bass; Justin Brown, drums; with guests Jesús Díaz on percussion and vocals, and Genevieve Artadi on vocals. In paying tribute to composer/reed master Roscoe Mitchell (“Mr. Roscoe: Consider the Simultaneous”) and to the late trumpeter Roy Hargrove (“Roy”), Akinmusire also addresses a key question about the forms of the blues today (See Nate Chinen’s interview/review here) .

Charles Tolliver, CONNECT (Gearbox, $14.98) – Charles Tolliver has been recording since the late 1960s, and in 1971, co-founded (along with pianist Stanley Cowell) one of the most influential artist-owned labels, Strata-East. For his first release in a decade, Mr. Tolliver is joined by the all-star rhythm section of Buster Williams on bass and Lenny White on drums, alongside Jesse Davis, alto saxophone and Keith Brown, piano.