Take Five: Mark Guiliana Reps 'Jersey.' Plus Louis Armstrong, Tyshawn Sorey, Uri Gurvich, Kris Davis

Aug 7, 2017

Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet, “inter-are”

Would it be fair to say Mark Guiliana has been typecast? He’s a drummer best known for his advances along the axis of groove, most visibly with the surging Donny McCaslin Quartet, which served as David Bowie’s valedictory band. But Guiliana cut his teeth in the acoustic postbop tradition, and in addition to the project he calls Beat Music, he leads the Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet — an astute, flowing combo with saxophonist Jason Rigby, pianist Fabian Almazan and bassist Chris Morrissey.

The band’s assured new album, Jersey — a nod to Guiliana’s home state, where he was born (in Florham Park) and still resides (in Madison) — is due out on Motéma on Sept. 29. Guiliana composed six of the album’s tracks, including “inter-are,” which sets the tone with an urgent, pointillist ostinato and a vaulting melodic line. (Don’t miss how the beat opens up over the course of Rigby’s solo, which covers a lot of ground.) The track, which premieres here, is also available Friday to anyone who preorders the album on iTunes. 

Louis Armstrong, “What Is This Thing Called Swing?”

Last Friday, on Louis Armstrong’s 116th birthday, Verve/UMe put out The Complete Decca Singles 1935-1946, a collection of every track he released during his first decade on Decca Records. While this material, amounting to 136 tracks, has received the boxed-set treatment before, its release on digital services should be hailed as an event. Some tracks are now available in that format for the first time.

“What Is This Thing Called Swing?” is a thrill ride written by Armstrong and Horace Gerlach, and recorded in 1939 as the B-side to “Jeepers Creepers.” The lyrics imagine a clueless bandleader flummoxed by with the hot new rhythmic phenomenon: “Is it jazz or drag time, futuristic ragtime?” he cries. The band, spurred on by the ever-riveting drummer Sid Catlett, puts the idea into action — and hear how Armstrong knocks his own solo out of the park. (“Get your chops together, boys, I’m comin’ over there after ya, yessir.”)

Tyshawn Sorey Trio, “Cascade in Slow Motion”

Tyshawn Sorey
Credit Courtesy of the Artist

Over the weekend, I saw drummer Tyshawn Sorey bring a crowd to its feet at the Newport Jazz Festival, during a smashing set by the Vijay Iyer Sextet. In his own music, Sorey often favors haunting resonance and shadowy irresolution, whether he’s working with orchestral dimensions, solo percussion or — as in the case of his superb new album, Verisimilitude (Pi Recordings) — a working trio with Chris Tordini on bass and Cory Smythe on piano and electronics. The great imaginative breadth of Sorey’s vision, and the fierce clarity with which he pursues it, have earned him some admiring endorsements in high places: by all means, read the perceptive recent appraisals in the New Yorker and the New York Times. But you can also hear Sorey in a wonderfully far-ranging conversation with Simon Rentner on The Checkout. And here is “Cascade in Slow Motion,” is the fittingly titled opening track on Verisimilitude, which establishes the trio’s patient cadence, and sets an intriguing tone for what’s to come.

Uri Gurvich, “Blue Nomad”

The peripatetic flow of peoples and cultures is something that hits close to home for Uri Gurvich, a saxophonist raised in Israel by Argentinean parents. It’s also the idea behind “Blue Nomad” — a track from his new album, Kinship, which is due out Sept. 8 on the Jazz Family label. Here’s an exclusive video from the recording studio, with Gurvich joined by his quartet: the Argentine pianist Leo Genovese, the Bulgarian bassist Peter Slavov and the Cuban drummer Francisco Mela.

“I was trying to connect these cultures that are both central to my own identity,” Gurvich said in a press statement. “In addition, the form is based on the Blues, so ultimately I was trying to create an affinity between these three different worlds.”

Kris Davis, Eric Revis, Andrew Cyrille, “Vadim”

Kris Davis, a pianist of probing intelligence and prickly insight, last released a trio album a few years ago, with John Hébert on bass and Tom Rainey on drums. The trio she’s bringing to The Stone at the New School this Friday and Saturday is another proposition altogether. Featuring the fearless bassist Eric Revis and the master drummer Andrew Cyrille, it has already made a considerable splash in the jazz avant-garde — as a Revis-led band, on the excellent 2013 album City of Asylum. But if you absorb “Vadim,” a restlessly interactive track from that album, it shouldn’t be hard to picture the same constellation of talent aligning under Davis’s hand. For the moment, there’s only one way to know for sure. (For more information, visit thestonenyc.com.)