Bill Jacobson was an 80s and 90s American photographer best known for his photographs taken with an absence of any focus. There is no dedicated website to his work but it can be easily found across the web.
There is lots to admire in Matt Eich‘s work.
German photographer Dawin Meckel has an excellent series on Detroit, the shell of a once great city to which so many photographers are drawn.
Jorg Colberg interviews Meckel over at Conscientious
As so much on Detroit is negative it is worth highlighting this positive article in The Observer about how residents of Detroit have set up community urban farms in the city centre.
A lot of very impressive work by Christopher Morlinghaus. I especially like his eye for patterns.
Six months into the year the following are some brief observations on some of my favourite albums released so far. First up some jazz release; in a few days others. All of the following are highly recommended.
Food – Quiet Inlet
Food have been around for a number of years but are now stripped down to a duo (UK saxophonist Iain Ballamy and Thomas Stronen on drums/percussion/electronics). They are supported here by trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer and guitarist Christian Fennesz. The album is a beautiful mixture of the acoustic and electronic – Stronen creates a wonderful backdrop over which Ballamy and others play. Fennesz is relatively low-key, adding texture to Stronen’s electronics. Molvaer’s own contribution is often quite stunning. It’s a great album (but their set at Cheltenham, broadcast on BBC Jazz on 3, was even better).
Angles – Epileptical West: Live in Coimbra
This live album by Swedish band Angles is a thrilling listen. The band use strong rhythms, often with an African vibe, to create a backdrop over which sax, trumpet and trombone interplay. At the heart is a commitment to melody but from here the soloist and the combined horns veer off at exhilarating tangents.
Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth – Deluxe
The first time I have [knowingly] come across bassist Chris Lightcap. The rhythm section of Craig Taborn on keyboards, Gerald Cleaver on drums, and Lightcap are superb and lay down strong foundations from which the three saxophonists can play – sometimes in perfect harmony, other times playing off each other. The album includes a few lovely ballads but the band is at it best on the freer numbers where they really let loose.
Dave Holland Octet – Pathways
Holland’s last album was my album of the year in 2008; this is possibly even better. Whether recording with a big band (Overtime), in his quintet (Pass It On), or in an octet (as here) he seems to bring out the best in his players retaining a tight sound but also allowing them the freedom to play and express themselves. The album swings, much of it with a Latin feel, and there are some wonderful grooves. But the band also excels on the ballads.
Christian Scott – Yesterday You Said Tomorrow
There has been considerable buzz around this album by young New Orleans trumpeter Christian Scott and rightly so. The album is mostly originals, often with political themes (have a look at the song titles). The one cover is of Thom Yorke’s The Eraser. At times his trumpet is soaring and angry, elsewhere it almost whispers and is melancholic. The supporting band is excellent, providing strong, driving grooves, and although I am not typically a fan of guitars in jazz here it is an essential element.
Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden – Jasmine
This is unexpected: Jarrett’s first studio album for more than ten years is a late-night, intimate delight along the lines of the beautiful The Melody At Night With You. The two musicians are in such perfect harmony throughout it is hard to believe that it has been so long since they last played together. There is an incredible warmth to the recording – both in the interpretations of the songs and also the physical sound quality. Lovely.
Paul Motian – Lost In A Dream
Another late night album recorded live at The Village Vanguard. On much of the album the playing by Motian, Jason Moran on piano, and Chris Potter on sax (who also appears on the Dave Holland album) is superb but restrained, and as a listener it can be hard to find something to latch onto with the looser, more angular Ten and Drum Music a welcome change of mood. But after a few listens it starts to sink in and the subtleties of the album reveal themselves.
Brad Mehldau – Highway Rider
Another album that has taken a while to sink in. An ambitious double album that draws its influences from jazz, classical and folk and is often cinematic. The supporting orchestra mostly works well, building behind the jazz playing and lifting it to new heights. Joshua Redman is key – his playing a highlight. It is a little too long and could have done with some editing but there are many moments of incredible beauty.
Espen Eriksen Trio – You Had Me At Goodbye
Yet another bright young European jazz trio (though the first to feature on this list). The Espen Eriksen Trio sit somewhere in-between the two great Scandanavian trios of recent times – they have the acoustic quality and sharpness of the Tord Gustavsen Trio with the ear for melodies of EST. There are also elements of Jarrett and Mehldau. At just 35 minutes long it is a short album. It may not be especially groundbreaking but it is almost perfect.
Chicago Underground Duo – Boca Negra
Trumpeter Rob Mazurek’s ”Sound Is” was one of my 2009 albums of the year. This album sees him in one of his other many different bands recording with Chad Taylor on drums, percussion and keyboards. Instruments are overdubbed and electronics added so that on some tracks the sound is much fuller than you’d expect for a duo. Rhythms go off in strange directions and time signatures change making for a not easy but never dull ride and confirming Mazurek as one of the most exciting musicians around.
Dave Stapleton Quintet – Between The Lines
Dave Stapleton has rapidly become one of the most important people in British jazz. Not only is he a talented musician and leader he also runs a record label (Edition records) which has been responsible for some of the best British jazz releases of the last couple of years (Mark Lockheart, Ivo Neame, Geoff Eales, Curios). This is pretty straight ahead jazz influenced by Miles Davis quintet, Herbie Hancock, and Keith Jarrett’s Quintet. Stapleton is an excellent pianist and trumpeter Jonny Bruce also shines.
Neil Cowley Trio – Radio Silence
Radio Silence is the British piano trio’s third and best album. It offers no radical departure from the first two but builds on them. The core ingredient remains Cowley’s banging power piano chords and lovely melodic flights underpinned by strong percussion. But the band can do ballads too and their are moments which are quite touching. Having fully realised their sound it will be interesting to see where they go from here.
Curios – The Other Place
Another British jazz trio on their third album and like Neil Cowley (above) this is also their best. For the first time Curios have added electronics to their sound but the effect is quite subtle – on only a couple of tracks is it really apparent. The playing is of the highest quality and the album is varied and never dull.
Finally, a couple of albums that are right on the edge of jazz but with which I have no problem including here:
Kammerflimmer Kollektief – Wildling
Kammerflimmer Kollektief are a German band that has been around for more than 15 years. They operate in their own area where jazz, imrpov, post-rock, electronica, krautrock and psychedelia all come together. The music is often controlled and structured. On longer pieces it ebbs and flows over drones, with haunting almost wordless vocals adding another layer. It could perhaps have done with a little more variation and misses some of the rougher edges of earlier abums. It is music that is hard to describe but a joy to listen to.
Ergo – Multitude, Solitude
Ergo were formed in 2003 by trombonist Brett Sroka, who wanted to explore music beyond jazz in particular in the use of electronics. The trio is the unusual combination of trombone, drums, and keyboards/electronics. On some tracks the trombone is layered to create ambient soundscapes, on others it is propelled forward by the rhythm section. It is an exciting album which continues to reward after repeated listens.