There is nothing wrong with Jochen Rueckert's new album We Make The Rules. Rueckert is on the drums and is joined by a fantastic group of musicians - Mark Turner on sax, Matt Penman on bass, and Lage Lund on guitar - to round out his quartet. Rueckert has been based in New York City since 1995 and has played with many of the leading voices in jazz during that time (Kurt Rosenwinkel, Sam Yahel, Will Vinson, Mark Copland, and Seamus Blake, among others), but is a relatively low-profile name despite his top-notch chops on display here. This quartet has been together for several years and reconvened to record these songs in the studio after road-testing them and working out the kinks (in fact, Rueckert, Penman, and Turner also played on Rueckert's 2011 album somewhere, meeting nobody, along with guitarist Brad Shepik). All of the songs on We Make The Rules are Rueckert originals, and all of the tunes are very "contemporary jazz", if that is a reasonable term to use, giving the album a unified feel.
Europe is home to a thriving jazz scene and each year boasts an impressive number of fabulous jazz festivals which enable people of all ages to get involved with this popular and engaging music genre. With this in mind, here is my first-hand guide to some of the best jazz festivals to attend in Europe next year.
Houston-native trumpeter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Leron Thomas has been around the block quite a bit, and he certainly has had a busy year so far. His vocals have charmed the pants off folks singing alongside Zara McFarlane on "Angie La La" off If You Knew Her from earlier this year, and his work with Jason Moran in the Fats Waller Dance Party and Moran's latest album, All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller has been nothing if not eye-opening to how talented this man is. His voice and his horn exude a warmth and sweetness that should be celebrated all on its own. Now Thomas is doing so with the release of his new EP, Take It…. On it, Thomas is going a more experimental route, weaving and mashing his smooth voice with layers of sounds and electronic touches. It's so much more than a jazz release.
Get read for the sophomore release from the jazz not-a-supergroup (because they're modest like that) James Farm of saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Eric Harland. Their 2011 debut release on Nonesuch was a bunch of fun and great first outing for this group. Now they've gotten together for their second release with a new bunch of composition from the quartet. This time around, the band moves less from a conceptual idea of a collective to more of a pronounced idea of what this specific band is. In a music of collaboration, it's good to know these specific ties are binding to make this particular sound. Every one of these dudes in this quartet is a monster on his instrument and a moving composer, so it'll be exciting to hear what's next to come from James Farm. City Folk available for pre-order now at the Nonesuch website, and when you pre-order the album, you can download the first single, "Two Steps" written by Matt Penman. In the meantime, check out a stream of "Two Steps" after the jump.