Music News 2/1/24



Vijay Iyer / Linda May Han Oh / Tyshawn Sorey, COMPASSION (ECM, $18.98) – Pianist Vijay Iyer formed a trio with two other composer/instrumentalists who are leaders of their own groups: bassist Linda May Han Oh, and drummer Tyshawn Sorey; their first album was Uneasy (2022). They reunite for their new album, Compassion. There are Iyer compositions dedicated to pandemic victims (“Maelstrom” “Tempest,” and “Panegyric”), and a dedication to Archbishop Tutu (“Arch”). Cover versions include Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed” (dedicated to Chick Corea), Roscoe Mitchell (“Nonaah”), and, to end, a medley of  John Stubblefield’s “Free Spirits” and Geri Allen’s “Drummer’s Song.”



Ches Smith, LAUGH ASH (Pyroclastic, $16.98) – Drummer and vibraphonist Ches Smith has collaborated with a variety of players, including Tim Berne, Craig Taborn, Nels Cline, Kris Davis, and is part of Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog trio. His last album as a leader, Path of Seven Colors, showcased his ensemble featuring Haitian musicians.  Laugh Ash is a large ensemble album, with Smith on drums, electronics and an array of percussion, plus vocalist Shara Lunon, flutist Anna Webber, clarinetist Oscar Noriega, tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis, trumpeter Nate Wooley, violinist Jennifer Choi, violist Kyle Armbrust, cellist Michael Nicolas, and bassist/keyboardist Shahzad Ismaily.







JOAN BAEZ: I AM NOISE (Magnolia Pictures, DVD, $26.98) – Directed by Karen O'Connor, Miri Navasky & Maeve O'Boyle, Joan Baez: I Am Noise is a fascinating and revelatory look at the 60-year career of the folk icon and activist.

From the New York Times review: “The documentary has a gold mine of material: drawings and journal entries, concert footage, family videos and vintage photographs. Included in the mix is audio from one of her therapy tapes, setting the stage for her unflinching confessional about abuse. As Baez rediscovers many of these items in her mother’s storage unit, her memories come alive, as if we are with her on this journey.”




This Friday, February 2, is the centennial birthday of bebop and hard bop alto saxophonist Sonny Stitt.

Last April, an excellent historical live recording was released.

BOPPIN’ IN BALTIMORE: Live at the Left Bank (Elemental, 2 CDs, $25.98) was recorded on November 11, 1973, at Baltimore’s Left Bank Jazz Society concert, with a stellar lineup: Sonny Stitt on alto; Kenny Barron on piano; Sam Jones, bass; Louis Hayes, drums.