Samuel BlaserConsort in Motion (Kind of Blue, 2011) This is a chamber jazz album filled with hushed tones and thoughtfully designed improvisations between Samuel Blaser on trombone, Russ Lossing on piano, Thmoas Morgan on bass and Paul Motian on drums. The interaction between between Blaser's delicately smeared and articulated trombone and Motian's minimalist percussion creates a quiet, intimate album that requires and concentration and contemplation. Si Dolce è l'Tormento" and Reflections on Vespro della Beata Vergine" nudge the tempos slightly up a little bit, engaging the band into full improvisation and interpretation of the themes and melodies.
AtomicHere Comes Everybody (Jazzland, 2011) The joyfully boisterous Scandinavian jazz collective Atomic, consisting of Fredrik Ljungkvist on saxophones, Magnus Broo on trumpet, Havard Wiik on piano, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten on bass and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums, takes a much different direction, performing free-bop that is grounded in the exploratory music of the 1960's, blasted forward into the modern world. Made up of some the best performers on the European jazz scene, the players are able to put any individual notions or egos aside and drive their energies collectively into the exciting and dynamic music. Making music that blurs the intersection of hard bop and free jazz, that allows them to carve out exciting territory for their sonic explorations, makes this a very exciting and enjoyable album.
R.E.M. -Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage 1982-2011 (Warner Brothers, 2011) This is a compilation pushed out in the wake of the venerable American rock 'n' roll band's surprising announcement to disband after a thirty year run. Although two discs are not enough to sum up the band's contribution to music, it does a decent job of hitting some of the high points. Early classics like Radio Free Europe" are included along with some of the other highlights from the groups early tenure on IRS records making up the first disc. Disc two concentrates on their recordings for Warner Bothers, occasionally brilliant like the selections from the extraordinary Automatic for the People LP, but also including some questionable selections from their spottier recordings in the mid 2000's. Not perfect by any means, but it makes a sensible place to start for the curious.