Music I Loved 2013 – January

The best new music that crossed my desk in January, either out now or soon to be released:

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Dylan Ryan/Sand, Sky Bleached. A tremendous debut as a band leader from drummer Ryna. If you’re familiar with Power Tools, this will sound like something of an homage and response, but less self-conscious about matters of style. The music is jazz in terms of the group interplay and the design towards improvisation, but the flavor is rock, with plenty of weight and power and a momentum that obviates any question of stiffness. The band plays with wonderful fluidity and guitarist Timothy Young is a real star. Ryan has impressive craft as a composer, each tune sounds great and is made even more expressive and satisfying by how idiomatic the music is, how it takes advantage of the best qualities of each instrument. And touches like the rising C minor progression on “Translucent Spheres” are quite moving. Sun Bleached is set up to be one of the best releases of 2013. Here’s the opening track, “White Nights.”

Mostly Other People Do The Killing, Slippery Rock, even more substance than style, and that’s a lot of style.

Ches Smith & These Arches, Hammered, due March 5 on Clean Feed. Dense aggressive, artful, frequently brilliant — while I’m not sure the accordion is anything other than a distraction, Smith’s way with freedom, structure and populist energy have never been better.

David T. Little, Soldier Songs, available February 26, music that I feel like I’ve been waiting a decade for someone to make, a powerful response to the ongoing tragedy of post 9/11 America.

Andreas Staier, “… pour passer la melancolie”, available March 12, a collection of Baroque mood music, if you will, meaning deeply expressive keyboard pieces played on a gorgeous instrument, with generous amounts of scordatura.

Lee Hyla, My Life On The Plains, an excellent collection of music from one of the finest contemporary composers, pieces that belong to history but aren’t constrained by an ideology.

Jack Dejohnette, Special Edition collection. While each of the four discs in this set is a little uneven, the high points display some of the finest thinking and playing in post-free jazz, and are some of the finest moments in jazz of the 1980s. A must have at this price.

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