ClassicsOnline Home » MADE IN EUROPE: Naxos Jazz European Collection
In four short years, the Naxos Jazz label has established itself as one of the world's premier record labels for uncovering new jazz talent, particularly in Europe. As we head into the new Century, Naxos Jazz reflects on its achievements with a celebration of its European artists.
Made In Europe is a compilation showcasing the label's incredible new music from the old continent. Culled from current Naxos Jazz titles or soon to be released discs, this overview serves as an ideal introduction to the most exciting European jazz artists currently on the scene. And it comes from the label at the forefront of international jazz.
Featuring twelve great jazz acts from six countries (UK, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland), the collection includes an Insightful and entertaining set of liner notes written by American jazz guitar great Larry Coryell.
The tracks reveal undeniably European aesthetics and melodic influences, but the influence of an inherently American jazz is audible too. Made In Europe is a CD that bridges the great continental divide in musical harmony. It's jazz taken to the next international level. In his notes, Coryell observes, "The whole collection uplifted and inspired me. This is some very serious music by very serious players, well recorded - the engineering was excellent on all the tracks - such a balm for the ears, the mind and the heart. Each time I listen to this collection I notice great things in the performances." Musically, the CD ranges in style from the propulsive force of Finland's UMO Jazz Orchestra to the balladic soft tone of Danish saxman Lars Moller; from the smooth accessibility of Pekka Pylkkanen to German Florian Ross' challenging composition; the fun of Lenni-Kalle Taipale to the sombre introspection of Trio Friedrich-Hebert-Moreno. Made In Europe is a compilation with something for any fan of jazz music. Especially one with a world-view beyond what happens strictly within the city limits of New York City.
1. UMO Jazz Orchestra - Bermuda (5:29)
from UMO Jazz Orchestra 86010-2
UMO Jazz Orchestra - founded in 1975, UMO became a full-time orchestra in 1984. It has been home for some of the finest Finnish jazz musicians and in Finland it acts as something of a practical jazz academy. UMO has toured the United States, Canada, Italy and Germany, including performing with vocalist Natalie Cole and supporting Manhattan Transfer. Dizzy Gillespie visited Finland as a soloist with UMO and said the orchestra was one of the best he had ever heard. Recognition of the orchestra¡¦s high standard have also been publicly expressed by Thad Jones, Gil Evans, Benny Carter, Bob Brookmeyer and Muhal Richard Abrams. Mercer Ellington was so taken with the UMO sound that he gave the orchestra many of his band¡¦s original arrangements. UMO has released over thirteen albums.
2. Jóel Pálsson - Snug (6:19)
from Prím 86049-2
Jóel Pálsson - Born in Reyjavík, Iceland in 1972, Pálsson started studying clarinet at the age of 9 before turning to the saxophone at 15. In 1992, he enrolled at the Berklee College of Music (where he received the BEST-scholarship) and studied with players like George Garzone and Bill Pierce. He graduated in 1994 with the highest honors (Summa Cum Laude). Returning to Iceland, Pálsson then appeared on over 30 albums with Iceland's most prominent artists in jazz and popular music. He has been nominated for Best Wind Player three years running at the Icelandic Music awards. Prim is his first solo album.
3. Pekka Pylkkänen - Akseli & The 11th Dream (6:53)
From Pekka's Tube Factory 86028-2
Pekka Pylkkänen - Based in Helsinki, Pylkkänen was an accomplished saxophonist already when he began studying jazz at the Sibelius Academy, playing gigs professionally on the side. As a part of Finalnd's foremost big band, the UMO Jazz Orchestra, he occupied the alto saxophone chair directly in front of the conductor. From there, he started to develop his own sense of composition, creating lyrical melodies, colorful harmonies and, most importantly, allowing the form of his composition to create itself.
4. Tolvan Big Band - The Mysterious No. 7 (7:35)
from Tolvan Big Band 86025-2
Tolvan Big Band - Sweden is the land of big bands. With a population smaller than New York City it still has roughly 500! Tolvan is one of a handful reaching world-class standard. This ensemble has been in existence since the end of the 60s¡¦ and saxophonist Helge Albin has been its leader since 1979. The band achieved its first breakthrough in 1984 with a recording made in part at the Montreux Jazz Festival (Montreux and More), that won them the coveted "Golden Disc" award from Swedish Jazz Magazine, Orkester Journalen. Two giants of modern saxophone, David Liebman and Michael Brecker, have both visited Sweden for projects with the band. In 1995, Helge Albin was honoured with the Sydsvenska Dagbladets Europapris for, among other things, his resolute efforts in developing Tolvan Big Band.
5. Lenni-Kalle Taipale - Peppi (3:52)
from Nothing To Hide 86035-2
Lenni-Kalle Taipale Trio - Youthful exuberance and enthusiasm. These traits may be ideal descriptions for Finland's popular Lenni-Kalle Taipale Trio. It has been a lightning-fast ride for the Scandinavian group since their first gig as an opening band at an Espoo, Finland jazz cafe in December 1995. Prior to the trio, Taipale (piano) and Tuppurainen (bass) had studied years of classical music in Finnish institutions before becoming infatuated with jazz. Drummer Jarvinen had also been a conservatory student percussionist, with a keen interest in African sounds.
6. Florian Ross Brass Project - Mutual Recognition (5:11)
from Lilacs And Laughter 86053-2
Florian Ross Brass Project - Florian Ross is a young German artist on the way up. With two CDs already out on Naxos Jazz, Ross is proving to be prolific and versatile writer. His first CD, Seasons And Places (86029-2), a quintet setting, was voted Record Of The Month by BBC Music magazine in June 1999. Suite For Soprano Sax And String Orchestra (86037-2), featuring sax great Dave Liebman as the soloist, followed later in the year. Now, Ross tackles the challenge of brass-based arrangements. He is currently studying in New York on a composition scholarship. In Germany, Ross was at the Cologne Conservatoire with John Taylor, and has written for numerous international ensembles.
7. Ugetsu - Down The Back Of The Garden (5:18)
from Cape Town Blues 86052-2
Ugetsu - Ugetsu is Japanese for 'fantasy' and also the title of an Art Blakey 1963 recording. Ugetsu founder Martin Zenker was inspired to model a group after Blakey's great Messenger bands while listening to that record in a bar in Wurzburg, Germany. After four years and four CDs, the band has traveled the globe performing and comprises of an all-star international line-up of musicians from four continents. The sextet consists of Martin Zenker (bass), Valery Ponomarev (trumpet), Tim Armacost (tenor sax), Adrian Mears (trombone), Rick Hollander (drums) and Bernard Pichl (piano).
8. Lars Møller - A Change Of Plans (7:02)
from Kaleidoscope 86022-2
Lars Møller - Born 1966, Lars Møller is one of the leading jazz musicians in Denamrk, and a major part of the Scandinavian jazz scene today. He has recorded CDs as bandleader with sidemen such as John Abercrombie, Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen, Jimmy Cobb, Billy Hart, Thomas Clausen and Jesper Lundgaard. He just won the 2000 Danish Grammy Award for his Naxos CD, Kaleidoscope. He lived in New York from 1987 to 1989 and spent several prolonged periods studying the shenhai with leading artists in New Delhi, India. Currently he co-leads an eighteen-piece big band called The Orchestra and composes for various classical ensembles from string quartet to full symphony orchestra.
9. Dejan Terzic Quartet - Spartacus Love Theme (5:57)
From Four For One 86036-2
Dejan Terzic - In Germany, Dejan attended the renowned "Meistersinger konservatorium", where he studied Jazz and modern classical music. He then traveled to New York in the summer of '91. There he signed up at the Vermont Jazz Center, run by legendary jazz guitarist Attila Zoller and made quick acquaintance with the residing jazz greats, including Jimmy Cobb, Tal Farlow and Don Friedman. It was Zoller, however, who initiated Dejan into the magic of improvised music. In New York City Dejan applied to the "Drummers Collective" and studied with Marvin "Smitty" Smith, Mike Clarke and Bill Stewart. Back in Germany he resumed studies at the "Wurzburg Konservatorium" with drummer Billy Elgart. He is the recipient of several awards including Best Drummer at the newcomers jazz festival in Krakow, Poland 1994; and Best Musician at the international jazz festival in Oberkochen, Germany 1995.
10. Mark Ramsden & Steve Lodder - Y (5:12)
from Above The Clouds 86041-2
Mark Ramsden & Steve Lodder - Although he has always been jazz-based, UK saxophonist Ramsden has also toured and recorded with artists such as Jimmy Witherspoon, Bert Jansch, Tom Robinson (on his hit War Baby) as well as many other projects including a Paul Desmond tribute disc with Dave Cliff. He also has a novel published by Serpent¡¦s Tail called The Dark Magus And The Sacred Whore. Fellow Englishman Steve Lodder is was an organ scholar at Cambridge University, and he has gone on to perform in a wide variety of musical contexts. He is best known for his work with Andy Sheppard, George Russell, Carla Bley as well as assisting Paul McCartney with his recent symphonic work.
11. Martin Krusche - Phoenix (8:06)
from Friendship Pagoda 86057-2
Martin Krusche - German-born saxophonist Krusche cooks up a barnburner of a live cutting session, alongside Grammy-wining trumpeter Nicholas Payton for his Naxos Jazz debut, Friendship Pagoda. Recorded live at the New Orleans' club Snug Harbor, the disc is a must-hear for its spontaneity and stellar bop improvisation. Born in Munich, a music scholarship brought Krusche to New York in 1993. After two years he moved to New Orleans and fell in with the local jazz community. He moved back to NY last year.
12. Trio Friedrich Hebert Moreno - The Truth Is Out There (5:04)
from Surfacing 86060-2
Trio Friedrich-Hebert-Moreno - This progressive trio consists of German leader/pianist Friedrich, with veteran bassist John Hebert and experienced drummer Tony Moreno. Friedrich won the 1997 Gil Evans Fellowship and 1998's Julius Hemphill Composition Award. Existing since 1998, their introspective and rich blend of spontaneity and interaction has already developed a jazz following at home in Germany.