Snow Nerds | Gup Life
GUP LIFE, the vibrant and subversive debut of progressive jazz quartet SNOW NERDS, comes onto the Los Angeles improvised music scene with attitude, ernest, and no shortage of absurdist humor. With devilish hooks, hard-hitting instrumental performances, and thought-provoking composition, this record is a breath of fresh air to those who seek an alternative to the desire-to-impress that so often plague the world of academic music.
Tina Raymond | Left Right Left
"Left Right Left is an introspective album, open and textural, the spaciousness lightly colored by Raymond, Lande, and West Coast veteran bassist Putter Smith."
—Gary Fukushima, Medium.com
Sam Minaie | Heyo!
Sam Minaie has quickly established himself a one of jazz's most exciting rising stars of both upright and electric bass. His compelling debut as a leader, Heyo!, features a band of heavyweight modern jazz innovators rollicking through mostly original compositions with fire, grit, and attitude, and a distinctive sound that's as unusual as it is fun.
DR. MiNT | Voices In The Void
With Voices In The Void, DR.MiNT presents their futuristic approach to powerful rhythms, warped electronics, roaring horns, and infectious spontaneity with a sci-fi cinematic aesthetic that’s as innovative as it is fun.
Jonathan Rowden Group | Skyward Eye
The music of Skyward Eye is presented in two chapters, both full of compositional breadth, improvised soundscapes and purposeful solos. Rowden and Pryor split the composing load 50/50 on Skyward Eye. They both share many of the same roots and aesthetics - the interplay between their composing styles allowed them to tell a similar story from two perspectives. Drummer and percussionist, James Yoshizawa’s diverse and massive arsenal of instruments (including Japanese taiko drums, homemade metallics, and celtic percussion) are responsible for the majority of the soundscape creation. Bassist Jordan Richard’s bass-choir overdubs create the heart-wrenching soul of the album on the track “Flight.” Songs flow in and out of one another, crafted with care and purpose. Voices and metal chairs became drum hits, saxophone mouthpieces became war-cries, and the breath of a choir became the sound of ghosts of battle, and the laughter of children in the distance. For the group, Skyward Eye became a film without actors, a book without words.
Sound Etiquette | Sound Etiquette
Sound Etiquette, the first calling from a brilliantly inventive trio based out of Oakland, CA, imagines a universe where the small-minded distinctions of musical genres become obsolete. This kaleidoscopic collection of music will take you on a journey where the line between improvisation and composition is erased, giving way to a virgin space where new unions of sound are possible.
Jon Armstrong | Burnt Hibiscus
Burnt Hibiscus is a stunning new work for a ten-piece chamber jazz ensemble created by saxophonist/composer, Jon Armstrong. The music, in Armstrong’s words, serves as an “unsentimental love letter to Los Angeles, highlighting the hypnagogic quality of life as an artist in the southland”. At its core, Burnt Hibiscus revolves around the timbres of multi-instrumentalist and Indian American musician, Sheela Bringi and the sublime poetry of Armstrong’s wife and fellow ensemble member, Erin Armstrong. The result of Armstong’s vision is some of the most enigmatic modern jazz yet offered on the West Coast or anywhere else.
A Conrad Trio | Screaming While Playing
Screaming While Playing, the bold debut album by vibrant Los Angeles saxophonist and composer, Andrew Conrad, is an immediately honest glimpse into the mind of an uncompromising artist who does not segregate art and life. Raw and visceral, this record presents a deeply intertwined musical dialogue rarely encountered in an age that favors technology and sheen over unfiltered expression.
Nathan Hubbard/Skeleton Key Orchestra | Furiously Dreaming
San Diego percussionist and composer, Nathan Hubbard, culls together his Skeleton Key Orchestra, for their sophomore effort, Furiously Dreaming. Gathering together a staggering 49 of Southern California’s most ambitious creative musicians, this epic 2-disc achievement is a swirling, seductive, mind-bending sonic array mixing avant-garde jazz and electronica, poetry, and quite literally, the music of dreams.
Burning Ghosts | Burning Ghosts
Burning Ghosts explodes from the Los Angeles Underground with an expressionist metal-jazz opus that singes the fabric of a fraying American culture. An ambitious and scathing referendum, this eponymous debut comes at a moment when our civic morality and sense of social justice, our communal values and even our very national identity, find themselves under brutal scrutiny. Holding the mirror close and clear, Burning Ghosts is an uncompromising, incendiary artistic response to ubiquitous injustice. This is music without restraint.
Gavin Templeton | Ballast
BALLAST, the coiled, stimulating album Los Angeles jazzman Gavin Templeton has been crafting for more than a year, was inspired by a range of thought and experience that continues to drive Templeton - and now, thanks to its febrile, probing nature, us. This tough, hopeful recording is uncompromisingly modern, mostly hard, but at times unexpectedly, disarmingly sweet. And while most of its source material is uneasy, joy, even jauntiness, peek out.
Cathlene Pineda | Passing: A California Suite
Los Angeles based pianist and composer, Cathlene Pineda’s second Orenda Records album, Passing: A California Suite stands out as a unique and original voice in the jazz world. Pineda’s artful compositions, her quartet’s cohesive sound and understated virtuosity, and her creative use of poetry and original artwork tell a story that connects to the core of the human experience.
Daniel Rosenboom | Book of Storms
Rooted in mysticism, magick, and mythology, trumpeter, composer, and producer Daniel Rosenboom's ongoing "book" series explores the more spiritually nebulous aspects of human nature. Using graphic scores and guided improvisation, these projects draw together some of the creative music world's most distinctive instrumental voices to intone esoteric incantations inspired by and dedicated to visions from "the other side." Psychedelic, raw, and highly imaginative, this music is for seekers and dreamers, and those who seek to go beyond.
Jake Vossler & Aaron McLendon | Versus
Screaming harpies, preying mantises, and a needle drilling through the Earth's core? Sounds like metal to me! But what makes Jake Vossler and Aaron McLendon's guitar-drums duo opus Versus an incredible standout in the genre and beyond isn't its speed, brutality, or heaviness. It's the uncanny ESP on display, the immediacy of communication in improvisation, shared sense of imagination, and virtuosity not as instrumentalists, but as mind-readers.
Daniel Rosenboom | Resonance
"...music of a kind of free-fusion, which might be the only way to contain Rosenboom’s radioactive trumpeting and an unquenchable creative fire that will meltdown before it shuts down."
"Daniel Rosenboom, the sharpest neofusionist in the West..."
Evil Genius | Bitter Human
Here at Orenda Records, we receive a lot of music to review for release consideration. But it's not every day that a tuba, guitar, drums trio crosses our desk - and it's even rarer to hear such a formation explode with the kind of commanding vigor and infectious levity that the LA/Brooklyn bicoastal band Evil Genius embodies. Steeped in genre bending, wry wit, and dazzling virtuosity, this trio’s impressive debut, Bitter Human, is like nothing you've ever heard, and might make you smile way more than you think.
Weston Saxon Groove Assembly | Acceleration
"An album that embraces familiar approaches, but doesn’t quite sound like anything else I’ve heard. Not exactly jazz, not exact rock, not exactly anything, Acceleration is a superb offering for anyone who is looking for thoughtful, varied music, that is a whole lot of fun."
—Mike Borella, Avant Music News
Trevor Anderies | Promise Of A Tree
"Where the other was a thoughtful expression of the place where hard bop and avant-garde meet, his newest sees him growing more nuanced and increasingly diverse with this mix of modern and classic jazz, folk, and pop."
—Dave Sumner, Bird Is The Worm
Ryan Dragon | Kid Songs
"Embracing microtonality, contrafactual brilliance, soundscapes, driving metric modulation, meditative grooves and myriad rhythmic influences, Dragon’s strong musical presence imbues the entire proceedings."
Daniel Rosenboom | Astral Transference & Seven Dreams
"L.A. trumpeter Daniel Rosenboom seems to gravitate towards music that challenges on multiple levels...wildly ambitious... It's a fascinating blend and blur of the notated versus the improvised, and the constant shifting keeps the listener's interest at a peak level... Imagine a synthesis of Wayne Shorter's "Moto Grosso Feio," and Cecil Taylor's "Conquistador," and one knows what to expect. Recommended."
—Robert Bush, All About Jazz
Michael Mull Octet | Source Code
The Michael Mull Octet is a chameleon ensemble of emerging Los Angeles talent. Performing the original works of composer/multi-instrumentalist Michael Mull, this group explores a soundscape of cinematic colors, deep-seated groove, fiery improvisations, and yearning melody that ranges from sweet and nostalgic to crushing and electrifying.
The Matthew Yeakley Group | Clean Numbers & Dirty Words
"An impressive debut album from a talented up and coming artist. Fans of modern guitar are sure to love the compositions and fiery playing by everyone on these discs."
—All About Jazz
Walsh Set Trio | Three
"Experimental at heart and jazz in behavior. Modern jazz, a bit post-bop and a bit avant-garde, floats right along nicely until interrupted by theatrical vocalizations and dissonant clashes of instruments. An album with a sense of humor, where the jokes are just as likely to inspire contemplation as they are smiles."
—Dave Sumner, Bird Is The Worm
Gavin Templeton Trio | Some Spinning, Some At Rest
"LA alto saxophonist Gavin Templeton's sophomore release as a leader, Some Spinning, Some At Rest represents the values of composition and free-improvising with equal fervor and expertise, and alongside double-bassist Richard Giddens and drummer Gene Coye, Mr. Templeton has documented one of the finest saxophone trio recordings in recent memory."
—Robert Bush, All About Jazz
Jon Armstrong Jazz Orchestra | Farewell
“The gifted Los Angeles tenor saxophonist may have assembled a 23-piece band of fairly traditional instrumentation, but he is a composer and arranger who dares to imagine… Seldom resorting to the full blast of massed horns, he prefers to draw out shifting patterns of colours, textures and dynamics, using structures that sometimes dare to reach beyond the hackneyed head-solos-head format. Improvising becomes a conceptual part of the pieces.”
—John Shand, The Sydney Morning Herald
Jonathan Rowden Group | Becoming
“Los Angeles-based saxophonist and bandleader Jonathan Rowden is making some notable noise as a worthy player and conceptualist way out west, to quote Sonny Rollins. His group’s aptly named debut, Becoming, is a mix of unabashed emotionality, compositional breadth and occasional flights of free-ish fancy, adding up to an intriguing introductory mission statement from a West Coaster with something fresh to say and play.”
— Josef Woodard, Downbeat Magazine
DR. MiNT | Kingsize Sessions
DR. MiNT is a veritable lightning rod for intuitive music. Their compositions are "100% spontaneously created," and their brand new album, Kingsize Sessions, captures everything the band has become known to channel. Often associated with heavier rock, metal, or electronic musical styles, it’s easy to forget that the music that is being played, is always being played for the first time.
The Daniel Rosenboom Septet | Unsayable Absence
An exploration of cross-genre pollination over the backdrop of jazz; an experiment in stretching to the edge of the universe with one foot on the ground; a testament to the soul.
DR. MiNT | Ritual
“With unswerving focus and expansive vision…Dr. Mint present a thoroughly modern view of jazz.”
—Troy Collins, All About Jazz
“Dr. Mint is true improvisational jazz/rock fusion, with trumpet and sax explosions as if Al Hirt and Charlie Parker rose from the grave and went insane.”
—A. Canales, Critical Review Service
Cathlene Pineda | A Week's Time
With a lush and introspective approach to the jazz, Cathlene Pineda and her quartet effortlessly glide from group melodic improvisation to composed rhythmic motives, incorporating elements of song form and classical composition, tonality and color.
The Daniel Rosenboom Quintet | Fire Keeper
The Daniel Rosenboom Quintet is an electrifying ensemble that brings together some of the Los Angeles creative music scene's most distinctive instrumental voices. Their debut album, Fire Keeper, introduces a new brand of American music, unbound by genre or stylistic idiom. The quintet seamlessly blends elements of jazz, progressive and experimental rock, electronic music, blues, grunge, and contemporary classical music into an unprecedented sound that is fiery, grooving, intelligent and exciting. The band rocks hard, but flies with the freedom of inspired jazz. The sound is fresh yet grounded, and for all its brazen metal edge, this is joyous music.