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Worlds Collide

modern-jazz-today-michael-janisch
modern-jazz-today-michael-janisch
modern-jazz-today-michael-janisch
Michael Janisch has established himself as a tireless creative force across the developing international spheres of contemporary improvised and experimental music. Based in London (originally from the USA), he successfully traverses this creative topography as a first-call electric & double bassist, MOBO-Award nominated solo artist, prolific producer, and owner of Whirlwind Recordings, which has become one of the world’s premiere indie labels of the last decade. Janisch’s previous solo albums have been nominated for multiple industry awards, while getting radio spins on Gilles Peterson, NPR, WDR, BBC, JazzFM shows as well as coverage in Jazzwise, Jazz Thing, Downbeat & Concerto Magazines, The NY Times & Guardian and beyond to international acclaim. His new album Worlds Collide is an electro-acoustic album of original material recorded at Abbey Road Studios and has been described as combining contemporary jazz heavily influenced by both the London/New York scenes alongside free improvisations and soaring melodies over multi-metered grooves, paying hommage to artists such as Feli Kuti & Afro-Beat and the electronic music pioneer Aphex Twin. The album features a cast comprised of some of the world’s most creative improvisers (see ‘music’).

released September 6, 2019

ABOUT THE ALBUM

Following the breadth of 2015’s live and post-processed electro-acoustic release Paradigm Shift, bassist Michael Janisch launches new project Worlds Collide with a band featuring saxophonist John O’Gallagher, trumpeter Jason Palmer, guitarist Rez Abbasi and drummer Clarence Penn. Recorded in Abbey Road’s legendary Studio 3, and engineered/mastered by Tyler McDiarmid, it also includes guest saxophonist George Crowley, keyboardist John Escreet and drummer/percussionist Andrew Bain.

Tirelessly active as solo artist, session player, composer, producer and record label owner across the British, US and European scenes, Janisch recalls the beginnings of this creative shift in direction. “At the 2017 EFG London Jazz Festival, a triple bill of Whirlwind bands was showcased by Serious at Rich Mix, where I was thrilled to premiere a sequence of new music that I’d been writing. The original tour (mainly in the UK) featured this core band who had all come over from New York; but excitingly, as a project recording, it now provides a springboard for me to develop and perform these and upcoming compositions with other line-ups, including the next phase with fellow London-based artists. The influence of living in the capital, over the past fifteen years, has crept into my musical being, so I see this new era as a big transition.”

Twofold title ‘Worlds Collide’ primarily speaks of the variety in Janisch’s six engaging tracks. Each is quite different to its neighbor because this is a collection of individual pieces written over a period of time, often personal in their inspiration, driven purely out of his mindset and experiences in those moments. But he also sees it as analogous to what is going on in the wider world right now, especially the continual toxicity of social disclosure driven by tribalist views from differing positions on the political spectrum.”

The rock-driven strut of ‘Another London’, with fundamental ostinato bass groove, guitar-and-synth vistas and lush horns, reflects Janisch’s positive view of walking through this great city – away from the bile of social media platforms, clear evidence of “people from different cultures and backgrounds actually getting on in their lives, generally living in harmony with each other.” It’s a decidedly cool groove, interspersed with contemplation, featuring an epic alto arc from O’Gallagher (“Everyone’s ‘the best’, right? But John really is one of the very best”). Rez Abbasi’s mesmeric guitar figure maps out ‘An Ode to a Norwegian Strobe’ (Janisch is a big fan of Strobes and Aphex Twin, as well as regularily performs with Norway’s jazz star Marius Neset), and its sumptuous buoyancy is fully explored by the band to cinematic conclusion.

‘The JJ Knew’ – a personal, family lament originating as spontaneous improv on Michael’s previous album – illuminates its foundational melancholy with positive thought. His fabulously mobile Fender is still at heart of this questioning episode, and it’s a great result of his assertion that “improvisation is right-in-the-moment composition, so why not just trust in it?” Kids can be massively, even randomly creative, and the free-spirited nature of ‘Frocklebot’ is named after “an imaginary toy looking like a giraffe with mechanical wings” created by the bassist’s daughter. Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry might be summoned in this exploratory world developing free solos between Palmer and Abbasi, then Janisch and O’Gallagher.

A beautiful alto intro to four-part mini-suite ‘Pop’ (‘poppet’, dedicated to Sarah, his wife) belies its minor key with a happy, sunshiny glow, the slow and glorious progression reflecting her “peaceful powerfulness”; and ‘Freak Out’ – a tricksy “good old-fashioned shred for Rez” with near-on big-band hits finds the guitarist building sheets of sound redolent of ‘70s McLaughlin and Holdsworth.

The technical and emotional wonder of Worlds Collide was nailed in Clarence Penn’s immediate, adrenalin-rushed quip to Michael Janisch, once the whole album was ‘wrapped’: “Congratulations on a great record – you’re really gonna turn some heads with this!” What he was chiefly getting at is the simple truth that, right here, is a celebration of boundary-crossing contemporary jazz unfolding in all its captivating, artistic magnificence. Janisch has glimpsed a new horizon for himself and, with inimitable verve, is going for it.

Personnel:
Michael Janisch – double and electric basses, post production, percussion
Jason Palmer – trumpet
John O’Gallagher – alto saxophone
Rez Abbasi – guitar
Clarence Penn – drums

with guests:
John Escreet – keys
George Crowley – tenor saxophone
Andrew Bain – drums/percussion

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