DownBeat March 2021

June 2020, Force Majeure charms in its natu- ralness, whether it’s the duo encouraging lis- teners to stay safe or the occasional false start. But there’s also the undeniable musical rap- port and sparkling musicianship throughout. A wryly titled original—“Toilet Paper Romance,” with its comely melody and enchanting rhyth- mic bounce—is worthy of future exploration with expanded instrumentation. Elsewhere, the album consists of cherry-picked jazz, soul and pop covers. Alongside Pharoah Sanders’ “The Creator Has AMaster Plan,” the duo’smesmeriz- ing rendition of Alice Coltrane’s “Gospel Trane” and takes on a pair of John Coltrane tunes play into the current spiritual-jazz renaissance. More refreshing, however, are the lovely makeovers of the Stylistics’ quiet-storm staple “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” Kate Bush’s poignant “This Woman’s Work” and the surprising interpreta- tion of Joe Raposo’s “Sing” from Sesame Street . Force Majeure ranks as a triumph of the human spirit—a time capsule that could be revealed to be a document of jazz’s resilience and grace amid disastrous odds.  —John Murph Force Majeure: Coffee (Intro); Gospel Trane; Equinox; The Creator Has AMaster Plan; Sing; YouMakeMe Feel BrandNew; We’ll BeRight Black; Never CanSayGoodbye; ThisWoman’sWork; NothingStupid; Inshallah;WiseOne; ForceMajeure; Toilet Paper Romance; FlattenTheCurve (Outro). (63:43) Personnel: DezronDouglas, bass, bass guitar, vocals; Brandee Younger, harp, vocals. Ordering info:

DezronDouglas & Brandee Younger Force Majeure INTERNATIONAL ANTHEM0038 HHH 1/2

FranciscoMela MPT Trio Volume 1 577 RECORDS 5851 HHH 1/2

Only once does drummer Francisco Mela cede control on MPT Trio Volume 1 , his first album with tenorist Hery Paz and guitarist Juanma Trujillo. Otherwise, his unflappable grasp of momentum on the album’s eight tracks is a mar- vel, given the overwhelming impulse as a listen- er to collapse into the many disparate feels and moods on this record. The release opens with “Calipso,” a free, horn-centric improvisation tinged with Afro- Caribbean joiede vivre—steel drums, dancemel- ody and infectious polyrhythms. Extrapolating from these same sources, the group ventures into more daring, spontaneous composition on tunes like “Baldor,” an open pastiche of dramatic tones and textures, and “Vino,” with its gritty rock gui- tar sections and frenzied allusions to folkloric song. Not all of the tracks rely on rhythm for their movement: The tension on the disquieting “Sustain” builds from the monotony of the dron- ing guitar, and the tether for “Whisper” is the restless search for connection in the saxophone improvisation. Further, two of the tracks favor more traditional lines, like the ballad “Naima,” which opens with a relaxed sax solo that leads into a comfortably familiar harmonic progres- sion, and “Suite For Leo Brouwer” (in honor of the Cuban composer), a sequence of musical assertions that wend naturally through Cuban beats, modal tonality andminimalism. Mela closes the albumwith “El Llanto De La Tierra”—or “Cry Of The Earth”—arguably the freest track of the lot and the most experimental. A tempestuous brawl of unfettered blowing, elec- tronic wailing and wood-on-wood accents, this tune voices the raw emotion that the rest of MPT Trio Volume 1 only hints at.  —Suzanne Lorge MPT Trio Volume 1: Calipso; Sustain; Suite For LeoBrouwer; Vino; Naima; Baldor;Whisper; El LlantoDe LaTierra. (42:54) Personnel: FranciscoMela, drums; HeryPaz, tenor saxophone; JuanmaTrujillo, guitar. Ordering info:

With conventional performance venues closed and inescapable uncertainty around physi- cal, emotional and economic well-being, bassist Dezron Douglas and harpist Brandee Younger deliver a touching laissez-faire album focused equally on a need to engage artistically and a desire to connect with an attuned audience. Recorded and streamed midmorning from their Harlem living room between March and

Hot Heros/Iro Haarla Vodjanoi KARKIAMISTIKA KARMI 101 HHH 1/2

Unless you’ve been spending a lot of time in Pori, Finland, you’re probably not familiar with the fierce, free-improvising trioHot Heros. Vodjanoi , a first-time studio collaboration with the sternly lyrical pianist Iro Haarla, dwells in the spare, deep-focus Nordic land- scape known for its cool fire and slow-motion folkloric melodies. In this hypnotic territory, Haarla and the Heros evoke roaming spirits, including the titular Finnish merman, a mer- maid, a howling wolf and a dancing bear. As this is not a collaboration between a piano trio with a horn-playing guest, but rather a tenor- bass-drums ensemble hosting a pianist, Haarla functions more as an equal, linear soloist than as a harmonizer. Her rhythms also are signifi- cantly less jazz-oriented than on other record- ings, and the trio is less ferocious than usual— which suits the project’s quiet mystery. The result is nevertheless grittier than much Nordic jazz. Saxophonist Sami Sippola spits out a throaty, bluesy sound on the pretty, folk-jazz title tune and the snappy, brushes- and snare-driven open- er, “Kuulin Suden Ulvovan,” while also diving comfortably into a passionate, Coltrane-ish 6/4

pulse on “Niin On Kehto Tyhjillään.” Bassist Ville Rauhala plays with a gorgeous, blond tone on “Karhuntanssi,” with Haarla ringing bell-like notes behind him, and evokes a cello-like sad- ness on his own “Por Qué Tu Sonrisa Me Mata.” Haarla’s only composition here, “Kullankaivajan Blues,” as well as the closer, “Vedenneito,” show- case her uncanny, Paul Bley-like ability to remain centered and focused in a diffuse, free ambiance.  —Paul de Barros Vodjanoi: KuulinSudenUlvovan; Karhuntanssi; Kullankaivajan Blues; NiinOnKehtoTyhjillään; PorQué TuSonrisaMeMata; Murmansk; Vodjanoi; Vedenneito. (61:10) Personnel: IroHaarla, piano; Sami Sippola, tenor saxophone; Ville Rauhala; bass; Janne Tuomi, drums. Ordering info:


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