November Box 2021

ART BLAKEY & THE JAZZ MESSENGERS – Moanin’ (Blue Note, 1959)
EFTERKLANG – Windflowers (City Slang, 2021)

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Here comes The Jazz Messengers, a proteiform and eternally young collective spearheaded by the drummer and leader Art Blakey – whose cool name is perfectly fitting for such a role in music history. Art Blakey in the early 50s is already an established musician, backing the likes of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie, as well as solo studio albums. He formed a collective of musicians that would always feature new young artists that would last 35 years, and where Blakey would be the drummer on all 69 recorded albums (!). “Moanin’” has everything you want from a hard bop album: the raucous opening, the funky and swinging mood, and the rough blues notes. “Moanin’” is a jazz album for rock lovers due to its cool hardness, but it’s also loved by hip-hop lovers for its playfulness and the full spectrum it provides. But most of all, it’s a canon of jazz studio albums for its timelessness – because let’s be honest, if you were to choose one hard bop album for the rest of eternity, it will have to be this one.

Sixth album for the Copenhagen-based and worldwide-renowned trio Efterklang. There is always an idiosyncratic sound to Efterklang, a blend of fleeting harmony and touches of modern electronica. “Windflowers” sees the band going back to English-speaking songs – after the previous wonderful “Altid Sammen” – and to more progressive-based melodies and arrangements. All throughout, this new album is composed of lighter productions, like the upbeat ”Living Other Lives”, or bright ballads like “Hold Me Close When You Can”; which is formidable knowing that the whole album has been recorded in the context of the pandemic. It’s a constant balance between tension and release that Efterklang orchestrates quite classily, moving from string thin layers to straightforward pop movements. “Windflowers” is an exercise of auditive meditation for people who hate meditation; it’s breathe in, breathe out. And as a cherry on the top, the album closes on a full blow of air from the Swedish producer The Field on “Åbent Sår”. What a ride.

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