Norwegian Hardanger fiddle specialist Nils Okland has a broad range of musical interests, as illustrated by his eclectic discography. His solo album Monograph (ECM, 2011) spotlighted his lyrical, folkloric side; Lysøen—Hommage à Ole Bull (ECM, 2011) with keyboardist Sigbjorn Apeland payed tribute to the Norwegian classical tradition; Lumen Drones (ECM, 2014) found him making trance music with two rock musicians; and the recent Felt Like Old Folk (Smeraldina-Rima, 2016) collaboration with the Belgian duo Linus was almost completely improvised. He was also a member of Thomas Stronen's "Time is a Blind Guide" band, although he does not appear on the recording.
…The jostling arrangements sound intuitive, though the darting solos miraculously avoid collision. Such an overload can be gloriously exhausting. Dynamic pauses recur, always providing adequate breathers between each sprinting outbreak. During the making of this review, I took a break where an old side one might have ended, so overwhelming are this disc's riches. bbc.co.uk
For over forty years, Carla Bley has written music that infuses jazz traditions with her own personality. She continues to lead a variety of ensembles, from small combos to large-scale big bands. With Looking for America, Bley returns to the big band format. Totaling 18 pieces, the group is a rich blend of 13 horns, two keyboards, and a rhythm section. She has worked with many of the featured musicians for decades, and Bley consequently composes and arranges with their individual voices in mind.
It has been a decade since Escape Music released the classic Welcome to America album in 2006 by Taz Taylor and it is a really strong album with none other than Rainbow singer Graham Bonnet on lead vocals. Three years later and Straight Up was released with Keith Slack (MSG) taking the mike stand. The album also featured Don Airey (Rainbow / Deep Purple) on keyboards. After these two really strong releases the Taz Taylor band decided to go instrumental and tour dates ensued with the likes of Ace Frehley, L A Guns, Molly Hatchet, Dokken, Skid Row, MSG and Great White to name but a few. Bringing us up to the present day it's time to return to a line-up that includes a vocalist and so Taz has used the incredible vocal talents of Chandler Mogel (Outloud / Punky Meadows)…