Contemporary music from everywhere

A New Wave of Jazz

new waveTwo extraordinary new releases landed on Friday from A New Wave of Jazz, both featuring the great guitarist Dirk Serries. One’s a studio recording; the other a double live album.

Innocent as Virgin Wood features Martina Verhoeven and Serries, collaborating as a duo in a studio setting for the first time. Verhoeven performs on a Steinway grand piano and Serries on acoustic guitar. The interplay between the two sounds nothing like a debut. They play off one another skilfully.

It’s a work in five parts, all improvised. The music is spacious and fitful. You can imagine the two watching one another for cues throughout the 36-plus-minute recording. Pause, followed by a small frenzy of activity, followed by another pause. It’s a compelling effect.

Serries told me the title “refers to the purity of wood in sound, feeling and performance.”

For a frenetic taste of European free jazz at its best, check out Double Vortex. Recorded live at London’s famous Vortex Jazz Club this past Feb. 8, the double disc features both a quartet and quintet set.

Serries launches us into the quartet recording with a jarring electric guitar solo. He’s joined by three long-time mates: John Dikeman on tenor saxophone, Andrew Lisle on drums and Colin Webster on alto and baritone saxophone.

As if the four don’t make enough of a racket, lan Wilkinson joins the quartet – also on alto and baritone saxophone – for the truly jarring five-piece set. The two sax players battle it out like street fighters. This is full-contact jazz.

Reportedly, Vortex Club owner Olivier Weindling said the two sets comprised the “loudest and most powerful” shows his venue had ever presented. No doubt that’s true.

Kevin Press

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