Jazz Club // COAST – COAST

“Modern” has always been one of my least favorite genre prefixes. With the myriad of stylistic tags at artists’ disposal, it seems like an odd choice to fixate on the recency of a piece of music as a means of describing its sound. As is demonstrated by any number of revivalist movements operating in the current music landscape, “modern” music isn’t always a guarantee of fresh, forward-thinking ideas, and in my experience, the tag is often used to posture standard genre fare delivered with a newer sheen as something new and revelatory. Of course, there’s an exception to every rule, and when it comes to this particular pet peeve of mine, I’ve never been happier to have a band prove me wrong as wrong as COAST do with their phenomenal self-titled debut. Every aspect of COAST embodies what “modern” jazz should represent. Over the course of the album’s six brilliant tracks, the quartet executes jazz’s greatest traits with precision and agility. In short, COAST offers everything jazz fans love about the genre, except this time, it’s simply performed at a better, higher level.

Usurpress – Interregnum

Did you ever hope that Tom Waits got together with Hubert Selby Jr. and write a death metal album? Because your wish has finally come true. Usurpress has a new album out, and it’s easily the greatest labor they have yet to produce. Prior to Interregnum, Usurpress was a death…

Merkabah – Million Miles

The saxophone has become an increasingly en vogue addition to the extreme music formula. Ever since John Zorn bleated and honked over grindcore and avant-garde metal with Naked City and Painkiller, a growing crop of younger bands have demonstrated how to masterfully incorporate a jazz staple into heavier compositions. The sparsity of such bands should come…

Jazz Club Solo Session // Kamasi Washington’s Harmony of Difference

The search for the greatest jazz album of the decade ended in 2015 when LA-based saxophonist and bandleader Kamasi Washington released his aptly titled debut, The Epic. A nearly three-hour love letter to the genre’s greatest attributes, The Epic is the kind of album that could sustain an artist’s legacy on its own merits alone; follow-ups are welcome, of course, but admittedly unnecessary for the endeavor of establishing Kamasi’s longevity of influence. Though these claims may seem bold, there’s a reason the album inspired the launch of our Jazz Club column and became perhaps the first pure jazz album to ever land among on our collective Albums of the Year. The ensemble’s performances of Kamasi’s compositions are nothing short of enthralling, whether they’re soaring through swirls of gospel choruses and inspired playing or masterfully moving through contemplative moods. Every track is an epic statement in its own right, and by the time the album concludes, listeners should be awed by the manner in which Kamasi maintains intrigue and quality across such an overwhelming run time.

Release Day Roundup – 7/14/17

Each month, we always seem to come to the same conclusion when it comes to our Editors’ Picks column: Friday release days open the floodgates and unleash a seemingly endless stream of quality new music. But while some of our Editors and Contributors sit down gleefully each week to dive into this newly stocked treasure trove, others find themselves drawing a blank at the end of the month due to the breakneck pace needed to keep up to date with what’s been released. Which brings us to this Heavy Blog PSA: a weekly roundup of new albums which pares down the the day’s releases to only our highest recommendations. Here you’ll find full album/single streams, pre-order links and, most importantly, a collection of albums that could very well earn a spot on your year end list. Enjoy!

Jazz Club Quarterly // April-June 2017

We’re back with more fantastic jazz from the second quarter of 2017! Unfortunately with the departure of staff writer and our friend Jimmy Mullett from Heavy Blog, it’s left a hole in our Jazz Club trifecta. Thankfully we were able to fill that void quickly with our buddy Dave Tremblay of Can This Even Be Called Music? Dave is constantly finding interesting and original stuff in the way of jazz and elsewhere, and we’re excited to have him join and help us recommend jazz of all stripes that demands your attention.