A look at music on the rise and causing waves around the globe.

Soul Media – “Breeze”

A track taken from the new compilation WaJazz: Japanese Jazz Spectacle Vol.I – Deep, Heavy and Beautiful Jazz from Japan 1968-1984 – The Nippon Columbia Masters (Universounds) from Jiro Inagaki & Soul Media. From blazing hard bop to free jazz, to introspective saxophone solos and massive big band sounds, renowned Japanese jazz expert Yusuke Ogawa presents an essential 14 track collection of “WaJazz” music taken from the Nippon Columbia vaults. Featuring Jiro Inagaki, Minoru Muraoka, Hiroshi Suzuki, Hozan Yamamoto, Count Buffalo, Takeshi Inomata and more.

Black Flower feat. Meskerem Mees – Morning In The Jungle

Black Flower are a five-piece hybrid jazz combo from Belgium piloted by saxophonist / flautist Nathan Daems, mixing Ethio jazz and oriental with afrobeat and dub. Morning In the Jungle is a collaboration that has a most auspicious and excellent timing. Meskerem Mees is an up-and-coming vocal talent, having just released her first album entitled Julius (Mayway Records) to critical acclaim. Meskerem Mees won the 2021 Montreux Jazz Talent Award and is nominated for the prestigious Music Moves Europe Awards. Her sweet and melodious voice is a perfect counterpoint to the deep and dark music that is flowing now from the source: Black Flower’s most recent release Magma to be released via Sdban Ultra on January 28th.

Jean-Michel Blais – Doux

Aubades, the new album from post-classical piano icon Jean-Michel Blais, marks the Montreal-born musician’s transition from pianist to composer, as he writes for an ensemble for the first time in his career. Written during the pandemic and following a breakup, Blais has used his distinctive musical voice to create a defiantly uplifting record with glistening instrumental textures and warm major tonalities. The album’s title refers to the “aubade”, a Middle Ages morning love song about lovers separating at daybreak, a dawn serenade.

Despite the difficult global and personal backdrop, Blais described the time writing this album as a “fruitful moment of creativity for me. We started having hares in the park, beautiful butterflies flying everywhere. It was a time of lots of blossoming, and also a moment when I blossomed from being a pianist into a composer.” Musical ideas captured in over 500 recorded piano improvisations were transformed by Blais into 11 compositions performed by a 12-person ensemble. During the composition process, Blais collaborated with Alex Weston, former music assistant to Philip Glass. The musicians were recorded with close-up microphones, creating a richly intimate atmosphere that captures the human behind each instrument, from the mechanics of the woodwind keys to the snap of a double bass string. – Bandcamp

Justina Jaruševičiūtė – Wolf Hour

Inspired to write music for string quartet after attending a concert performance by the late, great, Jóhann Jóhannsson, rising young Berlin based composer Justina Jaruševičiūtė began recording her album Silhouettes between June and November at the amazingly sounding church Christuskirche Oberschöneweide in Berlin. A soul-stirring project and an evident demonstration of Jaruševičiūtė’s remarkable compositional skills, utilisng violins, viola and violoncello to create a work of light and shade, of beauty in the darkness.

“There is a reason why the album starts with a piece named Wolf Hour and ends with Sunrise”, explains the young composer. “The hour of the wolf is that time of the night in which people wake up without any particular reason and can’t fall back asleep. Last year, this happened to me numerous times, which allowed me to think about a lot of musical ideas while I waited on the sun to rise. To me, these ten compositions are like some kind of shadows, silhouettes of these sleepless nights”.