The flute, in jazz music, has a less prominent place than the saxophone or trumpet, but in this new album New York-based Trinidadian flautist David Bertrand makes a sincere attempt to expand the repertoire of the instrument. Seven of the eight tracks of sublime quartet playing are new compositions by Bertrand: the listener is given an opportunity also to revel in the studied application of jazz language to the inherent native vernacular of Trinidadian rhythm and tone. The titles of the tunes also suggest the idea that this is a subliminal musical autobiography: “Palmyra”, “Claude’s Nariva” and “Wood Slave” recalling Bertrand’s home island’s habitat and fauna; “Lexington and 63rd” and “245 South 1st” offering a survey of his New York present. The result is testament to the continued strides made by musical émigrés from the Caribbean to an American diaspora, inspiring art that takes no prisoners.
Trailblazing steelpan jazz virtuoso Rudy Smith has been fusing the sound of the pan with bebop and progressive jazz for nearly fifty years, premiering the sound of native invention and “creole imagination” in the wider world. Europe has been his stomping ground for all those years, and with his eleventh full-length album Smith serves as a bona fide symbol of music excellence. Glass World finds Smith back fronting his Danish jazz band, re-inventing the idea of the steelpan as a solo instrument for jazz without the feeling of it being too avant garde. “Plangent” was the word used by a reviewer to describe the sound of the double second steelpans used by Smith, but a more apt descriptive would be “euphonious.” That tone juxtaposes beautifully within the songs, mainly written by his long-time collaborator and pianist Ole Matthiessen, to serve up a new standard in a diminishing marketplace for unique jazz. Traditional jazz is best served with originality, and this album delivers.