Jason Palmer – Fair Weather – Newvelle Records NV018LP – 180 gm vinyl – ***:

(Jason Palmer – trumpet; Leo Genovese – piano; Joe Martin – bass; Kendrick Scott – drums)

The boutique audiophile vinyl label, Newvelle Records, has just completed their third season of bi-monthly LP releases, with a quartet led by trumpeter, Jason Palmer. It continues the theme of lyricism and elegance with an edge, that I found throughout this season’s issues.

Recapping the season, it began last Winter with Steve Cardenas’ moving guitar/sax/ bass/ drums tribute to Charlie Haden and Paul Motian. All of the musicians had played with Charlie and Paul in the later stages of their careers. Ranging from ballads to free jazz, the uniting theme was honoring the creativity of the two jazz masters.

Andrew Zimmerman’s Half Light was a drummer less quartet highlighting symbiotic communication between Andy’s saxophone and Dave Douglas’ burnished trumpet, blending with sparkling interaction from pianist, Kevin Hays, and locked in bass lines from Matt Penman.

Lionel Loueke’s trio covered the gamut from funk, to free jazz, to NOLA influenced jump band grooves. Lionel’s highly percussive guitar talents were fully on display.

Bassist Skuli Sverrisson fulfilled a life long desire to share the studio with guitar icon, Bill Frisell, and their instrumental music crossed many genre lines, with the one constant bringing much needed beauty to these tumultuous times.

Drummer Francisco Mela’s quartet had a vigorous blend of Cuban rhythms and world music in jazz settings. Francisco was the ringmaster, but the breakout artist for me was Henry Paz, whose bass clarinet (and saxophone) brought a moody foreboding vibe, both mysterious and joyful.

That leads us to Jason Palmer’s season ending quartet release. It set a gentle, tender finish to a year that needed Newvelle’s commitment to open free expression, so often lacking in our day to day discourse. When these six LPs were recorded, it could not have been known how chaotic 2018 would turn out to be.

Palmer’s trumpet playing on this LP is highly cerebral, never showy, and deeply committed to the melody. The arrangements are generous in providing an opportunity for the rhythm section to soar. As Henry Paz shined on Francisco Mela’s release, here I can’t say enough about how pianist, Leo Genovese, takes center stage with his bracing piano choruses. His February, 2017, trio release Argentinosaurus, with Esperanza Spaulding and Jack DeJohnette was distinctive in showing his muscular range. In this quartet, Leo shows the ability to take standards like “Easy Living” and “Moonlight Becomes You” in new directions, yet keeping sight of the beauty that makes these chestnuts resonate.

Joe Martin’s bass solos on “You Know I Care” and “Easy Living” deserve mention. The most intriguing track on the release to me was Wayne Shorter’s “Nefertiti,” as its vibrant arrangement brought some much needed spice to offset the tenderness of the ballads.

Newvelle’s fourth season will open next month with Noah Preminger’s tribute to the film music of his great-uncle Otto Preminger. It promises to be another stellar season for a label that features pristine acoustics on clear vinyl, presented by artists who have free rein to express their improvisational talents.

Side A:
Fair Weather
Easy Living
Moonlight Becomes You

Side B:
You Know I Care
Raise the Love Ceiling
Old Folks

—Jeff Krow

More information is available at Newvelle Records website:  https://www.newvelle-records.com