A renewal of body and spirit through deeply reflective jazz…
The Renewal Collection – Newvelle Records #NVO 31, 32, 33, 34 – Four 180 gm Audiophile Vinyl Records – 2022 – (limited to 500 copies) *****
Elan Mehler –There is a Dance
(Elan Mehler – piano; Tony Scherr – bass; Francisco Mela – drums))
Michael Blake – Combobulate
(Michael Blake – tenor and soprano sax, flute; Stephen Bernstein – trumpet; Clark Gayton – trombone; Marcus Rojas & Bob Stewart – tuba; Allen Mednard – drums)
Dave Liebman – Truth & Honesty
(Dave Liebman – soprano & tenor sax, flute; Ben Monder – guitar; John He’bert – bass
Nadje Noordhuis – Full Circle
(Nadje Noordhuis – trumpet & flugelhorn; Fred Hersch – piano; Thomas Morgan – bass; Rudy Royston – drums)
As we slowly emerge from the ravages, both personal and professional, of COVID-19, it is important to bring beauty back into our lives. Music, both live and recorded, aids in this effort. It is with great pride that Newvelle Records, the boutique label that features audiophile vinyl in coffee table gate fold packaging, has re-emerged after a two year absence, with the issuance of The Renewal Collection.
Made up of four albums with hand picked jazz artists given free rein to ease our transition back to “normal” life, the “theme” (to my mind) of these albums, is a free expression of the creative visions of these artists. Ranging from deeply reflective (albums of Elan Mehler and Dave Liebman) to a jazz/ classical warm blend (Nadja Noordhuis); as well as a boisterous “open the windows to let the joy out” brass band led by Michael Blake.
These four albums were recorded over a five month period (Nov. 2021 to March, 2022), at East Side Sound in New York City. Using Grammy-winning engineer, Marc Urselli, the records were then pressed on 180 gm vinyl by Gotta Groove Records. The album covers are unique as they use photography from the U.S. Library of Congress. The acoustics meet the high standards (as always) of Newvelle. The horns vibrate with intensity, the drum cymbals resonate, as do the piano keys, and you feel the pulse of the bass. It is certainly an “in the room” listening experience.
There is so much to love in this series:
Elan Mehler presents a tribute to his mother, a mystical woman, with a deep love for Sufism. Mehler expresses his love for this unique person in a manner that matches her aura, as the tracks were recorded strictly improvisational, with no “instructions” to his bassist and drummer. The title track is romantic and resonant. On “We Spin” the drums shuffle, while Elan escalates the intensity in a way that you feel both enticed and obligated to join his heartfelt journey. The notes pour out like an elegy. My favorite track was “When You Were Blind.” Like a gospel hymn that can bring tears of joy, it might be something you might hope to hear at a memorial for a special friend.
Michael Blake’s Combobulate is a total grin fest, a brass band that bursts with energy. The tracks range from New Orleans influenced, to way wide open free space, with the horns (especially TWO tubas) bleating and bellowing like elephants calling for their mates. I would describe this joyous album as often times, “cacophony with a purpose.” “Bob the Bob” is the closest tune to a ballad, while “Malagasy” is prime NOLA second line. Blake’s “Strange Affair” has ecstatic soloing, and an ensemble blend that heads into an anthemic direction.
The Dave Liebman trio issue, with guitar (both restrained and sublime, Ben Monder) and bassist John He’bert, is a reading of standards (all ballads). It is a display of class and naked passionate emotion. With no drums, nor piano, Dave is on full display. The acoustics are so spot on that you can “feel” Liebman’s breathing as he uses space much like a consummate pianist, letting the listener savor the melody like drinking in a vintage red wine. At times dreamy, and always heart on his sleeve, Dave expresses his affection for “Lover Man,” “Stella by Starlight,” and “Come Rain or Come Shine.” Ben Monder’s guitar is beyond tasty throughout the album.
The final release, Full Circle, from trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis, is so easy to love. Nadje has a trumpet tone to die for, both warm and inviting. Her flugelhorn timbre has a classical feel that is felt in chamber music. It blends perfectly when merged in a jazz quartet. Fred Hersch is a proper piano accompanist for Nadje, as his crystalline piano lines wrap around her horn mastery. Bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Royston provide the pulse.
There is so much tenderness here as shown on “Entwine.” It sounds like a lullaby. “Nebula” and “Hudson” are also beyond beautiful. “Braidwood” is upbeat and sprightly. All together this is a marvelous release.
The Renewal Collection is available as a set, or individually, this Fall through Newvelle’s website – It would make a great gift for an audiophile jazz lover in your life…
Please visit Newvelle Records for more information: