What should you expect from jazz this month? Welcome to our September 2023 (and a little of August actually) selection of albums that have already been or will soon be released this month. These albums grabbed our full attention, and they are worth your time. They are listed in order of release date.
Best Jazz Releases September 2023
Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war))
A superb posthumous album to remind us how much we miss her and how much she was contributing to pushing the boundaries of the music we love.
jaimie branch was meant to play on Matana Roberts’s Coin Coin Chapter Five (see hereafter), but due to her sudden passing, she was ‘only’ credited for courage.
jaimie branch: trumpet, voice, keyboard, percussion, happy apple; Lester St. Louis: cello, voice, flute, marimba, keyboard; Jason Ajemian: double bass, electric bass, voice, marimba; Chad Taylor: drums, mbira, timpani, bells, marimba | Special guests Nick Broste: trombone; Rob Frye: flute, bass clarinet; Akenya Seymour, Kuma Dog: voice; Daniel Villarreal: conga and percussion
Release date August 25, 2023
Pascal Le Boeuf
The entire Ritual Being is about human behavior. For example, “Ritual Beings pt. 1 & 2” are about the effects of mankind’s behavior on both the planet and each other, and all the tracks are similarly inspired by ways of being or acting. To express this, Pascal Le Boeuf gathered his classic jazz trio of piano, bass, and drums with classic string ensembles—the Shattered Glass and the Friction Quartet, to be precise.
The whole experience definitely expresses something strong and urgent—via tension and release, as well as detailed exploration and complex compositions—but if the substance is somehow an alert, then the form strangely provides a positive outlook. The musicians’ different backgrounds play together, with enough space for collective attention, as well as improvisation, and as such, they identify and express perfectly what must be.
Music is never the diagnosis but always the cure.
“My background is in jazz and electronic music, so I’ve developed a voice for writing for strings that’s less associated with standard classical composition conventions. I tend to think a lot about tension and release, especially in the ways we build energy and communicate in jazz. I love the detail-oriented approach of classical music, but I want to seek out opportunities for all the performers to express themselves. That’s when improvisation is really helpful. You end up trusting the performers to carry the music if you give them the chance. That’s the essence of collaboration.”
–Pascal Le Boeuf
Pascal Le Boeuf: piano, compositions | Friction Quartet – string quartet: Kevin Rogers, Otis Harriel: violin; Taija Warbelow: viola; Doug Machiz: cello | Shattered Glass – string ensemble: Katherine Liccardo, Ravenna Lipchik: violin; Michael Davis: viola; Luke Krafka: cello; Max Jacob: bass | Linda May Han Oh: bass; Justin Brown: drums; Remy Le Boeuf: alto sax; Ben Wendel: tenor sax; Todd Reynolds, Sara Caswell, Charles Yang: violin; Jessica Meyer: viola; Nick Photinos: cello; Kelli Kathman: flute
Release date August 25, 2023
Diatom Ribbons Live At The Village Vanguard
Live at the Village Vanguard is Kris Davis’s second release with the Diatom Ribbons band, this time with the addition of Julian Lage on guitar. It becomes in other words a quartet (piano, bass, drums, and guitar) but with a DJ and electronics which completely shake the format.
The music ends up being quite avant-garde while very accessible and even comfortable.
Kris Davis: piano, prepared piano, arturia microfreak synthesizer; Terri Lyne Carrington: drums; Val Jeanty: turntables and electronics; Julian Lage: electric guitar; Trevor Dunn: electric bass and double bass
Release date September 1, 2023
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society
Dynamic Maximum Tension
“It feels like our culture today is headed in a profoundly dystopian direction. By engaging with figures like Buckminster Fuller, Alan Turing, and Mae West, I was trying to connect to a more optimistic time, trying to reclaim a sense of agency, trying to rekindle my faith in our ability to grab the future and shape it ourselves.”
–Darcy James Argue
Darcy James Argue: composer, conductor, ringleader; Dave Pietro: piccolo, flute, alto flute, soprano sax, alto sax; Rob Wilkerson: flute, clarinet, soprano sax, alto sax; Sam Sadigursky: clarinet, tenor sax; John Ellis: clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor sax; Carl Maraghi: clarinet, bass clarinet, baritone sax; Seneca Black, Liesl Whitake, Matt Holmanr, Nadje Noordhuis, Ingrid Jensen, Brandon Lee: trumpet, flugelhorn; Mike Fahie, Ryan Keberle, Jacob Garchik: trombone; Jennifer Wharton: bass trombone, tuba; Sebastian Noelle: acoustic, electric guitar; Adam Birnbaum: acoustic, electric piano; Matt Clohesy: contrabass, electric bass; Jon Wikan: drum set, cajón; Sara Caswell: violin, hardanger d’amore; Cécile McLorin Salvant: vocals
Release date September 8, 2023
James Brandon Lewis, Red Lily Quintet
For Mahalia, With Love
With For Mahalia, With Love James Brandon Lewis and the Red Lily Quintet superbly translate Mahalia Jackson’s gospel into jazz, thereby achieving something astonishing.
Each musician in the quintet perfectly transcends this regeneration through their unique voice. It is surely the addition of instruments as singular experiences that if taken in isolation could sound fragile, disorientated, or left alone, but together form a magnificent, poetic, human whole.
Read the full review For Mahalia, With Love
James Brandon Lewis: tenor saxophone; Kirk Knuffke: cornet; William Parker: bass; Chad Taylor: drums; Chris Hoffman: cello
Release date September 8, 2023
“It almost feels like I become vibrations or particles, like I become the music itself.
I become totally consumed by the energy in the sound, and the music and [I become] the same thing; I have my own frequency that becomes music.”
Naoko Sakata properly incarnates her music while recording it. This union between her and the music is what made Dancing Spirit (2021)—and now, Infinity (2022)—so singular.
As a listener, you can notice this strange mix of poetry, drama, hallucinations, and alternative experiences. As a spectator, you can notice a clear difference between the artist walking to her piano, and the artist playing her piano. Sakata completely vibes as her inner self while improvising. This fullness and perfection make her music so remarkable and make the listening experience feel like privileged, direct access to her inner reality.
Naoko Sakata: piano
Release date September 8, 2023
Steve Lehman & Orchestre National de Jazz
The Orchestre National De Jazz (or ONJ) is a French jazz orchestra created in 1986. This is a state-subsidized formation that has the means to produce, distribute, and present its creations worldwide. The orchestra is directed by an appointed conductor and is renewed every 2-5 years. If you don’t know about it, then you should take the time to discover their previous project, Europa, led by Olivier Benoit.
The current director is Frédéric Maurin. With Steve Lehman and the support of interactive electronics developed at IRCAM (Institut de Coordination Acoustique Musique), they set a new standard for innovation in a large ensemble format, with the soloists interacting with highly nuanced harmonies, propulsive polyrhythms, and computer-driven sound transformations.
Beyond the extraordinary musical experience, this creation draws a lot more questions than answers. What exactly are the electronic sounds? What would result from more freedom being given to the machine? Once recorded, could the machine reproduce the entire composition and enhance it?
This is exactly why we must support art to explore new possibilities—not that all pieces need to be as good as Ex Machina, but all pieces should push the boundaries to help us further question who we are as people and to hopefully keep growing.
Steve Lehman: alto saxophone, electronics; Jonathan Finlayson: trumpet; Chris Dingman: vibraphone | Members of Orchestre National de Jazz: Frédéric Maurin: direction, electronics; Fanny Ménégoz: flute, alto flute, piccolo; Catherine Delaunay: clarinet, basset horn; Julien Soro: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Fabien Debellefontaine: baritone saxophone, clarinet, flute; Fabien Norbert: trumpet, flugelhorn; Daniel Zimmermann, Christiane Bopp: trombone; Fanny Meteier: tuba; Bruno Ruder: piano, synthesizer; Stéphan Caracci: vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, percussion, synthesizer; Rafaël Koerner: drums; Sarah Murcia: double bass; Jérôme Nika: generative electronics creation & artistic collaboration; Dionysios Papanikolaou: IRCAM electronics
Release date September 15, 2023
The Intrinsic Nature Of Shipp
23 years after his first solo album, Symbol Systems (1995, No More Records), Matthew Shipp is here with the ambition to mark where he is at now, where all his systems and explorations led to, in a beautiful and extraordinary release that exposes his intrinsic nature–that seems to has become maybe more direct and somehow even more focused–playing the piano.
Matthew Shipp: piano
Release date September 22, 2023
Empty Mountain Calling Suite
(Modern Sky Worldmusic)
Lao Dan is here alone, playing the dizi. This time through contemplative music, Lao Dan drags us into the mystical beauties of China, with the same depth and strength that he uses when he explores freely.
These nine compositions are lyrical, narrative, and immensely profound: “Lao Dan’s bamboo flute travels through fantasy, fairy tales, martial arts chivalry, and gods-and-monster genres, where tradition and modernity reshape each other.”
This beautiful CD with Yan Ming‘s photographs and Lu Dadong’s calligraphy is available for North American and European listeners if you contact him through Bandcamp.
Lao Dan: dizi
Release date September 24, 2023
Coin Coin Chapter Five: In The Garden...
(full review coming soon)
Discover Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens De Couleur Libres by MataRoberts
Matana Roberts: composer, horns, harmonicas, aux percussion, vocal, wordspeak; Mike Pride: drums, aux percussion, vocal; Matt Lavelle: alto clarinet, pocket trumpet, tin whistle, vocal; Stuart Bogie: bass clarinet, clarinet, tin whistle, vocal; Cory Smythe: piano, vocal, tin whistle; Mazz Swift: violin, vocal, tin whistle; Darius Jones: alto sax, tin whistle, vocal; Ryan Sawyer: drums, aux percussion, vocal; Gitanjali Jain: text collage; Kyp Malone: synths; Jaimie Branch: (who was due to play on the album) courage.
Release date September 29, 2023
fLuXkit Vancouver (i̶t̶s suite but sacred)
(We Jazz Records)
With Darius Jones on composition and alto saxophone, Gerald Cleaver on drums, and a quartet of strings (violinists Jesse Zubot and Josh Zubot, cellist Peggy Lee, and bassist James Meger), fLuXkit Vancouver (i̶t̶s suite but sacred) is the perfect opportunity to remind us of the Fluxus community.
At the time, it defied traditional artistic norms. It embraced interdisciplinary creativity, encouraging artists to blend various art forms, and promoting anti-art concepts that rejected conventional aesthetics while prioritizing simplicity and audience participation.
The process was emphasized over the finished product, and yet they ended up producing “Fluxkits” a kind of portable art collection containing various objects, instructions, and playful items, blurring the lines between art and everyday life.
fLuXkit Vancouver (i̶t̶s suite but sacred) perfectly reclaims this aesthetic, through its creation (Jones’s score includes visual components), through its release (a collaboration between the Brooklyn-based Northern Spy and Helsinki-based We Jazz Records independent labels), and through the way we will experience it, highlighted by its art cover, where it definitely encourages listeners to reflect on the pieces.
Discover next Raw Demoon Alchemy (A Lone Operation) by Darius Jones
Darius Jones: alto sax, composition; Jesse Zubot: violin; Josh Zubot: violin; Peggy Lee: cello; James Meger: bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums
Release date September 29, 2023
September 2023 – New Albums Selection
- jaimie branch – Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war)) (International Anthem)
- Pascal Le Boeuf – Ritual Being (SoundSpore Records)
- Kris Davis – Diatom Ribbons Live At The Village Vanguard (Pyroclastic Records)
- Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society – Dynamic Maximum Tension (Nonesuch Records)
- James Brandon Lewis, Red Lily Quintet – For Mahalia, With Love (TAO Forms)
- Naoko Sakata – Infinity (Pomperipossa Records)
- Steve Lehman & Orchestre National de Jazz – Ex Machina (Pi Recordings)
- Matthew Shipp – The Intrinsic Nature Of Shipp (Mahakala Music)
- Lao Dan – Empty Mountain Calling Suite (Modern Sky Worldmusic)
- Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter Five: In The Garden... (Constellation Records)
- Darius Jones – fLuXkit Vancouver (i̶t̶s suite but sacred) (We Jazz Records)
Next, discover the selection of our Best Jazz Albums 2023.
Listen to these tracks on our Spotify playlist