Article Best of Jazz Commentary Editors’ Picks Review

JAN Best of 2023

JAN Editor Christopher Burnett’s favorite albums of 2023 list, with audio embeds, and reasons why.

My list of 10+1 favorite albums released in 2023 and why… Seula Noh Jazz Orchestra, Johnathan Blake, Darcy James Argue, Patrick Cornelius, David Binney, Darden Purcell, Logan Richardson, Florian Arbenz, Greg Osby, Arno Krijger, The Count Basie Orchestra, Mikkel Ploug, Mark Turner, Matt Otto, Enzo Carniel, Hermon Mehari.

By Christopher Burnett


Seulah Noh Jazz Orchestra, NOhMAD

Nohmad” is the debut album of Korean composer and pianist, Seulah Noh! Combining her brilliant compositions with her virtuosic large jazz ensemble, “Nohmad” is a truly refreshing album of music that is creative, unique, and approachable modern jazz.

– Jazz Artistry Now


Seulah Noh is a South Korean-born composer, pianist, and conductor based in Boston. She has built a career in music by showcasing her creativity, combining classical language with a modern jazz style and influences from many other genres.

Following her first Bachelor of Music in Classical Piano from Ewha Womans University in South Korea, Noh moved to the United States to study jazz piano and composition at Berklee College of Music. Her passion for large ensemble music led her to study at New England Conservatory, where she began to build her own jazz orchestra. Noh’s compositions have received numerous awards, including the Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra Composition Contest and the Downbeat Student Music Award.

About The SNJO:

The Seulah Noh Jazz Orchestra constantly searches for fresh and original sounds through collaboration, from classical string quartet to fusion percussion. The SNJO is made up of some of the finest players from Boston and New York, all of whom are dedicated to the music while never losing sight of the joy of making music as a team.

Woodwinds: Nathan See, Harry Pershing, Hunter McKay, Ian Buss, Nick Biagini 

Trumpets: Mark Tipton, Mike Brehm, Dan Hirsch, Alex Quinn 

Trombones: Joey Dies, Michael Gerace, Josh Gagnon, Gabriel Ramos 

Rhythm Section: Dabin Ryu (Piano), Kevin Scollins (Guitar), Benjamin Young (Bass), Willis Edmundson (Drums) 

Guest Artists: Hannah Chaewon Kim (Violin I), Haekyung Ju (Violin II), Julian Seney (Viola), Claire Deokyong Kim (Cello), Song Yi Jeon (Voice), Astghik Martirosyan (Voice), Will Frendendall (Flute), Kan Yanabe (Percussion)

 Highly Recommended.

Passage” is the second Blue Note Records album by American drummer and composer Johnathan Blake. It’s a continuation of his artistic brilliance and the development of his modern jazz quintet Pentad. State of the Art, indeed!

– Jazz Artistry Now

Johnathan Blake, Passage

FROM THE ARTIST: Aug. 11, 2023 marks the release of Johnathan Blake’s sophomore Blue Note album Passage, a stirring follow-up to his acclaimed 2021 label debut Homeward Bound for which the drummer and composer reconvened his dynamic band Pentad featuring alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, vibraphonist Joel Ross, pianist David Virelles, and bassist Dezron Douglas. Dedicated to Blake’s father and musical mentor, jazz violinist John Blake, Jr., Passage captures the arc of personal and collective evolution: the passing from one moment to the next, from one phase into another. “Passage picks up where Homeward Bound leaves off,” says Blake. “It’s a celebration of my father’s life and legacy.” The album presents five of Blake’s own compositions in addition to pieces by Douglas, Virelles, and the late drummer and composer Ralph Peterson.


Johnathan Blake, one of the most accomplished drummers of his generation, has also proven himself a complete and endlessly versatile musician. Blake’s gift for composition and band leading reflects years of live and studio experience across the aesthetic spectrum. Heralded by NPR Music as “the ultimate modernist,” he has collaborated with Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane, Tom Harrell, Hans Glawischnig, Avishai Cohen, Donny McCaslin, Linda May Han Oh, Jaleel Shaw, Chris Potter, Maria Schneider, Alex Sipiagin, Kris Davis and countless other distinctive voices. DownBeat once wrote, “It’s a testament to Blake’s abilities that he makes his presence felt in any context.” A frequent presence on Blue Note records over the past several years, Blake has contributed his strong, limber pulse and airy precision to multiple leader releases from Blue Note artists including Dr. Lonnie Smith’s Breathe (2021), All in My Mind (2018) and Evolution (2016) and Kenny Barron’s Concentric Circles (2018), the latter whose trio Blake has been a vital member for nearly 15 years.

Born in Philadelphia in 1976, Blake is the son of renowned jazz violinist John Blake, Jr. — himself a stylistic chameleon and an important ongoing influence. After beginning on drums at age 10, Johnathan gained his first performing experience with the Lovett Hines Youth Ensemble, led by the renowned Philly jazz educator. It was during this period, at Hines’s urging, that Blake began to compose his own music. Later he worked with saxophonist Robert Landham in a youth jazz ensemble at Settlement Music School. Blake graduated from George Washington High School and went on to attend the highly respected jazz program at William Paterson University, where he studied with Rufus Reid, John Riley, Steve Wilson and Horace Arnold. At this time Blake also began working professionally with the Oliver Lake Big Band, Roy Hargrove and David Sanchez. In 2006 he was recognized with an ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award, and in 2007 he earned his Masters from Rutgers University, focusing on composition. He studied with the likes of Ralph Bowen, Conrad Herwig and Stanley Cowell. Deeply aware of Philadelphia’s role as a historical nerve center of American music, Blake has immersed himself in the city’s storied legacy — not just jazz but also soul, R&B and hip-hop. In many ways he’s an heir to Philadelphia drum masters such as Philly Joe Jones, Bobby Durham, Mickey Roker and Edgar Bateman, not to mention younger mentors including Byron Landham, Leon Jordan and Ralph Peterson, Jr..

 Highly Recommended.

Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Dynamic Maximum Tension

Dynamic Maximum Tension” is the GRAMMY nominated release by composer and big band leader, Darcy James Argue. Each of his releases are worthy of attention and this 2023 release is no exception. Sublime music.

– Jazz Artistry Now


Credit: Lindsay Beyerstein

Darcy James Argue, “one of the top big band composers of our time”(Stereophile), is best known for Secret Society, an 18-piece group “renowned in the jazz world” (New York Times). Argue brings an outwardly anachronistic ensemble into the 21st century through his “ability to combine his love of jazz’s past with more contemporary sonics” and is celebrated as “a syncretic creator who avoids obvious imitation” (Pitchfork). Acclaimed as an “innovative composer, arranger, and big band leader” by The New Yorker, Argue’s accolades include multiple GRAMMY nominations and a Latin GRAMMY Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Doris Duke Artist Award, and countless commissions and fellowships.

Credit: Lindsay Beyerstein

Dynamic Maximum Tension, Argue’s latest album with Secret Society and his label debut on Nonesuch Records, is named after the three words that inventor and futurist R. Buckminster Fuller combined to form his personal brand: “Dymaxion” — a term reflecting Bucky’s desire to get the most out of his materials, the utopian vision of his designs, and his quest to improve the pattern of daily life. The album has been called “his best to date — a work of stunning versatility and complexity, but thoroughly accessible” by Tracking Angle, and “an extraordinary album: one of the best of the year” by the Winnipeg Free Press. Dynamic Maximum Tension earned Argue his fourth consecutive GRAMMY nomination for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.

 Highly Recommended.

Patrick Cornelius, Book of Secrets

Book of Secrets” is another in a line of brilliant recording by saxophonist and composer Patrick Cornelius. His composing and arranging skills are of the highest order and he has yet to make anything but superb albums. The phrase “talent deserving wider recognition is very appropriate.

– Jazz Artistry Now


Over the course of over 20 years in New York City, alto saxophonist and composer Patrick Cornelius has cultivated a substantial body of work as a composer and bandleader, and performed his original music in some of the world’s top jazz venues. Hailed as “self-as- sured” and “resourceful” by The New York Times, “Elegant” and “Extraordinary” by Down- Beat Magazine (in whose annual Critics Poll he has been listed among the “Rising Stars” multiple times), and “Bold and Gifted,” by All About Jazz, Cornelius’ discography of ten albums as a leader or co-leader features established veterans (like Jeff Ballard, Ben Allison, and Frank Kimbrough) and well as rising stars (including Gerald Clayton, Aaron Parks, Kendrick Scott, and Miles Okazaki).

Cornelius has earned an array of composer awards and grants, including four consecutive ASCAP “Young Composer Awards,” (now Herb Alpert Award) and two Chamber Music America “New Jazz Works” commissions (in 2012 and 2023). He has been commissioned to compose and arrange original music for ensembles across the globe. Cornelius’ latest album, “Book Of Secrets” (Posi-Tone, 2023) features fellow Posi-Tone recording artists Art Hirahara (piano) and Behn Gillece (vibraphone), as well as veterans Peter Slavov (bass) and Vinnie Sperrazza (drums). “Book of Secrets” is a program- matic concept album that tells a narrative story of adventure and self-discovery.

 Highly Recommended.

David Binney, Action

Action” demonstrates David Binney’s versatility and his ability to cross genres seamlessly. He’s definitely an innovator, a scene builder, and arts catalyst who continues to impact generations. Genius.

– Jazz Artistry Now


David Binney also works in the Electronic music realm and his 2022 Ambient record Where Infinity Begins has been streamed close to 1,000,000 times as of this writing. Known for his performances and recordings with such prestigious groups as Knower (Louis Cole, Genevieve Artadi), Chrissie Hynde, Gil Evans, Maria Schneider, Jim Hall, Vince Mendoza, Uri Caine, Vinicius Cantuaria, Carlinhos Brown, Norah Jones, Antonio Sanchez, Wayne Krantz, Chris Potter, Nguyen Le, Miles Okazaki,  Joe Locke, Edward Simon, Dan Weiss, Alex Sipiagin, Joel Harrison,  Bobby Previte, Cecil McBee and countless others. David was also a co-founder of the hard-edged quintet “Lost Tribe” and the open-form collective quartet “Lan Xang.” 

David’s distinctive saxophone sound and innovative compositions have been heard from basement clubs in New York to jazz festivals in Europe and the world. David has also appeared with Aretha Franklin at Carnegie Hall, and with Jamiroquai, Maceo Parker, to name a few. He has produced all of his own 30 albums, and many others including two of the Lost Tribe releases, 7 Donny McCaslin releases and a Scott Colley “The Architect of the Silent Moment”.. David started his record label, Mythology Records, in 1998. David also created the group the Donny McCaslin group that eventually became the group on David Bowie’s #1 record Blackstar. He has won the Downbeat Critics Poll 3 different times in the Alto Saxophone category.

 Highly Recommended.

Logan Richardson, Holy Water

Holy Water” is another progressive album by the innovative saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist, Logan Richardson. A native of Kansas City where modern jazz music was cultivated harmonically and musically, his work demonstrates that deep roots can cultivate fruit for generations.

– Jazz Artistry Now


Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, saxophonist Logan Richardson hails from a city with a rich historical lineage of improvised music. By the age of 16 Richardson had begun performing professionally, and at 19 he left for Boston to attend the Berklee School of Music, followed by a move to New York City to attend the New School University. In NYC Richardson began performing, recording, and touring internationally with artists including Joe Chambers, Billy Hart, Butch Morris, Greg Osby, Stefon Harris and Jason Moran. Richardson has released two prior albums as a leader – 2007’s Cerebral Flow (Fresh Sound, New Talent) and 2008’s Ethos (Inner Circle Music) – and was part of NEXT Collective which released the album Cover Art (Concord Jazz) in 2013. In 2016 Richardson releases his Blue Note Records debut Shift featuring an impressive band of musical visionaries including guitarist Pat Metheny, pianist Jason Moran, bassist Harish Raghavan, and drummer Nasheet Waits.

Logan Richardson’s career has been marked by his deep engagement with the Black American improvised music tradition as much as by his fearlessly open-minded embrace of the contemporary sounds of the global diaspora and his keen gaze towards the future.

 Highly Recommended.

Florian Arbenz, Greg Osby, Arno Krijger, Conversation #9: Targeted

Conversation #9: Target” is another example of Greg Osby’s collaborative genius! Along with fellow saxophonists Steve Coleman and David Binney, Osby has arguably been among the most influential improvising musicians emerging during the 21st Century. Teaming with Florian Arbenz and Arno Krijger this music is another revelation.

– Jazz Artistry Now


Best known for his work with Swiss trio VEIN, drummer Florian Arbenz has toured, recorded and performed with artistsincluding Kirk Lightsey, Greg Osby, Glenn Ferris, Wolfgang Puschnig, Bennie Maupin, Dave Liebman, Rick Margitza, Andy Sheppard, Matthieu Michel, Bruno Rousselet, Michel Benita, Olah Kalman, Tibor Elekes, Oguz Buyukberber and others. 

Saxophonist, composer, producer, educator and curator Greg Osby has been a formidable presence on the international music scene as a leader of his own ensembles and as a guest artist with other acclaimed groups for the past 39 years. Highly regarded for his insightful and innovative approach to composition and performance, Osby is an inspired voice among the ranks of improvising musicians. He has earned numerous awards and critical acclaim for his recorded works and passionate live appearances and has been recognized by The New York Times as one of the “most provocative musical thinkers of his generation”. Born and reared in St. Louis, Greg Osby began his professional music career in 1975, after three years of private studies on clarinet, flute and alto saxophone. Coming from a vibrant and musical city, Osby showed an early interest in the performing arts and spent his years in secondary school with a heavy involvement in Blues and Jazz groups. In 1978 Osby furthered his musical education at Howard University (Washington, D.C.) where he majored in Jazz Studies. He continued his studies at the Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA) from 1980 to 1982. Upon relocating to New York in late 1982, Osby quickly established himself as a notable and in demand sideman for artists as varied as Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Jack DeJohnette, Andrew Hill, Freddie Hubbard, Muhal Richard Abrams, Woody Shaw, Jim Hall, Chick Corea, The Grateful Dead as well as with many other international new music ensembles. In addition to his rigorous performance schedule, Osby devotes a generous amount of his time to educational activities. Mr. Osby is also a founding member of the innovative M-BASE music collective.

With his signature Hammond organ style and versatility on the Hammondorgan, Terneuzen native Arno Krijger (b. 1972) has traversed not only the wide spectrum of jazz where he is perhaps best known, but also the worlds of funk, pop, and alternative music. High in demand as a sideman, Krijgers’ sound can be heard on scores of albums by artists in virtually every musical genre. His distinctive playing including playing the pedals has graced a number of albums. Style-wise Larry Young has been of great influence in his playing. Also Larry Goldings has contributed a large deal. Krijger has collaborated closely, on the road and in the studio, with such artists as Nils Wogram, Dejan Terzic, Jesse van Ruller, Billy Hart, Stefan Lievestro, Hans van Oosterhout, Pascal Vermeer, Dick de Graaf, Toine Thys, James Scolfield, Martijn Vink amongst others.

 Highly Recommended.

Count Basie Orchestra, Basie Swings The Blues

Basie Swings The Blues” is another sure fire album of great music from an organization that is arguably the gold standard of genuine swinging big band music.

– Jazz Artistry Now


In the great tradition of the classic Basie Swings albums, The Count Basie Orchestra is proud to step into the world of the blues with an exceptional collection of collaborations with some of the greatest living blues and jazz artists, on the new album, Basie Swings The Blues. The legendary Count Basie Orchestra continues to carry on the rich musical legacy of Count Basie through their dynamic performances and dedication to the swing jazz tradition. Led by musical director Scotty Barnhart, the orchestra preserves Basie’s unmistakable style and ensures that his pioneering contributions to jazz are celebrated and enjoyed by audiences worldwide. The new album celebrates the deep-rooted connection between jazz and blues and illuminates shared roots and reciprocal influence, reminding us that the boundaries between these genres are fluid and the essence of both lies in the heartfelt expression of the human experience. In preparation for these sessions, Barnhart took a pilgrimage to Mississippi, and drove through the areas where Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson, Son House, Muddy Waters and others birthed and played this music. The resulting album is joyful mix of downhome, Delta Blues with the deep swing and sophistication that only The Count Basie Orchestra can provide.  As Count Basie famously once said, “our blues will make your blues go away.”

Produced by Barnhart along with Grammy Award winning producer John Burk (Ray Charles Genius Love Company), and Grammy winning drummer/producer Steve Jordan (The Rolling Stones), the album brings together an extraordinary group of legends and contemporary artists.  Including, 8 x Grammy Award winner and Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Inductee Buddy Guy, Grammy Award winning legend Bobby Rush, 5 x Grammy Winner Keb Mo, 9 x Blues Music Artist Of The Year Award winner Shemekia Copeland, 5 x Grammy Award Winner Robert Cray, Grammy Award winner Charlie Musselwhite, Blues Hall Of Fame member and Kennedy Center Honoree Betty LeVette, Grammy Award winner Ledisi, and 10 x Grammy Award Winner and NEA Jazz Master George Benson. Together, they have created a timeless musical experience that celebrates the essence of the blues in the context of the irresistibly electrifying and enduring swing of Basie. The recording features versions of blues classics like “Stormy Monday,”  and “I’m A Women” along side new classics like Mr. Sipp’s “Let’s Have A Good Time” and  Scotty Barnhart’s inspired Charley Patton meets Count Basie jump, “The Patton Basie Shuffle.” Crafted with meticulous care, the album showcases the distinctive styles and voices of these legendary performers. 

TRUMPETS: Frank Greene-lead, Shawn Edmonds-2nd, Endre Rice-3rd. Brandon Lee-4th TROMBONES: Isrea Butler-lead, *Clarence Banks-2nd, Mark Williams-3rd, Alvin Walker-4th SAXOPHONES:David Glasser-lead alto, Markus Howell-2nd alto, Doug Lawrence-1st tenor, Doug Miller-2nd tenor, Josh Lee-baritone sax RHYTHM SECTION: Glen Pearson-piano, Will Matthews-guitar, Trevor Ware-bass, Robert Boone-drums VOCALS: *Carmen Bradford (Frequent Guest Vocalist) *indicates this artist was hired by and worked with Count Basie.

 Highly Recommended.

Mikkel Ploug / Mark Turner, Nocturnes

Nocturnes” is another collaboration between the impressive Danish guitarist Mikkel Ploug and the innovative tenor saxophonist Mark Turner.

– Jazz Artistry Now


Danish guitarist and composer Mikkel Ploug (b.1978) has performed all over Europe, Brazil and the US with his bands Mikkel Ploug Group, Mikkel Ploug Trio and Equilibrium. He has recorded 12 albums for internationally reknowned labels such as Sunnyside Records (USA), Whirlwind (UK) Fresh Sounds New Talent (ES) Songlines Recordings (CA). Mikkel has performed as a soloist with The Royal Ballet in Copenhagen and works with american choreographer and dancer Tilman O’Donnell. His solo album Alleviation has over 2 million plays on Spotify and his 2018 album “Faroe” was selected for the Grammy category “Best Instrumental Jazz Album”. He has worked as a sideman in Sean Carpio’s Wowos and for NYC alto player Pete Robbins Transatlantic and performed as an opening act for Wayne Shorter early in his career. Mikkel who started out on drums at the age of four has a master awarded with a distingtion for composition from the Royal Conservatory in the Hague, Holland, he has lived in Berlin, and now resides in Copenhagen.

In a career that spans decades and encompasses a broad array of musical ventures, Mark Turner has emerged as a towering presence in the jazz community.Born in Fairborn, Ohio in 1965, Turner grew up in Southern California where his parents exposed him to a fertile mix of jazz, R&B, and gospel. Starting out on clarinet in elementary school, he quickly gravitated toward the saxophone, inspired in part by the fact that his father, who died when Turner was not yet two, had played the instrument. While music was a driving passion, he initially studied design and illustration at California State University, Long Beach and played in various jazz ensembles before transferring to Boston’s renowned Berklee College of Music. During these years, he studied his idols, dissecting the solos of artists like John Coltrane, Lester Young, Joe Henderson, Warne Marsh, and others. Graduating in 1990, he moved to New York City, where he quickly found himself an in-demand performer, playing live and recording with Leon Parker, Ryan Kisor, and Jimmy Smith. He also began leading his groups, and by the early ’90s, had begun developing his own distinctive approach to jazz, playing highly intellectual, probing solos rife with nuanced harmonies and motivic development. It was a sound he displayed on his 1995 Criss Cross debut, Yam Yam, playing alongside the similarly thoughtful talents of guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Larry Grenadier, and drummer Jorge Rossy.

 Highly Recommended.

Darden Purcell, Love’s Got Me in a Lazy Mood

Love’s Got Me in a Lazy Mood” is both contemporary jazz and timeless. Darden Purcell grabs your attention and keeps you hanging on every lyric. Top shelf.

– Jazz Artistry Now


Darden Purcell, a Washington D.C. based jazz vocalist, is an active featured soloist with symphony orchestras, big bands and small ensembles, band leader and vocal instructor. Ms. Purcell has shared the stage with many top jazz artists including Maria Schneider, Eric Alexander, Terell Stafford, Eddie Daniels, Jim Pugh, Chip McNeill, Chuchito Valdes, Dana Hall, Alan Baylock, Don Heitler, Glenn Wilson, Stockton Helbing, Byron Stripling, Bobby Floyd, Joel Spencer, Darmon Meader, Lisanne Lyons, Jim Carroll, Charlie Young, Chris Vadala, Shawn Purcell, Matt Niess, Joe McCarthy, the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, US Navy Commodores, Naval Academy Big Band Next Wave, The Airmen of Note, US Army Blues, Ben Patterson Jazz Orchestra and the American Festival Pops Orchestra (Tony Maiello) to name a few. Dr. Purcell is the Director of Jazz Studies, Jazz Voice instructor and Director of the Downbeat award-winning Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble at George Mason University. 

She has performed at concert halls and clubs nationally and internationally, including Club Bonafide (NYC), Blues Alley (Washington DC), Pops for Champagne (Chicago), The Jazz Kitchen (Indianapolis), The Blue Wisp (Cincinnati, The Kitchen Cafe (Dallas), The Bop Stop (Cleveland), Con Alma (Pittsburgh), JazzB (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Sandler Center (VA Beach Symphony, back-up vocals for Ben Folds) Meyerhoff Center (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra), Wolf Trap for the Performing Arts (National Symphony Orchestra) and The Kennedy Center (back-up vocals for Mr. George Benson, Sara Bareilles and Caroline Shaw). Ms. Purcell is a former Washington DC Air Force Band vocalist, with the groups High Flight and the Airmen of Note, performing nationally and internationally, including Germany, Italy, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Purcell performed back-up vocals for nationally renowned recording artists, Chaka Khan, BeBe Winans, Bryan White, Lari White, Janie Frickie, Freda Payne, Sherrie Payne, Gloria Loring, Melba Moore and Rita Coolidge as well as a televised performance behind Darlene Love on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” In addition to her active performing schedule, Dr. Purcell is a sought-after jazz educator. 

 Highly Recommended.

Matt Otto, Umbra

Umbra” is the latest album by Matt Otto, an impressive tenor saxophonist and composer who has been essentially based out of the Kansas City jazz scene for over a dozen years. Unique. Creative. Brilliant. Progressive. Musical.

– Jazz Artistry Now


Matt Otto is currently the Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at Kansas University (KU)  teaching Jazz Theory and Performance, Jazz Combo 1 and private lessons. Matt was also an Adjunct Professor at the Rutgers New Brunswick teaching online courses in jazz improvisation, theory and performance. Matt Otto pursued his education in music performance and composition at Indiana University, Berklee School of Music, New School Jazz (BFA) and California Institute of the Arts (MFA) during which time he studied under Lee Konitz, George Garzone, Billy Pierce, Charlie Haden, Don Hawkins and many others.  Having lived in Japan for 6 years, New York City for 7 years and Los Angels for 6 years, he has performed with a variety of artists including Anthony Wilson, Larry Koonse, Rashid Bakr, Ben Monder, Willie Jones III, Alan Ferber, Mark Ferber, Albert “Tootie” Heath, Gregory Hutchinson, Jonathan Kreisberg, Joe La Barbera, Leroy Vinegar, Bob Bowman, Jimmy Smith (drums), Paul Jackson, Ari Honig, Ben Street, Mike Moreno, Sara Gazarek, Josh Nelson, Peter Schlamb, Danny Weiss, Roger Wilder, William Parker, Matt Wilson, Steve Cardenas, Bobby Watson, Bob Weir, Deborah Brown,  Larry Goldings, Eric Harland, Sheryl Bailey, Darek Oles, Erik McPherson, John Stowell, Danny Embrey, Alan Pasqua, and many others.

 Highly Recommended.

Enzo Carniel / Hermon Mehari, NO(w) Beauty

NO(w) Beauty” is an impressive musical collaboration featuring trumpeter and composer, Hermon Mehari with French pianist Enzo Carniel. Mehari was professionally groomed in Kansas City and is based in Europe. Carniel is innovative in his pianistic approach and the types of musical settings he realizes. Simply stunning music.

– Jazz Artistry Now


The French pianist Enzo Carniel was born in 1987. He began learning the piano at an early age, and discovered jazz during his teenage years. 
After five years studying medicine at Marseille University, Carniel decided to devote himself completely to music, and in 2009 graduated with highest honours from the Marseille Conservatoire. Carniel went on to study jazz and improvised music at the Paris Conservatoire, where he also played in a trio and as a soloist. He took a keen interest in contemporary music, composition and arrangement, and these influences and experiences led to him founding the quartet House of Echo. An album released by the quartet in 2013 included lengthy improvised tracks as well as original compositions. 

Influenced by Paul Bley, Thelonious Monk, Keith Jarrett and the great jazz pianists of the past, Carniel explores the sound world and intrinsic musical possibilities of the piano. His approach is based on the birth of musical ideas in the moment, in aesthetic non-judgement and a ‘raw’ approach to improvisation which makes use of all his influences and senses. Enzo Carniel has performed in numerous festivals, among them the Tangier Jazz Festival in Morocco, the Eclat d’Email in Limoges, the Porquerolles Jazz Festival, Jazz à la Villette, Toulon Jazz Festival, the Festival d’Art Lyric in Aix-en-Provence and the Avignon Festival. In 2013, with the trumpeter Nicolas Folmer, he took part in a tour of over a dozen African countries.

In the attempt to pioneer a new sound while exploring his Eritrean origins, trumpeter Hermon Mehari composed an album entirely influenced by the harmonies, rhythms, and melodies of Eritrean music. However this work, “Asmara” (Komos), doesn’t only come from his musical side– the songs have an emotional bent and express the different aspects of his perspectives towards his relationship with family and the culture. The compositions are interpreted with personality and fervor by pianist/vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, bassist Luca Fattorini, and drummer Gautier Garrigue. Mehari brings on legendary Eritrean vocalist Faytinga as a guest on two numbers. Hermon Mehari’s 2020 sophomore album as a leader, “A Change For the Dreamlike” (MiRR), takes on a more personal tone. Written and recorded in a barn in the French countryside during le confinement, it shows only hints at the aesthetic set by his previous debut album. The project features a number of incredible musicians: Tony Tixier, Peter Schlamb, Ryan J. Lee, Kae Dilla, DeAndre Manning, Hugo LX, Karl McComas-Reichl, Jeff Hill and Zach Morrow.  Although he already had a growing reputation, the success of Mehari’s debut album ,”Bleu”, put him concretely on the musical map in 2017. “Bleu” includes ECM recording artist Aaron Parks on piano, Blue Note recording artist Logan Richardson on alto saxophone, Peter Schlamb on vibraphone, Ryan J. Lee on drums and Rick Rosato on bass. Mehari was the winner of the 2015 Carmine Caruso International Trumpet Competition and a semifinalist in the 2014 Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition. In 2014 he released the CD “Our Journey” with Diverse, his second with the group. Mehari maintains a touring schedule around the world with his own group and as a sideman. Mehari was also the winner of the 2008 National Trumpet Competition and placed 2nd in the International Trumpet Guild competition in Sydney, Australia. As a founding member of Diverse, whose eponymous debut album on Seattle-based Origin Records reached the Top 40 on the Jazzweek Radio Charts, he has performed professionally with noted saxophonists Jaleel Shaw, Logan Richardson, Bobby Watson, Ben Van Gelder, and Tivon Pennicott. He has also performed with Aaron Parks, Joe Sanders, Hubert Laws, Randy Brecker, Tony Tixier, Dave Pietro, Clay Jenkins and many other great musicians. Hermon Mehari received his BM in Jazz Performance from the University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance in 2010. In addition to performing, he dedicates himself to being a serious educator, runs a weekly musical radio program called “The Session” on the NPR-affiliated station KCUR 89.3, is an artistic director of the Collectif MiRR and has participated in arts related clinics and panels around the world. 

 Highly Recommended.