Photographer: Konstantin Kern.
Over the years, countless American jazz musicians have pointed out that their efforts to market and promote themselves did not include the United States alone. They also included Europe, where the resources ranged from jazz clubs to jazz musicians to jazz promoters to jazz labels. It's no coincidence that so many jazz compilations released by small independent labels in Europe are full of American improvisers; contact with the United States is the norm for European jazz indies. And there is no shortage of American names on Pirouet's The Best Is Yet to Come, which the Munich, Germany-based Pirouet Records assembled in late 2008. The American musicians on this 79-minute CD include, among others, trumpeter Tim Hagans, guitarist John Abercrombie, acoustic pianist Bill Carrothers, and drummer Bill Stewart. But by no means does the compilation focus on U.S.-based musicians exclusively. Some of the recordings are by European players, and that includes tracks by four different German pianists: Walter Lang, Jr. (who joins forces with American alto sax great Lee Konitz on "Way Too Early"), Pablo Held, John Schröder, and Achim Kaufmann. And regardless of whether a musician on this disc is from the U.S. or Europe, Pirouet sees to it that the compilation has a stylistic continuity; the selections, for the most part, are intellectual post-bop. This isn't one of those ultra-diverse jazz compilations where you can expect to hear Dixieland one minute, fusion the next minute, and hard bop or soul-jazz after that; Pirouet pretty much maintains a post-bop focus, occasionally straying a bit into mildly avant-garde territory but never venturing too far into the avant-garde. Overall, The Best Is Yet to Come paints an attractive picture of the label's contributions to straight-ahead post-bop jazz. ~ Alex Henderson