Over the course of crafting a 20-album catalogue and architecting more than 30 Billboard No. 1 singles as a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer, Brian Culbertson has charted his own unique course in music. Label him jazz and he makes a funk record. Call him an R&B artist and he drops an acoustic jazz trio collection. Brand him pop and he creates a 32-minute New Age opus. And you’d be hard pressed to name another instrumentalist of his ilk who can mount an elaborately designed concert production that will keep him on the road for three consecutive months.
Culbertson burst onto the scene in 1994 with a chart-topping album that he recorded in his college apartment featuring keyboard-led contemporary jazz tracks. “Long Night Out” landed him a lengthy record deal and signaled that a star was born.
Flash forward to present day, his aptly titled “XX” album – those X’s are Roman numerals – finds Culbertson making a record unlike any of his previous releases because of its diversity. “It’s a mix of things that I’ve done throughout my twenty records. There’s a lot of funky instrumentals, some pop-sounding tracks, a couple slow jams, straight-ahead jazz, gospel, some vocals, lots of horns and some straight-up FUNK!” said the Chicago-based Culbertson. “The album is very much a mixture of some modern sounding programming along with live instruments, too. Real drums on almost everything mixed with programming. Definitely a cool sound.”
Recreating that cool sound live for fans is the best part as Culbertson and his band embark on The XX Tour, playing more than 70 concerts around the US (now postponed until Spring of 2021). In addition to performing much of the new album, the setlist includes cuts from Culbertson’s hit-filled songbook along with a segment showcasing songs from “Winter Stories,” an album released last fall that placed him in an acoustic jazz trio setting for the first time. An exuberant performer, Culbertson spends months in preproduction meticulously working to create stunning visuals - staging, lighting, wardrobe and effects – in order to put on a mesmerizing show each time he takes the stage.
Possessing style, panache and a savvy business mind capable of moving the needle in music and beyond, Culbertson founded and curates the annual Napa Valley and Chicago Jazz Getaways, which have attracted guests from all over the globe to experience his premier events.
Whether you’re listening to music from “XX” on record or live in concert, you’re hearing an eclectic, entertaining and engaging set from an artist at the peak of his power.
Ella 100: Live at the Apollo!
Ella 100: Live at the Apollo! is a celebration of the Great Lady’s centennial which occurred some 82 years after her first appearance at the Apollo Theater in 1934. In 2016 seven of the greatest jazz, popular and Broadway headliners, Afro Blue vocal group, three distinct instrumental ensembles including a 20-piece string section and the Count Basie Orchestra all paid tribute to Ella Fitzgerald through songs mostly associated with her. Co-hosted by Patti Austin and David Alan Grier and produced by Greg Field, this amazing live concert recorded at The Apollo Theater in New York City was witnessed by a full house that braved the elements known to New York in November.
Among the great artists performing songs from Ella’s repertoire during the first half of the concert were Patti Austin and the Count Basie Orchestra on “A Tisket, A Tasket” and “When I Get Low, I Get High,” Andra Day and the Count Basie Orchestra on “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” Lizz Wright singing with the Ella 100 All-Star Quartet on “Love You Madly” and “The Nearness of You,” with the latter featuring a lovely solo by pianist Shelly Berg. Each singer gave great heart-felt performances that I am sure Ella would have been proud of. The audience showed their appreciation with robust applause.
Among the more memorable highlights of the first half was the performance of “Oh Lady Be Good,” by Ayo and Afro Blue, the award winning vocal group from Howard University who really let it rip!
After intermission The Count Basie Orchestra returned with their swinging rendition of “Back to the Apollo!” before accompanying Patti Austin and David Alan Grier on a medley of Gershwin’s “I Loves You Porgy/There’s a Train Leaving For New York.” This vocal duet and arrangement was stellar and also featured a nice trumpet solo by Scotty Barnhart. The legendary Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson’s re-orchestrated version of “Cry Me A River” was outstanding as were “Honeysuckle Rose” by Ledesi and “Once In A While” by Monica Mancini and Brian Nova.
The encore - “People” - sung by Ella Fitzgerald during a performance in Budapest rounds out the recording and was the crème de la crème of tonight’s concert.
Produced by Gregg Field, and Executive Producers Sam Beler, Greg Errico and John Burk for Concord Jazz, Ella 100: Live At the Apollo is one great recording that should be in your collection Check it out at SOTJ.
Warren Wolf is a multi-instrumentalist from Baltimore, MD. From the young age of three years old, Warren has been trained on the Vibraphone/Marimba, Drums, and Piano. Under the guidance of his father Warren Wolf Sr., Warren has a deep background in all genres of music.
Beginning with classical music, Warren had studied classical composers from Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Paganini, Brahms, Vivaldi and Shostakovich. Warren also studied ragtime music learning music from the songbooks of Scott Joplin, Harry Brewer and George Hamilton Green. In Jazz, Warren has studied artist and composers from Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown, Herbie Hancock, Oscar Peterson, Milt Jackson, Bobby Hutcherson, Cal Tjader, Return to Forever, Weather Report, Wynton Marsalis and many others.
Warren attended the Peabody Preparatory for eight years studying classical music with former Baltimore Symphony Orchestra member Leo LePage. During his high school years at the Baltimore School for the Arts, Warren studied with current Baltimore Symphony Orchestra member John Locke. After graduating from Baltimore School for the Arts in June of 1997, Warren headed north and enrolled at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.
After graduating from Berklee in May of 2001, Warren became an active musician on the Boston local scene. Warren was hired in September of 2003 to become an instructor in the percussion department at Berklee College of Music. Warren taught private lessons on the Vibraphone and Drums, as well as taught a beginner’s keyboard class for entering freshman drum set majors. After two years of teaching at Berklee College of Music, Warren headed back to Baltimore to start his main goal of becoming a full-time performing musician.
Since leaving Berklee as a teacher, Warren has landed the piano duties performing in the Rachael Price Group. Recording and touring with Rachael, Warren has had the opportunity to tour throughout the entire United States of America. Warren is currently the drummer of choice for Alto Saxophonist Tia Fuller, who tours with internationally renowned pop star Beyonce Knowles. Warren is also a member of the Donal Fox Group which includes bassist John Lockwood and drummers Dafnis Preito and Terri Lyne Carrington. Also, Warren tours and perform with Bobby Watson’s Live and Learn Sextet, Karriem Riggins’ Virtuoso Experience and with Christian McBride & Inside Straight.
Warren has also collaborated with Wynton Marsalis and The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Jeremy Pelt and Creation, Nicholas Payton, Tim Warfield, Adonis Rose, Donal Fox, Anthony Wonsey, Aaron Goldberg, Cyrus Chestnut, Lewis Nash, Willie Jones, Eric Reed, Mulgrew Miller, Terri Lyne Carrington, Yoron Israel, Larry Willis, David “Fathead” Newman, Stefon Harris, Reuben Rogers, Kevin Eubanks, Curtis Lundy, Steve Davis, Duane Eubanks, Ron Carter, Wycliffe Gordon, Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spaulding and many others.
His most recent recording for Mack Avenue Record is titled Reincarnation and features 10 original songs composed by Warren. The stellar recording features Brett Williams on Fender Rhodes, Richie Goods on electric bass, Mark Whitfield on guitar, Carroll “CV” Dashiell III on drums/percussion, Imani-Grace Cooper and Marcellus “Bassman” Shepard on vocals.
The best way to describe Aaron Diehl’s new recording, The Vagabond, is that it is a quiet masterpiece. While this is thoroughly a jazz recording rooted in precedents set by Diehl’s forbearers such as Art Tatum, Mary Lou Williams, Ahmad Jamal, Roland Hanna and John Lewis, it will come as no surprise to fans of Diehl’s previous two Mack Avenue recordings that clear references are made to his background and simultaneous career as a classical music performer. The Vagabond also features Diehl’s interpretation of works “March from Ten Pieces for Piano, Op. 12” written by Russian great Sergei Prokofiev and “Piano Etude No. 16” by Philip Glass.
Aaron Diehl is a classically trained pianist and has made an indelible mark on the jazz world as well over the last 15 years. Showing an affinity for early jazz and mid-20th century “third-stream” music, his latest evolution comes as he begins to tackle modern classical works, performing works by George Gershwin with the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra and LA Philharmonic.
Diehl has collaborated with living masters ranging from from NEA Jazz Master Benny Golson, to Pulitzer and GRAMMY Award winner Wynton Marsalis, to 20th century classical titans Philip Glass, while establishing himself as one of the preeminent interpreters of the Great American Songbook in his own trio and with the vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant.
In addition to Salvant and Marsalis, Diehl has toured or recorded with Wycliffe Gordon, Warren Wolf, Lew Tabackin, Matt Wilson, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. When Diehl performed the music of Philip Glass at Brooklyn Academy of Music, he was exposed to the work of pianist and composer Timo Andres, with whom he plans to collaborate in the future. He has performed Gershwin’s Rhapsodies with the Amarillo Symphony and performed Glass’ Works for Piano and The Complete Piano Etudes in Aarhus, Denmark in Fall 2017.
Aaron Diehl is a Steinway artist. When he isn't on tour or recording, Diehl enjoys spending time in the sky. As a licensed pilot, one of his favorite planes to fly is the Beechcraft Bonanza. One can follow Diehl’s travels, as well as fascinating practice sessions at the piano and much diverse concert-going via his instagram account at www.instagram.com/aaronjdiehl.
In The Key of Joy
Concord Records presents In The Key of Joy by Sergio Mendes and friends. On this exciting double disc recording Sergio melds the classic Brazilian , jazz, pop that have long characterized his music with contemporary inspiration such as Common rapping on the opening track “Sabor Do
Rio” and Buddy on the upbeat title track. These 28 songs feature such artists as Hermeto Pascoal, Joe Pizzulo, Cali y Dandee, Buddy, Sugar Joans, Joao Donato, Shelea and Mendes’ wife and longtime singer Gracinha Leporace.
Sugar Joans is dynamic on “Samba in Heaven” and has hot Latin vocals that are reminiscent of Shakira’s while Gracinha Leporace’s alluring vocals on “Muganga” have more of a Bossa Nova/Pop flair. Shelea keeps the joy going on on “Catch The Wave” and dares you to stay in your seat as “This Is It” challenges you to get out on the dance floor.
The songs on this deluxe edition were primarily written by Mendes and includes the soundtrack to Mendes’ documentary directed by acclaimed filmmaker John Scheinfeld. The documentary shows Mendes’ musical life from his time with Brasil ’66 to Burt Bacharach’s “The Look of Love” and the very beautiful “So Many Stars.”
Overall, In The Key of Joy is exactly that and is a delightful and cheerful escapade through Mendes’ awesome career. Check it out.
On Cinematic Kyle Eastwood and his band reinterpret film scores composed by Ennio Morricone, John Williams, Michel Legrand, Henry Mancini, Lalo Schifrin and Bernard Hermann as well as two Kyle co-wrote with his father, Clint Eastwood. Alongside his regular group of Quentin Collins on trumpet and flugelhorn, Brandon Allen on tenor and soprano saxophones, Andrew McCormack on piano, and Chris Higginbottom on drums, the internationally renown bassist is joined by guest vocalists Hugh Coltman on “Gran Torino” and Camille Bertault on “Les Moulins De Mon Coeur.”
This is a stellar recording and reveals Kyle Eastwood’s virtuosity as a bassist, composer and arranger of songs for his jazz quintet. The interplay among the performers is top notch as are the vocals and solos heard during such songs as “Les Moulins De Mon Coeur” (which many of you recognize as “The Windmills of Your Mind” from the film titled The Thomas Crown Affair), McCormack’s lyrical piano melody Collins’ excellent trumpeting during “The Eiger Sanction.” As a performer/composer/arranger, Kyle’s exemplary playing on “Gran Torino” featuring Hugh Coltman is a must hear. This is the heartfelt theme Kyle wrote about the film’s main character’s passion for his 1972 Gran Torino. His solo on the awesome Brandon Allen arrangement of “Charade” is also very memorable and highly adept.
Scores from such popular movies as The Pink Panther, Charade,Unforgiven – Claudia’s Theme and Skyfall get the full jazz treatment and serve as a guide for any aspiring composer/arranger performing with a jazz quintet to follow when considering to reinterpret themes from great films.
Overall, Cinematic is awesome due to its great musical imagery, mood enhancements and excellent musicality. Now that it’s among Kyle Eastwood’s impeccable repertoire, Cinematic should be in your collection. Check it out.
TRUE LOVE: A CELEBRATION OF COLE PORTER
Harry Connick, Jr.
After 30 million albums sold worldwide, 13 No. 1 jazz albums in the United States, and a music, film, television and Broadway career spanning three decades, Harry Connick, Jr. returns with a sensational new record, True Love: A Celebration of Cole Porter. Comprised exclusively of Cole Porter compositions, True Love highlights Connick’s talents as pianist, singer, arranger, orchestrator and conductor, as he breathes new life into popular songs from The Great American Songbook including “Anything Goes” and “You Do Something To Me.”
“This is the first time I’ve taken a deep dive into another artist’s repertoire, and Cole Porter was my #1 choice for the project. His lyrics are witty and nuanced and he takes risks as a composer that I find appealing,” Connick said. Connick’s effort in pulling together the album True Love was typically Herculean. After selecting the songs, and writing and orchestrating the arrangements, he assembled and conducted the orchestra which features his long-time touring band with additional horns and a full string section. The results showcase new depths in every area of Connick’s creativity, which soars to new heights in the new show that he has conceived and will direct on Broadway in December of 2019.
Stay in touch with Harry Connick, Jr.'s happening at www.harryconnickjr.com
Sun on Sand
Joshua Redman & Brooklyn Rider
Reprinted from Nonesuch website
Joshua Redman and Brooklyn Rider's Sun on Sand is out now on Nonesuch Records. The album comprises eight compositions from a suite by composer Patrick Zimmerli. Each piece in the suite, which premiered at London’s Wigmore Hall in 2014, represents a different expression of light. Bassist Scott Colley and drummer Satoshi Takeishi perform as well. Sun on Sand is available on iTunes and the Nonesuch Store, where CD orders include a download of the complete album at checkout, and can be heard on Amazon, Apple Music, and Spotify. Redman previously worked with Zimmerli when the latter created orchestral arrangements of Redman’s compositions for the 2013 Nonesuch album Walking Shadows.
Joshua Redman’s first album on Nonesuch was the Grammy-nominated Momentum (2005). His other releases on the label include Back East, Compass, and Trios Live, all of which explore the trio format; MoodSwing (1994, re-issued); Walking Shadows (2013), his first recording to include an orchestral ensemble; The Bad Plus Joshua Redman (2015), a collaboration with the acclaimed trio; Nearness (2016), a duo album with longtime friend and collaborator Brad Mehldau; the 2018 Grammy–nominated Still Dreaming—an album inspired by his father Dewey Redman’s 1976–1987 band, Old and New Dreams; and Come What May with the Joshua Redman Quartet, featuring pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson.
Redman currently tours with his trio with Rogers and Hutchinson; his quartet; Still Dreaming, with Ron Miles, Scott Colley and Brian Blade (David King on recent tours); and occasionally with the collaborative group James Farm, with Aaron Parks, Matt Penman, and Eric Harland. James Farm has two releases on Nonesuch: their 2011 self-titled album and 2014’s City Folk.
Stay in touch with Joshua Redman’s happening here.
Carmen Lundy talks about the making of Modern Ancestors
Interview by Paula Edelstein
Modern Ancestors. Two words with significantly different connotations that come together and remind us that not only do opposites attract, but that we are all products of those who came before us; our Ancestors can be honored and reinterpreted, continually present and very much a part of who we are and what influences us today.
Such is the common thread running through Jazz vocalist and composer Carmen Lundy's brilliant new album, Modern Ancestors. Featuring 10 self-penned and arranged tracks and a stellar band consisting of Julius Rodriguez on piano, brother Curtis Lundy on acoustic upright bass, Kenny Davis on electric and acoustic bass, Mayra Casales on percussion, Terreon Gully and Kassa Overall on drums and Andrew Renfroe on guitar, Modern Ancestors is set for release October 25th via Afrasia Productions and will be accompanied by tour dates both in the US and abroad.
Carmen not only wrote most of the songs, plays instruments and produced the recording , but she created the artwork on the CD cover. Several examples of her art are posted at https://spaces.hightail.com/space/vPxE5fv0KO - with many more featured in a gallery on her website.
At just 25 years old, Veronica Swift has built a résumé that even many late-career jazz singers would envy: tours as a featured vocalist with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Chris Botti; a guest collaboration with Michael Feinstein; engagements at A-list clubs like Birdland, Jazz Standard, Dizzy’s Club and Jazz Showcase; gigs at top festivals including Monterey, Montreal and Telluride, where she’s headlined.
Veronica began performing with her musician parents, the late pianist Hod O’Brien and the singer/educator/author Stephanie Nakasian, as a child. In 2015 she earned second place in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition, the most prestigious contest in the art form. In other words, her command of the vocal-jazz tradition is astounding.
Confessions is Veronica Swift’s first effort for Mack Avenue Records and is her proper breakout debut. On the album, alternately accompanied by Benny Green and Emmet Cohen, two of the finest jazz pianists of their respective generations, Swift showcases the powerfully expressive, deliciously evocative voice that’ has garnered her so many distinguished opportunities. But there’s more – some X-factors that, in their stealthy way, make Confessions smarter, riskier and altogether deeper than even the most stellar song from the Great American Songbook.
Just as Swift is able to use her research and taste to shine a light on undervalued singers and songwriters, her voice evokes singers beyond the usual triptych of Ella Fitgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday. Instead, her touchstones stretch further back as she mines gems related to such prominent song stylists like Peggy Lee, Dinah Washington, June Christy, Connee Boswell, Ethel Waters, Mildred Bailey and Anita O’Day, whose elegant moxie permeates Confessions.
Veronica Swift is a musician-first kind of leader and arranger, who immerses herself into her accompaniment and lets her players stretch out. With personnel like this, we should feel thankful she does. Benny Green’s band includes bassist David Wong and drummer Carl Allen, while Emmet Cohen’s trio features bassist Russell Hall and drummer Kyle Poole.
To learn more about Veronica Swift and her latest release titled Confessions, please visit her website.
Poncho Sanchez, the GRAMMY Award-winning master conguero, band leader and Latin Jazz legend celebrates his 30th anniversary on the Concord Picante record label and John Coltrane’s awesome legacy with an astounding love letter to the late jazz legend. Titled Trane’s Delight, the recording features Sanchez’s longtime band featuring trombonist and musical director Francisco Torres, trumpet and flugelhorn master Ron Blake, saxophonist Robert Hardt, pianist Andy Langham, bassists Rene Camacho and Ross Schodek, and percussionists Joey DeLeon and Giancarlo Anderson. Guest artists Cornelius Alfredo Duncan, Jr. is featured playing the kalimba on “Sube” while vocalist Norell Thomson makes “Todo Termino” memorable.
The musical selections are excellent and will appeal to both Sanchez and Coltrane advocates. Included are two new compositions written in honor of John Coltrane titled “Yam’mote” and the title track “Trane’s Delight.” Several of Sanchez’s originals and classic favorites also made the cut including three songs that make up “Poncho Sanchez Medley #2.” However, Sanchez’s passionate reinterpretations of three classic Coltrane compositions with Latin rhythms are what make this recording so interesting. “Liberia” has a buoyant salsa feeling, “Blue Train” is now a cha-cha-cha, and “Giant Steps” clocks in just under five minutes fueled by an up-tempo rumba twist. These covers are sure to become the gold standard for Latin interpretations of John Coltrane’s essence.
The virtuosity of each soloist, the interplay with other bandmates, and the magnificent swell of Latin percussion has been perfected by years of performing together. However, one cannot omit the influences and inspiration the musicians obviously gained by listening to John Coltrane’s awesome recordings. Poncho Sanchez’s trademark conga playing is free, mesmerizing, yet danceable. The beats emanating from his congas, the varied tempi, the swagger, and the potent rhythms from a number of stylistic neighborhoods – salsa to soul, mambo to R&B, boogaloo to funk, straight ahead Jazz to Latin Jazz – all define this excellent recording.
Overall, all of the songs make this recording a superb listening experience that deserves your undivided attention. All that seemed old is definitely new again on Trane’s Delight. Check it out. Five stars.
Mike Stern and Jeff Lorber
Keyboard wizard Jeff Lorber and guitar hero Mike Stern have joined forces on a potent new collaboration for Concord Jazz titled Eleven. Jeff Lorber, the GRAMMY Award-winning keyboardist/composer/producer first noticed the esteemed six-string guitarist Mike Stern back in the 1980s when Stern was touring with Miles Davis and immediately became a fan. Stern, by contrast, was aware of Lorber and had heard many good things about Lorber but they were "not in the same orbit" at the time.
Fast forward to 2019 when bassist and co-producer Jimmy Haslip of the Yellowjackets brought Lorber and Stern together in the studio. The results you’ll hear on these 10 great tracks are awesome. Stern and Lorber are joined by a coterie of world-renowned musicians including Jimmy Haslip, arranger David Mann, drummers Vinnie Colaiuta and Dave Weckl, Leni Stern, Gary Novak, Bob Franceschini and others. The compositions feature a cornucopia of sounds emanating melodically and rhythmically from the synthesizer, horns, acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, Mini-Moog, guitar, organ, African N’goni, and vocals.
The ensemble of Mike Stern, Jeff Lorber Fusion featuring Jimmy Haslip and Dennis Chambers will tour Europe in November while Mike Stern/Jeff Lorber Fusion with Jimmy Haslip and Dave Weckl on certain dates and Dennis Chambers on others, will commence their swing through the USA in late Fall with concerts in Washington, DC, Seattle, Los Angeles, Oakland, The Woodlands, TX, Austin and New York City. Keep in touch with their happenings at http://www.mikestern.org/live.htm and http://www.lorber.com/.
I'm With You
Mark Winkler is a platinum award winning singer/lyricist who has had over 250 of his songs recorded and/or sung by such artists as Dianne Reeves, Jane Monheit, Liza Minnelli, Bob Dorough, Steve Tyrell, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Lea Di Lauria and Britain’s Claire Martin. He also has charted high on the Jazz Week charts with his last 4 vocal releases, as well as being named a 2017 ”Rising Star” Male Jazz Vocalist in Downbeat Magazine.
Mark's recent release for Cafe Pacific Records titled I'm With You: Mark Winkler Sings Bobby Troup features Winkler singing 12 tunes written by the great Bobby Troup. During I'm With You: Mark Winkler Sings Bobby Troup, Mark is accompanied by such great jazz artists as Anthony Wilson and Grant Geissman on guitars, Rickey Woodard and Bob Sheppard on saxophones, Rich Eames and Jon Mayer on on piano, Gabe Davis, Kevin Axt and Dave Tull on drums, Jamieson Trotter and Joe Bagg on Hammond B3 organ and Ann Patterson on flute. The CD was produced by Mark Winkler and Dolores Scozzesi.
Grammy award-winning Eliane Elias’ Love Stories serves as a classic homage to love in its many facets and forms. It is an orchestral project that features originals, compositions from Bossa Nova’s golden age, and songs made famous by Patti Austin and James Ingram, Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim. These love songs provided the perfect ambiance for that romantic evening and for those already or about to fall in love!
Noting that romantic love is just one of a wide range of ways the emotion gets manifested, Elias says, “The idea for this album was to bring to life various stories of love and loving through this collection of songs.” Accompanying Eliane Elias for this stellar recording are Marcus Texiera on guitar and Edu Ribeiro, Rafael Barata and Celso Almeida on drums – plus her core collaborators, co-producer and bassist Marc Johnson and co-producer Steve Rodby.
Orchestrator Rob Mathes returns for his fourth recording with Elias. The way Elias blends her intimate vocals sonorously with Rob Mathes’ orchestrations is just one of the many great highlights of Love Stories. Mathes’ flawless string arrangements underline Elias’ rich harmonic and varied rhythmic approaches on such memorable love songs as “A Man and A Woman” -- the theme from the movie of the same name, and the Patti Austin/James Ingram hit “Baby Come To Me.”
Elias also pays homage to Antonio Carlos Jobim and Frank Sinatra on “Bonita” and then continues her tribute to Sinatra with “Angel Eyes,” and “Come Fly With Me.” The tone-setting Bossa Nova groove, orchestration and Elias’ sensual, velvety voice on “Angel Eyes” really does it for this writer. She removes any pre-conceived notions about romantic love with her sexy mood-setting nuance and vocal textures. A lovely piano solo by Eliane during the coda makes this song worth several more listens.
Elias sings all of the songs in English with the exception of “Little Boat” which she sings in Portuguese. The album closes with “The View” -- a lovely original that Elias wrote that is, in her words “erotic yet pure in love and love’s expression.”
Love Stories tops the list of the most beautiful albums recorded by Eliane Elias. The album is destined to become a favorite among her fans because of its endless warmth in tones, colors and textures as well as her evocative approach as a pianist and singer and the precision with which she’s able to execute her musical vision. Highly recommended.
Wareika Hill (Rastamonk Vibrations)
Pianist/composer Monty Alexander has released an imaginative collection of Thelonious Monk’s songsthat he has infused with Ska and Reggae rhythms. Titled Wareika Hill (Rastamonk Vibrations) the MACD Records release features 14 tracks including the bonus track of “Well You Needn’t – Live at the Philarmonie.” Alongside Monty Alexander, who plays piano and co-produced the recording with Caterina Zapponi, are a coterie of highly esteemed and award-winning musicians including J.J. Shakur on acoustic bass, drummers Jason Brown, Obed Calvaire, and Karl Wright on drums and percussion, Andy Bassford on guitar, Leon Duncan and Courtney Panton on electric basses, Junior Wedderburn, Abashani Wedderburn, Bongo Billy playing the Nyabinghi drums, Earl Appleton on electric keyboards, Ron Blake and Wayne Escoffery play tenor saxes and Andrae Murchison on trombone. Special guest Joe Lovano plays a tenor sax solo on “Green Chimneys” and John Scofield plays guitar solos on “Brilliant Corners” and “Bye-a.”
This recording is awesome and features Monty Alexander at his very best as an arranger, pianist, bandleader and producer. The special interplay he has with his bandmates is the absolute gold standard for updates of classic Monk tunes because he has arranged Monk’s songs with an exceptional flair of Ska and Reggae rhythms. The arrangements allow each musician to shine. For example, Wayne Escoffery’s featured extended tenor sax solos throughout the recording are brilliantly improvised with particular kudos for his interpretations on the studio and live takes of “Well You Needn’t.” Ron Blake’s featured tenor sax solos on “San Francisco Holiday a/k/a Worry Later,” and “Bye-Ya” are also worth special mention since you’ll be tempted to play them more than once. John Scofield appears on “Bye-Ya” for an impressive solo. Overall, these awesome improvisations are truly brilliant and reveal Alexander knew what his listeners would ultimately enjoy – so he let them blow!
With respect to Monty Alexander, well his introspective and very impressive piano playing on “Abide With Me” is a splendid arrangement with the Nyabinghi drummers- Junior Wedderburn, Abashani Wedderburn, and Billy Bongo. The Reggae and Ska rhythms he included on “Monk’s Dreams” are fresh as are those he included on “Rhythm-a-ning.”
Overall, Wareika Hill (Rastamonk Vibrations) is a musical feast of balanced Jazz, Ska and Reggae with superlative arrangements by Monty Alexander that capitalize on his creativity and conscious-raising versatility. Check it out.
Carousel, Ray Obiedo’s most recent release for the Rhythmus Records label, is imbued with distinctive Latin rhythms fused with elements of Afro-Funk, R&B and Jazz. Thirty two musicians perform with the prolific jazz guitarist on nine compositions, eight of which were written by Ray Obiedo. Ray plays acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards and adds his vocals to this eclectic mix of styles that also features the late Jean “Toots” Thielemans on harmonica on “Song for Jules,” tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer on the opener “Jinx” and “Modern World” and steel pan master Andy Narell on “Villa Capri” and the closing composition “Sunset.” All of the songs are beyond beautiful, melodic and rhythmically energetic.
There are many great highlights on Carousel including Bob Mintzer’s exceptional performance on the Latin dance party titled “Modern World.” Featured guest Andy Narell underlines Ray’s distinctive guitar solo with his steel pan mastery on the lovely “Villa Capri.” The song is a lively samba that also features a mellow flute solo by Norbert Stachel, a quaint piano solo delivered by Peter Horvath and awesome percussion and drum power from Michael Spiro and Paul Wageningen. Obiedo follows this lively samba with a mellow ballad called “Song For Jules” which he named after his son. This song is absolutely gorgeous and lingers with you long after it’s over because of the lovely harmonica solo from Toots Thielemans and the accompaniment by Peter Michael Escovedo and Michael Spiro on congas. Ray’s beautiful guitar playing makes this song worth several listens and is sure to become an integral part of Obiedo’s repertoire.
The quiet intimacy of “Lujon” draws you further into Ray’s creative processes as he re-imagines Henry Mancini’s epic composition. Featured on flute is Norbert Stachel who intros the song before Ray and David K. Mathews add their peaceful visions on acoustic and electric guitars and Rhodes and keyboards, respectively. This song is part of Obiedo’s live repertoire.
Overall, Carousel is one of the best jazz recordings of the year. It is an excellent recording and one that should be in your collection because of the summerly Latin grooves, the seamless interplay of its 32 musicians and ultimately because of Ray Obiedo’s distinguished compositional integrity and unforgettable performances.
Saxophonist Steve Cole is one of the most celebrated players in contemporary jazz and is now showing appreciation for the support he received during a recent health scare in his family via his latest recording titled Gratitude. Co-produced with longtime collaborator and fellow saxophonist David Mann, the 10-track album was released via Mack Avenue Music Group’s Artistry Music to critical acclaim and in support of his upcoming 20-city concert tour.
The nonet heard with Steve Cole who plays tenor saxophone and keyboards includes includes Trevor Neumann on trumpet, Dan Levine on trombone, David Mann on tenor saxophone, flute, keyboards, programming, Ricky Peterson on Hammond B3 organ, Bernd Schoenhart on guitar, Khari Parker on drums, Lamar Jones on bass, vocalist John James, and Marcus Anderson on flute, keyboards and programming on “Can’t Get Enough.”
These songs evoke Cole’s depth of emotions as well as his virtuosic command of the tenor saxophone and his compositional integrity as the sole songwriter of “Good News Day,” “Soho,” and “Five6OH83.” Steve also co-wrote “Neo Soul,” “Gratitude,” “Starting Over,” and “Let’s Go!” with David Mann which double underlines his collaborative abilities as a co-producer and songwriter. Skip Scarborough’s “Love Ballad” and Marcus Anderson’s “Can’t Get Enough” are two excellent vehicles for Cole’s sexy tenor acumen and deserve more than one listen. John James’ vocals on “Love Ballad” are sensuous and smooth.
After performing chart-topping smooth jazz for more than 20 years, Steve Cole remains at the top of his game with Gratitude. The Chicago native exploded onto the scene in 1998 with the album Stay Awhile that was produced by fellow Chicagoan Brian Culbertson. The disc scored two #1 hits and earned Cole the Oasis Smooth Jazz Award for best new artist shortly before his sophomore set, Between Us, was released in 2000. His catchy singles made him an instant radio favorite and he cranked them out with regularity on subsequent albums NY LA (2003), Spin (2005), True (2006), Moonlight (2009), Pulse (2013) and Turn It Up (2016). Steve is also a founding member of The Sax Pack, a stellar sax trio completed by Marcus Anderson and Jeff Kashiwa.
STAR PEOPLE NATION
As the grandson of the late venerable trumpeter Doc Cheatham, and former student of legendary jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd, trumpeter, composer, bandleader and multi-instrumentalist Theo Croker naturally follows an internal need to compose. Learning to play the trumpet at age 11 after hearing Cheatham play in New York City, by his teens Croker was studying music formally at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville followed by the Music Conservatory at Oberlin College. Launching his career with seven years spent in Shanghai, Croker first introduced his singular style in 2014 on the Dee Dee Bridgewater-assisted AfroPhysicist. His 2016 follow-up, Escape Velocity, marked a watershed moment for the artist, with the Wall Street Journal extolling the album as “timeless and of-the-moment.”
Croker has also lent his talents to the world of hip hop, with rap superstar J. Cole’s platinum-certified No. 1 opus 4 Your Eyez Only, with Croker acting as trumpet arranger and performer on multiple tracks. GRAMMY® Award-winning rapper Common also sought out Croker for his critically-acclaimed album Black America Again.
Star People Nation is the musician’s most personal project yet, something Croker describes as an intimate exploration of “the everyday rituals of blackness.” A translation of his personal, spiritual and creative experience, Star People Nation is a self-reflective collection of provocative, powerfully passionate and boundary-busting compositions that speak to our greater, shared human existence.
“The Messenger,” is Croker’s newest track off his full-length album, Star People Nation (Sony Masterworks). Featuring jazz pianist ELEW, “The Messenger” pairs a smoky blues piano with a traditional swing rhythm, locking into the pocket and showcasing Croker’s musical mastery. The track has already garnered critical acclaim, with EARMILK calling it "a testament to Croker’s firm standing within the realm of jazz and shows that his upcoming album will undoubtedly be one to remember." As the follow-up to Croker’s release of “Subconscious Flirtations and Titillations,” from Star People Nation, “The Messenger” is yet another example of the versatility explored throughout the entirety of Croker’s album.
Great music flowed from the creative mind of Miles Davis. He recorded hundreds of songs over his musical career, and a major reason his projects still exist and are so exciting is because they were so original, so innovative, so creative and so cool. So now, in honor of its 70th anniversary, with the permission of Miles Davis Properties, LLC, Miles Davis’ son Erin Davis, his nephew Vince Wilburn, Jr., and his daughter Cheryl Davis, the lid is off the vault containing the original masters for Davis’ iconic 1949 Birth of the Cool recordings. The result? The Complete Birth of the Cool vinyl 2-LP set consisting of the famous Miles Davis instrumentals (and Kenny Hagood’s vocals on “Darn That Dream”) which have been restored, mastered from the original analog session reels, and released on Capitol Records in loving memory of Frances Taylor Davis.
The Complete Birth of the Cool features recordings made on: September 1948 at The Royal Roost in New York for WMCA radio broadcast; January 21, 1949, April 22, 1949, and March 9, 1950 in New York City with Davis’ instrumental nonet and sometimes vocalist Kenny Hagood. This release gives a new generation of Miles Davis fans deeper insight into Davis’ working methods and his imagination during the late 1940s when he unleashed the first of his creative powers with this nonet. The sounds emanating from these great LPs are now richer and deeper than those heard on the original release because of technical limitations in the 1940s. These remastered recordings give you the impression of actually being at the live concerts and the studio sessions – in other words, being in the right place at the right time.
The legendary sessions and live concert recording heard on The Complete Birth of the Cool are a must hear for every Miles Davis admirer. Finally released on one set with a brand new retrospective essay by Ashley Kahn, and liner notes by jazz saxophonist Gerry Mulligan and Jazz historian Phil Schaap, consider yourself fortunate to enjoy the classic trumpeting of Miles Davis with his nonet and to experience what innovative jazz music sounded like in the 1940s.
The Spanish Heart Band
As one of the world’s greatest artists, the 22-time Grammy Award-winning jazz legend, pianist and composer Chick Corea never ceases to amaze and fascinate his legions of devoted fans via his explorations of music without borders. And now, with his debut release titled Antidote with his brand new Spanish Heart Band, the iconic pianist/keyboardist/composer revisits songs from his classic albums My Spanish Heart and Touchstone to offer a musical cure for these turbulent times.
Along with the acclaimed Panamanian vocalist Ruben Blades and gifted singers Gayle Moran Corea and Maria Bianco, Chick Corea embarks on this vibrant exploration of Chick’s musical heritage with Flamenco guitarist Nino Josele, saxophonist/flutist Jorge Pardo, bassist Carlitos Del Puerto, Steve Davis on trombone, Marcus Gilmore on drums, Michael Rodriguez on trumpet, Luisito Quintero on percussion and Flamenco dancer Nino de Los Reyes. Chick Corea wrote 8 of the 11 compositions which includes covers of “Desafinado” by Antonio Carlos Jobim, “Zyryab” by Paco de Lucia, and “Pas de Deux” from Igor Stravinsky’s ballet titled “A Fairy’s Kiss.”
“My genetics are Italian, but my heart is Spanish,” says Corea. And that truly shows on such great compositions as “My Spanish Heart” a song he wrote for his wife Gayle Moran Corea who precedes this version with a stunning one-minute prelude during which Gayle sings with a beautiful vocal choir. In the composition, Reuben Blades sings the emotional lyrics before the ensemble breaks into the electrifying dance of “Armando’s Rhumba” a song Chick Corea wrote for his father. Both songs exude the Latin tinges that abound in Corea’s fusions of jazz and traditional Latin rhythms.
"Duende” features an ethereal opening of percussion and Corea’s awesome piano compliments before Jorge Pardo joins in with his exemplary flute playing. The thrilling interplay between the entire ensemble has you, dear listener, laid back while embracing Chick’s pianism, Steve Davis’ trombone artistry and Michael Rodriquez’s trumpet playing as well as Jorge Pardo exemplary flute playing. What a beautiful song.
“The Yellow Nimbus” – Parts One and Two – features the exciting riffs and dancing excellence of Flamenco dancer Nino de los Reyes, the high artistry of flutist guitarist Nino Josele and flutist Jorge Pardo. To add the unique and distinctive artistry of a flamenco dancer to an already great recording is a stellar surprise Corea’s fans are sure to enamor for years to come.
This writer has always been inspired by the beauty of Corea’s music and Antidote is no exception. This collection of songs is as beautiful as any Corea has recorded and reveals another great side of his creative genius that flows from his Spanish heart. Highly recommended.
Essence marks Michel Camilo’s 25th album and is a milestone recording since it is a celebration of the flowing dynamic creativity and interactive energy between his rhythm section and horn section. Released via Resilience Music Alliance, the 11 tracks on the recording offer the essence of Camilo’s artistry spanning the last 40 years and features music chosen from every stage of Camilo’s musical development. The ensemble Camilo chose for Essence is an 18-piece band featuring such jazz notables as Antonio Hart on alto sax, Sharel Cassity on alto sax and clarinet, Diego Urcola on trumpet and flugelhorn, Michael Dease and Steve Davis on trombones and many more in conjunction with Camilo’s core musicians - drummer Cliff Almond, bassist Ricky Rodriguez and Cuban percussionist/vocalist Eliel Lazo.
Opening the recording is “And Sammy Walked In” (a reference to the great percussionist Sammy Figueroa). Culled from Camilo’s 1989 album titled On Fire, Eliel Lazo replaces Figueroa and does the honors as percussionist while providing plenty of fire to Camilio’s awesome piano playing. Tenor saxophonist Ralph Bowen offers an excellent solo that keeps things interesting before Camilo enters saying ‘let me just break it down’ via his almighty piano chops. The ensemble’s weave of blues, swing and Afro-Cuban rhythms honors one of Michel Camilo’s heroes, Mongo Santamaria. “Mongo’s Blues,” sequenced from Camilo’s 2003 Grammy Award-winning album Live at the Blue Note, was written by Camilo to strike the right balance of appreciation for the man who took him under his wing after Camilo arrived in the USA. It is a brilliant piece of jazz artistry that incorporates excellent solos by Frank Basile on baritone sax, Steve Davis on trombone, Camilo on piano, Lazo on percussion, and Cliff Almond on drums.
“Liquid Crystal” is a beautiful song featuring Michel Camilo’s impressionistic pianism. Kali Rodriguez-Pena kills his trumpet solo which has a lingering Miles Davis-like vibe. Two songs from Camilo’s 2011 trio album titled Mano a Mano provide enough fuel to propel the ensemble straight ahead through two of Camilo’s signature songs. “Mano a Mano” and “Yes” are the consummate vehicles for Ralph Bowen, Michael Dease and Michael Philip Mossman to do their thing as Camilo, Lazo and Almond hold down the rhythm logic with their dynamic soloing. “Just Like You,” a sultry ballad Camilo released on Triangulo in 2002 and “Piece of Cake” a mid-tempo cha cha from the same album reveal different angles of Camilo’s dazzling technique.
Overall, Essence is an excellent and fresh collection of Michel Camilo’s stunning virtuosity as a pianist, composer, producer and arranger. This big band is everything you’d expect it to be – in the pocket providing rhythmic joy and telepathic grooves since throughout the repertoire Mr. Camilo has utilized an exceptional set of soloists who shine in their spotlights. So get out on the dance floor people and don’t forget to add Essence to your own personal collection of big band music.
Eight-time Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Tierney Sutton has received a Grammy nomination in the category for Best Jazz Vocal Album for every project she has released in the last decade. Known for her impeccable voice and imaginative treatments of songs mined from The Great American Songbook, Sutton is heralded for her abilities as both a jazz storyteller and her ability to use her voice as an instrument. Her 12 recordings as a leader have addressed themes such as materialism (Desire 2009), the pursuit of happiness (On the Other Side 2007), as well as paying tribute to the music of Bill Evans (Blue In Green 2002), Frank Sinatra (Dancing In The Dark 2004), and pop icon Sting (The Sting Variations 2016). Her 2013 Joni Mitchell tribute, After Blue featured keyboardist Larry Goldings, drummer Peter Erskine, jazz vocal legend Al Jarreau, and NEA Jazz Master flautist Hubert Laws.
In May 2016 Tierney was approached by legendary director Clint Eastwood. The original score to his box-office smash, Sully, was created by Tierney Sutton Band pianist, Christian Jacob, The Tierney Sutton Band and Clint Eastwood. The end-title song “Flying Home” features music by Eastwood and lyrics by Tierney Sutton and JB Eckl. It is performed by Tierney Sutton and The Tierney Sutton Band.
The Tierney Sutton Band consists of vocalist Tierney Sutton, pianist Christian Jacob, bassists Kevin Axt, and Trey Henry, and drummer/percussionist Ray Brinker. Along with guest artists Serge Merlaud who plays guitar on three songs and the great Alan Bergman who sings on “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?”, the band has completed their latest recording titled Screenplay. The recording celebrates American film music in a 15-track collection of songs from American films. Songs such as “What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life?”, “The Sounds of Silence” from the film titled The Graduate, and “Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, among others. The recording is released on BFM Jazz and is yet another classic from one of the most creative and artistically satisfying bands on the jazz scene today.
When she is not performing, Tierney is in demand as both a studio vocal producer and educator. In 2016 she worked with famed lyric soprano Natalie Dessay for Sony Classics’ Pictures of America and the soon to be released Between Yesterday and Tomorrow.
Tierney taught for over a decade at USC’s Thornton School of Music and spent 6 years as the Vocal Department Head at The Los Angeles College of Music in Pasadena, CA. She has also taught and mentored some of the finest new generation of singers including Gretchen Parlato and Sara Gazarek.
Eight Track III
Dave Stryker completes his Eight Track trilogy with a group of musicians that includes Stefon Harris on vibraphone, Jared Gold on organ , McClenty Hunter on drums and Mayra Casales on congas & percussion. The music for Eight Track III was produced and arranged by Dave Stryker. Jared Gold co-arranged three songs with Stryker, namely “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone,” “Too High,” and “This Guy’s In Love With You.”
The recording includes classic songs from the 1970s that reconnect with people who may remember them or are just discovering them. Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up,” “Papa Was A Rolling Stone,” made famous by The Temptations, Stevie Wonder’s “Too High,” and Marvin Gaye/Leon Ware ballad “After The Dance” are just a few of the classic tunes Stryker has sequenced to complete his Eight Track trilogy.
The new arrangements and interpretations by Stryker and his band simmer the original flavors of the songs in an exceptional 21st century fusion of sounds that should appeal to a new generation and turn up the nostalgia for those who experienced the original versions. He starts by creating magic for listeners with a whole new perspective on “Move On Up” which now features his guitar playing on the melody. “Pretzel Logic” has two great solos by Stefon Harris on vibes and Jared Gold on organ. Stryker keeps these tunes interesting with his seamless guitar assessments and makes them fun and interactive.
Roy Ayers’ “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” and the Marvin Gaye/Leon Ware collaboration titled “After The Dance” from Gaye’s great album titled I Want You, are treated as mid-tempo ballads featuring Stryker’s inimitable guitar chops. These songs linger with you long after they are over.
Overall, Eight Track III is the consummate finish to Dave Stryker’s Eight Track trilogy and is worthy of inclusion in your jazz fusion collection. Check it out.
The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman
The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman have released their first full length recording in three years and it’s a keeper. Titled Open Road, the album is deep with the group’s trademark riffs and sonic pleasures that envelope you in their glorious smooth grooves. Released to coincide with their US tour, the first leg which opens March 21 in New York, the touring Rippingtons’ sound now encompasses what Freeman terms as going back to the “basics in some ways, focusing on what energizes me most – great melodies, dynamic arrangements and virtuoso playing. But there are a lot of incredible new technologies I wanted to leverage as well.”
There are 11 new tracks that are excellent vehicles for great interplay as well as awesome solo spots for guitarist/composer Freeman, saxophonist Brandon Fields, drummer Dave Karsony, bassist Rico Belled, and Bill Heller on keyboards. Among the most memorable highlights (and there are many) are: the great guitar playing of Freeman and the underlining sounds heard on “Before Sunrise;” “Luca” with Freeman’s gorgeous classical guitar playing and sparsely arranged sensuality; Dave Karsony’s dynamic drumming and synth-scaping keyboard chops on “Tangerine Sky” and Brandon Fields’ amazing saxophone playing on “She’s Got the Magic.”
The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman and their great musical journey on the Open Road is a festival of virtuosity that is refreshingly new, unique, and contemporary. The band’s effortless outlook and seamless fusing together of funk, jazz-rock, electronic energy and soul-grooving music empowers you, dear listener, to partake in their sonic signatures which explore a new musical realm that is sure to expand their audience and bring the world closer together along this Open Road. Check it out.
Veteran New Orleans drummer Herlin Riley looks to the bright side on his latest release for Mack Avenue Records titled Perpetual Optimism. The longtime Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra drummer reconvenes his quintet featuring Emmet Cohen on piano, Godwin Louis on saxophone, Bruce Harris on trumpet and Russell Hall on bass to deliver 10 great compositions that you are sure to enjoy.
Although the album was made against the backdrop of serving as caregiver and then saying farewell to two of the most important people in his life, the songs maintain an upbeat outlook as heard in the celebratory opener called “Rush Hour.” Riley pays homage to his mentor Ellis Marsalis on “Twelve’s It.” This is also a lively rendition that opens with a stellar drum intro then segues into Cohen’s excellent chops as Harris, Louis and Hall add their complimentary visions. Harris’ trumpet solo is worthy of mentioning as is Louis’ spirited saxophonics. The song ends with a spoken word tribute to Marsalis. Riley singing tribute to Allen Toussaint during Willie Dixon’s blues classic “Wang Dang Doodle” comes at the request of the late Toussaint who urged Riley to record the song.
Victor Goines wrote the up-tempo burner “Borders Without Lines” which precedes the classic Raye/DePaul gem “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” This ballad is surrounded in sultry, simmering moods from Bruce Harris on trumpet and Godwin Louis on saxophone. The title track has a sunny disposition but “Wings and Roots” has a bittersweet sound. “Stella By Starlight” is given an updated arrangement by Riley that makes everything old new again.
Overall, Perpetual Optimism is commensurate with New Direction which was his debut recording for the Mack Avenue Records label and should garner Herlin Riley a wider audience as a bandleader.
London Calling…A Toast to Julie London
Vocalist Lyn Stanley offers her fans an exceptional new recording that should appeal to the romantic nature in all of them. London Calling…A Toast to Julie London is sensual, intimate, sensitive, sexy and most of all…romantic. These 17 compositions mostly associated with Julie London are now superior vehicles for Lyn Stanley’s sultry vocals and the stellar ensemble of musicians she has chosen as accompanists. She spontaneously sings the stories behind the songs as an adept storyteller would while remaining true to the original composer’s intentions.
Among the most memorable versions heard here are “As Time Goes By” with its quaint bossa nova feel, both versions of “Summertime” with the bluesy feel of John Chiodini’s guitar and Mike Garson on piano, her intimate telling of “It’s Impossible” with its calypso beats supplied by Luis Conte and Aaron Serfaty, “Sway” with its sensual reading, and “You The Night and The Music” as a tango.
Overall, London Calling…A Toast to Julie London is among the best recordings in Lyn Stanley’s dynamic repertoire and the first tribute to a singer she chose to honor, not mimic. Available now on A.T. Music, LLC. Check it out.
Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez
Alfredo Rodríguez is the elder of two sons of Alfredo "Alfredito" Rodríguez, a professional singer and composer of romantic songs and television presenter, Mayra Salicio. He studied classical piano at the Manuel Saumell Conservatory, then at the Amadeo Roldán Music Conservatory as well as the Instituto Superior de Arte, all in Havana. His interest in jazz was stimulated by the annual "JoJazz" competition for young jazz musicians, where he won an honorable mention in 2003. In 2006, Rodríguez was selected as one of the twelve pianists from around the world to perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Music Producer Quincy Jones noticed him at the Jazz Festival and offered to work with him. In 2007, he formed the first Alfredo Rodríguez Trio, with Gastón Joya (double bass) and Michael Olivera (drums).
One of Rodríguez's most well-known compositions was accomplished through collaboration with Quincy Jones, Tan Dun, and Siedah Garrett; the anthem "Better City, Better Life" was selected as the official theme song of the Shanghai World Expo 2010.
In 2015, Rodríguez received his first Grammy nomination for best arrangement, instrumental for "Guantanamera" at the 57th Grammy Awards. His latest release for Mack Avenue Records titled Duologue finds Rodriguez paired with Pedrito Martinez on 11 tracks of original songs and covers of "Thriller" and "Super Mario 3." Produced by Quincy Jones, Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez, the recording is getting rave reviews and is certain to get the pair wider attention for their amazing chops an dynamic synergy.
A Little Love
Quiana Lynell’s debut recording for Concord Jazz titled A Little Love has something for everyone. As the recipient of mentorship by Terence Blanchard, the Grammy-winning and Oscar-nominated trumpeter/composer, the New Orleans-based vocalist is sure to gain a broader audience for her compelling vocals. However, according to John Burk, President of Concord Records, Lynell’s “dynamic and incredibly rich voice and unique ability to effortlessly blend gospel, soul, and jazz into her music” is the reason you, dear listener, will enjoy this recording and continue to follow her success.
Joined by a stellar band including pianist Cyrus Chestnut and drummer Jamison Ross, Ed Cherry on guitars, George DeLancey on bass and Monte Croft on vibes, Quiana Lynell covers an assortment of songs composed by such great songwriters as Duke Ellington, George & Ira Gershwin, and songs made famous by Nina Simone and Chaka Khan. Her voice resonates a deep reflection of these trying times during the Hathaway/Hutson anthem “Tryin’ Times,” and the Ellington/Simone medley “Come Sunday”/I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free).” She continues her diverse vocal prowess on a lovely version of “Just A Little Lovin’ (Early In The Mornin’)” and then gets down on her raucous version of the 12-bar blues “Hip Shakin’ Momma.” She closes her program with an appropriate rendition of the protest song “Sing Out, March On” which could very well be her resolution as a new artist to keep on keepin’ on.
Overall, A Little Love should get a lot of love because of its mesmerizing artistry and fresh perspectives on the chosen songs.
Explicaciones is Magela Herrera’s debut recording and she not only makes an outstanding debut but creates an awesome and rhythmically diverse collection of originals, jazz and Latin standards from her come country of Cuba. As the former member of Mezcla – one of Cuba’s leading jazz and fusion groups - steps forward as a flute virtuoso, composer, vocalist, producer and bandleader to express herself with eight great musicians for the Brontosaurus Records imprint she clearly solidifies her place as a leader who will continue to increase the recognition for flute players in the jazz genre. The songs range from upbeat danzons like “Danzon Para Papa” to beautiful love ballads such as the title track, “Explicaciones” and “Besame Mucho.” The ensemble covers the traditional jazz standard “My One and Only Love” during an exceptional arrangement by Magela Herrera that maintains the reverence and respect for Wood/Mellin’s original song. Herrera’s arrangements also indicate her ability to skillfully and creatively make the traditional songs and jazz standards vibrant and appealing to a new generation of jazz lovers. Overall, the musicality and outstanding accompaniment by Magela Herrera’s ensemble makes Explicaciones an excellent choice and addition to your jazz music collection.
Miles Davis featuring Ledesi
This 5-track digital EP released by Rhino offers five different takes of the title track taken from the lost Miles Davis Rubberband Sessions recorded in 1985 after Miles Davis moved from Columbia Records to Warner Brothers Records. Always on the cutting edge of things, the updated digital EP includes the original version of “Rubberband” that reflects Miles’ funky, hard grooving, soulful sound for the title track. Davis plays trumpet and keyboards, and is joined by percussionist Steve Reid, saxophonist Glen Burris and Davis’ nephew Vince Wilburn, Jr. on drums.
The Rubberband EP also features 12-time Grammy nominated singer Ledesi guesting on two tracks titled “Rubberband of Life featuring Ledesi (Radio Edit)” and “Rubberband of Life featuring Ledesi.” There is an instrumental version as well as Miles introducing the Amerigo Gazaway Remix, with “If you don’t mind, we’d like to play something for you,” that also features Ledesi singing, scatting, samples, rhythmic guitar chords, while Miles underlines with his soulful licks.
This EP also reveals the longevity of Miles Davis’ innovative, electric, street based grooves first heard on On The Corner complimented with awesome beats co-produced by Anthony “Mac Nass” Loffman and Arthur Haynes for SmashSound Syndicate. Tracks 1, 2, 3 and 5 were produced by Randy Hall, Attala Zane Giles and Vince Wilburn, Jr., while the original version (track 4) of “Rubberband” was produced by Miles Davis, Hall and Giles. Erin and Cheryl Davis, Vince Wilburn, Jr. and Darryl Porter are executive producers for Miles Davis Properties, LLC.
Photo by Anna Webber
Christian McBride’s New Jawn
The multiple award-winning bassist, composer, arranger, educator Christian McBride has a brand New Jawn consisting of trumpeter Josh Evans, saxophonist Marcus Strickland and drummer Nasheet Waits all debuting on Brother Mister Productions, McBride’s own newly launched imprint of his longtime label, Mack Avenue Records. The band is a chordless group that plays the gamut of stylistic approaches on 8 original songs which range from deep-rooted swing to daring avant-garde abstractions, to singular blues to exquisite balladry. The band members wrote all of the songs except “Sightseeing” which was written by Wayne Shorter. Shorter's tune rounds out the dynamic program.
With each new ensemble McBride brings together, you dear listener, can expect an exciting event that inspires you to higher listening and brings the hope that the present group remains together. However Evans, Strickland and Waits are all consummate musicians and bandleaders in their own right with credits and performances with some of jazz’s greatest musicians. That is a sure indication that these talented men may go their own way as did Warren Wolf from McBride’s group called Inside Straight and four-time Grammy nominee, pianist Christian Sands from McBride’s last trio did. Nasheet Waits, who made his debut with Christian McBride on New Jawn, is a long-time drummer for Jason Moran’s Bandwagon and a virtuosic drummer/leader with his own group Equality.
From a composing viewpoint, the songs are highly listenable. Christian McBride wrote “Walking Funny” and “John Day”; Evans wrote “Ballad of Ernie Washington” and “Pier One Import”; Strickland wrote “The Middle Man,” and “Seek The Source”; and Waits wrote “Ke Kelli Sketch” and “Kush.” So if you want to hear some great straight-ahead jazz, virtuosic interplay and dynamic textures and colors, then this New Jawn is for you. Check it out.
John Coltrane 1963: New Directions
Here’s to John Coltrane! Together with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, drummers Elvin Hayes and Roy Haynes, Coltrane, who plays both tenor and soprano saxophones, gives love, joy, warmth and many new musical directions during these amazing live concerts and studio sessions collected for John Coltrane – 1963: New Directions. The music is derived from Coltrane’s complete recordings from 1963 in one 3-CD set released by Impulse! all culled from the original albums Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, Dear Old Stockholm, Newport ’63 and Live at Birdland.
The music heard here has no boundaries and represents Coltrane’s familiar repertoire of past masterpieces as well as his future works in such recordings as “Impressions,” “My Favorite Things,” “Nature Boy,” “Afro Blue,” “After the Rain,” “Untitled Original,” “The Promise,” and “Your Lady.” The songs were recorded during intermittent periods from March 6 to November 18 of 1963 and consecutively reveal the musical growth, spirituality and completeness of Coltrane with his Classic Quartet.
At year’s end, with Coltrane poised for greatness, the new directions continued in 1964 with two Impulse! masterpieces - the underrated Crescent, followed by A Love Supreme, recorded in December. A Love Supreme would open a year of exceptional music - two additional major works (Ascension and Meditations) and an explosion of small group recordings which together would have an impact far beyond the borders of jazz, and long after the death of Coltrane himself in July of 1967. Buy JOHN COLTRANE 1963: NEW DIRECTIONS- the box set here.
Facing Dragons is Sands' return to the recording studio with an indestructible band and an unwavering allegiance to the groove. Although this set is basically a trio format, several guest artists join Christian who plays piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3 and keys. Guests on this recording along with Christian’s core trio of bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Jerome Jennings, include such outstanding jazz artists as Caio Afiune on guitar, Keyon Harrold on trumpet, Roberto Quintero on various instruments, Cristian Rivera on percussion, and Marcus Strickland on saxophone. Christian also produced along with Mack Avenue Records’ Al Pryor.
Christian Sands sequenced nine great songs including such classics as the McCartney/Lennon favorite “Yesterday” and several Afro-Cuban hits such as “Sangueo Soul,” and “Samba da Vela” which feature guitarist Caio Afiune. As an instrumentalist and songwriter, his songs are destined to be epic.
Earlier this year Christian Sands was name creative ambassador to The Erroll Garner Jazz Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to the legacy of the late, great pianist Erroll Garner. Christian inherited the position from the late pianist Geri Allen, who was one of Christian’s mentors.
Not yet 30, Christian Sands is currently one of the most in-demand pianists working in jazz. He has toured the world with such Grammy Award-winners as Christian McBride and Gregory Porter. As the follow up to his debut Reach and his subsequent release Reach Further - EP, FacingDragons is big release for Christian Sands. This resurgence of Sands’ music as a leader is definitely the set that will make him a household name. Check it out at http://www.christiansandsjazz.com
Photo by Anna Webber
Raising Our Voice
While the Los Angeles-based Yellowjackets have been a creative force on the jazz scene since 1981 when they recorded their eponymous debut, their fourth Mack Avenue Records album, Raising Our Voice, once again ups the ante with bold new strides by inviting vocalist extraordinaire Luciana Souza to collaborate with the group for seven of its thirteen tunes as well as subtly taking a resistant stand against the status quo of the cultural and political undercurrent of our times.
The Yellowjackets have consistently forged ahead in their evolving artistic statements. The band has recorded close to 30 albums, been nominated for 17 GRAMMY® Awards, and has adventurously amplified the eclectic, electro-acoustic soundscape, creating a unique jazz sound since its fusion beginnings.
“The band keeps moving forward,” says saxophonist Bob Mintzer who joined the group in 1990. “It’s one of the few partnership bands in the last four decades. It’s democratic, laissez-faire and accommodating to everyone in the band to contribute. We’re constantly reinventing ourselves as a reflection of what’s happening in the world.”
The Jackets are comprised of pianist/keyboardist/co-founder Russell Ferrante, bassist Dane Alderson in his second recording with the group and drummer Will Kennedy, who joined the band in 1987 and then in 2000 took a 10-year hiatus before returning to the drum chair. As a relative outsider, Souza contributes wordless vocals as well as songs sung in Portuguese and English. She was quickly won over by the band.
Raising Our Voice is about artistry being an act of resistance. "Dane's Brotherly" is a snapshot of where The Yellowjackets are today and how broad stylistically they are. No barriers, just freedom. This set includes 13 songs including three previously released tunes by The Yellowjackets now arranged with fresh sounds ala Luciana Souza's vocalese. The album was produced by The Yellowjackets and mostly written or co-written by the members of the group with a pair co-written with guest artist Luciana Souza.
For more information about The Yellowjackets and their latest offering, please visit their website at www.yellowjackets.com.
Denny Seiwell Trio
Master Drummer Denny Seiwell, is best known as a founding member/drummer of Paul McCartney's post Beatles group Wings. Originally a jazz artist, Seiwell was recruited by Paul McCartney to join Wings. Seiwell’s drumming can be heard on the original recording of "Live And Let Die," which is also the theme song for the 1973 epic James Bond film. His credits include "RAM," "Wildlife" and "Red Rose Speedway" albums, which also featured the hit "My Love." Boomerang is the Denny Seiwell Trio’s new CD set for release in September on Quarto Valley Records.
The Denny Seiwell Trio features ace players Joe Bagg (called a "masterful organist" by LA Times) and John Chiodini (guitarist/composer best known from Natalie Cole's "Unforgettable Tour.”) Boomerang features 12 tracks of straight ahead jazz, ballads, and Brazilian infused classics, in addition to a preeminent jazz spin on “Live and Let Die” that only the most skilled of players can pull off.
Denny Seiwell has many commendable credits as a jazz artist including collaborations with JJ Johnson, Kai Winding and recordings with Astrud Gilberto, Stanley Turrentine, Eumir Deodato, Gary McFarland. His playing can also be heard on such film scores as “Waterworld,” “The Postman,” “Atlantis”, “Dinosaurs,” “Trading Places” and “Bobby,” among others.
For more information about the Denny Seiwell Trio, please visit the Quarto Valley Records website.
Thicker Than Water
Bass virtuoso Brian Bromberg offers his latest Artistry Music recording titled Thicker Than Water and it’s a keeper. The 13 tracks reveal outstanding performances by Brian on 11 different bass instruments alongside such revered musicians as trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonists Marion Meadows, Najee, Everette Harp, Brandon Fields and Gary Meek. The recording also features one of the last performances from the late George Duke.
The opening track features powerful energy from saxophonist Everette Harp. Titled “Is That the Best You Can Do?”, Brian Bromberg and company all display their technical mastery and amazing interplay. that is focused like a fine-point laser. “Minneapolis 1987” is a funky jam that lets its heart beat next to yours in awe of such great Minneapolis musicians as Prince, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and others. Rock with it.
Hotter than a fantasy, the title track comes from the bond that Bromberg shares with the album’s resident beat maker, his nephew Zach Bromberg. The grooves are on fire and inspired Brian to write songs around those grooves that work in the instrumental world of contemporary jazz. Breezy handclaps and a percussive pulse provided by Lenny Castro keep the mid-tempo tune in the pocket. Zach also contributes a vibe for “Changes,” a soothing stroll carried by Bromberg’s steel string piccolo bass. He plays no less than five completely different basses on the track.
Overall, Thicker Than Water is extraordinary and has Brian Bromberg on fire! His songwriting, arrangements, performances on 11 different basses, production values and guest artists make this recording a true masterpiece. Two hands, one heart is a fitting description of how these songs are played by Bromberg and why it deserves to be in your collection. Buy it today.
Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album
John Coltrane Quartet
Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album was released on June 29 on Impulse! Records, Coltrane's final and most creative label home. It features original, never-before-heard compositions, recorded by Coltrane's Classic Quartet – McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones - in 1963 at Van Gelder Studios. These tapes remained untouched for the next 54 years until Impulse! approached the family about finally releasing this lost album.
The standard CD and LP editions have 7 takes, chosen by Ravi Coltrane while the remaining takes exist on the second disc of the deluxe CD set. There will deluxe LP as well available on Impulse! The deluxe edition will exist on all digital streaming platforms as well.
Two completely unknown and never-before-heard originals - "Untitled Original 11383" and "Untitled Original 11386," – are both played on soprano sax. "11383" features an arco bass solo by Jimmy Garrison, while "11386" reveals the quartet’s technique of returning to the theme between solos, which is untypical in the quartet's repertoire. "One Up, One Down" is heard here as a studio recording for the first and only time and "Impressions," one of Coltrane's most famous and oft-recorded compositions, is played here in a piano-less trio. This studio session also debuts Coltrane's first recording of "Nature Boy," in a tight, solo-less version that is over three minutes long. "Vilia," from Franz Lehár's operetta "The Merry Widow" rounds out the session and was previously released.
Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album reveals a number of creative balances at work such as developing original melodies while rethinking familiar standards, experimenting with tunes first on tenor saxophone, then on soprano and using older techniques like the arpeggio runs of his "sheets of sound" while experimenting with false fingerings and other newer sounds.
Summer Horns II From A to Z
Dave Koz and Friends
What better way to stroll down memory lane than to do it with Dave Koz and his Friends. The Grammy-nominated saxophonist returns with Summer Horns II from A to Z, in a stunning set of 11 timeless classics the ensemble has reimagined. Alongside Dave Koz, this creative sequel also features Gerald Albright on alto saxophone and tenor saxophonist Richard Elliott both of whom played on the 2013 No. 1 Billboard Contemporary Jazz release titled Summer Horns. New collaborations featuring Rick Braun on trumpet, Aubrey Logan on trombone and vocals with guest vocalists Jonathan Butler, Kenny Lattimore and Shelea are arranged by such noted musicians as Tom Scott, Greg Adams and Gordon Goodwin.
Rick Braun and Dave Koz co-produced the album.Dave Koz plays the soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxes with impeccable ease and makes sure that these 11 songs will bring back a lot of great memories for you. Hits made famous by Earth Wind & Fire (“Get Away”), and KC and the Sunshine Band (“That’s The Way I Like It”) will bring immediate smiles. Natalie Cole’s monster hit “This Will Be”(An Everlasting Love) is now arranged for vocalists Kenny Lattimore and Shelea Frazier, while “Late In the Evening” features the rarely heard vocal skills of guitarist Jonathan Butler. Gloria Estefan and Aubrey Logan re-vitalize “Conga” with a dynamic horn section revved up by Rick Braun trumpeting and Dave Koz’s sexy saxophonics. Tom Scott’s horn arrangement of Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” gets a stirring, reflective treatment lead with a tenor sax solo by Richard Elliott . This is one song you’re sure to love and it is one of the most memorable songs on the album. Richard is simply beautiful here with his sensitive but passionate saxophone rendition of the melody Mike sang so well. With Ashling Cole echoing the questions…"What about us…?” in a call and response with the choir, Richard Elliot underlines their cries while surrounded by Chris “Big Dog” Davis’ rhythm arrangement. Together they bring this song to the point where chills run down your spine and tears stream down your face. AWESOME.
Overall, Summer Horns II from A to Z is one great recording and one that deserves your ultimate attention. Check it out and then visit Dave Koz’s website to find out where you can hear this awesome group.
Charles Pillow Large Ensemble
ELECTRIC MILES celebrates the music of the early electric period of Miles Davis with big band arrangements of classics from “Bitches Brew,” “On the Corner,”“Jack Johnson,” and “In a Silent Way.” Trumpeters Tim Hagans and Clay Jenkins are featured as the voice of “Miles” with Dave Liebman appearing on “Black Satin” and “Yesternow.” Electric Miles also features trombonist Michael Davis, and Charles Pillow on alto sax/alto flute. Pillow also conducted and arranged all of the songs. The band is powered by the rhythm section of drummer Jared Schonig and bassist Chuck Bergeron. This entire band is comprised of Charles Pillow, arranger, alto sax, soprano sax. flute, alto flute/ Colin Gordon, alto sax, soprano sax, flute / Luke Norris, tenor sax, clarinet/ CJ Ziarniak, tenor sax, / Karl Stabnau, bass clarinet, Michael Davis, trombone/ Abe Nouri, trombone/ Jack Courtright, trombone/ Gabe Ramos, bass trombone, Tony Kadleck lead trumpet/ Charlie Carr, trumpet/ Clay Jenkins, trumpet / Tim Hagans, trumpet, Julian Garvue, electric piano / Chuck Bergeron, electric bass/ Mike Forfia, acoustic bass on “Sanctuary”, “In a Silent Way”/ Jared Schonig, drums. Special Guest: David Liebman, soprano sax Available now on MAMA Records a division of Summit Records.
Christine Hitt turned to a memory of her five-year-old self flying a kite with her dad on a cold “spring” day in Two Harbors, Minn. When the kite came down, Hitt remembers little notes being attached to it that said things such as”Hi Christine, it’s really nice up here in the air.” Choosing that inspiration and with such award-winning producers and guest artists as the Grammy Award-winning producer Geoffrey Keezer producing and either arranging or co-arranging six songs, Grammy and Emmy Award nominee John Beasley on piano, Eric Hitt on bass, Bob Sheppard on alto saxophone and Jeff Hamilton or Gene Coye on drums, Christine Hitt could do no wrong when it came to choosing collaborators for her latest release titled Magical Kite.
Magical Kite is Hitt’s first solo album in 19 years. Its 9 tracks features the vocalist swinging with ease and confidence these exemplary artists. Her vocal skills and the interplay with the musicians are sure to enamor you to the songs she sings from the heart.
As you know, John Beasley is a pianist, composer and fearless explorer of worldwide musical landscapes and his uncategorizable yet distinctive chops on these songs really sets Christine’s interpretations apart from other renditions of “Wade In The Water,” “Magical Kite,” “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” that you may have enjoyed. Christine’s vocals on the Stevie Wonder’s megahit is admirable because of the way she uses elongated phrasing and the very melodic and expressive way Geoffrey Keezer has arranged this piece in order for Christine to sing this story. John Beasley also performs a very intimate solo on melodica, a rarely heard skill of his that deserves more attention.
Among the many exceptional highlight on the recording is James Taylor’s “Shower the People” which shows how well Christine Hitt sings the underlying motivation and symbolism written in this song. Cory Hitt and Erin Bode provide memorable backing vocals and along with Walter Rodriguez’s percussion motifs, this songs is raised to a new dimension.
Overall, Christine Hitt connects deeply with the music, makes music from the heart, and is easy to play with. Because of her solid articulation and ability to step inside the music, Magical Kite soars high but also reveals the depths of her creativity. Check it out. https://www.christinehittmusic.com/music
“Music’s wordless gospel proclaims in a universal language what the thirsting human soul is seeking beyond this life.” Those are the words of Bruno Walter and Jazz Latin are the words of Bill O’Connell, his trio and guest musicians on his latest Savant Records release. By joining forces with Lincoln Goines on electric bass and Robby Ameen on drums, Bill O’Connell has created a brilliant musical experience you’re sure to enjoy due to their amazing interplay as well as their individual virtuosity. Along with guest artists Randy Brecker on flugelhorn, Craig Handy on tenor saxophone, Conrad Herwig on trombone, Andrea Brachfeld on flute and Dan Carillo on guitar on selected tracks, the musicians perform O’Connell’s original compositions with ambitious traditional jazz elements infused with Latin flavors. The results are impressive and give listeners several reasons to compare these songs to other interpretations performed or recorded by Bill O’Connell’s peers.
The songwriting is excellent and because Bill O’Connell wrote seven of the eleven songs for Jazz Latin we are given an inside look at his remarkable expertise in revealing the instrumental forces for which the works are intended. “Putting on the Ritz” is just one example of the important structural and expressive points Bill makes when re-arranging this classic Irving Berlin masterpiece. The harmonic Latinized language of the piece, the textures, i.e. his accompaniment and chordal textures on piano, as well as the solos – Conrad Herwig’s trombone solo, Bill’s masterful piano solo – the contrasts and repetitions by the musicians make this song a true centerpiece on this amazing recording.
Overall, the entire recording is enjoyable and deserves a cherished place in your jazz collection. Check it out.
Honored by The National Endowment for the Arts as a 2010 Jazz Master, Kenny Barron has an unmatched ability to mesmerize audiences with his elegant playing, sensitive melodies and infectious rhythms. The Los Angeles Times named him “one of the top jazz pianists in the world” and Jazz Weekly calls him “The most lyrical piano player of our time." Whether he is playing solo, trio or quintet, Kenny Barron is recognized the world over as a master of performance and composition.
In 2018, the esteemed pianist, composer, bandleader and educatorwill celebrate his 75thbirthday and mark the 50thyear of a remarkable recording career that shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, the year will be punctuated with yet another milestone: the release of his Blue Note debutConcentric Circles, a sublime 11-song set that finds the 11-time Grammy nominee returning to a dynamic quintet setting.
Concentric Circles features his new edition of the Kenny Barron Quintet --Kiyoshi Kitagawa, bass, Johnathan Blake, drums, Mike Rodriquez, trumpet and flugelhorn, and Dayna Stephens, soprano and tenor saxophone -- on ten of the eleven compositions. The group did not perform on "Reflections," the Thelonius Monk composition which features Barron's mastery as a soloist.
Barron co-produced with Karen Kennedy and also wrote 8 of the 11 songs featured on the recording, including the title track with its alluring waltz theme, "DPW," (an up-tempo hard-bop delight that pays homage to Barron’s Brooklyn neighborhood, Ditmas Park West), the blues laden "Blue Waters," and the ballad "A Short Journey," among others. Each song exemplifies Barron's finesse as a songwriter who can write exceptional sections for his band members to shine during their solos and improvisations. These songs also capture the maturity of Barron's musical career which began over 50 years ago.
Kenny Barron is currently touring in support of Concentric Circles so don't miss him when he comes your way. Keep in touch at www.kennybarron.com.
Silver Lining is Michael Lington’s 10th solo recording and it’s a keeper. The sheer magnitude of guest artists make this one of Michael’s most generous collaborations and he is sure to reap the rewards this exceptional recording will return. Silver Lining features the contemporary alto saxophonist’s trademark sound on 11 great tracks alongside such stellar guest stars as producer Barry Eastmond on Wurlitzer, Rhodes, acoustic piano/synths, Paul Jackson, Jr. on guitar, Ray Parker, Jr. on guitar and so many more awesome musicians. Silver Lining was recorded live at several studios, including Sunset Sound in Los Angeles and Royal Studios in Memphis.
“City Life” featuring Dave Stewart leads off and is the #2 most added single on Contemporary/Smooth Jazz Radio. Once you hear this song with its upbeat, funky and soulful sonics, you’ll understand why Lington’s sound is so revered. Regarding the title track, Lington says, “I feel in life you have to always find the silver lining. Most times things don’t turn out the way you think they will, but somehow they always work out, many times for the better. This song I love because it reminds me of the early days of Creed Taylor’s jazz label, CTI Records. That music is my core and makes an emotional connection with me and most lovers of early soul-jazz. The title “Silver Lining” just fits this song.”
Among the many memorable highlights of this recording is Barry Eastmond’s command of the production values. Eastmond’s Class A guidance keeps Silver Lining enjoyable and invites you keep listening from beginning to end. Two other major highlights include the guest performances by William Bell on “People Get Ready,” and by Dorian Holley on “So Very Hard To Go.” Adding their soulful vocals to these songs really provides a delightful contrast to the all-instrumental program.
However, the most valuable player on Silver Lining is Michael Lington because of his outstanding performances and his indelible songwriting skills that shine on the 9 songs co-written with Barry Eastmond. Silver Lining is truly splendid and deserves your undivided attention.
Jessy J Live at Yoshi’s 10 Year Anniversary Special
On Live At Yoshi’s 10 Year Anniversary Special, saxophonist Jessy J and her bandmate bring new life to her #1 Billboard hits “Tequila Moon” and “Tropical Rain,” her #1 Billboard Jazz Album Hot Sauce, her Top 10 hit “Tango Boy” and audience favorites like “Mas Que Nada” and “Sin Ti/Without You.” The saxophonist also debuts her twist on the timeless Antonio Carlos Jobim Brazilian classic “Agua De Beber” and original songs with an old school 60’s styled jazz flair.
Recorded January 18, 2018 at the iconic venue in Oakland, CA, Jessy J and her amazing band, which includes Jay Rowe on keyboards, percussionist Richie Gajate Garcia, drummer Iajhi Hampton, bassist Frank Abraham and guitarist Michael Angel, incorporated soul, funk and jazz into the 12 great tracks, one of which is a bonus produced by Jessy J and Paul Brown. This exciting CD gives you a front row seat at her concert that featured her dynamic tenor saxophone chops as well as the stellar arrangements she delivered with such renown musicians as Paul Brown, Gregg Karukas and the late Joe Sample.
This is a funky joint production that stays with you long after the recording ends so here’s to Jessy J Live at Yoshi’s 10 Year Anniversary Special. Let’s make it one to remember.
SONGS FROM THE SWINGHOUSE
LAO TIZER BAND
The long-anticipated release of Songs From the Swinghouse has arrived and the wait was more than worth it. The CD/DVD boasts a coterie of long-associated members of various configurations of Lao Tizer's bands but adds vocalist Tita Hutchinson for the first time. The disc and video show the world-class musicians at the top of their game as well as spotlighting the compositional integrity and musicality of bandleader Lao Tizer. As a multi-instrumentalist on original compositions as well as three covers. Tizer reveals his true talents in a veratile program of jazz/rock fusion and post bop with such collaborators as Karen Briggs on violin, Eric Marienthal on saxophones, Ric Fierabracci, percussionist Munyungo Jackson, Cheikh NDoye, Chieli Minucci, drummer Gene Coye, vocalist TIta Hutchison, saxophonist Steve Nieves and Jeffery Marshall.
The band is currently on tour so check them out when they visit a city near you. Keep in touch with Lao Tizer's happenings at http://www/laotizer.com.
The Manhattan Transfer
The Manhattan Transfer is set to release their first new studio album in 10 years titled THE JUNCTION on March 30 via BMG and it’s as splendid as ever! Their harmony, the spot-on interpretations of both classic jazz compositions and the five new songs co-written by the ensemble as well as the instrumentation that now accompanies their vocals is without comparison.
As one of the premiere groups to spotlight a capella performances, TheJunction affords their fans to hear them in full swing with instrumental accompaniment by such highly regarded musicians as guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr., saxophonists Grace Kelly and Brandon Fields, among others. The production values and arrangements by Mervyn Warren as well as music director Yaron Gershovsky’s brilliant guidance and musicality add to the mastery listeners are afforded on this new offering.
THE JUNCTION draws inspiration from The Transfer’s classic 1975 version of Glenn Miller’s “Tuxedo Junction” and features the group’s newest member, bass vocalist Trist Curless. Curless (formerly of m-pact), joins alto Janis Siegel, tenor Alan Paul and soprano Cheryl Bentyne. The Junction was produced by five-time Grammy winner -- vocalist, film composer, arranger and producer Mervyn Warren.
Opening with “Cantaloop (Flip Out!)” a rendition of the British jazz-rap group Us3’s 1993 hit, “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia),” which is based on a sample of Herbie Hancock’s jazz standard “Cantaloupe Island,” the group offers their listeners inimitable harmony, scatting and overall excellence. By adding instrumentation from guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr., and a killer piano solo by Yaron Gershovsky, the Manhattan Transfer are heard in a new musical dimension that has been added to their a capella vocalese. This song will simply amaze you.
Throughout the entire recording Mervyn Warren’s vocal, strings and horn arrangements as well as his drum programming reveal his masterful techniques and lend his expert artistry as a performer who “gets it.” However, it is the vocal expertise of the Manhattan Transfer members who lift and keep the excitement and listening pleasures far above any expectations and the mega-standards for a capella groups they set on their previous recordings.
Major vocal highlights worth additional praise occur on “Swing Balboa (Down on Riverside)” and the title track “The Junction” as well as “Tequila/The Way of The Booze” and “The Paradise Within (aka Paradise Found).” Check it out and then buy it here at the SOTJ store.
Keep in touch with the Manhattan Transfer's concert tour information at http://www.manhattantransfer.net.
Chick Corea & Steve Gadd
Chinese Butterfly, Corea & Gadd’s debut two-disc studio album, featuring five epic new Corea compositions, is scheduled for release January 19, 2018 via Concord Jazz. The album’s title hints at the rare and transfixing beauty of its music. Chick and Steve use their shared history of fearless innovation as a launching pad, pushing into new territory with an inspired band of collaborators: Benin-born guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke, saxophonist and flutist Steve Wilson, Cuban bassist Carlitos Del Puerto, and Venezuelan percussionist Luisito Quintero.
The album is the realization of a long-held desire that Chick and Steve shared, to work together more intensively. "Whenever Chick and I bump into each other, we’re always talking about playing music together,” Gadd says. "After many years of saying that, we finally put some time aside.”
I’ve always enjoyed composing music for a band, and hearing what Steve would do with my compositions,” Corea says. "When we started playing those two tunes together, it felt so good that we started to talk about putting a band together.”
While Corea is credited as the composer on the majority of the set’s eight tunes (with John McLaughlin’s tribute "Chick’s Chums” and "Wake-Up Call,” co-written with Loueke, the only exceptions), he insists that the end result is a group effort, indelibly marked with Gadd’s distinctive rhythmic sensibility. "It’s a co-creation,” he explains. "I write the compositions, and Steve puts together the form of the rhythm, which is the backbone of the band. In my music, rhythm is everything – if the music doesn't have the right emotion and rhythm, it can’t live.”
Keep up with Chick Corea's happenings at http://www.chickcorea.com.
Kurt Elling has a special intimacy with lyrics, music and performance techniques. He is an expert in a particular genre of music and expresses this expertise in a rich baritone that spans four octaves and features both astonishing technical mastery and emotional depth. For The Questions, his latest release for Okeh/Sony Masterworks, Elling covers classics made famous by such masterful songwriters as Bob Dylan, Leonard Bernstein, Carla Bley and Oscar Hammerstein as well as offering two originals. This excellent recording includes modern interpretations of “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” “Lonely Town,” “I Have Dreamed,” and “Skylark” -- all of which are springboards for Elling’s inspired readings of ballads, inimitable improvisation, scatting, spoken word, and poetry. The songs feature Elling’s soaring vocal flights, his edgy lyrics and his creative spirit as a jazz vocalist. As a renowned artist of vocalese, he is also revered for his versatile delivery of prominent melodic phrases and harmonic language when he sings. He conveys the moods – especially during “Endless Lawns” – and expresses the meaning of individual words and phrases while the instrumentalists show an awareness of their special characteristics. During “I Have Dreamed,” Elling changes the tempo and dynamics of this beautiful Hammerstein piece but retains the extramusical factors during a memorable woodwind solo.
Overall, The Questions features Kurt Elling at his very best and assures his listeners of another perfect gift from his outstanding repertoire.
Bill Frisell's Music IS, released on OKeh/Sony Music Masterworks, is his first solo album since the making of Ghost Town, which was released on Nonesuch over twenty years ago. In preparation for this recording Frisell played for a week at The Stone in New York and later recorded it in August, 2017 at Tucker Martine’s Flora Recording and Playback studio in Portland, Oregon.
Bill wrote all of the songs for Music IS which was produced by longtime collaborator Lee Townsend. Several of the compositions are newly written for the recording including “Change in the Air,” “Thankful,” “What Do You Want?” “Miss You” and “Go Happy Lucky,” while “Ron Carter,” “Pretty Stars,” “Monica Jane,” and “The Pioneers” are solo adaptations of compositions he had previously recorded. “In Line,” and “Rambler” are from Frisell’s first two ECM albums.
Fans of Bill Frisell’s artful storytelling via his guitar’s strings will certainly appreciate the versatility of the songs. Some of the interpretations are folksy, truly acoustic and narrative while others are more orchestrated through electronics, overdubbed layering and looping.
Overall, the 16 compositions on Music IS are a marvelous revelation of Frisell's virtuosity in a solo setting. Check it out.
Into The Light
Acclaimed jazz vocalist and educator Sunny Wilkinson offers exceptional interpretations of music from various genres as well as several original compositions composed with her pianist/composer husband Ron Newman on her latest release Sunchance Music titled Into The Light.
Sunny’s multi-octave vocals are delivered with passion and perfection as she reflects on personal experiences that have become her songs. The set list of intimate ballads and up-tempo gems are offered with and an emotional and thoughtful approach that her listeners are sure to enjoy.
Joining her on bass is Ed Fedewa and Larry Ochiltree on drums. Her program consists of 13 compositions that celebrate family, friends, life and relationships that she chose fir their special meanings including James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” two of Chick Corea’s classics (“Highwire” and “Crystal Silence” both with new arrangements and lyrics), and Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi.” The title track, “Waltz for KB,” “Gentle Time,” and “You and I” are original tunes about Sunny and Ron’s time together, their sons and the challenges life presented. The message here is to be strong and persevere “Into the light.”
Into The Light is Sunny Wilkinson’s fifth release as a leader and certainly meets the standards she set for jazz vocalists on her previous recordings. For more information please visit her website atwww.sunnywilkinson.com. Listen to the title track on Soundcloud here at http://bit.ly/2zRGTie.
For her 20th album--Hilton has recorded an album a year since 1997--she wanted to provide uplift and relief, where listeners can be energized and feel rejuvenated. This became the theme for her latest release, the aptly titled Escapism.
Lisa Hilton’s blues inflected trans-genre or poly-genre style influences extend beyond jazz legends Thelonious Monk, Count Basie, Horace Silver and Duke Ellington, to include bluesman Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson, minimalists like Steve Reich, current rockers Black Keys or modernists Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Bartok. Originally from a small town on California’s central coast, Hilton studied classical and twentieth century piano formally from the age of eight, where she was inspired by her great uncle, Willem Bloemendall, (1910-1937), a young Dutch piano virtuoso. In college though, due to the lack of creativity in the program, she became a music school drop out, switching majors and receiving a degree in art instead. Ever since becoming a professional musician, this background in the fine arts has well informed Hilton’s composition process.
Committed to helping students who are often overlooked, for many years Hilton has regularly spent time to help blind students at the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who are Blind or Visually Impaired, The Junior Blind of America in Los Angeles, Camp Bloomfield for the Blind in California, or The Berklee College in Boston and their adaptive music lab for visually impaired musicians.“ I enjoy extending help to those with physical disabilities – music should be for everyone,” Hilton explains.
Visit Lisa's website at https://lisahiltonmusic.com/ to learn more about her virtuosity and upcoming performances.
IN MY MIND: MONK AT TOWN HALL, 1959
MacArthur Genius and Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran and The Big Bandwagon presented a highly successful program honoring jazz pianist/composer Thelonious Monk at The Theatre at the Ace Hotel recently. CAP UCLA presented the award-winning pianist and his octet to a capacity audience who showed their appreciation with a robust standing ovation which spilled out into the ornate lobby as the ensemble completed their encore. Instead of disappearing backstage, the ensemble graciously greeted audience members who were more than happy to congratulate the band members.
Titled IN MY MIND: Monk at Town Hall 1959, the program featured music from the set list performed during Monk’s big band debut performance at the famed New York venue. Moran, who took his tribute on tour back in 2010 as a documentary titled In My Mind, collaborated with videographer David Dempewolf to produce a stunning multimedia concert program that revealed the layered personalities of the music and the artists during Monk’s centennial.
Helmed by Jason Moran on piano, The Big Bandwagon consists of Moran’s regular trio members: Nasheet Waits on drums and Taurus Mateen on bass in addition to Walter Smith III on tenor sax, Wallace Roney, Jr. on trumpet, Immanuel Wilkins on alto sax, Frank Lacy on trombone, and Bob Stewart on tuba.
Monk was the reason Moran wanted to play piano and no one of Moran’s generation does it better. His interpretations were astoundingly creative, personal and highly relevant for his 21st century audience. Whether playing the entire range of the piano’s keyboard or revisiting “Thelonious” which was performed with the recorded cadence of a Rwandan drum corps, or bringing forth the love story in “Crepuscule With Nellie,” the virtuosity or Mr. Moran was simply put – awesome. There is no doubt that Jason Moran and the members of The Big Bandwagon are dedicated to exploring their creative roles along the many paths of jazz music.
For more information about IN MY MIND: Monk at Town Hall 1959, please visit www.jasonmoran.com.
Wobbly Dance Flower
John Daversa featuring BobMintzer
Grammy nominated trumpeter/EVI virtuoso John Daversa offers an excellent, fun-filled recording of straight-ahead jazz compositions penned for Wobbly Dance Flower, his most recent release on BFM Jazz. The set features John playing trumpet and EVI, Bob Mintzer on saxophone, bass clarinet and EWI, Zane Carney on guitar, Joe Bagg on piano, Hammond B3 organ, Jerry Watts, Jr. on basses, and Gene Coye on drums. The 9 tracks are strongly indicative of Daversa’s exemplary songwriting skills and his ability to write pieces during which all of his bandmates shine.
Many of the songs were inspired by Davera’s busy travel schedule including “Miss Turkey,” “Be Free,” and “Meet Me at the Airport,” all of which suggest jaunty excitement, high-flying suspense and the itinerant jazz lifestyle. Among the more soulful tunes are “Brooklyn Still,” and the swinging “Jazz Heads” on which John plays a mean trumpet that answers Mintzer’s moody bass clarinet.
Overall, the entire recording is artful and diversified – pun intended! Wobbly Dance Flower, as John Daversa’s fifth recording as a leader, fulfills the standards set by his previous recordings in all formats. This one is fun, engaging and really keeps your attention from the first note to the last. Buy it here. Simply click on the CD cover.
“Soulful Times” opens the recording in earthy, swinging rhythms that keep the ensemble’s mean street beats highlighted by great horn charts and Kyle’s awesome pocket groves with drummer Chris Higginbottom. “Rush Hour” gives you the impression of your mindset while traversing a big city traffic flow jam at the height of the morning or evening commute. It is an up tempo, horn heavy composition that features tenor sax phenom Brandon Allen and longtime pianist Andrew McCormack on fire and successfully conveying the tempo of rush hour. “Movin’” is a straight ahead bop piece that features Quentin Collins’ exceptional flugelhorn chops in such a way that you are intuitively synced to his interplay with the group. All the while Kyle Eastwood is holding down the rhythm logic with a great acoustic bass solo that keeps everything extraordinary and stylistic. Brandon Allen also adds a really cool solo on this masterful jazz composition.
Among the many great highlights is the ballad lead by Italian saxophonist Stefano Di Battista. His beautiful reading of “Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso” is superb and completely fresh. “Night Flight” is a powerfully swinging piece which segues to Thelonious Monk’s “We See” which is one of the three classic tracks Kyle added to the recording. Most of the songs are original compositions including “Rockin’ Ronnie’s” which pays tribute to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London. This jazz funk burner will keep you up, tuned in and feeling just right.
Rounding out the recording are two other classics – Count Basie’s “Blues in Hoss’ Flat,” and Charlie Mingus’ “Boogie Stop Shuffle” during which Kyle shows off his right to reign among today’s hottest bass players. “Jarreau” which was written by Andrew McCormack pays tribute to the late singer/songwriter Al Jarreau. It’s just right and one Al would have loved. Overall, In Transit finds Kyle Eastwood and company in their element while still exploring new territories and classics. Check it out. It’s hot.
Keep in touch with Kyle Eastwood during his mini U.S.A. tour set for September 3-16, 2017. Click here to visit his website.
Saxophonist Gary Meek has released his first project as a leader in 15 years and the wait was definitely worthwhile. Originals showcases his ability as an inspired songwriter, dominant front man and tenor saxophonist while providing his bandmates with essential elements that allow them to shine. Meek is joined by a core group ofTerri Lyne Carrington on drums, Brian Bromberg on basses, and Mitchel Forman on piano. Guest artists include Randy Brecker on trumpet and flugelhorn, Bruce Forman on guitar, Michael Lent on playing guitar on “Suite For Maureen.” The world-class percussionist Airto Moreira plays percussion on “Suite For Maureen.”
Gary wrote all of the songs and expresses his gratitude to several of his influences with honors going to his wife Maureen on “Suite For Maureen,” the wife of his spiritual mentor on “Spiritual For Iris,” and for Don Grolnick with “Mr. DG – For the Great Don Grolnick.” Each of these songs nails just the right energy while evoking specific and original moods that inspired Meek to compose them.
Among the more memorable highlights is the high energy performances of the band throughout the program. Meek captures the burning John Coltrane vibe on “What Happened To My Good Shoes,” the quirky style of Thelonious Monk on “When You’re A Monk,” and the somber, lamentable, tranquil feelings on “Lost Dreams,” and “Spiritual For Iris.” All of the songs are captivating and some feature a simple melody over a cool groove that stays with you long after the song is over.
Originals is one of Gary Meek’s most personal offerings and deserves to be in your jazz collection. Check it out and then buy it from the SOTJ store. Click on the CD cover to purchase Originals.
Blood Moon is clarinetist Dave Bennett’s second release on Mack Avenue records and it is quite captivating. The five original compositions co-written with and arranged by Shelly Berger are a dark, reflective collection of songs that deal with loss, heartbreak and ultimately a return to faith and hope. While those emotional states may be what we aim to avoid, many people experience these moods and ultimately find comfort with the help of a creative process and return to normalcy. The music here reveals that journey by Dave Bennett. The songs, while dark and reflective, are also melodic and show influences of Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and Genesis through the performances of Dave Restivo on piano, drummer Pete Siers, Reg Schwager on guitar, Jim Vivian on bass, and Davide DiRenzo on percussion.
Among the great highlights are the opening track “Blood Moon” which includes a shadowy melody and nocturnal feeling. “A Long Goodbye” is melancholy while “Falling Sky” is a Scripture-based titled with a mysterious influence of Genesis. A change of pace is realized with “13 Fingers” a barnburner that advances Bennett’s clarinet virtuosity and songwriting skills. Covers by Leonard Cohen (“Hallelujah”), Jimmy Webb (“Wichita Lineman”), and John Lennon (“In My Life”) provide some unexpected moments of clarinet beauty on these classics. "Down In Honky Tonk Town" is upbeat and also quite lively.
Take a moment and listen to Blood Moon and the skillful performances it showcases. Buy it here from the SOTJ store.Simply click on the CD cover.
To contemporary jazz guitar aficionados, Mike Stern is regarded as one of the true guitar greats of his generation. A player of remarkable facility whose searing lines are informed mainly by bebop and the blues while also carrying a rock-tinged intensity, Stern made his mark with Miles Davis in the early ‘80s before launching his solo career in 1985. Since then he has released 17 recordings as a leader, six of which were nominated for GRAMMY® Awards. His latest, Trip, is his first since recovering from a serious accident in the summer of 2016 that left him with two broken arms and nerve damage in his right hand that prevented him from even holding a pick. But Stern is back on top of his game, playing with typical authority and prodigious chops on this all-star outing, which features such longstanding colleagues as trumpeters Randy Brecker and Wallace Roney, saxophonists Bob Franceschini and Bill Evans (a bandmate of Mike’s in Miles Davis’ ‘comeback band’ of 1981), bassists Victor Wooten and Tom Kennedy and drummers Dave Weckl, Dennis Chambers and Lenny White. For more information about Mike Stern, tour dates and lifestyle, please visit his website at http://www.mikestern.org.
TURN UP THE QUIET
Photo by Mary McCartney
Diana Krall's latest album, Turn Up the Quiet, celebrates Jazz and the Great American Songbook, reuniting Diana with Grammy Award-winning producer, Tommy LiPuma. The recording was released on Verve in May at now resides at the top of the Billboard Jazz chart.
For the recording sessions, Diana assembled different musicians in trio and quartet settings. Bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton perform as a trio with Diana while bassist Christian McBride and guitarist Russell Malone perform with her in a trio setting on a great rendition of “Blue Skies.” The five-time Grammy winner completes a quartet consisting of Tony Garnier, Karriem Riggins and Stuart Duncan for “I’ll See You In My Dreams.” Cole Porter’s “Night and Day,” "Isn't It Romantic," and "L-O-V-E" are among the other great gems on the 11-track CD.
Turn Up the Quiet is Diana Krall’s 13th studio album and it is certain to rank right up there with her previous releases. Krall is the only jazz singer to have eight albums debut at the top of the Billboard Jazz Albums chart. To date, her albums have garnered five Grammy Awards, eight Juno Awards and have also earned nine gold, three platinum and seven multi-platinum albums.
For more information about Diana Krall and her current touring information, please visit her website at www.dianakrall.com.
Music From Our Soul
This amazing collection of new music and two covers by Charnett Moffett celebrates a 30-year legacy of creating great music with some of his most revered collaborators. Music From Our Soul features such musicians as Pharoah Sanders on saxophones, Stanley Jordan on guitar, Cyrus Chestnut on piano, and Jeff “Tain” Watts, Mike Clark and Victor Lewis on drums. Together the ensemble brings you an incredibly rich program of straight-ahead jazz compositions that are drenched in their boundless passion for spontaneous creativity.
Opening with the title track, this song is eclectic and cohesive as Pharoah Sanders takes the lead on Moffett’s original arrangement before Charnett takes a worthy solo on fretless electric bass. All of the group’s artful improvisations make for a fantastic experience as they elaborate and support Moffett’s visions. Next is the reggae-infused “Freedom” that features excellent pianism from Cyrus Chestnut and a memorable guitar solo from Stanley Jordan. This is the kind of song that lingers with you long after it’s over.B
By contrast, “MoodIndigo” has no reggae riffs and holds true to Ellington’s creative instincts. Cyrus’ work and technique is impressive and is a completely satisfying musical mood. Here Moffett and Victor Lewis hold down the rhythm logic in an articulate and measures respond to Cyrus Chestnut’s elegant jazz moods. The cover of Miles Davis’ “So What” is performed by the trio of Stanley Jordan on guitar, Charnett Moffett on acoustic bass Mike Clark on drums. Moffett takes the melody at the head before Jordan improvises in an up-tempo arrangement of this classic Davis tune.
Overall, all of the songs on Music From Our Soul mark a pivotal point in Charnett Moffett’s career. This collection of songs and the awesome performances of his ensemble and featured guests are among his most expressive recordings and it certainly deserves to be in your jazz collection. To buy Music From Our Soul please click on the CD cover. To learn more about Charnett Moffett, please visit his website.
Dejohnette, Grenadier, Medeski, Scofield
Hudson, the new recording by Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Mediski and John Scofield, mixes jazz with rock rhythms on ten tracks of originals and classic rock songs inspired by the Hudson Valley region of upstate New York. The songs also pay tribute to four musicians associated with the region and the legendary Woodstock Festival of 1969 including Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and The Band.
The compositions are lithe and layered and feature exceptional improvisations by each member. John Scofield’s guitar playing is especially memorable for its high density licks and rock flavors. While experiencing his performances on such tunes as the title track, Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay,” or Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” you definitely get the total feeling of the place that has become sort of a mystical retreat for musicians who come to create or simply to tune out the noise and mayhem of big city life. Medeski’s piano solo on “Woodstock” is beautiful as is Scofield’s command of the melody which now replaces Joni’s sincere vocals on her original version.
Recorded January 2017 at Scott Petito’s NRS Recording Studios in the Catskill Mountains, these ten songs really take you to a relaxing place of solace and peace that provided this innovative collective with a vehicle to expand their own musical interests and boundless creativity. Overall, the music is exhilarating, intimate and inspiring. Check it out and then buy Hudson at the SOTJ store. To learn more about the band and their Hudson Tour dates, please visit www.motema.com.
Plucky Strum – Sheryl Bailey & Harvie S
The dynamic duo reunite for this 11-track gem which features songs written by Sheryl Bailey, Harvie S, Joni Mitchell and Stephan Stills. Departure is Plucky Strum’s second release as a duet playing straight ahead jazz that is focused and reveals their quid prop quo improvisation – in other words, real interplay. “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” the hit for Crosby, Stills and Nash, showcases Harvie’s arco lines that fluidly yield to Sheryl’s exploration in an arrangement that highlights their artistic economy. Sheryl’s bebop excursion of “What She Said,” is filled with flair and vitality while “Cranshaw” allows Sheryl to express her cool and comprehensive arsenal of chops.
Overall, Departure will “thrill you to the marrow.” It’s perfect for just chilling or as your companion on a long drive in the country. So give it a listen and buy the songs from the SOTJ store…Just click on CD cover...
Jason Miles, the legendary producer, arranger and composer, has released the sequel to his Kind of New recording that featured trumpeter Ingrid Jensen. Titled Kind of New 2: Blue Is Paris, the recording features four new trumpeters interpreting the track titled "Blue is Paris" which Jason Miles wrote after visiting Paris in the aftermath of the 2015 terrorists attacks. There are 10 songs on the recording which also reveals the great musicality of Miles' core band comprised of Gene Lake on drums, Reggie Washington and Adam Dorn on bass, Jay Rodrigues on tenor sax and bass clarinet and Vinnie Summo on guitar.
Jason Miles has created an exceptional environment for these solists to create their impressions of "Blue Is Paris" and especially for trumpeters Theo Croker, Russell Gunn, Patches Stewart and Jukka Eskola - who have all been influenced by Miles Davis and how they perform in their own powerful styles.
Kind of New 2: Blue Is Paris is among Jason Miles' most innovative works. Out of tragedy has come a positive musical tribute that speaks to the reality we all revere - that of an upward movement toward peace and a new kindred spirit.
Four- time Grammy Award-winner Billy Childs has released his debut recording for Mack Avenue Records and it’s a keeper. The diverse compositions on Rebirth feature such notable artists as Claudia Acuna who co-wrote the title track with Billy Childs, vocalist Alicia Olatuja on “Stay” and who sang on Childs’ Laura Nyro project, his bandmates Steve Wilson on alto & soprano saxophones, Hans Glawischnig on acoustic bass and Eric Harland on drums. Ido Meshulam and Rogerio Boccato play trombone and percussion respectively on “Rebirth.” Billy plays piano and produced the recording as well as composed and arranged all 8 songs.
On Rebirth, Billy Childs reaches back to the nexus of his varied musical experiences. “Tightrope,” with its insistent pulse and melodic introduction features his classical influences while three songs from his Windham Hill (record label) days - “Stay,” “Backwards Bop,” and “Starry Night” are recast to reflect his artistic growth. The percussive electricity of “Backwards Bop” and “Dance of Shiva” harken back to his days with J.J. Johnson and Freddie Hubbard while the well-placed coloring in his comps to Alicia Olatuja’s vocals on “Stay” are styled from his days with Freddie.
Standout soloing by Billy Childs and Steve Wilson on the beautiful “Rebirth” is worth more than several listens. This song is absolutely beautiful with Claudia Acuna’s stellar vocalese and the band’s excellent accompaniment. Overall, this project is another winner for Billy Childs and deserves to be in your record collection. Check it out and purchase it here, just click on the CD cover.
“Even though we’re all separate streams, we all come from the same ocean,” says Gerald Clayton, the pianist/composer/arranger who has released his latest recording on Motema Music called Tributary Tales. The music evokes timeless and classic sounds performed by saxophonists Logan Richardson, Ben Wendel and Dayna Stephens, bassist Joe Sanders, drummer Justin Brown, and percussionists Henry Cole and Gabriel Lugo. Guest vocalist Sachal Vasandani and poets Carl Hancock Rux and Aja Monet also bring their visions to Clayton’s 14 exemplary compositions.
Clayton composed, arranged and produced all songs except for the lyrics written by Aja Monet and Carl Hancock Rux for “Lovers Reverie” and “Dimensions: Interwoven.” Among the more memorable highlights is the band’s virtuosic performance on the hectic, angular “Unforseen” which seems to mirror the pace of Clayton’s adopted home of New York City. The varied styles of music infused with jazz sensibilities include a funky R&B/gospel tinged mood on “Soul Stomp,” hip-hop styles on “A Light” and the spoken word poetry by Monet and Rux on the lovely ballads “Lovers Reverie” and “Dimensions: Interwoven.” For Gerald Clayton's fans, there's something for everyone.
Gerald Clayton has grown musically by leaps and bounds and Tributary Tales reveals his astounding growth as a musician, bandleader and composer. Check it out then click on the CD cover to purchase Tributary Tales.
Code Noir is in stores this month
Carmen Lundy began her professional career in Miami, Florida as a jazz vocalist and composer when there were very few young, gifted and aspiring jazz vocalists on the horizon. Over four decades later, Ms. Lundy is celebrated throughout the world for her vocal artistry and is highly regarded for her jazz innovation.
Currently on the Afrasia Productions label, Carmen has just completed work on her new album Code Noir, due this month. The album traverses musical genres and is a song cycle for these turbulent times. The recording features pianist/keyboardist Patrice Rushen, Ben Williams on acoustic and electric basses, Jeff Parker on electric guitar, Kendrick Scott on drums and percussion and Elisabeth Oei on background vocals. In addition to vocals, Lundy also plays keyboards and guitar and wrote or co-wrote and arranged all 12 songs.
Carmen released her 14th album of her career in the Fall of 2014, titled Soul To Soul. Carmen has had several Top Ten albums on JazzWeek (Jazz and the New Songbook-Live at The Madrid, Come Home, Changes and Soul To Soul) and a #3 spot on Billboard’s Jazz Chart for 23 weeks with her debut album GoodMorning Kiss. Terri Lyne Carrington’s Mosaic Project - Grammy Winner for Best Jazz Vocal Album of 2011- features the original Carmen Lundy composition “Show Me A Sign”, reinvented on the album.
In April 2016, Carmen Lundy was honored with the 2016 Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Award by Black Women In Jazz and The Arts, based in Atlanta, GA. Among her other awards and recognitions, especially rewarding was Miami-Dade's County Office of the Mayor and Board of County Commissioners proclaiming January 25th "Carmen Lundy Day”, along with handing Ms. Lundy the Keys to the City of Miami.
Carmen’s far-reaching discography also includes performances and recordings with such musicians as brother and bassist Curtis Lundy, Ray Barretto, Kenny Barron, Bruce Hornsby, Mulgrew Miller, Terri Lyne Carrington, Kip Hanrahan, Courtney Pine, Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Cobb, Ron Carter, Marian McPartland, Regina Carter, Steve Turre, Geri Allen, Robert Glasper, Patrice Rushen and the late Kenny Kirkland among others.
As a composer, Ms. Lundy’s catalogue numbers over 100 published songs, one of the few jazz vocalists in history to accomplish such a distinction, and has led to the first publication of the Carmen Lundy Songbook (2007). Her songs have been recorded by such artists as Kenny Barron ("Quiet Times"), Ernie Watts ("At The End Of My Rope"), and Straight Ahead ("Never Gonna Let You Go").
Carmen Lundy’s work as a vocalist and composer has been critically acclaimed by The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Los Angeles Times, Variety, The Washington Post, JazzTimes, Jazziz, Downbeat and Vanity Fair among many others, as well as numerous foreign publications. Christopher Loudon of JazzTimes writes “Carmen Lundy, as beautiful inside as out, has accomplished the near impossible for a jazz singer by maintaining a solid, successful, three-decade career while focusing largely on original, self-penned material.” Carmen Lundy resides in Los Angeles, CA. For more information please visit her website at www.carmenlundy.com
Matthew Shipp Trio
New York-based and award-winning composer/pianist/bandleader Matthew Shipp offers his fans an exciting masterwork of 12 compositions which comprise his final release on Thirsty Ear Records. Piano Song features Shipp at the piano, Michael Bisio on bass, and Newman Taylor Baker on drums. Peter Gordon produced this adventurous recording that demands your attentive listening to the interactive skills of Shipp's trio. Further, Piano Song is an incredible experience because of the options Shipp utilizes as a pianist. He easily leads as well as interacts with the powerful musical visions of his bandmates who seem to personalize each note to ensure a perfect fit with their leader's performances. Each player honors the others' commitment to his program without boring the listener with improvisations that seem dated. In other words, you, dearl listener, can feel however you want after listening to this amazing collection of new music by one of America's greatest master pianists. Just think, change will do you good so check it out at the SOTJ store. Just click on the CD cover to purchase Piano Song by the Matthew Shipp Trio.
Nine-time GRAMMY winner Norah Jones comes full circle with Day Breaks, her stunning sixth solo album which is a kindred spirit to the singer’s breakout debut Come Away With Me and finds Norah returning to the piano and her roots. The album features jazz luminaries including her Blue Note label mates saxophonist Wayne Shorter, organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, and drummer Brian Blade on a 12-song set that presents 9 new originals alongside covers of songs by Horace Silver, Duke Ellington and Neil Young.
Amazon.com describes Norah Jones as having "one of music's most beautiful and critically acclaimed voices." DAY BREAKS proves Norah Jones to be this era's quintessential American artist, the purveyor of an unmistakably unique sound that weaves together the threads of several bedrock styles of American music: country, folk, rock, soul, jazz. It is unquestionably the work of a mature artist who has lived and grown immensely in her craft. To buy this CD, please click on the CD cover.
Read more about Norah Jones and DAY BREAKS at www.norahjones.com.
Freedom Jazz Dance
Bootleg Series, Vol. 5
Miles Davis Quintet
This triple disc box set collection chronicles Miles Davis' musical evolution in the studio from 1966-1968 working with his "second great quintet." Freedom Jazz Dance, Bootleg Series, Vol. 1 is the latest edition in Columbia/Legacy's acclaimed Miles Davis Bootleg Series and provides an unprecedented look into the artist's creative process, drawing on full session reels including all rehearsals, partial and alternate takes, studio conversation and more.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Miles Smiles, the groundbreaking second studio album from the Miles Davis Quintet--Miles Davis (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone), Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (bass) and Tony Williams (drums)--this definitive new collection includes the master takes of performances which would eventually appear on the Miles Smiles (1967), Nefertiti (1968) and Water Babies (1976) albums alongside more than two hours worth of previously unreleased studio recordings from original sessions produced by Teo Macero (with the exception of "Fall," which was produced by Howard A. Roberts). To purchase this great box set, please click on the CD cover.
Concert of the Century- A Tribute to Charlie Parker
Dizzy Gillespie & Friends
Justin Time Essentials Collection has released the restored recording of Dizzy Gillespie’s Concert of the Century – A Tribute to Charlie Parker. The recording features James Moody, Milt Jackson, Hank Jones, Ray Brown and Philly Joe Jones, just to name a few. The recording was made in 1980 in Montreal, Canada, BC where the legendary Jazz at Massey Hall concert and the Jazz at the Philharmonic celebrations were occurring. Over 3000 fans attended!
The songs included such beautiful ballads as “Time On My Hands,” a duet by Dizzy Gillespie and Hank Jones on “Stardust,” to burning arrangements of “Get Happy,” and Dizzy’s own “Blue ‘n Boogie.” You’ll enjoy “Darben the Redd Foxx” as well as “The Shadow of Your Smile.” Bonus tracks including “If I Should Lose You” as well as an 8-minute bass solo by Ray Brown. Check it out and then buy Concert of the Century – A Tribute to Charlie Parker here. Click on the CD cover to buy this CD.
National Jazz Museum in Harlem
The Savory Collection, Vol. 1 – Body and Soul
Coleman Hawkins and Friends
Bill Savory’s collection of classic jazz recordings is available in a multi-volume set released by The National Jazz Museum in Harlem. The recording features 19 tracks of jazz music previously recorded by such jazz innovators as Coleman Hawkins, Ella Fitzgerald, Fats Waller, Lionel Hampton, Carl Kress, The Emilo Caceres Trio. These rescued songs provide insight into an era of jazz music history during which these artists were at the pinnacle of their success.
After an insightful introduction by the multiple award-winning author/filmmaker Ken Burns, listeners are given a quickescape into the music of Coleman Hawkins and his Orchestra. The orchestra opens the first volume with three of Hawkins’ most revered recordings including the 1940 version of “Body and Soul”, “Basin Street Blues” featuring Thelma Carpenter on vocals and the “Lazy Butterfly” (Theme). These songs reflect the standard recording technology available during the time period but the remastering via 21st century technology gives the listener a prime experience with no-style guards or improvisational boundaries. This particular orchestra features excellent improvisations by Hawkins on tenor saxophone who adds two additional choruses to his original 1939 version of “Body and Soul” while giving all four choruses a delightful swinging atmosphere. Thelma Carpenter’s vocals on “Basin Street Blues” show why she was chosen to front this song that is filled with interludes, great solos and the huge tone of Hawkins. She has a great command of phrasing, and this version with lyrics is quite entertaining.
The producers include Ella Fitzgerald’s major hit called “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” (accompanied by unknown personnel of the CBS Orchestra and conducted by Chick Webb) as well as the rarely heard “I’ve Been Saving Myself For You” which was written by Sammy Cahn, Saul Chaplin and Ed Fox.
Fitzgerald’s sets are followed by the tight little group called “Fats” Waller and his Rhythm where Waller sings and plays on the medley “Yacht Club Swing/Hold My Hand” and gives listeners rarely heard performances of five more songs. Waller was among the greatest combination of improvisational geniuses and show-stopping entertainers of his generation. These six songs provide an important glimpse into his amazing song catalogue which ranges from introspective pieces to the hits by this sextet.
Rounding out this excellent volume of the Savory Collection are songs by Lionel Hampton Jam Session on eight songs, Carl Kress’ playing “Heatwave,” and The Emilio Caceres Trio playing “China Boy.” With such an amazing collection on Volume 1, educators as well as jazz fans are sure to be enthusiastic about its use as a research toll as well as its representation of the music as entertainment. National Jazz Museum in Harlem The Savory Collection, Vol. 1 – Body and Soul by Coleman Hawkins and Friends can be ordered here.
Presidential Suite - Eight variations on freedom
Ted Nash Big Band
The Grammy-nominated Ted Nash Big Band along with influential people revisit and transform historical political speeches on Presidential Suite: Eight Variations on Freedom (Motema Music). The double disc recording features special guests who introduce and read the speeches. These guests include Glenn Close, Deepak Chopra, Joe Lieberman, Sam Waterston, Douglas Brinkley, David Miliband, William vanden Heuvel, Andrew Young and Wynton Marsalis.
Disc 1 of the recording documents eight memorable speeches given by John F. Kennedy (Ask Not); Jawaharlal Nehru (Spoken at Midnight); Franklin D. Roosevelt (The Four Freedoms); Ronald Reagan (Tear Down This Wall); Winston Churchill (This Deliverance); Aung San Suu Kyl (Water in Cupped Hands); Lyndon B. Johnson (The American Promise) and Nelson Mandela (The Time For the Healing of the Wounds). Disc 2 features an Overture and original music to accompany the speeches.
The Ted Nash Big Band features many of the same members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra of which Nash is a member. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis commissioned this masterful recording and it premiered on January 18, 2014 at the Rose Theatre in New York City.
This writer’s only regret is the omission of President Barack Obama’s immaculate speech on freedom titled “Yes We Can.” Although it took place in the 21st century, this particular speech by Obama is among the great political speeches that inspired Americans to elect its first Black president. Other than this glaring omission, the recording is an exceptional production of jazz variations on freedom.
Saxophonist/composer Jacám Manricks’ new release titled Chamber Jazz features elements of jazz fused with classical music and their many styles. The idea behind the recording originated from the many influences Manricks heard in the music of Miles Davis, Beethoven, Milton Nascimento, Jean Sibelius, Charlie Parker and Ornette Coleman. The challenges he faced when bringing his musical visions to fruition were deftly met by a group of highly qualified musicians. Among those assisting Manricks, (who plays alto, soprano and tenor saxophones, flute, alto flute and clarinet) is none other than the highly respected drummer Ari Hoenig. Kevin Hays plays piano and Fender Rhodes and Gianluca Renzi is on acoustic bass.
Manricks’ compositional acuity as well as his performances speak volumes about the dedication and attention given to each song. He wrote all of the songs with the exception of Miles Davis’ “Deception,” and “En Etsi Valtaa Loistoa” which was written by Jean Sibelius. His writing and playing are a conglomeration of different styles from the opening notes of “Thread” to the comptemplative conclusion presented in “Cloud Nine.” “Beethoven” is a contrafact on the great composer’s Moonlight Sonata while “Wandana” was inspired by a lesser-known 20th century classical composer named Sigfrid Karg-Elert.
Overall, each musician in this excellent quartet is at the top of their game and the rhythmic, harmonic and melodic variations as well as a beautiful contrapuntal approach they take makes this recording a must hear. Chamber Jazz is available here. Click on the CD cover to purchase Chamber Jazz.
Joey Alexander’s jaw-dropping ability and beyond-his-years artistry brought him to some of the grandest stages, from performing at the GRAMMYs and the White House, to appearing on the TODAY Show and 60 Minutes. Just over a year removed from his debut, the same maturity and dedication to his craft that made him a phenomenon is evident in his remarkable evolution on his sophomore release, COUNTDOWN. Now stepping forward as a composer, while still paying tribute to the jazz greats (Coltrane, Monk, Strayhorn), Joey is poised to continue his ascent to being one of the biggest names in jazz, recognized not as a prodigy, but as simply a great musician. Click on the CD cover to buy COUNTDOWN.
The Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart
The Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heartmarks The Cookers' debut on Smoke Sessions Records and is the follow up to their critically acclaimed release Time and Time Again which was the iTunes' Jazz Album of the Year in 2014. Once again, the core of the band consists of five legendary, long-undersung musicians whose credentials read like a who's-who of classic-era jazz: tenor saxophonist Billy Harper was a member of groups led by Lee Morgan and Max Roach and served a two-year stint with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers; trumpeter Eddie Henderson and drummer Billy Hart were both part of Herbie Hancock's electrifying Mwandishi ensemble; pianist George Cables played alongside Dexter Gordon and Art Pepper; and bassistCecil McBee anchored Charles Lloyd's famed 1960s quartet with Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette. They're joined by torchbearers Weiss and, in his second outing with the band, alto saxophonist Donald Harrison.
The Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart was recorded live in New York at Sear Sound's Studio C on a Sear-Avalon custom console at 96KHz/24bit and mixed to ½" analog tape using a Studer mastering deck. Available in audiophile HD format. Buy The Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart. Click on the CD cover.
John Beasley has shared stages with some of the most important names in jazz during his three-decade career. From his days as a member of Freddie Hubbard’s quintet and one of Miles Davis’ last touring bands to his role as Music Director for Jazz Day galas for the Thelonious Monk Institute, Beasley has had a first-hand involvement with the genre’s never-ending evolution.Thelonious Monk is a Mount Rushmore figure in the creation of modern jazz. As the centennial of Monk's birth rapidly approaches, Beasley—pianist, conductor and arranger—has grappled with the complex composer’s legacy with his versatile big band riffing on the wit and unmistakable architecture of the Monk songbook with irrepressible energy and swinging abandon on presentsMONK’estra, Volume 1, available August 19 on Mack Avenue Records. Buy the CD here. Click on CD cover.
Colors for the Masters
Recorded live February 25, 2016 at Avatar Studio A in New York, NY, trombonist/composer Steve Turre features several major jazz luminaries on Colors for the Masters which has been released by Smoke Sessions Records. Steve has created music with and grown from working with such great musicians as pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Jimmy Cobb, all of whom make their musicality well-known on this 20-track gem. In addition to writing 5 of the songs on Colors for the Masters, Steve Turre plays the trombone and conch shells with this dynamic trio and special guests Javon Jackson on tenor saxophone and Cyro Baptista on percussion.
The set opens with Steve’s original composition titled “Taylor Made” which features his unique talents on the trombone and the musical storytelling which has a deep groove that reflects the blues and gospel influences as well as offering a great amount of melodic creativity. Javon Jackson’s tenor talents underline Turre’s exceptional playing and features his mastery of the blues.
The ballad “Quietude” features Kenny Barron’s exemplary piano solo and Turre’s 3rd original track on the recording “JoCo Blues” is an obvious nod to John Coltrane’s and McCoy Tyner’s modal virtuosity. The call and response between Turre and Jackon makes this song worth several listens. But what would a trombone lead recording be without a J.J. Johnson classic hit? “Coffee Pot” says it all and you can definitely hear the artistic intensity of J.J. in this song.
Whether playing songs with dynamic plunger work as in Monk’s “Reflections” or playing an adult tempo with a cup mute on “Mellow D for R.C.” (Ron Carter), or bringing a new state of mind on the up-tempo title track “Colors for the Masters” with its pulsing Latin swing, Steve Turre tenders this premium recording for your enjoyment as a tribute to your good taste in jazz. It comes from his heart to you and is an excellent program that brings his career full circle and substantiates his standing as one of the world’s best trombone players. Check it out and buy Colors for the Masters here. Click on the CD cover.
Backing R&B vocalist Chrisette Michele for the past five years as her background singer certainly has its benefits for Ashleigh Smith. However, when it’s your time to step into the spotlight, Ashleigh Smith knew she had to heed the call and meet the challenges she faced as a leader of her own group. As the winner of the Sarah Vaughan International Vocal Competition in 2014, the singer/songwriter was handed a recording deal with Concord Records among other prizes. The results include Sunkissed, her debut which features soulful originals and favored covers of such songs as The Beatles “Blackbird,” Hall & Oates’ “Sara Smile,” and Chrisette Michele’s “Love Is You.”Ashleigh Smith is joined by her long-time collaborators electric bassist Nigel Rivers and guitarist Joel Cross, along with several other musicians, the Soul Committee Horns and a string quartet who make the recording a true synergized relationship. Her alto is pure and has a great sense of warmth and personal conviction. Among the originals written by Smith is “Best Friends” which opens the set. This song sets the tone for the entire album and gives her listeners a quick glimpse into her creative process and songwriting skills. “Into The Blue,” which she also wrote, is a melancholy, Brazilian-tinged song that is marked by sauntering rhythms and bracing melodicism.Overall, Sunkissed is a wonderful debut for a singer/songwriter who is paying her dues and making a real name for herself. Check it out and then buy it here at SOTJ.
Cuban pianists are among the hottest new import in the USA now that relations with the island country are less stressed and more palatable. The music of Cuba has always been accepted by USA audiences but with this new influx of young artists, the music has gained in popularity. Among those making their sound heard throughout America and beyond is pianist/composer Harold Lopez-Nussa. His debut for Mack Avenue Records titled El Viaje is a swaying, gentle musical journey that explores various genres and ideas while staying true to his roots.
The recording features the Harold Lopez-Nussa Trio with younger brother Ruy Adrian Lopez-Nussa on drums and percussion, Alune Wade on bass and vocals as well as guest artists Ruy Francisco Lopez-Nussa on drums, Mayquel Gonzalez on trumpet and flugelhorn and Dreiser Durruthy and Adel Gonzalez on percussion. Their music is muscular, elegant, familiar and fresh. Check it out. Buy it here at SOTJ. Click on CD cover.
New York based jazz vocalist Rebecca Angel’s latest sing is title “Jet Samba” and was produced by and features the keyboards of Grammy winner Jason Miles. Just in time for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janierio, this track is rhythmic, playful and is the first time that legendary Brazilian composer Marco Valle’s instrumental has been recorded with lyrics. Ronald Bastos wrote the lyrics and Rebecca adds her refreshing vocals to the romantic, hopeful story.
Among the artists on the recording are Dennis Angel on flugelhorn, Gottfried Stoger on flute who plays a lyrical solo midway through the song as does Dennis Angel. Cjrostoam Ver Halen plays guitar, Adam Dorn plays bass, Cyro Baptista’s renowned percussion adds just the right spice as Brian Dunne completes the artist roundup with spot on drumming.
The energy and complicated rhythms and harmonic structure give it a jazz-samba-pop sound that is very sophisticated and charming. Buy it here. Click on the CD cover.
Vibraphonist Warren Wolf
Since graduating from Berklee, Warren Wolf has taken the jazz world by storm, first as a sideman in labelmate Christian McBride's quintet called Inside Straight and subsequently with the release of his self-titled Mack Avenue debut in 2011 and Wolfgang in 2013. Now with Convergence, the vibraphonist/composer/multi-instrumentalist takes things up another notch on his excellent all-star recording. Convergence features Christian McBride on bass, John Scofield on guitar, Brad Mehldau on piano and Jeff "Tain" Watts on drums. This recording is an A-level masterwork that deserves your undivided attention.
After graduating from Berklee in May of 2001, Warren became an active musician on the Boston local scene. Warren was hired in September of 2003 to become an instructor in the percussion department at Berklee College of Music. Warren taught private lessons on the Vibraphone and Drums, as well as teach a beginners keyboard class for entering freshman drumset majors. After two years of teaching at Berklee College of Music, Warren headed back to Baltimore to start his main goal of becoming a full time performing musician. Since leaving Berklee as a teacher, Warren has landed the piano duties performing in the Rachael Price Group. Recording and touring with Rachael, Warren has had the opportunity to tour throughout the entire Unites States of America. Warren is currently the drummer of choice for Alto Saxophonist Tia Fuller, who tours with internationally renowned pop star Beyonce Knowles. Warren is also a member of the Donal Fox Group which includes bassist John Lockwood and drummers Dafnis Preito and Terri Lyne Carrington. Also, Warren tour and perform with Bobby Watson's "Live and Learn" Sextet, Karriem Riggins "Virtuoso Experience" and Christian McBride & "Inside Straight". With these three groups Warren has traveled the world. Warren has performed throughout the United States of America, South America, Canada, Italy, Spain, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Scotland, London, Greece, Singapore, Thailand, Jarkata, Bangkok, Tokyo, Paris, Moscow and many other countries.
Musicians that Warren has played with or recorded with are Wynton Marsalis and The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Jeremy Pelt and "Creation", Nicholas Payton, Tim Warfield, Adonis Rose, Donal Fox, Anthony Wonsey, Aaron Goldberg, Cyrus Chestnut, Lewis Nash, Willie Jones, Eric Reed, Mulgrew Miller, Terri Lyne Carrington, Yoron Israel, Larry Willis, David "Fathead" Newman, Stefon Harris, Reuben Rogers, Kevin Eubanks, Curtis Lundy, Steve Davis, Duane Eubanks, Ron Carter, Wycliffe Gordon, Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spaulding and many others.
For more information about Warren Wolf, please visit his website.
COMPLETE HIGH VOLTAGE
Omnivore Recordings in conjunction with the Maynard Ferguson family, has released all of the recordings that made up High Voltage and High Voltage 2 in a great compilation recording titled Complete High Voltage. The 2-disc package hit retail and online stores July 15, 2016 and it making a bold statement about the legendary trumpeter who drew raves as the most celebrated high-note brass player of his generation. Ferguson had tapped into many different musical styles with his big band but here, we have the small group sound that Ferguson also made use of with its big sound.
Complete High Voltage features 18 songs including many written by Ferguson. Among these songs is “High Voltage,” with Maynard’s excellent solo on this track; “Jack Usage” kicks off Disc One and there is some great straight ahead jazz and bebop, raw energy on “Zihuatanejo” and the emotional vocals of Carl Anderson on “Walkin’ On The Pier.”
Two bonus tracks complete the recording – “To Say The Least” and “O Sole Mio.” The last song is worth of major applause as it is Ferguson’s admiration of the great opera singer Luciano Pavarotti and his ability to reach the high ‘C’ notes. Amazing song, amazing performance.
Give a long listen to these amazing tracks and reacquaint yourself with Maynard Ferguson’s trumpeting virtuosity. You’ll be glad you did. Buy the CD here.
Preeminent saxophonist/composer and bandleader Mindi Abair has come a long way since graduating from the prestigious Berklee College of Music. As one of today’s most dynamic performers, Mindi Abair has risen to the top of the contemporary jazz scene as a result of her great instrumental prowess, chart-topping hits and countless collaborations with some of today’s most revered musicians. Now, with multiple accolades under her belt and a recent GRAMMY nomination for her work on Summer Horns, a #1 recording with four of her friends – Dave Koz, Gerald Albright, Richard Elliott – Mindi Abair offers a brand new recording titled Wild Heart. The recording features appearances by Gregg Allman, Joe Perry, Booker T. Jones, Keb’ Mo’, Trombone Shorty, Max Weinberg, Waddy Wachtel and others. The opening track, “Amazing Game,” is an upbeat composition featuring swaggering horn lines by Trombone Shorty. Mindi Abair co-wrote the song with her long-time collaborator Jim Peterik. They also co-wrote “Train,” which showcases Abair’s powerful vocals (yes she can sing) alongside her great saxophonics. She teams up with Keb’ Mo’ on the bluesy ballad called “I’ll Be Your Home,” and this song also features her memorable vocals that re-establishes a connection with her longtime collaborator. The recording ends with a country-flavored duet “Just Say When,” that Mindi Abair sings with Gregg Allman. Overall, Mindi Abair offers something for everyone on this exceptional program. Click on the CD cover to buy Wild Heart today.
The Yamaha Entertainment Group presents Nathan East, the debut self-titled recording by the award-winning bassist/composer /bandleader. Produced by Chris Gero & Nathan East, the 13-track album showcases East’s awesome bass skills that have made a huge impact with such groups as Fourplay, Eric Clapton, Beyonce, Whitney Houston, and Stevie Wonder, just to name a few. The recording itself is a marvel and is something that combines a music scholar’s precision with a showman’s sense of delight. With his expansive style, melodic soloing and creativity, Nathan East dropped the standard formulas often used when producing a new album and raised the caliber of his debut by sequencing priceless pop standards such as “Sir Duke,” “Moondance,” "Yesterday," and “Overjoyed,” with several of his original songs including “101 Eastbound,” “Letter From Home,” and the hit “Daft Funk.” These cultural and generational distinctions make Nathan East worth listening to time and time again. Gero and East also brought in special guests (all well-known musicians in their own right), to share the spotlight and to deliver their creativity. After just one listen, their fans can tell that the results came naturally and with seemingly breathless ease for such artists as Bob James, Michael McDonald, Stevie Wonder, David Paich, Ray Parker, Jr. and Chuck Loeb. A special performance by newcomer Sara Bareilles also makes the album memorable. East’s very funky “Daft Funk” is riding high on the radio charts and is proof that the bigger challenges associated with developing a debut recording for a young record label had been overcome because of Gero's and East’s formidable knowledge, their sense of responsibility and from East's more than three decades as a music star. East’s awesome work on the live version of “Mandiba” will excite you due to its united chorus and his lively vocalese while the concluding song, “America The Beautiful,” will give you many reasons to appreciate his solo expertise, musicality and pensive interpretation of this anthem. Yamaha Entertainment Group definitely has a hit on its hands and Chris Gero’s vision to establish a boutique, one-stop-shop, record label has afforded Nathan East the opportunity to find his way to an exciting home for his multitude of talents. Buy Nathan Easthere.
MILES AT THE FILLMORE - Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3
August 1969 to August 1970 was the most productive year of Miles Davis's career: in that short span of time, the trumpeter recorded enough material for his studio double-album Bitches Brew, a studio single album Jack Johnson, three sides of another studio double-album Big Fun, four tracks from the double-album Live-Evil...
... AND, across five nights at Bill Graham's famed Fillmore rock palaces in April and June of 1970, coast-to-coast at both the Fillmore East & West the complete, legendary concerts that will now see the light of day and be made available to fans in their entirety! MILES AT THE FILLMORE Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3.
The searing white heat of these concerts, originally issued in severely edited form to accommodate LP sides, and without any track or song indications (e.g., "Wednesday Miles", "Thursday Miles, etc.") are now made whole. The additional 135 minutes of music in this set include a range spanning Wayne Shorter's "Paraphernalia" and "Footprints" from the earlier acoustic repertoire; to an early version of "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down" plus a RARE encore performance of "Spanish Key," compelled by the lightning-fast success of Miles's landmark studio album Bitches Brew.
This unprecedented collection tells a compelling story through its electrifying music, images, and cultural impact! In a rare, in-depth interview for art magazine Zygote II Zygote, which will be reprinted for this set, Miles--while listening to the concert playback--was "so excited about the music that he wanted every set, every note made available to the public..."
The visionary Bill Graham had booked Miles on a bill with The Grateful Dead at the Fillmore West at the April 1970 shows, and with fellow Columbia artist Laura Nyro in June 1970 at the Fillmore East run. The June shows are the earliest documented live performances of Miles s band when he hired two keyboardists--Chick Corea, and Keith Jarrett, who had been added to the band the previous month, along with saxophonist Steve Grossman who had replaced Wayne Shorter in March. The rest of the rhythm section--keyboardist Corea, bassist Dave Holland, drummer Jack DeJohnette and percussionist Airto Moreira--were in the backbone of this band throughout this explosive period.
Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra
Christine Jensen is one of the most remarkable virtuosi of her generation and immediately captivates us at a first hearing on Habitat. The six compositions written or re-orchestrated for her 21-member jazz orchestra are not left to the whim or ear of the instrumentalists; they are scored and written out, and can be listened to again and again because they are not just decorations of a familiar shape but a new arrangement of shapes. Christine Jensen has assembled a brilliant orchestra with performers whose playing is marked by distinctive characteristics, technique and the ability to color Jensen’s original compositions with brilliant expressive sounds by employing a variety of devices to vary the tones and their instrument’s own basic notes. Jensen’s new offering opens with “Treelines” which features solos by Ingrid Jensen on trumpet and Donny Kennedy on alto saxophone, both of whom beautifully interpret the theme bridging each section with cells to improvise with from the tone row. “Blue Yonder” features solos by Samuel Blais on baritone saxophone and Richard Irwin on drums as they make their way through the Afro-Peruvian rhythms gleaned from Jensen’s travels to Peru. The festejo rhythm, big band structures, beautiful chorale writing, and swinging sound make this song a winner. A new richness is achieved on “Sweet Adelphi” the lone piece on the program that was created for a small group composition but as an expanded work gives Jensen a prime vehicle to spotlight her remarkable agility and brilliance in the upper register on soprano sax alongside the soloing and innovative textures supplied by her sister, Ingrid Jensen, on trumpet. Habitat is an excellent release by the Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra for Justin Time Records. Its priceless compositions should solidify Christine Jensen’s integrity as a composer for large ensembles. Buy Habitat today.
The Bespoke Man's Narrative
In fashion circles, the adjective “bespoke” denotes custom-made suits and shirts and signifies the person who designs and constructs them. On The Bespoke Man’s Narrative, his brilliant Mack Avenue Records debut, pianist Aaron Diehl extrapolates this notion to matters of musical invention.
“The idea for the metaphor was that the composition and concept were specifically for these musicians,” Diehl says, referring to his working quartet of 30-ish all-stars—vibraphonist (and Mack Avenue artist) Warren Wolf, bassist David Wong and drummer Rodney Green—that interprets the five originals and five arrangements comprising the program. “There’s a sequence, an arc, a beginning, middle and end. Each piece has something to do with my musical development.”
The project gestated in April of 2011 in Indianapolis after Diehl, 26, earned first place in the rigorous Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz competition presented by the American Pianists Association. The award garnered him $50,000 in career support and an opportunity to record with Mack Avenue Records.
“I thought it would be wise to use the opportunity to document this ensemble,” Diehl states. “I decided to compose and arrange music in line with our own sound and conception, while using the strategies of bandleaders like John Lewis and Duke Ellington, who developed their music in line with the abilities of their personnel.”
Diehl is the Commission Artist for the 2014 Monterey Jazz Festival. It will be interesting to hear what he has in store for the audiences there. To learn more about Aaron Diehl, log on to his website at www.aarondiehl.com.
Heart of the Piano
Heart of the Piano is Geoffrey Keezer’s first solo recording in 13 years and reflects what he calls is his “home base – and where my heart is, where I find the most freedom.” The revered pianist shares his skills on 10 different acoustic piano compositions written by an array of composers including his former employer Christian McBride. Geoffrey Keezer wrote two of the wonderful songs he performs here and also produced the recording. Geoffrey’s acoustic presence on this recording is nothing less than virtuosic. He explores the piano’s infinite possibilities with exemplary pedal work, glissandi (sliding quickly over the white keys with the back of the thumb and finger), and arpeggi (sounding a chord’s notes in steady succession).
The program opens with Geoffrey’s arrangement of Rush’s “Limelight,” which pays homage to the rock band and the Hank Jones recording. Among the favorite artists that Geoffrey also salutes are: Peter Gabriel (“Come Talk To Me”); Alanis Morrisette (“Still”); Christian McBride (“Lullaby For A Ladybug”); and Donald Brown (“New York.”) The happy melody of “Suddenly I See,” will delight you when you hear Geoffrey’s mixture of Brazilian choro and mid-60s John Coltrane quartet. While Geoffrey’s technique is exceptional throughout the program, he plays at an extraordinarily high technical level on “Lullaby for A Ladybug” and his own darkly beautiful “Grunion Run.” Overall, the pristine clarity heard on this solo recording makes it well worth several listens and definitely raises Geoffrey Keezer’s profile in the galaxy of piano virtuosos. Check it out and then buy it from the SOTJ store. Click on the CD cover to purchase the recording.
Dave Holland and Prism
Composer, bassist, and bandleader Dave Holland has released a new project titled Prism. In addition to Holland on bass, the recording features guitarist Kevin Eubanks, Craig Taborn doubling on piano and Fender Rhodes, and drummer Eric Harland. Prism also introduces a new musical direction for Dave’s latest band (which has the same name) that allows them to express their creative individuality in an electronic context that is groove-oriented as well as avant-garde. The recording included 9 songs that were composed by each band member. The set opens with the infectious funky groove of “The Watcher” and continues to take the listener across the musical spectrum on Holland’s “The Empty Chair” a soulful blues that hints of Jimi Hendrix. Holland is outstanding throughout but his introduction on “The True Meaning of Determination” gives his new fans an ear-opening experience of his virtuosity. By combining the renowned finesse of Taborn, Eubanks and Harland, this excellent quartet is an excellent vehicle for Dave Holland at his best. Check it out. Click on the CD cover to buy Prism.
THE VIEW FROM HERE
Kyle Eastwood, the prolific bassist/composer is accompanied by a London-based crew of stellar young musicians including pianist Andrew McCormack, saxophonist Graeme Blevins, trumpeter Quentin Collins and drummer Martyn Kaine on his latest release titled The View From Here. Together they blend their creative visions on eleven diverse tracks that reveal their communicable band chemistry and transferable songwriting capabilities. The rhythmic title track is based on a catchy ostinato figure played by Kyle Eastwood on electric bass and Andrew McCormack’s left-hand piano lines. Graeme Blevins and Quentin Collins float in half time on top of their urgent undercurrent and create a dreamy effect. For “M.E.” (written for Kyle’s mother) is a loping, melodic piece that features the bassist stretching out on an expressive electric solo while later in the song, Collins exhibits his penchant for Lee Morgan/Freddie Hubbard daring chops. This is one great recording and has sounds and rhythms that everyone will enjoy. Just one listen to “Sirocco” will conjure memories of the Mediterranean with its blend of flamenco handclaps and Eastwood’s mesmerizing pulse on acoustic bass. McCormack’s versatile pianism is creatively placed in a great solo that leaves the listener freely exploring the tempo-shifting piece alongside the band. The entire band turns in exceptional performances on The View From Here and in turn, you dear listener, will feel the effects of this dynamic quintet. Check it out and then order The View From Here at the SOTJ store. Simply click on the CD cover image.
Pianist Gerald Clayton’s debut recording for Concord Jazz titled Life Forum is a meaningful musical exchange that features him with trio members bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Justin Brown. Saxophonists Logan Richardson, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, vocalists Gretchen Parlato, Sachal Vasandani and poet Carl Hancock Rux round out the ensemble. The set opens with Rux’s spoken word performance of Life Forum which provides the foundation for “Future Reflection.” This song features Clayton’s diverse pianism and Parlato/Vasandani’s vocalese over the horn players and Clayton. Gerald Clayton’s stellar performance justifies his triple GRAMMY nominations as a bandleader/composer but also reflects his penchant for larger ensembles that detail his compositional integrity. Life Forum is a masterwork by a highly talented young pianist/composer whose extensive repertoire is sure to please for years to come. Buy Life Forum today. Click on the CD cover.
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Kendrick Scott Oracle
Conviction is Kendrick Scott’s follow up release to The Source, his 2007 debut as a leader. The drummer and composer now manifests a deeper purpose on eleven songs that reflect Balance, Love, Peace, Equality, Freedom, Courage, I AM, Truth, Faith, Surrender and Passion. Playing with a streamlined version of his band Oracle and guest vocalist Alan Hampton who makes appearances on two tracks, Scott’s inspirations take the listener on his journey of self-discovery via his combination of innate talent, discipline and support from Oracle which is comprised of saxophonist and bass clarinetist John Ellis, guitarist Mike Moreno, pianist Taylor Eigsti and bassist Joe Sanders. Scott introduces his program with a prayer that segues into a captivating work written by James Cargill and Patricia Keenan titled “Pendulum.” This piece represents Balance and features stellar solos by Ellis as he is balanced by the pianist Taylor Eigsti and the rhythm section of Scott and Sanders. Each song flows seamlessly into the next without interruption and the listener is next absorbed by Sufjan Stevens’ “Too Much,” which depicts the Love aspect of the recording and features the vocals of Alan Hampton. Scott and Oracle continue to dig beneath the surface and find deeper meanings with Herbie Hancock’s rendition of “I Have A Dream” which Kendrick Scott uses as a metaphor for Peace. Throughout the recording, Oracle’s musicality is strong and convincing. Their expert skills and techniques keep you, dear listener, thoroughly engrossed. Overall, this recording is a step up from Scott’s previous endeavor as a leader and surely represents his skills as a composer of thoughtful and inspired songs. Check Conviction out at the SOTJ store. Click on the CD cover to purchase Conviction.
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Miles Davis Quintet: Live In Europe 1969 The Bootleg Series Vol. 2
Originally recorded at Festival Mondial du Jazz d’Antibes, La Pinede, Juan-les-Pins, France on July 25, 1969 and at Folkets Hus in Stockholm, Sweden on November 5, 1969, this is the first officially released music of Miles Davis with his awesome “third quintet.” This one-of-a-kind box set also features a kinetic video of their concert in Berlin. There are 3-discs, a DVD, and liner notes offering new information about the great Miles Davis jamming with such inspired musicians as pianist Chick Corea, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, drummer Jack DeJohnette, and bassist Dave Holland!
The set lists showcase Davis’ Quintet playing music from his bebop, hard bop, modal, and electric eras with freewheeling solos from Davis and Shorter, aggressive bass playing by Holland, electric keyboards from Chick Corea, and power drumming by DeJohnette. Much of the material is completely re-imagined, played with a muscular, intense, communicative freedom that is innovative and creative. Songs such as "'Round Midnight," "Spanish Key "Nefertiti, the 14-minute "Bitches Brew" will thoroughly entertain you and the DVD offers a panoramic, view of the band with great sound. Miles Davis Quintet: Live In Europe 1969 The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 is energetic, complex yet accessible, exciting and ground-breaking. Buy it today from the SOTJ Store. Click on the CD cover.
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Without A Net
This priceless recording from Wayne Shorter is his first album on the Blue Note recording label as a leader in 43 years. Without A Netis a nine-track musical thrill ride that consists of live recordings from the Wayne Shorter Quartet's European tour in late 2011, the one exception being the 23-minute tone poem "Pegasus." "Pegasus" features the quartet with The lmani Winds which they recorded at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Joining Wayne on this searing new album are his long-running quartet featuring pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade.The album features six new Wayne Shorter compositions, as well as new versions of his tunes "Orbits" (from Miles Davis' Miles Smiles album) and "Plaza Real" (from the Weather Report album Procession). The quartet also reinvents the title song from the 1933 musical film Flying Down To Rio, which film buffs (such as Shorter) know as the first on-screen pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Check out the samples at the SOTJ store and then purchase it by clicking on the CD cover.
Click on cover to purchase Cross Culture
This stellar release, by saxophonist and composer Joe Lovano is his most fully realized representation of a career-long quest to explore the notion of universal musical language. The album is an 11 track tour de force that represents 10 of Lovano's original compositions along with a stunning interpretation of the Billy Strayhorn ballad "Star Crossed Lovers." The album features his core Us Five ensemble of pianist James Weidman, bassists Esperanza Spalding and Peter Slavov, and drummers Otis Brown and Francisco Mela and is augmented with guitarist and fellow Blue Note artist Lionel Loueke. This record has funk, swagger and should be in your record collection. Check it out at the SOTJ store and then click on the CD cover art to purchase.
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The Sirens is acclaimed saxophonist Chris Potter's ECM debut as a leader, an album of mood and melody inspired by The Odyssey in both its epic atmosphere and its timeless humanity. Potter, who has been featured on many ECM albums by Dave Holland and Steve Swallow, as well as making a profound contribution to the contemporary classic Lost in a Dream with Paul Motian and Jason Moran, has composed a cycle of irresistible songs without words.Chris Potter wrote all of the compositions except “The Shades” which was written by Craig Taborn and David Virelles. “Wine Dark Sea,” opens the program and immediately sets the tone for the recording. Potter’s lyrical and emotional saxophone voice tells the story of this affecting metaphor as his bandmates provide their creative visions. An extended piano solo adds to the beauty and mystique of this piece. The title track, “The Sirens” features a highly creative bass clarinet introduction by Potter whose solo is colored by light pianism. Larry Grenadier adds a splendid bowed double bass solo later in the composition that seamlessly flows into Potter’s tenor saxophone event. All 9 songs are conveyed by a virtuosic, strikingly textured band: with Potter on tenor and soprano saxophones and bass clarinet, plus Craig Taborn (piano), David Virelles (prepared piano, celeste, harmonium), Larry Grenadier (double-bass) and Eric Harland (drums). Potter declaims lyrical lines over the dynamically inventive rhythm section, as coloristic keyboards shimmer like stars in the night sky. Check it out. Click on the CD cover to buy.
LIVE AT SCULLERS
On Live at Scullers, saxophonist Grace Kelly offers a set mostly composed of new material which shows off her remarkable instrumental virtouosity and her winsome vocal versatility. She ups her style quotient with the likes of Jason Palmer on trumpet, Zach Brown on bass, Pete McCann on guitars/ukulele, Mark Walker on drum, Eric Law on cello. Jamie Woods & Chantale Sterling are her backing vocalists.
The opening track, "Please Don't Box Me In," is traditional yet contemporary. She melds the two styles seamlessly as Jason, Pete, Zach and Mark help her stretch her creativity. The stunningly diverse set of songs also features great performances inspired by Grace Kelly’s environment, travels, friends and lovers. Listeners will hear her inspired moments on the smoldering "Night Time Star," her colorful homage about a visit to Montana on "Autumn Song" and her country-tinged ballad "Kiss Away Your Tears." "Searching for Peace" won Grace Kelly the 2011 ASCAP Jazz Composers Award. It is a scintillating burner that takes you on a musical journey that you’ll remember long after the song is over. The set closes with two familiar standards, both of which the saxophonist has recorded in the past. "The Way You Look Tonight" is reprised from Man With the Hat, and her groove-oriented take on "Summertime," which she previously recorded on her 2006 album Every Road I Walked.
This live recording seems especially created for her faithful fans at Scullers. She captures the energy of the audience and more importantly connects with them.
Click on the CD cover to purchase Harlem-Kingston Express
Live From Stern Grove Festival
Live From Stern Grove Festival features the remarkable bandleader and timbalist Pete Escovedo out front with an amazing coterie of musicians having fun and treating their fans to the show of a lifetime. Accompanying Mr. Escovedo is his dynamic tentet that includes his sons Juan and Peter Michael as well as special guests: daughter Sheila E. on congas and vocals (“Solo Tu,” “Dance”); Arturo Sandoval on trumpet, (“Suenos De Los Torreros”); Ray Obiedo on guitar (“Brasiliero”); and Dave Koz on sax (“True or False”). This is one great show because of its exemplary soloing by guitarist Michael Angel on “True or False” and the consummate performances by Sheila E. on “Dance” and “Solo Tu.” But it’s Pete Escovedo swinging rendition of “Fly Me To The Moon” that makes this set special. All of the performers are amazing on their respective instruments but after performing for over 50 years with an amazing Who’s Who of musicians, Pete Escovedo is still hotter than hot and is this live show’s brightest star. Check it out. Buy Live From Stern Grove Festival today.
Live In Hollywood
Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band
Live In Hollywood captures Poncho Sanchez doing what he does best for the past 30 years…letting it rip! As one of Concord Picante's most valuable players, the multiple GRAMMY- winning artist continues to convey the vibrant sounds of Latin Jazz wherever he is...be it Hollywood, California or San Juan, Puerto Rico. While this exceptional set just happened to be recorded live at the Hollywood & Highland KKJZ Summer Concert Series in Hollywood, California, make no mistake about the Afro-Carribbean influences you’ll hear as a result of Sanchez’s many travels abroad. Opening with “Promenade,” this swinging set gets the audience involved and ready for a medley of Poncho Sanchez’s songs that includes “Mi Negra” and “Baila Baila.” Later in the program, Sanchez pays tribute to a couple of his biggest influences – Clare Fischer on “Morning” and percussionist Mongo Santamaria on "Afro Blue." Gary Foster performs a great melody line on the alto saxophone and the song is arranged as a cha-cha. “Afro Blue,” which was written by Mongo Santamaria is delivered as a high-energy tribute complete with excellent soloing by Sanchez, flute, and the vibrant horn section that introduces and closes this all-time favorite. The set ends with a hot salsa titled “Son Son Charari,” and from the sounds emanating from the audience, Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band had things really fired up. Overall, Live In Hollywood is the next best thing to being there. So check it out. Click on the image to purchase.
Ninety Miles Live at Cubadisco
Stefon Harris, David Sanchez and Christian Scott
Recorded May 18, 2010 at Cubadisco, one of the biggest musical festivals in Cuba, at Teatro Amadeo Roldan in Havana, Ninety Miles Live At Cubadisco features vibraphonist Stefon Harris, saxophonist David Sanchez, and trumpeter Christian Scott bringing their stellar musical visions of the Afro-Cuban aesthetic to thousands of fans. This live recording reflects their ability to communicate the power of music as a universal language and solidifies their roles as musical ambassadors. This is a very adventurous project that features excellent soloing from all three bandmates. GRAMMY nominee Stefon Harris contributes two tracks including “This Too Shall Pass,” and “Brown Belle Blues,” which were written especially for this project. GRAMMY winner David Sanchez brings his cross-cultural vision via his signature sound that merges elements of Afro-Cuban rhythms with bebop on his “City Sunrise,” and “The Forgotten Ones.” GRAMMY nominee Christian Scott contributes “Paradise Found,” a tune written by Donald Harrison. They get a help from two of Cuba’s revered pianists – Harold Lopez-Nussa and Rember Duharte, each of whom lead their own quartets. Overall, this seven song masterwork explores the chemistry of NinetyMiles (the two-disc CD/DVD package released June 21, 2011) and takes their virtuosity to another level as musicians from different cultures who converse in a common language that transcends words. Check it out. Buy Ninety Miles Live At Cubadisco now.
Marcus Miller has figured out a better way to offer his fans great music. For years he has been ahead of his generational pack of bass players/songwriters but with his new offering titled Renaissance, Marcus Miller has truly entered a new era of musical innovation. Renaissance features Miller’s new band which consists of trumpeters Sean Jones and Maurice Brown, alto saxophonist Alex Han, drummer Louis Cato, guitarists Adam Agati and Adam Rogers, and keyboardist Kris Bowers along with veteran keys wizards Federico Gonzalez Pena and Bobby Sparks. The 13-song collection includes eight original compositions, a tip of Miller’s trademark porkpie hat to the CTI Records sound of the 70s, and five re-defined works originally released by War, Janelle Monae, The Jackson 5 and Weldon Irvine. Special guests vocalists Dr. John, Ruben Blades and Gretchen Parlato round out the program. Opening with “Detroit,” Miller’s funky bass is front and center and sets the tone for a funky good time. His virtuosity leaves his fans no alternative but to keep listening to the entertaining and innovative sounds coming from his bass guitar. His solo on “Cee-Tee-Eye” is awesome and is yet another display of what a master bass player can do when they are honestly inspired. Ivan Lins’ “Setembro” (which you may remember from Quincy Jones’ version recorded for Back On TheBlock) is updated by a new arrangement that is sure to captivate you. This song features Miller on fretless bass trading lines with vocalist Gretchen Parlato and the addition of an Afro Cuban section that features Ruben Blades. Great song. While “excellent” is an understatement as a description of the entire album, Marcus Miller’s stirring composition called “Gorée (Go-ray)” is particularly moving because of the story behind the song. Gorée came to be after Marcus and his bandmates visited this African island that served as a holding cell for innocent people bound for slavery in other countries. Miller’s emotional bass clarinet sounds capture the feelings emanated from this place with remarkable clarity and genuine knowledge. Alex Han’s saxophone solo is absolutely brilliant and gives the listener a sense of the confusion and pain that may have existed there. Overall, Renaissance is another masterpiece from the musical mind of Marcus Miller. Check it out and then click on the CD cover to purchase Renaissance.
In addition to the great guitar playing that Lee Ritenour offers his listeners on his latest release called Rhythm Sessions, the 12 distinctive rhythm sections he employed are what makes this recording a masterpiece. The musicians he invited to play on these 12 sessions are an elite group of award-winning veterans as well as exciting newcomers who compliment Lee Ritenour’s amazing sound with their own versatility and innovative musical techniques.
Among the stellar special guests are Chick Corea, George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Christian McBride, Dave Grusin, Marcus Miller and the winners of Lee Ritenour’s Annual Six-String Theory International Competition and many others. The set includes compositions you are sure to love since they embrace a variety of sounds and grooves, all rooted in jazz, but also layered with shades of funk, R&B, Latin, World Music and more. Ritenour produced, arranged and wrote 5 of the songs with several of the featured musicians as inspiration.
The set opens with “The Village,” a funky piece that features George Duke out front on Fender Rhodes and Moog synthesizer with Lee, Stanley Clarke, Dave Weckl and Munyungo Jackson doing their thing. This song features a dynamic solo by Clarke on acoustic bass and the awesome chops of Ritenour. “River Man” features Kurt Elling’s expressive vocals and storytelling and the accompaniment of Dave Grusin, Nathan East, Will Kennedy, Ariel Mann and a soulful solo by Lee Ritenour. This is one great song and is certain to get a second and third listen from you, dear listener. With a dynamic aggregation of musicians that includes Patrice Rushen and Marcus Miller, Lee once again proves his worth as a musician and dynamic interpreter on Herbie Hancock’s “Fat Albert Rotunda.” Miller contributes his trademark funky bass riffs and Patrice Rushen’s distinct character on acoustic piano shines through beautifully.
Christian McBride offers his awesome acoustic bass interpretation during a solo on “800 Streets By Feet” – a song made famous by EST. Chick Corea’s “Children’s Song” gets an update from the master himself as he and Lee are accompanied by Alan Pasqua, Peter Erskine, Chuck Berghofer and Ariel Mann. John Beasley’s piano playing on “Spam-Boo-Limbo" is an effective highlighter for Lee’s spirited guitar playing. One of the prettiest songs on the CD is “Rose Petals.” The song is played with the same delicacy as a rose petal and everyone contributes brilliant bits of musicality. While all of the songs on this great program are priceless, the addition of these masterful players makes this one of Lee Ritenour’s best recordings in his repertoire. Buy Rhythm Sessions now. Click on the CD cover.
Let's Misbehave: The Cole Porter Songbook
GRAMMY award winner Cheryl Bentyne is at her best when singing with her group The Manhattan Transfer. However as a soloist, she has come into her own as a fascinating interpretor of songs written by the legendary composer Cole Porter. As with her previous 2009 import release The Cole Porter Song book, on Let’s Misbehave: The Cole Porter Songbook, Ms. Bentyne offers her fans a wide array of Porter’s hits including “Night and Day,” “Begin the Beguine” and “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.” Joining in on the fun is a superb coterie of musicians including guitarists Tom McCauley, Octavio Bailey and Larry Koonse; Corey Allen on keyboards and banjo; Doug Webb on reeds; Chris Tedesco on trumpet; bassist Kevin Axt also on tuba; Dave Tull on drums/percussion; and 2 heroic performances by the late jazz tenor sax giant James Moody in one of his final recorded appearances. The vocals are humorous, sexy, and mysterious and Bentyne’s inventive singing style swings and sizzles. This is one of her better offerings as a band leader and you’re sure to enjoy it. Check it out. Click on CD cover to purchase.
Christian aTunde Adjuah
Christian aTunde Adjuah—(Christian Scott’s new name, and the aame of his new CD) continues to delve into uncharted jazz territory as the artist analyzes his African heritage, New Orleans ancestry, and present Harlem lifestyle on the two-disc set. “The album cover is a self-portrait, a two-tiered depiction of me in the ceremonial regalia of the Afro-Native American Culture of New Orleans-- colloquially known as Black Indians or Mardi Gras Indians. Christian’s band consists of guitarist Matthew Stevens, drummer Jamire Williams, bassist Kris Funn and pianist Lawrence Fields. Christian also recruited guests; tenor saxophonist Kenneth Whalum III, alto saxophonist Louis Fouche IIII, and trombonist Corey King.
“Fatima Aisha Rokero 400,” opens Disc One, where the trumpeter boldly soars over Stevens’ guitar and eerie muses. “New New Orleans (King Adjuah Stomp),” is a rhythmic bouncer about the resilience of post-Katrina New Orleans. He shines on his quiet, muted-trumpet as they perform “Who They Wish I Was” about how people have equated his band with the classic Miles Davis Quintet of the ‘60s; the pounding “Pyrrhic Victory of aTunde Adjuah” is about the negative reactions of people to Scott’s name completion; while "Kiel," is a reflective musical portrait of Christian’s twin brother.
The second disc includes the catchy melody, guitar-growled, hopeful “The Berlin Patient (CCR5)”; the snappy-drum patterned “When Marissa Stands Her Ground”; the melodic tune “Liar Liar”; and the ballad “I Do” that Christian wrote to celebrate his engagement. “Cara” ends the album with its romantic beauty that spotlights his breathy trumpet lines over Fields’ rich piano comping. Overall, Christian aTunde Adjuah is a masterwork and places him among the best trumpeters and composers of his generation. Buy it now. Simply click on the CD cover.
Downbeat is an explosive mix of jazz, rock, classical and jam band influences performed by Lao Tizer with Chieli Minucci, Karen Briggs, Jeff Kollman, Rufus Philpot, Raul Pineda and Steve Nieves. Tizer wrote 5 of the 12 new songs for this recording including “World In Rhythm” (co-written with Minucci) which is the first single from the CD. The hard-driving “Acid Rain” opens the set and sets the tone for what’s to come. “Pulse” is a real winner that features great synthesizer riffs and powerful drumming. The song leads to “The Slip” a funky, groove that truly contrasts the ethereal “Coming of Age.” Karen Briggs does a very fine job on “World In Rhythm” and “Tanzanika.” The funky title track comes late in the set – almost at the end – but still allows time for the listener to dig deep into the remaining tracks “Reunion” with its Brazilian flavors and “The Next Step” which closes the program. The entire recording is indicative of Tizer’s musical growth as a composer and keyboardist and should reinforce his stature on the World Music and Fusion stages around the globe. This set is lively and energetic but also focuses on Tizer’s command of the universal language of music which should be complimented and applauded. Buy Downbeat today.
Al Jarreau and The Metropole Orkest Live
Text: Courtesy of Concord Music Group
Making the old new again is what Jarreau has been doing with music since his childhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Born in 1940, he sang his first songs in his church choir (his father was a vicar). Although armed with a degree in psychology and some early career experience in social work, he made a dramatic career change when he moved to Los Angeles and began singing in small clubs along the West Coast.
Although he recorded an album in the mid ‘60s, he didn’t make his first significant mark on the music scene until the release of We Got By in 1975. Early praise from the critics translated to commercial success in 1981 with the release of Breakin’ Away, the 1981 album that generated the hit single, “We’re In This Love Together.” He made a huge and recurring splash in American living rooms a few years later when he recorded the theme music to Moonlighting, the hit TV series that ran through the latter half of the 1980s and continues in syndication to this day.
Jarreau enjoyed moderate success in the following decade with albums like Heaven and Earth (1992) and Tenderness (1994), then got a boost in 1998 when he reunited with producer Tommy LiPuma, with whom he’d recorded We Got By more than a decade earlier. The Jarreau/LiPuma partnership resulted in a string of successful albums, including Tomorrow Today (2000), All I Got (2002) and Accentuate the Positive (2004). Givin’ It Up, his 2006 collaboration with George Benson, resulted in two Grammy Awards.
For all of Jarreau’s studio successes over the decades, Al Jarreau and the Metropole Orkest - Live offers recorded proof that he’s still a master in front of a live audience as the frontman to a fully staffed orchestra.
Gerald Albright and Norman Brown
Contemporary jazz greats Gerald Albright and Norman Brown join forces on a new Concord Jazz recording titled 24/7. The ten compositions reflect their command of the soul-jazz style and also speaks to the commitment and the camaraderie that each of these artists has to their professions and to each other. The recording spotlights Norman Brown on lead and rhythm guitars and Gerald Albright on alto, tenor and baritone saxophones with an ensemble of supporting musicians that includes Tracy Carter on keyboards, Ricky Lawson on drums, Herman Jackson on keyboards, Byron Miller on bass, and Selina Albright adding vocals, plus several other excellent sidemen doing what they do best. “In The Moment” is the opening track and sets the tone for the remainder of the CD. This one is uptempo and filled with funky riffs and phrasings that make its hook very memorable. “Keep It Moving,” does just that and features the duo offering some tantalizing licks and phrasings that you are sure to enjoy. “Perfect Love” is a sweet and sexy ballad that shows another side to Brown’s and Albright’s musical personalities. This song also reveals Norman Brown’s songwriting skills and his ability to connect on a different level with vocalists and Gerald Albright’s horn arrangement. The title track has Albright playing flutes, bass guitar, percussion and alto saxophone in addition to providing the programming! This song is beautiful and is the kind of song that you can get into for 24/7. Overall, Brown’s fluid playing and clean articulation coupled with Albright’s creative horn arrangements and pure saxophonics, makes 24/7 a great way to spend your day. Check it out and then buy 24/7 today.
Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You)
Arturo Sandoval pays tribute to Dizzy Gillespie in a big way! His dedication to one of jazz’s greatest innovators is the result of stellar collaborations with some of today’s most in-demand musicians. All show their depth of gratitude on this 11-track masterwork that includes many of Gillespie’s prized songs re-imagined with state-of-the-art technology. Sandoval invited several top notch musicians including Latin GRAMMY Producer of the Year Gregg Field who also performs as a guest drummer; the great vibraphonist Gary Burton, Yellowjackets’ saxophonist Bob Mintzer, organist Joey DeFrancesco, clarinetist Eddie Daniels, actor Andy Garcia on percussion and vocalist Manolo Giminez. On the opening track, we hear Dizzy Gillespie’s voice introducing a young Arturo Sandoval as “one of the young grand masters of the trumpet” during a live performance in the late 1980s. “Bebop” follows dressed in a new arrangement by GRAMMY winner Gordon Goodwin. This classic from Gillespie’s songbook is performed by the entire big band and it’s a real gem. Goodwin also arranged “Salt Peanuts!” and gave it new fire. Other great songs include “Birks Works” arranged by Shelly Berg and features Plas Johnson on saxophone. Brand new is the classical string quartet arrangement of “Con Alma” by GRAMMY winner Nan Schwartz. The song is elegant, tasteful and even more beautiful. Overall, the entire recording is a first-rate tribute to Dizzy Gillespie by a first-rate trumpeter named Arturo Sandoval. Buy the CD today. Click on the CD cover image.
Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Gate
Resonance Records’ collections of unreleased live performances are being made available for your listening pleasure. This is definitely great news for fans of such legendary musicians as Bill Evans and Wes Montgomery, both of whom benefit from the artistic prowess of label president George Klablin. Klablin was 22 years old when he recorded Bill Evans Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Gate 40 years ago so once you hear the CD, which was digitally remastered from the original tapes, you will gain a sense of what it was actually like being there that evening. The remastered live recording is pristine and gives listeners an up front seat at the October 23, 1968 concert that featured the Bill Evans Trio with Eddie Gomez on bass and the newly hired Marty Morell on drums. The double-disc set includes such great songs as “Emily,” “’Round Midnight,” and “My Funny Valentine,” as well as the time-honored standards “Autumn Leaves,” and “In A Sentimental Mood.” Evans is in top form at the piano and plays with the kind of sentiment and passion that kept his fans coming back time and time again. Check it out. To buy the CD, click on the CD cover image.
Click on image to buy CHANGES
The best analysis for Carmen Lundy’s music is that which the title and lyrics of her songs themselves furnish when we listen closely. The award-winning vocalist/composer/arranger may also be called a romantic especially since her present offering titled Changes is a masterpiece of melodic simplicity and emotional expressions. However these elements (melodic simplicity and emotional expressions) do not prevent Ms. Lundy from making it clear that she is a truly remarkable jazz singer who can deliver a song with vivid colors, mosiac-like textures and swing with the best of today’s jazz musicians or sing an intimate ballad while still focusing her romantic imagination. From the opening retro stylings of “The Night Is Young” to the profound tenderness of the last sentence of “Where Love Surrounds Us,” Carmen Lundy keeps you mesmerized. The set consists of 9 inspired songs either written or co-written by Carmen Lundy with the exception of “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square.” Ms. Lundy sings, plays the harp, and also wrote the string and horn arrangements. Joined by her ensemble of Anthony Wonsey on piano and Fender Rhodes, Kenny Davis on acoustic and electric basses, Jamison Ross on drums and percussion, guest artist Oscar Castro-Neves on guitar, Nolan Shaheed on trumpet and flugelhorn and George Bohannon on trombone – all play equally well and compliment Ms. Lundy with the highest quality of their musicality. Her multi-octave vocals are beautiful, convincing and faithfully illustrated with no unnecessary riffing or vocal gymnastics. Overall, all of the songs are sung superlatively and with Changes, Ms. Lundy tops the high standards set on her previously released recordings. Buy Changes today.