Los Angeles-based jazz vocalist and educator Dr. Cynthia Felton is an active performer and lecturer with an exemplary recording career. Her knowledge, experience and specialization in ethnomusicology was obtained as a result of her academic studies and personal appearances with award-winning musicians on bandstands around the world. Dr. Felton received her Bachelor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, her Master of Arts degree in Jazz Performance from New York University and her Doctorate in Jazz Studies from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA.
Afro Blue was Cynthia’s debut recording as a leader and explored the music of Oscar Brown, Jr. Her singing style is an amalgamation of jazz, gospel and R&B. The recording was critically acclaimed and led to an increased fan base for Cynthia prior to the release of Come Sunday, her tribute to the great Duke Ellington. Dr. Felton took a new musical direction for her third recording as a leader. Titled Freedom Jazz Dance, the vocalist explored spirituals, ballads and jazz standards. The recording provided Cynthia’s fans – both new and veteran - with a solid documentation of her highly acclaimed vocal stylings. She not only selected the recordings on the album, but arranged and produced the recording.
On her latest recording titled Save Your Love For Me: Cynthia Felton Sings the Nancy Wilson Classics, she is joined by such acclaimed musicians as Ndugu Chancler, John Beasley, Patrice Rushen, Terri Lyne Carrington, Cyrus Chestnut, Jeff Clayton, and Wallace Roney, among others. The recording was produced and arranged by Dr. Felton who also performs these great songs with candor and respect. Several of the most admired songs sung by Nancy Wilson include the title track “Save Your Love For Me,” “Guess Who I Saw Today,” and “Never Will I Marry.”
Dr. Cynthia Felton is the current Artistic Director of The Ethnomusicology Library of American Heritage, a library that features a selection of sources that explores the study of music from a social and cultural aspect. For more information about Dr. Cynthia Felton, please visit her website.
I've Been to Many Places
According to Matt Shipp, the basis of his new recording titled I’ve Been to Many Places is a reflection on where he has been in his music so he visits and revisits or re-interprets many of the houses he has occupied. But this solo CD has Shipp making the piano come alive and to become a direct extension of his spirit-psyche and body. And that he does. On “Tenderly,” the jazz standard he recorded with the David S. Ware Quartet’s album called Earthquation and “Summertime” another standard he recorded as a duet with bassist William Parker on the album titled Zo, really get close to you and do all the things you want them to. The changes he takes “Summertime” through really shows you the way he feels! Something deep within Shipp really knows how to make his music come back in a newly realized format. He makes “Waltz” and “Reflex” truly personal as he rearranges the sound he had as a string trio with Mat Maneri on viola and William Parker on bass on the album called Expansion Power and Release and lets the music speak for itself. Overall, Matt Shipp’s aim is truly sonic as he fleshes out his songs as they were originally intended or as he puts it, “the CD is the now – me – it’s how my language has developed.” Check it out because, in his own words, I’ve Been To Many Places “might be my last Thirsty Ear CD.” Let’s hope not. To purchase the CD, click on the CD cover.
Bill Warfield Big Band
Trumpet Story - the new album from The Bill Warfield Big Band - celebrates the instrument’s versatility with a suite of 10 big-band compositions for trumpet soloist. Randy Brecker is the featured trumpeter on 8 songs that are artfully arranged by Bill Warfield. Warfield, a fine trumpeter in his own right, decided that rather than taking the lead himself he would write for Brecker.While originally a four-movement suite, the current album grew into something a bit different, celebrating not only the trumpet but a whole range of Warfield's musical influences. While the focus is still on the trumpet, the current arrangements try to set the instrument in a broader musical context.The album opens with "When Janie Takes the Stand," a funky, edgy piece that also closes the set in an (edited) airplay track. Herbie Hancock's "Speak Like a Child," a splendidly lyrical piece which appropriately features pianist Mike Eckroth, follows. The piano, now played by Art Hirahara, introduces Warfield's beautiful "A Window That Shows Me the Moon.""Theme for Malcolm" features some sweet solo work from Brecker and Mike Migliore on the alto sax. Warfield performs solo on Philip Sparke's moody ballad titled "Flowerdale." Two more pieces by Warfield, "Carol," written for his wife, and the haunting "In the Land of Chad and Barbie," plus a 16-minute take on Joe Zawinul's "Pharaoh's Dance" round out the album.My only regret is the omission of covers that would have spotlighted many of jazz’s greatest trumpeters fronting big bands. I am sure that Bill Warfield was not making a historical tribute to all trumpeting icons, but without covering or adding remakes of songs featuring the likes of Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis, and Roy Hargrove, among others, you don’t have much of a Trumpet Story without at least one of these great musicians. Otherwise, the album ranks high and is an excellent vehicle for Randy Brecker’s stellar chops.
Acclaimed Canadian soul-jazz singer Elizabeth Shepherd has released her fourth recording titled The Signal (True North Records, 2014). The 10 compositions illustrate her growth as a singer and conceptualist as well as her strengths as a woman with something to say. Accompanied by guitarist Lionel Loueke, Shepherd manages to make her odd-meter grooves feel fluid and funky, while her sensual, breathy voice is as direct and haunting as ever. Shepherd plays the electric Rhodes piano, and incorporated the Moog keyboard, ngoni, steel pans and kalimba as well as a range of samples that include Blues legend Lead Belly and Mother Teresa. Most of the songs reflect Elizabeth Shepherd’s affinity for current events and issues and range from environmental degradation (“BT Cotton”) to forced marriages and rape in Africa (“Lion’s Den”), to murder of Trayvon Martin (“Another Day”). Check it out. For more information about Elizabeth Shepherd, please visit her website at www.elizabethshepherd.com or the label’s website at www.truenorthrecords.com.
Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio
Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio
In 2013, Melissa Aldana became the first female instrumentalist and first South American to ever win the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. The prize included a scholarship and a recording contract with Concord Music Group. As a result, her recording debut for Concord – Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio - features the power of three outstanding musicians taking the music of Thelonious Monk and Harry Warren to new levels. Melissa and her bandmates, bassist Pablo Menares and drummer Francisco Mela, also wrote 8 new songs for the debut all of which provide exceptional vehicles for spotlighting their amazing talents. The music is traditional jazz with traces of Afro-Cuban beats and rhythms. Their set opens with “M&M” which gives Melissa’s fans an instant glimpse into what has inspired her sound. The deep honks and extended phrases are indicative of Sonny Rollins’ early recordings but the sounds coming from Melissa’s tenor saxophone are more than just compelling examples of her top-to-bottom command of her instrument, they are real, original and persuasive degrees of her musicality. Pablo Menares wrote “Tirapie” a serene piece which provides a meaningful introduction for his bass voice and technique at the head before Aldana and Mela enter. The melody is smokey and is an amalgamation of great riffing and tonality. “Peace, Love & Music” written by Francisco Mela, features his outstanding percussive and drum solo that reveals not only his powerful and innovative drumming technique, but his compositional integrity. Overall, this 10-track debut for Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio is one that should cause her fans to remain interested for years to come. Buy the CD here. Click on CD cover.
You may know Adam Schroeder from his associations with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band or any number of sessions he’s recorded with such stars as Ray Charles, Diana Krall, Clark Terry, Bob Mintzer or Chris Botti. Either way, there is no mistaking his expressive baritone saxophonics whenever there’s a fitting solo or through composed section for his instrument of choice. Adam Schroeder’s latest release is simply called Let’s (Capri Records, 2014)and as far as I am concerned, it works and works very well. His accompaniment includes the great bassist John Clayton, drummer Jeff Hamilton and Anthony Wilson on guitar so this rhythm section should give you an indication of why this recording works so well. As a master of the rarely heard baritone saxophone, Adam Schroeder surely captivates his listeners during his performances of his own original songs and time-honored covers. His originals include the funky “Just Clap Your Hands,” and a very swinging composition that he calls “A Hawkeye, A Hoosier and Two Cali Cats,” which point to his hometown and the hometowns of his band members. The melodies of those covers are the ones that have stuck with you over the years, i.e. Duke Pearson’s “Hello Bright Sunshine,” Stevie Wonder’s “You & I,” Thad Jones’ “Let’s” and Benny Carter’s “Southside Samba.” Adam produced the CD and also arranged all but two of the songs on the recording which definitely gives him more credibility as an artist who is capable of multi-tasking when necessary. So if you like the sound of bebop and swing coming from the deep, low, registers of a virtuoso's baritone saxophone, then“Let’s” do this. Give this recording a few listens and then check it out at the SOTJ store when you’re done. To buy Let’s, click on the CD cover.
subtitled Subtexto en Azul
On Subtext, guitarist Steve Khan joins again with long-time collaborator drummer Dennis Chambers and his all-star Latin team of Marc Quinones, Bobby Allende and Ruben Rodriguez – all of whom Khan has known and performed with since the 1990s. But this is the first time these musicians have individually performed on Steve Khan’s recordings and this meeting of their musical minds is absolutely great. Guest performances by Randy Brecker, Rob Mounsey, Gil Goldstein and Mariana Ingold add to Khan’s exceptional musical visions. The ensemble explores the compositions of such great jazzmen as Ornette Coleman, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Greg Osby and Thelonious Monk and tosses in a few of his own originals to complete this brilliant gem.
Opening with Ornette Coleman’s “Bird Food,” the free bop tune that features Randy Brecker on flugelhorn, for over 9 minutes Khan honors Coleman’s wily tune with full-fledged exuberance. The brilliantly arranged Freddie Hubbard “Baraka Sasa” is even more exciting because of the rollicking salsa rhythms. The next musical phase Khan explores is Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes.” He conceptualizes this great song in an Afro-Cuban 6/8 groove. It’s both romantic and beautiful as is the ballad “Never Let Me Go” which begins with an intimate whisper and then surges into an outpouring of emotion. Such a relief to hear this song done in such a beautiful arrangement for guitar. Overall, Steve Khan has hit the jackpot with this great recording and it is one that should be in your jazz collection. So check it out and then buy Subtext from the SOTJ store. Click on the CD cover to purchase Subtext.
Violinist Regina Carter is considered the foremost jazz violinist of her generation – a designation which doesn’t quite paint the picture. As a result of her curiosity, passion, and quest for beauty brought to every stop taken on her full musical journey, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (a “genius grant”). Those are more apparent than ever on her upcoming debut Southern Comfort(Sony Music Masterworks), in which she explores the folk music of the South. The album was released on March 4, 2014 and coincides with an international tour.
Southern Comfortthematically connects Carter’s earlier albums I’ll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey (2006), which features her mother’s favorite early jazz standards; and Reverse Thread (2010) which celebrates the tradition of African music re-imagined for violin, accordion, bass, drums and kora. On her new album she explores the folk tunes her paternal grandfather, a coalminer, would have heard as he toiled in Alabama – and the project expanded to include other folk tunes of the region.
Intent on making the past, present, Regina sought out distant relatives and books about the era in which her grandfather lived. From there, she went to the Library of Congress and the renowned collections of folklorists such as Alan Lomax and John Work III digging deep into their collected field recordings from Appalachia. On Southern Comfort, Regina interprets her own roots through a modern lens.
“When I would hear some of these field recordings, if I heard something that touched me I put it on the list,” said Carter. “I had maybe 50 tunes that I felt strongly about, and I finally forced myself to work more on those to stop myself from collecting more.”
The 11 tracks on Southern Comfort include Carter’s interpretations of Cajun fiddle music, early gospel and coal miner’s work songs in addition to some more contemporary tunes.
“In the Appalachians there were Scottish and Irish descendants, slaves and Native Americans. It was a cultural hodgepodge and the music resulting from it is intoxicating. This disc was to pay homage to my family,” said Carter, “but it turned out to be so much more.”
The musicians on this recording bring a different mixture of backgrounds to the project, including guitarists Adam Rogers and Marvin Sewell, bassists Chris Lightcap and Jesse Murphy, accordionist Will Holshouser and drummer Alvester Garnett, who also provided arrangements. Stefon Harris, Xavier Davis and Nate Smith also contributed arrangements, about which Carter expressed, “Each arranger brings out something musically that’s unique to them which speaks to me.”
On being signed to Sony Music Masterworks, Carter adds, “I’m so excited to work with a label that has such history; it’s the perfect place for this project. Moreover, it’s wonderful to be reunited with U.S. label head Chuck Mitchell. I’ve provided Southern Comfort– the nurturance and comfort Chuck and SONY have provided covers a realm far greater.”
For more information about Regina Carter and her upcoming concerts, please visit her website at www.reginacarter.com.
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.
Billy’s Back on Broadway
Tony and GRAMMY Award winning singer, composer, actor, playwright and director Billy Porter has released his debut recording for Concord Records and it’s a keeper. Billy’s Back on Broadway is produced by Rob Mounsey and features 10 classics made famous on Broadway. The songs focus on inspiration, empowerment and hope and are excellent vehicles for Porter’s exceptional vocal range and lyrical interpretations. Porter selected such songs as “But the World Goes Round,” “On the Street Where You Live,” and “Luck Be A Lady,” in addition to a duet with special guest Cyndi Lauper on “Happy Days/Get Happy.” Overall, the recording is an exceptional introduction to Billy Porter for non-theatrical fans and a great way to hear him again for those who have witnessed his amazing performances on Broadway and heard his cast recordings. To purchase Billy’s Back on Broadway, please click on the CD cover.
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.
No flash in the pan, pianist Lisa Hilton has found both popular appeal and intellectual appreciation for her emotional intensity and musical sophistication heard on the 16 albums that she has produced. Over the course of her creative career she has played with many of this era’s jazz luminaries, notably Larry Grenadier, Nasheet Waits, Marcus Gilmore, J.D. Allen, Christian McBride, Steve Wilson, Jeremy Pelt, Lewis Nash and Bobby Militello of the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Lisa’s most recent release is titled Kaleidoscope which features 11 great compositions. She wrote 9 of the songs for the program and has accompaniment from Larry Grenadier on bass, Marcus Gilmore on drums and J.D. Allen on tenor sax. Together they provide a musical perspective that you are sure to enjoy from start to finish. There is no incoherent complexity or excessive doses of energetic expressionism that will surely bore any jazz lover. Hilton’s songs are artfully composed with the same skill and patience used by master sculptor. She opens with “Simmer,” a deftly constructed hard bop vehicle for J.D. Allen’s tenor sax chops. “Whispered Confessions” is a thoughtful and pensive ballad that reflects her classical training while “Labyrinth” with its subtle combination of individual instrumental sonorities and unpredictable thematic leaps recalls the interpretations of McCoy Tyner with John Coltrane. Overall, Lisa Hilton has created a true musical Kaleidoscope and a richly eclectic set. The program not only spotlights the beautiful reinterpretations of “When I Fall In Love,” and “One and Only,” but reveals a new body of original works that are essential ingredients for an enduring performance repertoire and lasting appeal to a wide audience. To buy Kaleidoscope from the SOTJ store, click on the CD cover.
Dianne Reeves' Concord Records debut, Beautiful Life, is in stores now. The album showcases Reeves’ sublime gifts by melding elements of R&B, Latin and pop within the framework of 21st Century jazz. “At its essence,” says Reeves, “Life is beautiful and I wanted to celebrate that which is too often overlooked.”There should be no overlooking Beautiful Life, a journey of 12 songs which includes singularly memorable covers of Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain,” Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You” and Ani DiFranco’s self-empowering “32 Flavors.” Included in the rest of the tracks, which cover the spectrum from jazz to soul, are two new songs “Cold” and “Satiated” which are emotionally volcanic. Produced by Terri Lyne Carrington, Beautiful Life features an all-star cast that includes bassists Esperanza Spalding and Richard Bona, vocalists Gregory Porter and Lalah Hathaway, pianists Robert Glasper and Gerald Clayton and Reeves’ cousin and frequent longtime collaborator George Duke.
For more information about the GRAMMY Award-winning artist and her upcoming concert dates, please visit her website at www.diannereeves.com.
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.
Innovative, exuberant and controversial, Matthew Shipp has, in his 20+ years of existence as a jazz pianist, found both popular appeal and intellectual appreciation for his emotional intensity and musical sophistication. His pianism defies conventional categories and his seemingly endless creativity as a composer provides thoughtful and vibrant music for his avid fans. On his latest offering titled Piano Sutras, Matthew Shipp wrote eleven of the compositions on the recording except John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” and Wayne Shorter’s “Nefertiti.” His original compositions import the atonality of free jazz into the conventional harmonic, melodic and rhythmic procedures. However it is his pursuit of musical freedom that makes this recording exciting as it takes you away from the traditional musical grammar one consciously hears when listening to other styles of jazz. Just one listen to the superimposition of conflicting metres as heard on “Cosmic Shuffle” or to his musical ideas and dissonance on “Giant Steps,” and “Uncreated Light,” will give you some of the same spontaneous feelings that Shipp, as an artist, shares on this exemplary work. Check it out.
Bob James and David Sanborn
Quartette Humaine is the first creative collaboration between keyboardist-composer Bob James and alto saxophonist David Sanborn since their million-selling, Grammy-winning album, Double Vision, twenty-five years ago. With Quartette Humaine, James and Sanborn eschew the pop and R&B production values that mark large chunks of their careers and offer instead an all-acoustic quartet recital consisting of six new compositions by James, three pieces by Sanborn and a James-arranged standard. Joined by legendary drummer Steve Gadd and bass giant James Genus, Quartette Humaine is reflective and swinging with unfailingly melodic improvising and beautiful tonalities. "We felt it's far more exciting and adventurous to move forward," James says. "Times have changed and we have changed." Adds Sanborn, "At this stage of my life, I wanted more than anything to play music that's challenging and fun, outside the style we've been associated with." It's a poignant coincidence that the recording sessions occurred a week after the death of iconic pianist-composer Dave Brubeck, and the album evokes the sound of the Brubeck quartet with Paul Desmond. Bob James and David Sanborn have produced another masterpiece. Buy Quartette Humaine today.
I Thought About You (A Tribute to Chet Baker)
On Eliane Elias' second Concord release, the sultry Brazilian pianist-vocalist-arranger wraps her jazz and bossa nova style around classic tunes associated with iconic jazz trumpeter Chet Baker: "I Thought About You", "You Don't Know What Love Is", "Let's Get Lost", "That Old Feeling", and "I Get Along Without You Very Well". Elias is supported by top flight Brazilian and American musicians, including her rhythm section of guitarist Steve Cardenas, drummers Rafael Barata and Victor Lewis, percussionist Marivaldo dos Santos and her husband, bassist Marc Johnson. The album also features special guests Randy Brecker on trumpet and Brazilian guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, considered a founding figure in bossa nova.
This is a keeper that you'll enjoy immensely. Check it out at the SOTJ store ... just click on the CD cover.
Click on CD cover image to purchase.
Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole
After four years of touring and developing "An Unforgettable Tribute to Nat King Cole," the legendary George Benson makes his most inspired album: Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole. The recording is one of the most meaningful of Benson's career and is a testament to the spirit of Cole's timeless body of work. Benson's heartfelt renditions of some of Cole's greatest songs with Nelson Riddle arrangements and the 42-piece Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra are complemented by duets with Tony Award winner Idina Menzel and rising star Judith Hill, along with a special collaboration with multi-GRAMMY and Pulitzer Prize-winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. A true masterwork. Buy it today. Simply click on the CD cover.
Far from new to the jazz world, JD Allen has been on the New York scene for more than a decade, lending his astute playing to a string of headline jazz names, from Betty Carter to Cindy Blackman to Lisa Hilton. On Grace, he is joined here by pianist Eldar Djangirov, bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Jonathan Barber. Allen's usually piano-less ensemble explores new territory with works that challenge preconceptions and expand the expressive potential of jazz composition. Grace features JD Allen doing what he does best, wailing on that saxophone of his and giving it all he's got. Check him out then buy Grace which has been hanging steady on the jazz charts. Click on the CD cover to purchase.
Boney James has re-signed with Concord Records and now presents his new project titled The Beat. Rick Braun, The Floacist, and Raheem De Vaugh join the triple GRAMMY nominee on ten new tracks that feature the saxophonist’s compelling artistry and inimitable saxophone swagger. The set opens with an updated version of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” which features Brandon Coleman on keyboards, Vinnie Colauta on drums and Lenny Castro on percussion. Boney plays the soprano sax and breathes new life into this classic. Up next is “Sunset Boulevard” a priceless collaboration written by Boney James and Brandon Coleman. Now on tenor saxophone, this song is pure Boney with its hip beat and grooves that move. The good times continue with “Batucada (The Beat)” and you can be assured that this song will have you up and dancing since it features the great trumpeter Rick Braun exciting you during a great conversation with Boney. “Maker of Love,” a sexy/soulful love ballad sung by Raheem DeVaughn is sure to please as will the sophisticated and beautiful “Mari’s Song.” All of the songs on The Beat are born out of Boney’s love for both Latin and R&B music and was inspired initially by Sergio Mendes’ “Batucada (The Beat)” which he re-imagined as a funk tune. He lets his imagination flow and his unique artistry runs the musical spectrum – from funk to beautiful. Check it out. Click on the CD cover to purchase The Beat.
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.
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Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue
Terri Lyne Carrington
Duke Ellington released Money Jungle in February 1963, a trio album with bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach. Fast forward to 2013 and a new generation of jazz lovers will be introduced to a re-imagined version of this album titled Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue which has been released by drummer and educator Terri Lyne Carrington. She is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Ellington release with her trio featuring bassist Christian McBride and pianist Gerald Clayton. The trio is joined by an array of stellar guests including trumpeter Clark Terry, Herbie Hancock, Robin Eubanks on trombone, vocalist Lizz Wright, saxophonist Tia Fuller and several other respected musicians.
In addition to the musicians who gave their heart and soul to the making of this awesome recording, audio clips from speeches spoken by Martin Luther King, Hilary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Condoleeza Rice, and others set Carrington’s version apart from Ellington’s. Gerald Clayton is absolutely masterful at the piano as is Christian McBride who keeps the rhythm logic appropriate throughout and during his creative solos. But it is the GRAMMY- winning drummer Teri Lyne Carrington who digs deeper to redefine and reflect the real stories behind the music that Ellington composed. Her drumming and creativity ignite the cultural, political and socially relevant speeches that makes this recording accessible to another generation of music lovers as well as to those who may have missed the message Ellington wanted to convey in 1963.
Overall, the music is genuinely creative with no processed, over-saturated ingredients that pollute the musical genius of Ellington. If you enjoyed Mosaic Project, then you’ll absolutely love Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue. Listen Up at the SOTJ store and then buy it. Simply click on the CD cover.
Guitarist Kevin Eubanks showcases the breadth of his artistic influences on his new Mack Avenue Records release titled The Messenger. The recording also features members of Eubanks core quartet Billy Pierce on reeds, Rene Camacho on bass, and Marvin “Smitty” Smith on drums. Special guests include Joey De Leon, Alvin Chea and Kevin's brothers Robin and Duane Eubanks.
Kevin wrote all but two tracks and gives his listeners several ways to enjoy his music. “The Messenger” opens the set and it’s filled with Eubanks’ musical personality as he offers a range of moods, textures and tempos. He’s funky on “JB” (a nod to James Brown) and has given a new twist of funk to John Coltrane’s “Resolution.” Alvin Chea sings the vocal bass line, Kevin plays a dynamic solo and this song gets new life and is thoroughly entertaining. Kevin changes directions again and reveals the reflective side of his creativity on “Sister Veil,” “Queen of Hearts,” “Loved Ones,” and “The Gloaming.” An exceptional performance by Duane Eubanks on trumpet and Billy Pierce on reeds permeates the haunting beauty of “Sister Veil.” Here Kevin adds his guitar with a wah-wah solo that will stay with you long after the track is over.
Overall, The Messenger is a project that not only showcases the exemplary technical prowess of Kevin Eubanks and his band, but it is soulful, energetic, and emotional and represents the best of Kevin Eubanks. Listen up and then buy it from the SOTJ store. Simply click on the CD cover.
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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.
Wolff & Clark Expedition
Michael Wolff & Mike Clark
Pianist Michael Wolff and drummer Mike Clark take you on a musical journey that will entertain, fascinate and keep you interested. Wolff & Clark Expedition also features Chip Jackson on bass and together, the trio steers you though new musical landscapes previously un-discovered by the original composers. As they reimagine such diverse compositions as “Come Together,” “What Is This Thing Called Love,” “Mercy Mercy Mercy and “Song For My Father,” you, dear listener, will hear captivating musical symmetry that inspires because of the trio’s unparalleled innovation. Random Act Records released the recording by this emphatic trio and each song is marked with their reflective and improvisational twists, turns and uncharted directions that make these classic pop and jazz gems accessible to a new generation. As the opening track, “Come Together,” clearly indicates there is a pronounced melding of musical personalities and freshly configured themes. “Elise” rounds out the program and expressively yields the lyrical grace of pianist Michael Wolff as Mike Clark lightly comps this lovely melody. This set ranks up there with the best of Wolff’s and Clark’s previous individual offerings as leaders and session musicians, so give Wolff & Clark Expedition a listen at the SOTJ store then click on the CD cover to purchase.
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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.
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Esprit de Four
Keyboardist Bob James, bassist/vocalist Nathan East, guitarist Chuck Loeb and drummer/percussionist Harvey Mason offer listeners a solid program of brand new compositions written by each of them on their latest release titled Esprit de Four. Chuck Loeb contributed three songs including the melodic opening track “December Dream,” “Sonnymoon,” and “Logic of Love.” Each song reflects Loeb’s stellar abilities as a guitarist and composer but because “December Dream” prominently features Harvey Mason’s 21st century orchestral snare drums, Nathan East’s amazing vocalese and walking bass lines as well as great counterpoint from Bob James, listeners will instantly realize that the song is truly a collaborative effort. Nathan East’s and Tom Keane’s upbeat “Firefly” reveals East’s energetic electric bass chord progressions brighten the path for James’ keyboard solo and harmonic cushions from Mason and Loeb. East and Keane also wrote the romantic ballad “All I Wanna Do.” This song is a great vehicle for East’s sexy vocals and exposes another side of his creativity. “Venus” is another romantic gem that shines in the hands of Bob James and Chuck Loeb’s exemplary keyboard and guitar interplay. Mason also wrote the title track which also spotlights Loeb’s guitar expertise. Three of the more poignant compositions are from the pen of Bob James. “Put Our Hearts Together” has a vocal rendition featuring Japanese pop singer Seiko Matsuda, as well as an instrumental rendition. This song is dedicated to the victims of the tsunami that ravaged Japan in 2011 and is certainly delivered from the heart. The instrumental version is just as perceptive and features Bob James’ delicate piano work that is finely tuned to the inspired events. Overall, the entire program is one that features the insightful performances by all of Fourplay’s members and their consummate professionalism as Esprit de Four.
Brad Whiteley Trio
For Brad Whiteley, it’s all about the music on his Destiny Records debut titled Pathless Land. The pianist/organist shares his signature sound on 9 original compositions and is accompanied by Andrew Lim on guitar, Daniel Foose on Bass, Kenneth Salters on drums and Erika Lloyd on vocals. Whiteley pulls out all the stops on the opener “Winsome Excursion.” This jaunty anthemic organ shuffle gives his fans a dose of his swinging, soul-jazz chops and suggest that Whiteley definitely has something to say. He further engages his listeners with “Bass Instincts” a bouncy tune that is reminiscent of Jimmy Smith’s early work. Brad switches to piano on “Erika’s Song” a beautiful ballad featuring his wife Erika Lloyd on vocals and later on “Suite Contemplation” which features Lloyd’s vocalese. This inspired program is filled with expressiveness and creativity and reveals Whiteley’s limitless imagination. Overall, Pathless Land is sure to interest his fans and attract many new ones. Check it out. To buy Pathless Land, please click on the CD cover.
Chick Corea and Gary Burton
Five years ago, Chick Corea and Gary Burton celebrated the 35th year of their vibes-piano collaboration with their first double CD, The New Crystal Silence. To commemorate the 40-year anniversary, the duo has released Hot House. The set consists of repertoire taken from some of their favorite composers and includes new arrangements of such favorites as “Eleanor Rigby” “Strange Meadowlark,” “Time Remembered,” and “Light Blue.”
Although Chick Corea and Gary Burton are a duo who don’t offer a huge portfolio of collaborations, they certainly make the most of what they have released. Witness Crystal Silence, which since its introduction in 1972, has begotten a succession of ever-more-dazzling collaborations, including Lyric Suite For Sextet, Chick Corea and Gary Burton: Live In Munich, among others, and now, missing no opportunity for a new set of duet music, Corea and Burton’s Hot House reveals two masters at work who after 40 years are as excited as ever about the music they’re playing and are genuinely enjoying themselves.
Corea and Burton employ their trusty acoustic instruments – piano and vibraphone – and which are more than sufficient to deliver a great sound that avoids sensory overload. With their prodigious power they deliver songs written by such great pianists as Monk, Evans, Tatum, Dameron, Weill and McCartney, dressed in new clothing that will surely impress the most sophisticated listeners. One new composition by Chick Corea titled “Mozart Goes Dancing,” concludes the program.
Apart from the obvious, Hot House differs from their previous collaborations due to the decades (1940s to 1960s) from which the songs emanated and the fact that not many of these songs are well-known. All of the songs sport new Corea-Burton arrangements and classic tweaks that make these songs accessible to a new generation. Check it out. Buy HOT HOUSE now. Click on the CD cover.
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.
Brian Bromberg's Depth Revealed on Three New Titles
Compared to That
Brian Bromberg’s year has been exceptionally musical with the release of three recordings within one month! Compared To That is Bromberg’s 20th solo collection and features 8 new songs, 2 covers, a ten piece horn section as well as a full orchestra string section and accompaniment by prominent musicians. He plays a variety of basses including piccolo basses tuned to sound like guitars, as well as acoustic and electric basses. Master musicians George Duke, Bela Fleck, Mitch Forman, Larry Goldings, Jeff Lorber Randy Brecker and several others lend their visionary accompaniment on these imaginative renditions and originals. Standing out is “Give It To Me Baby,” one of Rick James’ hits and “I’m Just Saying” as well as the swinging take on “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” Once again, Brian Bromberg takes bass playing to new heights and directions that many of his generation fear to tread.
Bromberg Plays Hendrix
It’s hard to imagine a bass player playing the lead melodies of Jimi Hendrix’s fiery compositions that made him a household name in the 70s and beyond. But on Bromberg Plays Hendrix, bassist Brian Bromberg does just that as he pays tribute to one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time. Bromberg accomplishes this major feat by playing piccolo basses and making them sound like Hendrix’s lead guitar! Bromberg is absolutely amazing on these fretless basses in the role of lead guitar. They definitely distil the melodies from Hendrix’s vocals and the fire from his awesome guitar playing. In addition Bromberg plays electric and acoustic basses and is only accompanied by Vinnie Colaiuta on drums! What a great CD! Hits such as “Fire,” “Hey Joe,” and “Purple Haze” get the Bromberg touch and he rocks these songs straight to your soul. Buy it now.
In The Spirit of Jobim
In The Spirit of Jobim was previously released in Asian territories but Bromberg recut, remixed, and remastered the songs playing new bass parts using his line of Carvin guitars. This disc is comprised of five classics made famous by Jobim including “One Note Samba,” “Wave,” and seven of Bromberg’s original compositions. Accompanied by the string section of the Rising Sun Orchestra and several master musicians, including Airto, Otmaro Ruiz, Gary Meek, Oscar Castro-Neves, Alex Acuna and others, this disc is stunningly romantic, beautiful and serene. Overall, this amazing collection is among Brian Bromberg’s masterworks and should be in your music library – not on the shelf but in constant rotation. Check it out and then buy it here 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.
Pianist/composer/producer David Benoit seems to be able to master any genre of music be it Jazz, Classical, Pop, Latin, World or musical scores for film and television. On his latest inspired offering titled Conversation, Benoit has a lot to say as he performs with an exciting cadre of musicians who hail from a broad spectrum of musical styles and backgrounds. In addition to his stellar performances on “Napa Crossroads Overture” (which he co-wrote with David Pack) and “Diary of A Wimpy Kid” (from the movie of the same name), he shares his amazing versatility on 7 of his original compositions. Several guest artists including the Asia-America Youth Orchestra, electric guitarist Jeff Golub, acoustic guitarist Pat Kelley, guitarist David Pack, flutist Tim Weisberg, and classical pianist Robert Theis make valuable contributions to David’s musical repertoire and keep you interested. Among the great highlights – and there are many – is Benoit’s beautiful “Kei’s Song Redux” after the song called “Kei’s Song.” He wrote the original not long after he and Kei were married and the update features some great solo guitar work from Pat Kelley as well as his own great pianism. This is an amazing track. “Q’s Motif” is based on a boogie woogie motif written by Quincy Jones. Here Benoit plays synthesizer and gives his fans another side of his musical personality. The title track closes the program. This composition is the third and last movement in a suite titled Music for Two Trios and features a classical trio comprised of pianist Robert Theis, violinist Yun Tang, and cellist Cathy Biagini. This awesome work also features great soloing from Jeff Golub and David Benoit. Overall, Conversation is among David Benoit’s greatest performances. You’re sure to enjoy it so check it out. Click the CD cover to buy Conversation.
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.