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.
Mixtura is Luba Mason’s most recent offering on Kolbalt Records and it’s a keeper. The CD is an intriguing mix of Jazz, Pop, Country, Bossa Nova and more that features such guest artists as Al Jarreau, Kenny Loggins, Randy Brecker, Dori Caymmi, Flor De Tolache and Jimmy Haslip. The award-winning vocalist co-produced the 12-track recording with Jimmy Haslip and led her band of drummer Joel Mateo, bassist Dan Martinez, guitarist Rafael Rosa , violinist Sara Caswell and Felipe Founier who serves as Musical Director and plays vibraphone and percussion.
According to Luba Mason, "Mixtura is a message about the importance of art as a medium of freedom of expression and life without boundaries, a culmination of everything I am, have learned and experienced so far in life as a singer, musician and artist. Its meaning is a ‘blend of different musical currents,' each song evoking different parts of me and full of surprises, twists and turns."
Al Jarreau duets with Luba on “Moon Dance,” shares the spotlight with Randy Brecker and Jimmy Haslip n “Freedom,” sings a cool bossa nova with Dori Caymmi and Kenny Loggins on “On The 4th of July,” and gets introspective with the Flor De Toalache Mariachi Band on ‘”Calm Before the Storm.” Each song reveals her dynamic versatility as a singer.
The entire CD is excellent and continues to meet the exemplary standards Luba Mason has set for herself as an artist. For more information, please visit her website
The Complete Prestige Series is available May 2016
Starring Don Cheadle as Miles Davis
"Miles Ahead" is the new film starring Don Cheadle as the iconic Miles Davis. The film depicts a slice of the legendary trumpeter's life during the 1970s and is a mix of fact and fiction. Great music from such great albums as Sketches of Spain, Kind of Blue and others makes the film outstanding. The soundtrack for the motion picture is available here. Check your local theatre listings for showtimes and locations.
In advance of what would have been Miles Davis’ 90th birthday, Prestige Records, a division of Concord Bicycle Music, will celebrate this milestone with The Complete Prestige 10-Inch LP Collection — a lavish, 11-LP box set which commemorates the legendary trumpeter’s appearances as a young leader for Prestige Records during the 10-inch LP era, from 1951 – 1954.
The Complete Prestige 10-Inch LP Collection, available May 13th, presents all ten 10-inch LPs on which Miles Davis appeared as a leader for Prestige Records, plus a bonus record featuring Davis as a guest artist with Lee Konitz, all remastered from the original analog master tapes and faithfully reproduced on 10-inch vinyl, including the original cover artwork and liner notes. Also in the box is a 16-page booklet featuring rare photographs and insightful new notes by GRAMMY® Award-winning author Ashley Kahn, as well as a collectible print of a painting by Davis. The complete list of 10-inch albums includes: Modern Jazz Trumpets (featuring Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Dorham and Fats Navarro); The New Sounds; Blue Period; Miles Davis Plays the Compositions of Al Cohn; Miles Davis Quartet; Miles Davis All Star Sextet; Miles Davis Quintet; Miles Davis with Sonny Rollins; Miles Davis All Stars, Vol. 1; Miles Davis All Stars, Vol. 2 and, as a bonus, Lee Konitz’s The New Sounds, featuring Davis as a guest artist. These records offer an incredible lineup of talent, including performances by Art Blakey, Al Cohn, Roy Haynes, Percy Heath, Milt Jackson, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver and Zoot Sims, among many other legends of the genre.
Nick Phillips, the producer of the box set, remarks, “This collection presents an exciting and important period in Miles Davis’ development as an artist; one in which he is clearly distinguishing himself from the other bop stylists of the era and is rapidly developing the uniquely lyrical and powerful voice that remains so instantly recognizable and influential to this day.”
In addition to the vinyl box set, Concord is in the process of making Davis’ entire Prestige catalog of 12-inch albums available as 24-bit digital editions. Each title has been meticulously restored from the original analog tapes by GRAMMY® Award-winning mastering engineer Paul Blakemore. The campaign, which has been ongoing since February 2016, includes such albums as Dig, Walkin’, Cookin’, Relaxin’, Workin’, and Steamin’, among others. The rollout is expected to be completed by May, 2016.
Emily's D+ Evolution
Seven collaborative and five solo albums into her career at 31, Esperanza Spalding has always resolutely, intuitively, deftly expanded upon both her art and herself as a world-renowned genre-bending composer, bassist and vocalist. Spalding’s work, grounded in jazz traditions but never bound by them, has won her four Grammy awards and brought her onstage at the Oscars, the Nobel Prize Ceremony, the White House, and with Prince and Herbie Hancock. Not only does she know who she is, we know who she is.
Or, rather, we think we do. The elastic self and work of a true artist is always changing; ideas are channeled, shape-shifting becomes necessary. Emily’s D+Evolution (pronounced “d plus evolution”) is where we meet Emily--both Esperanza’s middle name and the label for the spirit-muse that flows through this multi-dimensional, theatrical performance artwork wrapped in a brilliantly urgent, vivacious record. With 6 tracks co-produced by Tony Visconti (David Bowie) and drawing, at times, from wellsprings as disparate as Cream to Shostakovich to St. Vincent,Emily’s D+Evolution is a kaleidoscopic project; raw, honest, luminous.
"Whether you want to see it as devolution and evolution, and the place where they co-exist without one diminishing the other, or...barely having the tools that you need, but having to move forward, and having to keep moving," Spalding explained to NPR in a recent interview, the album conceptually addresses the always exciting, sometimes messy process of reconciling the aspects of our selves that are in conflict. Exploding with literal and proverbial electricity, this album’s complex but immediate compositions were committed to tape partially live, and partially in front of a control room packed full of 20 or more onlookers. The trio of Spalding (fretless electric bass and vocals), Matthew Stevens (electric guitar) and Justin Tyson and Karriem Riggins(splitting drum duties) often decided to use the first take--a testament to the project’s particular energy and Spalding’s virtuosity. Many of the compositions on Emily’s D+Evolutionwere, after all, incubated onstage during the rigorous live performance schedule that preceded it.
Armed with the entity of Emily flowing through her, Spalding’s visionary performance of the album is an experience to behold and an integral part of the project itself. Here, Spalding is, for the first time, incorporating stage design, movement and acting into her already vivid musical storytelling practice. She’s working with stage director and playwright Will Wiegler to manifest her concepts physically now that they’ve come to life aurally. Each track on the album, from the soaring ode to uninhibited self-expression “Good Lava” to the affecting, shimmery funk ballad “Unconditional Love”, Emily’s D+Evolution is rich, surprising and labyrinthian, yet classic and timeless, as if these songs have always existed out there in the ether. Turns out that Spalding just had to tune in to Emily to bring them here to Earth.
Hard bop jazz meets reggae on Darren Barrett’s latest recording titled Trumpet Vibes. The award-winning trumpeter/composer/arranger offers the sounds of his native Jamaica and also includes ska grooves aligned with his technical proficiency, and the animate vibraphone work of Warren Wolf.
The set opens with a salute to Donald Byrd with “Fly Little Bird” during which Warren Wolf offers his knockout vibes and variety of grooves. Barrett wrote four of the songs on the recording including “Chiapas,” “Song For A Princess,” “Phantom dB,” and “The Club Up the Street” which also features Warren Wolf. As an Associate Professor in the Ensemble Department at Berklee College of Music, Barrett has access to many well-known musicians and here he is accompanied by Alexander Toth on bass, Anthony Toth on drums, percussion and Simon Mouillier on vibes and balaphone.
Jazz meets reggae on “Chiapas” with it autumnal hues while the “To Sir With Love” gets an invigorating and spritely makeover. His version of Stevie Wonder’s “My Chere Amour,” is a real keeper and his electrifying take on “the Club Up The Street,” will have you dancing and bopping during this free-for-all.
Check it out. The CD is produced by Darren Barrett and is available on dB Studios record label.
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.
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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.
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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.
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.