Vocalist, composer and Thelonious Monk institute grad Johnaye Kendrick’s new release on Johnygirl Records titled Flying features six originals penned by the vocalist and six covers of some of your favorite songs including one of the most intriguingly structured love songs – “Fallen” – the Lauren Wood gem made famous after it was sequenced in the motion picture “Pretty Woman.”
On Flying, Kendrick’s singing is nothing short of beautiful. Accompanied by the simple rhythms exuded by Dawn Clement on piano and keyboards, Chris Symer on bass and D’Vonne Lewis on drums, Johnaye’s soothing vocals as well as the highly emotional way she sings keeps you listening from start to finish. Her multi-range vocals are filled with elongated phrasings, inspired colors and textures that reveal her depth as a singer and composer and ability to connect with her listeners.
As you continue to listen to the recording, you realize that many of her original songs were inspired by personal aspects in Johnaye’s life. “Never You Mind” is her socially conscious message ripped straight from today’s news headlines, while her graceful tribute to her young twin toddlers “You Two” is at the heart of home life.
By contrast, she adds such vocal gymnastics as scatting, vocalese and her multi-octave range throughout “It Could Happen to You,” “The Very Thought of You” and “The Lonely One” to show her versatility as a contemporary jazz vocalist who can command your attention while breathing fresh riffs into these jazz evergreens.
Overall, Flying is a passionate offering with the potential for attracting more fans to Johnaye’s widening fan base. Check it out.
Meeting of Minds
Bob Mintzer Big Band and New York Voices
Meeting of Minds focuses on the integration of voices with the big band. This fresh sonic palette features subtle yet harmonic and rhythmic nuances in the arrangements that blend together to create an interesting 21st century twist on Great American Songbook favorites. The improvised solos, superb ensemble playing, the four-part harmony within Mintzer’s intricate big band charts and textures makes Meeting of Minds a very special recording.
Produced by MCG Jazz, the recording brings together 21 musicians who have been a part of the MCG jazz family from the very beginning. “Autumn Leaves” opens the program and highlights lead vocalist Kim Nazarian’s and Lauren Kinhan’s exemplary vocals. Bob Sheppard and Phil Markowitz offer beautiful solos that underline the gorgeous melody of this song which is played in an uptempo swing style with four-part harmonizing vocals instead of as a ballad fronted by a soloist. Cole Porter’s “I Concentrate On You,” is a showcase for lead vocalist Peter Eldridge with exceptional soloing from baritone saxophonist Roger Rosenberg. Damon Meader, who delivered all of the vocal arrangements, steps into the spotlight on “You Go To My Head” as lead vocalist and also adds interesting vocal improvisations as Scott Wendholt lends his trumpet visions to this lovely song.
Bob Mintzer wrote all of the band arrangements as well as “Weird Blues” which is the only composition not presently included in the Great American Songbook. With all of the songs now in different time signatures, the special arrangements that produced for Meeting of Minds make this recording worth several listens and gives new meaning to how classic songs can become modern day hits. Check it out.
Stanley Clarke Band
The past 45 years have been good to bass virtuoso Stanley Clarke who has undoubtedly set the standards for acoustic and electric bass players as well as having defined the era where bass players emerged as composers, bandleaders and educators. With a great record deal on Mack Avenue that has produced such chart-topping recordings as Clarke’s 2014 release titled UP, Mack Avenue has announced the June 2018 release for the Stanley Clarke Band’s long-awaited album titled The Message. Produced, arranged and orchestrated by Clarke, the 11-track recording is a highly versatile, multi-genre collection of new songs written by Clarke and his then working bandmates during a 2015 tour of Europe. Several previously released songs from Stanley Clarke’s extensive repertoire are also included.
The Message features such guest artists as rapper/beatboxer Doug E Fresh, trumpeter Mark Isham, saxophonist Doug Webb, and vocalists Skeyler Kole and Trevor Wesley. Spoken words by Steve Blum stand out on “Combat Contiuum” while collaborating with Clarke’s core band of Cameron Graves on synthesizer, pianist Beka Gochiashvili and drummer Mike Mitchell.
“And Ya Know We’re Missing You” is dedicated to several of Stanley’s dearly departed friends. This collaboration features Clarke slapping out funky riffs, while Doug E. Fresh lays down his instinctive beats. “After the Cosmic Rain/Dance of the Planetary Prince” is a medley of Clarke’s and Graves’ compositions previously written for Return to Forever and inspired by Cameron Graves’ 2017 Mack Avenue release titled Planetary Prince. These solos are awesome and linger with you long after the medley ends.
On “The Rugged Truth” Beka Gochiashvili’s piano solo reveals his artistic improvisations and inimitable technique. The collage of basses, drums and keys draw the listener into their imaginative music cues that burn with energy and excitement.
The album also features “Bach Cello Suite No. 1” during which Clarke performs as a soloist during this recording as well as during some of his live performances. This solo is the epitome of Clarke's virtousity as an acoustic bassist/arranger/orchestrator who can mine a composition from the classical repertoire and make it accessible to a 21st century audience.
The Stanley Clarke Band is one great ensemble that brims with the omnipotence of Stanley Clarke's musicality and the energetic skills of his youthful bandmates. The credibility of The Message – which is love – further reveals that this band is unlimited and deserves your undivided attention. Buy The Message today from the SOTJ store. Click on the CD cover.
Hard driving, swinging, drummer/composer Chris Beck steps into the limelight with the release of his debut recording titled The Journey for A.W.M.C. Records. Produced by Michael Carvin and featuring Beck on vocals and drums, trumpeter Terell Stafford, Anthony Wonsey on piano, Stacy Dillard on tenor sax, and Eric Wheeler on bass, The Journey not only showcases Beck’s talents as a songwriter but features his exceptional drumming and interplay with his bandmates. He calls this recording the “culmination of my life as a man, husband, father, musician and composer.” That’s a broad sweep and this recording justifies those feelings. With six original songs at the center of his debut, Beck illuminates many of his innermost thoughts and emotions on such songs as “Teona,” to his “fiery little angel” on “Waiting for Aiden,” “Tears In Heaven,” and “My Inner Circle.”
Opening with Wayne Shorter’s “Mahjong” Beck spotlights the song’s beautiful soaring and fierce melodic structure. The harmonic and rhythmic connection between Wheeler and Wonsey is impeccable and results in an amazing blend of improvised elements as well as written cadence. Although the colors and textures Beck infused in the ballad “Teona” are subtle, they ultimately reveal a refreshing and soulful homage to a dear family member. Eric Clapton’s “Tears In Heaven” And “Waiting for Aiden” are dedicated to Chris’ late son. Each song is gentle, intimate and reflective and played with reverence for Aiden.
Overall, The Journey is truly a wonderful album of music and should be in your jazz collection. Check it out.
Eyes Wide Open
Vocalist Jamie Shew covers such favorites as Cole Porter’s “Easy To Love”, the Rainger/Robin classic “Easy Living,” and “You Don’t Know What Love Is” in arrangements that shift the focus from their original moods to a modernized concept for 21st century audience. This music on this recording is reminiscent of the kind heard in a quaint nightclub, piano bar or intimate private setting where the audience is keen to her moving interpretations. Jamie has a lovely voice and should attract more attention as her fans begin to appreciate her skills, ability to tell a story and her ability to keep you interested in her projects.
The Jazz Chamber
Cathy Segal-Garcia fulfills one of her lifetime goals with The Jazz Chamber. She is accompanied by a jazz chamber orchestra on 10 compositions that have been arranged for her innovative recording. Cathy sings in several languages including English and Portuguese, duets with Kate McGarry, re-interprets Cyndi Lauper’s hit “Time After Time” and stuns on the almost operatic version of “Cinema Paradiso Theme” with Mon David. A coterie of guest vocalists include the award-winning vocalist Tierney Sutton, the improve vocal group Fish To Birds, Ashley Maher, Emile Hassan Dyer, Cecily Gardner, Adrianne Duncan and Tracy Robertson.
The arrangements by Bevan Manson, Dennis Dreith and Dori Amarillo are spectacular as are the production values that shine as the result of the state of the art engineering and mastering techniques used to complete this recording. Cathy’s voice is a splendid, resonant and captivating sonic experience. Her multi-octave range adds a new dimension to many of your favorite songs including “Star Eyes,” “Universal Prisoner” and “Compared to What.” So check out The Jazz Chamberand the brilliant delivery of these songs by Cathy Segal-Garcia, her guest vocalists and the 30-piece orchestra.
The Rings of Saturn
The Rings of Saturn is Joanne Tatham’s fourth CD and it’s a keeper. This collection of songs reveals her musical growth as a vocalist and interpreter of rarely heard jazz tunes. Accompanied by some of LA’s finest musicians, Tatham performs at the top of her game and more importantly, in harmony and balance with her accompanists. Most prevalent are the jazz standards – “Love Me or Leave Me,” and “It Could Happen to You” which take you down memory lane. Then there are the pop standards made famous by Todd Rungren, “Can We Still Be Friends,” and Phoebe Snow, “Poetry Man.” Overall, the intimacy of Tatham’s voice makes The Rings of Saturn special and recommended for a place in your revered jazz vocalist collection.
It Only Takes Time
Andrew Distel is an adept singer with a virtuosic instrumentalist’s sensibilities. As the leader of his second release titled It Only Takes Time, Distel is joined by an exceptional string section along with a sterling nonet that includes such jazz luminaries as Peter Martin on piano, Carlos Enriquez on bass and Jim Gailoretto on woodwinds. Distel’s vocals have been compared to those of Kenny Rankin’s and Michael Buble’s but with a distinctive sound all his own. In addition to penning two originals – “Wait For Me” and “Your Last Song,” for It Only Takes Time, Distel and his ensemble cover several well-known classics including “Speak Low,” “Alfie,” and “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.” His rendition of the rarely heard “One Morningstar Away” opens the program and features Peter Martin’s highly emotional solo. Distel sings Ivan Lins’ “Amor” in Portuguese and later scats over the changes of the up-tempo version of Gershwin’s “Who Cares.” Overall, the entire program is an eclectic offering of jazz, pensive ballads, and lush string accompaniments. Check it out.
All For One
Grammy-nominated drummer/singer Jamison Ross is proving that he’s not a one-hit-wonder with the release of his latest recording for Concord Jazz. Titled All For One, the winner of the 2012 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Drum Competition, Ross is solidifying his reputation as one of his generation's brightest young drummer/vocalists. Accompanied by pianist Chris Pattishall, guitarist Rick Lollar (both of whom played on the 2015 debut), bassist Barry Stephenson, and Cory Irvin on Hammond organ and Fender Rhodes.
Ross exceeds expectations set by his debut release and heightens his listeners' appreciation for his compositional integrity, vocals, arranging and bandleader skills in this eclectic mix of blues, jazz, R&B and soul.The 13-disc recording features down home New Orleans-style of blues and jazz singing as well as some pure straight ahead bebop that surely was gleaned as an accompanist to some of today’s most revered jazz artists including singer Cécile McLorin Salvant, pianists Jonathan Batiste, Dr. John and Jon Cleary; and bassist Christian McBride. Ross also has accompanied singer and composer Carmen Lundy, who invited Ross to join her band prior to the Thelonius Monk competition.
The recording opens with "A Mellow Time,” which is a mighty remake of the 1966 tune written by Allen Toussaint and made famous by Lee Dorsey. The title track – "All For One” – is a groovin’ Crescent City-based song written and recorded in 1993 by Wilson Turbinton, better known as Willie Tee. Like Ross’ debut, "Tears and Questions” is the only instrumental tune on the recording however Ross' sophomore disc is a brilliant presentation of his wide-ranging artistry and an exciting second chapter in his spectacular artistic evolution as a singer, drummer, composer and bandleader.Stay in touch with Jamison Ross’ happenings and concert tours by visiting https://www.jamisonrossmusic.com/. Buy All For One today.
Airwaves: The Greatest Hits
Guitarist Lawson Rollins has a released an 18-track collection of songs that span a decade of chart-topping radio success. Titled Airwaves: The Greatest Hits, the recording also contains two new songs – “Prado” and “World of Wonder” - recorded exclusively for this album featuring the group 3rd Force and violinist Mads Tolling. For fans of Lawson Rollins, they will remember certain songs from his seven solo albums including “Island Time,” “Moonlight Samba” and “Daybreak.” Although many of the radio edits are different from the album version, all of the songs sound fantastic and you’ll agree. Check it out and then buy it from the SOTJ store.
I Get A Kick: Cole Porter
Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)
LISA B (LISA BERNSTEIN) is not only a jazz singer and songwriter, she’s also a widely published poet and spoken word performer. On I GET A KICK: COLE PORTER REIMAGINED, her newest CD and sixth as a leader, she applies her poetic prowess and vocal gifts to fresh interpretations of ten tunes by Cole Porter, one of the finest of the lyricists and composers (unconventionally, he was both) who created the Great American Songbook.
Lisa B chose ten songs Porter composed for stage and screen between 1929 and 1954. Although many jazz singers have sung and recorded Porter’s tunes, Lisa B set out to re-interpret them in adventurous ways while still hewing to the essences of the lyrics. In the 1950s, some poets gave public readings accompanied by jazz music. Lisa B turns that paradigm on its head. On several tunes, she adds her own spoken word passages to jazz renditions of Porter’s tunes, creating a genre-bending, multi-dimensional effect. Check her latest release out from the SOTJ store.
WHISPERS ON THE WIND
Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge
Grammy award nominee Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge has released a masterpiece that should garner them extensive accolades and deeper fan appreciation. Titled Whispers on the Wind, the 7-track suite reflects modern western and American heartland themes and more in jazz orchestral arrangements that hold you captive from beginning to end. Opening with “Warped Cowboy” and closing with “Gunslingers”, Owen and the 18 members of Jazz Surge fill in the musical stories with virtuosic performances of such songs as “All Hat, No Saddle” “Into The Blue” both of which provide a continuum of the western and American heartland themes they are conveying. Dynamic soloing by guest soloists trumpeter Randy Brecker, violinist Sara Caswell and Gregoire Maret on harmonica make these songs, landmarks, folklore, and myths memorable and worthy of several listens. Overall, tThese outstanding performances by Chuck Owen and Jazz Surge should get them the big win on music’s biggest night. Buy Whispers on the Wind.
Electric Island Acoustic Sea
Tak Matsumoto & Daniel Ho
Your dreams are now coming true! As you listen to the music of Tak Matsumoto and Daniel Ho, two of the world’s most revered musicians, you wonder what took them so long to collaborate but whatever, the wait was worth the wait. Electric Island Acoustic Sea features Tak and Daniel doing what they do best with several guest musicians who bring their musical visions to fruition. In addition to writing and arranging all of the music (except “Faithfully”) the virtuosi play their electric and acoustic guitars, bass, piano, keyboards, Sanshin Ukulele and a variety of percussion and other exotic instruments to perfection.
Tak Matsumoto has sold over 80 million recordings worldwide and is a multiple Grammy Award winner. Matsumoto partnered with Koshi Inaba to form the rock duo, B’z, and reign as one of Japan’s most successful acts, selling over 80 million copies and holding the record for most consecutive No. 1 singles. He has collaborated with the late Larry Carlton on their Grammy winner Take Your Pick and wowed jazz rock fans with his best selling TMG 1. On Electric Island Acoustic Sea, songs such as “Wander Blues” and “Adrenaline UP!” are pumping with electrifying chords that rock in harmony with Daniel Ho’s acoustic guitar and Chinese cymbals, cJingbo, Xiao Luo and Da Luo that keep you on the edge of your seat. Power drumming from Randy Drake solidifies these awesome arrangements.
Daniel Ho is a six-time Grammy award winning guitarist, songwriter and producer best known for his Hawaiian slack key guitar and ukulele virtuosity. Daniel performs original songs in English and Hawaiian that feature his versatility on 'ukulele, slack key guitar, and piano. Notable credits include singing Prince's “Nothing Compares 2 U” in Hawaiian for the feature film Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), and his widely covered `ukulele instrumental anthem, “Pineapple Mango.” His recordings have sold millions around the world and here on Electric Island Acoustic Sea, Daniel Ho not only plays a host of instruments but he covers Steve Perry & Jonathan Cain’s “Faithfully” with vocals that certify his strength as a prepared vocalist. He gives you 100 percent of himself throughout this program while inspiring his bandmates with his mesmerizing interplay.
While most of the songs rock and roll, not all of the songs on Electric Island Acoustic Sea are meant to keep you on the edge of your seat as evidenced by the soulful and peaceful vibes the ensemble brings you on “Omotesando,” “Island of Peace,” “Rain,” and the beautiful “Lia.” Here Tak serenades you with serene electric guitar riffs while Daniel comps with acoustic guitar and electric piano, his world-class tenor and soprano Ukeleles and a variety of exotic instruments. So sit back and relax and enjoy this mind-settling music that makes you feel good.
Overall, this collaboration between Tak Matsumoto and Daniel Ho is virtuosic and should bring more attention to their musical visions, exceptional musicality and awesome skills as songwriters and performers. Check it out and then buy Electric Island and Acoustic Sea.
ROSE FINGERED DAWN
Producer/composer/bassist Hans Sturm has written an excellent collection of compositions for vocalist Jackie Allen’s 12th recording titled Rose Fingered Dawn. Hans’ songwriting is creative and diverse and provides exceptional vehicles for Jackie’s warm alto vocals and spoken vocalese. Joining Jackie Allen and Hans Sturm in the ensemble are John Moulder on guitars, Tom Larson on keyboards, Dane Richeson on drums, percussion, Geof Bradfield on soprano, tenor saxophones and bass clarinet, Victor Garcia on trumpet and Any Baker on trombone.
The title track is a sultry spoken word poem inspired by Sturm’s and Allen’s travels to Morocco where they experiences the rhythms and colors which are paired with the text inspired by Homer’s Odyssey. Dane invokes the character and atmosphere with an opening welcome chant from the Adzogbo people of Ghana. This is music that has come alive and is truly inspired. “NOLA Love Song” is a homage to the City of New Orleans, while Sturm dedicated “Bel Air BBQ” to the Director of the Kansas City Bass Workshop and is an homage to burnt ends!
The creative wordplay of “Time” is the result of Jackie Allen’s ability to express herself in such poetic sensitive imagery in collaboration with the jazz/rock rhythmic interplay of Moulder’s guitar pyrotechnics and the tick tock of drummer Dane Richeson’s range of power drumming. “Dark Butterflies” is a slow bossa and abstract love song with some of the loveliest lyrics you’ll ever hear.
Overall, Rose Fingered Dawn is a beautiful, creative masterpiece that deserves to be in your collection. Give it a listen and give yourself a respite from modern life and its challenges. Buy it here at the SOTJ store. Click on the CD cover.
Patrick Bradley’s Intangible pays homage to a variety of influences that range from spiritual to late musicians whose music influenced his own jazz fusion style. The 10-tracks features the keyboardist with special guests Paul Jackson, Jr., Andrew Carney and Jeff Lorber who also served as producer of the recording. Bradley and Lorber arranged the songs and cultivated the synergy that is powerful yet graceful, riveting and rousing. Bradley used the Hammond B3 organ along with Moog forays to underline the deep pocketed grooves emanating from guitarists Adam Hawley and Michael Thompson, bassist Jimmy Haslip, drummer Gary Novak and David Mann’s horns.
With titles like “Dear Friend,” Bradley’s intent to recognize such musicians as Keith Emerson, George Duke, Joe Sample, and several others, is front and center and clearly looks beyond the tangible to focus listeners on the spirituality and greatness of God. All of the songs reveal a creative energy within Bradley that transfers to the listener from the very start. Other great highlights include “Find The Way,” and “Newport Coast” which are both central to the messages that Bradley conveys.
Overall, Intangible meets the standards set by Bradley’s 2014 release titled Can You Hear Me? Yes we can and please keep writing these wonderful songs. Check it out. Buy it here at the SOTJ store. Click on the CD cover.
The Moonlight Sessions – Volume One
With her latest release titled The Moonlight Sessions, Volume One, Lyn Stanley has created a vibe and a sound that will certainly leave listeners wanting more. The Southern California-based vocalist demonstrates enormous chemistry with her band of some of the very best players on the California jazz scene such as pianist Tamir Hendelman, bassist Chuck Berghofer, drummer Jo LaBarbara, saxophonist Rickey Woodard among others.
The 12-track recording includes songs composed by Glenn Miller, Willie Nelson, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Rodgers and Hart and such standards as “My Funny Valentine” where her velvety voice and the pianist mesh beautifully, building a delicious tension in this classic. Her treatment of Willie Nelson’s “Crazy” has an inspired arrangement by Count Basie’s arranger Sammy Nestico, while her stately and swinging version of “All or Nothing at All” is a great vehicle for her beautiful alto.
This session is romantic, exotic, electric and sensitive. It is the perfect accompaniment for a late night cocktail with that special someone. Check it out at the SOTJ store. Simply click on the CD cover.
As many of Mark Winkler’s fans know, he is a prolific songwriter as well as a celebrated interpreter of compositions from many musical genres. For The Company I Keep, Mark chose a wide array of artists to collaborate with and the results are among his finest work. Featured artists include such Grammy nominated artists as pianists John Beasley and David Benoit; Grammy award-winning vocalists Steve Tyrell and Cheryl Bentyne and Grammy award-winning bassist/arranger John Clayton. Mark wrote six original songs and covers compositions written by Prince, Donald Fagan, the Gershwins and Leonard Bernstein.
Produced by Barbara Brighton for Café Pacific Records, the 12-track gem opens with Mark and Jackie Ryan duet on Donald Fagen’s “Walk Between the Raindrops.” The synergy between the two singers is enhanced by the stellar accompaniment from Jamieson Trotter on piano and the tenor sax solo by Bob Sheppard. Cheryl Bentyne of Manhattan Transfer fame joins Mark on “Strollin’” and does a fantastic job harmonizing with him as well as bringing new life to this rarely heard Prince classic. Larry Koonse’s guitar playing highlights the melodic interaction of the pair and really brings out their stylings.
“Stolen Moments,” is an excellent duet with Claire Martin and features great horn charts as well as bass logic by John Clayton. John Beasley adds his musical vision on “The Sum,” as does Bob Sheppard with a great soprano sax solo.
Overall, The Company I Keep meets and exceeds the high standards Mark Winkler set on his previous recordings. It is surely a recording that deserves your attention and several deep listens.
Five-time Grammy Award nominee Christian Sands makes his Mack Avenue Records debut with Reach, a 10-track recording that features some of today’s most admired musicians. Produced by Al Pryor and Christian McBride, Reach is a fresh, impressive, straight ahead offering with 8 originals written and arranged by the pianist. Two covers – “Use Me,” and “Somewhere Out There” complete the program.
Opening with the dazzling piano trio composition inspired by Chick Corea, “Armando’s Song” is a rhythmic masterpiece that features a memorable melody, piano counterpoint and virtuosic performances by the core trio of Christian Sands, Marcus Baylor on drums, and Yasushi Nakamura on upright bass. This song has no style guards and is the epitome of the art and heart of improvisation. Sands’ solo would undoubtedly make Corea smile a while.
In addition to his core trio, the album also features Gilad Hekselman on guitar during “Reaching for the Sun” – a cool easy dance tune; “Use Me,” where he delivers an awesome solo ; and “Gangstatude” with its gangsta/hip-hop flavored theme. Tenor saxophonist /bass clarinetist Marcus Strickland makes his worth known on such tunes as “Pointing West,” a blues-drenched piece that features great tandem playing and soloing; “Freefall,” another great song that features exemplary harmonizing and trading as well as Strickland’s tonal bass clarinet. Percussionist Cristian Rivera explodes on “Oyeme” a true tour de force and masterful display of percussive excellence.
Christian Sands has been and continues to be influenced by a wide array of musical experiences and as a result of performing with numerous bandleaders such as Christian McBride, Bobby Sanabria and others. In addition to holding both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, Christian proves he is more than a sideman to some of today’s hottest jazz stars, but is also a highly skilled bandleader who can compose, arrange, inspire and perform at the highest levels. Check out Reach today. Click on the CD cover to buy Reach.
The Dead Man
Luis Muñoz Quartet
Luis Muñoz touches on the core of that which is unquantifiable in great music making in this masterwork titled The Dead Man. Luis plays drums, piano and Rhodes, composed, arranged and orchestrated all seven of the songs and continues to reaffirm his place as a music visionary and as one of today’s most sensitive, melodic and talented jazz composers. Joined by Jonathan Dane on trumpet and flugelhorn, Brendan Statom on acoustic bass, Daniel Zimmerman on electric acoustic guitar, The Dead Man comes complete with the interplay among his quartet members that expertly describes the process of spontaneous improvisation and his creative processes.
Opening with “Secrecy” the quartet is joined by special guest Ramses Araya. This song features outstanding soloing by trumpeter Jonathan Dane, shining through this truly amazing song. Muñoz has composed the very things about music that are difficult to compose; intuition, expression, perception and of course secrecy. His self-expression continues with “Seveneves” where the song springs to life with his exceptional drumming and the great interpretation of the melody played by electric guitarist Daniel Zimmerman. Dane’s particular magic on the trumpet and Ramses Araya’s percussive wizardry blows you away!
The band changes mood and tempo with the trio version of “The Sleep of the Innocent.” This is a beautiful ballad that is a superior total artistic vision in space and time. Luis’ song has been created from a melody, a rhythmic flow, a senses and a structure all played beautifully by electric guitarist Daniel Zimmerman. The powerful, energetic sonics of Dane on trumpet and Norma LaTuchie on flute follows on “Tierranegra.” We hear the great sonority of Adam Asarnow’s detailed piano comping and soloing that makes this piece feel indivisible.
“The Dead Man” is a masterpiece. The instrumental storytelling is the link between Muñoz’s indescribable ability to hear and write memorable music in a highly personal and spontaneous way while keeping it accessible to his listeners. It’s the way he expresses his ideas in the solos and tandem performances by Dane on flugelhorn, Asarnow on Fender Rhodes and Tom Buckner on tenor sax and bass clarinet, as well as his own dynamic drumming. The notes, melody, rhythm and chords that fill this song with creative energy, quality, taste, and emotion are unbound.
Although “Savannah” closes the program and leaves you, dear listener, with an unrestrained desire for more of Muñoz’s high definition sounds, be assured that throughout this song, you should rejoice in the health of your ear drums because of the musician’s inspired performances. Muted trumpeting by Dane makes this song even more memorable as well as the great percussive tempi of Ramses Araya.
Overall, The Dead Man exceeds the standards Muñoz set on his previous recording titled Voz. Not only does it prove that inspiration can strike anywhere but The Dead Man gives us something we can take with us in an inimitable and unforgettable way. Check it out and then buy it here. Simply click on the CD cover.
DAY AND NIGHT
Inspiration comes in many forms but for Lisa Hilton, it came through her commitment to discover and savor every day moments and from the great American composer Cole Porter. Her most recent solo piano recording titled Day and Night, includes several songs that feature Porter’s lush melodies and gentle Latin rhythms as well as several of her originals that bring the beauty in a day from the first glow of sunrise to the dimming sky at sunset. Lisa also remembers the great composers/pianist Horace Silver and Count Basie.
Several of Lisa’s originals - “Caffeinated Culture,” “Sunrise,” “Sunset On The Beach,” – achieve her goal of savoring every day moments due to her imaginative techniques and ability to capture and convey the impressions and symbolism inherent in such moments. Her opening notes on “Dark Sky Day,” reveal Lisa’s virtuosic command of piano theory as a classically-trained pianist who uses harmonic impressionism. She explores the music as art and paints texture and color through various jazz approaches. Among the many great highlights are Porter’s “Begin the Beguine,” and her originals that convey many of Porter’s compositional integrity.
On Day and Night, Lisa Hilton makes moments that matter so check it out at SOTJ then buy DAY AND NIGHT by clicking on the CD cover.
With a solid reputation as a superb mastering engineer with a musician’s ear, the next step in Ron Boustead’s exciting career was most likely steered by his evolving tastes and growth as an artist with a love of vocal jazz. Unlikely Valentine, Boustead’s fourth recording as a leader, encompasses many styles of vocal jazz including Cool, Swing, bebop and Brazilian. The songs are brilliantly expressed and easy to listen to. One stunning feature of Boustead’s vocal music is the rich polyphonic textures heard on these 10 songs arranged by Bill Cunliffe and Mitchel Forman who also share duties on piano, Rhodes, Hammond B3 organ and accordion. Another highlight is the resonance of Boustead’s voice and the varied tempi given to such standards as “Love Potion No. 9” which is now re-imagined as a 6/8 waltz with a soul-jazz vibe. The fairly obscure tune now designed with Rhodes and flugelhorn updates on “I Love My Wife” and Boustead’s approach on “I Won’t Scat” in a mixed meter statement, both reveal the musicians’ skills and versatility that make these songs worth a second listen.
Joining Ron on Unlikely Valentine are some of Southern California’s most prolific and admired musicians. In addition to the musical prowess of Cunliffe and Forman, listeners will appreciate the contributions of John Leftwich on acoustic bass, Jake Reed on drums and percussion, Pat Kelley on acoustic and electric guitars, Bob Sheppard on saxophones and flute, Bob McChesney on trombone, Ron Stout on flugelhorn and guest vocalist Fabiana Passoni who duets with Boustead on “Til Now.” Their sensual take on this Brazilian samba has several musical landmarks that remain with you long after the song is over.
Overall, the harmonic language Boustead has composed for the original songs shows that he has achieved his goal of expressing the meaning of individual words and phrasings in the music and that he is aware of their special characteristics as a vocalist. Buy Unlikely Valentine today.
The Gold Standards
Jazz vocalist Deborah Silver has released her debut album titled The Gold Standards and it’s heating up the Billboard charts! Produced by Grammy Award-winner Steve Tyrell and Jon Allen, the recording features arrangements by Alan Broadbent. Special guest duets by Jack Jones on “I’ve Got A Crush On You,” and Ann Hampton Calloway on “The Glory of Love” make this recording extra special.
Deborah Silver has a great vocal range and her new renditions of such Great American Songbook standards as “The Nearness of You” and “Teach Me Tonight,” get new life via her inspired interpretations. So check her out and then buy The Gold Standards here. Simply click on the CD cover.
Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Big Band
The keyboard mastery of the late, great Clare Fisher is featured on 7 of the 10 new tracks heard on ¡INTENSO! 2016 is the final year for Clare Fisher’s music to be eligible for a posthumous Grammy and therefore his son, producer/arranger Brent Fischer has curated an outstanding recording of previously unreleased tracks recorded by his father. Among the stellar guests are Sheila E. on percussion, vocalist Roberta Gambarini, horn greats Carl Saunders, Ron Stout, Alex Budman and several others.
This Latin Jazz Big Band is spellbinding and intense. The virtuosic performances and soloing make this recording a must hear for your listening pleasure because it blends skillful improvisations and musicality. Check it out. Buy ¡INTENSO!here.
Celebrating Elvin Jones
Drummer Will Calhoun of the rock group Living Colour pays tribute to a profound influence on his musical life with Celebrating Elvin Jones. The album features Christian McBride on bass, saxophonist Antoine Roney, pianist/keyboardist Carlos McKinney, and trumpeter Keyon Harrold. Also, the keyboardist Jan Hammer, a member of Elvin Jones’ trio joins the band for a reprise of “Destiny” and Doudou N’Diaye Rose joins with a group of drummer for “Doll of the Bride.”
The songs on the recording span Elvin Jones’ career but Calhoun has devised a distinctly individual approach. Among the songs included are “EJ Blues”, “Harmonique” and “Mahjong”. “Sarmastah” is Calhoun’s sole original song on the album and plays a 12-string guitar! Celebrating Elvin Jones is available on Motema Music.
The Brazilian-American Soundtrack
The Grammy nominated multi-talented Bob Baldwin offers his fans and new listeners a double disc recording of 26 songs that he has titled The Brazilian-American Soundtrack. This urban-jazz and Brazilian rhythms exploration of Rio de Janierio and New York features 20 original songs written and performed by Baldwin during recording sessions in Rio, New York and Atlanta, GA over a period of three years! Collected in the two discs titled Movement 1 – Rio-Ipanema and Movement II – New York, we hear several guest artists help to bring Baldwin’s musical visions to life.
In the first movement, guest artists Café Da Silva, Ragan Whiteside, Torcuato Mariano and lead vocalist Gigi add their impeccable musical skills to Baldwin’s meticulously produced tracks titled “Ipanema Fusion,” “Teardrop,””Caipirinha,” and “Looking At Me,” and to several tracks by some of Brazil’s most revered songwriters Including Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Corcovado,” Ivan Lins’ “Anjo De Mim,” “The Island,” and ”Love Dance, May I Have This Dance,” and Djavan’s “Eu Te Devoro.” Each song is performed to perfection and with such virtuosity that you will revel in Baldwin’s dexterity on the keyboards and be amazed and charmed by his vocals.
Overall, the second movement features two songs written especially for the late, great Maurice White of Earth Wind and Fire by Bob Baldwin as well as guest songwriters Alonzo Wright. Marion Meadows is featured on Baldwin’s “My Soul” playing a lovely saxophone solo. “Summer Madness,” featuring James “Crab” Robinson on vocals and John Lennon’s “Yesterday,” featuring Freddie V on saxophone deserve special mention.
Overall, Bob Baldwin’s magnum opus deserves recognition and certainly several deep listens since it represents the passion and virtuosity of his musical personalities. With 20 songs written especially for The Brazilian-American Soundtrack, you will understand that certain state of mind Bob Baldwin has shared with his fans and new listeners on this great recording. Highly recommended. To buy this CD, please click on the CD cover.
An Elusive Man
Little Phat Band
The Grammy and Emmy Award-winning bandleader Gordon Goodwin has trimmed his 18-piece Big Phat Band to an 8-member Little Phat Band which released their debut recording titled An Elusive Man for the Music of Content label. According to Goodwin, the recording “represents another side of his interest in jazz with more emphasis on improvisation and letting the musicians explore things in a way that they can’t do in a larger ensemble.” The seven musicians joining Goodwin from his Big Phat Band perform 10 songs, 8 of which were written by Goodwin. He also produced and arranged the songs performed by Wayne Bergeron on trumpet, Eric Marienthal on alto and tenor sax, Andy Martin on trombone, Andrew Synowiec on electric and acoustic guitar, Rick Shaw on electric and acoustic bass, Bernie Dresel on drums and Joey De Leon on percussion.
The set swings hard and throughout the band balances serious jazz rhythms and jazz funk jams. Goodwin plays piano and tenor sax and solos with ease on such songs as “An Elusive Man,” “Cot In The Act,” and “In A Sentimental Mood.” Overall, the entire recording presents the compositional integrity of Gordon Goodwin and his ability to lead smaller bands with the same finesse as his Big Phat Band. Check it out. This one should definitely be in your jazz collection. Buy it here. Click on the CD cover.
MONK'estra is in stores now.
MONK'estra, Volume 1
Innovative, exuberant, and controversial, Thelonius Monk’s music in its nearly 70 years of existence, has found both popular appeal and intellectual appreciation for its emotional and musical intensity. His compositions provide the most impressive examples of bop harmonies while supporting catchy themes. As with any great composer, the ability to arrange and perform Monk’s compositions at any tempo and time signature came with great ease for John Beasley. The award-winning composer/pianist formed the big band known as MONK’estra as a result of a commission from Los Angeles’ Luckman Jazz Orchestra and over the years, stored up a pile of groove-centric arrangements that best suited Monk’s compositions.
On their debut recording for Mack Avenue titled MONK’estra, Vol. 1, John Beasley arranged, conducted and produced all songs on the recording in addition to bringing together many of the most revered jazz musicians to play 9 songs from the Thelonius Monk songbook – big band style! He retains much of the bop style that was rooted in the big-band techniques of the swing era – including the walking bass as a harmonic foundation and the repetitive cymbal patterns of swing while supplanting certain aspects of rhythm, harmony and melody. Beasley also left room on his arrangements for the musicians to improvise and the result is a five-star gem that provides thoughtful and comprehensive interpretations of Monk’s remarkable music.
Opening with “Epistrophy” the orchestra swings its unforgettable melody as Gary Burton nails his solo on the vibraphone. This angular tune never sounds dated and with the orchestral tinge John Beasley has arranged, this song sounds as contemporary as the present. Great soloing from Bob Sheppard, Brian Swartz, Bijon Watson and Gary Novak make “Skippy” a real thrill alongside controlled riffs and handclaps. Trumpet solos from Gabriel Johnson and Brian Swartz along with a solo from trombonist Francisco Torres rise to the occasion on “Oska.”
However, the real gem on the recording is “Round Midnight.” Here John Beasley has added subdued harmonies, hip-hop beats and shades of neo-soul sounds that bring this song into focus for a new 21st century listener as well as reminding jazz purists of Monk’s compositional integrity and ability to transcend generations.
The recording concludes with the easy-going “Coming on the Hudson,” and is the perfect way to relax with your significant other or dance the night away. Beasley’s masterful pianism makes this one a real keeper also.
Overall, MONK’estra, Vol. 1 is a masterpiece that uniquely defies conventional interpretations of Monk’s music. The recording deftly indicates John Beasley’s virtuosity as a re- arranger of the groove-centric, swinging, contemporary harmonies that emanated from Monk’s jazz. Check it out. Learn more about John Beasley here.
Sky Begins is Daniel Meron’s second album which was recorded with his current band consisting of Maia Karo on vocals, Noam Wiesenberg on bass, Jimmy McBride on drums and himself on piano. Sky Begins featrues 8 of Meron’s most recent original compositions which are produced by Meron and Ian Turner. While clearly in the realm of jazz, the music on the album is dynamic and lyrical, traveling through rich harmonies to magical places in time and imagination. The band grooves hard on funky and folkloric rhythms, while shifting between energetic improvisation and intimate interaction.
Vocalist Maia Karo is supreme as are the members of the ensemble. Meron’s own lyrical piano prowess is worth the price of the CD alone. Along with his activities as composer, arranger and bandleader, Daniel continues to perform as a sideman in multiple bands such as the Ayal Tsubery band, Rubycon, and Arnan Raz Quintet.
Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp
On Callas, tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and pianist Matthew Shipp collaborate on this spontaneous duo performance that depicts the improvised free jazz versions of characters portrayed by operatic diva Maria Callas. Each of the improvised arias from operas such as "La Boheme," "The Barber of Seville," "Norma," "Tosca," "Aida," "Turandot " and others, evoke the operatic sensibilities of Perelman’s brilliance as well as Shipp’s emotional resonance and musical clairvoyance.
The pair discover the various nuances of each aria and develop them further throughout their improvisations. There is a subtle new vocal sound to Perelman’s saxophonics as he matches Callas’ approach to the low, middle and high registers she so brilliantly sang. The inflections are there, the subtleties, but not the melodies. Shipp’s dark, insistent ostinato supports and propels Perelman’s flights on the opening track titled “Lucia” the heroine’s defiant character from Donizetti’s opera “Lucia di Lammermoor.” On “Magdelina” Perelman channels a plangent yearning as Shipp’s steady, implacable undercurrents reminisce the doomed love of the title character’s fate in “Andrea Chenier.”
On “Norma” his throaty low notes contrast his brilliant coloratura excursions while on “Mimi” he unveils a tender romantic splendor. Overall, this album is a brilliant emotional breakthrough that comes from a newly discovered understanding and appreciation for some of opera’s greatest arias. Perelman and Shipp’s own superb musicality and artistry deserve more than one listen. Callas is that great.
Jenna Mammina & Rolf Sturm
Pop/Jazz vocalist/songwriter Jenna Mammina and guitarist Rolf Sturm offer their listeners 12 exceptional songs on their first recording together called Spark. Many of the songs such as “Talk To Me,” “Get Your Kicks On Route 66” and “I’m Beginning to See The Light” are from the 1950s and 1960s but now have a jazz twist. The duo also update the Stylistics’ tune “Betcha, By Golly Wow,” and later move from the Philadelphia International Sound to a sweet Brazilian fantasy called “The Girl From Ipanema.” Overall, this eclectic vocalist and fingerstyle player effortlessly alternate between swinging jazz chords and beautifully executed melodies. Together their improvisational abilities are both impressive and expressive.
Cuentos is Guraudo’s second release on ZOHO Music and his sixth as a leader. With fleshed out trombone and trumpet sections and a percussionist in the mix, Giraudo’s new Big Band capably delivers 9 great compositions including the beautiful four -movement “Angela Suite.” Pedro Giraudo wrote and arranged all of the songs and plays electric and acoustic basses. Following his critically-acclaimed 2011 ZOHO release titled Cordoba, Giraudo has created another masterwork with his daring and immensely rewarding Cuentos. He treats his fans to ravishingly detailed expression of Argentine music forms and themes while standing solidly in the tradition of such North American masters as Duke Ellington, Thad Jones and Gil Evans.
On Headin’ Out, alto saxophonist Matt Criscuolo and his bandmates guitarist Tony Purrone, acoustic bassist Preston Murphy and drummer Ed Soph, perform several original songs and rarely covered compositions as Miles Davis’ “Sippin’ at Bells” and Randy Weston’s “Little Niles.” These musicians offer the songs in freely improvised terms that were influenced by Henry Threadgill, Jimmy Lyons and David S. Ware, as well as Jimmy Heath. Headin’ Out is high-quality, impassioned 21st century modern jazz.
Triangles and Circles
Dafnis Prieto Sextet
Recorded on the heels of a one-week run at the Jazz Standard in New York City, the eight songs on Triangles and Circles capture the essence of Dafnis Prieto’s composing skills and imaginative drumming. Joined by Peter Apfelbaum on tenor & soprano saxophones, Felipe Lamoglia on alto saxophone, Mike Rodriguez on trumpet, Manuel Valera on piano and Johannes Weidenmueller on acoustic and electric basses, Dafnis Prieto Sextet excels in all areas and reaches a near-telepathic level o interplay and impeccable interpretation throughout this excellent program. Standouts include “Back and Forth,” and the title track “Triangles and Circles.”
All I Know
Rachel Caswell duets with Dave Stryker and Jeremy Allen on this lovely collection of songs from the Great American Songbook titled All I Know. Rachel’s vocal creativity is clear, controlled and relaxed on these 12 songs that serve as a wonderful vehicle for her new interpretations. Among the songs the trio remakes are “I’ve Never Been In Love Before,” “Sometimes I’m Happy,” and “I Fall In Love Too Easily.” Each song is charming and emotional and exposes the sincerest form of musicality from all three collaborators.
Portland-based alto and soprano saxophonist Hailey Niswanger plays with remarkable authority and drive on PDX Soul. Rich in funky rhythms, instantly hooky melodies and sophisticated crafting, the 8 track recording is brimming with Hailey’s finely tuned improvisations. Working with a collective of 16 superb musicians Hailey’s great interpretation of “Take Me To The River,” will have you moving to its rhythmic joy while “I’m Gone,” shows her true essence as a reed player who can deliver the goods as an arranger and composer of new songs. Barbara Mason’s hit, “Yes I’m Ready” is also given a newly designed feeling and one that is sure to make you aware of Haley’s innovative skills.
B.J. Ward and Donn Trenner
Outstanding musical talents B.J. Ward and Donn Trenner have reunited after 40 years to release their second recording titled Double Feature. The duo recorded this exemplary program improvisationally, capturing voice and piano together with no over-dubbing of vocals. The 12-songs are culled from the annals of film music and Broadway musicals. Rarely heard songs include the haunting and beautiful “Theme From Rosemary’s Baby,” “Drifting” from Auntie Mame and “Do You Know Why?” from Love Thy Neighbor. Gordon Hunt produced the vocal/piano recording with Lee Lessack as Executive Producer.