Matthew Shipp touches on the core of that which is unquantifiable in great art in this masterwork that he has titled Root of Things. Released by Relative Pitch Records, the acclaimed pianist’s expressions of form are the equal of extended classical pieces and with his limitless imagination, Shipp and his trio – Michael Bisio on bass, Whit Dickey on drums – beautifully play the invisible process of spontaneous improvisation as it occurs spontaneously from its ‘roots.’ Shipp’s musical creativity and expressiveness is his genius and he shares his unique voice on six great songs. Opening with the title track, the trio explores odd meters and polyrhythms as they internalize and dissect, phrase and harmonize broad grooves that generate a great sense of freedom. Their artistic personalities continue with “Jazz It” a nearly 10-minute invention that works rhythmically and is complemented by rapid colors played with a recurrent rhythm which gives the impression of the same scene played again and again in rapid-fire motion. “Code J” is the third musical conversation on the program and is followed by “Path” which features Michael Bisio during an extensive arco bass solo. “Pulse Code” swings wide open with a dynamic drum solo by Whit Dickey . This one man band experience – his melody, bass, rhythm, and all – is an organic discovery of Dickey’s talent that he shares on a sensorial and physical level. His solo leads to the brilliant storytelling in Shipp’s exceptional musical language. There are a lot of new phrases, expressions, accents that reveal Shipp’s maturation process over the course of his 20+ years as a deep embracer of new musical sayings inherent in the free jazz/avant-garde dialects. Overall, the master gets to the Root of Things both as an improviser and as a pianist and reveals that he is reenergized but more importantly that he has grown his art into a proud expression of free jazz.
The Space Between
Kathy Kosin’s latest offering, The Space Between, acknowledges her past while providing a glimpse into her future creative direction. It is one of Kosins’ most meaningful recordings in that it features songs that are evidence of the prominent Jazz and R&B influences that she projects in her music. The 11 tracks on the recording also features three different ensembles. The first nine tracks spotlights the musicality of such noteworthy musicians as Eric Harland on drums, Tamir Hendelson on piano, Bob Hurst on bass, and Larry Koonse on guitar on the first nine tracks. “Go Slow” which was recorded live at the Jazz Standard in New York and features a different band. “Night Bird (In Summer)” was recorded at 54 Sound in Ferndale, Michigan with Greg Doyle providing the instrumentals. Kathy Kosins is definitely grooving on Kenny Gamble’s “Drowning in a Sea of Love.” Her intonation is superb when she delivers an excellent, updated interpretation of Horace Silver’s “Song For My Father.” Cy Coleman’s “You Fascinate Me So” highlights Kosins’ ability to tell a great story through the use of elongated phrasing and her engaging mix of improvised vocalese. Overall, The Space Between is an exemplary work of art that reveals Kathy Kosins’ reverence for jazz standards and her virtuosity as a jazz vocalist. Check it out.
Nikhil Korula’s Solo Sessions pairs contemporary folk music with elements of jazz and rock on five original, richly texturized songs. The guitarist also lends his stellar vocals and arrangements for the songs which feature such renowned musicians as Jeff Coffin and Butch Taylor (of Dave Matthews’ fame) on saxophone and keyboards respectively, alongside his core NK sextet. The set opens with “Spark” which blends various contemporary Americana traditions with a jazzy rhythm that you can definitely groove to. On this song, Korula’s lead vocals harken back to some of the more notable alternative indie rock/jam band songs as sung by Jakob Dylan and The Wallflowers. “He Said, She Said” is a mixture of progressive folk, jazz, and blues. The song features Jeff Coffin’s expressive soprano saxophone comps underlining Korula’s sensitive vocals. This is a beautiful song and easily captures the listeners’ attention due to the interesting story behind the song. “Broken Roads” is the centerpiece of the recording. Nikhil Korula shines on this song and it also features an excellent keyboard solo by Butch Taylor. This great song brings back memories of The Allman Brothers and Hootie and the Blowfish in their heydays and is surely indicative of Korula’s influences. “Silent Tears” a slowly unfurling, darkly tinged, bittersweet ballad, reveals Korula’s guitar filling and weaving through Taylor’s piano lines with expert technique. The set concludes with “Fade Away,” a strong showcase for the entire band but especially for Korula’s vocals which are inspired and delivered with exceptional skill. Overall, Solo Sessions is a fine follow up to Music Of The New Day and should solidify Nikhil Korula’s place on the contemporary folk jazz/indie rock scene.
Nice Work if You Can Get It - Pages of Paich, Vol. 2
As the follow up release in Jeff Hedberg’s two-volume Pages of Paich project, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Pages of Paich, Vol 2, re-introduces listeners to the infinity of the Great American Songbook. Jeff Hedberg and C11 (Chicago Eleven), a group of Chicago musicians based upon Marty Paich’s Dek-tette, reimagine many of your favorites on this 14-track masterwork of swinging big band music and ballads. Jeff Hedberg’s artistry as a vocalist and trumpeter shines throughout the program as he takes on such classics as “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “Hello Young Lovers,” and other great songs arranged by Marty Paich.
As with his debut release, Too Darn Hot, Pages of Paich, Vol. 1, many of the songs are derived from several films and Broadway musicals including great renditions of Lerner and Loewe’s “On The Street Where You Live” (My Fair Lady) Irving Berlin’s “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails,” (a song he wrote for the 1935 film Tophat), “Hello Young Lovers” (The King andI) and of course George & Ira Gershwin’s “Nice Work, If You Can Get It” (from the movie Damsel In Distress and now a Broadway musical). Hedberg is entertaining - he swings, he scats, he caresses the lyrics – and is thoroughly involved in the stories behind the songs which makes his sound all the more believable. Overall, Jeff Hedberg’s renditions of these great songs is a lasting treasure trove of musical experiences that will enrich your appreciation for the pages of Marty Paich. To purchase Nice Work If You Can Get It, The Pages of Paich, Vol. 2, click on the CD cover image.
A Tribute to Miriam Makeba
Soweto-born vocalist Lorraine Klaasen pays homage to “Mama Africa” on her new Justin Time recording titled A Tribute to Miriam Makeba. This is the follow up to her triumphant release Africa Calling and has received a Juno Award nomination in the world music category. Eleven new songs grace this fascinating program that features Senegalese guitarist Assane Seck, Benin-born percussionist Moise Yawo Matey and her longtime bassist Sebastian Andrew Whiteman. Ms. Klaasen’s voice is powerful and rings with joy on six classic Miriam Makeba compositions including the popular “Click Song,” a Xhosa play song which incorporates the technique of ‘click singing;’ “Jolinkomo” the Xhosa praise song that young women sing when they cheer their young men into battle; and “Lorraine” a song of self-reflection, among others. Among the more memorable highlights are Makeba’s “Pata Pata,” and “Iphindela,” which concludes the recording. Overall, this is a fine tribute to one of the world’s most beloved singers and receives the benefits of Lorraine Klaasen’s prolific storytelling and lovely vocals. Buy A Tribute to Miriam Makeba. Simply click on the CD cover art.
NEXT Collective is an exciting ensemble of experienced jazz artists. The collective includes alto saxophonist Logan Richardson, tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, guitarist Matthew Stevens, keyboardists Gerald Clayton and Kris Bowers, bassist Ben Williams, drummer Jamire Williams, trumpeter Christian Scott and producer Chris Dunn. Cover Art is their debut recording for Concord Music Group and was concieved by its Senior Director of A&R, producer Chris Dunn as a vehicle to feature these musicians on a project of covers from their generation. Each member of the collective chose to interpret and arrange songs by Jay Z and Kanye West ("No Church In The Wild,") Drake ("Marvin's Room,") N.E.R.D ("Fly or Die,") Bon Iver ("Perth,") and Little Dragon ("Twice,") among others. Listen with open ears and remain focused because they take you on a musical journey that you'll remember for some time. Click on the CD cover to purchase Cover Art.
Matt Herskowitz blends jazz and classical influences on his new solo piano recording titled Upstairs. Released on Justin Time Records, the CD was recorded live at Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on November 6, 2011. Upstairs is Mr. Herskowitz’s follow up to his 2010 acclaimed Jerusalem Trilogy and features songs composed by Dave Brubeck (“Dziekuje”), Michel Petrucciani (“Cantabile”), J.S. Bach (“Bach A La Jazz) and George & Ira Gershwin (“But Not For Me,” and “I’ve Got Rhythm”). Herskowitz also wrote and arranged several originals for the program. The night opened with Mr. Herskowitz’s interpretation of Dave Brubeck’s rhapsodic homage to Chopin titled “Dziekuje.” His performance got raves from the late pianist himself and Herskowitz’s tribute to his friend is certainly one of the most inspired performances on the recording. Further inspiration came from Mr. Herskowitz’s visit to Moscow as a competitor in the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition. “Waltz In Moscow” is a refined piece that emphasizes Herskowitz’s classical influences and calls attention to his fluid pianism. He further accentuates his classical flair in “Traumerei” by Robert Schumann. His stellar arrangement makes this masterwork accessible to a new generation of pianists who may excel in the classical/jazz genre by adding it to their repertoire. The entire recording underlines Mr. Herskowitz’s virtuosity and finesse as a pianist and ranks among his finest works. Buy Upstairs today at the SOTJ store. Simply click on the CD cover.
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Luz is the latest release from Costa Rican drummer/percussionist/ composer Luis Munoz, Munoz, a double ACAM Award winner for Jazz Composer of the Year wrote, arranged and orchestrated the nine songs on the CD. It features singers Magos Herrera and Teka Penteriche alongside Munoz, Adam Asarnow on piano, Tom Etchart on acoustic bass, and other guest musicians. The recording opens with Teka Penteriche singing the vocal version of “El Sueno De Adan,” a beautiful homage to Munoz’s son that was previously released as an instrumental titled “Adam’s Dream” on Invisible (Pelin Music, 2010). It is followed by the title track from that same release and features a very lovely muted cornet performance by Jonathan Dane. Luis Munoz provides additional pianism and plays drums also. The remaining seven tracks also reveal Munoz on piano, shekere, percussion, and background vocals, and once again offer listeners his dedicated musicality and compositional integrity. Give Luz a listen and then buy it at the SOTJ store. Click on the CD cover to purchase Luz today.
It’s About the Music – The Art and Heart of Improvisation
Book Review by Paula Edelstein
Pianist Jean-Michel Pilc has authored his first book titled It’s About the Music, The Art and Heart of Improvisation (Glen Lyon Books: 241 pp. $18.95). The book chronicles Jean-Michel Pilc’s career as an improvising jazz pianist, composer, bandleader, arranger, music producer and educator as well as his teachings on musical creativity and expressiveness. Pilc makes copious examples of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Picasso, Cezanne etc and also includes memorable quotes, anecdotes and practical exercises involving rhythm, melody and ways to hear music that can help to tap into the intrinsic artistry of each musician, student, and educator.
It’s About the Music - The Art and Heart of Improvisation also focuses on the communicative and technical aspects of improvisation and makes an excellent resource for both pros and aspiring improvisers. Pilc includes information on how to assimilate and execute chord progressions, substitutions, turn arounds and constructing a melody and jazz chorus. The book is well written and should be required reading for any student, journalist, or musician studying or involved with the art of improvisation.
Born in 1960 in Paris, France, and now an American citizen Jean- Michel Pilc is currently one of the most innovative pianists in jazz. The self-taught pianist resides in New York City and has released several best selling recordings since 1995. Besides his extensive solo piano work, the award-winning pianist has worked steadily with a trio consisting of the bassist Francois Moutin and the drummer Ari Hoenig for nearly two decades. Pilc has also lent his creative visions to such bands as those lead by Roy Haynes, Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, Kenny Garrett, Lenny White, Chris Potter, JD Walter, Richard Bona and many others.
Mr. Pilc is a NYC Steinhardt faculty member and also teaches at the New School in New York City.
For more information about Jean Michel Pilc, his recordings and work as an educator, please visit his website at www.jeanmichelpilc.com.
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Toots Thielemans European Quartet
Harmonica legend Toots Thielemans celebrates his 90th birthday with European Quartet on his latest release by Challenge Records titled 90 Years. This great CD features unique and previously unreleased live recordings taken from Thielemans’ latest tours around the world. The set also comes with a DVD that contains select materials from his most recent concert in Japan! The songs on Disc One are both rare and well-known classics including “Waltz For Sonny,” “The Dragon,” “What A Wonderful World,” and “One Note Samba.” The DVD showcases Thielemans performing “Autumn Leaves,” “Midnight Cowboy,” and “Bluesette” plus three other songs. For someone who is 90 years old and playing a harmonica, listeners would never know that Thielemans is up in age because his breathing and technique are both still amazing. The master is joined by Karel Boehlee on piano and synthesizer, Hein Van de Geyn on double bass, and Hans van Oosterhout on drums. Their exemplary accompaniment is in the pocket and brings out the best in the melodies that Thielemans plays on harmonica. This is an exciting live program that should be in your collection. Buy 90 Years today.
Snappy Too is the sequel to James Morrison's recording of twenty years ago titled Snappy Doo and features Morrison playing four trumpets, four trombones, five saxophones, flugel horn, bass-trumpet and piano! Now that's what you'd normally call a "one-man-big-band" but Morrision partnered with drummer Jeff Hamilton for this very large over-dubbing project. The result is stellar and you're going to be amazed at the professional sound that engineer Tod Deeley has given this recording by putting down one instrument at a time. This creative odyssey features James playing such great songs as "All Of Me," on solo trumpet, "Up A Lazy River," on solo baritone sax and trumpet, and "Some Day My Prince Will Come," on guitar and bass-trumpet, among 8 others. It's funny that on an album with only two players that the sound is as big as it is. Hats off to this innovative project and the technical expertise that went into making it happen. Check it out. It's Snappy Too!
Joy Road: The Complete Works of Pepper Adams
Volume 5 - I Carry Your Heart- Alexis Cole Sings Pepper Adams
Motema Music has released Pepper Adams' Joy Road: The Complete Works of Pepper Adams (Volumes 1-5) as a digital box set along with a new book honoring the compositional genius of baritone sax. In addition, Motem has also released two physical CDs: a stand-alone version of Volume 5, I Carry Your Heart: Alexis Cole Sings Pepper Adams, and the Joy Road Sampler, a CD of highlights from the digital box set.
Volume 5 features Pat LaBarbera and Eric Alexander on tenor saxophones, Jeremy Kahn on piano, Dennis Carroll on bass and George Fludas drums as accompanists for vocalist Alexis Cole. The songs on the program are often associated with Pepper Adams but this time around, they have lyrics. With arrangements by Jeremy Kahn and lyrics by Barry Wallenstein, this particular volume is ripe with great improvisations, soloing and vocal gymnastics. Check it out. Buy Volume 5 Alexis Cole Sings Pepper Adams today.
3 Brave Souls
John Beasley, Darryl Jones, Ndugu Chancler
Funky, soulful, interplay. These are just a few words that can be used to describe the meeting of John Beasley, Darryl Jones and Ndugu Chancler on their new BFM Jazz release titled 3 Brave Souls. These musical masters forge a symbiotic sonic bond reminiscent of their individual efforts with the incomparable Miles Davis bands while coining their own musical vocabulary on 11 new compositions that each band member contributed to the recording. In addition to Beasley, Jones and Chancler, the trio invited such respected musicians as vocalists Sy Smith and Dwight Trible, saxophonist Bob Sheppard, Steve Tavaglione on EWI, Leon Mobley on djembe, trombonist Francisco Torres, Gregoire Moret on harmonica and backing vocalist Monet Owens to share their musical expertise. The set opens with Chancler’s “Black Friday,” a funky, soul/jazz piece with classic jazz flavorings that rise to the top. The musical excellence continues with the John Beasley/Sy Smith collaboration called “Wanna Get Away?” This song also features the killer multi-octave vocals of Sy Smith taking charge of a funky, boo-ga-loo kind of groove that immediately catches your ear. Its sudden stops and quick shifts in rhythm coupled with the imaginative harmonization on the bridge make this song a winner. Next Sy Smith is paired with Dwight Trible on “Nothing Left To Say,” which she also co-wrote with John Beasley. “Ayala” is an exotic gem that really reveals Beasley’s compositional integrity. This song is one of the more beautiful songs on the recording and really stays with you long after the song is over. “Stay” featuring Darryl Jones on vocals and “N2U” which features Gregoire Maret, wrap up the program and will leave you wonderfully lost in the music the ensemble has made together. On 3 Brave Souls, it’s easy to get lost in the fire and funk, the soul and the jazz but you can easily follow the light that this music emanates. Check it out. Click on CD cover image to purchase.
Over The Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project
Conceived and created by Kate Dawson and Jodi Glucksman, this great project that benefits The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Young Survival Coalition and Public Interest Projects is representative of what wonderful music exists in the form of lullabies. Over The Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project can be purchased as a 17-song CD within a 48-page fully illustrated hardcover book; separately as a two CD 26-song set; and as a deluxe eBook. The discs includes wonderful lullabies performed or composed by some of your favorite Broadway artists, Illustrators, and Musicians including Vanessa Williams, Marva Hicks, Audra McDonald, Anika Noni Rose. Will Swenson, Adam Gwon, R. Gregorie Christie, Rupert Holmes, Christopher Jackson, Taylor Eigsti, Bashiri Johnson, Fred Hersch, James Genus, and other great award-winning artists. Jules Feiffer created the cover of the 48 page book, while Julie Andrews Barry Moser, and Emma Walton Hamilton wrote the foreward. This project is truly beautiful and suitable for children of all ages! Share the lullabies with someone you love. Over The Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project is available from www.overthemoonbroadway.com.
Flip The Script
Pianist Orrin Evans’ Flip the Script is a confident display of his trio's musical interplay that features bassist Ben Wolfe and drummer Donald Edwards on ten great tracks. This straight-ahead session offers some daring swing, audacious hard-bop, and forward-thinking avant-garde improvisations in an evocative program. The recording includes six of Evans’ original compositions and four unique covers including “Question,” by the GRAMMYAward-winning bassist/composer Eric Revis, Luther Vandross’ “Brand New Day,” (from the Broadway musical The Wiz), “Someday My Prince Will Come,” and Gamble/Huff’s “The Sound of Philadelphia.”
The set opens with Eric Revis' “Question,” a composition that references several elements of Thelonious Monk’s work but is a priceless vehicle for Evans’ creative piano chops. This set really burns and sets the tone for the entire recording. Next the trio finds more creativity in Evans’ own “Clean House” in which they mine their souls for more stunning straight-ahead success. “Flip The Script” is a daring work of genius that reveals Evans' self-assured piano playing and compositional integrity. It is an example of what today’s jazz pianists should strive for when attempting to connect with their audiences. This piece is brilliant. By contrast, the quiet simplicity of “When” shows Evans’ introspective side and is a thing of pure beauty.
The transcription of “Brand New Day” has a free-spirited, joyful arrangement for piano while Evans’ unique and refreshing cover of “Someday My Prince Will Come” has an abundance of exploratory highlights that help to redefine his version. Overall, this recording is among Orrin Evans’ best work and should be in your jazz collection right alongside other great piano trios. Buy Flip The Script today.
Pianist Sunnie Paxson gives a stellar performance on her latest CD titled Bohemian Sun. The recording features her performing in a variety of formats (from solo to septet) accompanied by an array of highly talented musicians. Among them is the multiple GRAMMY Award-winning executive producer/bassist/composer Stanley Clarke who also signed Ms. Paxson to his Roxboro Entertainment label. Ronald Bruner, Jr. plays drums, while such respected musicians as percussionist Munyungo Jackson, drummer Michael White, vocalist Rod Maurice and a four-member string quartet make guest appearances on selected tracks. Ms. Paxson wrote 7 of the 13 compositions on the recording. Two originals by Herbie Hancock and Stanley Clarke (“Dolphin Dance,” and “Three Wrong Notes” respectively), plus 4 traditional jazz compositions round out the program.
Sunnie Paxson’s modern jazz sound is upbeat and intriguing. The songs sound as if they were recorded live because of the spontaneity and invigorating quality of the sound. On “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love,” Ms. Paxson plays solo and communicates this rarely heard Charlie Mingus classic with a very personal and intimate feeling. This solo discovery is one of the best performances on the recording. By contrast, Ms. Paxson’s performance in a trio setting with Stanley Clarke on bass and Ron Bruner, Jr. on drums is quite assessable. Together their interplay on such songs as “Seabound,” “Dolphin Dance,” and “Three Wrong Notes,” gives the listener a complete listening challenge and sentimental appeal.
“Stella By Starlight,” “Something for Nothing” and “One Step Beyond” all lend themselves to classical music and love themes. The movements and phenomenal bowed bass solo by Clarke in “Stella By Starlight” and the addition of a string quartet (whose music was arranged by Sunnie Paxson) to the latter two songs feature commendable performances by Ms. Paxson. Each of these songs provides a glimpse into the borderless creativity of Ms. Paxson who makes the challenge of creating dozens of songs for Bohemian Sun seem easy. Her winking nod to Javad Maroufi on “Khabhaye Talaei” is a further expression of Paxson’s ingenuity which spans from the modern sounds of contemporary jazz to this dynamic interpretation of Maroufi’s beautiful music. Overall, Bohemian Sun puts the woman behind the music directly in the spotlight and there you will find a diverse musical personality whose interesting perspectives and renditions will make you an instant fan. Buy Bohemian Sun today. Click on the CD cover.
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Heart Firstis Halie Loren’s national album debut. It showcases her original compositions and reinterpreted standards in the vein of Norah Jones or Diana Krall. Loren takes a jazz-pop approach on the title track, a ballad that is sung in a seductive voice that reels in any fans who are still unsure of Loren’s reach. Several other originals present a fresh perspective on the mysteries of love while the classics and standards which range from "Taking a Chance on Love" and "My One and Only Love" to Bob Marley and Neil Young hits. Top picks: “Heart First,” “My One and Only Love,” and “Feeling Good.” Give her a listen and then add Heart First to your collection.
To The Ladies of Cool
To The Ladies of Cool is Kathy Kosins’ wonderful toast to Julie London, Anita O’Day, Chris Connor and June Christy. These legacies of these iconic vocalists are very well-known but much of the music associated with them remains unknown to a new generation of jazz enthusiasts. Enter Kathy Kosins who has based this recording on her multi-media concert show, “The Ladies of Cool.” The program consists of 10 songs – some obscure, others quite famous. Listeners are treated to Kathy Kosins’ smoky alto on such ballads as “Don’t Wait Up For Me,” “November Twilight,” and “Where Are You” – all with new arrangements by Ms. Kosins’ musical director Tamir Hendelman. By contrast, she offers her listeners a cool swinging sound on “All I Need Is You,” and “Lullaby in Rhythm” both of which confirm her versatility and ability to tell the story behind the song. Joined by Hendelman on piano, Graham Dechter on guitar, Steve Wilkerson on reeds, and Bob Leatherbarrow on percussion, Kosins’ interplay with her band is superlative. This is Kathy Kosins’ debut for Resonance Records and it’s one that should be in your collection. Check it out. Click on the CD cover to purchase To The Ladies of Cool.
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Lynne Arriale’s award-winning piano chops have filled radio airwaves, music festivals and concert halls for many years but with Solo, her fans now have the opportunity to hear her in her most intimate setting. She is alone but very together as she performs several of her original songs as well as some by Thelonious Monk, Cole Porter, Bill Joel and Lerner and Lowe on her new release for Motema Records. The songs feature her delicate pianism on “The Dove,” her command of percussive block chords on Monk’s “Evidence,” and her quiet classical artistry on “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly.” She makes the range of each song wider and brings new ideas to the melodies, rhythms and harmonies with just the right notes and nuance of expression. Overall, the 12 songs on Solo are masterworks by a master pianist. Give a listen and then buy Solo.
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Guitar virtuoso Stanley Jordan connects and reflects with several of his Friends on his latest recording for Mack Avenue Records. Alongside such jazz greats as violinist Regina Carter, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, saxophonists Kenny Garrett, Ronnie Laws, guitarists Charlie Hunter, Russell Malone, Bucky Pizzarelli and Mike Stern as well as his longtime rhythm section of bassist Charnett Moffett and drummer Kenwood Dennard, the guitarist performs bold array of songs from several genres. Their set opens with “Capital J” a straight-ahead burner featuring Kenny Garrett on soprano saxophone and Nicholas Payton on trumpet while Stanley comps behind their blazing improvisations. “Walkin’ The Dog” and “Lil Darlin’” both reveal Jordan’s excellence as a guitarist who is capable of doubling with like-minded guitarist. He and Charlie Hunter give this B.B. King hit an edge that you’re sure to enjoy while his collaboration with jazz guitar great Bucky Pizzarelli creates a dreamy romantic feel. “I Kissed A Girl” is one of the best songs on the CD and once again features Stanley with Charlie Hunter in an all-out romp through this chart-topping Katy Perry hit on which Stanley plays piano and guitar. This song rocks! Regina Carter is featured with Ronnie Laws on “Samba Delight” and puts one in the mind of a night in Brazil while her return with Stanley on “Romantic Intermezzo” which is based on Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra shows their versatility as violinist and pianist respectively. Overall, this is one of the best recordings from Stanley Jordan in a while and it should be in your collection. Click on the CD cover image to purchase FRIENDS.
Revolution Jon Regen
Jon Regen presents his newest release, pairing 10 new works with such special guests as Andy Summer of The Police and Benmont Tench of The Heartbreakers. Revolution (JRM, 2011) also features three songs Regen co-wrote with Matchbox Twenty front man Rob Thomas (“Just Waiting For You”) and UK soul phenom David McAlmont (“Spirits of the Soul,” “Run Away”).Regen provides vocals and plays an assortment of instruments including piano, Wurlitzer, melodia and drum programming. The songs are an artful mix of the Jazz, Pop, and Rock genres that highlight humor and heartbreak. Regen and his accompanists recorded in seven cities on two different continents, but despite the globe trekking, Jon Regen sings with consistency and believability. The ensemble really delivers on “Revolution,” “She’s Not You, (But Tonight She’ll Have To Do)” and “Fighting For Your Love,” a crowd-pleasing duet that he sings with Dana Fuchs. On the latter, Regen breaks loose with a high-energy piano solo that is sure to have any audience on their feet. “One Part Broken, Two Parts Blue,” and “Spirits of the Soul” reflect the sensitive side of Regen’s creativity and are the kind of songs that are destined to become pop standards that you can enjoy for years to come. All of the songs are pristinely recorded and with the addition of such special guests as George Marinelli on guitar on two songs and Matt Rollings, who plays organ, accordion, mellotron and glockenspiel on four songs, Jon Regen offers a splendid program that he has carefully conceived with a winning team of very creative musicians. Please enjoy it that way. Click on the CD image cover to purchase Revolution.
Pianist Jimmie Amadie performs many of your favorite songs on his first trio session recording titled Something Special. Amadie, who is battling lung cancer, is joined by drummer Bill Goodwin and bassist Tony Marino on two of Amadie’s own compositions as well as 8 revered songs from the Great American Songbook. Jimmy Amadie swings his way through “All The Things You Are,” “Con Alma,” and “Autumn Leaves, “with the kind of finesse and individuality reserved for pianists of his generation who are still fleet-fingered but sensitive to the song’s original meaning. His playing shows no signs of his well-documented struggle with tendonitis and one listen to the beauty and romance in these interpretations will have you enamored with his resonating tones that swing in several different tempi which his trio has no problem exemplifying. The recording is definitely Something Special and should be in your music library under great piano jazz! Check it out.
Round Midnight is Karrin Allyson’s latest offering on the Concord Music Group label. She sings songs culled from the vaults of the Great American Songbook, jazz standards and other great songs that hold special meanings for her and her fans. Joined by such stellar musicians as Bob Sheppard on winds, Matt Wilson on drums, Rod Fleeman on guitars, Ed Howard on bass, and Randy Weinstein on harmonica, Karin Allyson’s set is both sensual and dramatic due to the versatility of her way with lyrics and storytelling. Opening with the rarely heard Bill Evans’ gem “Turn Out the Stars” Karrin immediately captivates the listener with her elongated phrasing and nuance. Gentle piano accompaniment makes this song very interesting. “Goodbye” is absolutely mesmerizing as Karrin tells an absent lover farewell in the type of seductive voice that would cause any other person to reconsider. Her voice is cool yet simmering with desire as Bob Sheppard’s bass clarinet punctuates the conversation. She continues to captivate with “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” “Smile” and “Sophisticated Lady,” before she launches into unforgettable renditions of “The Shadow of Your Smile” and “Send In The Clowns.” Her dramatic yet lovely interpretations of these songs will have you keeping score and marking hers at the top of your “best of” lists. Karrin and bassist Ed Howard end the program in a duet performance of Thelonious Monk/Cootie William/Bernard Hanighen’s “’Round Midnight.” The pair add a mysterious nocturnal ambience by using the sparseness of sound and silence that accompanies the midnight hour. This is one of Karrin’s best ballad recordings and a wonderful additional to her award-winning repertoire. She tops herself again! Check it out and then buy it from the SOTJ store.
Abstract Logix Live 2010 Various Artists This recording documents performances at the first New Universe Music Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina on November 20-21, 2010 by John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension featuring Zakir Hussain, Jimmy Herring Band, Wayne Krantz, Lenny White’s Anomaly, Wayne Krantz, Alex Machacek, Ranjit Barot, and the Human Element. Among the top performances on this live recording are McLaughlin’s “Recovery,” and “Mother Tongues,” “Door #3” by Lenny White’s band, and Jimmy Herring’s rendition of “Rainbow.” Cheers coming from the audiences authenticate the great times experienced over those two days and assist in reviving the enthusiasm felt when you listen to this exceptional double disc live recording. White’s world-famous drumming ignites his band to give excellent performances that were highlighted by great guitar work from Jimmy Herring and Tom Guarna, Richie Goods on bass and Vince Evans on keys. “Gazelle” is a tour-de-force for the guitarists and with White’s power drumming, this song takes off like fleet-footed gazelles being chased across the African plains. John McLaughlin’s legendary electric guitar chops fuel “Recovery” and “Mother Tongues” to new heights and from the sound of things, the electricity didn’t end at the stage. The GRAMMY Award winner added another Grammy winning tabla master Maestro Zakir Hussain as special guest and together, they are literally speaking in the mother tongues. This recording is all any 21st century jazz/rock fan could want from world music masters, jazz/rock fusion artists and new universe musicians. Check it out.
Gonzalo Rubalcaba link
Fe…Faith is the premier release from Gonzalo Rubalcaba on his newly founded independent 5Passion record label. It marks an important milestone in his career because it boasts 15 tracks – 8 of which Rubalcaba wrote – that manifest his growth as a songwriter and pianist. This solo outing features a 3-part suite titled “Derivado” as well as readings of several important jazz standards written by Miles Davis/Bill Evans (“Blue In Green 1” and “Blue In Green 2”), Dizzy Gillespie (“Con Alma 1” and “Con Alma 3”) and two improvisations written by Rubalcaba that were based on Coltrane (“Improvi,sation 1” and “Improvisation 2.”) Rubalcaba opens his set with “Derivado 1” which serves as a stirring prelude to the music that stems from his “Mafererfun Iya Lodde Me.” The spiritual character of the piece is evident in the meditative mood. In the two “Improvisations” Rubalcaba pays tribute to John Coltrane by utilizing the chord changes of “Giant Steps” as he plays a gamut of rhythmic, harmonic and melodic variations. Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma” also gets new props as Rubalcaba performs this classic with soulful feelings. The foremost tribute goes to the Miles Davis/Bill Evans gem “Blue In Green” as Rubalcaba mines the beauty of the song’s melody with impeccable style. Influences abound is this wonderful record label debut for one of jazz’s most admired pianists on the scene today. Check it out at the SOTJ store.
New Gary Burton Quartet
Common Ground is the New Gary Burton Quartet’s debut release for Mack Avenue Records. The Quartet is comprised of the Grammy Award winning vibraphone master, guitarist Julian Lage, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Antonio Sanchez. Among the ten compositions on the recording are six original songs written by quartet members as well as two songs by pianist Vadim Neselovskyi, Keith Jarrett’s “In Your Quiet Place,” and a re-imagined “My Funny Valentine,” the Rogers & Hart gem. Their program opens with Neselovskyi’s “Late Night Sunrise,” a melodic piece that features Burton’s stating the first theme on the vibraphone at the head followed by Lage’s genuine guitar prowess on the melody line. Burton’s virtuosity as a soloist follows as the band swings gently before a brief solo by Colley engages the listener. Lage enters with an improvised solo that intrigues the listener with brilliant chord choices before returning to the melody line. “Common Ground” written by Antonio Sanchez, is a voluptuous minor-key composition that reflects the “Burton sound” of previous years, while Scott Colley’s tune, “Never The Same Way” is the opposite of what listeners have come to associate with the “Burton sound” because it features Burton’s mighty chops and phrasing written in 7/4 time. The only Burton original, “Was It So Long Ago” is a ballad that captures the vibist in full interplay with the ensemble. Lagecontributes an exquisite solo that maintains listener’s interest before Burton re-enters and re-connects the listener to his voice. This is a very pretty song. Overall, the entire album is one that Burton and his bandmates can be proud of and is certainly a worthy addition to your jazz collection. Buy Common Ground today. Simply click on the CD cover.
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Essential is Jean Michel Pilc’s first Live in concert solo album and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Recorded at the Fazioli Piano Loft at Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, New Jersey, this debut release on Motema Music is an enhanced CD with video content with an audio portion that captures the amazing pianist performing 18 songs from a variety of genres – all purely improvised! Sixteen of the compositions are originals written by Pilc including six “Etudes-Tableaus” that are positioned between such great songs as his title track “Essential” and the Schertzinger/Mercer classic “I Remember You.” These striking tableaus provide an array of musical images that arise as suddenly as they disappear as Pilc changes musical directions. The video shows Pilc in all his grandeur performing the fourth of the six “Etudes – Tableaus.” Jean-Michel Pilc employs the entire range of the piano and skillfully applies his versatile technique to “Take The A Train,” with wry contrast between low boogie-woogie-tinged left hand and devious flourishes in the right. “Someday My Prince Will Come” is played as a blues but also takes flight into the upper registers. Chopin’s Waltz No. 3 in A Minor is given several atonal passages with no hint of Pilc’s classical influences while the “Scarborough Fair” melody is instantly recognizable among the improvised jazz riffs. Miles Davis’ “Blue In Green” is brooding and complex and the Bobby Darin hit, “Mack The Knife” is the exact opposite – bouncy and playful. For those listeners who haven’t become accustomed to the greatness of Jean-Michel Pilc’s piano magic, Essential is an appropriate introduction to his artistry and finesse. Buy it today. Simply click on the CD cover.
Milestone is the Sunnyside Records label debut of drummer Adam Cruz. The recording features a stellar lineup of jazz artists including Chris Potter on tenor saxophone, Miguel Zenon on alto saxophone, Steve Wilson on soprano saxophone, Steve Cardenas on guitar, Edward Simon on piano & Fender Rhodes, and Ben Street on bass.“Secret Life” opens with Cruz offering a gentle taste of his rhythm logic before pianist Ed Simon enters to state the first theme. Chris Potter and Miguel Zenon restate the theme after which Potter heats things up with a scorching top-to-bottom torrent of improvised notes that command your attention. It’s no secret that Potter can really blow and he turns in a great performance on “Secret Life.” Steve Wilson’s soprano saxophone has its own opinions that he states in daring free improvisations on the next two tracks “Crepuscular” and “The Gadfly”- the latter being more vamp based and groove oriented. Cruz’s rhythmic roots have grown deep and with this debut recording as a leader, his fans will recognize that he is an artist and creative force who is deserving of your attention. So listen up! Buy Milestone today.
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Jazz Legacy Productions released Monty Alexander’s label debut in March and it’s a real winner. Uplift, the rightly titled premise of Monty Alexander’s program, features 10 great tracks – 7 swingin’ jazz standards and 3 originals penned by Monty Alexander that are certain to give you that “lift” you get when one of your favorite artists releases a new recording.Recorded live at various concert halls around the world between 2007 and 2010 – Uplift opens with the Sammy Cahn favorite “Come Fly With Me.” Alexander’s acoustic alchemy melds immediately with the listener and is nothing short of amazing. The audience shows their gratitude with a roaring ovation that sets the tone for the next track, “One Mint Julep.” Monty seems to mix fine single malt in with his “One Mint Julep” as this rendition is equally mesmerizing and sweet with intoxicating arpeggios and fresh stop on a dime changes. The people who attended Monty’s show when he played “Renewal” got a real treat. Not only did they hear his original composition but he used this setting and the space to really play in the pocket with bassist Hassan Shakur, drummer Herlin Riley and (possibly Frits Landesbergen since the tracks don’t label who is playing). His detailed ditties and gravity defying finger pyrotechnics on the keys on “Sweet Georgia Brown” attest to his outstanding technique. Drummer Herlin Riley turns in a great solo. Overall, the ensemble’s seamless interplay on these songs makes uplift a truly inspired musical experience. This collection of Alexander’s live recordings makes you feel as if you were actually in attendance and is definitely the next best thing to having been there. Check it out.
On Campo Belo, the acclaimed guitarist Anthony Wilson plays his Monteleone Radio Flyer and 1968 Les Paul Deluxe guitars through a Redplate Blackverb amplifier on 10 great songs. The sounds emanating from his brilliant chord choices are absolutely gorgeous. Wilson is accompanied by such respected Brazilian musicians as Andre Mehmari on piano & accordion, Edu Ribeiro on drums, Guto Wirtti on bass Joana Queiroz on clarinet and Vitor Goncalves playing accordion on “Flor de Sumare.” This recording is quiet, sensitive and is permeated with many Brazilian rhythms.Listen to the soft flow of breezy Bossa rhythms on “March to March,” or to “Valsacatu” which is a hybrid of maracatu rhythm and waltz time. But it also features Wilson’s soulful feelings on such songs as “Elyria,” a Nashville shuffle that he plays with a country/bluegrass fingerpicking style.Wilson is one of the most deserving guitarists on the music scene today and with this excellent recording displays his creativity as an artist who does not rest on his early work alone. His musical pendulum has swung from sideman to leader on this recording where he convincingly plays his musical mind on 10 expressive songs. Overall, Wilson and company have given you an imaginative program that demands your attention. Check it out. Learn more about Anthony Wilson at www.anthonywilsonmusic.com. Buy Campo Belo by clicking on the image.
Live at Prague Castle
Pavel J. Ryba & The Fish Men Pavel J. Ryba & The Fish Men performed a live concert at the Prague Castle in honor of Czechoslovakian president Vaclav Klaus. While each member of this exceptional 7-pieceband played extended solos from select songs heard on Ryba’s breakthrough release, the variations of these songs show maturity and command of harmonic language. The performances show both the composer’s ability to write songs that sound bigger and richer than their four or five individual parts initially heard in Ryba's previous bands.Ryba’s vibrant sonics on bass guitar are equally masterful as might be expected from a distinguished artist who has performed before audiences around the world. Joined by Mikolas Nop on drums, Fredy Bittner on guitar, Jiri Kollman on percussion, Milan Krajic on saxophone, Tomas Kremenak on saxophone and accordian, and Petr Valasek on bass clarinet and vocals, the ensemble played several of Ryba's well-known hits including "Morally Topless," "What's Her Poisson," "Smaller Wounds," "Tomorrow Will Be Better," and "Saltation." A cover of Thelonius Monk's "Straight No Chaser," is quite memorable because of Ryba's flair on bass guitar.
Of particular note is the bass clarinet playing os Petr Valasek throughout the recording but especially on "Haven't Got You," and "Smaller Wounds." A gentle melancholy is apparent in the expressive songs, the textures clear, the colors distinct. Several of the songs have an exotic modal cast and the dancing rhythmic urgency of great jazz. In this edition of the Fish Men band, Pavel J. Ryba continues to be bold and write great solos for his band members. Lead guitarist Fredy Bittner's eloquent rock-laced soloing transforms the solemn sound of the bass clarinet into a dramatic world of jazz/rock fusion that is full of soaring lines. Overall, Ryba, has extended his musical skills to include several more musicians and the inspired playing and dedication from each member should make the Pavel J. Ryba Big Band one worthy of wider public attention.
FOR YOUR LOVE
Sherry Winston’s latest offering continues with the love themes she shared on previous recordings. FOR YOUR LOVE is a splendid collection of original songs and covers of such favorites as Beyonce’s “Naughty Girl,” (on which Sherry samples Donna Summer’s “Love To Love You Baby”) and Sting’s “Roxanne.” The lovely flautist’s sixth recording dares her fans to immerse themselves in the exciting and exotic sounds heard on “Carribean Nites” “Overboard” and the beautiful title track “For Your Love.” The soulful vocals of Lori Anne Williams and Timmy Maia make this song a true keeper and their vision of Sherry’s title song is immaculate. FOR YOUR LOVE is by far one of Winston’s best recordings and a tribute to the loving, creative spirit that inhabits all of her recordings. Jazz flute is simply one of the prettiest sounds you’ll ever hear when played by a master and Sherry Winston is definitely a master. Joined by such luminaries as Phil Hamilton on guitar, Tyger Macneal on drums, Nick Bariluk on keyboards, Steve Clarke on bass, Dennis Hightower and Van Gibbs, among others, Sherry is in her element – one that is warm, inviting and stylish. Sherry dusts off “My Funny Valentine” and makes it shine with updated contemporary jazz flute voicings.This is one great rendition of this favorite American Songbook standard and you’re sure to enjoy how Sherry and her band make it their own. As the record proceeds to a close, the reverent “My Silent Prayer” leaves you with a feeling of peace and serenity that is enhanced by the emotional tones of Winston’s flute voicings. “Sherry Love,” the closing track is an upbeat composition that will have you feeling real good and wondering when Sherry and her band are coming your way! Check it out…for more information visit www.sherrywinston.com to buy FOR YOUR LOVE.