Omar Hakim’s list of credits spans the musical spectrum from Rock to Jazz to Pop to Electronica and with his latest release We Are One, his listeners are treated to a wonderful array of styles and genres on one recording. The highly acclaimed drummer leads a stellar ensemble featuring Chieli Minucci, Gregoire Maret, Scott Tibbs, Jerry Brooks, Rachel Z and several others on 10 original compositions that he either wrote or co-wrote keyboardist Scott Tibbs or bassist Jerry Brooks. In addition to his drumming, Omar Hakim adds to his multi-instrumentalist skills, performing on piano, keyboards, percussion, guitar, bass and singing on several songs.
“Transmigration” opens his set in an awesome jazz/rock fusion style that immediately channels a couple of Hakim’s most influential groups – Return to Forever and Stanley Clarke’s group called Virtu, the latter of which Hakim’s wife, Rachel Z, was a member. This song is a great one especially because of its power drumming, heavy rock guitar licks, and Synth solos from Hakim, Chieli Minucci and Rachel Z respectfully.
“Carpe Diem,” “Walk The Walk,” and “Listen Up,” all feature the varied drumming styles – rock, funk, jazz – that Hakim so deftly delivers during his solos. With the exception of background vocals by Angel Rogers, Hakim plays eight different instruments on the very mellow title track that closes his set. Hearing is believing and with We Are One, you’re sure to become a definite believer of Omar Hakim’s virtuousity. Buy We Are One from the SOTJ store today. Click CD cover to purchase We Are One.
The Changing Lights
GRAMMY-nominee Stacey Kent’s Brazilian inspired recording titled The Changing Lights features collaborations with Jim Tomlinson, novelist Kazuo Ishiguro and special guest Roberto Menescal. Her mesmerizing vocals are sure to enamor you as you listen to these 15 songs that Stacey has selected for her program. She sings in English, French and Portuguese on original songs and classics from the biggest names in Brazilian music. Whether singing Tom Jobim’s “One Note Samba,” “How Insensitive,” or Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars,” Stacey is sure to please your musical tastes because of her sensual vocals and innovative re-interpretations. Joined by a stellar ensemble who play in an assortment of formats , Stacey’s program of Changing Lights is tender, bold, colorful and breezy. Check it out. Click on the CD cover to buy The Changing Lights.
Root of Things
Matthew Shipp Trio
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.
TURN THE SEA
Turn the Sea follows Natalie Cressman’s jazz-oriented debut titled Unfolding with a unique approach to her vocal artistry and technique. The vocalist/trombonist is accompanied by her septet on 9 successful performances that also feature her adventurous skills as a trombonist. Natalie Cressman wrote all of the songs except for two tracks. The program is like a corridor with nine doors, each opening into a separate level of her creative process that is symbolized by opening and closing with the title track. Overall, she has created a balanced, warm and admirable program of songs that are sure to delight her fans. Check it out. Simply click on the CD cover to buy Turn The Sea.
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.
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.
Vocalist Anna Danes offers her fans an exceptional listening experience consisting of selections from the Great American Songbook as well as a two original compositions penned by her producer Larry B. White. Danes expresses the sentiment inherent in the lyrics with honesty and creativity and makes each of these songs her own. Especially memorable is her interpretation of “Killing Me Softly” a song that has been long associated with Roberta Flack. Danes’ version is straightforward and heartfelt. “I Wish You Love,” closes the recording and is also beautifully conveyed. Overall, Danes’ debut has promise and should be considered among the newcomers with creativity rediscovered.
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.