New Jazz Adds – 5/16/2017
Alma Matters – Alma Matters (Self-produced): This project was started by music educator/multi-instrumentalist Jeff Weinmann who gathered together musical friends and colleagues also originally from the San Francisco Bay area to bring out a sampling and blend of their musical experiences. The group name is a play on the number of these musicians who attended and graduated from Berkeley High School and participated in its music program. The players include Weinmann (flute, vocals), Peter Apfelbaum (keys, tenor sax, flute, drums, percussion, vocals, bass), Jeff Cressman (trombone, flugelhorn, cornet, bass), Natalie Cressman (vocals, trombone), Elena Pinderhughes (flute), Samora Pinderhughes (keys), Jonathan Stein (bass), Mark Whitfield Jr (drums), Ivan Jackson (trumpet), John Schott (guitar), Jill Ryan (vocals, alto sax), Will Bernard (guitar), Charlie Ferguson (drums), Sandy Cressman (vocals), Ben Heveroh (keys), David Belove (bass), Josh Jones (drums, percussion), Paul Hanson (bassoon, clarinet), Robin Bonnel (cello), Rachel During (violin), Tony Lindsay (vocals), Erik Jekabson (flugelhorn, trumpet), Terrance Kelly (vocals),Destani Wolf (vocals), Steven Bernstein (trumpet), Marcus Rojas (tuba), Mathias Kunzli (drums), and Josh Jones (conga) with vastly varying groupings throughout. Apfelbaum is the most frequent composer/arranger, though Natalie Cressman contributed several as well. In addition to the originals, the group also covers George Jackson’s topical “Get Involved”, Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and some traditional spirituals. It’s quite a varied offering with constantly shifting styles and textures and some messages in addition. Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.
Kenneth Brown – 3Down (Space Time): This is drummer/composer Kenneth Brown’s first release as a leader and he’s offering a vibrant program of original compositions, which offer a new taste of soul or fusion jazz. It is clear throughout that the blend is jazz-based, while blending in funk, rap, and soul elements. Brown’s father, pianist Donald Brown was a significant player in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, urged Kenneth to find his own voice. He also composed and plays keys on one of the cuts on this disc. The disc, however, is clearly Kenneth’s. IN addition to his drumming, he composed six songs and co-wrote four on this disc. The players are Jeremy Pelt (trumpet); Greg Tardy (sax, clarinet); Will Boyd (sax, flute); Jamel Mitchell (sax); Keith Brown (piano, keys); Darryl Hall (bass); Ashlee Varner, Mina Bradley and Cynthia Brown (vocals); Donald Brown Jr (rap); Dorothy Brown (flute); and Mark Bolling (guitar). Check this out! It may well seduce you! The players are solid and blend so well. Click here for a live performance of the title song.
Gerald Clayton – Tributary Tales (Motema): Pianist / composer Gerald Clayton has performed with Roy Hargrove, Diana Krall and Charles Lloyd among others. This is his fourth disc as a leader and he composed all of the sons in this inter-connected theme: a tributary carrying old tales into new places and people with one truth: “…stories vary, moods transform, land shifts; know that they are all connected, offshoots of a larger stream that flows from the same source toward the same horizon.” (liner notes) Backing musicians on the disc are Logan Richardson (alto sax); Ben Wendel (tenor sax, bassoon); Joe sanders (bass); and Justin Brown (drums); with guests Dayna Stephens (bari sax, one track); Aja Monet and Carl Hancock Rux (sopken word on two tracks); Sachal Vasandani (vocals, one track); and Henry Cole and Gabriel Lugo (percussion on various tracks). It’s an interesting excursion. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Polly Gibbons – Is It Me…? (Resonance): Polly Gibbons has a large voice and shifts her style between jazz and club-style and drops a few noteworthy soul and bluesy songs from one end of the disc to the other. She also co-wrote three of the songs on offer here. Her penchant for numerous styles shows up in the program here as well. In addition to her own material, she covers older tunes, like Ellington’s “I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart” and “Basin Street Blues” and then mixes in Thomas Dolby’s “Ability To Swing” and holds her own just fine on Aretha Franklin’s “Dr. Feelgood”. There’s even a live cut at the end of the disc. Her back-up is provided by a shifting cast of players, but typically she is backed by piano or organ, guitar, bass, drums, and several horns. She certainly has style as well. Click here to listen to a song from the disc she co-wrote with her pianist James Pearson.
Mas Que Nada – Sea Journey (BluJazz): This is a very talented student group from the University of Western Michigan that dedicates itself to Brazilian jazz. Group members include Monica Pabelonio and Kevin Dorta (Vocals), Andrew Strzyzewski (alto sax, flute), Elliot Bold (trumpet), Sam Pilnick (tenor sax), Anthony Healy (piano), Alfredo Balcacer (guitar), Henry Rensch (bass), Jordan Otto (drums, percussion) and Alex Snyder (percussion). The group is directed by Tom Knific. The material ranges from standards Ruben Blades’ “Pablo Pueblo” and Tito Puente’s “Ran Kan Kan” to Chick Corel’s “Sea Journey” and John Lennon’s “If I Fell”. All in all, it’s a good listen and it’s fun! I regret that I am unable to locate a sample from this disc.
Sweet Lu Olutosin – Meet Me At The Crossroads (Self-produced): Jazz vocalist, lyricist, and composer Sweet Lu Olutosin composes and sings music with a message. From his initial exposure to Al Jarreau, his goal has been to become an “uninhibited singer using a mix of jazz, blues, and gospel to create music with the message of soulful, spiritual healing.” (webpage notes) Several of his songs do just that: “Still Swingin’” celebrates the continuing health and growth of jazz, even in the wake of the passing of so many giants; “How They Do That” celebrates the accomplishments of great social leaders in the face of intense resistance; and “Skin Game (Granny Said It)” tackling the continuing racial discrimination in the US. Backing musicians include pianist Tyrone Jackson, bassist Kevin Smith, and drummer Henry Conerway III with occasional contributions by tenor-saxophonist Mace Hibbard, trumpeter Lester Walker and background singer Crystal Monet. Donald Brown (an alumnus of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers) is the producer and also guests on piano on some selections. Click here and scroll down to the list in blue to listen to the songs on this disc.
Michael Pedicin – As It Should Be – Ballads 2 (Groundblue): This disc is a musical acknowledgement and conviction that unity among all beings often gained by seeking connections through love and acceptance would build a better world. Interestingly, the group leader, saxophonist Michael Pedicin (tenor, soprano) was not the composer. Guitarist Johnnie Valentino composed all but two songs and the outliers are Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and John Coltrane’s “Crescent”. In Pedecin’s words, “We present our unified playing, in ballad form, so that we allow ourselves and the listeners to think, dream, and reflect about what a great world we can create if we allow love and respect to be a natural gift to anyone who touches our lives….” (liner notes). The sound clearly communicates that feeling. In addition to Pedicin and Valentino, the group consists of Frank Strauss (piano, Fender Rhodes), Mike Boone (bass), Justin Faulkner (drums) and Alex Icons (percussion). A beautiful offering. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Leigh Pilzer – Strunkin’ (Self-produced): This is DC based baritone saxophonist Leigh Pilzer’s first release as a leader and she truly shines throughout. A graduate of Berklee School of Music and U Maryland, she is currently working on a doctorate and from the sound of this performance, she’s graduated already. This disc captures a live performance at Allyworld and features six originals from Pilzer, one from bassist Amy Shook and one from trombonist Jen Krupa. The group is completed by Jackie Warren (piano) and Sherrie Maricle (drums). This is a terrific performance throughout. It swings with style and sass. Click here to listen to samples from the disc and hear for yourself.
Adam Schneit Band – Light Shines In (Fresh Sound/New Talent): This is Adam Schneit’s first recording as a leader. He has a Master’s degree in Jazz Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Steve Lacy and Bob Brookmeyer, among others. Now based in Brooklyn, Schneit works with a collective called “Old Time Musketry”, (also the title of a composition on this disc) and leads this current band with players Eivind Opsvik (bass), Sean Moran (guitar), and Kenny Wollesen (drums). There are several styles presented here, from ballads that meander through the air to a few moments of jagged outside tonal assaults, with Schneit and Moran trading sonic stretches. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Uptown Jazz Tentet – There It Is (IrabbaGAST): This is a highly touted big band, founded by trumpeter/flugelhorn player Brandon Lee and trombonists Willie Applewhite and James Burton III. Other band members include Andy Gutauskas (alto sax, flute); Jon Irabagon (tenor, soprano sax); Carl Maraghi (baritone sax,bass clarinet); Tatum Greenblatt (trumpet/flugelhorn); Adam Birnbaum (piano); Clovis Nicolas (bass); Aaron Kimmel (drums) and member emeritus Chris Madsen (tenor sax, clarinet). All but four of the songs are originals and various band members newly arranged those that were not originals. The ensemble work is solid melodically and metrically throughout. Click here and scroll down to listen to the songs on this disc.
Cory Weeds & The Jeff Hamilton Trio – Dreamsville (Cellar Live Records): Tenor sax player Cory Weeds and The Jeff Hamilton Trio originally connected in 2015 and were lauded for their wonderful swing. That’s still in evidence, but the highlight of this disc is the ballads and the wonderful interplay among the musicians. In fact, that begins on the opening track when Weeds and drummer Jeff Hamilton begin the set together. The intro is stunning in its subtle beauty and it only gets better when Tamir Hendelman (piano) and Christoph Luty (bass) join in. “Dreamsville” is not only the name of a song they perform, but it is also the perfect description for the performance throughout. There are only two original songs on the disc, but the covers are not regular jazz standards. They selected songs by Michael Franks, Henry Mancini, and Illinois Jacquet and Sir Charles Thompson. It swings and it’s beautiful! Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Alex Wintz – Life Cycle (Culture Shock): Guitarist Alex Wirtz is a graduate of Berklee School of Music and Julliard School and continues to develop his playing and composing since then. This is his first release as a headliner and he wrote seven of the nine songs. He is supported by Jimmy Macbride (drums), with Ben Williams and Dave Baron trading off on bass, Lucas Pino adding tenor sax on four songs and Victor Gould adding piano to four. The shifts in personnel add variety to the overall disc and the disc itself is quite appealing. Click here for a very brief introduction to the disc with a bit of the title song. Click here to hear an earlier live in studio version of a song on the disc.