New Jazz Adds – 8/8/2017
Charlie Ballantine – Where Is My Mind? (Self-produced): Guitarist / composer Charlie Ballantine, graduate of the Indiana University Jazz Studies program. He identifies his major influences as Bill Frisell, John Scofield, Wes Montgomery, and Jimi Hendrix. In addition to Ballantine’s electric and acoustic guitar playing, the rest of the players are Amanda Gardier (alto sax, flute), Jesse Wittman (bass) and Jay Tibbitts (drums). Seven of the ten tunes on offer are originals by Ballantine. Ballantine is more jazz focused on this disc, though I did hear some traces of Hendrix’s mellower “tape effects” playing on a tune or so. Generally, there are single string or chords with slight sound effects, placing the big guitar sound in the prime position. This is a good performance with Ballantine’s guitar is front and center. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Gerald Cannon – Combinations (Self-produced): Composer/bassist Gerald Cannon offers five originals and covers from composer’s Slide Hampton, Duke Ellington and VanHuesen and DeLange among others. There is a shifting line-up across the disc with Cannon playing on all cuts and drummer Willie Jones III (drums) all but one where he is replaced by Will Calhoun. Other musicians include Gary Bartz, Sherman Irby and Steve Slagle shifting off on alto sax; Jeremy Pelt (trumpet on four tunes) and Duane Eubanks (trumpet on one); Rick Germanson and Kenny Barron (trading off on piano); and Russell Malone (guitar on three cuts). Hard bop, some floating ballads, a touch of Latin jazz, and a smooth performance throughout. Click here to listen to the title track.
Jeff Coffin – Next Time Yellow (Ear Up): Leader Jeff Coffin (saxes, woodwinds) offers six compositions with contributors Jennifer Hartswick (trumpet), Berry Green (trombone), Keith Carlock and Josh Hunt (drums), Chris Walters (electric piano), Matt Wigton (bass), James DaSilva, Lindsey Miller and Tim Reynolds (guitars) and Heritage O.P. (percussion). Coffin is a former member of Bela Fleck & The Flecktones (1997-2010) and a current member of the Dave Matthews Band. Musical styles shift from dreamy Latin jazz to medium, bluesy jazz that builds to a fiery guitar dual before fading out to a series of haunting ballads and closing with an multi-voiced uptempo and somewhat funky farewell. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Jon Davis – Happy Juice (Positone): Composer/pianist Jon Davis, supported by Boris Koziov (bass) and Mark Ferber (drums), presents ten songs, five of which were composed by heroes who inspired Davis to play – Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner and Keith Jarrett – and five of his own compositions. The cuts are not paired off, but Davis has offered his own interpretations of the songs by the above five along with his own compositions. There is no explanation of which of his original songs were inspired by a particular musician. This is, however, a fine trio sharing classics and Davis’ originals. Click here to listen to the title song, an original by Davis.
Carolyn Fitzhugh – Simply Amazing (Self-produced): Chicago native Carloyn Fitzhugh offers her first release. Though she also studied and plays piano, she decided to focus exclusively on her vocals for this release. Fitzhugh also has a three octave vocal range and uses it in her own unique style on her original songs, four of which she co-wrote and produced with Larry Brown Jr. (guitar). Other musicians on the disc include Stu Mendeman (piano), Tim Ipsen (bass), Alfonzo Jones (drums) and Brent Griffin Jr. (alto sax). Fitzhugh also covers “When Sunny Gets Blue”, “Maiden Voyage” and “A Night In Tunisia”, each of which add variety to the program. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Kenosha Kid – Outside Choices (Self-produced): Kenosha Kid features Dan Nettles (guitar, composer), Jacob Wick (trumpet), Peter van Huffel (alto sax), Greg Sinibaldi (tenor, bari sax), Robby Handley (bass), and Marlon Patton (drums). “In Thomas Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow, the Kenosha Kid is a maddeningly ambiguous figure: it might be a cowboy, or a dance, or a Sodium Amytal-induced hallucination (or all of the above).” (https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/kenoshakid3). Several of the tunes sound like a swaying, or at times staggering, jazz band with their cool tunes. So, it’s hip and has a bit of funk and rockish influence in its soul jazz. Nettles and the horns interact with great collaboration. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Patti LaBelle – Bel Hommage (GPE): Patti Labelle is back! She began her professional recording career as the lead singer of Patti Label and the Bluebelles in 1963 in the midst of the “girl group” craze. Some years later, she fronted the group Labelle, scoring a major hit with “Lady Marmalade“, a number 1 hit in 1974. BTW, their release, “Pressure Cookin’” from 1973 was a killer! Patti LaBelle has continued her career beyond the LaBelle years and now in 2017, we have a new disc that is both potent and a great testimony to one of the great soulful singers of the last 50 years. She has now turned her attention to jazz and her performance is stunning. This disc is jazz / pop oriented and there is some evidence of the ravages of time on her voice, BUT she still sings amazingly well. The material is jazz and pop, and I must confess not everything is accomplished at the same level, but this IS an excellent performance overall. I connected with Professor Bebop on this and, together. we agreed this must be classified as a “certified Professor Bebop ‘Wax Devoid Of Cracks’” ! It’s definitely uptown, but still sooo terrific! Click here to check out one of the killer performances on this disc!
Brian Landrus Orchestra – Generations (BlueLand): Brian Landrus is a multi-instrumentalist (bari sax, bass sax, bass clarinet, contra alto clarinet and bass flute) and a composer. He began playing professionally at 15 and has studied both jazz and classical music. This is Landrus’ fifth release and it focuses on blending jazz and classical performances, which were, by the way, he composed and arranged. The disc begins with “Jeru Concerto” featuring four movements and an interlude followed by seven additional pieces that are stand alone originals. The players, in addition to Landrus include Jamie Baum (flute, alto flute); Tom Christensen (oboe, flute); Darryl Harper (clarinet); Michael Rabinowitz (bassoon); Alden Banta (contrabassoon); Debbie Schmidt (horn); Ralph Alessi and Igmar Thomas (trumpet); Alan Ferber (trombone); Marcus Rojas (tuba); Brandee Younger (harp); Joe Locke (vibraphones); Billy Hart and Justin Brown (drums); Mark Feldman, Sara Caswell violin, Joyce Hammann and Meg Okura (violins); Lois Martin and Mora Krohn (viola); Jody Redhage and Maria Jeffers (cello); Jay Anderson (acoustic bass); Lonnie Plaxico (acoustic and electric bass); and JC Sanford (conductor). Click here to listen to the opening movement of “Jeru Concerto”.
The Microscopic Septet – Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me (Cuneiform): The Microscopic Septet returns with a new twist: let’s take all of their wackiness and focus on the blues. You don’t exactly need to get too serious though. Some songs are straighter than others, but with titles like “Blues Cubistico”, “Migraine Blues”, “Simple-Minded Blues” and “PJ In The 60’s”, you’ll remember that the blues can be uplifting as well. It’s not the craziest music the Septet has in the past, but it will keep you toes tapping! The band includes Phillip Johnston (soprano sax), Don Davis (alto sax), Mike Hashim (tenor sax), Dave Sewelson (bari sax, vocal on the last song), Joel Forrester (piano), Dave Hofstra (bass) and Richard Dworkin (drums). Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.
Ed Palermo Big Band – The Great Un-American Songbook: Volumes I & II (Cuneiform): As if the Microscopic Septet wasn’t unique enough, how about a double disc of big band jazzers who have collected a group of Un-American compositions (in this case meaning compositions by Brits like Jethro Tull, Jeff Beck, King Crimson, Radiohead and, of course, the Beatles) and done them up big band style. Yes, there are vocals, but I must confess that the most successful selections really take an aggressive and slightly outside jazz approach to the songs. Palermo arranged the music and leads the bans and plays alto sax. The rest of the band includes Barbara Cifelli (bari sax, clarinet), Matt Ingman (bass trombone), Charley Gordon (lead trombone), Ronnie Buttacavoli (lead trumpet), Katie Jacoby (electric violin), John Bailey (trumpet), Clifford Lyons (lead alto sax, clarinet), Phil Chester (alto sax, flute, piccolo, soprano sax), Bill Straub (lead tenor sax, flute, clarinet), Ben Kono (tenor sax, flute, oboe), Michael Boschen (trombone), Ray Marchica (drums), Paul Adamy (electric bass), Bob Quaranta (piano), Ted Kooshian (electric keyboards), and Bruce McDaniel (guitar, vocals). Some of the set works better than others, but when it’s good, it’s really good. Click here to listen to most of the tunes on this set.
John Pizzarelli – Sinatra & Jobim @ 50 (Concord Jazz): Singer/guitarist John Pizzarelli has paired up with vocalist Daniel Jobim to celebrate Latin jazz songs and styles as applied to standards and to honor two of his greatest influences, Frank Sinatra and the bossa nova composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. The disc has the soft melodious style of Jobim’s greatest work. Most of the songs were composed by Jobim, though Pizzarelli does add a few of his own. Additional musicians include Mike Kara (bass), Helio Alves (piano) and Duduka DaFonsecca (drums, percussion) with guests Harry Allen (tenor sax) and additional vocals by Jessica Molaskey and Madeleine Pizzarelli. Soft and sweet. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Ron Reid – Precious Metals (Jazz Urbane Recordings): Bassist/steel drummer/vocalist/composer/Berklee School of Music educator Ron Reid’s new disc honors the music of the Caribbean with a focus on Trinidadian and similar styles. This appears to be his third release as a leader. Half of the songs on this disc are originals. Reid is supported by numerous musicians in shifting combinations throughout the program. The players include Tim Ray (piano, keys), Tuffus Zimbabwe (piano), Leandro Pellegrino, Theron Shaw and Jussi Ronen (guitar), Sean Skeete (drums), Bertram Lehman and Ernesto Diaz (percussion), Daniel Ian Smith (soprano, tenor sax), Tim Mayer and Fernando Brandao (flute), Greg Hopkins and Mike Pipeman (trumpet), Gaia Wilmer (alto sax), Bob Pilkington (trombone), Roni Eytan (harmonica), Joshua Joseph (tenor pan) and Wambura Mitaru, Lisa Odour-Noah, and Njoki Mwangi (backing vocals). Reid also plays piano on the final track. The music is uplifting, joyful and infectious. Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.