New Jazz Releases – 06/12/2023

Magos Hererra – Edward Simon

By odd coincidence, this week we have a pair of big bands led by trombonist / composers – Javier Nero Jazz Orchestra and Michael Davis Hip-Bone Big Band – both stately and swinging by turns.  And a pair of guitar – bass duos, as different as they come, one edgy and angular (Michael Bisio – Timothy Hill) and one quite mainstream and swinging (Greg Chako – Mason Daugherty).  What’s less surprising is that we have three new piano trio sets (lots of great ones recently) by David Hazeltine, Noah Haidu, Keigo Hirakawa

To cap off a terrific week of new music,  Edward Simon has released a set celebrating under appreciated Latin American women composers and the Buselli / Wallarab Jazz Orchestra has a beautiful new 2-CD box of large ensemble interpretations of seminal music from the Gennett studios in Richmond, Indiana a century ago (King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke).  And much more.

Edward Simon – Femeninas: Songs of Latin American Women (Artist Share, released 05/31/2023).  Edward Simon – piano / percussion, Romero Lumbambo – guitar, Reuben Rogers – bass, Adam Cruz – drums, Luis Quintero – percussion, Magos Herrera – vocals.

On the heels of last year’s New Standards, Volume 1, Terri Lyne Carrington’s first of what promises to be many volumes of compositions by women writers, Venezuelan pianist / composer Edward Simon has released this important disc of tunes by Latin American women.  Unlike many in Carrington’s project (Record of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association), the composers represented here are not well-known, for example, Violeta Parra (Chile), Marta Valdes (Cuba), Chabuca Granda (Peru), Elizabeth Morris (Argentina), and Joyce Moreno (Brazil). To present this body of work, Simon is teamed with amazing singer Magos Herrera, whose powerful voice is an instrument of great emotional range – joy, sorrow, melancholy, sadness.  Important and recommended.

Javier Nero Jazz Orchestra – Kemet: The Black Land (Outside In Music, releases 06/23/2023).  Javier Nero Jazz Orchestra with guest artists Sean Jones – trumpet, Randy Brecker – trumpet, Warren Wolf – vibraphone, Christie Dashiell – vocals, Danielle Wertz – vocals.

Trombonist Javier Nero has composed a suite that meditates on Kemet, the ancient Egyptian, highly-advanced Black civilization.  A strong trombone player and adept soloist, Nero has contributed to a number of Big Bands, most recently Steven Feifke’s (Catalyst, reviewed here 05/22/2023).  As a composer, he has created several pieces here of great complexity and beauty.  Among the guests on this release, Sean Jones (Generation Gap Orchestra, Emmet Cohen, Dr. Lonnie Smith) is a standout, especially on Kemet (The Black Land).  Vibraphonist Warren Wolf shines on the funky The Blues Reincarnated

Noah Haidu – Standards (Sunnyside, releases 06/23/2023).  Steve Wilson – alto saxophone / soprano saxophone, Noah Haidu- piano, Buster Williams – bass, Peter Washington – bass, Lewis Nash – drums.

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first release by Keith Jarrett – Gary Peacock – Jack DeJohnette Standards Trio (Standards Volume 1, 1983), pianist Noah Haidu has released his own Standards, with all-star support from Buster Williams or Peter Washington on bass and Lewis Nash on drums.  Four of the tunes have the trio expanded with Steve Wilson on alto.  The achingly slow version of Sammy Cahn / Jimmy Van Heusen’s All The Way is a study in group expression and their take on Wayne Shorter’s Ana Maria (composed at the death of his wife) is haunting and reverent  Not all is slow moving, You And The Night And The Music moves along at a jaunty pace with terrific work by Steve Wilson.  Neil Duggan wrote on All About Jazz, “Many of the tracks featured on the album were part of Jarrett, Peacock and DeJohnette’s catalogue. They are all played with vitality and appropriate respect. The variety of mood and texture, the track sequencing and the use of the different musicians, all ensure that the album sustains interest throughout. They have served Haidu with inspiration for a connection which he has distilled into a clear contemporary musical statement of his own. Highly recommended.”

Michael Davis Hip-Bone Big Band – Open City (Hip-Bone Music, releases 06/19/2023).  Nick Marchione, Tony Kadleck, Jim Hynes, Scott Wendholt, Maneco Ruiz, Zaq Davis, Mike Rodriguez – trumpets, Judy Yin-Chi Lee – French horn, Michael Davis, Marshall Gilkes, Ryan Keberle, Bill Reichenbach – trombones, David Mann, Steve Wilson, Matt Hong, Andy Snitzer, Troy Roberts, Charles Pillow, Sam Dillon, Frank Basile – saxophones, Andy Ezrin – piano, David Finck – bass, Cole Davis – bass, Jared Schonig – drums.

Trombonist Michael Davis has recorded his own take on the pandemic, in his case an optimistic, hopeful reflection on being a musician in post-pandemic New York.  And it’s a family affair.  The leader wrote seven of the tunes, son Cole plays bass and wrote three and son Zaq holds a chair in the trumpet section.  Open City, the title tune by Cole Davis is particularly strong featuring fine solo work from tenorist Troy Roberts (Robby Ameen, Joey DeFrancesco) and trumpeter Mike Rodriguez (Jeb Patton, Marian Schneider, Kenny Barron).  The disc wraps with a real workout for the first class ‘bone section of the leader plus Marshall Gilkes, Ryan Keberle, and Bill Reichenbach.  Bone Man Walking is performed without the rhythm section – the big band equivalent of a cappella – with the trombone section taking the lead. Yes, another trombonist-led big band this week, go figure.

Meshell Ndegeocello – The Omnichord Real Book (Blue Note, releases 06/16/2023).  Ambrose Akinmusire – trumpet, Josh Johnson – saxophone / vocals, Jebin Bruni – keyboards / piano / B3 organ / vocals, Julius Rodriguez – clarinet / B3 organ / garfish organ, Corey Henry – piano, Jason Moran – piano, Daniel Mintseris – keyboards, Jake Sherman – keyboards / bass / vocoder, Joel Ross – vibraphone, Brandee Younger – harp, Chris Bruce – guitar / vocals, Jeff Parker – guitar, Burniss Travis II – bass, Abe Rounds – drums / percussion / vocals, Deantoni Parks – drums, Andrea Ambro – drums, Mark Guiliana – drums, Justin Hicks – vocals, Kenita Miller – vocals, Jade Hicks – vocals, Sanford Biggers – vocals, Joan As Police Woman – vocals, Marsha DeBoe – vocals, Hanna Benn – choir, Thandiswa Mazwai – spoken word / vocals, Meshel Ndegeocello – vocals / Omnichord / keyboards / bass.

Jazz-influenced release of original material from multi-instrumentalist / singer / songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello with guest appearances by jazz artists Brandee Younger, Joel Ross, Ambrose Akinmusire, and Jason Moran.

Ray Vega & Thomas Marriott – Coast To Coast (Origin Records, releases 06/16/2023).  Ray Vega – trumpet, Thomas Marriott – trumpet, Orrin Evans – piano, Michael Glynn – bass, Roy McCurdy – drums.

Trumpet players Ray Vega and Thomas Marriott bring back their East West Trumpet Summit (New York – Seattle) for a third edition (2010, 2016).  Unlike dual (often dueling) tenors, two trumpets sharing the frontline in a quintet is an unusual format, but in the hands of these pros, a productive one.  Long-time friends, these players make more music than sparks as they move through a diverse playlist that ranges from Neil Hefti (Girl Talk) to Don Cherry (Art Deco).  Charles Mingus’s So Long Eric gives the players an opportunity for explore their very different sounds on the trumpet.  Sweet.

Michael Bisio & Timothy Hill – Inside Voice / Outside Voice (Origin Records, releases 06/16/2023). Timothy Hill – guitar / voice, Michael Bisio – bass.

Bassist Michael Bisio (Matthew Shipp, Kirk Knuffke, Whit Dickey) and guitarist / singer Timothy Hill have released a very idiosyncratic disc with equal parts ballads from the Great American Songbook (For All We Know, I Fall in Love To Easily), classics of the edges of modern jazz (Coltrane’s Wise One, Ornette’s Law Years, Henry Grimes’s For Django) and duet improvisations (Hearsay, Transfigure).  Each of these angles has merit.  The ballads show a gentle and lyrical side of Bisio that I hadn’t remembered, while the improv pieces exhibit a lot of skill with extended technique.  In several pieces (Wise One, For Django)  Hill exhibits his unreal capability for harmonic singing (also known as overtone singing, or throat singing).  If you unfamiliar with this technique, it is a very sophisticated technical way of creating vocal overtones that whistle and hum along with the singing.  Give this a listen.

Keigo Hirakawa – Pixel (Origin Records, releases 06/16/2023).  Rafael Statin – saxophones / flute / bass clarinet, Keigo Hirakawa – piano, Brandon Scott Coleman – guitar, Robert Hurst – bass, Alex White – drums.

By day a professor of electrical and computer engineering, pianist / composer Keigo Hirakawa is an accomplished jazz artist by night.  For his Origin Records debut, he has written eight new pieces and leads a quintet of Mid-West players.

Stephen Jones & Ben Haugland – Road To Nowhere (OA2 Records, releases 06/16/2023).  Kevin Whalen – trumpet / flugelhorn, Stephen Jones – soprano saxophone / tenor saxophone, Ben Haugland – piano.

Colleagues at the jazz program of Texas Tech, saxophonist Stephen Jones and pianist Ben Haugland play a program of five originals and four jazz classics.  Colleague and trumpeter Kevin Whalen joins for two pieces.  You don’t often see this piano – sax duo lineup (e.g. Joey Calderazzo – Branford Marsalis, 2010’s Songs Of Mirth And Melancholy), nor, for that matter piano – sax – trumpet trio.  A largely quiet and stately affair, more embers than flame, this music is presented for contemplation by a pair (and sometimes, trio) of well-seasoned pros.

Terry Gibbs Legacy Band – The Terry Gibbs Songbook (Whaling City Sounds, releases 06/16/2023).  Scott Hamilton – tenor saxophone, Harry Allen – tenor saxophone, Tom Ranier – piano / tenor saxophone, Terry Gibbs – 2 finger piano, Mike Gurrola – bass, Gerry Gibbs – drums, Danny Bacher – vocals.

In his heyday in the mid- to late-40s, Terry Gibbs was a respected vibraphonist and composer with a lot of exposure with West Coast bebop-influenced big bands (Chubby Jackson, Woody Herman, Allen Eager, Serge Chaloff).  His son, percussionist Gerry Gibbs, has kept the flame alive reprising his father’s compositions (Songs For My Father, 2021).  This disc is a swan song for the 98-year-old, breaking no new ground in presenting his work.  Quality tenor players Scott Hamilton and Harry Allen have seen better settings for their artistry.

Phil Haynes – Drew Guess – Dave Liebman – Coda(s): No Fast Food III(Corner Store Jazz, releases 06/15/2023).  David Liebman – soprano saxophone / wooden flute / bells, Drew Gress – bass / bells, Phil Haynes – drum set / gong.

After career-threatening medical issues and depression coincident with the COVID pandemic, veteran drummer Phil Haynes has embarked on an ambitious schedule of releases, some in the mode of career summary.  This trio is one that Haynes recorded with a decade ago and Dave Liebman (Live at Smalls reviewed here 02/20/2023) is a mentor to the drummer.  Highly intuitive group play has produced a quiet and almost pastoral release in large part.

Buselli / Wallarab Jazz Orchestra – The Gennett Suite (Patios Records, released 06/09/2023).  Clark Hunt, Jeff Conrad, Scott Belck, Mark Buselli, John Raymond, Jeff Parker – trumpets, Tim Coffman, Andrew Danforth, Thurman, Rich Dole-tb, Greg Ward – soprano saxophone / alto saxophone, Amanda Gardier – alto saxophone, Tom Walsh – tenor saxophone / flute, Todd Williams – tenor saxophone, Ned Boyd-baritone saxophone, Luke Gillespie – piano, Jeremy Allen – bass, Sean Dobbins – drums.

One hundred years ago, the Gennett studios in Richmond, Indiana were the center of the jazz world, the location for seminal recordings by King Oliver and Louis Armstrong, Hoagy Carmichael and Big Beiderbecke, Jelly Roll Morton and the New Orleans Rhythm Kings.  Appropriately this legacy is being interpreted by Bloomington-based arranger and co-leader of the Buselli / Wallarab Jazz Orchestra – Brent Wallarab.  The iconic compositions that form the basis for these arrangements were mostly recorded in 1923 and 1924, when jazz was young and those recordings formed the basis for the musical education of the second generation of jazz players who took the music into the Big Band era.  These arrangements are totally modern and hip, using these historical pieces as touchstones for contemporary expression.  Jelly Roll Morton’s Wolverine Blues was first recorded in a rare 1923 interracial session with the white band New Orleans Rhythm Kings.  In this retelling, the tune starts with a lovely bass solo by Jeremy Allen, features a playful interval from trumpeter Scott Belck, followed by a bubbly chorus by altoist Amanda Garnier (frequent collaborator with guitarist Charlie Ballentine).  This is an important collection of music and a jolt to our collective memory as Jazz fans.

Roderick Harper – 2702 (RHM Entertainment, 06/05/2023).  Roderick Paulin – saxophones, Oscar Rossignoli – piano, Max Moran – bass, Jamison Ross – drums, Roderick Harper – vocals.

What a great voice NOLA singer Roderick Harper has!  Sensitive, tender, melodic, powerful as needed, and favorably compared to Gregory Porter.  Somehow I have missed him until now, my mistake.  Top notch band includes pianist Oscar Rossignoli of the trio, Extended (Brad Walker + Extended – Side By Side, reviewed here 04/20/2023), saxophonist Roderick Paulin (Kermit Ruffins), and rock-steady drummer Jamison Ross (Quiana Lynell, Jazzmeia Horn, 2018’s All For One).  Paulin heads out of the gates smoking on soprano on Carmen Lundy’s All Day, All Night.  Harper totally sells Johnny Burke’s lyrics on Here’s That Rainy Day (Maybe I should have saved those leftover dreams…).  Allen Toussaint’s When Can I Come Home is a powerful song of desperation and hope, with a strong reading by Harper and a beautiful contribution by Rossignoli.  Rewards multiple listenings.

David Hazeltine – Blues for Gerry (Criss Cross, released 05/26/2026).  David Hazeltine – piano, Peter Washington – bass, Joe Farnsworth – drums.

During the tenure of Cris Cross Jazz founder Gerry Teekens, pianist David Hazeltine recorded eight records for the label as a leader and another 20 discs in various collaborations.  Teekens passed in 2019 and his son Jerry took over the label and Hazeltine is back with a trio date featuring A-list support from Peter Washington on bass (so far this year – Lafayette Harris, Jeremy Pelt, Jim Snidero, Jessie Davis, The Heavy Hitters, George Coleman!) and Joe Farnsworth on drums (In What Direction Are You Headed? reviewed here 5/15/2023), both veterans of previous Hazeltine trio projects for Criss Cross.  Icrom Bigrad wrote on Jazz Sensibilites, “… Blues for Gerry is an album that all jazz enthusiasts and pianists will find captivating. David Hazeltine’s consummate musicianship, coupled with the dynamism of Washington and Farnsworth, brings us a compelling study in jazz trio performance. … It’s a swinging, thoughtful, and brilliantly performed set that will inspire repeat listens and surely end up as a highlight in Hazeltine’s extensive discography.”  Loved this!

Greg Chako Featuring Mason Daugherty – A Place For Bass Chamber Jazz Duets (Mint 400 Records, released 05/26/2023).  Greg Chako – guitar, Mason Daugherty – bass.

A career ex-pat, guitarist / composer Greg Chako is not well known but has released a solid collection of original compositions in duet with bassist Mason Daugherty.  Scott Yanow on Blood Makes Noise writes, “While there have been some notable guitar-bass recordings in the past, most notably by the teams of Jim Hall & Ron Carter and Joe Pass & Niels-Henning Orsted Pederson, A Place For Bass is quite a bit different due to the equal roles played by the two musicians (Daugherty is never just an accompanist) and Greg Chako’s intricate arrangements and compositions.”  A quiet and intimate affair.

Joy – Joy (Cadillac Records, 05/26/2023). Chris Francis – alto saxophone, James Dvorak – trumpet, Frank Roberts – piano, Ernest Mothle – bass, Keith Bailey – drums.

There was a lot going on in British jazz in the 70s, even as major labels backed away from jazz ceding the territory to independent DIY labels like Cadillac. The multi-cultural quintet (UK, US, Caribbean, South Africa) Joy released their eponymous debut in 1976 and it quickly became a rare and sought-after LP.  Now finally re-released, Alan Musson wrote on UK Vibe, “… listening now it’s difficult to believe that the music was created almost fifty years ago. The energy and raw enthusiasm of the music and musicians is palpable from the opening Martini Sweet [alto saxist Chris] Francis’ hard-edged tone here is reminiscent of his contemporary saxophonists Mike Osborne and Ray Warleigh and [pianist Frank] Roberts’ playing has absorbed much from Herbie Hancock with the group communicating the type of joy so evident in the music of Harry Beckett.”  An important, if fleeting, moment in UK jazz now available for a new audience.  As fresh as tomorrow and recommended highly.

Kevin Harris & the Solution – Jazz Gumbo (Self Produced, released 05/01/2023). Donald Harrison – alto saxophone, Jerry Z – organ / piano, Danny Draher – guitar, Tony Garnier – bass, Will Lee – bass, Mike Clark – drums, Kevin Harris – vocals.

The final tune in this set says it all – God Made Me Funky.  Singer Kevin Harris presents a largely RnB set with a huge presence from altoist Big Chief Donald Harrison, Jr.  Tunes from Eddie Harris (Freedom Jazz Dance) and Donald Harrison (Sandcastle Headhunter) sit side-by-side with Alan Toussaint (Yes We Can Can), Wilson Pickett (Ninety-Nine and One-Half) and my favorite Al Kooper (More Than You’ll Ever Know).

Jazz Doctors – The Billy Bang Quartet Sessions 1983​/​1984, Intensive Care & Prescriptions Filled (Cadillac Records, 04/21/2023).  Frank Lowe – tenor saxophone, Billy Bang – violin, Rafael Garrett – bass, Wilbur Morris – bass, Dennis Charles – drums, Thurman Barker – drums.

Independent record label Cadillac recorded the American avant-garde quintet Jazz Doctors during their 1983 European tour for what became their first record – Intensive Care.  A second session in 1984 was not released until now as Prescriptions Filled.  Jazz Doctors was but another way station for peripatetic violinist Billy Bang and tenor player Frank Lowe.  Brian Payne wrote on Jazz Journal, “The violin / saxophone front line produces an unusual, occasionally chaotic sound… This is mainly because the violin is played so intensely it can seem shrill to unaccustomed ears… Some numbers are more melodic than others – in this regard one of the highlights is Butch Morris’s Spooning. The band revises material by Jackie McLean, Rashied Ali and Ornette Coleman in Intensive Care, with Bang and Lowe each contributing an original composition. Following Bang’s Suite For Gamma in Prescriptions Filled, the Jazz Doctors deliver a colourful, idiosyncratic take on numbers by Monk/Hawkins, Coltrane and Sonny Rollins.”  An important record of the Bang / Lowe collaboration.

Another week of strong new music plus a couple of important rereleases from the archives.  I hope these notes help you discover something you will love to hear.

Russell Perry, Jazz at 100 Now!


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