WTJU Best of 2018 – Dave Rogers (Jazz)

Dave Rogers, aka Professor Bebop, has been hosting a program on WTJU for over four decades.  He is also the Jazz, Blues, and Soul reviewer.

Artist – Album (Label)
Benjamin Boone & Philip Levine – The Poetry Of Jazz, Volume Two (Origin): This collection is basically a melange of original poetry and narration by Philip Levine and compositions by Benjamin Boone (alto, soprano sax) on 12 of the 18 performances, with the remainder composed by various members of the players. The musicians include David Aus (piano), with the addition of Craig Von Berg on piano on six songs), Spee Kosloff or Nye Morton (bass), Brian Hamada or Gary Newmark (drums), with guests Karen Margot (vocals, 2 songs), Max Hembo or Asher Boone (trumpet), Atticus Boone (French horn on 1 song) and Stefan Poetzsch (violin). The disc is a fascinating melange of music and poetry in memory of U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize recipient Philip Levine and musician Brian Hamada. This is an engaging fusion of two terrific artists. The poetry is amazingly expressive and the music ties in wonderfully.

Kait Dunton – Planet D’earth (Self-produced): Composer/pianist Kait Dunton has released a stunning disc that features seven original pieces and three by John D’earth who also adds his trumpet and flugelhorn to the disc. Other players are Dane Alderson (bass), and Jake Reed (drums) and with Bob Mintzer adding tenor sax on three. The music here is absolutely as intriguing as it is beautiful. Dunton states that her compositions were specifically written with D’earth in mind.  There are also a few additions along the way, including Andrew Synnowiec (guitar on two songs), Carey Frank added B3 on one song and Kait Dunton added Fender Rhodes on one song. The players lock in rhythmically and melodically with an energy and beauty many aggregations never reach. It’s a celebration throughout.

Cory Weeds Quintet – Live At Frankie’s Jazz Club (Cellar Live): Alto sax man Cory Weeds rounded up Terrrell Stafford (trumpet), Harold Maburn (piano), Michael Glynn (acoustic bass) and Julian MacDonough (drums) with the intention of raising a beautiful fuss! The set list includes songs from Lee Morgan, Mal Waldron, Tina Brooks, and Jackie McLean (3). This performance was the last in a long tour, but several of the above listed players were new to the group. The fire was definitely rekindled and it’s almost like you are there. The performance is strong and absolutely worthy of being saved and shared.

Mike Lee – Song For All Of Us (IYouWe): “…veteran saxophonist Mike Lee shows the breadth of his musical pallet. Lee draws on his wide-ranging musical associations and weaves them together with innovative compositions as well as standard repertoire. There are several different band configurations within this offering. From the core trio of tenor saxophone, bass, and drums, to several different quartet and quintet settings each grouping contributes to the unified sound. Drummer Lenny White and bassist Ed Howard appear throughout adding their masterful propulsion to this set. Lee’s rotating front-line partners include guitarist Dave Stryker, saxophonist Bruce Williams and Mike’s son, saxophonist Julian Lee.” (https:// newworldnjazz.com/mike-lee-song-for-all-of-us-iyouwe/) Seven of the eleven compositions are his and the other four include “Voyage” (Kenny Barron), “Very Early” (Bill Evans), “Hey Lock!” (Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis) and Hart and Rodgers’ “It’s Easy To Remember”. Lee, of course, plays on all songs as does bassist Ed Howard, while drummer Lenny White plays all but one when he is replaced by Matt Lee (Mike’s son). His older son Julian (tenor sax) plays on that song and one other as well. Other players are George Colligan (piano 5 songs), Dave Stryker (guitar on 2) and Bruce Williams adds alto sax on two. There’s a lot of variety and it jumps most of the time. Really fine!

Brandon Goldberg – Let’s Play (Self-produced): “Brandon Goldberg, now thirteen years old, began to play piano by ear when he was three years old. He started with classical lessons at age five, but quickly found his passion for jazz music and its history.” (https:// brandongoldbergpiano.com/) This is his first release and he is a knockout. He composed three of the nine songs on the disc and chose to cover such songs as “Well, You Needn’t” (Monk), “Blackbird” (McCartney), “Dolphin Dance” (Hancock) and two from Ellington: “Caravan” and “In  A Sentimental Mood”. Accompanying musicians are Ben Wolfe (bass), Donald Edwards (drums) and Marcus Strickland (tenor sax on two songs). This is a stunning performance!

Patricia Barber – Higher (Artist Share): Patricia Barber – Higher (Artist Share): This is Patricia Barber’s first release in six years. It contains nine originals and covers of Woody Herman’s “Early Autumn” (lyrics by Johnny Mercer and Ralph Burns), Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way” and “Secret Love” (lyrics by Paul Francis Webster and music by Sammy Fain). Barber’s supporting musicians are Patrick Mulcahy (bass), Jon Deitemyer (drums), Neal Alger (guitar), Jim Gailloreto (tenor sax) and Katherine Wergiansky (lyric soprano none song). “Few performers in or out of jazz are as consistently brilliant as Patricia Barber. …Brainy. Beautiful.” —JazzTimes “Barber braids wrenching, elemental poetry into a private musical language fashioned from the yearning ache of Bill Evans’ piano, Joni Mitchell’s zigzag introspections, Jobim’s winking mix of high end philosophy and pastel melody and an occasional explosion of skronk and funk.” (DownBeat) Definitely on the quiet and reflective side.

Anat Cohen Tentet – Triple Helix (Anzic): “Anat does what all authentic musicians do: She tells stories from her own experiences that are so deeply felt that they are very likely to connect listeners to their own dreams, desires and longings.” (Nat Hentoff) “Anat has been declared Clarinetist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association every year since 2007 and has also been named the top clarinetist in both the readers and critics polls in DownBeat for multiple years running.” (https://www.anatcohen.com/biography) “Cohen delves into the wealth of ideas summoned by Lev-Ari on “Triple Helix”: classical and contemporary sounds, Americana lyricism, Latin and Middle Eastern rhythms and more. The clarinet trill at the outset hints briefly at Rhapsody in Blue, subtly proposing a 21st-century perspective on Gershwin’s model of hybrid-genre works for the concert hall.” (https://www.anatcohen.com/triple-helix) There is a wonderful range of music on this disc and when the Cohen Tentet turns off the beaten path the results are spell-binding.

Charles Owens Trio – Three & Thirteen (Self-produced): Charles Owens offers a doublebarreled offering this time out: set 1 is a trio featuring Owens’ dynamic tenor sax with Andrew Randazzo (electric bass) and Devonne Harris (drums) playing a span from Benny Maupin’s “It Remains To Be Seen” to Bacharach and David’s “Always Something There to Remind Me” and nuggets from Hoagy Carmichael and George Gershwin to Miles Davis’ “All Blues” and Radiohead’s “15 Step” and Kanye West’s “Say You Will”; set 2 is live and the trio is joined by the R4ND4ZZO Big Band recorded at the Southern Cafe on February 19, this year. The band includes JC Kuhl (bari sax), Suzi Fischer (alto sax, flute), Kevin Simpson (tenor sax, flute), Stefan Demetriadis (bass trombone), Pete Anderson and Ben Weisiger (trombones), Sam Koff, Bob Miller, Marcus Tenney and Will Evans (trumpets), with Calvin Brown keys) and Adam Larabee (guitar) joining on the final song. Three of these songs are Owens’ originals. This is a terrific cross section of the artistry Charles Owens has added to our town and the field of jazz as well!

Jon Batiste – Anatomy Of Angels (Verve): Jon Batiste offers a live performance at The Village Vanguard and he covers all spots – full of verve, beauty and adventure. He not only plays piano but also sings. This performance is a more intimate  performance than his previous release. “Recorded live in 2018 during Batiste’s residency at the storied NYC-venue, Anatomy of Angels finds the pianist displaying his fluid jazz chops alongside his longtime “Stay Human” bandmates bassist Philip Kuehn and drummer Joe Saylor. As the high-profile bandleader on Late Night with Stephen Colbert, Batiste has often showcased his eclectic funk, R&B, and even pop influences. Here, he shifts to a more traditional jazz sound that evokes his deep New Orleans roots and passion for the music of innovative bebop pianist Thelonious Monk…. Batiste also brings along a series of guests including Lake Street Dive singer Rachael Price, who pairs with the pianist for a dusky, urbane reading of Ray Noble’s “The Very Thought of You.” Later, he expands his trio to an octet with trumpeters Giveton Gelin and Jon Lampley, as well as saxophonists Patrick Bartley and Tivon Pennicott, for a dynamically robust ensemble performance of Monk’s classic “Round Midnight.” The same group also sticks around for a lively version of Batiste’s own modal-tinged title track.” (https://www.allmusic.com/album/anatomy-of-angels-live-at-the-village-vanguardmw0003289772) This is a fantastic performance from beginning to end!

Chase Baird – A Life Between (Self-released): “Part experimental rocker, part classical romantic and part hard-bop devotee, saxophonist and composer CHASE BAIRD has been described as “… the future of jazz music and the saxophone” by Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Randy Brecker.  His latest album, A Life Between, covers a vast emotional terrain with a band comprised of modern jazz’s most revered innovators. Grammy-winning drummer Antonio Sanchez and 5-time Grammy-nominated pianist Brad Mehldau are veteran companions alongside new-generation talents Nir Felder, guitar, and Dan Chmielinski, bass.” (https:// www.soundsaboundrecords.com/chase-baird) All but one selection were composed by Baird and that selection is Robert Schumann’s “Im wunderschonen Monat Mai”. The performances are dazzling and fresh. This release is a terrific release from end to end.

Nicholas Payton – Relaxin’ With Nick (Smoke Sessions): Nicholas Payton’s newest release is a combination of three sessions at Smoke Jazz and Supper Club in NYC. Peyton is accompanied by Peter Washington (bass) and Kenny Washington (drums) and he spreads his reach by not only playing trumpet, but also adding piano, Fender Rhodes, vocals and some effects to his performance. Certainly, Payton’s trumpet, piano and vocals are the gems in the  sets. He is personable and makes the most of the variety. The blend gives nice variety to the proceedings.
Payton’s trumpet is easily the gem in the performances, but there are some nice keyboard numbers and his performance of “Jazz Is A Four-Letter Word” is as wonderful as it is hip! Relaxin’ with Nick is definitely solid move!

Kenyatta Beasley Septet – Frank Foster Songbook (ArtvsTransit): Trumpet player Kenyatta Beasley was born in New Orleans and like several other players of his age was heavily influenced by Frank Foster, who had been a member of Count Basie’s band and who introduced Beasley to the many jazz pathways that were available to him. Beasley’s desire was to honor Foster’s composing and style and he chose the live venue to best accomplish that task. The players include Vincent Gardner (trombone), Mark Gross (alto sax), Keith Loftis (tenor and soprano sax), Alvester Garnett (drums), Dezron Douglas (bass) and Anthony Wonsey (piano) with special guests Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), Carla Cook (vocals), Mark Whitfield (guitar) and Eric Wyatt (tenor sax). This performance was recorded live in June of 2012 according to the disc, but other sources suggest 2013 is correct. Nonetheless, there are several wonderful tributes to Foster by the players on this release.

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