Jazz / Blues Adds – 8/25/2014

Jazz / Blues Adds – 8/25/2014

Jazz Adds:

Akiko – Commencement (AT) : Akiko Tsuruga plays solid B3 with support from Jeff Hamilton (d) and John Hart (g).  This group keeps it tight and compliment each other wonderfully on a range of material including pop standards and originals.  She’s endorsed by Dr. Lonnie Smith and had several endorsements in the Down Beat critics poll.  Click here for a sample live performance.

Paul Carr – B3 Sessions (DC-NY) (PCJ Music) : Paul Carr is a respected tenor sax player who now also leads the non-profit Jazz Academy in Montgomery County, MD.  He has stated that his goal is to provide enough “ah-ha” moments to aspiring middle and high school players as possible.  Though there is no claim that this disc affiliated with the academy, Carr’s focus is to showcase the B3 with musicians who have experience playing and supporting organ led jazz groups.  The organists tapped are Bobby Floyd for the DC sessions and Pat Bianchi (from Pat Martino’s trio) for the NY sessions.  Both groups also feature guitar and drums as well as Carr’s outstanding sax.  This is primarily post-bop and both groups are absolutely on it!  Click here to hear Carr talk about this disc.

Michael Dease – Relentless (Posi-Tone) :  Michael Dease is a talented trombonist and arranger.  He composed four of the ten cuts on this disc and the sound is LARGE – 5 reeds, 3 trombones (in addition to Dease), 7 trumpets and a rhythm section.  Wycliffe Gordon (trombone, slide trumpet) also adds some crazy cool vocals on “Two Bass Hit”.  The sound is bright and powerful.  The disc is some of the most exciting big band music these ears have heard in a long while.  Click here to hear Dease talk about this disc.

Melanie DeBiasio – No Deal (Play it Again Sam) : Moody and artsy vocals from DeBiasio and impressionistic lyrics and music from the singer leader who also plays flute with contributions from Dre Pallemaerts (d), Pascal Paulus (clavinet), and Pascal Mohy (p). Her voice is haunting and tends to draw the listener to the melancholy and mysterious mood. The accompaniment is sparse and also focuses the listener back to the vocal. This mysterious improvised music lies in the darker space between jazz, pop and the land of Joni Mitchell and Patricia Barber.    Click here for a sample.

Jorrit Dijkstra – Music For Reeds And Electronics – Oakland (Driff) : So, what’s this disc about?  First, review the title, then look at the players: Jorritt Dijkstra plays alto, lyricon, and analog electronics; the rest of the performers are Phillip Greenlief (alto & tenor sax & clarinet), Kyle Bruckmann (oboe, english horn, analog electronics), Frank Gratkowski (clarinet, alto), and Jon Raskin (various saxes, analog electronics).  We are stepping more than a couple of steps beyond.  This is a free style ranging from audio dada to an early 60’s sci-fi soundtrack.  It can be quite interesting and even fun at times.  Bring your expansively open mind and ears to this one.  Click here for a sample of an earlier performance.

Yelena Eckemoff Quintet – A Touch Of Radiance (L&H) : Classically trained pianist Eckemoff has shifted her focus to jazz and the result is a warm and melodious blend.  Not only is her playing expressive, but everyone in the quintet contributes to the beauty and unity of the sound.  The quintet features Mark Turner (tenor), Joe Locke (vibes), George Mraz (b), and Billy Hart (d).  Eckemoff provides ten compositions that give everyone a chance to shine.  Highly accessible, beautiful and cool.  Click here for an introduction and sample.

Bebel Gilberto – Tudo (Portrait) : Daughter of Joao Gilberto and singer Miucha, Bebel has the soft voice and technique popularized in the US by Astrud Gilberto.  Bebel’s sound is gentle and has a strong lyrical quality as well as a prominent soft pop sound.

Tal Gur – Under Contractions (self-produced) : Saxophonist Gur (alto and soprano) leads a varied, often improvised set of original tunes with the support of Eyal Maoz (g), Sam Trapchak (b), and Nick Anderson (d).  He explains that he often works from a basic phrase or concept, such as preparing for the birth of his son or impending war, and then the band builds the performance.  The improvisation is quite varied, meaning there a a few stretches to the outer zone but there are also many melodic songs and passages as well.  Certainly more easily approached that many free jazz performances.

Azar Lawrence – The Seeker (Sunnyside Communications) : Lawrence is a veteran saxman often cited for his work with McCoy Tyner, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, and Woody Shaw.  He is clearly the lead on this disc and has assembled an amazing group for this live gig!  The group includes Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Benito Gonzalez (piano), Essiet Okon Essiet (bass), and Jeff “Tain” Watts (drums) on six new Lawrence compositions and one from Benito Gonzalez.  Hard or post-boppers rejoice, check this out, and get gone!  Click here for a live sample.

Michael Musillami Trio – Pride (Playscape Recordings) : Musillami is a creative guitarist,  composer and leader who continues to shift the “playscapes” in which he and his cohorts can improvise grooves in a range of tones and styles.  The Musillami Trio centers around the leader (g), Joe Fonda (b), and George Schuller (d), but stretches to pianist Kris Davis and tenor man Jimmy Greene on various numbers and violinist Mark Feldman on others.  This is great improvisation that invites the listener in for a audio trip that will dance through your head, make you smile and keep your toes tapping.  Music for the head and ears. Click here for a sample.

Dara Tucker – The Sun Season (Watchman Music) : Vocalist Dara Tucker’s third release features not only her sweet and letter perfect voice but also showcases her writing skills as ten of the twelve songs are hers.  This jazz has a strong element of pop and r&b in it, though just to prove she’s at home with the standards, she also includes “Over The Rainbow” and The Nearness Of You”.  Beautiful voice and control in a very pleasant setting.  Click here for a preview.

Blues Adds – 8/25/2014:

Big Harp George – Chromaticism (Blues Mountain) : George Bisharat can certainly play the chromatic harp well.  He has excellent tone and smooth control.  He has modeled his approach after that of his heroes: George Smith, William Clarke, and Paul deLay has great guitar support from Little Charlie Baty and Rusty Zinn. There are several instrumentals which show his talent to its best advantage.  His vocals are not as strong as his harp playing and the music loses some steam when he is singing, but this is a good disc and George certainly merits our attention. He can swing.

Sena Ehrhardt – Live My Life (Blind Pig) : Ehrhardt has a strong voice and uses it to advantage. She wrote or co-wrote half of the songs on the disc. The band plays solid blues-rock or rockin’ blues depending upon the song. The sound is smooth and very commercial.  Let’s say it fits that hybrid zone where modern country, rock, blues, and soul merge.

E.G. Kight – A New Day (Blue South) : Kight has roots in country, blues, and gospel and this disc is a demonstration of that blend with more than a touch of old soul.  Backing is workmanlike and straightforward. Kight wrote or co-wrote all of the songs. Kight’s performances are serviceable, but many seem to cry out for more intense vocal performance.  This is demonstrated best by the songs when Kight gets saucy (“Low Mileage Woman” and “Time To Move On”) and on “Bad Times” when Greg Nagy adds some fire to the proceedings.  Overall, some good moments with some songs with more potential than realization on this disc.

Markey Blue – Hey Hey (SoulOSound) : Jeannette Markey wrote or co-wrote all of these songs.  Her voice has some mileage and, in this setting, that is a real advantage. The musicians are straight ahead players – nothing too fancy, solidly churning along.  Horns add some flair and the background singers help build a sound reminiscent of the old “countryfied” soul associated with the earlier STAX studios.  I would freely admit this CD is not truly as amazing as the great STAX wax, but Markey IS trying.  In the words of Steve Cropper, “My suggestion would be to sit back and listen from top to bottom, then pick the ones you like best. You will find yourself clapping, dancing and singing along to these great grooves. Markey Blue, you have done it….”  Click here for a live performance.


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