Jazz / Blues Adds – 9/9/2014
Arthur Barron, Dave Liebman, Abel Pabon – The Miami Jazz Project (Zoho): Barron (tenor, alto, flute), Liebman (soprano, tenor), and Pabon (keys) initiated this project as a mission to keep the spirit and creativity of fusion alive. They have, in fact, created a soundscape that honors the tradition of fusion and the depth of its originators. The music is sometimes electric, sometimes acoustic and while always honoring the heritage, pushing ahead with dazzling sheets or harmony and groove. The disc opens with Coltrane’s “Dahomey Dance” from there on explores the possibilities of merging culture and harmony through nine new compositions by this great trio.
Marco Benevento – Swift (Royal Potato Family): Benevento is a pianist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer who has been a member of the New York experimental music rock and jazz scene since 1999. He is a member of Garage A Trois, whose music is far more challenging, experimental and successful than this solo shot. Benevento sings, plays various keyboards, and programs a drum machine on this disc. The sound is “pop-ish” drone in a electronic sound wash. He will be performing at the Southern October 18. Click here for a sample.
Michael Bissonnette East Side Quartet – Astoria (Rephi): Drummer Bissonnette and chromatic harmonica player Clint Hoover explain their musical concept as “combining elements of the Blue Note era ‘soul jazz’ and our conception of Nueva Tango.” Joined by Reynold Phillipsek (g) and Matt Senjem (b), they create a delightful sound that seems to accomplish the goal via seven melodic and somewhat exotic sounding play from the quartet. The group is tight and each member blends beautifully into the overall sound. Click here for an interview and live sample.
Anthony Branker & Word Play – The Forward (Towards Equality) Suite (Origin): Branker is the composer and music director of this release that is both a celebration of the hope of realizing the American Dream as expressed by Martin Luther King and an exhortation to remember and actively pursue full equality. The spoken/sung tracks are compelling and the instrumental passages support these testimonies but also stand quite well on their own. The musicians include David Binney (alto), Ralph Bowen (tenor, soprano, flute), Conrad Herwig (trombone), Jim Ridi (keys), Kenny Davis (b), Donald Edwards (d), Renato Thoms (congas), and Alison Crockett (voc). Clearly, intended as a whole work, individual selections do stand on their own. Click here for a sample.
The Breithaupt Brothers – Just Passing Through (Alma): New standards on display! The Breithaupt brothers certainly have the knack for creating / recreating the style and substance of vocal standards from Broadway. This collection of fifteen of their compositions covers a wide array of topics and styles. Each song is sung by a different singer/act and the disc seems to offer something to everyone. Click here for a sample.
Ann Hampton Calloway – From Sassy To Divine: The Sarah Vaughan Project (Shanachie): Ann Hampton Calloway is a well-respected jazz composer and singer who has released a dozen very successful discs, two of which are tributes to singers Ella Fitzgerald and Barbra Streisand, who influenced her own style. The current disc is her tribute to Sarah Vaughan. Callaway clearly has terrific vocal command and wisely chose to honor Vaughan’s great art without trying to mimic her style. The performances used for this disc ran for several nights at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center. The band plays tight and bright and Calloway sings energetically and beautifully. Click here for a live sample performance.
Kevin Cline – Make Up Your Mind (Self-produced): Kline is a composer and musician (piano, trombone) who has experience working in big band and combo settings and now has released this initial disc as a leader. All but one of these songs are originals: there are three guest vocals, and the remaining songs are jazz or latin jazz instrumentals with Cline playing piano on all cuts and trombone on five. There is no fixed group, but rather a revolving cast of players. The music is straightforward with particularly nice playing by Jim Gailloreto (soprano, tenor), Dale Prasco (g), and Bobby Shew (trumpet, flugelhorn). A nice melodic collection.
Michael Lake & Gerry Pagano – Roads Less Traveled (Redlake): Here’s an interesting take on some terrific jazz and pop songs: two trombones. All alto trombone is played by Michael Lake, who also plays some percussion and keyboards, while Gerry Pagano plays the bass trombone. The music varies from “Yardbird Suite” and “A Night In Tunisia” to “Darn That Dream” and “Amazing Grace” and it all works really well! And you might ask, “How could one not acknowledge the Crescent City for its role in continually keeping the ‘bone in the front of the parade?” Lake and Pagano got that, too. They close with “I Wuz Ga’zun at the Cajun” – just as jaunty as you could want! Click here for a sample.
Medeski Scofield Martin Wood – Juice (Indirecto): Every few years, MMW joins forces with John Scofield and, fortunately for us, this is one of those years. The mix of John Medeski (keys), Billy Martin (drums, percussion), and Chris Wood (bass) is tight and funky, a revved up version of Booker T. & the MGs or the Meters. John Scofield is a perfect fit with this group – he adds another slice of crazy and cool. The jazziest cuts were penned by Scofield, but almost everything is top notch. I found “Light My Fire” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’” to be the least adventurous, the former because Scofield spends so much time restating the melody and the latter because the original was an in-your-face announcement and this rendition is like sentimental mourning (even though that may well be appropriate to the times. So I would recommend any of the other cuts first, but this is a really excellent disc. Click here for a live sample.
Dan Moretti & The Hammond Boys – Live at Chan’s (Roots Grooves): Who? Dan Moretti plays tenor, soprano, and flute and the rest of the band come from some of the best blues bands in the northeast ever – Duke Robillard (g), Dave Lumina (Hammond organ), Jesse Williams (b), and Lorne Entress (d). The set does feature some solid uptown blues, buwe going even farther uptown than that on this disc! The composers on this disc include Bobby Timmons, Gene Ammons, King Curtis, Roland Kirk, Grant Green, and Stanley Turrentine, but even though they come from the blues side of the tracks, this band can absolutely handle it! Nice live set! Catch their groove and enjoy! Click here for a sample.
Myriad3 – The Where (Alma): Second release from this interesting trio, featuring Chris Donnelly (piano, synth), Dan Fortin (bass, synth), and Ernesto Cervini (drums, woodwinds), that shifts between natural to synthesized music or music with electronic elements. They experiment with time shifts as well. It’s fusion in the historic sense and something quite new. It’s “off beat” and “out there”. Some of the music is playful and the variety is alluring and impressive. Click here for a live sample.
Mark Turner Quartet – Lathe Of Heaven (ECM): Mark Turner (tenor) presents his latest release as a leader to much acclaim for his composing and playing. He wrote all six of the pieces on this disc and is accompanied by Avishai Cohen (trumpet), Joe Martin (bass), and Marcus Gilmore (drums). He explains this disc: “I spent a lot of time on the compositions, which I usually do. The blowing is important, but I don’t think about that when I’m writing. I just write the tune, and then we see if we can improvise on it or not. Some of the new tunes are long and kind of involved, and some of them are kind of my version of being pyrotechnical. I just wanted to explore, and I wanted to be able to go in there with a band that would be flexible and have the craftsmanship and the foundation to play something difficult and still make it sound musical.” He and his bandmates have succeeded beautifully. Music for the head – not a daunting challenge, but it yields so much more to the careful listener. Click here for an interview and sample.
Grady Champion – Bootleg Whiskey (Malaco): Though not as earthy, harp player Champion is laying down some soul blues that certainly would make Bobby Rush pay attention! The style varies significantly from one song to the next and it seems like Grady is searching for his sound. He composed five of the eleven songs on offer. The supporting musicians bring together some soul legends (David Hood, Clayton Ivey, Jimmy Johnson) with those who sound more a part of the typical Malaco studio sound. Click here for a live performance from a year ago.
Sherman Lee Dillon – 309 Blues (Wepecket Island): In his comments on the disc sleeve, Dillon says “Once upon a time, ann arbitrary line was drawn separating Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. But the truth is music (Blues, Jazz & Jugband) doesn’t know where this line is.” Dillon then proceeds to play a variety of songs he wrote or heard along the way. He sings and has his own style, playing harp, dobro, and banjo. This is not your uptown, high tone blues, but there is some fun to be had here. Click here for a live performance from earlier this year.
Whitey Johnson (Gary Nicholson) – Whitey Johnson (Slow Moving): Gary Nicholson is best known as a songwriter whose songs have been recorded by a wide variety of musicians: Jr. Wells, George Jones, Joe Louis Walker, Emmylou Harris, Buddy Guy, Ringo, Peter Rowan, BB King, New Grass Revival, Delbert McClinton, Joe Bonamassa… and one of my all-time favorites Mike Henderson & The Bluebloods doing “Pay Bo Diddley”. The story of Whitey Johnson is not only the explanation for how Nicholson became dedicated to playing and writing music, but also another tale of the stupidity of racism. You can read about it here: http://www.garynicholson.com/whole-story/ Nicholson wrote or co-wrote all but one of the songs on this disc and has musical backing by Steve Cropper, Anson Funderburgh, Colin Linden, Willie Weeks, Ivan Neville, and Delbert McClinton, among others. This is a great retrospective of a tiny number of great songs brought to life by this great country/soul composer. Click here for a live version of Nicholson as Whitey.
Kirby Sewell Band – Girl With A New Tattoo (Smelly Cat): Canadian R&B band with full-voiced singer Sewell, Neil Gunhold (g), Morgan Turk (g), Jae Cho (b), and Jim Johnston (d) singing ten originals (by Gunhold except one co-written with Sewell). The emphasis is more on the “R” than the “B” and there is a pop-rock-country flavor on some of the songs. All in all good with standouts “The Devil’s In The Details”, “Girl With A New Tattoo”, “Stop And Go”, and “$1.11”. Click here for a live performance from last year (the first song is on this disc).