New Jazz News – 10/20/2020
Charlie Ballantine – Vonnegut (Green Mind): “I really wanted to do my best to capture the voice of Kurt Vonnegut in a musical sense and just as each novel had a different overall feel, the music had to change composition to composition”…. On his upcoming sextet album ‘Vonnegut’, Indianapolis-based guitarist/composer Charlie Ballantine conveys a sense of drama, distinct narrative threads and emotional depth, as he crafts an often disquieting, consistently resonant and thoughtful artistic tribute to seminal author Kurt Vonnegut. Song titles such as ‘Sympathy For Malachi Constant’, ‘Kilgore in Timequake,’ ‘Eloise Metzger’ and ‘Mind Of Dwayne Hoover’ let the listener know they’re in for a richly eclectic ride, as jazz/rock/folk artist Ballantine channels characters and themes from Vonnegut’s novels into his compositions. Finding the balance between the soulful and the literate, Ballantine and his sextet create a vibe that speaks volumes, without vocals.” (https://www.jazzcorner.com/news/display.php?news=9441) In addition to listening to the amazing music which truly “presents” the characters, you will probably want to read the books to see how well the music portrays Vonnegut portrayals. The musicians working with Ballentine are Amanda Gardier (alto sax, bass clarinet), Rob Dixon (tenor and soprano sax), Mina Keohane (piano), Jesse Wittman (bass), Cassius Goens (drums) and Rob Funkhouser (music box). Click here to hear and watch “Sympathy for Malachi Constant” the opening song on this release.
Peter Bernstein – What Comes Next (Smoke Sessions): “The title of What Comes Next, the latest album by guitarist Peter Bernstein, certainly echoes a question that we’ve all been asking ourselves in recent months. Locked away, wary of leaving the house during a global pandemic, divided by politics and protests, all during the most vital Presidential election in living memory – any one of those issues would spell an uncertain future…. “Without the question mark, What Comes Next implies that you have some idea, some intention,” Bernstein explains. “That seems like such a huge concept now, but it’s inherent to the very idea of playing jazz. It’s the basic question that we deal with all the time when we’re given the freedom to improvise: now what do I play? What note should come next? Where are we in the conversation? With everybody’s lives being put on hold, that idea can be extended beyond the fact of just playing music.” (https://www.isrbx.net/3137829775-peter-bernstein-what-comes-next-2020-hi-res.html) Bernstein offers listeners six new beautiful originals and covers of three covers from Fischer and Laine (“We’ll Be Together Again”), Dizzy Gillespie (“Con Alma”) and Sonny Rollins (“Newark News”). Sullivan Fortner (piano), Peter Washington (bass) and Joe Farnsworth (drums) provide beautiful backing on this gorgeous and uplifting set. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this release.
Randy Brecker & Eric Marienthal – Double Dealin’ (Shanachie): “What do you get when you pair two visionaries who happen to be kindred spirits? You get an ace in the hole! Multi Grammy award-winners trumpeter/flugelhornist Randy Brecker and saxophonist Eric Marienthal and deliver ten thrilling originals on their anticipated Shanachie Entertainment debut Double Dealin’.… It’s all aboveboard on Double Dealin’ as Brecker and Marienthal opt not to follow suit but rather let the spirit of the moment be their guide as they draw some wild cards and the blur boundaries between traditional and contemporary jazz. Randy Brecker, who was a key player in numerous ground-breaking fusion bands like Blood, Sweat and Tears and Larry Coryell’s The Eleventh House, states “Duke Ellington said ‘There are only two kinds of music, good and bad’ and we both love the latter!” Double Dealin’ marks Brecker and Marienthal’s first co-led recording and joins the duo with George Whitty, Dave Weckl and John Patitucci. Brecker shares, “Double Dealin’ is uplifting and filled with great vibes and fun beats. I hope it takes everyone’s mind off our current problems and I hope people just groove with it and forget about everything else for a while!” Eric Marienthal adds, “This record has a particularly uplifting feel which is a good thing for the times we’re in right now. I know I feel better when I listen to it!” Brecker and Marienthal have built careers being musician’s musicians. Randy Brecker has remained at the forefront of creative music for over six decades collaborating with everyone from Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Horace Silver, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, The Brecker Brothers (with his late tenor titan brother, Michael Brecker), Bruce Springsteen, Parliament/Funkadelic and Steely Dan. Saxophonist Eric Marienthal’s equally impressive career has allowed him to captivate audiences alongside everyone from Chick Corea’s Elektric Band, Patti Austin, Lee Ritenour, Elton John, Billy Joel and Stevie Wonder, among others. Longtime comrades on and off the stage, Marienthal and Brecker credit one thing for bringing them together. “Pizza” exclaims Brecker who won a Grammy this year for his album with the NDR Big Band. Laughing he adds, “We dig each other’s playing and personalities. We also like each other’s families. Eric and I have played together many times throughout the years with different ensembles including Jeff Lorber, The GRP Big Band and always ‘clicked’ as a section, so we were long overdue in doing a project together.” Marienthel adds, “Yes, definitely pizza! Besides being one of the world’s great musicians and trumpet players, Randy is a very open and cool guy. Getting to play with Randy is like getting to make a pizza with Mario Batali! You just know that no matter what you do it’s going to end up being great.” (http://jazzbluesnews.com/2020/07/23/cdreviewrandy-brecker-and-eric-marienthal-you-ga-ta-give-it-2020-sound-cd-cover-photos/) Click here to listen to the title song.
Nicholas Brust – Frozen In Time (Fresh Sound): “Heralded as a premiere saxophonist of his generation, Nicholas Brust has established his voice in the world of modern jazz. He has found his niche as a bandleader and composer, taking advantage of the numerous textures and combinations available in small-group improvised music. While Nicholas has performed with numerous highly acclaimed musicians in NYC, he makes a priority of working with up-and-coming talent that he believes in. Nicholas is currently on faculty at Elefante School for the Performing Arts and The Hudson School. Nicholas released an EP of original music entitled Brooklyn Folk Songs in January 2015…. Since then, Nicholas has continued to showcase his compositional and improvisational talents in a series of videos that can be found on his Youtube channel. Nicholas recently recorded his debut full-length album, Frozen in Time, with Fresh Sound Records…. The album features exclusively original material composed by Nicholas.” (https://www.nicholasbrustmusic.com/bio) Terrific playing throughout! Click here to listen to three songs on this release.
Butcher Brown – #KingButch (Concord Jazz): “Pulsing from the nerve center of Jellowstone Studios in Richmond VA, Butcher Brown takes careful note of the history and legacy of jazz and throws caution to the wind. Their musical vibe blends jazz with hip hop, funk, rap, rock and soul. The group honors each musical genre and, at the same time, challenges traditional musical boundaries. The result is their most exciting collection of tracks to date. Butcher Brown features Tennishu, Morgan Burrs, Corey Fonville, Andrew Randazzo, and DJ Harrison.” (https://butcherbrown.com/) The sound is a new mix of funk, soul and electronic interactions with a splash of vocals. Click here to listen to ”Front Line” from this release.
Claire Daly Band – Rah! Rah! (Ride Symbol): “Claire will tell you that her life changed on Sept. 23rd, 1971, when as a very (very) young girl, playing saxophone for 3 months, she heard a big band concert at the Westchester County Center. The saxophone section stood up for a soli, and Claire was on her chair screaming. After dragging her father to the stage door for autographs afterwards, she said of the Buddy Rich Band bus, “I’d do anything to be on that bus”. It was the kind of epiphany that only young enthusiasm can breed, but enthusiasm is still the motivating force in her musical life. After attending the Berklee College of Music, she began an education of another kind — making a living as a musician. Her career has included anchoring the sax section in the Diva Big Band for 7 yrs, freelancing in New York doing EVERY imaginable kind of gig (available on request!), recording 5 CDs with the brilliant, quirky composer/pianist Joel Forrester and their band “People Like Us”, as well as two CDs as leader on Koch Jazz, (“Swing Low” and “Movin’ On” now re-released on Dalybread Records) and a new release of her own called “Heaven Help Us All””. (https://jazzbarisax.com/baritone-saxophonists/bop-style/claire-daly/) This new disc features Daly on bari sax, flute and she sings “Everyday People” and “Alfie” with backing by Eli Yamin (piano), Dave Hofstra (bass) and Peter Grant (drums). The songs selections include two original compositions and a focus on the music of Rahsaan Roland Kirk with side trips from Charlie Parker to Frank Foster and Fain and Kahal’s standard “I’ll Be Seeing You”. Click here to hear Daly’s take on Bacharach and David’s “Alfie”.
Tom Guarna – Spirit Science (Destiny): “Grammy-nominated guitarist, composer and arranger Tom Guarna began his musical studies at age fifteen, rapidly demonstrating a natural ability to play and compose. After studying classical guitar and composition at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in 1986, he played local gigs in New York and fine-tuned his education with John Abercrombie. He earned a Bachelor Degree from The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in 2008, and a Master’s Degree at The Juilliard School in 2010. After working with several jazz bands, he joined Blood Sweat and Tears in 1995 and toured extensively with them for the next three years. Since then, he has forged his own voice as a modern jazz guitarist, performing with a wide range of artists including Wallace Roney, Stanley Clarke, Mark Turner, Branford Marsalis, Randy Brecker, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Mulgrew Miller, Fred Wesley, Mike Clark, Uri Caine, The Allman Brothers, The Yellowjackets, and Gary Bartz.” (https://www.tomguarna.com/bio) “The album draws inspiration from sacred geometry, “those laws that drive everything in existence,” the guitarist explains. “It’s where math and science meet with spirit and matter – ideas that humans have studied since the ancients, from Pythagoras to Da Vinci.” At a time when so many people are looking to science to save us from our global plight, the concepts of Spirit Science may have special resonance. “Science and natural laws drive every part of our lives whether we recognize it or not,” Guarna says. “You don’t need to know a thing about it to enjoy this music, but I hope the song titles are at least evocative food for thought. Mostly, I hope that listeners experience the album as an imaginative sonic journey that they can take from the safety of home.” (https://destinyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/spirit-science) Backing up Guarna and his solid guitar work are Ben Wendel (tenor sax, bassoon), Aaron Parks (piano, Rhodes, synth), Joe Martin (bass) and Justin Faulkner (drums). Beautiful music. Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.
Javon Jackson – Deja Vu (Solid Jackson): “Tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson reaffirms his commitment to lyricism, and his foothold in the modern jazz tradition, on Déja Vu. With pianist Jeremy Manasia, bassist David Williams and drummer McClenty Hunter, Jackson essays a balance of standards and near-standards, like “Martha’s Prize,” which he used to play with its composer, Cedar Walton. Oct. 2, Solid Jackson Records. (Chinen)” (https://www.wbgo.org/post/fall-preview-2020-auspicious-debuts-unearthed-gems-88-reasons-get-excited#stream/0) I can’t think of a better way to describe this release. Jackson’s tenor sax is full and sweet throughout. He offers one original and selected such beauties as Cedar Walton’s “Martha’s Place” and “In the Kitchen”, Monk’s “Raise Four”, Wayne Shorter’s “Venus Di Mildew”, and closes with a beautiful version of Jimmy Heath’s “Rio Dawn”. No wonder the label is Solid Jackson! I regret that I am unable to find a sample from this disc, but click here to listen to a live gig featuring Jackson with Les McCann from 2010 that will give you the flavor.
Allegra Levy – Lose My Number (Steeple Chase): “The music of John McNeil is personal, attractive and written mostly for interpretation by instrumental ensembles. His songs are wide-ranging and have huge intervallic jumps which means they are not exactly singer friendly. Allegra Levy was well aware of that as she had known and worked with McNeil for more than 10 years. She was not deterred however and set about writing lyrics to nine of his compositions which she sings impressively on this CD. The title track, Lose My Number (which actually comes at the end of this programme), is a good example. It is complex and has what have been described as “steeplechase melody, shifts in tempo and metric U-turns”. Allegra has written bristling feminist lyrics to the song and sings it vigorously, gleefully even, and is well supported by the highly flexible three-woman rhythm section behind her. You wouldn’t know, listening to this reading that the piece is supposed to be difficult for a vocalist to handle.” (https://jazzjournal.co.uk/2020/10/02/allegra-levy-lose-my-number/) Click here to listen to the title song.
Charles McPherson – Jazz Dance Suites (Chazz Mack Music): “Charles McPherson’s Jazz Dance Suites captures his groundbreaking collaboration with the San Diego Ballet, an association that began in 2015. A family affair, is inspired by McPherson’s daughter Camille McPherson, a soloist in her 8th season with the prestigious dance company. Joining McPherson on Jazz Dance Suites are some of the most exciting names in modern jazz; Terrell Stafford on trumpet, Lorraine Castellanos on vocals, Jeb Patton, and Randy Porter on piano, Billy Drummond on drums, David Wong on bass and Yotam Silberstein on guitar.” (Liner notes) The live performance includes music and movement. The music offers dynamic and soft and lovely segments. Very cool! Click here for a brief introduction to this release.
Tobin Mueller – Radio Edits (Self-produced): “Tobin Mueller is a composer, playwright and interpretive pianist living in Connecticut. His musical compositions range from Impressionist Jazz t to Progressive Rock, Broadway musicals to Old-School Funk. In the late 1970s and early 80s, he was one of several composer-pianists who developed what would become known as New Age music, although Tobin’s version identifies more closely with Modal/Post-Bop Jazz. His 2020 jazz album, What Survives, brings fresh new arrangements together with remastered older tunes. The CD What Survives-Radio Edits distills this 26-track opus into 15 radio play tracks. The album presents a high energy 9-piece contemporary big band ensemble. The players then mix and match into different breakout combos, providing great variety in both texture and stylings to track after track. “One of the freshest and most sheerly entertaining, intriguing and exciting recordings I’ve come across” (Brad Walseth, Chicago Jazz). Mueller’s long time collaborator Woody Mankowski provides vocals on four moving ballads. Tobin has recorded with Grammy winners Dave Brubeck, Ron Carter, Michael Hedges, Donny McCaslin (last collaborator with David Bowie) and Paul Nelson (Johnny Winter Band); as well as Woody Mankowski, Ken Schaphorst, Entcho Todorov, Janet Planet and more. (https://www.tobinmueller.com/bio/) Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.
Cindy Blackman Santana – Give The Drummer Some (Copperline): “Cindy Blackman Santana is a virtuoso drummer whose artistry spans the realms of jazz and rock. As a bandleader and as a musician, Cindy is a sound innovator with a passion for pushing creative boundaries and exploring movement and change. She is as known for the nuances and colors she brings to her beats and fills as she is for the sheer power of her soulful playing. “Some drummers act, some react. Some keep time, others create it. Cindy Blackman Santana is among the few who can,” writes Mike Zwerin of the International Herald Tribune. Cindy has been creating magnificent musical time and space since the beginning of her career as a busking street performer in New York City in the ’80s through the present day, touring the globe and making albums at the top of her game—including the critically acclaimed Another Lifetime (2010). In addition to collaborating onstage and in-studio with her own group—also known as Another Lifetime—she has toured and recorded with artists including Pharoah Sanders, Cassandra Wilson, Bill Laswell, Joss Stone, Joe Henderson, Buckethead, Don Pullen, Hugh Masakela, and Angela Bofill….More recently, Cindy has become the regular touring drummer for Santana…” and continues to perform on her own as a leader as on this disc. This album “highlights Cindy’s incredible versatility both behind the drum kit and in front of the microphone and features the creme de la creme of guitarists, including eight songs with Carlos Santana, two songs with John McLaughlin, three songs with Vernon Reid, and one song with Kirk Hammett. With multiple tracks produced by Grammy Award-winning Narada Michael Walden, the album is an eclectic mixture of old school funk and radio-friendly rock/pop combined with rock and jazz instrumentals.” (https://cindyblackmansantana.com/new-page) Click here to listen to “We Came To Play” including guest John McLaughlin.
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah – Axiom (Ropeadope): Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah was born in New Orleans and was drawn to music almost immediately. “By 14, he was accepted into the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), where he studied jazz under the guidance of program directors Clyde Kerr, Jr. and Kent Jordan. At 16 Scott was introduced by Harrison Jr. to the recording world via “Paradise Found” and “Kind of New” after joining his uncles quintet… Upon graduating from NOCCA, Scott received a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where he graduated in 2004 completing his studies in under 30 months. In 2002, while attending Berklee he started Impromp2 records and released his first recording “Christian Scott“. Between 2003 and 2004, while attending Berklee, he was a member of the Berklee Monterey Quartet, and recorded as part of the Pat Metheny and Gary Burton led the Art:21 student cooperative quintet….” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Scott) He is a prolific player and has released fifteen recordings in the past 18 years. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah is a giant musician – an amazing musician and performer. The players are Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah (trumpet, Adjuah trumpet, sirenette, reverse flugelhorn, percussion), Elena Pinderhughes (flute), Alex Han (alto sax),
Lawrence Fields (piano, keys), Kris Funn (bass), Weedie Braimah (djembe, congas, bata, percussion) and Corey Fonville (drums, SPDSX). Click here and scroll down to listen to the songs on this disc.
Gregory Tardy – If Time Could Stand Still (WJ3): ““Music is an expression of the soul and I always try to speak through my horn,” says Gregory Tardy. “I once heard an older musician say ‘it is better to be felt than to be heard’. I never forgot that. That is my approach to playing any style of music.” Born into a musical family, Gregory Tardy began his musical career studying classical clarinet. In high school, Gregory excelled in music, winning many awards and scholarships offers. While studying with renowned clarinetists Russell Dagon and Jack Snavely, Tardy began preparing for a symphony career. Over time, he began to be asked to play saxophone, to fill in missing gaps in various ensembles. Although he never practiced the saxophone seriously, Tardy began getting calls to play local funk gigs in the Milwaukee area. At the prodding of his older brother, Tardy finally listened to the duo recording of John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk playing “Monk’s Mood”, and then immediately determined to be a jazz musician. His passion for the saxophone took over his studies and soon his clarinet was gathering dust. At this time, he moved to St. Louis and after a year of performing on the jazz and blues scene, he decided to move back to his birthplace, New Orleans, in order to focus his jazz studies even further. “This proved to be great move”, Tardy says. “ There were all of these outstanding players down there-many of which went on to be well known, like Nicholas Payton, Brian Blade, Victor Goines, Mark Turner, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis and far too many others to mention. Many, like I, came to study with Ellis Marsalis; some were just hanging out. It was there that I really started to get my playing together.” While in New Orleans, Tardy also played with some of the local brass bands, did some gigging with the Neville Brothers, Allen Toussaint, and groups of all styles. But he never stopped pursuing jazz.” (http://gregorytardy.com/biography.html) Tardy is a dynamic player who certainly stands with the very best. Click here for an introduction and to listen to the proof!
Walter White – BBXL (Stentor): “This music was recorded over a two-year span at studios and locations in Okemos and Detroit, MI; New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Panama City (Panama). The musicians on this record have played with Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Maynard Ferguson, Jaco Pastorius, Joe Henderson, and Eddie Palmieri, to name just a few, and are band leaders in their own right. When all the tracks were recorded, I got back to my studio and felt like a hyped-up kid on Halloween night dumping out my stash to tally up the goodies. I got a lot of king-sized treats!!” (https://www.isrbx.net/3137819025-walter-white-bb-xl-2020.html) The players include Alex Foster (sax), Jack Dryden (bass), Walter White (trumpet), Gary Schunk (piano), Michael Dease (trombone), Conrad Herwig (trombone), Graham Hawthorne (drums), Pablo Batista (percussion), Rick Margitza (tenor sax), Dan Anderson (tuba) and Keith Kaminski (alto, tenor, bari sax), all of whom solo on various songs. It’s an excellent program throughout with four compositions by Walter White and his arrangements of such nuggets as “Blue Rondo a la Turk”, “Cantaloupe Island”, “Nica’s Dream”, “The Way You Look Tonight” and “My Foolish Heart”. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.