New Jazz Adds – 11/13/2017
Black Gardenia – Lucky Star (Self-produced): Daphne Roubini sounds a lot like Billie Holiday without the fractured blues drag vocal that characterized Holiday’s later years. The instrumentation is slightly different, but clearly recalls an older era and how Holiday would have likely handled it. The songs themselves certainly recall Holiday’s earlier years with songs like “You’re A Sweetheart” but also stretch the time line to include “Green Dolphin Street”. Supporting musicians include Andrew Smith, Paul Pigat and Stephen Nikleva (guitars); Brent Gubbels, Michael Rush and Patrick Metzger (bass); soloists Chris Davis (trumpet), Andrew Smith (ukulele), Cameron Wilson (violin), Connor Stewart (tenor sax) and Jimmy Roy (lap steel guitar). It’s a nice set throughout. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band – Body And Shadow (Blue Note): Drummer Brian Blade offers an enchanting set that features Jon Cowherd (piano, harmonium, mellotron), Chris Thomas (bass), Melvin Butler (tenor sax), Myron Walden (alto sax, bass clarinet) and Dave Devine (guitar). The disc features mostly original material (four composed by Blade, three by Cowherd) and with new arrangements on “Have Thine Own Way, Lord”. The music is generally soft and haunting but engaging as well. Different performances of “Have Thine Own Way” (solo and full band) and “Body And Shadow” (noon, morning and night) are also quite intriguing. Click here to listen to the opening song.
Bonerama – Hot Like Fire (Basin Street): Bonerama is a New Orleans’ funk brass band that has been shaking up clubs and the streets since 1998. They performed the National anthem at the 2008 Sugar Bowl and this is their 7th release. Band members are Mark Mullins (trombone, vocals), Craig Klein (trombone, vocals), Greg Hicks (trombone, vocals), Bert Cotton (guitar), Matt Perrine (sousaphone, electric bass), and Alex Joseph “A.J.” Hall (drums) with Mike Lemmler adding piano on the first track. Seven of the nine selections were written and or arranged by Perrine or Klein. The band is solid and comes full force on many of the songs. Like the title, they’re “hot like fire”. Click here for an introduction.
Dave Douglas – Little Giant Still Life (Greenleaf Music): Trumpeter Dave Douglas has assembled a new configuration named the Westerlies for this release. The group is brass heavy: Riley Mulherkar and Zubin Hensler (trumpets), Andy Claussen and Willem de Koch (trombones) and Anwar Marshall (drums). The harmonies and interactions are different from previous releases, almost like tightly rhythmic while harmonically on the verge of becoming tonally fractured. The collective rhythmic play is the center. It’s is a bit outside, but all the same quite accessible. Click here to listen to a sample song – “Little Giant Still Life”.
Pat Martino – Formidable (HighNote): Veteran guitarist Pat Martino’s newest disc is the first in a long while on which he is the leader. At the same time, this session is fully a group effort. Reminiscing about his early days, Martino explained, “The music that we played was affected by all these factors…. The food we ate, the people we encountered on the street…the way we walked and talked… All of it amounted to a rich cultural experience in Harlem at the time, and it directly affected the music we played at the gig. The musicians were an extension of that life. They were living it, not studying it.” (liner notes) This disc is a whole group experience, ensemble music. Martino is certainly one element, but so is everyone else. On my first listen, there were times when I wondered why he wasn’t more up front. The answer is that this is everyone’s gig and they are all sharing the front line. The players are Pat Bianchi (organ), Carmen Intorre, Jr (drums) with Adam Niewood (tenor) and Alex Norris (trumpet, flugelhorn) joining in of six of the nine songs. Bianchi certainly deserves notice for his terrific playing. Three of the songs are Martino compositions (P. Azzara) and Niewood adds one of his own. The remainder include Hank Mobley’s “Hipsippy Blues”, “Duke Ellington’s Sound Of Love” (Charles Mingus), Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way” and Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood”. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
One O’Clock Lab Band – Lab 2017 (North Texas Jazz): “The One O’Clock Lab Band for 70 years has been the premier ensemble of the Jazz Studies Division at the University of North Texas College of Music in Denton.” (wikipedia) They have performed in many countries over the years as well. The band is currently under the direction of Alan Blaylock and features five saxophones, five trumpets, five trombones and a rhythm section featuring guitar, piano and organ, bass and drums and percussion. The disc offers ten songs spanning from “My Shining Hour” (Arlen & Mercer) and “I’m Beginning To See The Light” (Ellington-George-Hodges-James), “500 Miles High” (Corea) and original compositions from Director Alan Baylock, Brian Stark (sax, clarinet), and Brandon Moore (tenor sax, clarinet). There are nineteen pieces in this band and the group quite accomplished. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
PJ Perry Quartet – Alto Gusto: Live at The Yardbird Suite (Cellar Live): As you can tell from the title, PJ Perry plays alto sax with gusto as any good bop player should. He also has a solid group in Steve Wallace (bass), Quincy Davis (drums) and especially Jon Mayer whose piano player both matches and supports Perry wonderfully. This performance includes seven terrific tunes, such as Paul Chambers’ “Ease It”, Benny Golson’s “Stablemates”, John Lewis and Dizzy Gillespie’s “Two Bass Hit” and Charlie Parker’s “Quasimodo” among others. This performance is a treat for honoring the music and for playing some songs that aren’t over-played. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Gregory Porter – Nat “King” Cole & Me (Blue Note): Singer Gregory Porter offers his tribute to Nat “King” Cole, whose music he listened to when he was young. His selection includes such major hits as “Mona Lisa” and “The Christmas Song” as well as lesser known pieces. Porter is supported by Christian Sands (piano), Reuben Rogers (bass), Ulysses Owens (drums) and Terence Blanchard makes a guest appearance on trumpet on “The Christmas Song” and “L-O-V-E”. He is also backed by the London Studio Orchestra and a large band group of Los Angeles Studio musicians. The overall sound is quite lavish. Click here to listen to Porter’s version of “Smile”.
Sam Taylor Quartet – Along The Way (Cellar Live): Tenor sax player Sam Taylor had the pleasure of learning his craft from a superior teacher – tenor player Larry McKenna, who had played in Woody Herman’s Big Band and recorded with Clark Terry, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney and Tony Bennett among others. McKenna plays with Taylor and his quartet on half of the songs in this set, including one that he co-wrote. The remaining players are Jeb Patton (piano), Neal Miner (bass), and Peter Van Nostrand (drums). The recording and song selection lets everyone shine. Mellow and swinging. Click here to check out “Fats Flats” (Fats Navarro) and other songs on this disc.
Kamasi Washington – Harmony Of Difference (Young Turks): Tenor sax giant Kamasi Washington offers a new disc “that explores the philosophical possibilities of the musical technique known as ‘counterpoint’, which Washington defines as ‘the art of balancing similarity and difference to create harmony between separate melodies…. Washington wanted to create something that opened people’s minds to the gift of diversity.’” (liner notes) There are five individual pieces, entitled “Desire”, “Humility”, “Knowledge”, “Perspective” and “Integrity” and one final piece which is a combination of all five pieces interwoven together in a piece entitled “Truth”. The main band includes Washington (tenor sax), Ryan Porter (trombone), Dontae Winslow (trumpet), Cameron Graves (piano), Brandon Coleman (keys), Miles Mosely (bass), Ronald Bruner Jr and Tony Austin (drums), on the opening five compositions. The group is augmented on the “Truth” by Rickey Washington (flute), Terrace Martin (alto sax), Thundercat (electric bass), Matt Haze (guitar), Nick Mancini (vibes), Paul Cartwright, Chris Woods, Jen Simone and Tylana Renga (violins); Molly Rogers and Andrea Whitt (viola); Peter Jacobson and Artyom Manukyan (cello) and a choir featuring Thelma De Freitas, Taylor Graves, Doctor Dawn Norfleet, Patrice Quinn, Jimetta Rose Smith, Dexter Story, Dustin Warren, Steven wayne and Mashica Winslow. Washington continues to think and create deeply, stretching his jazz base into new hybrids. This work is much smaller than “Epic”, but only in duration. Washington continues to explore our potential for unity of art and acceptance of new ideas and of each other. He will be performing at the Jefferson Theater on November 30. Essential listening. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Galen Weston – The Space Between (Self-produced): Canadian guitarist Galen Weston offers his second disc as a leader and his band includes Richard Underhill (alto sax), Matthew Horner (piano, keys), David Woodhead (bass) and Al Cross (drums), all of whom have played with him for the past two years. Guest musicians include Lou Pomanti (organ), Fred Simon (keys), and George Koller (bass). The musical dynamics are flowing and as electrifying as fusion jazz can be. The lyrical nature of Weston’s guitar is delightful. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Eric Wyatt – Look To The Sky (Whaling City): Saxophonist/singer/composer is obviously a hard bop player who is strongly influenced by John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. He plays a unique version of “My Favorite Things” sounding a lot like Coltrane but also leading a choral part with Andrea Miller that sounds more like the Rodgers & Hammerstein original. The remainder of the disc is instrumental and features Benito Gonzales (piano), Keyon Harrold (trumpet), Eric Wheeler (bass), with Shinnasuke Takahashi and Kyle Poole trading off on drums. There are some very strong tales on this disc. Click here for an introduction to this disc.
Dave Zinno – Unisphere (Whaling City): I was immediately curious about this comment in the liner notes to this disc, “Unisphere…infuses the vanguard of modern jazz with what I heard as a romanticism all too uncommon in artistic expression corrupted by the materialist zeitgeist. ‘Evolution’ and “change” are not synonymous, and these guys know it.” I didn’t have to listen long to hear the romanticism and the joy. And they swing! Leader Dave Zinno (bass), Mike Tucker (tenor sax), Leo Genovese (piano, melodica), Rafael Barata (drums) and guest Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet) have a delightful sound: joyful, cool, swinging, warm and infectious. There are two originals by Zinno, three by Mike Tucker, and one by Genovese and four covers. Sweet! Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.