New Jazz Adds – 2/12/2018

New Jazz Adds – 2/12/2018

Nick Biello – Vagabond Soul (Self-produced): “Hailed as ‘a brash new voice to New York’s vibrant jazz scene,’ by, saxophonist, keyboardist, multi-instrumentalist and composer Nick Biello….” offers his first release as a leader. His music is fresh and at times intense but consistently dazzling. He is supported by Phil Markowitz (piano), John Benitez (acoustic and electric bass), Clarence Penn (drums), Paul Jones (tenor sax), Andrew Renfroe (guitar) and Vincent Lionti (viola). Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.

David Bertrand – Palmyra & Other Places (blujazz): This is the premiere release from David Bertrand (flutes, bass clarinet), a native of Trinidad now residing in New York. All but one of the songs on this disc are Bertrand’s compositions. Bertrand is accompanied by Rafal Sarnecki (electric guitar), Rus Wimbish (bass), and Carter Bales (drums) with the addition of Chris Bacas (soprano sax) on one song. While initially a player of Trinidadian music, Bertrand has also been influenced by jazz musicians Joe Farrell and Kent Jordan. The overall performance is fresh and quite appealing and the interaction between Bertrand and Sarnecki is fantastic. Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.

Dan Block – Block Party (A Saint Louis Connection) (Miles High): Veteran reed player Dan Block  (tenor sax, clarinet) linked up with his cousin Rob (guitar) in presenting a wide range of songs that would allow them to stretch out. Dan adds one of his own compositions to the list that includes songs from Thelonious Monk, Gigi Grice, Walter Donaldson and Ray Noble among others. The performance swings in a very comfortable and smooth manner. Other members of the group are Neal Caine (bass), Tadataka Unno (piano) and Aaron Kimmel (drums). I regret I am unable to find a sample of any of the performances on this disc.

Alexis Cole w/One For All – You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To (Venus): Singer / stylist Alexis Cole has a wonderful style much like the underside of vocalese: She sings the written lyrics, but sounds more like a horn or another instrument. She is clearly a jazz singer in her own class. The setlist includes “Moon River”, “All The Things You Are”, “Cry Me A River” and “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” among several other classics from Tin Pan Alley, but they are truly her own. Musical backing is provided by Eric Alexander (tenor sax), Jim Rotundi (trumpet), Syeve Davis (trombone), David Hazeltine (piano), John Webber (bass) and Joe Farnsworth (drums). There are many outstanding singers in the jazz world. Cole stands out beautifully on this set. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.

Mario Cruz – Finding Common Ground (Self-produced): A native of Forth Worth, TX, saxophonist Mario Cruz moved to NYC where he performed. He has also toured with Jaco Pastorius, Randy Brecker, Bob James, Jeff Lorber, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Shafer, Natalie Cole, Lou Rawls and Ray Charles, among others. At this point, he has returned to Fort Worth where he continues to compose and play. Cruz composed all of the music on this disc and plays sax, woodwinds and EWI. He is accompanied by Addison Frei (piano, keys), Jeff Plant (electronic and fretless bass) and Matt Young (drums) with guest appearances by Noel Johnston (guitar) and Jose Rossy (percussion) on three songs each. The music is full with a large sound and strong interplay among the players. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.

Kris Davis / Craig Taborn – Octopus (Pyroclastic): This disc is a collection of live performances by pianists /composers Kris Davis and Craig Taborn. Their interpretations were based upon three compositions by Taborn, two by Davis, and their live interpretations of Carla Bley’s “Sing Me Softly of The Blues” and Sun Ra’s “Love In Outer Space”. The title of the disc must be a reference to the fiery playing when both are going at it – there must be eight hands at work at once. It can be chaotic at times while at others the music is soft and flowing, even seeming as if they are reading the composition and playing together. Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.

Andrew Distel – It Only Takes Time (Self-produced): This is vocalist/trumpeter Andrew Distel’s second release and he presents one original song and a range of classics like “Speak Low”, “Alfie”, and “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” as well as some lesser known songs. He also pays a bit of trumpet. Backing musicians include Peter Martin (piano), Carlos Enriques (bass), George Fludas (drums), Jim Gailoretto (woodwinds), Howard Levy (harmonica), Dave Onderdonk (guitar), Geraldo DeOlivera (percussion), Brian Schwab (trumpet) and Raphael Crawford (trombone) with a large strings group on a few songs. Distel has a very nice voice and the style is apt to appeal especially to those who love standards to be performed in a standard fashion. Click here and click on any of the top three samples of songs which are on this disc.

Mark Egan & Arjun Bruggeman – Dreaming Spirits (WaveTone): Dreaming Spirits is not only the name of this disc, but also the name of this specific “world/ambient jazz trio formed by renowned bassist Mark Egan, tabla player and percussionist Arjun Bruggeman, and special guest Shane Theriot, who is best known these days as lead guitarist/musical director of the Hall and Oates….” ( The combination is hypnotic and stunningly captivating in a fashion that only the best ambient combinations can. Egan’s bass is magnetic and Bruggeman’s percussion completes the framework. Theriot’s guitar maintains the ambience of the performance as if he has played with the duo forever. Each musician uses his own instrument as a statement and each extends the sound of the whole in an unanticipated but harmonically wonderful way. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.

Fred Farell – Distant Song (Whaling City Sound): Singer / lyricist Fred Farell’s musical training includes jazz vocal improvisation with pianist/composer Richie Beirach and vocal Jazz studies with Master Jazz Vocalist Sheila Jordan at The City College of New York. He began professional work in 1975, but by 1980 decided to more to other pursuits. He has only begun to write lyrics and sing again in the past few years. After composing lyrics to several of Richie Beirach’s compositions and receiving strong support from the pianist, Farell continued his pursuit. The result is this disc which features four vocals by Farell on Beirach compositions, four on Dave Leibman (soprano, tenor sax and wooden recorder), and two instrumentals, one each composed and performed by the instrumentalists without vocals. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.   (Scroll the small page down)

Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan – Small Town (ECM): This new release is a live recording from the Village Vanguard in March, 2016, featuring guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan. The performance includes two Frisell compositions, one by Frisell and Morgan, and other compositions ranging from Paul Motion and Lee Konitz to “Goldfinger” (John Barry, Leslie and Anthony Newley), “What A Party” (Dave Bartholomew, Fats Domino and Pearl King) and “Wildwood Flower”. As usual, beautiful performances. Click here and scroll way down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.

Jeff Hamilton Trio – Live From San Pedro (Capri): Veteran drummer Jeff Hamilton offers a wonderful trio set on this disc. He has performed for  over 35 years with the big bands of  Woody Herman and Count Basie, backed Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, Oscar Peterson, Monty Alexander, Ray Brown and Diana Krall. He also co-leads the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and the Jeff Hamilton Trio, being accompanied by Tamir Hendelman (piano) and Christoph Luty (drums). Geoffrey C. Ward, author of Jazz: A History of America’s Music, describes them as: “Joy – unbounded, infectious, irresistible – that’s what Jeff Hamilton and his trio deliver every time they climb onto a bandstand or step into a recording studio.” (liner notes) I have to say I can’t agree more. Great chops, full of surprises, a real standout in a field of talented, innumerable piano trios. The disc includes one Hamilton composition and one by Hendelman and the remainder are truly wonderful selections. Click here to listen to the opening song, Hamilton’s original “Sybell’s Day”.

Elliot Mason – Before, Now & After (Archival Records): Elliot Mason (trombone, bass trumpet) offers his first recording as a leader. He has been praised by such stars as Michael Brecker “for his technical facility and innovative harmonically complex improvisation.” ( His performance here is supported by Sofija Knezevic (voice), Dan Nimmer (piano), Carlos Henriquez (bass), and Ali Jackson (drums) with guest appearances by Joe Lovano (tenor sax), Tim Hagans and Brad Mason (trumpet), and Cyro Baptista (percussion). The depth of tone is truly unique and the group performance makes songs like “Caravan” and “In A Sentimental Mood” sound brand new and yet familiar at the same time. Click here for an introduction to this disc by Mason.

Kate McGarry, Keith Ganz, Gary Versace – The Subject Tonight Is Love (Binxtown) : Kate McGarry (vocals) , Keith Ganz (acoustic & electric guitar, acoustic bass guitar), and Gary Versace (piano, organ, accordion, keys) have joined up to investigate the concept of love in its many forms. She wrote two songs and co-wrote another with Ganz who also co-wrote the title song with others. The rest cover the soundscape from the great American songbook from “Secret Love” and “Indian Summer” to jazz gems like Golson and Dorham’s “Fair Weather” and Rodgers and Hart’s “Gone With The Wind”. There are a couple of guest appearances by trumpeter Ron Miles and drummer Obed Calvaire. There’s a nice shifting of sounds and styles to be heard. Click here to listen to samples of from this disc.

Mark McGrain – Love – Time – and Divination (Immersion): Trombonist Mark McGrain is based in New Orleans where he is the leader of the NOLA trio Plunge as well as a backing musician for vocalist John Boutte. Boutte does sing on three of these songs, one composed by McGrain and a classic by Van Heusen and Johnny Mercer, and the falsetto by Boutte is noteworthy. In addition to McGrain and Boutte, players are Matt Lemmier (piano) and James Singleton (contra bass). This is a bluesy and contemplative set. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.

Jim McNeely w/ The Frankfurt Radio Big Band – Barefoot Dances and Other Visions (Planet Arts): “Barefoot Dances is a seven-part suite composed in 2014 for the Frankfurt Radio Big Band. Each piece expresses a different kind of fantasy. We performed it live in two concerts in Frankfurt February ’14, then recorded it in the studio in September of that year. When I wrote this music I had been working with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band for about six years, so I knew the players quite well. The suite was written so that every one of the band’s soloists is placed in a framework that would be both familiar and challenging. Each piece features a pair of soloists, playing individually, sometimes together. Several of the pieces begin with a chamber-sized group, “in front of the curtain”. Then the curtain rises to reveal the whole band, having assumed yet another formation.” (Jim McNeely) Soloists include Christian Jakso (valve trombone), Martin Scales (guitar), Peter Reiter (piano), Martin Auer (flugelhorn), Gunter Bollmann (trombone), Heinz-Dieter Sauerborn (soprano sax), Rainer Heute (Bari sax), Pater Fell (trombone), Manfred Honetschlager (bass trombone), Axel Schlosser (flugelhorn), Oliver Leicht (clarinet), Tony Lakatos and Steffen Weber (tenor sax), Jean Paul Hochstadter (drums), Thomas Heidepriem (bass), and Axel Schlosser (trumpet). There are several different moods and strong playing throughout. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.

Brenda Navarrete – Mi Mundo (Alma): This is the initial release by Cuban composer / singer / percussionist Brenda Navarrete. She has a beautiful and versatile voice and her presentation here varies from purely solo performance (vocal and percussion) to performing with frequently shifting additional backing musicians: Melvis Santa and Luis Orbegoso (coro); Munir Hossn  (bass, guitar, percussion); Adonis Panter (percussion, quinto); Osaín del Monte and Adel Gonzales and Guillermo Del Toro (percussion); Pete Locket (tablas and percussion); Roberto Carcassés, Hilario Durán, Rolando Luna, and Leonardo F. Gil Milian trading off on piano; Alain Pérez (bass, coro); Michel Salazar Delgado (bass); and José Carlos Sánchez Portilla, Horacio ‘El Negro’ Hernández, and Rodney Barreto (trading off on drums); Josué Borges Maresma (flute, harmonica); Tommy Lawrie (trumpet); and Eduardo Sandoval (trombone). The result is a magnificent Cuban cerebration. Click here to listen to a song from this disc co-composed by Navarrete and Elaine Morales.

New Faces – Straight Forward (Posi-Tone): Posi-Tone Records has had an annual custom of gathering a group of their players to form a new collective that will meld into a tight cooperative that focuses on the unity of the playing. “New Faces” features Josh Lawrence (trumpet), Roxy Coss (sax), Behn Gillece (vibes), Theo Hill (piano), Peter Brendler (bass) and Vinnie Sperrazza (drums). The focus is as much on the ensemble work as on the solos. The sound has also been compared with the heart of Blue Note’s most famous years. The “cover” performances include Herbie Hancock’s “King Cobra” and label mate Art Hirahara’s “I’m OK” among others and also include originals by group members Behn Gillece (3) and Josh Lawrence (2). There is great variety here and the ensemble work sets the stage beautifully for the solos. Cool jazz in the finest sense. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.

Reggie Pittman – Loren Daniels Quartet – Smilessence (Self-produced): Pianist Loren Daniels and trumpet and flugelhorn player Reggie Pittman are both veteran players who have played with many jazz players and singers over the years, as well as playing with their own quartet, which also features bass player Mike Richmond and drummer Jonathan Peretz. The group is tight and presents a wide variety of styles on this set. Daniels composed nine of the songs on offer and Pittman composed one. It’s a solid performance throughout. Click here to listen to samples of songs on this disc.

Alfredo Rodriguez – The Little Dream (Mack Avenue): Composer / pianist / Rhodes player/ singer Alfredo Rodriguez offers his fourth recording to date. He composed or co-wrote nine of the twelve songs on the disc and adds a delightfully slinky version of “Besame Mucho”. Accompanying musicians are Munir Hossn (guitar, electric bass) and Michael Olivera (drums, percussion). Their performance is warm and delicately seductive. Special kudos to Munir Hossn’s wonderfully unique guitar playing as well. Click here to listen to samples of three songs on this disc.  Click on “Music” and then the disc cover when it appears.

Dr. Lonnie Smith – All In My Mind (Blue Note): Senior jazz B-3 player is still vibrant and opening new avenues on this new disc. His playing is right at the center of effective B-3 jazz and groove like his compositions “Alhambra” and “All In My Mind”, while he tackles some older tunes one would never suspect could be so jazzy with a solid groove, like Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover”. In addition to Smith’s keys, organ and vocals, Jonathan Kreisberg adds guitar, Johnathan Blake and Joe Dyson play drums. Alicia Olatuja sings a terrific update of “All In My Mind”. This disc insinuates itself on the listener until s/he finds the set very cool. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.

Edgar Steinitz – Roots Unknown (OA2): Composer / arranger Edgar Steinitz (clarinet, alto sax) offers a program of “soulful jazz with a Jewish core” that includes “To Life” (Fiddler On The Roof), the four part “Jewish Jazz Jam”, the Klezmer styled “Yiddish Blues” and a couple Of original compositions by Steinitz. In additional to Steinitz, the musicians are Bonnie Birch (accordion); Jeff Busch (percussion); Julian Smedley (violin, viola); and Wayne Porter (drums); with special guests David Friesen (Hemage bass) and Jay Thomas (flugelhorn, flute, tenor sax, trumpet). The musical mixture here varies significantly from one style to the next, but it is an interesting and infectious performance throughout. Click here to listen to samples of two songs from this disc.

Hristo Vitchev Quartet – Of Light And Shadows (First Orbit Sounds): Composer / guitarist Hristo Vitchey has a unique style which some critics identify as impressionistic and a mix of classical, modern jazz, folk, and avant-garde styles. His music is certainly vibrant as well as being strikingly melodic, whether upbeat or balladry. This is his ninth release in as many years. The other players in the quartet are Jasham Daya Singh (piano), Dan Robbins (bass) and Mike Shannon (drums). The quartet plays together beautifully throughout with their wonderfully melodic sound and Vitchey and Singh have been favorably compared to Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.

James Weidman – Spiritual Impressions (Inner Circle Music): James Weidman (piano, organ, melodica) offers a new take on eleven traditional spirituals, including “Wade In The Water”, Nobody Knows The Trouble I Seen” and “Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho” among others. Supporting musicians are Anthony Nelson (tenor, baritone, soprano sax, bass clarinet, flute), Harvie S. (bass), Vice Ector (drums) and most importantly vocalist Ruth Naomi Floyd. Weidman has certainly updated the songs with current jazz inflections that are fresh and quite effective. Floyd’s vocals are essential to the successful transformation of several of the songs. There are some wonderful “spiritual impressions” in this set! Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.

Frank Woeste & Ryan Keberle – Reverso – Suite Ravel (Phonoart): In 1928, Maurice Revel commented, “You Americans take jazz too lightly… In my point of view, it is jazz that will give rise to the national music of the United States.” He was one of the first 20th Century classical composers to acknowledge jazz as an important form. This disc was conceived and realized as  one justification and “thank you” in return. Woeste (piano) and Keberle (trombone) have joined forces with Vincent Courtois (cello) and Jeff Ballard (drums) in creating their “Reverso: Suite Ravel”. The result is a unique and engaging performance that was inspired by Ravel’s “Le tombeau de Couperin” composed between 1914 and 1917. It’s a highly interesting and engaging performance, a bit outside, but beautifully accessible at the same time. Click here to listen to the closing piece on this disc.

Professor Bebop

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